Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

genesee county

September 22, 2022 - 8:04pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Wings Over Batavia, genesee county, notify.

tim_talking.jpg

A vote to forward the proposal for a Wings Over Batavia air show was tabled Wednesday after Legislator Gary Maha questioned how much it would cost the county.

“I’m certainly in favor of it,” Maha said during the Public Service meeting at the Old Courthouse. “My concern’s as to the cost to the county … is it $10,000, $20,000, $60,000? We don’t know.”

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens presented a brief update about the air show, and it has been progressing towards a 2023 date. A Wings Over Batavia Committee has established an LLC to accept and manage funds for the show, Hens said. Each air act would have its own insurance policy, in addition to the LLC, which would protect the county’s liability, he said.

“It has been 25 years since the county hosted an air show,” he said. "There seems to be a lot of pent-up interest in wanting it. And the city has an interest in doing the Wing Ding again.”

A former air show that ran in conjunction with the city’s downtown Wing Ding — Main Street lined with food and craft vendors — was a popular yearly event in the 1990s. Hens came on board with the county just in time for the final one in 1998, he said.

“People have said for years, why don’t we do another air show?” he said to The Batavian after the meeting. “We’ve got the right people in place that want to do it, that are willing to spend the time to plan it, and raise the money to make sure it happens. As far as what they’re asking, the cost to the county … we have a pretty rough idea of how traffic is, going in and out of the air show. It’s different now than it was in 1998. But we can work with the Sheriff’s Office and fire training folks to figure out what the cost of providing traffic control will be pretty quickly, and have it back to the Ways & Means Committee hopefully in October.”

During the meeting, Legislator Marianne Clattenburg voted to table the matter, but voiced her disagreement with the need for it.

“I’m for this. I’d move on it right now,” she said. “I think this is something that we would fully support.”

Maha countered that by stating the group is being asked to vote on unspecified data.

“But we don’t know what we’re voting on, we’re voting on a blank check,” he said.

The costs would mostly pertain to law enforcement time for security during the event, as participants and attendees are willing to pay for the show, Hens said. In the mid-90s, nearly 40,000 people would attend. Formerly affiliated with the Wings of Eagles, the air show ceased when that group moved on to another venue after 1998.

Hens said the next air show meeting is in early October, and he expects to have more details for that month’s Ways & Means members. Aside from attendance revenue, there is also the ripple effect of drawing thousands of people from other areas, Hens said. Those people rent hotel rooms, eat in restaurants and shop locally while here. The resulting sales tax is a benefit to the county, he said.

The air show would be a self-sustaining entity, with the county incurring only incidental expenses from structural items, such as law enforcement time, he said. Organizers would set up a perpetual seed fund to carry it onward annually, he said.

“Air shows are hugely popular. I mean, if you go to the air shows in Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, there are big throngs of people,” he said. “So it’s a fun event.”

Photo: Genesee County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, right, discusses a potential air show next year at Genesee County Airport during Wednesday's Public Services Committee meeting. Photo by Joanne Beck.

September 22, 2022 - 8:10am

maha_concealed.jpg

There’s no concealing their opposition to the newly enacted Concealed Carry Improvement Act as Genesee County legislators unanimously agreed Wednesday to sign a resolution stating the Act is unconstitutional.

Public Services Committee Chairman Gary Maha believes the act was put together quickly in the aftermath of mass shootings, and it penalizes the wrong people.

“I think it really hurts law-abiding citizens,” he said. “If (criminals) want a gun, they’re going to get a gun.”

Fellow legislators Marianne Clattenburg and John Deleo agreed.

“I think it hurts the honest guy,” Deleo said.

The revisions seem to be “putting up barriers,” Clattenburg said, pointing to the new requirements of training, an interview and having to provide many personal details of one's household. 

“It’s a barrier to your rights,” she said.

They underscored the prominence of the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and how the Concealed Carry is no improvement act. The Second Amendment states that “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

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

A subdivision of the law was added to state that no license shall be issued or renewed pursuant to this section except by the licensing officer, and then only after investigation and finding that all statements in a proper application for a license are true. No license shall be issued or renewed except for an applicant 21 years or older (military veterans honorably discharged are exempt from the age requirement), and be of good moral character, which means having the essential character, temperament and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger oneself or others.

Those with a license shall be required to complete training prior to recertification and must submit to an interview with the licensing officer and provide the following:

  • Names and contact information for the applicant’s current spouse, or domestic partner and any other adults residing in the home, including any adult children of the applicant and status of them residing there full- or part-time;
  • Names and contact information of no less than four character references who can attest to the applicant’s good moral character and that such applicant has not engaged in any acts, or made any statements, that suggest they are likely to engage in conduct to result in harm to themselves or others;
  • Proof of certification of training;
  • A list of former and current social media accounts of the applicant from the past three years to confirm the information regarding the applicant’s character and conduct.

Not only will the Legislature “vehemently, adamantly and with full resolve” oppose what members believe are “ill-advised provisions,” of the act, but they will also work with other counties to demand its full repeal based on being “unjust, ineffective, vague and unconstitutional.”

As a longstanding defender of citizen rights and the Constitution, the Legislature calls on all other municipalities in the state — and any advocates for freedom and liberty — to challenge this law “by any means possible as unconstitutional,” legislators agreed.

Copies of the county’s resolution will be sent to several state representatives, including Governor Kathy Hochul, New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and state Senators George Borrello and Edward Rath III.

Hochul signed this law on July 1 after what the county Legislature believes was “surreptitiously rushed bills and through to passage under a message of necessity and during an extraordinary session bypassing the traditional rules and procedures of the state legislature. The law then went into effect on Sept. 1, placing “unprecedented and overtly restrictive conditions on applying for, obtaining, utilizing, maintaining and recertifying a conceal carry permit for personal protection and other legal uses as clearly provided for in the Constitution of the United States,” the county’s resolution states.

To read the full law, go to Concealed Carry.

Photo: Members of the county's Public Service Committee, led by Chairman Gary Maha, head of the table, discuss and vote on a resolution opposing the newly adopted Concealed Carry Improvement Act. Photo by Joanne Beck.

September 8, 2022 - 8:10am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, genesee county, batavia, notify.

s_falitico.jpg

When he left his job at the Chamber of Commerce to work for Genesee County, Steven Falitico had a shade of concern.

“I’m new to all of this, I’m from the private sector. I have tried to ingrain myself,” he said during a county meeting Wednesday. “I thought the job was going to be a little boring, but a lot of things are coming at me fast.”

Falitico is the county’s new public communications and web design specialist. Not only is he new to the position, but it is new to the county. Falitico will be responsible for developing, designing and coordinating websites and various social media platforms, and disseminating news and information through a variety of media outlets.

Wednesday he was given a different charge: promote vacancies in the county, including corrections officers and election inspectors. Many county directors have been reporting a lack of candidates for openings in their departments, from Mental Health and Veterans Services to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and Board of Elections.

Not that county officials haven’t already taken steps to boost interest. Earlier this year the county agreed to waive all Civil Service test fees for the remaining year. 

Legislators are considering an amendment to a public officers law that would allow candidates to live in contiguous counties, such as Erie and Monroe. 

Requirements for election poll workers have also been revised.

matt_landers.jpg

“All counties are having a difficult time getting poll workers,” County Manager Matt Landers said. “We’re going after a new demographic.”

People 18 and older can apply for the position, and county staff are promoting it as an opportunity to make some extra cash.

“That's the kind of stuff that we're gonna be targeting. So Steven, jump right on that, along with meeting with all the department heads and revamping our website,” Landers said. “But things that come to mind that you need help with or want help or ideas for initiatives, you know, Steven is going to be critical for us in that regard.”

As for Falitico’s new role, the county’s contract with e3 Communications out of Buffalo will end on Sept. 30. It was evident, Landers said, that “as great a job as e3 was doing … you can’t replace a person.”

“There's nuances, having a person embedded who understands what's going on, and making changes here and there and really make it make a difference,” he said. “So we're thrilled to have Steven and want to make sure that you had an opportunity to meet him.”

Top Photo: Steven Falitico, being introduced to members of Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday; County Manager Matt Landers discusses Falitico's role as Assistant Manager Tammi Ferringer listens. Photos by Joanne Beck.

September 7, 2022 - 8:00am

l_battaglia.jpeg

After biding her time with a glaring vacancy, Mental Health and Community Services Director Lynda Battaglia broached the topic during Tuesday’s Human Services meeting.

“So this is one that I've talked about for well over a year now, and it's finally time to bring this one forward. This is a creation of a full-time, Genesee County psychiatrist position for the Department of Mental Health. There's no doubt that this is a bigger ask, considering the salary. But it's a specialized service. And it's definitely something that's needed within the department,” Battaglia said to the group of committee members. “Right now, our wait time for somebody to get in with a psychiatrist is about six weeks. And that's when we have all of our providers. I'd like to create this position so that it benefits the community, and it benefits the clients that need to get access to provider treatments. I have to think about stability within the department as well as future planning and longevity for psychiatry.”

She requested an amendment to the 2022 management salary schedule to create one full-time staff psychiatrist (Community Mental Health) position at a base salary range of $292,500 to $331,500. That would mean an estimated salary of between $73,125 and $82,872 for the remainder of the year’s last quarter, at a fee of $150 to $170 per hour.

Fringe benefits would add up to about $21,000 more, for a quarter total of up to $103,814, according to the resolution. Battaglia doesn’t expect these costs to impact the existing 2022 budget, considering the unstaffed positions within the Mental Health Department.

There are four clinical positions and three in the finance area that has been vacant, she said. It may not be an easy job to recruit a psychiatrist to a rural area, but it would certainly add some consistency to the department, she said.

“For the last three years, we've worked with an agency to provide us with services. And that has been helpful, it has definitely been a Band-Aid and has helped fill the gap. However, in the three years, I've had my third psychiatrist. And you think about a person that comes through mental health for services, you're taking a risk every time you have a doctor that's providing the telehealth services. And if it doesn't work out, then I'm bringing in a new psychiatrist. And if that one doesn't work out, I'm bringing in another one,” she said.

“And the agency that I've gone through has been absolutely tremendous," she added. "They’re very accommodating, with excellent communication. The doctor has to be the right fit. And so to have one client have to work with three different doctors over the course of their treatment, it's very challenging, and it's frustrating the clients.”

An upside is that the position could generate revenue and potentially become self-sustaining and not cost the county additional money, she said. It could also reduce the wait time from six to three weeks, which still isn’t ideal, but “if we can cut it in half,” that’s an improvement.

Battaglia proposed creating the position as a hybrid, including in-person visits and telehealth appointments, as an incentive for the right person. She doesn’t want to offer 100 percent telehealth and feels that a hybrid model offers two options to deliver the service. That might better accommodate an applicant, and “we have clients and community members that like to do either way,” she said.

“I think for 2023, it would definitely save the county some money,” she said. “I feel like it’s a win-win all the way around.”

County Manager Matt Landers reiterated how Battaglia has been talking about this need “for quite some time.” Simply put, it sounds like a breakeven proposition, he said.

“Instead of contracting out, you're paying a county employee, and there’s potential for generating additional revenue — more billable hours — which would generate more revenue. Now we're not doing this to make money. And at the same time, if this ended up being a subsidized effort, but ended up providing better service to the community, again, it will be something that the manager's office would support,” he said. “Even going down this route and approving this, that's step one, and it's really going to be a challenge to find a qualified doctor willing to come to us, you know, rural counties have this difficulty. So, in general, I support the effort going forward, because it's not going to be budgetarily … negative to our county budget. And it's got the full support of mental health, but I think we can provide better service.”

Battaglia also requested a budget amendment to hire a full-time mental health financial program specialist position, which would cost $19,553.50 for the remainder of this year. There are funds available in the 2022 budget to cover this expense due to unstaffed positions within the department. This position for a full year will cost $78,214, according to the resolution.

The committee approved the requests, which will continue on the process for committee approval until they finally reach the Legislature for final adoption.

Photo: Lynda Battaglia, Director of Mental Health and Community Services. Photo from the county website.

August 23, 2022 - 7:42pm
posted by Press Release in news, socks drive, Catholic Charities, genesee county, notify.

Press Release

With the start of a new school year right around the corner, Catholic Charities is hosting a Socks and Undergarment Drive to benefit school age kids and teenagers in grades Pre-K through 12th in need throughout Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. 

Donations of new, unopened packages of socks and underwear are being accepted now through Sept. 11 in Genesee County at: Ascension Church, 19 Summer St., Batavia; Immaculate Conception (Mary Immaculate), 5865 Ellicott Street Rd., East Bethany; Maurice’s, 8351 Lewiston Rd., Batavia; Old Navy, 4222 Veterans Memorial Dr., Batavia; and Resurrection Church, 303 E. Main St., Batavia.

“With many families throughout our community struggling to make ends meet, we know that back to school time can be a burden,” said Kelly Grimaldi, Tri-County district director, Catholic Charities. “While some may think of new pencils and notebooks, items such as socks and underwear are also needed, especially for younger children who are still growing. If you can, please consider donating to our Socks and Undergarment Drive to help our youngest neighbors in need.” 

After the drive concludes, the donated items will be distributed as needed to community members through Catholic Charities’ offices, including by referral from our collaborating partners and churches.  

Catholic Charities programs and services available in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties include basic needs and emergency financial assistance, Our Kids Parent Education and Awareness program for divorced/separating parents, In-School Social Work, the court-ordered Domestic Violence Program for Men, and Home Visitation Program/Friendly Phones.  

Collections are also being taken in Orleans County at Holy Family Parish, 106 S. Main St., Albion; and in Wyoming County at Community Bank, 2490 N. Main St., Warsaw; the Perry Market Place, 121 N. Center St., Perry; St. Michael Church, 171 N. Main St., Warsaw; St. Joseph (St. Isidore), 8 Park St., Perry; St. Isadore Parish, 39 Church St., Silver Springs; and St. Mary (Mary Immaculate), 11095 St. Marys St., Pavilion.  

All colors and sizes from children to adult are needed.  

August 23, 2022 - 3:55pm
posted by Press Release in news, 4-H, genesee county.

Press Release

Batavia, NY – Now is a great time to become a volunteer or start a 4-H Club with the Genesee County 4-H Program. 4-H is a youth development program for youth ages 5-18. Volunteers are essential to our program and allow you to share your hobbies with interested youth. 

Projects can be as varied as sewing, arts and crafts, cooking, animal science and more.  4-H volunteer opportunities range from coordinating monthly club meetings to leading a one-time craft project. Whatever you have to offer, 4-H has a place for you!

The new 4-H year begins October 1. New youth members and adult volunteers are always welcome to join. For more information on how to join or start a 4-H club, please contact the 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040 ext. 131.

Enrollment forms are also available on our website 

August 22, 2022 - 11:08pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, genesee county, water project, smart growth, notify.

Genesee County’s Planning Department is ready to review and discuss a draft 2022 Smart Growth Plan report that’s available to the public.

The Department will be conducting three online Zoom meetings over the next two weeks for anyone interested in signing up for one of them. The report can be viewed HERE.

Meetings are scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31. They may count for one hour of land use training credits for planning and zoning board members. To register and obtain the Zoom link, email your name, desired date, and if you would like a training certificate to: [email protected]

What’s the Smart Growth Plan?
On May 9, 2001, Genesee County Legislature adopted the Smart Growth Plan, which is "a mitigating action of potential significant environmental impacts of the Genesee County Water Supply Project upon the viability of agriculture in Genesee County," according to the County Planning Department Director Felipe Oltramari.

Smart Growth Development Areas were designated throughout the county based on their access to transportation, minimal conflict with County Agricultural Districts, and state-regulated wetlands, feasibility of extending public water service, and the potential for extending public infrastructure to support development, Oltramari said.

The Plan requires that it be reviewed every three years by the Legislature and that recommendations for its revision be made at that time.

2022 Review Highlights 
During this review, the Towns of Byron and Pembroke proposed changes to the Smart Growth Development Area Boundaries. One substantive text change is also being proposed as part of this review. The meeting will focus on the modifications being recommended to the County Legislature by the County Planning Department.

According to the Smart Growth report, Phase 1 of the County Water Supply project has been completed, and Phase 2 work is ongoing. Map 1 in the report shows the existing waterlines and the Smart Growth Development Areas prior to the revisions recommended in this report. The majority of water hookups that have been made to the system have occurred mainly along major state highways and county highways.

Although some have been made in agricultural production areas, they have complied with the Smart Growth Plan’s objectives by hooking up only existing structures to public water. The majority of the hookups made were located within the Smart Growth Development Areas designated by the Legislature.

Since 2019, there have been 15 additional requests for hookups outside of the Development Areas to structures built after the adoption of the Smart Growth Plan. This brings the total number of these special requests to 68. After careful consideration given to their potential adverse impacts on agriculture and farming in the area, the Administrative Review Committee approved 12 of the 15, denied two, and tabled one of the requests that was later withdrawn by the applicant.

As a result of this review, and based upon existing comprehensive plans, local planning initiatives, and comments received during the public review process, it is recommended that the boundary of the Priority Development Area be amended in the hamlets of Byron, South Byron and North Byron and a new Priority Development Area be created on Lyman and Beaver Meadow roads in the Town of Byron.

No other changes are recommended in the development areas of the other municipalities in Genesee County (see Map 2). This review also amends the Policies and Procedures for Managing Water Hookups section of the plan by recommending that the Genesee County Legislature pass a local law that when any purchase and sale contract is presented for "the sale, purchase, or exchange of real property located in any town outside of a village (or the City) within the Genesee County, a Smart Growth disclosure notice is required to be signed by both the seller(s) and the buyer(s) acknowledging that Smart Growth is in effect and that new construction may not have the guaranteed right to public water."

This notice will help educate buyers of land about the Smart Growth Plan impacts on access to public water for new non-agricultural development. the report states.

The objectives of the Smart Growth Plan are to:

  • Focus County resources to support economic development opportunities in the most promising locations; 
  • Encourage the revitalization of existing industrial areas, business districts, and residential neighborhoods in the City of Batavia and developed village areas; and
  • Protect farmland and the rural character of the countryside, and maintain the viability of agriculture.

These objectives are consistent with the general principles of Smart Growth to promote the efficient use of land resources and infrastructure; maximize the benefit of existing infrastructure; promote economic development in appropriate areas; encourage revitalization within the City of Batavia, villages and other developed areas, focusing on residential neighborhoods, downtown redevelopment, and the re-use of environmentally damaged lands; protect prime agricultural soils and other natural resources and encourage the continued viability of agriculture according to the Smart Growth America Building Better Budgets Report from May 2013.

In general, smart growth development costs one-third less for upfront infrastructure, saving an average of 38 percent on upfront costs for new construction of roads, sewers, water lines and other infrastructure. Many studies have concluded that this number is as high as 50 percent.

Priority Development Areas include areas with significant potential for economic development as well as areas that are already relatively densely developed with housing, commercial or industrial uses. These areas were identified based upon the following criteria:

  • Access to transportation, including the Interstate Highway System, the State highway network, and the Genesee County Airport;
  • Feasibility of extending or enhancing public water service;
  • Availability or potential for extending other public infrastructure and services to support development;
  • Minimal conflict with land in County Agricultural Districts and State regulated wetlands; and
  • Minimal conflict with land identified as an Ecological Network or Natural Asset Core by the Green Genesee Smart Genesee Project.

Designated Priority Development Areas include land in and surrounding the City of Batavia, Village of LeRoy and Village of Bergen, and other villages and hamlets in Genesee County.

To learn more about the report and future of Genesee County’s water project, click HERE for the report.

August 15, 2022 - 9:26am
posted by Press Release in genesee county, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Manager’s Office is pleased to announce the hiring of Steven Falitico as the new Public Communication and Web Design Specialist for Genesee County, NY. This newly created position is responsible for developing, designing and coordinating web sites and various social media platforms and disseminating news and information through a variety of media outlets. Steven will work closely with department heads and local news media to promote community awareness, while also focusing on planning and organizing necessary budgetary resources to enhance marketing and communication development for Genesee County, NY.  County Manager Matt Landers commented, “This position will allow the County to better serve the community by putting a focus on communicating valuable and timely information through a variety of mediums and revamping the County website in a way that allows residents to have more resources at their fingertips.  We are confident Steven will hit the ground running and make an immediate positive impact to Genesee County.” 

Steven is a Genesee County native, graduating from Batavia High School in 2010 and attending college at both SUNY Brockport and SUNY Empire State College. He earned a B.S. Degree in Business Administration with Management Specialty and currently resides in Le Roy with his wife and two children.

He spent the last five years working as the Membership and Marketing Director at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce where he developed many skills including website development, e-mail marketing campaigns, social media advertising and promotion, photography, video production, search-engine optimization, community engagement, and public relations. His connections in the community and his technological skill-set make him an ideal choice for this new position.

“I am excited to get started in my new position and bring my skill-set into the County Manager’s Office. I have many new ideas and initiatives that I am ready to put into action for the betterment of Genesee County. The people in this community have always been good to me and I look forward to paying that kindness forward through my work to promote the county and engage with its citizens”, said Falitico.

August 11, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, genesee county, employee recognition.

Next week’s employee recognition festivities have been a long time coming, county leaders say, and the list of recipients has grown to an impressive size.

Genesee County Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein gave major kudos to the Human Resources staff charged with event planning Wednesday.

“It’s been 10 long years in the making, and you guys are knocking it out of the park,” Stein said during the Ways & Means Committee meeting. “People are super excited about it … over 200 of our employees are going to receive a milestone recognition. And that just speaks volumes about the employer that the county is, and all of our manager and department heads make that possible.”

That announcement may seem like a glorified promo for the county; however, maintaining more than 200 employees at the municipality for 10 years or more flies in the face of today’s job-hopping mentality. Stein believes it is a testament to worker satisfaction. And perseverance on the part of staff wanting to ensure a recognition event finally happens.

For 10 years, Genesee County ceased such celebrations because of its financial situation, she said.

“We had shared more of our revenue than perhaps we should have at that point, and we had the stress of a nursing home still. We had more of a Medicaid/Medicare responsibility … at that point, we stopped all employee appreciation or recognition,” she said. “And so now with the ability to address a thank you, and to recognize our staff that has chosen to work with the county for the years that they have, this is just an absolutely phenomenal opportunity for us to say, thank you.”

The county’s newsletter issued a written thanks from County Manager Matt Landers and Stein. One of his first goals after being hired as manager was to reinstate the annual recognition event, Landers said.

“Unfortunately, COVID had a different set of plans in mind,” he said. “However, after a couple of years on the job, we are bringing back this event to recognize longevity milestones of the dedicated Genesee County employees who have given so much to our county and residents.”

He referred to the Legislature for allocating funds “to bring Human Resources’ vision to fruition,” he said. Employees are being highlighted for work records of 10 to 60 years. They will be treated to a lunch from Red Osier, an ice cream truck visit and other goodies next week.

After the decade-old pause, summer is the time to bring out the party hats and express “our appreciation and accolades,” Stein said.

“It’s never too late to start anew. During the pause, the county has experienced fiscal stress, the sale of the county nursing home, water restrictions (which continues), and the latest hurdle — a pandemic that truly turned all of our lives on end. During our lives, we have never encountered a true-life pandemic like 2020 through today. We were scared for our health, families, and shutdowns. We banded together, took steps to continue providing services, and were bold in our approach to serving each other and our community members,” she said. “Our frontline public safety and health department members took the brunt of daily information whiplash. Through the constant requests for tools to empower us to respond, we banded together giving courage to each other.

"The fear and fright faded aside as services could be provided. The ability to fight for good health provided strength to us all. Partnerships all across our county were formed and engaged us all. Our confidence was recovered," she said.

July 19, 2022 - 5:53pm

4hauctionjuly2018-2.jpeg

This past year’s 4-H livestock auction contained some pretty lucrative creatures, Jocelyn Sikorski says.

The event raised “a quarter million dollars,” and included a pair of pricey foul.

“Two chickens sold for $752. I said, ‘how big are these chickens?’” she said during her report to Genesee County’s Public Service Committee Monday. “I’m excited and looking forward to next week.”

That auction was at the end of the 2021 Genesee County Fair, and, as a result of the pandemic, organizers had opted to go another way with a hybrid model. Sikorski, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension Genesee, believes that was key to offering bidders more flexibility to view the animals and bid on them, versus only being able to attend in person at a particular time and date.

“When COVID hit … in 2020 we had to go completely online for the auction, and our auctioneers were able to work with us and do that. So last year, we did a hybrid. Bidding started and people could actually see the livestock online prior, and start putting in their bids,” she said. “And (the auctioneer) actually operated it both live and virtual last year during the event, and I think that really boosted us.”

There was no fair in 2019, and Sikorski also believes that “people wanted to be back out in the community and supporting what was going on in Genesee County, and, really, the county fair last year was the first really big event.”

Before the pandemic, the auction was done in person at the fairgrounds on Route 5. After the success of this past one, the auction will once again be offered in hybrid form, Sikorski said.

4hauctionjuly2018-12.jpeg

The 4-H Market Animal Auction Program allows youth to raise poultry, beef steers, dairy steers, hogs, lambs, and goats for the purpose of selling in the auction at the fair, her report states. Youth gain hands-on experience raising animals while learning important life skills, and the program is “highly supported by local businesses and families,” it states.

Gross sales were “record-breaking,” with a total of $256,723.50 that came from the sale of 35 beef steers, four dairy steers, 16 goats, 52 hogs, 12 lambs and 36 pairs of meat chickens. A 4 percent commission is kept by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee to cover costs incurred with the program, and the remainder goes to the youth participants, she said.

Organizers are anticipating strong participation in 4-H during this year’s fair, and a new cycle will begin on Oct. 1.

The participation of kids with hogs, dairy steers and goats has increased from 2021, and the program is expanding to include rabbits this year. Entries include 79 hogs from 39 youth, which is the largest category of animals in 2022. Participation numbers for hogs, dairy steers and goats are increased from 2021, with beef, lambs and chickens remaining level. The program is expanding to include market rabbits this year, according to Sikorski’s report.

The live auction is to begin at 6:30 p.m. July 28 at the main show ring. To check it out online, go to 4-H Auction   

fairday7-26_websize.jpeg

The fair, hosted by Genesee County Agricultural Society, runs from Saturday through July 30, with pre-event horse shows from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and fair queen pageant at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 22. Daily offerings include a balloon display and demonstration, pig racing, pony rides, Niagara Down Under, chain saw carving, radio-controlled car races and Johnny Muttville Comix.

Music entertainment includes Savage Cabbage on July 23, Wail-On Tribute to Waylon Jennings on July 24, karaoke on July 25 and 26, and Audibull on July 30. Many other attractions include a small fry tractor pull, racing at Genesee Speedway, a midway of rides, and many 4-H animal shows.

For the schedule and other details, go to Genesee County Fair or call the "Fair Phone" at (585) 344-2424.

In other news, Sikorski said that the Ag in the Classroom is becoming a “strong and powerful program,” with four public — Batavia, Elba, Byron-Bergen and Oakfield-Alabama — and one parochial -- St. Joe’s — school districts participating.

“I’m glad to hear it’s coming back,” Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said. “The kids really liked that program.”

File photos by Howard Owens.

July 19, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, water plant, genesee county, notify.

Call it a glitch, snafu or small bump in the works, but when the city’s power plant stopped pumping out water this past weekend, it was a good test for city and Genesee County officials, Tim Hens says.

A “controller issue” involving a sending unit in a control panel “died” Sunday, he said.

pic_hens_tim.jpeg"We had a, I wouldn't even say it's a near miss, I think I'd say it was a direct hit yesterday with the water plant in Batavia," Hens said during Monday's Public Service Committee meeting. "They had a controller issue ... there's basically a signal when the clear wells fall it sends a power signal to the pumps to turn off. The sending unit in the Control Panel basically died and defaulted to the off position. So there was no power going to the pump. So for about a two-hour period yesterday afternoon, there was absolutely zero water coming out of the Batavia Water Plant." 

The county highway superintendent said that water storage tanks were being used in lieu of working pumps. He called the incident a “hiccup,” however he used the scenario as a warning that there’s not a limitless supply of water. He presented it to the committee because Genesee County owns the water plant and the City of Batavia is responsible for operations per a water agreement between the two entities.

Legislator John Deleo asked how long could the existing water supply have lasted before it emptied out. Hens estimated eight hours. There was “a lot of cooperation” between the city, county and town, he said, and backup plans that included reaching out to Erie County if needed.

When the pumps stopped working, water levels dropped in the tanks pretty quickly, Hens said.

“We called the Water Authority, and they increased their pumping at North Road up to about 3.5 million gallons, which is the highest we've ever pushed through there,” he said. “We were ready to pull the trigger with Erie County to open that valve up too, but by the time we had gotten to that point, the city figured out that sending unit and basically short-circuited it, and it's been running on manual ever since.”

rachael_outside.jpgOnce the pumps were back working, the city was able to recover their tanks fairly quickly to normal levels, he said. The Batavian reached out to City Manager Rachael Tabelski Monday evening for further comment, and she said the incident happened around 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

"Pumps that pump finished water into the system malfunctioned and threw an alarm because the sensor could not detect water in the clear well," she said. "To stopthe issue with the sensor alarm, city water plant employees cut the power to the pumps. When the power was restored, the pumps failed to restart."

Nelson Weibel, chief operator of the water plant, was able to re-engineer the system for it to become functional again, she said.

Three each of former and current employees, Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Michael Ficarella, Tabelski and an electrician were called in to help troubleshoot the problem, which Tabelski said seemed to be fixed by 5 p.m., although a second failure occurred "that was quickly remedied."

A sensor company technician visited the plant Monday and provided a demo sensor system as a temporary fix until the unit is replaced, Tabelski said. 

If those pumps had not been restored when they were, city customers may have been affected in three to six hours, she said. 
There was also coordination with the city Fire Department and county Emergency Management Services to prepare a water drafting plan in the event of a fire.

Tabelski was grateful for the "skill, dedication and ability" city employees demonstrate to solve critical problems under pressure, she said.

"I would like to highlight the dedicated city employees who are trained and licensed to provide drinking water to residents and businesses," she said. "We have operators on staff 24/7 ensuring the quality of water from the plant is safe, and I would like to personally thank them for their hard work and dedication."  

 Meanwhile, officials are hoping the rain “tamps back the demand a little bit and buys us a little bit of time,” Hens said.

“This is the kind of stuff that we've been worried about for years now. In this case, we were lucky that it was only a two-hour (period) and we got through it. But really, other than getting as much water as we can from Monroe County, there is no other Band-Aid. We can't just put another pump somewhere and pump water,” he said. So if it had gone on for any extended period of time yesterday or into the night, we would have probably lost, we would have been able to replace probably half of the capacity of the plant, but we would have been short about 2 million gallons.”

“That’s why we’re asking people to not water their lawns or wash their cars. I don’t know why people are trying to fight Mother Nature,” he said. “No matter how much water you use, you can’t fight dry ground.”

In past years, the county’s pleas for reduced water usage were heeded, and it made a tangible difference, Hens said. With a concerted effort to use less, “it can knock off about 300,000 gallons a day.”

Watering one’s home lawn uses up to 2.5 gallons per minute, which would be 150 gallons in an hour. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it’s not just one household setting up the sprinkler, he said. With a population of just under 60,000 county residents, a modest estimate of 500 households regularly water their lawns. That’s 300 gallons for two hours multiplied by 500, which is 150,000 gallons.

And then say those residents are watering three times a week, for a total of 450,000 gallons of water each week. If this practice is done throughout the summer, which is approximately three months long, or 12 weeks, that adds up to 5.4 million gallons of water going into the ground. That’s not counting watering one’s garden or vehicle.

While the county is doing its part, he said, Hens is also taking personal responsibility to reduce water usage.

“Since I'm the one preaching to not to use water, my vegetable garden is the worst vegetable garden on the East Coast right now. My tomato plants are only about four inches tall,” he said. “So I'm doing my part … I'm not even using the water at my house.”

July 6, 2022 - 6:03pm

Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service, which serves blind and sight-impaired people throughout Western New York, including Genesee County, is seeking your help during a fundraiser next week.

Sponsored by Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, the event, Give 716, will benefit charities including the reading service, a small nonprofit that is "deeply dependent on private contributions to exist," staff member Mark Robinson said.

"Please consider helping spread the word ... This is a low key, no-pressure occasion and is meant to be fun, informative and an easy way to support great charities," he said in a press release.

This event runs from 7:16 p.m. July 14 to 7:16 a.m. July 16, and it will go "live" when the event starts.

"There will be lots of prizes given away and all kinds of other surprises for participants," Robinson said. "Most importantly, you will be helping us so that we can help the blind and sight-impaired people throughout Western and Central New York. We are committed to being there for them and we have blind faith in every one of them."

For more information or to donate, check out Give 716

 

June 17, 2022 - 3:35pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, GCC, batavia, genesee county.

jimsunser200.jpeg

A budget reflecting $200,000 less than the current year’s and including the same yearly ask of $50,000 was presented to Genesee County’s Ways & Means Committee Wednesday.

Dr. James Sunser, president of Genesee Community College, outlined the financial plan of $37.2 million and a request for $2,736,374 as the county’s local share. College officials are continuing to “work hard to keep our expenses in line,” Sunser said.

“As you know, after the pandemic, we had some pretty significant adjustments to the college operations. Some of them have perpetuated after this point. We have had the opportunity to keep things in line, the budget itself at $37.2 million. (Changes) include $ 100-a-semester increase in tuition for students, you all know that the majority of our students are financial aid eligible. So the majority of that in most cases will be covered from external grants that students will not have to pay back,” he said to the committee. “Even with that increase, GCC continues to be, if not the lowest, within the lowest, cost of community colleges throughout the system. So we're very conscious of keeping it affordable for our students.”

GCC Communications Vice President Justin Johnston said that GCC has traditionally used "a model of predictable and incremental budget increase requests" from Genesee County, rather than seeking larger or varying amounts year to year.  The proposed increase of $50,000 in county funding, from $2,686,374 to $2,736,374, “is reflective of this long-standing philosophy,” he said.  

About 67% of the budget is made up from salaries and benefits, Sunser said. That number can fluctuate up to 73 percent, and “not surprising when you think about what we do.”

“We have teachers and we have faculty, we have staff that supports students. So it’s not surprising that a good share of what you spend your money on would be for those services,” he said. “But we are still seeing some of the benefits of our five-step plan that we put in place during the beginning of the pandemic, and some salary savings that we saw through that. And we've also gotten some salary savings, and things like our adjunct lines, is a big piece. And that is really driven by enrollment. It was enrollment being flattened down slightly. We have less need for adjuncts and are shifting more of that work into a full-time workforce.”

County Manager Matt Landers said that, since the county’s share is still less than 8 percent of GCC’s total budget, along with the county’s share being one of the smaller shares compared to other sponsors, "the county believes a $50,000 annual increase is reasonable."

This presentation will end up going to the full County Legislature for a vote, and then on from there for final approval. 

“Given that the budget process remains ongoing with the county-level review preceding the state level later this summer, with deference to those parties and their ability to review, GCC will refrain from further comment until the budget process has concluded,” Johnston said. 

Photo: Dr. James Sunser, president of GCC

June 17, 2022 - 12:00pm


Q & A with Genesee County Office for the Aging Director, Diana Fox:
Q: Why an Open House and why now?
A: We’ve reopened! If you don’t know who we are or what we do, this event is for you.
Q: What can everyone expect?
A: To come in and talk with our staff, no appointment necessary! Discover the wide variety of programs, services and activities Office for the Aging offers focusing on advocacy, education and awareness, social and health-related supports and benefits assistance. We primarily serve Genesee County residents 60 year of age and older and their caregivers. Find out how our core programs support older residents and their families through programs like: home delivered meals and group lunch programs, recreation/social activities, volunteer opportunities, case management, in-home personal care and housekeeping, medical/shopping transportation, outreach and benefits counseling, legal assistance, information and referral, home improvement and home energy assistance, as well as long- term care and health insurance counseling.
Q: What is new with Office for the Aging? What is the same?
A: We have some new faces that we want everyone to meet! In our new Community Room, there will be a demonstration of Get Set Up--the largest and fastest growing online community of older adults who want to learn, connect and do wonderful things. We’re also happy to announce the expansion of our Got Groceries? Program, a no-cost volunteer-based grocery shopping and delivery service for older residents.
Many things have remained the same, like our long-standing staff members and our new ones, who are ready to help in any way we can. We’re looking forward to welcoming the public for a great afternoon together!

June 14, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, genesee county, Genesee Justice, batavia, notify.

img_1780jailwork.jpg

Monday's Public Services meeting seemed a little too familiar for some Genesee County legislators.

In fact, there was a sense of “déjà vu,” Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens was reviewing a potential project for repairs at the Genesee Justice site at 14 West Main St., Batavia. The building’s porch and stone foundation was especially in need of work, he said.

“This is exactly the same conversation we had in 2016,” Clattenburg said during the meeting at the Old Courthouse. “At least two or three times we tried to get grants.”

Because of the site’s historical value, a different set of legislators -- including Clattenburg and Shelley Stein --  had agreed to pursue landmark preservation funding to pay for the repair and restoration work, Clattenburg said.

img_1784jailwork.jpg

She and current Legislative Chairwoman Stein each remarked how familiar the whole discussion, and Tim Hens’ request to award a bid, was for them. Only this time — instead of an initial estimate of just under $500,000, the cost is now at nearly $1.8 million, more than three times than what was originally quoted.

“We should be kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner, but we didn’t have the money,” Stein said.

The real kicker was that Legislator Christian Yunker was questioning the very same things that others had questioned back then, the women said. He wanted to know more details about the scope and large expense for the project.

The people in those very same chairs years ago also asked such questions, and in the end they didn’t feel it was the right time for this project, Clattenburg said.

img_1787jailwork.jpg

There has been a “tremendous amount of damage” that, along with inflation, tripled the initial price estimate, Hens said. There are pieces of stone falling from the top of the porch, and many areas of it are cracked and crumbling.

Yet, as Legislator Gary Maha observed, “it’s got to be done.”

Although it’s a costly bit of work, “it will look like it does now,” Hens said.

“We just won’t have anybody getting knocked on the head,” he said.

The group voted to move the project forward, which involves awarding a construction bid to Montante Construction in the amount of $1,468,100, and authorizing the Genesee County treasurer to amend capital project Facilities Management in the same amount.

That $1.46 million is to be paid from the Building and Equipment Reserve of the Jail that’s also housed in the same building. The total cost of this project is $1,769,510, which is funded by the county’s 1 percent sales tax and the Building and Equipment (Jail) Reserve.

A vote of six to one carried the motion on to the Ways & Means Committee for further discussion and approval. Yunker was the lone no vote.

“I’m seeing this for the first time. I’m having a hard time with it,” he said.

Photos: Costly masonry repair and restoration of the Genesee Justice building at 14 Main St., Batavia comes with a pricier estimate more than three times the original cost quoted to Genesee County legislators six years ago.

Photos by Howard Owens.

img_1782jailwork.jpg

img_1786jailwork.jpg

img_1785jailwork.jpg

June 2, 2022 - 8:05pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, gas tax, batavia, genesee county, AAA, notify.

gaspricekwikfilljune2022.jpg

As the day’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is at a 9-cent increase, Batavia's average was reportedly down by 13 cents at $4.72 a gallon, AAA Western and Central New York says.

Although some counties in New York State are adjusting prices even more by jumping on the gas tax “holiday” bandwagon, Genesee County is not one of them just yet, County Manager Matt Landers said. The option to suspend gas tax began on June 1.

“The Legislature and I have discussed the gas tax holiday option, and at this time the decision is to not opt in, which also happens to be the positon of the majority of counties in NYS,” Landers said to The Batavian Thursday. “Capping the gasoline sales tax at $3 a gallon, as some counties have done, could result in a savings at the pump of approximately 4 to 6 cents/gallon.”

But there are no assurances this savings would even get felt at the gas pump, Landers said. 

"Within Genesee County’s borders currently you can find variations of gas prices larger than 6 cents/gallon. When you travel to Monroe or Erie Counties, the variation in gas prices gets even larger, and this was before the gas tax holiday,” he said.

There are many reasons for the county’s stance not to establish that holiday, he said, including loss of revenues that could go for other budgetary needs. A “significant” portion of that income derives from travelers and non-residents that use gas stations at one of the two Thruway rest stops and three Thruway exits, he said. So the tax savings would be benefiting folks who don’t even live in Genesee County, he said.

Remaining status quo and not offering the tax break would mean less revenues toward tax stabilization in the 2023 budget, he said, or for helping to fund significant projects on the horizon, such as Phase 3 of the countywide water system and broadband initiative.

“The Legislature and I are monitoring the situation and we will review the data over the following months,” he said. “And again discuss opting into the gas tax holiday next quarter.”

The City of Batavia abides by the county's tax schedule per a long-term contract, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said, which means those prices at the pump will tack on the tax in Batavia as well.

 "We do not preempt the county on sales tax," Tabelski said. "And are under a 40-year sales tax agreement, giving the city 14 percent of all sales tax revenue collected in the county." 

AAA reported that, in addition to Batavia, several communities throughout the state are seeing lower gas prices before a tax is or is not added. These include:

  • Buffalo - $4.69 (down 15 cents from yesterday)
  • Elmira - $4.76 (down 11 cents from yesterday)
  • Ithaca - $4.77 (down 11 cents from yesterday)
  • Rochester - $4.76 (down 14 cents from yesterday)
  • Rome - $4.76 (down 13 cents from yesterday)
  • Syracuse - $4.72 (down 14 cents from yesterday)
  • Watertown - $4.78 (down 12 cents from yesterday)

Meanwhile, the state average for diesel fuel is at $6.36, a drop of 9 cents from yesterday. A year ago, the average cost for a gallon of diesel was $3.24.

With Memorial Day in the review mirror, motorists are hoping for some relief at the pump, AAA states. That will depend on oil prices, demand, and geopolitical factors. In a typical year, pump prices peak around Memorial Day and taper off over the summer, though summer prices are almost always more expensive than winter prices due to increased demand and summer blend fuel that is more expensive to produce, it states.

Tighten that seatbelt …

To conserve fuel, motorists should map routes, avoid peak traffic times like rush hour, and combine errands into one trip while using cruise control when possible. Drivers should also make sure tire pressure is at the vehicle’s recommended level for the best gas mileage while removing any unnecessary and bulky items from the car since it takes more fuel to accelerate a heavy vehicle.

Get more tips HERE

Motorists can benefit from comparing pump prices before filling up with the AAA Mobile App for iPhone, iPad and Android.

AAA members receive discounts at gas stations such as Fastrac, Maple Leaf Market and Shell. Learn more here. AAA members can save on gas by joining the Fuel Rewards at Shell program. Join now at AAA.com/Shell. Motorists can also locate gas prices across the country and stay up-to-date on the latest news and fuel-saving tips HERE 

As Upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

Visit AAA at www.AAA.com or www.NewsRoom.AAA.com or download the mobile app at www.AAA.com/mobile.

Photo: A local gas station in Batavia boasts lower priced gas than the average on Thursday. Photo by Howard Owens.

June 1, 2022 - 9:41pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, civil service exam, genesee county, notify.

gc_logo.png

For the first time in a decade, and at a loss of a few thousand dollars in revenue, Genesee County’s Ways & Means Committee adopted a move Wednesday to waive all Civil Service exam fees.

“I’m excited to see this come before us,” Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said during the Ways & Means meeting at the Old Courthouse.

A past review …
In 2011, it was determined that having no application fee meant less commitment on the part of applicants, and fees of $25 for all exams for police, sheriff, fire, probation and dispatch and $20 for all other competitive exams were established.

“When people don’t pay for exams, they don’t show up for exams either. And then we would still be responsible to pay that if they don’t show up,” Human Resources Director Anita Cleveland said of the rationale for charging fees. “So this is a resolution to temporarily waive the Civil Service exam fees … it’s something that several of the other counties are looking at as well. We’re hoping that since it’s free, we can get more people to take the exam.”

The present of no fees …
The number of applicants has been decreasing over the years since those fees were adopted, Cleveland said. She proposed dropping the exam fees for a trial period of June 1 to Dec. 31 of this year.

The lack of fees will mean an estimated loss of $3,000 in revenue but Genesee County officials hope that there will be a tradeoff with more exam applicants.

Newly inducted graduates are a prime population for these exams, Legislator Shelley Stein said. Civil Service jobs typically pay above minimum wage and include municipal benefits.

“So we find a way to get those kids interested, one way or the other,” she said.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg encouraged Cleveland to “get the word out that this is happening.”

“And that we want people that are interested in these jobs to take the exam,” she said.

Cleveland's department has been reaching out to schools and trying to coordinate schedules for a job fair or similar recruiting effort, Cleveland said. The problem with recruiting at high schools, she said, is that “some or most of our exams require you to have a high school diploma already,” which leaves all students out until the end of their senior year. Genesee Community College has been a site for exams, she said.

Ways & Means will pass along the proposal for a temporary waiver of all Civil Service examination fees to the Genesee County Legislature for a final vote.

May 24, 2022 - 12:24pm
posted by Press Release in genesee county, news.

Press release:

Genesee County announced summer hours that will be in effect beginning May 31, 2022. 

County offices will open for business at 8:00 am and close at 4:30 pm. This slight shift to summer hours provides county employees the opportunity to start the workday earlier while maintaining the same number of hours of operation for the public to access services. Current hours of operation are 8:30 am to 5 pm. 

Summer hours are in effect from Tuesday, May 31st until Friday, September 2nd with regular work hours resuming on Tuesday, September 6th. (Monday, September 5th is Labor Day.)

“Summer hours will have no impact on the total number of hours County government is open to the public, as offices will continue to operate 8.5 hours a day,” said Genesee County Manager Matt Landers.  “These hours were in effect for the DMV last summer and feedback received was that the public liked being able to conduct business a little earlier in the day.”

 

May 16, 2022 - 11:16am

Agenda items including a renewal of five additional seasonal sheriff’s deputies, a budget amendment for additional law enforcement patrols in the village of Bergen and revising language for a prisoner housing contract with Wyoming County are on tap for this afternoon’s Genesee County Public Services Committee meeting.

The meeting is set for 4:30 p.m. in the Legislative Conference Room of the Old Court House at 7 Main St., Batavia.

Other agenda items include reviews of a bid award for highway/tractor equipment, grant acceptance of a countywide water/intermunicipal grant, a 2022 budget amendment for highway construction and the reappointment of Highway Superintendent Timothy Hens.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break