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Genesee Community College

October 13, 2021 - 6:18pm

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It might be said that news of Northgate Free Methodist Church leadership’s desire to underwrite a nine-hole disc golf course on its property at 8160 Bank St. Rd. could be a sign of redemption for Phillip Boyd, the City of Batavia resident who caused a firestorm in May when he proposed placing a course at Centennial Park.

“I was Public Enemy No. 1 for a while, but now I just laugh it off,” Boyd said this afternoon, adding that he and Northgate personnel have joined forces to build a course behind the church in the Town of Batavia.

Boyd also said that he and fellow disc golf enthusiast Matt Strobel are working with the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees about a course there -- and have left the door open to a course at Williams Park in the city.

“At one point, it didn’t look like anything was going to happen, and now we may be getting three in the area,” Boyd said, recognizing the irony in all of it.

The subject of disc golf came up at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, with City Manager Rachael Tabelski (responding to a public comment) saying that she hadn’t heard from Boyd recently.

Boyd said he left a message yesterday with Ray Tourt, the city’s maintenance supervisor, seeking to continue talks about a course at the Pearl Street recreation area.

“I am looking to get final approval on the course at Williams Park and then make a new proposal to City Council at a future Business Meeting,” Boyd said.

While the city may still be an option, Boyd said he currently is focusing on assisting Northgate Youth Pastor Dan Calkins with the logistics of setting up the course at Northgate.

“We’ve created a course design and the board unanimously voted yes,” Boyd said. “They said this is something they wanted to do for the community. I didn’t realize it but they’ve got about 50 acres behind the church.”

Boyd said they’ve cleared space for four of the nine holes thus far, and hope to make room for the remaining five before the end of this month. The goal is to open the course – which will be free to the public – next spring.

The course will feature tee pads, tee signage and baskets, he said, noting that the church’s financial commitment could approach $5,000.

Contacted today, Calkins said he read the articles detailing Boyd’s plight on The Batavian and approached Rev. Vern Saile, senior pastor, Mark Logan, operations director; and the board with the idea of locating a course on church grounds.

“Even if you don’t go to Northgate or never want to come to Northgate, we want to show that we love the community and we want to be a part of the community,” Calkins said. “We welcome the public to enjoy the course at no charge. Northgate is covering the sponsorship 100 percent.”

Calkins said disc golf fits in with the church’s outreach as it currently offers pickleball on Wednesdays at 2 and 8 p.m.

“We want to show the community that we’re more than just a Sunday church. We want to be part of their lives all week,” he said.

Boyd said he’s “pretty sure” the course at GCC will happen, considering that he and his partners have raised the money to fund it.

He also said that Adam Miller Toy & Bicycle in Batavia would be willing to sell disc golf equipment if the courses are built.

Photo above: Northgate Free Methodist Church.

August 27, 2021 - 7:57am

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Press release

Students in the inaugural Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Boot Camp graduated Thursday, with four of them preparing to enter full apprenticeship programs and a fifth heading to a technician training program.

Participants split their days at the boot camp's six-week electro-mechanical technician training program between on-the-job training at local employers and hands-on training on Amatrol equipment in the Genesee Valley BOCES expanding electro-mechanical lab.

The boot camp is supported by the Genesee Valley BOCES, Rochester Technology Manufacturers Association, Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program, SUNY Genesee Community College, American Apprenticeship Initiative of Western New York, GLOW Workforce Development Board, Genesee County Economic Development Center and other partners.

Top photo: Front from left, Tom Pelino, Cole Sullivan, Jack Duyssen, and Eli Hopkins; back, Maggie Poray, GV BOCES Batavia Campus executive principal; Chris Suozzi, GCEDC; John McGowan, GCC; Rich Monroe, ElectroMechanical Trades Instructor at the GV BOCES Batavia Campus ElectroMechanical Trades instructor; Jon Sanfratello, GV BOCES director of Instructional Programs; Bob Coyne, RTMA; Rich Turner, FLYAP.  Matthew Bills also graduated from the Boot Camp. Photo by Alecia Kaus.

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August 25, 2021 - 1:50pm

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Genesee and Orleans counties this afternoon thanked all the volunteers who spent "countless hours" to assist local officials in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year.

"The reason for this is (to recognize) all of the countless hours the volunteers in our communities in Genesee and Orleans gave to our community during the testing phase and also during the vaccine clinic phase," said Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein at the appreciation luncheon at Genesee Community College.

"We had an unbelievable response when we said we needed help. These are the folks who came and helped without even a care for themselves."

Stein said certficates were made for the 250 or so people who contributed to the two counties' efforts.

She also thanked Bill Schutt of the county Emergency Management Services department for his role as "COVID czar," along with Public Health Director Paul Pettit and EMS Coordinator Tim Yaeger, adding that it wouldn't have been possible "without all hands on deck."

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Photos by Alecia Kaus. 

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July 12, 2021 - 1:52pm

diana_kastenbaum_.jpgThe Genesee Community College Board of Trustees tonight will welcome its newest member – Batavia native Diana Kastenbaum, who has been appointed to the eight-member board by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Kastenbaum, chief executive officer of Pinnacle Manufacturing Co. Inc., a Batavia business for more than 45 years, was notified of the gubernatorial appointment on June 1.

She will join the Board of Trustees for the first time tonight at the college’s Annual Meeting.

“We are excited to welcome Diana Kastenbaum to our Board of Trustees," said GCC President James Sunser, Ed.D. “Diana's experience as a local business leader is vital to our goal of supporting workforce development in our community via talented GCC graduates.

“We thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for making this appointment to our Board.”

Kastenbaum said she is thrilled to have been selected and is eager to help the board advance its mission.

“I’m very honored and feel very privileged that the governor chose me,” Kastenbaum said. “I’m very excited about working on the board. It’s certainly the biggest appointment I’ve ever had.”

Kastenbaum will complete the term of Laura Bohm, who relocated to Rochester. The term ends in June 2022, and at that time she would be eligible for reappointment.

A graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she earned her bachelor of arts degree, Kastenbaum took the helm of her family business in 2014. She is one of only a handful of women CEOs in the manufacturing field of tool and die casting in North America.

Additionally, she owned her own tech consulting company for 25 years.

Kastenbaum has been active on the political scene, including a 2016 campaign as the Democratic candidate for the 27th Congressional District seat. She also has served as vice president of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council Board of Directors and in the same position of the Landmark Society of Genesee County.

She is married to actor and comedian Hiram Kasten. The couple has a daughter, Millicent, who is a student at Fordham University School of Law in New York City.

May 19, 2021 - 7:02pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee Community College, Ways & Means Committee.

The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee this afternoon approved a $50,000 increase in the county’s sponsorship of Genesee Community College – raising the amount for 2021-22 to more than $2.6 million – and set a public hearing on the two-year college’s $37.4 million budget for 5:30 p.m. June 9 at the Old County Courthouse.

GCC President James Sunser reported that the budget, which takes effect on Sept. 1, is $700,000 less than the current year spending plan, attributing the decrease in cost savings due to a five-step plan that was put into place in March 2020.

Aid from New York State will decline as well based on the formula provided to the college, Sunser said.

“It goes down to $9,736,511 based on 98 percent of prior year actual,” he said. “The college is also asking the county to consider a $50,000 increase in their … contribution. That increase in sponsorship would bring the county to $2,686,374 or 7.2 percent of the total budget.”

Sunser said the budget calls for a $100 per semester tuition increase for full-time students, $5 per credit hour increase for part-time students and $1 per credit hour for Accelerated College Entrance students.

He also noted that the college’s charge-back rate to counties outside of Genesee would decrease.

“The increase in the county’s sponsorship helps us to minimize that reduction by a bit – so that does have an effect on charges to other counties as well,” he said, adding that the college makes about $500,000 in other income (prior year recoveries, investments, etc.) but will be using almost $1.9 million in reserves to balance its budget.

Concerning the use of available funds, Sunser said the objective “would be to get that down to zero usage throughout the year through a combination of things like salary savings, better than anticipated contract costs, utility bills – things of that nature.”

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein asked if money from the American Rescue Plan was available for colleges.

Sunser replied that up to $2 million could be heading to GCC, but half of that would go directly to students and the other half would be for COVID-19-related expenses going forward.

If the college does get that federal funding, Sunser said it would be used for Zoom videoconferencing technology in all classrooms and maintenance projects at the campus.

“We would be outfitting all of our classrooms so that we can do Zoom technology to and from – not only to people’s homes but to the other six campus centers as well,” he said.

Sunser pointed out that GCC has reduced its budget by $4 million over the last two years and is down about 34 full-time positions “through a combination of voluntary retirements, natural turnover and then some folks that we had to retrench to make the budget work.”

In the end, Stein said she was on board with the additional $50,000.

“All of our costs are going up, regardless of what we do,” she said. “If we continue to short or say no, someday we’re going to have to pay the piper. And I know when we came on the legislature, it was a $250,000 jump in one year, and that was really difficult.

"So, understanding the costs going forward and the fact that they reduced their budget to the amount that they have, meeting in the middle is a good place for us to be here in Genesee.”

Upon approval by the full legislature following the public hearing, the sponsorship of $2,686,374 for the 2021-22 fiscal year would be included in the county tax levy for 2021.

Former Coroner Compensated

In other action, the committee supported “discretionary compensation” in the amount of $1,369 to former Genesee County Coroner Jeff McIntire for time spent on the job following the airplane crash in October 2020 in the Town of Pembroke that claimed the lives of attorneys Steven Barnes and Elizabeth Barnes.

Previously, the legislature passed a local law giving them authority to provide additional compensation in catastrophic events.

County Manager Matt Landers said that McIntire, who since has relocated to Florida, lost about 80 full-time employment hours while taking part in the long investigation of the crash,

Previously: Genesee Community College eliminates six, doesn't renew seven full-time positions

March 9, 2021 - 10:51am

As the New York State-run mass vaccination clinic at Genesee Community College concludes its five-day run, Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he believes the operation has gone well enough to justify a repeat performance.

The clinic, which offered 3,500 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, began on Friday and wraps up at 11 a.m. today.

While governmental leaders in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming were upset that it wasn’t limited to residents in their tri-county area, Landers said that, procedurally, after some initial confusion, things went smoothly.

“As soon as the first couple hours died down, on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday, this thing has been a well-oiled machine,” Landers said this morning. “I think the state has been very impressed with the location and the ease of getting people in and out. I think we could have probably doubled the doses easily if the state would have given it to us.”

Landers said he hopes GCC could host another mass vaccination clinic in the near future.

“We’re hoping that the state looks at this as, maybe, a location that they can permanently staff with their own people, and not have it interfere with the Genesee County allocation. I hope the state looks at this and sees the positives that this location affords,” he said.

He said the college is a “logical place” for a clinic.

“They have one in Buffalo and one in Rochester, and the one here in Genesee County -- if they keep it the same way -- they’re still serving people from the western and eastern sides of Monroe and Erie counties (respectively) along with residents in our area,” he offered. "So, they’re still accomplishing (vaccinating people in) a large region and they have a great site.”

Landers did acknowledge long lines in the first couple hours on Friday as a result of the switch from the county’s regular clinic to the state clinic.

Going forward, he said it is important that any operation run by the state does not interfere with the Genesee County clinic nor the vaccine allocations that come directly to the county.

“Also, we would to have the state use its people to staff its site,” he said. “It’s one thing for us to use all of our staff to assist over a five-day span, but we need our employees for our needs here in Genesee County.”

Previously: Nearly half of the 3,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses at first GCC clinic booked by Erie County residents

March 1, 2021 - 5:53pm

Additional doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine have been coming into Genesee County this week -- a welcome sign of better days ahead, according to the Genesee/Orleans public health director.

“After our allocation had been flat for four weeks, the county Department of Health has received 885 doses of the vaccine – 300 of the Moderna and 585 of the Pfizer,” Paul Pettit said this afternoon via Zoom during the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

Pettit also mentioned that several “community partners” have received vaccines, with United Memorial Medical Center getting 200 doses and Tops Market in Batavia, Tops Market in Le Roy and Oakfield Family Pharmacy receiving 100 doses each.

He reported that Genesee Community College will be the site of two local vaccination clinics this week – from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday for first dose only and from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday for second dose only.

This is not the mass vaccination clinic at GCC that leaders in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties have been vigorously asking for, but good news may be around the corner, Pettit said.

“We’re still working on the details of a potential mass vaccination location,” he said. “We expect more details tomorrow and will send out a press release as soon as possible.” 

He said 3,500 doses would be available if and when New York State officially approves the college as a regional vaccination clinic.

In related COVID-19 developments, Pettit said the state’s guidance on gatherings is expected to change on March 15, increasing the number to 150 people or 50 percent of capacity, and he said he anticipates the county receiving the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine in a couple weeks.

He also urged state officials to update their guidance concerning people who are fully vaccinated.

“They already recognize the exposure aspect of it (that they don’t have to quarantine), but now they need to do the same when it comes to travel,” Pettit said.

Legislatively, the Human Services Committee approved two resolutions submitted by Pettit that reflect funding connected to the county’s effort to test for the virus and vaccinate against it:

  • An agreement with the New York State Department of Health for the acceptance of the Immunization Action Plan contract for the period April 1 through March 31 in the amount of $25,651.20.
  • An amendment to the county budget to reflect increases in overtime, Social Security, Medicare and Specialized Supplies totaling $13,566, with these costs offset by federal revenue.
February 27, 2021 - 11:00am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee Community College, covid-19.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he's been receiving numerous phone calls and text messages this morning after reports in the media surfaced that Genesee Community College will be designated as a COVID-19 mass vaccination site beginning March 5.

More importantly, he said that governmental leaders in the area are still working on that possibility, but nothing is official.

"It's still preliminary; we're still talking. There really isn't anything that we can release," Landers said. "We're hoping that we will be able to provide a press release -- maybe on Tuesday. At this point, we don't have any details that we can officially release."

Stories on websites of a local newspaper and a Buffalo television website indicating that GCC will become a mass vaccination clinic location came out of the Finger Lakes Region "control room" meeting with the governor's office on Friday. 

WGRZ-TV reported, according to a spokesperson, that the goal of the weeklong clinic is to give 500 doses per day for the seven days, and that employees of the Genesee. Wyoming and Orleans health departments and volunteers will handle the vaccinations.

Landers said he thinks "somebody missed a step" by stating that things have been finalized.

"There's planning and there's a process, and at this time there really isn't anything newsworthy that we can release," he said, adding that state and local leaders have yet to walk through the site to work out the logistics of how the clinic will be set up.

Last week, legislators and public health directors in the three counties sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to authorize the use of the GCC campus as a regional location to administer the vaccine.

February 23, 2021 - 2:37pm

Press release:

The legislative leaders and public health directors of Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties sent a letter to New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo urgently requesting the designation of a regional mass vaccination clinic at the Genesee Community College (GCC) campus to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to the rural counties.

The letter was signed by: Rochelle Stein, Genesee County Legislative chairwoman; Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislative chairwoman; Rebecca Ryan, Wyoming County Board of Supervisors chairwoman; Paul Pettit, Genesee Orleans County Health Departments director; and, Dr. Gregory Collins, Wyoming County Health Department Medical director.

The letter reads that “Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties have consistently been left out of the COVID-19 response with delays in testing supplies and now with very limited vaccine allocations. All three counties are medically underserved and having a regional clinic with less than a half hour commute would benefit these communities."

The letter went on to state that residents have limited transportation access to Buffalo and Rochester and that a vaccination clinic at GCC would draw the eastern and western portions of other contiguous counties and that it is easily accessible from the Thruway. If properly staffed through assistance by the National Guard the officials said that the GCC clinic would have the capacity of vaccinating in excess of 2,000 individuals per day.  

The letter expresses concerns about the lack of access in rural communities to vaccination site and vaccine supplies.

It concludes that “our three counties look forward to working with your office to provide this much needed and more equitable solution to meet the needs of the more rural communities."

Copies of the letter were also sent Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties state representatives, Assemblyman David DiPietro, Senator Patrick Gallivan, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, Assemblyman Michael Norris, Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, and Senator Edward Rath, III.

January 19, 2021 - 1:24pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced an additional $1.4 billion in federal funding for New York state’s private, public, and proprietary institutions of higher education.

The funds are allocated to the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II by the recently Schumer-negotiated, Gillibrand-backed, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA).

The funding is in addition to federal funding already allocated from the CARES Act in March.

Genesee Community College will get $5,220,960.

“Our universities have been selflessly navigating the ongoing global pandemic, ripping huge holes in their budgets to prioritize the health and safety,” Senator Schumer said.

“Today’s funding I prioritized in negotiations for the recent COVID relief package will help to mitigate some of the financial devastation our colleges and universities face as the crisis continues long beyond what anyone imagined. We need to ensure that our world-class institutions of higher education right here in New York are equipped with the assistance they need to make it through this crisis and thrive.”

“New York’s universities have been hit hard by this pandemic and they’ve been forced to make tough budget cuts in order to prioritize the health and safety of their students and staff. Federal funding is critical to ensure students maintain access to a strong education throughout this crisis,” Senator Gillibrand said.

“The funding that Leader Schumer and I fought to deliver will provide an essential lifeline for these institutions to support students, provide essential technology and infrastructure for online learning, and fund increased expenses due to the pandemic. I’m proud to have secured this funding and I will continue working to deliver resources that our higher education institutions need to weather the COVID-19 crisis.”

Schumer and Gillibrand said that public and nonprofit schools will be able to use their awards for financial aid grants to students, student support activities, and to cover a variety of institutional costs, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll. Proprietary schools must use their awards exclusively to provide financial aid grants to students.

The DOE specified that allocations to institutions were based on a formula that includes the relative shares of Federal Pell Grant recipients, the relative shares of non-Pell Grant recipients, and the relative shares of Federal Pell and non-Pell Grant recipients exclusively enrolled in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency.

Allocations to each institution can be found here(GCC's allocation is on page 62 of the PDF file).

October 30, 2020 - 6:07pm

Genesee Community College has cut 13 full-time jobs -- a move necessitated by the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the two-year college’s financial picture, an official of the two-year institution said today.

“We did have some full-time positions that were not renewed or retrenched,” said Justin Johnston, vice president of Development & External Affairs. “Notice was given today but it doesn’t take place until the end of December. Thirteen positions.”

Johnston said that six of those positions are traditional faculty members and seven are non-teaching administrative employees. He would not disclose the specific job titles.

“These individuals will continue to work in their roles for the next two months and may seek employment elsewhere, so we cannot comment on personnel matters on an individual level,” he said. “Seven folks’ positions will not be renewed, which is part of our process that we follow in a regular union model, and six of the positions are being eliminated.”

This latest action comes on the heels of the summer layoff of 27 part-timers at the college, which previously had enacted measures in reaction to reduced funding and revenue triggered by COVID-19.

Five-Step Plan in Place

“We had a five-step plan to respond to the pandemic and the associated budgetary impact,” said Johnston, who moved into his position nine months ago. “The decline in funding that we’ve received has necessitated this plan and this is going back to the beginning.”

He mentioned an across-the-board pay freeze -- management, confidential and our union positions – and “sizeable reductions in our operating budget, given the move to lessen the effect on personnel.”

“So, although ultimately we did have those 13 positions eliminated, it was greatly reduced from what it might have been had we not done that,” he offered. “We took proactive measures to curb spending early on and those aggressive measures were part of our plan to balance the budget the best that we could.”

Noting that GCC hasn’t been immune to the effects of the pandemic, he disagreed with the contention that the college’s financial situation wasn’t very good prior to mid-March.

“To my knowledge, our financial position was strong prior to the pandemic. This was a disruption that really no one could have predicted,” he said.

President: Drastic Measures Taken

GCC President James Sunser, when addressing the Genesee County Legislature in June, said the college took “painful” measures -- retrenchments, pay freezes, deferral of capital projects and supply purchases, and the use of $2 million in reserves -- to reach the $38.1 million budget that was submitted to the state.

At that time, he indicated that the cuts announced today, which affect the unionized faculty/administrative group, were part of the management's plan.

Genesee Educational Association President Karyn S. Bryson said the union knew these notices were coming because it has been working with GCC administration since May on finding a solution to the SUNY funding gap.

Calling it a “difficult day when jobs are cut,” Bryson said the union is concerned about the long-term funding issues and noted that today’s cuts were distributed among all levels of employees.

Union Rep: Provisions Will Help

“GEA (which represents both faculty and staff) did everything possible to minimize the number of members retrenched, including agreeing to a wage freeze for the 2020-21 academic year, but it wasn't enough to save everyone's job,” she said. “We sincerely wish it had been enough. Our contract is strong, and there are some provisions which will assist some of the affected employees going forward. We wish nothing but the best for our colleagues in the future.”

Bryson is the director of Paralegal Studies at GCC.

Johnston said that management has no plans to make further retrenchments in 2020-21 as long as “the funding models and the enrollment models trend as we expect them to.”

He acknowledged the anguish of having to eliminate so many positions.

“It’s certainly not something that we had planned to do. It’s just a result of the environment that we’re in so we can continue to forge ahead for the success of our students,” he said.

Johnston commented on other aspects, as follows:

  • Instruction: “We are primarily virtual (online learning). We do have some on-campus course work but only until Thanksgiving and that’s in compliance with the State of New York (SUNY) guidelines.” After Thanksgiving, all virtual learning.
  • Enrollment: “The college is sitting at a 10-percent decrease right now, with the actual Fall 2020 numbers fluctuating at plus or minus 10 percent. We are fortunate that we’ve stayed fairly close to last year given the pandemic.” GCC’s full- and part-time enrollment during the Fall 2019 semester was 5,324. Tuition for 2020-21 for New York State residents is $4,550.
  • Possible elimination of programs: “I can’t really speak to that piece. The process of program determination is something that plays out over a number of years. If you were to eliminate a program, it gets taught for several years following to ensure that all the current students within it can complete it.”
July 23, 2020 - 10:26am

The agenda for Wednesday’s Genesee County Legislature meeting at the Old County Courthouse featured 34 resolutions, with three of them catching the eye of former legislator John Sackett Jr. of Byron.

Addressing the board during the public comments portion of the meeting, Sackett provided brief commentary on a water district agreement with the Town of Bethany, the county’s annual financial support of Genesee Community College, and contracts with six schools for school resource officers.

Legislators approved an inter-municipal pact with the Town of Bethany that calls for the county to reimburse the town in the amount of $152,835 for 38 years.

The annual reimbursement, according to the resolution, represents the amortized cost of the $4.5 million in improvements being made by Town of Bethany Water District No. 5, enhancements that will benefit the county.

Sackett questioned this plan, and asked why the county didn't help "Byron Town Board members, past and present, who did their proprietary work on taxpayer-supported water projects?"

Prior to that, he said that during his tenure as a Genesee County legislator (1992-2001), he came up with a list of eight private companies that might be able to provide water to residents.

“No response, I’ll say it again, no response from the Genesee County water board,” he said. “What does that tell you? They were all appointed.”

Legislators voted to contribute $2,636,374 to Genesee Community College for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The college’s total budget is $38.1 million.

Sackett urged lawmakers to hold the line on employee raises, stating that the college “strokes its board members, using Downstate figures to justify raises.”

As previously reported on The Batavian, GCC leadership has instituted many cost-cutting measures to balance its budget, including a pay freeze approved by both collective bargaining units on the campus.

On the subject of school resource officers, Sackett called the contracts, which range from $85,000 to $102,000 for 10-12 months, a “waste of dollars, whoever pays.”

“If you really believe in safety in education, educate the school teachers in these school districts in the use of handguns – hidden with monthly training,” he said. “It would cost less and be much more effective.”

Genesee County has SRO agreements with Alexander, Pembroke, Oakfield-Alabama, Byron-Bergen, Pavilion and Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The districts pay for the services of a sheriff’s deputy, with hourly rate, fringe benefits and insurance as the covered expenses.

Sackett, who just turned 92, served on the Byron Town Board for 20 years, including several years as supervisor.

In other action, legislators approved:

-- Acceptance of a $120,000 grant from the state Office of Children and Family Services to support medical services at the county’s Justice for Children Advocacy Center. The contract term runs from Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2022, meaning that the annual award is $60,000.

-- A consultant agreement for $617,000 with Fisher Associates of Rochester to provide preliminary engineering and final design work in connection with the planned 2023 replacement of the South Lyon Street bridge in the City of Batavia. The design work and right-of-way acquisition are expected to take 12 to 18 months.

-- Three resolutions for work at the Genesee County Airport – one to accept a Federal Aviation Administration grant of $172,335 for the demolition of an existing T-hangar, one to contract with C&S Engineers of Syracuse for construction observation and administration of the T-hangar demolition at a cost not to exceed $29,000, and one to contract with Telco Construction of Buffalo (general contractor) and Upstate Companies of Mt. Upton (electrical) to build a new T-hangar.

The Telco contract is not to exceed $745,700 and the Upstate contract is not to exceed $103,500. Funding for this project will come from state aid ($626,250) and county money ($218,750).

-- An amendment of the county’s shared services property tax savings plan, changing the date from 2019 to 2020. The plan, which explores ways to collaborate with towns, villages and neighboring counties to reduce costs, will be submitted to the Department of State, Genesee Association of Municipalities, and eight local school districts.

Previously: Jail project with Orleans County, City water upgrade, SROs top the list of Genesee's shared services plan

-- Acceptance of $76,700 from the state Board of Elections’ Cybersecurity Remediation Grant Program to help county election commissioners assess security vulnerabilities and develop an effective risk management strategy. The funding will cover the period of Dec. 21, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2021.

July 10, 2020 - 3:01pm

Press release:

Starting next week, the Adult Educational Opportunity Center (AEOC) located at Genesee Community College is hosting a series of six FREE Zoom meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays to provide information to any adult thinking about college enrollment, financial aid, the college application process, and/or a wide range of different career path options.

Specifically, Monday sessions will cover the financial literacy and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, loan options and college affordability; while the Tuesday sessions will cover the Common App for college application, obtaining a GED high school diploma equivalent, and a multitude of career path opportunities.

  • What: AEOC Office Offers FREE Virtual Information Sessions in July
  • When: Three Mondays: July 13, 20 and 27 at 1 p.m. / Three Tuesdays: July 14, 21 and 28 at 1 p.m.
  • Where: Zoom Meetings Accessible from any Computer with Internet Access
  • Who: GCC Adult Education Opportunity Center and any Adults Seeking College and/or Career Information

To sign up for any of the six sessions, email Staci Williams, AEOC director, at:   [email protected] or call (585) 345-6836.

For further information about the AEOC go to www.genesee.edu/AEOC.

June 17, 2020 - 9:20pm

Genesee Community College President James Sunser couldn’t have used a more appropriate word than “retrenchment” while sharing the financial plight of the two-year institution with the County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee this afternoon.

Sunser and his staff were forced to implement large-scale retrenchment – the reduction of costs or spending in response to economic difficulty – to formulate a 2020-21 operating budget that takes into account an anticipated 30-percent reduction in aid from New York State.

And drafting a spending plan that compensates professors, teachers and staff while providing necessary student services will be a daunting task for quite some time, he said.

“Indications from the state are that these reductions should be planned for 2021-22 as well, so we’ll continue to work with bringing our budget into line,” Sunser said. “It is going to be, not surprisingly like it is for the county and all other groups, painful.”

Sunser emphasized that the dilemma isn’t due to “deficiencies on the part of the staff or the faculty … but, unfortunately, it is going to require some substantial changes in what is going on at the college.”

The college’s Board of Trustees approved a $38.1 million budget for the next fiscal year that starts on Sept. 1, and that’s about 8 percent less than the target of $41.6 million (the amount of the 2019-20 budget).

Furthermore, around $2 million from the college’s reserves was used to balance this year’s budget, which may take another state aid hit in the fourth quarter.

County's share is $2,636,374

Genesee County has budgeted $2,636,374 for the second straight year for its sponsorship of the college, action that is subject to a public hearing scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 22 at the Old Courthouse. The Ways & Means Committee approved the date of the public hearing as well as the contribution.

Sunser said the county’s decision to not reduce its sponsorship is key to preventing further financial implications.

“We have had a number of conversations with the county about maintenance of effort,” he said. “Without maintenance of effort, it puts into play a number of additional considerations that SUNY (State University of New York) would impose on the college.”

Sunser said a multistep plan was put into place in order to “deal with the deficits coming from the state” and achieve the $38.1 million mark.

“Currently, the state is suggesting that next year’s budget for the college will include a 30-percent reduction in state aid. Obviously, when your operation is labor-intensive – we teach and we support students to get through their academic programs – you’re not going to be able to go through that without having some type of adjustments made,” he explained.

He outlined some of the cost-cutting measures:

-- Freezes of travel and training;
-- Deferral of capital projects, other than critical maintenance issues;
-- Deferrals of a printer purchase replacement, office supplies, contractual services, facility improvements;
-- Freeze on hiring of adjunct professors.

Salaries to be Frozen in 2020-21

He also indicated that to close an additional $2 million budget gap during the course of the 2020-21 fiscal year, significant cuts in salaries and positions have to be realized.

“We have looked at instituting management confidential pay freezes. We have two collective bargaining units on the campus – one is our combined faculty/administrative group and the other is our CSEA group,” he said. “We negotiated with both of those groups to take pay freezes so everybody will be on a pay freeze for the 2020-21 year – and that was approved by both unions.”

Beyond that, management negotiated with the faculty/administration union to give notice to employees who are going to be retrenched (or laid off). Sunser said the union approved a period of Oct. 31-Dec. 31 for retrenchments, and that will result in savings of eight months’ worth of potential salaries.

He also said a process of involuntary retrenchments to close the rest of the gap has begun, with notifications going out to the Civil Service group by July 1 with a July 31 retrenchment, and by Oct. 31 with a Dec. 31 retrenchment for the unionized faculty/administration group.

Employee retrenchment is a cost-cutting tool for businesses or organization to use in times of economic hardship – a form of dismissal due to no fault of workers. Retrenched employees are eligible for compensation along the lines of severance pay, money equal to annual leave or time off, and notice pay, and also may file for unemployment insurance.

There’s more, Sunser said, as the Board of Trustees approved a voluntary retirement incentive beyond stipulations in existing contracts with the unions.

“Through that retirement incentive we have realized 23 voluntary retirements,” he said. “Those are going to be occurring as of July 31, so that will help close that gap (in state aid) that we’re anticipating in the last month of the current year."

Programs of study are under review as well, and some may be discontinued.

“We’re talking about a 41 and a half million dollar budget that’s going to be about five million dollars less by the end of next year,” he said, “and there’s no way of doing that without involuntary retrenchments, which is unfortunate, but that where we find ourselves.”

College Tuition is Increasing

Donna Ferry, a member of the Board of Trustees, reported that tuition has been increased (to $4,550 for New York State residents) for 2020-21, but “GCC still is the second lowest in the state across the board as far as tuition (for two-year colleges).”

She also said that the present uncertainty could result in lower enrollment next year, but “the team is working really hard to get those numbers up.” Enrollment (full- and part-time) as of the Fall 2019 semester was 5,324.

Legislators Gary Maha and Rochelle Stein commended Sunser and his staff for going through the unpleasant process, with the former placing the blame squarely on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“It is nobody’s fault but Albany’s fault, in my opinion,” Maha said. “It’s the governor’s indiscriminate spending. He’s something like $13 million in debt and we all have to suffer.”

Stein said the college’s budget process was “thoughtful, transparent and clear,” and pointed out that the “communications piece of this is very critical to our community, to your staff, to your teachers, to your professors, to the support staff and to our partners in our other counties.”

Sunser thanked the collective bargaining groups for their concessions, attributing that to a “level of trust” during negotiations.

“We had very candid conversations about … how many more people that might not be able to be at the college and they stepped up, I believe, as responsible leaders and advocated with the bargaining unit groups to go ahead and approve these things -- especially the notification claims,” he said.

January 9, 2020 - 9:10am

sch_bowl_1.jpg

In the eyes of Cathy Preston, moderator of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership-sponsored “Scholastic Bowl,” recognizing students for their academic ability is much more than a trivial pursuit.

Preston facilitated the questions and answers on Wednesday night as the high school competition opened its 32nd year at the television studio located in the Conable Technology Building at Genesee Community College.

She said that the opportunity to play a role in elevating students who place a high priority on learning has kept her motivated to continue with the show for a 17th season.

“I like to see kids who maybe aren’t athletically gifted also have a chance to challenge themselves and be in a competition,” said Preston, who was a contestant on the nationally syndicated “Jeopardy” show in 2003 (when she finished in second place). “Far too often, high school sports get all the attention – there’s nothing wrong with that – but it’s nice to see academically gifted students also have a way to compete and (receive some publicity).”

Preston, also a Scholastic Bowl alumna, said that 12 area high schools will be participating over the next seven weeks – 19 regular-season matches in all with semifinals and finals scheduled for Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, respectively.

“There are three or four students per team, depending upon the night,” she said, noting that on opening night each of the three competing schools had three players.

Last night’s contests featured Batavia, Pembroke and Alden in the first match and Notre Dame, Pavilion, Alexander and Elba in the second match.

All the matches are streamed and downloaded live via GCC’s website and also can be viewed later on the GVEP (formerly BOCES) website, Preston said.

During the competition, a viewing room is set up down the hall in the Conable Technology Building for family and friends.

Each show consists of three rounds, Preston said.

“The first and third rounds are random questions, and the second round – the lightning round -- is 10 questions in a given category and each school has 60 seconds to answer those 10 questions,” she said.

Determining who “buzzed in” first is judged by Preston’s sister-in-law, Kathy Jursted, who also has been part of the program for the past 17 years.

“The students buzz in and I’ll call out their school name and then individual’s name -- and then they will answer the question,” Jursted said, adding that questions are provided by GVEP staff. Question topics include subjects taught in school plus some pop culture – arts and music, for example – sprinkled in.

Other high schools in the mix this year are Byron-Bergen, Attica, Le Roy, Akron and Oakfield-Alabama.

Batavia and Alexander got off to a fast start last night with Batavia amassing 230 points to outdistance Pembroke (180) and Alden (120) in the opening match and Alexander rolling up 300 points to defeat Notre Dame (90), Pavilion (90) and Elba (40) in the second match. The tiebreaker for second place went to Notre Dame.

Competition continues over the next six Wednesdays and Thursdays with the first match set for 6 p.m.

Just one match is slated for tonight, with Akron, Attica, Le Roy and Oakfield-Alabama putting their collective knowledge to the test.

Photo at top -- The Scholastic Bowl kicked off its 32nd year on Wednesday night at Genesee Community College. Taking part in the first match are, from left, representing Batavia, Nico Mirabal, Erik Kessler and Kathryn Fitzpatrick (seated) and advisor Bob Mullen and Sophie Beckman (standing); representing Pembroke, Hannah Clark, Maggie Johnson and Jack Crandall (seated) and advisor Vinny Lazzara; moderator Cathy Preston and judge Kathy Jursted; representing Alden, Michael Frisicaro, Charles Freeman and Kristina Wilson (seated) and advisor Renee Mertz and Peter Tolsma (standing). Photo by Mike Pettinella.

October 9, 2019 - 3:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in Genesee Community College, news, parking lot project.

Above, the Rose Garden on GCC's Batavia Campus.

Submitted photos and press release:

It is finally finished! This past summer the multiyear parking lot project at Genesee Community College's Batavia Campus was completed, which established a new, expanded and safer configuration of the 12-acre parking lot.

Perhaps most significantly, the project introduced a new pedestrian walkway that connects the west and east sides of campus giving those who walk to the new Richard C. Call Arena from the new Student Success Center or main building the opportunity to enjoy an 18,000-square-foot garden space that is approximately 720 feet long. 

Under the leadership of Senior Groundskeeper Dennis Pietrzykowski, the GCC grounds crew took full advantage of the planting season and their in-house expertise to fill five themed garden areas that flank each side of the walkway. Each with a unique theme, the five gardens incorporate plants chosen specifically to create a medley of color, shape and texture for every season.

As visitors walk west from the College's main building to the Call Arena, they will enjoy:

  • Island One -- The Buffering Boxwoods creating a formal garden bed complete with the boxwood hedges and in the spring a bed of crocuses and daffodils will pop up to shake off winter. 
  • Island Two -- The Restful Retreat features locust trees and a quiet cozy area of lawn to invite visitors to slow down and maybe stop to relax and sit upon the provided park benches.
  • Island Three -- The Woodland Garden features eight new trees including the red oaks and American sycamore to provide plenty of opportunity for bird life and shade in the summer.
  • Island Four -- The Butterfly Garden is filled with a wide variety of flowering plants, from spireas to azaleas, hydrangeas to day lilies and dwarf lilacs -- all designed to attract butterflies and other insects throughout the warmer seasons.
  • Island Five -- The Rose Garden at the western end offers bright colors and fragrant blooms in season, and greets incoming traffic and guests as they approach campus from College Road West. Six different kinds of roses are featured, as well as 20 other flowering species.
  • Finally, back at the most easterly edge of GCC's new Garden Walkway are 10 huge planters, each sponsored by a different student club with a variety of plants selected and planted by the students and their advisors.

"In total, the new gardens added 50 large trees in more than a dozen varieties and more than 2,500 plants to the Batavia Campus," Pietrzykowski said. "But my personal favorite is called Harry Lauder's Walking Stick  -- it has curly branches and looks its best in the winter months. Everyone should visit campus to find it. Here's a hint, it's in one of the more formal gardens."

The team introduced more than 130 tons of new top soil to accommodate all of the trees, shrubs, bulbs plants and other materials. In addition, the College was proud to work with all local businesses, contractors and suppliers to complete the project.

"We purchased everything locally," Pietrzykowski said. "I had all the suppliers on speed-dial and they were great."

Below, resealing the parking lots at GCC was another important component of the project.

Below, the GCC Grounds Crew this summer standing near the Rose Garden. From left, Dennis Pietrzykowski, Mikala Bush, Jeff Engle, Kennedy Lampart, Ben Bakos, Ricky Bezon and John Kingdollar.

September 18, 2019 - 2:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, Genesee Community College.

Submitted photos and press release:

The excitement and intrigue of the new 2019-2020 academic year is not only happening in classrooms, labs and studios across Genesee Community College's seven campus locations, but in the Board of Trustees Conference Room as well. The following new members of the College's Board of Trustees have begun to serve their terms. 

Phillip DiMartino, of Batavia. After attending Genesee Community College in 1980, he began a career with Brunswick Bowling and Billiards, a national firm that once managed more than 100 bowling centers around the world, as well as sold both commercial and personal bowling equipment and products.

During his tenure, he achieved the Ring of Excellence honor for top sales performance and was a member of the Bowling Hall Fame-Batavia.He then joined the John Deere/Sentry Insurance in 1996, earning President Club status for top sales.

Now, as an independent insurance broker for Moore Insurance Agency, he specializes in insuring equipment and auto dealerships. DiMartino served on the United Memorial Medical Center Foundation Board for six years. He is a lifelong resident of Batavia, where he and his wife, Susan, raised their two children and most recently welcomed their first grandchild.

Sarah Noble-Moag, is a co-owner and manager of Noblehurst Farms in Linwood, a multifamily, seven-generation farm corporation. Noblehurst manages a dairy herd, cultivates acreage for dairy forage, is a proud member of Craigs Station Ventures producing Craigs Creamery Cheese, and operates a methane digester and food-recycling business that generates electricity to run the farm and Creamery located in Livingston, Genesee and Wyoming counties. Noble-Moag oversees human resource and personnel management of the farm staff and the Linwood Management Group connecting personnel with key resources, professional development and training opportunities, as well as industry events.

She is the past president of the Board of Education for the Pavilion Central Schools and continues to serve on the audit committee. She also serves on the Agricultural Affiliates Board of Directors providing leadership to build a strong agriculture workforce in the Northeastern United States, as well as on the Northeast Agricultural Education Foundation and the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation. She is a strong advocate for affordable, quality public education in rural communities.

She is a graduate of Cornell University's College of Human Ecology with a BS degree in Consumer Economics and Public Policy and a graduate of Class VI of LEAD New York. Noble-Moag is an elder in the Covington Presbyterian Church and was honored in 2016 as a "Woman of Faith" by the Presbyterian Church USA for building bridges of reconciliation. She and her husband, Timothy Moag, CPA have three grown children and five young and very active grandchildren.

Mary Alice Panek began her education at Genesee Community College with a degree in Humanities in 1977, and continued on to SUNY Brockport for a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Science degree in Education. She retired from Pembroke Central School District where she began teaching secondary English and continued at the elementary level. During her career, she trained teachers in technology as well as mainstreaming students into regular classroom as well as launched the elementary level STEM program at Pembroke.

In addition, Panek has presented best practices in technology at conferences across the United States. She served on the board of the Genesee Region Teachers' Center, the Stafford Historical Society and participated in veterans outreach programs.

She is the chairman of the Town of Stafford Republican Committee and a member of the Genesee County Republican Committee. Panek resides in Stafford with her husband, Ron, and they own Stafford Nurseries, a Christmas tree farm. 

Student Trustee

Neil F. Gillotti is the new student representative on the Board of Trustees for the 2019-2020 academic year. He is majoring in Computer Information Systems and anticipates graduating with an associate degree in May 2020. He is a nontraditional student, enrolling in Genesee Community College after many dynamic life experiences.

He served in the Air Force from 2007-2011, where his military training allowed him to earn college credit.

As a GCC student, he is involved in many activities outside of the classroom including being an officer of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a member of the Student Government Association and the Campus Activities Board and Outdoor Adventure Club.

His work experience includes being a computer technician, a driver at Nut-tos Peanut Co., a Key Bank Call Center service specialist, and most recently a seasonal landscaper at Bergman Landscaping.

He resides in Middleport, and he says he is very passionate about extreme sports.

September 17, 2019 - 12:34pm

Submitted photo and press release:

John M. McGowan, Ph.D., of Batavia,  took leadership of Genesee Community College's BEST (Business and Employee Skills Training) Center effective Sept. 1.

This is an important transition time as the former director retired and the Center completed a critical analysis of its functionality, allowing McGowan to take the reins with some strategic new direction.

"Having been part of GCC for nearly 15 years and specifically, the last five as part of The BEST Center team, I am excited about the results of our FAR (Functional Area Review) assessment," said the new director of The BEST Center.

"In my new role, I will be able to implement changes to make program registration easier, allocate resources for new program development and so much more."

McGowan intends to use his creative staff to identify continuous improvement opportunities and pull together new and exciting training topics which are the lifeblood of community and workforce development.

The BEST Center offers hundreds of training courses throughout the year to individuals looking to enter a new field. For example, it offers the Dental Assisting Program, which prepares students for entry-level administrative jobs and serves as the ideal launching point into a Dental Hygienist program. You can advance a career through a number of Career Enrichment courses, or even take a class for leisure -- like any of the Drone courses.

In addition, The BEST Center provides Custom Workforce Solutions to support any business or organization looking to bolster employee and organizational performance and improve the bottom line. Businesses can contact the BEST Center for training needs assessments and consultations, work with skilled and experienced trainers to develop customized training plans and even count on the Center's equipped locations and laptops to deliver online and on-site custom training. 

McGowan earned his Doctor of Psychology with specialization in Sport and Performance Psychology from University of the Rockies in Denver in 2018. He earned a Master of Science in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the SUNY College at Brockport in 2003 and 1994 respectively. He has an Associate Degree in Business Administration from GCC (1986). He is also a 2017 graduate of Leadership Genesee.

McGowan is a lifelong resident of Batavia and has four children (John Jr., Joseph, Michael and Jennifer) and seven grandchildren.

November 19, 2018 - 1:18pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Annually, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute awards a $250 scholarship to deserving students enrolled in Criminal Justice, Police Science or a similar program in each of the state’s community colleges and at SUNY Canton.  

This year, Alexander Rigerman who is currently enrolled in Criminal Justice at Genesee Community College was a recipient of this scholarship. He was nominated by the college’s Criminal Justice faculty.

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. and Undersheriff Gregory H. Walker presented Alexander with a $250 check to be used to further his Criminal Justice education, along with a scholarship certificate from the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Friday (Nov. 16) at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

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