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batavia

April 7, 2020 - 2:54pm

Press release:

In partnership with Foodlink of Rochester, The Salvation Army of Batavia is hosting a “Pop Up” mobile pantry on Wednesday, April 8, where individuals come in their cars and are provided fresh and shelf stable items distributed by volunteers into their trunks.

It will be held 9 a.m. in the parking lot of Northgate Free Methodist Church, North Campus, 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia. One box per household. No deliveries will be available. There are a limited number of boxes available.

Currently, Salvation Army feeding programs are seeing a 50-percent increase in participation statewide.

“The reality is much more dire here in Batavia,” said Lieutenant Rachel Moore of The Salvation Army in Batavia. “Our pantry is quickly being depleted as the demand for food has dramatically increased during the COVID-19 crisis.”

According to Lt. Moore, The Salvation Army of Batavia is currently in need of donations to sustain its food pantry including:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned meat
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Cereal
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Rice

“With the help of the community, we can continue to fulfill our mission of 'Doing the Most Good' during this unprecedented and uncertain time,” Lt. Moore said.

(Editor's note: The free food giveaway is not residency or income based and is available to all.)

April 6, 2020 - 3:43pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, genesee county, batavia, Andrew Cuomo, notify, covid-19, VLT money.

Word that Albany has restored Video Lottery Terminal money generated by Batavia Downs Gaming is good news to Genesee County municipalities, but a couple of other stipulations in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2020-21 budget likely will result in increased financial stress beyond the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assemblyman Stephen M. Hawley confirmed today that the state budget includes the restoration of VLT funds to Genesee County ($200,392), Town of Batavia ($160,388) and City of Batavia ($440,789).

Lawmakers of the three entities previously were advised – late in their budget processes -- that VLT money would no longer be available, and that left sizeable gaps in their budgets. In the case of the City of Batavia, there was a $700,000 shortfall, causing City Council to pass a budget that includes a $7.48 percent property tax increase.

Hawley said getting the VLT money back into local hands is one of the few bright spots of the state budget.

“I worked very hard on that to get it restored from the governor’s proposed cutting,” said Hawley, who is in his 15th year as a state legislator. “Last year, he proposed cutting a percentage of it to the city, the town and the county, and this year he took the total ax to it in his executive budget. But we were able to get that restored in its entirety and that will be of great help.”

While the state could hold the VLT money depending upon revenues and expenditures during this fiscal year, Hawley and County Manager Jay Gsell believe that the local municipalities are safe for the time being.

“Technically, the governor does have the ability to withhold funds from any entity, but hopefully that won't be the case here," Hawley said. "You never know what the governor or legislature will do with the state budget, but this restores it for this year. Each January when the governor comes up with his budget, it seems to be a favorite chopping block for him. That’s why they can’t necessarily count on it from year to year.”

Gsell said it was his understanding that the VLT funding was voted on as a separate appropriation, a line item not subject to the governor’s power to incrementally reduce aid reimbursements to local governments and others, including school districts, based on revenue streams.

“We got a summary from NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties) of all the good, bad and indifferent, and VLT funding was one of the things that in the last two weeks of the budget deliberation -- before the three people in the room made the decision – that would be voted on as part of the full package,” Gsell said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

'Unilateral power' designation raises eyebrows

The county manager said he’s a bit wary over the legislature’s granting of “somewhat unilateral power” to the governor, calling it “unchartered territory as far as local governments are concerned.”

Hawley said he voted “no” to every budget bill for the first time ever, pointing to a flawed process and the decision to give Cuomo more authority.

“For many, many, many reasons I voted for the first time ever “no” on every single budget bill, even though there were things in there like restoration of CHIPs funding (Consolidated Highway Improvement Program), extreme winter recovery, sales tax renewals for the counties I represent,” Hawley said. “Every bill always has good stuff and bad stuff in it, you just have to decide what the general impact is, but because of the way this was done and the way it was held off until the very last minute without appropriate legislative review, I had a huge problem with it.”

He said he was in favor of a “continuing resolution” that would have allowed the state to continue operating and then have the legislature return to Albany when the pandemic was under control.

“Additionally, we would have some sort of -- because this will affect us for years and years to come -- idea what the revenues actually will be and what the expenses may be and then we will be able to approach it with some knowledge,” he said.

Hawley said the “made-up figures were really catastrophic and not an appropriate way to run the state or any business.”

“How do you make up numbers when you have no idea? I thought we could have averted all of this – bringing all 213 legislators back into the buildings -- who knows who brought what with them in terms of this disease. And then we ceded power to the governor to make any changes that he wants to as the budget goes on as opposed to having legislative input on that … that’s not what the election process is all about in a democracy.”

City to use VLT funds to offset costs

City Council President Eugene Jankowski weighed in on the new VLT development, stating that he expects the restored funds to be used to offset some of the spending cuts in this year’s budget and the loss of sales tax revenue caused by the coronavirus shutdown.

“It’s too late to change anything in our 2020-21 budget,” he said. “Since it’s already been passed, we can’t do anything about the tax rate. But it’s great that we will have it to use next year.”

Gsell said having the $200,000 certainly helps the county, which has put its capital projects – including the construction of a new jail – on hold as it calculates the impact of COVID-19.

He is troubled, however, by Cuomo’s creation of a fund to skim county sales tax revenue to support “distressed hospitals and nursing homes” and continuation of a program to use county sales tax money to assist other municipalities.

“I guess you could say it’s a double-edged sword,” Gsell said. “The governor and the comptroller are establishing a $250 million fund over the next two years to help finance distressed hospitals and nursing homes, and we could be hit for about $250,000 in the first year,” Gsell said. “Previously, this had strictly been a state commitment in that regard.”

Gsell: 'Taxation without representation'

Noting that he has no idea whether United Memorial Medical Center or the local half-dozen long-term care facilities would be targeted for assistance, Gsell said this “assessment” is putting Genesee County back into a deficit funding situation – something it removed itself from when it sold the County Nursing Home three years ago.

He also bemoaned the fact that the state, for the second year, will be taking county sales tax to distribute as part of the AIM (Aid and Incentives for Municipalities) program.

“Again, in the past the state fully funded this out of their own coffers,” Gsell said. “They use a formula -- I believe it’s about a 2 percent equation in there – and last year, we saw $320,000 of county sales tax intercepted by the state so they could make those payments to the villages and towns and, in some cases, the city. This year, it could be another $250,000 hit to county sales tax before we even get the standard distribution that they’ll provide. This is taxation without representation. We had no input into how this fund was set up or what the calculation of the formula is.”

Gsell said the county “dodged a bullet” in regard to increased Medicaid funding as the governor’s proposal to remove the cap of local shares was not included in the budget.

“He had a three-pronged proposal that could have significantly changed how much we are paying on a weekly share on our present $9.6 million a year that we’re already committed to sending to the state,” he said.

April 6, 2020 - 1:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Oakfield.

William R. Metz, 48, of Batavia (no address provided), was arrested April 4 and charged with: criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree -- a Class C felony; second-degree menacing; reckless endangerment in the second degree; and fourth degree criminal mischief. NYS Troopers responded to a 9-1-1 report of a possible domestic incident on Batavia-Oakfield Town Line Road in the Town of Oakfield. After an investigation it is alleged that Metz threatened the victim with a weapon and fired multiple rounds in the residence. Metz was arraigned in Town of Oakfield Court and put in Genesee County Jail on $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bound. The NYSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) assisted in this investigation.

Alex S. Dumbleton, 26, of Batavia (no address provided), was arrested for petit larceny. It is alleged that at 1:05 p.m. on April 4 that stole 22 items from Walmart totaling $115.50. Dumbleton was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia Town Court on May 28. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Travis DeMuth.

April 5, 2020 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Corona Convoy, coronvirus, covid-19, news, batavia.

convoymonumentapril52020.jpg

The Corona Convoy, honoring the workers, especially truckers, who keep our economy rolling even in tough times, rumbled through Genesee County today.  

We'll have photos and video later but I'd really like to supplement the video I shot with the video you shot. If we get enough submissions, we should be able to cover the convoy's entire route through the count.

Send your short video clips to [email protected]. For longer clips, use wetransfer.com (enter the same email address in the form). Please try to send the video within the next couple of hours.

April 5, 2020 - 12:15pm

Video: Palm Sunday message from Pastor Roula Alkhouri, Batavia First Presbyterian Church.

April 4, 2020 - 7:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tops, news, video, batavia, Redfield Parkway, covid-19, coronavirus.
Video Sponsor

The residents of Redfield Parkway came together and raised money to cater meals to the employees of Tops Market in Batavia from T.F. Brown's and Los Compadres

Video shot by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service; edited by Howard Owens.

April 4, 2020 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in UMMC, news, batavia, covid-19, coronavirus.

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Staff at UMMC received a free lunch paid for by community donations organized by Ben Macdonald to thank them for "strength, courage, and service" during this difficult time.

Macdonald started a GoFundMe campaign last week with the goal of reading $2,000. The community contributed $3,325.

Workers were served lunches from food trucks for Center Street Smoke House and Public Coffee Hub.

Social distancing was maintained throughout the food service.

foodummcapril32020-2.jpg

April 4, 2020 - 2:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

Quentin I. Bloom, 22, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt in the first degree and second-degree harassment. Bloom was arrested after a domestic incident at 2:18 a.m. March 31 at an upper apartment on Edward Street in Batavia. It is alleged that he struck a person who had an order of protection against him. Bloom was arraigned in Batavia City Court at 7:01 a.m. on March 31 then put in jail on $2,000 cash bail, $4,000 bond, or $8,000 partially secured bond. He is due back in court on April 27. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller, assisted by Officer Alec Roberts.

Michael R. Lanze, 30, of Pearl Street, Rochester, is charged with criminal contempt in the second degree and burglary in the second degree. Lanze was arrested after an investigation and arraigned in Batavia City Court at 4:12 a.m. on April 1. It is alleged that he was found at 11:48 p.m. March 31 in the upstairs apartment on Hutchins Street in Batavia of person who had an order of protection against him. He was jailed on $500 cash, $1,000 cash bail, or $2,000 partially secured bond. He is due back in court on April 27. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Alec Roberts, assisted by Peter Flanagan.

April 4, 2020 - 1:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, scanner, batavia.

Genesee County emergency dispatcher a minute ago: "There are some individuals in the lobby who have cookies for BPD."

City of Batavia Police officer buoyantly: "Received."

April 3, 2020 - 6:55pm

Press release:

There are many families within the greater Genesee region that, during normal circumstances, don’t know where their next meal may come from. During this time of uncertainty, it becomes clearer that as a community, it is our call to help those around us.

Have you felt that urge to help, but just can’t figure out where to plug yourself in?

  • FOOD COLLECTION: Northgate Free Methodist Church will be assisting The Salvation Army with food collection. They are setting up a drop-off point for donations on Monday, April 6, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at their North Campus (8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia).

The Salvation Army is in need of the following items: canned meats, peanut butter, jelly, soups or chili in cans, pastas, rice, beans, breakfast items, snack items for kids and shelf stable milk.

There will be volunteers available to unload items from your vehicle, and safety precautions will be made to maintain social distancing.

  • FOOD DISTRIBUTION: Beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8, The Salvation Army, along with the assistance of FoodLink, will oversee a “Pop-up” Mobile pantry at Northgate's North Campus (8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia).

This will be done as a “drive thru” distribution to insure social distancing and proper hygiene. Residents are asked to pull into the church lot and go around the back of the building via the north side.

Pull up to the pallets and volunteers will load the items for you. Do not get out of your car or attempt to help. This will continue until all the product is gone. Items vary. Please arrive no earlier than 9 a.m.

There are NO residency or income requirements.

In a time where we are being asked to remain apart, let’s do what we can to help those who are in need right now.

April 2, 2020 - 9:26am
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, news, batavia.

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported in the city at Clinton Street and East Avenue. City fire and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 9:27 a.m.: The westbound lane is completely blocking traffic. Two vehicles are involved. Law enforcement in on scene and asking for assistance in traffic control.

UPDATE 9:42 a.m.: Occupants in both vehicles required no medical attention; bother were sign-offs. How the accident happened is being determined. 

April 1, 2020 - 4:01pm


Submitted photos and press release:

In response to the significant increase in need for food, The Salvation Army in conjunction with Northgate Free Methodist Church and FoodLink held major food distributions on the grounds of the church in Batavia.

These took place on Friday March 27th and again today, April 1st. Well over 600 families were assisted in this effort.

Volunteers from four area churches and several community groups assisted in handing out urgently needed food supplies.

The food items included milk, fresh produce, cheese and dry goods. Items were provided by area church food drives, Star Growers and FoodLink.

“None of this would have been possible without the help of the amazing volunteers," said Todd Rapp director of Emergency Disaster Services for The Salvation Army here in Batavia. "They went above and beyond.”

The Salvation Army has been active in Batavia since 1865 and they intend to be here as long as possible through this crisis.

“As long as we have access to food, we will be getting it out there,” Rapp said.

Mark Logan of Northgate said the church will do all it can to support this effort.

In order to keep abreast of future distributions go to The Salvation Army Batavia NY on Facebook and “like” the page. Announcements will also be made through The Batavian.

April 1, 2020 - 8:00am
posted by Billie Owens in nostalgia, batavia, news.

(Above, 4-year-old Dave, with his first baby brother, 1-year-old Dan. No petting allowed.*)

Story by Dave Reilly. Photos courtesy of Dave Reilly.

If you come from a smaller family and have one sibling whose birthday is separated from yours by a bunch of years, you most likely remember that fateful day when your parents told you that a new brother or sister was on the way.

You were set in your routines, you got a lot of attention, you had plenty of room and all of a sudden -- a baby ? If you were a young teenager you might have had the nerve to say something like, “Mom and Dad, seriously? A baby? What were you thinking?”, accompanied by the mandatory teen eye roll.

Regardless of how you felt about this cataclysmic event and how things eventually turned out, there can be no denying that this was a major life changer in your kid existence.

I was born in January 1947. When I was 1 my parents bought a house on Thomas Avenue in Batavia, which is right across from the Holland Land Office off West Main Street. In December 1949 , 2 years and 11 months later my brother Dan came along.

Since I was not quite 3, I don't really recall having any feelings about having a little brother one way or the other. We didn't have a dog or cat, so I guess it was probably OK with me. I couldn't pet him, but other than that life went on.*

As we got a little older we shared a room even though it was a four-bedroom house. Sort of like Wally and The Beav on "Leave It To Beaver." Maybe my parents thought we'd be easier to keep track of if we were in the same space together.

One memory I have of us having the same bedroom is a night my Mom went out and Dad was left in charge. As he was putting us to bed, Dan was whining that his tummy hurt. Dad, like many fathers have been known to do, sloughed if off and said something like “Ah, you'll be fine. Just go to sleep.”

No sooner had Dad's feet begun clumping down the stairs than the prequel to "The Exorcist" began. The blankets, sheets, pillows and little brother Dan were immediately covered in projectile vomiting.

Unluckily for Mom, she arrived home soon after and got to deal with the hazmat-style cleanup. Dan was treated with Canada Dry Ginger Ale and carried off to our parents' bed for the night, and I fell asleep to the pungent aromas of Pine Sol and Lestoil while trying to stifle my gag reflex.

At some point in time asked to be separated and I was allowed to move into my own room in the rear of the house. There I could keep my ever increasing pile of “army” comics (boy do I wish I had saved those) safe and sound from the prying hands of little brother.

In 1955, my parents sold our residence. They wanted a bigger yard, but hadn't yet found one that suited them when escrow closed. So, for two years we moved one block to the west and rented the top floor of a house on Ellicott Avenue.

Since this smaller space only had two bedrooms, Dan and I were back together again. My memories of this time are fuzzy, but I do recall coming down with either chicken pox or measles (this was pre-vaccine) and I had to be quarantined in the bedroom, so Dan must have spent some time on the couch. Or more likely Dad did.

Another recollection I have from Ellicott Avenue is that Mom made friends with the lady downstairs named Midge (there's a name you rarely see anymore). I'm not sure why, but in February 1956 Dan and I were down with her watching TV for the infamous "Ed Sullivan Show" debut of Elvis “The Pelvis” Presley. Midge had a teenage daughter named Louise Ann.

I think she was pretty impressed by the performance, but apparently many were scandalized because in a later appearance Elvis's on-camera gyrations were only shown from the waist up. Good thing there was no Shakira and J-Lo back then. Dan and I being 9 and 6 were noncommittal.

In the summer of 1957 Mom and Dad finally found their big back yard at 122 N. Spruce St. across town. It was the last house on the east side of the street and there were woods behind us and to our north. There were three bedrooms so my brother and I could once again have our own space. Of course, a big play area and woods were a kid's dream.

Although Dan had to switch schools from St. Mary's to St. Joseph's, I was going to be in the sixth grade so Mom and Dad agreed to let me finish my last three years at the Catholic school on Woodrow Road. All was right with the world in our kid brains that summer.

(Above: Dan, left, and Dave with Christmas football gear, pre-baby.)

As it turned out, getting a brand-new house must have stirred something in Mom and Dad, too. One evening, they told Dan and I to come sit down in the living room. They had some exciting news to tell us.

This was not a normal situation in our family, so I'm sure Dan and I were exchanging curious glances.

"Exciting news"? Was Mom getting a job? Did Aunt Kate or Peg finally get a driver's license in their 40s? Were we driving to Buffalo? That was about as thrilling as news got for us.

I remember Mom's mouth moving (Dad had a strange grin on his face) and saying, “Well boys, sometime around spring, you guys are going to have a baby brother or sister!” I looked at Dan with my mouth hanging open. He looked like a fish looks just before you take the hook out of its mouth.

“Whaaaat?” we gasped simultaneously.

“A baby,” Mom said. “You know -- a little sister or brother for you to play with and....”

“NOOOOOO!”, we bellowed. Mom's face looked like Rocky Marciano had just rocked her with an uppercut. She certainly had not expected that kind of reaction.

She recovered nicely though and, realizing that it was too big of a shock, told us that we could talk about it more another time and we should go play. Dad still had that weird grin.

Just go play? Oh no, that wasn't going to happen. Dan and I, who hardly ever had more than a two-sentence conversation, got together to talk over this bombshell.

Once in the bedroom we had a discussion that went something like the following (keep in mind that we were 7 and 10):

"They can't bring a baby here.”

“I know. It's not fair.”

“So, what are we gonna do about it?”

“I dunno. What can we do?”

“Well, I'm not gonna put up with it.”

“Me neither."

There was probably some silence as our little kid brains mulled over our dilemma.

“OK, I got an idea,” I said.

“What?”, Dan asked?

“You know that old building at the sand wash?”

“Yeah?”

The “sand wash” off Cedar Street, now known as DeWitt Recreation Area, was a favorite forbidden play area for us. At that time is was owned by the B. R. DeWitt Company and they extracted sand from the ground, which left deep clear blue ponds of water, which is why it's a park now.

My aunts, Kate and Peg, featured in some of my earlier stories, lived together at 27 Cedar, right next to the pond area.

We were babysat by my aunts and visited them a lot and we'd sneak over there even though (or probably because) we were expressly told not to. Also, until the late '50s you had to cross the four tracks of the New York Central railroad to access the area. That made it all the more inviting.

On the sand wash property there was an old unused shed, which someone had broken the door to. We would go in there and play, and a few years later it became a good place to sneak cigarettes.

“Well, we could go stay there," I told Dan. "We could bring some clothes and when Aunt Kate and Peg are at work we could sneak in and get food. I know where they keep the key.”

“Yeah, we could do that," Dan said, "and they'd miss us and be sad they brought a baby here.”

I'm pretty sure we had no idea at that point how babies actually showed up.

So it was decided.

But of course it was getting dark out so we couldn't leave yet. So, we headed out to watch TV. On the way, we came across Mom coming to check on us.

“You guys OK?”, she asked softly.

“No, we're not OK,” I declared. “We don't want a baby. It'll cry all day and whose room will it stay in? We're gonna go live at the sand wash instead of here.

"And you can't stop us!” I added, with more bravado than I thought I had.

“Yeah,” Dan chimed in rather weakly. Hey, he was only 7.

“Oh really?" Mom replied nonplussed. “ Well, I'm sorry that you guys feel that way. We're gonna miss you.”

“Maybe I'd better go in the basement and find you a suitcase, huh?

Apparently she had recovered from the original shock at our resistance. Moms always seem to know how to deal with “running away” threats.

“Um, uh ...,” we stuttered, “maybe in awhile after our TV show.”

Well, as you can surmise, we calmed down and went to bed without a peep, albeit still sulking.

The next morning we got up and went to school and nary a word was said further about taking up residence at the sand wash.

One other incident during mom's pregnancy comes to mind and it could be filed under “Not funny/funny.”

She was what you'd call "very pregnant" when for some reason Dan and I got into a fight. I had him down in the living room and was pounding him pretty good. He was yelling bloody murder and Mom came running.

As she got to us, she slipped and fell just when Dad showed up. Fortunately for all, neither she nor the baby were hurt. That was certainly no laughing matter and Dad was infuriated, as well he should have been.

The funny part (in retrospect only) was what happened next. Dad, his face as red as the proverbial beet, came after us with a vengeance. We scrambled quickly to avoid the spanking we most certainly deserved.

For some odd reason our bathroom had a linen closet with a lock on the inside of the door and there was a large space at the bottom below the shelves. In mortal fear for our lives, we scrambled into the bathroom, slammed the door behind us, and crawled inside the closet.

We narrowly got the door locked as Dad stormed in. The "Nightmare On North Spruce Street" quickly unfolded with Dad starring as Freddy Krueger.

He pounded on the door. He shook and rattled the knob. You could picture the foam on his lips. Dan and I trembled with fear.

“You'd better come out of there!" he roared. "When I get my hands on you you'll wish I didn't! It's just getting worse for you the longer I have to wait!” And so on.

After about a minute of this, a cooler head, aka Mom, prevailed. She used an easy ploy to get dad out of there, knowing our Dad drank easily 10 cups of coffee a day for years.

“C'mon Jim,” she cajoled. “I'll get them out of there. Go have your coffee before it gets cold.”

Dad grudgingly left the scene rubbing his hands together in frustration so hard that wisps of smoke might have been visible.

Mom said, “Alright you two, come out of there.” Sheepishly we emerged from our port in a dad storm.

“You guys go to your rooms and if you know what's good for you, you won't show your faces until tomorrow morning. I'll deal with you then.”

Dad had a short fuse but, like a tornado, once the whirlwind passed things calmed down quickly. Thanks to Mom, Dan and I had escaped the wrath of Big Jim Reilly again.

(Below, the Brothers Reilly -- Dave, Jim Jr., in arctic attire, and Dan back when you could count on serious snow.)

The rest of Mom's third and last pregnancy passed uneventfully and on April 1, 1958 (yes, April Fool's Day -- the joke truly was on Dan and I) baby brother James Reilly Jr. made his appearance (known through his infancy and to his later chagrin as "Jim Jim").

As I would suspect is the case in most families, Jim's arrival was not the big crisis we brothers had imagined. As it turned out, he was a pretty good addition to the Reillys after all.

Postscript: When I got married and had kids in the '70s and '80s, Dan and Jim got to be concert-going buddies. There is even an epic story of how they went to Long Island to see Pink Floyd in 1980 and drove back the same night narrowly making it through a whiteout near Syracuse.

Sadly, Dan died in a scuba diving accident in 1991. In recent years I have taken over his concert-buddy duties and Jim and I have enjoyed many a good show together.

The “going to live in the sand wash" tale comes up every so often to the amusement of us both.

(The Reillys circa 1964, from far left, Dave, Dan, Ann, Jim, and, in front, "Jim Jim.")

March 30, 2020 - 11:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

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Pat Burk shared this photo tonight of his residence in Batavia where a string of lights now shine with a positive message for the community.

March 30, 2020 - 5:22pm
From Samantha Stryker, Community & Adult Services librarian​, Richmond Memorial Library:
 
"Without poetry, we lose our way." -- U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo
 
April is National Poetry Month! National Poetry Month was created to celebrate the importance that poets and poems have on culture. It is presented each year by poets.org, the Academy of American Poets and many partnering agencies. 

The best news? You can celebrate from home! 
  1. During the month of April, the Richmond library will share poems and feature poets and staff picks on Facebook & Instagram (https://www.facebook.com/RichmondMemorialLibrary/ or search for Richmond Memorial Library. Instagram @batavialibrary)

  2. Send us your favorite poems! We'll feature them on social media and create a reading list based on your favorites. Send them by Facebook or Instagram message or to [email protected] with the subject "favorite poem." Be sure to include your first name. 

  3. Write your own poem or take part in a poetry contest. 

  4. Learn about the U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo and the New York State Poet Alicia Ostriker.

  5. Check out "30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month at Home or Online" from the poets.org. They include many ideas, as well as links to resources for kids and lesson plans. 

  6. Send a poem to a friend or loved one. Encourage someone else by writing a poem or transcribing a favorite poem for them! Send it by mail or read it to them on the phone or by video. 

  7. Read poetry at home! Check out online resources like poets.org, poetryfoundation.org or use an app like Hoopla through the library. Hoopla has a large collection of poetry!

  8. Use the RBdigital app through the library to access magazines like The New Yorker, which includes two poems in each publication. 

  9. Participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 30. "Select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others... and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem" (poets.org).

This year's National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day might look different as we all practice social distancing, but it is a chance to be more creative and intentional in our celebration.

For information about the library, visit batavialibrary.org

Richmond Memorial Library continually provides access to physical and virtual resources and services that meet the educational, informational and recreational needs of its diverse community in a safe and comfortable environment.

Editor's Note: Below is a YouTube clip of the late great poet Mary Oliver reading her poem "Wild Geese." It is one of my favorites.

March 29, 2020 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia First Presbyterian Church, religion, batavia.

Video: Sunday message from Pastor Roula Alkhouri, Batavia First Presbyterian Church.

March 29, 2020 - 12:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in Greta Patterson Hansen, batavia, history, news, New Pool, Swimarama.

This article is from the book "Back in the Day, Snapshots of Local History, The Way I See It," by Anne Marie Starowitz, 2017. Reprinted with permission from the author. 

Growing up in the ‘60s in Batavia would be considered very uneventful to today’s young people. The parks program was very popular and the highlight was the parks parade. Main Street was closed down for an afternoon to let all of the different parks parade their floats down Main Street. Young people played outside, made up their own games, and walked or rode their bikes.

In the winter the tennis courts were converted to an ice rink. In the summer the tennis courts would be used for evening dances. There was nothing like dancing under the stars on the tarmac of a tennis count.

The highlight of the summer of 1962 was the opening of the “New Pool.” How the pool became a reality was not important to the young people of Batavia. All they knew was the new pool meant happy days ahead. Young people would wait anxiously in line for the doors to open holding onto their 25 cents and waiting to get a key for a locker. No one ever noticed a plaque on the wall with the name Greta Patterson.

Greta Patterson was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Guy Patterson of 41 Ellicott Ave. When Greta was two years old she began learning to swim. She loved to swim and did not have a fear of water. Some of her first lessons were in Branton’s pool on River Street. Mrs. Branton and her daughter Sibyl were her first swimming teachers. She also swam at the indoor pool of the New York State for the Blind School, YMCA, and Conesus Lake. She continued to swim during all of her school years.

Greta graduated in June 1955 from Batavia High School. Five days after her graduation she made swimming history. She swam fifteen miles from Angola, NY, to Crystal Beach, Ontario, in thirteen hours. As she exited the cold water of Lake Erie she was treated as a heroine. The day after her historical swim she was welcomed on the steps of Batavia City Hall by Mayor Herman Gabriel and was serenaded by St. Joseph’s Drum Corps. The radio station WBTA broadcast the event. In the same year her picture was in the November issue of Seventeen Magazine.

Her swimming achievement inspired the building of a city pool that would be completed seven years later. Members of the Kiwanis Club decided to launch a fund to build a swimming pool somewhere in the city. Several local social clubs joined the effort under the chairmanship of Robert DeLong. He was to head a fund-raising committee.

The first event was a public entertainment program that would be called a Swimarama. The event took place at the Batavia Downs and a Buffalo talent scout provided an all-star cast of entertainers. On August 8, 1955, 9,000 people sat in the stands at the Downs to watch the opening ceremonies. Leading the parade around the track was Greta Petterson riding in a sulky drawn by a racehorse. The entertainers followed in convertibles. The music of St. Joseph’s Drum Corps and the Brockport-Batavia Cavalier Drum Corps filled the air. There were singers, dancers, and impersonators. The event raised $6,000 for the new pool fund. The contributions were slowly coming in. In 1958 William Henry became the new chairman of the pool committee and he established a door-to-door drive hoping that every family would donate one dollar to the new pool fund. Finally, they were very close to their goal of $80,000.

In 1959 the building contract was awarded to Ed Leising to excavate a choice piece of land in MacArthur Park. The pool would measure 60 feet by 100 ft. and would accommodate 100 swimmers.

The pool opened July 9, 1962. People from the summer recreation program were trained to be lifeguards. The pool was never given an official name but the Kiwanis Club did place a plaque on the wall at the main entrance acknowledging Greta Patterson’s part in the creation of the pool. The pool will be forever called the “New Pool” for those young people that made the pool the highlight of that summer and many summers to come.

In 1991 the pool needed major repairs. Due to the high cost for repairs, the pool was closed and was filled with dirt and made into basketball courts. In 1997 the bathhouse was remodeled and made into the Batavia Youth Center. It was decided to ask Greta if she would accept the honor of having the new Youth Bureau dedicated to her. Greta Patterson Hansen was honored.

Greta’s history has come full circle from being Batavia’s famous swimmer, inspiring the community to create a community pool, to coming home and having the Batavia Youth Center dedicated in her name. Today the Batavia Youth Bureau is housed at 114 Liberty Street in St. Anthony’s former school.

Picture below and at top courtesy of Anne Marie Starowitz. Photo of the painting of Greta Patterson as a little girl, courtesy of the Holland Land Office Museum. The book "Back in the Day, Snapshots of Local History, The Way I See It," is available at the museum.

March 27, 2020 - 6:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Blondies Sip-N-Dip, business, batavia.

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In December, Andy and Laura Pedro purchased Blondies Sip-N-Dip on East Main Street Road in Batavia. Today, they officially opened for the spring, summer, and fall seasons.

Because of social distancing restrictions, right now, they can't serve walk-in customers but they have opened a walk-up window and they can use that window to service drive-thru customers.

"Not ideal," said Andy, "but we'll make it work."

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