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Other than three longtime Western New York Off-Track Betting Corp. directors, no members of the company’s board are receiving or will be eligible to receive health insurance benefits going forward.
WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, responding to a Freedom of Information Law request from The Batavian today, said that the public benefit company is paying the health insurance premiums for Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester), Thomas Wamp (Livingston County) and Richard Ricci (Seneca County).
The board of directors consists of 17 members, representing 15 counties plus the cities of Rochester and Buffalo.
“These individuals have qualified for a Medicare plan through Western Regional OTB due to their longevity prior to the board being terminated by state mandate,” Wojtaszek said. “No one else on the board has any coverage.”
New York State legislation last May dismantled the previous board and forced the municipalities to either reappoint the director or appoint someone new. Bassett, Wamp and Ricci were reappointed along with seven other rural county directors.
Following Wednesday’s board meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming, Wojtaszek reported that WROTB’s revamped health insurance plan for employees, other than board members, will be unveiled soon.
“We have the members of the (Labor Management Health Fund) coming in to speak with our employees within the next two to three weeks to inform them of the program,” he said. “And we'll see who takes advantage of it.”
Wojtaszek said two programs will be offered, with an eye on providing something affordable for younger workers and their families. He said WROTB is part of a large consortium with other businesses in the area.
WROTB’s program is a self-insured one where the company pays the cost of claims and also a firm to administer the plan.
When pressed about board members’ health insurance – something that has been in the press for several months and labeled as a “gold-plated” plan for directors, Wojtaszek said all of that changed for any board member approved after July 1, 2021.
“Nobody who is a board member currently is involved in our active (LMHF) program. They could be on Medicare because of an old program (referring to Bassett, Wamp and Ricci),” he said.
Directors who had health insurance through WROTB prior to the reorganization this summer are no longer eligible for the corporation’s LMHF plan, he said. The plan is administered by Lawley Insurance.
In related action, the board approved a resolution to renew a contract with Garland Insurance & Financial Services of Phoenix, Ariz., to provide commercial insurance – liability, property and directors & officers – from through May 31, 2024 at a cost of $1,147,215.46.
Wojtaszek said the premium reflects an increase of 8 percent.
He also mentioned that WROTB has hired a consultant, Alterity Group, to work on a bidding process after the contract expires. WROTB has contracted with Garland since 2015, he said.
A 39-year-old woman was injured this morning after her 2018 Toyota left the roadway on Oak Orchard Road near Federal Drive and struck a utility pole, causing the vehicle to overturn.
The woman was the sole occupant of the vehicle. She was ejected from the vehicle. The State Police have not released her name or where she is from.
The woman was flown to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight for treatment of serious injuries.
NYSP says this is an ongoing investigation.
Town of Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS assisted at the scene.
Photos by Howard Owens.
Northgate Church hosted a Veterans Appreciation Evening on Thursday, which was attended by more than 40 people, including couple of dozen local veterans.
Photo and info submitted by Michael Marsh.
A transformer may have blown at Route 77 and Route 5 in Pembroke, just north of the intersection.
Wires are down, and the grass at the base of the power pole is smoldering, according to a caller.
Pembroke Fire and Indian Falls Fire dispatched.
CORRECTIONS: The board approved the moratorium on Nov. 9 and the state does not need to approve the zoning changes.
A potential 96-unit apartment complex in the Town of Pembroke raised issues that perhaps the town should address in its zoning code, according to Supervisor Thomas Schneider.
Schneider is suggesting a six-month moratorium on approvals for new proposed apartment complexes while the town forms a committee to study apartment zoning and propose new regulations
that would eventually need state approval.
The Town Board discussed a possible moratorium at its Nov. 9 meeting,
and will vote on it at a future meeting.
"The town felt it was necessary to pump the brakes a bit before new projects are proposed," Schneider said. "(We need) to bring the zoning law into line with our new normal here in Pembroke. The current zoning on multi-family projects has been relatively unchanged for 35 years. The town still supports development, but we do need to update the zoning law to make our expectations more transparent for developers and to give our Planning Board more tools to use in the planning stages of these projects."
Issues to address may include school bus traffic serving an apartment complex, green space requirements, the number of units per acre that should be allowed, and perhaps guidelines on design and materials. There may be other issues to raise, he said.
Schneider also told the board that given the possibility that any new complexes will receive tax abatement incentives from the Genesee County Economic Development Center, the town should consider imposing a community benefit fee.
Scheider said New York State allows for towns to implement zoning agreements with developers. His first idea is to require apartment developers to contribute funds for improvements to Pembroke Town Park.
The need for an update came to light, according to Schnieder, as the town worked through the approval process for Countryside Apartments.
Developer Mike Schmidt of Alden is planning to build four buildings over four phases at 8900 Alleghany Road. Each phase consists of a building with eight one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom units, totaling 96 market-rate units, with 168 parking spaces along with garages.
Schmidt is planning on investing $15 million in the project.
GCEDC has approved financial assistance for the project, including an estimated $ 739,200 sales tax exemption, an estimated $ 2,020,688 property tax abatement, and an estimated $ 130,000 mortgage tax exemption.
The project has received all of the necessary approvals from the town for Schmidt to begin building.
With the expected job growth coming from two major development projects in WNY STAMP, a new distribution facility opening by the Thruway, as well as a new travel center, the demand for housing in Pembroke is on the rise and Schneider said he believes the town needs to prepare for it.
In a previous interview, Schnieder said he recognizes the need for more housing, including apartments, in Pembroke.
"My personal feeling on the whole thing is, as a former school board member, there are people who want to be in our district," Schneider said. "Our district does need kids in the district to help it survive."
While Schmidt was going through the approval process, and promising market-rate housing, some residents expressed concern that he would pull a bait-and-switch, the seeming fate of Ellicott Station in Batavia. Schmidt promised there would be no HUD-assisted units in his complex, the conversation suggested some residents oppose low-income and very low-income housing in Pembroke.
Schneider said on Thursday that even if the town wanted to try and block rent-subsidized apartments, it doesn't have the authority to do so.
"I don’t believe we legally could or should limit HUD-backed or (NYS Homes and Community Renewal)-backed projects, but under home rule, we do have a say in which zoning districts large-scale multi-family projects are allowed," Schnieder said.
Asked what he would say to residents who oppose such developments, Schneider said, "There’s a place and a need for all types of housing options in a community."
Asked about whether apartments are limited to certain parts of the town, or should be, Schneider said:
"Under the current zoning law, multi-family housing projects are allowed in nearly every zoning district. From the developer's perspective, it is cost-prohibitive to install a septic/sewage treatment system for large-scale housing projects. I believe the town will look to limit these multiple-building projects to areas covered by town sewer, (such as) portions of Route 5 and Route 77 and our interchange, commercial and limited commercial districts."
Once the Town Board approves a moratorium, the board will form a committee. The exact composition of the committee has yet to be determined. It could comprise two board members, two planning board members, and perhaps a couple of town residents.
The committee would then propose zoning changes to the Planning Board and the Town Board. The County Planning Department and Planning Board would also review the proposed changes.
Once adopted, the State Legislature would need to approve the changes.
- Town planners give go ahead to travel center and apartments proposed for Pembroke
- Shadow of Ellicott Station throws shade on apartment plan for Pembroke, developer promises no low-income housing'
- Developer explains why he's seeking GCEDC assistance on 96-unit apartment complex in Pembroke
- Pembroke supervisor sees the need for 96-unit apartment complex, but zoning code should be reviewed
If you were asked to name the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, it may surprise you that the answer is not second hand smoke, often portrayed as perhaps the most dangerous substance to lungs for those exposed to the fumes of others.
The top cause of lung cancer is actually radon for nonsmokers, and overall is the second leading cause of lung cancer for the general population, Public Health Educator Sherri Bensley of Genesee and Orleans Health Department says.
Not often something discussed at the dinner table or thought about in the home, radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, according to GO Health statistics.
Although the topic up to now has been a quiet one, Bensley and Environmental Health Specialist Allysa Pascoe have been taking a presentation on the road — including to City Council this week — to review the basics of radon and remind folks about the importance of what to keep in mind with this radioactive gas.
"The GO Health Departments would like residents to know that radon is the leading environmental cause of any cancer and it is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking," Bensley said to The Batavian. "Radon can enter a home through cracks in the foundation, cracks in basement walls, holes, joints, dirt floors, sump pump holes, suspended floors and in the well-water supply.
“Any home (new or old), that has contact to the ground has the potential for radon to enter the home," she said. "Testing your home is the only way to know if high levels are present and corrective action is needed.”
Tests were conducted in Genesee County, and Stafford was found to be the area with the highest levels of radon in the lowest living area of the home, which was the basement.
Levels were at greater than 10 pCi/L (that is picocuries per liter), with several areas reaching greater than 4 and less than 10, including Byron, Bergen, Batavia, Le Roy, Darien, Bethany, Pavilion and Pembroke. Towns and villages of Alabama, Oakfield, Elba and Alexander had the lowest levels of less than 4.
When testing was conducted on first floors in the county, Stafford remained at 10, and was joined by Darien; whereas the 4 to 10 levels were only in Batavia, Bethany and Le Roy and remaining municipalities had levels of 4 or lower.
The health department distributed radon test kits from Jan. 17 of this year to June 30, with 37 elevated readings out of 174 total kits, Bensley said. From July 1 to now, there were 73 more kits distributed, and 23 elevated readings.
GO Health has been able to do this through a New York State Indoor Radon Grants Program meant to increase public awareness about th risks and health hazards of radon exposure. It’s a sneaky inert gas that’s colorless, odorless and tasteless that cannot be detected by one’s senses.
Exposure to radon can damage tissue and may cause lung cancer since it is a carcinogen. It also can be found anywhere, since it’s produced by the decay of uranium in soil, rock and water.
So now that you may be sufficiently scared, or at least concerned, what to do about it?
“With funding provided by the New York State Department of Health, the Genesee County Health Department has free radon test kits available to residents of Genesee County,” Bensley said. “If someone finds that their home has a high level of radon, we would recommend that they hire a certified mitigator to install a radon mitigation system to reduce radon levels in their home.”
The department has also proposed that all new homes be built with radon-reducing features, which would be more cost effective, eliminate potential exposure and is currently a requirement in 11 other states, she said.
The test is made of charcoal, and it is uncapped for at least 12 hours during the test period. It will be placed on the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. Once radon is detected, certification is not required in New York State, but is recommended, she said.
She also recommends that, when pursuing mitigation, obtain several estimates, check references, and obtain a guarantee that the mitigator will reduce the radon to below 4.0 pCi/L. Go here for more information about mitigators.
A vehicle has reportedly rolled over multiple times in the area of 8103 Oak Orchard Road, Batavia, and a person was ejected from the vehicle.
The location is between Federal Drive and the Thruway.
Mercy Flight requested to the scene. The landing zone will be near Call Parkway.
Town of Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.
UPDATE 9:27 a.m.: It appears that a grey hatchback was northbound on Route 98 and left the roadway a few feet north of the driveway to the RRH medical facility. It struck a mailbox and, further down, a Route 98 sign. It rolled over multiple times, sustaining significant damage, before coming to rest at the end of a field on its wheels. A female occupant was ejected from the vehicle and flown by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. The Batavian will have more information and pictures from the scene once the State Police release additional details.
Photos by Howard Owens.
Nicole M. Trapp, 21, of Buffalo, is charged with grand larceny 4th. Trapp was arrested on Nov. 1 following an investigation into an assault that occurred on Nov. 1 on Law Street, Batavia. Trapp is accused of stealing property from another person during the incident. She was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.
Jennifer M. Shaffer, 41, of Batavia, is charged with aggravated driving while ability impaired by drugs (Leandra’s Law). Shaffer was stopped on Nov. 7 by a Batavia patrol officer at an undisclosed location. She is accused of driving while impaired by drugs with a child in the car. She was issued traffic tickets. PUBLISHER'S NOTE: There are two women with children in Batavia named Jennifer Shaffer. Only one of the two was arrested.
Kathleen M. Zemke, 58, of Perry, is charged with DWI. Zemke was arrested by Batavia PD following a complaint from her employer that she had shown up to work intoxicated. She was issued traffic tickets.
Phillip P. Heale, 45, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Heale is accused of hitting another person in the face during a fight on Nov. 6 on East Main Street. He was issued an appearance ticket.
Dean D. Root, 42, of Batavia, is charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Root was stopped by a Batavia patrol officer on Oct. 18 at an undisclosed location. He was issued traffic tickets.
Aaron R. Hatfield, 39, of Batavia, was arrested on a warrant (jurisdiction not provided). Hatfield was initially arrested on Aug. 14, accused of petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th after allegedly stealing merchandise from Tops. He was issued an appearance ticket but failed to appear in court. A warrant was issued on Sept. 26. He was arrested on the warrant on Oct. 6. He was arraigned and released. He again failed to appear in court, and another warrant was issued on Oct. 19. He was arrested on Nov. 3 and arraigned in CAP Court. He was released and is due back in court at a later date.
Caitlyn A. Heidenreich, 26, of Batavia, is charged with DWI. Heidenreich was charged following a traffic accident reported on Harvester Avenue at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 2. Heidenreich was allegedly operating a motor vehicle that crashed into a parked car. He was issued traffic tickets and released.
Zachary D. Kaczor, 29, of Buffalo, is charged with aggravated DWI. Kaczor was stopped by a Batavia patrol officer at an undisclosed time on Oct. 29 on Ellicott Avenue, Batavia. He was issued traffic tickets.
Patricia M. Anderson, 38, of Batavia, was arrested on a warrant (jurisdiction not provided). Anderson was initially arrested on April 9 and charged with petit larceny, after allegedly stealing merchandise from 7-Eleven. She was issued an appearance ticket, but allegedly failed to appear. A warrant was issued on May 16. She was arrested on the warrant on Aug. 9. She was arraigned and released. She again failed to appear, and another warrant was issued on Oct. 10. She was arrested on Oct. 30 and was arraigned in City Court and remanded to the Genesee County Jail on $2,500 cash bail, $5,000 bond, and $10,000 partially secured bond.
Larry Barnes — the go-to guru of all things related to the City of Batavia's history for the last 16 years — will be resigning his post effective Dec. 31, he says.
Barnes met with City Manager Rachael Tabelski Wednesday to personally deliver his letter of resignation and give an official 30-day notice. He decided to leave for a number of reasons, he said, including health issues and “it’s time to move on.”
“It’s been a terrific experience. I’ve learned a lot about the community in the process of doing the research for the books that I’ve written and the monographs that I’ve written, and just in terms of putting together talks and that sort of thing,” Barnes said to The Batavian Thursday. “State law requires that we have an appointed city historian.”
As of 2010, an official job description went into effect for the position, he said, which requires that the proper candidate live in the City of Batavia and is not allowed to keep city documents outside of the office maintained at City Hall.
City Code states that “there shall be a City Historian as required by Article 57 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law of the State of New York,” and that “the City Historian shall be appointed by the City Manager with a term of office of four years. The City Historian may be appointed to consecutive terms by the City Manager. The City Historian must be a resident of the City of Batavia.”
Barnes has authored several books, and more recently scripted a play about Brisbane Mansion, which has been a hot topic of late. City officials are mulling options for the property, currently housing the city police department, and a consultant proposed two possibilities of selling it to a developer for use of a boutique hotel or market-rate apartments.
Barnes has been a proponent of repurposing the Main Street site and not letting it falter or be demolished, paths that other pieces of city history have taken in the past.
“That building definitely needs to remain, it shouldn't be torn down like many other historical buildings have been. And the proposal that has just been presented, either a boutique hotel or apartments or a combination of the two, would be ideal, I think.”
Barnes, a retired educator, has been quite active in the community, either serving or having served with several history-related groups, including the Landmark Society of Genesee County, Batavia Historic Preservation Committee, Genesee County Historians Association, Government Appointed Historians of Western New York and the Association of Public Historians of New York State.
For nearly his entire city historian career, Barnes has done the work as a volunteer. City Council just approved a yearly pay of $5,000 this past year.
He and his wife Jerianne plan to stay in the community, Barnes said.
Always one to offer up tidbits of history, he added that Jerianne’s first name has not always been this. In fact, it wasn’t until five decades later that she changed her original name to Jerry Louise, he said.
Her parents had planned to name their impending child Jerry Lewis for a boy and instead named their baby girl Jerry Louise. Hating all of her life, Jerry decided to give herself a 50th birthday present and had her name changed to Jerianne Louise.
While not really a part of Barnes’ retirement, Jerianne has been part of his life, and therefore the history indeed belongs with the historian.
Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. management is projecting net revenue from its racing and gaming operations to approach $86.4 million in 2024, resulting in nearly $10 million in surcharge and earnings to be distributed to its 17 member municipalities.
At Wednesday’s board of directors meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road, WROTB Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach went over the operating plan – or budget – for next year.
The plan is a comprehensive document detailing income and expense streams for all aspects of the public benefit company, and is based on actual numbers through October of this year and industry trends.
“It’s a work in progress,” Leach said, but acknowledged that it close to being finalized. The final plan will be presented to the board for review at its December meeting. After board approval, it is submitted to the New York State Gaming Commission.
According to the report, the 17 municipalities, including Genesee County, are expected to receive $606,616 in surcharge distributions and $9,268,586 in earnings distribution for a total of $9,875,202 in the 2024 calendar year. That is up from $9,654,748 to be distributed in 2023.
Surcharge funds are derived from a 5 percent fee collected from patrons on winning wagers at WROTB branches and EZ Bet locations. Leach said the earnings distribution is about 11 percent of the net revenue from operations.
While the 2024 distribution projections reflect the corporation’s record earnings the past two years, Leach said the numbers are more impressive when looking back to 2019, when surcharge and earnings distributions hit the $3.6 million mark, and considering the impact of COVID-19 the following year.
WROTB lost $9.6 million in 2020, Leach reported. Despite that, the corporation has and is projected to distribute $38 million in surcharge and earnings for the six-year period, 2019-2024.
“We ate into our coffers some $9.6 million in 2020. And that, from a financial perspective, is incredible if you think about it. That we will be distributing and anticipate, project, to distribute $38 million,” she said.
WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek added that profit realized in that year, beside the Payroll Protection Plan money to keep employees on the job, was from the off-track betting internet wagering side.
Batavia Downs Gaming was closed for six months due to the pandemic. It has bounced back strongly, however, with revenues, net win (credits played into the Video Lottery Terminals minus credits won) and distributions increasing each year. Leach is anticipating the net win total to increase to $89 million in 2024.
Leach and Wojtaszek touted the “very good news” when talking about gaming, food and beverage, and The Hotel at Batavia Downs, but painted a different picture when the subject turned to the harness horse racing industry and the financial health of the corporation’s eight brick-and-mortar OTB branches.
Only two of the branches – Lyell Avenue in Rochester and Clinton in Erie County – are expected to be profitable in 2024. Operational losses of the branches are at $418,202 through Oct. 30, 2023, continuing a downward trend.
Leach reported that all of WROTB’s EZ Bet (self-service) locations, however, have increased the company’s bottom line; none are in the red.
“On the OTB pari-mutuel side, they’re competing for the gambling dollar with sports betting, which came into New York State in January 2022,” she said. “Plus, we’re required to make statutory payments to other racing entities in New York State based on antiquated handle numbers from 1993 and 2002 when the handle was much more robust. We’re getting no legislative relief on that end.”
Wojtaszek said a “day of reckoning is coming” for horse racing, again mentioning sports betting and also a doping scandal that has rocked the industry.
“The sport has been damaged. The numbers are down,” he said. “Jackie's just giving the numbers from the last couple of years. If you look at what our handle was relative to OTB, when you go back a decade or two, it was $200 million. That was the handle -- $200 million.”
He said the horse racing industry needs to “police itself” better. He mentioned a recent CBS “60 Minutes” story that focused on a doping (drug) scandal that has resulted in deaths to numerous horses and prompted Congress to create the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to institute uniform rules for the sport across the country.
Wojtaszek said WROTB is working with a consultant to help the corporation going forward “but it’s going to be much more expensive to have our live racing relative to the testing. But it’s something that’s necessary.”
State law mandates that Batavia Downs Gaming must operate a horse track to keep its gaming license.
The corporation has reduced the number of OTB branches (or parlors) over the years and more cutting may be on the way.
Director Vincent Horrigan (Chautauqua County) asked if WROTB will continue “to live with” the branch losses or “do we turn it around?”
“That’s a great question and worth a discussion after the first of the year,” Wojtaszek replied.
Currently, the eight branches – located in Auburn, Jamestown, Erie County (two), Monroe County (three) and Niagara County -- employ 31 people.
43 Prospect Avenue, Batavia. Great opportunity to move into a like new home on a really great city avenue! This OVER 2000 sq. ft, 4 bedroom, 2 baths home underwent a major remodel less then 5 years ago and home was done from top to bottom; with windows, drywall, cabinetry, baths, heating/AC, roof, flooring etc... Literally nothing to do besides put your personal spin on decor!! Layout is wide open and super spacious-first floor is perfect for entertaining and also features awesome first floor laundry /pantry room or even office space should you want! All bedrooms located on second floor are great size and spread out for privacy! Location is so great and yard super cute, nicely landscaped and partially fenced! No delayed negotiations and super easy to jump in and check out! Call Lynn Bezon today, call 585-344-HOME (4663).
In conjunction with the nation’s celebration of Veterans Day, Sen. George Borrello announced that Governor Hochul has signed into law a measure renaming Route 63 in the town of Pavilion as the “SP4 George Harold Fry Memorial Highway.”
Legislation marking the designation was sponsored by Senator Borrello and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.
U.S. Army Specialist 4 George Harold Fry, a native of Pavilion, was killed in action on July 11, 1969, along with 20 other members of the 506th Infantry during combat on Hill 996 in the Shau Valley of Vietnam. Specialist Fry’s actions that day are credited with saving the lives of many other members of his unit.
He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.
“Specialist Fry gave his life defending his brothers in arms,” Sen. Borrello said. “He is a decorated war hero who served his country with honor and distinction. Dedicating this highway in his name is one small way we can honor the courage, dedication and ultimate sacrifice of this American hero.”
Assemblyman Hawley said for generations to come, the SP4 George Harold Fry Memorial Highway will stand as a testament to Specialist Fry’s heroism and commitment to his country and freedom.
“As an Army veteran and member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I was honored to sponsor this proposal recognizing one of Western New York’s most valiant, Specialist George Harold Fry. It's fitting that this highway is being memorialized at the same time we're remembering those who served on Veteran's Day,” Assemblyman Hawley said.
Specialist Fry served with D Company, 1st Battalion, 506th infantry, 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. As an RTO (Radio-Telephone Operator), it was his duty to maintain radio contact between his unit, other platoons and Battalion Command. After two fellow RTO’s were killed early in the assault on July 11, Specialist Fry left the safety of cover to re-establish communication between platoons during the battle, placing himself in jeopardy.
Specialist Fry’s actions enabled his commanding officer to call in artillery support, coordinate the U.S. counter assault and evacuate the wounded. Continuously under fire, Specialist Fry kept transmitting until he too was shot and killed. His company suffered more than 50 percent casualties. Survivors said were it not for Specialist Fry, many more U.S. troops would have been killed or wounded.
For gallantry in action on July 11, 1969, Specialist Fry received the Silver Star Medal. He also received the Bronze Star Medal for outstanding meritorious service in connection with ground operations against a hostile force during the period of October 22, 1968 to July 11, 1969.
Additionally, he received the Presidential Unit Citation for Operation Snow for the period of May 10 through May 21, 1969, in the Shau Valley.
“For generations, many of our region’s finest and bravest young men and women have found their calling in military service and safeguarding the liberties we cherish,” Sen. Borrello said. “Specialist Fry was one of those patriots. Naming this highway in his honor commemorates his courageous service to our country and reminds us of the immense contributions America’s veterans have made for us all.
“I want to thank Assemblyman Hawley for sponsoring this legislation in the Assembly and Governor Hochul for signing the bill to honor Specialist Fry who gave his life for our freedom.”
St. James Episcopal Church announced that their 5th annual Pie Sale/Basket Raffle will be held Friday, Nov. 17 from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the church, 405 East Main Street, Batavia. Admission is free.
Known for the wonderful desserts served at Lenten Fish Fries, the St. James bakers have been busy in the church kitchen making apple and pumpkin pies for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
Pre-order 9” homemade pies for $12 each by texting 585-356-5359 or take your chances and stop in on Friday or Saturday.
A variety of gift baskets have been assembled, including homemade quilts and afghans, a lottery tree, homemade jams, and more. Tickets will be on sale throughout the event and you need not be present to win.
Dorian Ely, one of the organizers, said, “We are so grateful. Folks have been very supportive of our recent outreach efforts, particularly contributing to our bake sales for Ukraine and the street-front Blessing Box which provides non-perishable food and personal care products to the community. We hope to see many of our neighbors coming in to purchase raffle tickets and a pie or two.” The phone number at the church is 585-343-6802.
In New York, there are more than half a million people providing unpaid care to a loved one with dementia. National Family Caregivers Month is the perfect time to get educated about dementia caregiving and ways to help.
Caring for someone with dementia is demanding: these caregivers on average provide more care for a longer period of time than other caregivers. A report released by the Alzheimer’s Association earlier this year found that New York’s dementia caregivers provided 884 million hours of care, valued at more than $19 billion dollars. With a looming shortage in the healthcare workforce and more people expected to develop dementia in the coming years, the burdens facing dementia caregivers are growing.
Dementia caregivers often take on these responsibilities while balancing careers and children. It’s not surprising that they find their own physical and mental health worsening due to stress.
Dementia caregivers report higher rates of chronic conditions, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer than other people. In New York, 59% of caregivers reported at least one chronic health condition.
Dementia caregivers report higher rates of depression than caregivers for people with other medical conditions. In New York, 24.7% of dementia caregivers reported having depression.
Amara May, director of program outreach at the Western New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, says, “Caring for someone with dementia is uniquely challenging. The caregiving tasks are intense and you’re doing them while watching your loved one gradually lose memory and function.” She continues, “Our goal at the Alzheimer’s Association is to help reduce sources of caregiver stress and help them find self-care strategies that work.”
Debbie Gangemi of Hamburg assists her father, Richard, in caring for her mother, Donna Brese, who has Alzheimer’s. “It can get frustrating and stressful because of the unexpected,” she says. “Mom has a number of good days, but you just can’t anticipate when a bad day will happen.”
There are a range of self-care strategies caregivers can try to reduce stress. No single approach will work for everyone so it’s important to find what works for you. Options include:
- Talk to someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member, clergy or counselor. The Alzheimer’s Association provides a 24/7 Helpline with dementia experts available anytime.
- Get outside. Even just a few minutes outdoors can improve your mood, especially on sunny days.
- Exercise. Movement is a proven approach to improve mental and physical health. Try a walk around the neighborhood or a local fitness class, which has the added benefit of being social.
- Try a mindfulness technique. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and journaling are all options for mindfulness, which can reduce anxiety and depression and may even help reduce blood pressure and improve sleep quality.
Gangemi says she relies on her faith and family to help deal with stress, in addition to finding a healthy outlet by volunteering for the WNY Chapter. “When I do community outreach on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association, I get to hear about other peoples’ struggles and learn how they cope with them,” she says. “I know not to take anything for granted.”
The Alzheimer’s Association Western New York Chapter offers free caregiver education, support groups, and care planning meetings. You can access these resources by calling 800.272.3900 or visiting alz.org/wny.
It looks like 25 bucks may have been standing in the way of Genesee County getting more job applicants, and county legislators and the Human Resources department have no desire to return there.
After a trial run of suspending the $25 fee for Civil Service exams since June 2022, HR Director Anita Cleveland reported a 31 percent increase in job candidates.
The experiment was due to a lackluster showing of candidates after a longtime belief that having no application fee lessened applicants’ resolve to show up and follow through on the process, county officials had said more than a year ago.
A $25 fee for all exams for police, sheriff, fire, probation and dispatch and $20 for all other competitive exams had been established in 2011 for that reason. During that prior discussion, Cleveland said that when people don’t pay for exams, “they don’t show up for exams either.”
But on the other hand, candidates at one point just stopped showing up anyway. At that time, she then proposed to temporarily waive the fees — something that several other counties had also been considering — to ramp up candidate interest and get more viable prospective job applicants.
The county has struggled to attract candidates for several departments over the last couple of years, including the sheriff’s office, which is growing with a new, larger jail facility in progress, and the mental health department.
The trial period was to run from June 1, to Dec. 31, 2022, and is current through all of 2023. The Ways & Means Committee agreed on Wednesday to push it onward through 2024 and 2025.
If the county Legislature adopts the measure during its Monday meeting, the county will lose an estimated $24,000 in revenue.
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