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Nominations for the 2024 OACS alumni hall of fame will be accepted until May 15

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding OACS alumni who have achieved distinction in their lives and chosen field after high school through significant contributions to their career, community or through personal achievements; to provide an incentive for current and future students.

If you know a person who meets the following criteria, please consider nominating him/her for this prestigious honor: 

Nominees must be graduates of OACS or one of its predecessors or have been active in school classes and activities during their senior year. (Nominees who left school while in good standing to perform military service are also eligible. Deceased alumni are not eligible for induction until the fifth anniversary of the year of their death.)

Nominees must have graduated before 2009.

Selection is based on achievement after leaving OACS which includes a noteworthy record in more than one, and exemplary achievement in at least one of the following categories:

  • Job-related achievements
  • Professional honors and awards, professional affiliations, publications
  • Civic or community involvement
  • Personal achievements/accomplishments
  • Positive impact on the communities in the Oakfield-Alabama school district
  • Other appropriate qualifications which the committee believes merit consideration

Anyone may submit a nomination for any person meeting the criteria stated above. Nominations must be made during the nomination period only (March 1 – May 15) by using the Online Nomination Form or the PDF Nomination Form (see link below). 

Electronically submitted nominations are strongly preferred over mailed-in, hardcopy nominations. Access the Online Nomination Form here.

The wearin’ of the green at the Byron dance

By Press Release
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Press Release:

On Thursday, March 14, Genesee County’s Adults with Developmental Disabilities celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the Byron Fire Hall. 

JT, the evening’s DJ kept the dance floor lively with very popular dance tunes. One of the evening’s highlights was when the DJ qued up the YMCA; in came some of the Byron Fire Fighters in full uniform to lead the dance. Everyone happily joined right in.

Throughout the evening Robert Radley, the volunteer photographer, clicked away taking lots of great photos. There was lots of excitement when dance coordinator, Morgan Leaton, announced that the next dance would be the PJ Dance on Thursday, April 11. She handed out flyers and asked folks to come wearing their PJs.

Dances start at 6:30 p.m. and run till 8:30 p.m. and are open to anyone with developmental disabilities aged 13 and up residing in Genesee County. Proper staffing is required. If you would like more information or wish to volunteer, please contact Morgan Leaton at 585-815-3157 or morganrleaton@gmail.com.

Submitted photos.

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Pavilion schools host 'Eclipse Learning Night' for community

By Pavilion Journalism Class
pavilion eclipse event

By Darrell Upright and the PCS Introduction Journalism Class

Tuesday night, Pavilion Central School hosted its first-ever full-district community event, “Eclipse Learning Night,” in preparation for the  April 8 total solar eclipse. 

Hosted nearly two weeks before the celestial occurrence, 400 students and their families mobbed the Middle-High school’s gymnasium, auditorium, and library and visited participating classrooms that sponsored eclipse-related activities.  All told, more than 600 people attended the event, held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. 

Planned by the science department staff and an ad hoc committee that started preparations in October, the event was a success for the school. 

“This exceeded expectations for attendance and involvement,” said Mr. Brian Mullin, English 12 teacher. 

Among the activities visited by students on Tuesday night were two presentations by Dr. Aaron Steinhauer, professor of Astronomy at SUNY Geneseo; the Star Lab, a portable planetarium in the school’s auditorium; readings by PCS staff of Colleen Onuffer’s “Genny Sees the Eclipse” (illustrated by Andy Reddout); the Middle-High School Book Fair; Trivia Night; concessions from Papa Roni’s and Yummie’s Ice Cream from Warsaw – who sold a special flavor created for the event, Gopher Galaxy;  and teacher-and-student-created presentations and displays to inform the public about the eclipse featuring work from students in grades Kindergarten to 12.

Students and family members also received eclipse glasses at the event. 

“We’re doing this prior to the eclipse for the community,” said Dr. Amanda Cook, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, who planned the event with the Science Department and committee members. “From a safety standpoint, there was a concern that the public may not be familiar with” some of the dangers associated with a full solar eclipse: severe injury to the retina if viewers don’t use filtered glasses. 

“We want to share the significance of a very rare event,” she added. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.” 

Many of the students’ projects capitalized on the eclipse's importance.

According to “GeneSEE the Eclipse,” the Genesee County web page (https://visitgeneseeny.com/2024-eclipse) informing residents about it, the last full solar eclipse visible in our area was in 1925, and the next will take place in 2144.

Attendees were enthused by the event.  “I like science personally, so I like it so far.  It’s great for us (in the PCS district) because we don’t have to go anywhere” to learn about the eclipse, said 10th grader Jackson True while doing the PCS English Department’s “blackout poetry” exercise, one of numerous activities planned by school staff. 

According to the “GeneSEE the Eclipse” web page, the Monday, April 8th event will darken the sky in Genesee County, which is directly in the “path of totality.” People will experience 3 minutes and 42 seconds of full eclipse beginning at 3:19 p.m. and a partial eclipse for nearly two and a half hours. 

Photos by Darrell Upright

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Introduction to Journalism class at Pavilion Central Schools is taught by Michael Iten and is, as far as we know, the only Intro to Journalism class in Genesee County.

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pavilion eclipse event
pavilion eclipse event
pavilion eclipse event
pavilion eclipse event

Need another reason to go view the eclipse? How about feeling some awe

By Joanne Beck
paul piff
Paul Piff

Of the reasons given to take some time and watch the upcoming total solar eclipse next month, Paul Piff, associate professor of psychological science at the University of California, offers one that has nothing to do with atmospheric science, nostalgia, community, commerce or capture the once-in-a-lifetime moment that it’s likely to be for so many folks in Genesee County and beyond.

Piff’s focus was on one magical word: awe and how that emotional experience can actually begin to transform a person’s outlook and treatment of the world.

“In the West, we find it’s predominantly brought about due to encounters that one has with nature or powerful natural phenomena such as the Eclipse. We define, or very broadly define it an emotion, or emotional experience that really arises out of two different, or the configuration of two different factors, as brought about by experience,” Piff said during an online panel presentation about the upcoming total solar eclipse. “It could be something you perceive or something you recognize in other ways, but when you experience or perceive something that's so fast, so complicated, so powerful, that it makes you feel like you need to reconfigure, readjust or update your mental schema, your understanding of the world, to accommodate the experience.

“And so, as kind of described by people, often as a mind-blowing experience of the people, they're just trying to describe that feeling of, well, I can't really make sense of, at least right now, the thing that I've just experienced, we find, as have others and other psychological laboratories across the globe, that all has a lot of really interesting effects on people,” he said. “Our experiences are described by people with some of the most meaningful in their lives, those individuals that experience improved health outcomes, greater or better well-being, they report more humble or somewhat insignificant views of the self. And we find somewhat interestingly, it seems to trigger more kind, compassionate, empathic behavior among people.” 

One of his studies situated participants in a towering growth of eucalyptus trees among the tallest and oldest stands of eucalyptus trees in North America. They spent either 60 seconds looking up at those tall trees, or with their backs to the trees; they looked up at a comparably tall, but far less awe-inspiring, big building. They were then approached by an experimenter who gave them a questionnaire to complete.

Scenarios were posed to them, such as “If I were on the Titanic, I would deserve to be on the first lifeboat,” and “we imagined how much participants wanted to be paid for their participation in the experiment,” he said. 

“And we measured their levels of ethical decision-making by giving them different moral decision-making scenarios … they would indicate what they would do in these ambiguous situations,” he said. “What we found… They reported less entitlements, so they felt less deserving of the things in life relative to others. They wanted to be paid about half as much for their participation in the study as the participants who looked up at the big building, so maybe all seems to bring about less materialism, and they made more ethical decisions.”

Does this relate to the total solar eclipse? They did a study on one of those too. In a paper published a couple of years ago from the 2000 solar eclipse, his team conducted a study on the social and psychological impacts of those who participated in some way. 

That eclipse had a path of totality that reached across North America, “and we had about 3 million participants in this across the studies in this paper, when we compared residents within the path of totality to residents outside the path of totality, looking at spontaneous shifts in how people talked about themselves and talked about their motivations towards one another surrounding their experience of the eclipse,” he said. “What we found is that individuals who resided within the path of totality, who experienced the Eclipse and its fullness and its, you might say, its full awesomeness, or its full power, exhibited more often. And as a result of that increased experience, they became less self-focused, less likely to talk about themselves, individuated or eccentric ways.”

Those participants used language that reflected a collective focus — we and us — and expressed more desire for affiliation to connect with others, he said. They became more pro-social, exhibiting tendencies to be kind and care for others.

“In broad strokes, what we're finding is that experiences that bring about all and most predominantly really powerful feeling experiences, like the solar eclipse, seem to attune people and connect us to one another, to connect us to entities that are ourselves,” Piff said. “And that's how the experience of all might have evolved. It's the conduit to things bigger than ourselves and motivates us to care for others.”

Shannon Schmoll

Will stopping to watch the eclipse change your life? Maybe not. But participating in an event that Shannon Schmoll said will not happen again until 2045 might just help rally friends, family, and co-workers together for a special moment.  

Schmoll is an expert on basic astronomy, naked-eye astronomy, eclipses, constellations and the night sky. She is director of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University and has a doctorate in astronomy and science education. 

She spoke about the 2017 partial eclipse and how it offered all sorts of experiences, from good to bad. 

“It gets a little eerie and strange, and temperatures will change. And it is a really breathtaking sight,” she said. “On the not so good part do be prepared for traffic, there is going to be a lot of people who want to see this. And so I ended up stuck in traffic for about 13 and a half hours during the 2017 Eclipse. So just be prepared for that. But really, this is a wonderful, beautiful sight in order to see that corona. And so, if you can go to totality and are able to, we highly encourage it. And it is. The next time this will happen across a large portion of the United States like this is 2045. So it is definitely worth it if you can go see this.”

And the last bit, she said, there is a lot of science that can be done around the solar eclipse. One is studying the sun itself. And the Corona—that outermost atmosphere — is a really hot region of the sun. 

But we don't fully know why it's super hot. And we can't see the most lowest part of that corona very well most of the time, even with some of our spacecraft that we have. And so this is a great time to study this region of the sun at the base of the corona,” she said. “And also, right now, the sun is nearing its peak of solar maximum. It's this 11-year cycle with a lot more activity and sunspots happening, solar flares and prominences and solar storms, there's a lot going on, and it was near minimum during the last Eclipse. So we're heading towards maximum, which will hopefully give us a lot more to look at. And this is also a great time to study the earth and the effects of the sun on the earth in particular, the uppermost level of the atmosphere called the ionosphere.”

The total solar eclipse is set to arrive on April 8 in the afternoon, beginning at about 2 p.m. and ending around 4:30 p.m., depending on one's viewing location. For more information about the eclipse and a countdown and viewing time clock, go HERE

Holland Land Office Museum announces trio of events in April

By Press Release

Press Release:

Join us at the Holland Land Office Museum for the next edition of our Trivia Night @ the Museum on Thursday, April 11 at 7 p.m. In honor of the birthday of J. Robert Oppenheimer, our topic will be the Manhattan Project. Admission is $5 or $3 for museum members. Please contact the museum at 585-343-4727 or hollandlandoffice@gmail.com if you would like to attend.

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce the next edition of our Guest Speaker Series. On Thursday, April 18 at 7 p.m. we welcome avid bike rider and cycling historian Karen Lankeshofer, as she presents on Elsa Von Blumen, who first became a professional “race walker” in 1879 and was soon enticed to try high-wheel bicycle riding by bicycle manufacturer Albert Pope. She was a prominent figure on the bicycle-racing scene in the 1880s and competed throughout the Eastern United States ( including in Batavia). Admission is $5 or $3 for museum members. Please contact the museum at 585-343-4727 or hollandlandoffice@gmail.com if you would like to attend. 

"This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by GO ART!"

The Holland Land Office is proud to announce the next edition of our Java with Joe E. On Thursday, April 25 at 9 a.m., Don Burkel will be presenting, “Who Was Philemon (Phil) Tracy & What Is He Doing Here?” With the use of personal letters and photographs, a PowerPoint program will provide an in-depth look into Philemon Tracy and his family. Philemon Tracy was a Major in the Confederate Army from Georgia who is buried in the Historic Batavia Cemetery. Admission is free with coffee and pastries.
Java with Joe E. is sponsored by Pub Hub Coffee for 2024.

City property owners to receive updated assessments, Grievance Day May 30

By Joanne Beck

During a recent City Council meeting, President Eugene Jankowski Jr. mused that perhaps city leaders didn’t do right by giving a pass to updated property assessments this past year. 

Well, no more of that. City Assessor Rhonda Saulsbury will be sending out updated property assessments beginning April 1, city management said in a press release on Tuesday. Instructions will be included on how to request an informal review and obtain forms, as well as where to obtain related information.

The release reminds property owners to review the full market value estimate found on the Change of Assessment Notification. If you do not agree with this estimate and can offer proof for a change, you can follow the process of filing a challenge, Saulsbury said. Informal reviews will be held during the month of April and appointments are required.

Since City Council just passed its $37 million budget with a two-cent property tax increase, The Batavian contacted city management to find out how and if this assessment will affect this year’s tax bill.

Assistant City Manager Erik Fix

Assistant Manager Erik Fix said no because everything was done the year prior. So this assessment will be for the 2025-26 budget year, he said.

“This current year, we did not raise assessments; we didn't even do assessments unless it was a house that was sold or something like that, which is common practice,” Fix said. “But going forward, for next year, we are going to reassess the properties in the city. And then that will, in turn, provide us with the levy that we would have to use for the 2025-26 budget.  So what we based this year's budget on was last year's assessments for 2023, which we did not reassess properties last year.”

He reviewed one of the “lessons” taught during council’s budget sessions in  February, that typically, when one’s assessment — and the overall property assessments are higher — that the tax rate reflects that by being lower. 

“So typically, when there's an assessment that goes up, your rate will most likely to remain the same or go down, as history has shown,” he said. “I don't know what's going to happen this time. I have no idea what this affects or anything like that. I haven't looked at any of that. But there's a common denominator there of people who feel like every time their assessments go up, that they pay more in taxes, and that's not always the case.”

Often, property owners complain that when their assessments go up, even when the tax rate goes down slightly, the overall yearly expense goes up.

For example, if John’s home goes from $100,000 to being newly assessed at $130,0000, and the tax rate reflects an overall higher assessment by being decreased from $10 per $1,000 to $9.70, the yearly cost goes from $1,000 for his $100,000 home to $1,261 for the $130,000 home, even though the tax rate is now $9.70 per $1,000.

The city’s tax rate “hasn’t really changed that much,” Fix said, which is what management wants in order to keep things from changing dramatically for taxpayers, he said. 

“We try to stay at 100 percent equalization, that keeps our rate relatively stable as we go forward,” he said. “So you hopefully won’t see that situation where the more we’ve had the tax cut, and we’ve got to make it a 30 percent raise to get where we want to get to. That’s why we’re trying to be fiscally frugal and prudent and do right by the taxpayers to make sure that doesn’t happen with their city taxes.”

Housing rates increased the most right after COVID, he said, and he hasn’t seen “a massive increase in the market in the past 18 months.” As far as his own home, using a Zillow tool, “my home value hasn't changed in about a year,” he said. 

“I’m not the assessor; that would be a question for her, but from what I see, I haven't seen those massive fluctuations in the market that we saw the first couple of years out of COVID,” he said. “Partly because of the interest rates, I would guess. Because interest rates are so high that we're not having problems finding people who buy houses when they go to market. It's that nobody wants to put their house on the market because they don't want to pay that interest rate for whatever else they're buying. There’s not a large amount of stock out there right now.”

Information regarding property assessments, inventory data, and sale information will be available online beginning April 1 at https://cityofbatavia.prosgar.com. The City of Batavia strives to maintain a 100 percent equalization rate (sale price to assessment ratio), which means that we aim to keep our assessments at 100 percent full market value across all property types, the press release stated.

To accomplish this, we do regular re-evaluations and make adjustments accordingly during the assessment update project. Values can adjust due to both physical changes and/or market changes.

As part of this process, we run each property through our appraisal software system, comparing the building style, square footage, year built, bedrooms, baths, lot size, etc., against the recent sale data. We then do a field review to determine the fair full market value based on the aforementioned data.

Although we review each neighborhood within the City during each cycle, we only update values in those that have experienced an increase in market values. 

As sale values have continued to climb 12-14% +/- above current assessments, we must adjust assessed values in accordance with NYS Real Property Tax Law guidelines in regular cycles.

Grievance Day 2024 will be held on May 30 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Grievance Day is held in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, located at 1 Batavia City Centre.

The Grievance form, Informal Review form, sale & inventory data, and the Citywide new assessments to assist you in comparing property values can be found as of April 1 in the City Clerk’s Office, at the library, and on the City of Batavia’s website: https://www.batavianewyork.com/ (Departments/Assessment) as well as https://cityofbatavia.prosgar.com.

Something's fishy about this downtown relay race

By Joanne Beck
Remote video URL
Video submitted by Steve Tufts

Eli Fish Brewing Company celebrated its sixth anniversary with a fun relay race, plenty of craft drinks and frozen fish this past weekend in downtown Batavia. The relay took runners around a block from Jackson Square onto School, Center and Jackson streets and back again to the Square, where a DJ was entertaining participants and spectators alike.

Billy Buckenmeyer's team won their heat in the event, and befitting of the Main Street establishment's name, real fish were used in place of the more traditional baton that passed from runner to runner for the relay. Each team received eight drink tokens and the winning team won a grand prize of four Mug Club memberships for the 2024 season.

eli fish fish relay
The lead runners set in their position at the start of the final fish race on Saturday, hosted by Eli Fish Brewing Company.  Steve Tufts asked Billy Buckenmeyer (center) if there was any race in Batavia he wasn't trying to win, and he replied, "No" with a proud look on his face.  His team would go on to win  their heat in the event.
Photo submitted by Steve Tufts.

Go Health reminds public about the importance of testing for radon

By Press Release

Press Release:

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year and approximately 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. 

“Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps into your home through cracks in the foundation, walls, and joints. It can be found in well water and in dirt floors. Whether your home has a basement, sits on a slab, is brand-new or old, radon can build up and go undetected. Testing your home can prevent serious health risks” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health).

According to the Lung Association’s State of Lung Cancer Report, an estimated 13.9% of New York radon test results equal or exceed the EPA Action level of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). 

Nationally, 21.8% of homes are at or above the action level. Through New York State testing, Genesee County has been identified as having a high average indoor radon screening level greater than 4 pCi/L.

New York State does not require homes to undergo radon testing prior to being sold and awareness about the importance of radon testing among potential homeowners may be limited. 

As a result, it falls on the buyer to ask about the property’s radon test results as part of the sales contract or to request that a radon test be conducted if it has not been completed within the past two years.

Here are some things to consider when negotiating a home sales contract: 

  • Who will conduct the radon test? 
  • What type of test should be done?
  • How will the results be shared?
  • If mitigation is necessary, due to an elevated result, who will pay?

If the home has been tested for radon, find out from the seller, who conducted the test, where in the home the test was taken, and when the test was completed. 

If the home has a radon reduction system already installed, make sure you get all the information about the system from the seller before the final sale.

If you are building a home, be sure to discuss radon-resistant features and costs with your contractor. Your contractor has the opportunity to construct a radon-resistant home easily and economically. 

It is more cost-effective to install radon-resistant features while building a home than to install a radon-reduction system in an existing home.

For more information about radon, contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 x5555 or Health@co.genesee.ny.us.

Resources:

Brothers Tim, Tom Rohl to be inducted into Genesee Region USBC bowling Hall of Fame on May 11

By Mike Pettinella

MARCH 22, 2024 -- Brothers Tim and Tom Rohl, holders of a combined six Genesee Region USBC Masters Tournament titles, will be inducted into the local bowling association’s Hall of Fame in May.

The GRUSBC Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 at Batavia Downs Gaming’s Genesee room on Park Road.

The Genesee Region USBC will be providing more information about the banquet, including how to get tickets, next week.

The Rohl name has been a fixture on the bowling scene in the Genesee Region for parts of five decades with older brother Tim making his mark from 1985-2005 before moving to Florida and Tom finding success on the lanes over the past 30 years.

Both left-handers are products of the youth bowling program directed by Fran Krenzer at Legion Lanes in Le Roy, where they grew up and where Tom still resides.

With numerous league and tournament titles, honor scores and high averages, the Rohls can boast of multiple crowns in the Masters, the prestigious scratch singles event that started in the Batavia Bowling Association and continued in the GRUSBC through last season.

Tim, now 57, is a four-time Masters champion, with victories in 1988, 1995, 1999 and 2002, and Tom, 50, won the tournament in 2001 and 2013.

The brothers also won a BBA tournament as teammates – joining forces to capture the Johnson-Ianni Doubles title in 1999.

Among their many other accomplishments:

Tim Rohl

Tim Rohl

-- 1990 BBA Association Tournament All-Events scratch champion, 2,046 for 9 games;
-- 1991 BBA Association Tournament Team, Singles and Doubles champion;
-- 1993 BBA Association Tournament Team champion (Kraus Trucking), 3,089 scratch;
-- Bowled 760 in Kraus Trucking’s 2,224 three-man series with Jerry Geissler and Bruce Kraus in 1989-90 season;
-- Won seven Classic League titles at Mancuso Bowling Center with Kraus Trucking and Terry Hills teams;
-- Has seven 300 games, as many 290-299 games, two 800 series in local association competition, with high averages of 224, 221 and 219 in the Mancuso Classic League and 220 in the Batavia Bowling Center Classic League (1990).
-- Tournament titles include the Channel 4 Open, winning $4,000; Western New York Classic Tour and Attica Open, and he made the finals of the 2004 Storm Challenge in Las Vegas.
-- As a collegiate bowler, his 752 at the 1985 NJCAA Regionals in Corning was in the top 10 in the nation at that time.

After relocating to the Sarasota, Fla., area in 2006, Tim placed seventh in the Florida USBC state tournament with 791 in singles in 2012, and compiled league averages of 231 and 236 with two 300 games and two 800 series from 2010-13.

Tom Rohl

Tom Rohl

-- 2000 GRUSBC Association Tournament All-Events scratch and handicap champion, 2,177 for 9 games; 2002 Association Tournament Doubles scratch and handicap champion with Darrow Rumsey, 1,417 score, and multiple years of top finishes in association tournament doubles and singles;
-- Has 10 300 games, six 290-299 games and five 800 series in local association competition, with his first coming in 1995-96 as part of an 811 series while bowling with Tim and their father, John, at Legion Lanes;
-- Has a high series of 824 (Livingston Lanes in Geneseo) with high averages of 227 at Scopano’s Lanes in Oakfield, 216 at Legion Lanes and 214 at Mancuso’s, and rolled a 700 series at the USBC national championships;
-- Four-time Velletta Memorial three-person Tournament champion at the former Scopano’s Lanes in Oakfield;
-- Other tournament titles and top finishes include first place at the 2024 Super Bowl handicap singles at Mancuso’s, Attica Open, second place at Lilac City Tournament team event ($25,000 prize), second place in the 2022 GRUSBC Scratch Memorial, second place at the Bowlers Journal in Reno in 2010 and a top 12 finish at the Brunswick Shootout in 1998 against PBA members, including Bill O’Neill, Mike Fagan and Tom Smallwood.

If state increases aid, Batavia school board leaning toward adding staff vs. cutting taxes

By Joanne Beck

Monday’s latest round of city school board budget discussions ended with a theoretical question for the group: If the state provides $300,000 more in Foundation Aid for the district, how do you want to spend it?

Choices included putting the money toward reserves to lower the amount being put toward the 2024-25 expenses, lowering the tax levy and related 2.26 percent property tax increase, or shuttling it toward personnel to hire more teachers.

As it is, a mental health grant and five additional full-time positions have been added to the budget to be effective July 1, and three bus routes that had previously been cut to save money were put back in, Business Administrator Andrew Lang said, because of feedback about how those changes would lengthen the time for students to be on a bus and that could result in behavioral and disciplinary issues.

Still, it seems as though the most vocal board members have eyes for more staff.

As has been the case during each budget talk so far, Vice President John Reigle made no bones about his stance. He previously shared his disappointment and concern about losing seven full-time equivalent grant-funded positions that were added with COVID-19 funds given to the district to assist with post-pandemic measures, five full-time positions that were reduced due to decreased enrollment, and four positions that were not replaced for retired or resigned teachers.

“I’m trying to save some of these positions or to refill some of the retirements or grant positions. It’s a hard pill to swallow to see all the losses,” Reigle said.

Board member Jenn Lendvay agreed with Reigle about where any extra state aid should go.

Board member Alice Benedict suggested a dual purpose, putting the money toward hiring staff and also some into the reserve fund.

Smith said that he didn’t want to “give you false hope … but there have been intense lobbying efforts” at the state level to loosen the purse strings in Albany and free up more funding for school districts.

“There's more negotiations to happen just as we're doing here in this session, same thing, same kind of stuff there,” he said.

He introduced David Lowery, Area 1 director of the New York State School Boards Association representing school boards in Genesee, Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties. Lowery urged board members to appeal to their legislators before the budget is finalized.

NYSSBA’s talking points include to:

  • Reject executive proposal to eliminate the state’s save harmless provision by cutting Foundation Aid for 337 school districts. Save Harmless stipulates that districts could not lose money if their estimated need declined.
  • Reject executive proposal to amend the inflationary factor in the Foundation Aid formula.
  • Support Legislative proposals to provide a minimum 3% Foundation Aid increase for all districts.
  • Support legislative proposals to provide funding to the State Education Department to conduct a study on the Foundation Aid formula.
  • Reject executive proposal to freeze the school aid database and cap aid payments.
  • Reject executive proposal to permanently shift certain CSE special education costs from the state to school districts.
  • Support executive and Legislative proposals to exclude certain external funds from the calculation of transportation aid for zero-emission bus purchases.
  • Support legislative proposals to fund a full universal school meals program.
  • Support legislative proposals to increase career and technical education funding through increases in the BOCES aidable salary cap and special services aid.
  • Support executive proposal to remove “supplement, not supplant” language from pre-k funding.
  • Support legislative proposals to increase funding for pre-k full-day and half-day programs.
  • Support Senate proposal to increase investments in preschool special education programs and special act school districts.

Lang said that if the district were to receive a conservative estimate of $200,000 more in Foundation aid, putting that toward the fund balance would reduce the amount being used for the budget from $3.7 million to $3.5 million.

“That still, in my opinion, as a school business official, that's still an exceedingly high number of appropriated fund balance,” he said. “I would be cautious as to continually appropriate that amount of funding and relying on it to balance the district's budget with a 1 to 2%. You'd have to go back to that allowance of considerably less than one out of that fund balance of about $1.2 million.”

The board needs to focus on the expenses side of the budget, he said, and move towards a vote to adopt that on April 22. Reigle asked for a list of what types of positions had been cut and where they were located within the district, such as a social sciences teacher in the middle school, “just so we can kind of have an idea of where we're looking at what we're talking about,” he said.

The question was asked how reducing staff affects class size. Molly Corey, executive director of curriculum and instruction, said that tools are used to assess such dynamics, and although the state says there can be 28 kids in a class, “we’re really not making super large class sizes anywhere,” she said.

Jackson Primary between 18 to 24 kids, John Kennedy Intermediate has 20 to 24, and Batavia Middle School has 24 to 28. Smith added, “We’re really trying to concentrate on classes at the lower grade levels for obvious reasons.”

“I think this school district has done really well at keeping class size under 20,” Benedict said.

Lang had previously reviewed overall enrollment projections, which are expected to gradually decline. Numbers had dipped to 2,006 in 2021-22, and then rose back up to 2,031 in 2022-23, 2,072 in 2023-24, and then slipped back down to 2,047 in 2024-25, and are projected to fall to 2,034 in 2025-26 hover around there in 2026-27, fall again to 2,022 in 2027-28 and bounce back to 2,046 in 2028-29.

Reducing the staff was still “a big concern of mine,” Reigle said.

A $1.4 million mental health grant that Corey said her staff didn’t know it was receiving in August 2022 and still has access to will allow the district to add five more full-time positions. The same number of positions were reduced due to declining enrollment. They will be added on in July this year.

“We are pleased to say we can look at a couple new positions for next year,” Smith said. “A purpose of the grant is to expand our services,” he said.

About $286,000 has been spent so far, with $1.1 million remaining for the staff expense, Lang said.

As of Monday evening, the board is expected to vote on a proposed $60,373,861 budget during its meeting on April 22. That’s a 2.38 percent increase, or about $1.4 million more than this year’s budget. This plan would include a tax levy of $20,339,336 for a tax rate increase of 2.26 percent or 39 cents per $1,000 assessed value. That would be an extra $48.75 a year on a home assessed at $125,000.

A public presentation is set for 6 p.m. on May 14, to be followed by a budget vote on May 21.

Batavia's varsity softball players mentor young players in Saturday morning clinic

By Howard B. Owens
stingers softball camp with blue devils

The young players who are learning the game as members of the Batavia Stingers, so Batavia High School's varsity softball team members coaching the Stingers players is good for both teams, said Rob Kersch.

Kersch is Batavia's varsity softball coach.

The Blue Devils hosted a clinic for Stingers players in the auxiliary gym at the high school on Saturday.

"I wanted to make sure our kids are giving back to the community," Kersch said. "They were all little softball players, you know, like they're teaching and coaching right now. I wanted to give back, and they're excited about it, too. They want to get involved with these kids. The other thing is, you're looking at future Batavia Blue Devils. We want to foster some a relationship with them, and help build them up, so when they come up to us, they will be much better players."

Saturday's clinic was all about hitting. Clinics scheduled for April 7 and April 21 will concentrate on fielding and base running.

Current Stingers Board President Michelle Gillard said, "This is a great opportunity for our young athletes to learn and be mentored by older players."

Matt Landers, one of the co-founders of the Stingers, helped facilitate the clinic and said he thinks there is demand for the Stingers program to grow in Batavia, but more parents need to get involved, especially as coaches.

"I think that we definitely have a need in the community and more interest in the community," Landers said. "We're thrilled to be able to do this, again to keep this program going. But we know we can get bigger and have more more kids play ball, but it all comes down to having more coaches."

Photos by Howard Owens.

stingers softball camp with blue devils
stingers softball camp with blue devils
stingers softball camp with blue devils
stingers softball camp with blue devils
stingers softball camp with blue devils
stingers softball camp with blue devils

Health Department is seeking owner of dog for bite incident in Bergen

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Health Department is seeking information about the location of a dog and its owner(s) following a dog bite incident on Saturday, March 23, at 4:30 p.m.

The victim indicated that the dog came from the area of the railroad tracks to the corner of Route 19 and Rochester Street in Bergen, NY. The dog was described as small, gray, without a collar. It may have been a pit bull or a similar breed.

The health department is trying to avoid unnecessary medical treatment for the victim, so it is important to locate the dog to determine whether or not it is current on its rabies vaccination. If the vaccination status of the dog cannot be identified, post-exposure rabies shots will be recommended to the victim.

If you have information about the location of the dog and its owner(s), please contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580, Ext. 5555.

Genesee County student-athletes gain honors and recognition at Ronald McDonald House charity game

By Howard B. Owens
mcdonalds game
Ashley Johnson, Pembroke, Isabella Reeves, Alexander, and Kori Radley, Le Roy, were among the cheerleaders for the game.
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro

Genesee County was well represented in Rochester on Saturday for the 39th annual Ronald McDonald House Charity Basketball Games.

Le Roy's Merritt Holly, playing on the Red Team, was named the game's MVP, scoring 18 points and six rebounds. Braedyn Chambry was awarded the Bob Parker Sportsmanship Award for the Red Team.

Roxanne Noeth was one of the two coaches for the Red Team.  She was honored during the game for playing in the girls' RMHC 1987 game.  She is the first person to play in a girl's game and coach a boy's team. (People have played and later coached in a game, but she is the first female to coach boys and play in the girls' game). 

Victoria Fetzer, a freshman from Le Roy sang the National Anthem to open both the boys' and girls' games.

merritt holly game mvp
Merritt Holly, MVP.
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
merrit holly
Merrit Holly
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
brayden chambry
Roxanne Noeth and Braedyn Chambry.
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
braedyn chambry
Braedyn Chambry
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
roxanne noeth
Roxanne Noeth
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
tyson totten
Pembroke's Tyson Totten represented Pembroke on the Gold Team.
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
tyson totten
Tyson Totten
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
caitlin ryan
Caitlin Ryan, left, represented Oakfield-Alabama in the girls' game.
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
victoria-fetzer
Le Roy's Victoria Fetzer sang the National Anthem for both the boys' and the girls' games.
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro
charity game
Byron-Bergen's Brody Baubie was at the game as a spectator, and his ticket was selected to attempt a three-point shot for a chance to win $500.  He made the shot.  He donated a portion of the prize back to the Ronald McDonald House.  
Photo by Jennifer DiQuattro

Sponsored Post: Call Reliant Real Estate today to see 151 Vine Street in Batavia

By Lisa Ace
Reliant Real Estate

Don’t pass by this great City home-you will be pleasantly surprised as soon as you pull into drive and see the oversized 3 car garage with 4th pavilion style bay-perfect for your grill and picnic table-Your friends will be jealous! Inside the home features inviting large oak kitchen with loads of cupboard space spacious dining area and large and bright living room. This home was made for large gatherings and entertaining! Not only is there a good size first floor bedroom and bath there is also another large room which would make awesome office/playroom with pretty French doors leading to large and bright heated and fully glassed three season room featuring cozy free standing fireplace to take the chill out! This room features sliding glass doors leading to a large deck which also connects to side enclosed back porch which once held a busy -and still intact-barbershop! Before you go outside don't forget that if you go upstairs there are THREE MORE big bedrooms and another full bath! There is plenty of storage and closets throughout the home, and don’t forget the large full dry basement! This home packs a lot in-you will be amazed!

Photo: Monday's Golden Easter Egg found in Centennial Park

By Howard B. Owens
easter egg find jasper thomas
Submitted photo

Jasper Thomas found the Kiwanis Golden Easter Egg in Centennial Park on Monday, with a prize certificate in it for a chocolate Easter bunny from Oliver's Candies.

The Batavia Kiwanis Club is hiding a golden egg daily through Thursday. The ticket can be redeemed at the club's annual Easter Egg Hunt in Centennial Park at 9 a.m. sharp on Saturday.

Photos: 'Worm Moon' over Genesee County

By Howard B. Owens
full moon
Photo by Jessica Pfalzer, taken in Corfu at 12:02 a.m.

The early moon of Monday is known as the Worm Moon, the first full moon of Spring.

The naming of full moons comes from Native American traditions.

Upcoming full moons are the Pink Moon (April 23), the Flower Moon, May 23, and the Strawberry Moon (June 21)

full moon
Photo by Frank Capuano.

GC government offices to close early April 8 for solar eclipse activities

By Press Release

Press Release:

In preparation for the upcoming 2024 Solar Eclipse, Genesee County Government will implement a temporary closure for all County Offices and non-emergency services, effective from noon on Monday, April 8 until 8:30 a.m. on April 9.

This decision reflects the county's proactive approach to eclipse readiness. By suspending county operations during the eclipse, the county aims to reduce traffic congestion, enhance public safety, and enable residents and visitors to partake in this extraordinary event. County offices will remain open in the morning on April 8th to accommodate residents who need to conduct business that day. 

"Ensuring the safety of our community is our top priority, and the closure of County Offices during the eclipse will contribute to ensuring a safe environment for all to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event," stated County Manager Matt Landers.

To learn about the eclipse in Genesee County, visit: www.geneseetheeclipse.com For important safety information on the eclipse, visit: www.iloveny.com/events/eclipse-2024/safety/

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