It was a good run — squeezing out every ounce of use from a mobile command vehicle the last 20 years — and it’s now time to make another considerable purchase to upgrade Genesee County Emergency Management’s ability for on-the-go operations, Coordinator Tim Yaeger says.
He gave a presentation Tuesday to the Public Service Committee about the current vehicle’s status, purchased for $157,000 nearly two decades ago, along with how much for a new one, with more interior space to accommodate more than twice the people, communication equipment, three work stations, single telescoping with two mast-mounted cameras, internet, a bathroom, kitchen area with amenities, and on-board gas generator.
Ticket price? About $724,000.
“This thing has been added on and morphed over the last 10 years, and probably at most, we've updated some of the equipment in there. But its capacity to maintain and keep stuff where it needs to be, it just doesn't have the capacity. So it's just starting to age, mechanically, or visually, inside it just looks unkempt, but it still functions. But we struggle with it,” Yaeger said. “I’m leaning towards a year to a year and a half to take possession of another vehicle.”
While there initially seemed to be adequate space inside, there isn’t enough internal working space — fitting about four law enforcement people in the command area — for command staff and officials, he said, especially after COVID brought about a general sense of people not wanting “to be on top of each other” when working indoors.
By the time a new vehicle is purchased and delivered, this one would be at least 20 years old, having been used an average of 14 times a year for everything from a plane crash to events at Darien Lake. The propane tank needs to be replaced, and the front tires, brake lines, leveling system and generators are all a concern at this point, Yaeger said.
He recommended a manufacturer that makes the Snap-on Tool trucks, and a customized vehicle would have upgrades of two cameras for viewing from more than just the front as is the case now; seating for 10; a large command center area; an on-board bathroom, which isn’t always important for urban units but is for rural Genesee County, he said; and it can be retrofit for future needs and is a “50 percent improvement from what we’re using.”
Yaeger said he’s “guessing around a $50,000 value” for the current vehicle and that, after scouting for a new mobile unit the last few years, the package would include a $27,000 discount and delivery. He will be getting Homeland Security funds to replace radio equipment.
"I'm using all my security money. So the 800 megahertz radios are all going to be replaced with new ones, and we are going to have a couple of remote heads. So in the command area, there's a capability for you to be in the Command Area and hear what's going on, obviously, and talk, but most of the radio equipment's going to be in the back. That's all going to be new," he said. "We are going to reuse some of the UHF and VHF equipment because we can add that to the current vehicle, and it's not that old. But that's all that's allowable under Homeland Security, and I can afford it with the Homeland Security funding. We have to replace the equipment. But other than that, there's nothing to purchase.
“I fear the longer we wait, it’s not going to get less expensive,” he said. “Right now, it would be a capital project.”
He joked that on the plus side, County Manager Matt Landers spotted that it came with a Keurig coffee maker. Landers said that he had anticipated this expense in the 2024 budget with an assets allocation of $675,000. The remaining cost would come from a sales tax reserve.
“So anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000 is the additional amount that we're going to have to pull from a 1% sales tax reserve,” Landers said. “And we'll accomplish that through a budget resolution that we will bring forward to the public service (committee) next month, and then the full funds will be available in the budget, then Tim can go out and procure that vehicle.
“Tim, 19 years ago, made the determination that this was something that was needed in the community. It is a significant cost, which is something that I'm mindful of. However, it does act in some ways, as I said, as an insurance policy,” Landers said. “You don't know how important it is until there's a crisis or something's happening, in which case you're going to need it. So we'll be glad to have it on hand in the event of that crisis. And it's just unfortunate that it costs so much money.”
Felicia R. Sherrell, 43, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving while ability impaired by drugs and alcohol, failure to keep right, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, harassment 2nd, and resisting arrest. Sherrell was arrested in connection with a motor vehicle accident reported on Dec. 17. According to police, Sherrell's vehicle struck a sign on West Main Street at Oak Street, Batavia, and then left the scene. Once located, Sherrell allegedly resisted arrest and struck an officer. She was released on an appearance ticket.
Isaiah J. Munroe, 33, of Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd, unlawful imprisonment 2nd, and criminal mischief 4th. Munroe is accused of being in a fight with another person on Walnut Street, Batavia, on Feb 4. He is accused of restraining a person and preventing the person from calling for help. He was arraigned and released.
Michael R. Ostrander, 59, of Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd. Ostrander is accused of hitting another person, causing injury, during an incident on Feb. 9 on Mill Street. Ostrander was arraigned and released.
Leona J. Polk, 44, of Le Roy, is charged with harassment 2nd. Polk is accused of striking a nurse in the emergency room at UMMC on Feb. 12. She was issued an appearance ticket.
Rebecca R. Fugate, 33, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Fugate is accused of striking a person on Feb. 12 while on a bus in Batavia. She was issued an appearance ticket.
Kristen R Aquino, 40, no community listed, is charged with DWI. Aquino was stopped on Feb. 3 on Liberty Street by a Batavia patrol officer. She was issued an appearance ticket.
David J. Sokolowski, 54, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Sokolowski was allegedly found in possession of narcotics on Feb. 6 in the city of Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.
Jaylinn M O'Neil, 33, of Le Roy, was arrested on Feb. 7 on a warrant issued by City Court. O'Neil was initially charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle 3rd on Nov. 8. She is accused of failure to appear in court as ordered. She was arraigned in City Court and released pending her next court appearance.
Peter Hubbard, 43, of Lovering Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with DWI, DWAI (combined influence of drugs and alcohol), driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, driving left of pavement markings. Hubbard was charged following an investigation by deputies Zachary Hoy and Nicholas Chamoun at 5:40 p.m. on Dec. 16 on Ellicott Street Road, Pavilion. He was arrested on Feb. 17. Hubbard was released on an appearance ticket.
A 13-year-old was arrested by State Police on Feb. 15 and charged with burglary 3rd. The alleged burglary was reported on Dec. 29 at 5:17 p.m. in the Town of Elba. No further information released.
Jacqueline M. Kotas, 49, of Alden, is charged with DWI. Kotas was stopped by State Police at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 in the Town of Darien. She was issued an appearance ticket.
Although it’s fair to say the Rev. James “Jim” Morasco has been working on a genealogy project to trace various members on his dad’s side of the family for the last several years, it might be more accurate to say he’s been working to put the pieces of himself in order for more than three decades.
And, although he may not have planned it this way, the two have peacefully collided with his latest find: his grandmother Genevive and Uncle Nicholas, both who have been traced to the nondescript pauper’s plot on the Southside of Batavia Cemetery on Harvester Avenue.
“When I called Catherine Roth the second time, she said they’re here; that was the a-ha moment; that’s how I found them,” Morasco said during an interview with The Batavian Monday at The Pub Hub just across from the cemetery. “When I was in Italy … I went to a church and touched the baptismal. All those people I never knew contributed to who I am.”
Roth was a staunch supporter of city and cemetery history and had helped Morasco with research to track the whereabouts of his long-lost family members who died in the 1930s. His grandmother had died at the age of 40 with heart issues, and Nicholas was just 6 years old when he died of scarlet fever.
Shelves and shelves of darkened yellow parchment from so long ago.
Carefully guarding life’s passing of forgotten people.
Diligently searching for familiar names in memory.
Morasco only remembered hearing about how his father could feel the drip of melting ice that was packed around the bodies when temporarily at their house.
Neither of them had a burial or a headstone, which Morasco wants to rectify. He has compiled a book of poems written over the years in honor of his family, his spiritual work and beliefs, people and social justice, and Morasco’s own struggles and triumphs with alcohol addiction.
Suddenly they come alive after being dead for so many years. They shout at me from the page.
Congessio, Francesco, Giuseppe, Vincenzo.
Moresco, Morasco, Morasca.
Born, Married, Died.
Life’s important moments.
Suspended in time.
It was Vincenzo Morasco who led the way in America from Vasto, Italy, a hilltop ancient Roman town overlooking the cerulean blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. Not an easy task in its own right, emigrating to the United States was made even more difficult, Morasco said, due to Vincenzo having broken his leg and being advised that he wouldn’t be let into Ellis Island with such an injury.
So he bypassed the usual route by going through South America, traveled by banana boat, and ended up coming by way of Niagara Falls. Morasco has visited the famous falls and imagined his brave Italian elder making his way over to a whole new world, a new way of life and opportunities.
Vincent, as he was called on the Southside, worked for a while on the railroad, blasting rocks with a sledgehammer. He was blinded in one eye when a piece of rock flew up and hit him in the eye, and he apparently went on to own a big greenhouse on Swan Street, Morasco said.
And after that first relative’s trek, six generations followed, he said, bringing with them a spirit of community and patriotism by serving in the military, nursing, as firefighters, and clergy — Morasco, a 1974 Batavia High School grad, is pastor at Morganville United Church of Christ.
We were something once they say,
Mamma, papa, bambino.
We were flesh and blood once,
Now your flesh and blood.
And so we breathe again,
We are family.
It’s time to bring us home.
While he has been able to relate to family struggles with alcohol — “finding answers to why I act the way I do” — he also cherishes the advice given to him by his Irish mom, Margaret McCann, who shared stories and urged him to carry them on.
“My mother thought the stories were important. She would talk to me about things I didn’t know,” he said. “This is something that I've been thinking about for a while since I told my father I wanted to do this. But I was busy. I'm older now, and I’ve got a lot more time, so I can get things done that I wanted to do. It's kind of a closure for me.
“That was part of it because, you know, I've been in recovery for over 30 years. But that was finding answers as well. You know, finding answers to why I act the way I do, where that comes from, looking at my family history of alcoholism and substance use, and then I started on this as well, along with it, because I started digging up information on people,” he said. “I realized it was almost impossible that I wasn't an alcoholic; it was part of our family; we had the Irish and the Italian; it was an interesting mix.”
While it has also become a closure of sorts for the whole family, it has served as an opening for family reunions with siblings and cousins. Perhaps he’ll share his own stories of visiting Italy and sneaking into a fenced area to see old fishing platoons and envisioning how his own grandpa may have played there years before.
“I told my brother the other day, it's like the grandmother we never knew was bringing us together,” Morasco said.
Any remaining proceeds from the book will go to Batavia Cemetery Association for the good work that the nonprofit’s volunteers do, he said. “It’s important to me that they’re recognized as well,” he said.
Sharon Burkel said that, on behalf of the cemetery association, “we are very pleased that he wants to remember his family this way.”
“Every soul in the cemetery has a story,” she said. “We’ll pick a nice spot in that area for the marker.”
She remembered reading a news article that, at one point, those in charge of the cemetery were burying people three bodies deep. They had no family to claim them and sometimes were indigents or had been in jail or for whatever other reasons. There wasn’t money or a prearranged plot for them in the traditional cemetery, so they would be placed in the pauper’s plot, a piece of unmarked land with a few trees dotting the landscape.
Morasco’s book, “Dreaming,” is available at Holland Land Office Museum, GO Art! and HERE.
He isn’t quite done with his genealogy. He also discovered another uncle whose whereabouts were unknown up to now: Uncle Franchesco “Frank,” who drowned in the Tonawanda Creek at age 15. He is in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, though it’s not known exactly where, Morasco said. He’s onto another mission.
Coach Nicholas Burk said Batavia's teams continue to excel because the athletes understand what it takes to be competitive in every meet.
"The kids need to commit," Burk said. "The kids need to recognize that this is a process, and you continue to improve. It gets more and more difficult for kids with all the distractions they have in life. So, kids have to commit; they have to enjoy this feeling of wanting to win again. I don't mean to necessarily sound overconfident, but we're going to be in the midst of it. Our kids are gonna give effort, and they're gonna work their tails off, so we're in a position where we're a top two, top three team, and we're gonna get after it, and you know, we're gonna build that confidence to try to win."
Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. announces the graduation of Correction Officers Ian A. Sanfratello, Aaron M. Spring, and William H. Steavens today from the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy’s 27th Basic Course for Correction Officers.
At the top of the class was C.O. Sanfratello who received the Academic Excellence and Joseph E. Steblein Memorial awards. Joseph E. Steblein was the first director of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy. This memorial award is presented to the individual who demonstrates overall excellence in all areas of training and is selected by the instructors of the academy.
The 247-hour course included training in effective communications, essential services, use of force, NYS Penal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, Inmate Transportation, Firearms, Pepper Spray, Taser and Defensive Tactics, and other topics pertaining to corrections.
“Congratulations to all three of these Correction Officers. We look forward to your future in Corrections at the Genesee County Jail,” stated Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr.
An apparently damaged fire hydrant on a McKinley Avenue home forced City firefighters to take a defensive posture instead of entering a duplex at 14 McKinley Ave. on Sunday to try and knock down a fire.
The structure, though still standing, is a total loss, said Chief Josh Graham.
"It just looks like maybe either a car or maybe a snowplow might have hit the hydrant," Graham said. "It's a little loose over there. I'm not sure exactly what it is yet."
The fire, with smoke and flames already showing, was reported shortly after 2 p.m. Heavy smoke and flames coming from a first-floor window is exactly what firefighters found when they first arrived on scene, Graham said.
With the closest hydrant damaged, firefighters were forced to connect to a hydrant on East Main Street. The short delay allowed the fire to advance enough, Graham said, that firefighters were forced to make their initial attack from outside the structure.
Two families occupied the structure, including children. Graham didn't have a count of the exact number of occupants but said they were all out of the apartments by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. One person was transported to an area hospital with possible smoke inhalation and knee injuries.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Graham said he expects more information to be released on Monday.
He also said there were pets in the structure, and all of them escaped the fire.
The original house was built in 1911 and was wood framed, with what is called a balloon frame, which allows flames to easily grow up through the walls from the first floor all the way to the attic.
It is 2,024 square feet. It was last sold, according to county tax records, in 2022 for $111,500 and has a total assessed value of $81,000. The current owner, according to records, is Brandon Stevenson.
City of Batavia firefighters are on hand Friday for the dozens of soaking wet people standing outside in the frigid weather at John Kennedy Intermediate School, but it wasn’t due to any unfortunate emergency, school counselor and event Co-Chairman Eric Knapp says.
Quite the contrary, those brave souls were part of what’s become a traditional gathering of Batavia City School, fire department, business and community representatives for a yearly fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics of Western New York.
This event has been so successful, the Special Olympics organization recognizedorganizers this year with a plaque.
“We are the number one leading school district and we received what was called the Cool School Award for raising the most money. So they're going to present us with a plaque for this year. I'm not sure if we're going to be number one for this year. But last year, we were number one. I think we're going to be a strong number two, which is still pretty good,” Knapp said during the event surrounded by some 150 participants, organizers and supporters. “I’m a school counselor for John Kennedy School, and it's just to get the whole idea of helping people in your community. And it’s also bringing attention to the Special Olympics and the athletes and all the gifts that they have. So bringing awareness to diverse people … it's just the coolest thing to help other people, especially the Special Olympics population.”
The coolest thing? He can say that again: “it’s literally going to be the coolest thing, when it’s like 10-degrees,” he said. “We are all together, some will get wet, some will not get wet, it’s pretty cold.”
Organizations included the fire department and its union, the school’s Varsity football team, Batavia Middle School Honor Society, JK’s fourth grade mentors, New York State Troopers, Batavia Police Department, the district’s students and staff and Jersey Mike’s.
Eric’s wife Krista, a second grade teacher, first began doing a polar plunge at Lake Ontario for Special Olympics before the pandemic hit, and then she and her husband brought the idea of a polar spray to Batavia to continue with the fundraising, he said.
Successful? You bet. They raised $10,000 last year and surpassed that with a total of $10,060 this year. Polar Plunge is the organization’s largest fundraiser for New York State, Senior Director for Development Kelley Ligozio said. When the pandemic and shutdowns happened, the Knapp couple and fellow organizers “wanted to build some spirit amongst our administrators and our students because COVID was really hard on everybody,” she said.
“And it's resulted in now 150 people here today to raise money to support people with intellectual differences, from our young athletes to our unified program in the schools, to our traditional competition,” Ligozio said. “The money that we're raising today, and what we raise across the state, goes back into the communities that we serve, and we serve over 3,500 athletes across the greater Rochester area. It is amazing."
Crossroads House is a comfort care home for the dying. We are a non-for-profit organization that provides its services free of charge. We run on a supportive community and selfless volunteers. With out both of those we would not be able to serve our community. If you have a caregiver's heart and 2 to 4 hours a week, we would love for you to become a part of our Crossroads House family! No experience required, we will train you and provide mentors and experienced volunteers to guide you. Please go to Crossroadshouse.com to apply, click on volunteer tab to complete application or email Ashleymanuel@crossroadshouse.com