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coronavirus pandemic

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.

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.

#ROCTheSky

#ThanksFromAbove

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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