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May 1, 2008 - 11:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in launch, thebatavian, journalism.

"Officially," today is the launch day of The Batavian.

That may not mean much; we've been up and running for a week and a half.  The only thing that has really changed from yesterday to today is that starting this morning we're running ads on WBTA.  (Ads start in the Pennysaver this week, as well).

You might be wondering, "what is this thing called The Batavian?"

It's an online news site. It's a community site. It's an information site.  It's an opinion site. It's an online place for Batavians to meet and share information, ideas and view points.

Our one paid staff member is Philip Anselmo.  His job is to keep tabs on Batavia, post interesting stuff and help host the conversations that take place on The Batavian.

Our goal is to create an oft-updated online site that Batavians appreciate and use frequently. We intend to be a part of the Batavia community for a long, long time.  If that happens, we will grow and we will hire.  Our intention is to hire people who live in and love Batavia.  Part of Philip's job is to help recruit his replacement. 

For too long, community newspapers have lost their way because they are often staffed by people who don't feel they have a long-term stake in the community.  The best and brightest reporters and editors eventually move on to better paying jobs in bigger cities.

We want The Batavian to be different.  We want to find good reporters who understand our content strategy and who would enjoy covering Batavia for many, many years.

What is our content strategy?  Simply put, to use the Web the way it was intended.

We write in a personal voice. We share about who we are and what interests us.  A common myth about the Internet is that it depersonalizes human interaction.  People who use the Web often know this isn't true.  Web communication is more personal, more human. 

You won't see us refer to this site as a "virtual community" (a term common for sites like this a few years ago).  There is nothing virtual about online communities.  Online communities are just as real as anything that happens offline, because the friendships and alliances formed, the tasks accomplished and the good done are just as real as anything that happens on Main Street, a board room or in a Rotary meeting.

Of course, when you start using personal pronouns, you'll likely stray into the area of sharing your own opinions.

In old-school journalism, expressing opinions is a sin. In online journalism, it's a virtue.

American's distrust of the media is at an all-time high.  A big reason for this distrust, we believe, is that reporters and editors often boast of their objectivity and lack of bias, but we all know that objectivity is impossible and bias is the natural human state.

American journalism often puts on a false front of objectivity, but every reporter and editor comes to a story and its set of facts with a specific mindset, a specific context.

Facts do not mean much outside of context, and context is always subjective. That's why two groups of people can have completely different views on what facts in a particular narrative are important, and which facts can be ignored.  The debates around the Iraq War illustrate perfectly how facts can mean different things to different people, and also how different contexts can cause some people to believe things other people are convinced are not true.

We believe a more honest form of journalism is to let you know what our context is as part of our coverage.  Rather than pretend to be objective (which, again, is impossible in the common journalistic meaning), we'll share our opinions when we have them (not that we will always have them on every story).

When we don't know something, or don't understand, we'll admit it and ask for your input and help.  We've already seen an example of how this works on last Tuesday's Daily News Roundup.  Philip had questions about a story, and Council President Charlie Mallow jumped in with answers.

That's a new kind of journalism, but one we believe is much more effective in serving a community and more benefitical to civic discourse and democracy.

We ask of ourselves and everybody who participates in this site:

  • Honesty in identity and context (please register with your real name, or with your organizational name if representing a group of people)
  • Accuracy in the facts and representations
  • An abhorance for personal attacks — no name calling, please
  • Value and seek truth
  • Give credit where credit is due (we always cite our sources, and if possible, link to those sources).

We hope that you value The Batavian and visit the site often.  We promise to work hard to keep the site updated frequently with the latest news and information.  We will do our best to keep the conversation civil.

We have many new features coming — before long, you will be able to set up your own blog on The Batavian — so keep in eye out for updates and new additions to the site.

You can also help to promote The Batavian

  • If you have a Web site, link to us. 
  • If you have a blog, please tell us about it and link and comment on our posts. 
  • E-mail all of your friends and associates who would find value in The Batavian and let them know about the site.
  • Register and leave comments.  The more conversation, the better for everybody.
  • Include a notice about The Batavian in your school, organization or business newsletter (please).

The more voices heard on The Batavian, the more useful the conversations will be to Batavia.

BTW: If you don't know what a blog is — blog is short for "Web log." It's both an online publishing platform (just a tool, or technology), but also a mindset about how to communicate online.  Posts appear when the blogger has something to say (no deadlines), often (but not always) contain opinion, are written in a personal voice, appear in reverse chronological order and rely on links with other Web sites to facilitate conversation.  If you don't have a blog and want one, and don't want to wait for The Batavian to make one available to you, visit WordPress.com, where you can set up a blog for free — just let us know about it when you've got it going.

A word about news tips:  Soon, we'll have a way for you to submit your own news, or tips, on this web site.  In the mean time, send your tips to philip (at) the (oneword) batavian dot com.

Philip will post something later today introducing himself.

May 1, 2008 - 9:08am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, history, photo.

I came across this spectacle during my travels around the city yesterday. Do you know where it is? Do you know what it is? (This is, of course, just one small section of a much larger artifact — if we can call it that.) I'll put up a medium cup of java from Main Street Coffee to the first person who can guess both what and where this thing is.

May 1, 2008 - 8:52am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, BID, Jackson Square, music.

Jackson Square Concert Series 2008 — Downtown Batavia:

• Friday, June 20th (7-9 p.m.) Civilletto Sings Sinatra

• Friday, June 27th  (7-9 p.m.) Ghost Riders (Country)

• Friday, July 4th, (7-9 p.m.)  Pre-Ramble Concert (Ghost Riders, Sierra & Friends)

• Saturday, July 5  (11a.m. - 9 p.m.)  Ramble Music & Art Fest (Variety)

• Friday, July 11th  (7-9 p.m.) Westside Blues Band (Blues)

• Friday, July 18th  (7-9 p.m.)  Joe Beard & The Blues Union (Blues)

• Friday, July 25th (7-9 p.m.) OHMS Band (Rock)

• Friday, August 1st (7-9 p.m.)  Penny Whiskey (Celtic/folk)

• Friday, August 8th (7-9 p.m.) Julie Dunlap (Country)

• Friday, August 22nd (7-9 p.m.) Bart & Kevin (Family)

• Friday, August 29th (7-9 p.m.)  Craig Wilkins (Johnny Cash Tribute)

Major sponsors of the "Friday Night in the Square" summer music series are: M&T Bank, the Batavia Buisness Improvement District and GoArt!

The series is hosted by the Batavia Business Improvement District. Call (585) 344-0900 for more information.

"We assist new and existing businesses, locate space and provide economic incentives for businesses to locate in downtown Batavia," says Don Burkel, president of the BID. "We also host: the Downtown Public Market, Summer in the City Festival and Christmas in the City Festival."

May 1, 2008 - 8:26am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, wbta.

Check out WBTA for these and other news stories:

• Assemblyman Stephen Hawley announced his bid for re-election to represent the 139th District in the state Assembly.

• Batavia will receive nearly $400,000 in state grant funds. About $150,000 will be used to build a booking facility at the Genesee County Jail that would be shared by both county and city forces. Another $150,000 is slated for sidewalk improvements. And about $90,000 will cover the cost of a new ambulance for the city.

April 30, 2008 - 5:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown, town.

Don't let anyone ever tell you that Batavia doesn't have good food. You have already heard us rave about the tacos de asada at Margarita's on Jackson Street — personally, I've already been back a few times. And, if you've entertained even a passing interest in our daily goings-on here at The Batavian, you would know that we've happily sucked down our fair share of lattes at Main Street Coffee, our current base of operations.

Well, today, I took off in search of some more unknown territory — political, edible and otherwise. After a stop at the Batavia Town Hall and the county historian's office, I made my way to Oliver's Candies on Main Street... for a taste.

Jeremy Liles manages the place these days. He smiles and jokes the way I imagine anyone would who spent their life and career in a candy store.

He told me that, though the candy is the main draw, Oliver's is sought out just as much for its roadside sign — a relic from an America few of us can even recall first-hand, back when we still danced with flappers, still spoke of Reds and fascists, still made phonecalls through a switchboard operator. But it's exactly that kitschy history appeal that landed a photograph of the sign on the Web site of a cross-country chronicler of "roadside architecture" — a fine profession or hobby, if I say so myself.

That being said, it's most certainly the sweets that run the show at Oliver's.

"People love candy," says Jeremy. "That's all there is to it."

...and from sweet to salty, my day only got better when I ducked out of the cold sun into the warm dark of O'Lacy's Irish Pub next to Jackson Square.

You could almost smell the mutton from outside. You could almost taste the bitter black porter when you're barely through the door. O'Lacy's doesn't mince words. It's as Irish a joint as they come.

And that's all well and good. I've been to plenty of Irish pubs on this side of the Atlantic and the other. They've all got the beer and the decor to make the claim, sure. But O'Lacy's has the nosh to prove that they dive further into the culture than just a few leprechaun jokes and clovers.

Chicken and biscuits were on special. Beef on Weck was likely a can't miss.

But I'm a sucker for a toasty reuben.

Mine came as thick as an elephant's ankle. It was sloppy, hot and delicious. More man than I am, no doubt. Which was fine, since I felt like more of a man having tackled it. Though I must admit that I couldn't quite wolf down the last scraps of corned beef and sauerkraut (slathered in Thousand Island dressing) that squeezed out of my grasp and onto the plate. As my waitress said: It's quite a sandwich. Maybe next time.

Cheers.

April 30, 2008 - 2:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

• Tuesday night's Batavia City School's performance of Cinemagic showcased the district's "technological capabilities," writes reporter Joanne Beck. The "musical revue" was a hodgepode of forms — including live dance, video and special effects. It foreshadowed a "Technology Site Visit" from national school representatives who will tour the Batavia schools next week to see how they use technology in and out of the classroom.

• A former Batavia resident recounts his first-hand experience of wildfires in Sierra Madre, California. "At one point, it looked like a volcano had erupted and you can see flames and embers floating down," James Monachino told reporter Scott DeSmit.

• Residents can vote on the Richmond Memorial Library proposed budget increase Tuesday at the library's gallery room from noon to 9:00pm. A potential increase of $41,000 is needed mostly to cover the cost of hiring an additional custodian and revamping the library's Web site. The article does not say who is allowed to vote. Library members, city residents, anyone who can get there?

• A former member of the Mighty St. Joe's Drum and Bugle Corps in Batavia will be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. From the article (no author is noted): "Larry Darch of Buffalo has been a leading percussion figure in the Western New York drum and bugle corps community for more than 50 years."

• The YWCA in Batavia will host a brunch at noon on May 10 at Genesee Community College. It appears that the event is connected to the Fabulous Females Committee, but the article doesn't say what that is. This is the 10 year anniversary of the brunch. Tickets are $25. Call the YWCA at (585) 343-5808.

• The Rev. David Scheider was honored with the HomeCare & Hospice Founders' Award at an awards banquet held April 25.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

April 30, 2008 - 8:42am
posted by Philip Anselmo in news, headlines, wbta.

Check out WBTA for this and other news stories:

• A Bank Street resident was charged with identity theft for allegedly using someone else's name to purchase cellphone service.

April 29, 2008 - 3:30pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, downtown, mural.

With the help of historian Larry Barnes, I've tracked down Vincenzo DelPlato, the jazz artist who painted the murals in Jackson Square, plus a few others around town.

Larry Barnes told me that Vincenzo's friends call him Vinny. So I called and asked for Vinny — folksiness often gets you further than formality, I find. I said my name is Philip. He called me Phil. And before you knew it, we were a couple of old pals chatting about art, about life and living it big.

Vinny's up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire now. He's been there for some time with his wife and his little boy, Theo, he says. Jazz artist seems the best way to described how he paints — and how he talks: with style, a little syncopated, melodic and meaningful.

When I ask him why he paints murals, he tells me this, he says: "An old professor of mine at Buffalo once asked me: Vinny, do you want to be a Chinese firecracker or an A-bomb?"

Take a stroll through Jackson Park to see how Vinny answered that question. He started on the downtown murals in 1994, having got practice painting backdrops for a theater company in Leroy.

"I didn't want to work small," he says. "I want to make an impact with my life. So I took it upon myself to paint the walls that needed painting."

Outside in people's faces is where Vinny wants his art, inspired, he says, by a line from Claes Oldenburg, a sculptor who once said that art belongs anywhere but rotting on its butt in a museum somewhere. "He became one of my heroes," says Vinny.

He took his paint and brush out into the streets. Eventually, the city caught on that this jazz artist was doing great things, and they commissioned him to paint murals all over downtown. So he did it.

Larry Barnes laments the loss of one of Vinny's greatest city murals that was on the corner of Ellicott and Liberty streets. A photo of it can still be seen on Vinny's Web site. It was jazz art at its best: a rollicking, frenetic jam of just good old neighborhood folks, the very folks who lived around that corner, in fact.

"There's so much out there that can be brought back to life with a little paint, a brush and a lot of hard work," says Vinny. "A little sweat mixed with paint can go a long way."

April 29, 2008 - 12:58pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, business, video.

Twenty-year-old Moriah Schoen just launched a Web site for his video production business, Schoen Productions. Don't let his age fool you, he's already got five years experience. Samples of his work — weddings and mock music videos, for example — are available on the site.

Moriah got his start, he tells us, when he was 15 years old and shot a video for a Batavia Youth Football Game, "and I fell in love with video editing." From there, he became the cameraman for his church, New Hope Ministries on Bank Street, and just kept on making videos, until he decided he was where he wanted to be, and it was time to start a business.

I guess you're never too young to be an entrepreneur. Best of luck, Moriah.

April 29, 2008 - 12:41pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

• Reporter Joanne Beck writes that "a pair of measures" passed by the City Council at last night's meeting "will save $78,000 this year." By replacing a traffic signal with stop signs instead of new signal lights, the city should save $75,000. Another $17,000 would be saved, we are told, by signing a lease agreement with Toshiba Business Solutions for "office equipment purchases." How are the savings measured? Was the city paying more before? Will the city purchase less? Also, I'm left scratching my head at the $78,000 figure — $78,000 + $17,000 = $95,000. Sure it's more than $78,000. But it's also more than $5. As for the big savings, I wouldn't mind finding out more about how a city decides to downgrade from a traffic signal to stop signs. If it means an easy savings of $75,000, why not do it more often?

• All 58 graduates of the Genesee Community College nursing program have already found employment thanks to high demand in the industry.

• Doug Hawley sold his family's dealership, Hawley's Motors at the corner of West Main and North Lyon streets, after 92 years of business. Clarence residents Gregory Strauss and Stephen Castilone will take over and rename the business Castilone Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep.

• A Batavia teen faces tresspassing charges for entering a home on Holland Avenue earlier this month, allegedly looking for a 17-year-old girl there, city police said. The same teen was charged with criminal trespass and second-degree sexual abuse last year, following a similar episode involving a 14-year-old girl.

• The town Planning Board met Monday.

• Batavia native Sean Comer was part of "the Rhythm & Hues visual effects team that won an Academy Award for the fantasy adventure The Golden Compass."

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

April 29, 2008 - 11:58am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, downtown, mural.

All cities have their quirks and foibles.

Rochester has abandoned button factories filled with artists and evacuated tenements full of asbestos. Or, at least, that's how it is on my street. Buffalo has the Bills. Albany has our state government. New York City has the entire island of Manhattan.

What of Batavia, you ask? Some might say the high school football team. Though I'm less quick to judge, even if I'm told the tradition is to root against the home team at homecoming. (Everyone loves an underdog. Look at the Chicago Cubs.) Instead, I say just take a walk downtown. There are more murals painted on the brick of downtown buildings than... I don't know... homecoming wins for the football team.

Here's a pair from Ellicott Street, part of an Air Force theme on a few buildings there:

Properly curious, I've set out to see what the city thinks of its peeling treasures. Larry Barnes, the city historian, is on the case. He should be back to me by the end of the week with whatever research he digs up that tells us more about just why this city wants to paint all of its buildings. Maybe we'll find out who started it, too.

The few folks I've chatted up so far don't know what to think of the murals nor how they got here. If you have thoughts, please share them. In the meantime, I'll keep hunting for answers.

April 29, 2008 - 9:20am
posted by Philip Anselmo in go-cart, race, youtube.

The driver of this 1964 Triumph Spitfire GP takes us around a go-cart track at the Batavia International Motorsports Park.

April 29, 2008 - 9:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in adoption, family.

Posted on a genealogy site:

I am searching for my birth family. I was born July 3 1979 in Batavia, New York. I was born at Genesee United Memorial Hospital in Batavia. I was a ward of the state until adopted at 3 months old. I am a 28 year old female with blonde hair and blue eyes. I grew up in Batavia and now live in Buffalo. I have many health problems. I had cervical cancer, I have Von Willebrand's (a bleeding disorder) and more. I am searching for my birth family - anyone who might still be around.

If you can help,  contact Megan at the link above.

April 29, 2008 - 9:05am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, headlines, wbta, roundup.

Check out WBTA for these and other news stories:

• Batavia's Water Bureau put out a notice that a disruption in the water line this afternoon could cause discoloration of the water around State and Bank streets near Batavia High School.

• Other city business from the council meeting last night: A failed attempt to consider changes to the city's event policy regarding overtime fees paid by the city. And a new lease for copy services was signed.

April 28, 2008 - 8:38pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, city council.

Prologue

Full of cheese and bread and sauce — thank you, Belladessa's Pizzeria — I'm slightly bloated and ready for my first Batavia City Council meeting. It's about six minutes shy of 7:00pm, and folks are still shuffling in, chatting. The board room seems so new it almost sparkles, despite the orange and off-white chairs that look plucked from a middle school classroom circa 1970. It smells like a dentist's office in here. There are maybe a dozen people in the audience, including myself and a man with a video camera. Everyone seems friendly.

That's that for atmosphere.

Part One (The one they call the Business Meeting)

Meeting called to order. (A solemn Christian prayer precedes the Pledge of Allegiance).

Council President Charlie Mallow jokes that he found some "new things" while cleaning up the skatepark during the "green-up cleanup" over the weekend. Wonder what that means.

Of the few decisions by the council tonight, there was only one that may immediately affect folks. That is, the traffic light at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Ross Street will be removed and replaced with all-way stop signs. Watch for that.

Not much else worth mention. First meeting adjourned. Five minute break.

The man with the video camera left. Why did he only tape the business meeting? What is the point of a second type of meeting if it isn't worth recording? Who makes that call?

Part Two (The one they call the Conference Meeting)

Councilman Frank Ferrando told me earlier that the "conference" half of these meetings are spent determining the agenda for the next "business" meeting, giving the council a chance to hash things out before they come up for vote. That being said, there's not much to say here. At least, not tonight. Just a lot of procedural minutiae — deciding whether something is worth deciding. Maybe that's why the guy with the camera took off.

Really, elected officials ought to be lauded if for no other reason than their patience and willingness to go through such process, while we recline in a sofa with a bowl of popcorn and drool at the television in the comfort of our home. Seriously. What do they get paid? Maybe $5,000 per year. Maybe. It may not be entertaining to watch the gears turn, but we should at least rest assured that they're turning.

I must admit, I'm impressed by the general politesse at this meeting. Council members raise their hands to be acknowledged by the president before they speak or ask a question. They often thank each other and whatever guests take the mic. If they raise their voices, it's out of passion, not anger.

Meeting adjourned — 8:35pm. Goodnight.

April 28, 2008 - 4:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Monday):

• Batavia's volunteer city cleanup Saturday was a success. City Councilman Bill Cox told the Daily News, "I bet I picked up 500 butts" — that's cigarette butts. And he wasn't alone.

• Another group of Batavia volunteers are picking up (literally) where Councilman Cox and others left off following Saturday's clean-up. They call themselves Helping Hands: Bringing Pride Back to our Neighborhoods. The first of a series of three cleanups starts Saturday at 10:00am and runs to about 1:00pm at the corner of Evans and Watson streets. Call New Hope Church at (585) 344-2997 for more information.

• The VA Medical Center will host an Award Recognition Ceremony tonight at Bohn's Restaurant.

• Reporter Scott DeSmit wrote: "A teacher at Rainbow Preschool in Batavia remains on administrative leave as an in-school investigation into alleged sexual misconduct wraps up." An investigation by state police found that the allegations were unfounded, so the school decided to perform its own investigation "as a matter of policy."

• The City Council will meet tonight for a business meeting at 7:00pm followed by a conference. Both meetings will be held in the Council Board Room on the second floor of City Hall.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

April 28, 2008 - 3:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, wbta, muckdogs, singing.

Wouldn't it be cool to sing the National Anthem prior to a professional baseball game?

Well, here's your chance to see if your rendition  more closely matches Whtiney Houston or Roseanne Barr (warning, you really don't want to click that link unless you're completely deaf).

WBTA is sponsoring a contest that will allow the winner to sing the Anthem prior to the July 4 Muckdogs game. (More info: Last item in the April 28 news update.)

The auditions are at Noon on Saturday, May 17.  We're not clear on the location, but we think at Dwyer Stadium.

Speaking of WBTA --  previously we reminded you about their Saturday auction.  No online word on who won what items (if you won something, leave a comment), but the site says there is another auction June 6.  Why is this important? Because everybody loves an auction!

April 28, 2008 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in area 51, video, motocross, motorcycles, racing.
April 28, 2008 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in training, fire department, video.

The title of the video says it's from 2007, but it was uploaded just yesterday. It looks like it's coverage of a training exercise. 

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