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October 1, 2022 - 4:05pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in Batavia HS, batavia, football, sports.

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The Blue Devils scored six unanswered touchdowns on their way to a 42-0 rout of Pal-Mac at home on Friday night.

Vincent Arroyo scored three times and Cam McClinic, twice --  Arroyo on receptions of 12 and 58 yards and a 79-yard kickoff return and McClinic on runs of seven and three yards.

QB Javin McFollins was 7-11 passing for 134 yards, two TDs and one interception.

McClinic rushed 14 times for 92 yards. Arroyo had three receptions for 86 yards.

On defense, Garrett Schmidt had 11 tackles, Meki Fortes, six, and Cooper Fix and Carrier McFollins, five each, with both Fix and McFollins snagging pickoffs.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

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Members of the 2022 batavia Athletic Hall of Fame Class will be inducted tonight and was recognized at halftime

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The Senior Class of 2023 won the Homecoming Spirit stick award

October 1, 2022 - 1:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

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Tarrence Williams

UPDATED at 3:43 p.m. with a quote from the police chief.

Batavia police officers have arrested a suspect in a shots-fired incident reported in the area of 200 Ellicott St. on Friday evening.

Tarrence Y. Williams, 22, of Batavia, has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon 2nd, a Class C felony, and criminal possession of a weapon 4th, a Class A misdemeanor.

He was arraigned in City Court and jailed on $50,000 bail.

There has been no report of anybody injured as a result of gunshots in the area.

Chief Shawn Heubusch praised the actions of his officers.

"Officers responded quickly to this incident and were able to almost immediately identify a suspect," Heubusch said. "Working in conjunction with our partner agencies, the officers were able to bring a swift resolution to this incident and keep our community safe.  They are commended for their brave actions in the face of what was a very dangerous situation."

The incident began with a report of gunshots at about 6 p.m.  Witnesses reported seeing a male walking nervously with what appeared to be a gun on his person.

A man matching the description provided was spotted by Sgt. Dan Coffey walking on the Ellicott Trail a short distance from the incident location. When Coffey attempted to stop the individual for an interview, the man fled on foot and Coffey chased him from Evans Street to Court Street.

In the Court Street parking lot, the man discarded identifiable clothing and officers believed he discarded a firearm in the area.

Additional officers responded, including deputies and a trooper.

Williams was located and taken into custody and then officers, with the assistance of Batavia firefighters, searched the area, including the roofs of nearby buildings.

A short time later, a weapon was located under a bush next to the walkway between the Key Bank drive-thru ATM and the M&T Bank branch.

Williams recently entered a guilty plea in County Court to a charge of attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd -- a charge that indicates prosecutors believe he possessed enough of a controlled substance that he intended to sell it.  He is awaiting sentencing on that conviction.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Detective Ivison at (585) 345-6312 or email [email protected]

Previously: Man runs from police, gun found, and officers are seeking details about incident on Court Street

Top photo by Howard Owens.

October 1, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, The Harvester Center, Harvester Avenue, notify.

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On Aug. 10, business owner Rob Credi was happy and thankful to be celebrating the two-year anniversary of Pub Coffee Hub at Harvester Center.

That is, until he saw a road crew tearing up the street alongside of his thriving coffee shop. That date now marks the beginning of an agonizing blow to the clientele and successful business that Credi had built up those last two years. While other road projects have seemed to move along swiftly, Harvester Avenue has lagged behind as a bumpy, torn up hindrance to motorists and the businesses they're trying to visit, he says.

“Look at the other streets; they’re milled and ready to be paved. Our street is a graveyard of a street; it’s not drivable, there are potholes, lots of cement. On Aug. 10 they started digging, and three to four weeks later they never touched anything," Credi said during an interview with The Batavian. "I spoke to the contractors who dug it up, and they were going to come back. I’ve seen a significant drop in business. It’s the planning, execution and the quality of work that’s got my blood boiling.”

Slow work zone
It pains him to think about the lost revenue -- "you know, money that should have been coming in." 

"I'm gonna write that off, I'm never gonna see those dollars, it's just a lost cause. So really, my focus is just, however long this is gonna take, can we clean up the road and make it more serviceable for customers ... and maybe put a little fire under their butts to make it more of an urgent project to try to finish, kind of minimize the danger of moving forward."

After being patient for more than a month, Credi finally reached out to City Council and management.

“The purpose of this e-mail is to bring to your attention the devastating effect the current Harvester Ave. roadwork project is having on businesses, specifically Pub Coffee Hub. It is my understanding that this has been a project in the works for a couple of years. I have been a tenant in The Harvester Center since August of 2020 and from that date until August 10th of this year was not once invited into a conversation regarding the project and the inevitable consequences my business would suffer because of it,” Credi wrote in an email to council members and City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “If not for the good fortune of having a direct line to the new Director of Public Works, we would have been 100 percent in the dark about everything at that point. Let's not forget the 2-3 days where Harvester Ave. was completely blocked off at Main Street. How do you think businesses on our street did that day? Does anyone care? Yes, there was a surprise pipe issue needing immediate attention. What wasn't a surprise was, yet again, zero communication from the city and zero plan to address those that depend on the availability of traffic down the road while it was being repaired.”

When talking to The Batavian, Credi shared concerns about the business he has lost so far — a 42 percent dip in revenues, and that was after experiencing growth of nearly 35 percent this last year. A big sticking point for him is the seeming lack of thought about the actual entities on Harvester Avenue as plans were made for the road project itself. This week alone, contractors dug a ditch directly in front of a parking lot across the street, and posted a sign announcing the road was closed to all except local traffic.

“And at no point did anyone reach out to any of the businesses in the harvester center, or even a building manager to address 'hey, here's what's gonna be happening, here's what's happening.' Obviously, this is going to affect your businesses,” he said. “It would have been nice of them to be proactive and say, here's what we propose we can do to help alleviate some of that stress, or solicit feedback from us on ‘what we can do to make it less debilitating to businesses while it's going on.’ So that's the one issue that they had plenty of time to address. They never did.”

Untimely timelines
His plea reaped some sympathizers, as council members John Canale, who owns a drum studio at Harvester Center, Patti Pacino and Tammy Schmidt, who represents that area’s Sixth Ward, agreed that it wasn’t a good situation. Tabelski responded with an outline of work to be done in the city, including Harvester Avenue.

Tabelski had spoken to Department of Public Works Director Brett Frank, and “learned that he has been communicating with you and the owners of the Harvester Centre on a regular basis to keep you updated on the construction project,” she said in an email to Credi, adding that Frank will continue to provide updates and “we are hopeful that we can get the street project completed as soon as possible.”

She and others walked along Harvester recently and found deteriorated concrete base pavement that has turned to rubble, and the area will need to be replaced with concrete base pavement prior to any paving being done, she said to Credi.

The Batavian also reached out to council members and Tabelski. The city manager replied with a timeline and scope of the Harvester project. “The project continues to progress and the City is hopeful that the Harvester Ave. project will be finished by December 14th or sooner,” she said.

So that means it could be done anywhere from one to three months from now. Credi had not been given that date, however, he was told that contractors had up to six months to do the necessary work. But he certainly didn’t think it would take that long, he said.

“The City is not looking to put any undue burden on businesses or residents along Harvester Ave. and we are very optimistic that the new street will be a tremendous improvement,” Tabelski said. “We appreciate the patience across the city as we have been able to resurface many streets during this construction season.”

Schmidt responded to The Batavian's call for comment texting that she would send an email when she was able. Bialkowski's reply referred the matter to the city manager since it's "a contractual" issue. No other council members responded. As part of city protocol, council members approve resolutions, contracts and projects related to city business.

Undue burden
Credi and fellow Harvest Center business owner Sarah Jones understand that road work has to be done. But they both question the length of time it has taken so far, and especially the condition of the road while they wait for completion.

“People have been complaining, bigger groups that come in, they're just like ‘I couldn't find a place to park, I couldn't even get down the road at some point.’ It's impossible to get through,” said Jones, co-owner of Game of Throws. “And we came in one time, and we couldn't even figure out where to turn around and go back the other way to go on the back roads to the back of the building. It's really frustrating. And they said they have six months to do it in. Why can't  they do it in one month, or this is going to take up to six months? Our whole busiest season is the winter.”

Jones has observed work crews doing something one day, followed by three weeks of nothing. And when they have returned they “make it worse,” she said, and “dig a big hole.”

Paving the way
While Credi doesn’t want to be “that angry guy” who raises a fuss over this situation, he has felt pangs of anxiety and worry about how long he can sustain his business. He employs four people who only work for him. He doesn’t want to lay them off until conditions improve, and definitely doesn’t want to close his shop. He suspects that other areas of Batavia wouldn’t be dealing with this.

“Because I do often feel like, over on Harvester Avenue, we don't really get much attention. Obviously, we're off Main Street, so we don't get the main attraction,” Credi said. “But also in terms of the city's outlook, they really only seem to be concerned with the downtown district, understanding that's where the majority of the businesses are, that's where they get, you know, grants and funding for to improve.”

Credi appreciated the words of support from the three council members, and Schmidt’s comment that all businesses in the city should have equal importance, he said. He looks forward to the future development of Harvester Center and hopes that “we’ll still be around” when it gets going.

Tammy Hathaway, director of Batavia Development Corporation, enjoys spending time at the Center and drinking a Monica coffee at the Pub. She has tried to draw attention to the city’s eastern site through online postings, she said, and raise awareness of all that’s over there. The Center houses 75 businesses, including One World Projects, Vintage antiques, House of Bounce, The Brick Enrichment Center, Hodgin's Printing, Hitter's Hideaway, plus artists, a dental lab, environmental testing and several other ventures.

“I’ve been trying to really focus on the business piece of it; it’s one of my favorite spots,” she said Friday. “I’m trying to be a good steward for the businesses … giving every little bit of extra attention I can give. My biggest goal is to make people aware, and to say brave the storm and continue to visit those businesses.”

The Batavian asked if there was any type of financial recovery funding for the commerce lost so far, and didn’t believe there was anything available. Meanwhile, Credi will be playing “the numbers game,” he said, remaining open as long as he can cover payroll. When those numbers dip even lower, however, he’s not sure what he will do.

“I’m not the person who tries to complain, to make a big deal out of everything. But this project needs to be done,” he said, reflecting on how things had gone up to this summer. “It’s finally paying off, all the hard work, the business is thriving, we’re absolutely crushing it. I couldn't be happier. And I didn't expect the drop-off, obviously, once the construction came. We have established ourselves to what I believe is, you know, the pre-eminent independent shop in a town that's flooded with Dunkin Donuts, and Tim Hortons, and just another Starbucks coming, it's not easy. And I get why we're suffering because it's so much easier for all these customers to just hit up one of the other 10 coffee shops versus trying to navigate down Harvester Avenue.

“Traffic itself is almost nonexistent. We are getting primarily people from the building and our hardcore regulars. But honestly, what's carrying this right now, it’s just delivery. We do it through DoorDash … even before it was about 20 percent of our sales. Now, it's probably like closer to 25 to 30, which is great because it's bringing in revenue, but it also costs me a lot to pay their commissions to operate our delivery service,” he said. “Because we had such an amazing year up until that point, we've been able to kind of carry it through now. Right now we're not operating at a loss on a daily basis. If, in the next couple of weeks, we start to dip into the negatives, we're losing money … I’ll probably have to revisit what my plan is.”

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Top Photo: Rob Credi, owner of Pub Coffee Hub at The Harvester Center in Batavia, would like contractors to speed up progress on Harvester Avenue, as construction so far has damaged his sales and related revenue; and above, a ditch in front of the auxiliary parking lot, rendering it useless for potential customers; and ongoing construction. Photos by Howard Owens.

September 30, 2022 - 10:15pm
posted by Press Release in news, batavia, Water Quality.

Press Release

The City of Batavia Water Department would like to inform residents to be on the lookout for a lead-related service flyer in the mail along with their water bill.  In accordance with the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule Revision, the City must develop an inventory of the material of both the public and private portions of each service line in the City’s water system.

The City wishes to reassure its residents that the water is safe to drink.  An effective corrosion control procedure is used to reduce the possibility of lead existence in City water.  Regular testing yields levels that are consistently lower than the EPA action threshold for lead. 

Residents’ participation in developing this inventory is greatly appreciated.

A copy of the flyer can be found on the City of Batavia’s website 

                                                                                

 

September 30, 2022 - 10:11pm
posted by Press Release in news, City fire department, batavia.

Press Release

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing / testing fire hydrants on Monday and Tuesday 10/3 10/4 from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the general area of North of Main Street and East of Bank Street.

Homes and businesses nearby will be affected. These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored. If you do experience a discoloration of your water, run cold water for about 5 minutes or until clear.

This annual testing is essential to maintain the communities class III Insurance Services Office (ISO) public
protection classification, and to assure that fire hydrants are operating efficiently for fire protection purposes.

Along with maintaining the fire rating, the test monitors the health of the city's water system, identifies weak areas in the system, and removes material that settle in the water lines. Checking each hydrant improves fire department personnel knowledge of the hydrant locations.

If you have any questions, or should notice a hydrant in need of repair, please contact the fire department at 585-345-6375.

September 30, 2022 - 7:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

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The police have the gun.  They have a man in custody who was located in the area of the gun. 

He's a man who apparently ran from Sgt. Dan Coffey on Evans Street to Court Street after Coffey and other officers responded to a report of shots fired.

Everything else is a mystery.

"We got the gun. We've got the guy. Now we've got to work backward," Coffey said Friday evening while on Court Street.

As for the report of shots fired, Coffey said there is no specific location associated with the shots based on reports received by police.

It's unclear at this early stage of the investigation, Coffey said, if the man taken into custody will be charged with any crime.  The police are still gathering evidence.

Coffey chased the man from Evans to Court, where he was tackled and taken into custody.  Additional officers arrived on scene, including deputies and troopers, and they commenced a search of the area to try and locate a gun that may have been on the man.  

City Fire was requested to assist with ladders so that police officers could climb onto nearby rooftops to look for a possible gun.

An object believed to be a gun was located under a bush between the Key Bank ATM drive-thu and M&T Bank.  The object was left in place while officers waited for detectives to arrive on the scene.

Coffey said more information will be released when it is available.

Photos by Howard Owens

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September 30, 2022 - 8:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.
Video Sponsor

Shortly after 8 p.m on Thursday night, a car that had been southbound on Jackson Street struck a fire hydrant on Chestnut Street, in the City of Batavia.

A reader submitted a video of the collision.

The reader believes police officers located the vehicle a short time later on South Jackson.  

We have no information from Batavia PD yet on the case.

September 29, 2022 - 9:48pm
posted by Press Release in David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena, batavia, news.

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Press release:

The David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena is hosting an open house weekend this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The McCarthy Ice Arena welcomes the community back to the arena for another great year of winter sports.  Stop by the Evans Street arena and check out the recent improvements to the rink, enjoy discounted public events, cheer on area youth and adult hockey teams, and food specials at the newly opened snack shop.

EVENTS

  • $5 Hockey Skate & Shoot Friday 3p-5p
  • $5 Public Skate, free Rentals Friday 7p-9p
  • Batavia City Schools Public Skate Day Saturday 1p-3p (A portion of the proceeds go back to Batavia Community Schools)  $13 includes admission and Rentals
  • Family Skate Sunday - $25 for up to a family of 4, admission and rentals
  • $1 hotdogs at the snack shop all weekend

Friends of the Rink Scrap Metal Drive on Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Games

  • Ramparts 16U WNY - Saturday 6 p.m.
  • Ramparts 18U WNY - Saturday 7:40 p.m.
  • Ramparts 16U MOHL - Sunday 3:10 p.m.
  • BMHL - 4 games Sunday morning starting at 6:55 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.
September 29, 2022 - 9:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oktoberfest, batavia, Ascension Parish, news.

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Ascension Parish is ready for a party at its Social Center, 19 Sumner St., Batavia, on Saturday, headlined by The German American Musicians and beer.

It's Oktoberfest time.

The German American Musicians is a 25-member band founded in 1933.  It is a  not-for-profit cultural organization dedicated to the cultivation and performance of the traditional music and culture of German-speaking lands. 

Oktoberfest organizers said in a statement, "Our Oktoberfest creates an opportunity to gather as a community to listen to fine German music, to dance and sing, to eat and drink and appreciate one another."

The event is scheduled from 5 to 10 p.m.

For more information, visit www. ascensionoktoberfest.com

Photo of tents in place, ready for the celebration, by Howard Owens.

September 29, 2022 - 9:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, batavia.

Something new from the very musical Del Plato family, "Jamaica."  Written by John Del Plato. Performed by Anthony Del Plato.

September 29, 2022 - 9:13pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, jobs, notify, economics.

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There’s a common presence at many businesses nowadays: help wanted postings.

A shortage of workers has enveloped most every business sector since the pandemic rubble landed, and many employers have been encountering stumbling blocks with filling vacancies ever since.

And it’s not just at restaurants and grocery stores, as the shortfall is also for county positions, law enforcement and school districts.

Few, but qualified
City of Batavia Police Department has been short-staffed due to vacancies, creating more overtime hours for full-time officers, Chief Shawn Heubusch said.

“This has caused the officers to work a lot of short-shift over time, therefore we have not been able to work as much of the OT associated with special details as we would like,” he said. “We have hired several qualified candidates that are working their way through academies or field training and will be able to fill vacancies on road patrol in the near future. This will allow us to get back to working more of the specialized details that we look forward to doing.”

He did note, however, that the department had “a significant drop in applicants” for the last exam.

“Roughly, the applicants were cut in half. It has been difficult recruiting in public safety, across the spectrum for a variety of reasons,” Heubusch said. “I will say that although the number of candidates has decreased, we have not seen a decrease in qualified candidates. In fact, I would say just the opposite. Given everything that has been going on in the nation, the current candidates are extremely dedicated to becoming law enforcement officers as demonstrated through the background and interview process. We have learned that these recruits have a very high drive to be police officers for the City of Batavia.”

That’s some good news. So how about Batavia City Schools, whose board just approved a long slate of teachers and teacher aide positions?

Creative recruiting
During her presentation at this week’s meeting, Trisha Finnigan, executive director of staff development & operations, outlined the ways in which the district is recruiting for and retaining qualified candidates. It’s not just about posting a position anymore. 

“So starting with recruitment, we've had to take a more creative approach in terms of recruiting exceptional staff to join the Blue Devils family. Instead of leaning on traditional methods, such as newspapers and our websites and our recruitment sites, for example, we've been using Indeed,” she said. “We’ve also noticed that when I was looking back at the past year, there seems to be a disconnect from when someone expresses interest in a position. Now we tell them, they, for example, have to complete a civil service application, as it seemed like that wouldn't happen. So when I looked back at that information, we decided that we would take a different approach.”

That approach involves not taking for granted that job applicants understand the steps required to apply, she said. Candidates are scheduled for an interview and given the Civil Service application for them to complete. The process has been refined, she said, to be more proactive about informing candidates about what’s next for them to do, such as getting fingerprinted or completing necessary paperwork.

“It's been awesome. We just now posted for substitute teacher aides and teachers and those are coming in. So I'm feeling positive about us having some people that could fill the need that last year we were lacking,” Finnigan said. “So we're moving in the right direction. It's my responsibility to make sure that I'm tapping into avenues where we're attracting exceptional candidates to come and work with us. And then how do we get that? Let me just see if I've missed anything here. One of the other things we did too, is that, in negotiating contracts with some of our units last year, we needed to do a better job of posting what the benefits of the positions were.

"So instead of, say, putting out teacher aide, just with a salary range, we made sure we included things like there is health insurance benefits, you can get paid for holidays, you can accrue vacation time," she said. "So those are some things when we're competing with other employers in the in the area, maybe offering a more an increase hourly wage, we can compete with some other things.”

Parents have been asking about jobs aligning with their schedules “to mirror the school calendar." That has meant more hiring of local residents, which has been nice, she said.

“Hiring is a very collaborative process. We work closely with the administrators, we’re looking at positions. Since July 1, we've hired over 35 personnel with New York State Certification, 16 new support team members, and that includes food service helpers, custodial support, as well as teacher aides,” she said. “And it should be noted that with that money we received for the preschool programs, that allowed us to add 10 positions, certificated positions … So that was something because we really did have to hustle.”

She had a quick turnaround of posting, hiring and getting those people trained for school opening in the second week of September. It worked out well, she said, and the district continues to reach out to colleges for candidates. In an effort not to “settle” for a lesser qualified candidate, the district has opted to plug in gaps with retired teachers until the best candidates are found.

She also spoke about retention: “it's one thing that we are getting people, it’s another to keep them."  And that depends on the tangible — contract terms — and the more subtle perks of a welcome package and surveys, she said.

“It’s a way of gauging their satisfaction and their perception of whether they feel valued as a Batavia Blue Devils family member,” she said. “And I also get interesting feedback on the interview process and other things that helped me plan better when we're looking for candidates.”

Resolving to address the issue
Earlier this year Genesee County Legislature agreed to waive all Civil Service fees to remove a potential barrier for applicants, and this week approved a resolution to extend the residency territory for corrections officer positions in hopes of gaining more interested candidates for openings.

Mental Health Department Director Lynda Battaglia previously spoke of the difficulty in filling four vacancies for wide-ranging clinical and finance positions to a psychiatrist role. The county has had trouble finding a full-time psychiatrist and revised the position to provide a hybrid of in-person and remote counseling services to better accommodate someone not able to be local on a full-time basis.

Many, but inexperienced
Although some employers are being more creative to attract job candidates, it may not be about the job at all. At least that’s what Chris Van Dusen of Empire Hemp Company has discovered. He and wife Shelly were at a recent job fair and did quite nicely, they said.

“We had over 300 applications,” Shelly said.

What they soon learned was that applicants weren’t so interested in the job as they were the product. And when that misunderstanding was cleared up (no, there’s no smoking marijuana on the job), the 300 potentials dropped to about three or four viable candidates, the couple said.

State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon visited Batavia Tuesday and acknowledged the lack of qualified candidates for some fields while she encouraged students to pursue education, training and labor skills to fill the many jobs available in manufacturing, food chain and other trades fields.

Maybe when all is said and done, it might just be that there aren’t the bodies out there to fill vacancies. According to the most recent state data, there were 30,500 Genesee County residents reported to be in the labor force, up from 29,400 a year ago. The state’s unemployment rate of 4.8 percent is a few points lower than 7.1 percent a year ago, and 900 people were listed as unemployed, compared to 1,300 a year ago.

Photo by Howard Owens.

September 29, 2022 - 7:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Game of Throws, The Harvester Center, batavia, business.
Video Sponsor

About a year and a half ago, Game of Throws opened in the Harvester Center on Harvester Avenue, Batavia, and to celebrate, owners Eric and Sarah Jones hosted the Chamber of Commerce for a Business After Hours.

The event was more than a month ago and The Batavian was there to make a video, but there were technical difficulties with the interview.  Then it took some weeks to arrange schedules to reshoot the interview.  Finally, here's the video.

For more information about Game of Throws, click HERE.

September 29, 2022 - 11:54am
posted by Press Release in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Press Release:

The Batavia Police Department is investigating a robbery at McDonald's, located at 573 East Main St., which occurred at approximately 5:36 a.m.

A white male, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and a mask, walked up to the drive-through window and demanded money.

The suspect stole the cash drawer from the register and fled the scene. The suspect was last seen on foot, running westbound behind 555 East Main St.

No one was injured and the suspect got away with an undetermined amount of money.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Matthew Wojtaszczyk at 585-345-6357, the Batavia Police Department's confidential tip line at 585-345-6370.

Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details will be released.

September 29, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, cybersecurity, Genesee County Legislature, batavia.

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Getting a jump start on October, Genesee County legislators presented a proclamation Wednesday to Michael Burns in honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which begins on Saturday.

The Information Technology director, who was hired in May 2021, was grateful for the acknowledgment but advised folks not to be lulled into complacency the other 11 months of the year.

“I’d like to thank the legislators for understanding the importance in terms of security in general, not only within the county but also within referral support … it’s a reminder to everyone that cybersecurity is not just something that we have. This is something that we have to actively practice, and we are more wired than ever before,” Burns said during Legislature’s meeting at the Old Courthouse. “It's all devices that we carry … they're in our everyday life. The data that we use every day is valuable, and people know it. Some may want to get their hands on that. So we have to oversee and understand that cyber security is not just October, it's every month of every year.”

Legislator Chad Klotzbach read a proclamation regarding how the world has become all things cyber, and people are more "interconnected than ever before but also more susceptible to increased risk of cyber theft, fraud and abuse."

“The county’s IT Department is responsible for delivering secure, accurate timely information and services to county departments, municipalities, residents and visitors effectively and efficiently,” Klotzbach said, reading the proclamation. “Cybersecurity Month provides an opportunity to increase public awareness and understanding of cyber threats while empowering employees and citizens to be safer and more secure online.”

The City of Batavia just received a similar warning during City Council’s audit report earlier this week. That message included being diligent with technology processes, protocols and preventative measures to avoid cyber attacks.

Since 2004, the President of the United States and Congress have declared October to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month, as a way to help individuals protect themselves online as threats to technology and confidential data become more frequent.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) lead a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise cybersecurity awareness nationally and internationally. 

This year’s theme is “See Yourself in Cyber” to enable people to recognize and understand how prevalent the world of cyber is, whether at work, home or school. The CISA.gov website encourages folks to take four personal action steps to help prevent cyber crimes:

  • Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Use Strong Passwords
  • Recognize and Report Phishing
  • Update Your Software

Photo: Genesee County Legislator Chad Klotzbach presents a proclamation this week to IT Director Michael Burns as a prelude to Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October. Photo by Joanne Beck.

September 28, 2022 - 10:38pm

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There’s only one problem with creating a law to restrict weapons from would-be criminals, Gary Maha says.

Law-abiding citizens will be the only ones to follow it.

“If they want a gun, they’re gonna get a gun,” the legislator said during Genesee County Legislature’s meeting Wednesday. “If you’ve got a shooting somewhere, do you want the good guy without a gun? You don’t just want the bad guy with a gun.”

Maha first proposed that Legislature sign a letter of opposition to the newly adopted Concealed Carry Improvement Act, and send it to Albany for Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Legislature members to see.

He had no idea that about 10 people would show up for the vote, with two of them there to speak during a public hearing about issues other than Concealed Carry.

Glen Adams represented the Genesee County Federation of Sportsman's Clubs, which consists of about 12 clubs throughout the county. He stood at the podium alone, but spoke for some 1,200 members, he said.

Adams voiced his concern that the Concealed Carry act was not for the average gun owner and hunter, and was, therefore “unconstitutional.”

Likewise, Jim Tuttle, chairman of SCOPE — Shooters Committee on Political Education — appealed to Legislature members to join Maha and fellow legislator John Deleo, both of who have been most vocal about the act’s flaws.

“We all took an oath to support the constitution of the United States, which is the Second Amendment,” Deleo said.

He added his full disclosure that he was a member of the National Rifle Association and SCOPE and pointed to the ill-conceived bail reform problem.

“A criminal charged with having a gun … is let go,” he said. “We’re the salt of the earth here.”

During a prior meeting, legislators discussed Maha’s proposal to send the letter and underscored the prominence of the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and how the Concealed Carry act is no improvement for the typical gun user.

The Second Amendment states that “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The legislators’ resolution states that the act “presents procedural roadblocks in the form of privacy violation, subjective standards, financial burdens, and overt restrictions on individuals seeking to exercise a fundamental right.”

A subdivision of the law was added to state that no license shall be issued or renewed pursuant to this section except by the licensing officer, and then only after investigation and finding that all statements in a proper application for a license are true.

It further states that no license shall be issued or renewed except for an applicant 21 years or older (military veterans honorably discharged are exempt from the age requirement), and be of good moral character, which means having the essential character, temperament and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger oneself or others.

Legislators Shelley Stein, Gordon Dibble, Brooks Hawley, Christian Yunker, Chad Klotzbach, Gregg Torrey, Delo and Maha voted for the resolution to send the letter. Legislator Marianne Clattenburg was absent.

Will it make a difference? Maha wasn’t sure.

“Well, at least we want to make our voices known in Albany that we oppose this,” he said. “You know, we're a Second Amendment community out here in Genesee County and many of us grew up hunting and carrying guns. It's a lot different downstate around New York, and we think these laws are unconstitutional.”

Top Photo of SCOPE Chairman James Tuttle, and Glen Adams, Vice Chairman of Genesee County Federation of Sportsman's Clubs, as they appeal to Genesee County Legislature to approve a move to send a letter opposing the Concealed Carry act Wednesday at the Old Courthouse. Photos by Joanne Beck.

September 28, 2022 - 8:01pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia HS, batavia, sports, soccer.

Game report from Coach Graham Halpin:

Batavia Boys Varsity Soccer lost a close game to Greece Olympia, 2-0, at VanDetta stadium last night. There was no score in the game until well into the second half when Olympia scored on a lucky breakaway followed soon after with a PK. The Batavia players played hard all game in the rainy conditions and had some good opportunities but were unable to score. 

September 28, 2022 - 6:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, byron, notify.

Alone one night in a car in the Target parking lot with a teenage girl, Shawn D. Myers made a decision that he and the girl will have to deal with for the rest of their lives, Judge Melissa Lightcap Cianfrini told Myers before sentencing him to five years in prison this afternoon.

In July, a jury convicted Myers of first-degree criminal sexual act, a Class B violent felony.  

By all accounts in Court this afternoon, except for that one decision, the Byron resident had led a pretty exemplary life up to that point -- a volunteer in his community, including a volunteer firefighter.

On Jan. 28, 2021, Myers forced the girl to have sex with him, the jury said.

His attorney, Jeremy Schwartz, argued that the evidence in the case, despite the jury's verdict, didn't really support the assertion of forcible compulsion, though Myers, now 21, admitted that he had sex with a person less than 17 years of age.

First Assistant District Attorney Joseph Robinson said the victim suffered physical injury as a result of what Myers did and is still dealing with the emotional fallout of the sexual abuse. 

More than two dozen community and family members attended the hearing in support of Myers.  

The victim and her mother were also at the hearing.

In his statement, Myers said he knew he made a mistake but expressed concern about being sent to prison because he is being treated for PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and during his time in the criminal justice system, he and his attorney said, he's already suffered one disruption to his medication regime. 

Cianfrini, who could have sentenced Myers to up to 25 years in prison, said that she would note in documents that will go with Myers to the Department of Corrections, that Myers has prescription medication he must take.

She encouraged Myers to use his time in prison to learn that he can't force people to do things against their will and to learn a trade.

Myers said during his statement that he loved being a volunteer firefighter and regretted that he had ruined his firefighting career by his decision.  He promised Cianfrini that never again will he make a mistake that lands him back in jail.

September 28, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, audit.

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Although there were no “reportable findings” from the city’s 2021-22 audit, that doesn’t mean the municipality is out of reach from a dangerous situation, Matt Montalbo says.

Cyber security — or a lack thereof — is a “pretty substantial” item for the city’s checklist, Montalbo said during an audit presentation Monday at City Hall.

The world is rife with Internet scams, and no one is immune, he said.

“I want to highlight some pretty substantial challenges that governments are seeing right now, one being related to cyber security risks and the risks of being subjected to a cyber attack,” he said. "So A lot of the associations related to government entities … they partnered together and put out a cybersecurity primer back in February of 2022, just to highlight how significant government entities are being targeted in cyber attacks. They put out a lot of statistics just to educate those charged with governance.

“So we have that in our management letter, as it’s just an additional precaution to look at cyber security risks, and almost kind of do a mock scenario where, if you were subjected to a cyber attack, what processes do you have in place? You know, how prepared are we because, really, the statistics are pretty staggering,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if it's going to happen, it's a matter of when, so be as prepared as possible is what we would recommend.”

That is perhaps no startling news, as cyber attacks have been fairly ubiquitous to our high-tech times.

Still, Montalbo, a certified public accountant with the city’s new auditing company Drescher & Malecki, strongly suggested that the city needs to assess its own cyber risks, related processes, and what measures may need to be taken to bolster the cyber fence to keep predators out.

Batavia may be a small city, but according to governing.com, the amount of data that municipalities deal with has grown exponentially, but smaller entities often operate on a shoestring budget, meaning they rarely have dedicated cybersecurity experts and instead rely on their IT team to ensure security. Not having and investing the required funds to prevent cyber attacks can often leave local municipalities more vulnerable, the site states.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski was not surprised by the warning and auditor’s findings, she said. The city has an ongoing process that includes a system in place for safeguards against cyber crimes, she said.

“The City has NYS training in place for cyber security for employees, and works hard to remain diligent to constant email threats of phishing and other scams,” she said to The Batavian Tuesday. “We work with our independent IT consultant, Alternative Information Systems, for a variety of security functions and monitoring to help keep city assets safe. We are always looking to add new security measures to our IT systems to better protect the city.”

A second area for caution was the influx of pandemic-related monies being given to municipalities, especially “a lot through the stimulus plans out there,” he said.

“So the American Rescue Plan, the Cares Act, there are a lot of new opportunities, but with that comes a lot of challenges, in not only understanding the compliance requirements for these funds, but also tracking and monitoring the statements,” he said. “Just looking at how you're set up to do that, whether you have a grant administration function or the ability to monitor those new fundings as well as the current funding going on.”

City Council previously agreed to add the position of a grant administrator, and the city is in progress with seeking candidates for the job.

Montalbo, who was with senior accountant Erica Handley, shared the city’s financial picture, which included a $1.3 million fund balance increase. For once, the word COVID carried a positive connotation.

“Your fund balance went from about $808 million at this point in 2021 to $9.4 million at the end of 2022. You did have, and we've been seeing these trends across the state, your sales tax come in a little bit higher than anticipated. We saw a little bit of the economic recovery after the COVID years,” he said. “So that bump is pretty consistent with the trends we're seeing statewide. You also were able to have some budgetary savings within your public safety and transportation areas … So that was the main reason for the increase, and your total fund balance being that $9.4 million.”

Photo: New city auditors Matt Montalbo and Erica Handley of Drescher & Malecki present the city's 2021-22 audit report during Monday's conference session at City Hall. Photo by Joanne Beck.

September 27, 2022 - 10:00pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, fairgrounds, GLOW With Your Hands, batavia, notify.

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As promised, Genesee County Fairgrounds was overrun with kids — more than 1,000 of them — for most of Tuesday.

But instead of it being some kind of free-for-all riot, the students from 30 school districts were there to focus on work. As part of a GLOW With Your Hands initiative, the event offered several stations where kids could not only see and hear about various careers in the work world but also get hands-on experience to get a real feel for what the different fields are like.

This was the fourth such event, and with an ever-growing attendance, Co-Chairman Chris Suozzi said.

“In 2019 we had over 800 students, and this year we had over 1,000. Then we had 50 vendors, today we have 65 vendors,” Suozzi said. “Students can start exploring careers that work with your hands, and by the way, all of these careers are local. It’s a whole day of getting out of the classroom … and exploring different careers, especially for kids who are career-focused. It’s all about getting kids to focus on these great careers that we have locally.”

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School districts represented the four counties of GLOW — Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming. Organizers consider it the region’s largest hands-on career exploration fair that provided interactive experiences with skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage manufacturing, construction and agriculture fields.

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Another plus was that kids also met with professionals in those fields, and potential future employers, organizers said.

“While the record participation of our students and businesses is welcome, the true success of GLOW With Your Hands is the having a youth arrive at our event and discover a passion for a career that they may have never considered before,” Co-Chairman Jay Lazarony said in a press release. “Our exhibitors, volunteers, sponsors and organizers are dedicated to supporting students today, and throughout their path to success.”

Students rotated through stations where they were able to operate backhoes and excavators, compete in nail driving and construction competitions, and test their skills on dairy farming and welding simulators.

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Chris Suozzi

“It’s incredible to see so many students that are excited about careers right in their own backyard,” Suozzi said. “Our companies are growing, and today demonstrates that the national workforce challenge can be solved locally.”

Students weren’t the only ones to enjoy the fun of digging in the dirt, as state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon visited the fairgrounds and acknowledged her fascination with excavators. She encouraged the young participants to pursue one of the many careers they glimpsed during the day.

“This is an opportunity for young people to come into a career fair and really experience things with their hands I was over at megatronic station, they can do the circuitry, the air pressure, there’s all kinds of animal husbandry on one side, moving excavators, bucket trucks for young people not to just read about a skill, or have somebody talk about it, but doing it themselves,” Reardon said. “They’re petting the cows and calves, and doing all the megatronic set-up. It’s great to watch them interact with each other and interact with these skill sets. They’re really excited. We need these kinds of career fairs so these young people can make a really smart career path that will sustain their lives.”

She thanked event organizers for hosting the career fair, and reminded the public of the 96 career centers throughout New York that have online training and job resources.

Click here for more information about GLOW WithYour Hands

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Roberta Reardon

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Top Photo: A student takes control of an excavator after getting some hands-on lessons during Tuesday's GLOW With Your Hands event; students from 30 school districts within Genesee, Orleans, Livingston and Wyoming counties learn about everything from milking a cow and performing utility work on a pole to mechanical repairs, food chain occupations and laying bricks during the fourth GLOW event at Genesee County Fairgrounds. Photos by Stephen Ognibene.

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