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coronavirus pandemic

July 15, 2021 - 2:35pm

Press release:

Following his successful passage of the broader American Rescue Plan earlier this year, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer heralded the Child Tax Credit expansion, which will allow payments of up to $300 per child to automatically go out to families across New York each month – starting TODAY July 15. Schumer said the plan will impact more than 86 percent of New York children.

The Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee County, is expected to receive Expanded Child Tax Credits totaling more than $435 million.

“Help is here for working families across New York in the form of enhanced Child Tax Credits that put more money in families’ pockets to recover from COVID even as its boosts New York’s economy,” Senator Schumer said. “Over 86 percent of families throughout New York will benefit from the enhanced Child Tax Credit just as they begin to fully recover from the global health and economic pandemic that rocked our country for the past year.

"That is why I made sure this relief bill included help for New York families, because this significant expansion of the Child Tax Credit will cut the nation’s child poverty rate in half and bring necessary relief. The credit expansion – on top of the $1,400 direct checks that came earlier this year – will provide New York’s families with thousands of dollars of relief, directly in their pockets. Getting additional federal dollars into the hands of struggling families not only makes sense, but it’s what’s needed to help the New York recover from the pandemic.”

Schumer explained the Child Tax Credit (CTC), one of the most powerful and effective anti-poverty tools the federal government has, was significantly expanded for American households in the American Rescue Plan. This tax-credit expansion will deliver an estimated $7.03 billion in additional economic relief to families with children across New York and have a major impact on working families.

Schumer highlighted that researchers have estimated that the American Rescue Plan – including the expanded Child Tax Credit – will cut the child poverty rate in half nationally. Specifically, the relief bill increases the Child Tax Credit amount from $2,000 to $3,000 per child age 6 to 17 (and $3,600 per child below the age of 6) for 2021.

Additionally, the bill makes the CTC fully refundable and removes the $2,500 earnings floor to receive the credit for 2021, ensuring that the lowest income households will be able to benefit from the maximum credit amount for the year.

This change importantly corrected flaws in the credit that prevented around 27 million children nationwide whose families have little or no income from receiving the full benefit – and in New York State alone, this credit expansion will benefit 1,546,000 of these children who were previously left out of the full Child Tax Credit.

The increased $3,000 or $3,600 CTC is available to families making less than $150,000, and it phases down above that income level, so household incomes of more than $150,000 will see a reduced credit.

This boosted credit amount is particularly impactful in lower-income households, as it has been found that increasing a low-income child’s family income early in their life has numerous, critical longer-term benefits on education, health, and even employment. Specifically, it is estimated that a $3,000 increase in annual family income for children under age 5 translates into an estimated 19-percent earnings increase in adulthood.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an estimated 3,564,000 children across New York will benefit from this expanded tax credit – including 583,000 Black, 954,000 Latino, and 266,000 Asian American children. It will also lift 680,000 children in the state above or closer to the poverty line.

The total amount of Expanded Child Tax Credit headed to each region in New York State can be found below:  



Southern Tier


Capital Region




Hudson Valley


Long Island




Finger Lakes






July 14, 2021 - 12:33pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus pandemic, news, ILGR, fundraiser, dewitt, walk, Run & Roll.

Press release:

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) is excited to announce our very first in-person event since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic! Join us in celebrating the 31st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act with our 2nd Annual Walk, Run & Roll!

The event takes place Monday, July 26, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Pavilion 2 of DeWitt Recreation Area, 115 Cedar St. in Batavia, rain or shine.

To register, go to runsignup.com/ilgrwalkrunroll.

For $25, participants can walk, run or roll the distance of their choosing. All participants receive an event T-shirt.

Food trucks will be present, plus a basket raffle, a 50/50 raffle and a caricature artist.

Please bring your own chair! COVID-19 guidelines will be followed.

For more information, call Donna Becker at (585) 815-8501, ext. 411.

Thanks to our sponsors: BW’s Restaurant and Banquet Facility, United Refining Company, RESTORE Sexual Assault Services, R.A. Haitz Co. Inc., Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, GEICO, Fidelis, National Grid and Ken Barrett Chevrolet-Cadillac.

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) is a member of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. family of agencies that offers an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.


You have the power to Stop The Spread! Together, we can protect our communities and stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Get vaccinated!

In the last year, we saved NYS taxpayers over $118 million by helping individuals leave or avoid institutionalization through practicing the principles of education, empowerment and equality for persons with disabilities.


Connect with us on social media!

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/wnyil

Instagram: http://instagram.com/wnyil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wnyil

July 12, 2021 - 12:23pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Department of Social Services today (July 12) announced that the Federal government, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, is providing funding to support eligible former foster youth through the coronavirus pandemic with financial assistance. The awards range from $5,000 to $12,000.

According to the New York State Department of Children and Family Services those eligible include young adults, 18 through 26 years of age, who were formerly in foster care in New York State after the age of 14. Funding awards are available through Sept. 30, 2021.

Funding awards available through Sept. 30, 2022 for young adults, 18 through 20 years of age, who were formerly in foster care in New York after the age of 14 and otherwise eligible for funding from New York State.

Any 20-year-old currently in foster care or 21 years old who remains in foster care can access the additional fund awards. Other youth currently in care can receive services, resources and financial assistance through local counties' annual allocations.

“We encourage any Genesee County resident who fulfills the criteria to visit the website created to apply for these awards,” said Ben Dennis, director of Social Services at Genesee County. “The pandemic has deeply impacted so many people, including the foster care population and people should know there are resources to help them as we emerge out of this public health crisis.”

It should be noted that eligibility requirements are subject to change without prior notification.

The link to apply for the cash awards is here.

June 23, 2021 - 2:55pm

Press release:

Statement by Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association:

“While the lifting of the emergency order is a welcome milestone to the end of the pandemic, with it comes the sudden end to alcohol to-go. A permanent extension of alcohol-to-go is supported by 78 percent of New Yorkers, but the Legislature failed to extend it and now the Executive Order has ended.

"Only in New York would elected officials ignore an overwhelming majority of the public. Restaurants are struggling to find staff, keep up with rising costs and manage a limited supply of goods, and nearly two thirds of the applicants will not receive Restaurant Relief Funds. New York State must do more to help, not hurt, our restaurant industry.”

June 23, 2021 - 2:47pm

Press release:

Statement from NYSCEA President Marcus Molinaro on the End of COVID-19 State of Emergency:

"Today, we learned from a tweet that the Governor will end the COVID-19 State of Emergency, effective tomorrow (June 24). 

"This is yet another important milestone signaling the approaching end of a pandemic that so many heroic Americans have battled for over 16 grueling months.

"On behalf of the counties of New York, in addition to all those who played a critical role, I thank the leaders and government employees who were too often the unsung heroes in this pandemic. They all worked tirelessly, day and night saving lives and rebuilding our communities.

"Counties across New York led the local response to this catastrophe. County leaders were the onsite incident commanders, leading local emergency response, and our local health and mental health departments were the tip of the spear in administering the testing, tracing, and vaccination efforts that made this day possible. 

"And, on behalf of all county governments, I extend our heartfelt prayers to those who lost loved ones. We are committed to recovering and rebuilding in their memory and honor."

June 11, 2021 - 1:33pm

Press release from Sen. Ed Rath:

Beginning June 10th, small and micro businesses, as well as small for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations, can apply for up to $50,000 in state grants, and I want our neighbors to be among the first to know!

It is estimated that more than 300,000 small businesses here in New York are eligible for funds from a new $800 million small business recovery program.

This aid could be used to help employers finance operating expenses incurred during the coronavirus pandemic between March 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021 and can be used to cover:

  • Payroll, insurance, and utility costs;

  • Commercial rent or mortgage payments for NYS-based property;

  • Payment of local property or school taxes;

  • Costs of personal protection equipment (PPE) necessary to protect worker and consumer health and safety;

  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) costs, and other machinery or equipment costs;

  • Supplies and materials necessary for compliance with COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

According to Empire State Development, the agency in charge of administering these grants, priority will be given to socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, including minority- and women-owned business enterprises, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses, and businesses located in economically distressed communities.

For program eligibility and use requirements, and for additional information, visit the state’s Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program website. The website is expected to be updated as additional details become available, so I encourage you to check it regularly.

I also encourage eligible employers to begin preparing necessary documents in the days ahead, and to sign up for alerts at the link above.

Funds available for this program are limited, so I encourage eligible employers to apply swiftly as soon as applications become available.

While much more needs to be done to truly help our local businesses get back on track, it is my hope that by raising awareness for this program early, eligible businesses will be able to benefit from this fund.

May 19, 2021 - 10:33am

Submitted photo and press release:

An independant “Field of Thanks” team of Genesee County volunteers is dedicating the week of June 6 through 13 to people and organizations -- both civilian and military -- that have served their community and country this past year during the coronavirus pandemic.

The "Field of Thanks" is made possible through the organizational efforts of Phyllis Draycott, the planning team, and the patronage of area businesses, service organizations, and individuals through purchase of $50 flag packages in support of designated civilian and military "heroes."

The result will be a no-cost, self-guided tour of 67 U.S. flags on display daily from 1 to 6 p.m. that week on the grounds of St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia.

Each flag will be accompanied by a plaque depicting the story of an essential worker, law enforcement officer, other first responders, and armed forces' members.

Visitors during those hours will also be able to stop by a staffed information table where a map will help them find familiar names of locals from World War I through present. 

There will be two ceremonies. The Opening Ceremony is Sunday, June 6th at 1 p.m. and will feature a flag dedication and remarks by Assemblyman Steve Hawley and William Joyce, director of the county's Veterans Service Organization. The Closing Ceremony is Sunday, June 13th at 5 p.m. and will honor heroes in attendance and feature patron flag presentations and a flag retreat assisted by members of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Updated COVID-19 restrictions will be observed.

Net proceeds will be divided between two nonprofits: WNY Heroes and Meals on Wheels.

Photo: Maureen Scoville, Rose Rumery, organizer Phyllis Draycott, Joanne Fleming, Donna Kauffman and Joan Ellison examine a sample plaque and flag setup for the "Field of Thanks."

April 6, 2021 - 2:27pm

Press release:

Secure a spot for you and the family for the 18th annual Family Game Night! Spots are still available and with registration closing Friday, make sure you call to register before spots fill up!

The Genesee County Youth Bureau will host the event in celebration of National County Government Month. The event will take place on Thursday, April 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at County Building 2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Family Game Night will be a “Grab 'n’ Go” style event. Families will drive up to the main entrance of County Building 2 and staff will greet them with a family tote that will consist of information about the services provided by the Genesee County Departments as well as prizes and activities.

Each bag will also have snacks, beverages and of course a brand new board game for families to start their own “Family Game Night” at home.

The theme for this year’s County Government Month is “Counties Matter.” Many county residents aren’t aware of the many important services provided by County Government. Each county department will provide information that showcases their roles and responsibilities to our residents. 

As we know, counties are on the front lines protecting our communities. Now more than ever, Genesee County residents are seeing firsthand the essential functions counties perform. The county provides critical services to all our residents, beginning at birth and spanning throughout their entire lives.

There is no cost for this event. Adults must be accompanied by a child to receive the board game. Please call the Youth Bureau for more information or to register at 344-3960. Registration is required by April 9th and is only open for the first 30 families to RSVP.

March 23, 2021 - 2:19pm

On Monday, March 22, Assemblyman Steve Hawley joined Assembly and Senate Republicans at a press conference in Albany to provide details of their joint resolutions to rescind the mandated 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“The curfew in place for our bars and restaurants has no base in science and has been extremely harmful to small businesses throughout the state,” Hawley said. “To allow people to remain in casinos after 11 p.m. but not restaurants is ridiculous.

"Rather than saving lives, this mandate is killing jobs and making it much harder for small business owners throughout the state to get back on their feet after a brutal year of shutdowns and having to operate in compliance with egregious and burdensome restrictions such as this.”

March 9, 2021 - 12:10pm

Press release:

Senator Ed Rath has introduced a package of legislation that would help our recovering businesses to reopen and rehire.  

“Our businesses and local economy have taken a huge hit during the pandemic," Senator Rath said. "Businesses from restaurants to bowling alleys to hair salons are struggling at no fault of their own. The goal of this legislation package is to provide some much-needed relief as these businesses work to reopen."

The bills included in this package are S.4691S.5140S.5141 and S.5408.  S.4691 -- these would create the “Save our Small Businesses Grant Program.” S.5140 would establish a “Hire-Now” tax credit. S.5141 would provide a tax credit for employers who hire individuals previously on unemployment. Lastly, S. 5408 would increase the child and dependent care tax credit.  

“The bills included in this package all focus on instrumental aspects of restarting our economy and helping both those who have found themselves unemployed as a result of the pandemic and the businesses who are working to rebuild,” Rath said. 

For more information on all of the bills, please visit here.

December 24, 2020 - 12:37pm

Press release:

ALBANY -- Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that protects the interests of New York’s small businesses who are taking out loans to survive the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies.

The New York State Small Business Truth in Lending Act, Chapter 369 of the Laws of 2020, helps borrowers by requiring clear and comprehensive disclosures from all lenders.

The NYS Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Coalition has been working with members across the state to build support for this common sense measure since it passed the Assembly and Senate in July.

“As we wait for the coronavirus vaccine to roll out, New York’s small businesses are struggling to hang on,” said Linda MacFarlane, chair of the NYS CDFI Coalition and executive director of Community Loan Fund of Capital Region.

“Unfortunately, some lenders have made it hard for small businesses to compare the true cost of their offers. CDFI Coalition members around the state are pleased to see that this measure will require lenders to disclose annual percentage rate (APR) and repayment terms.”

“CDFIs know too well how harmful predatory lending can be for small businesses, particularly during a crisis,” said Hubert VanTol, president of PathStone Enterprise Center in Rochester and vice chair of the NYS CDFI Coalition.

“That’s why we’re so pleased that Governor Cuomo signed the signed the NYS Small Business Truth in Lending Act. Now more than ever, New York businesses should be able to trust all lenders to clearly disclose their terms, so borrowers can compare loans on an ‘apples-to-apples’ basis.”

“Small businesses account for the vast majority of New York’s businesses and employ over half of the state’s workforce, but they are closing in record numbers due to COVID shutdowns,” said Kimberlie Jacobs, president/CEOCommunity Capital New York in Westchester County and CDFI Coalition board member.

“The provisions in this new law will deliver significant savings for small business borrowers. The Responsible Business Lending Coalition estimates that the NYS Small Business Truth in Lending Act will save New York’s small businesses more than $369 million annually in unnecessary finance charges. Minority-owned small businesses alone could save as much as $130 million a year.”

According to Carolynn Welch, executive director of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative in Buffalo and member of the Coalition, “CDFIs often help businesses get out from under crushing debt -- but sometimes, the damage has been done. Small businesses deserve straightforward disclosures from all financing providers so that they can make informed decisions and avoid debt traps.”

“The NYS Small Business Truth in Lending Act was endorsed by a wide range of lenders and small business advocates,” said Eric S. Levine, Esq., CEO of Alternatives Federal Credit Unionof in Ithaca and a member of the Coalition. “Fair and honest lenders have nothing to fear regarding transparency and the adoption of standard terms to describe the cost of loans.”   

“The provisions of the New York State Small Business Truth in Lending Act (A.10118 / S.5470b) will help small business owners who are trying to recover from all of the setbacks of 2020,” Coalition Chair MacFarlane said.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski and Senator Kevin Thomas for their leadership, the NYS Department of Financial Services, the Responsible Business Lending Coalition, and CDFIs around the state who worked to give our small businesses the tools they need to keep their businesses going, support their employees and serve the needs of their communities.”

The New York State CDFI Coalition represents the institutions that make innovative financing possible, foster financially vibrant and healthy communities, and strengthen all regions of New York State.

December 16, 2020 - 11:58am

Submitted photo and press release:

The Batavia-based David M. McCarthy Memorial Foundation, in conjunction with Gilmartin Funeral Home & Cremation Company Inc. and food provided by D&R Depot, provided 300 meals to the employees at the United Memorial Medical Center this morning.

This year has been so difficult for so many, especially the doctors, nurses, first responders, aftercare workers, kitchen staff, office staff, maintenance staff and administrators.

We thought what better way to show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication than by providing a nice meal for all who are trying to keep this community healthy and safe and get back to some type of normalcy.

Our foundation, which formed in 2007, after David passed away has committed to helping all types of youth athletics in the Genesee County area. Through our annual golf tournament at Batavia Country Club and Bowling Tournament at T.F. Brown's, the foundation has donated more than $65,000 in total to youth athletics.

Partnering with Gilmartin, which has seen firsthand the toll this coronavirus pandemic has taken on the local community, we hope this small gesture will bring a morale boost to everyone at the hospital.

Photo, from left: Pete Stevens, Mike McCarthy, Brian McCarthy, TJ Woodward and Matt Meyer.

July 28, 2020 - 1:12pm

From Rochester Regional Health today (July 28) regarding the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, reopening, and travel restrictions in New York:

Travel Restrictions

As positive coronavirus cases spike around the country, travelers arriving to New York State from designated states will be met with restrictions, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s updated Executive Order. Gov. Cuomo added 10 more states to the list of states that will require travelers to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York. 31 states in total are on the list as of July 21.

The new states added are: Alaska, Indiana, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington.

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. Essential workers are excluded, as well as anyone returning to New York from a designated state in which the visit was for less than 24 hours.

"The last 137 days have been hell for New York as we were the epicenter of this pandemic,” Gov. Cuomo said. “However, New Yorkers stood as one, acted responsibly and—as many other states in this nation are now grappling with new spikes of this insidious virus—the beast, for now, has been brought to bay in this state.”

Newest Rules for Bars & Restaurants

All restaurants and bars in New York State can now only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food, according to a new statewide requirement announced by Gov. Cuomo July 16. All service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers, and customers are prohibited from ordering directly from the bar.

To comply with the requirement, the New York State Liquor Authority say that bars and restaurants must sell sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, precooked or frozen, to customers in order to sell them alcohol. Other foods can be salads, wings, or hotdogs. However, a bag of chips, bowl of nuts, or candy are not enough to satisfy the requirement.

Cases Spike in Florida, Arizona, Texas, California

Almost half of all states are spiking at a faster rate than they had been in the spring, according to a new USA TODAY study. Florida broke the single day record for positive cases with 15,300 new cases on July 11 and reported a record-high of new single-day COVID-19 deaths with 132. Arizona has seen nearly 40 percent of its total yearly cases occur in July alone with more than 50,000 positive cases since July 1. Texas reported 110 deaths and 10,791 new positive cases on July 15, its second straight day of record-high cases in the state and the sixth straight day of more than 10,000 active COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to The Hill

The full list of states on the New York State travel advisory is below:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

New York State Slows Spread

Hospitalizations in New York State have dropped below 700 for the first time since March, and the state recently reported its lowest three-day average death toll since March.  

A new study by “The Truth About Insurance” named New York the most responsible state in fighting COVID-19. “We've used data and science to drive this fight and fuel our reopening strategy, but make no mistake, this distinction is shared by every single New Yorker who did the right thing these last months, ignored the politics, socially distanced and wore a mask,” Gov. Cuomo said.

“But we can't stop now. We must remain disciplined and we must remain New York Tough. We've come too far to go back to where we were."

What Rochester Regional Health is Doing

Rochester Regional Health has implemented diligent processes in place to help team members comply with this new requirement. Employees who are currently traveling or plan to travel to any of the designated states are permitted to work upon their return, provided they follow a strict set of guidelines and processes.

Reopening Schools

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently released guidance for reopening schools in New York State. The guidance allows for regions in Phase 4 to reopen if the infection rate remains below 5 percent using a 14-day average. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a seven-day average. A summary of the full guiding principles created by the New York State Department of Health and can be read here.

Phase 4

Phase 4 has begun for the greater Rochester area and the Finger Lakes Region. Phase 4 allows businesses to reopen in the industries of art, education, recreation, and entertainment. Malls are also reopening, however, not all stores in malls are reopening immediately. Gyms, casinos, movie theaters, and amusement parks remain closed. Museums and aquariums are opening with proper safety protocols in place.

"Phase 4 presents the greatest risk because the amount of variation of facilities that are on the slate to reopen in Phase 4 is more than variable than in Phase 1 through 3," said Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County public health commissioner. "So doing so in a measured, coordinated way will allow the health department to follow the data very close and make course corrections as needed because the last thing we want to do is set ourselves all the way back."

Indoor restaurants in all regions have opened with safety precautions, as well as nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas. Outdoor seating is allowed with outdoor tables spaced six feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated.

July 15, 2020 - 1:38pm

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday announced an emergency rental assistance program that will help keep low-income families throughout New York in their homes.

The program, which is designed to reach those individuals and families with the greatest need, will provide direct aid for tenants who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is part of the CARES Act.

The program is administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal and access to program applications will be available here on Thursday, July 16.

"Since day one we made it clear that no New Yorkers should be thrown on the streets because of hardships caused by this pandemic," Governor Cuomo said. "It's critically important that people are able to stay safely in their homes as we progress through our data-driven, phased reopening, and the COVID Rent Relief Program reinforces that commitment with direct assistance to those in the greatest need."

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "Despite the progress we have made in fighting COVID-19, millions of New Yorkers are struggling because of this virus and the economic crisis. Providing direct aid to overburdened renters will help these New Yorkers stay in their homes and be able to make ends meet. I applaud Senator Brian Kavanagh for advancing this legislation, my Senate Democratic Majority for passing it, and Governor Cuomo for signing it into law. While this effort will offer some relief, we know that government needs to step up and provide more support during this difficult time. We are going to keep advancing meaningful legislation to help New Yorkers, and we need the federal government to work with us and provide the resources our state needs."

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "For many New Yorkers, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the challenges of securing affordable housing even greater. The Assembly Majority has fought tirelessly for years to keep New Yorkers in their homes and in the communities that they helped shape. With many New Yorkers still out of work, we still need assistance from the federal government to help states deal with significant fiscal challenges. We must do everything in our power to help New York families. This rental assistance program, while still not enough to meet the tremendous needs that exist, is a step forward to lifting a financial burden off of our most vulnerable families. We will continue to look to do more to help people remain in their homes during this unprecedented time."

Under the new program, eligible households will benefit from a one-time rental subsidy paid directly to landlords and housing providers. Tenants are not required to repay this assistance. 

To qualify for the program, applicants must meet all of the eligibility requirements: 

  • Must be a renter with a primary residence in New York State. 
  • Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, household income (including unemployment benefits) must be below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size. Applicants can find the Area Median Income for their county, based on household size, on HCR's website here.
  • Before March 1, 2020 and at the time of application, the household must have been "rent burdened," which is defined as paying more than 30 percent of gross monthly income towards rent.
  • Applicants must have lost income during any period between April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020.
  • The application period will be open for two weeks. Residents can apply any time during the two-week period. 

HCR will prioritize households with greatest economic and social need, accounting for income, rent burden, percent of income lost and risk of homelessness. The rental assistance payment will cover the difference between the household's rent burden on March 1, 2020 and the increase in rent burden during the period the household is applying for assistance. Households can apply for up to four months in rental assistance for the months of April through July. The program is open to households that rent apartments, single-family homes, manufactured homes and manufactured home lots. 

Households with at least one household member with U.S. Citizenship or eligible immigration status are qualified to receive the subsidy. Tenants currently receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher for housing costs or who reside in public housing are not eligible for RRP assistance.

The COVID Rent Relief Program builds upon Governor Cuomo's efforts to protect New York's renters during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes a statewide moratorium on COVID-related residential or commercial evictions; banning late payments or fees for missed rent payments during the eviction moratorium; and allowing renters facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 to use their security deposit as payment and repay their security deposit over time.

More information about the COVID Rent Relief Program, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available here.   

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Families and individuals who were already rent burdened, or living paycheck-to-paycheck, were particularly vulnerable to the sudden loss in income that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Cuomo's immediate actions to protect New Yorkers against eviction and foreclosure provided much-needed security during an unimaginable health crisis. The COVID Rent Relief Program builds upon the State's efforts to alleviate the hardship faced by so many tenants with a one-time rental subsidy. By helping our fellow New Yorkers remain secure in their homes, we can continue on our road to economic recovery."

Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan and Brooklyn), chair of the Senate Housing Committee and prime sponsor of the bill, said, "Since this pandemic started, New York has fought back hard to save lives and keep people safe, but we haven't done nearly enough for the many New Yorkers who have been struggling to pay rent and stay in their homes. While we need a lot more funding to cover a much wider range of people, including those currently homeless and those whose immigration status makes it difficult to access other forms of assistance, this program is an important first step toward supporting New Yorkers in need of relief. I thank Commissioner Visnauskas and the diligent staff at HCR for their efforts in launching this program quickly, just four weeks after we passed the Emergency Rent Relief Act."

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Assembly's Housing Committee, said, "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I am pleased to see the COVID Rent Relief Program up and running. Tenants and landlords face enormous financial challenges brought about by our ceaseless fight against this virus. Our responsibility to reopen safely must be balanced by the continuing need to fight homelessness and to keep New Yorkers safe in their own homes. By prioritizing households with the greatest need, this program will help enable our recovery while we wait for Congress to act and provide more essential relief."

Representative Nita Lowey said, "The COVID Rent Relief Program, which is made possible with the federal funds I helped secure for New York in the CARES Act, is an important step in providing critical assistance to communities and families that were hardest hit by this pandemic. I commend Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature for taking decisive action to protect renters around the state from eviction who continue to suffer from the financial impact of the economic shutdown. Housing is foundational to health and safety, and I will continue working to secure the federal relief New Yorkers need to ensure our health, safety, and economic security."

Representative José Serrano said, "Affordable housing was a serious issue before this crisis, and it has been exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic. Too many families in the Bronx and elsewhere are struggling to make ends meet, pay their rent, and cover other basic expenses. We need to do everything possible to prevent a housing crisis on top of the public health and economic crises that are ongoing. Made possible thanks to the CARES Act passed in Congress, the COVID Rent Relief Program will provide much needed relief to help those who need it most to pay rent and keep a roof over their heads. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in developing this important program." 

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney said, "The COVID Rent Relief Program is a much needed, common-sense approach that will help renters experiencing economic strain brought on by the pandemic. New York State is once again leading the way and the Senate should follow suit by passing the House's Heroes Act, which includes a $100 billion fund for rent relief, and H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act. Nobody should lose sleep worried about how they will keep a roof over their heads, especially during a pandemic. We must continue to take steps to help our nation weather this storm and deliver meaningful relief to the American people when they need it most."

Representative Nydia M. Velázquez said, "So many New Yorkers are struggling right now as a result of the pandemic and they are faced with an unbearable choice between paying rent, keeping their lights on or putting food on the table. The COVID Rent Relief Program will deliver critical assistance but this is just a small part of the overall need. I will continue to fight for additional federal funding to ensure that no New Yorker is forced from their home during an unprecedented health and economic crisis."

Representative Hakeem Jeffries said, "New York has borne the burden of the COVID-19 public health crisis, and our communities have experienced unthinkable pain, suffering and death. As we start to reopen the state carefully, we must ensure that the people and communities with the most need receive assistance to help make their ends meet. The emergency rental assistance program will reach those who are most at risk of losing the roof over their heads. This is an extraordinary crisis, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his extraordinary leadership."

Representative Grace Meng said, "For months, I have led calls for relief to be provided to New Yorkers struggling to pay their rent. I thank the Governor for establishing this program and look forward to doing more to help additional New Yorkers who have been forced to endure this severe financial burden through no fault of their own. But this is a first step forward to solving a major issue and I will continue to use my spot on the House Appropriations Committee, which funds the federal government-to combat the renter crisis. Nobody in our state should be kicked out of their homes due to the coronavirus. I also call on the Senate to follow the House in passing the Heroes Act which contains more funding for rent relief."

July 6, 2020 - 3:06pm

Above, a Byron-Bergen senior from the Class of 2020 wears his pride on his cap and with good reason.

Press release:

Bergen -- On Sunday, June 28, the Byron-Bergen Central School District's Class of 2020 crossed the stage on the high school track and received their diplomas.

Their senior year had not turned out as anticipated because of the coronavirus pandemic but, despite the necessary accommodations for social distancing and crowd size, the ceremony marked the end of high school with traditional pomp and circumstance.

“I’m really excited,” said senior Amaya Gunther. “I’m glad we could have an actual ceremony because I know a lot of schools couldn’t. We’re thankful.”

In order to meet New York State requirements on graduation ceremonies, the event took place outside, socially distanced, and in two groups. The first half of the alphabet graduated at 10 a.m. and the second half at noon.

“It’s important for our parents to see us walk across the stage,” said senior Megan Bogue.

“As teachers, one of things we always talk about wanting our students to have is perseverance,” said teacher and Senior Class advisor Nick Muhlenkamp. “This group has definitely persevered and it’s really great that we are able to honor them with a graduation ceremony.”

The ceremonies included speeches from Valedictorian Siomara Caballero, Salutatorian Justine Bloom, and a song, “The Class of 2020,” written and performed by Chloe Shuskey.

High School Principal Pat McGee, Superintendent Mickey Edwards, and Board of Education President Debra List also addressed the congregations.

In her speech, Siomara thanked community members for their support in everyday life as well as during the pandemic. She went on to discuss working toward solutions for environmental issues and social injustice.

“The nature of progress is that we build upon the work of those who came before us,” Siomara said. “We must climb to stand on the shoulders of giants in terms of racial inequalities in this country...I am excited to see how we will become the giants of tomorrow.”

Justine also touched on themes of social injustice.

“We have countless individuals who have passionately worked to improve themselves, those around them, and this community," Justine said. "Making this school and local community more active, more inclusive, and a better learning environment for impending generations.

"I see you, especially as we continue our efforts to uplift and empower minority voices...Your crucial work is the foundation of what is to come for this school.”

“This is a special group of students,” Principal McGee said. “They care about this community andthey are not shying away from big issues. I admire their courage and am inspired by their bravery.”

In his speech, he thanked the seniors. “Thank you for influencing my life. I hope I played a small part in influencing your life for the better.”

The seniors then received their diplomas, which were conferred by Board President List as they faced their community as high school graduates.

“I know that you are not the same students who walked the halls of the High School mere months ago,” Superintendent Edwards said. “You’ve changed. In the spring of your senior year, you were handed an adult burden and found yourselves equal to it. You are the Class of 2020, and you are survivors. There is nothing you can’t do. So get out there, and do it!”

“Our last year of high school was so different from what we expected it to be,” Siomara said. “Despite this era of change we’re in, we’ve adapted and rose to the challenges the world has thrown at us. I have full confidence that we will go out into the world prepared for anything, and ready to work for our goals.”

In closing her speech, Justine brought one more school tradition to the ceremony; a morning announcements' “bee” joke. “How do bees get to school? They take the school BUZZ!”

Photos by Gretchen Spittler.

Below, Valedictorian Siomara Caballero.

Below, Wyatt Sando receives diploma.

Below, Principal Pat McGee addresses the graduates.

Below, Chloe Shuskey performs her original song “The Class of 2020.”

June 27, 2020 - 2:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, coronavirus pandemic, education, research, milestone.

WORCESTER, Mass. -- James Zickl, of Batavia, a member of the Class of 2021 majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), was a member of a student team that recently completed an intense research project titled FTS Pandemic. 

At WPI, all undergraduates are required to complete a research-driven, professional-level project that applies science and technology to addresses an important societal need or issue. Nearly 90 percent of students typically complete a project in collaboration with partners in communities across the country and around the world, through the university's 50-plus project centers.

Students usually travel to the project center for seven-week terms; this spring, however, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, they worked remotely, using video conferencing and other technology to complete their projects.

A signature element of the innovative undergraduate experience at WPI, the project-based curriculum offers students the opportunity to apply their scientific and technical knowledge to develop thoughtful solutions to real problems that affect the quality of people's lives -- and make a difference before they graduate.

"The WPI project-based curriculum's focus on global studies brings students out of their comfort zones to apply their knowledge to solve real problems for people in communities around the globe," said Professor Kent Rissmiller, interim dean of the WPI Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division.

"Students have the opportunity to learn about a different culture, from the way people live and work to the values they hold to the foods they eat -- all valuable perspectives for surviving and thriving in today's global marketplace.

"They also learn the meaning and magic of teamwork; make a real and meaningful difference; and gain a competitive edge for any resume, or graduate or professional school application."

June 6, 2020 - 3:39pm

A little pride goes a long way!

Jamie Quinn, senior class advisor at Pavilion Central School District, sure has a lot of pride in the students graduating in a year roiled by the coronavirus pandemic.

She talks glowingly about the class she's worked hard to elevate.

“There are so many things that our seniors have missed out on this year, but I hope they know how hard we’re working to spread some love and give them whatever senior experience we can," Quinn said. "We love them, we miss them, and we want all the best for them as they end their final year at Pavilion."

Quinn and the other class advisor, Kimberly Orban, have visited the homes of all 38 graduating seniors twice since schools were shut down mid-March.  

The first visit was on April 20 and the two delivered senior yard signs with the help of School Resource Office Deputy Jeremey McClellan, the PCS Gopher mascot and a dedicated bus driver. All of the grads received a sign.

“It was a great day!” Orban said.  

The second visit to the grads was on June 1. 

Led by the Gopher mascot, principals, student advisors and staff boarded a bus again and set about to spread a huge dose of good cheer.  

The group distributed the seniors' final gifts -- their Senior Yearbook, graduation cap, and a bag of goodies.

"We miss our students and it is hard for us to say goodbye to them," said Charles Martelle, assistant principal. "These activities are a nice way for us to make sure these young men and women know we still care about them and that we will always be here for them.” 

The ceremonious events have been important, but so have the day-to-day happenings. 

School officials have maintained ongoing contact with senior class officers via social media and have involved them in the planning of all year-end functions for their class.

A “Google Meet” ceremony was arranged, and the senior class Top 10 were honored virtually with their parents present.

The school website has been used by staff and students alike to post special messages, updates, and photos on their “Gopher Pride” page.

And Student Council has hosted virtual Spirit Weeks for the duration of the shutdown. One particular week was dedicated to sending special messages of support to the seniors.

"The class of 2020 will certainly have a lot to reminisce about at future class reunions,” said PCS Superintendent Kenneth Ellison, and they are proud of that.

“I've seen the class grow into such kindhearted and resilient young men and women capable of weathering any storm," Quinn said. “They have supported each other as a class and continue to prove that they can handle anything that comes their way. I know they will be successful in all that they do.”

The Pavilion High School Class of 2020 Commencement will be held at the Silver LakeTwin Drive-in Theatre in Wyoming County (7037 Chapman Ave., Perry) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 28.

“It is sure to include an infinite amount of PCS Gopher pride!” Quinn said.

Photo of Pavilion High School Senior Class of 2020* by Clix Photography, courtesy of Jamie Quinn.

*Not pictured, seniors Autumn Sanderson and Tom Rada.

May 21, 2020 - 4:51pm

“I am psyched!”

In typical Wade Bianco style, this was the Notre Dame High School principal’s reaction when asked about the activities that the school has hosted, and has planned, to celebrate their 2020 graduates.

It’s not a secret that the needs of high school seniors are far different this year than they have ever been historically.

And like so many other schools, leaders at Notre Dame are doing their best to ensure their 2020 grads get a memorable send-off.

These kids have had a moment in time stolen from them that they will never get back. To minimize the impact of this, parents have taken up the cause, along with school officials.

Director of Academic Advisement, Kristen Gomez, was contacted by a Batavia High School parent asking Notre Dame to include their grads on a Facebook Page to have all the seniors adopted … to be shown some congratulations, love and attention.

As is the case at other schools, this project took off and was a huge success with 33 Notre Dame seniors benefitting. The two schools coordinated on this endeavor and it was “awesome stuff,” Gomez said. It was a real highlight for the entire Batavia community.

Along with this is special recognition, each graduating Senior has been showcased on the Notre Dame Facebook Page. This could potentially open some doors in their quest for success.

The front yard of every grad has been adorned with a sign proclaiming “This Home is Proud! Notre Dame Class of 2020 Senior” —another expression of the pride they all feel as they celebrate their accomplishment.

The school’s Board of Directors certainly wasn’t going to be left out. They had the pleasure of surprising each teen with the delivery of a dozen shamrock cookies.

While these projects have all given the soon-to-be-grads a few rays of sunshine during an otherwise dreary time, Gomez said that it is of great importance to the officials at Notre Dame that they maintain longstanding traditions.

Plans for the upcoming Commencement have just been finalized.

The audience -- parents and families in their vehicles will assemble in the parking lot of Van Detta Stadium on Saturday afternoon, June 6, starting at 4:15.

At 4:45 they will begin traveling to the football field at Notre Dame and be guided onto the field. Commencement begins at 5 o'clock at Notre Dame.

They will not likely be able to celebrate Mass at the 2020 graduation ceremony, but the requisite playing of the "Notre Dame Fight Song" on bagpipes will be performed by Janice Blue.

This will be followed by a prayer and their signature Rose Presentation Ceremony of parental recognition, which always includes a memorable rendition of “Ave Maria.”

Then there will be addresses and awards, after which a queue of graduates will cross the assembled stage one at a time to receive their diplomas.

To meet social distancing protocols required because of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone will be wearing face masks and keeping six feet apart.

Gomez said there are several other surprises planned for these seniors who have lost so much.

Even as the pomp and circumstance are important, Notre Dame officials have made it their number one priority to ensure that all students are getting the academic services they need.

May 20, 2020 - 4:39pm

The coronavirus pandemic shutdown brought many challenges for schools trying to keep their kids safe, but for Paul Kesler, principal of Batavia High School, the concerns were greater than the obvious.

Kesler wanted to make sure that all of the students in Batavia were staying connected. He knew that there were kids who would not get support at home and that other kids just needed the outreach.

“It takes effort to stay socially connected with the students, but our priority is taking care of their social well-being,” the principal said.

Keeping that in mind, district administrators and staff made it a top priority to stay connected with all students.

With virtual meetings consisting of school administration, staff, parents and student government representatives were able to convene and brainstorm what to do, and how to adjust to this new normal.

What about graduation? The ever-popular Mr. Batavia Contest? Plus learning, support, transition, and the myriad other longstanding traditions that would likely need to be cancelled or significantly altered?

Everyone shifted gears to make the most of this very unusual school year, and followed the lead of Kesler who simply had a “let’s do it” attitude.

Administrators and staff developed a plan to stay connected with the kids through check-ins with things like trivia and baby photo contests.

They started a “2 for 2 senior spotlight” video series where a pair of students talks with Kesler for two minutes. They discuss their plans for next year, a fun anecdote from their high school years, and a teacher who has had a significant impact on them. It gives every graduating senior a chance to shine while highlighting this special milestone in their lives.

Parents went in a slightly different direction...

One mother desperately wanted to ease her child’s pain and disappointment, another wanted to congratulate her child herself for being an amazing kid and student, while another just wanted to do the right thing!  

The parents of Batavia High School seniors came together and started to plan activities that would make this unusual year memorable in not so typical ways.

Kristen Fix and Lori Reinhart, both parents of seniors at BHS, took on the task of ensuring that every senior had a celebratory graduation sign in their front yard. The project was completed easily when donations came pouring in from people “who just wanted to help,” Fix said.

Local company “Vinyl Sticks” took up the challenge and quickly created signs to meet the demand, while other parents and students jumped in to help wherever they could.

Collectively signs were placed in the yards of 166 BHS graduating seniors. The group also placed congratulatory signs in the yards of more than 100 local residents who simply wanted to show the kids that they are proud of their accomplishment.

Fix noted that this has been a great project for the kids.

“At first we wanted it to be a surprise, but we realized that this pandemic has had a really negative impact on many of the kids emotionally," Fix said. "We found that it was a great way to get them involved.

"They really miss being busy, and this happened so abruptly, so they weren’t prepared for it. This has been an incredible community effort and we have all reaped the benefit!”

Another parent-initiated project was brought to the kids through the efforts of BHS moms Daisy Cervantes and Amy Mott. They set out to lighten the heartache for their daughters and the other 2020 graduates by creating the “Adopt a Batavia Senior 2020” Facebook Page.

This provided the vehicle they needed for local residents to adopt a 2020 graduating senior and shower them with whatever type of attention they chose. There was an amazing outpouring and many students were adopted multiple times.

“We cannot thank the community enough for the incredible outpouring we have received," Mott said.

The Facebook Page has been used to spread word about the community signs, conduct contests with donations from local businesses, display community support and highlight individual seniors.

Mott said that with many contributions from local businesses “we are working on some other extra special things to finish this out. We just hope that their lives get back to normal soon…and that all of this is inspiration for them to pay it forward in the future.”

May 20, 2020 - 2:06pm

Press release:

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County is pleased to partner with New York State Agriculture and Markets, CY Farms LLC and Genesee County Farm Bureau to provide New York State hand sanitizer at no cost to the Agriculture Community in Genesee County.

A second distribution will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27 at 4592 Barrville Road, Elba. The CY storage facility is near the corner of Bridge Road and Barrville Road.

If you were not able to attend our first distribution, we have a limited amount remaining.

Genesee County production farms of any type are encouraged to participate, along with farm stands, CSAs, greenhouses and u-pick operations. The goal is to support safe and healthy workplace practices to keep our agriculture workforce strong during the coronavirus pandemic.

Farms interested in picking up hand sanitizer should complete the online registration.

Include farm contact information, requested quantity and time slot for pick up (to limit wait times and traffic). We have a limited amount left.  Registration will be open until it is all reserved or until 5 p.m. on May 26.

Supplies are limited. Quantities may be adjusted before pick-up to ensure adequate supplies are available to as many farms as possible. The liquid hand sanitizer is available by the case -- 4 gallons to a case (with a pump). This is a liquid, not a gel.

For ease of use, businesses may decide to purchase small spray bottles for daily use and refill them from the gallon jug. A small number of the 2-ounce bottles will also be available.

The suggested guidelines for each farm are:

  • 1-6 employees: 1 case
  • 7-15 employees: 2 cases
  • 15 plus: 3 – 4 cases

Details for picking up: stay in your vehicle and wait for a staff member to direct you to the pick-up area. Whoever is picking up the sanitizer for your farm will need to wear their own face covering if they get out of the vehicle. Please maintain social distancing when picking up. Staff will need to collect some information from you before you can pick up the sanitizer.

Please note that this is a 75-percent alcohol-based liquid-gel. It is highly flammable. Keep away from heat, hot surfaces, sparks, open flames and other ignition sources. No smoking around it. It is not drinkable.

This program is available only for farm owners to distribute to themselves and their employees. This effort has been made available through NYS Dept. of Ag and Markets as a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic.

Thank you to CY Farms for generously assisting in transporting the hand sanitizer and for providing a distribution spot.

Contact CCE Genesee at 585-343-3040, ext. 101. Please leave a message as staff is working remotely and will not be in the office.

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