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November 24, 2020 - 1:08pm
posted by Press Release in STOP-DWI, Thanksgiving Crackdown, news, impaired driving.

Press release:

The Genesee County STOP-DWI Coordinator announced today that the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Batavia Police Department will participate in the statewide enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving.

The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on Nov. 25 and will end on Nov. 29.

Thanksgiving is historically one of the busiest travel times of the year, and unfortunately more people on the roadways means the potential for more vehicle crashes. In a combined effort to stop impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives law enforcement officers across New York State will take to the roads.

Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem. New York State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol and drug related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving.  

You can help to make a difference by having a Sober Plan! Download our mobile app – “Have a Plan” and you will always be able to find a safe ride home www.stopdwi.org/mobileapp

Impaired driving is completely preventable. All it takes is a little planning. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2020 - 9:27am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, city of batavia fire department.

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stengel_firefighter_1.jpg

The spirit of Thanksgiving filled the Council Board Room at the City Centre on Monday night when two City of Batavia firefighters were honored upon their retirement and the department received “invaluable” parting gifts from one of them in return.

Council members Robert Bialkowski and Kathleen Briggs read proclamations recognizing the work of Tom Douglas and Tim Stengel, who served the city for 22 and 20 years, respectively.

After each of the men had a chance to briefly express their feelings, Douglas presented – to a standing ovation -- the department with 10 personal thermal imaging cameras for each crew member to have when confronting a fire.

“We’ve always both believed that when you’re done with something, you should give something back,” Douglas said, looking at his wife, Debbie, who stood by his side.

He said he brought his idea to fellow employees, Adam Palumbo (the union president) and to Chief Stefano Napolitano and “we all came to an agreement.”

Douglas said the cameras will help keep firefighters safe.

“If we get a big incident, we’re covering a large warehouse or something, trying to find something, we’ve got two or three cameras,” he said. “Now, each one of the guys on the crew will have a personal camera that can go in to either help them find what they need or else to help them get out or locate a body and things like that.”

Napolitano, acknowledging the generous gift, said that “unless you’re in our line of work, you don’t really realize what an invaluable tool this is.”

“The ability of each firefighter to carry their own personal imaging camera while they’re inside of a structure doing an initial size-up is invaluable. This is an example of Tom and Tim as senior firefighters, even in retirement, they’re still giving and still mentoring.”

The chief said losing their experience hurts the department, but he is proud to know that the younger firefighters have “learned from two of the best.”

“The result is they learned how to become a senior firefighter because they’re going to do things better, they’re going to do things more smartly,” he said. “These 10 tools are going to enhance getting them to where you two guys are.”

Douglas started as part of the city’s ambulance crew before being promoted to firefighter in September 2000. He was respected as the driving force behind the department’s Emergency Medical Services program, being certified in several areas. He retired on Oct. 15.

Stengel, who retired on May 26, was recognized for being a mentor to new employees by sharing his knowledge and his professionalism.

Both expressed their love for the community and thanked city leaders, coworkers and family for their support.

Top photo: City Council Member Robert Bialkowski and retired firefighter Tom Douglas; bottom photo, City Council Member Kathleen Briggs and retired firefighter Tim Stengel. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

November 23, 2020 - 9:09pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, City of Batavia Youth Board.

Keep City of Batavia afterschool youth services in the same building. Provide the same service or better. And do it for the same money or less.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. cut to the chase tonight, starting a discussion about the municipality’s youth bureau with this clear directive to Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski. He also said it is imperative that the City of Batavia Youth Board is involved in the process.

“I would request that she (Tabelski) pursue cost-saving measures involving the Youth Bureau – Youth Board and the Youth Bureau – to not cut any services and to not move the building,” Jankowski said at the Council Conference Meeting at City Centre Council Board Room.

“In other words, I want the same services and I want the same building on the Southside – the Liberty Center (for Youth) on the City Church St. Anthony’s campus on Liberty Street – where it is now. So, that’s your starting point, and if you could please explore options of finding alternative ways to provide that service for less money. And please include the Youth Board in your discussions, so they have some input on it.”

With that, city management and the Youth Board, which serves at the direction of City Council in an advisory role, will explore ways to continue to effectively and efficiently provide afterschool and summer programming for Batavia’s young people.

The future of City of Batavia youth services became a somewhat heated topic earlier this month when a resolution to dissolve, a year early, a longstanding joint agreement between the city and county to share a youth bureau executive director came before two Genesee County Legislature committees.

It was presented as a cost savings for the city, which shares the expense of the director, Jocelyn Sikorski. The county’s Human Services Committee passed the resolution, but the Ways & Means Committee tabled it after learning of objections outlined in a letter sent to the media by the Youth Board.

Youth Board members stated that they were not asked for their opinion and were wary of putting city youth services into the hands of an outside entity.  Youth Board members David Twichell and Paula Fischer voiced their concerns at the last City Council meeting, fearing that a contract for the Genesee Area YMCA to run the program was a “done deal.”

Tonight, it seems as though city leaders and the Youth Board have settled their differences, according to Fischer, who was at the meeting.

“I have been in a lot of phone communication today with Dave Twichell, our president of the Youth Board, and with President Jankowski,” she said. “Everything has been very positive. I guess I expect things to move a little bit quicker when somebody says ‘let’s set up a meeting’ but I talked with the Council president and I said that we will be patient and work together.”

Fischer said what Council agreed to tonight was “what we wanted after the last Council meeting, so I’m very excited to move ahead and work with City Council and the city manager to retain the same level of services – and ‘reimagine’ youth services as our governor says all the time.”

“So, we’re going to reimagine youth services and we’re going to keep the same level of services as dictated by Council. So, it’s all very positive,” she said.

Council Member Al McGinnis, liaison to the Youth Board, noted Twichell and Fischer’s 20 years of combined service to city youth as he relayed the former’s request.

“Dave has three suggestions, that’s all they are, suggestions from the Youth Board for us,” McGinnis said. “One is to sever as of Jan. 1 an agreement with the county as planned by Rachael and Jocelyn. We restore the full-time position from Lydia Schauf (who left city employment for another job following a hiring freeze) and plan the reopening of Liberty Center – and again, they are well aware of COVID and also well aware of the budget restraints that we will be facing.”

McGinnis said the Youth Board wishes to retain the Liberty Center and as many summer programs as possible.

“We’re not trying to massage any egos here; all we’re trying to do is what is best for the children – the youth of Batavia – and for the city taxpayers,” he said.

He also said that if the city did contract with the YMCA, the Youth Board would continue to exist and serve in an advisory capacity, and that City Council would continue to have a member on the Youth Board.

McGinnis said that a meeting of the Youth Board is scheduled for Dec. 15, and it was his hope that a “compromise” could be worked out.

Jankowski quickly reiterated that what he said is “just directing” and suggested scheduling a meeting of all parties prior to the Youth Board’s regular meeting on the 15th.

“I would just ask the public and the Youth Board’s patience because right now my main priority as a Council member is the safety of the community under this pandemic … and at best, there’s really not much that is going to happen with the Youth Board until spring. It doesn’t mean that we have to wait until spring to discuss it.”

After that, Council Member Robert Bialkowski requested to see a spreadsheet of all costs related to youth services (Fischer said the yearly budget is around $168,000). He also asked about the possibility of a 'request for proposal' to go out to interested outside organizations to avoid any preferential treatment.

Jankowski said the city already has a contract with the YMCA at the Liberty Center and questioned the feasibility of bringing in another company. In any event, he again emphasized that it is Tabelski’s responsibility to look into these aspects and that no plan is in place at this time.

Council Member Rose Mary Christian applauded City Church staff for the way it has run its youth activities in recent years and made it clear she is in favor of keeping city youth services at the Liberty Street location.

“I certainly, definitely do not want it to move from that area,” she said. “There’s a lot of children. Their parents don’t drive … We don’t need to have the kids out on the street. They need something structured for them so they can become … responsible young adults.”

Previously: Council member vows not to cut city youth services, assures advisory board that it will be involved

Previously: City Youth Board at odds with management over future of afterschool, summer programs; county takes a step back

Previously: County's termination of youth bureau agreement to save City of Batavia $20K next year

November 23, 2020 - 7:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in matt worth, batavia, news.

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Matt Worth, retiring after nearly 34 years with the city, was honored tonight for his service to the community with a proclamation from the City Council read by Council President Eugene Jankowski.

"I'm incredibly thankful," Worth said. "The City of Batavia is a great place to work. Amazing and remarkable people."

Photo and information by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Matt Worth emphasizes bond with coworkers as he reflects upon long career with City of Batavia

November 23, 2020 - 6:17pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify.

Genesee County is the worst performing county in the Finger Lakes Region as far as COVID-19 cases are concerned, County Manager Matt Landers said minutes ago at the County Legislature meeting being conducted via Zoom videoconferencing.

"Our numbers for the county are abysmal," he said, adding that Genesee's numbers are significantly higher than the other counties in the Finger Lakes Region, including Monroe County. "Our 7-day rolling average jumped up to just under 6 percent.

"Every other county is hovering a 4 (percent) or less. We are on an island of not following guidelines that are in front of us, and I am very fearful that this will lead up to a Yellow zone designation or worse."

Landers said the county is "not on the right path," mentioning that there were 77 cases over the weekend in Genesee, including a record-high 34 on Saturday. He said the county has probably doubled its positive count from the entire eight months in this last month.

He said he sent an email out informing the legislature and department heads about an hour ago of the latest data.

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said this is going to have an impact on local businesses.

"They (businesses) are going to take the brunt of behavior of our community members who can not stay apart -- and that's the sadness here," she said.

Landers said that regardless of whether people believe in the masks or believe in the pandemic, he is hoping that "we can appeal to a side of trying to keep our local businesses open ... and it is very alarming and disheartening."

He also said he thinks this situation is avoidable and plans to address the public on WBTA Radio tomorrow with Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties.

"We're on a path now that is not sustainable to help our community," Landers said.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg placed the blame on New York State for its failure to increase testing capacity in Genesee County and all rural counties, in general.

"Rural counties have been ignored and it's not a surprise to me when you see the spikes in the rural areas," she said. "When you have to wait so long to get a test back and by that time, people are out and about and the contacts have been had before the test results get back."

Clattenburg said she sees people wearing masks but the problem is that they are out in the community -- and likely positive for the coronavirus -- but don't know they are positive.

"We're really at a disadvantage compared to our neighbors in Buffalo and Rochester, and it's really a shame," she said.

Landers said he agrees, in part, since Genesee doesn't have the drive-through testing sites as are in place in Monroe, Niagara and Erie counties, but he also pointed out that even the smaller counties are at 4 percent or less and Genesee is at 6 percent.

"We had a few gatherings over the past week or two and now they have gone on to the second and third level, and testing certainly is an issue," he said. "I expressed that concern to the (Finger Lakes Region) control room and I will keep on ... we need more testing."

In another development, the full legislature formally adopted the 2021 county budget, a $143,204,679 All Funds spending plan that calls for a property tax rate of $9.80 per thousand of assessed value -- down 31 cents from the 2020 tax rate.

The amount to be raised by property taxes is $31,451,727 to be raised by property taxes – an increase of $400,069 from 2020.

The county’s General Fund budget has been set at $110,276,137.

November 23, 2020 - 5:49pm

Press release:

A diverse group of agricultural organizations in the state are calling on the 60-hour overtime threshold for farm laborers to remain in place as a New York State Department of Labor wage board determines its fate.

The groups sent a joint letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo outlining why a further reduction in the overtime hourly threshold will be detrimental to the livelihoods of farmers and farmworkers across the state and will expedite automation upon the rural landscape. New York farms already face extreme competitive pressure in the marketplace from farms in other states and countries that can easily undercut New York prices needed to sustain a profitable business. Higher labor costs in New York will only exacerbate that problem.

There is no comparison to other industries in New York state when it comes to farm needs and our labor force. Our food supply is perishable. It depends on weather factors and a changing climate. The competitive commodity markets are dictated by the lowest possible price, prices that farmers must take.

Only those who direct market straight to the consumer off the farm can dictate what they charge and even then, those prices must be competitive with other farm stands and supermarkets. The COVID-19 pandemic also exposed the fragility of our food system as well as its importance to feed fellow New Yorkers during a time of great need. Without those farms, programs like Nourish NY cannot succeed.

The Farm Laborers Wage Board was mandated by the Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act that became law just this year.  The three-member board held public hearings to hear directly from people in agriculture on what a lower overtime threshold would mean. Farmers and their employees overwhelming described the economic challenges they are facing, especially in a pandemic, and how a lower threshold will likely lead to fewer hours available and less income for employees.

Furthermore, the current threshold was agreed upon just last year when all aspects of the farming community and lawmakers came together and negotiated a workable number of 60-hours that struck an appropriate balance to address both the needs of farmworkers and farms.

The letter sent to the Governor reads in part, 

“Please know that if the overtime threshold for New York farm workers is lowered to a level below 60 hours per week, the face of New York agriculture will be irreparably altered and we will no longer remain economically competitive in the crops and commodities that require a labor force. As farmers testified this year before the wage board, varieties of vegetables that require hand labor will continue to disappear, increasingly relying on imports from places that do not have strong worker protections like in New York State. Orchards will be pulled in lieu of field crops that only require machines for planting and harvest. Dairy farms will turn to robotic milking machines at a faster rate than today. Our regional and worldwide competitors—who have no such requirements—will only gain advantage from these changes, not New York farmers.”

The letter concludes by asking that the 60-hour threshold remain the same. Agriculture’s future, particularly the next generation of New York farmers and the communities they support and feed, are dependent upon it.  

November 23, 2020 - 5:30pm

Press release:

Even a year as tumultuous as 2020, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader, today completed his 22nd consecutive tour of all 62 New York State counties — an accomplishment that continues his track record as the first New York State public official to visit every single county in New York each year he has been in office.

Over the course of the year, Schumer made 86 county visits to Upstate New York and Long Island. He visited counties in the Capital Region 15 times; Western New York six times; Central New York eight times; the Rochester-Finger Lakes 12 times; the Southern Tier 10 times; the Hudson Valley 14 times; the North Country eight times; and Long Island 13 times.

"Twenty-two years ago, upon my election to the United States Senate in 1998, I promised that each and every year I served, I would visit all 62 of New York State’s diverse counties," Schumer said. "Not only has this ritual remained a steadfast passion of mine because of all I learn from my constituents and bring to Washington, D.C., as both a senator and the Democratic Leader of the Senate.

"Especially this year, when New York battled the global health and economic pandemic especially hard, visiting all 62 counties was vital for me to learn firsthand the struggles and needs of New Yorkers, from one end of the state to the other. Through a year that much has changed – I, too, traveled with masks and disinfectant in tow to much smaller and more understated events – one thing remained the same: my commitment, dedication, and love for New York.

"This year, more than ever before, I learned more about the struggles and needs of New York and saw New Yorkers resilience, perseverance, and grit and time and time again the very best New York has to offer even during our darkest of days. Although I’ve gained the title of Senate Democratic Leader, my proudest and most principal titles have been, and will always remain, New York’s Senator and ‘New Yorker.’ "

Highlights of the year include:

Delivered $167 Billion for New York in COVID Relief: During negotiations for the CARES Act, Schumer worked for days to deliver a plan that best protected New York’s workers, small businesses, and health centers so they could receive the help they needed amidst the COVID crisis.

Secured Nation’s First Major Disaster Declaration for COVID-19, Unlocking Almost $6 billion in Federal FEMA Support for New York State: Following Schumer’s tireless advocacy and early calls for broad federal support from FEMA, New York State was granted the first Major Disaster Declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic of any state in the country. Schumer has continued to push the Administrator and the President to provide all support available to New York under FEMA’s control, delivering almost $6 billion for the state thus far, with over $1 billion in reimbursement for COVID-19 costs incurred by the state, localities, and eligible non-profits, like purchasing personal protective equipment and paying health care workers overtime.

Secured Over $6 Billion in FMAP Funds For NYS and its Counties To Provide Vital Budget and Health Care Relief: Senator Schumer successfully pushed for Congress to include a cost-sharing provision in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act so New York’s counties, which pay part of Medicaid’s costs, could benefit from the increase federal Medicaid support. Schumer had successfully championed this provision in prior disaster response legislation, including after 9-11, Hurricane Sandy and the 2008 financial meltdown. The legislation immediately unlocked over $6 billion in statewide dollars related to healthcare funds known as "FMAP" for New York state and its counties to cover healthcare costs, $1 billion in unemployment benefits, free testing, pair emergency leave, meals for homebound seniors, and other critical services.

Fighting Hunger by Securing Pandemic-EBT Program Extension through September 2021: After tirelessly advocating for expanded nutrition benefits, Senator Schumer secured numerous nutrition benefits in the negotiations for the Continuing Resolution. The Continuing Resolution extended P-EBT benefits through Sept. 30, 2021 and creates a pathway to allow territories to participate in the P-EBT program. Roughly 2.1 million students across New York State are eligible for the P-EBT program, which provides families with additional nutrition assistance for students when schools are closed or in virtual learning.

Boosted NYS Hemp Growers and Producers to Create Jobs: Senator Schumer called on USDA to delay the implementation of the USDA’s U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program final rule and urged USDA to respond to the numerous concerns of hemp growers and producers in Upstate NY. The senator worked closely with the House of Representatives to include language in the Continuing Resolution that extends the authorization for the 2014 hemp pilot program regulations through Sept. 30, 2021, which will give New York hemp farmers additional time to come into compliance with USDA’s new regulations for hemp.

Secured Over $409 Million for NYS Farmers: Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Senator Schumer has pushed USDA to expand the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to include as many commodities as possible and ensure New York State farmers receive the assistance they need. Senator Schumer lobbied USDA to include more specialty crops, small livestock, goats, microgreens, nursery and greenhouse commodities, nontraditional crops, and more on the list of eligible crops for CFAP. Following his efforts, USDA expanded the eligibility lists for CFAP 1 and rolled out a second CFAP program, CFAP 2, which included a significantly expanded list of eligible crops. To date, New York farmers have received over $222 million in assistance through the CFAP 1 program and $187 million through CFAP 2.

November 23, 2020 - 5:06pm

Press release:

The Rotary Club of Le Roy is sponsoring a Holiday House Decorating Contest for residents of the Town and Village of Le Roy. There is no cost to enter.  Entries must be submitted by Dec. 5.

To sign up click here.

Judging will go live on Sunday, Dec. 6. A map of participating houses will be posted online and with a link to vote for your favorite decorated residence. Winners will be announced Sunday, Dec. 20 through the Rotary Club of Le Roy website and the club’s Facebook page.

The Grand prize will be a $100 gift certificate followed by four additional gift certificates of $50 each. All gift certificates will be from local businesses.   

Let’s help spread holiday cheer!

November 23, 2020 - 5:00pm

Press release:

A Message From the New York State Sheriff's Association to All New Yorkers

Since the first COVID-19 orders issued by the New York State Health Department, Sheriffs across the state have been responding to thousands of complaints of violations of those orders. They have been doing what they can, within the law and the Constitution, to address those complaints.

The criminal laws have very limited applicability with respect to those complaints, and in most cases use of the criminal laws would be unwise. Fortunately, our citizens have, for the most part, willingly complied with advice and encouragement to follow health directives. We think that is the best approach and we continue to advise and encourage all our citizens to comply with guidance issued by state and federal health agencies, and to exercise caution and common sense.

So far, that approach seems to have worked, helping New York achieve one of the lowest infection rates in the country – without having to apply heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.

Recently, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order which limits “nonessential private residential gatherings” to no more than 10 individuals. That has caused great consternation among many of our citizens, who envision armed officers arriving at their doors to count the number of people around the Thanksgiving table.

Many Sheriffs and other law enforcement leaders have felt compelled to allay those concerns by assuring citizens that officers will not be randomly coming to their homes on Thanksgiving Day to count the number of people inside. That would be neither practical nor Constitutional.

The Governor has responded by dismissing those serious concerns on the part of local law enforcement, saying, “Law enforcement officers don’t get to pick and choose which laws they will enforce.”

We find that comment ironic, and disingenuous, since the Governor has directed that his own State Police do not have to enforce the order. Apparently, it is another case of “do as I say, not as I do,” such as we have seen with many other political leaders. He has also called Sheriffs “dictators” for following the Constitution rather than his orders, which we also find ironic.

We do not know if the Governor’s limit on home gatherings to 10 individuals is the right number or not. That is a decision for science, not us, to make. We do know, however, that the Governor has attempted to foist upon local law enforcement an impossible task.

How are officers to know, without violating citizens’ right to privacy and other Constitutional rights, how many people are in the home? How are they to determine if the family gathering is to be deemed “essential” or “nonessential”?

If 12 people normally reside in the home, are the officers to order two of them to move out? If 11 individuals are found to be present in the home, who is to be charged with violating the order, all eleven or just the last guest to arrive? Or is it only the homeowner who is in violation? Are officers really supposed to arrest guests who don’t stay 6 feet apart or who fail to have on their face masks during dinner?

All of those are serious questions which make it impossible for law enforcement to know how to legally enforce the Governor’s order. They are questions that could have been addressed if we had a functioning State Legislature, creating clear and enforceable laws after input from those who would be impacted by them.

Instead we are faced with an unenforceable dictate issued without any consultation with law enforcement or the public as to enforceability.

We believe that rather than issuing orders that cannot be practically enforced, and then blaming law enforcement when they are not enforced, the Governor would better serve the people of New York if he were to use his position to encourage citizens to use common sense and voluntarily adhere to the guidance of state and federal health officials. We would gladly join him in that.

We know the citizens of our communities, and we believe they would be far more likely to voluntarily follow his recommendations than his orders.

In conclusion, we urge all our citizens to keep informed on the best steps to take to protect themselves, and others, from the spread of this terrible disease. We urge you to listen to our public health officials. We urge you to limit your exposure to those outside your household as much as you reasonably can.

If we all do that, we will sooner be able to get back to normal. We in law enforcement do not have the resources nor the legal authority to force you to do those things. It is a matter of individual responsibility and we are confident that you will all voluntarily rise to the occasion.

November 23, 2020 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in gas prices, news.

Press release from AAA:

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.11, down 2 cents from one week ago. One year ago, the price was $2.59. The New York State average is $2.22 – down 1 cent from last week. A year ago, the NYS average was $2.69.

AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) reports the following averages:

  • Batavia -- $2.18 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Buffalo -- $2.18 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Ithaca -- $2.18 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Rochester -- $2.21 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Rome -- $2.30 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Syracuse -- $2.13 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Watertown -- $2.28 (no change since last week)

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is down, while state and local prices follow. In a recent report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand decreased, while total domestic stocks increased. That helped the national average to decrease this week. Demand may increase with the Thanksgiving holiday, but travelers should expect pump prices to remain much cheaper, and more affordable, than last year.

Meanwhile, crude prices have been fluctuating – they decreased amid rising coronavirus infection rates across the country, yet they increased amid growing market optimism that a vaccine for the coronavirus will soon be available. The current surge in the number of infections domestically has capped price gains while states increase measures meant to stop the spread of the virus.

From GasBuddy:

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us and fewer Americans hitting the road, gas prices have seen some downward movement over the last week, even as oil prices hold near recent highs," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "We may end up seeing the lowest Thanksgiving prices in five years if prices continue to trend lower this week, a sign of how the coronavirus has sapped demand for the majority of the year.

"Between now and the end of the year, we aren't likely to see many fireworks at the pump as demand continues to remain well below prior years, but as a vaccine is set to be released in the months ahead, prices will likely aim for higher ground, so motorists take heed that today's prices may not hold for much longer."

November 23, 2020 - 4:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, news, grain bin rescue, notify.

An Oakfield man is extremely fortunate that he was not seriously injured or worse after getting stuck inside a massive silo filled with corn silage on Lockport Road in Oakfield today.

Quick thinking and fast action by the property owner's wife and farmworkers helped to stabilize the man until rescuers and their equipment arrived.

According to Oakfield Second Assistant Fire Chief Pete Scheiber, the man was inside the silo trying to unplug an area, when he became trapped up to his knees. While trying to get free from what amounts to quicksand, he soon found himself waist deep in kernals.

Seven people went inside the bin and put their training for this kind of scenario to the test. In addition to the homeowner's wife, they included Gary Patnode, Christine Marinaccio, Mark Holley, Michael Pfendler, Ryan Hart and Mark Mikolajczyk.

They used a rope and other tools to stabilize him and keep him from sinking down further then called 9-1-1 at 11:52 a.m.

Town of Batavia fire brought its ladder truck to facilitate "a high point of entry"; Elba's crew brought in special grain bin rescue equipment and a (sweep) auger. The grain bin rescue tools were bought over the last couple of years by area farms for situations just like today's. (Pavilion is the other Genesee County fire company that has the same capability.)

Also responding were: Genesee County Sheriff's deputies; NYS Police; county Office of Emergency Management coordinators; and Mercy EMS; Alabama stood by for Oakfield fire and Barre stood by for Elba.

A bulky four-panel "rescue tube" was assembled and placed around the person trapped. The corn inside it is removed, making an air space so the victim can be raised up and out.

It's time-consuming and the equipment is cumbersome, said Elba Fire Chief Michael Heale, but you try to work as quickly as possible. Dangers include hypothermia if it's cold outside, loss of blood circulation to limbs and paralysis, and death by suffocation.

"If you see us cutting into metal and removing grain below, that's not a good sign," said Tim Yaeger, county Emergency Management coordinator. "It means we need to recover a body. There are a number fatalities nationwide from this every year."

The farm employee in this case, after being extricated from the dry corn, was able to climb down a ladder on his own power, still with his cowboy hat on, and walk to a waiting ambulance for evaluation.

Scheiber said. "I'm very, very happy. ... These guys did an awesome, awesome job."

They also heaped praised on neighboring communities, even outside the county, and their willingness to pitch in.

"In this day and age, especially daytime, they're always there for us," Heale said. "Like they say, 'There's no i in team.' We do a very good job around here."

Above, volunteer firemen Michael Pfendler and Ryan Hart in Elba's trailer containing the grain bin rescue panels and equipment.

Photo by Howard Owens, who also contributed to the story.

November 23, 2020 - 4:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

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  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
November 23, 2020 - 4:38pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, news, coronavirus, notify.

Press release:

New Positives – As of 2 p.m. covering from Friday afternoon through Monday:

  • Genesee County received 77 new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Batavia, Darien, Elba, Le Roy, Oakfield, Pavilion and Pembroke. 
    • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. 
    • Two of the individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Thirty-seven of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
    • Fifteen of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
  • Orleans County received 29 new positive case of COVID-19.
  • The new positive cases reside in Albion, Barre, Clarendon, Gaines, Murray, Ridgeway, Shelby and Yates.
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.
  • Nine individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Thirty-six of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • Two of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
  • Four of the 29 new totals being reported today were not included in the mandatory isolation count as their positive test results were received after their isolation period was completed. We encourage anyone who has tested to self-isolate and limit contact with others as they wait on their test results, especially if they are having symptoms.
  • One of the new positives is an inmate at Albion Correctional Facility.
November 23, 2020 - 3:00pm


Crossroads House will be having our annual Christmas Sale again this year. It will be a downsized version from the last couple of years and take place right in our garage.

The “Comfort Foods” Cookbook will be available at the sale or you can purchase online at www.crossroadshouse.com.

We will be observing standard safety precautions including masks, social distancing, and sanitizing. Enjoy great gift and collectible shopping while supporting comfort care in your neighborhood. We'll see you this weekend!

November 23, 2020 - 1:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Oakfield, scanner.

At about 1:40 this afternoon a man who had been trapped in a gigantic grain bin at 3162 Lockport Road in Oakfield was able to climb down a ladder to safety.

Mercy medics on scene are evaluating him.

His ordeal was first relayed to the Genesee County Dispatch Center around noon and Oakfield Fire Department responded to the location, a farm between Albion and Fisher roads.

Elba fire responded with a grain bin tool to help with extrication. Alabama fire is standing by in Oakfield's hall; Barre is standing by for Elba.

UPDATE 2:15 p.m.: The Oakfield assignment is back in service.

More T/K

November 23, 2020 - 1:19pm

Having a role in the successful completion of a municipal project has provided a sense of satisfaction to City of Batavia Public Works Director Matt Worth, but it pales in comparison to his appreciation of and attachment to the people he worked with over the past 34 years.

“The people I have worked with I just can’t say enough about. I’m getting all choked up thinking about it, really,” Worth said during a telephone interview with The Batavian as he winds down a distinguished career with the city.

Worth’s official retirement date is Jan. 15, but his last day on the job – due to time earned – is Dec. 11.

His final City Council meeting is tonight’s Conference session at the City Centre Council Board Room, where he will receive a proclamation from lawmakers, honoring him for his dedicated service.

The 56-year-old lifelong resident of the Pembroke area said he has a special place in his heart for the people who believed in him and labored by his side.

“A lot of people gave me an opportunity or a chance, and I can’t thank them enough. I can name names, but I don’t want to leave anyone out,” he said.

Still, he first mentioned (the late) Dennis Larson, the former Public Works director who hired him back in March 1987 – “Dennis is someone I always thought the world of,” Worth said – and he thanked John Schaefer (former Water & Wastewater superintendent) and Len Walker (former Public Works director) for their expertise.

City Workers a Close-Knit Group

When it comes to his coworkers, Worth said they were like family.

“Those guys were special. When there was a water main break in the middle of the night and you’re out there in the freezing cold, you counted on each other to be there for each other,” he said. “Jim Ficarella and Bill Davis (retired and current Water & Wastewater superintendents, respectively), and the crews. There’s a sense of camaraderie and friendship and professionalism that I will always treasure.”

Worth began his career with the city – following a short stint with the Genesee County Highway Department – as an engineering technician and was promoted to deputy superintendent of water/wastewater in 1999. He took over as superintendent of that department three years later.

In July 2015, he was appointed Public Works director. The promotion put him in charge of the Bureau of Maintenance (Streets & Sidewalks), Bureau of Water and Wastewater (Water Plant and Sewer Plant), Bureau of Inspections (Code Enforcement) and Bureau of Engineering, with responsibility for approximately 50 employees.

During his tenure, he has been involved in numerous public works projects, including street reconstruction, water and sewer plant upgrades, and capital infrastructure planning.

“The projects that we’ve done over the years are the things that I’ve really craved,” he offered. “A project gets done and there’s a tangible change that happened – something that you can really see … the road got plowed, the road got paved, a new water line got put in, whatever that may be.”

Keeping a Low Profile is Just Fine

He said he understands how important public works are to residents and doesn’t mind flying under the radar.

“If we’re doing it right, the people don’t notice you’re doing it. There’s a certain satisfaction in that,” he said.

“When the kids come through on tours of things, we tell them that Public Works is the department that you touch and feel every day. You’re using the streets, you’re walking on the sidewalks, you’re using the water, you’re flushing the toilet. That interaction is very real with the services that Public Works provides compared to fire and police and other big departments that really you don’t have to interact with them, even though they’re a higher profile profession.”

In January 2018, Worth took over as interim city manager after the departure of Jason Molino and served in that role for about 10 months.

“That year of me being upstairs as the interim city manager, I really missed DPW,” he said. “The city manager position is more of a higher-level planning, with stuff more in the future and not readily tangible, so that’s why I was quite ready to get back to Public Works.”

He did such a fine job as interim city manager that he was selected by the Genesee Valley Branch of the American Public Works Association as the 2018 recipient of the Public Works Leader of the Year in the Administrative Management Category.

Worth said he had plenty of support during that time.

“I was very fortunate that I had really good people (department heads) when I was upstairs here – Ray Tourt (Department of Maintenance), Jim Ficarella, the two superintendents – they really ran the Public Works department for those 10 months, and did a really good job as there were projects still going on,” he said. “A lot of people pulled together, understanding that there was a vacuum and we all needed to help each other to get through it.”

Looking Back at Specific Projects

When asked about specific projects that stand out, Worth mentioned the new sewer plant construction, a $45 million venture that took place during his first year with the city.

“Being a young kid who doesn’t know a darn thing and walking into a huge project like that, I got exposed to so many different aspects of construction and large-scale projects,” he said. “What an opportunity to observe that and learn from that. That was on the very front end, but that sticks in my mind.”

He also said mentioned the Main Street reconstruction in 2003 and 2004 – “the road was in such bad shape,” he noted – and talked about some of the benefits of the smaller, residential street projects.

“You got to meet the people who lived there and you built relationships with them,” he said. “I remember some older people who lived on the street – by the end of the summer they were giving me canned tomatoes and offered to pray for you at night. That was a fun aspect of working in a municipality. You get to meet the people.”

As far as unfinished business, Worth remembers his first day on the job, performing survey work on Oak Street to prepare for a new street, Cecere Drive.

“It was a small subdivision with a few houses to be built there, but there ended up being a conflict over some property deeds or something, and that project never happened. That one never made it to the finish line.”

Hope Ahead for the City Centre Mall?

Worth acknowledged some “missed opportunities” in regard to building a new police station, but is pleased to see that it finally is on track.

“We always were going to do something, but something would come up and it got put off. The police need a new headquarters. The old City Hall (former Brisbane Mansion) is about 200 years old and trying to function as a police station.”

He said he is optimistic that a solution to the City Centre Mall dilemma is near. He called the initial concept of the Genesee Country Mall a mistake, “having all of these individual ownerships with this common hallway in the middle of it.”

“I was involved in that on several different levels over the years. I think frustration would be the word here, but I think moving forward there are opportunities that will be very positive – considering the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) redevelopment work.”

When it was mentioned that at least the roof has been repaired, Worth said the last section is scheduled to be done in the coming year … “and then all the buckets go away, right?”

Council President: He’s Going to be Missed

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said Worth deserves to enjoy his retirement, admitting “we’re going to miss him tremendously.”

“He’s done a lot of work; he’s involved in a lot of the projects. He stepped up even as assistant city manager for a time and was able to lead the ship for a couple months while we got things squared away so, he’s going to be missed for sure,” he said.

Jankowski said he is sure Worth has imparted his knowledge to put the city in position to promote his replacement from within.

“Hopefully, we’ve done our job and there are people in place to take over, but I know that Matt is that kind of guy -- a teacher and a mentor to a lot of the employees that he works with. So, I’m sure there will be somebody qualified to take the reins,” he said.

Tourt, a city employee for nearly 22 years, started out in the Engineering Bureau, working with Worth.

“They’re really going to miss him and they don’t realize how much yet. He’s been a real good boss and he’s been a great mentor and he’s been a good friend. He has really looked out for the operations of the city and always put the city first,” he said.

Worth said he intends to find another job, but is not sure of the line of work.

“I’m hoping to find somebody that has a need for an old, washed-up Public Works director, I guess,” he said, downplaying his experience. “I’m leaning toward something local. I really do enjoy living here and have lived here all my life.”

He also said that he and his wife, Joan, will have more time with the family – their grown children, Adam and Kathryn, and two grandchildren, ages 1 and 3 – and continue to enjoy their walks at the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge.

“It’s a chance to give the dog some exercise,” he said.

November 22, 2020 - 10:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, pembroke.

A motor-vehicle accident is reported at 9036 South Lake Road, Pembroke.

A car reportedly hit a house and the driver fled the scene.

One car involved.

Injuries are reported.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments responding.

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