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Benefit for Carl Bish

By Philip Anselmo

From Oakfield resident Nancy Baxter:

"Oakfield Community Youth Group was proud to present the Bish Family with the proceeds from the spaghetti dinner-chinese auction that was held on May 17th. Carl Bish is a 9th grader from OACS and has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Our local youth group raised $12,000 for the family to help with medical costs and money needed to continue Carl's chemotherapy treatments. The whole community came together with donations and volunteers for our fundraiser. This definitely could not have been such a success without the love and support of our community."

D&C story makes it sound like Legislature is Do-Nothingers when it comes to property tax relief

By Howard B. Owens

Here's a gloomy story to start of your Saturday with: Don't expect property tax relief soon.

The impression left by the D&C story is that the state legislature is dissecting the issue into particle detail rather than just dealing with the basic issue: Property taxes are too high.

All sides have expressed a desire to do something about property taxes, but the way to get there, like the path to so many goals in Albany, is clouded.

A property tax cap, proposed by a state commission put together by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, has won the support of Gov. David Paterson. But state lawmakers, including those who represent Monroe County, are not convinced Paterson's proposal is the answer.

Back in the 1970s, when Californians got fed up with the state Legislature's wishy-washy, spineless approach to property tax relief, they passed Jarvis-Gann, better known as Proposition 13. 

While the transition to new ways of funding and operating schools and government hasn't always been easy for California, property taxes are a lot lower and everything still operates just fine.  Maybe there needs to be a voter revolt in New York, cause it's sure sounding like the Legislature wants to sit on its hands.

Here's Steve Hawley's reply:

"I'm not sure we should be focusing exclusively on the school tax," said Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia, who was a member of the Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) before he was elected to the Legislature.

Hawley suggested exploring different property tax rates based on income and family situation, not strictly home value, and noted that government spending is the root of the problem.

"A reasonable solution is to stop trying to be all things to all people," he said.

Certainly, reducing waste in government and the size of government is a good place to start, but the idea that the government would A) develop an even more complex tax scheme (different rates based on family size and income?); and, B) start meddling in the structure of New York families doesn't sound very Republican-like.

Maybe Hawley can contact us or leave a comment and try to explain better what he's talking about, because this sound bite sounds more scary than helpful.

One of us

By Russ Stresing

     It's a staple of the 24-hour cable news networks to label any story they have video of as "breaking news".  So, it was with little excitement that my wife and I waited after seeing the "special report" banner across the screen on MSNBC.  When Tom Brokaw appeared on camera, we knew it was more than a flood or a car chase.  His mournful tone immediately warned us that the news he brought was immensely sad.  And, indeed, it was  For long moments, after Tom Brokaw somberly broke the news of Tim Russert's sudden passing, neither of us spoke, at the risk of tears.  We'd lost one of our own. 

     It might seem overly sentimental or emotional to some, but I feel a personal loss.  Sunday morning meant no one bothered Papa from 9 till 10 cause "Tim Russert's talking".  I felt like I could depend on Tim to ask the real questions, without an agenda, and, especially, with the grace that comes from knowing his stuff.  I knew for certain that Tim would frame the question in such a way that the answer would be somethng I could understand and absorb.  If you were a politician or public figure, and you weren't willing to plead your case in front of Tim, then, dammit, you didn't have a case.  Stop wasting my time.

    Often, skeptics like me resist the impulse to project images on public figures, but its without reservation that I can say that Tim Russert was a good father, a good son, and most importantly, a good man.  And that's the greatest loss.  For all of Tim's accomplishments, for all that he achieved, for all the recognition that he gained, the greatest heartbreak for me is that we lost a good man.

NY State Thruway: Number 25 in "What Made Genesee County Famous"

By Philip Anselmo

So it begins... The Holland Land Office Museum kicked off its countdown of "The Twenty-Five Things that Made Genesee County Famous."

And what, you ask, was the first to make the list?

None other than that 500 mile stretch of bleached tarmac and costly tolls otherwise known as the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, "the longest toll road in America."

Visit the HLOM site for more info and to keep up with the countdown.

Police statistics: Major crimes take a significant drop

By Philip Anselmo

Batavia's city Police Department released its statistics for 2007. The department saw an increase in overall calls for service, from 15,772 in 2006 to 17,707 in 2007. Here are some of the detailed statistics (all comparisons are between 2006 and 2007 totals):

  • Emergency 911 calls increased from 6,432 to 6,519.
  • Major (part one) crimes fell from 696 to 509. ("Part one" crimes include: larceny, burglary, robbery, motor vehicle theft, assault, murder, rape and manslaughter.)
  • The overall crime rate dropped from 4,405 to 3,222.
  • Motor vehicle accidents were about the same with 493 in 2007, while traffic arrests increased from 1,582 to 2,212: DWI arrests went up from 55 to 72 and parking tickets issued increased from 1,395 to 1,595.
  • While the total number of juvenile complaints increased to 280, the number of cases decreased to 175. (Exact 2006 figures were not given.)

City detectives had fewer investigations in 2007, down from 482 to 422, likely the result of changes in the "staffing levels" in the Detective Bureau, according to the release. Detective investigated cases had a clearance rate of about 50.5 percent for 2007.

Batavia Middle School Honor Society

By Philip Anselmo

Congratulations to all the Honor Society inductees this year! And thanks to L. Brian Clark for getting us the names. So, without further ado, this year's inductees are:

SEVENTH GRADE
Trey Abdella, Anneliese Aliasso, Kathren Francis, Thomas Grammatico, Rachel Henrici, Niha Idrees, Alexis Logsdon, Jenna Mancuso, Rebecca Meloon, Miranda Moore, Andrea Raphael, Maria Robusto, Samantha Saraceni, Lindsay Wishman, Helen Zickl, Mark Zinni, Rebecca Zinni

EIGHTH GRADE
Jenna Bauer, Carl Beaver, Ryan Bienas, Briana Buchanan, Dylan Buchholtz, Melanie Case, Trevor Day, Alicia DelRe, Abigail Dobbertin, Joseph Durzewski, Alex Engel, Aubrey Falleti, Hannah Feary, Faith Finnin, Melissa Fite, James Gomez, Robert Greathouse, Ashley Hale, Taylor Harkness, Alyssa Holmes, Thomas Houseknecht, Alexis Jackson, Ann Janofsky, Hayley Jensen, Vincent Klimjack, Adam Kurek, Stephanie Lapp, Tyler Long, Sherena Majors, Eric Mancuso, Megan Mase, Catherine McAllister, Kathleen O'Donnell, Victoria Oxencis-Barber, Brianne Paganello, Andrea Pursel, Kirsten Rowland, Kirsten Smith, Megan Smith, Cody Sumeriski, Catherine Taylor, Tylin Torcello, Natalie Tuites, Jessie Turner

BMS HONOR SOCIETY MEMBERS
Sarah DiBacco, Patrick Flynn, Erin Hurlbut, Meg Hurlbut, Megan Jacques, Samantha Loria, Grey Musilli, Brittney Okoniewski, Lisa Redband, Jordyn Vanelli, Brandon Vasciannie

Police Blotter: Thursday, June 12

By Philip Anselmo

Police Blotter for Thursday, June 12:

  • 12:45am, 111 Liberty St., harassment
  • 8:38am, 136 W. Main St., accident
  • 9:05am, 110 Ellsworth Ave. (Apt: Upper), larceny
  • 11:53am, Ellicott Ave., accident
  • 12:43pm, 111 Liberty St. (Apt. H), criminal mischief
  • 4:10pm, Ross St., harassment
  • 4:14pm, Linwood Ave., accident
  • 5:31pm, 229 W. Main St., accident
  • 5:49pm, Jefferson Ave., harassment
  • 9:59pm, 149 Ross St., harassment

Note: We don't include noise complaints, domestic disputes and routine police business.

News roundup: Fire safety

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Friday):

  • Intern Kristen Kotz sat down with Batavia Fire Capt. Michael Drew to talk fire safety. Check out the article on the front page for some tips.
  • Genesee County's Planning Board voted to turn the soon-to-be empty lot at the corner of Bank Street and Washington Avenue into a "green area" — United Memorial Medical Center's Growney Building currently located there will be demolished. Reporter Paul Mrozek writes: "UMMC wants to plant grass and shrubs, put in paths and picnic benches and add off-street parking." No date has yet been set for the demolition, and the city of Batavia still has to grant final approval for the plan.
  • Reporter Virginia Kropf wrote a great piece on a group of retired friends who gather twice a week for breakfast at Miss Batavia Diner. It starts: "Retirement for a group of local friends means starting the day off with coffee and camraderie, and if they should happen to solve the world's problems in the meantime, so much the better." What a great lede!

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

Averting disaster on Main Street

By Philip Anselmo

Three cheers for Lt. Gene Jankowski and the city police force for averting disaster on Main Street this morning. With the help of an unflinching fellow officer, Jankowski halted four lanes of traffic on East Main Street out front of the police station so that a mother duck and her ten ducklings could safely cross.

The feathered family emerged from Austin Park when they were spotted and followed to the curb. Jankowski held off traffic while his colleague — I apologize for failing to get the officer's name — kept the ducks on course. Without pause, the lot of them dropped into the street and waddled across and into the cool waters of the Tonawanda behind the courthouse. There they were reunited with papa mallard (you can see him leading the crew in the photo to the left here).

Jankowski told me after that this happens about twice a year, and if the police don't act fast, the questing ducks would most likely cause chaos on Main Street, if not an outright accident as drivers swerve all over to avoid crushing the little beasts.

"They don't wait," he said. "They make a bee-line across the road."

They most certainly did. And on a day when the temperature has already hit 90 degrees, who could blame them? I had to keep myself from jumping into the creek and getting my feathers wet.

New Kauffman book generates some online buzz

By Philip Anselmo

Batavia's very own Bill Kauffman is setting radical hearts aflutter in the blogosphere this week as the publication of his new book nears. The Western Confucian muses on the sage of Batavia and proudly proclaims his own love of Kauffman's works.

If you've read Bill Kauffman, you know that he's at his best describing the quirky, eccentric political characters that make America great, as opposed the the bland figures that make her ugly. A book about America's "drunken prophet" will likely [be] pure Kauffman.

Daniel McCarthy previews the book, titled Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin, on his blog: The Tory Anarchist.

Coming from ISI Books in September: Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin. Martin, a Maryland delegate to and “the bitterest states’ rightser at the [Constitutional] Convention,” was a great Anti-Federalist whose detestation of Thomas Jefferson drove him, ironically enough, into the Federalist Party. I’ve just had a glance at the galleys of Kauffman’s book so far, which looks to be every bit as good as you’d expect.

Here's an excerpt of the work, courtesy of McCarthy:

Martin understood quite clearly that the Constitution was a counterrevolution, recentralizing that which had been decentralized upon the assertion of American independence. ‘Men love power,’ Hamilton told the convention. To Hamilton this was a simple statement of fact, not at all deplorable. The Anti-Federalists had their doubts about its accuracy—did not men love their families, their homeplaces, their liberties even more?—but in the event, they desird not to channel this powerlust toward profitable ends but rather to block those avenues down which power is pursued. If it is true that men love to wield power over other men and that a centralized state will attract such warped creatures, then rather than design a Rube Goldberg scheme by which the will to dominate is transmuted into gold for the commonweal, why not just not construct a centralized state? Remove the means of gratifying the temptation.

Visit the publisher's site for a synopsis of the work. We will probably hear more as the publication date nears — it's not due out until September — but in the meantime, for an interesting and well-written read about Kauffman, check out the article by John McClaughry published on Reason Online last January. Or see our our earlier post where Howard takes a look at Kauffman's Batavia.

McMahon Irish dancers win big

By Philip Anselmo

Congratulations to the McMahon School of Irish Dance. The troupe took home a host of medals and top honors at a competition in Buffalo last week.

Charley Boyd got us the details:

25 dancers from the McMahon School of Irish Dance vied with 1600 others at the June 7 Buffalo Feis (pronounced “fesh”), an Irish dance competition.  The McMahon dancers brought home more than 53 medals and trophies, including 9 first places.  The McMahon dancers at the Feis included Abel Zavitz, Ally Criswell, Ashlee Dow, Ashley Hale, Ashley Merkle, Christen Ferraro, Elayna Kinney, Erin Crossen, Jenny Crossen, Jenny Grant, Kerri Dulanski, Kevin Grant, Laura Littlejohn, Lauren Sondericker, Maeve Cooper, Maggie McGinnis, Moira Grant, Morgan Nashwenter, Rachel Prutsman, Samantha Stockwell, Sarah Gambino-Fontaine, Sarah McGinnis, Sasha Boyd, Shelby McGinnis, & Taylor Heineman. The next major competition will take place in Rochester on July 12.  These dancers will be performing locally at the upcoming Genesee County Fair.  The McMahon School offers classes in Batavia, Arcade, Lockport, and Buffalo.

The Batavian hopes to visit the McMahon school sometime in the next couple weeks and put together a video showcasing the talents of our local Irish stylists and letting those of us who don't know just what it means to dance Irish.

In the meantime, if you've got a video you would like to share, please let us know. Or, if you can tell us more about Irish dance, how it's done and where we can find it, don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Check out the McMahon school Web site to find out  about upcoming events, to see more photos or to register for classes. Batavia classes are held at Genesee Community College.

CVS and Rite Aid among more than 200 stores across the state cited by Attorney General for selling expired products

By Philip Anselmo

An investigation into more than 1,000 stores across the state by officers of the state attorney general found that many have been selling expired over-the-counter products — a total of 254 were cited, according to Newsday.com. Products found expired on the shelves include: milk, eggs, medicine and baby formula.

As one might expect, the story has lit up the headlines in state and local queries online, and every media outlet seems to have its own special list of offenders in its neighborhood. Thanks to Wayne Fuller for breaking the story locally in his news roundup on the WBTA Web site. There's no doubt that the attorney general has sent out a mass of press releases all over the state this morning. I've never known that government office to be shy about garnering admiring press coverage.

Back to the story...

CVS and Rite Aid were the biggest offenders, and CVS here on West Main Street was found to be selling expired baby formula. A store in Long Island was found to be selling an allergy medication that had expired in June 2006.

From Newsday:

In response, the Rite Aid stores cited for stocking expired products "were told to make sure there is no such product on the shelf now," said Cheryl Slavinsky, director of public relations for Rite Aid.

"We are moving immediately across the nation to check all of our products," she said, as well as initiating a retraining program on related policies and procedures. "We do take the allegations ... very seriously. Our policies have always been not to have outdated products on our shelves."

CVS was equally repentent.

"Our policy is to remove items before they go beyond the expiration date," Mike DeAngelis, director of public relations at CVS, wrote in an e-mail. "We will work aggressively to ensure that our review and removal procedures are followed consistently in all of our stores. We value the trust our customers have placed in us to sell them products that are safe and effective, and the findings of New York's attorney general are unacceptable to us. ... We will cooperate fully with his office in this matter."

Check out the Buffalo News if you want the full story and a list of stores cited in Erie County. For a list of stores cited in the Rochester area, check out the Democrat & Chronicle.

All that being said, consumers should always be wary and check expiration dates on these types of products. No matter how diligent a grocer or retailer may be, there is always the occasional carton of milk that is left in the cooler maybe a few days too long. Then again, there's really no excuse for not weeding out medicine two years past its expiration.

Police Blotter: Tuesday, June 9 through Wednesday, June 11

By Philip Anselmo

Tuesday:

  • 12:09am, 35 Walnut St., burglary
  • 1:42am, 390 W. Main St., trespass
  • 2:12am, 127 North St., trespass
  • 6:54am, 15 Maple St., larceny
  • 7:19am, 9 S. Lyon St., accident
  • 7:44am, 505 E. Main St., larceny
  • 9:16am, 211 W. Main St., larceny
  • 2:11pm, Cedar St., trespass
  • 2:27pm, 115 Jackson St., larceny
  • 4:07pm, Bank St., accident
  • 6:13pm, 565 E. Main St., accident
  • 10:47pm, Holland Ave., harassment

Wednesday:

  • 10:43am, Ellicott St., accident
  • 12:58pm, 117 Liberty St., possession of a controlled substance
  • 9:18pm, Richmond Ave., larceny
  • 10:13pm, 136 W. Main St., harassment
  • 11:13pm, 10 W. Main St., harassment

Thursday:

  • 9:21am, 34 Clinton St., larceny
  • 11:01am, Jefferson Ave., larceny
  • 12:39pm, 14 Trumbull Pkwy., harassment
  • 2:25pm, Liberty St., accident
  • 2:38pm, Oak St., accident
  • 2:50pm, 390 W. Main St., forgery
  • 4:42pm, Court St., accident
  • 5:30pm, 229 Ellicott St., accident
  • 6:34pm, 19 Ross St., larceny
  • 8:08pm, 127 North St., accident
  • 8:46pm, 6 East Ave., accident

Note: We don't include noise complaints, domestic disputes and routine police business.

Video: Scene from Blondie's

By Howard B. Owens

In this video we found on YouTube, this Batavia toddler seems pretty happy with the ice cream at Blondie's.

Video: Live from the Ramble

By Philip Anselmo

Twenty-three days and counting down until the Ramble Music & Arts Fest, and one of the festival's organizers was kind enough to get us a whole host of video clip highlights from last year's run. (If you're feeling ambitious and you've got some free time on your hands, you can find all of them on YouTube.)

We'll try and get another video up every couple days right up to July 5, when The Batavian will be on the scene in Jackson Square to shoot some footage of this year's event. Be sure to look out for that.

In the meantime, here is Sierra's "Until We Meet Again."

News roundup: A turtle's best friend

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Thursday):

  • Let me kick things off here today by saying: Thank goodness for Tom Rivers. His quirky column on today's editorial page is more than worth the 50 cents I paid for the paper. Today, Tom muses on the thankless, not entirely sane, activity of saving our sluggish distant cousins the turtles when they try to cross a busy highway. When Tom busts up his foot trying to save a snapping turtle, he writes: "It's comparable to the professional baseball player who goes on the disabled list for sneezing too hard." Gems like this abound, and I encourage folks to check out the column for themselves. Hope the foot gets better soon, Tom!
  • The Genesee County Legislature approved some boundary changes last night for an Empire Zone that encompasses the proposed Genesee Valley Agri-business Park near the county fairgrounds. About 100 acres were added to the zone and about 40 removed. Empire Zones are geographic designations intended to attract business by providing  tax breaks and decreased utility costs if the business settles within the zone.
  • Reporter Scott DeSmit takes a look at how ever-increasing fuel costs are taking a toll on police departments that rely on a fleet of autos to get around. No surprise, they, too, are hard hit.
  • Outgoing Batavia City School Superintendent Richard Stutzman was named honorary inductee at the Middle School's Honor Society ceremony yesterday. Some words of advice from the soon-to-be retiree: "There's no room for underachieving. You have to be prepared so that, no matter what happens, you have the skills and the work ethic to carry you through."
  • Batavia's Board of Education will meet at 7:00pm Monday at the Administration Building, 39 Washington Ave. The Board will begin with an executive session and hopes to get started with the public meeting about an hour later.
  • Batavia's Present Tense bookstore at 101 Washington Ave. will host author Christine Smyczynski Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00pm for a book signing. Smyczynski is the author of Western New York, An Explorer's Guide: From Niagara Falls and Southern Ontario to the Western Edge of the Finger Lakes Region. Call (585) 815-7640 for more information. Or visit the bookstore's Web site.
  • Batavia Musical Society's presentation of Urinetown will premiere Friday night in Elba. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Check out the production's Web site to find out where to get yours. Showtimes are at 8:00pm Friday and Saturday.

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

News roundup: Cold War veterans OK'ed for exemption

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

  • Genesee County legislators approved tax exemption for Cold War veterans at the meeting last night. Exemptions were previously only granted for combat veterans.
  • Those same legislators clashed over how to handle the extended absence of a clerk from the treasurer's office who is out on medical leave. The treasurer's office wants a full-time replacement. Some on the Legislature suggested a temporary part-time position be created. Dan Fischer writes that "the amendment" was later "approved by a vote of 6-3," though it is not quite clear what the amendment signified. I assume it altered the request for a full-time staffer to part-time, but the language is a little unclear. Either way, it's a tricky situation, and I could understand the differing of opinions. Do you pay two people for the same job when one of those is unable to perform it? But at the same time, how can you not hire someone to do the work that is not being done?

Police Blotter: Wednesday, June 11

By Philip Anselmo

Police Blotter for Wednesday, June 11:

  • Genesee County sheriff's deputies charged a Batavia driver with a felony count of aggravated driving while intoxicated last night. Arron L. Zimblis, 44, of 114 Vine St. (Lower), Batavia, was driving on Putnam Road in the town of Bethany when deputies allege that he failed to stop for a stop sign, left the road and drove about 100 feet into a field before coming to a stop.
  • A Tennesee man was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment following an investigation by city police into an incidedent on January 31. Police were told that 33-year-old Jason T. McLain made several harassing phone calls that day. McLain posted his $200 bail and will return to City Court later this month.
  • Another city police investigation yielded an arrest. In this case, a Batavia man was alleged to have damaged a door and spit at another person at a home on Ross Street in May. Ronnie J. Sumeriski II, 26, of 101 Jackson St., was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree harassment.
  • Twenty-two-year-old Alicia M. Warney, of Holley, faces a charge of fourth-degree grand larceny, city police said. Warney is accused of stealing several thousand dollars worth of property from a former roommate when Warney moved out of the apartment.

Note: All of the above arrests were reported in published releases from the departments.

Video: Charles Rand at the Museum

By Philip Anselmo

In Episode Two of our living history series at the Holland Land Office Museum, Pat Weissend tells us about a pair of Civil War medals on exhibit. Check it out:

We'll be back at the museum before long, so be sure to watch for the next episode!

Top Items on Batavia's List

The City of Batavia is accepting applications for a Full-time Water Treatment Plant Operator/Trainee (Salary $23.65/hr.) This is a trainee position involving responsibility for learning the duties and routines in the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant.  The work is performed under the immediate supervision of a qualified operator. Does on-the-job training to become qualified as an operator of a water treatment plant. Does related work as required. Applicant must be a graduate of a senior high school or possess a New York State high school equivalency diploma. Please submit a completed Civil Service Application to Human Resources, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY 14020 or tdean@batavianewyork.com. Background check, psychological assessment, physical and drug testing are required. Candidate must become a resident of Genesee County or any adjacent town to the County of Genesee within 6 months of the date of conclusion of the probationary period for the City of Batavia. EEO. Applications can be found at https://www.co.genesee.ny.us
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