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genesee county

November 4, 2008 - 7:58pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, politics, genesee county, video, election, Republican, Democrat.

Earlier today, we stopped by the Genesee County Democratic and Republican headquarters in Batavia to see how the campaigns were doing as we come down the stretch. It couldn't have worked out better, as we ran into everybody's favorite Democrat Dan Jones and everybody's favorite Republican Jay Grasso.

Here's what they had to say about how hard they're working and why their side will win tonight. Who sounds more convincing?

November 4, 2008 - 10:09am

If you had to pick a race statewide that could determine what party has the majority in the New York State Senate, look no further than the 61st Senate District. Democratic candidate Joe Mesi is taking on Republican Mike Ranzenhofer in a very close and hotly contested race.

Tonight, Mesi held a gathering in Batavia. At left it was I encountered when I pulled up to park for the event. What I didn't get on camera was the half-dozen Ranzenhofer supporters that decided they would stand in front of the event's venue - Main Street Cafe - holding Ranzenhofer signs. Apparently they decided that since the Democrats had been doing it for awhile in front of their headquarters, they would do it on the eve of the election.

But inside the event was a great atmosphere. At its peak, the event had 40-50 people. There were people of all ages in attendance for pizza, mingling with Mesi and a nice enjoyable evening before Election Day.

Mesi also addressed the crowd. You can hear the bulk of his remarks in this video:  

I remember first meeting Joe Mesi. That was nearly seven months ago. You could tell then that he was still learning. He was educating himself about the important issues and told the story that led to his candidacy. His brother lost his job at American Axle and that motivated Mesi to run for office.

Since my interview with Mesi, he has evolved into quite a candidate. His Plan for Change is pure genius. I say that because he put his platform into an easy-to-read booklet that was available at his campaign headquarters and handed out tonight at the gathering. Candidates usually use basic talking points on the stump or ramble on about what their policy positions are. Instead of doing that, Mesi decided to put his plans and his positions on paper for the world to see. That way, if there are any questions about where he stands, you can refer to the booklet.

So why should the people of the 61st Senate District elect Joe Mesi their state senator? Mesi is genuine. He truly cares about Western New York. This is where he built his life. This is where he became a heavyweight boxer. This is where he became a local star. And this is where he wants to stay, raise his own family and better the region that has given so much to him. He will be a great state senator for Erie and Genesee counties and he will represent them well.

November 3, 2008 - 4:17pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in genesee county, video, education, genesee county legislature.

Last month, the 4-H Student Legislator program got underway, and The Batavian was there when the local government interns sat with the Genesee County Legislature for the first time—check out our post to find out more about that. Last week, we followed along again. This time, the interns got together at the Genesee County Nursing Home, where a couple dozen county government staffers came together to talk about what they do and take questions from the interns. Everyone from the sheriff to the clerk of the legislature was present.

The first time we got together, I asked some of the interns what their first impressions were about the county, the government, the legislature, and most of them didn't yet know what to think. Well, they've seen quite a bit since then, including some tours around the county of sites such as the airport, the county highway department and the Holland Land Office Museum. So this time we connected, I asked them what they've been learning and what they hope to do with their new knowledge. 

November 3, 2008 - 8:44am
posted by Philip Anselmo in genesee county, Buffalo News, finance, Orleans County.

Downstate may lead the pack in late payments on credit cards and mortgages, but Genesee and Orleans counties reign king this side of the Catskills, according to the Buffalo News. From that article:

According to data from TransUnion, compiled and released this month by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2.04 percent of credit card loans are at least 60 days late in payments in Orleans County. That’s the most in the eight-county region, and the seventh-highest late-payment rate in the state.

Niagara and Erie counties both come in second for the region, although Erie is below the average. Genesee County doesn't show up there, but in late payments on mortgages, we lead the pack.

For mortgage loans, Genesee County has the highest pace locally, at 1.84 percent of its loans that are at least 90 days late, followed by Allegany at 1.69 percent. Erie’s was much lower, at 1.41 percent.

Have you felt the credit crunch? All told, two percent doesn't seem too terrible.

October 24, 2008 - 10:57am
posted by Philip Anselmo in genesee county, video, Weights and Measures.

Maybe you've seen those yellow stickers stuck to the gas pump by the county's department of Weights and Measures, and maybe—like me—you've asked yourself: What does that mean? Who is this Donald D. Luxon fellow? What is he measuring? What is his sticker worth and why can't it be detached? Earlier this week, I set out to answer those question.

Let's start with the easy answer: Weights and Measures weighs and measures. Very funny, you say. But it's true. OK, so let's back up then...

Donald Luxon is the department's director. He's been with them for nine years or so now, ever since he left Eastman Kodak Co. He admits to me that he wishes he had always had this job though. He loves it. And why shouldn't he? He gets out and works with people all over the county all year long. He gets to play with cool equipment, like tolerance measures and apothecary weights. Plus, he's a one-man show.

On a given day, you may find him out at the gas pumps of any station in the county, measuring fuel. It works like this: He fills a five-gallon can with each grade of gas and measures what his can tells him against what the pump tells him was just dispensed. If they match up, great. If they don't, well... it depends. If the pumps are issuing too much gas—that is, if it's in the customer's favor, Luxon can't shut it down. But you can bet, he says, that the station will have that fixed pretty quickly. If the pump is issuing less fuel than it says, then the station owner is notified and the pump can be shut down if it isn't fixed. Luxon tells me that he has never had to fine anyone before, and folks always fix a problem once they're aware of it.

(In case you're wondering: the pumps are permitted a tolerance of plus or minus six cubic inches per five gallons, which is about 1,155 cubic inches total.)

Often, too, Luxon will take samples of the gas that he then sends to a lab in New Jersey to be tested for octane and to make sure there isn't too much of this or that in the gasoline. He says that there's never once been a failure in Genesee County since he took over the job nine years ago.

Such work also gives you a pretty good handle on how the pumps work. Luxon says he often hears folks say that the temperature outside ought to be a clue on when folks should fuel up because the gasoline will either expand or contract depending on how cold or warm it is. Sure, that's true to an extent, he says. But most of the gas is in big tanks underground where there are no significant shifts in temperature. Whether it's hot or cold outside will only really affect about the first half gallon of gas that's in the tube that runs from the handle back into the tank.

Another rumor that turns out has some merit to it is that folks shouldn't fuel up when they see a tanker filling up the underground tanks. It's believed that in filling up those enormous tanks, the gasoline gets all jostled about and some of the sediment and particulates at the bottom of the tank get stirred up and can end up in your tank. That's true, too, to an extent, says Luxon. It's a fine rule of thumb to keep away from the pumps when you see they're being refilled, but if you do fill up at that time, the chances that you'll get the crud in your tank are pretty slim.

Luxon's job isn't all about the gas pumps, though. He also checks other tanks: milk tanks. Just as often as he'll head out to a gas pump, he'll head to a dairy farm to make sure that a 10,000 gallon milk storage tank is really holding 10,000 gallons.

That's the measures side of the gig, but Luxon also does a lot with weights. In fact, he checks every single scale in every grocery store, quarry and pharmacy in the county: whether it's used to weigh a tomato, a trucker's haul, a slice of head cheese, a flank steak or a dose of valium.

October 21, 2008 - 12:40pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, genesee county, genesee county legislature.

Genesee County's tentative budget doesn't have much to recommend itself to a public already strained by a distressed economy. A proposed spending increase of 5.2 percent and an increase in the tax rate of 4.2 percent (41 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation) won't please too many folks, including the legislators.

County Manager Jay Gsell filed the $141 million proposed budget—and let's stress that: this is a work in progress, and the work has just begun—yesterday afternoon, according to the Daily News. Reporter Paul Mrozek says that Gsell expects that "lawmakers will work to reduce those figures before voting on the fiscal plan."

Gsell said this morning he is "cautiously optimistic" he and the Legislature will be able to get the tax rate down to its '08 level.

No jobs are expected to be cut, but 21 vacant positions may remain that way. Also, "all outside agencies" that benefit from some county funding, such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension, will receive the same amount of funding as this past year—except for Genesee Community College, which was already approved for a $50,000 increase.

Mrozek does a great job with this article, extracting the budget essentials and not getting too technical on us. I only had one question that I couldn't find answered: if no jobs will be added to the rolls and no extra funding will be going to outside agencies—why the increase in spending? I put in a call to Gsell to see if we can get a quick answer to that. We should hear back from him by the end of the day.

(UPDATE 2:33pm): County Manager Jay Gsell phoned to explain why the proposed budget shows an increase of 5.2 percent in spending if there are no increases in funding for new staff or outside agencies. He said that it's true that the county will take on no new programs and no new services, but the increased cost of construction materials, fuel and the increase in the funding needed for county health care push up the total spending for the county.

In other news, snow tubing will not be offered at Letchworth State Park this winter. This is a very specific instance of how the state budget cuts will be affecting folks in the coming months. Reporter Matt Surtel writes:

The tubing cost the park about twice the amount of revenue that the activity generated (Park Manager Richard Parker said). He declined to give an exact figure, but said the economic realities kicked in, when the park looked at ways to cut expenses.

Some staffers may also feel the pinch as the park does not plan to take on as many folks as usual this winter.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

October 20, 2008 - 4:38pm

I had to go to Tractor Supply Co. in Batavia, NY on Friday 10/17/08 to return a ball mount that didn't have a deep enough drop for my camper. 

When I pulled in, I looked to my left and there was a wagon and four absolutely beautiful large work horses with wonderful halters on.  Now, I am absolutely curious, but I have to make sure that I don't get sidetracked and that I make sure that I keep my focus. 

I went in and made the return, trying to rush to get back outside to investigate.  After what seems to be hours, I finally get back outside and I start walking towards these beautiful creatures that are contently huddling around an odd looking wagon. 

As I begin to look at one of the horses, I hear some rustling to my left.  A middle-aged man comes walking around and we make the make our introductions.  With making conversation, I was able to to collect some interesting information: the man's name is Bob; his horses are of Percheron breed; their names are Doc, Dolly, Joyce and Dee Dee; he travels with his horses and wagon; and he is currently packing up to head back west. 

After chatting with Bob, I noticed some spectators starting to show interest, so I figured I would take one more look at the horses and then go on my way.  As I am walking back to my vehicle, I figure that I should take some quick pictures of this unique situation.  Though I am not a professional photographer by any means, I grabbed my camera from my vehicle and took as many pictures as I could before they could leave.  I figured this would be a perfect addition for my calendar that I plan to make of various nature pictures I have taken over the years.  So, photo after photo, I am scurrying to always get that last picture before they can leave. 

As they begin to exit the parking lot and make their way left, across Rte. 5,  I rush to my vehicle and slowly drive ahead of them.  I pull over into the parking lot of a small welding business that is about 300 feet in front where they are currently traveling.  I jump out of my vehicle with my camera and started taking pictures of them coming at me on the main roadway.  It is neat to watch these four horses loyally and proudly pulling their friend and his wagon. 

As they begin to pass by me, I wave to Bob and tell him thank you.  Thank you for being you, thank you for caring and keeping these beautiful animals, thank you for being so courageous and unique to travel all over the American north east with them, and a much bigger thank you for providing and showing this neat phenomena to the world.  In response to my thanks, he gave a very kind gentleman's nod and replied, "Your welcome." 

I snapped a few more photos as they continued down the road and muttered to myself, with the utmost amount of satisfaction, "Right place.  Right time."

 (For more info, visit their website: www.wagonteamster.com)


October 20, 2008 - 3:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in genesee county, history, Holland Land Office Museum.

Looks like we need to do some catching up with the Holland Land Office Museum's countdown of The 25 Things That Made Genesee County Famous. We left off with Charles Rand back at the end of September, but Pat Weissend has posted a few more in the meantime. What's more, we're about to break into the top ten!

Clocking in at No. 13 was the Pembroke driver's ed accident: a tragic crash in 1987 that claimed the lives of three students and an instructor. That accident, relates Weissend, spurned folks to act and got the blood alcohol content lowered from .1 percent to .08 percent and made it illegal for anyone under the legal drinking age to even possess a drink.

Darien Lake Theme Park earns a spot at No. 12. Weissend tells us that over 1 million people visit the park each year.

Seneca Indian Ely Samuel Parker makes his appearance at No. 11 on the list. Here's Weissend:

Parker is arguably one of the most famous people ever born in Genesee County. He spoke in front of the Supreme Court, knew United States Presidents, was one of the only Native American Generals in the United States Army and was one of President Ulysses S. Grant’s first nominees for a federal appointment.

Be sure to check out the museum Web site for more on these and the other "famous things" and plenty of other fun stuff, such as podcasts, official Muckdogs merch, the wonderland of trees and more.

September 29, 2008 - 4:24pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in genesee county, history.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with Anne Barone who told me how her husband, City Councilman Sam Barone, has always wanted to know what happened with the "naked lady statue" that used to be in Austin Park. Wouldn't that be an interesting story to tell, she mused.

Such was the genesis of The Batavian's newest series: Mysteries of Genesee County's History. It has one goal: Search out the lost memories and forgotten stories from our county and find out what happened.

In order to find some answers to our first mystery—the naked lady statue that went missing from Austin Park—I recruited Batavia's City Historian Larry Barnes to sleuth about. Larry filed the following report this morning:

A couple weeks ago, I received a call from Philip Anselmo of TheBatavian who wondered if I knew what had become of the “naked lady” in Austin Park.  The “naked lady,” Anselmo explained, was a statue that Councilman Sam Barone remembered seeing in his youth but then disappeared from the Park.  I didn’t have an answer initially, but with some detective work I have discovered that the “naked lady” has gone to Cincinnati.

The “naked lady” of Barone’s recollections is a life-sized bronze statue of a pubescent female holding aloft a bowl designed to hold water from which birds can drink.  In fact, the statue includes a bird flitting by the arm of the young girl.  The girl herself is not actually naked, but her garment is so thin that her anatomical features including navel and nipples are fully revealed.

The statue is the creation of an internationally renowned artist, Bessie Potter Vonnoh.  It was given to the City in 1931 for placement in Austin Park by Frances Washburn, wife of the County Judge, Edward Washburn.  It was intended to be part of a bird sanctuary in the Park.  An identical figure is part of a fountain group in Central Park in New York City.

The City had great plans for Austin Park.  A design developed by landscape architect Harold Olmsted included a band shell, pool, tennis courts, playing field, playground, comfort station, winding paths, and elaborate landscaping.  Most of this never materialized; and by the 1960s, Austin Park had fallen into a state of deterioration hastened by recurring vandalism. It was about this time that the “naked lady” was rescued from an uncertain fate.

The statue’s rescuer was Rowena Atwater, the daughter of donor Frances Washburn.  Mrs. Washburn was now dead; and Mrs. Atwater took the statue home to her garden.  That garden was next to the white house on East Main Street now owned by GCASA.  The statue remained in its new haven until the death of Rowena Atwater.

In 1996, the adult children of Mrs. Atwater, Edward, James and Julian Atwater, donated the “naked lady” to the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester.  The Gallery placed the statue in the Fountain Court, located inside the main entrance to the Gallery.  Ordinarily, if you were to visit the Gallery, you could see the statue of Sam Barone’s memory standing in the left rear corner.

Today, however, the “naked lady” of Austin Park is on tour.  Currently, she is visiting the Cincinnati Art Museum.  So, you’ll have to travel some distance if you want an up close and personal view.  I can’t resist saying that this is what happens when a community doesn’t honor its cultural treasures.  The “naked lady” has gone the way of the Cary Mansion, the Richmond Mansion, and other wonders that once distinguished our fair city.  At least she hasn’t landed in a landfill.

Be sure to check back in a few weeks for our next Mystery of Genesee County's History.

Photo courtesy of the Memorial Art Gallery Web site.

August 28, 2008 - 11:50pm
posted by Melissa George in batavia, community, genesee county, jaycees, Labor Day.

Don't forget, on Monday, September 1, 2008 is the Batavia Area Jaycees 22nd Annual Labor Day 5K Run & Walk.  Proceeds will go to a local community organization: Genesee County AIDS Task Force.

Registration begins at 8am at MacArthur Park with the Race begining at 10am.

Day of the race registration is $15 for runners, $10 for runners.

For more details click on the 5k section at www.geneseeny.com/bataviajaycees or call 585-343-5775.


August 19, 2008 - 3:07pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, genesee county.

I've been reading and summarizing articles from the Daily News every weekday for nearly four months now. Sometimes, it's smooth sailing: reporter so-and-so wrote such-and-such about who, what and where. Bada bing, you know. But not always. Somewhere in the middle of the bada and the bing, everything just goes haywire and I'm literally left scratching my head and chasing sources to make sense of what seemed at first glance to be a very simple story. Take this headline from today's local section: Genesee Co. seeking to raise fees for filing papers, copies.

What would you expect this story to be about? Maybe the cost of copies going up at the county offices? That's what I thought. But... no. Not exactly. Here's what the reporter tells us: A proposed law that will come up for vote at the meeting of the Genesee County Legislature next month could mean an increase in costs.

The measure would affect the cost of recording property records such as affidavits, deeds and mortgages, an increase from $3 to $5 and the clerk's endorsement (official stamp), increase from $5 to $20.

The clerk's office is also requesting a decrease in the cost of a copy of a document's recording page, from $10 to $5.

Aside from the grammatical train wreck of the first sentence, can you tell what costs are actually going up here? Not copies. It looks like they're decreasing. But no. Not even that. I phoned County Clerk Don Read this afternoon to clear things up. A copy, he told me—that is, the cost to make a photocopy of a document at the clerk's office—will remain the same price it has been for the past several years: 65 cents. More than this, the cost of "the copy of a document's recording page"—yikes!—is, in fact, decreasing, which completely contradicts the headline that told us the fees were going to be raised for copies.

As for what's really going on, here are the plain facts, courtesy of Read:

1. An increase in the fee for recording property records such as affidavits, deeds and mortgages from $3 to $5 per page. Read says that "recording" is not exactly the same as "filing," but the action is essentially the same.

2. An increase in the fee for a clerk's endorsement from $5 to $20. A clerk's endorsement is essentially the official info inscribed by the clerk on a document including the signature. Yes, you have to pay for that.

3. A decrease in the fee for a recording page from $10 to $5. The "recording page" is sort of like the cover page that goes on other documents to identify the contents of the documents—think the cover letter for a fax, for example.

There you go.

If you're looking to contract a headache over lunch, pick up the Daily News at any local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 11, 2008 - 4:19pm
posted by Lorie Longhany in genesee county, Jon Powers, women to women.

I am proud to represent Genessee County on the Women for Powers committee. Our women volunteers here in Genesee County have been meeting each Tuesday evening reaching out to other women by telephone about the issues that are important to them and their families here in Genesee County. What is clear about the conversations that we are having is the need for real change in Washington. Women here in Genesee County are concerned about gas prices, education, health care and the environment -- to name a few. A dialog like this is vital and represents a true women to women outreach about issues that matter to us most. We are then able to pass these concerns to Jon Powers and his campaign. What is unique about this is the conversation. 


          POWERS CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCES WOMEN FOR POWERS COMMITTEE    WILLIAMSVILLE, NY – The Powers for Congress Campaign is pleased to announce the formation Women for Powers. As a dedicated group of volunteers, Women for Powers works tirelessly to help elect Jon by calling other women voters, knocking on doors, and introducing Jon and his campaign to their friends and neighbors. "I am supporting Jon because he knows the needs of Western New York and the changes that need to take place," said Molly Ciocca, Chairwoman of Women for Powers. "He's the one that can get us there." "I am thrilled to have the support of everyone involved in Women for Powers," said Powers. "These ladies are community leaders, professionals and tireless advocates for a safer and stronger Western New York. They have been integral to the success of our grassroots campaign. I value their friendship and support."

June 8, 2008 - 7:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Holland Land Office Museum, holm, exhibit.

The Holland Land Office Museum announced on its blog yesterday that on June 13, it will begin an "online exhibit" series of 25 things that made Genesee County famous.

For this online exhibit, a panel of 15 people spent six months sifting through 100s of things know world wide. It was the panel's job to come up with a list of 25 things that made Genesee County famous. Every week, until November 28, 2008 the Holland Land Office Museum will release another item.

Cool idea, and it's interesting that this physical museum has chosen the digital world to highlight such a potentially fascinating list of events, people and items.

Anybody want to guess what some of these 25 things might be?  Leave a comment.  (I'm guessing #1 is anti-masonry and the Morgan Affair. Joseph Mancuso and the business incubator have to be pretty high up there, too.)

May 28, 2008 - 12:11pm
posted by Ryan Sholin in genesee county, high school sports, lacrosse, Empire Zone.

From Wednesday's Daily News:

  • The Daily News recaps last night's City Council session, which featured a notable squabble over whether or not City Attorney George Van Nest needs to be present at each and every conference meeting.  Councilman Frank Fernando told the Daily News the conversation is "over for this year," given that the city budget has already passed.
  • Genesee County's Empire Zone could be expanded to include more than 100 additional acres near Route 5.  The addition would make more room for a Canadian food processor talking with the Genesee Economic Development Center about becoming the first tenant of the planned Agri-business Park.  According to the Daily News, EDC Chief Executive Officer Steve Hyde "declined to identify" the Canadian company, but the story doesn't mention why he declined.  Maybe he would say it's because they're still negotiating, but I'll try to give him a call and let him say that for himself.  If I lived here, I'd want to know who was coming to town.
  • In sports, Batavia scored five goals in the fourth quarter to top Palmyra-Macedon at the Section 5 Class C boys lacrosse tournament on Tuesday.  The lacrosse program is in its second year at Batavia, so winning a playoff game must feel amazing at this stage of the program's development.  Coach Chuck Hammon told the Daily News his team was pretty excited about the big win.  Check out the full Class C lacrosse tournament bracket here.  Batavia takes on top-seeded Penn Yan on Friday.

We recommend you pick up your copy of the Daily News at a local newsstand, or subscribe on the Daily News web site.


May 15, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, veterans, taxes, county legislature.

As a Cold War veteran myself, the County's Legislature's proposal to cut property taxes by 10 percent for those who served in the military from 1945 to 1991 is applause worthy.

If approved, the tax break would be effective March 1, 2009, for county tax bills. The property must be a private residence of the veteran or the unmarried spouse of a deceased veteran.

Those who served in the three wars during that period — Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm — are currently eligible for property tax exemptions.

Applications are processed by the county’s Veteran Service Office.

For the Cold War veterans the percentage would apply to residential property values up to $60,000. Those with homes assessed at more would get the same exemption but only to a cap level of $60,000.

I served in the USAF from 1980 to 1994, and I always felt like I did my part to protect the country from the Red Menace, so it's nice to see the Cold War veterans of Genesee get some recognition.

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