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Genesee Community College

November 7, 2022 - 6:02pm
posted by Press Release in news, Genesee Community College, mens soccer, batavia.


Press Release

It's official! The 2022 National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Men's Soccer Championship will be played at Genesee Community College in Batavia Wednesday to Sunday.

Spectator tickets for championship matches will be on sale at GCC's Richard C. Call Arena only. All spectator ticket purchases must be made in cash and an ATM is available on campus:

Daily Passes are $10 per adult. Children ages 10 and younger are free. Tournament Passes are $20 per adult.
Genesee Community College students, staff and faculty can attend this event for free. Parking is free.

The entire event will also be broadcast on the NJCAA Network and available through the following pay-per-view options:

Single Day Passes are $10
Tournament Passes are $25
Championship Game Only Passes are $5
All-Access Passes which include all 2022-23 NJCAA Championship events are $100

The nationally ranked Genesee Community College Men's team earned the third seed in the NJCAA National Championship on October 30 with their win over Mohawk Valley Community College in the Region III, Division III, North B District Finals.

"Genesee Community College is honored to host the 2022 NJCAA Men's Soccer National Championship Tournament," said Director of Athletics Kristen Schuth. "I congratulate all of the student athletes on their hard work and dedication on their quest for a NJCAA National Title. We are grateful that our state-of-the-art facilities were chosen to be part of that."

For more information, contact Vice President, Development and External Affairs Justin Johnston at (585) 345-6809, or via email: [email protected].

Photo submitted by GCC.

June 23, 2022 - 8:20am


Rendering by JMZ Architects and Planners for the new Student Success Center, shows the Conable Technology Building, to the far right, which is slated for a new roof.

It looks like Genesee Community College will be getting a new turf field, cooling tower, arts center connector and a roof for Conable Technology Building, with half of it to be paid for by Genesee County.

The county Legislature approved the request for 50 percent funding — $1.3 million — of the college’s capital projects during its Wednesday meeting.

The projects are to cost $950,000 for the turf field; $1.06 million for a new roof; $410,000 for cooling tower; and $180,000 for the  Arts Center connector replacement for a total of $2.6 million. The Legislature had committed to paying for half in November 2021, and the bill has been delivered. The county’s Ways & Means Committee had previously reviewed and recommended that the county pony up for the expense.

During talks last fall, college President James Sunser had called the projects “long-standing critical needs,” and urged the Legislature to enter into a 50-50 agreement to pay for them. The projects are part of GCC’s Facilities Master Plan, which was approved by the college’s Board of Trustees before being submitted to Genesee County and New York State’s Dormitory Authority. If the county committed to paying for half, the state would do likewise, Sunser had said.

The turf field will be a replacement for the nearly 13-year-old soccer and lacrosse field adjacent to Richard C. Call Arena; a new cooling tower would replace one that is “well past its useful life,”while an updated connective corridor will be situated between original buildings, from the cafeteria to the fine arts building and theater. A new roof for the Conable Technology Building would shore up one that was part of the original 2000 structure, which has developed leaks, Sunser had said. A new parking lot for Conable, at a cost of $800,000, would have made the county's total $1.7 million, and is not on the list approved by the Legislature.

At that meeting in November, Legislator Gary Maha had expressed concern about doling out $70 million for a new county jail, and that this additional spending was “kind of hard to swallow in one year.” Nonetheless, the full Legislature agreed to the move on Wednesday.

The county plans to transfer $1.3 million into the general budget, with 1 percent of sales tax offsetting the increased spending.

“Genesee County will be responsible for $1.3 million for said projects,” the resolution states.


January 12, 2022 - 6:13pm

Press Release:

 It takes everyone, both locally and globally, to adjust and improve the conditions of climate change. Ask Peter Boyd. "There is no Planet B. This is a decisive decade to get on a sustainable path. Fortunately, there are multiple benefits from action, but also a huge cost of inaction," according to Boyd. He has been Launch Director and COO of Richard Branson's global initiative, an advisor to the "B Team[1]" on their 'Net-Zero by 2050' initiative and Chair of The Energy Efficiency Deployment Office for the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change. Currently he serves as Executive Fellow at Yale University's Center for Business and the Environment. His latest venture, Time4Good Group, allows sought-out leaders to optimize their time so that they have more energy to dedicate themselves to the environmental and social causes they care about.

Boyd headlines the College's 2022 Wolcott J. (Jay) Humphrey III Symposium on Leadership and Community Life. He will speak on Thursday, April 21, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. in The Richard C. Call Arena. A panel moderated by Dr. Benjamin Houlton, The Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, will present after Boyd's message.

2022's topic, "Climate Change and Sustainability" will inform community members of global issues and encourage action to improve our local economy and environment. A panel, moderated by Dr. Houlton will include perspectives from industries including solar, wind, dairy, viticulture, fuel cell and hydrogen energy. CEO Andrew J. Marsh, CEO of Plug Power; William Carleton, General Manager, Solar O&M of Clearway Energy; Suzanne Hunt, Co-Owner of Hunt Country Vineyards; and Curt Gooch, Dairy Environmental System Solutions Expert, Land O'Lakes Truterra, give perspectives on their areas of expertise.

The Humphrey Symposium honors the memory of one of the region's foremost civic leaders, Jay Humphrey. After his sudden passing in 2001, his family worked with the College to develop the Symposium to continue Jay's commitment to leadership development. A committee of community and college leaders work together to explore various kinds of speakers and topical issues, and to coordinate a community event that not only honors Mr. Humphrey's memory, but also engage the community in a meaningful way.

"We are well into a time of disruptive change here at home in Western New York and across the world. Our planning committee felt it was important to bring together subject matter experts to help us better understand the impacts and implications of what we are experiencing from a changing climate.

From impacts on cropping patterns, yield results and new production opportunities, to the frequency and severity of weather events, there is much to discuss and digest in this arena.

We trust you find this an exciting panel discussion and compelling keynote presentation and welcome your attendance and participation." said Nathan Rudgers, director of business development at Farm Credit East and current Humphrey Symposium committee chairman.

Registration is available online at https://gccfoundationinc.org/humphrey. Lunch is included along with the opportunity to network with others.

For more information contact Vice President, Development and External Affairs Justin Johnston at (585) 345-6809, or via email: [email protected].

November 17, 2021 - 6:01pm

While deeming all five of the capital improvement projects proposed by Genesee Community College President Dr. James Sunser as “necessary,” members of the Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee this afternoon decided to partially fund four of them next year – as long as New York State lives up to its end of the bargain.

The committee, after hearing of the county’s plan of action from County Manager Matt Landers, voted in favor of spending up to $1.7 million, which equals half of the cost of the following projects:

  • Replacement of the soccer/lacrosse turf on the field adjacent to the Richard C. Call Arena (Total cost $950,000).
  • Replacement of the cooling tower (Total cost $410,000).
  • Renovation of a connective corridor (Total cost $180,000).
  • Complete roof replacement on the Technology Building (Total cost $1,060,000).
  • Replacement of the Conable Technology Building parking lot (Total cost $800,000).

The resolution passed at a meeting at the Old County Courthouse today is subject to final approval by the full legislature. It reiterates what Sunser communicated to the committee on Nov. 3 – that New York State would contribute 50 percent of the funding as long as Genesee County did the same.

Landers said the county will appropriate money for the first four projects listed above in 2022 and hold off on the Technology Building parking lot until 2023.

“If the state says no, then we’re back to the drawing board,” Landers said. “These are necessary projects, but we’re not on the hook if there is no state support.”

In other action, the committee:

  • Approved using an additional $680,000 from unexpended reserves to keep the 2022 budget tax levy the same as it was in 2021 -- $31,451,727.

This action, reported first on The Batavian last week, drops the property tax rate to $9.18, which is less than the $9.37 that was proposed in the preliminary budget. The 2021 tax rate was $9.80.

The full legislature is expected to vote on the budget at its meeting next Monday.

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein commended management, staff and her colleagues for conducting a budgetary process that was “clear, direct, concise and responsive to the questions asked by the community” and for not raising the tax levy.

  • Scheduled a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Old County Courthouse to consider Local Law Introductory No. 7, Year 2021, that puts the salaries of county elected or appointed fixed term employees at the following levels:

-- Commission of Elections (Richard Siebert and Lorie Longhany), $51,055.
-- Director of Human Resources (Anita Cleveland), $93,341.
-- Commissioner of Social Services (David Rumsey), $93,993.
-- Director of Real Property Tax Services (Kevin Andrews), $5,000.
-- County Clerk (Michael Cianfrini), $100,749.
-- Treasurer (Scott German), $107,966.
-- Sheriff (William Sheron), $110,243.
-- Highway Superintendent (Tim Hens), $124,626.

  • Approved monthly premium rates, effective Jan. 1, 2022, of the county’s Self-Funded Health Benefits Plan to reflect an across-the-board 4.5 percent increase over the 2021 rates.

The county offers Partnership Plus and Traditional Plans (for some Genesee Community College employees), and Health and Wellness Plans (for all county employees) with rates ranging from $727 a month for single plans, to $2,844 a month for family (three or more) plans.

County employees also have access to dental and vision benefits.

On average, the county pays 87 percent of the premium and the employees pay 13 percent, Landers said.

  • Reappointed Molly Haungs, marketing manager of LandPro Equipment, to a two-year term on the GLOW Workforce Development Board and James Kingston of Elba to a two-year term to the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District board of directors.

Previously: Genesee Community College president asks county for up to $1.7 million to help fund five infrastructure projects

November 3, 2021 - 6:43pm

Categorizing five potential projects as “long-standing critical needs,” Genesee Community College President Dr. James Sunser today requested that Genesee County enter into a 50-50 agreement with New York State to fund up to $3.4 million that would be required to complete all of the work.

Speaking at the County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse, Sunser outlined five projects that he said are part of the college’s Facilities Master Plan approved by the GCC Board of Trustees, and submitted to the Genesee County and to the Dormitory Authority of New York State.

“They’re all under that plan that would allow for 50 percent funding from the state should our local sponsor, Genesee County, approve those plans and commit a similar amount,” he said, adding that the five plans fall into the college’s “deferred maintenance type of issues.”

Under the college’s proposal, the county and the state each would contribute $1.7 million upon completion of all five projects.

Sunser said these projects aren’t new construction, but items that “we have long-standing need for that we’re looking to work on.”

Specifically, the five initiatives proposed are as follows (with the county, if approved, paying for half of the total cost listed):

-- Replacement of the soccer/lacrosse turf on the field adjacent to the Richard C. Call Arena (Total cost $950,000).

Sunser said the field was part of a previous capital project sponsored by Genesee County.

“What we're talking about replacing is not the facility itself, not the underpinnings of it, not the lighting and the electrical, it's merely the covering -- the surface of the field that is now going on 13 years old and had the expected lifecycle of about 10 years,” he said.

He noted that the field will be used for a women’s national soccer tournament starting next Wednesday – an event that will include the GCC squad.

-- Replacement of the cooling tower (Total cost $410,000).

Sunser said the cooling tower handles the cooling for all of the college’s original buildings -- through the original buildings and into the Conable Technology Center.

“That cooling tower is well past its useful life … and that does need replacing at this point. And we're asking for some assistance in doing that,” he said.

-- Renovation of a connective corridor (Total cost $180,000).

Sunser said the corridor connects the original buildings from the cafeteria areas into the fine arts building and theater, adding that he believes the initial design was “flawed.”

“And it's been a long-standing issue where the entrance on both sides of that connecting corridor is below the building levels,” he said, causing water backup and icing in that area. “That’s been one of the areas that we find that we have slip and falls periodically throughout the winter.”

-- Replacement of the Conable Technology Building parking lot (Total cost $800,000).

“That’s our oldest lot now on campus, and it also has an area that is prone to some icing and some issues, and another area we have documented claims against the college for slip and falls,” Sunser said. “The drainage is much like what was in the drainage and the other lots before we've made those improvements during the last major capital plan on campus.”

That particular lot measures 95,000 square feet and is approximately 17 years old.

-- Complete roof replacement on the Technology Building (Total cost $1,060,000).

The structure was built in 2000 and the 26,000-square foot roof has been developing leaks due to end of life failures in stress points, according to the project justification report.

When looking at the big picture, Sunser said if the projects are approved by Genesee County, they can be submitted to the state in the current budget cycle.

“It has been indicated from SUNY (State University of New York) that there would be receptivity to those at this point,” he said. “If they’re approved, then we can work along with the county and the legislature in the future to determine when they'll actually be handled as far as the work being done.”

When asked about the impact to the county’s 2022 budget, Sunser said, “I would imagine that traditionally the counties when they've gone up for bonding on projects, that this would get incorporated into that plan as well.”

Legislator Gary Maha brought up that the county has already committed to spending $70 million for a new jail and that another nearly $2 million is “kind of hard to swallow in one year.”

Sunser said he could “appreciate” that, adding that GCC leaders are “working as hard as we can to take as much pressure off the county as we can – in terms of critical maintenance.”

“These are all long-standing critical needs as far as the infrastructure of the campus. And one of the things that we've been really focused on over the past year is that everywhere we've had the ability to use appropriately (specialized) funds to reinvest in the facilities of the campus, we’ve done that.”

However, he said he viewed the projects as investing in a county partnership facility that you can, I hope, rest assured that the college has been investing in -- in good faith right along -- to try to make sure that we don't have these kind of going back to the old Fram oil filter and pennywise, pound foolish type of mentality. And we've done quite a bit over the course of the summer -- investment in the facility wherever we could to take pressure off the county and not have to make these kind of requests.”

At that point, Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said lawmakers were not prepared to make a decision today, but would discuss it further.

“We do have your numbers,” she said. “We appreciate the fact that you're here, and if you have any other questions, we will get them (answers) to you.”

This summer, the legislature approved a $2.6 million contribution to GCC for 2021-22 -- an amount that represents about 7 percent of the college's $37.4 million budget. County Manager Matt Landers said that percentage is one of the lowest in the state for counties that support community colleges.

October 13, 2021 - 6:18pm


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
posted by Press Release in news, BOCES, Genesee Community College, GCEDC.


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.


August 25, 2021 - 1:50pm


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."





Photos by Alecia Kaus. 

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
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, health department, COVID-19, Genesee Community College.

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


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.

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