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July 21, 2008 - 11:58am

There's little in the way of hard, breaking news in today's Daily News. The front page includes a profile of County Legislator Annie Lawrence, the next installment of Tom Rivers' farm labor series — Tom shows a heifer at the fair — and an article about scrap metal dealers picking at the carcasses of beat-up demolition derby cars.

By no way do we fault the paper for this dearth of big news. If you've already read the police blotter for the weekend, you'll see that it was mostly accidents, and the only way the sheriff's deputies were able to record numerous arrests was to go out and set up road blocks.

It seems a slow, newsless weekend was upon us. Maybe the heat — that putrid bog of stifling ozone and gnats — played a part. For sure it kept me locked in the bedroom with the air on full blast. How about you? Or maybe you disagree with me altogether, and you experienced a weekend overflowing with newsworthy happenings. If so, write about them. Or send them along and we'll write about them.

As always, we encourage you to get out and pick up a copy of the Daily News at local newststands. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

July 18, 2008 - 1:29pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in animal shelter, Daily News, agriculture, sports, youth baseball.

Genesee County's 4-H'ers logged record sales of more than $100,000 at the 38th annual meat auction at the Fair yesterday, according to the Daily News. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing costs of feed, straw and fuel mean that the higher sales prices were barely enough to break even in many instances. Check out the article by Tom Rivers for more details.

Animal shelters in Genesee and Wyoming counties are "inundated" with cats this summer. PAWS Animal Shelter in Albion is already "at capacity" with 190 cats — and more getting dumped in the donation slot regularly.

News of the potential relocation of Youth Football to John Kennedy that is noted on today's front page appeared on The Batavian yesterday.

Batavia sluggers will travel to Oakfield tonight for the District 3 youth baseball championship. Batavia's pitchers threw two no-hitters in the past two matches (versus LeRoy and Oakfield). If they win tonight, they clinch the championship and travel to Elmira for the sectionals. If Oakfield wins, the two square off Monday for a tie-break match. Tonight's game is at 6:00pm.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at local newsstands. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

July 17, 2008 - 12:48pm

LeRoy police have identified the body discovered in Oatka Creek Wednesday afternoon as that of 41-year-old Glenn Kanaley, according to the Daily News. No cause of death has been determined, and the body has been taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office where an autopsy will be performed.

LeRoy Police Chief Christopher Hayward dispelled rumors on television that the death was a suicide. "Nothing indicated he was suicidal," writes reporter Scott DeSmit.

In other news, the New York State School for the Blind opened its "Sensory Park" playground Wednesday. The park is designed to"stimulate senses (and) help students with motor skills" and includes an herb garden, slides and a swingset, pedal cars, go-carts and a "spongy carpet, which gets thicker under any areas where students are apt to fall."

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park was approved for a $225,000 grant from the Batavia Town Board at its meeting last night.

Consolidation is under way as city police officers begin training on the new computer system they will share with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. Once the consolidation is complete — should be in September — there will no longer be a dispatcher in police headquarters. Instead, "the city will have a clerk on duty during day-time hours."

Investigation into the fire that scorched Cristina's Restaurant Saturday continues, though "the probe has shifted ... to interviewing people," writes Paul Mrozek. Cristina's owner Charles Brumsted has declined to comment to the Daily News and has not returned messages left by The Batavian.

Pick up your copy of the Daily News at local newsstands — such as Main Street Coffee. Or, better yet, subscribe online at BataviaNews.com.

July 17, 2008 - 8:38am
posted by Philip Anselmo in wbta, agriculture, Genesee County Fair.

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

  • Reports have come in that the 1,200-pound show steer that escaped from the Genesee County Fair Monday was spotted last night along Batavia-Stafford Townline Road. The steer's owner cautions people not to approach the steer. He doesn't want anyone to get hurt. If you've seen the steer in that area today, call Dr. Johnson at (585) 704-1839.
  • City Manager Jason Molino told Dan Fsicher that the lawsuit filed by Sally Kuzon, assistant city manager, with the village of Williamsville, was "a private matter." Kuzon, who was phoned yesterday morning by The Batavian, has yet to return our call and declined to comment with WBTA.
July 15, 2008 - 8:08am
posted by Philip Anselmo in wbta, agriculture, Genesee County Fair.

Big breaking news on WBTA this morning! Dan Fischer is calling it a Bovine Bulletin. Yes, it's true. There's a 1,200-pound steer on the loose in Batavia, escaped from the Genesee County Fairgrounds yesterday. The "show steer" was last seen on Cedar Street around 9:00pm last night. If you see it — white with a tan face and a number 37 tattooed on its right hip — call the police.

July 1, 2008 - 12:13pm

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

  • O glorious day! Today's Daily News features the third installment of Tom Rivers' adventures in agriculture series — cherry picking. Rivers begins the article with a confession of his rampant fear of heights, ladders in particular, which makes for a tense and funny start to what proves another gem in a great series. Go read it.
  • United Memorial Medical Center received a $2.2 million state grant that will help finance the renovation of the Jerome Center on Bank Street. Reporter Paul Mrozek writes: "The project will provide 37 condominium-style apartments for low-income senior citizens, ages 55 or older. Rent will be from $475 per month to $575 per month, depending on the person's income." The total cost of the project is about $8.2 million. No date has yet been set for the start of the project, but UMMC spokeswoman Colleen Flynn said that they hope to start soon.
  • The Genesee County Nursing Home was told it will get $800,000 in "retroactive Medicaid reimbursements," money that was supposed to be granted by the state as reimbursement for Medicaid patient care provided by the nursing home. Also, the state will start to pay more for Medicaid services and the county should see an added $600,000 "in unanticipated revenue," writes Paul Mrozek, which means more good news for an institution that hasn't heard much of it in recent months.
  • And the money just keeps flowing... The city of Batavia received a check for nearly $630,000 from the state thanks to Batavia Downs video gaming facility. An article in the Daily News Friday made mention of the state funds — some went to the county and some to the town, as well. After reading today's article, I still don't quite understand why the state gives money to community's for hosting video gaming centers, which I believe are no more than video slot machines. Reporters Tom Rivers and Joanne Beck explain how it came about: "The state last year approved legislation allowing host communities to receive payments for having video gaming centers within their municipal borders. They share 3.5 percent of the total net revenue generated by the video gaming centers." I assume that "they" here refers to the "host communities." But then the next sentence says that the "money comes from the state and not the tracks that operate the gambling centers." I'm confused. Whose money is this? Is it the state's or does it belong to the Downs? Why do municipalities get a share? Anyone know how this works?
  • A fire at a home in Corfu Monday morning resulted in the death of two cats and caused about $50,000 in damage. No one was home at the time, and the Corfu fire chief said the house is not habitable.
  • The owner of BrightLine, a television marketing company, was honored as the Batavia High School Graduate of Disctinction Sunday. Jacqueline Corbelli Modzelewski graduated from the school in 1982.
  • Brian Hillabush reports on the NFL-sponsored football camp at Batavia High School. More than 400 kids are enrolled in the camp, and they come from schools all over the area. It's an interesting article, worth reading.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

June 25, 2008 - 12:50pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, agriculture.

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

  • Onion fields in Elba that looked ravaged by the hail storms that tore through the region early last week seem to be recovering nicely. Reporter Tom Rivers writes: "A week later and the onion growers say they couldn't be happier with the turnaround. Many of the plants have shed bruised and battered leaves and grown new ones, with some already a foot high."
  • Incoming Batavia City School Superintendent Margart Puzio told reporter Joanne Beck that she wants to be accessible to all who need her services. "I have an open door," she said. "If there are ever any problems, please, please, please contact me." Puzio takes over as superintendent tomorrow.
  • Another great article by Tom Rivers on the front page today. This one is about a group of onion growers that meets for coffee once a week to chat about their farms, their lives and whatever else. But they don't meet at a coffee shop. Or anywhere else indoors. Instead, this crew gathers beside a frog-filled drainage ditch along Transit Road in Elba. Fun read!
  • Traco Manufacturing, a retail display manufacturer, may soon move into a 24,000-square-foot plant in Gateway I Industrial Park in the town of Batavia. That means a move out of the city, where it currently resides on Mill Street. And, since the plot in the town is categorized as an Empire Zone, that also means Traco will be eligible for tax breaks. For more about last night's meeting of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board, check out the article by Paul Mrozek.
  • Today's editorial takes up the issue of the upcoming public hearing July 2 on potential changes to the state rules on open burning. The Batavian posted about the hearing about three weeks ago.
  • Brian Hillabush previews the fall lacrosse season at Genesee Community College on the front page of today's sports section. Worth checking out.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

June 20, 2008 - 12:38pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, agriculture, school for the blind.

From the Daily News (Friday):

  • State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker is urging the governor to declare about 20 state counties as disaster sites following the hail storms that pounded the area on Monday. Hooker came through Genesee County yesterday, stopping by ravaged cabbage and onion fields in Elba. If his request goes through, those and many other farms will be eligible for federal disaster aid. While the crops were not destroyed on most farms, they did take a beating, and many farmers are worried that the market simply won't accept the un-perfect produce. New York Apple Association Director Jim Allen said: "You can't tolerate defects in fresh fruit. There's no doubt we took a serious hit." Farmers will know more about how much they can recover in the coming weeks.
  • A computer screen-reading program is helping students at the state School for the Blind. Reporter Kristen Kotz writes about the program, called JAWS: "It allows them to navigate the entire computer system and receive verbal feedback."
  •  A dozen folks turned out for the first session of the Military Pride Network, a new "networking and support group for families of individuals who are on active duty in the military," writes reporter Paul Mrozek. The group will meet again July 17 at 5:15pm at the Genesee County Career Center in Eastown Plaza in Batavia. Call (585) 344-0842 for more information.
  • Batavia's Rotary, Rods and Rock & Roll fundraiser is all set for June 28 at Batavia Downs. The event kicks off at 3:00pm with a car show, an auction and a pizza tasting. A beer festival will follow at 6:00pm — Batavia's first ever, according to Joanne Beck. Her article is pretty comprehensive — including a list of all the bands slated to perform — so for those looking for more information, check it out. Admission will be $2 for the Rotary event and $15 for the beer festival.
  • Batavia Downs will host a horse show this weekend. The show will start at 7:30am and run to 5:00pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.
  • Looks like the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is pretty geeked up about the Rural Tourism Conference that they'll be hosting next year. They've already put out the announcement. Congrats to them.
  • A pair of articles inside the A Section of today's paper were featured on The Batavian in earlier posts: Batavia's BID puts up hanging flower baskets and truckers converge on Albany.
  • Great photo spread at the back of the paper today!
  • The Muckdogs went down hard, 7-0, against the Auburn Doubledays last night to start the season 0-3. They'll be playing at Frontier Field in Rochester tonight.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

June 17, 2008 - 12:40pm

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

  • United Memorial Medical Center reported a $3.4 million profit for 2007, its fourth straight year in the black, according to President and CEO Mark Schoell. For more facts and figures check out the article by Paul Mrozek.
  • Agricultural reporter Tom Rivers has an interesting piece on the front page about the not-to-friendly named 'armyworms' and their threat to local wheat harvests.
  • I had some trouble working out the details of an article about the Genesee County Public Defender's Office that could lose "hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funds." Reporter Paul Mrozek writes that in order to receive the state funding, the county "must spend at least one dollar more for the two programs than it did in the previous budget year." It seems strange, but apparently the state is demanding that the office spend more money in order to receive more money. What's more strange is that the threshold is measured by a single dollar.
  • The town of Batavia dedicated a new guardrail erected at a curve in Stegman Road near Route 5 last night. That curve was the site of an accident that injured one friend and killed another nine years ago. After much petitioning by one of the accident victims, Jamie Beedham of Oakfield, the town finally put up the guardrail two weeks ago. "My goal is if the guardrail can save one life, I will have been successful," she told reporter Kristen Kotz.
  • Among the items on the Batavia Town Board agenda for its meeting Wednesday is a potential contribution of $225,000 by the town to aid the development of the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park that is planned to go up near the fairgrounds. You can download the complete meeting agenda by clicking here.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

June 17, 2008 - 9:38am
posted by Philip Anselmo in agriculture, Cornell Cooperative Extension.

It's out! The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County released its Agri-Tourism Guide for 2008. The pamphlet can be downloaded from the Coop's Web site or picked up in person at its Main Street location near Masse Mall (look for the cow). It's got a colorful map to help you find the many fruit and vegetable farms, slaughterhouses, maple houses, orchards, greenhouses and popcorneries (is that a word, I don't know). Each gem is listed with an address and a brief description of just what you can find there.

I had a bowl of fantastic, organic, cold purple grapes last night, and let me tell you, there's nothing like fresh produce from your own hometown. Pavilion's got two acres of blueberries. Herbly Wonderful here in Batavia has lavender fields and greenhouses so sweet-smelling you have to keep from plucking the furry bits of thyme right off their stalk. Corfu's got cheddar to please. Looking to knit a scarf? LeRoy's got alpaca yarn aplenty.

Honestly, folks. You've got everything edible and touchible to get you through the summer — and when that's all over, hit up the wreath-makers and Christmas tree farms, also listed.

If you've got any questions, or you want to know just where to find those alpacas, stop by the Coop or get your own guide right now.

May 27, 2008 - 7:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in economic development, business, agriculture, GCEDC.

Steve Hyde  of Genesee County Economic Development Center presented an update on Agri Park development and tonight's council conference meeting.

The proposed ag park could be worth $1.4 billion to the local economy and create 1,100 jobs.

It will cover 200 to 300 acres near Oatka Milk in the Town of Batavia.

It will be the only ag industry focused part in the Northeast.

A Canadian company seems ready and serious to be the first tenant of the park, bringing 100 jobs and taking advantage of current monetary exchange rates.

"We’re not coming here today to ask for help, but to look for a partnership that says this benefits the people in the community," Hyde said.

Grants of $6 million are currently available to fund Phase I.


May 19, 2008 - 9:17am

I'm a firm believer in buying local produce — when possible. When your green beans come from down the street, you know they're fresh, plus you can support your local growers.

Last summer, I spent a morning with Sharon Nagle of Firefly Farm in Canandaigua. Sharon grows organic vegetables and some fruit. She's a connoisseur of soil conservation and building up the right kind of nutrients, getting the most out of the earth while putting the most back in. She let me taste one of her tomatoes, off the vine. It was a life-changing experience. I never knew a tomato could taste so good.

So, when I read this morning that the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County is putting together a local produce guide, I simply had to share the information. Right now, they're looking for growers to add to the list.

We are looking for those of you who sell locally grown products (produce, plants, honey, maple, meat, fiber, eggs, etc.) directly to the consumer.

If you have a road side stand, U-pick operation, farm market, nursery, etc. please contact us. We need your Business name, address, phone number, season/hours of operation, and a list of products.

We plan on having this list available to the public on our website, as well as possibly producing a Buy Local brochure.

Call (585) 343-3040 ext.126 for more information, or send an e-mail to Jan Beglinger at jmb374 (at) cornell (dot) edu.

May 13, 2008 - 5:19pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in farms, governor Paterson, agriculture.

It wasn't yet even one o'clock Monday, and the Grange was already filled up with folks of all walks, though most the kind that walked corn rows or trough lines. Two months shy of the Genesee County Fair and the grounds had already come alive with farmers, a couple hundred of them by the look of it — young, old, bearded, garrulous.

Our state governor ended up arriving more than an hour late, which only gave more folks time to get there. Some of them came in suit and tie, a few in tee-shirt and jeans. Some came bearing champagne-stocked gift baskets. That was nice and all, but I feel that more of our elected officials should be bringing us sparkling wine and truffles. Just because.

Once the flash bulbs started popping and a slow-moving crush of bodies inched toward the podium, you knew the governor had arrived. I expected him to be larger. I don't know why. Maybe because I expect all powerful men (and women) to be of superhuman size, as if girth and stature somehow invest their motives with more purpose. But no matter. He didn't need to be extra-large. Governor David Paterson had presence.

After Senator Schumer bobbled a few names of important guests in the audience, even though they were written down on a piece of paper in front of him that he read up close through spectacles — no offense, senator — Paterson only seemed the more remarkable when he took the microphone and dropped names, numbers, dates and stories as if he were inventing them right there they came off his tongue with such immediacy and conviction. At one point, the governor even corrected one of the questioners who cited article 240 of the state code, when in fact it was article 241 — don't quote me on the numbers, but you get the idea.

And all of this preamble just to say that I wasn't the only person there who was impressed with Paterson — all policy decisions aside. This afternoon, I got a few area farmers on the phone to get their take on the governor's visit. Here's what they had to say (in their own words).

Dale Stein is a dairy farmer out in LeRoy. He's also the current president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau. I asked him what he thought of the visit.

"The visit turned out very well, even more than I expected. The governor is extremely knowledgeable. And we have an opportunity now to build a relationship with the governor about agriculture. I'm very optimistic."

Steve Rigoni used to be a dairy farmer himself, but switched to cash crops. He's got about 600 acres out in Pavilion that he divides up among corn, soy bean, wheat, hay and switchgrass that he burns to dry his corn for sale in the markets. Steve is big into renewable energies. He's got a windmill up on his site to help power the place. And the switchgrass is a great alternative to propane, he says.

He was also impressed by the governor's visit.

"I'm hopeful for this governor. He seems to be in tune. He's very intelligent, seems to be able to remember everything, and seems to have a good handle on what can be done. You can't create miracles. You've got to work within the federal government's framework. ... I thought it went well. That was the first time a governor came out and talked with us in our neighborhood. Now, there are things that need to be done."

Dean Norton operates a dairy farm out of Elba. He also represents the state Farm Bureau's Board of Directors and works as an accountant. You could say he's a busy man. Not so much that he can't take my call, though, and I appreciate that.

"I was glad that Senator Schumer was able to get the governor out to meet the farming community. I thought it was great that they could make it out. He brought out his commissioners and they listened to some of the concerns that growers had in the area. I think they listened. How quickly they act on something, I don't know."

There is still much to be done, says Norton. A visit and a nice forum with the farmers is one thing. Getting legislation through to help the farmers in the field, is quite another.

"You heard folks talk about the labor issue. That's first and foremost. If we don't get those workers here, the crops will rot in the field. And we need to get some type of immigration reform done, period. We keep getting assurances from our elected officials, but nothing done."

Related posts:


May 13, 2008 - 1:25pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, crime, Daily News, agriculture.

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

• A book signing and talk with David Bellavia scheduled for tonight at the Holland Land Office Museum was cancelled. Museum Director Patrick Weissend told the Daily News that the event was cancelled because Bellavia had since declared his candidacy for Congress, and Weissend was worried about perceptions of unfairness of holding the event at a non-profit. (I would like to hear more about that. Who would feel that the event was unfair?) Bellavia is seeking the 26th Congressional District seat vacated by the retirement at the end of this term of Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds. No mention of Bellavia's party affiliation.

• A potential challenger of Bellavia's, Democrat Jon Powers, stopped by the Batavia Elks Lodge last night to get his message out. Reporter Paul Mrozek writes: "Powers, 29, of Clarence, is a retired Army captain and a decorated Iraq War veteran. He said the major issue of the campaign is that the country lacks the leadership to tackle tough problems, such as how to improve the economy and how to bring American troops back from Iraq." No mention in the article (from Powers) of what it would take to improve the economy or bring troops back.

• City police reported several arrests for unlawful possession of marijuana — no mention of where the infractions occurred — and two instances of driving while intoxicated: on Court Street and South Spruce Street.

• Agricultural reporter Tom Rivers covered the visit by Governor Paterson to Batavia yesterday. Both of his articles appear on the front page of today's paper.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

May 12, 2008 - 6:13pm

Gov. David Paterson and Sen. Chuck Schumer visited the Grange at the Genesee County Fairgrounds today for a forum on agriculture. More than 100 farmers from upstate counties came out to attend the Q&A session that kicked off with a brief recap of the federal Farm Bill by Schumer.

About 20 people lined up at the microphone for a chance to ask the governor questions on agricultural policy and the future of upstate farms. In fact, there were so many folks interested in getting their voice heard that the governor didn't have time to address them all — and an event that was expected to last about a half-hour ran well over an hour. Immigrant labor and supporting youth education in agriculture were among the many issues raised by the public.

Paterson was joined by state Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith who took up the issue of immigrant labor. From a released statement issued by the governor's office after the event:

Farmers have been increasingly frustrated at their inability to find qualified workers to harvest their crops, hampered in large part by federal regulations requiring them to exhaust all domestic possibilities before being granted waivers to hire non-domestic workers. Farmers insist the supply of farmhands is far outweighed by the demand, and without sufficient federal waivers from the Bush Administration, crops will literally die on the vine.

The governor also discussed a state program to fight the Plum Pox virus that threatens "stone fruit crops" such as peaches. The program will continue to study infected crops and reimburse farmers for their losses from destroyed crops.

UPDATE: The blog Poltics on the Hudson covers Gov. Paterson's visit:

Business leaders in upstate are criticizing the governor’s plans to go back to the old policy, in which a New York City chairperson oversees the state’s entire economic development program.

Right now, Dan Gundersen serves as the upstate chair, based out of Buffalo.

“No one has said that we are taking Mr. Gundersen away from upstate,” Paterson told reporters after a town-hall meeting in Batavia on farm issues with Sen. Charles Schumer.  ...

“And I certainly understand that the economy is reeling, the anxiety is overflowing in upstate New York.”

Paterson went on to say that “I wanted to have an ability of the agency to have a centralized organization” yet he doesn’t plan to diminish any services to upstate.

“If we don’t change something, we’re not going to have improvement around here,” Paterson said.

“And I would invite some of those who said they were irked, to please call me because I let them know since the time I was in office two months ago that if they ever had a problem, they should call me and not one of them have called me in the past few days.”

Also, here's News 10's coverage.  And Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the Albany Watch blog wonders why Paterson has missed four consecutive legislative work days.

His absence is giving rise to speculation that he doesn’t intend to push an aggressive agenda for the rest of the legislative session.

“It’s hard to drive the Albany agenda without being in Albany,’’ said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “That’s why the Executive Mansion is in Albany.’‘


Update posted by Howard Owens

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