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March 4, 2021 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, coronavirus vaccine, notify.

Press release:

The New York State-run temporary mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic was opened for appointments this morning at 7:59 a.m. By 9:20 there were no appointments available, however that has been fluctuating. We encourage those who are seeking vaccination to periodically check the site as some may cancel their appointments or the system catches up.

“We realize this may be disappointing and frustrating for our local county residents as it is to us," said Paul Pettit, director of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. "We will continue to advocate for increased vaccine allocations moving forward.” 

“Every dose of vaccine that comes to our counties are administered within the week of receipt. We will continue to call on the state to increase allocations to rural counties as our vaccination rates continue to lag in comparison to surrounding counties.”

As a reminder, these clinics are for those in priority groups 1A and 1B, and those 65 and older, or under 65 but at least 18 with co-morbidities.

You can check for appointment availability at https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ or call 1-833-697-4829.

March 4, 2021 - 8:50am

Assemblyman Steve Hawley's statement to The Batavian this morning regarding the mass vaccination clinic at Genesee Community College:

"We sent out a letter to the governor and the (New York State) Department of Health commissioner -- our friends, Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Zucker -- indicating our extreme dismay over the fact that it is going to be open to anyone. The rural counties in New York State, the percentage of completion of vaccines is way, way below the state average, and our surrounding counties' average.

"I think at last count, a couple days ago, the state was at over 15 percent completion of shot one and Orleans County was at about 8 percent, and I don't remember Genesee's (which is slightly higher than Orleans) or Wyoming either. But they're all way below and we've got a pandemic going on here.

"We've got people who can't find appointments. I get 20 to 25 calls every day from people who are trying to find a place to go on. If you're working or are caretaking or whatever, you can't sit in front of a computer all daylong, and if you don't have broadband, you can't get on.

So, this is very, very disheartening. We're New Yorkers, too. This is our health -- life and death in many cases, unfortunately, as we've come to learn. Very, very disappointed. I asked them to change their minds and I haven't heard back."

March 4, 2021 - 8:11am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, covid-19.

UPDATE: All vaccination appointments for clinic at GCC booked in less than 90 minutes

In what is turning out to be a good news, not-so-good news situation for citizens of Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, Genesee Community College officially has been designated as a COVID-19 mass vaccination site, beginning this Friday, but the five-day clinic will be open to those who reside outside those counties.

In reaction to this morning’s announcement, Genesee County Manager Matt Landers is urging Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming residents to act fast by logging on to this website -- New York Covid-19 Vaccine (ny.gov).

“It was already going to be competitive because we know the demand is there for our three counties,” Landers said. “It was already going to go fast. Now, it will go even faster.”

Landers said local government leaders are “disappointed” in the decision in that they were led to believe the clinic at GCC would be only for the tri-county residents. 

“I’m 100-percent saddened and want to do all I can to make sure our folks get access," he stated. "We definitely expected this to be restricted to only Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming residents. We were informed that it would be open to anyone at 9:30 on Tuesday night (after officials had commented for the press release below)."

On Feb. 22, legislative leaders and public health directors in the local tri-county area sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urgently requesting the designation of a regional mass vaccination clinic at the GCC campus to provide the vaccine exclusively to residents of the rural counties.

The letter, in part, read that “Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties have consistently been left out of the COVID-19 response with delays in testing supplies and now with very limited vaccine allocations. All three counties are medically underserved and having a regional clinic with less than a half-hour commute would benefit these communities."

Landers said the reason for getting a clinic at GCC is because the vaccination rates in the rural counties are lower.

“That was the whole point of this," he said. "This is what gave us some hope. This is what the letter was asking for. It’s unfortunate that at the last second that it’s going to be open to everyone because that isn’t going to directly improve the numbers when folks right on the border of Erie and Monroe can flood into our zone.”

Landers said the plan is to distribute 500 doses on Friday, 1,000 doses on both Saturday and Sunday, and 500 doses on both Monday and Tuesday.

------------

Here is the press release issued by New York State this morning:

BATAVIA, NY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health have agreed to host a temporary regional mass vaccination clinic at Genesee Community College (GCC) main campus center (1 College Road, Batavia) to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to rural counties.

The announcement comes after the legislative leaders and public health directors of Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties sent a letter last week to the Governor urgently requesting the designation of such a clinic to serve rural populations in the region. 

“We are pleased to see this allocation for the Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County area,” stated Lynne Johnson, chairperson of the Orleans County Legislature. “Our three counties have been underserved throughout this pandemic, especially with the lower vaccine allocations, which in turn produces lower vaccination rates.”

This state-run clinic, expecting to vaccinate 3,500, is targeted to Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County residents who are in the state eligible groupings. The state has confirmed, as of 03/02/21, the vaccine will be the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) one-dose vaccine. The clinic is located at the GCC Athletic Center where signs will guide those with appointments to the entrance. The clinic will be held starting:

  • Friday, March 5th from noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday (March 6th and 7th) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday and Tuesday (March 8th and 9th) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Appointments must be made via the New York State "Am-I-Eligible" webpage https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ or by calling the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-697-4829 only. 

“We are pleased to be a part of this mass vaccination clinic,” stated Rebecca Ryan, chairwoman of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors. “This will help put a dent in our priority groups.”

“To say this COVID vaccination site is necessary is an understatement, as I speak with constituents daily who are told they have to travel hours in some cases just to get their vaccine,” said New York State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

“I am hopeful we will see progress made toward opening this site for the convenience of all who wish to receive the vaccination in the Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County communities. We need to do all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout New York State.”

"I am very happy that GCC will be serving as a vaccination site for Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties," said New York State Senator Edward Rath. "In the joint legislative health hearing this past Thursday, I specifically requested Commissioner Zucker establish a vaccination site at GCC.

"I am pleased that this all is happening very quickly, and we can work to get residents in our rural counties vaccinated. Thank you to our local leaders for their leadership on the issue."

“We hope this is just the beginning of our region getting an equitable share of the vaccine,” stated Rochelle Stein, chairperson of the Genesee County Legislature. “In order to continue to provide vaccine to those in rural counties, we encourage the state to continue to provide these limited mass vaccination clinics to assist our counties and get the vaccine in the arms of our residents who choose to get it.”

March 3, 2021 - 9:29pm

At the suggestion of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s tourism staff and Airbnb officials, County Attorney Kevin Earl and Manager Matt Landers today led a discussion about changing a local law to impose a “bed tax” on residents who rent out their homes on a limited basis.

Speaking at the legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting, Earl said he is communicating with representatives of Airbnb, the popular vacation rental online company that helps (for a commission) homeowners arrange lodging for tourists.

His proposal, if supported by the legislature, would generate additional income for the Chamber to run its tourism operations.

“First of all, the Airbnb proposed agreement applies to occupancy taxes – bed taxes as we call them … and the second thing is the important discussion we have to have (because as of now) our law has an exemption for under six units,” Earl advised.

The attorney said a house being rented out for travelers would be considered as one unit.

“So, we would have to have the consent to go ahead and change that to allow the law to apply for under six units,” he said. “Number three is a corollary of that, if we do that, we want to make sure that if somebody rents their house or apartment for a couple days, a couple weekends or one week, that they don’t have to go through all of the process (of) collecting and enumerating bed tax to the county.”

Less Than Six Units, More Than 10 Nights

He then suggested changing the law so that it would apply to less than six units, but only under circumstances when they are rented for more than 10 nights during an entire calendar year.

By modifying existing law, the 3 percent bed tax currently in place for motels and hotels would also be charged to the rental units (homes, apartments and even the small structures at campgrounds).

The hotel adds this charge to the customer’s bill (which also includes an 8 percent sales tax) and remits this occupancy tax payment on a quarterly basis to County Treasurer Scott German, who then appropriates it to the Chamber for tourism purposes.

A nickel of each dollar generated is kept by the county as an administration fee and the remaining 95 cents goes to the Chamber..

Landers said the proposal “has been expressed to us as a matter of fairness because this is something that would even the playing field. Hoteliers have to pay this and (there are) people who are utilizing Airbnb services throughout our county.”

He also mentioned that he did a “quick search” a couple summers ago and found that there were 28 of the Airbnb-variety units in the county, giving him reason to believe a change in the law would be warranted.

“If there was one or two, maybe it wouldn’t be worthwhile but there is enough out there and something that our Chamber of Commerce has expressed interest in exploring,” he said.

He reported that Airbnb has similar contracts with other New York counties.

Landers: Looking for a Consensus

“Kevin and I didn’t want to go through the process of making all these changes – it’s a policy change – if the legislature didn’t have the desire to go forward with these changes,” Landers said. “We can come back again in the future with actual recommended changes of the local law and go to a public hearing … if there is a consensus.”

Legislator Gary Maha asked Landers if he has an estimate of the amount of revenue that would be realized by such a change. The county manager said he did not, referring back to the 28 units he identified a couple years ago but didn’t have a breakdown of the dollars received.

“It’s nothing that would come to the county … the lion’s share goes directly to the chamber,” he said. “This is an area I think will only grow in the future. Airbnb is getting more households and is easier to deal with, and revenue is probably going to be growing. I can’t tell you an estimate of how big it is right now, but if I had to place a guess, it’s only going to go up.”

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein asked if the modified local law would have an effect on campsites “where folks have those little houses that folks can rent.”

“If they rent those through Airbnb at a campground will that be impacted? And are campgrounds that have those little chalets, I’ll call them tiny houses, are they already paying a bed tax and a sales tax?”

German responded affirmatively, noting that Darien Lake’s campground has “several of those little huts and they are being taxed at 3 percent.”

Law Would Target Booking Companies

Earl said wording of a new law would have general language that would define Airbnb as well as businesses such as Flipkey, HomeAway and VRBO as booking companies.

“So, this will apply to any that are now known or any in the future. We will make the definition broad enough so that if XYZ company comes in as a booking agent – and even realtors (who) could possibly book houses,” he said.

Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg asked if the new law was implemented, would the Chamber help promote those individuals and companies offering homes for rent by including them in a list available to the general public. Landers said he would expect that to be the case and would share her view with the Chamber staff.

Still, at first sight, she sees the proposal as “more regulation” and said she needs more information before supporting it.

Legislator Christian Yunker asked who is responsible for keeping track of the number of nights and the revenue -- Airbnb or the homeowner?

Landers said that while Airbnb captures the money and remits the funds to the county, individual owners would have to provide a report to the treasurer’s office for reconciliation purposes. Hotels and campgrounds also are subject to that requirement, he added.

Klotzbach contended that Airbnb should be responsible for reporting, but Landers and Earl said the company just wants to pass the money along and is not in favor of a process where individual homeowners’ identities are disclosed.

There's a Cost of Doing Business

At that point, Landers shifted the debate by offering to change the time period.

“Instead of 10 days, if we really want to capture people that do this a lot, then it could be over 30 days or over 60 days,” he said. “I guess at that point you should know if you’re renting a place out for that many days in a row that’s a cost of doing business versus maybe two weeks out of the year, you rent the place out or you’ve got a room that you’re renting out and it’s something you don’t think about.”

He said the county doesn’t seek to be “overly regulatory” but acknowledged the request from the tourism agency “that was hit particularly hard during COVID as a way to capture revenue from people outside of our area to assist with tourism.”

Legislator John Deleo said he didn’t have a problem with someone trying to make some extra money to “keep the water level below their nose” but agreed with Clattenburg that more information is needed before deciding.

Earl said there is no time limit, but is ready to move forward when the legislature approves. Clattenburg then asked Landers and Earl to provide further details while Ways & Means does its own research.

March 3, 2021 - 5:31pm

Press release:

The Holland Land Office Museum will be hosting its next Trivia Night at the Museum on Thursday, March 11 at 7 p.m. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, the topic will be Irish History. You can either join us in person at the museum or via Zoom.

Our in-person audience will be limited to 12 people, and masks and social distancing will be required. If you would like to attend in person, please preregister by calling the museum at 585-343-4727.

If you would like to come in person we are asking for a donation in place of the regular admission. For the links to attend via Zoom please visit the museum’s Facebook page or website, www.hollandlandoffice.com, for more details.

The Holland Land Office Museum welcomes back No Blarney on Wednesday, March 17th at 7 p.m. for another St. Patrick’s Day concert. No Blarney will play all of your favorite Irish tunes from every era.

The concert will only be available via the museum’s YouTube channel, Holland Land Office Museum, as it will be livestreamed thanks to Paul Figlow. Please visit the museum’s Facebook page or website, www.hollandoffice.com, for the details to watch the livestream of the concert.

The Holland Land Office Musuem welcomes Nellie Ludemann of the Seneca Falls Historical Society on Tuesday, March 30 at 7 p.m. for its next edition of its Guest Speaker Series. The presentation will be on the life of an early women's rights activist, Amelia Jenks Bloomer.

The presentation will be available via Zoom and in person to a small group of up to 12 people to come to watch on our big screen.

All those in attendance must wear masks and follow social distancing protocols. If you would like to attend in person, please contact the museum by phone at (585) 343-4727 to preregister. Please visit the museum’s Facebook page or website, www.hollandlandoffice.com for more details.

March 3, 2021 - 5:24pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The Genesee Community College Foundation and Cougar Classic Scholarship Scramble Honorary Chairperson Gina G. Giese ('91) have confirmed the Sixth Annual Cougar Classic Scholarship Scramble will take place on Monday, July 19, at Stafford Country Club in Stafford.

Giese, a Batavia resident, earned an associate degree in Business and Marketing from GCC in 1991, a bachelor's degree in the same from Buffalo State College and an MBA from Canisius College. She has spent her career as a local business leader. She is currently retail regional manager, administrative vice president at M&T Bank in Batavia, where she started her career with the bank 32 years ago.

A devoted volunteer and member of GCC's Alumni Council since 2011, Giese has served on many committees including the Cougar Classic and GCC Alumni Panel Series. She and her husband, Walter, are golfers and have also volunteered on the PGA Tour.

"I am sincerely grateful to Gina for serving as chair for the sixth annual Cougar Classic," said Executive Director of the GCC Foundation, Justin Johnston. "In my time at GCC, I've enjoyed collaborating with her on our Alumni Council. Gina's leadership is vital to so many areas of GCC, and I look forward to working with her on this important initiative to raise scholarship funds for our GCC students."

The Cougar Classic Scholarship Scramble allows up to 36 foursomes for the 18-hole event at the esteemed Stafford Country Club. Registration includes 18 holes of golf, a golf cart, all beer and nonalcoholic beverages during play, lunch and dinner with a cash bar, and much more!

Most importantly, all proceeds from the Cougar Classic support GCC student scholarship programs, making higher education possible for deserving students in our communities.

Businesses and individuals looking to take advantage of this event's advertising opportunities and lock in sponsorship levels are encouraged to act early and contact Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs Jennifer Wakefield directly at (585) 343-0055, ext. 6265, or via email at [email protected].

Exciting new event details, registration and sponsorship forms will be available here.

Photo from a previous Cougar Classic Scholarship Scramble, from left: Erik Fix, Samantha Schafer, Gina Geise and Walter Szczesny.

March 3, 2021 - 5:14pm
posted by Press Release in steve hawley, news, infrastructure, CHIPS, PAVE-NY.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley joined other legislators in the Assembly Minority in calling on the governor to ensure the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), PAVE-NY, and Emergency Winter Recovery Fund remain fully funded, if  funding is not increased.

This effort comes after the governor's 2021-22 Executive Budget proposed cutting all funding for the Emergency Winter Recovery Fund and shifting a significant portion of CHIPS funding to signature projects, as opposed to core preservation, which maintains local roads and infrastructure. 

While unfunded state mandates placed on localities have increased over the last decade, CHIPS base-level funding has remained stagnant since 2013. Local governments are responsible for maintaining about 87 percent of all roads in New York State and half of the state’s 18,000 bridges, of which 36 percent of bridges are deficient. Additionally, 38 percent of roads in the state have been rated poor or fair.

“By maintaining and improving our roads, we create jobs, make our communities safer, and avoid larger problems that may otherwise arise in the future,” Hawley said.

“Cutting Emergency Winter Recovery funds would only slow our economic recovery, and we should instead be talking about increasing CHIPS funding to put people to work and give families, businesses and healthcare providers the means to get where they need to be safely and efficiently."

March 3, 2021 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, notify.

travissackett.png

UPDATE: Statement from U.S. State Department:

The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. We are aware of a U.S. citizen missing in Ecuador. When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can.

A Batavia resident with years of volunteer service locally and overseas, including the Peace Corps, is reportedly missing in Ecuador.  

Travis Sackett has reportedly been missing since Feb. 21 after going on a hike to the Imbabura Volcano.

Recently, he has been a volunteer at a farm in Ecuador.

The U.S. Embassy in Ecuador has reportedly been notified that Sackett hasn't been heard from since he left for the hike. Local search efforts began on Feb. 25.

The Batavian has been unsuccessful in attempts to confirm his status either through a family member or by contacting the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador or the U.S. State Department. 

Cassie Toulet-Crump has set up a GoFundMe page to assist his mother, Lucy Sackett, with expenses related to the search for Travis, including a reward. 

The GoFundMe page says Sackett's parents are offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the safe return of their son. Donations will help increase the possible amount of the reward.

Word of Sackett's possible disappearance and the GoFundMe page has been spread widely in the community over the past 24 hours over social media and local email chains.

March 3, 2021 - 4:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Data Update – 

  • Genesee County received 21 new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in the:
      • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
      • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. 
  • Thirteen of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Three of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
  • Fourteen of the new positive individuals are inmates at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center.

 

Orleans County received seven new positive cases of COVID-19.  

  • The positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
    • Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
    • East Region (Kendall, Murray, Clarendon)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 50s and 60s.
  • Two of the new positives were under mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • One of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
March 3, 2021 - 3:47pm
posted by Press Release in news, BCSD Foundation Apple Awards.

Submitted photos and press release:

The BCSD Foundation lnc.'s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the recent recipients of the BCSD Foundation Apple award. Each building’s Custodial/Maintenance Team was recognized on Thursday, Feb. 25 for their efforts in making each building safe and clean for all members of the school community.

Robert Morris/District Office

We would like to recognize Jason DeGraff and his team and all they have done to coordinate a successful and safe reopening for students and staff. It was an “all hands-on deck” environment at the start of the 2020-21 school year. From helping deliver meals, to cleaning, to maintaining the grounds and so much more, we thank you for all your hard work.

(Below, from left, Foundation Board Member Cheryl Kowalik, District Facilities Director Jason DeGraff, Foundation Member Bobbi Norton, and Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr.)

Batavia High School

We are so appreciative of everything Paul Miller and his team have been able to do to ensure we opened without an issue and have remained open for our BHS Family to come together in our own way. Between measuring for social distancing, moving classroom furniture, helping with procedures and cleaning, making sure everyone is happy and safe, this integral team has been like no other. Because of their processes and determination, we were able to start clubs and activities without an issue. The faculty, staff, students, parents and administration thank you for everything you have done (and continue to do) to make the 2020-2021 school year a success.

(Below, from left, BHS Head Custodian Paul Miller, two of his team members, and Foundation Board Member Dave Chua.)

Batavia Middle School

Prior to his retirement Fran O’Geen, and now Val Zinni and their crew have outdone themselves keeping BMS clean and safe. The custodial staff is very responsive to any emergency cleanups throughout the day and the evening crew prides themselves with sanitizing all the spaces. It is a pleasure working with this group of individuals. Thank you!

(Below, Foundation Board Member Dave Chua and BMS Head Custodian Val Zinni.)

John Kennedy School

There's so much that we are grateful for when it comes to our JK buildings and grounds team. There’s really no job, task, and request that they can’t handle and they always respond with a smile. Louis, Sherry, Mark, Frank, Tim, your energy and enthusiasm adds to our team at JK each and every day. You are each so important to the learning and teaching that we strive for with our students.Thank you for your dedication to our staff, students, and building while keeping us all safe and healthy. You are an integral part of the JK Family and we are lucky to have you! Thank you!

(Below, custodial staff member, Foundation Board Member Dave Chua and JK Head Custodian Louis Smith.)

(Below, JK Head Custodian Louis Smith holds Apple Award, flanked by members of his custodial team.)

Jackson School

Our Jackson custodians are top notch. Working in a primary school there are many “spills." Our custodians get called several times a day to help. During this pandemic, we have had to monitor and adjust. Our custodians have shown understanding when they go to clean a classroom and a teacher is working late. They understand and go back to cleaning that room later. They are always willing to help everyone. They create a climate where teachers feel they can ask for help and receive it. They always have smiles on their faces and are always willing to lend a hand. Our Jackson custodians are responsive to any requests. They make sure the building is kept clean and comfortable and this makes everyone feel welcomed. Thank You to Dave, Patrick, Jim, Dominic and Debbie for all of your hard work. It does not go unnoticed. You are so deserving of this award. Thank you! Congratulations!

(Below, the custodial team at Jackson School, with Foundation Board members Cheryl Kowalik and Bobbi Norton at right in front, respectively.)

The BCSD Foundation Apple award is given by a member of the school and/or local community to a Batavia City School District employee or volunteer. In the opinion of those giving the honor of this distinction, the awardee has gone above and beyond in their role and is being recognized by one or more people for these accomplishments.

Local artist, Mark Jensen, will be making each individual resin apple -- none will be exactly the same. If you are interested in giving a Foundation Apple award, please submit your nomination form and $75 (payable to the BCSD Foundation Inc., 260 State St., Batavia NY 14020 att: Allison Chua). Nomination forms may be found on our webpage.

Community members with questions are asked to email us at:  [email protected]

March 3, 2021 - 2:48pm

Press release:

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today reminded taxpayers that they can receive the refunds they’re owed up to two weeks sooner by e-filing their return and choosing direct deposit.

E-filing is safer, faster, and more efficient than sending paper returns through the mail. And you’ll receive your refund faster if it’s directly deposited into your bank account rather than mailed as a paper check.

“Combining the power of electronic filing and direct deposit is the most secure and efficient way to submit your tax return and receive any refund due,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt.

“We strive to issue refunds as quickly as possible, and you can help by filing an accurate return and choosing to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account.”

To use direct deposit, simply check direct deposit on your tax return, then enter your bank’s nine-digit routing number and your account number. For checking accounts, this information is available on your checks; for savings accounts, contact your bank.

If you forgo the simplicity and convenience of direct deposit, make sure your mailing address is correct when requesting a refund check by mail. Any error can delay your refund.

Prepare and file your income tax returns for free

Free File software is now available at the Tax Department website, www.tax.ny.gov. Taxpayers with income of $72,000 or less in 2020 can electronically complete and submit their federal and New York State income tax returns online at no cost.

Nearly 255,000 New York taxpayers used our Free File software last year, saving themselves a combined $51 million in the process. To be directed to the free filing options, simply click Free File your income tax return on the Tax Department’s website. It’s easy, fast and secure.

To ensure you're not charged a fee, you must go to the Tax Department’s website to complete your return. You’ll save on preparation fees, prevent costly errors, and ensure that you receive any refund you’re owed in the most efficient way possible.

Check your refund status

Taxpayers can also quickly view the status of their New York State tax refund anytime by using the Check your Refund application on the Tax Department website: www.tax.ny.gov. It’s the fastest and most convenient way to know when to expect your refund. It’s updated daily and provides the same information available to our phone representatives—only without the wait!

You can also find out when your refund will be issued by signing up for Tax Department email alerts. Visit the Tax Department homepage at www.tax.ny.gov and select Subscribe under the Connect With Us heading at the bottom of the page.

March 3, 2021 - 1:49pm

Press release:

The Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary of Batavia is sponsoring a Chicken and Biscuit Dinner, Basket Raffle and Easter items table sale on March 20.

The "cash and carry" table sale includes "brand-new" decorative items and children items for $1, $5 or three for $10.

This dinner is take out only from 4 to 6 p.m. or until sold out. The dinner includes mashed potatoes, vegetables and dessert.

Presale tickets for $10 each are available at The Salvation Army, 529 E. Main St., Batavia. Phone is (585) 343-6384.

Tickets are also available from Women’s Auxiliary members or at the door.

Winners of the Basket Raffle will be contacted by phone and can pick up the items at The Salvation Army.

March 3, 2021 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.
Video Sponsor

Chamber Awards: Business of the Year, Pellegrino Auto Sales

March 3, 2021 - 1:46pm

The Batavia Town Board Tuesday night tabled action necessary to advance a community solar project on Ellicott Street Road – the pros and cons of which have been dissected and discussed by engineers, developers, planners and neighbors for the past year and a half.

Introduced in June 2019, the proposal from Cypress Creek Renewables LLC calls for placement of two solar farms on property owned by Don Partridge at 5117 Ellicott Street Road.

One, Trousdale Solar I, is a 5-megawatt array on 18.2 acres of a 65-acre parcel, and the other, Trousdale Solar II, is an adjacent 4-megawatt system on 19.6 acres of a 71-acre parcel of farmland off Route 63, southeast of the city.

Town planners at their meeting via Zoom videoconferencing last night were looking to proclaim a negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review, which deals with the projects’ combined effect on the land, and also to approve separate site plans and special use permits for the two tracts.

During the SEQR process, however, Steve Tanner, a planning board member, said it would be wise to get an updated visual impact study as he had concerns over the proposed screening of the layout from neighboring properties.

Cypress Creek representatives Jerry Leone and civil engineer Nick Hawvermale indicated that they had addressed the town’s request to mitigate any visual impacts by moving a portion of screening (trees, etc.) further south, closer to a neighbor’s property.

After hearing Tanner’s request for photos to be taken from the neighbors’ view, Leone asked Town Engineer Steve Mountain for assistance in obtaining access. Mountain said that would be possible, noting that landowners have been accommodating to the town on other projects.

With an eye on making this happen before the board’s next meeting on Feb. 16, Leone said his company is “prepared to move quickly.”

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski brought up tabling everything until the supplemental photo documentation was obtained, prompting Partridge, a planning board member, to advise that he had taken more pictures that day from the border of neighboring fields.

“I don’t know what difference it will matter getting up next to their house another 30 feet to visualize something that will be behind the trees that are on Folger’s (property),” he said. “And we have a presentation where they have the driveway and the trees on that. Now if you go to the other side of Folger’s with that tree line … it’s going to be the same kind of visualization on the knoll behind the Smiths' and the ARC properties.”

A motion to table was presented, however, with Town Building Inspector Dan Lang suggesting to “err on the side of caution” before Tanner reiterated his call for “a complete set of documents that show everything we are asking for” – views with screening and without screening.

Planner Jonathan Long supported that, referring to a question on the SEQR application that points to the solar farm being inconsistent with the character of the natural landscape and surmising that proper screening would mitigate potential issues.

Hawvermale took several minutes to go over the renderings of the two solar farms, making planners aware of the placement and types of screenings and buffers.

When questioned about the number of utility poles on the layout, Leone said that is within National Grid’s “purview” and leaves Cypress Creek little flexibility. Hawvermale did provide specifics, indicating that there will be five utility company poles and three others to be put up by Cypress Creek.

Jasinski said the town will contact National Grid to get information about the number of poles in writing, adding that the power company has permitted a fewer number on other projects.

Planners also asked about glare, with Lang stating that a study came back showing no glare at all on the site. Still, he is requesting further research because that is the first time a report came back with that result.

When voting on the proposal does occur, Partridge will be required to abstain.

In recent weeks, neighbors and others living on Ellicott Street Road have spoken out about Partridge’s plan, citing impacts on the land and property values, and questioning whether two 20-acre side-by-side arrays violate the maximum limit imposed by the Town of Batavia.

Previously: Ellicott Street Road resident challenges Town of Batavia's 20-acre solar limit as nearby project moves forward

March 3, 2021 - 1:24pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The Pembroke Jr./Sr. High School Girls’ Basketball Team will host its 10th annual Shooting For A Cure! event versus Oakfield-Alabama this Friday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school gym, located at the corner of routes 5 and 77 (8750 Alleghany Road) in Pembroke.

Because of the current statewide COVID-19 restrictions, admission to the game is by school-issued passes only, with two immediate family members per player in attendance.

To date, Shooting For A Cure! has raised more than $152,000 and has become one of Roswell Park’s largest community-based fundraising events.

This year, the team hopes to break the $200,000 mark in total funds raised since the event’s inception, setting their most ambitious goal to date.

Donate / Support / Bid 

There are several ways to support this year’s mission.

The team is currently accepting online donations in support of Shooting For A Cure! To make a donation, please click here.

Currently Bontrager Real Estate & Auction Service has listed 20 Park Hopper passes to Walt Disney World that are up for bid. This auction closes on Friday, March 5th at 9:30 p.m., with 100 percent of the proceeds raised to benefit cancer research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Insty-Prints of Buffalo generously printed raffle tickets in support of this year’s event. Countless donors have provided jewelry, newly released Apple products, Amazon gift cards, autographed sports memorabilia, gift certificates to local restaurants, themed-baskets, family photo sessions, and various hand-crafted items as raffle prizes. The YMCA of Batavia donated multiple memberships and Pesci’s Pizza & Wings donated an "Office Pizza Party for 12."

A limited number of raffle tickets remain.

To bid, click here.

Mark Lewis, local State Farm Insurance agent, has pledged $10 per insurance quote to Shooting For A Cure! for every auto quote completed now through March 31. This offer is for new customers only, so if you are not already a State Farm customer, please call (585) 343-4959 to request your “Quotes for Good” auto quote today (limit one per household). Please be sure to say you're calling on behalf of Shooting For A Cure!

In addition to details about purchasing tickets, event-related information is available here.

If you’d like to donate to this year’s event please contact Mike Wilson by calling (716) 949-0523 or click here.

WBTA to Broadcast Live and Food Trucks Will Rally

WBTA has offered an AM/FM broadcast of the game. Pembroke will be setting up a live video feed of the game.

Snack Shack Coordinator and Pembroke teacher Arron Brown has coordinated with local food trucks to set up a "Food Truck Rally" in support of the event from 4 to 8 p.m. The food vendors will donate a percentage of proceeds to cancer research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Reflections on the Pink Game

Senior Serene Calderón will be playing in her fourth and final Shooting For A Cure! game this year.

“When I reflect on the Pink Game, what comes to mind is community, love, and team work," Serene said. "This game brings our community together every season, and we grow closer and more supportive of each other. The night of the game, our school is surrounded by love.

"You can just feel it, especially during the halftime ceremony. Shooting For A Cure! brings our team together; it gives us a higher purpose as we try to help those in need. It’s not about basketball that night; it’s about showing love to those in our community and supporting a cause much bigger than ourselves.”

Senior Emily Peters said “The most important part, to me, about participating in this event the fact that our small community makes a big impact. Since the inaugural game, each team—including all of the new members— looks for ways to widen the impact of the game. It’s been challenging for us this year to try and reinvent the way we host this event.

"It being our 10th annual, we wanted to go big and get creative, but with all of the current COVID restrictions, we won’t be able to have a packed gym or crowded hallways full of prizes; however that won’t take away from what’s most important. It’s about supporting our community, and we’re finding new ways to do that.”

Although this year’s event won’t have the characteristic congested hallways, capacity crowd in the gymnasium, jam-packed cafeteria, or halftime ceremony we’ve all become accustomed to, the team continues to pursue creative alternatives to bring the game to the community.

“The first word that comes to mind when I think about Shooting For A Cure! is the simple, powerful, and profound word, love.” said Matthew Calderón, Pembroke superintendent. “There isn’t a better word that describes what’s going on here at Pembroke in the days, weeks, and months leading up to this event.

"You can feel it in the building, especially on the night of the game. This entire event is fueled by love. It’s about selflessly serving others and showing everyone in our community that we’ve got their back when adversity strikes. The most important aspect of this game has only been further strengthened and enhanced by the current restrictions we’re facing.

"These new challenges will not stop Pembroke from trying to make a difference. It provides us with the opportunity to do something we never would have had the chance to do. Our mission remains the same, we’re just finding new ways to go about it. We remain hopeful that taking a more virtual approach will allow us to engage more people in a broader way, reaching those we wouldn’t normally reach."

Cancer Survivor: 'Entire Community Was There For Me'

Proud cancer survivor Diane Phelps said "We are truly a unified community that has been proudly working towards a common goal for a decade now. The most important aspect of this event isn’t about the dollar amount raised, it’s about the genuine love shown to cancer patients and their families. It’s an incredible feeling to know that no one is going through this alone.

"Standing on the baseline during the halftime ceremony for the first time as someone battling this disease was overwhelming. I couldn’t believe that I was living in that moment, knowing that my entire community was there for me. It was a wonderful feeling. When you know that your community has your back at times like that, it’s emotional and hard to put into words what that feels like.

"Pembroke is special and this game helps to model for all of the students, young and old, what’s most important in life. It’s a great way for young people to get involved and give back. The way that this team, the Pembroke teachers, students, alumni, and basketball families rally around this cause every year is inspirational to me. I’m so blessed to be a part of such an incredible community."

Photo: Front -- Karli Houseknecht (25), Serene Calderón (10), Sydney Johnson (11), Allyson DuBois-Rider (30). Back -- Isabel Breeden (2), Emily Peters (32), Nicole Von Kramer (23), Allie Schwerthoffer (14), Ariel Moss (50).

March 3, 2021 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, sports, basketball.

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On Senior Night, Oakfield-Alabama beat Lyndonville 58-39.

Danica Porter scored 15 points for the Hornets and Makena Reding scored 14. Porter hit five three-point shots.

In other girls basketball last night, Batavia beat Olympia 55-35 (click here for coverage).

In boys basketball:

  • Hornell beat Le Roy 57-52
  • Pavilion beat Mount Morris 50-39
  • Batavia beat Pembroke 72-40. The Blue Devils are now 11-0 on the season.

Photos by Kristin Smith.

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March 3, 2021 - 12:56pm

Press release:

Six Flags Darien Lake, the Thrill Capital of New York, will begin the search for more than 1,500 employees with a Virtual Hiring Event on Saturday, March 6, followed by a second virtual hiring event on Saturday, March 13.

Applicants may apply and interview online for positions at the park, waterpark, and the hotel and campgrounds. 

“Safety is our top priority at Darien Lake, and that goes for our team members as well as our guests,” said Six Flags Darien Lake President Chris Thorpe. “Our new hiring process provides applicants with a safe environment from application to hire and all the way through on-the-job training.” 

The Virtual Hiring Event steps include:

  • Applicants apply online at https://www.sixflags.com/darienlake/jobs/ prior to the hiring event they plan on attending;
  • Applicants will receive an email to sign up for an interview time on March 6 or March 13, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; 
  • Once the interview is scheduled, applicants will receive a link for their interview; 
  • Interviews will be done in Microsoft Teams with groups of up to 10 applicants; and
  • Once hired, applicants can also complete some of their paperwork and training online.      

Darien Lake offers new rates for many frontline positions, starting at $12.50 per hour, for employees 14 years old and up.

Many specialty positions are available as well. A variety of positions are available including lifeguards, ride operators, cashiers, front gate ticket takers and sellers as well as positions in Medical Services, Security, Guest Relations, Accommodations, Retail and Food Service. Positions offer competitive wages, great benefits, and flexible schedules. 

Darien Lake offers other benefits including paid internships, in-park discounts, rewards and recognitions and flexible scheduling great for students, teachers, retirees, or anyone looking for a second job or a job that allows them to work around a busy personal schedule.

Darien Lake also offers unlimited theme park and waterpark admission for employees, free tickets for family and friends, exclusive Team Member events and more! 

Applicants who are unable to participate in the Virtual Hiring Event, may apply online anytime Visit us at https://www.sixflags.com/darienlake/jobs/ for more information.

About Darien Lake 

Darien Lake’s wide variety of entertainment and top-notch thrill rides has made it the Thrill Capital of New York since 1964. Located 45 minutes from Niagara Falls between Buffalo and Rochester, today the park boasts more than 50 rides, including seven world-class roller coasters, dozens of family rides, the region’s largest water park and a 20,000-seat amphitheater operated by Live Nation.

The park welcomes overnight guests in a wide range of accommodations—from a full-service hotel and modern cabins to rental RVs, and RV and tent campsites. 

About Six Flags Entertainment Corporation

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the world’s largest regional theme park company with $1.4 billion in revenue and 26 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada. For 59 years, Six Flags has entertained millions of families with world-class coasters, themed rides, thrilling water parks and unique attractions. For more information, visit www.sixflags.com.

March 3, 2021 - 12:32pm

Starting this Saturday morning, March 6, free clothes are being offered at the North Darien Bible Church.

The church, located at 9762 Simonds Road in Corfu, has two rooms chock full of clothing, coats and shoes for all ages and sizes.

Your window of opportunity is from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of each month.

Don't be shy, come on down and take your pick!

Mark Your Calendar: And note that in a month, on Saturday April 3, there will also be the church's premier Easter Egg Hunt starting at 10:30 in the morning -- sharp -- for kids through grade five (age 10 and under).

March 2, 2021 - 9:51pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Batavia High girls basketball.

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Senior point guard Mackenzie Reigle recalls the first basket that she ever made – a three-point shot after being called up late in the season as a seventh-grader. From that point on, she knew what she wanted to achieve as a Batavia High varsity girls’ basketball player.

“I remember being really nervous, but it was super exciting, my first point was a ‘3’ right on the side and I followed it up with a block on the other end. It was so exciting and I’ve always wanted to score 1,000 points since then,” Reigle said tonight after reaching that goal in the Lady Blue Devils’ 55-35 victory over visiting Greece Olympia in Monroe County League Division IV action.

Needing just one point to hit the milestone, Reigle misfired on her first two shots before taking a pass from Kennedy Kolb and sinking an 18-foot baseline jumper at the 5:07 mark of the first quarter. That gave the Lady Devils their first points – they trailed 5-2 at that point – and prompted the referees to call a timeout for her to pose with Coach Marty Hein at center court as fans and players from both teams applauded her accomplishment.

When play resumed, Batavia scored only four more points the rest of the period, missing 11 of 14 shots from the field, and trailed Olympia by a 9-6 score.

Olympia was up 14-9 with five minutes left in the second quarter when Reigle drove to the basket for a layup and Tess Barone scored on consecutive trips to give Batavia its first lead at 15-14.

The home team went on to score 10 more points – completing a 16-0 burst – as Reigle had a three-pointer and layup, Barone converted a pass from Reigle for a score and Bryn Wormley sank a three-pointer at the buzzer for a 25-14 halftime advantage.

Batavia stretched the lead to 28-14 on a three-point shot by Bella Houseknecht but Olympia, behind Taylor Jung’s 12 points, pulled with 10 at 37-27 heading into the final period.

Then Reigle took over -- sinking four free throws after getting fouled on drives to the hoop, converting a steal into a layup and going to her right hand (she is left-handed) to score from 10 feet out.

She then assisted on Barone’s hoop before Haylee Thornley scored inside to give Batavia a 49-33 lead with three minutes to play.

Reigle scored 27 points to raise her per game average to 17.9 this season and also had six assists, 11 rebounds, eight steals and two blocks.

A force on the offensive end, the 5-foot-7 Reigle is equally impressive on defense with her ability to steal the ball from the opposing point guard, establish position on the boards and block shots.

“I just try to read the defenses,” she said. “I know that with this team (Greece Olympia) a lot of them were weaker left-handed players so I took away their right side and it worked tonight.”

After the game, Hein emphasized Reigle’s work ethic and determination.

“When you’re with somebody as long as I have been with Kenzie, it makes it so special,” he said. “I’ve seen her sweat and cry and bleed through this whole endeavor and she wants it so badly. She works so hard; she’s always in the gym. She so much deserves this, and I’m really happy for her.”

Reigle joins Tiara Filbert (2015), Madison McCulley (2016) and former teammate Ryann Stefaniak (2018) as the only Batavia girls' basketball players to score 1,000 points in their varsity careers.

As far as the team is concerned, Hein said the girls were pressing at the beginning of the year – Batavia started 0-3 – but have learned to run the offense and trust each other since then to put together a seven-game winning streak.

“If losing those first three games of the season puts (us) in a position where we’re at now, then they were a really good three losses … as we’ve grown from there. The belief is there that if we’re going to do this (win a sectional title), it’s going to be all nine of us.”

Batavia has defeated Olympia three times this season and the margin was 20 points each time, including a 55-35 win on Feb. 17.

The Lady Devils host Our Lady of Mercy at 8 p.m. Thursday and close out the regular season at Greece Odyssey for a 2:15 p.m. game on Saturday.

The Section V Class B1 Tournament begins on Tuesday night, with Batavia expecting to host the first-round game at 7 o’clock. It is possible that Batavia, currently the third seed, will face Olympia, currently the sixth seed, for a fourth time.

Reigle said she has one more goal, and that’s to win a sectional title – something that Batavia has come close to in her varsity years.

“We’re hoping that it is this year … but we have to stay strong,” she said.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

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Photos, from top to bottom: Batavia team celebrates Mackenzie Reigle's accomplishment following the win over Greece Olympia; the shot that put Reigle at 1,001 points early in the first quarter; Bryn Wormley launches a three-point shot; Tess Barone gets inside position; Reigle drives to the hoop; Kennedy Kolb shoots over a Lady Spartan defender. Photos by Steve Ognibene.

Top Items on Batavia's List

The Genesee County Agricultural Society is seeking competitive bids from competent, licensed contractors, including MWBEs, for both, high-voltage and low-voltage electrical services, to be performed at the Genesee County Fairgrounds in Batavia, New York.

Fairgrounds Electrical Infrastructure Competitive Bid Request Batavia, N.Y. NOTICE: The Genesee County Agricultural Society is seeking competitive bids from competent, licensed contractors, including MWBEs, for both, high-voltage and low-voltage electrical services, to be performed at the Genesee County Fairgrounds in Batavia, New York. The work will entail replacing a main-gang switch with pole, replacing wiring, boxes, and lighting with high efficiency LED fixtures, and adding specialized ventilation equipment.

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