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Semi-truck rollover reported in Stafford

By Howard B. Owens

A semi-truck rollover accident is reported at Route 5 and Route 237, the four corners, in Stafford.

A minor injury is reported.

The truck is hauling potash.

Stafford Fire and Byron and South Byron fire departments dispatched.

UPDATE 1:54 p.m.: DEC requested to the scene.

Making this year 'a remarkable journey' at BHS, new principal says

By Joanne Beck

 

BHS first day
Batavia High School Principal Jennifer Wesp greets students during the first day of school Wednesday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Jennifer Wesp had about a month to prepare for her first big day in welcoming students onto Batavia High School’s State Street campus Wednesday.

And prepared she was, anxiously waiting to greet them at 7:20 a.m.

“It was so exciting to see the students today. Many teachers and support staff came in early in order to spend some connection time before the first bell. We even had a table set up by GSA where students and staff could choose to wear a name tag that states their preferred pronouns,” the newly hired principal said after a full day of meet-and-greets and ensuring all went well on this day of return after summer. “The air was filled with chatter and laughter. I was able to get into many classrooms throughout the day. Teachers had planned many activities that revolved around building community and getting to know each other. Overall, it was an amazing start to the year.”

While her predecessor, Paul Kesler, was over at John Kennedy Intermediate resuming his former role as principal, Wesp was doing what she enjoys after capping off August: celebrating the beginning of the new year and fresh starts, she said.

“As an administrator, you are always thinking about how you can create an environment that is welcoming and affirming for all. I think we are always thinking about short-term goals vs. long-term goals. They are both critically important for student success. This year, we have a theme with students: ‘Promoting the Independence Within,’” she said. “We will be digging into this at grade-level meetings and throughout the school year. We want to empower students to take ownership of their abilities and choices, and we understand that high school spans a large development range. It is our job to help students to become adults who are prepared for the 21st-Century world.”

Wesp was hired in July, and began August 1. She admits that it’s hard to talk about what she sees as the biggest change to the school’s environment: Paul Kesler’s absence. He is a beloved administrator who “ran an excellent program for many years at BHS,” she said, however, with his switch back to John Kennedy, “I feel that I have inherited a thriving building.”

“I would say the biggest change for BHS is the change in leadership and the need for staff and students to adapt,” she said. “I will say, though, even though it was only one day, they all really were welcoming and affirming to me. I would say we are off to a great start.”

Wesp has brought a fat portfolio of experience with her, having served as assistant principal at both Spencerport High School and Greece Odyssey Academy; and as a special education teacher in the Churchville-Chili and Greece Central School Districts. 

She received both a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a Concentration in Elementary and Special Education and a Master of Science Degree in Inclusive Education from Nazareth College, and has a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Administration from the State University of New York College at Brockport. 

Wesp also serves as an adjunct professor at Roberts Wesleyan College in the Pathways to Teaching Program, and, something Kesler can certainly appreciate, her father attended John Kennedy as a young boy. 

Her future includes some settling in and learning more about “this fantastic community,” which of course should put some Blue Devils’ games on her fall calendar. 

In my short time, I have been extremely impressed with the dedication that the community has to its school and kids. There are so many incredible programs, partnerships, and opportunities for young people. One key goal is to build on our fertile foundation and get more students into the community through those opportunities. It sounds like we continue to build these opportunities, and I want to make sure that we keep a focus in this area to take full advantage,” she said. “Another area of focus is continuing to build upon our high-quality instructional practices in order to provide equal access to all of our learners. We know that social-emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching are paramount to students being able to access academic goals. Batavia High is an incredible school with a strong foundation, so we will just continue to build on that so we stay relevant and on the cutting edge of meeting students' needs.

As we look ahead to the new school year, I am eagerly anticipating working with our exceptional students, dedicated staff, and inspiring teachers. Together, we will make this year a remarkable journey of learning, growth, and success for all.”

Omar Hussain and Jessica Korzelius will return as assistant principals for the 2023-24 school year.

BHS first day
Photo by Howard Owens.

Trends for Genesee County: homelessness on the rise

By Joanne Beck
carla mindler
Carla Mindler
Photo by Howard Owens

Annual departmental reviews can sometimes be rather mundane, as they list various numbers, staffing activities and government programs.

However, trends also emerge from the statistics, such as a “very significant increase in homelessness” since the COVID-era eviction moratorium ended in 2022, Social Services Commissioner Carla Mindler says.

Mindler reviewed the reasons for Genesee County’s apparent rise in people losing their rentals or otherwise not having housing during this week’s Human Services meeting. 

Landlords who could not evict their tenants during the pandemic because they accepted Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds have this year been able to evict them and are “actively doing so,” she said.

“We have had a huge increase in homelessness. The eviction moratorium ended in 2022. But not all of the landlords could immediately evict because if they took advantage of ERAP, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, they had to sign something saying I will not evict this individual for 12 months due to nonpayment of rent. So now, some of those cases that sat for a while, the landlords are now taking them in and evicting them,” she said. “So we're having homeless individuals, and because of that, there is a shortage of the very low-income housing, and those are the individuals that were getting in. Some people are fleeing the other counties, you know, (due to) the crime rates in Rochester, sometimes in Buffalo, they're coming here and saying we just want to start new.”

New York State ERAP applications stopped being accepted after Jan. 20, 2023, at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Individuals will not be able to submit applications or complete applications that have been started but not submitted after this time.

According to an article by the Associated Press in June 2023, “Upstate New York evictions are rising after a moratorium lifted last year.”

“Forty of the state's 62 counties had higher eviction filings in 2022 than before the pandemic,” the article states, “including two where eviction filings more than doubled compared to 2019.”

So Genesee County isn’t alone, and officials are doing what they can, Mindler said.

“We, of course, encourage people to move here. However, as you know, homeless are where they’re found, so if they truly do not have a home to go back to in those counties, then they become ours. And people are also coming here sometimes for a temporary purpose and end up staying,” she said. “So if they are open in another county, they have to keep them open for a couple of months, but then they do want to stay here.”

There is an active bill in the state Senate called the "winter moratorium on evictions act of 2023,” which states that evictions are linked to all-cause mortality and lead to an array of negative mental and physical health outcomes, including higher rates of emergency room utilization, mental health hospitalizations, suicide, children's hospitalization, and depression and directly result in job loss and disruption to a child's education.

Evictions are a significant cause of homelessness, both directly and indirectly, it states, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development identified at least 91,271 homeless individuals throughout New York State as of January 2020, including 77,943 individuals in New York City and 13,328 individuals throughout the rest of the State. 

The bill is in committee at this point and yet to be passed onto the Senate floor in an effort to pass a moratorium on evictions during winter months.

Growing up in Batavia with the YWCA and YMCA

By Anne Marie Starowitz
anne marie and joy at y
Anne Marie Starowitz standing with her ballroom dance teacher, Miss Joy, at the old YWCA in her dyed Communion Dress
Submitted by Anne Marie Starowitz

It was 1959, and our mom just dropped my brothers and me off at the YWCA to take our weekly Friday night ballroom dance lesson. The YWCA at the time was a beautiful older home on the corner of Main Street and Summit Street. We would meet in the back in a big room.  

Learning to do the jitterbug, cha cha, hully-gully, and probably a waltz was a wonderful memory. 

Whenever I hear the song by Elvis Presley, "Return to Sender," I think of that class and learning the double time, break away for the steps to the jitterbug. It was a great time, and my best friend and other students from our school were in the class. 

Thank goodness for my classmates; I would have died if I had to dance with one of my brothers.   

I also remember you dressed up for your dance class. In my day, if you had made your First Communion and did not have anyone to hand down your dress to, your mom would dye your dress either pink or blue. My dress was blue. That dress would be seen in many photos at family gatherings.

In 1903, a group of women headed by Miss Francis G. Fisher met to organize a local Young Women's Christian Association branch. This was the birth of our YWCA.   In 1903, physical welfare was of first importance to the YWCA members, particularly for the younger girls. The second purpose of the YWCA was to provide safe housing for young girls at the YWCA. YWCA on East Main Street was attractive and comfortable, but by 1960, the house on East Main Street needed repairs. In 1968, the new YW was opened on North St. 

I also have wonderful memories of the YMCA. 

Today, I am 73 years old and in an exercise class called Silver and Fit at the YMCA. I love vintage music, and it is a time I can use those dance skills I learned when I took those ballroom dance classes at the YWCA.   As I lifted my three-pound weights and stretched with my resistance band, I remembered learning to swim in the old YMCA swimming pool. I remember a pool in the basement and a room with a window where you could watch the children swim. 

During a swim lesson, the teacher encouraged me to jump off the board and promised he would have the hook to help me when I came up from the water. He didn't help me, but I did swim to the side. That was the day I passed my beginner test. The YMCA swimming program had names of various fish as we progressed on the levels. 

So here I am in 2023 at the YMCA, using the dance steps I learned at the YWCA in the 60s. I can hear the construction of the new YMCA as I did the Cha Cha to the music of the 60s. 

The YMCA was founded in 1889 in the Village of Batavia. 

It began on 7 Jackson St., and over the years, it changed many locations. The first one I remember was built in 1913, where the current YMCA is on Main Street. The building today was built in 1975. 

As I participate in the Silver and Fit Class, I hear the pounding of our newest YMCA being constructed—an excellent addition to our community for all ages. The YMCA and the YWCA will continue offering programs for all ages, focusing on their particular mission. YMCA of Genesee County is a leading non-profit committed to strengthening the community by empowering young people, improving the health and well-being of people of all ages, and inspiring action in and across communities.

YWCA of Genesee County is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. I could never list all the programs both Y's offer. I am so glad I have participated in many of the programs over the years, along with my children. 

Postcards are courtesy of the Holland Land Office Museum. The black-white photo is Anne Marie Starowitz standing with her ballroom dance teacher, Miss Joy, at the old YWCA in her dyed Communion Dress. 

old ywca in Batavia
ymca batavia
ymca batavia

 

A 'buzz of excitement' for first day of school and increased enrollment at BCSD

By Joanne Beck

 

Robert Morris School First Day
It's that time of year once again when students return to school, shown here on Wednesday at Robert Morris School in Batavia. 
Photo by Howard Owens.

Wednesday brought with it the time-honored tradition of kids boarding yellow school buses, parents transitioning the household routine from summer to fall and school administrators readying their sites for some serious learning time.

This school year will see 152 more students for a total of 2,276 compared to last year’s 2,124, Superintendent Jason Smith said. That’s 456 kids at Robert Morris and Jackson, 501 at John Kennedy, 631 at BMS and 688 at the high school.

The district’s Board of Education had mulled the possibility of adding three more school buses to the budget and ended up including them for this year’s transportation schedule. This will “reduce the amount of travel time for students on buses and also provides separation for our middle and high school students, which will be helpful to our overall school operations,” Smith said.

After 29 professional “first days of school,” he never tires of the routine.

“I am always optimistic and excited about the opportunities a new school year brings for our families, students, and staff,” Smith said. “This never gets old for me, and there is always a buzz of excitement."

Batavia Middle School staff welcomed a new round of students and got busy incorporating all grades into the flow, Principal Nathan Korzelius said.

“We are very excited to have our students return and the opportunity to welcome our new fifth-grade students. This year, we worked with our (social and emotional learning) team to create an opening day schedule that allowed the students to get to know their teachers, schedules, and provide time to do some team building/getting-to-know-you activities,” he said. “Students will participate in a circle-up activity that will allow students to get to know each other and allow them to see the process of academic circles. Each grade level will have a team meeting with the administration to talk about goals for the year.”

Goals for students and staff this year will be academic and social-emotional growth, he said. Social and emotional learning, or SEL, has become a main focus for this and other school districts after being identified for post-COVID educational needs.

“We are working hard on developing our professional learning communities to analyze student performance and growth so that we can provide them with the best support and interventions, as well as improve instruction,” Korzelius said. “We have worked on the fifth-grade schedule to ease the transition to a new building. We have also provided more opportunities for students to access academic interventions within their school day.”

Over at John Kennedy Intermediate School, Paul Kesler returned to his former role as principal and said it was “so exciting to see all of our students again” at the Vine Street school.

“We had excellent first-day attendance, and students transitioned into the building quickly.  We had a whole group assembly to welcome students, go over expectations, and a short contest where students could show off their dance moves,” Kesler said. “We want students to feel welcomed to the school.  We want parents to feel confident that they have left their children in good hands.  Our main goal for the opening days is for the teachers to form positive relationships with their students. We know that students will thrive when they have a trusting relationship with our wonderful staff.”

As for key goals moving into this 2023-24 school year, the John Kennedy community is embracing the theme “Challenge Accepted,” Kesler said, to show students that not only are challenges to be expected in life, but that “we can meet challenges, and that challenge that we take on and work through help us grow.”

Another area of focus for the school is “to continue our excellent student growth in their reading and math progress,” he said.

“We are looking to enhance our work by focusing on staff Professional Learning Communities to provide staff with the best processes to help our students succeed,” he said.

At the youngest levels, Principal Maureen Notaro watched the contagious smiles of students entering Robert Morris and Jackson Primary schools, wanting all students to feel “accepted and comfortable as they begin their journey to a new school or start school for the first time,” she said. 

“My goal for staff is to have them make students feel welcome and go over routines and procedures. In the first few days, teachers have goals to get to know their students and focus on social-emotional learning to ensure students feel connected to school right away. My staff does a fantastic job with this at Robert Morris and Jackson Primary,” Notaro said. “The key academic goals are for students to learn their letters and sounds and blend their sounds to learn to recognize words, read, and understand what they are learning. We want them to recognize numbers and be able to count. By the time students leave 1st grade, we want them to be able to become independent readers and improve their phonemic awareness and comprehension.”

Other goals focus on social and personal growth, she said, such as learning to make friends and playing nicely with one another, using self-control with one’s emotions, and in universal pre-kindergarten through first grade —  which are “exciting times for students” — they learn how to have conversations and develop the capacity to form close relationships with friends and teachers, she said.

"Students show so much growth and really learn how to manage emotions and explore a new environment. They engage in cooperative play and start to develop positive self-esteem by coming to school and being in a social setting with peers,” she said. “I get most excited about the curiosity each student has and enjoy watching my teachers ignite the desire to learn in the littlest learners.”

Notaro is also looking forward to a new reading program, Wit and Wisdom, which explores literacy and is aligned with field trips to help students “bring the program to life and make meaningful connections” to the lessons. 

This year's overall concentration will be on "high-quality instruction," Smith said, and with a renewed and additional focus on meeting those SEL needs.

“Our leadership team spent considerable time this summer focusing on the social and emotional learning (SEL) of our students, and we are going to continue to embrace and celebrate our diversity that makes Batavia so special,” he said.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Robert Morris School First Day
Robert Morris School First Day
Robert Morris School First Day
Robert Morris School First Day
Robert Morris School First Day

 

St. Paul Lutheran Chiavetta's barbecue fundraiser

By Diane Burroughs

St. Paul Lutheran Church and School

31 Washington Ave., Batavia, N.Y. 14020

Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023

1/2 Chicken, Macaroni Salad, Baked Beans, Roll & Butter.

Cost is $14

Drive - Thur 11 am - 2 pm

To reserve tickets, please call Diane at 585-356- 8789

Mancuso Bowling Center enters high-tech world of Brunswick Sync scoring system

By Mike Pettinella
tv screens
The newly installed Brunswick Sync scoring system features large color upper monitors and big screen TVs across Mancuso Bowling Center's 24 lanes. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Mancuso Bowling Center has elevated its game with the installation of the Brunswick Sync scoring and management system.

Tuesday Night Coed bowlers were the first league bowlers to experience the state-of-the-art platform last night – a system that features 50-inch, full color upper monitors and interactive, touchscreen lower monitors along with six 55-inch color televisions strategically placed across the 24 lanes.

Two more big screen TVs have been placed behind the service bar and the customer service desk.

“It’s nicely lit and easy to read,” said Rebecca Bates, a league bowler for the past three years. “So, we’ll see if it keeps score good.”

General Manager Mike Sputore reported no scoring problems on opening night of what is an eight-month fall-winter league season.

“Sync is Brunswick’s latest model of automatic scoring, and it controls food and beverage (point of sale ordering) as well as far as restaurant capabilities,” Sputore said. “And there are a bunch of different (bowling) games – not just standard bowling.”

Sputore said the lower monitors are “very user friendly” and the upper monitors are loaded with numerous colorful and high-tech graphics. Casual bowlers can even upload their photo onto the upper monitor when playing a specialty game known as Angry Birds.

Other games (some are 10 frames and some are five frames) include Creature Feature, EZ Bowl, HORSE, Ka Pow!, My Shot, Pin Pals, PinPix, Rival Rumble and 3-6-9 Free Strike. 

“It has so many different features, including the Open Lane app, where bowlers’ scores can be downloaded and then sent to their email,” Sputore noted.

The scoring upgrade replaces the Brunswick Frameworx system that had been in place for the past 25 years or so.

“(Proprietor) Rick (Mancuso) did a good job of research and getting the right stuff that works – and it looks beautiful,” Sputore said. “It’s quite a substantial investment.”

Sputore said that Sync interfaces with league secretarial software and handles a multitude of back office tasks.

The Sync system also reads the down-lane speed of the bowling ball and posts that number on the upper monitor after the bowler’s delivery.

“Yeah, it does the ball detect; average first ball speed,” he said. “It’s very convenient for league and tournament bowlers. Now, if you make a bad shot and you see that you threw it three miles an hour slower than your last one, that’s probably the reason.”

league bowling
Tuesday Night Coed League kicks off the fall-winter season.
lower monitor
Mancuso Bowling Center Manager Mike Sputore enters the name for Adam Flint, who was substituting in the Tuesday Night Coed League.
graphics
Open bowling takes on a new look with the graphics from the Angry Birds specialty game.

Photos: First-day donuts for seniors in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens
first day le roy central high school

Le Roy celebrated its seniors on the first day of school with donuts before the doors opened at Le Roy High School this morning.

Photos courtesy Le Roy Central School District.

first day le roy central high school
first day le roy central high school

Recovery tied to solid housing and transportation access, mental health official says

By Joanne Beck

It’s hard enough battling mental health issues and opioid addiction, let alone trying to do so without a solid and safe place to live or a way to get around for wellness appointments and necessary travel, Lynda Battaglia says.

The Genesee County Mental Health director talked about those obstacles as she made some related requests for funding to the county’s Human Services Committee Tuesday.

The number of deaths from opioid overdoses has risen from 15.6 per 100,000 in 2021 to 27.8 per 100,000 in Genesee County, she said.

Lynda Battaglia

“We’re just seeing this increased pattern,” she said during Tuesday’s committee meeting. “And they’re highly addictive. You have the pharmaceutical ones that are prescribed and approved by the FDA, like oxycontin, and then you have the ones that are created on the streets and are illegal, and the overdose rate is just increasing across the state. Housing is one of those areas that if you can have stable housing, that is a social determinant of health.

“So when you think about ‘what do I need in order to just have a healthy life,’ housing is a top priority because when you can establish some housing, other things start to fall in place. When you don’t have housing, then you are in dire straits; you’re roaming the streets, you’re couch-surfing, you are going from friend to friend, if you have friends, or you’re going to areas or environments that have high usage. And the temptation is always there.”

And if you’re also trying to recover, that’s a setup to fail, she said. Genesee Orleans Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse has requested $100,000 for housing to help people with that needed step, plus funding for harm reduction, prevention services and public awareness. 

“I do believe it is extremely needed for Genesee County,” Battaglia said. 

The Mental Health Department brought a request to the county committee members with allocated state Office of Addiction Services and Supports grant funding available. Human Services approved the request of $130,000 and will pass that on to the Ways and Means Committee before it goes for a final vote by the county Legislature. 

There will be no budget impact for the county because the state OASAS funding will cover the amount. 

Battaglia also requested $95,907 on behalf of Horizon Health Services for treatment ($75,000), public awareness ($6,332), and transportation ($2,500) costs to assist Genesee County residents with their mental health needs.

“This is specific for Genesee County as well, for the residents of Genesee County at their satellite office, located just outside of town here. This was reviewed by the community services board. They are a duly licensed clinic,” she said. “So they provide mental health services and support services. So they don't typically receive state aid through my office. But this was a good opportunity for them to just get above and beyond what they need in order to provide services to the community.”

She was asked if the requested funding for transportation was enough to meet program users’ needs.

“It's hard to say. Transportation is just another barrier, I think, for individuals to access services across the board. It's not just support. And it's not just mental health, it's medical care as well. So is $2,500 enough? Probably not. But we'll see what happens with the 2,500 when we look at next year's funding because this is going to be the same process from year to year. Everybody's going to have to resubmit,” Battaglia said. “And if the need for transportation increases, then the funding could increase as well. I guess we'll just have to see. I also didn't want to allocate too much to it.”

The committee also approved this request and passed it on to Ways & Means and the county Legislature for a final vote.

Cash reward offered for arrest of Nathan Royse

By Howard B. Owens
Nathan Royse
Nathan Royse

Press release:

Crime Stoppers WNY is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest of Nathan L. Royse. 

Mr. Royse is currently on parole for a conviction of burglary in the second degree. 

He has an active parole warrant for absconding as well as an active warrant issued by the Batavia Police Department for criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. 

He should be considered armed and dangerous. 

If you have information, please contact: Crime Stoppers WNY. Call: 716-867-6161 or submit an anonymous tip online.

Previously: Batavia PD seeking public's help in locating wanted suspect

Bartender Challenge Fundraiser Kicks Off Richmond Reads events

By Press Release
bartenderchallenge.jpg
Submitted photo of Richmond Memorial Library Director Beth Paine (left) and Board of Trustees President Jessica Ecock Rotondo (right), they will face off against each other in a Battle of the Library Celebrity Bartenders fundraiser at GO-Art! on Friday, September 8.

Press Release:

The 2023 Richmond Reads program will be in full swing in September, with events and programs to celebrate the 2023 selection, Hang The Moon by Jeannette Walls. Richmond Reads is a community one-book program designed for the Richmond Memorial Library’s community of readers.

Jeannette Walls will visit Richmond Memorial Library on Tuesday, October 10 at 7 p.m. for a talk and book signing. Published in March of 2023, Hang the Moon was an instant New York Times Bestseller. The book centers around Sallie Kincaid, a young woman who inherits a bootlegging empire in prohibition-era Virginia. Registration is full for the event, but those interested may be added to the waitlist and may opt to view a live stream of the event from another space in the library. For more information on this Speaker please visit www.simonspeakers.com.

The Richmond Reads committee has planned a full slate of events! This year’s program also features a partnership with Batavia High School and Genesee Community College for events geared toward their students.

Richmond Reads Schedule of Events: 

Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.: Battle of the Library Celebrity Bartenders at Go-Art! Library Director Beth Paine will face off against Board of Trustees President Jessica Ecock Rotondo to see who can earn the most tips! The event will include snacks, a cash bar, a basket raffle, and 50/50. All proceeds will go to The Friends of Richmond Memorial Library in support of Richmond Reads. Basket tickets are also available to purchase at the library until 5 p.m. on September 8.

Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.: Rolling Out the Barrels- A Look at Prohibition Historian Lynne Belluscio will present about the local history of prohibition. This event will take place in the Reading Room at Richmond Memorial Library. No registration is required.

Thursday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.: Richmond Reads Reel Discussions Join us as we screen the 2017 film The Glass Castle, based on the memoir of the same name by Jeannette Walls with a discussion to follow. This event will take place at Richmond Memorial
Library in the Gallery Room. No registration is required.

Thursday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.: Music of Appalachia with Haley Moore at GCC Fiddler Haley Moore of the Eastman Community Music School will lecture and perform music from the time of Hang the Moon. Sponsored by GCC’s Inclusive Excellence Committee and the GCC Library. Free to attend and all are welcome. This event will take place in the Stuart Steiner Theatre at Genesee Community College.

Monday, Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 9:30 a.m.: Community Book Discussions The only requirement to attend is to read Hang the Moon. These discussions will take place in the Reading Room at Richmond Memorial Library. Book Review Contest- Opens Friday, September 1. Write a review of Hang the Moon for a chance to win a dinner with the author on October 10! All rules and information available beginning September 1. The contest closes on Saturday, September 30 at 5 p.m. Visit the library or batavialibrary.org for all information and link to the review form.

For all information about the book, author, and events, please visit the library or batavialibrary.org/richmond-reads. Richmond Reads is made possible by the generosity of The Friends of Richmond Memorial Library.

Richmond Memorial Library announces Books Sandwiched review series in September

By Press Release

Press Release:

willbardenwerper-edit.jpg
Photo of author Will Bardenwerper courtesy of willbardenwerper.com.

Richmond Memorial Library will host the Fall 2023 Series of Books Sandwiched In on Wednesdays in September from 12:10 p.m. - 1 p.m. Rounding out its 42nd year, this program invites speakers to present reviews of books, often non-fiction, and features coffee, cookies, and door prizes. Each session will feature a door prize of a gift certificate to a local lunch spot.

This fall’s session brings a little something special – author Will Bardenwerper will present about his own book, The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein and the Twelve Americans Who Guarded Him, published by Scribner in 2017. Described by BookPage as  “a behind-the-scenes look at history that's nearly impossible to put down...a mesmerizing glimpse into the final moments of a brutal tyrant's life," The Prisoner in His Palace takes readers inside the last days of Saddam Hussein. A journalist who has contributed to The New York Times and The Washington Post, Bardenwerper is also a veteran of the United States Army, having quit his job in finance after 9/11 to enlist. Bardenwerper’s latest venture, a book for Doubleday exploring small-town baseball and community, has recently brought him to Batavia.

September’s Books Sandwiched In Line-up: 

  • Wednesday, September 6 at 12:10 p.m.: RML Library Visits Coordinator Lucine Kauffman reviews: The Book of Charlie Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man by David von Drehle, published in 2023.
  • Wednesday, September 13 at 12:10 p.m.: Holland Land Office Museum Director Ryan Duffy reviews: The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott, published in 2019 (this is a special tie-in with Richmond Reads!).
  • Wednesday, September 20 at 12:10 p.m.: Author Will Bardenwerper reviews his book The Prisoner In His Palace: Saddam Hussein and the Twelve Americans Who Guarded Him, published in 2017 (feat. a giveaway of a copy of the book). Copies of the book will also be for sale for $20 and can be signed by the author.
  • Wednesday, September 27 at 12:10 p.m.: Dr. Brenda McQuillan, Associate Professor of Social Work and the MSW Program Director at Roberts Wesleyan University reviews: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, published in 2014 (feat. a giveaway of a copy of the book).

Richmond Memorial Library is located at 19 Ross Street in the City of Batavia. For information about all upcoming programs, visit the library or website at batavialibrary.org.

Tammy Genagon named Hope Center of Le Roy program director

By Press Release

Press Release:

tammy-press-release-picture-edit.jpg
Submitted photo of Tammy Genagon

The Hope Center of Le Roy is pleased to announce the appointment of Tammy Genagon to a staff position as its Senior Moments Lunch Club respite director. Respite programs offer caregivers a much-needed opportunity to take care of their own needs while their loved one, affected by memory impairment, enjoys a time of socialization, games, crafts, and lunch with trained volunteers.

Having retired after 28 years in nursing, with 10 years in geriatrics, Tammy has always had a special love and compassion for those challenged by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. After three years of grieving the loss of her husband, David, following 42 years of marriage, Tammy prayed for direction on her life’s path. 

When she saw an ad for volunteering through the Alzheimer’s Association, she decided to look into volunteering as a caregiver. It was shortly thereafter, in the spring of this year, that she was approached by the Hope Center and invited to lead the program initially, as a volunteer.

“We are so blessed to have Tammy join our team as a paid staff member. It has enabled us to offer the very best in a memory-care respite program,” said Diane Sia, Director of the Hope Center. “She brings a unique thumbprint to her program, which focuses on their guests’ enjoyment, above all. There is a lot of laughter as they sometimes adapt to the desires of the group. One guest was enjoying balloon volleyball so much he didn’t want to move on to the next activity. And that was perfectly fine.”

“They are having a good time and have forgotten that they ‘forget.’ They leave their inability at the door and become an important part of the group,” says Tammy. Recently, Tammy has become the Alzheimer’s Association Community Educator for Genesee County. She conducts informational meetings open to the public addressing a variety of topics pertaining to Alzheimer’s. This role enhances her position at the Hope Center and makes her an invaluable resource for families whose loved ones are affected. “Sometimes, because they may lack the social skills of their past, loved ones with dementia can feel excluded at family gatherings. We meet families at their point of need and help them and their loved ones with things like that.” 

One gentleman whose wife attends the Lunch Club appreciates having a life-enriching program for her to enjoy so he can rest; she sometimes wanders at night, so he is awake with her. 

For more information about volunteering in the Senior Moments Lunch Club (because moments matter!) or to reserve a spot for your loved one, please reach out to Tammy at (585)739-2251 or tgenagon@gmail.com. 

They meet on the first Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and pre-registration is required. You may also learn about this free program and others offered by the Hope Center by visiting their website at: hopecenterofleroy.org.

Richard Bannister's gallery exhibition opens September 14

By Press Release
richardbannister.jpg
Photo of Egyptian Fish God, Slave Girl, and Angry King (carved black marble) by Richard Bannister courtesy of genesee.edu.

Press Release:

The Rosalie "Roz" Steiner Art Gallery is kicking off its 2023-2024 exhibition season with a solo show by local sculpture artist, Richard Bannister. Richard's sculptures are one-of-a-kind, unique works of art. He is a master of sculpting in wood, metal, and stone. He completes all the work on his art, by himself, in his studio.

Opening receptions for "Man's Struggle with the Gods: Sculptures by Richard Bannister" will be on September 14 from 12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. and 5 - 7 p.m. with an artist presentation at 12:30 p.m. in the Roz Steiner Gallery.

About his artistic process, Richard says: "I now consider that the ability to create my works of art is a gift from God. However, I didn't always believe this. For years in my early studio in San Miguel, I believed that man could only destroy. I believed anyone could do what I did. All they had to do was take the time and carve a sculpture from a block of wood or marble or make an armature and apply clay for the beginnings of a bronze sculpture. I do not sketch before starting a sculpture, I simply grab a tool and begin the work. During the process of seeing a piece of art come into existence, I receive fulfillment. Because of my various procedures, materials and tools I am usually working on ten or so pieces at once. I can flow from piece to piece and pick up hours, days, or months later exactly where I left off. This is a rare blessing indeed."

Richard Bannister has had a long and storied career that has made him the artist he is today. He managed a farm with his identical twin brother at the age of 14, fought in the Vietnam War, studied at many different colleges, and gained his BFA & MFA. He also taught and headed the sculpture department at San Miguel de Allende, traveled the world lived in foreign countries, and exhibited his artwork internationally. Bannister has raised a family, written manuscripts, explored different entrepreneurial avenues, and holds a Bachelor of Theology from RBI in Tampa, Florida. His dream is to set up an art park on his 16 acres of land. His proudest achievements are his 3 children.

Richard's exhibition at the Roz Steiner Art Gallery will focus on his marble carvings, wood sculpture, and cast bronze. As an instructor in higher education, Richard developed courses discussing man's experiences with gods, demons, spirits, and other folkloric elements. Many of the pieces in his current show are a result of that line of thought. He aims to spark discussion of the things we cannot see; some of his artwork takes inspiration from Biblical tales like his sculpture Eve and the Tempterwho tempted who? (made of walnut), and Angel with the Gods (carved of black marble). Richard pulls insight from the religion of ancient Egypt and Buddhism, such as Baby Buddha (made of red oak and walnut), Egyptian Fish God, Slave Girl, and Angry King (carved black marble), which is the sculpture we are using to promote the exhibition.

Mr. Bannister has written eight manuscripts throughout his career, which form the series "My struggle with the Gods." The written saga is titled from the marble carving series that he is presently working on, "Man's struggle with the Gods". At his artist talk, Richard Bannister will discuss the inspiration behind his sculptures, and his creative process, and pull from his college courses to prompt discussion.

Roz Steiner gallery hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. and 3 - 5 p.m. The gallery is also open on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Any changes to the gallery hours will be posted on the gallery's social media pages

Batavia City Schools board takes on social media, joins lawsuit

By Joanne Beck

As kids return to Batavia City Schools this week, there are a couple of things most likely happening: along with their notebooks and pencils, they are bringing their cell phones and using social media. 

The district’s Board of Education, however,  has decided that such practices are causing students harm and have agreed to join a consortium formed to sue those social media giants — TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook, for example — for creating “a youth mental health crisis caused by social media addiction.”

A legal team — the same one that brought suit against e-cigarette company JUUL, representing 300 school districts including Batavia, and won — is now on the trail of those social media magnates. 

The Batavian asked city district Superintendent Jason Smith why the district opted to join the lawsuit — is it a matter of, they’ve got nothing to lose? What harm does he believe social media is causing? Does any responsibility fall to the home as a breeding ground for these actions?

I honestly think it's a balance of family responsibility and the responsibility of other entities to market and use their products in a safe and responsible manner,” Smith said.  “As with any tool, there are positive and negative aspects.  We can look back in history and examine how reforms occurred in the auto industry, tobacco marketing, etc.  Social media is clearly a positive tool and can be used for good, but I think there is a collective responsibility to manage it properly and well between families and the companies themselves.”

So who is ultimately responsible? 
The National Social Media Litigation Team of Wagstaff & Cartmell, Beasley Allen Law Firm and Goza Honnold Trial Lawyers believes the evidence is irrefutable, and Smith deferred to them for part of his answer: 

“Everything about these products — from inadequate age verification measures, insufficient parental controls, endless scrolling, constant notifications, and targeted algorithms — have been designed to addict teen and adolescent users,” the team states in its supplemental materials. “These companies are fueled by their own greed and have put profits over the safety of our youth. As a result, children across the country are suffering mental and physical harms.

“The problem,” the team says, “is that social media companies like Meta (Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube/Google knowingly put young users in harm’s way to generate billions of dollars in profit. They adopted targeted algorithms to collect adolescent users’ data unethically, used addictive psychological tactics to increase adolescent and teen usage, and feature inefficient controls to help parents exercise their rights and duties to monitor and limit their children’s use.

“As a result, our children are becoming addicted to social media, resulting in mental and physical injuries like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and even death,” the team states.

What will this cost the district? How would you spend anything won?
There is no cost to the district for signing on to the lawsuit, Smith said; it will be handled “on a contingency fee basis.” 

So if they lose, it will cost nothing, and if they win, they will reap some of the proceeds. 

If the district has the opportunity to receive a settlement, we will use it for proactive educational programming for our students, as we did with the Juul settlement,” he said.

According to its supplemental material, this consortium was formed to “work jointly on behalf of public entities in the investigation and prosecution of claims for damages arising out of negligence, public nuisance and other claims against social media companies like Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Tik Tok, Snapchat and YouTube/Google.” 

“We are committed to representing public entities, large and small, across the country. We will work to obtain just compensation for the mental health crisis and the costs imposed on public entities by irresponsible social media companies,” it states. 

In March, Batavia City School board members unanimously approved nearly $36,000 in settlement funds from a lawsuit in which the district claimed injury, malice, oppression and fraud against Juul Labs. The city school district was one of 143 districts involved in the lawsuit against the makers of the popular vaping products, alleging that the company “fraudulently and intentionally marketed” its products to children and that those products caused numerous health, financial and structural damages to the district and students.

According to lawsuit documents, the district had to hire additional personnel, including a second school resource officer, divert current personnel to retain students on campus when possible, purchase extra equipment and supplies, repair damages, and deal with behavioral issues.

The expected proceeds were going to be invested into the city district’s “preventative and restorative” program called Vape University, Superintendent Jason Smith had said. Operated at the high school, Vape U is a pilot program geared toward helping students with positive replacement behaviors for vaping.

Previously:  

Photos: Oakfield Labor Daze Music and Food Festival recap

By Howard B. Owens
...

Here's a slide show of photos from over the Labor Day weekend in Oakfield of the Labor Daze Music and Food Festival, including many previously unpublished photos.

All photos by Howard Owens.

The Batavian provided the community with the most comprehensive, daily coverage of Labor Daze.  If you appreciate what we do, please sign up for Early Access Pass.

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