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Getting technical: new IT director presents plan for Comptroller findings

By Joanne Beck

Brian Sutton had his work cut out for him. 

It was 14 months ago when Batavia City Schools shed light on a Comptroller’s report that found the district paid some $17,000 in annual fees for hundreds of lost technology equipment from 2021-22. 

The report stated that the district did not adopt a comprehensive policy for establishing and maintaining IT inventory or for maintaining an accurate IT inventory, a costly faux pas that Superintendent Jason Smith had promised to rectify with new policies, and had outlined steps the district had taken to meet Comptroller findings:

  • We have engaged a third-party company specializing in IT services to conduct an assessment of our entire IT department, including our inventory and staff. 
  • Our internal team has taken the results from the audit and gone above and beyond to reduce our BOCES service charges by purging and returning unused inventory. 
  • We are working closely with the Board of Education to adopt a comprehensive written policy for establishing and maintaining controls to track and inventory our IT equipment. 

In February 2023, Smith made a recommendation to bring back a full-time IT director to the district. He and Trisha Finnegan, executive director of staff development and operations, wrote the job description for the tech director, and a candidate search was conducted.

Brian Sutton was chosen for the job. He began the position on July 1 of this year, and Monday was his first official presentation after submerging himself in the policies and protocols, storage areas, and technology infrastructure, and getting to know the district users themselves.

Brian Sutton

Right off the bat, Sutton was faced with key findings from the audit that he needed to address while aligning with the district’s Strategic Plan. 

Goal 1 was to have a safe and orderly school environment, Goal 2 was for a collaborative culture, Goal 3 was for a clear and accessible curriculum, and Goal 4 was for effective teaching in every classroom. 

His first task was to review the existing structure and services offered through BOCES, including database management, the physical inventory process, technology leadership and how assets are identified and tagged. 

Then he had to reestablish a formal leadership in the technology department and implement a formal Technology Committee, with a data protection privacy officer and reviews of data privacy law to ensure that all requirements are being met, he said.

"So getting them to touch base in person, once a week, with the rest of the department has been very, very wonderful,” he said. “And honestly, we've addressed issues much quicker because of that interaction.”

Sutton has been working with Edutech — Genesee Valley/Wayne Finger Lakes Educational Technology Service — a collaboration that has meant a shared staff of network engineer I, IT support technician II, network technician, and support technician I. 

That has reaped a minimal savings of $85,000 in salaries for the district, Sutton said. 

He has been working with Edutech to ensure that tags are provided on all “products” that come from them, which is a restructuring of Batavia’s inventory system and prices to ensure accountability for all hardware, he said, including district-owned devices, per board policy.

He’s implementing a software program to track software inventory product purchases and related expiration dates. He has been rearranging and organizing the physical workspace of the technology department and at the storage room at Robert Morris. 

All of these tasks have been items to enforce the existing board policies on inventory control based on the Comptroller’s audit. Not only were hundreds of devices discovered missing from inventory, but the district had been paying their annual fees.

Stepping into his own role to provide technology leadership, Sutton is using the functional review audit as a roadmap to prioritize and address issues that were uncovered, he said.

As a result, he is having weekly technology department meetings with tech aides at the middle and high schools, providing guidance and support to the creation of the digital fluency class at the middle school, and re-establishing the district technology committee with a focus on staff development and learning, he said.

Sutton has been working with Finnigan and has worked on data privacy as part of Education Law 2D Compliance, scheduling ongoing meetings with representatives of Edutech, updating staff about the Acceptable Use Policy, and creating an Incident Response Plan and Disaster Recovery Playbook.

Part of data privacy also includes keeping in line with state compliance so that student information remains confidential, he said, through an expanded Brightly Work Order system for staff to submit requests to check if sites or applications they want to use are compliant. 

As for the infrastructure, he looked at the layout of buildings and related wireless signal strengths to see potential dead zones and address those so that students and staff won’t experience dropped connections during class and work time, he said. 

“We had conducted a wireless survey to show a map of the connectivity in the buildings, it was really neat, actually, it brings a layout of the building, and then it's different colors based on the signal strength,” he said. “So we had really great connectivity throughout the district. We did identify a couple of classrooms that were dead zones, and we're addressing those by adding wireless access points into those rooms so that there isn't that disruption to students and staff when they're on their devices. 

“Last week, we also upgraded our wireless output from one gig to two with Spectrum. So that will only increase the speed at which we are operating here,” he said. “And it's also very important when it comes to computer-based testing time, as we're going to have many many students on the device all at the same time.” 

He adjusted settings in the Google Admin console to improve the rate of connectivity of devices.

He also worked with Edutech and approached the firewall issue, which used to be a convoluted multi-layer system that has been revised to speed up devices.

He homed in on Chromebooks at each grade level, so that “students only have access to applications that are applicable to their grade level.”

“I really focused on what’s needed for the curriculum,” he said.

Cybersecurity training, a professional hub of resources for staff, and an updated district website that meets compliance with the state Education Department are additional tasks that have been completed with assistance from staff, he said.

“This is super exciting, I know, but incredibly necessary. So this is what the state is looking for. Basically, when they go on our website, they're going to click on that data privacy tab, and they're gonna start trying to find where we're missing things and they're not gonna find anything, but just the idea,” Sutton said. “And like I said, coming next is more focused on Goal three and Goal four, they're accessible curriculum and effective teaching in every classroom.”

GLOW OUT! organizers are hosting a celebration open house this Sunday

By Press Release
GLOW OUT! pic
GLOW OUT! organizers invite the public to a Coming Out celebration and Open House from 12 to 2 p.m. Sunday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church. 
Submitted Photo

Press Release:

GLOW OUT!, the LGBTQ+ outreach agency serving the Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) region of Western New York, is thrilled to invite the community to a special event this weekend. 

GLOW OUT! organizers encourage everyone to join them at the First Presbyterian Church of Batavia at 300 E. Main St. in Batavia from 12 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 22 to celebrate Coming Out Day. 

This Open House and Celebration will showcase the variety of programs the organization offers, including the youth LGBTQ+ Drop-In Center which meets weekly on Thursdays from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at the church. 

LGBTQ+ youth, ages 12-18, and their ally friends are encouraged to tour the space and meet fellow youth members during the Open House.

GLOW OUT! is taking the celebration of Coming Out Day to a new level by introducing the Living Library experience. Attendees will have the opportunity to “check out” a human book, each of whom will share their unique Coming Out journey in small group settings. 

This initiative aims to encourage dialogue, foster a deeper understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience, and empower attendees to better support individuals in their lives who may be going through the Coming Out process. 

In addition to the Living Library experience, GLOW OUT! is using this event to mark the beginning of a year dedicated to storytelling as a powerful educator. 

In 2023, the organization received Anti-Stigma funding from the NYS Legislature and the Office of Mental Health, allowing them to establish a youth LGBTQ+ theatre troupe, starting in the spring of 2024. This troupe’s mission is twofold: suicide prevention and education on the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth. 

For more details on this exciting endeavor and the impact on the GLOW region, please contact director Sara Vacin at svacin@glowout.org .

Sunday’s celebration will also feature a craft, basket, and bake sale, with all proceeds contributing to our vital LGBTQ+ support programs and services. Items for sale will include candles, painted potted plants, bookmarks, and youth designed T-shirts – all illustrating their unique perspectives and immense talent. 

The group will also have chili available (vegan and meat options) and encourages participants to warm up with a hearty bowl while listening to impactful stories, perusing the youth-made artistry, and helping to build a more inclusive, caring community.

Learn more about the organization, show support for LGBTQ+ youth, and help build up the vibrant community that embraces them. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.glowout.org or email your questions to info@glowout.org.

The day is to include a craft sale, basket raffle, 50/50 and a living library, with an enlightening and opportunity to delve into the diverse coming out stories of LGBTQ+ leaders for participants of all ages

The open house will feature a designated youth space where PFLAG and SAGE meetings will be taking place. Meet board members, Act Out leaders and learn about exciting opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies happening in the GLOW region, organizers said.

This event is free and open to the public.

Act Out leaders
Act Out leaders having having some fun.
Submitted Photo

Law and Order: Batavia teen charged with gang assault

By Howard B. Owens
devon shine mugshot
Devon Shine

Devon C. Shine, 19, of Batavia, is charged with gang assault 2nd. Shine is accused of taking part with two other people in assaulting another person on May 30 at an undisclosed time and undisclosed location and causing serious injury. He was arrested on Sept. 27 and arraigned in City Court. He was released under supervision.

Alan G. Jones, 40, of Rochester, is charged with grand larceny 4th. Jones is accused of stealing more than $1,000 in merchandise from Harbor Freight in Batavia on Oct. 6. He was issued an appearance ticket and released.

chad williams
Chad Williams

Chad S. Williams, 52, of Rochester, is charged with. criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 5th, and tampering with evidence. Williams was arrested on Oct. 2 on the drug charges stemming from his arrest on Nov. 29 on unrelated charges when he was allegedly found in possession of narcotics. He was arraigned in City Court and ordered held without bail.

Nekia D. Newton, 47, and Charnee A. Harris, 32, both of Rochester, are charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd. Newton and Harris were arrested by a Batavia patrol officer on Sept. 27 following a traffic stop where they were allegedly found in possession of narcotics. They were arraigned in City Court. Newton was held without bail and Harris was released on her own recognizance. 

Michelle L. Darch, 37, of Batavia, is charged with falsely reporting an incident and tampering with physical evidence. Darch is accused of falsely reporting that she was involved in a hit-and-run accident on Sept. 24 and of allegedly staging evidence at the scene. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Robert Z. Johnson, 23, of Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd. Johnson allegedly injured another person during a disturbance on East Main Street, Batavia. He was arrested Sept .29 and issued an appearance ticket.

Peter L. Jackson, 57, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Jackson is accused of shoving and kicking another person at an undisclosed time and location. He was arrested on Oct. 11. He was arraigned in City Court and released.

Tammy M. Caldwell, 53, of Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant on Oct. 3. Caldwell was initially arrested on Aug. 9, 2019, and charged with petit larceny for an alleged retail theft. A warrant was issued on Jan. 27, 2020, after she allegedly failed to appear in court. Caldwell was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Aaron R. Hatfield, 39, of Batavia, was arrested on a warrant issued by City Court. Hatfield was initially charged on Aug. 14, with petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th after an investigation into a larceny from Tops. He was issued an appearance ticket but allegedly failed to appear in court. Hatfield was arraigned on the warrant and released on his own recognizance.

George J. Budzinack, 43, of Batavia, was arrested on Oct. 8 on a bench warrant issued by City Court. Budzinack was initially arrested on Aug. 3 and charged with criminal possession of stolen property 5th. He was issued an appearance ticket but allegedly failed to appear in court. He was arraigned and released.

George J. Budzinack, 43, of Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant on Oct. 8 issued by City Court. Budzinack was initially arrested on Aug. 8 and charged with criminal possession of stolen property 5th. He was issued an appearance ticket but allegedly failed to appear in court. He was arraigned and released. Budzinack is also charged with petit larceny. He is accused of stealing a bicycle on Sept. 27 from a porch on East Main Street, Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket. Budzinack was also charged with petit larceny. He is accused of stealing shoes from Shoe Dept on Veterans Memorial Drive at 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 6. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Tatyanna M. White, 20, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. White is accused of violating an order of protection on Oct. 5. White was issued an appearance ticket.

Nathaniel A. Moultrup, 23, of Attica, is charged with DWI. Moultrup was arrested following a traffic stop on South Main Street on Sept. 23, where he was allegedly found to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He was issued traffic tickets and released.

Supreme N. Ervin, 24, of Batavia is charged with riding a bicycle on a sidewalk. Ervin was charged in connection with a motor vehicle accident on Sept 21 at an undisclosed location in Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Teri K. Easton, 61, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Easton is accused of shoplifting on Sept. 28 at Rite Aid on East Main Street, Batavia. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Benjamin D. Seekins, 34, of Batavia, is charged with theft of services. Seekins is accused of leaving T.F. Brown's on Sept. 28 without paying his bill. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Chanatell Delacruz, 34, of Geneseo, is charged with DWI. Delacruz was stopped on Sept. 23 by a Batavia patrol officer at an undisclosed time, at an undisclosed location. She was arraigned and released.

Ronald W Lewis, 35, of Spencerport, was arrested on Sept. 23 on an arrest warrant issued by City Court. Lewis was initially arrested on July 7 and charged with petit larceny after allegedly stealing merchandise from Tim Hortons. He was issued an appearance ticket. The warrant was issued after Lewis allegedly failed to appear in court. After his arrest, he was arraigned and released. Lewis is also charged with the trespass. On Sept. 24, Lewis allegedly refused to leave UMMC. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Isaiah L Poole, 23, of Rochester, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd and unlawful publication of intimate images. Poole allegedly violated an order of protection and posted an intimate image of another person on social media. Poole was arraigned in City Court and jailed.

Joseph C Barone, 43, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, speeding, and failure ot keep right. Barone was stopped on Main Street, Batavia, on Sept. 11, at an undisclosed time, by a Batavia patrol officer. He was issued traffic tickets and released.

Andre L. Bryan, 44, of Batavia, is charged with trespass. Bryan is accused of refusing to leave a residence on Elm Street after being told numerous times to leave by the resident. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Ashton L. Mohney, 33, no permanent address, is charged with burglary 1st, assault 2nd, and criminal contempt 2nd. Mohney is accused of violating an order of protection on Sept. 18 by entering a residence on Ross Street and injuring another person with a knife. He was arraigned and jailed on  $2,500 bail, $5,000 bond, or $25,000 partially secured bond. 

William B Coley, 53, of Albion, is charged with petit larceny. Coley is accused of shoplifting from the 7-Eleven on East Main Street, Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Tony Robert Graber, 44, of East Avenue, Marilla, is charged with burglary 2nd, criminal contempt 1st, and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Graber is accused of entering a residence in the Town of Batavia at 9 pm. on Sept. 20 in violation of an order of protection and of possessing fentanyl at the time was his arrest. Graber was arraigned and ordered held without bail.

James Darrell Hooten, 35, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and grand larceny 4th. Hooten is accused of using the debit card of another person without permission on Sept. 3 at  1:44 p.m. He was arrested on Oct. 13. At arraignment, an order of protection was issued.

Terry Duanne Wilcoxen, 43, of Sandpit Road, Alexander, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and moving from lane unsafely. Wilcoxen was arrested by Deputy Zachary Hoy following a motor vehicle accident reported at 4:59 p.m. on Oct. 12 on Sandpit Road, Alexander. Wilcoxen was issued appearance tickets.

Michael Irving White, 19, of Day Street, Albion, is charged with criminal mischief 3rd and criminal trespass 2nd.  White is accused of entering a residence on Oct. 9 at 6:11 a.m. on Freeman Road, Byron, without permission and causing more than $250 in damage. He was arraigned. His release status is unknown.

Jessie B. Joy, 27, of Telephone Road, Pavilion, is charged with DWI and failure to yield the right of way on a left-hand turn. Joy was arrested by Deputy Ryan Mullen following a motor vehicle accident reported a 1 p.m. on Oct. 16 at the intersection of Route 20 and Route 63, Pavlion.  He was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital following the accident, where he was issued an appearance ticket.

Debra Stanley, 59, of Lakeview Park, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Stanley is accused of shoplifting from Ulta Beauty on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, at 4:06 p.m., Oct. 18. At the time of her arrest she was allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance. She was processed at the Genesee County Jail and released.

Elwin Eugene Drew, 40, of Shanks Road, Alabama. Drew is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and moving from lane unsafely. Drew was stopped at 2:13 p.m. on Oct. 15 on Sliker Road, Pembroke, by Deputy Zachary Hoy. He was issued traffic ticket and released.

BCSD celebrates school board recognition week Oct. 16-20

By Press Release
2023-24-bcsd-board-of-education.jpg
Submitted photo of Batavia City School District Board of Education.

Press Release:

The New York State School Boards Association recognizes Oct. 16-20 as School Board Recognition Week. This is a time to promote awareness and understanding of the important work performed by local school boards. 

Public schools form the bedrock of our communities and our country. Democracy thrives with educated citizens capable of critical thinking and civil discourse. And it is our local school boards who are ultimately responsible for student success.

“Our Batavia City School District Board of Education consists of seven dedicated volunteers who literally put the ‘public’ in ‘public education’ and play an important role in our community,” said Superintendent Jason Smith. 

“They are charged with reviewing and approving numerous policies, monitoring our Strategic Plan and academic goals, overseeing the superintendent (the only employee of the Board of Education), and serving as financial stewards for our community—all on a volunteer basis, with their only motivation to serve our students, staff, families, and our Batavia community.” 

Please join us in thanking and appreciating our Board of Education members here in Batavia: 

  • John Marucci, President

  • John Reigle, Vice President 

  • Korinne Anderson 

  • Alice Ann Benedict 

  • Barbara Bowman 

  • Jennifer Lendvay 

  • Chezeray Rolle 

For full access to our Board of Education information, agendas, and policies, click here: BCSD Board of Education, and if you want to learn more about our members, please visit this page: BCSD Board of Education Members.

Tenney announces upcoming mobile office hours

By Press Release

Press Release:

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) announced today her office’s upcoming mobile office hours for the end of October and the beginning of November. During mobile office hours, constituents can receive one-on-one assistance from Tenney’s team of expert caseworkers on issues regarding federal agencies such as the Veterans Administration, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, or Passport Agency.

If you are interested in attending any of these mobile office hours, please schedule an appointment by contacting Tenney’s District Office at 315-236-7088 or walk in anytime to receive assistance. Scheduling an appointment ahead of time will allow for an expedited casework experience.

In addition to Tenney’s mobile office hours, Tenney maintains three full-time offices in Lockport, Victor, and Oswego, with regular satellite hours in Watertown every Tuesday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. The Lockport (716-514-5130), Victor (585-869-2060), and Oswego (315-236-7088) offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information on casework services and office locations can be found at tenney.house.gov.

Mobile office hours will be available at the following location:

Batavia

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 18

Time: 10 a.m. -  1 p.m.

Location: 1 Batavia City Center, Batavia

 

GV BOCES announces Batavia open house on Oct. 26

By Press Release

Press Release:

Genesee Valley BOCES is thrilled to announce an Open House event at the Batavia Campus on Oct. 26, scheduled from 5 - 7 p.m. This event is exclusively for parents and guardians of current or prospective students, providing an exceptional opportunity to explore the diverse educational offerings and pathways at the Batavia Campus.

Discover the opportunities awaiting you at the Batavia Campus Open House on Oct. 26, 5 - 7 p.m. Delve into Career and Tech, ITP, Alternative Education, Transitions, and WEST programs. Immerse yourself in our classrooms, engage with instructors, and witness the inspiring paths of our students. Your journey to the future begins now!

Parents and guardians attending the Open House will have the chance to explore various facets of the educational experience.

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the diverse career opportunities available, including programs in Career and Tech. Explore the offerings and support provided by our Intensive Therapeutic Programs, fostering a holistic approach to education.

Delve into the Alternative Education and Transitions programs, designed to cater to unique educational needs and ensure a smooth transition to the next phase. Learn about the WEST (Workforce and Employability Skills Training) program, which equips students with essential skills for success in the workforce.

The Open House provides an opportunity to interact with dedicated instructors and staff from various programs, gaining insights into the learning environment.

This Open House is designed to strengthen the connection between parents, guardians, and the educational community, promoting collaboration and informed decision-making regarding the educational journey of their students.

Join us on Oct. 26 from 5 - 7 p.m. at Genesee Valley BOCES in Batavia. Don't miss this opportunity to explore the educational landscape and discover the possibilities that await.

Batavia school board sets $45M capital project vote for upgrades, new turf fields

By Joanne Beck

City school board members have set the date for district residents to vote on a capital project that officials say is about bolstering more so than expanding. Voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the $45 million plan on Dec. 14.

During a series of votes Monday related to the capital project, from authorizing the district to borrow the necessary amount for the work to set a calendar for voter registration, the school board moved the capital project forward with architect Clark Patterson Lee in the audience. 

Board members didn’t comment on the project, however, Superintendent Jason Smith had previously said that the scope of work focused on shoring up existing facilities and properties, some of which are 20 years old, including the high school’s boiler system and roof, and the gym at Robert Morris. 

All of the schools have many of the same upgrades, including PA/clock and fire alarm replacements, phone system replacement, blue light notification system, information technology infrastructure improvements, and pavement replacement for Jackson, John Kennedy, and the middle and high schools.

Jackson is also in line for building-mounted lighting and the replacement of a failing retaining wall on the east side between the school and its neighbors. John Kennedy would also get a new roof, an upgraded gym divider curtain, and regraded softball field, and other amenities.

Batavia Middle School is in store for a gender-neutral restroom, staff restroom, foundation repairs around the entire building, and a glass safety railing for the auditorium balcony are some of those repairs and upgrades. 

A building conditions survey prompted the glass railing because people sitting on the balcony could also be a potential safety concern, Smith and former Business Administrator Scott Rozanski had previously said. 

The middle school softball field is to receive some improvements and a backstop replacement while Batavia High School is on tap for a new roof, plus two synthetic turf fields — a baseball and softball field each, for about $7 million of the total cost. 

The breakdown of funding is as follows, with the cost to taxpayers to be no additional tax dollars, officials said. 

Project Referendum Amount: $45,060,486
State Building Aid Reimbursement: $38,132,486
Capital Reserve Contribution: $6,928,000
Annual increase to taxpayers: $0
 

Explaining the Peace Garden in new book, signing at GO Art! Thursday

By Joanne Beck
Barb Toal with her book
Batavia native Barb Toal with her book, "Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden," at GO Art!, where she will have a book signing from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Photo by Joanne Beck

People kept asking Barb Toal what Batavia Peace Garden was all about, and it was too great a concept for her to explain, so there was only one thing for her to do.

Write a book about it.

“The story is too big to tell, you know, it’s too hard to explain to people what it’s all about in five minutes,” said Toal, co-founder of the garden nestled around Holland Land Office Museum on West Main Street in Batavia. “And lots of people were asking me to tell them a little bit here, a little bit there. And I finally said, you know, if we don’t start documenting this, nobody’s gonna know what this is all about.”

And the "Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden" was born. There will be a book signing event, with light refreshments served, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at GO Art!, 201 E. Main St., Batavia.

The garden’s evolution began with Toal’s idea and the vision being outlined in paperwork in 2010. “We had to build the integrity of our organization,” Toal said, and earn the respect of the community, as those early members forged ahead with their plans to be on and in the grounds of the museum.

“And without this community, we could have never been in there,” she said. “This community is incredible. The people, the donations, and how they care about the families who care about the community are just amazing. Because every cent that has ever gone into that garden is from this community.

“All these years later, 13 years later, we got our first grant tool to enroll … to do the mural on the water tank, and the path to the second phase of the garden, because the first phase is completed and full. And the second one has partially started, and the third has been designed.”

Whoa, hold on there Barb Toal. Folks need to know much more about the beginning phase. After all, that’s why the book was written. They wanted to know what this Peace Garden stuff was all about, right?

It originated after Toal visited International Peace Garden founder Paula Savage at her home. Toal was watching footage of peace gardens on a laptop and saw one in Italy and then one in Ireland. As it happened, she had seen both of them in person during prior trips. 

“I thought it was meant to be,” Toal said. “I bought into it. I wanted to get this garden put where it is, I fought like the devil. I wanted to get people to the museum. I was born and raised in Batavia and I wanted to show it off.”

Savage is also from Batavia, and “we both love our community” Toal said. She felt that Savage, with her International Peace Garden clout, could literally bring the idea home. 

Savage came up with the idea for a garden in 1990 as a way to honor the United States and Canada as the only two countries in the world that shared the longest undefended border for more than 200 years, and her vision was accepted and installed in Washington, D.C. in 1991.

Gardens were then presented worldwide, first to Poland, and then Germany, and Hungary, and one by one, 20 countries honored one another by choosing the next one in line for an international peace garden as a token of goodwill and, of course, world peace.

There was the eventual development of a trail of peace gardens for the bicentennial commemoration activities for the War of 1812 along Lake Ontario and the U.S. and Canadian border, aptly named the Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail.  

Toal had just retired, and Savage asked her to carry out a dream to create a memorial garden to honor their community. They both knew it would take “a large amount of creativity to connect world peace to our very own small hometown community,” Toal said.

An initial planning design phase began with a committee and volunteers, as they began to work toward their goals. Batavia became a site for an honorary International Peace Garden as part of the 400-mile War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden trail from Buffalo to Plattsburgh. 

There was a garden groundbreaking in 2011. The book captures much of the progress before and since then with lots of photographs of volunteers and people who were integral to it all coming to fruition. There were those first three paying members. A cool metal globe crafted and installed by local businesses. Dignitaries, a drum and bugle corps. Scenes of digging up the earth and planting future growth. Painting benches and placing bricks. Flying flags, hands in cement, and solemn ceremonies. The Statue of Liberty. Smiles and celebrations. Re-enactment demonstrations, tours, and lessons. Fundraisers, and hotdog sales. A new shed, and longtime old friends.

Now that the first phase has been completed, which includes a painted mural on the water tank, Phase II of a soon-to-be installed arbor at the entrance, along with flags for more countries joining in spreading world peace are in the works. The second phase will also include interpretive panels that members are planning to dedicate some time next June, she said.

A third phase not quite so mapped out as of yet, is to potentially connect the ongoing garden trail to the city’s plans to develop Creek Park property behind the ice arena, she said. 

But for now, the book is on a shelf to tell the story that Toal wished to tell. 

“Because everybody goes, ‘I know the flags are there, what are they there for?’ They don’t know. But each one of those countries has an actual Peace Garden in it. And then, you know, so every year or two, or however the board chooses, another garden is added,” Toal said. “So that’s why when we designed this, to begin with, we knew that the first garden would be full of the flags we had to start with. So for the next stage of the second phase … there are flags on hold to go in there. But we can’t do anything until we get all the permissions from everybody. And then we’d add a flag each year to add more countries of the world trying to make peace, the countries that are trying to work peacefully together.” 

And rest assured, that garden members will continue to raise money to keep the effort going, from bricks and T-shirts to a seasonal hotdog stand, pins, and local flags. Even when they have a holiday get-together, board members pay their own way, she said, so as not to take money away from what’s to be spent on essentials for the garden. 

“When you love what you do it makes life so much easier; it’s a labor of love, more than a chore,” Toal said. “And we take pride in the garden.”

Proceeds from the book will go to Batavia Peace Garden. They may be purchased at GO Art!, Oliver’s Candies, and Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia. 

Hawley sponsors policy to protect gun owners

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Steve Hawley

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) recently cosponsored a proposal in the state Assembly to simplify the purchasing process for firearm and ammunition sales. 

The bill, A.8085, was introduced by Assemblyman Joseph Angelino (R,C-Norwich) and would allow those licensed to carry or possess a pistol, revolver, or semi-automatic weapon and licensed hunters to purchase ammunition without contacting the statewide license and record database. 

Hawley believes this proposal is a step in the right direction for Second Amendment rights and will protect law-abiding gun owners.

“The Second Amendment is one of the foundations of our great nation,” said Hawley. “Unfortunately, time and time again we have seen the Majority in Albany pick away at that right piece by piece. My colleagues and I are fed up with this pattern and we are committed to standing up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners in western New York and across the state. It’s time to stop giving up our freedom to out-of-touch liberals and give it back to the people where it belongs.”

Picking up the reins as GLOW solid waste management-recycling administrator

By Joanne Beck
Amanda Lee
Amanda Lee
Photo by Joanne Beck

Amanda Lee received a bit of spotlight Monday as she sat in the hot seat for the first time as the newly hired GLOW regional solid waste management-recycling administrator.

Lee replaced Peggy Grayson, who retired from the full-time position June 30 after nearly two dozen years. As a search was conducted, Grayson had agreed to remain on in a part-time capacity to show her successor the ropes, training which the newcomer said she was grateful for.

“I’m really glad I had that month,” Lee said during the county’s Public Service meeting.

The job deals with all things recycling and solid waste management, from used paint cans and electronics to cooking oil, vaping cartridges, and K-cups, related collections events, and composting.

Lee had already gotten her feet wet with a couple of recycling collections, she said. She had also begun to ease some social media into the job so that people could communicate with her online, she said.

So what prompted Lee, who is from Hamburg, to pursue this profession in Genesee County? Timing is everything.

She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and animal behavior, ecology and conservation, and specializes in conservation issues. 

“Waste management is a really big part of that. So I just had graduated during COVID, in the pandemic, and so the opportunities to get into the environmental world were very slim as it is,” she said after the meeting. “So I saw this opportunity and I jumped on it as soon as I could, as a way to really grow my career and start my career really. 

“I want to have a positive environmental impact on the world. And I think starting in local government is a really, really good place,” she said. “And offering people that don’t always have access to disposal of things that opportunity to get rid of them in an environmentally friendly way.”

Lee's first official duty was to introduce an intermunicipal contract renewal to the committee, which it approved and passed along to Ways & Means.

The Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming Counties (GLOW) Region Solid Waste Management Program Intermunicipal Cooperation contract is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2023, and the GLOW Region Solid Waste Management Committee recommends the continuation of the contract. 

The budget impact of $26,151.52 is the projected annual Genesee County contribution for 2024 and 2025. The contribution is an increase of 4.4 percent from the previous year as adjusted per the latest Census numbers.

It is expected that Ways & Means will approve the contract, and it will then move on to the whole county Legislature for vote.

Batavia Downs announces lineup of winter events

By Press Release

Press Release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced that tickets are now available for several indoor events happening in the Park Place Event Center this Winter. 

On Sunday, Nov. 5, the Batavia Bacchus Wine Festival will take place from 1 - 3:30 p.m.  Attendees will be able to sample various wines from across the United States from over 12 wineries.  Early Access Tickets are $25 and attendees get back $20 in Free Play and have access to grazing stations.  The event will end with plenty of time for all attendees to get wherever they are going for that night’s Buffalo Football Game at 8:15 p.m.

On Thursday, Nov. 30, The Uncle Louie Variety Show will return to Batavia Downs. The Uncle Louie Variety Show is composed of two hilarious Italian-American comedians, Carlo Russo and Lou Greco. Their unique Italian Comedy has delighted audiences across the country and in their yearly appearance at Batavia Downs. Doors are at 7 p.m. with the event beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for VIP tickets and $15 for regular tickets. Ticket holders will receive $10 in Free Play.

On Friday, Dec. 8, Batavia Downs welcomes back Marsha McWilson as she performs her yearly Christmas Concert.  Marsha brings a high-energy show that features Christmas Classics and other favorites.  She and the other performers have entertained concertgoers for many years at Batavia Downs.  Doors are at 6:30 p.m. with music beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and concertgoers will receive $10 in Free Play.

Hotel Packages for select events can be found on the hotel deals page at https://www.bataviadownsgaming.com/hotel-deals/

Other events scheduled for November include the Experience Psychic Fair and the Zonta Holiday Festival and Vendor Show.  Information on these events and the Summer Concert Series will be found in the coming weeks on the Batavia Downs Facebook page.

“Our amazing events team has put together another packed schedule,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We are happy to be bringing back events that our valued guests have enjoyed each year while also introducing new events like the Wine Festival.”

Tickets for these events are available now on www.BataviaConcerts.com

City leaf collection to begin Oct. 30 and run through Dec. 1

By Press Release

Press Release:

Residents are asked to rake leaves into piles and leave them in the parkway (un-bagged). Please, place it close to the curb line/edge of the roadway without placing it in the street. Do not pile around fire hydrants, trees, utility poles, or signposts. Leaf piles should only contain leaves and no branches, grass clippings, or other materials.

Leaf operations typically have one crew on the Northside working from Grandview Terrace moving West, North of Main Street, and a second crew on the Southside beginning on River Street moving East in areas South of Main Street. A third crew will work using a vacuum along main roads and numbered routes. It takes about 2 weeks to go through the entire city and fluctuates from there depending on the size of the leaf loads.

Any resident with leaves can also bring them to the Yard Waste Station until it closes for the season on Dec. 9. The Yard Waste hours are 12 - 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday through Nov. 4, and then 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. from November 6th through December 9th due to the hours of daylight. The Yard Waste Station will be closed on Nov. 23 for Thanksgiving Day and will officially close for the season after Dec. 9.

Important information about leaf collection:

  • Leaf piles must be clear of sticks and all animal waste – if animal waste or other debris is found in the piles, they will not be picked up.
  • Grass clippings, flower potting, branches, and pumpkins cannot be picked up and residents may bring those items to the Yard Waste Station on Law Street (which will be open through Dec. 9).
  • Leaves should not block traffic or be piled near intersection corners. This causes sight issues for motorists/bicyclists/pedestrians.
  • Keep leaf piles clear of drainage ways and catch basins. Blocked drainage leads to localized flooding.
  • Leaves should not be piled around mailboxes, power poles, fences, fire hydrants, or other obstacles. 
  • Do not park on leaf piles. The heat from a vehicle exhaust system could start a fire. 
  • Do not wait to get your leaves out. We will normally collect leaves twice within the month of leaf collection.
  • If it is snowing, we plow first. If it continues to snow, then leaf operations will be suspended.
  • There is no leaf pickup in the spring.

Contact the Bureau of Maintenance @ 585-345-6400 option 1 if you have any questions.

Take advantage of local services, screenings to prevent breast cancer

By Joanne Beck
Marianne Clattenburg and Shelley Stein
Genesee County Legislator Marianne Clattenburg, left, presents a proclamation to fellow Legislator, and Legislative Chair Shelley Stein, who accepted on behalf of cancer survivors in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month during October. 
Photo by Steven Falitico

Of all the events and groundbreakings and celebrations that Genesee County Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein has attended to represent the county, there has been one event that has been a sober reminder of just how precious life really is.

That was when she received a proclamation recently for Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a survivor of the disease. Since her diagnosis and treatment in 2015, Stein has not only learned about local offerings but also about the importance of advocating for preventative care.

“One of the realities of life is that we don't get to choose what happens to our health all the time. But since having breast cancer, I have found that there is an incredible support system built into here in Genesee County,” she said to The Batavian. “I started with the Breast Cancer Coalition in Rochester. And at that time, our Senator Ranzenhofer had provided funds for there to be a support group in all of the counties that he represented. So then the Breast Cancer Coalition teamed up with our Genesee Cancer Assistance group. 

“And that opened a different door for me because I didn't know anything about it at all,” she said. “But once you walk through the door of Genesee Cancer Assistance, you find this incredible support group that has doctors, it has researchers, it has the kind and caring neighbors that you need.”

Stein lives in Le Roy, what she considers to be on the edge of Monroe County, and therefore “that's the direction she headed" for all of her doctor and hospital needs, she said. 

“But certainly, you know, I had my eyes opened to all of the services that are now available here in Genesee County because the providers are coming here,” she said. “And whether they have an office that is open full-time or they come in for services two or three times a week,” those professionals and providers, including Genesee Cancer Assistance, a nonprofit based in Batavia, are available.

Stein said that Genesee County is “really, really lucky to have the support services in place” right here, without having to travel farther away.

“And one of the biggest messages, of course, is to make sure to have your screenings,” Stein said. “And we all know how our body's baseline is. One of the things that we talked about in COVID was, you know, really, really become familiar with how your body feels.

“Same thing can be said about any other disease. You know your body best, and when something changes, don't hesitate. Get your screenings done right away.  Really, the services, the research, and the screenings are available more locally now than they've ever been,” she said. “So there's no reason for anyone to get caught off guard by having breast cancer, I’m really hoping for an end to the disease.”

The proclamation states:

WHEREAS, every year the month of October aims to promote screening and prevention of breast cancer, and
WHEREAS, each year we review our knowledge of this disease, shine a spotlight on its risks and symptoms, and raise awareness of how we can help fight it, and
WHEREAS, research efforts have yielded great progress in how we diagnose and treat breast cancer, and has shown that when breast cancer is detected early there is a higher rate of cure and better chance of successful treatment and survival. The “Gold Standard” screening test for breast cancer is a mammogram – it can detect the disease before symptoms appear, and
WHEREAS, individuals and communities still benefit from a reminder that breast cancer is not a solved problem – it’s not gone, nor cured or a condition to ignore, and
WHEREAS, as we display pink ribbons and wear pink clothing to raise awareness, we also support those courageously fighting breast cancer and honor the lives lost to the disease, and
WHEREAS, the Old Courthouse of Genesee County will have a light display of the color pink from Monday, October 9th through Sunday, October 15th to show awareness for Breast Cancer month, and
WHEREAS, the fight does not end on October 31st, and
WHEREAS, taking the right steps to combat this disease includes screening tests for early detection and prevention, standing by survivors and their families, and supporting worthy organizations that provide quality treatment and care or who are working tirelessly to find a cure. Now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, the Genesee County Legislature does hereby proclaim October 2023 as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and encourage all residents to think pink, think prevention and think early detection.

Updated housing needs study on the horizon to better inform developers

By Joanne Beck
Felipe Oltramari
Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari makes a request to contract with Urban Partners to conduct a housing needs assessment and market analysis for no more than $50,000 during the Public Service Committee meeting Monday.
Photo by Joanne Beck

If local officials were to play on that old game show where the announcer would whisper the special word of the moment, it would most undoubtedly be “housing.”

And the clues given would be low income, market rate, owner occupied, rental, and, according to County Planner Felipe Oltramari, unmatched.

It is that current necessity that has prompted a Genesee County housing needs assessment and market analysis.

“We may have enough low-income housing, but we may not have enough for young professionals or we may not have enough rental units versus owner-occupied units, so there’s different sectors in the housing market, where you basically have to match that to the population you’re either trying to attract through economic development projects like STAMP or that are currently here,” he said after Monday’s Public Services meeting. “One of the examples we hear all the time from municipalities is there aren't enough senior patio homes so that people can downsize in their community. So there may be some in Rochester, Buffalo, or in Batavia, but there may not be any in Elba, or in Oakfield. And people want to stay in their community so they can still go to their same church and do all those things.”

Another example he gave was of senior citizens not wanting to maintain their four- or five-bedroom homes, but how those larger properties might then better serve young families that are looking to own a house.  

“So those kinds of different sectors all need to be matched up. And basically what the study does is identify all those things, and makes it available to potential developers that could go and say, oh, you know, all that research is done for us, it's a lot easier to come in and invest,” he said. “So that's why it's a powerful tool because you basically do a lot of work for those developers that are looking to build those types of things that we might need. And then those projects can happen.”

The last such housing needs assessment and market analysis was done in 2018, but due to COVID, the data used was from 2015, and since then, “our market has really changed,” Oltramari said. Property owners know what he’s saying is true: “A lot has changed. Anybody who’s been out there and looking at their assessments has noticed, home prices have really changed in our county.”

“So we want to make sure we’re up to date,” he said. “Developers might come in and say, ‘yeah, that’s nice (that you did one in 2018), you have one but it’s not up to date. So we need to know what’s going on right now.”

The Public Service Committee agreed. It voted to move the request on to Ways & Means and then to the county Legislature for a final vote that Genesee County acknowledges that an update to the Housing Needs Assessment and Market Analysis is needed due to the rapidly changing nature of the market. 

Genesee County solicited proposals from vendors to undertake the study through a Request for Proposals issued in July, and a vendor selection committee made up of representatives from the County Manager’s Office, Planning Department, Genesee County Economic Development Center, and the Genesee Region Housing Initiatives Committee, reviewed four separate proposals. 

The group recommended Urban Partners of Philadelphia, Penn., at a cost not to exceed $50,000, for the job. The company had good reviews, and the City of Batavia and Batavia Development Corporation also gave input about the selected vendor, Oltramari said. 

Batavia city officials recently issued their own appeal for housing initiatives in the form of grant funding from $10,000 to $50,000 for individuals or groups interested in building or rehabbing a rental or owner-occupied development of some type in their quest to obtain more market-rate housing. 

A snippet from Urban Partners' website states, “We prepare detailed analyses of housing markets that include supply and demand analysis, forecasting of future housing needs, incentive programs to provide unmet demand, and affordable housing needs analysis. 

“Our work usually involves the engagement of community stakeholders in formulating housing priorities,” the site states. “We also assist specific housing developments in identifying target markets and planning production strategies.”

If approved by the Legislature, the study is to begin in November and take approximately nine months to complete.

The $50,000 contract is to be funded by sales tax proceeds. A $50,000 grant funding request was made to Senator George Borrello’s office, and if any grant funds are awarded and received, those funds will be used to cover the cost of this contract instead, according to the resolution.

Independent Living hosts Meet the Candidates Day Oct. 24

By Press Release

Press Release:

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) is holding a FREE “MEET THE CANDIDATES” DAY to enable local residents with disabilities, or anyone from the community, to hear and discuss issues with some of those who are on the ballot in the November General Election.  

While it is an “off-year election” our Chief Policy Officer Todd Vaarwerk points out that those who achieve local positions now may be the State and National leaders of tomorrow!  So, whatever your political views, this is YOUR year to get involved!

The event is to take place on Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. in ILGR’s Conference Room at 319 West Main Street in the Crickler Executive Business Center, Batavia.  As seating is limited, people can also attend over the Zoom Meeting platform online.  

To get the Zoom link, RSVP with Cathy DeMare at 585-815-8501, extension 400. She can also answer questions about the event.  It will be also accessible via a live stream on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ILGR14020 and WNYIL’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/WNYIL.

If an attendee wishes to be familiar with the “hot” disability issues, sheets of suggested questions will be provided; but participants are encouraged to ask about public concerns that are close to them.  The building is fully disability accessible.

The Western New York Independent Living, Inc. family of agencies offers an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

Notre Dame hosting Buff Rice league for young basketball players

By Howard B. Owens
buff rice basketball league notre dame

Notre Dame basketball coach Michael Rapone is running a Sunday morning basketball league for fifth and sixth graders and for third and fourth graders.

The league is open to children from throughout the GLOW region and no Notre Dame affiliation is required. 

Rapone said it's the Buff Rice league, inspired by a league his age group played in in the 1990s at the YMCA, which was run by Sonny Love.

He provided the photos and this recap of the second week of play on Sunday.

Fifth and sixth-grade scores:

Warriors (2-0) 39
Celtics (1-1) 10

Drew Schultz and Sawyer George led the Warriors with 14 and 13 points respectively.  Teagan Porter chipped in with 4 points and 7 assists.  Ethan Thom had 6 points and 7 rebounds.  For the Celtics, Preston Newton had 4 points, and Nolan Rogers had 2 points and 5 rebounds.

Heat (1-1) 25
Lakers (0-2) 23

This game came down to the final possessions, and the Heat got the defensive stop that they needed at the buzzer.  The Heat were paced by two scorers, Patrick Casey and Lincoln Metz who each had 10 points. Ryker Schultz pitched in with 3 and 6 rebounds. Lakers were led by Liam McAlister who had 9 and Vinnie LaBarbara who had 8. 


Third and fourth-grade scores:

Duke (1-1) 24
Syracuse (0-2) 20

Duke got their first win of the season behind a strong game by Barrett Jones who had 12 points and while Mateo Spink chipped in with 8 points.  Gino Fava had 3 and Alex Tommy rounded out the scoring with 1 free throw.  Jackson Therrien had 16 in the loss and Sammy Rapone threw in a bucket and a couple free throws for 4 points.

Carolina (3-0) 41
Syracuse (0-3) 17

Syracuse played the doubleheader this week and ran into Luke Hungerford.  Hungerford led the unbeaten Carolina team with 21 points and 5 assists.  Denny Crowley and Amaeus Largeroy each had 10 points to round out the Carolina scoring. Jackson Therrien led Syracuse with 10 points.  Mia O’Connor, Braden Coffey, and Charlie Rapone all had a bucket for Syracuse.

buff rice basketball league notre dame
buff rice basketball league notre dame
buff rice basketball league notre dame

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Crossroads House is a comfort care home for the dying. We are a non-for-profit organization that provides its services free of charge. We run on a supportive community and selfless volunteers. With out both of those we would not be able to serve our community. If you have a caregiver's heart and 2 to 4 hours a week, we would love for you to become a part of our Crossroads House family! No experience required, we will train you and provide mentors and experienced volunteers to guide you. Please go to Crossroadshouse.com to apply, click on volunteer tab to complete application or email Ashleymanuel@crossroadshouse.com
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