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Howard B. Owens's blog

May 26, 2008 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Prior to today's Memorial Day parade on Main Street in Batavia, I handed out a few of our newly minted bumper stickers (thanks PennySaver, they look great).

It was gratifying to talk with so many people who already knew about The Batavian and mentioned how much they enjoy it and believe a site like this is needed in Batavia.

People who have heard about us mainly mentioned either our ad in the PennySaver or on WBTA.  A few people seemed to have heard about us via word of mouth.

Many people who did not know about the site eagerly took the stickers and commented that it is great to hear about such a site.

Only three people declined to take a sticker.

That's all a good sign that we're on the right track.

If you would like a bumper sticker for The Batavian, stop by Main Street Coffee.  Rob has been kind enough to let us leave a few on the counter.

Speaking of Rob's shop -- I'll be hanging out there more than usual this week.  Philip Anselmo is on vacation.

A video from today's parade will be posted shortly.

May 26, 2008 - 3:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman, thruway, route 5.

Driving to and from Batavia today I thought of what a habit it has become for me to avoid the Thruway if at all possible.

And I thought of Bill Kauffman again and his essay "Back to Batavia."

The curmudgeons carped and the mossbacks muttered, and the thruway was built. Its first casualty was Route 5, Batavia's Main Street, for years a bustling thoroughfare. Travelers ate at diners along Route 5, and slept in hotels, and shopped at stores—until progress came, and the farms were paved, and Route 5 died. Across Upstate, countless locally owned and owner-operated businesses were bankrupted. Drivers stuck to the thruway and ate at the Howard Johnson's monopoly.

In nearly two years of Western New York residence, I've found myself avoiding the Thruway more often than not.

I dislike the Thruway because:

  • The smaller freeways and two-lane roads are often much more interesting, if not prettier drives and they do take you past more locally owned businesses, which generally make for more interesting stops than chains or anything you find at "service exits."  Similar thoughts and advice can be found on RocWiki.
  • The toll isn't expensive, but why pay a toll if you don't have to? Besides, regular Thruway usage can add up.
  • The alternative routes almost never take more time to drive.
  • State Troopers.  I have nothing against law enforcement. In fact, I quite admire the men and women who wear the badge. I am, after all, an ex-cop myself.  But the State Troopers on the Thruway seem to have one job: write speeding tickets.  The Thruway is nothing but a very long speed trap.  Now, I don't speed much myself (never intentionally), but on a freeway as wide, clear, straight and devoid of traffic as I-90, Troopers running radar seem to server but one purpose: Raising money for Albany.  It's an alternative form of taxation, and it doesn't provide much representation. It's too Big Brotherish for me, so I'd rather not participate in the whole Thruway experience.

So you're much more likely to find me tooling down Route 5 than 90.

Has there ever been a "Boycott the Thruway" effort? The the Thruway seems easily avoidable, even for long trips.  So why use it?

What do you think of the Thruway?  Is it a modern transportation convenience, a necessary evil, or something that can and should be avoided as much as possible?

Previously:   Contemplating Bill Kauffman's Batavia

May 26, 2008 - 11:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy.

A one-vehicle crash in LeRoy early this morning claimed the life of Gerhard McBride, 56, of Rochester, the Genesee County Sheriff's office reported.

McBride was reportedly driving on Oatka Trail Road when his car left the road, struck a sign and several trees before coming to rest down an embankment.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

May 26, 2008 - 7:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Memorial Day.

There's not much listed on the web about Memorial Day activities.

GeneseeCalendar.com lists the following event from 10:30 to 8 p.m.

Darien Lake honors the men and women that defend our country on Memorial Day Weekend! All active and veteran military personnel receive free admission and discounts for their family members. Activities include local dance groups, a tribute to Music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and other live patriotic musical performances throughout the park all weekend long. Show you’re proud to support American troops, wear Red, White or Blue!

Previously, we mentioned United Memorial holding an observance at 9 a.m.

 

May 24, 2008 - 10:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Memorial Day, united memorial.

From a United Memorial press release:

United Memorial is proud to serve as Genesee County ’s War Memorial. Memorial Day observance services have been planned for Monday, May 26th at 9 am at the monument in front of the Hospital’s main entrance at 127 North Street , Batavia . The public is invited to attend this annual event.

Representatives of the Veterans’ Association and Gold Star family members will lay a wreath at the monument. Members of the Batavia Concert Band will also perform.

Refreshments will be available in the Hospital Board Room following the service.

May 24, 2008 - 10:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in classes, united memorial.

June 4 FREE Smoking Cessation Classes

3 – 4 p.m., UMMC Terry Almeter Classroom, 127 North St. , Batavia . Four one-hour classes, 6/4, 11, 18 & 25, includes behavior modification skills, relaxation and stress management techniques, support advice.  Call UMMC Healthy Living at 344-5331 to register.

June 5 FREE Blood Pressure Screening

1:30-3 p.m., Every Thursday of the month, UMMC Cardiac Rehab, 215 Summit St. , Batavia

June 9, 11, 16 and 18 Diabetes Self-Management Education Program

6– 8:30 p.m. UMMC Healthy Living, 211 East Main St. Batavia . Comprehensive Diabetes Education Class to help you take care and control your diabetes. Learn about nutrition, medication, glucose monitoring and exercise/fitness.  Four 2½ hour sessions.  Call Healthy Living 344-5331 to register. Fee: $150. (covered by many insurances)

June 11 FREE Blood Pressure Screening 10 a.m.- 12 Noon, Batavia Senior Center , 2 Bank Street , Batavia

Ongoing Programs :

Cancer Services Partnership

Mammogram, clinical breast exam, self-breast exam, and Pap smear testing are available to                      women over the age of 50 who are uninsured or underinsured. Free colorectal kits available to people over 50.  Call the Cancer Services Partnership of Genesee and Orleans Counties at United Memorial at 344-5497.  [email protected]

Childbirth Educational Classes

United Memorial Childbirth Classes prepare the pregnant mother and support person for the childbirth experience. Childbirth Education Program offers a six-week (two hour sessions) and a monthly eight-hour session (Friday evening and Saturday).  All classes are held in Cary Hall at 211 East Main St. , Batavia .  Call 344-5331 for more details or contact [email protected].

MOMS Program

MOMS (Medicaid Obstetric and Maternal Service) is a prenatal education program for women who receive Medicaid or who are underinsured.  Pregnancy testing and counseling are also available. Call 344-5355 for more details or email [email protected].

Breast Feeding Class

Cary Hall, 211 East Main St , Batavia .  Instructor: Linda Lee Stoiber, RN, BSN, IBCLE, Lactation                Consultant. $20 fee. (may be covered by insurance) Call 344-5331 to register or for more information contact [email protected].

May 24, 2008 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in events, concert, St. James Church.

Charles Bradley, LaVerne Cooley, Ann Emmans, Henry Emmans,  David Lange, Dawn Mark and Dick Morrison will be "Pulling out all the stops" on the St. James Organ.

To benefit the restoration of St. James bell tower.

Concert date is Sunday June 22, at 3:00 PM
St. James Church
405 East Main Street
Batavia

Free will offering
Reception to follow concert.

Submitted via the "Send Us News" link.

May 24, 2008 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, thebatavian, bill kauffman.

I've been thinking of my old home town in Southern California this morning, and Batavia.

If it seems odd that I would be thinking of two towns 3,000 miles apart, thank Bill Kauffman.

Yesterday, I sumbled upon a pair of essays Kauffman wrote in 1991 about Batavia. Here's Part I, and here's the Conclusion of "Back to Batavia."

For Kauffman, Batavia has gone to ruin -- grand old buildings destroyed, venerable local stores shuttered and chains, corporations and big media pulling residents away from a pace of life that was seemingly more connected, more rooted.

Everywhere In Batavia I found small independent businesses in retreat. The Tops grocery chain has opened a super store on West Main, and all those little corner grocers, where at three o'clock the kids liberated from school, bought pretzel sticks and Bazooka Joes and Red Hot Dollars, all those Lamberts and Wandryks and Says and Borrellis are gone, gone, gone. Mr. Quartley just died, and the Platens are hanging on, barely. And now Tops has a pizza oven, and a Domino's just opened in the K Mart Plaza, so Pontillo's and Arena's and Ficarella's and Starvin' Marvin, you'd better dig in and fight. Or maybe it would just be easier to sell out, pack the wife and kids into a U-Haul, and slink down to Florida—to a trailer-park reservation with all the other white Indians.

Kauffman calls himself a localist.  I knew very little of Kauffman before we launched The Batavian, but in an odd way -- a way I'm sure he would find very odd indeed -- he might be our godfather, or at least a good touchstone of what we need to be about.

One of Kauffman's complaints is that modern New Yorkers know little of their regional literature, so rather than assume that Batavians know who Kauffman is, let me supply some background. 

Kauffman was born in Batavia in 1959 (which makes us roughly the same age). He is a writer of books and essays, mostly on politics, social and cultural issues from a conservative/libertarian bent (which makes us roughly aligned, though there seem to be many specifics on which we diverge).  His most famous book seems to be Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, which is about Batavia. His most recent book is Ain't My America.

Kauffman believes in small town America, and in Batavia.  I've spent my entire journalism career working for small town newspapers.  Community journalism is all I know and all I care about.

I've never said this about myself before, but I guess I'm a localist, too; albeit, one lacking the true small town roots of a Bill Kauffman.

As we've said before in The Batavian, community journalism long ago lost its small town soul.

Kauffman's own analysis isn't far from our own:

The daily newspaper has passed from the Griswolds and the McWains—fine old Republicans, how gentle that Main Street Harding hauteur seems now—to a chain. The chain sent a team of journalism school, degreed outsiders to Batavia, where they patiently instruct us in contemporary etiquette. (Let's get some foreign titles in the video store! What Batavia needs is a nice Mexican restaurant!) The editorial writers are all looking to move up and out, so the paper's leaders feature plenty of "Outlaw Pit Bulls" and "Dwarf-Tossing a National Disgrace" and "A Plan for World Peace" and nary a "Save a County Courthouse."

Yes, The Batavian is owned by a corporation that runs chain newspapers, but the goal of this project is to give back to community journalism its soul.  While neither Philip nor I currently live in Batavia (for myself, I wouldn't mind seeing that change some day, but it doesn't seem at all a realistic possibiility now), the future staff writers of The Batavian will be residents (and we hope native Batavians). 

See, I know what it's like to watch a small town lose itself in its quest for glory and riches.

That old home town I was thinking of this morning was El Cajon, a suburb now of San Diego, but once a two-hour stage coach ride from the big city, so it developed its own identity. 

We didn't move to El Cajon until I was 14, but I knew the town well because most of our extended family lived there.

My dad moved us to El Cajon so he could start a business.  He put me in the same high school he had attended.  Eventually, I would get my first daily newspaper job in El Cajon, and I would start my first entrepreneurial enterprise in El Cajon (an online community news site in 1995, which is in some ways the precursor of The Batavian.).

By the time I launched that online site, the El Cajon of my youth, the quaint small town of the 1960s through early 1980s that I knew, was gone.

The old buildings on Main and Magnolia, gone.  Empty shops dotted what was left of Main Street.

All in the name of urban renewal.

Batavia went through that, too.

Kauffman:

Batavia responded to the demise of Route 5 with an act of parricide unequaled this side of Rumania, where the demonic Ceausescu once waged war on pre-Communist architecture. The city fathers rushed headlong into urban renewal, whereby the federal government paid Batavia to knock down its past: the mansions of the founders, the sandstone churches, the brick shops, all of it (even Dean Richmond's manor, which had become an orphanage financed by Miss Edna, the city's legendary madam with a heart of gold, may she rest in peace.)

Batavia tore out—literally—its five-block heart and filled the cavity with a ghastly mall, a dull gray sprawling oasis in a desert of parking spaces. The mall was a colossal failure, but it succeeded in destroying the last vestiges of our home-run economy. J. C. Penney and Wendy's were in; the Dipson Theater and the Dagwood Restaurant were out. As our chamber of commerce might put it in one of their doggedly goofy brochures, Batavia had entered the global economy.

The mayor who stole El Cajon from me was Joan Shoemaker, who envisioned turning El Cajon -- a smoggy valley populated by factory workers and cowboys -- into the La Jolla of East County, with boutiques, quaint book stores (not that disheveled and dusty 50,000 Books I shopped in throughout high school and college years -- inset picture of now closed bookstore) and "white tablecloth restaurants" (a phrase that will be acid in my ears until I'm an old man).

It's been two years since I visited El Cajon.  Except to see my grandmother, I have no desire to go back.

The city has slipped completely into poverty and waste and ruin.  Joan Shoemaker's vision of an "East County La Jolla" has vanished behind trash on the streets and graffiti on the walls of her strip malls.  A city that once was home to modest people earning a modest living raising their families in quiet and security has been overrun by Section 8 housing and Dollar Tree stores.

Batavia is nothing like that.

And here is where Kauffman and I diverge.  There is still much about Batavia that is local.

Downtown is full of good, locally owned restaurants and stores. While pedestrian traffic is often light, it is not non-existent and plenty of people still seem to frequent the city's core.

Yes, City Center is pretty much a monstrosity, but there is still something left of old Batavia on Main Street. (I wonder if any of the former city leadership who led the charge to destroy all those grand old buildings are still around, and if they would own up to the failure of the project?) (And I should mention, the BID has done a great job with downtown, and expect to see that group yet make something useful out of City Center).

As somebody who comes from 3,000 miles away, a transplant to Western New York who thinks the region is just great and plans to spend many decades living here, I've got to say that I see no reason Batavia can't have a very local present and future.  We hope The Batavian can help encourage a vibrant localism.

And I've got to say, I'm glad I've learned about Bill Kauffman. He is my first open window into literary and historic New York.  In California, I had a grand collection of regional books, and I had explored the state thoroughly.  When I left California with an idea that I would never return, I donated those books to Matt Welch, then an editor with the Los Angeles Times and now editor of Reason Magazine (where Kauffman used to write).  Those books sit on some shelf in the Times building, I'm told. I trust they're in good hands.  Now it's time for me to learn more about, and embrace, my adopted state.

For a visual look back at old Batavia, here is a collection of pictures and one of postcards.

May 23, 2008 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, byron, reis family.

BataviaFuneralHomes.com contains the following message to the media:

To the Media:

The Byron-Bergen community has again experienced a great tragedy. Our community grieves over the loss of the Reis Family. On behalf of the surviving Reis family, I would like to present you with a few requests.

The memorial service is to be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Byron-Bergen High School in the Gymnasium. The family has asked that no video cameras or flash photography be used inside the building before, durring or after the service.

For your advance information, there will be no casketed remains present at the service.

They've also posted the following obituaries:

 

May 22, 2008 - 9:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in gas prices, truckers.

The Times-Union reports on a trucker fuel protest and includes a quote from a Batavia-based drier.

Bill Sutton, a trucker from Batavia in western New York, said his truck gets 5 to 5 1/2 miles per gallon. The 300-mile trip to the Capital Region costs him $300 in fuel alone.

He’s avoiding the Thruway whenever possible because “tolls are just ridiculous,” he added. “Do I eat or drive the Thruway?”

A reader comment seems to take direct aim at Sutton's quote:

So to protest high gas prices, truckers took their gas-sucking rigs on a joyride down the Northway? Okay, now it makes sense to me. . .

And you have to wonder, if the more stop-and-go of long-distance non-Thruway driving, and probably longer distance to travel, is Sutton really saving money?  I suppose that depends on how long his routes are.

Yes, high gas prices create serious reverberations throughout the economy, but are the politicians in Albany really in a position to do anything about it?

UPDATE: More from Sutton in this article:

Bill Sutton, of Batavia, said he spent $70,200 on fuel last year when the average cost per gallon of diesel was $3. He expects to spend close to double that total this year. His truck gets about 5.5 miles to the gallon.

“I’ve worked more weekends already this year than I did the last five years together,” the 43-year-old Sutton said. “I was in Florida last weekend. I’m working harder than ever trying to keep up with the bills.”

He said he bought his tractor and hauls trailers for Path Truck Lines which has several offices, including one in Schuylerville.

“I’ll be going to Schuylerville this afternoon and then to Fort Miller to pick up an oversized load of concrete for delivery first thing in the morning near Rochester.”

He said he’s been an owner/operator for 10 years, and when he bought his truck diesel was about $1 a gallon.

“A truck costs $137,000 and I have a mortgage on this,” he said. “Fuel is costing me $3,000 a week. A new set of tires is $4,500. I change my own oil every five weeks and that’s $175 because it takes 10 gallons of oil.”

He said shops charge about $250 to change the oil on a rig. His front tires last 150,000 miles and his back tires about 320,000 miles.

“I change the front tires every fall at a cost of about $850 plus installation,” he said. “If fuel goes to $6 a gallon, I don’t think I can hang on.”

 

May 22, 2008 - 3:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

A few changes to The Batavian this afternoon.

The most visible is the "Submit News" button on the upper right of the home page.

While posting to a blog or leaving a comment requires site registration, we recognize that not everybody who might have news to share wants to register with the web site.  This form is a way for you to submit news either as a non-registered user, or when you don't want it to be part of your blog.

News can be anything from a crime you witnessed in your neighborhood to a civic group event announcement.

The "Submit News" also gives you the ability to send in anonymous news tips, if you need to remain anonymous for any reason.

Keep in mind, that if you submit anonymous news, we won't just publish it without verification, and if we can't contact you (leaving off contact information is an option), it may be harder to verify the tip.

The other important change can be found at the bottom of the web site, in what we call the "footer," where we added links to our Creative Commons license, our privacy policy and our terms of service (which include the rules we ask all users to follow when participating in The Batavian).

There are lots more changes coming to The Batavian over the next months, even of the next years.  A good web site is never a finished web site.

May 22, 2008 - 3:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, byron.

GenFireWire.com has a collection of 30 photos from Monday's apartment fire in Byron that claimed four lives.

The photos show both the devestation of the apartment building as well as the efforts of area firefighters to battle the blaze.

May 21, 2008 - 8:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

What is a blog?  The short and sweet answer is it's nothing more than a piece of personal publishing software.

Another short answer from a different point of view is a blog enables a means of self-expression.

What it is mainly is a way for anybody -- from the professional to the person who just has something to say -- to communicate in a real, personal voice.

Blogging refers both to the technology that makes personal online publishing easy and to an attitude about media.

At The Batavian, we blog.

To some traditionalist, the idea of mixing journalism and blogging is something like mixing holy water and gin.

We ask, why?

Up until the second half of the 20th Century, when journalism finished its full transformation from a trade to a profession, the craft and art of media revolved a lot around personal expression.  Writers could write, and readers generally knew the bias and predilection of either the reporter or the publication where the news appeared.

Blogging allows media to get back to its more uninhibited roots.

Why should you blog? Because blogging give you a chance to add your voice to the media mix.  You know stuff. You have opinions.  When you come into possession of new information, you have just as much right to share it with the public as any journalism-school graduate.

It doesn't matter if you won a seat on the City Council, drive a snow plow, operate your own store, sell insurance, arrest thugs or push paper -- it's highly likely you know things or can share things that others will find useful or interesting.

That's what blogging is all about -- allowing for a form egalitarian communication.

At The Batavian, we make it easy for you to blog. 

First, sign up for an account -- more than 100 people already have.

Second, look for the link on the left rail of the site that says, "Create Content."

Third, click on the "Blog Entry" link of the "Create Content" page.

Fourth, write a title, add some tags (I usually do this after I write my post) and then go to the big text box a little lower on the page and start writing.

Fifth, after you've said all you save to say, click publish.

Once you've written your post, a member of The Batavian staff will see it the next time we log onto the site (contrary to rumor, we do eat and sleep sometimes, so we may not see your post right away), and if we find it of sufficient public interest, we'll "promote" it to the home page.

What should you write about?

Well, you can use your blog on The Batavian for purely personal expression -- stuff about your family, pets, garden, dating life, etc.

Or you can write about issues of current interest, either in Batavia or abroad.

You can also use blog posts to promote things your civic group is doing. 

You can also share other bits of news you happen to learn and believe to be true.

We don't have too many restrictions on what you write about.  We do ask that you avoid being nasty and mean, using foul language and engaging in unfair attacks on other people, either by name or as a group (such as racist rants).  In a few days, we'll publish more on our "official" rules.

BTW:  If blogging for The Batavian isn't your style, go to wordpress.com and start a blog.  If you do, let us know about it, we'll follow it (and when we add a blog roll, we'll link to it), and when you write something we find interesting, we will link to that blog post.  And we hope you'll do the same for us.

So, what are you waiting for? Start blogging.  It's fun, easy and can help make Batavia a better place to live and work.

UPDATE: BTW, for those who don't know ... Blog is short for "web log."  A log being a form of personal journal, or a place to record things.  Some of the first blogs (going back to 1999) were just a collection of favorite links with maybe a comment or two.  Of course, blogs have become much more than that, but link blogging is still popular.

Previous Related Posts:

 

May 20, 2008 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, main street coffee.

Every once in a while, some person or other stops in at Main Street Coffee asking for me and/or Philip.

We're here today.  Well, I am now.  Philip will be here later. 

I'll be here until heading out for lunch at an undetermined time, and back by 2 or 3 (depending on when I leave for lunch) and here until 5 or 5:30.

Stop by and say hello and I'll buy the coffee.

May 20, 2008 - 7:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, train.

Here's an interesting video that appeared on YouTube overnight -- of a train pulling out of a roundhouse in Batavia.

The description of the video reads:

S6 1044 emerges from the DLWR Enginehouse in Batavia. The five-stall roundhouse was closed up at or around 1956, when the New York Central moved their mainline south of the city; track was relaid into the building during the past winter (2007) by the hard-working GVT track department. So like the title says, it's no fire, it's just an ALCO.

A local church has also uploaded a "pastor appreciation" video.

May 19, 2008 - 2:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in police, law enforcement, police chief.

Lt. Eugene Jankowski, acting police chief in Batavia, told The Batavian this afternoon that he believes he is no longer a candidate for the vacant police chief's job.

"They've conducted the final four interviews without me," Jankowski said.  "I'd say I'm pretty much out of the running."

Jankowski said when he was told he didn't make the final four, he filed a written appeal, but since he hasn't been interviewed, he believes that appeal was rejected.

"It’s not over yet. Anything is possible. I’ll be in my position for several more weeks yet. I’m going to stay on and continue to work as I have been."

It's possible, he said, that none of the four remaining candidates will receive nor accept an offer, in which case he might still have a shot.

But it doesn't sound like he's holding his breath. 

He said he's sad that he didn't get the job, but he's proud of his 30 years of service to the city and vows to support whomever gets the job.

"I'm still very passionate about my profession, enjoy my job, enjoy helping people and plan to stay on for five or six more years, as long as I’m able, as long as I’m in good health I’d like to stay," Jankowski said.

May 19, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wind power, perry, wind farm.

With the possibility of wind power coming to Genesee County, the Buffalo News account of a new wind farm in Bliss is timely.

Stanley Marsh didn’t answer immediately when asked whether the wind turbine in his backyard was noisy.

“You hear anything?” he asked. Birds chirped and an electrical buzz was coming from a streetlight that wouldn’t shut off, but noise from the turbine, perhaps 1,000 feet away, was undetectable.

The region’s newest wind farm, a collection of 67 turbines perched atop 265-foot-tall towers, officially opened Sunday. More are on the way.

The most entertaining complaint about the turbines -- shadows.

Since the beginning of April, when most of the turbines in Bliss began operation, a handful of complaints have been voiced, according to Eagle Town Supervisor Joseph Kushner.

“We’ve had three or four complaints about noise,” he said. “We had one person complain of shadows.”

That person, Town Board Member Jim Barber, said he saw shadows from the turbines for 20 to 25 minutes early in the morning when the blades first started turning, but that he hasn’t seen any for the past three or four days.

It’s a minor annoyance, he said, adding that Noble Environmental Group has promised to look into possible remedies.

How the hell are shadow's a problem?

As we've noted before, there is some opposition to a wind farm in Perry, but we're still not clear why.

May 15, 2008 - 10:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, alex's place, ribs.

Does Alex's Place have the best ribs?

That's what blogger Josh Hatcher says:

I had the Half Rack Lunch Special - Garlic Ribs with BBQ on the side, coleslaw, fries, and a bowl of Cheesy Pepperoni Soup.

These were by far, the best ribs I've ever tasted in my life, and perhaps the best restaurant I've ever been to in my life.

The establishment looks like an old speak-easy, and it was a little darker inside than I prefer, but again, the food was ABSOLUTELY amazing, and if any of you are in the neighborhood, I highly recommend getting ya' some ribs!

Batavia has an amazing number of good restaurants. I'm on a mission to try them all.  I haven't been to Alex's yet.  I guess it needs to move up on my priority list.

May 15, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, veterans, taxes, county legislature.

As a Cold War veteran myself, the County's Legislature's proposal to cut property taxes by 10 percent for those who served in the military from 1945 to 1991 is applause worthy.

If approved, the tax break would be effective March 1, 2009, for county tax bills. The property must be a private residence of the veteran or the unmarried spouse of a deceased veteran.

Those who served in the three wars during that period — Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm — are currently eligible for property tax exemptions.

Applications are processed by the county’s Veteran Service Office.

For the Cold War veterans the percentage would apply to residential property values up to $60,000. Those with homes assessed at more would get the same exemption but only to a cap level of $60,000.

I served in the USAF from 1980 to 1994, and I always felt like I did my part to protect the country from the Red Menace, so it's nice to see the Cold War veterans of Genesee get some recognition.

May 14, 2008 - 7:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Community College, taxes, students.

As astonishingly high as taxes are in New York, you would think attending a community college would be free -- as it was in California for many decades, until Prop. 13 (a cap on property taxes passed in 1978) eroded state revenue.

Nope.

In fact, Genesee students will get to pay another $50 per-semester, making total semester costs $1,700.

Ouch.

The increase, part of a $30.8 million GCC budget for 2008-09, was adopted during the monthly meeting of the board of trustees Monday.

The budget proposes a $50,000 increase in support from Genesee County, sponsor of the college. Last year, the college was granted a $100,000 increase from county funds, raising taxpayers’ support to $1.8 million, about 6 percent of the total college budget. Officials have maintained that the county’s share is the second lowest among county-sponsored two-year colleges in the state.

The increase must yet be approved by the County Legislature.  The rubber stamps are probably already inked.

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