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First Amendment question left unresolved in plea deal for Batavia mother accused of harassing school officials

By Howard B. Owens

A Batavia mother charged with harassment in the second degree for sending a series of angry emails, including one with profanity, to City School officials will not need to admit to any wrongdoing under terms of a plea agreement reached in City Court on Wednesday.

Kate Long, 39, accepted an offer from the District Attorney's Office to get the charge against her dismissed if she can avoid any additional criminal charges over the next six months.

That would wipe the slate clean, as if she was never charged in the first place. It would also mean no legal challenge to her arrest, which could have very well violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and petitioning the government for a redress of grievances.

It makes perfect sense that Long would accept the plea offer, said Constitutional scholar Jared Carter, but the plea could also potentially mean government agencies remain free to use the harassment 2nd statute to silence critics.

"My initial reaction, from a pure First Amendment perspective, is this was always a troubling case based on the facts as I understand them," Carter told The Batavian on Wednesday evening. "On one hand, there is some vindication of the First Amendment on the basis of the dismissal.  Of course, you don't have a ruling from a court saying this arrest was unconstitutional, so does the school district or law enforcement or whatever (agency) have any check on power? Can they again do what they want to do, and the short answer is, 'Yes.'  That's the unfortunate aspect of all of this."

Carter is counsel with the Cornell Law School First Amendment Clinic, based in Ithaca, and a professor of Law at Vermont Law and Graduate School. Carter specializes in First Amendment cases.

Long, a mother of three children, was issued a summons in November and charged with a single count of harassment in the second degree, a violation of Penal Law 240.26(3), which reads:

He or she engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose.

The charge was based on a criminal complaint filed with Batavia PD by John Marucci, president of the Board of Education for the Batavia City School District.

The complaint cited a Nov. 8 email that contained profanity and noted that Long had sent a series of emails over a short period of time complaining about how her son's Spanish class at Batavia Middle School was being handled.

In order to comment on the charge for an article The Batavian published on Dec. 18, Carter reviewed the emails and the charging documents and offered the opinion that Long's conduct would likely be viewed as protected speech by any court asked to rule on the constitutionality of her arrest. 

"They're (prosecutors) skating on very thin constitutional ice if any ice at all," Carter told The Batavian in December when discussing the arrest and prosecution of Long. "The First Amendment robustly protects Freedom of Speech, and the freedom to criticize government action. That would include criticizing the way that a school handles itself."

In 2014, the state's aggravated harassment statute, which contained similar language but specifically targeted speech, was ruled unconstitutional.  The state Legislature changed that law the following year but left open the ability of police to arrest individuals engaged in speech that is deemed offensive conduct under the harassment 2nd statute. 

Buffalo attorney Tom Trbovich, retained by Long to represent her in City Court, told The Batavian after her initial court appearance that he wasn't likely to mount a constitutional challenge to her arrest, suggesting an easier resolution could be negotiated with the District Attorney's Office.

"I think this was a good resolution," Trbovich said after court on Wednesday. "Right now, we were circling the wagons and making sure that nothing goes wrong. And hopefully, this will be taken care of in six months as if it never happened."

Asked if he thought his client committed a crime, Trbovich offered a slight smile and said, "I don't want to antagonize the office. I got a good disposition."

There are no conditions on Long over the next six months other than she avoid a criminal conviction, though Trbovich offered in court that Long would agree to have no further contact with school employees at Batavia Middle School.

Her son has transferred to Notre Dame, and her husband would have remained free to talk with school officials.

Judge Durin Rogers rejected the condition because there are typically no additional conditions on an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.

Carter said Trbovich getting a potential dismissal of the charge for his client was understandable.

"Criminal defense attorneys try to get the best outcome for their clients by keeping them out of harm's way," Carter said. "It totally makes sense to tread carefully, to get the best outcome for his client as he can. I totally get that. I'm not second-guessing that at all."

But, he said, the First Amendment is still in play for Long if she wishes to pursue it as a civil matter, meaning, filing a lawsuit against the school district or the police department, if she feels her arrest did her harm or that it has a chilling effect on her future speech.  The fact she offered to have no future contact with the school, Carter indicated, suggests her arrest does indicate she is willing to self-censor out of fear of repercussion.

"You have to have some sort of injury to get in the courthouse door," Carter said. "Would a chilling effect be enough if she wanted to bring a First Amendment case? It could be injury enough to get in the courthouse door."

An investment in Batavia school district benefits all, superintendent says

By Joanne Beck

During budget talks this week, city officials compared the city’s percentage of property taxes — 25 percent —to that of the city school district’s — cited as being 52 percent — and the disparity of one percentage being twice as much while not every city resident uses the services of the school district.

The Batavian asked district Superintendent Jason Smith his thoughts about the comparison, and also whether the district might consider cutting costs to bring its tax levy down.

Smith wanted to make clear that, in 2022-23, the school tax percentage of property taxes was 48.52 percent, and that “since 2003, the local taxpayer responsibility for BCSD school taxes has been reduced from 56.27 percent to 48.52 percent.”

“In addition, our 20-year tax levy average has increased by 1.5 percent, well below the CPI, and BCSD is the largest public employer in Genesee County,” he said. “Like the city, BCSD provides valuable services to BCSD families, including academic, mental health, social, and emotional support. In addition, our events draw many community members, and budgets have been overwhelmingly approved by the community as a whole. We have an exceptional array of mental health professionals and numerous extra-curricular and athletic opportunities for students.” 

The city’s discussion focused on how “every single city resident uses city services,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said, and therefore she reasoned that the city’s property tax rate of $8.96 per $1,000 assessed value was giving a pretty good bang for its buck. 

The Batavia City Schools 2023-24 tax rate was $17.18 per $1,000 assessed value. Smith said he believes that is also well worth the price.

“I would also assert that an investment in a sound and well-rounded public education benefits all citizens, not just those students who attend BCSD -- the research is clear on this,” he said. “As shown in a recent Board of Education presentation, our performances on state assessments and graduation rates are increasing, and our students are graduating from BCSD workforce or college-ready.”

New waste removal service aims to 'care for people' in Genesee, surrounding counties

By Joanne Beck
new trash business
Joey Raziano and Bre Downs are ready to haul your garbage, recycling and junk with RRR Waste Removal Services.
Photo by Howard Owens

A Batavia couple wanting to provide a cheaper alternative for garbage services is also living the American dream of becoming entrepreneurs with a future path for their family, they say.

Joey Raziano and Bre Downs have set an ambitious course for themselves while they each are pursuing an educational goal — a nursing degree for her and a commercial driving license certification for him — they are establishing themselves as RRR Waste Removal Services with a seven-day-a-week business.

“It’s a side gig for now,” Downs said. “A goal is that it’s something to pass down to our kids when Joey and I are married … and to be able to help others and to actually give people the life that they want and not have to give money to garbage companies.”

Raziano added that “we actually care for our customers,” and one indication is that they let their customers choose which days they want garbage pickup rather than dictate when it’s going to happen. They also cited low monthly rates compared to their competitors.

They provide everything from a weekly garbage and recycling pickup to a monthly pickup service, a one-time garbage and junk removal, a moving and clean-out service, and bulk pick-ups of items such as couches, beds and stoves, with no extra mileage fees to the regular costs.

Their territory is expansive, covering Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, the border of Erie County, and they’re considering a portion of Livingston County as well, Downs said. 

“A lot of customers are switching from other companies for weekly trash pickup,” she said. “We’re getting calls all the time.”

They can accommodate their current list of 100 customers with a pickup truck and two trailers and are making plans for when and if they will need to expand for a growing clientele. As that happens, they expect to hire more employees, Raziano said.

Downs has applied for an LLC, so the business is a limited liability company.

“And we now have an online contract system instead of paper contracts,” she said.

While the field of nursing may not seem to have much in common with waste removal, there’s s strong connection for Downs, she said. Her mom has been a certified nursing assistant for 28 years, and Downs has watched that type of care and compassion all of her life, she said. 

Raziano, 24, emphasized that “we actually care for our customers.”

"We treat customers like a family and not a number," he said.

“We care for other people first,” Downs said, explaining her hectic schedule. “I’m a go-getter. It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s worth it in the end, it’s helping small families in the end.”

They have previously been involved in the business with former partners and have been operating their own company for the last six months. They consider it to be an investment in their future as Downs, 22, prepares to graduate nursing school in September, and they look forward to their wedding in August 2025.

For more information, call the office number at 585-813-4026 or go HERE. 

Batavia City Schools to deal with reduced funding as COVID grants come to an end

By Joanne Beck
Jason Smith

During his superintendent’s report, Jason Smith updated Batavia City Schools board members Monday about project decreases in revenue for this year’s budget, including several federal grants that will be winding down in September and state-issued Foundation aid recently laid out in Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget.

“With the Governor's current budget proposal, BCSD is slated to receive $24,177,919, which is a $13,936 reduction from last year's Foundation Aid. However, had the Governor not adjusted the current law, BCSD would be receiving, and I would argue is entitled to receive, an additional $277,141 in Foundation Aid,” Smith told The Batavian Wednesday. “It is especially frustrating that this was changed with very little notice to school districts, further hampering our ability to plan our budget and programs for students accordingly.”

Smith plans to review options for how to deal with a decrease in aid, and those expiring three-year grants that were given to the district during COVID to provide additional support to students. 

The COVID funds are that of the American Rescue Plan Act, which divvied up additional monies for municipalities, and for school districts to apply toward student-needed measures in the current post-pandemic era.

The district dedicated a large portion to the hiring of a second school resource officer and several new teaching positions and placed a focus on students’ mental health and social-emotional learning.

In October 2022, Thomas Ramming of Thomas Ramming Consulting, Inc., presented his study on the district that found “a lack of comprehensive and strategic staffing plan, increased teacher positions paid for with additional federal and state aid despite declining enrollment, and a large number of school counselors per federal recommendations,” based on at least some of those increased hirings.

When school board members raised the point that his study was conducted after the pandemic, Ramming admitted that the whole COVID scenario was not calculated in the overall findings. 

He did suggest, however, that the district continuously assess whether the extra personnel will be warranted in the future. And if that’s the case, the district needs a plan for how to pay for those salaries and benefits, Ramming had said.

It would seem that time is coming, for dealing with both reduced aid and grant funding.

"Recommendations will be provided to the board over the upcoming budget preparation season, slated to begin in February," Smith said.

In other district financial news, the board approved a four-year contract with the Batavia Administrator’s union that provides them with:

  • A four percent raise each year;
  • Increased starting salaries for assistant principals “to recruit exceptional talent,” Smith said;
  • The removal of an incentive that was related to the graduation rate; and
  • Increased health insurance rate premiums by 2 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent for current contribution rates of between 14 to 25 percent, depending on the selected plan.

“The Batavia Administrators Association last rolled over its agreement in 2021, so this is truly a new contract for them since 2018 when the last contract was negotiated,” Smith said.

The board also approved:

  • Payment of $42,400 to Mollenberg-Betz, Inc. for the emergency repair of sump pumps at John Kennedy Intermediate School. 
  • In early October 2023, the Buildings and Grounds staff discovered that the sump pumps located in the JK basement had failed, and the Board of Education approved an emergency project during its Dec. 19, 2023 meeting. 

    The state Education Department approved the emergency project designation, normal bidding procedures were suspended in order to proceed, and the necessary electrical and plumbing work was completed.

  • A compensation adjustment of $8,000 for Clark Patterson Lee as an amendment for the company’s professional services agreement of April 27, 2022.

On senior night for Attica-Batavia Wrestling, Rick Stewart recognized for 25-year coaching career

By Steve Ognibene
Many former student athletes and coaches came out for Coach Stewart's last home match in Batavia.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Many former student-athletes and coaches came out for Coach Stewart's last home match in Batavia.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

After 25 years of dedication to the sport of wrestling, head coach Rick Stewart of Attica-Batavia has said Tuesday's meet was his last home match.  

Despite a 36-31 loss on Tuesday to Webster Thomas in wrestling, there was still a celebratory aura on senior night at Batavia High School.  

The seniors were recognized, but it was also a night to recognize the accomplishments of Coach Rick Stewart, who is retiring after 25 years of coaching. 

Senior night was his last home match.

His son, Casper Stewart, along with five other seniors, were recognized prior to the start of the match.

There are a lot of memorable moments and people from his long career, Stewart said, but Tuesday evening was itself something special.

"The big thing is, like today, you get all your former wrestlers texting you and calling you saying what an impact I was on them and how they love wrestling," Stewart said. "Lifelong relationships were built."

Highlights of Coach Stewart's coaching career:

Career Coaching Record 253-164 as of Jan. 11

  • Three-time Monroe County D3 Coach of the Year
  • Two-time Class BBB Team Sectional Champions
  • Two-time Monroe County D3 Team Championships
  • Six NYS Ranked Teams
  • Seven Monroe County Champions
  • 32 Individual Sectional Champions
  • 10 NY State Qualifiers
  • One Eastern States Champion
  • Two NHSCA High School All-Americans

Stewart said there is no one thing that has kept him going and driven him toward success, but "just to name one thing ... it's your alma mater. You want to see it be successful. You want to see it grow. You want to see championships, and you want to see kids that come after you continue to be able to do what you did."

A military veteran, Stewart said it's not unusual for wrestlers to be attracted to military service.

"You have to be disciplined and focused in wrestling," Stewart said. "It's a very demanding sport. In the military, it's the same thing. It's demanding, and you have to be disciplined. I think they go hand in hand. And that's why you see a lot of ex-wrestlers, former wrestlers, go into the military service when they're done."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Pictured left to right are Coach Charlie Voorhees, Andrew Child, Nate Heusinger, Tymothey Murrel, Wyatt Bryman, Casper Stewart, Coach Rick Stewart
Pictured left to right are Coach Charlie Voorhees, Andrew Child, Nate Heusinger, Tymothey Murrel, Wyatt Bryman, Casper Stewart, Coach Rick Stewart   
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Casper Stewart setting up for a pin.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Casper Stewart setting up for a pin.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Tymothey Murrel taking his opponent down.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Tymothey Murrel taking his opponent down.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Nate Heusinger sets up for a pin in the closing seconds of the third round of his match.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Nate Heusinger sets up for a pin in the closing seconds of the third round of his match.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Casper Stewart and Coach Rick Stewart guiding a team member in his match.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Casper Stewart and Coach Rick Stewart guiding a team member in his match.  
guidedPhoto by Steve Ognibene
Seniors recognized with their parents on last home match in Batavia.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Seniors recognized with their parents on last home match in Batavia.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Pavilion Central School seeks nominees for Alumni Hall of Fame by March 8

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Pavilion Alumni Hall of Fame Committee urges community input and support to nominate outstanding PCS graduates who have achieved distinction in their lives and chosen field after high school through significant contributions to their career, community or through personal achievements. 

Inductees for the Annual Hall of Fame Assembly are selected by the PCS Alumni Hall of Fame Selection Committee, a voluntary group comprised of PCS alumni, current and retired faculty members, community residents, and district administrators. Since launching in 2014, the PCS Hall of Fame has honored over two dozen exemplary alumni who inspire current and future Pavilion students to strive for excellence. 

“The Hall of Fame Assembly is a chance for all of our students to see the many possibilities of life after PCS,” says Pavilion Superintendent Mary Kate Hoffman. “What I love about the ceremony is that our students see alumni from all walks of life. They hear stories of people who have made great achievements in life and who have made important contributions to their community. But they are not hearing just from alumni who excelled in academics while in school. Many of our speakers have shared that they maybe didn’t have the best grades…but they still went on to great things.”

“Being inducted into the PCS Hall of Fame was a tremendous honor for me,” says Ken Weaver, Deputy Director with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and PCS Alumni Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Honoree, “What made the induction especially meaningful was the opportunity to connect with young people and discuss their goals and aspirations. One of the highlights of the experience was hearing a student express appreciation for my speech. Knowing that my words resonated with someone and might have inspired them is a heartwarming reminder of the impact shared experiences and wisdom can have on the next generation.”

Several laureates like Diane Davis Torcello, President of the WNY Tompkins Community Bank, have continued their support of the PCS Alumni Hall of Fame by joining the Selection Committee and recognizing more impactful graduates.
“I joined the Hall of Fame Committee because I believe in the mission of what the group is trying to achieve. Honoring leaders from all different professions and backgrounds is important to deliver the message to the current students of PCS – they can accomplish anything if they work hard,” says Torcello, “attending a small school is not a disadvantage – rather an advantage.” 

Nominations are currently being accepted and can be found on the PCS Hall of Fame website (www.PCSHallofFame.com) and printed applications are available at the following Pavilion businesses and organizations: Kemp-Rudgers Service Station, the Pavilion Public Library, The Lost Sock, Jazzy Creations, Blessings Café, Dorothy B. Bunce Elementary School, and Pavilion Junior/Senior High School main office. 

All nominations must be submitted by March 8 and the PCS Alumni Hall of Fame Assembly will be held on May 31, 2024, at the Pavilion Junior/Senior High School Auditorium.

United Way launches 'Imagine What's Possible' as 106th annual campaign

By Press Release
UW kick-off watch party at Batavia Downs
Chief Impact Officer Dr. Ashley Campbell speaks to attendees of Wednesday morning's United Way Batavia Regional Kickoff Watch Party at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel on Park Road in Batavia.
Submitted Photo

Press Release:

On Wednesday morning, United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes announced the launch of its 106th Annual Campaign, Imagine What’s Possible. The organization also announced that Miguel Velázquez, CEO of Regional Transit Service (RTS), would take on the role of the 2024 Campaign Chair.   

Jim Reed, the 2023 Campaign Chair and CEO of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, announced that the 2023 Better United campaign raised $18 million combined with additional United Way grants and initiatives for a grand total of $33.7 million for the community.  

 “It was an honor for me to be the 2023 Campaign Chair and represent both Excellus BCBS and United Way in this role,” said Jim Reed. “Our mission aligns with United Way to help people in our communities live healthier more secure lives. I’m proud to say that through this support, more than 180 community based non-profit organizations will be able to continue their vital programs and services to help meet the needs of our communities. I’m excited for the 2024 Campaign and to see the continued impact United Way and other community partnerships make in our region.” 

The 2024 United Way Campaign will focus on imagining the possible impact when we open our minds to possibilities. Together, we can bridge the gap between what we imagine and what we impact for a better tomorrow. 

“Imagine what’s possible if all of us in the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region use our collective strength to lift the entire community,” said Miguel Velázquez. “In our region, there is a lot of need and a lot of complex challenges. At RTS, we are thrilled to partner with United Way. We have a common vision of making our communities thrive and promoting a better quality of life.” 

Community members are encouraged to donate during their workplace campaign or online at unitedwayrocflx.org/donate. Organizations can host a United Way campaign by emailing campaign@unitedwayrocflx.org.

 There are many ways to give to our community with United Way, including year-round volunteer opportunities. Learn more at unitedwayrocflx.org/volunteerunited.  

 For more information about United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes, visit unitedwayrocflx.org.  

Get tax help and e-file for free at Richmond Memorial Library this tax season

By Press Release

Press Release: 

Richmond Memorial Library is pleased to partner with volunteers from the New York State Department of Tax and Finance to offer income-eligible citizens assistance with filing their taxes online this tax season.

Tax Department employees will walk you through your income tax returns, step-by-step, as you complete and e-file your tax return for free.

  • If you earned $79,000 or less in 2023, you qualify.
  • Safe and secure online tax software.
  • Use on-site computers, or your own laptop, tablet, or mobile device.
  • You only need basic computer skills and an active email account.

Sessions will be offered on Thursdays in February, March and April:

  • Feb. 1
  • Feb. 8
  • Feb. 15
  • Feb. 22
  • Feb. 29
  • March 7
  • March 14
  • March 21
  • March 28
  • April 4
  • April 11 

Appointment slots are 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. 

Those interested must schedule an appointment. For more information or to make an appointment, contact the library at 585-343-9550 x3, or visit the reference desk Richmond Memorial Library is located at 19 Ross Street in the City of Batavia. Find the library online at batavialibrary.org.

GC Health Department offers rabies clinic Feb. 8

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Health Department will be hosting its first rabies immunization clinic of the year at no charge to participants on Thursday, Feb. 8 from 4 - 6 p.m. at the Batavia Town Highway Garage (3833 West Main Street Road, Batavia). 

Vaccinations are free for dogs, cats, and ferrets, but voluntary donations are accepted. Animals must be at least 3 months old. Each animal must be leashed or crated and accompanied by an adult who can control the animal. Limit 4 pets per person maximum.

“We encourage all residents to take advantage of our first rabies immunization clinic of 2024 and ensure their pets are protected against rabies,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

“Rabies continues to be a serious public health concern in Genesee and Orleans Counties and is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Please leave wildlife alone and do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals, stray dogs, or cats.”

The next rabies immunization clinics are as follows: 

Genesee County Clinics at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia)

  • Thursday, May 16 from 4 - 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 8 from 4 - 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 10 from 4 - 6 p.m.

Orleans County Clinics at the Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 State Route 31, Albion)

  • Saturday, April 13 from 9 - 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, June 5 from 4 - 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 10 from 9 - 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 19 from 9 - 11:30 a.m.

For more information on GO Health’s programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org. You can also contact the health department at:

  • Genesee County 585-344-2580 x5555 or Health@co.genesee.ny.us
  • Orleans County 585-589-3278 or OCPublicHealth@orleanscountyny.gov

Borrello helps colleague by adding two new committee roles for the 2024 season

By Press Release

Press Release:

Sen. George Borrello

Senator George Borrello has been elevated to Ranking Member of the Senate Elections Committee and named as a new member of the Committee on Energy and Telecommunications by Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt.

The changes come in the wake of the military deployment of Senator Borrello’s Republican colleague, Senator Mark Walczyk (49th District), who will be deployed to Kuwait for nine months. Senator Borrello is among those chosen to fill committee vacancies resulting from Senator Walczyk’s absence.

“First and foremost, I am grateful to Senator Walczyk for his service to our nation. We are incredibly fortunate to have dedicated leaders like Senator Walczyk who are willing to answer our nation’s call, regardless of the sacrifices it entails. We wish him a safe and successful mission and extend our deepest support to his family.”

Senator Borrello explained that he will be taking over as Ranking Member on the Elections Committee, which he has served on as a member since January 2023.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue to serve on the Elections Committee, but in a new role as the Ranking Member. This is a pivotal time for our electoral system when issues of election integrity have moved to the forefront. While voter participation is important, it is just as crucial that people have confidence that their vote is secure and that it will count. That will continue to be a top concern of mine as we review new proposals,” said Senator Borrello.

“Energy policy is also at a critical juncture in New York. The rapid push to transition our state to renewable energy has major implications for our economy, taxpayers, and the environment. We need to take a hard and honest look at the data, the costs and adjust course where necessary,” said Senator Borrello. “I look forward to bringing my perspective to the committee and advancing proposals that will assure New Yorkers continue to have access to safe, reliable, and affordable energy,” Senator Borrello said.

Senator Borrello noted that in addition to his new assignments on the Elections and Energy committees, he will retain his roles as Ranking Member on both the Agriculture and Banks committees. He will also continue to serve as a member on the following committees: Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, Finance, and Housing, Construction and Community Development.

“There are so many important issues facing our state right now, which I look forward to working on with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I am grateful to Leader Ortt for entrusting me with these new responsibilities as we move forward with the 2024 Legislative Session.”

Explore the secrets of the Boston Tea Party, 250 years later

By Press Release

Press Release:

Byron-Bergen Public Library and Richmond Memorial Library are pleased to co-host a virtual event; Steeped in Secrecy: The Boston Tea Party, 250 Years Later. 

The program will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. To register, visit batavialibrary.org/calendar. This is a chance to attend a library program from the comfort of your own home!

The story of tea has always been infused with intrigue, particularly when it became a flash point for tensions between England and Colonial America. 

Learn about the brewing political problems tea presented in its history with Anglophile and former UK resident Claire Evans. Next, author, genealogist, librarian, and former UK resident Debra Dudek examines the history of the Boston Tea Party’s most famous partiers (and phonies), as well as how to trace bona fide participants through lineage societies and historical groups.

Registration is required at batavialibrary.org/calendar. A recording of the program will be available to view for one week following the event. Those who register will also receive an informational resource packet via email.

About the presenters: 

claire-craig-evans-2023
Submitted photo of
Claire Evans

Claire Evans is an author, former journalist, attorney, and college lecturer who started her love of most things British as she and her mother watched countless Britcoms on PBS. She studied abroad in London and, against the odds, she married a Brit she met in Peoria, Illinois. They lived in England for several years. Her business, Tea with Claire, grew from friends asking for travel advice. Her memoir, High Tea and the Low Down is the true story of what it's really like to marry a witty Englishman and move to Britain.

debradudekheadshot.jpeg
Submitted photo of
Debra M. Dudek

Debra M. Dudek is Head of Adult and Teen Services at the Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook, IL. She holds a post-graduate certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

For more information about Byron-Bergen Public Library, byron-bergenpubliclibrary.org. For more information about Richmond Memorial Library, visit batavialibrary.org.

LEGAL NOTICE: Town of Bethany Public Hearing Water District No. 5 project

By Legal Notices

LEGAL NOTICE: 

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING TOWN OF BETHANY: NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing pursuant to Town Law § 193 will be held by the Town Board of the Town of Bethany at the Town Hall located at 10510 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany, New York on the 7th day of February, 2024, commencing at 7:00  p.m. to give citizens the opportunity to discuss the proposed Town of Bethany Water District No. 5 project. 

Specific discussion will be relative to the proposed Water District No. 5, which will include a total of approximately 154,000 linear feet of 8-inch water main. The water main will be installed along portions of Ellicott Street Road (NYS RT 63), Bethany Center Road (C.R. 15), Broadway Road (NYS RT 20), Brown Road, Cackner Road, Clapsaddle Road, East Road (C.R. 35) East Bethany-LeRoy Road, Francis Road (C.R. 38), Fargo Road (C.R. 198), Jerico Road, Little Canada Road, Marsh Road, Mayne Road, McLennon Road, Sweetland Road, Silver Road, Paradise Road, and Paul Road. Note: portions of the project will be installed in the Town of Batavia, as that will be the primary water supply for the project. 

LEGAL NOTICE continues after the jump (click here)

Byron-Bergen announces that UPK and kindergarten registration open for 2024-25

By Press Release

Press Release:

Registration is now available for kindergarten and prekindergarten students in the Byron-Bergen School District. The District plans to once again offer a half-day universal prekindergarten (UPK) program at the Byron- Bergen Elementary School. 

The UPK program is focused on socialization, learning through play, and self-exploration. Children learn through a hands-on learning environment that includes activities, learning centers, concrete materials, and manipulatives. Students learn through a nurturing environment that is enriching, challenging, and developmentally appropriate. 

Students must turn four years of age by December 1, 2024 to be eligible for the program. If you have a child eligible and are interested in having him/her attend our UPK program, please complete this Google form which is also available on the Student Registration page of the Byron-Bergen website. The form requires the student’s name, parents’ name, address, phone number, email address, and date of birth. This electronic Google form is due by Thursday, Feb. 22. Parents who have already contacted the Elementary School by phone will still need to complete the form. If you are having difficulty completing the form, please call the Elementary School office for support.

Please note that if the District receives more applications than the allowed capacity, a lottery will be held to select students. This year's lottery drawing will be held on Friday, March 1, via Zoom. Student-specific lottery numbers and the Zoom link will be shared with everyone who completes the form before the February 22 deadline. Once the lottery is complete, if your child was selected, you need to complete the full registration packet, which can be found on the Byron-Bergen website, and submit it to the Elementary School Office. 

Children who will be five years of age, on or before December 1, 2024, are eligible for entrance to Kindergarten in September of 2024. New families in the school district should notify the school if they have a child who will enter Kindergarten in September of 2024. Parents may contact the Byron-Bergen Elementary School Office by calling 494-1220, ext. 1301. 

Information may also be sent to the Byron-Bergen Elementary School, 6971 West Bergen Road, Bergen, New York 14416. Please send all information for kindergarten screening by June 1, 2024.  All children registered for kindergarten will be scheduled for a screening appointment this summer. The results of this screening will be used to plan for the 2024-2025 kindergarten program. 

The following items are necessary to complete the registration process: the child’s birth certificate; certificate of immunization; proof of residency; and completed registration packet. Additional information and registration packets are available at http://www.bbschools.org/StudentRegistration.aspx.

Batavia Winterguard's Fantastic Visions competition Feb. 3 at BHS

By Joanne Beck

Batavia Winterguard’s 24th annual Fantastic Visions competition will begin at 4 p.m. Feb. 3 at Batavia High School, 260 State St., Batavia. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. 

Organizers invite you to "please come and enjoy 25 winterguards from Western New York and Canada. Batavia’s own Cadet and IA Winterguards will also be performing."

Tickets are $10 adults, ages 8 and older, 7 and under are free.

Haxton Memorial Library board to meet Feb. 13

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Haxton Memorial Library Board of Trustees will hold their monthly Board Meeting for February 2024 on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the library. The public is invited to attend.

The Haxton Memorial Library located at 3 North Pearl Street in Oakfield provides residents with a variety of programs, events, and materials that are listed on the library’s website at www.HaxtonLibrary.org.

BCSD board approves three transportation contracts with STA worth more than $11M

By Joanne Beck

The Batavia City Schools' board approved five-year contracts Monday with Student Transportation of America for transportation from home to school, field and sports trips and during the summer worth more than $11 million that will be part of this year’s budget vote in May.

Business Administrator Andrew Lang explained, in a memo to the board, that the district engaged in a bid process this past November to procure student transportation services for the next five years. Prior to this, he said, the district had extended a previously awarded contract with STA for a period of five years. 

The bid process included a detailed specification outlining the district’s transportation program and current transportation needs. The bid included five separate contracts for home-to-school, special needs and homeless, field and sports trips, summer special needs and homeless, and summer home-to-school.

There was only one bid, which came from STA, and only for three contracts of home-to-school, field and sports trips, and summer home-to-school, Lang said. 

“As this is a multi-year contract, voter approval is required,” he said. “This is done by noting the estimated five-year contract cost in the 2024-25 public budget document.”

He recommended that the board award the bids to STA for the designated amounts as follows:

  • Home-to-school transportation for a total five-year cost, including bus monitor/attendant, of $8,438,451.10. Rates range from up to three hours at $360 in this school year up to $437.58 in 2028-29, and $386.45 for four hours plus $74.28 per hour after that, up to $469.73 plus $90.29.
  • Field and sports trip transportation for a total five-year cost, plus bus monitor, for $2,099,470.78. Driving rates are $98 for this school year, up to $119.12 in 2028-29 for in-district, plus an extra cost of $1.58 per mile this year, up to $1.92 in 2028-29 for out-of-district trips.
  • Summer home-to-school and bus monitor/attendant total five-year cost of $607,982.44. Prices are the same as regular home-to-school until after four hours, when rates change to $405.02 for 4.5 hours for 2024-25 up to $492.30 in 2028-29 and $423.59 for five hours up to $514.88, with $74.28 per hour after that, up to $90.29 during the fifth year of the contract.
  • Bus monitor/attendant rates are the same for all contracts, at $34.93 per hour in 2024-25 up to $42.46 in 2028-29.

The board approved a motion as part of the consent agenda during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

The contract runs from the 2024-25 school year through 2028-29.

City of Batavia seeking a city resident for Board of Assessment opening

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Board of Assessment Review currently has one position to fill. The term is a five-year term and will expire on September 2028. The Batavia City Council is seeking a City resident who is interested in volunteering as a member of this committee and has knowledge of property values.

Residents interested in applying for this position can obtain a Committee/Board Volunteer Application from either the City Clerk’s Office or on the website at www.batavianewyork.com, Find It Fast. The deadline to submit applications to the City Clerk’s Office is April 22. 

For further information, please contact the City Bureau of Assessment at 345-6301. 

Tenney introduces resolution calling for the release of Western New Yorker Ryan Corbett

By Press Release

Press Release:

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) introduced H.Res. 965, a resolution calling for the immediate release of Ryan Corbett, a United States citizen, who was wrongfully detained by the Taliban on August 10, 2022, and condemning the wrongful detention of Americans by the Taliban.

Additional cosponsors of the resolution include House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Representatives Dan Meuser (R-PA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), French Hill (R-AR), Pat Ryan (D-NY), Nick Langworthy (R-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Michael Lawler (R-NY), Morgan McGarvey (D-KY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Jim Costa (D-CA), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Daniel Goldman (D-NY), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Marc Molinaro (R-NY), Tony Gonzales (R-TX), Zach Nunn (R-IA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Pete Stauber (R-MN).

Ryan Corbett, a husband, father, and Western New Yorker has been held without charge by the Taliban in Afghanistan since August 10, 2022. Ryan is being held in a basement cell without regular access to a bathroom, sunlight, or medical care. Other Westerners who have been released from the prison where Ryan is being held report that he is in deteriorating health. Ryan’s family has been fighting for his release in silence but decided to go public because of fears for his life.

Since meeting with the Corbett family and hearing their story, Congresswoman Tenney has led the charge in fighting for Ryan’s release and well-being. This includes working to get Ryan officially designated as a wrongful detainee by the U.S. Department of State on October 10, 2023.

"When I first heard of Ryan Corbett’s detention and the brutal conditions of his captivity from his wife Anna, I was heartbroken," said Congresswoman Tenney. "Inspired by Anna, his children, and his loved ones who have been bravely advocating for his release, today I introduced a bipartisan resolution, reiterating that Congress will not stand idly while an innocent American is wrongfully detained and suffers under harsh captivity at the hands of the Taliban. The strong bipartisan support for this resolution calling for Ryan Corbett’s release shows that Congress stands united in calling for Ryan’s release and condemning the Taliban’s wrongful detention of Americans. We will work tirelessly to bring attention to Ryan Corbett's case and advocate for his immediate release to bring him home to his family."

"I am grateful for the strong bipartisan support that my family has received, in particular from our Congresswoman, Claudia Tenney," said Anna Corbett. "Ending the wrongful detention of Americans abroad should be in the interest of all Americans, and I am hopeful that these continued efforts to highlight Ryan's plight will help us bring him home without delay."

View the text of the resolution here.

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