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April 30, 2008 - 5:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown, town.

Don't let anyone ever tell you that Batavia doesn't have good food. You have already heard us rave about the tacos de asada at Margarita's on Jackson Street — personally, I've already been back a few times. And, if you've entertained even a passing interest in our daily goings-on here at The Batavian, you would know that we've happily sucked down our fair share of lattes at Main Street Coffee, our current base of operations.

Well, today, I took off in search of some more unknown territory — political, edible and otherwise. After a stop at the Batavia Town Hall and the county historian's office, I made my way to Oliver's Candies on Main Street... for a taste.

Jeremy Liles manages the place these days. He smiles and jokes the way I imagine anyone would who spent their life and career in a candy store.

He told me that, though the candy is the main draw, Oliver's is sought out just as much for its roadside sign — a relic from an America few of us can even recall first-hand, back when we still danced with flappers, still spoke of Reds and fascists, still made phonecalls through a switchboard operator. But it's exactly that kitschy history appeal that landed a photograph of the sign on the Web site of a cross-country chronicler of "roadside architecture" — a fine profession or hobby, if I say so myself.

That being said, it's most certainly the sweets that run the show at Oliver's.

"People love candy," says Jeremy. "That's all there is to it."

...and from sweet to salty, my day only got better when I ducked out of the cold sun into the warm dark of O'Lacy's Irish Pub next to Jackson Square.

You could almost smell the mutton from outside. You could almost taste the bitter black porter when you're barely through the door. O'Lacy's doesn't mince words. It's as Irish a joint as they come.

And that's all well and good. I've been to plenty of Irish pubs on this side of the Atlantic and the other. They've all got the beer and the decor to make the claim, sure. But O'Lacy's has the nosh to prove that they dive further into the culture than just a few leprechaun jokes and clovers.

Chicken and biscuits were on special. Beef on Weck was likely a can't miss.

But I'm a sucker for a toasty reuben.

Mine came as thick as an elephant's ankle. It was sloppy, hot and delicious. More man than I am, no doubt. Which was fine, since I felt like more of a man having tackled it. Though I must admit that I couldn't quite wolf down the last scraps of corned beef and sauerkraut (slathered in Thousand Island dressing) that squeezed out of my grasp and onto the plate. As my waitress said: It's quite a sandwich. Maybe next time.

Cheers.

April 30, 2008 - 2:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

• Tuesday night's Batavia City School's performance of Cinemagic showcased the district's "technological capabilities," writes reporter Joanne Beck. The "musical revue" was a hodgepode of forms — including live dance, video and special effects. It foreshadowed a "Technology Site Visit" from national school representatives who will tour the Batavia schools next week to see how they use technology in and out of the classroom.

• A former Batavia resident recounts his first-hand experience of wildfires in Sierra Madre, California. "At one point, it looked like a volcano had erupted and you can see flames and embers floating down," James Monachino told reporter Scott DeSmit.

• Residents can vote on the Richmond Memorial Library proposed budget increase Tuesday at the library's gallery room from noon to 9:00pm. A potential increase of $41,000 is needed mostly to cover the cost of hiring an additional custodian and revamping the library's Web site. The article does not say who is allowed to vote. Library members, city residents, anyone who can get there?

• A former member of the Mighty St. Joe's Drum and Bugle Corps in Batavia will be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. From the article (no author is noted): "Larry Darch of Buffalo has been a leading percussion figure in the Western New York drum and bugle corps community for more than 50 years."

• The YWCA in Batavia will host a brunch at noon on May 10 at Genesee Community College. It appears that the event is connected to the Fabulous Females Committee, but the article doesn't say what that is. This is the 10 year anniversary of the brunch. Tickets are $25. Call the YWCA at (585) 343-5808.

• The Rev. David Scheider was honored with the HomeCare & Hospice Founders' Award at an awards banquet held April 25.

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

April 29, 2008 - 3:30pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, downtown, mural.

With the help of historian Larry Barnes, I've tracked down Vincenzo DelPlato, the jazz artist who painted the murals in Jackson Square, plus a few others around town.

Larry Barnes told me that Vincenzo's friends call him Vinny. So I called and asked for Vinny — folksiness often gets you further than formality, I find. I said my name is Philip. He called me Phil. And before you knew it, we were a couple of old pals chatting about art, about life and living it big.

Vinny's up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire now. He's been there for some time with his wife and his little boy, Theo, he says. Jazz artist seems the best way to described how he paints — and how he talks: with style, a little syncopated, melodic and meaningful.

When I ask him why he paints murals, he tells me this, he says: "An old professor of mine at Buffalo once asked me: Vinny, do you want to be a Chinese firecracker or an A-bomb?"

Take a stroll through Jackson Park to see how Vinny answered that question. He started on the downtown murals in 1994, having got practice painting backdrops for a theater company in Leroy.

"I didn't want to work small," he says. "I want to make an impact with my life. So I took it upon myself to paint the walls that needed painting."

Outside in people's faces is where Vinny wants his art, inspired, he says, by a line from Claes Oldenburg, a sculptor who once said that art belongs anywhere but rotting on its butt in a museum somewhere. "He became one of my heroes," says Vinny.

He took his paint and brush out into the streets. Eventually, the city caught on that this jazz artist was doing great things, and they commissioned him to paint murals all over downtown. So he did it.

Larry Barnes laments the loss of one of Vinny's greatest city murals that was on the corner of Ellicott and Liberty streets. A photo of it can still be seen on Vinny's Web site. It was jazz art at its best: a rollicking, frenetic jam of just good old neighborhood folks, the very folks who lived around that corner, in fact.

"There's so much out there that can be brought back to life with a little paint, a brush and a lot of hard work," says Vinny. "A little sweat mixed with paint can go a long way."

April 29, 2008 - 12:58pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, business, video.

Twenty-year-old Moriah Schoen just launched a Web site for his video production business, Schoen Productions. Don't let his age fool you, he's already got five years experience. Samples of his work — weddings and mock music videos, for example — are available on the site.

Moriah got his start, he tells us, when he was 15 years old and shot a video for a Batavia Youth Football Game, "and I fell in love with video editing." From there, he became the cameraman for his church, New Hope Ministries on Bank Street, and just kept on making videos, until he decided he was where he wanted to be, and it was time to start a business.

I guess you're never too young to be an entrepreneur. Best of luck, Moriah.

April 29, 2008 - 12:41pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

• Reporter Joanne Beck writes that "a pair of measures" passed by the City Council at last night's meeting "will save $78,000 this year." By replacing a traffic signal with stop signs instead of new signal lights, the city should save $75,000. Another $17,000 would be saved, we are told, by signing a lease agreement with Toshiba Business Solutions for "office equipment purchases." How are the savings measured? Was the city paying more before? Will the city purchase less? Also, I'm left scratching my head at the $78,000 figure — $78,000 + $17,000 = $95,000. Sure it's more than $78,000. But it's also more than $5. As for the big savings, I wouldn't mind finding out more about how a city decides to downgrade from a traffic signal to stop signs. If it means an easy savings of $75,000, why not do it more often?

• All 58 graduates of the Genesee Community College nursing program have already found employment thanks to high demand in the industry.

• Doug Hawley sold his family's dealership, Hawley's Motors at the corner of West Main and North Lyon streets, after 92 years of business. Clarence residents Gregory Strauss and Stephen Castilone will take over and rename the business Castilone Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep.

• A Batavia teen faces tresspassing charges for entering a home on Holland Avenue earlier this month, allegedly looking for a 17-year-old girl there, city police said. The same teen was charged with criminal trespass and second-degree sexual abuse last year, following a similar episode involving a 14-year-old girl.

• The town Planning Board met Monday.

• Batavia native Sean Comer was part of "the Rhythm & Hues visual effects team that won an Academy Award for the fantasy adventure The Golden Compass."

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

April 29, 2008 - 11:58am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, downtown, mural.

All cities have their quirks and foibles.

Rochester has abandoned button factories filled with artists and evacuated tenements full of asbestos. Or, at least, that's how it is on my street. Buffalo has the Bills. Albany has our state government. New York City has the entire island of Manhattan.

What of Batavia, you ask? Some might say the high school football team. Though I'm less quick to judge, even if I'm told the tradition is to root against the home team at homecoming. (Everyone loves an underdog. Look at the Chicago Cubs.) Instead, I say just take a walk downtown. There are more murals painted on the brick of downtown buildings than... I don't know... homecoming wins for the football team.

Here's a pair from Ellicott Street, part of an Air Force theme on a few buildings there:

Properly curious, I've set out to see what the city thinks of its peeling treasures. Larry Barnes, the city historian, is on the case. He should be back to me by the end of the week with whatever research he digs up that tells us more about just why this city wants to paint all of its buildings. Maybe we'll find out who started it, too.

The few folks I've chatted up so far don't know what to think of the murals nor how they got here. If you have thoughts, please share them. In the meantime, I'll keep hunting for answers.

April 29, 2008 - 9:05am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, headlines, wbta, roundup.

Check out WBTA for these and other news stories:

• Batavia's Water Bureau put out a notice that a disruption in the water line this afternoon could cause discoloration of the water around State and Bank streets near Batavia High School.

• Other city business from the council meeting last night: A failed attempt to consider changes to the city's event policy regarding overtime fees paid by the city. And a new lease for copy services was signed.

April 28, 2008 - 8:38pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, city council.

Prologue

Full of cheese and bread and sauce — thank you, Belladessa's Pizzeria — I'm slightly bloated and ready for my first Batavia City Council meeting. It's about six minutes shy of 7:00pm, and folks are still shuffling in, chatting. The board room seems so new it almost sparkles, despite the orange and off-white chairs that look plucked from a middle school classroom circa 1970. It smells like a dentist's office in here. There are maybe a dozen people in the audience, including myself and a man with a video camera. Everyone seems friendly.

That's that for atmosphere.

Part One (The one they call the Business Meeting)

Meeting called to order. (A solemn Christian prayer precedes the Pledge of Allegiance).

Council President Charlie Mallow jokes that he found some "new things" while cleaning up the skatepark during the "green-up cleanup" over the weekend. Wonder what that means.

Of the few decisions by the council tonight, there was only one that may immediately affect folks. That is, the traffic light at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Ross Street will be removed and replaced with all-way stop signs. Watch for that.

Not much else worth mention. First meeting adjourned. Five minute break.

The man with the video camera left. Why did he only tape the business meeting? What is the point of a second type of meeting if it isn't worth recording? Who makes that call?

Part Two (The one they call the Conference Meeting)

Councilman Frank Ferrando told me earlier that the "conference" half of these meetings are spent determining the agenda for the next "business" meeting, giving the council a chance to hash things out before they come up for vote. That being said, there's not much to say here. At least, not tonight. Just a lot of procedural minutiae — deciding whether something is worth deciding. Maybe that's why the guy with the camera took off.

Really, elected officials ought to be lauded if for no other reason than their patience and willingness to go through such process, while we recline in a sofa with a bowl of popcorn and drool at the television in the comfort of our home. Seriously. What do they get paid? Maybe $5,000 per year. Maybe. It may not be entertaining to watch the gears turn, but we should at least rest assured that they're turning.

I must admit, I'm impressed by the general politesse at this meeting. Council members raise their hands to be acknowledged by the president before they speak or ask a question. They often thank each other and whatever guests take the mic. If they raise their voices, it's out of passion, not anger.

Meeting adjourned — 8:35pm. Goodnight.

April 28, 2008 - 4:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Monday):

• Batavia's volunteer city cleanup Saturday was a success. City Councilman Bill Cox told the Daily News, "I bet I picked up 500 butts" — that's cigarette butts. And he wasn't alone.

• Another group of Batavia volunteers are picking up (literally) where Councilman Cox and others left off following Saturday's clean-up. They call themselves Helping Hands: Bringing Pride Back to our Neighborhoods. The first of a series of three cleanups starts Saturday at 10:00am and runs to about 1:00pm at the corner of Evans and Watson streets. Call New Hope Church at (585) 344-2997 for more information.

• The VA Medical Center will host an Award Recognition Ceremony tonight at Bohn's Restaurant.

• Reporter Scott DeSmit wrote: "A teacher at Rainbow Preschool in Batavia remains on administrative leave as an in-school investigation into alleged sexual misconduct wraps up." An investigation by state police found that the allegations were unfounded, so the school decided to perform its own investigation "as a matter of policy."

• The City Council will meet tonight for a business meeting at 7:00pm followed by a conference. Both meetings will be held in the Council Board Room on the second floor of City Hall.

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

April 28, 2008 - 8:00am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, headlines, wbta, roundup.

Check out WBTA for these and other news stories:

• The City Council meets tonight at 7:00pm.

• Auditions for the Batavia Muckdogs/WBTA National Anthem Contest will be held at noon on Saturday, May 17 at Dwyer Stadium.

• Several hundred people turned out for the State of the City address.

April 25, 2008 - 3:07pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, headlines, wbta.

Check out WBTA for these and other news stories:

• Batavia City Council President will give the State of the City address at an all-night event in conjunction with the Chamber's Business Showcase.

• Kiwanis Club of Batavia will hold its annual Law Day Dinner Thursday, May 1.

April 25, 2008 - 2:52pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, history, graduation, The Batavian.

It's June 22, 1895. The front page of The Batavian — a newspaper of the times — tells the simple story of a high school graduation, titled: "Sweet Girl Graduates."

"Radiant as the rosy morn was the graduating maiden of the Batavia Academy Thursday night. In ravishing costume and with brightened eye and blooming cheek she stepped on the rostrum of the opera house and with all the glamour that surrounds the pomp and panoply of war pulsing in her heart she gazed into the proud eyes of parents and friends and an immense concourse of people, and in the midst of showers of beautiful flowers was thrown into a dreamy ecstasy of delight."

It's no surprise the author has eyes only for such maidens. Batavia Academy's graduating class in 1895 consisted of 13 girls and a meager four boys. Where were all the young Batavian men at the turn of the century? Were they too good — or no good — for study? Ravaged by war? Bound by the ox to the farm?

No matter. This article's author had no need for them. Full of that very same poetic excess, he describes a few of the young ladies who especially caught his eye. Such as:

"Miss Flora Van de Venter is a piquant, fair-haired girl, with expressive eyes and a complexion that suggests peaches and cream. Her essay was captioned 'Fun and Philosophy of Mother Goose,' but there was nothing frivolous about it, though nicely spiced with humor."

And let us not forget "Miss Florence Quirk, a tangle-tressed maiden in white, (who) gave a learned essay, which evinced deep research."

Or in an article on the same front page (under "Town Topics: Seen and Heard in the Daily Current of Batavia Life").

"The summer girl is with us again. Arrayed in delicate tissue gown and jaunty straw hat, she rides through the streets in all her glory these pleasant evenings. With fan or parasol in hand she graces the piazza or the streets as she makes her periodical visits to the soda fountain. What would the druggist do without the summer girl? But it befits us all to be duly and honestly grateful for the blessing. For the summer girl is a blessing."

It must have been a long, lonely winter.

April 25, 2008 - 12:18pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News:

• Retired Major Gen. John Batiste will speak at the Batavia VA Medical Center Saturday, May 17 as part of a two-day veterans celebration organized by the Genesee County Veterans Support Network. "His speech will be focused not on the war or politics but on helping veterans," writes reporter Scott DeSmit. Call (585) 344-2611 for more information.

• Volunteers are being sought for a city clean-up Saturday. If you're interested, get to Williams Park on Pearl Street by 9:00am.

• Reporter Paul Mrozek writes that the town of Batavia "will maintain a water main that is owned by the village of Oakfield but runs through Batavia." Meanwhile, Batavia has a contract to buy the water plant where the main originates. Mrozek explains that the "mothballed" plant "has been stripped of its equipment so the building is available for storage." Once acquired, the land will be turned into a park with hiking and nature trails. Holes in the story: the Town Supervisor says the plant "will, at some point, become the property of Batavia." Some point this year? Some point in the next decade? Fifty years from now? Also, if the main originates at this defunct plant, what purpose does it serve? And if it is owned by Oakfield, why will Batavia maintain it?

• From a Letter to the Editor: "Revise, review and proofread; reconsider and repeat. Understand that modern times reward those with a fluency in the spoken word and a facility with the written word." So goes the advice from Donald Weyer to the Daily News and its readers.

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

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