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Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance

June 10, 2021 - 5:20pm

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While preserving the historical integrity of a stately home built 140 years ago, the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has advanced its mission to helping those in recovery by opening up five permanent housing apartments.

And members of the City of Batavia Historic Preservation Commission couldn’t be happier.

“It’s wonderful that they’ve made the effort to save the original detailing in the house -- the stained glass windows, the woodwork and the trim and the fireplaces,” City HPC President Sharon Burkel said. “To be able to bring it back to a useful part of the community and to maintain the history of the house is outstanding.”

Burkel and City HPC colleagues Connie Boyd and Caroline Hosek recently toured the home at 434 E. Main St., which is part of the GCASA campus along that stretch of the road. All three said they were thrilled with the renovations.

“I’m so impressed with the work that has been done, and especially pleased to see things that have been maintained that were original to the structure, such as the crown molding, the original mantles and the parquet floor. It’s just an incredible job,” Boyd said.

Hosek agreed, commending “the effort that has been put into bringing the building back to its original glory and providing such a valuable service to families who need the support.”

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said the agency had its work cut out for it when it took on the project, which will provide low-income housing under the supervision of its Residential Program’s case managers. Three apartments are on the first floor and two are on the second floor.

“It was in very bad disrepair, really falling apart,” Bennett said. “The boards of the porch were literally falling off the ceiling and it was sagging. We’ve redone the inside in keeping with the historic nature of the building. We rebuilt the porch, put in new kitchens, restored the fireplace and had the house painted.”

Bennett said the goal was to be “good stewards” of the home.

The list of the general construction tasks is significant, including:

  • Scraping and repairing all plaster walls, painting walls and trim;
  • Replacing several kitchen cabinets and fixtures, and existing vinyl floors with new vinyl floor;
  • Replacing bathroom fixtures and vinyl floor, and deteriorated wood windows with double hung vinyl windows of the same size;
  • Refinishing wood floors, installing new carpet or vinyl as needed;
  • Repairing and maintaining plaster scroll work on ceilings, and smaller specialty and stained glass windows, which were reglazed and painted;
  • Repairing the porches, rebuilding them to maintain the historic trim and woodwork;
  • Repairing the exterior by power washing, scraping and painting with colors that match the existing color scheme.

According to the Architectural Heritage of Genesee County, the property apparently was bought in 1855 by Batavia brewer Eli H. Fish but (per county tax records) the house was built in 1880. The house was greatly increased in size when Charles Hough purchased the property from Fish’s estate.

For many years it was the home of his son, Arthur Hough, and his wife, Colleen. In 1957, it was willed to the Genesee Community Chest and, two years later, that organization sold it to Lewis Root. In 1964, the Batavia Industrial Center became the owner and it was used as an office/apartment complex.

GCASA purchased the home in May 2019.

Because of its distinctive architectural styles, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival, and its contribution to a neighborhood that is rich in historical significance, the house was designated an historic landmark on Dec. 6, 2000 by the City of Batavia Historic Preservation Commission.

Burkel, who has been involved with the City HPC since its inception in 1996, said a project such as this is at the heart of the board’s mission.

“This is what we’re all about it.,” she said. “We have designated 46 properties and we meet as a committee whenever we need to address something with the properties, such as giving them certificates of appropriateness for any work they want to do on the property.”

She credited GCASA for maintaining the architectural integrity of the entire block of homes, including its main office at 430 E. Main St. and other agency buildings.

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Photo at top: Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has restored 434 E. Main St., which is a City of Batavia historical landmark.

Photos at bottom: Nicole Davis, GCASA’s director of residential services, leads a tour for members of the City of Batavia Historic Preservation Commission, from left, Caroline Hosek, Sharon Burkel and Connie Boyd; The house, which has been divided into five apartments for permanent housing, features – among many other things -- original stained glass, cabinets and fireplace; Davis, Hosek, Burkel and Boyd on the front porch.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

September 19, 2020 - 2:06pm

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Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse staff hosted a Recovery Games event today at the agency's Recovery Station social gathering place (formerly Bohn's Restaurant) on Clinton Street Road.

Activities included ladder ball (top photo) and cornhole, and everyone was treated to lunch.

In bottom photo, Sue Gagne, recovery center coordinator, assists a couple of attendees.

Photo by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

July 16, 2020 - 2:00pm

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only adversely affected business operations and the economy, it also has fueled a surge in the opioid crisis, placing added strain on those in substance use recovery who have been isolated by state-mandated stay-at-home orders.

John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, drove home that point on Wednesday during the agency’s annual meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

“Obviously, COVID-19 has changed how we do business and it has changed the landscape of where we were at a year ago,” Bennett said. “From 2017 to 2018, we saw a reduction in opioid overdoses across the country, and just last year alone there was a 5-percent reduction, according to the Centers for Disease Control.”

But this year, things are very different, he said, reporting that the overdose rate went up 18 percent from a year ago in March, 29 percent in April, and a 42 percent in May.

“So, overdoses are up 42 percent across the country, and I don’t think regionally that it’s any different. We’ve seen an increase in overdoses and overdose deaths,” he said.

Latest statistics were compiled by the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, a national surveillance system that provides near real-time suspected overdose data.

Despite the disheartening news, Bennett said that GCASA is steadfast in its mission to offer a wide spectrum of services to those in need.

“GCASA has been a regional leader in building new addiction services that normally aren’t in rural communities, and we continue to be committed to maintain our efforts to expand services so that folks in our regions and in our communities don’t have to travel outside the area,” he said.

Bennett, who took over as executive director in 2012, commended the board – “very committed and dedicated individuals who are kind and caring” – and praised his staff.

“To my staff who are on the call today, I’m super proud of all of you,” he said. “You’re always willing to pitch in and assist our community partners and advocate for people suffering from addiction.”

Outgoing Board President Brian Paris conducted the election of new board members and presented the new slate of officers.

Elected to their first three-year terms were as follows:

  • Jennifer Groff -- The director of fiscal operations and child support for Genesee County Department of Social Services, she has served on the GCASA Foundation board since 2018.
  • Stefano Napolitano -- The City of Batavia fire chief, he also serves on the Foundation board and his department participates in the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative in conjunction with GCASA.
  • Jackie Gardner -- She is vice president of client services for Claims Recovery Financial Services.
  • Pattie Kepner -- She is the associate executive of quality assurance for the Arc of Genesee and Orleans, having worked in human services for more than 30 years.
  • Tim Batzel -- He is the business administrator at Alexander Central School, which contracts with GCASA for Prevention services.

Bennett thanked the outgoing board members for the six years of service. They are Paris, president; Shelley Falitico, Shawn Heubusch, Holli Nenni and Daniel Thurber.

The new slate of officers:

-- President, Virginia Taylor.

She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education, which she received at the age of 50.  She is a recipient of the WNY Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education Bernice Poss Award, a Buffalo Business First 40 Under 40 Recognition Award, and Niagara County Community College Distinguished Alumni Award.

-- Vice President, Victoria Elsenheimer.

She is the executive assistant to the Vice President of Advancement, a position she has held for the past 12 years at Brockport State College. She joined the U.S. Army in 1989 and was enlisted in the Army Reserves for 17 years; honorably discharged as a Sergeant in 2006.

-- Secretary-treasurer, Frederick Rarick.

He is an attorney in Batavia; practicing law for 35 years in the representation of individuals charged with crimes. He is licensed to practice law in New York, California, and Washington, D.C. He was a past board member of the Genesee County Veterans’ Support Network.

Menzie, LeBaron Earn Scholarships

As previously announced, Jillian Menzie, of Bergen, and Ashlyn LeBaron, of Albion, received GCASA Foundation scholarships for 2020.

Each award was for $1,000.

Menzie is a 2020 graduate of Byron-Bergen Central School who plans to attend Brockport State College to pursue a nursing degree with a minor in Spanish.

In addition, she plans to study abroad as well as join the Army ROTC program. Throughout her high school career, she participated in many sports teams, music programs, and clubs. 

LeBaron is a 2020 graduate of Charles C. D’Amico High School in Albion and valedictorian of her class. She plans to attend either Cedarville University in Ohio or Roberts Wesleyan College to pursue a career in nursing.

She, too, participated in numerous extracurricular activities, including sports, band and orchestra.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

July 15, 2020 - 2:30pm

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse employees are keeping their collective fingers crossed as they look to resume activities at Recovery Station, the agency’s social gathering and recreation place in the former Bohn’s Restaurant building on Clinton Street Road.

“Beginning next Monday (July 20), and as long as COVID-19 cases remain low and there are no other restrictions put in place by New York State, the center will start allowing up to 10 community members at a time into the building for a variety of recovery activities,” said Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, director of Project Innovation and Expansion.

The public schedule for the reopening week is 10 a.m. to noon, 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Thursday and Friday, and 3-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday. The center will be closed on Wednesday.

Mangino-Crandall advised residents to check the Recovery WOW program’s Facebook page at facebook.com/recoverywow for updates or call (585) 815-5248.

Recovery Station Coordinator Sue Gagne said that the following health- and safety-related guidelines will be in force for all visitors:

-- Be expected to wear masks at all times while on the property;
-- Adhere to the 6-foot social distancing rule;
-- Have their temperature taken immediately upon entry to the center building;
-- Be asked a series of COVID-19 screening questions;
-- Be asked to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands immediately upon entry.

“We will also begin to add more structured activities in the coming weeks,” Gagne said, noting that staff will be disinfecting furniture, equipment, table games and all rooms frequently throughout the day.

Currently, GCASA officials have allowed one-to-one sessions with Recovery Station peer advocates at the location, in addition to opening the center to staff and residents of the Atwater House residential facility.

Extra precautions at all GCASA buildings and offices at the Batavia and Albion campuses are being taken, said Executive Director John Bennett.

“We are going the extra mile when it comes to safety of our patients and staff,” Bennett said. “Face coverings must be worn by employees when they are walking in the common areas, when working with patients and even when they are alone just in case they happen to meet someone. Whenever there are two or more people in a room, a mask is advised to keep each other safe.”

Elizabeth Riter, director of Corporate Compliance and Quality Assurance, said that in addition to wearing masks, all staff members are required to attest to having taken their temperatures and are asked to complete a standard Covid health screening as they enter each facility.

“Similar to the Recovery Station, the Batavia and Albion Outpatient Clinics are promoting good health practices as we welcome patients back on the grounds for face-to-face services,” she said.

Riter added that masks are provided to any staff or patients who may not have one or forget to bring theirs, and that temperatures of all patients who enter are taken immediately and they are asked to sanitize their hands.

“Unfortunately, friends and family who are not scheduled to be seen will have to wait outside in order to minimize contact in the waiting areas,” she advised. “All offices and common areas have been modified to promote socials distancing, while enhanced cleaning schedules have been instituted in all facilities.”

The same stringent standards apply to the agency’s residential programs, Riter said, adding that new admissions coming from medical facilities have essentially been quarantined and screened before being placed into GCASA’s program.

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Disclosure: Story is written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

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