Local Matters

Community Sponsors

April 20, 2021 - 4:14pm
posted by Press Release in news, coronavirus, covid-19, notify.

Press release:

Genesee County reporting 21 new positive cases of COVID-19.

  • The new positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
    • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
    • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 50s, 60s and 70s. 
  • Twenty-seven of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Seven of the current positive individuals are hospitalized. 


Orleans County reporting nine 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 30s, 40s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
  • Seven of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • One of the new positive individuals was previously on quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Four of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
April 20, 2021 - 4:04pm

From Pastor Roula Alkhouri of the Batavia First Presbyterian Church:

"We are so grateful for the caring efforts of H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home as they took care of the funeral arrangements for the burial of our beloved friend in Christ, Emerson Campbell.

"This was a difficult situation as Emerson had no family in the area. When we reached out to Turner's, they felt our pain and stepped into action immediately. Within a week, they made the arrangements and we were able to hold a funeral service for Emerson in the church.

"Then Steve Johnson, the funeral director who was taking the lead on this, drove Emerson's body all the way to Wisconsin so that Emerson could be buried with his parents. Steve also arranged for a Presbyterian minister to have a proper graveside service for Emerson in Wisconsin.

We can never thank Steve Johnson and all who work at H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home enough for what they did and how they did it. The spirit of compassion, care, and generosity they shared with us brought healing to a very sad situation.

"They have even donated their services. We are truly blessed to have the people of H.E. Turner in our community. May God continue to bless them and all the work they do to comfort and help families and friends during the hardest time of their lives!"

-- The Grateful Congregation of Batavia First Presbyterian Church

April 20, 2021 - 4:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Kiwanis Club, veterans, news, batavia.


With the help of Kiwanis members in the region, the Kiwanis Club of Batavia has put together 40 care packages for veterans in our community. 

Members of the Kiwanis Club dropped off the "Kare Packages" at the Veterans Services Office yesterday.

Key contributions came from Kiwanis members Joe Van Cura, owner of Mission Coffee in Rochester, and Dave DiFranco, director of VPAC (Veterans-Plus Assistance Corp.).

Photo: Heather Henders, Lt. Gov. of the Genesee Division of Kiwanis, Bill Joyce, veterans services officer, Stefano Napolitano, VP of Batavia Kiwanis, and Peter Guppenberger, Kiwanis past president.

April 20, 2021 - 3:29pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The Batavia Rotary Club has donated an AED defibrillator to the local center of The Salvation Army.  

The Salvation Army regularly serves community residents at its center on East Main Street. After two recent incidents when patrons at the center were stricken with health issues, the Salvation Army leadership realized the need to have a defibrillator on the premises in order to assist visitors in a timely manner, said Todd Rapp, operations manager. 

The City Fire Department provided training to Salvation Army staff members, but there were no funds to actually purchase the device. That's when the Rotary Club stepped in.

"Our club was happy to assist an organization that is providing vital services to our neighbors in the community, especially during this pandemic time when many are facing increased needs because of loss of jobs or reduction of work hours," said Tom Turnbull, Rotary Club president.

Batavia Rotary Club is a community service organization whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the community and world. Through various fundraisers, the club is able to provide support to important community projects.  

For more information about Batavia Rotary Club, visit: http://www.bataviarotary.com

Photo, from left: Tom Turnbull, Batavia Rotary Club president Todd Rapp, operations manager, Batavia Salvation Army Ed Leising, Batavia Rotary Club member.

April 20, 2021 - 3:21pm

Facing a big ticket item known as Phase 3 of the Genesee County Water Project, the county legislature’s Public Service Committee on Monday engaged in a discussion with Highway Superintendent/Engineer Tim Hens on the chance of finding a lobbying firm to unearth some cash to support it.

“It’s a $70 million project, so every dollar we can bring in makes it more affordable for every member of our community,” said Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, just before backing an informal (at this point) proposal for Hens and County Manager Matt Landers to find a lobbyist to advocate for the county and capture some federal grant funding.

Hens said the county has yet to use a consultant for the water project, which is nearing the completion of Phase 2, but said he knows that “opportunities are out there.”

“Ideally, we need to bring experts to the table,” he said.

Legislator Gary Maha advised that the Genesee County Water Resources Agency is in favor of contracting with a lobbyist, adding that the county would pay for the firm with money from the water fund.

Hens suggested that there could be a “substantial increase” in available funding as the American Jobs Plan moves ahead, prompting legislators Marianne Clattenburg and John Deleo to voice their support for a lobbyist.

Landers said he knows that Orleans County has utilized the services of a lobbying firm to a certain degree of success.

“They’ve worked directly with and contracted with a lobbying firm for years and it has provided them, I believe, with assistance with their infrastructure projects up north,” Landers said. “My understanding is that it was a good investment and it helped navigate through a complex system of trying to get projects seen and heard and understood – and to make sure you are reaching out to the right people.”

He also said finding a person “who can identify different pots of money could help us down the road for other projects.”

At this point, the committee is unclear of the exact cost of a lobbying firm’s service. Most likely, the proposal will emerge as a formal resolution in the near future.

In other developments from yesterday’s meeting, the PSC:

  • Approved a request by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman to apply for and accept a $228,720 grant from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to reimburse the county for expenses connected to discovery and bail reforms for the period of April 1, 2020 through March 31. Friedman reported that the bulk of the expenses were to pay an additional assistant district attorney and two paralegals, along with a new electronic data system. He also said that related expenses incurred by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Le Roy Police Department and Batavia Police Department are included in the funding amount.
  • Approved contracts with Seneca Pavement Markings of Horseheads and Accent Stripe of Orchard Park for pavement markings on all county roads and at the county airport, effective June 1 through May 31, 2022 for an amount not to exceed the budgeted amounts of $175,048 for highway pavement markings and $8,000 for pavement maintenance at the airport.
  • Accepted a bid from Thomann Asphalt Paving Corp., of Lancaster, of $1.3 million for complete reconstruction of the county airport apron area where the aging T-hangars were removed last fall and a bid from C&S Companies, of Syracuse, of $163,000 for the project’s consulting services. The total amount is expected to be fully funded by a federal grant.
  • Accepted a $46,493 grant from The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund for Design and Access to partially pay for the DeWitt Recreation Area Waterfront Enhancement Project’s phase one design and engineering. The total cost of the project is $73,000, with the remainder coming from the county’s building and equipment reserve fund. Hens said this is the first time The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund has supported a project in Genesee County.
April 20, 2021 - 3:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, water, infrastructure, news, notify.


The Town of Pembroke is wasting no time in accepting a grant and low-interest loan from USDA's Rural Development division because it is such a good deal.

"I’ve been doing this for many years," said Tom Carpenter, an engineer with Clark Patterson Lee. "This is the best funding package I’ve ever seen from Rural Development. We were requesting about a $2.3 million grant and I forget the interest rate when we were requesting this but it might have been 2 or just over 2 percent. They came back with a grant of $3.7 million and an interest rate of 1.25, that is the best I’ve ever seen."

The bigger grant and lower interest rate will save property owners in the proposed Water District #4 (see map above) about $90 a year from the original estimate.

At the town board's meeting last week, the board voted to accept the package from USDA and contract with Clark Patterson Lee for services associated with getting the water service designed and built.

Typically, there would be a public information meeting about the proposed district but due to COVID-19-restrictions, but Carpenter anticipates newsletters going to residents and business owners in the district along with survey cards to gauge interest in forming the district.

Both Carpenter and Supervisor Thomas Schneider Jr. said they believe there is widespread support for the formation of the district in the community.  

Carpenter said at a previous public meeting where he discussed the district, about 120 people turned out (before the pandemic) and only four or five people there opposed the district.

"You usually get people who are very, very for a district or very, very against it," Carpenter said.

There will be a public hearing on formation of the district at a future date.

Schneider said given the positive feedback he's received from residents, he believes the board will be able to approve the formation of the district with a permissive referendum, which would mean the district would move forward unless affected residents or property owners held a successful petition drive placing the proposal on a public ballot. In that case, voters would need to approve formation of the district.

Schneider said the annual cost of the district for a single, occupied dwelling would be $962 per year. The cost of debt for a residential property that is not developed would be $466 per year. A vacant lot would pay about half that amount. Agricultural properties are exempt from paying for debt service on a water district.

The total cost of the project would be $9,050,000, with $3,744,000 covered by a USDA grant, and the rest by a low-interest loan of $5,306,000.

"I can easily stand up at a public meeting and say there will never be a better funding package available for this project," Carpenter said.

The project would involve installing 109,000 linear feet of 6-, 8-, and 12-inch diameter water mains and providing for 302 water services.

Carpenter said the best-case scenario is the entire project is completed by the end of 2022.

April 20, 2021 - 1:15pm

Members of the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee on Monday approved a local county law to allow deer hunting by 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters with a firearm or crossbow during hunting season under the supervision of a licensed adult.

Designated as Local Law Introductory No. 1 Year 2021 of the County of Genesee, the proposed law will be subject to a public hearing, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 12 at the Old County Courthouse or via Zoom videoconference.

The law, if passed, enables the county to participate in the temporary New York State program to allow for young hunters (12- and 13-year-olds) to hunt deer with a crossbow, rifle, shotgun or muzzle loaded firearm through Dec. 31, 2023.

According to wording of the law, which was drafted by County Attorney Kevin Earl, the “hunting is a valued tradition for many families, and this new opportunity allows experienced, adult hunters to introduce the value of hunting to the next generation.”

“Furthermore, teaching young people safe, responsible and ethical hunting practices will ensure a rewarding experience for the youth, while providing quality food to families and contributing to important deer management population control practices.”

Legislators said they were reassured by the law’s parameters regarding supervision, which include requirements that the parent, guardian or person must be at least 21 years old, has had at least three years’ experience in hunting deer, holds a hunting license, and maintains physical control over the minor at all times while hunting.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said she supports the law due to the significant increase in the number of deer in and around the City of Batavia and that it encourages young hunters. Legislator Christian Yunker said the law is backed by the regional fish and wildlife committee and he is pleased to see that it is heavily regulated.

Other requirements as mandated by New York State are as follows:

  • Such is accompanied by their parent or legal guardian, or by a person designated in writing by such parent or legal guardian on a form prescribed by the Environmental Conservation Department who is 21 years of age or older;
  • Such parent, guardian or person and the minor remain on ground level at all times while hunting;
  • Such parent, guardian or person and the minor shall each display either a minimum total of 250 square inches of solid fluorescent orange or pink or patterned fluorescent orange or pink consisting of no less than 50-percent fluorescent orange or pink material worn above the waist and visible from all directions, or a hat or cap with no less than 50 percent of the exterior consisting of solid fluorescent orange or pink material and visible from all directions.
April 20, 2021 - 1:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, news, scanner, batavia.

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported at Oak Street and Prospect Avenue in the city. City fire is responding along with Mercy medics and medics from Le Roy.

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.: The people involved are signs-offs. Le Roy medics are returning from the scene, in service.

April 20, 2021 - 1:00pm
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia, Clerk's Office.

From the City of Batavia Clerk's Office:

Due to staff training, the Clerk’s office will be unable to issue the following on Wednesday, April 21st and Thursday, April 22nd:

  • Marriage Licenses or Certificates
  • Copies of Death Certificate
  • Copies of Birth Certificate
  • Fishing/Hunting Licenses
  • New Dog Licensing

The office will remain open for all other services. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Bureau of Clerk/Treasurer

One Batavia City Centre Batavia, NY 14020

Phone: (585) 345-6305

Fax: (585) 343-9221


April 20, 2021 - 12:30pm
posted by Press Release in Genesee County PROS, OARS, Real Property Tax Services, news.

Press release:

A new website has been recently designed and launched which will allow property owners in Genesee County to access their assessment data online.

All municipalities in Genesee County will no longer be using the existing OARS (Online Assessment Roll System) website and instead will now be utilizing the new interactive Genesee County PROS website -- Property Record Online System.

“The local assessors in the county, which comprises the Genesee County Assessors Association, wanted to create an easy and quick way for property owners to access their assessment information and we are confident this new site will accomplish that,” said Kevin Andrews, director, Genesee County Department of Real Property Tax Services.

The new website gives property owners in Genesee County the ability to conduct a basic “Quick Property Search” as well as an “Advanced Property Search” in order to find their properties as well as any other properties within the county that matches their search criteria.

Assessment information displayed on the website includes structure information such as square footage, building style, and year built as well as information regarding exemptions, sales, and more.

“All municipalities in the county have already made the move to the new website,” Andrews continued. “Eventually the current OARS website will no longer be available, so we want to get the word out to our property owners about the change, which we believe will be a better resource tool for them.”

April 20, 2021 - 11:56am

Any and all options, including a way to compensate members of municipal volunteer fire departments, are on the table as Genesee County leaders tackle the ongoing problem of staffing during emergency situations.

On Monday, the county legislature’s Public Service Committee voted in favor of funding a contract with Municipal Resources Inc., of Plymouth, N.H., to provide consultant services toward developing a comprehensive fire service implementation plan.

The cost, not to exceed $101,675, will be paid by using available funds from the county’s 1 percent sales tax allocation. The full legislature is expected to ratify the proposal.

“Whether it’s a fire, EMS (emergency medical services) issue. motor-vehicle accident or a carbon monoxide alarm, it doesn’t matter what the incident is, we have to have the right number of people available that are able bodied and trained to get to the scene …,” County Emergency Services Coordinator Tim Yaeger said this morning. “They need to respond in the required amount of time, based on national standards, based on what the fire service believes they need to be – and holding their company to that standard and what the public expects. It’s not an easy answer; it’s not an easy fix.”

That’s why county officials are opting to call upon MRI, a company with a track record of helping municipalities in other counties and states find solutions to similar dilemmas.

Yaeger: It's a Nationwide Problem

“This issue is not just Genesee County. This issue is New York State, across the nation,” said Yaeger, who has been working with a task force set up by the Public Service Committee to study the problem. It’s more severe in some spots and less severe in others."

Yaeger said he has been talking to his colleagues across the state in an effort to solve this “crisis without evidence.”

“Unfortunately, we haven’t made much headway to it, and that’s why – maybe it’s too big of a nut to crack statewide. So, let’s look at it in a small segment and just look at Genesee County for now and see where we go,” he said.

While it’s way too early to predict the outcome of the consultant’s work, Yaeger said he supports some type of payment for the “volunteers who spend hundreds and thousands of hours at their fire departments.”

“In New York State, it’s either career or volunteer or a combination department, which really are more career than they are volunteer,” he said. “So, what we’re trying to do is look at ways to compensate volunteers. And that’s what many states and counties have done, even in the Northeast itself, is to compensate the volunteers for their time.”

Thousands of Hours with No Pay

He said volunteers’ tasks are numerous, including preparing for the emergency, administrative work, human relations work, fundraising, training, equipment maintenance and preparedness training.

“That’s thousands of hours that they’re committing to before the alarm even goes off,” he said. “And then when there is an alarm, taking training courses. So, those two things in combination with their administrative duties required to run a fire department. It would nice to see those men and women be compensated at some level. It is something that we’re looking at right now.

“It’s hard to find people and get paid, and now we’re expecting these folks to be available 24/7, 365 and do the job for free. It’s almost impossible.”

Yaeger said the task force was unsuccessful in its search for grant funding and turned to the legislature to address a situation that was first studied at the county level 20 years ago.

“This has been a problem for decades and I think they’ve finally realized now that it has gotten so severe that we have to take some more aggressive action to look for a solution,” he said.

Stein: We Need to be Prepared

County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said she is looking forward to finding out “exactly what we have in capacity in Genesee County and then, perhaps, find a path toward being able to fulfill the mission and responsibility of first responders in our county.”

“This takes in every town fire department, fire districts and we also are having the entire conversation shared with those departments and our emergency management staff, which will include the City of Batavia,” she said. “This is important to us because we are one tragedy away from something that is really horrific. We want to be able to stop that from happening.”

Yaeger agreed that the City of Batavia FD, which features a full-time paid staff, must be involved in the discussion.

“Anybody that provides fire and EMS services, they have to be involved in this,” he said. “The city is a key component to this conversation.”

He said the county and task force will begin “data mining” – providing pertinent information for MRI, such as the current number of firefighters, their qualifications, their age and their availability.

“Staffing is the number one issue that is causing our problem. We have to look at where we are today with staffing and then, how do we fix that,” he said, noting that some areas of the county are well protected while others “are really struggling.”

Have to Consider the Costs

Yaeger said that all are aware that potential costs to the taxpayers have to be considered.

“We have to as a group and as a community step in and find some solutions that are going to work and meet everybody’s need while maintaining that caution of expense,” he offered. “That’s what everybody wants to know. What’s it going to cost? We realize that, the committee realizes that and the consulting firm does as well.”

In a related matter, the PSC voted to accept a hazardous materials emergency preparedness grant for $5,172 from the United States Department of Transportation through the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

The grant program focuses on efforts that result in the prevention of serious hazmat transportation related incidents, principally those of high consequences to residents and the environment.

Previously: Task force seeks outside help to solve emergency services 'crisis without evidence'

April 20, 2021 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, football, sports.


Le Roy sustained its first loss of the season Monday, dropping its game at Hartwood Park to Livonia 6-0.

Alex Panepento was 6-14 passing for 79 yards. He also rushed for 52 yards of 15 carries. 

Cole Rauscher had seven tackles, Zach Vanderhoof, six.

The Oatkan Knights finish the regular season 5-1.

Photos by Tim McArdle.







April 20, 2021 - 10:57am
Video Sponsor

S. Shade Zajac, conductor and musical director for the Genesee Symphony Orchestra, reading "Power" by Jim Morrison for National Poetry Month.

April 20, 2021 - 10:09am
posted by Press Release in muckdogs, sports, baseball.
Sterling Turmon
Spencer Marcus
Christian Robinson

Press release:

The Muckdogs are proud to announce the signing of outfielders Sterling Turmon, Christian Robinson and Spencer Marcus to the 2021 roster.

Sterling Turmon currently is in his redshirt junior season at Memphis University and is listed at 6’4” 220 lbs. He is a Greenville, S.C., native and graduated from Eastside High School, where he earned All-State honors after batting .462 with 17 extra-base hits, 27 RBI and 26 runs his senior year. Turmon started his collegiate career playing at Spartanburg Methodist Junior College in 2017 and 2018vbefore transferring to Furman University and starting 41 of 45 games for the Paladins.

Turmon led Furman with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs while also finishing top five in batting average (.270), slugging percentage (.520), walks (27), and runs scored (29). In his first season with the Memphis Tigers, Turmon has played in nine games, starting three of them. In his first start of the season on Feb. 26 against Grambling State, Sterling recorded his first hit and RBI while also tallying a walk.

Christian Robinson is a sophomore from Clark State. Originally, Robinson played his first year at Mississippi Valley State University before transferring to Clark. He is a Cincinnati, Ohio, native who played his high school ball at Colerain High School before entering school. At Colerain, Robinson earned second team all-state honors as well as first team All-GMC. Through 18 games at Clark, he has a .255 batting average, including a stolen base, and has driven in seven and came around to score nine times himself.

Spencer Marcus is in his junior year at Niagara University and will join Purple Eagle teammate Tyler Prospero in Batavia this summer. Marcus is from Chatam-Kent, Ontario, Canada, where he played club baseball for the Great Lakes Canadians of the Canadian Premier Baseball League. In his freshman season, Marcus played at Dodge City Community College in Dodge City, Kan., batting .326, 38 runs, 56 hits, 40 RBI, 11 doubles, and nine home runs. Marcus started 12 games in his first year at Niagara, getting 10 hits, including three doubles. In 2021, he has five hits in seven games, including a .444 average against Saint Peter’s scoring three runs and an RBI.

Turmon, Robinson, and Marcus will join local players Prospero, Jerry Reinhart and Colin Noeth that were announced in mid-February. The Muckdogs are coming home to Dwyer Stadium on June 4th for their home opener after opening the season on the road in Elmira on June 3rd, which you can catch on Youtube Live on the Muckdogs Youtube page!

Make sure to call (607) 734-7825 and get your season tickets now before the 2021 season kicks off on June 4th. Go Dogs!

April 20, 2021 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for midnight tonight until 2 p.m. on Wednesday with from 3 to 6 inches of snow predicted from a storm passing through the area.

Travelers should plan on slippery road conditions.

"This will be a heavy, wet snow, and may result in isolated power outages and downed tree limbs," according to the National Weather Service.

April 19, 2021 - 10:12pm

What was advertised as a public hearing on incentives being offered by the Genesee County Economic Development Center to the developer of the Excelsior Solar Project in the Town of Byron turned out to be an opportunity for parties on both sides of the issue to re-emphasize their positions.

During the 25-minute videoconference, Mark Masse, GCEDC’s senior vice president of operations, read written statements from representatives of three farms who are leasing land for the 280-megawatt, 1,600-acre system -- Star Growers Land LLC; L-Brooke Farms and Colby Homestead Farms.

Their comments supporting the project – a huge financial windfall for the Town of Byron, Byron-Bergen Central School District and Genesee County, plus the creation of 290 full-time equivalent jobs – were followed by an oral statement from Eric Zuber, Byron town councilman and community farmer, who has opposed the plan since it was introduced more than two years ago.

Excelsior Energy, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC of Vero Beach, Fla., has plowed ahead under the authority of Article 10 of the New York State Public Service Law, while committing to pay the aforementioned taxing jurisdictions upwards of $44 million over the next 20 years.

The solar company is proposing to invest $345.55 million in a utility-scale solar project on multiple properties (46 parcels to be exact). It also has negotiated 20-year tax and community host agreements, including payments of $6,500 per megawatt, with a 2-percent annual escalator, to the county, Town of Byron and the Byron-Bergen school district.

$1.82 Million to Entities in Year One

What that means during year one, according to figures provided by the GCEDC, is that Genesee County would receive $281,775, the Town of Byron $862,522 and BBCS $675,703. That initial $1.82 million outlay would increase by 2 percent for each year after that for 20 years.

In return, the solar company has requested that the GCEDC approve property tax abatements estimated at $21,498,313 over that period and sales tax abatements (for construction materials) estimated at $11,288,287.

For its role as facilitator, the GCEDC receives a 1.25-percent fee – in this case, $4,319,458, which it will collect at the time of the financial closing.

Furthermore, farmers will stand to profit significantly through the leasing contracts they signed with Excelsior Energy.

Participants include Legacy Lands, LLC; Brooke-Lea, LLC; Call Lands; Lea-View Farms, LLC; Richard Colby; L-Brooke Farms, LLC; John Starowitz; Leo Starowitz Jr.; Star Growers Land LLC; John Starowitz and Andrew Starowitz; John Sackett Jr. and Charles Sackett; CY Properties LLC; and Call Lands Partnership.

Farm Reps Applaud Solar Project

In their written statements to the GCEDC board, Barbie Starowitz of Star Growers Land LLC; Jim Vincent of L-Brooke Farms, and Richard Colby of Colby Homestead Farms touted the project’s benefits for the Byron community and positive impact on the future of farming.

“The Excelsior Energy Center not only will support our farm for generations to come but also will provide new local revenue and new local jobs for our community,” Starowitz wrote, adding that the EEC has committed to hiring 90 percent of the employees (except for construction project management) from the local labor force.

Starowitz said diversification is crucial to today’s farmers.

“Farmers are trying to diversify so they can continue to stay in business in the future. Each crop year, we rely heavily on the weather. But for too many years it was either too wet or too dry. Crops have been suffering, low yields, bad quality and so on. But the farmer must still come up with the money to pay the expenses,” she wrote.

Her statement indicated that clean solar energy will help the farms to survive by reducing “economic pressures faced by farmers and encourage an approach that does not permanently remove land from agricultural production.”

She concluded by recognizing Excelsior’s “commitment to community input” by hosting monthly meetings at the Byron Hotel and reaching out to residents through other means.

“The Byron community of over 2,300 can all benefit from the solar project, working together as a positive thing for the community and future generations,” she wrote.

'Vehicle for Long-term Reinvestment'

Vincent said he and his affiliates “are advocates of green energy, innovative technology and the many advantages the Excelsior Solar Project represents, and not just because of having some of our lands involved in these solar leases … but what this means to our farm business model, providing a vehicle for long-term reinvestment, succession planning and diversification.”

He wrote that commodity prices, global trade policy, diminishing labor pool, government regulation and an unfair tax burden are making life difficult for farmers, and added that “alternative sources of income are absolutely essential if our farm businesses and the associated land base are to be sustained and provide for future generations.”

Colby wrote that while his farm is “still going strong,” technology has brought about changes to land use and the “viewscape” in the Town of Byron.

“Today, every home I know of in Byron has electricity. One hundred years or so ago, no one had electricity in their home. The Excelsior Energy Center is a good and necessary change in revenue and new local jobs for our community,” he submitted.

He acknowledged that property values could decrease, but the funding provided to the town, county and school district will be a game-changer.

“This will enable many public enhancements to the community, which, I believe, will drive up the values and make it not only that people want to live but also stay in Byron,” he wrote. “It may be a short-term inconvenience but a significant boon to local businesses – restaurants, et cetera. I see it as adding a bit of excitement to the town.”

He contends that the solar panels will cover less than half of the project’s fenced area, and much of his land will be “highly accessible along existing roads.”

In closing, he wrote that he is researching other uses for the land, including U-pick fruits and nursery stock, and even installing a hops yard to have a locally sourced input for beer brewing.

Zuber: It's Bad for the Environment

Zuber, a member of Byron Association Against Solar, then joined the meeting – expressing his dissatisfaction with GCEDC and Excelsior’s handling of the public hearing. He said he was unaware up to a half hour before the videoconference that he had until last Friday to submit written comments about the project.

“It seems like, and it isn’t quite right, that the people that are pro-solar had the opportunity to write in comments and now the comment period is over, and we were unaware of it,” he said. “I guess I knew this was going to take place, but I didn’t know the format (of how) it would work … and that has been quite typical since this whole thing started with the COVID. The transparency to communicate Excelsior’s plans is at best poor.”

Communication problems aside, Zuber said the solar project will harm the environment and will take away prime land needed to handle an increasing amount of manure.

“We’ve done an ag impact study, which the county apparently is not interested in. I am very concerned about the environmental situation,” he said. “Especially with the Cider project now coming out of the west (a similar project in the towns of Elba and Oakfield) … if the dairy industry is going to survive – I don’t see how it survives with these two big solar projects.”

Zuber said he also is concerned about waste generated by the food plants in Batavia.

“Right now, we’re spending $7 million at O-At-Ka (Milk Products) to handle the waste,” he said. “The city and the town are overwhelmed. We’re going to have the sludge come out of those plants (with) no place to go. The best place for it to go is where you’re putting these solar panels on the ideal ground … but I think the environmental (problems) are a very, very negative situation.”

'A Negative Carbon Effect on the County'

He also cited a university study that indicated that this project would have “a negative carbon effect on Genesee County.”

“This will make the carbon situation worse, does not accomplish anything that the global warming people want, and I think it is very poorly structured … I think it’s bad for the environment for the county, the town and probably the state.”

Starowitz then got on the call, rebutting Zuber’s remarks about the manure situation.

“… the gas from the manure is being pipelined directly into being sold on his property, which is located on Chapel Street Extension,” Starowitz said about Zuber’s operation. “Also, if there is concern for spreading manure on land that is now being put into solar ... I have addressed to him many times that we have farmland that would use his manure. To this day, he has not taken advantage of that. So, there are other options and other farmland for his concern of spreading manure.”

Looking ahead, the state Department of Public Service has scheduled a public statement hearing – a key step toward the end of the Article 10 process – for June 1 via teleconference from New York City with Administrative Law Judge Gregg Sayre presiding.

Previously: Byron 'mega' solar project moves forward despite opposition; virtual open houses scheduled for Aug. 31

April 19, 2021 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in YWCA, news, Frances G. Frances Empowerment Awards.


The local chapter of the YWCA celebrated 110 years of service to the community by honoring three people and another organization that have helped make Genesee County's recent history a bit better on Saturday evening.

Receiving Frances G. Francis Empowerment awards were Dorothy "Cricket" Avery, Nancy C. Brach, Jill Kratz, and the Rotary Club of Batavia.

Francis was the founder of the YWCA in Batavia.

The event was held at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Caledonia.


Photo: Jill Smith with award winner Dorothy Avery.

Dorothy (Cricket) Avery

Dorothy Avery has been employed for 21 years as the Exhibits Manager for Guilford Press, based in New York City.

Before Guilford, Avery worked for the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services, Planned Parenthood of Northern New York, Tennessee Protection & Advocacy, and the New York State Child Care Coordinating Council.

She graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with an AA degree in Social Science, and from the University at Albany with a BA degree in Political Science.

Avery is a founding member and president of GLOW Women Rise, which is an all-volunteer organization committed to elevating and empowering women in the GLOW region. GLOW Women Rise (GWR) started in August of 2018 and since that time has become an incorporated 501c3 not-for-profit organization.

GLOW Women Rise’s goal is to raise our collective voices supporting all women while recognizing the need to center our work on Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, and other groups of women who have been ignored and perpetually left out of conversations.

GWR has assisted women from the YWCA Domestic Violence Program, has provided court support for women and their families, cosponsored anti-racism community discussions, and facilitates an annual Empowerment Forum.

During COVID-19, GLOW Women conducted numerous food drives and collected personal care items for women and families in need. After being on the sidelines for much of 2020, GWR looks forward to a robust calendar this year.


Photo: Millie Tomidy-Pepper with award-winner Nancy Brach.

Nancy E. Brach

Brach is vice president and co-owner of Brach Machine Inc., a worldwide supplier to the high-pressure die-casting industry. The business was started in 1985 and incorporated in 1993. It currently employs 19 people.

Her background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Buffalo School of Management, several years of retail banking experience, and more than a decade of tax preparation.

In addition to her career, Brach served as treasurer for the Batavia First Presbyterian church for 14 years and is currently on their personnel and finance committees. She also sang in the choir for the last 20 years!

Brach volunteered at the YWCA from 1997-2007, serving both on the board of directors and as a member of both the finance and personnel committees during that time.

She is currently a member of the North American Die Casting Association, the Genesee Area Personnel Association and she serves on the Perkins Advisory Committee at Genesee Community College.

When you don’t find Brach at work or busy with one of her volunteer pursuits, you may find her riding her bike somewhere within a 30-mile radius of her home.


Photo: Lucille DiSanto with award winner Jill Kratz.

Jill Kratz

Husband: John
Children: Colin, Kaylie, Kaitlin
College: Fredonia State and Buffalo State College Business: Owner and Operator Commit to Well (local meal-prep company)

Commit to Well was founded three years ago to fill a need in our community for easy access to fresh, nutritious, prepared meals. Being a family living with various autoimmune diseases, we wanted our meals to fill a void in our area for people who wanted to keep up with their nutritional needs in their busy lives.

Our mission quickly became clear: reach out to as many people in our community and give them access to overall better health and wellness with our prepared meals. We have clients both young and old. Some have special dietary restrictions and some just want to maintain better overall health and wellness.

Since its founding, Commit to Well has been out in the community donating to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, United Memorial Medical Center, the YWCA and its Safehouse.

Commit to Well has also reached out to our youth with after school programs empowering children with the knowledge and importance of your health through nutrition as well as movement and positive behavior.

Programs such as Commit to Well kids where children made healthy meals and snacks, and Like a Girl where young girls did small workouts and enjoyed a heathy snack.

We hope to continue to help our community achieve superior health and wellness!


Photo: Lucille DiSanto and Ed Leising, representing the Rotary Club of Batavia.

Rotary Club of Batavia

Batavia Rotary is a community service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the community and world.

Rotary is a secular organization open to all persons regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 34,282 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide. Rotary’s primary motto is “Service above Self” and we abide by the 4 Way Test.


The Gala Committee: Millie Tomidy-Pepper (executive director of the YWCA in Batavia), Jill Smith, Sue Chiddy, Cindy Zarcone, Lucille DiSanto, Eva Graham, Lindsey Reed, Justina Garner. Lindsey Reed is holding a portrait of Frances G. Francis. Not pictured, Rosalie Maguire-Simon.


Photos by Howard Owens. Write-ups of award winners submitted by the YWCA.

April 19, 2021 - 5:30pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is railing against the Assembly Majority after they tabled a bill he sponsored during a Ways and Means Committee meeting that would have exempted veterans over the age of 85 from paying state income taxes (A.5033).

Notably, this bill was rejected even after the Majority passed a budget that gives more than $2 billion in assistance to illegal immigrants in the form of direct payments.

The cost to the state in lost revenue from excluding veterans over 85 years old from state income taxes is estimated to be about $6 million, just over 1/4th of 1 percent (.0000283) of the state’s record high $212 billion budget

“The decision by the Majority to refuse to take this small step to show appreciation for our most elderly veterans even after giving billions to people who broke the law to come to this country is shameful, and representative of our state’s misguided priorities as a whole,” Hawley said.

“We are failing those who have risked their lives for our freedoms, and helping those who have disrespected our nation’s rule of law. It seems, year after year, the Majority places the well-being of lawbreakers above that of working people, and apparently even our veterans, even when they need our help more than ever during these unprecedented times.”

April 19, 2021 - 5:00pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County reporting 33 new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in the:
      • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
      • 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, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. 
    • Thirty-nine of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
    • Seven of the current positive individuals are hospitalized. 
  • Orleans County reporting 16 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, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
    • Twenty-four of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
    • Nine of the new positive individuals were previously on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Three of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
    • Five of the new positive individuals are inmates at the Albion Correctional Facility.



Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button