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Photo: Enjoying the spring weather in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens
le roy roof sitting
Alex Dunn, left, is joined friends Steve Stephany and Jason Daline for a relaxing time in fine weather outside his apartment on Main Street in the Village of Le Roy on Tuesday evening.
Photo by Howard Owens.by 

New car kits unveiled for return of BID's Soapbox Derby

By Howard B. Owens
boxcar derby 2023
Three of the Soapbox Derby organizers -- Jim Krencik, Shannon Maute, and Chris Suozzi -- with examples of the new soapbox cars that racers will put together and decorate for the 2023 race.

The Soapbox Derby, sponsored by the Business Improvement District, returns for 2023 with sleeker, larger, faster car kits, organizers announced today.

The race will be at the same locations as last year -- Ellicott Street at Richmond, next to Centennial Park in Batavia -- on August 26.

Last year -- the first time a Soapbox Derby was held in Batavia in decades -- races were beset by wheels falling off and other mechanical issues.

In an effort to solve the wheel problem, organizers sought alternatives and met Mark Scuderi, president of the Greater Rochester Soap Box Derby.  Scuderi has a warehouse of soapbox cars that are of the style and engineering of cars used throughout the state. 

The cars are valued at $1,000 each but the BID will lease them for $100 each and they will arrive unassembled so children competitors and their families can still engage in putting the cars together.

"We did not want the cookie-cutter car that everyone just jumps in and races because this isn't about a race," said Shannon Maute, director of the BID. "It's not just about a race. It's about teaching skills. It's about bringing out the creative side and letting them have fun with their friends and their family. The kids can still be creative and still use tools and learn how to do brakes and tires and use power tools. Mark came up with a great solution. He gave us the shell of the car, so the kids will be able to decorate it however they want."

Unlike last year, there will be limits on how much customization competitors can do on the cars because the shells can't be modified.

But out of the gate -- the new electronic starting gate -- competitors will get faster cars, with brakes, and the track will go past Park Avenue with hay bales on Ellicott Avenue set up at Washington Avenue.

Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for GCEDC, said the derby will still meet the workforce development goals of exposing children to the challenge of building something. The racers get to use power tools, some for the first time, and make sure all of the pieces are installed properly.

The size of the field doubles this year, to 48 racers, with two age groups in competition -- 7 to 10 and 11 to 13.

The winners get their names inscribed on the Joseph Suozzi Memorial Plaque.

There are two opportunities to register. The first on Friday, June 2, during the Genesee County Youth Bureau Family Game Night at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena, from 5 to 7 p.m.  The second registration opportunity is the next day from 10 a.m. to noon at Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles.

There is a $20 registration fee and sponsors are covering the lease cost of the cars. Sponsors include Alex's Place as lead sponsor, along with Graham Manufacturing, Western New York Concrete, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 46, along with any other sponsors that sign on to support the event.

"The BID Box Car Derby is one of my favorite events because it's for the kids," Maute said. "Seeing the smiles on their faces as they race down the street reminds me of the happiest moments of my childhood. It’s something that all of our business owners have, a memory that inspired them. So many people came out to join us last year and already want to help out this year. I think this is what we’re creating with this event, a community."

Also serving on the organizing committee are Lauren Becht, Lydia Schauf, Marian Pautler, Matt Gray, Jim Krencik, Gail Tenney, Sara Tenney, Jay Gsell, and John Roche.

boxcar derby 2023
boxcar derby 2023

Oakfield-Alabama loses sectional quarterfinal, 4-2

By Howard B. Owens
oakfield-alabama baseball

Oakfield-Alabama's season game to a bit of an unexpected end on Monday with a 4-2 loss to Geneseo.

The Hornets entered the quarterfinal game of the Class C Section V tournament as the #2 seed, and the Blue Devils are the #7 seed.

No stats are available.

Also on Monday:

  • Notre Dame beat Byron-Bergen 12-8.
  • Elba beat Hinsdale 14-1.
  • Le Roy beat Wayland-Cohocton 6-4
oakfield-alabama baseball
oakfield-alabama baseball
oakfield-alabama baseball

Pembroke teachers serve up sprinkles for PTF scholarship fund

By Press Release
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Press Release:

The Pembroke Teachers’ Federation hosted their inaugural Sprinkles Night at Sprinkles Creamery in Corfu. 

Teachers worked behind the counter, with some help from the wonderful employees of Sprinkles, to serve delicious frozen treats! Sprinkles generously donated a portion of the night’s proceeds and tips to the PTF Scholarship Fund, which benefits graduating seniors at Pembroke Junior/Senior High School.

“It was an awesome night. Students, families, and community members came out for this wonderful event. The Pembroke community, time and time again supports our students and teachers” PTF president Arron K. Brown. The PTF can’t wait until next year’s event!

Submitted photos

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Alumn brings passion and love for ND as new assistant principal

By Press Release

Press Release:

lindsay_warner_edit2.jpeg
Lindsay Warner 

The Notre Dame Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Mrs. Lindsay Warner has been named Assistant Principal, effective July 1. James Sutherland, Board of Trustees president, said, “We are very excited to welcome back a member of our own ND Family to such an important leadership position. Lindsay brings a passion for education and a real love of Notre Dame. We are confident that her return brings continuity and respect to our traditions and values.”

Mrs. Warner brings a vast array of talents and skills, having been in education and leadership for many years. Her intelligence, strong interpersonal skills, and intentional, values-driven leadership style are a strong match for Notre Dame. She believes in student-centered education and has demonstrated a commitment to upholding the potential of every student. Lindsay is a 2001 graduate of Notre Dame and previously served as a varsity coach and faculty member. 

She was the founder of ND’s award-winning business program and was notably awarded the New York State Business Teachers Association’s outstanding new business teacher in 2015. For the last 6 years, Lindsay has served in and out of the classroom at the WNY Tech Academy as a teacher, work-based learning coordinator, program promoter, recruiter, and social media coordinator/developer.

When asked about this opportunity, Lindsay said, "I am grateful to have a place on the leadership team at Notre Dame. Mrs. Lindner and I share common goals: to positively impact the culture of Notre Dame, model an authentic love for learning, and tirelessly promote the value of an education rooted in faith. It is an honor and privilege to be here, and I am looking forward to earning the trust and respect of this school community!"

Please join the Board of Trustees, staff, and faculty of Notre Dame in welcoming Mrs. Lindsay Warner back to her alma mater and to her new position.

Submitted photo

Tenney hosting grant process webinar May 24

By Press Release

Press Release:

Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) announced  the fifth installment of her monthly webinar series, which is focused on highlighting services and resources at the federal level available to constituents.

The next webinar will focus on the federal grant process, providing individuals and organizations with an overview of how to search for and apply for federal grant opportunities. The webinar is open to all constituents.

Those interested in attending this webinar should RSVP by emailing NY24.RSVP@mail.house.gov. Participants who register in advance will receive a link to the Zoom meeting on the morning of the event.

This webinar is being hosted as part of Tenney’s monthly webinar series, in which the Congresswoman connects residents of New York’s 24th Congressional District to resources and support at the federal level. This is the fifth webinar Tenney’s office has hosted this year. Recordings of past webinars can be found on Tenney’s website here.

File photo by Howard Owens

Genesee County schedule of ceremonies for Memorial Day

By Press Release

Press Release:

Sunday, May 28

Western New York National Cemetery (WNYNC) 1254 Indian Falls Road, Corfu. Hosted by Western New York National Cemetery Memorial Council, Inc. Ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at the Main Flag Ceremonial site.

Monday, May 29

All ceremonies will include full military honors: Wreath Laying, Rifle Salute & Taps.

Batavia ceremonies:

  • 7 a.m. – Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Genesee County Park, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 193.
  • 8 a.m. – Williams Park (Batavia) W.W.I Memorial. This memorial honors the 35 Batavians who gave their lives in WORLD WAR I.
  • 8:30 a.m. - Batavia VAMC, at the main flagpole, sponsored by the VAMC.
  • 8:45 a.m. (approx.) - NYS Veterans Home, at the main flagpole, sponsored by the NYS Veterans Home.
  • 9:30 a.m. – Veterans Plot on Harvester Avenue. This memorial honors all war dead of all wars in Elmwood and St. Joseph’s Cemeteries.
  • 10 a.m. - Upton Monument. This monument honors the dead of the Civil War, and all wars since.
  • 10:30 a.m. – UMMC Jerome Center. This is the site of the Genesee County War Memorial, honoring all war dead from Genesee County.

The names of county veterans who have died since the previous Memorial Day will be read and a flag placed to honor each of them in front of the memorial.

Memorial services will be carried out by Veness-Strollo Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1602, Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post #332, and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #193.

Town ceremonies:

  • ALEXANDER: Ceremony to take place at the Alexander Village Cemetery (a.k.a. Railroad Avenue Cemetery) at 11 a.m.
  • BATAVIA:  Parade starting at 9:45 a.m. beginning at the East Town Plaza traveling west along Main Street and ending at Alva Place.
  • BERGEN:  Ceremony to take place at Hickory Park at 9:30 a.m.
  • BYRON:  Ceremony to take place at Byron Cemetery at 11 a.m.
  • CORFU:  Parade at 12 p.m. from Corfu Fire Hall on Route 33 to the Intermediate School on Route 77.  Ceremony immediately following the parade.
  • ELBA:  Ceremony at Maple Lawn Cemetery at 10 a.m.
  • LEROY:  Parade at 10:30 a.m. from the American Legion to Trigon Park with a ceremony at Trigon Park at 11 a.m. immediately following the parade.

No parade or ceremonies for the following towns:

  • Alabama
  • Bethany
  • Darien
  • Oakfield
  • Pavilion
  • Pembroke
  • Stafford

City Council hasn't closed the book on open container requests

By Joanne Beck

 

Jackson Square 2011
Could there be open alcoholic beverage containers allowed in Jackson Square's future? BID has requested approval from City Council to drop the open container ban in the downtown Square during the summer.
File photo from 2011 by Howard Owens

We’re here to promote business, not to destroy it.

Those words, spoken by City Councilman Al McGinnis Monday evening, seemed to capture council’s sentiments to move forward on allowing open containers for alcoholic beverages in Jackson Square, throughout various downtown streets during a special event in July and with a limit of two beverages on a specially built group pedal vehicle.

The agreement didn’t exactly come without a lot of discussion, questions and clarifications about each element of the open container requests before them.

Batavia’s Business Improvement District, aka BID, requested that open containers be allowed in Jackson Square during the summertime when the space is ripe with concerts and spectators are usually relegated to sitting inside or on the upper deck of nearby restaurants.

City law hasn’t allowed music revelers to sip a craft beer or gin and tonic while relaxing in their lounge chairs outside — a point that may change when council gathers again on June 12 to discuss the issue with a detailed resolution in hand to potentially vote on afterward.

Entrepreneur Matt Gray spoke as a business partner of Eli Fish Brewing Company, which backs up to the Square and is in progress with building a patio. He listed reasons why council would want to give a yes for open containers, including number one, the state liquor authority will only permit a business four events for open containers, and after Eli’s carnival, Octoberfest, BID’s Italian Fest, and the Ramble, “we’re out of licenses for that space,” Gray said.

There’s potential for grassroots development within that area, he said, that could mean other types of businesses, such as a cider distillery or similar, to bring more people downtown.

“If you bring the people downtown, and that is our goal, more development happens on its own. So it's great that we're doing this work to Jackson Square, but I really think that having an open container will kind of push us to the next stage as far as getting more traffic to the downtown area,” Gray said.

While some council members agreed with Gray and supported his stance, they shared the possible pitfalls as well.

“My concern is, people using it as a public space, bringing their own alcohol, they get out of the eye of the public, and hang out in there, when there isn't a function going on at the restaurants that connect to it. So I'm in favor of it. But I would like to see possibly signage warning people if they leave that area that they're going to be in violation,” Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said. “And obviously, if no one is responsible for it, but yet they use it, who's going to be cleaning it up? I mean, I'm sure it's inevitable. There'll be bottles or glasses or plastic cups being thrown around in there. I know a lot of businesses clean up around their own business anyway. It's fine.

“But you know, hopefully, they would keep it clean on their own and notify if somebody was just in there, having a private party without any authorization and using the space for a hangout and drinking location. But that's not what you're talking about here. You're talking about promoting business, promoting activity in there and maybe even freedom to go from one establishment to another,” he said. “That's all great. I love all that. But my prior life has taught me that not everyone obeys the unwritten rules, so to speak.”

He suggested that some type of guidelines might be warranted to ensure that everyone follows the rules.

“To make sure that it stays clean, doesn't turn into a hangout, and that people know, if they're walking out with a beverage and they walk out to Jackson Street, they know when they walk through the alley that they're leaving the space, and then they probably should either dispose of their beverage or finish it up,” he said.

The BID also requested that the city drop its open container law per Batavia Municipal Code during the Italian Festival on July 29, so that people can enjoy libations on downtown streets during the event from 1 to 9 p.m. This approval would require council to grant special permission to allow open containers on designated city streets and sidewalks during this event.

The third request is from Kuyler Preston of his newly formed company Batavia Pedal Party LLC. Using a specially crafted pedal and motorized open-air vehicle, a driver takes groups on a two-hour tour of the city for a fun, enjoyable ride, Preston said. 

While everything about his business is licensed and insured, he is seeking approval from council to allow each passenger to bring two cans of alcoholic beverages on the ride.

The difference between this type of group trip and that of a limo is that the pedal party vehicle is not enclosed, and the alcoholic drinks are visible to other people not in the vehicle, city attorney George Van Nest said. So Preston needs approval from the city to allow for the open containers on the bike, Van Nest said.

Jankowski said that some further research and discussion with police may be needed before making final decisions on some of these requests.

“I think we're gonna have to do some research like other places have done and talk to our police and DPW and see how they feel about it. But definitely, I like the idea of that square becoming a more multi-use space, or the businesses that they use it there for any private gathering or whatever,” he said. “But as long as it's approved, instead of just, we're starting to get calls because people realize it gets off to a place that you can use it at four in the morning and drink alcohol. And that's not really what it was intended to be for.”

Council is expected to discuss them further during a special conference session on June 12, to be followed by a business meeting for related votes.

FAQ: What is Early Access Pass and more

By Howard B. Owens

Since we launched Early Access Pass, a lot of people have asked questions. Some people have made statements worth addressing. And some people have expressed misperceptions about the program.  This FAQ is intended to address those issues.

What is Early Access Pass?
Early Access Pass is an innovative program asking readers to help provide financial support for the gathering and reporting of local news. Rather than wall off everything, The Batavian publishes select stories that are initially available only to those who have joined Early Access Pass.  For the first four hours after a story is published, only readers who have joined Early Access Pass will have access to those select stories.  Readers who join Early Access will get instant access to originally reported, bylined stories by The Batavian. Those who don’t join will need to wait four hours after publication to read those stories.

What do I get if I sign up for Early Access Pass?
You get instant access to all of the original, by-lined reporting of The Batavian while everybody waits to join will wait to get all of the news. And, currently, we’ll send you a free reusable tote bag.

What do I get if I DON'T sign up for Early Access Pass?
You can still read all of the press releases we post as soon as they're published.  Scanner reports will not require a pass.  Community events we cover as primarily photo coverage will most likely not require a pass.  There will be the other certain news items -- ones that didn't require a lot of reporting time -- that will not require a pass. And, of course, every story that did require a pass will no longer require a pass four hours after publication.  In other words, you still get everything we publish for free, though on a few items, you will need to wait to access it.

I think news should be free!
Actually, news still is free on The Batavian.  We’re offering you a choice: Join Early Access and get instant access or wait to join and then wait to read important news about the community for free later.  All stories are still free to read, but some will require an Early Access Pass to read immediately. 

Why are you asking me to pay you to read the news?
As stated above, we're not asking you to pay for news. We’re offering you a choice -- pay for instant access or wait and read it for free later. That said, gathering and reporting news is time-consuming, and time equals money, which means hiring reporters, which is expensive. For most of the first 15 years of The Batavian, Howard Owens gathered and wrote nearly all the news on the site. That required him to work 10, 12, 14, 16 hours a day.  Often, he still works those long hours.  It’s taken a toll on his health and given him very little free time.  He can no longer keep working at that pace.  The Batavian is asking readers to support The Batavian so its news staff can be expanded.

Isn’t this just a cash grab, pure greed?
As stated above, the founder and owner of The Batavian has been working 10 to 16 hours a day for most of the past 15 years.  He can’t continue at that pace.  This isn’t about generating more profit. It’s about asking the readers for help so The Batavian can hire more staff writers. 

Why should I pay The Batavian when I get my news elsewhere for free?
You can’t get most of what The Batavian reports elsewhere.  There are only two news organizations covering Genesee County that do any sort of in-depth reporting, and both now ask for readers to financially support their news-gathering efforts.  And that other publication doesn’t report nearly as much news about Genesee County as The Batavian. Also, The Batavian frequently reports news stories long before that other publication gets to them, if they ever do.  And of those two news organizations, The Batavian charges less on either a monthly basis or an annual basis.

Can’t I just get all my news off of social media?
In brief: no, you can’t. Social media is a poor substitute for an actual news-gathering operation.  The way the algorithms work, you can’t trust that everything that might be important to you will come to your attention or in a timely manner.  And how do you know what you’re reading on social media is accurate?  Who is the person providing you the information? What is the person’s agenda?  A lot of local governments now post information about what they’re doing on social media, but who is asking questions about the accuracy and context of that information?  What social media company is sending reporters to small town meetings to find out what’s really going on, to ask questions, to make public document requests, to hold appointed and elected officials accountable? These are the functions of journalists, and journalists, like any other worker, need to be paid to do their jobs. Twice in the past month (as of May 2023), reporters for The Batavian have reminded elected officials that they were about to enter secret meetings that violated the state's open meetings law.  In both cases, the elected officials agreed to hold their discussion in open session. It takes engaged, knowledgeable, professional reporters to hold public officials accountable.

Why is local news so important that I should pay to support it?
Without local reporters, there is nobody to hold local government officials accountable, to ensure they’re serving the public interest.  In communities without much, if any, local news, small-town governments have been shown to slip into incompetence, if not outright corruption. And it’s not that local government officials are bad people. It’s just without a watchdog, it’s easy for anybody to fall into bad habits.  Further, local news reporters do more than hold officials accountable. They also report on the accomplishments of our children. They spread the news about the good deeds of charities and civic organizations. And by spreading all of the information about a community, they help bind a community together, which is essential to a community’s health and financial well-being.

I’m not convinced. I still don’t think I should pay for local news.
Well, like we said, you don’t have to.  You can wait the four hours to read a story that might interest you.  That said, if readers won’t support local news, someday there will be no local news. Howard Owens, the owner of The Batavian, is going to retire or die someday.  As things stand, it’s doubtful The Batavian could continue under a new owner.  It would just shut down.  And the other big news operation in town relies heavily on its print subscribers to stay in business. All across the country, the declining value of print subscribers can be found in obituary columns.  The death of print news in small towns is inevitable.  So, if readers won’t support digital news, someday there will be no local news.

How do I join if I don’t want to use a credit card?
You can send a check for $80 to:

            The Batavian 
            P.O. Box 632
            Batavia, NY 14021

To join Early Access Pass online, click here.

BHS principal returns to JK role again after five-year stint

By Joanne Beck
Paul Kessler
Paul Kesler during an interview with The Batavian in March.
Photo by Howard Owens.

When Paul Kesler was about to embark on another level of his career at Batavia City Schools five years ago, he was filled with mixed emotions about leaving the staff he had come to regard as family at John Kennedy Intermediate School.

“My whole experience in 13 years in Batavia has been here. That's going to be the struggle, saying goodbye,” he had said when preparing to leave for a role as principal of the high school in October 2017.

During Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, the group approved Kesler’s latest appointment, which may mean more of those emotional goodbye moments. But this time he’ll be returning to familiar faces as principal of John Kennedy once again.

“Thank you so much to the board. I've been an administrator in Batavia since 2005. And one of the really exciting pieces about being a high school principal is some of your children that I had in elementary school, and to hand them their diploma. And so, I've just been extremely grateful to have such a long career here in Batavia and to continue that at John Kennedy,” Kesler said. “But it's also at the same time bittersweet just because of, I just saw the positive things that we've been able to do together with the high school students.

"And so I just wanted to say thank you, and I really appreciate your ongoing support.”

Earlier this month Superintendent Jason Smith had recommended John Kennedy Principal Brian Sutton for the position of Director of Educational Technology, effective July 1. Smith then recommended Kesler for that soon-to-be vacant role, with qualifications as “an exceptional leader” in the district for the last 18 years.

“Paul started his career at John Kennedy, and I was thrilled when he approached me about returning,” Smith said. “Paul’s steadfast commitment to BCSD and the Batavia community is admirable, and I look forward to his return to JK and thank him for his memorable and impactful five years leading BHS.”

With the departure of Kesler as Principal of BHS, Smith and the BCSD leadership team will immediately begin the search process to name a replacement. 

GCC president unveils Genesee for Life during 55th commencement

By Joanne Beck

 

jim sunser
GCC's President Jim Sunser entering Saturday's 2023 Commencement Ceremony in the Call Arena.
Photo by Howard Owens.

This weekend’s Class of 2023 graduates were reminded by Genesee Community College’s president just how crucial their mission is from here on forward, and that one’s pursuit of learning doesn’t stop with that diploma in hand.

“We are counting on you to live a life that’s full of promise and potential, not just for yourself, but to make the world a better place,” Dr. James Sunser, GCC president, said during his closing remarks. “You know, we live in a world that is constantly changing, and one that requires us to continually evolve, develop new skills, and stay current in order to be the successful members of society that we all aspire to be.

“At Genesee Community College, we like to say once a Genesean or a cougar, always a Genesean and a cougar. It's in the spirit and recognizing the value and importance of lifelong learning that I share with you a new and, frankly, unprecedented benefit that you are receiving as a GCC grad," he said. "As a member of the Class of 2023, you are now eligible to take future courses at SUNY GCC, free of charge for the rest of your life.”

This Class of 2023 will be the inaugural group of learners for when this new program was announced. They will be able to return time and time again to refresh, recharge, update and expand their minds with other GCC graduates by attending those free classes.

Genesee for Life was launched as “an innovative program allowing all GCC graduates to return to take credit-bearing courses tuition-free, for life,” program material states. Returning students will have the opportunity to prepare for new careers, transfer education opportunities, or to gain new skills for personal pursuits.

“We call this unique part of the program Genessee for Life, and it's our way of supporting you, not just now but throughout your life's journey. It's our way of saying that we do believe in the importance and value of lifelong learning,” Sunser said. “And we're committed to making that a reality for you as a part of our GCC family of graduates, and as members of the Genesee Community College’s Class of 2023, our 55th commencement class.

“I thank you for all that you're doing. I thank you for joining us today, and I wish you all good things,” he said.

To learn more about this program, go HERE.

Previously

To view more than 60 photos from GCC's commencement ceremony on Saturday, click here.

Carr's Reborn given new life with $1.8M in state funding

By Joanne Beck
carr's building downtown batavia
The Carr's building in Downtown Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.

This last week of May was capped off with bountiful news for property owner Ken Mistler and downtown Batavia as a whole with the announcement that the Carr’s Reborn project on Main Street was granted $1.85 million in Downtown Revitalization funding.

While recently discussing Mistler’s other major renovation in progress at the former Showtime movie theater in City Centre, The Batavian asked him about the Carr’s project, which has been on hold for several months.

He said that would move forward as soon as he gets word about funding.

Mistler was unavailable for further comments Monday afternoon.

Carr’s Reborn has involved several key players in the community, including a committee of folks serving on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative effort, city and county leaders, engineers, the property owner, residents and business owners, all of whom have been anxiously awaiting to see development in the former Carr’s department store for at least the last five years.

Consultant David Ciurzynski previously described the site’s future: renovating the upper two floors for apartments, installing arched windows in the front overlooking Main Street, preparing the lower levels for commercial space by removing asbestos and making them more enticing for prospective businesses to invest in the site.

Ciurzynski also included a vision for the project, aptly titled Carr's Reborn.

“We can restore the former landmark to its former glory,” he said during the DRI Committee’s Sept. 13 meeting.

The project received approval from both the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Committee and City Council in September 2022. No one had spoken during a related public hearing about council's application to pursue a $2 million grant.

Cities with a population of less than 40,000 can apply for up to $2 million, and it is available for projects to “demolish/deconstruct and/or rehabilitate/reconstruct vacant, abandoned, surplus and/or condemned residential, commercial and/or mixed-use buildings.” 

With no opposition to the move, City Council voted to submit an application for the sixth round of the Restore NY Communities Initiative Municipal Grant Program.

The former Carr’s site is expected to accommodate several upper-floor apartments and business/office use on the ground floor.

The project would take $1.85 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant funding and $4 million from property owner Ken Mistler. Possible uses for the main floor have not been determined, and it’s about “what does downtown Batavia need?” Ciurzynski had said during the committee’s Sept. 13 meeting.

Committee members who approved the project and pursued the DRI grant included City Council President Eugene Jankowski, Steve Hyde, Dr. James Sunser,  Craig Yunker, Tammy Hathaway,  Erik Fix, Tom Turnbull, Susie Ott, Paul Battaglia, Marty Macdonald and Nathan Varland.

On Monday,  state Gov. Kathy Hochul announced more than $112.9 million has been awarded to 70 projects through the Restore New York Communities Initiative. Restore New York supports municipal revitalization efforts across the state, helping to remove blight, reinvigorate downtowns and generate economic opportunity in communities statewide, according to a press release issued from the governor’s office.

The program, administered by Empire State Development, is designed to help local governments revitalize their communities and encourage commercial investment, improve the local housing stock, put properties back on the tax rolls and increase the local tax base, the release states.

"These Restore New York grants will help to reimagine downtowns across our state and transform vacant, blighted and underutilized buildings into vibrant community anchors," Hochul said in the release. "Thanks to a more than $146 million state investment, we are breathing new life into communities from Hudson to North Hempstead, jumpstarting new economic activity and helping ensure that New York State continues to be a place where people come to live, work and raise their families."

Carr's Reborn was the only project in Genesee County to receive funding from this round. 

Oakfield-Alabama opens post-season with 30-2 win over Holley

By Howard B. Owens
oakfield-alabama baseball

Holley was no match for Oakfield-Alabama in the first round of Class C Section V baseball tournament on Friday, with Holley pitchers giving up 25 hits and 30 rounds to the #2 seed.

The Hornets hit two home runs, by Shaun Alexander and Bodie Hyde, and Hyde collected six RBIs and scored twice while going 2-2.  Alexander was 2-3 after taking over for Hyde in centerfield. 

Brenden Wescott was 4-5 with four RBIs. David Schnaufer was 3-5 with three runs scored. Cole Kornow scored four times and collected four RBIs while going 2-4.

Five O-A pitchers fanned 13 hitters over seven innings while giving up seven hits, and one earned run.

Also on Sunday in Class C, Pembroke lost to Bloomfield, 5-1.  In Class C, Byron-Bergen beat Cuba-Rushford, 8-5.

In today's games, 

  • Class D: #5 seed Elba plays #4 Hinsdale at 5 p.m. Hinsdale.
  • In Class C: #1 Notre Dame hosts #9 Byron-Bergen at Dwyer Stadium at 5 p.m
  • In Class B: #5 Batavia plays at Hornell against #4 Hornell at 6 p.m.
  • In Class B: #8 seed Le Roy takes on #1 Wayland-Cohocton at 5 p.m.

Photos by Max Waterson, age 7.

oakfield-alabama baseball

The Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Festival announced for July 1

By Press Release
bill mcdonald ramble 2022
The Ramble 2022 file photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The Ramble Team is once again partnering with the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO ART!) to bring a fun-filled event that has something for everyone, including 25+ bands performing on two stages, an Explore Art tent for kids, street performances, food and much more!  The event will take place in Jackson Square and on Jackson Street on Saturday,  July 1, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“After last year’s successful return, this year’s Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Festival is shaping up to be the biggest and best one yet to date,”  said Stephen Kowalcyk. Ramble Event Coordinator 

The coordinators are seeking art vendors, food vendors, sponsors and musicians for the event.  For more information on being a food vendor, art vendor, or a sponsor of the event, contact Mary Jo at mjwhitman@goart.org.  For musician applications, contact Stephen at thebataviaramble@gmail.com.  

ramble 2022
The Ramble 2022 file photo by Howard Owens.

County's state of emergency extended

By Joanne Beck

The following press release about the local State of Emergency is in place for 30 days from issuance (5/17/23-6/16/23), with the potential to be extended five days at a time. The county manager's office issued an extension Monday for five additional days. The emergency orders placed during the SOE “shall remain in effect for five days unless sooner modified, extended or revoked, and may be extended for additional periods not to exceed five days during the pendency of the local state of emergency.”

Press Release:

On May 17, 2023 at 12 p.m., a State of Emergency was declared for the County of Genesee arising from New York City's program to rapidly increase the number of migrants in this County to unsustainable levels.

Pursuant to NYS Executive Law § 24, when a State of Emergency is in effect, the County Manager may promulgate local emergency orders to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation under control. By law upon reconsideration of all the relevant facts and circumstances, such an order may be extended for additional periods not to exceed five days each during the pendency of the state of emergency.

If it were allowed for the City of New York or other municipalities to simply flood the County with persons in need of services, as described in the related Declaration, this crisis would only worsen.

Therefore, by the power vested in me as County Manager of Genesee County, it is hereby ordered:

Section 1.

Prohibition of foreign municipal programs that burden the County.

A. No municipality may make contracts with persons, businesses, or entities doing business within the County to transport migrants or asylum seekers to locations in the County, or to house persons at locations in the County for any length of time without the express written permission of the County Manager. In addition, no person or entity may act on behalf of any municipality or in performance of a municipal program, or other act funded by a municipality, to perform an act in violation of this subsection.

B. No hotel, motel, or owner of a multiple dwelling in Genesee County is permitted to contract or otherwise engage in business with any other municipality other than the County of Genesee (an "external municipality") for the purpose of providing housing or accommodations for migrants or asylum seekers without a license granted by the County. This prohibition extends to any person or entity participating in an external municipality's government program, or a contract or service funded by an external municipality, or acting on behalf of any external municipality.

1. Licenses will be granted only by the Genesee County Office of the County Manager, the County Manager may enlist the services of any other related agency within the executive branch of the County government to perform the duties necessary to effect this provision.

2. Licenses will only be granted where, to the satisfaction of the County Manager, both the applicant and the foreign municipality demonstrate that

a. The contract provides that the migrants or asylum seekers will be returned to the foreign municipality from which they arrived or another location outside the County, within fifteen days;

b. The foreign municipality demonstrates to the County that is has sufficient funding to sustain the needs of the migrants or asylum seekers during the time of their stay; and

c. The foreign municipality agrees to assume any costs expended by any municipality in the County ("domestic municipalities") including the County itself, for the care, welfare, law enforcement interactions, or other expenses related to municipal interaction with the migrants or asylum seekers upon demand,

d. The applicant and the foreign municipality each have a performance bond for the conditions set by the license in the amount of $2,000 per migrant or asylum seeker being housed or boarded at the applicant's facility.

3. The conditions described in this section will not apply to any contract directly between the foreign municipality and the County.

4. License renewal will be at the sole discretion of the County Manager, after consideration of the purpose and intent of the State of Emergency that instigated this Emergency Order.

C. Remedies.

1. Appearance tickets. The Sheriff, the County Manager and the County Manager's designees are authorized to issue appearance tickets for any violation of this Emergency Order for the penalty prescribed by NYS Executive Law § 24(5).

2. Civil penalties. In addition to those penalties prescribed by NYS Executive Law § 24(5), any person who violates any provision of this Emergency Order or any term or condition of any license issued pursuant to this Emergency Order, shall be liable to a civil penalty, to be determined by a process set by the County Manager, of not more than $2,000 per migrant/asylum seeker housed by the foreign municipality or other violator, for each day or part thereof during which such violation continues. The civil penalties provided by this subdivision shall be recoverable in an action instituted in the name of this County and initiated by the County Manager.

3. Abatement. Regardless of any other remedy or relief brought by the County for any violation, the County Manager is authorized to direct the County Attorney to commence actions or proceedings in the name of the County, in a court of competent jurisdiction, to abate any violation of, or to enforce any provision of this Emergency Order.

D. Remedies not exclusive.

1. No remedy or penalty specified in this Emergency Order shall be the exclusive remedy or remedy available to address any violation described in this Emergency Order.

2. Each remedy or penalty specified in this Emergency Order shall be in addition to, and not in substitution for or limitation of, the other remedies or penalties specified in this Emergency Order or in any other applicable law.

3. Any remedy or penalty specified in this section may be pursued at any time, whether prior to, simultaneously with, or after the pursuit of any other remedy or penalty specified in this Emergency Order or in any other applicable law.

4. In particular, but not by way of limitation, each remedy and penalty specified in this section shall be in addition to, and not in substitution for or limitation of, the penalties specified in NYS Executive Law § 24, and any remedy or penalty specified in this section may be pursued at any time, whether prior to, simultaneously with, or after the pursuit of any penalty specified in NYS Executive Law § 24.

E. Notifications.

In addition to such other powers or duties the Sheriff of Genesee County may consider in the exercise of the Sheriff's duties with respect to this Emergency Order, the Sheriff is authorized and directed by this order to make

Section 3. Effective Date.

This Local Emergency Order shall take effect immediately.

Section 4. 

Duration of Local Emergency Order 

The Local Emergency Order shall remain in effect for five days unless sooner modified, extended, or revoked, and may be extended for additional periods not to exceed five days during the pendency of the local state of emergency.

Section 5.

Common Name 

This Order may be referred to as the "Genesee County Sustainable Mitigation Protocol."

These county updates will be available HERE .

County Legislature to vote on appointing former judge Zambito to the Western Regional OTB board

By Mike Pettinella

The Genesee County Republican Committee is recommending that former County Court judge Charles Zambito fill the vacant position on the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors.

In a unanimous vote at a meeting last week, the committee acted to submit Zambito’s name for consideration by the Genesee County Legislature.

The process now is for the Genesee County Legislature to vote on a resolution supporting the recommendation at this Wednesday’s meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

Republican Committee Chair Richard Siebert said Zambito’s background as an attorney was a key factor in the recommendation.

Fred Gundell of Batavia also had expressed his interest in serving on the WROTB board, which was disbanded earlier this month per adoption of a bill calling for a restructuring and change to a weighted voting system.

“Chuck was unanimous in what has to do with his background as an attorney, and possibility of litigation that might be taking place in regard to our county having only two votes out of 100 with this new weighted voting format,” Siebert said. “That’s a big issue in Genesee County as we have the casino right here.

“I believe that eventually they're going to try to pursue some sort of court action to try to rectify that. But right now, I think the main thing was Chuck's background (Zambito also served as the acting Supreme Court justice) and the fact his legal experience could help Genesee County rectify some of these wrongs.”

Siebert resigned from the board after learning of the announcement out of Albany that the board was being restructured.

The move has been criticized by local politicians on the Republican side as being a “political power grab” to transfer power to the Democrat-leaning population centers of Erie and Monroe counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

Previously: County Republicans to interview pair interested in filling WROTB board of directors post

BPD enforces Click It or Ticket campaign

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Police Department is urging drivers to buckle up during the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement effort. The national seat belt campaign, which coincides with the Memorial Day holiday, runs from May 22 to June 4. 

“We want seat belt use to be an automatic habit for drivers and passengers alike,” said Assistant Police Chief Chris Camp. “It’s not just a safe thing to do - it’s the law. During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll be working with our fellow law enforcement officers across local and state lines to ensure the message gets out to drivers and passengers. Buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash. We see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time. So often, it could have been prevented.” 

According to NHTSA, in 2021, there were 11,813 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 57% of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.– 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night. 

“No matter the type of vehicle you’re driving in or the type of road you’re driving on, the simplest way to stay safe in case of a vehicle crash is to wear your seat belt,” said Assistant Police Chief Chris Camp. “Unfortunately, many families are suffering because their loved ones refused to follow this simple step. NHTSA data shows that seat belt use is higher among females than males. In fact, nearly twice as many males were killed in crashes as compared to females in 2021. Of the males killed in crashes during that same year, more than half (54%) were unrestrained. For females killed in crashes, 42% were not buckled up. 

“If the enforcement effort alerts people to the dangers of unrestrained driving, we’ll consider our mission to be a success,” said Assistant Police Chief Chris Camp. “If you know a friend or a family member who does not buckle up when they drive, please ask them to consider changing their habits. Help us spread this lifesaving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of not buckling up. Seat belts save lives, and everyone - front seat and back, child and adult - needs to remember to buckle up.” 

For more information on the Click It or Ticket mobilization, please visit NHTSA.gov/ciot Sourced via CRIMEWATCH®: https://crimewatch.net/us/ny/genesee/batavia-pd/138661/post/2023-click-it-or-ticket-campaign

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