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November 4, 2022 - 8:10am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, public hearing.

There will be a public hearing on Nov. 21, the same date the Genesee County Legislature is to adopt a 2023 budget, regarding a 2.5 percent salary and cost of living increase and/or any step upgrades for several county positions.

The employees listed in the local law for vote by the county Legislature have to go through this process every year they get a salary increase in the middle of their elected or appointed term.  When an elected or appointed official starts a new term they do not need to be listed in the annual resolution, County Manager Matt Landers said. 

“Employees in different bargaining units received an increase that their current contract calls for, along with any steps they are still eligible for, and any grade adjustments that were negotiated,” Landers said to The Batavian.

For example, he said, if the county clerk were up for election in November, he would not need to be listed in this resolution.  But since he is getting a cost of living adjustment and step increase mid-term, he is required to be listed.

The county resolution is to approve the following salaries to be effective Jan. 1, 2023:

  • Commissioner of Elections (2) -  $53,966
  • Director of Human Resources - $102,565
  • Commissioner of Social Services - $95,325
  • County Clerk - $105,819
  • Treasurer - $111,639
  • Sheriff - $117,121
  • Highway Superintendent - $128,922
  • County Attorney - $137,519
  • Public Defender - $111,239

The public hearing has been set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Genesee County Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia.

November 4, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, budget, notify.

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Genesee County legislators knew one thing for sure after Wednesday’s budget presentation, Chairwoman Shelley Stein says.

They weren't yet ready to say how the Legislature was leaning toward a proposed $162.5 million budget with a 2 percent tax levy increase.

“We have one more budget session and we’re going to use it,” Stein said after the presentation and related public hearing.

No one spoke up about the budget during the hearing. County Manager Matt Landers said it was the first budget in quite awhile that didn’t focus on the impacts of COVID. When drafting a budgetary plan — which he did with assistance from his support staff and the treasurer’s office — he looks at the net impact of all decisions.

“That’s what drives my red pen,” Landers said. “When I meet with the department heads, I want to know what the net impact of the county taxpayer is.”

There was a clear understanding that a tax cap override was “off the table,” as he worked with department heads to ensure that all spending was out of necessity, he said. Out of a $32 million tax levy, $25 million of that is for state mandated services, he said.

Of course, the elephant in the county room has been the new county jail, with a price tag of $70 million and a 30-year debt service payout schedule. Landers hasn’t been shy about discussing it, or admitting that it’s a huge chunk of money — about $4 million — to pay off each year.

“We’re trying to be smart, and not shock the system all at once,” he said.

The county is paying not only for the new facility expected to be ready in 2024, but is also designating $300,000 for the latter part of next year for eight new jail-related positions that include six correctional officers, a mechanic and a deputy jail superintendent.

Other full-time positions created in this proposed budget include an investigator and emergency services dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Office, a position in the Highway/Facilities Department for the jail, and a position in the Health Department (to be grant-funded).

“Some key investments that are being made in this budget, so there's public safety positions, there is the investigator in the Sheriff's Office. This is to better serve the public,” Landers said. “It was very bluntly said when talking to the sheriff when he was proposing this, there is an expectation when there's crimes committed in this community that our investigators can investigate these crimes in an inappropriate and timely fashion. The caseloads are starting to build up. So this is our response. It's a public safety request and a need in our community, and I have 100 percent of the Legislature’s support.”

He highlighted factors that will need to be monitored during the next fiscal year, such as sales tax revenues that are largely dependent on gasoline, and can be “volatile.” He also questioned the future and what may happen to those sales tax benefits once electric cars become more the norm and people aren’t buying gas as often.

An ongoing water project will mean spending an estimated $150 million for the next phase three on the horizon, though with labor, supply chain and inflation issues, that number could be upwards of $160 or $170 million, he said. Two union contracts will be coming up for negotiation next year as well, he said.

One part of the process that was not a challenge involved department personnel, he said. They didn’t balk at his suggestions or otherwise make the job more difficult.

“I cut from every single department,” he said.

Stein pointed out that the county’s public services — an area of significant focus in the budget — do come at a cost.

“We are a very conservative county. There is a continual balance between our quality of life here and the cost to our taxpayers. And the legislature that serves as an entire body keeps that balance right at the front of our minds,” she said. “And also, you will see that in our actions and in our questions, and in our commitment to providing the highest quality of life at a cost that is affordable. And we don't apologize for that.”

The levy increase would mean a tax rate decrease of 8 percent, going from $9.18 to $8.44 per $1,000 assessed value. That is due to the overall property assessment increases. 

Legislators have until Nov. 21 to discuss the financial plan and vote to adopt it. Feedback and comments are always welcomed, Landers said.

October 27, 2022 - 8:05am

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Who says that Fire Prevention can’t sometimes be cute?

Emergency Management Services Coordinator Tim Yaeger and Deputy Coordinator Gary Patnode lightened up the topic a bit with Sparky, the spotted dalmatian mascot that’s part of National Fire Prevention Month.

Legislator Gary Maha, on behalf of the Genesee County Legislature, presented a proclamation to the trio Wednesday. The goal during October is to raise fire safety awareness and help ensure “your home and family are protected,” Maha said.

“Fire is a serious public safety concern both locally and nationally, and homes are the locations where people are at greatest risk from fire,” he said. “And whereas two of every five home fires start in the kitchen, with 31 percent of these fires resulting from unattended cooking.”

The reminder there is to stay in the kitchen when frying food on the stovetop, retain a three-foot distance between kids and the cooking areas, and keep flammable objects away from stovetops, the proclamation stated.

Residents are encouraged to map out and practice a home fire escape plan, as the more prepared families become, the better their rate of survival. Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in half, and “first responders are dedicated to reducing the occurrence of home fires and home fire injuries through prevention and protection,” Maha said.

Genesee County Legislature, therefore, proclaimed October as Fire Prevention Month, and urged all residents to participate by checking their smoke alarms and kitchens for fire hazards, all the while using safe cooking practices in October and beyond.

Sparky didn’t utter a word — not even a bark, per Maha’s suggestion — but his happy demeanor added some levity to an otherwise somber subject, especially given that fires have recently brought destruction to homes and businesses in Genesee County.

Yaeger thanked legislators and emphasized that it’s so important for fire protection systems to be safe.

“The men and women of Genesee County Fire and EMS work every day, training and preparing to provide fire safety training and response,” he said. "The fire dog is not able to speak, but he's here to make sure that both children and adults stay safe. Please, please, please check to make sure you have a clean smoke detector in your home as well as a carbon monoxide detector … be safe everybody.”

Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein said that the proclamation and recognition of the county’s emergency management local fire companies “couldn’t be more fitting” right now.

“After the fires that we've had around us and in our county, we need to be reminded one more time about the preventative measures … thank you for the operational expertise that we have in our fire and EMS service here in Genesee County. Our community and our citizens are well served.”

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Top Photo: Genesee County Legislator Gary Maha shakes the paw of the fire dog during Wednesday's legislative meeting; above, Maha, poses with Emergency Management Services Deputy Coordinator Gary Patnode, the fire dog, and EMS Coordinator Tim Yaeger, who accepted a proclamation for National Fire Prevention Month. Photos by Joanne Beck.

October 26, 2022 - 10:33pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, pembroke, bergen, notify.

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Ernie Haywards’s words were humble and to the point Wednesday in regard to his town’s need for additional revenue.

With a depleting fund balance and shrinking sales tax, Hayward turned to the people he believed were responsible for some help.

“I am  here tonight on behalf of the Genese County taxpayers who live in the town of Bergen to plead with the Legislature to consider additional aid to the town of Bergen,” the Bergen supervisor said during the county meeting in legislature chambers. “The loss of sales tax/voluntary contributions from the county has meant a cut in revenue of $211,147 per year since 2018.”

Given his total budget of $2.3 million, a loss of that amount year after year “is having a major impact,” Hayward said.

He highlighted the reduced and capped level of sales tax going back to the town, which, with a modest inflation rate of 3 percent, means the town “will have exhausted the fund balance,” he said, plus raise taxes from $2.35 per $1,000 assessed value to more than $10 per thousand.

“The Genesee County taxpayers who live in Bergen are suffering from the economy and have just been hit with an assessment increase,” he said. “We have cut services to try and balance the budget, we have closed our transfer station and cut funding to the library, to name a few items. There is nothing left to cut, and at this rate, we might have to consider workforce reductions, which would mean a suspension of provision of snowplowing for the county.”

He referred to Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein, and how she “often speaks of the strong partnership between the county and their local town and village partners.” However, a partnership implies a give and take and sharing of good and bad, he said.

The municipalities shared in the financial pain of a new county jail by accepting a significant reduction in sales tax so that the county could build a reserve for jail expenses.

They also agreed with the county’s adoption of water contracts, and believed it when Stein “made a promise to keep county funding to municipalities at 2018 levels, he said. Yet, since 2020, municipalities have received “roughly $3 million less,” than was promised, he said.

“Now I am asking the county to be a partner and demonstrate concern for the Genesee County taxpayers in Bergen and share in the good times by increasing funding,” he said.

pembroke_super.jpgCounty Manager Matt Landers had recently announced that the county budget would include a 2 percent tax levy increase that, due to increased property assessments would mean a slightly lower tax rate. Fellow Town Supervisor Thomas Schneider Jr. said that the county gets to be the hero with its proposed budget, while his town of Pembroke and the others struggle with decreased revenues.

“The sales tax agreement is really taking a bite out of all the budgets,” Schneider said.

His predecessor dealt with the water contracts, which meant Schneider “ate a pretty good crap sandwich” from that deal. He surmised that it may be too late for serious discussions at this point in time, but asked for the county to consider a future review of the water and sales tax agreements.

Stein thanked both of them for their input, and said “we hear you.”

After the meeting, she said that yes, it was too late in the season to do anything about the county’s budget now. Stein also said that each county municipality had ample opportunity to share concerns, including during the monthly Genesee Association of Municipalities meetings.

"We have liaisons that attend the Association of Municipalities meetings every month that they are called in, and our county manager Matt is there almost every single meeting, and that is a committee that is on that agenda. And there is always the opportunity for conversation at that point in that forum," Stein said. "Before the sales tax agreement was put into place, I hosted a meeting here a while ago, as they both noted, it was in July when we talked about the necessity ... to change the sales tax sharing agreement, because of the unknown cost of the jail.

"And as I said to the supervisors at that time, it will be at some point in the future when we can share more, but now is not the time. (Collecting water funds to improve the distribution system) helps every single person in our community, even people like me, who don't have water, who don't have access to public water yet, but that change out of that distribution system becomes our first paramount project and obligation to the county's taxpayers. We are doing the business of the county, and we absolutely respect the fact that the supervisors are doing hard work, and they're being responsible to their taxpayers as well."

Landers expects to release his budget message on Thursday. The proposed 2023 budget is $162,567,180, and the tax rate is to decrease by 75-cents due to higher property assessments. The Batavian will have a more detailed budget article in the near future.

Top photo: Bergen Town Supervisor Ernie Hayward speaks to Genesee County legislators during their meeting Wednesday at the Old Courthouse, and Pembroke Town Supervisor Thomas Schneider Jr. also shares his concerns regarding decreased sales tax revenues. Photos by Joanne Beck.

September 28, 2022 - 10:38pm

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There’s only one problem with creating a law to restrict weapons from would-be criminals, Gary Maha says.

Law-abiding citizens will be the only ones to follow it.

“If they want a gun, they’re gonna get a gun,” the legislator said during Genesee County Legislature’s meeting Wednesday. “If you’ve got a shooting somewhere, do you want the good guy without a gun? You don’t just want the bad guy with a gun.”

Maha first proposed that Legislature sign a letter of opposition to the newly adopted Concealed Carry Improvement Act, and send it to Albany for Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Legislature members to see.

He had no idea that about 10 people would show up for the vote, with two of them there to speak during a public hearing about issues other than Concealed Carry.

Glen Adams represented the Genesee County Federation of Sportsman's Clubs, which consists of about 12 clubs throughout the county. He stood at the podium alone, but spoke for some 1,200 members, he said.

Adams voiced his concern that the Concealed Carry act was not for the average gun owner and hunter, and was, therefore “unconstitutional.”

Likewise, Jim Tuttle, chairman of SCOPE — Shooters Committee on Political Education — appealed to Legislature members to join Maha and fellow legislator John Deleo, both of who have been most vocal about the act’s flaws.

“We all took an oath to support the constitution of the United States, which is the Second Amendment,” Deleo said.

He added his full disclosure that he was a member of the National Rifle Association and SCOPE and pointed to the ill-conceived bail reform problem.

“A criminal charged with having a gun … is let go,” he said. “We’re the salt of the earth here.”

During a prior meeting, legislators discussed Maha’s proposal to send the letter and underscored the prominence of the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and how the Concealed Carry act is no improvement for the typical gun user.

The Second Amendment states that “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The legislators’ resolution states that the act “presents procedural roadblocks in the form of privacy violation, subjective standards, financial burdens, and overt restrictions on individuals seeking to exercise a fundamental right.”

A subdivision of the law was added to state that no license shall be issued or renewed pursuant to this section except by the licensing officer, and then only after investigation and finding that all statements in a proper application for a license are true.

It further states that no license shall be issued or renewed except for an applicant 21 years or older (military veterans honorably discharged are exempt from the age requirement), and be of good moral character, which means having the essential character, temperament and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger oneself or others.

Legislators Shelley Stein, Gordon Dibble, Brooks Hawley, Christian Yunker, Chad Klotzbach, Gregg Torrey, Delo and Maha voted for the resolution to send the letter. Legislator Marianne Clattenburg was absent.

Will it make a difference? Maha wasn’t sure.

“Well, at least we want to make our voices known in Albany that we oppose this,” he said. “You know, we're a Second Amendment community out here in Genesee County and many of us grew up hunting and carrying guns. It's a lot different downstate around New York, and we think these laws are unconstitutional.”

Top Photo of SCOPE Chairman James Tuttle, and Glen Adams, Vice Chairman of Genesee County Federation of Sportsman's Clubs, as they appeal to Genesee County Legislature to approve a move to send a letter opposing the Concealed Carry act Wednesday at the Old Courthouse. Photos by Joanne Beck.

August 31, 2022 - 10:27pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, water project, notify.

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Some of the circumstances are different, but Genesee County could be like Jackson, Mississippi if upgrades aren’t made.

Things might not be as harsh as the southern state is experiencing, but it’s a worthwhile scenario to keep in mind, county Highway Superintendent and Engineer Tim Hens says.

Hens shared that perspective with county legislators during a meeting Wednesday. He reviewed the last pieces remaining for the second phase of the county’s water project that began three years ago.

“This is the last significant piece of Phase Two required to get the full expanded capacity that we anticipated long ago,” Hens said. “And with the continuing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages and equipment delays, and everything that you can imagine under the sun in a post-pandemic world, every day and week that we can grab onto the schedule to advance these projects is much appreciated.”

He laid out two bids each for general construction and electrical work within this phase, selecting C.P. Ward, at $4.17 million for existing pump station upgrades, and electrical construction work to Concord Electric Corp. for $2.2 million, for a combined total of $6.35 million for the project. That is “a staggering double” figure to what pumping station upgrades would have been pre-COVID, he said.

“That’s obviously a significant pill to swallow,” he said.

The county received a $1.23 million grant, which isn’t nearly enough for that $6.35 total, and other options considered were to apply for another grant, or rescind the one received and go for a larger amount, plus obtaining a loan. The risky part of rejecting that grant money already in hand is that the county might not receive that larger request, he said, and the county cannot apply for a second grant on the same project.

Assistant County Engineer Justin Gerace was talking with New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation on Wednesday to learn how to go about applying for funding that is available through that state agency specifically for water, and he will be working on applying for a $2.7 million low-interest loan, Hens said.

“So Justin's already diving deep with the EFC on how to apply for that and when to apply for that,” Hens said.

That would alleviate the county from having to come up with that cash right now, he said.

Why such an overage from what was originally calculated, Legislator Marianne Clattenburg asked. It was a number of issues, including overly busy contractors, inflation, and supply chain and labor shortages, Hens said. Other than those reasons, “nothing substantially changed … nothing that significantly increased the cost.”

“It's probably the worst time to try and build anything,” he said.

Legislators — somewhat begrudgingly — agreed that it shouldn’t be put off any longer. Legislator John Deleo suggested that “kicking this can down the road” wasn’t a tactic that will accomplish anything. Fellow Legislator Gary Maha agreed.

“I don’t think we have any choice but to keep going,” Maha said.

The group unanimously approved:

  • A construction contract as specified in the bid documents for the existing pump station upgrades – General Construction — to C.P. Ward, Inc., 100 West River Rd, Scottsville, for a total amount not to exceed $4,166,000.
  • A construction contract as specified in the bid documents for the existing pump station upgrades – Electrical Construction — to Concord Electric Corporation, 305 Pinewild Drive, Suite 4, Rochester, for a total amount not to exceed $2,185,000.

The total cost of both contracts is $6,351,000 and will be funded from the bonds issued by Monroe County Water Authority for the Phase 2 construction and grants secured by the county under the IMG program offered by the state Environmental Facilities Corporation.

As for the turnaround time, Hens said “realistically,” completion would be around the end of 2023 into 2024.

“It’s going to be a long project,” he said.

If the work isn’t done, however, Genesee County could be looking at — instead of close calls during hot, dry summers — actually running out of water due to the pumping stations’ current production abilities, he said. Poor infrastructure and lack of upkeep has led citizens of Jackson, Miss., into a dire situation with no drinkable water, and although that’s due to the actual quality of water due to flooding, it’s a lesson to be learned, he said.

“So for the last three years, we've been kind of maxed out on our water supply. And then the few hot dry days we get in the summertime, we're tapped out, we don't really have a lot of water to go around,” he said. “So the last couple of summers we have been asking people to save water, not water their lawns, not fill their pools. It usually ends up being like two or three weeks of summer. But until these pumping stations are completed, we're gonna have the same thing happen again in 2023.”

The problem with a continuous message to conserve water use, he said, is that people eventually tend to ignore it. He becomes “the boy who cried wolf,” since there hasn't been an actual water shortage that they can see. Hens argues that it’s because of the messages and cooperation from at least some folks to conserve, that the well has not run dry, so to speak.

“We have a water supply in Genesee County, it’s just that we're using everything that we produce. Okay, so this phase two project that we've been working on since 2019, is designed to increase our supply from Monroe County. So it's basically bringing another two and a half million gallons a day into Genesee County from farther away," he said. "So these pump stations are the last piece of the puzzle to get that water here. Once these four projects are done again, which will be a year, year and a half away, we won't have to do the emergency water restrictions every summer, hopefully, for a while.”

Photo: Genesee County Highway Superintendent and Engineer Tim Hens answers questions from The Batavian in the lobby of the Old Courthouse after a meeting with the county Legislature. Photo by Joanne Beck.

July 28, 2022 - 10:51pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, ReAwaken America Tour, notify.

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Despite the calls of alarm for a scheduled ReAwaken America visit next month, Genesee County officials are hopeful, or at least reassured by the Sheriff’s Office, that the concern may be for naught.

The Batavian asked legislators for comment, and the Sheriff’s Office for a security plan, regarding the impending and irrefutably controversial tour that’s making its way to several states, including Batavia, New York.

“We’ve received a few complaints,” Legislator Gary Maha said after Wednesday's Legislature meeting. “We have no authority to stop it from coming to the church. We have spoken to the sheriff to make sure he’s aware, and that extra time is taken to make sure that the public is safe.”

County Manager Matt Landers said that of the people that reached out to him directly, the majority were on the “con side” of the pro-con issues expressing their concerns.

“However, after speaking with the sheriff, he has had one of his chief deputies, I believe, doing the investigation, speaking to other communities that have hosted these events. And I've been pleased to find out that there have not been any reported issues of the magnitude of the concerns that have been raised to me,” Landers said. “The concerns have been about the element that comes into our community, as far as any kind of disruptions, any kind of fights, any kind of lawlessness. None of those have occurred in the research done by the sheriff's office, which was heartening to me.”

Legislature Chairwoman Shelley Stein had but four words after Landers' response: "He took my words."

Brian Frieday, chief deputy on road patrol for the Sheriff’s Office, said that he has been in contact with Pastor Paul Doyle of Cornerstone Church, who agreed to host the tour, and Frieday expects additional discussions “regarding security and what is expected there.”

“Any information we receive will go toward planning for our potential presence in the area,” Frieday said.  “We have reached out to other jurisdictions that the event was held in and have had no reports of any confrontations or violence.” 

While that information has provided some relief for Landers, the actual basis of the tour is another thing altogether.

“As far as the content that goes out of the church like that, there’s freedom of speech, and the government can't take a position,” he said. “Personally, as a citizen, I'm not a fan of the rhetoric that comes out of an event like that. But as a county, the position that we're taking is that the free speech issue that they are entitled to, we have our local law enforcement … ensuring everything is gonna go smoothly, and I have all the confidence in the world that everything will go smoothly.”

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg wasn’t even certain what “reawaken even means,” she said. She does have faith in the people of Genesee County to act responsibly.

“This county tends to be very peaceful and tolerant of one another,” Clattenburg said. “Hopefully it goes off smoothly and they have their peaceful assembly.”

She, Maha, and Legislator John Deleo wondered if there would be a traffic issue, considering the possible volume of people from other counties attending the two-day event. The tour was originally scheduled in Rochester until the venue operator backed out due to protests and heavy pressure not to host — and thereby approve of — the event in Monroe County.

One potential scenario is that, in addition to those from Genesee County, flocks of other people from out of the county may also attend. It wouldn’t be the first time that parking was tight at Cornerstone, as last year’s tent meetings required extra security, traffic guards, parking up and down Bank Street Road, and an extra parking lot across the street at Batavia Soccer Park.

Maha and Clattenburg said that the soccer park would not be an option this year.

Legislator Brooks Hawley said that he has received “one email and one phone call,” and was going to respond to them Thursday. The event is at a church, and that means “it’s not really under our control,” he said.

Chad Klotzbach and fellow Legislator Gordon Dibble had little to say about the event as county officials. They didn’t feel it was in their jurisdiction to offer comment, and Dibble added that “I don't know enough about it to really give an educated comment.”

The tour is set for August 16 and 17 at Cornerstone Church, 8020 Bank Street Road, Batavia.

Photo by Lisa Casey of Genesee County legislators at Genesee County Fair this week.

July 28, 2022 - 8:05am

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This year’s theme for Parks and Recreation Month, assigned and organized by the National Recreation and Park Association, is to “Rise up” in support of the many parks and recreational activities throughout the country, and especially for those that help to make it all happen.

Genesee County Legislature heeded that call Wednesday and presented a proclamation to Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn and Conservation Education Program Coordinator Shannon Lyaski in honor of July’s Parks and Recreation Month designation.

Lyaski acknowledged how much volunteers "have added to the facilities and programs" within the parks and recreation department.

“We appreciate that, and how many opportunities there are to enjoy those blessings we have, and that natural environment,” Lyaski said during the Legislature’s meeting at the Old Courthouse. “It means that the community supports us and appreciates us. Thank you very much for your support.”

Both county employees have worked on Genesee County Park and Forest to ensure that its seven programs and grounds, including the Interpretive Nature Center, are well maintained and operate smoothly. County history cites that, for more than 30 years the park has developed because of the interest and dedication of community groups and organizations such as 4-H, Boy Scouts, BOCES, Jaycees, Lions Club, Sertoma and Vietnam Veterans. These groups planted trees, constructed pavilions and playgrounds, cleared hiking trails, and placed memorials.

There is also DeWitt Recreation Park on Cedar Street, complete with grounds, a walking path, pavilions, and a pond.

Thanks to those volunteers and committed employees Osborn and Lyaski, residents can enjoy DeWitt's popular offerings and 430 acres of forest and rolling hills, which includes over 10 miles of trails, five ponds, and a variety of wildlife, trees and woodland plants.

Osborn has a Bachelor's Degree in Landscape Architecture from the State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry. He has been with Genesee County for more than 23 years and said that none of his department’s success could have happened without ample support.

“We’ll continue to do that with your support, and with the support from the cities, towns, villages, the state and the federal government,” he said.

The National Recreation and Park Association established the Rise Up theme to recognize all of the professionals “who build strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation.”

“This July, we are bringing attention to how important it is to rise up and support our field because every day, park and recreation professionals rise up for their communities in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being,” the organization’s website states.

“There’s no better way to celebrate Park and Recreation Month than by highlighting the people who faithfully serve their communities all year long. Join us this July as “We Rise Up for Parks and Recreation.”

According to county history, did you know that …
Genesee County Park & Forest, at 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany and which attracts thousands of visitors each year, was established in 1915 and is recognized as the first County Forest in New York State?

The land was originally purchased in 1882 in order to supply wood to the County's Poor House for cooking and heating.

The County Forest was created through the efforts of George Fleming, County Home superintendent, who initiated the planting of 31,000 trees. During the 1920s, New York State helped by providing the evergreens and manpower to plant additional trees. By 1935 over 169,000 trees had been planted.

The first proposal for the creation of a County Park was entertained in 1949; however, the project was not started until 1966, when the thinning and pruning of trees began. As the park expanded so did the need for forest management. In 1971, the County Legislator appointed the first full-time Park Supervisor-Forester.

In 1998, an Interpretive Nature Center was erected in the park. Constructed by volunteers and funded by environmental grants, the Nature Center is open year-round. The Nature Center houses several environmental education displays and plays host to a variety of interpretive programs. An environmental educator is on staff to assist residents and coordinate volunteer efforts.

For more information about county parks, click here

Photo: Genesee County Legislator Brooks Hawley looks on as Shannon Lyaski says a few words of gratitude and thanks, and Paul Osborn stands to her right during the county Legislature meeting Wednesday. Photo by Joanne Beck.

June 23, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, batavia, notify.

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In a time when gasoline has hugged the $5 a gallon price, and everything from food and clothing to furniture seems to be climbing in cost, sometimes it makes sense to flip the script.

That’s what Genesee County Legislator John Deleo did for the traditional prayer before Wednesday’s meeting.

Instead of posturing for divine guidance, he simply asked for some comfort.

“We ask you to look over us,” he said in the Old Courthouse chambers. “Inflation, the state of the nation … are taking a toll on us. People are finding it harder to buy food, or gas to go to work.”

In a June 10 article, “Inflation Sped Up Again in May, Dashing Hopes for Relief,” The New York Times pointed to high inflation and the Federal Reserve’s attempts to control it as contributing to “a sour economic mood.”

“Consumer confidence, which has been sinking since last year as households shoulder the burden of higher prices, plunged to a new low in a report out Friday,” the article stated. “President Biden’s approval ratings have also suffered, and Wall Street economists and small-business owners increasingly worry that a recession is possible in the next year.”

No wonder Deleo put away the platitudes and took to straight talk. The pressure is mounting, he said, and he asked the “heavenly Father” to keep people in His care.

“And give them the strength to get us through this,” the legislator said.

He also tacked on a plea that, instead of turning water into wine, that there are other, more valuable commodities to focus on.

“Let’s go with gas and diesel,” he said.

2022 File Photo of Genesee County Legislator John Deleo during a county meeting. Photo by Joanne Beck.

June 22, 2022 - 10:48pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, mental health services, notify.

An approved request for $55,000 to pay for after-hours mental health services for the remaining six months of this year will extend Spectrum Health and Human Services to Dec. 31.

Genesee County Legislature approved the request Wednesday as one of 11 items previously reviewed by the Ways & Means Committee earlier this month.

The county’s day treatment program was closed, and funding for that will be redirected to the after-hours, on-call mental health needs of the county, Director of Community Mental Health Services Lynda Battaglia had previously said.

The goal is to potentially use county mental health staff for the after-hours needs, however, that’s not feasible given a current staffing shortage, staff had said. At the time, Legislator Gary Maha questioned the $55,000 price tag and short-term time period.

“For six months?” he said. “That’s a lot of money.”

The services were used mostly during the pandemic, staff said.

Genesee County Legislature agreed to provide a total not to exceed $55,0000; it will be transferred out of personal services, arts and crafts, activity fees, and food and paper monies that were not expended due to the closure of the Day Treatment program earlier this year.

Spectrum Health and Human Services is based in Orchard Park. The agency’s original contract was due June 30, which has now been extended to the end of this year for crisis services.

Other approvals included:

  • To set a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. July 27 for an amended local law regarding the county’s weighted voting plans. There is also to be a public hearing at this time for a proposed operating budget for Genesee Community College's academic year 2022-23 in the amount of $37.2 million, with a sponsor share of $2,736,374. Genesee County is responsible for the sponsor share, and this reflects a $50,000 increase from the past year's share.
  • To set a temporary part-time position for the Board of Elections to assist with early voting, per election law mandates. The position has been established at a rate of $20 per hour effective June 27, and has been created due to the impending retirement of a current Democratic board clerk/machine technician. The departing employee is to be available to help train the new, part-time person. This move has a budgeted salary of $55,000, deemed “sufficient for 2022.”
  • A bid of $1,468,100 by Montante Construction for stonework at Genesee Justice, 14 West Main St., Batavia.
May 25, 2022 - 8:53pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, ems.

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Representatives of various emergency medical providers throughout Genesee County were given an appreciative nod of thanks Wednesday for the "vital public service" that they provide to local citizens. Genesee County Legislator Gary Maha read a proclamation in honor of the dedicated people who are part of the Emergency Medical Services of Genesee County.

The proclamation states that access to quality emergency care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury.

"Whereas, emergency medical services have grown to fill a gap by providing important, out-of-hospital care, including preventative medicine, follow-up care, and access to telemedicine," Maha said during a brief ceremony at the old Courthouse. "The members of emergency medical services teams, whether career or volunteer, engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their lifesaving skills, and whereas, it is appropriate to recognize the value and the accomplishments of emergency medical services providers."

The emergency medical services system includes first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, educators, administrators, emergency medical dispatchers, pre-hospital nurses, emergency nurses and physicians, trained members of the public and other providers that work outside of a hospital, the proclamation states. 

Genesee County Legislature recognized all involved in county emergency medical services and acknowledged "the emergency medical services strong theme "Rising to the Challenge."

"As we encourage the community to show gratitude to our EMS for their hard work and dedication," Maha said. 

Photo above: Members of Genesee County Emergency Medical Services, including Sean Huggins and Craig Huntoon from the City of Batavia; Scott Buffin from Mercy Flight; Christopher Scopano of Le Roy EMS; Mike Heale of Elba Fire Department; and Sean Downing from Genesee County EMS, represent their units and colleagues as Genesee County Legislator Gary Maha reads the proclamation in their honor Wednesday at the Old Courthouse in Batavia. Photo by Howard Owens.

May 10, 2022 - 10:20pm

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Stephen Pribek likes to go grocery shopping. In fact, not only will he go out shopping for his family, but also for a friend.

Pribek, a retired Batavia City Schools teacher, is a volunteer at Genesee County’s Office For the Aging. For the past 10 months or so he’s been picking up groceries for a senior citizen who can’t quite get out as easily anymore.

“I really look forward to it,” Pribek said during an interview with The Batavian. “It fills a need for both of us. I need to feel productive and he has trouble getting around.”

The “Got Groceries?” program evolved out of a pilot to try out the concept during the pandemic, OFA Director Diana Fox said. While some people had physical issues that limited their ability to shop, many others didn’t feel safe to go out during a virus running rampant or didn’t even have a computer to do online shopping, she said.

“It created a barrier for some people. And so if there was somebody that, maybe they didn't have a caregiver in the area, and they needed some help with getting their things,” Fox said. “We started this with just a couple of people that needed it, then added in one of our staff … And so they connected up.”

The service is not a free grocery program, she said, and clients need to be able to pay for the goods themselves. Volunteers take a gift card issued from the agency, purchase the groceries, provide a receipt to the agency and client, and OFA then bills the client for the items.

Got Groceries? has worked so well that OFA was invited to apply for additional funding to continue and expand it, Fox said. She has applied for three grants, including $88,000 for centralized intake, $16,225 for marketing coordination and $14,464 for the Got Groceries? program.

They are through the Rochester Area Community Foundation’s Muriel H. Marshall Fund for the Aging and are up for approval at Wednesday’s Genesee County Legislature meeting. The request has already been given the nod by both the Human Services and Ways and Means committees.

“There’s no cost to the county,” Fox said. “I don’t anticipate any issue with that.”

There are eight clients currently, each with a different volunteer, for the pilot program. Fox would like to increase that to 20 participants. Volunteers aren’t on the hook for any money, as gift cards are used for the purchases, and the helpers often tack the errand onto when they do their own personal shopping, she said. If anyone is interested in volunteering for this program, contact the OFA at (585) 343-1611.

Pribek’s time so far has been rewarding, he said.

“I ended up being friends with the client; we chat,” Pribek said. “I use a gift card, and I like the way it works out; it seems to run very smooth. And the people at the Office For the Aging are very nice to work with; it seems very well organized.”

Top photo: Got Groceries? connects people having issues with their shopping and volunteers to do it for them. Photo by Howard Owens 

May 7, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, County Legislature, batavia, notify.

Money — or the talk of it — flowed during Wednesday’s Ways and Means Committee meeting as members reviewed everything from a grant for $14,464 to a $2.9 million bridge construction contract and $414,000 related consultant fee.

These items and several others will now move onto Genesee County Legislature for final approval. The group is to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Legislature Chamber in the Old Court House, 7 Main St., Batavia.

Legislature members are expected to vote on the elimination of a financial clerk-typist position and creation of a program manager for the Sheriff’s Office; bids and consultant agreement for South Lyon Street bridge construction; additional insurance cost to cover elements of the Genesee County Jail construction; a contract award for the jail and capital project construction; apply and accept grant funds as a budget amendment for the county’s Office for the Aging, and a related contract with Arc GLOW’s meal preparation services.

During the committee’s meeting Wednesday at Genesee Community College, Sheriff William Sheron explained that a review of the staff positions indicated that the clerk-typist role “wasn’t aligning with that title,” and he felt that a program manager better suited the duties involved.

A reclassification review conducted by the county’s Human Resources department resulted in a reclassification of the clerk-typist position to that of a program coordinator-sheriff position.

“We do have the money in our budget,” he said.

The monetary difference would be $5,616, which is covered by multiple vacancies that list in the department and have already been accounted for, the resolution states.

Jail construction costs won’t just mean the actual labor and materials, as the county’s insurance broker, Lawley Insurance, sought quotes to add a builder’s risk insurance for the construction project, a Lawley representative said during Wednesday’s meeting. The estimated tab will be up to $73,031.

“Don’t contractors have a policy to cover this type of thing?” Legislator Gary Maha said.

It’s always better for the county to have its own policy to “protect your assets,” the rep said. The extra policy would cover gaps for certain damages due to theft, for example, she said.

Add another $195,000 for special inspections and testing services during the jail building project. These services test things like the soil and asphalt, County Manager Matt Landers said. County officials will receive an inspection report within 24 to 48 hours, he said, and these services are performed for all construction projects.

Additional agenda items up for vote from the Human Services Committee include acceptance of a grant for a public health drinking water enhancement program; a Tobacco Enforcement Program; a contract with Mercy Flight/Air Medical Transfer Service; and a contract with Genesee County Agricultural Society for funding toward this year’s Genesee County Fair.

A Committee of the Whole (Genesee County Legislature) meeting is to follow at 6 p.m. to discuss Conservation Easements Opportunities in Genesee County and approve March 30 minutes.

 

 

 

April 21, 2022 - 3:05pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, County Legislature, Darien, Medicaid.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers and Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein are prepared to meet with the Darien Town Board over what they say is a “misunderstanding” about the practice of including the Medicaid portion of the tax rate on the annual county tax bill.

The situation was brought to the legislature’s attention via a letter dated April 7 from the Darien Town Board on behalf of a longtime Darien Center resident who objected to having to pay $2.90 per thousand of his assessed property value toward the county’s state-mandated Medicaid costs.

The resident wrote to the town board, bemoaning the fact that he was charged $782.14 in taxes for Medicaid, this coming on top of the $340 per month that he and his wife already have deducted from their Social Security checks for Medicare.

In the letter, he suggested that instead of taxing property owners “for other persons’ Medicaid,” the county could raise the sales tax rate slightly from the current 8 percent (of which 4 percent stays in the county) to cover the cost.

The town board, in turn, drafted its letter – supporting the resident’s viewpoint.

“As most County Taxpayers, he (the resident) and his wife do not use the programs offered such as HEAP, SNAP, free medical insurance, rent subsidy, over-the-county general use cards, etc.,” the letter states. “(As the expense is applied to property owners only), this burden is not shared equally by all county residents.”

The town board’s letter indicates a sales tax increase from 4 to 4 ½ percent would generate approximately $3.1 million per year “and these funds would be dedicated to stabilizing the Medicaid tax bill.”

At Wednesday’s Ways & Means Committee meeting, Landers and the legislature addressed the resident’s concerns and the Darien Town Board’s letter and accompanying resolution that authorized mailing it to county officials.

Landers noted that the county has broken out the Medicaid share of the tax rate on its annual bill since 2004 – doing so for informational purposes.

“The county tax bill is broken up into two lines,” Landers said. “It really is the total dollar amount – the whole levy in taxes and then we have a line broken out separately for the piece that is attributable to Medicaid. This was done purely as a message to taxpayers to understand how much of their property taxes are going towards Medicaid.”

He said that each year the county uses the same formula to figure out the mandated Medicaid expense.

Landers then pointed out that the county’s 2022 tax rate was flat (at $9.16 per $1,000, which includes the $2.90 per thousand Medicaid tax) “because you remember the rates have been dropping as assessments are going up.”

“I think it’s more or less just a misunderstanding of the way our tax bill is (displayed). It’s purely informational only,” he said, noting that the real property tax office could break the rate out “into a 100 different items but that would become more complex.”

Furthermore, the county doesn’t have the authority to raise the sales tax rate, Landers said.

Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg put it another way, stating, “The idea (of placing the Medicaid portion on the tax bill) was to show the taxpayers that if we didn't have this Medicaid mandate on our backs, this is what your taxes would be.”

“If they just look at that other number ($6.25 per $1,000 of assessed value), that's where they're getting their police, their EMS (Emergency Management Services), their roads, their bridges -- everything that we do in the county is that other item, and that Medicaid is a New York state mandate,” she explained.

Clattenburg acknowledged the “misconception” has grown from one citizen to the entire Darien Town Board, “which is under the impression that we have a control over that number, which we don't.”

After several more minutes on the topic, legislators decided to respond to the town board, starting with a letter and following that up by having Landers and Stein attend a board meeting in Darien in the near future.

Legislator Brooks Hawley agreed with that, saying, “I think it would be better if it was face-to-face instead of sending letters back and forth. It could be misconstrued.”

April 21, 2022 - 8:50am

Updated: April 21, 4:30 p.m. with additional information about Laurie Oltramari nomination:

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The Genesee County Legislature, understanding that it has zero financial liability, is expected to pass a measure to allow the Genesee County Funding Corp. to secure up to $275 million in revenue bonds to finance a wide-reaching project of the Rochester Regional Health system.

The legislature’s Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday approved a resolution that describes RRH’s plan to finance or refinance capital improvement projects at several locations, including its new medical specialties building under construction on Route 98, north of the Thruway interchange in Batavia.

About $47 million in Series 2022 Bonds will be used for the “Batavia project:”

  • Construction of an approximately 105,393 square-foot medical facility on Route 98 that will house extension sites of three RRH affiliate hospitals to be used for outpatient cardiac care, women's health services, primary care, urgent care, outpatient surgical services, gastroenterology, outpatient radiology and other outpatient services;
  • Construction of approximately 56,147 square feet of related ground floor parking, and the acquisition and installation of machinery, equipment and other personal property.

A formal vote of the full legislature likely will take place at next Wednesday’s meeting at the Old Courthouse.

Last month, representatives of the Genesee County Economic Development Center proposed the idea of using the GCFC to act as a conduit bond issuer for RRH. Subsequently, the legislature voted to change the entity’s bylaws to allow for projects outside of the county as long as the business had operations in Genesee County.

RRH fits the bill as its network of hospitals and offices stretches across the state. According to the resolution passed yesterday, other capital improvement projects to utilize this round of funding will take place in the City of Rochester, Town of Potsdam, Town of Pittsford, Town of Penfield, Town of Canton and Town of Massena.

Before supporting this action, Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg asked for assurance that Genesee County bears no fiscal responsibility in the transaction. The premise of the resolution is that RRH would be able to issue bonds at a reduced interest rate by going through the GCFC.

“I support this as Rochester Regional Health has made a commitment to the county,” Clattenburg said. “It’s hard to get doctors to work in rural communities.”

In other action, the committee approved:

  • An application for a New York State Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant of up to $750,000 to support La Fermiere Inc.’s plans to develop a yogurt and dessert production facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

Per the resolution, the project will create 135 new jobs and represents a private investment of more than $20 million. If received, the grant would help finance part of the costs of machinery and equipment, including furnishing and fixtures, as well as working capital expenses.

  • The appointment of Robert Sotir of Batavia, organizer for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 3 NY, to the GLOW Workforce Development Board for a term at the discretion of the GLOW chief executive officers.

GOVERNOR NOMINATES OLTRAMARI

It also was announced that Gov. Kathy Hochul has nominated Laurie Oltramari of Batavia to serve as a representative on the Rochester-Genesee Transportation Authority board for a term of six years.

Contacted today, Oltramari, senior library clerk at Genesee Community College, said she initially was nominated by the Genesee County Legislature and went through "a lengthy process of submitting documentation and answering questions in terms of financial disclosures, conflict of interest, background check, public officers law, and board duties."

"I received notification yesterday that I was nominated by the governor to the Senate. I am now awaiting my Senate confirmation," said Oltramari, who previously served as executive director of the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District.

April 19, 2022 - 11:53am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, County Legislature, countywide water project.

With cost estimates running as high as $130 million for Phase 4 of the Countywide Water Project in the next few years, Genesee County legislators are jumping at the chance to use federal funds now to finance a Phase 3 construction initiative with the Town of Alexander.

The legislature’s Public Service Committee on Monday approved a resolution that forges an agreement with the town to install water transmission mains and a water storage tank as part of the formation of Water District No. 6.

The key component of the contract is that the county’s portion of the $11.2 million project -- $5,424,000 – will be paid by using some of the American Rescue Plan Act funding it received from the federal government.

County Engineer Tim Hens told the committee that the county will make two deposits into an escrow account that will be used by the Town of Alexander to pay the contractor as needed during construction. The county will monitor the work being performed and certify all draw requests by the town.

"The work will cover the northwest corner of the town -- every public road west of Route 98 and north of Route 20," Hens said. "We are running new water lines to the town, upsizing the mains to 12 inch for transmission and erecting a tower on Halstead Road to feed back into Batavia."

The agreement took a bit longer than usual to make it to the committee as attorneys for both parties had to ensure that the language complied with ARPA requirements.

As previously reported on The Batavian, the county will save $3.3 million in interest by utilizing ARPA money instead of having to bond the expense.

Two other resolutions pertaining to the Countywide Water Project were approved by the PSC, and forwarded to the full legislature:

  • Change orders to a Phase 2 project with the City of Batavia wellfield – one with Frey Well Drilling of Alden to deduct $10,000 from the contracted amount and another with Villager Construction of Fairport to add $27,000 to the contracted amount.

Frey’s work involved Well C, while Villager is being paid for the additional work of cleaning and rehabilitating Well A.

The change to the Frey contract lowers the total amount to $137,900, while the change to the Villager agreement raises the amount to $421,000 and extends the contract time to complete the Well A improvement to this fall.

  • A budget amendment increasing the Water Fund by $79,000 to cover anticipated expenses related to governmental relations contracts at both the federal and state levels through the end of this year.

In other action, the committee:

  • Approved a request to include a 53-acre parcel off Harlow Road in the Town of Darien to Agricultural District No. 1 and set a public hearing on the matter for 5:30 p.m. on May 25 at the Old Courthouse. County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari advised committee members that the land does qualify under the guidelines of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.
  • Approved the appointment of Batavia business owner Derek Geib to the Genesee County Planning Board to replace Richard Richmond II, who recently filled a vacant seat on the Batavia City Council. County planning board members serve on a volunteer basis.
April 18, 2022 - 8:08pm

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The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will be reassigning its courthouse deputy positions in light of news that the New York State Office of Court Administration will be providing its own security team this summer.

County Sheriff William Sheron shared this during an update of his department today at a meeting of the County Legislature’s Public Service Committee at the Old Courthouse.

“The Office of Court Administration that oversees the (Genesee County) Court Facility … did put us on notice that they're going to have their own private security take over,” Sheron said. “The court security (change) originally was going to be April 1st, but that did not give us enough time for transition so they did agree to July 1st. That means the five court officers -- deputies and sergeant -- will be returning to the sheriff's office and assigned to various duties.”

Sheron said the court positions will be eliminated through attrition.

“Right now, we have two vacancies and we anticipate a third officer will be retiring in July,” he said. “Another officer (will retire) at the end of the year and a third officer, the first part of 2023.”

He said the court sergeant will return to road patrol and be assigned as an administrative sergeant.

“I do need some type of position … to take up some of these administrative duties that just got overwhelming over the last few years with discovery and body cam footage and so forth,” Sheron advised.

The sheriff reported that four deputies will be completing field training next month.

Additionally, two deputies came to the department as lateral transfers from Syracuse and the State Park Police, which will save the office “a little money … as they came to us fully trained,” he said.

Two other deputies are in law enforcement academies, with one in Erie County to be available for duty in December and the other in Niagara County to be available for duty in February 2023.

At least a half-dozen officers are in other types of training, Sheron said.

“We do have a young staff so we have a lot of in-service training for investigators -- anywhere from basic criminal investigations training to evidence collection and interview interrogation,” he said.

Included in that group are the office’s K9 patrol, Sheron said, noting that “both of our canines are doing very well – healthy at this time and are on patrol.”

The Sheriff’s Office school resource officer program is running smoothly, he said, adding that Pavilion Central School District recently voted to go from a 12-month contract to a 10-month contract that will take effect in September.

Sheron said he is having to deal with the excessive amount of time that it takes to deal with certain crimes, especially fraud cases.

“Everything’s requiring a subpoena or search warrant,” he said. “Banks just want more records. It's really taxing on our investigators. I just want to bring that to light because we are seeing more and more and more of this.”

Statistically, deputies are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of warrants served.

“Usually, we have 170 to 190 active warrants at a time. Right now, we’re running 325 to 350,” the sheriff said.

Some more statistics, as of April 1:

  • Felony investigations, 71.
  • Juvenile investigations, 8.
  • Drug task force investigation cases, 10.
  • Other investigations (misdemeanors, pistol permit, fatal traffic accidents), 167.
  • Items of evidence processed, 312.
  • Incidents, 7,799.
  • Background investigations, 11.
  • Motor vehicle accident reports, 324.
  • Motor vehicle accidents, 474.

The Sheriff’s Office oversees seven areas: jail, civil/records, criminal investigations, communications, road patrol (including animal control), Genesee Justice and Justice for Children Advocacy Center.

Department heads reported to the Public Service Committee in the following areas today:

COMMUNICATIONS

Emergency Communications Director Steven Sharpe said his department is having difficulty filling four part-time dispatcher positions, citing qualifications, the “plug-in” nature of the shifts involved and the hourly wage being offered.

“We’ve got people who are on the Civil Service list but they don’t want to take a part-time job,” Sharpe said. “So, they also tie up the list. Part-timers that we do get – who are on the list – we can’t reach them when a full-time position opens. There are other people ahead of them on the list that won’t take the part-time job.”

In an effort to attract young people into emergency dispatch, Sharpe is trying to develop a curriculum at Genesee Community College, but acknowledged that it has yet to take hold.

Sheron also noted that starting pay for a dispatcher is $20.37, less than the $20.50 being offered to overnight stockers at Walmart.

“And it’s not just law enforcement, it’s everywhere,” he said. “We’re going to have to start looking at wages.”

Other communications highlights:

  • 2021 calls for service: 76,751 (consisting of 81,107 dispatch events for police, fire and EMS).
  • Molasses Hill Tower is complete and was funded by four different NYS Statewide Interoperable Communications Grants. The final acceptance occurred in February.
  • The Cedar Street Tower at County Highway department is significantly overloaded and will require replacement due to changing engineering standards. Ice loading requirements have been increased from a half-inch under previous standards to 1-3 inches. Sharpe is seeking budgetary quotes to submit a capital improvement project for 2024 at the latest.

COUNTY JAIL

Jail Superintendent William Zipfel said openings include a senior correction officer, part-time correction officer, registered professional nurse and, as of this month, six correction officers (four to replace the officers assigned to the new jail transition team).

He also said he has been unable to find someone to fill the part-time cook job (paying $17.32 per hour) for quite some time.

Expenses are going up significantly, specifically in the Medicated Assistance Treatment program, food, supplies and energy, Zipfel said.

The MAT program is straining the jail budget due to the fact that prescribed controlled substances, such as suboxone, cannot be returned for refunds and cannot be given to another inmate. They must be destroyed.

People come in and they get prescribed suboxone and methadone and all kinds of controls, and next thing you know, they're released. We can't send those back. We can't use them for anyone else,” he said. “We turn it over to an investigator and they get destroyed. And until somebody decides to do something about this program that says, ‘If I want it, I get it,’ I don’t know what we’re going to do. It just keeps increasing and increasing and increasing.”

Zipfel said the jail’s overtime budget is on the rise, as well, due to the “huge number of hours just for constant watches in the first quarter of this year.”

“I don't see that stopping or going down a lot. We're dealing with sicker population as far as physical and mental issues, and we have to put them on constant watch,” he said, adding that intervention by mental health professionals has helped.

Some jail statistics through the first quarter of 2022:

  • Overtime Budget, $112,369.
  • Constant Watch and Hospital Hours, 2,118.
  • Food Costs/Meal Services, 15,799 meals served; $21,677.06 total cost; $1.3720 cost per meal.
  • Average Daily Population, males, 55.6.
  • Inmates Boarded Out, females, 30 inmates, $64,300 (not including Wyoming County).
  • Inmates Boarded Out, males, 10 inmates, $25,140 (not including Wyoming County).
  • Parole and State Readies as a portion of the Average Daily Population, 15.

GENESEE JUSTICE

Program Coordinator Diana Prinzi reported three part-time community service/victim assistants are needed, but the possibility of combining two of the part-time jobs into a full-time position is being considered.

Funding for the department through the Office of Victim Services decreased this year by nearly $14,000, dropping the total to $130,104 – the original funding amount released in 2019.

She said the office is requesting $181,917 per year for the new contract period that runs from Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2025. Department of Criminal Justice Services’ grant funding: has remained the same since 2019.

The agency’s program numbers in the area of Release Under Supervision, Community Service and Victim Assistance are increasing and expected to hit or exceed pre-COVID statistics.

JUSTICE FOR CHILDREN ADVOCACY CENTER

Program Coordinator Theresa Roth said her department is actively recruiting for a supervising clinical social worker, a position that has been vacant since it was created last November.

Last year was the busiest in the history of the JFCAC, she said, with 262 new cases opened, and this year is expected to meet or exceed that number.

A contract with the state Office of Children and Family Services for funding of the agency’s satellite offices in Albion and Warsaw has been renewed through September 2027, she said, noting that having these locations results in signficant savings for Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Roth also reported a “small cut in funding” from the state Office of Victim Services.

That drew the ire of Legislator Marianne Clattenburg, who called it “reprehensible” that the state would not prioritize services for abused children.

Photo at top: Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron reporting to the Public Services Committee this afternoon. Emergency Communications Director Steven Sharpe is in the background. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

April 14, 2022 - 10:19am

The Genesee County Legislature issued three proclamations at its meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Old Courthouse -- National Public Health Week (April 4-10), National Public Safety Telecommunications Week (April 10-16) and Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week (April 10-16).

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Legislator Gregg Torrey, left, reads from the National Public Health Week proclamation as Brenden Bedard, Public Health deputy director, looks on. The decree asks residents "to observe this week by helping our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and leaders better understand the value of public health and supporting great opportunities and to celebrate public health’s accomplishments in light of this year’s theme, Public Health is Where You Are.

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Legislator Chad Klotzbach presents the National Public Safety Telecommunications proclamation to, from left, Dispatcher Shelby Turner, Assistant Director Frank Riccobono, Director Steven Sharpe and Sheriff William Sheron. According to the proclamation, "Public Safety Telecommunicators are the first and most critical contact our citizens have with emergency services; they work 24/7 and have one of the most stressful jobs in America, and (the legislature) takes great pride in honoring the men and women whose diligence and professionalism keep our county, citizens, and first responders safe."

animal_proc.jpg

Dog Control Officers Catherine Seward, left, and Sarah Fountain accept the Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week proclamation as Sheriff Sheron and Legislator Gordon Dibble look on. The decree states that animal control officers "are compassionate and committed individuals who serve to protect animals every day by enforcing laws pertaining to their treatment, and (the legislature) takes great pride in honoring the officers whose dedication and professionalism protect the welfare of helpless animals and pets within our county."

Submitted photos.

April 9, 2022 - 12:36pm

Genesee County is turning to a familiar face, so to speak, to help in its quest to attract outside funding for Phase 3 of the Countywide Water Program.

At its meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Old Courthouse, the county legislature will consider a resolution to contract with Sheridan Hohman & Associates of Albany to provide strategic counsel and governmental relation assistance at the state level for the remainder of the year at a cost of $2,000 per month.

County Manager Matt Landers said the expenses, totaling $18,000, will be covered by the Water Fund.

“We believe the assistance of a lobbyist that will focus on relationships with the state (agencies and leaders) will be helpful,” Landers said. “This firm has worked with us in the past through NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties).”

Landers and County Engineer Tim Hens, at a Feb. 23 meeting with Congressman Chris Jacobs, reported that it will cost around $85 million for Phase 3, which would bring another six million gallons of water per day into the county and eliminate the need for the aging City of Batavia water plant.

The county already has spent $20 million for Phase 1 and $23 million for Phase 2. The price tag of a fourth phase, down the road, is estimated at $50 to $60 million.

At that time, Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein asked Jacobs and his staff to explore federal funding options, noting, “We’re at a point now where we can’t manage it on our own.”

In a related development, the legislature also will consider rescinding an intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Alexander regarding improvements of that community’s Water District No. 6.

Apparently, Hens and County Compliance Officer Pamela LaGrou agree that changes need to be made in the pact that calls upon the county to use part of the American Rescue Plan Act funding it has received in order to comply with ARPA regulations.

Hens said a new resolution will be drafted and presented to the Public Service Committee on April 18. The county will save $3.3 million in interest on this Phase 3 project by utilizing ARPA money.

The project focuses on increasing storage capacity, with construction starting next spring, Hens added.

Other resolutions of note on Wednesday’s legislative agenda:

  • Per an unfunded mandate from New York State Board of Elections, the purchase of a $40,000 ballot scanner to tabulate scannable absentee ballots and merge those results with early voting and election day results, as well as spending $2,500 for staff training. Deputy Republican Commissioner Melissa Gaebler said the equipment has to be operational by the June primary.
  • A request from the Rotary Club of Batavia to conduct its Fly-In Breakfast at June 19 at the Genesee County Airport on Saile Drive. The service organization would be using the facility from June 17-21 for preparation and clean-up.
  • A public hearing for 5:30 p.m. April 27 at the Old Courthouse on the county’s submission of a Community Development Block Grant application from the state Office of Community Renewal to assist La Fermiere Inc. in the development of a yogurt and dessert production facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.
April 5, 2022 - 10:49am

oip_1.jpgThe director of the Genesee County Business/Education Alliance compares the ramping up of economic activity following the COVID-19 pandemic to getting back to one’s workout routine after a long layoff.

“In a post-COVID world, it’s like turning on the treadmill and trying to jump on at full speed,” Karyn Winters said on Monday as she updated the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee on BEA activities before receiving word that the committee is approving more than $9,000 in funding for the agency in 2022.

Although the coronavirus barriers are gone, “challenges are still there,” Winters said, speaking of the BEA’s quest to attract local businesses to support its mission of connecting employers with students proficient in the skilled trades.

A program of Genesee Valley BOCES, the BEA is housed at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce office. It coordinates numerous programs and events focused on workforce development opportunities, including career days, job fairs, Junior Achievement, career exploration field trips and summer career exploration camps.

Winters pointed out that annual membership dues are based on the number of employees at a company and she is finding that it is difficult for many of those businesses “to continue as they normally do.”

As a result, she said the BEA “is leaning on our larger employers” – businesses that have sustained strong financial positions – through its Genesee County Premier Workforce Membership.

She reported that the BEA has partnered with the Genesee County Economic Development Center and GLOW with Your Hands to continue the premier option where members pay $2,500 to $5,000 annually to invest in the future workforce and grow their pool of applicants.

In 2022, new premier members include Batavia Downs Gaming, Bonduelle USA, GCEDC, Liberty Pumps and Oxbo International. Each premier member receives sponsorship status and access to camps and recruitment events.

Winters said the BEA intends to resume the summer career exploration camps that provide middle school students a chance to look at five different industries, such as culinary arts, skilled trades, animal sciences, engineering/technology and medicine.

Through financial support from the legislature and BEA members, she said she expects to hold the cost per student to $95 for the weeklong camp, but acknowledged that costs are going up and finding more funding is an issue.

Toward that end, the Human Services Committee voted in favor of (subject to full legislature approval) a one-time $6,000 payment for summer camp activities along with its yearly appropriation of $3,107.

Winters thanked the committee for the additional money, noting that it will enable her to hire someone to help with the summer programming.

Coming events on the BEA calendar include:

  • Graduating Seniors Job Fair, May 10, 9-11 a.m., noon-2 p.m., Genesee Valley BOCES, State Street Road, Batavia. Premier Workforce Membership employers will be represented at the job fair.
  • Annual BEA Breakfast, May 6, 7:15 a.m., Terry Hills Restaurant, Clinton Street Road, Batavia. Focus is on Batavia High School’s Introduction to Education class that trained high school students to deliver Junior Achievement's financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship programs to Jackson Primary School students.
  • Fourth Annual GLOW with Your Hands career exploration day, Sept. 27, details to be announced. A GLOW with Your Hands Healthcare event is being planned for the spring of 2023.

For more information about the BEA, contact Winters at 585-343-7440 or [email protected].

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