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coronavirus pandemic

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.

May 15, 2020 - 10:22pm

Press release:

The National Warplane Museum (NWM) in Geneseo is honoring WNY healthcare workers and first responders with two flyovers in Genesee County on Saturday, May 16.

At the Batavia VA Medical Center, the flyover will occur at 11:20 a.m. (give or take 10 minutes).

At United Memorial Medical Center, the flyover will occur at 11:24 a.m. (give or take 10 minutes).

"Operation Thanks From Above" will feature NWM's very own Douglas C-47, affectionately named "Whiskey 7," and it will take to the skies accompanied by one other aircraft, a P-51 Mustang named "Mad Max."

The flight will salute the local first responders, medical and essential workers who have served and conitue to serve the WNY region during the coronavirus pandemic.

We hope you can attend and view a flyover. VA medical and UMMC staff members working on Saturday have been notified. 

  • Batavia viewing – in front of Building 1, near Outpatient Entrance, 222 Richmond Ave., Batavia.
  • UMMC viewing is at 330 Summit St., Batavia.

Parking is plentiful and free.



April 27, 2020 - 11:54am

From the Commander of the American Legion Botts-Fiorito Post #576, Le Roy:

It is with a deep sense of regret that the Commander and Post members announce the cancellation of the 2020 Annual Memorial Day Parade, originally scheduled for May 25.

Due to social uncertainty surrounding this date, it is felt that it is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of all involved to cancel the celebration at this time.

This decision did not come lightly, nor without the consideration of the involvement of so many individuals, organizations, and entertainment providers.

The Post members are developing a simple, but significant program that will serve to observe the holiday that was created to honor the many American men and women who died in military service.

We, like several other organizations in the area are taking this same action. There is just too much uncertainty and risk at this point (due to the coronavirus pandemic), and not enough confidence that to continue with the program would be in the best interest of all involved.

March 20, 2020 - 1:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in CountryMax, news, coronavirus pandemic.

Press release:

Currently, we are open, at our normal business hours. Starting Monday, March 23rd our hours will change to 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours will remain 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

First and foremost, we hope that you and your loved ones are safe, healthy, and in good spirits.

At CountryMax, we’re hard at work ensuring our community will be able to get the essential food and supplies for their pets and livestock in these uncertain times. We take our responsibility as an essential community resource to keep pets and livestock fed and healthy extremely seriously, while also putting the health and safety of our team members, customers, and community at the top of the list.

We’d like to address a few key points about our stores and operations at the current time -- while also knowing that with an ever-changing world we may need to modify these at any time.

First, CountryMax Stores will remain open as an essential business. As mentioned, providing the community with an essential source of food for pets and livestock necessary for survival is literally what we’re here for on a daily basis, and it is heightened even more in this time of uncertainty. Our hours of operations have been reduced to those cited above. Store staffing has also been reduced where possible, but we will remain operational to make sure we can provide this essential animal health service. 

Next, we know that our role in informing the public of anything health related is very virtually zero-government and health organizations are (and should be) everyone’s source for anything public health related. Still, we are distributing signage throughout our stores to remind team members and customers to practice recommended guidelines, including “The Five” and social distancing. 

Finally, we ask that everyone in our stores -- team members and customers alike -- remember that we are all in this, and will get through this (coronavirus pandemic), together. We’re working as hard as we can to carry out business functions normally, but delays and temporary out of stocks are going to be part of life right now and we hope everyone can understand.

If you do not feel well or choose not to visit our stores, please remember we have at-home delivery or “buy online, pickup in-store” options available on our website.

Thank you for choosing CountryMax, and we are all hoping you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.

About CountryMax

It is a local, family-owned retailer, carries a large selection of healthy pet foods and pet supplies, barn and stable feed and supplies, small animals, home, lawn and garden, and wild bird supplies. CountryMax, in business for more than 35 years, operates 17 locations across New York State, including one in Batavia.

March 20, 2020 - 11:15am

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

“We are happy to announce that all New York small businesses, including restaurants, are now eligible for low-interest loans through the federal Small Business Administration.

"Up until (now), New York businesses were unable to apply for these much needed loans due to communities not being listed as 'disaster areas.' Through continued conversations with Empire State Development and representatives from the federal SBA program, we’ve conveyed how serious the situation is for New York restaurants.

"Many have already shut their doors and will not be able to reopen. While this is a great first step, we need to find additional ways to save the restaurant industry. When this pandemic is over, going out for a nice meal will help us all feel normal again. But some restaurants simply won’t make it.”

UPDATE 1:48 p.m.: “We can’t thank Governor Cuomo and state officials enough for forgiving interest and penalties on late sales tax payments," Fleishut said. "For some restaurants, this little bit of breathing room could mean the difference between paying employees and shutting their doors forever. That being said, this relief is temporary, and we’ll continue to advocate for additional ways to help restaurants survive during this crisis.”

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