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First local black barbershop owner holds open house to mark start of Black History Month

By Howard B. Owens
brandon-armstrong-royals-barber-shop
Royals Barber Shop owner Brandon Armstrong with barbers Julio Vazquez and Stephen Wapniewski
Photo by Howard Owens.

As far as Brandon Armstrong knows, his is the only black-owned barbershop, in Genesee County.

In honor of Black History Month, Armstrong held an open house on Thursday morning, with coffee and donuts, to both celebrate the month and to officially unveil his new logo and new business model for Royals Barber Shop at 317 Ellicott St., Batavia.

When Armstrong opened his first barbershop at Ellicott and Liberty (now Eden Cafe) in 2011, it was likely the first new barbershop in Batavia in a number of years, after a long period in which stylists were in vogue and barbers were passé. In the years since, four or five new barbershops have opened locally, though a couple didn't last long.

More than a dozen years since that first venture, Armstrong is still in the barbering business, and he says he's stuck with it both because it's a lucrative business and because he enjoys it.

"I feel like it's one where you can be yourself a little bit more," Armstrong said. "It's nothing too uptight, but it's still super professional. You can still be yourself. A lot of it's not really too hard of work, I feel like, but it still can be hard work. It's an equal balance of everything."

The new logo comes with a change in the business that he hopes will serve the business better, his customers better, and his employees better.  Unlike most salons and barbershops, his barbers are members of the staff, earning an hourly rate plus commissions.  It's no longer like they own their own businesses, with all the consequences and responsibilities that go with being self-employed, but they're getting a regular paycheck.

"Now they're bankable barbers -- that's my thing, being bankable barbers," Armstrong said. "Being bankable barbers means they will be able to bring their pay stubs to the bank and get a house or get a loan for a car."

Armstrong said with employees instead of contractors, he will be able to better maintain regular hours, which will benefit customers.  Also, with booth rental, there is also a cap on how much money can flow into the business.

"From what I'm learning is that you can't really scale the business, if you aren't being able to profit the right amount and put it back into your business," Armstrong said. "This way, we're able to get some money flowing through the business and be able to get loans for the business. It means being able to scale the business."

Now that he's a proven entrepreneur with a track record of success, what advice does he have for young people in the community, particularly people of color, in light of Black History Month, who are drawn toward going into business for themselves?

"Be the best that you can be," Armstrong said. "Work the hardest. You can outwork your competition. Whatever you're involved with, you have to practice at it, and you have to become the best at what you do. Try to be the best at what you do. Practice makes perfect. Whatever it is that you're involved in, make sure you're practicing and working hard, and it'll pay off."

brandon-armstrong-royals-barber-shop
Photo by Howard Owens.

Police close Dellinger Friday morning for execution of warrant

By Howard B. Owens

The Emergency Response Team was deployed on Dellinger Avenue early this morning to assist Batavia PD with the execution of a warrant, Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said.

The police department announced at 7:15 that Dellinger was closed to public access.  The street was reopened at about 7:50 a.m.

Heubusch said there were no difficulties during the operation, and there were no injuries.  He said more information will be released later today.

Batavia High's Rock Band class proves its chops and popularity with Thursday evening concert

By Howard B. Owens
Some members of first block rock band, jam out tunes for parents and families.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Some members of First Block Rock Band perform for parents and families.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Music teacher Dan Grillo thinks maybe, as much as it pains him to say it, rock 'n' roll music is a dying art form.

That isn't apparent from the way students at Batavia High School have embraced his elective class, Rock Band.

In the nine years since he started the program, the course has grown from one class with a handful of boys who typically didn't own their own instruments to two packed classes with many students bringing in their guitars. 

"(That first year) we had three of the same exact guitars, three of the exact same basses, and we actually started with an electric drum set," Grillo said. "Now, as you know, we have our own nice acoustic drum set."

The program has encouraged many kids to get their own guitars, Grillo said, "which is really good."  Another sign of growth -- he doesn't have to sing all the songs any more.

"We started on one song and just kind of worked that song for a while, but none of the boys wanted to sing," Grillo said. "I had to sing it. I had to sing pretty much everything that year."

There are 25 members in three bands.

Rock band class in high school music departments is still kind of a rare thing in the area, Grillo said, so he isn't sure the program will ever grow to the point where -- like for other music genres at the high school level -- there are competitions and festivals.

"It's still kind of a niche thing," he said.

The most telling way things have changed is the engagement of the students.

"As I mentioned in our concert tonight, a lot of the students are suggesting and writing up songs for us," Grillo said. "This is not all just my contributions in terms of -- I thought of a good song, I thought it would be good for the kids, and I gave it to them. A lot of these were songs that the students championed. And that means a lot that they're that invested that they want a say in the music that we're playing and performing."

The students pitching their own favorite songs evolved out of, well, students pitching their own favorite songs and Grillo deciding to students owning their ideas.

"I would have students come to me every day, and they're like, 'You know what song we should do? You know what song we should do? You know what song we should do?' And I got sick of hearing it," Grillo said. "I finally said, 'Look, if you want to do a song, you write it up. I'm not going to write it up. I don't have that kind of time.' Okay, it takes a good half hour to write these songs up (as guitar tablature) because you got to make sure the lyrics and the chords and all that stuff is right, that they're in the right place, that they work. So it does take some work to write up those songs. So the fact that the students are doing some homework is also pretty telling."

The program is popular all over campus, Grillo said. The rock bands occasionally play lunchtime concerts in the auditorium and they're well attended.

"Everybody likes it," Grillo said. "It's not just students that come in. It's faculty and support staff. It's pretty popular with everybody in the building. So we get a lot of support. We're always being asked to do different gigs. We've been asked to perform at open houses; we've been asked to perform like we did the wrestling match this year and last year, we did a wrestling match. ... So it's very popular even though, like I said, rock is kind of a dying style. I used to do barber shop and that's even more so a dying style."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Steve Ognibene conducted the interview for this story.

Addison Glynn and Faith Guiste on vocals.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Addison Glynn and Faith Guiste on vocals.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Ben Stone, guitar  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Ben Stone, guitar  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Left to right, Evan Kimball, Isaiah Benway-Snyder and Elijah Abdella on guitar  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Left to right, Evan Kimball, Isaiah Benway-Snyder and Elijah Abdella on guitar  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Ethan Bradley, guitar  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Ethan Bradley, guitar  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Gavynn Trippany, drums  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Gavynn Trippany, drums  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Tommy Gaylord, bass guitar  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Tommy Gaylord, bass guitar  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Rock Band, music director, Mr. Daniel Grillo  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Rock Band music director, Mr. Daniel Grillo  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

From the days of film strips and mimeographs to smartboards, teachers still teach, students still learn

By David Reilly
 deve reilly teacher
A young Mr. Reilly in his classroom.

I spent most of my life in education -- 13 years of it in Batavia: kindergarten at Washington School, first to eighth grade at St. Mary's on Woodrow Road (for first and second grade, we were in the basement of Notre Dame High School because the elementary school was being built), and four years at Notre Dame on Union Street. 

My three-years younger brother Dan spent part of his elementary years at St. Joseph's on Summit Street and then graduated from Notre Dame.

Lastly, my 11-years younger brother Jim went to elementary at John Kennedy on Vine Street, Batavia Middle School on Ross Street and then Batavia High on State Street. 

So, between the three of us, we had a bunch of Batavia schools covered.

notre dame 1964
Notre Dame High School in 1964.

After high school, I went on to St. John Fisher College in Rochester for five years ( I had an illness as a junior which required an extra year). Upon graduation, I spent one year teaching sixth grade at St. Peter and Paul School in Rochester, and then after spending three years out of education, I taught fifth and sixth grades for the next 32 years at three different elementary schools in the Rochester City School District. 

If I'm doing my math correctly, that's 51 years either being taught or doing the teaching, although any good teacher will tell you that you never stop learning. There's a lot you can learn from your students, too.

Everyone reading this article spent some amount of time in school. In Batavia, if you were Catholic, depending on where you lived, you could choose between St. Mary's or St. Joseph's on the north side or St. Anthony's (heavily Italian) or Sacred Heart (heavily Polish) on the south side for elementary school. 

Today, only St. Joseph's is still operating. 

Then it was likely on to Notre Dame for high school.

If you went to public school, it was Pringle, Lincoln, East Washington, Jackson, Brooklyn, Robert Morris, or John Kennedy Elementary.

Today, Jackson and John Kennedy are still operating, and Robert Morris has reopened partially. 

Then it was on to the Middle School and Batavia High, which has been on State Street since 1961.

What did all these kids in all these schools have in common? Well, if it was between the 1950s and the early 2000s, they were using the same “technology” that I did in my student and teaching career. And the thing all of those who are still around have to realize is that almost all of those classroom tools we relied on to help us learn are gone, probably never to return. My intent in this article is to take a nostalgic look at the classroom equipment of days gone by.

Students doing math at the blackboard
Students doing math at the blackboard

Seemingly forever, the blackboard, or chalkboard as it was also known, was a main point of use in every classroom. I have to admit I made full use of mine right up until my retirement in 2006. In fact, I used it so much that some days I would go home looking like I spent the day working in a gypsum mine. 

My former students will still remember being called up to the blackboard two or three at a time to work out math problems. 

Most teachers had a job chart where each week students were assigned a task. One of those was to clean the erasers at the end of the day. They would either go outside and clap them together, causing a dust storm that looked like Oklahoma in the 1930s, or later on, there was a machine to run them through. Another job was to wash the boards at the end of the day, but I was such a stickler I would do them again after they left.

As time passed, whiteboards with dry-erase markers became the norm. Today, virtually every classroom has a smartboard, which is connected to the internet and makes a lot of the older equipment useless antiques. 

Of course, each student has a laptop computer or tablet to use too.

cursive writing
Cursive writing

Cursive writing, or actually even printing. I'm sure you all recall the green tagboard cursive letters in white script that virtually every elementary teacher had on display in the classroom. A certain amount of time each day was devoted to practicing printing in the primary grades and then cursive at the intermediate level. Writing assignments were either printed or done in cursive. 

If you went to Catholic school like me, the nuns were fanatics about it. Maybe it was in their sisterly vows. “I swear that I will torment elementary students about perfecting the Palmer Method of cursive. So help me God.” 

It never happened to me, but I have been told by others that rulers on the back of hands were sometimes utilized (especially if you were left-handed) to help emphasize a kid's devotion to cursive perfection (but right-handed). Also, I know this sounds sexist , but why did the girls always have better cursive?

Today there is almost no need for writing of any kind, with the possible exception of math problems. Most things are written with a keyboard on a computer, tablet, or even a phone for homework. Most classrooms today have a minimum of pencils, pens, and paper. It simply is not needed. There is also a shortage of nuns so I guess rulers are not needed either to keep those fingers in place on the keyboards.

16 mm projector
A 16mm film proector.

This is going way back, but 16mm  films and projectors were once the way to see movies. In the Rochester District, you had to order a movie from a central supply location, and it would be delivered to the school by a messenger. Then you had to reserve the projector from the library where it was kept. 

In my first school, you could never get it on a Friday afternoon because the same lazy teacher always beat you to it. Once you got the movie and projector, there was at least a 50 percent chance the film would break at some point, and you'd have to splice it with tape. Some of the movies had been spliced so many times they were almost unwatchable. If the projector light bulb blew out, that was the end of the movie for the day because, apparently, new bulbs were only made in Mongolia or somewhere.

In the 1980s, VCRs came into use so you could more easily watch movies on a TV. Televisions (still the kind with “Rabbit Ear” antennas) became popular to watch big events like presidential inaugurations. Often classes would have to combine together because each school only had a couple TVs. In the late 80s, video cameras were introduced to record school plays and events. 

Today, every school has wi-fi, and each classroom has that previously mentioned five-foot-high smartboard connected to it, so all those previous viewing methods are obsolete.

A mimeograph machine
A mimeograph machine

Before big Xerox stockholders got rich from the copier business, we made copies with a mimeograph machine. A toxic fluid was poured into it by teachers, and some lawyers could probably make a bundle today after finding out what health problems were caused by exposure to that stuff. 

We would make a master carbon copy, clip it into the machine, and turn the crank to roll off the number of copies we wanted. This often resulted in purple fingers, and if the copies were “hot off the press,” the students would be sniffing them, which was probably as bad as smoking. 

Copiers are still a problem, too, with adding toner and the constant jamming. If hidden microphones were ever placed in copier rooms, lots of teachers would be in trouble for their (expletives deleted).

Finally, we would use a machine called a filmstrip projector. A strip of film would come in a metal or plastic container. Usually, there was an entire box of these devoted to a certain topic. The strip of film would be inserted into the projector (again requiring those light bulbs from Mongolia), and the teacher or a designated student would turn a knob that advanced the film one frame at a time.

Accompanying these strips was a record or audio tape that would narrate the topic. When a beeping noise occurred, that was the signal to advance the frame. For example, if the topic was Batavia, NY, the tape would say something like: “Batavia is a small city located in western New York,” while on the screen would be a map of New York State with a red dot showing where Batavia is. “Beep”. The film would be turned one frame. “ Batavia is the seat of Genesee County.” The film would show a map of New York State counties highlighting Genesee County and Batavia. “Beep.” And so on ad infinitum. 

film strips
Film strips

Or should I say ad nauseam because the people chosen to narrate these film stips must have been hired from a group of failed announcers due to their extremely boring and annoying voices. 

About halfway through the filmstrip, you would look around, and students were either asleep or drawing funny-looking pictures of you.

Whether you attended school in Batavia, Le Roy, Alexander, Oakfield, Rochester, Buffalo, or Tucumcari, New Mexico, if it was before the 2000s, you used one or more of the classroom things I described. They were all successful aids in learning to a greater or lesser degree, but their time has come and gone like the feather quills and inkwells of the 1800s. Like phone booths and dial phones, today's kids would not have heard of most of these things if you asked them. As they say, time marches on. But it can sometimes be enjoyable to think back to the “good old days” and the things our teachers used to educate us.

(Authors note: as is usual with my writing I try to make my articles nostalgic with a touch of humor mixed in. If you care to comment, I would love to hear any anecdotes you might have about any of the equipment I mentioned. Or, maybe I forgot some things that you could add. However, if you have any political comments about today's education there are numerous forums to do that. Please keep to the spirit of reminiscence here. Thank you.)

Batavia Police launches new way to enforce, pay parking tickets

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Police Department announces the launch of a new parking enforcement software application to allow for easier processing and payments of parking tickets.  

The application and platform was designed and is being administered by T2 Systems which is a leading national provider of smart mobility technology and management solutions. 

“Obviously no one wants to get a parking ticket and what can be just as frustrating is the time it can take to pay for a parking ticket, so the rationale behind implementing a new system is to make processing a payment as quick and seamless as possible,” said Batavia Police Department Chief Shawn Heubusch. 

Parking tickets can now be paid online via credit card by simply entering a license plate number or parking violation ticket number. There is also a convenient pay by phone option printed on the ticket as well. Parking tickets may be paid in person at the City Clerk's Office during normal business hours, which are 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

Residents are reminded that parking is prohibited on all City streets between 2 and 6 a.m., unless permission has been granted by contacting the Batavia Police Department dispatch center at 585-345-6350.

Motorists also are reminded to adhere to all time limit parking signs and not to block drives or crosswalks when parking or standing on any city street. To utilize the new system, please visit City of Batavia NY Citizen Portal (tocite.net) or www.bataviapolice.org under the Forms menu.

New book, 'The Other Oakfields,' available from the Oakfield Historical Society

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Oakfield Historical Society has a new book “The Other Oakfields” (Who Knew) by Darlene K. Warner. The book is available at the Oakfield Family Pharmacy.

The book highlights East Oakfield, North Oakfield, and Oakfield Corners. East Oakfield was at one time a bustling little town. There were 9 businesses in this little hamlet in the early years. 

Learn about its sawmill, cider mill, pump manufacturing business, wagon shop, cooper shop, blacksmith shop, grocery store, fruit drying, and heading & stave mill operations. How the Cope Pump Manufacturing business was known as “the most noted manufacture of wooden pumps in the United States”.

All this from a little town that was once known as Idleport. North Oakfield which started at the intersection of Lockport and Albion Road and continued until it connected with Fisher Road had two post offices before East Oakfield had one. It also had two schools. In fact, resident’s addresses were listed as living in North Oakfield up to the 1960s.

Oakfield Corners, besides having gypsum first located there, had two very prosperous farms, and even a hotel run by Dennis Watts. The former hotel still stands. So, it is not hard to understand why the subtitle is “Who Knew”.

The book is available at the Oakfield Family Pharmacy, payment of $22.00 plus $9.95 shipping and handling can be mailed to Oakfield Historical Society, PO Box 74, Oakfield. See our other available books on local history at oakfieldhistory.org.

Tenney introduces resolution condemning Gov. Hochuls school budget cuts

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) today joined Congressman Marc Molinaro (NY-19) and New York’s Republican Congressional Delegation in introducing a Congressional Resolution condemning New York Governor Kathy Hochul for defunding schools across New York State and prioritizing increased funding for migrants.

The Governor’s budget reduces funding for hundreds of schools across New York State while providing $2.4 billion to provide undocumented immigrants with legal assistance, housing, transportation, healthcare, and jobs. If Governor Hochul’s cuts to schools go through, schools could be forced to make up the difference by shuttering special education and disability services, cutting mental health resources, and more.

"Once again, Governor Kathy Hochul and Albany Democrats are putting illegal migrants and their progressive agenda ahead of New York’s children," said Congresswoman Tenney. "Hochul's misguided decision to cut critical funding from taxpayer-funded schools threatens students' learning, especially as they continue to recover from COVID-related learning loss and their access to valuable disability services and mental health resources. I stand with my New York Republican colleagues in demanding that she reevaluate her priorities and support our children over illegal migrants!"

"Governor Hochul is prioritizing undocumented immigrants over our children's education," said Congressman Molinaro. "Cutting funding for schools will inevitably jeopardize crucial disability services and mental health resources. We cannot let extreme left immigration policies ruin our children’s future. Governor Hochul: reverse course.”

"This self-inflicted New York City migrant crisis shouldn't be paid for on the backs of our children," said Congressman Garbarino. "Our children must come first. The needs of New Yorkers must be placed before those of illegal immigrants. I urge the Governor to change course and do what’s right for our kids and our state.”

“New York Democrats’ sanctuary policy that’s turning hotels, schools, federal parks, and senior living facilities into encampments for unvetted migrants from all over the world is unfair to surrounding communities and the taxpayers who are being forced to foot the bill," said Congresswoman Malliotakis. "Because of State and national Democrats’ reckless policies, the Governor is now slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from schools across the state, including over $130,000 from New York City. This crisis is unsustainable and unsafe for everyone involved, and the fact that our Mayor and Governor are cutting services from citizens to continue funding free giveaways to illegal immigrants is insane. Our children deserve better.”

“Governor Hochul’s misplaced priorities have placed the interests of migrants over Empire State students by slashing education funding while dedicating billions to those who crossed through our porous borders," said Congressman D’Esposito. "I am calling on Governor Hochul to immediately reverse course and stop punishing New York students for Joe Biden’s disastrous migrant crisis.”

“A politician’s budget proposal is indicative of that politician's values and it is clear from her budget that Governor Hochul values migrants over our kids," said Congressman LaLota. "As the husband of a teacher, father of three young girls, and a New York taxpayer, I’m appalled by the Governor’s heartlessness. Her decision to hurt our kids, especially in counties that voted against her, is Cuomo-esque bullying. The Governor is yet again putting politics before people and every New Yorker should be vocal against Hochul.”

GLOW with your hands healthcare event to be held at GCC March 22

By Press Release
image002.jpg
Submitted photo of speakers during presentation.

Press Release:

GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare plans to host its second annual career exploration event for local students interested in healthcare career pathways and opportunities. Approximately 600 students in grades 8-12 from 28 schools will gather at Genesee Community College on March 22 to connect with various healthcare businesses and organizations to learn about careers in healthcare and science-related fields throughout the GLOW region.

 

The success of GLOW with Your Hands in workforce recruitment in the manufacturing sector and the urgent workforce need in the healthcare sector has once again brought businesses, educational organizations, and economic development agencies from across the region to collaborate to provide an incredible opportunity for GLOW region students to learn about the careers in their own backyard.

“The healthcare sector is one of the GLOW region’s largest employers and contributors to the economy, offering ample career pathway opportunities to the next generation of workforce candidates,” said Angela Grouse, Education to Employment Director at the Livingston County Area Chamber and Co-Chair of GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare. “As we have experienced from our manufacturing event, hands-on interactions with these professionals and organizations lead to sustained interest.”

GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare will provide the healthcare sector with the opportunity to meet and recruit its future workforce. Participants include representatives from hospitals and health systems and those in nursing, mental health, social services and first responders.  Attendees also will be able to explore educational pathways in the healthcare sector through BOCES and local colleges and universities.

“Serving Wyoming County and the GLOW region for the past 110 years showcases our commitment to the community and why career exploration is so essential, especially in the healthcare sector,” said Wyoming County Community Health System CEO David Kobis. “Our local youth get a detailed understanding of the opportunities we have available, and we get to see what they are looking for in a career.”

“We are always trying to find new strategies and opportunities that help prepare our students to enter the workforce upon graduation,” said Karyn Winters, director of the Genesee County Business Education Alliance Director and Co-Chair of GLOW With Your Hands Healthcare. “Through collaboration with local stakeholders, we are building a workforce development model that is being replicated across the region.”

Various healthcare businesses and organizations have demonstrated their appreciation of the value of this event with generous support, including ESL Federal Credit Union, Wyoming County Community Health Services, Rochester Regional Health | United Memorial Medical Center, Genesee County Economic Development Center, and University of Rochester Medicine | Noyes Health.

“Our sponsors are one of the main reasons we have seen so much success and interest with GLOW With Your Hands events these past few years,” said Justin Dueppengiesser, Executive Director, of Wyoming County Business Education Council. “This is a unique opportunity for businesses across the region to tap into the pipeline of well-prepared and educated workforce candidates.”

There are still sponsorship opportunities for the March 22nd event at the Platinum ($5,000), Gold ($2,500), Silver ($1,000) and Bronze ($500) levels.

For more information about GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare visit www.GLOWWithYourHands.com/healthcare or contact Chris Suozzi at csuozzi@gcedc.com.

Coach's Corner: STEM after school programs blossom in 3D

By Chris Suozzi
mechatronics-lab
chris suozzi coaches corner

Changes in technology, from AI to computer-driven manufacturing, are at the forefront of all aspects of our everyday lives.

As we learn more about these tools, we must use them to our advantage and adapt. That’s what all great coaches, teachers, and learners do.

You wouldn’t catch me dead rooting for Bill Belichick, but now that he’s gone from the AFC East, I’m okay saying that he showed us how to do it right.

As coaches and parents, we have to adapt our strategy in our “off-seasons,” no matter how successful we were the previous year. Bring in new concepts, lift up new talents, and find every advantage we can.

And for parents with students in the third grade and higher, there is an advantage your kids can access right now!

Did you know kids are already learning Industry 4.0 concepts, troubleshooting, operational efficiency and creative thinking through 3-D printing - and doing it at Robert Morris?

The Batavia Tech Club offers short-session programs with instruction and application through hands-on interactions with emerging technologies.

I’ve seen Jim Dillon grow this idea, constantly making adjustments to equip more students with the skills that will make them the best learners and future leaders.

Jim leads classes in 3D printing, 3D design, micro-controller coding, cloud-based collaboration, CNC laser cutting, and other cutting-edge technology-related skills that are essential to today’s workplace.

His focus is on age-appropriate learning. This week’s programs were for 3rd through 8th graders, and next week’s are for 3rd through 5th graders.

On Tuesday, I joined Jim and his students as they toured a classroom filled with 3-D printers and Arduino controls. It buzzed with activity. To see the instant gratification of making something was great, but seeing students gain an understanding of how equipment works was even better.

Putting these types of technologies in their hands pushes young learners outside of their comfort zones.

This is how you grow and develop interests you may have never been aware of.

In workforce development, we make improvements every year. We tailor our programs to the economic demands and interests expressed by workforce candidates.  That’s how to do it right.

The good news is that our kids have already taken those steps. Even if they don’t realize it, each new challenge they take on gives them more flexibility in the future.

We have to show them the way and highlight what’s available. While our big events like GLOW With Your Hands are popular, a lot is happening just out of sight.

The Batavia Tech Club is a great example.

We need to continue to equip the next generation of skilled workers with youth workforce programs that are building the pipeline for the growing private sector across our region. Why not expand their minds with the latest technologies being taught by the Batavia Tech Club?

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Batavia Tech Club, please contact Jim Dillon at jdillon@bataviatechclub.com or (585) 297-7779.

Chris Suozzi is the Vice President of Business &Workforce Development at the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Sponsored Post: Bontrager to host a second Waffle Breakfast on Saturday February 10th

By Lisa Ace
Bontrager

You are invited to a waffle breakfast at the Bontrager Auction Center on February 10th , from 7AM – 10AM! Come and enjoy all-you-can-eat homemade waffles and locally produced sausage. All proceeds from the breakfast support the Christian Missions & Relief Sale, a benefit auction for Christian organizations, to be held August 10th, 2024 at Bontrager Auction. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased at the door. Or call 585-409-7408 to purchase tickets pre-sale. For more information, visit https://www.christianmissionsreliefsale.com/.

Batavia Youth Baseball opens registration for 2024 season

By Press Release

Press Release:

Registration for the 2024 Batavia Youth Baseball Season is now open until March 2nd.

Divisions available in our House League are:

  • T-Ball (Ages 4-6)
  • Coach Pitch (Ages 7-8)
  • Minor Division (Ages 9-10)
  • Majors Division (Ages 11-12)

Any youth ages 4-12 interested in playing baseball can register @ https://www.nybataviayouthbaseball.com/.

The Batavia Youth Baseball Board would like to welcome our new Board of Directors for 2024:

Kevin Rogers(President), Jenn Pacino-Lendvay(Vice President), Beth Kemp(Secretary), Jason Crater(Treasurer), Jose Arroyo, Dave D’Amico, Steve Fancher, Pat Fava, Pam Martin, Kristine McCarthy, James Patric, and Mark Sacheli.

GC Republican Committee endorsing candidates for 2024 election

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Republican Committee will be meeting to endorse candidates for the 2024 Election.

The following positions will be open:

  • United States Congress
  • NYS Senate
  • NYS Assembly
  • Genesee County Sheriff
  • Genesee County Treasurer
  • County Coroners (2)

If you are interested in running for one of the above positions please contact Republican Chairman Scott German at 585-409-4870, GeneseeChair@yahoo.com, or mail your resume and letter of intent to PO Box 151, Batavia. All letters must be received by Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Chambry tops 1,000 career points in Byron-Bergen win over Pembroke

By Staff Writer
byron bergen pembroke basketball

Byron-Bergen's Braedyn Chambry scored his 1,000th career point on Wednesday in Pembroke against the Dragons, as part of a 28-point effort to help the Bees to a 62-56 win.

The Bees are now 12-4 on the season, and the Dragons are 9-4.  The teams are 1-1 against each other this season.

Brody Baubie scored 19 points for the Bees.

For Pembroke, Tyson Totten scored 24 points, and Avery Ferreira scored 12 points.

Press release from Byron-Bergen Central Schools:

The Byron-Bergen High School Athletic Department proudly announces that Braedyn Chambry scored his 1000th point as a varsity basketball player on Jan. 31. He joins an elite group of high school athletes but, despite this milestone, remains a team player.

“Braedyn has been an exceptional player for our program over his career,” said Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Roxanne Noeth. “His work ethic and team-first approach have provided us with so many exciting moments. We hope the best are yet to come. We are so proud of him for this achievement.”

Chambry, who is also team captain, is in his fourth year as a varsity basketball player. His varsity career started out with a season shortened by COVID, in which he only tallied 33 points. Three excellent seasons followed, though, bringing his overall scoring tally into the quadruple digits.

Chambry would like to thank all his teammates, his family, and his coaches who have helped and supported him along the way. He adds, “Special shout out to Mr. Pimm for doing a lot of extra work in my early years.” In addition to basketball, Chambry plays varsity soccer and baseball. After graduation, he plans to attend college and continue his athletic career.

Also in Boys Basketball on Wednesday, Canandaigua beat Batavia 65-47. Carter Mullen scored 13 points and Justin Smith scored 12.

Photos by Jennifer DiQuattro

byron bergen pembroke basketball
byron bergen pembroke basketball
byron bergen pembroke basketball
byron bergen pembroke basketball
byron bergen pembroke basketball
byron bergen pembroke basketball
byron bergen pembroke basketball

City fire chief shares stats, department rating during budget session

By Joanne Beck
Batavia Fire Chief Josh Graham, Twichell, Brett Frank
File Photo of Batavia City Fire Chief Josh Graham, left, City Councilman David Twichell and DPW Director Brett Frank during a budget session at City Hall. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Wednesday’s city budget session was fairly short and sweet compared to a recent meeting — as City Fire Chief Josh Graham laid out his department's stats and recent insurance rating for a subdued City Council — and the group continued its way through a proposed $37 million financial plan at City Hall.

Graham explained his $4,696,860 2025 proposed budget, an increase of $286,583 from the 2024 adopted budget. 

Of the 2,653 incidents to occur in 2023, nearly 68 percent of the call volume involved emergency medical services, Graham said. The department has experienced a 57.5 percent increase in call volume over the last 13 years, from 2010 to 2023, with the same number of 36 firefighters, he said, and six out of eight officers are eligible for retirement or will be within the next two years.

As for personnel, he told council to keep in mind that there may be two firefighters “that we have to push through the academy,” and retirement costs added an extra $140,000 to the budget.

Three new members joined the department in 2023, and it requested mutual aid a dozen times that year, three times less than called upon for mutual aid, responding 15 times.

He pointed out the length of careers for the entire team, with a fairly even split among those firefighters at two years and less, three to 10 years and 11 years or more.

“So if you wanted to look at the actual numbers from 2010, all the way up to 2023, you can pretty much see the line that goes across there, with 2020 being that dip during COVID. Obviously, the run numbers went down the next page just shows the career lengths, which I thought was kind of interesting because we're right at about one-third, one-third and one-third,” he said. “We're pretty green for our fire department, but because we have such a stellar staff of officers and those mid-level senior firefighters, it all worked out pretty much 33 percent right across the board.”

So what does the city fire department do?
Emergency medical services, fire suppression, motor vehicle accidents, hazmat, ice and swift water, rope and confined space rescues; firefighter assist and search team; fire prevention and fire extinguisher training; building inspection/code enforcement; car seat checks and installations; community service events/standby; emergency medical technician and related training; fire investigations; smoke and carbon monoxide detector installations. 

August was the busiest month in 2023, at 249 calls, with May and November tying for the lowest calls of 193. Firefighters apparently could get some sleep between 3 to 4 a.m., since that was the least busy time, at 44 calls, but not at 10 a.m., when activity reached its peak at 163 calls, still lingering at 161 calls between 11 a.m. and noon. 

The department responded to 63 structure fires, 80 motor vehicle accidents, 351 alarms, 85 hazardous conditions, 108 service calls, and 1,804 needs for emergency medical services.

The department arrived on scene within six minutes, 90 percent of the time, with an average response of less than four minutes. A response time of 10 to 11 minutes occurred in 19 percent of the calls, while nearly half of them were between three and five minutes. 

His wish list includes a replacement of portable radios and pagers, which would cost $200,000 if purchased all at once. However, he suggested an $8,700 increase to the communications budget line to purchase or fix those pieces of equipment. Pagers are used to notify off-duty staff for recall, and the radios were last purchased with a grant through the county around 2015-16, he said. 

“We were hoping that there would be another grant and we could start replacing the radios, but that's not coming to fruition. So in order to replace the entirety of our radios, you're looking at just short of $200,000. So this is an attempt to try to start cycling those out, as opposed to replacing them all at the same time,” Graham said. “They are just aging out. They may be broken … so if they do break, and the radio costs, you know, $2,000 to fix it, but it's $4,000 for a radio, do you pay the $2,000 to fix it? Or do you get the three newer versions for $4,000?”

He said that video lottery terminal funds could be used to replace 10 portable radios, “and will get us well on our way to replacing them.”

The department already received its Christmas present: a nearly $800,000 fire engine that, with assistance from grant funds, will gradually be paid off over the next two decades in debt service payments. It’s that apparatus and all else owned by Batavia, and the number of staff that went into account for its public classification insurance ranking of “03,” which means the city is “considered highly protected,” Graham said.

Per a letter sent to the city, this ranking is important to communities and fire departments because, as the rating improves, those communities “may get lower insurance prices.” 

When asked by a council member how a department earns a “2” or a “1,” Graham said the top number is extremely hard to get, and it takes “high dollar things to improve the three rating,” he said.

There are 31,867 departments at a four or worse, he said.

Larceny reported at Ulta Beauty, suspects fleeing in silver SUV

By Howard B. Owens

A larceny was reported at Ulta Beauty with three subjects running from the store on foot toward the ESL Credit Union, where they apparently got into a silver SUV and fled the scene.

The stores are in Batavia Towne Center on Veterans Memorial Drive.

Law enforcement units are converging on the area.

Responding units have gone to secure communications, so there aren't likely to be further updates on the search or pursuit.

'First-round draft picks' celebrated on signing day for apprenticeships at local companies

By Steve Ognibene
Students from all over the Genesee Region in attendance of signing day.  Photo by Steve Ognibene.
Students from all over the Genesee Region in attendance of signing day Tuesday.
Photo by Steve Ognibene

The students matched with apprenticeship programs from local companies are all "first-round draft picks," said Chris Souzzi, VP of business and workforce development for the Genesee County Economic Development Center, on Tuesday at a signing celebration.

The event was held at the Best Center on the campus of Genesee Community College to celebrate high school juniors and seniors participating in the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeships Program.

The participants are first-round picks, Souzzi said, "because they really are great prospects for our future."

Juniors in the program engage in job shadows, and seniors are eligible for paid co-op apprenticeships with participating companies.

Matches were announced Tuesday for more than 30 students and 10 companies from the region.

“The Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program is proud to connect students from the Batavia BOCES’ electro-mechanical and metal trades programs to advanced manufacturing companies for paid co-ops and job shadows,” said Rich Turner, RTMA Director of Workforce Development. “Through FLYAP, high school juniors and seniors are receiving real on-the-job experience paired with state-of-the-art classroom training which prepares them for in-demand careers in advanced manufacturing.”

The Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program was created in 2018 by the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA) in partnership with Monroe Community College (MCC). The program is the first of its kind in New York State and is supported by the RTMA, MCC, RG&E Foundation and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The Genesee County Economic Development Center is also a FLYAP Gold Sponsor and assists the program with business recruitment.

In its fifth school year, FLYAP has connected more than 650 students to nearly 150 businesses throughout the greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region.  FLYAP students have also received credit for more than 500 college classes at no cost to them, their schools or their families.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Emma Spink of Attica  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Emma Spink of Attica.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Easton Willis of Oakfield Alabama with Oxbo representative.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Notre Dame
Brody Warner of Notre-Dame Batavia with representative Gorbel.   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Brody Warner of Notre Dame Batavia with Gorbel representative.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jaxson Delpriore of LeRoy with McCabe Electric representative   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jaxson Delpriore of LeRoy with McCabe Electric representative.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Hayman Hendrik to be signed for Protech   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Hayman Hendrik to be signed for Protech. 
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Representatives from various job placement sites in Genesee County   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Representatives from various job placement sites in Genesee County.   
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Sheron announces he will not run for reelection as county sheriff

By Press Release

Press Release:

Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. announced Wednesday that he will not be seeking
reelection for another term as Genesee County Sheriff. Sheriff Sheron’s current
term ends on Dec. 31, 2024, at which time he will retire.

Upon completion of this term, Sheriff Sheron will have served 47 1/2 years with
the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, starting in 1977 as a 9-1-1 Dispatcher and
progressing through the ranks of Deputy Sheriff – Jail, Deputy Sheriff – Road
Patrol, Sergeant, Investigator, Chief Deputy – Road Patrol, and Undersheriff for
20 years before being elected Sheriff in 2016.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with the Genesee County Sheriff’s
Office, and I wish to thank my family, current and former members of the
Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, along with the citizens of Genesee County, for
all the support provided throughout the years," Sheron said.

City police staffing study produces several recommendations for budget talks

By Joanne Beck
BPD Chief Shawn Heubusch and Assistant Chris Camp
Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and Assistant Chief Chris Camp review the proposed 2025 budget and a state report at City Hall.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Become an accredited agency, clearly specify job responsibilities for each sergeant, have a desk officer to take walk-in complaints once the new police station is operational, hire and fill vacancies for two school crossing guards, bump up the patrol roster by five to 25 officers and add a full-time confidential secretary.

Those are the recommendations from a New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services study for the Batavia Police Department. Chief Shawn Heubusch asked for a staffing study in June 2023, and he got back several recommendations that are up for consideration. Heubusch reviewed the results with City Council this week during the police department’s budget session at City Hall.

What went into it
The study took demographics, geography, and the area — the city has a total area of 5.2 square miles of land and 135 miles of roadway — within city limits, with major thoroughfares of east-west NY Route 5 and 33, north-south NY Route 63 and 98.

An owner-occupied housing rate of 49.3 percent with a median value of $108,100 per 2021 U.S. Census Bureau, and a population of 15,459, with 83.3. percent white, 5.8 percent Black, .1 percent American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.2 percent Asian and 7.4 percent two or more races. The median household income, again, per 2021 dollars, was $51,914, with 16 percent of the population at or below the poverty line.

The police department has been involved in community events, including Batavia Community Night Out, Shop with a Cop, and Trunk or Treat, plus a newer Batavia Police Flag Memorial. The department also assists in several other events by providing police presence, such as at 5K races and parades.

The police budget in 2023 was $4,374,567, with an average of $3,907,698 during the last four years, the report states, for services that include preventative patrols, traffic control and enforcement; criminal investigations; enforcement and crime prevention; community policing activities; interagency collaboration and work activities; and community education; plus first aid efforts of using automated external defibrillators, Narcan and assistance at structure fires, mental health transports when needed.

A detective division investigates cases involving all major felonies, homicides, serious assaults, cyber, sex and juvenile crimes. Detectives also assist patrols with other investigations as requested, and are responsible for following up on preliminary investigations initiated by patrol officers.

Working by the numbers
There were 20,020 total calls for service in 2022 and 20,885 in 2021, reflecting “a lot of calls related to COVID,” Heubusch said. The average calls in both 2021 and 2022 during the day shift (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) were 6,444, with the most being in the afternoon from 3 to 11 p.m., at 7,110, and a drop to 6,899 during 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The DCJS uses a calculation to figure out how many posts are actually needed to fill three shifts per day. Using that formula, it recommended that 11 posts are needed, which was then calculated into officers, at seven for the day shift and nine for each of the afternoon and night shifts, for a total of 25 officers. 

“We are currently authorized for 20,” Heubusch said. “That’s a big jump. Their numbers back this up.” 

The formula indicates that 25 full-time uniformed personnel are required to respond to calls for service, the report states. This figure does not include patrol supervisory positions such as sergeants and/or corporals. This is the recommended minimum number, established by the application of the formula as being necessary to staff the Batavia Police Department to respond to calls for service, Heubusch said.

An overview of patrol activities showed wide differences for some tasks, such as 702 mental health calls in 2022 versus 658 in 2021 and 728 welfare checks in 2022 compared to 594 in 2021, and a few decreases, namely the 185 to 126 fraud complaints from 2021 to 2022, respectively. There were five more cases for detectives between the two years as well, up from, 325 to 330.

As is, training time, holidays, Workers Comp, “a lot of these factors are what’s driving over time,” he said. Overtime was conservatively estimated at $220,000 for the 2025 budget, and it “will probably be more,” Heubusch said. 

Parking incidents and violations rose, from 1,712 to 1,725 and 612 to 884, respectively. 

The department is in the process of becoming a DCJS-certified tactical team, Assistant Chief Chris Camp said, “and we hope to reach this goal within two years.”

“We’re really close; we just need to send a few more of our operators to our basic squad school,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s a very time-consuming school, it’s a four-week school, and the offerings aren’t that much. So when they do offer them, we’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared to send somebody away for four weeks.”

The department is also working on an interagency agreement with Livingston County to operate as one tactical team when necessary, he said. 

“That helps us towards becoming a certified tactical team,” he said. “We want to become certified, so we think it will open the door for us to get grant money at that point in time. One of the things that we sorely lack right now is the ability to apply for grants because we’re not a certified team.” 

Upgraded technology has helped the department, in terms of time, money and space, Heubusch said, by allowing people to pay their tickets online more immediately, to submit and transmit video recordings to and from the police and district attorney’s office for use in investigations and legal proceedings, and ability to store records in the Cloud versus having physical storage at the station. 

There is $22,750 budgeted for uniforms, and Heubusch made a special note for council that “no money is budgeted for additional officers” in that uniforms line. Council members have to make a decision about whether to add one or more additional officers to next year’s budget or plan it out for future budgets. City Manager Rachael Tabelski informed them on Monday that it would cost $84,500 per officer, plus medical expenses. 

Council members Tammy Schmidt and Bob Bialkowski said they would not support any tax increases, and Council President Eugene Jankowski was in favor of taking any personnel changes slowly and holding off this year, he said. 

Bialkowski said he thinks the department is “doing a great job,” however, there could be a better effort made with public outreach.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize what’s available … what your department is capable of,” Bialkowski said.

The department tries to educate the public and keep updated whenever possible, Heubusch said. 

“We put press releases out on new programs that we have on a regular basis. We have a program that allows people to register their cameras with us so we know where they are,” he said. “We're trying to stay ahead of technology. And that's the one thing that I take a lot of pride in and pat ourselves on the back if you will, is our technology in the department is not very far behind the general public.”

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