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February 23, 2009 - 7:56am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, weather, snow, winter.

We could see as much as five inches pile up by dinner time tonight. The National Weather Service out of Buffalo has issued a lake effect snow advisory for the region until 6 o'clock this evening. From the advisory:

Bands of lake effect snow will persist through the day. New accumulations in the most persistent bands will be in the 3 to 5 inch range. Brisk west to northwest winds will also lead to areas of blowing snow and poor visibilities.

In lake effect snow, the weather can vary from locally heavy snow in narrow bands to clear skies just a few miles away. If you will be travelling across the region be prepared for rapid changes in road and visibility conditions.

There's not much to see out on the radar so far.

However, things look a little greasy out on the Thruway.

February 22, 2009 - 1:37pm
posted by St. Joseph School in batavia, school, carnival.

St. Joseph School Penny Carnival!

Please join us for our 20th Annual St. Joseph School Penny Carnival. March 28th 11-4.  Corner of Main and Summit in Batavia.
The fun includes: games and prizes; our famous "Cake Walk"; food and refreshments; baked goods sale; numerous raffles including:  $1000 cash giveaway; $250 Toy-R-Us Shopping Spree, $100+ lottery-ticket basket, 13 different theme baskets. Please call the school at 343-6154 with any questions.
Hope to see you there!

February 22, 2009 - 1:09am
posted by Robin Walters in batavia, community awareness.





Paul Ohlson, Founder Of Care-A-Van Ministry and Elder Ron discuss challenges of the day at one of our trips out.



What a glorious day God provided for Care-A-Van today! The sun was shining brightly as we headed out.  There was a bustle of activity outside the bus. As I was walking back up from one apartment, a mom was walking back down the still icy driveway. I helped her back to her home. Her son was going to come back up and get the groceries.


As we entered the home, I gathered up her precious daughter into my arms. Jalisa (mother’s permission given to use her name) smiled brightly up at me. She was so precious! Her son was busy getting on his boots to come back to the bus with me.

I asked if Jalisa could walk yet. She said she takes tiny steps. I set her down on the floor and took her hands. The sight below me was stunning. Her tiny little bare pudgy feet began to take tiny little steps across the floor. As each step was taken she would topple from one side to the other. It then dawned on me! This is how it is when we begin our walk with Jesus. We start our walk and belief with small tiny steps. With not quite sure what is happening in our hearts and souls, we topple from side to side. However, just as I was there to hold Jalisa’s hands, Jesus is there holding us up. He never lets go of us. He is our comforter and provider.


Provision and comfort was in great need today at the apartment complex. As the economic tide is turning, there are more and more needs in the community. We prayed with families for God to provide employment. A young mom needed a mattress for a bed for her young child. We called RAP and got a listing of where places that the mom might find this need met. We prayed with a young mom who had just moved out on her own with her young son to start a new life for the two of them.


Comfort and hope was given to a young couple who were struggling with so many challenges and issues in their life. The ministry team shared of God’s love with this beautiful young couple. We shared of the hope and life there is with having Jesus in your heart and life. Paul offered prayer and support to the young man as Sue and I prayed and comforted with the young woman. We encouraged them to find a church. God showed them hope with that allowing Christ in their hearts and taking those tiny steps one at a time that there is peace for them in their future life together.


We are thankful for all of you that continue to partner with us. We are thankful for the steps that are being taken by all of us to walk one step at a time with each other to bring hope to the city of Batavia.  We saw so many issues that were discussed at the Interagency meeting this past week. I felt so much hope within knowing now who the contacts are for the needs of these people. I am thankful for the time that Vicki from Domestic Violence has taken with us. We are thankful for the offer of training from this organization. We are thankful for RAP. We are thankful to all you churches who are waiting with open arms to receive these hurting souls. We are just thankful that with Jesus as our pilot, we can all walk one tiny step together to truly make a difference!


As the sun comes up each new day, may we all step into the day with the reminder of the peace and hope that comes from our Lord! Praises to our Lord for another blessed day on the streets!


God Bless

Robin Walters

Care-A-Van Ministries


February 22, 2009 - 12:28am
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, sports, hockey, spencerport.

The Batavia hockey team's run through the Section 5 Class B sectionals has come to an end.

Spencerport topped the Blue Devils 5-2 at the ESL Centre Saturday and Batavia's season comes to an end.

Mike Leone scored his first goal of the season for Spencerport and it proved to be the game winner at 1:57 of the second period.

Rocky Grattaudaria, Steve Doud and Kevin Keacock also had goals with Steve Hogan dishing out three helpers.

Pat Finnell and Will Mulcahy had the Batavia (11-10-2) goals, with Adam Kurek stopping 20 shots.

Tyler Lariviere had 26 saves for Spencerport (14-7-2). 

February 21, 2009 - 11:25pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, Attica, sports, holley, wrestling.


Attica's Luke Pariso wasn't supposed to beat defending New York State Public High School Athletic Association champion Cody Hutcheson of Bath. Pariso has won a couple of sectional titles, but Hutcheson was a monster.

Pariso won the 171-pound title at SuperSectionals Saturday at Rochester Institute of Technology, but that was far from the biggest upset of the day.

Holley's Kyle Steadman has a season record of just 35-10 after the weekend, but he's moving on to states after shocking the thousands of people there to watch the SuperSectionals. He beat Genesee Region League foe Dave Jennings of Attica at 189 pounds, 3-1 in overtime, to move on.

"It feels really good, coming back from sixth place and taking the title," Steadman said.

Steadman wasn't even ranked in the top five by armdrag.com and was seeded sixth in his weight class. It was the second Holley grappler to win the championship on Saturday and could be the fourth to advance to states next weekend.

"I hope Tim (Banks) goes because he has a lot of points," Holley coach John Grillo said. "He should go to states because of his past reputation and history of going to states. Quinton Murphy had an electrifying match, but Kyle Steadman was a surprise. He had a lot of losses, but has wrestled quality kids all year. We knew he had it in him and we just had to get it out of him."

Steadman had an escape early in the second period of the finals and Jennings had one early in the third, but there wasn't much offense in the title round. But Steadman had a takedown in overtime, beating the fourth-ranked wrestler in the weight class.

"I wrestled him before and I know he's really strong on top," Steadman said. "I just had to go my hardest and give it all I had - never quit."

Steadman had a pin and a decision in Friday's opening two rounds before winning a 7-2 decision over Caledonia-Mumford's Jon Grann in the semifinals.

The other Holley wrestler to win a championship was Murphy at 119 pounds. The defending state champion at 103 pounds didn't need much time in the finals to get a return ticket to the big show. 

After a technical fall and two pins earning him a trip to the championship match, he dropped Palmyra-Macedon's Tyler Marlow in 1:36.

"It felt great," Murphy said. "I'm really known for that move so when I knew it was there, I went for it."

Banks was the other Holley finalist at 130 pounds, but lost to Pal-Mac's Matt Hausbrouck 3-1 in overtime.

Murphy says that he "just wants to re-win" a state title, while it is a different story for Steadman. He will be working with 2004 state champion Andrew Grillo - John's son - over the next week to prepare for another shot at an upset.

"Coach has to get me prepared because I've never been to states before," Steadman said.


 Hutcheson will get to states with a wild card, but his loss to Pariso definitely stung. 

The Attica senior was ranked second but very few gave him a shot to knock off a state champion because he had never advanced past sectionals. But Pariso scored early and then got defensive to earn the title and a trip to Albany next weekend.

"I knew I had to go hard," Pariso said. "He has really good endurance so I knew I had to push the pace on him. I had that inside trip and put him on his back."

Pariso got that 2-point takedown with just 15 seconds left in the first period and then had an escape midway through the second to make it 3-0. He simply hung on in the third period to get the 3-0 decision.

"I didn't want him to get a reversal and put me on my back," Pariso said. "It could be 4-0, 4-3 or maybe a pin. I just rode him real tight and kept on at his cross-wrists and rode him for the rest of the match."

Pariso had two decisions on Friday and then topped Batavia's Anthony D'Aurizio 3-1 to advance to the finals. Now he looks forward to facing an even bigger challenge than what he's seen in Section 5 next week.

"I can't wait," Pariso said. "There is a real tough kid from Section 4, Kyle Beckwith, who has won a couple of national titles. I'm going to have to push the pace and beat him to, win a state championship."


 The Batavia wrestling team had nine grapplers compete in SuperSectionals, but end up with just one champion.

Nick Lazarony was the second ranked wrestler at 112 pounds and won three decisions to make it to the finals, where he was paired up with top-seeded Joe Smaldone of Geneva. 

Both were going to get a trip to states via wild card, even if they lost. That was enough reason for Smaldone - who took second at 112 last year - to forfeit his finals match. 

Lazarony had a crack at states last year and will have another one this season. 

"He's looking good," Stewart said. "There are a couple of good kids we've scouted so far. He is in the top six there for sure. He still has to wrestle, but it's well deserved. He's given us four good years."

Ryan Darch was seeded No. 1 at 160 pounds and three easy decisions en route to the finals, where he was paired up with Brandon Mills of Canisteo-Greenwood, who was the No. 2 seed.

Darch took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Mills was called on a technical violation, then scored another point in the second period on an escape.

But Mills had a takedown at the mid-point of the frame and tied the match at 2. He had an escape in the third period and then kept Darch from making a move the rest of the way. He tried, making a few attempts to lunge and get ahold of Mills, but the Canisteo grappler was too slippery.

"It was a very defensive match," Stewart said. "He got caught in that little scramble there and tried to battle back from it. It is what it is."

Darch should get a wild card trip to states, but we will not know until it is announced Monday night.

Batavia's Troy Ireland lost to Mills in the semifinals, but won his wrestle-back to take third. He won a 7-6 decision over Wellsville's Ethan Lamphier.

After losing to Pariso in the semifinals, D'Aurizio lost his bid for third place against Byron-Bergen's Zack Green. Green won the third-place match with a pin at 3:53.


The highlight match of the Division II card was at 135 pounds, where two three-time defending state champions and NCAA Division I scholarship recipients squared off.

Warsaw's Ian Paddock - who will attend Ohio State next year - won a 3-0 decision over Pal-Mac's Alex Ekstrom - who will attend Oklahoma. 

Two other Genesee Region League wrestlers made the finals but lost as Kendall's Jake Requa took second at 96 pounds and Lyndonville's John Brabon was second at 140.


February 20, 2009 - 10:12pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports, Oakfield, Notre Dame.

 Notre Dame coach Mike Rapone will accept Notre Dame's 11th top seed in sectionals Saturday night.

You might think that even though the other 10 plaques are in his basement, because of a lack of room to display them, this one doesn't mean anything. But it does.

"It is nice because it is a nice accomplishment," Rapone said. "I always use the expression, and the kids never get it, that the top seed a $1.61 will get you a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts. All it does is put a bulls-eye on your back. It is a nice accomplishment, but it makes you the No. 1 target."

Even though the Genesee Region League has had some strong teams, as have Le Roy and Batavia, this is the only local team to earn a top seed in the boys tournaments.

The Fighting Irish are 17-3 and have been tested, playing strong GR teams like Oakfield-Alabama, Pembroke, Elba and Kendall as well as non-league foes like Prattsburgh and Houghton.

"I think my goal is always to get as competitive a regular season as I can," Rapone said. "You want your team to be ready for what the future brings. I think our schedule this year was one that will have us ready."

This postseason could be historic for Notre Dame as Rapone is nearing second on the all-time wins list in Section 5. With just one win, Rapone will tie Scio's Roger Rigby for second on the list with 527 career wins.

Ed Nietopski from Cardinal Mooney leads the Section 5 wins list with 545.

"You don't sit down when you start coaching and say this is what you want to do," Rapone said. "As I get closer, I realize that it is a great accomplishment for the school and our basketball program, as much as for myself. It is also about all the players I've coached over the years. They are the ones winning the games."

Notre Dame's top player right now is senior point guard Kevin Francis, who has been on the team through a top seed and two No. 2 seeds that didn't win titles.

"In the last couple of weeks he's been a little more vocal in terms of what we need to do," Rapone said. 

Rapone has seven sectional championships and is looking for an eighth this season. Standing in his way could be fourth-seeded Elba (11-9), which knocked the Fighting Irish out of the playoffs in the semifinals last season.


Oakfield-Alabama won the GR Division I title with a 17-3 record, but are only a third seed in Class C1.

This might be the best team O-A has ever had, but Avon (19-1) and East Rochester (18-2) are the top seeds in what might be the toughest bracket from top to bottom.

Pembroke went 13-7 and are a ninth seed in that class while Byron-Bergen went 4-16 and are ranked No. 15.

The Batavia boys squad went 17-3 and are relegated to a second seed in Class A1. The Blue Devils are behind Aquinas (17-3) in a very competitive group.

Attica (10-10) are the sixth seed in Class B1 and Le Roy (9-11) are the third seed in Class B2. Holley is 4-16 and ninth in the classification.

Kendall went 12-8 and is a fifth seed in Class C2, with a great shot at pulling an upset and winning a title. Alexander (8-12) is 10th and Lyndonville (1-19) is 16th.

February 20, 2009 - 2:05pm

BATAVIA, N.Y. — Three potential ambulance providers are being talked about to replace the city of Batavia ambulance service, which will cease to operate as of September 1, according to the Daily News.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell told a group of municipal representatives from across the county last night that Rural Metro Corp., Twin City Ambulance and Monroe Ambulance would "likely" submit proposals to the county to take over service.

Explains Joanne Beck in that article:

Volunteer fire companies would still have a role ... and would be able to respond to emergencies and do some transports unless the provider specifically asks for every transport. UMMC has offered space to house ambulances of the future provider and that provider would set itself up as a business, Gsell said. It would make its money by charging customers for each service call. There isn't to be any type of fee charged to the municipality, he said.

Rural Metro is a nationwide corporation whose stock currently trades at $1.25 per share with a six-month high of $2.50 coming at the end of September. The company operates out of 22 states in the continental U.S.

From the company's Web site:

What began with one man's vision has grown today into a company with approximately $500 million in annual revenues and more than 8,000 employees who provide health and safety services throughout the United States. Annually, Rural/Metro's employees respond to more than 1 million calls for assistance.

Monroe Ambulance is a 34-year-old service that operates out of Rochester. From the mission statement:

Monroe Ambulance provides Advanced Life Support with area volunteer ambulance and fire departments, ensuring that patients who live in outlying areas have access to all of our life saving paramedic services. This includes back-up Advanced Life Support to area volunteer agencies, fire departments, and ambulance corps.

We provide medically supervised transports for patients needing transport with minimal assistance (i.e., patients able to move, sit, and walk on their own with slight assistance, such as those traveling home from same day surgery).

We are seeking information on staffing levels for Monroe.

Twin City Ambulance is based in Erie County and serves the suburban Buffalo area. More than 200 technicians make up its core staff.

Twin City was in the news a few years back over a controversial call not to send an ambulance to assist two policemen who had been shot in Buffalo. Critics claimed the call was a callous rejection. Company representatives said that the call was outside the ambulance crew's service area. That report:

We're seeking further information from Gsell on the logistics of having an outside company take over the ambulance service for the county. We will provide those details as they become available.

February 20, 2009 - 12:07pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, crash, emergency.

BATAVIA , N.Y. — Reports are coming through over the scanner. A tractor trailer has rolled over in the westbound lanes of the Thruway in Batavia, near the Lewiston Road Bridge. Multiple vehicles are believed to be involved in the crash. All available crews are being called to the scene, and Mercy Flight has been placed on standby.

We will provide more details as they become available.

Update (12:11 p.m.): The tractor trailer has rolled over into the median and three other vehicles are involved in the crash. Traffic is still moving westbound on the Thruway at this time.

Update (12:43 p.m.): Visibility at the scene of the crash is reduced nearly to nothing. From nowhere on Lewiston Road were we able to get a clear site on the crash scene. Whipping winds kicking up snow blotted out most of the scene. We were able to shoot a few seconds of video that show the traffic moving at a crawl heading westbound and just barely trickling through eastbound. The overturned trailer could barely be made out in the median. No other vehicles could be scene from the overpass.

We're still waiting on reports of injuries. Emergency crews on scene did report a slight leak coming from the tractor trailer. That was not identified, but it was reported to be contained.

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February 19, 2009 - 1:05pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports, Oakfield, Notre Dame, Alabama.

 The Batavia and Oakfield-Alabama boys basketball teams had losses this past week against tough squads and both dipped one spot in the newest New York State Sportswriters Association poll.

The Hornets had the lead for almost the entire game, but lost to Akron in the final minute of the Genesee Region/Niagara-Orleans League Showdown Saturday.

Because of the loss, O-A drops from No. 11 to No. 12 in Class C.

Batavia had matchup problems and lost to Class AAA Irondequoit in the opening round of the Monroe County League tournament Monday, but were not faulted in the rankings. The Blue Devils are still the No. 21 ranked team in the state in Class A.

Notre Dame beat Elba and Lima Christian and are bumped from No. 9 to No. 8 in Class D.

February 19, 2009 - 12:12pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, city council, union, firefighter, ambulance.

A constant chorus of car horns sounded support of the protestors circling the walk out front of City Hall this morning. Some two dozen members of Firefighters Local 896 braved the bitter winds to picket the City Council's recent decision to end its ambulance service by fall.

Some of the signs read: "Think! Where's your ambulance coming from?" and "Chest Pain? How long will you wait?" Such statements punctuated the argument that the gap in service could have quite dire consequences. Union President Greg Ireland spoke of a past incident, before the city had instituted its own ambulance service, when a man in arrest lay in the street with no transport available to get him to a hospital. In another instance, a victim suffering from third-degree burns had to drive himself to the hospital.

The occasion was also used to get out the word on a new Web site the union has launched at www.bataviaambulance.com.

Overall, the mood was civil yet determined as union members stalked the ground with purpose. Ireland stepped aside to speak with the media during the protest. We will post his comments in a video within the hour.

February 19, 2009 - 7:27am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, city council, firefighter, ambulance.

A union of Batavia firefighters will set up outside City Hall "later this morning" to protest the City Council's decision to end the city-supported ambulance service this fall, WBTA's Dan Fischer reports. No time is given for when members of Fire Fighters Local 896 will hold the rally, which is being called an "informational picket."

February 18, 2009 - 11:00pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, sports, hockey, Geneseo, livonia.

 The Batavia hockey team had a speed advantage over Geneseo/Livonia, but didn't get much of a chance to use it and because of that had a close game in the opening round of sectionals, which they won 3-2 at Faletti Ice Arena Wednesday.

The fifth-seeded Blue Devils couldn't get the offense going against the 12th seed because officials called a total of 15 penalties in the game.

"I think we tend to play at the other team's level," Batavia coach Paul Pedersen said. "I told the team that anytime you are in sectionals, any team can beat any other team. We have been coming out flat and we need to fix that."

Batavia had a power play early in the first period, but couldn't capitalize and Geneseo/Livonia didn't wait long before starting the scoring. Max Hartnett scored off assists by Jeff Webster and Xavier Copeland at the midpoint of the frame.

It took five minutes, but the Blue Devils managed to tie the game with 2 1/2 minutes left in the opening period when Erik Pokornowski scored an unassisted goal.

The Lakers didn't wait long to get the lead back, scoring just 40 seconds later when Webster scored off passes by Copeland and Mike Donals.

"When we fell behind 2-1, we knew we had to work hard," Pokornowski said. "We had to keep working our system and just work hard and we would be okay."

Batavia failed to convert on three more power play chances before finally taking advantage of one. Geneseo/Livonia's Rick Hilimire was whistled for a cross-check and a game misconduct, meaning the Blue Devils had a power play for 1:30 and Hilimire had to sit for 10 minutes. Pat Finnell scored seconds later to tie the game off an assist by Pokornowski.

All momentum had shifted and Blake Polito scored 1:30 later to give Batavia an edge they wouldn't give up. It was his first varsity goal.

Geneseo/Livonia had some quality chances in the closing minutes, but a pass to the point bounced over a players puck with seconds left, killing any chance of a comeback.

Batavia (14-8) had a 29-16 shots on goal advantage as Austin Thiele made 26 saves for G/L (3-19-2) and Adam Kurek had 14 stops for Batavia.

The Blue Devils will play No. 4 Spencerport at the ESL Centre at Noon on Saturday.

"They beat us pretty good the first time," Pokornowski said. "Our goal is to win sectionals and we are going to have to play our best to beat them."

February 18, 2009 - 9:42pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports, pittsford.

It may have just been a consolation game, but for the Batavia boys basketball team it was a must win.

The Blue Devils had lost to rival Pittsford Sutherland twice during the regular season and didn't want to head into the Section 5 Class A playoffs with two straight losses. So Batavia came out and had a 15-2 first quarter advantage and held on to beat Sutherland 55-52 in the consolation game of the Monroe County League Tournament.

"If we would have lost both games it definitely would have been a set-back heading into sectionals," Batavia coach Buddy Brasky said. "It is a positive getting the win because when you lose, doubt starts to set in. It was just a consolation game, but it was an intense game. It was definitely a good way to end the regular season and it gives us momentum heading into sectionals."

Joe Schlossel had another big game for Batavia and has turned into the team's second scoring option. Early in the year, Brasky believes Schlossel wasn't scoring this much because he played football and took time away from basketball. But now he's hitting his stride.

The senior forward scored eight of his 13 points with eight rebounds in the first quarter to get the Blue Devils out to the big lead.

"He's playing with more confidence," Brasky said. "Joe played football and it took him a while to get rounded back into basketball shape. He was playing well during the summer and football was a major commitment. He didn't touch a basketball for three months."

Just like any other Sutherland game, it wound up being a battle.

Batavia missed a few easy layups in the second quarter and Brian Lewis, Wayne Dillworth and Dan O'Keefe hit 3-pointers to get the Knights back into the game. Sutherland was back within three points near the end of the first half, but Andrew Hoy hit a 3-pointer to give Batavia a 27-20 lead at the break.

The third quarter was even and Sutherland cut the deficit to three points with two minutes left. But Hoy hit a 3-pointer, Schlossel had two free throws and Marcus Hoy hit 1-of-2 attempts and the Blue Devils held on for the three point win.

Hoy led all scorers with 21 points as Batavia (17-3) will be hosting Marshall in sectionals on Saturday, Feb. 28. In the meantime, Batavia will be scrimmaging East High and C.G. Finney to prepare for the tournament.

February 18, 2009 - 1:36pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports, elba, alexander, Notre Dame.

 I believe that the MVP of a league should usually be the best player on the best team, but picking that player for Division II of the Genesee Region League is impossible this year.

Elba didn't lose a league game all season long and were obviously the best team in both divisions. Picking an MVP from that squad is not so obvious.

Coach Tom Nowak has used a unique style of play for his squad this season where he rotated two groups of five players and they pressed the heck out of their opponents. It worked, but there was no one player that stands out as the MVP of that squad.

It would not be fair to vote Cassy Engle or Sarah Schwartzmeyer as the top player when girls like Chelsie Pangrazio, Julie Marshall and Rachael Cook were also just as important to that team.

So with that being the case, the MVP award for Division II is deferred to the best player on the second place team. Notre Dame has several stars as well, but I'd give the division MVP award to Nichole Hart.

Hart is a pure shooter that had many big games for the Fighting Irish. With Liz Geandreau and Brittany Morelli providing a solid inside presence, Hart's ability to hit long jumpers and 3-pointers makes Notre Dame a tough team to defend.

The Division I MVP is a much easier call as Alexander's Anni Lehtola was a scoring machine. The addition of the foreign exchange student from Finland turned a very good team into a great team. 

There was little doubt this season that the Trojans were going to win Division I, and the team is the top seed in Class C.

February 18, 2009 - 12:58pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports, byron.

Batavia point guard Marcus Hoy was named Monroe County League Division III Player of the Week this week.

The senior scored nine points while handing out 15 assists with five steals in Batavia's 68-46 win over Lackawanna of Section 6 on Friday.

Byron-Bergen's Tyler Sass earned the honor for Genesee Region League Division I after a week in which he averaged 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and three assists per game over three contests. 

The Bees beat Holley while losing to Alexander and Barker.

Andy Lund from Wheatland-Chili picked up the award for Division II after scoring 18 points with eight rebounds in a win over Lyndonville and 11 points with nine boards in a loss to Kendall.

Alexander's foreign exchange student from Finland, Anni Lehtola, was the girls Player of the Week for Division I.

She scored a whopping 35 points with 21 rebounds and six assists in wins over Attica and Byron-Bergen.

Elba's Cassy Engle won the award in Division II after scoring 23 points in wins over Notre Dame and Lyndonville, helping the Lancers wrap up an undefeated league season.

February 18, 2009 - 12:19pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, budget, city council, downtown, polls.

Earlier today, we reported that the city of Batavia may not release the salaries of its city employees until after the City Council has already voted on the budget. Several individuals have come to us to express concern over the choice by Council to institute raises for city officials when unemployment is on the rise and every week seems to bear the news of another downtown business closing shop.

Is it just? Should city officials and department heads get raises just because all other city employees are guaranteed a raise under their union contract?

February 18, 2009 - 12:01pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, city council, city.

For those of you who missed it, Daily News reporter Joanne Beck turned out an excellent piece Saturday on the proposed pay raises for city officials. When Beck questioned city leaders about the raises slated for department heads, despite the down economy, and about the significant increase in pay for the assistant city manager—$24,000 more than past assistants—she was accused of being sexist.

From that article:

Council President Charlie Mallow believes it's a ''sexist'' form of badgering for no good reason.

"It seems we have chosen to disrespect and take for granted those who have come in to clean up the mess others have left us with," Mallow said Thursday. "I also believe there is sexism in this whole line of questioning. There are at least four other men that make more money than (Assistant Manager Sally Kuzon) and I don't see repeated questions about them."

Mallow and City Manager Jason Molino felt the same way, they said: The assistant's salary is justified and the topic is not really news. But it wasn't Kuzon, who has worn many hats to oversee public works, community development and code enforcement, being questioned. Her salary of about $84,000 was. Past assistants have made about $60,000.

The issue of salary increases has been raised on a few occasions. When The Batavian asked about the raises for department heads last month, we were told that it was only fair because all the other city employees were guaranteed raises as a result of union contracts.

Mallow told us in an e-mail at the time:

There is a sense of right and wrong here. I do not believe non-union employees should be punished for not being part of a collective barging unit. Keep in mind that our administrative people have worked hand in hand with council to eliminate close to a $3 million dollar spending deficit in the last two years. The hard work of these administrative people reduced the size of city government. Some people out of sheer ignorance would like to single these people out; I think the rest of the community understands how far we have come and who helped us along the way.

Since then we have been trying to break out the budget info that pertains specifically to employee salaries. Last week, in what ought to be the ultimate effort, we filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the city clerk's office. In it, we requested the salaries for all city employees for the current fiscal year, the proposed salaries for the coming year, and those of the previous year.

On February 13, five days after we filed the request, we were informed that it would require 45 days for the city to compile the information. From Heidi Parker, city clerk: "With regards to the request for salary information, gathering that data could take a significant amount of time and therefore will be available within 45 days. I will forward you the information sooner, if I get it before the 45 days."

If you do the math, that would make the information available on March 30. City Council has until March 31 to approve the budget. Right now, they plan to vote well before that date, likely early in March at the next business meeting, we were told.

The question is simple: How can the city justify pay raises when the economy is so obviously in a funk? In downtown Batavia alone, five business have closed their doors since November, and more are rumored to follow suit. More than just a loss to the business community and downtown shoppers and diners, these closures signify a loss of tax revenue.

It turns out we weren't the only ones who had trouble procuring such information. A councilman and the Daily News also ran into road blocks. Fortunately for the Daily, their FOIL request was approved in time.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski has asked to add salaries to the agenda for council's conference meeting Feb. 23. He wants to discuss the topic of salaries versus personnel, he said.

That won't happen during public session, Mallow said. He feels it is about personnel, which is personal, and it won't be a free-for-all in open session, he said.

Bialkowski had asked to get administrative salary information but was rebuffed by council, he said. He was not aware what the top salaries were until they were published in The Daily News recently, he said. That information, which was obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, listed the assistant manager's salary at the top with $83,959, followed by the city manager's salary at $83,487. Those salaries are contingent on a proposed 2.85 percent raise in the 2009-10 budget. City Council has until March 31 to adopt a final budget.

February 18, 2009 - 8:20am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, wbta, Rotary.

Wilma Nichols of Alexander was awarded the Rotary Club of Batavia's highest honor for a non-Rotarian yesterday afternoon. WBTA's Dan Fischer tells us that Nichols was surprised at lunch yesterday with the Paul Harris Fellowship, named for the founder of Rotary. Nichols was 8 years old when the Batavia Rotary was formed in 1919. She is 98 today.

Fischer writes:

Wilma has served lunch to the Rotary Club every week for more years than anyone can remember. The club surprised Wilma yesterday, secretly inviting her family to attend the ceremony. Past Rotary Presidents served lunch to Wilma.

Wilma accepted the award with her typical humility and grace.

Visit WBTA online to hear Nichols.

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