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December 7, 2022 - 11:01pm

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After a tour of The McCarthy (a condensed version of David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena sometimes used at the rink) Monday, and noting the newly painted fiberglass benches — in “Rampart Blue” — it was clear that a transformation has been taking place.

Led by ice arena operator/manager Matt Gray and his folks, Bob and Sharon Gray, representing Friends of the Rink, this tour showed off the hard work and diligence it takes to turn around an aging, unkempt facility.

Just ask City Council members. They raved about the differences at the rink during a recent council meeting. Bob Bialkowski noted the work and dedication of Friends of the Rink, while Paul Viele commended the condition of the smooth ice — “it’s like day and night” — and Tammy Schmidt happily reported that she attended a game, and kept warm with working heaters for a change.

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Two meeting/training rooms have been carved out of the space and painted an ivory cream. Dark chocolate tiles have been installed on the ceiling, and a storage room with clean white cupboards lining one wall and a granite countertop is gradually turning into Matt’s office. A wall opposite the arena itself has also been painted, with a pale blue and Rampart blue trim — a feat performed by Sharon, she proudly said.

“That was built in 1994, but never painted. In every picture from high school, you see him playing, and here's his ugly backdrop,” she said. “So we painted, that was our first project this year. I painted it, and my grandson did the upper part.”

So far, members of the Friends group have put in 407 hours of hands-on volunteer time at the Evans Street arena. With their prompting, the city tore out a ramp with a huge pothole in it and rebuilt that section used for Zamboni storage.

Matt’s first goals were to revamp the concession area, which has been completed along with the addition of more hot food and install new brighter lighting. He is testing out three lights over the rink before proceeding with a larger purchase.

Rink management, including General Manager Kati Murray and Facilities Manager Adam Reich, is on the lookout for 12- to 16-foot conference tables for the meeting rooms, and Gray plans to have wiring installed with Cat 6 data cabling for integrated WiFi, which will allow for Zoom meetings and connect to a large television and camera — donated by Batavia Rotary — for game replays.

Carpet tiles will be added for its use as a “flex space,” he said, as Sharon added that someone recently hosted a birthday party there.

A future goal may be to serve brews at The McCarthy — sounds like a pub, doesn’t it? Other ideas include opening the rink year-round with roller hockey, and having an open public time for recreational roller skating and blading, Matt said.

When the elder Grays formed Friends of the Rink in 2020, they wanted to improve issues they had noticed over the years. A hockey player asked Bob why he was getting so involved. This is just an ice rink, the player said.

“And I said, ‘Yeah, but why can't it be the best ice rink in Western New York? Then when we get Western New York, we can have the best in the state, and keep going,” Bob said, adding that issues of unwanted running water, a filthy environment and poor communication have hurt the arena.  “I’ve been here throughout the years, and I see a big improvement.”

The Gray couple agreed that they want to see the rink bounce back, and for youth to be able to enjoy it and perhaps make good friends, just as their son and grandchildren have done.

“That's what we're looking for. We're doing it for the kids,” Bob said. “Matt was a big influence when he took over. We worked like busy beavers.”

Sharon added that she fell on the floor crying when she found out that Matt was taking on rink management. He certainly has the experience, having been a rink user for years, and the business acumen as a local entrepreneur of several successful establishments.

When asked if things have changed from years ago, Sharon had a definitive answer.

“Oh yes, 180 percent,” she said.

And sometimes what’s old is new again.

“We're old timers, you know, so this is a way we used to do it. We’d say, 'why can't we do it like that,' and it worked,” Bob said. “You know, we bring up ideas, and they say, ‘Oh, this is a good idea,’ when it was something we did years ago. We're just bringing it back.”

He’s talking as much about the social aspects of the rink and ice hockey as he is about the structural and aesthetic components. Amateur hockey membership had dropped from 425 players to 257 last year, and for reasons that include family busyness, a wide scope of recreational options — lacrosse and soccer are two popular ones — and other distractions for prospective players, all three Grays said.

This is not just a Batavia phenomenon, they said, but a national one of having multiple options of things to do. And, as Bob said, playing hockey is not just something to do, “it’s a lifestyle.”

“Either you’re in, or you’re out,” he said.

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His family has been mostly in — since 1980, when Matt was a beginner on the ice. He aged out in 1996, and soon grandchildren laced up. Despite the downturn of participation in recent years, the Grays are “seeing more family involvement.”

That was one of the biggest benefits for Matt when as a kid, he played ice hockey and made friends for life. He was all in, as any avid hockey player is, Bob said. Another reason that may prevent more kids from participating nowadays is the cost. Helmets, protective gear, and sticks can quickly total $1,200 or more, he said. (See related story about equipment donations.)

Friends of the Rink hosted a Try Hockey For Free kids program this fall and will do so again in February. Members are also mulling a similar event for adults.

As for ice play, and related amenities, Matt plans to reconfigure the bathrooms and showers so that space is more equitable for female players.

“We have a checklist of things that we want to get done this year, next year, and the year after. And then there are side things where Bob, Sharon, Friends of the Rink can really help us do that, outside of what we have otherwise,” Matt said. “And staff have been fantastic with, you know, taking on new projects and doing it in between everything else they have responsibilities for, and then they fill in the gaps on different projects.”

Anyone interested in watching a game remotely may do so through LiveBarn, a subscription-based app. Although parents will typically attend in person, that will be a great tool for coaches scouting out the talent, Matt said, and Batavia United coaches John Kirkwood and Marc Staley set up the app.

For more information about the rink and hours, go to The McCarthy.  

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Top Photo: Matt Gray and his folks, Bob and Sharon of Friends of the Rink, provide a tour of rink updates and discuss future plans of the Evans Street site; Bob Gray shows the newly painted benches that sit near the concession inside the arena; Matt Gray shows a painted wooden cutout of the Ramparts logo as it sits atop a handmade table in one of the multi-use meeting rooms; ice play in action on the rink.

December 7, 2022 - 6:44pm
posted by Press Release in 4-H, agriculture, news.

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Press release:

Genesee County 4-H members participated in a Holiday Greens Workshop at the Cooperative Extension Office on December 1st.  The workshop was presented by Genesee County Master Gardener Volunteers.  Youth learned about using fresh-cut evergreens to make a holiday arrangement. After the presentation, youth created their own holiday centerpiece to take home.

4-H is a nationwide youth program that connects youth age 5-18 to a variety of hands-on learning opportunities.  For more information about joining the Genesee County 4-H Program, please contact the 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040 ext. 131.  Enrollment forms are also available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development/how-to-join-4-h

December 7, 2022 - 6:41pm
posted by Press Release in health department, flu, news.

Press release:

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is December 5-9, 2022.  This is an annual observance in December to remind everyone that there is still time to get vaccinated against the flu to be protected during the upcoming holidays and winter months.  “The best way to reduce your risk from seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications is by getting the flu vaccine every year,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “The vaccine lowers the chance of getting you and those around you sick with the flu. It also reduces the burden on the health care system by reducing doctor visits and hospitalizations.” 

Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine every year. It's best to get the flu vaccine early on in flu season, ideally by the end of October. You might wonder, is it too late to get vaccinated?  The simple answer is no. “Getting the vaccine later is better than not getting it at all,” said Mr. Pettit. “Once you have the flu vaccine, research shows that the vaccination reduces the risk of severe illness if you do get the flu.”

Vaccination is also important for people who live with or care for high-risk individuals to prevent spreading the flu to them. Individuals who are considered higher risk include younger children, pregnant people, people with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or lung disease, and people 65 years and older. Children younger than 6 months old are also at a higher risk of serious flu illness because they are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for or are around infants should be vaccinated to protect those that are vulnerable and cannot be vaccinated.

Below are the number of reported flu cases for Genesee and Orleans Counties since 2018, according to the New York State Department of Health. Note that there was limited flu reported in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 compared to annual averages because of the heightened focus on practicing public health precautions such as frequent hand washing, social distancing, staying home when ill, limiting social gatherings, and wearing face coverings. During that period, less germs were spread due to people staying home and limiting their contact with others outside of their households as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 NYS Department of Health Confirmed Cases of Influenza

 

Genesee County

Orleans County

2018-2019

581

270

2019-2020

598

266

2020-2021

7

8

2021-2022

182

100

2022-2023 (as of 11/26/22)

212

93

In addition to receiving your flu vaccine, you can take preventative actions every day to help stop the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • If you are sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible so that you prevent the spread of infection.
    • For flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Please note that stay-at-home guidance is different for COVID-19.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently shared surfaces and objects

To find a vaccine site near you visit: https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/

For more information about Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, visit GOHealthNY.org. You can also visit GO Health on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching @GoHealthNY.

December 7, 2022 - 6:33pm
posted by Press Release in Tompkins Community Bank, Le Roy, news.

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Press release:

In its ongoing dedication to bettering the communities it serves, this Thanksgiving Tompkins Community Bank gifted a total of $15,000 to local nonprofits across western New York in celebration of its annual “Banksgiving” holiday donation. This year, Tompkins’ Banksgiving featured $1,000 donations to nonprofits whose focus is food insecurity and local to each of its fifteen branches across Erie, Cattaraugus, Livingston, Genesee, Wyoming, Monroe and Orleans counties. This is the third year Tompkins has supported local nonprofits through the Banksgiving program.  

“The holiday season can prove to be a difficult time of year for many folks, and even more so as we continue to encounter aftereffects of the pandemic as well as rising costs of goods,” said John McKenna, president of Tompkins’ Western New York market. “It’s our hope that these gifts will make a meaningful difference in all of these communities, because we’re a part of those communities, too.” 

The Banksgiving donations round out a year of community-focused initiatives for Tompkins. Throughout 2022, the bank has continued to offer free, virtual seminars on topics ranging from first-time homebuying to fraud protection, as a means of cultivating financial education and independence in the communities we serve.  

“Giving back and supporting the communities serve is central to our mission as a community bank,” continued McKenna. “We have the unique privilege of seeing the impact of our actions first hand, as our employees also live and work in these communities as well. Our efforts are inextricably linked to the community’s well-being, and this is what inspires us to continue evolving to meet the needs of the counties we serve.  

Submitted photo: Mickey Hyde (Tompkins in Le Roy), Judy Ridley (LeRoy Food Pantry), and Wendy Holmes (Tompkins).

December 7, 2022 - 6:24pm
posted by Press Release in problem gambling, news.

Press release:

The holiday season can lead to gambling problems.

The holidays can be an especially tough time for those struggling with or in recovery from a gambling problem. Stress from extended family time and pressure financially to provide gifts can be overwhelming. These stresses can lead to an individual looking for an escape, or a “quick fix” to help get the presents everyone wants for the holidays. Gambling too often becomes the “go-to” for many people when they need to get away.

The holidays are a wonderful time to give thanks and spend time with family and friends. If you have a loved one who is struggling to control a gambling problem, be kind and understanding if they seem irritable or anxious. Take time to ask your friends or loved ones if they are doing ok this holiday season. Your understanding and communication can help lead to treatment and recovery for someone who might be afraid, or simply not know how to ask.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center is “Here to Help.” If you need help, or you know someone who needs help because their holiday season is causing stress and anxiety because of a gambling problem, confidential help is available.

Happy Holidays!

December 7, 2022 - 2:32pm
posted by Press Release in Tractor Safety, 4-H, agriculture, news.

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Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program is now accepting registrations for its 2023 4-H Tractor Safety Program.  The program is open to youth age 14 and over and covers farm safety, tractor safety, tractor operation and other related topics. 

The National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program is a certification program that allows youth ages 14 and 15 to be certified to legally operate farm equipment for hire.  After completing the training course, youth will need to pass a written knowledge test and driving test to receive the certification.

The program is scheduled to run Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon, from January through April at farm machinery dealerships throughout Genesee County.  The fee for the program is $25, and youth must also be currently enrolled 4-H members.  Registrations are due January 28, 2023.  To register for the program or receive more information, please contact the Genesee County 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040 ext. 101.  Registration forms are also available online at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4htractorsafety

Photo: File photo from 2016 by Howard Owens

December 7, 2022 - 1:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
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Melvin Huntley

A 41-year-old Town of Batavia resident was convicted Tuesday by a jury following a weeklong trial on the majority of counts against him in a child sex abuse case.

Melvin A. Huntley, a Wilkenson Road resident, could spend the rest of his life in prison following his conviction.

There were four victims in the case.

The jury found Huntley guilty of:

  • Five counts of sex abuse in first degree;
  • Two counts of sex abuse in the third degree;
  • Two counts of rape in the first degree;
  • Two counts of predatory sex against a child;
  • Predatory sexual assault;
  • Four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Three of the counts are Class A felonies and two are Class B felonies.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 11.  He has been ordered held in the Genesee County Jail without bail pending sentencing.

“We are very gratified by the jury’s verdict, which was made possible by an excellent investigation by the Sheriff’s Department headed up by Investigator Howard Carlson, tremendous victim support by Theresa Roth and the CAC, and most importantly, the courage of the four victims who testified at trial,” said Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl, who prosecuted the case.

December 7, 2022 - 9:54am

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse has scheduled in-person and virtual Naloxone & Opioid Overdose Prevention Training sessions into June of next year.

Twelve sessions will take place at The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road in Batavia and six will be held at GCASA’s Outpatient Clinic in Albion starting in January. Additionally, six virtual training classes are scheduled, beginning Jan. 9.

The dates at The Recovery Station are as follows:

  • Jan. 20, 10 a.m.
  • Feb. 23, 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 17, 10 a.m.
  • Feb. 27, 6 p.m.
  • March 17, 10 a.m.
  • March 27, 6 p.m.
  • April 21, 10 a.m.
  • April 24, 6 p.m.
  • May 19, 10 a.m.
  • May 22, 6 p.m.
  • June 16, 10 a.m.
  • June 26, 6 p.m.

The dates at the Albion Outpatient Clinic are as follows:

  • Jan. 9, 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 13, 6 p.m.
  • March 13, 6 p.m.
  • April 10, 6 p.m.
  • May 8, 6 p.m.
  • June 12, 6 p.m.

Virtual training dates, all at 1 p.m., are Jan. 9, Feb. 13, March 13, April 10, May 8 and June 12.

Participants are asked to register in advance by sending an email to [email protected] or calling 585-815-1883.

Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. Examples of opioids include heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, and morphine.

The GCASA series is partially funded by United Way.

December 7, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in st. james, Genesee Chorale, music, arts, entertainment, news.

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The Genesee Chorale performs its annual holiday concert -- From Star to Star -- at 4 p.m. on Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church.

Ric Jones is the director. Janine Fagnan is the associate conductor, and Doug Hanson is the accompanist.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or at www.geneseechorale.com/box-office.

St. James is located at 405 East Main St., Batavia.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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December 6, 2022 - 11:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, Stafford, Christmas, news.

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It's a lot of work, Tim Adams admits, to decorate the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford. But it's worth it when he sees a kid's face light up to see all of the sparkling colors that are spread around the property.

"We had a customer last night that called the display 'magical,' which is pretty cool," Adams said during Saturday's free Community Christmas event.

He spends five or six weeks putting up the lights each year.  He gets some help, but does most of the work himself. Christmas is his favorite time of year, he said.

"It's nice to see all the kids who enjoy and appreciate the lights, because there's really not a lot of places to go and see something like this," Adams said.

Adams and partner Steve Foster started the annual tradition seven years ago, about the same time the annual light display on Fargo Road was ending its long run as the county's premier Christmas light destination.  Adams and Foster decided the best way to show off their holiday light display was to host a free Community Christmas, which they did this past weekend.

They offered a food trailer, carriage rides, a visit with Santa, and, of course, a chance to walk through and around the light displays provided for free to the community. The holiday tour at the Route 5 restaurant came with some help from the volunteers of Stafford Fire Department.

"We wanted to do something nice for Stafford and our local communities," Adams said.

The tradition actually began about a month before the official season of Santa Claus, Foster said.

"I think what made it right for us, and it happens every year, is on Thanksgiving, we weren't having Thanksgiving dinner until later, and we were out doing Christmas lights, and a van full of kids came through and said, 'Merry Christmas. We love your Christmas lights.' That's why we do it," Foster said.

Red Osier is also once again collecting holiday-time donations. This year the donations are going to Toys for Tots, Western New York Heroes, Little Tots, and the community pantry at St. James Episcopal Church.

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Photos by Howard Owens.

December 6, 2022 - 11:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, news, veterans, NYS Veterans Home.

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The Oakfield-Alabama Hornets Cheerleaders are collecting holiday decorations to donate to veterans staying at the New York State Veterans Home in Batavia.

They are accepting donations for any decor as well as holiday craft supplies so that veterans can decorate their rooms, doors, and bulletin boards for the holidays. 

The cheerleaders are also collecting holiday cards written to veterans.

There are donation boxes at the high school or contact cheerleading coach Kate Engle at [email protected].

Submitted photo.

 

December 6, 2022 - 7:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STOP-DWI, news.

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For the fourth straight year, Zoey Shepard created an award-winning STOP-DWI poster, but this time, the Byron-Bergen senior nabbed the grand prize in the program's annual poster contest.

She received her award Monday from the Genesee County STOP-DWI Advisory Board at Terry Hills.

The board also honored the top cops for the past 12 months -- the officers in Le Roy, Batavia, and the Sheriff's Office with the most DWI arrests and a demonstrated commitment to preserving the safety of Genesee County residents. For Le Roy, Jordan Wolcott, for Batavia, John Gombos, and for the Sheriff's Office, David Moore.

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Jordan Wolcott

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John Gombos

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David Moore

 

December 6, 2022 - 7:19pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, City Fire, Josh Graham.

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Josh Graham’s career path began awhile ago as a kid going on ride-alongs with his firefighting grandpa.

And now, the torch has seemingly been passed on to Jaxon, Graham’s 11-year-old son. Jaxon has regularly accompanied his dad to the Arcade department to clean or roll the hose and other tasks. In other words, “he’s right there with us,” Graham said.

The father-son team intends to be a firefighting duo for some time to come no matter where they are.

“He’s got his Arcade Fire Department jacket. He gets a weekly allowance if he does his chores, and he likes us to put that on Amazon; he’s been ordering medical equipment to build his own EMT bag,” Graham said Tuesday at his office at Batavia City Fire headquarters. “I plan on seeing myself retire from here.”

Graham, a Corfu native now living in Arcade, has been in the fire business for more than 20 years, ever since he volunteered as a firefighter at age 16. He was hired by the city as fire chief, and has been learning his new role for about a month now.

Equipped as an assistant fire chief with Arcade, associate degrees in Strategic Operations Management and in Fire Science and a bachelor's degree in Fire and Emergency Management, Graham reached the rank of Senior Master Sergeant in the military, and  held the position of Deputy Fire Chief with his Reserve Flight.

The 37-year-old was only hesitant about one thing when taking his current administrative position.

“If there was a reservation about taking this position, it was probably that I love riding in that truck on calls. Where I came from, the fire chief and the deputy chief did not respond to calls, unless there was something catastrophic. This position is kind of unique in that I can go to whatever calls I want to go to,” he said. “So even though I'm not riding in the fire truck, I can still respond to the calls. I'm still assisting on the scene and things like that.”

That doesn’t mean he can skimp on administrative duties, and he has been working on paperwork, schedules, new and future hires, trainings, and — tis the season — the city’s annual budget.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski has been knee-deep in the budget process, she said, beginning to meet with department heads to find out what their needs are, and what can and cannot be included in the overall financial plan. For Graham, he is determining what equipment, materials, and other costs will be part of his roughly $4.4 million budget this next year.

“So we're at the very beginning of all that, but the city manager has been great," he said. "And anything that our initial talks, that she and I discussed, and something that we need is justified, she's been very understanding of that stuff. So, there's a balance … it's just finding that balance that allows us to continue to operate efficiently and serve the community while not going crazy.”

Renovations have been slated for the Evans Street station, including at the one bathroom available to the men and women personnel, he said. Work has just been put out for bid, so that’s likely a project that will go into next year.

So what is it about the role of firefighter — and chief — that has drawn him in so deeply?
“I've always wanted to be a firefighter since I was a kid. I just like the thought of helping people. And 9/11 had a lot to do with it as well,” he said. “I was a junior in high school when 9/11 happened … that made me want to serve my country, so I figured I would join the military as a firefighter.”

He, his wife Carrie and Jaxon live in Wyoming County and will continue to do so until Graham has passed his six-month probation period. After that, the family will move to the city, per residency requirements. The new chief is also a state fire instructor, which means teaching classes periodically in his home county.

While much has remained the same when responding to fires and accidents, two things have changed, he said: more lightweight structures that don’t hold up to flames and electric vehicles. EV batteries are "super hot" and can burn for hours. Although he hasn't encountered such a situation here yet, it's something to be aware of and trained for, he said. A typical vehicle fire may use up to 1,000 gallons of water, versus 20,000 to 30,000 for electric vehicle batteries, he said. 

When asked what moments hang with him from being on the job, he first thought about the survivors: to be there and calm them down and help them to get through the incident. He also remembers saving people who were in cardiac arrest — dramatic saves that don’t often happen when people are having heart attacks, he said.

Six new hires and a transfer from Jamestown have meant more training and initiation of personnel. But he doesn’t believe in fixing what isn’t broken, and the city fire department is in great shape, he said.

“When I came in, I saw that they were doing a fantastic job,” he said. “My goal is to maintain the same level of proficiency and level of care that’s been provided for quite some time.”

His induction has been more about meeting people, learning about what and who is at the station, and throughout the city, including Tabelski, the Public Works Department personnel and city police, he said.

To say he’s been busy is an understatement.

“I told someone I think I’ve eaten lunch three times since I started,” he said with an unreluctant smile. “It’s absolutely a lifestyle, for the last 20 years.”

The department is climbing its way back up to full platoons, with an expected total of 36 people in the next year. Retirements, transfers, and — yes, still — COVID issues have bogged down hiring practices for the last couple of years, he said. He's ready to lead.

"I always say I have a servant leadership style," Graham said. "My job is to make sure that everybody that works here has everything they need to do their job, and that would include their morale, it would include the equipment, training, anything that may come up as a hindrance to them being able to do their job and serve the community is something that I need to handle."

In his free time, Graham enjoys hunting deer and turkeys, and camping and riding ATVs with his family.

Photo: Newly appointed City of Batavia Fire Chief Josh Graham at the Evans Street station. Photo by Howard Owens.

December 6, 2022 - 6:11pm
posted by Press Release in news, Batavia City Police Department, batavia.

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Press Release

The Batavia Police Department in collaboration with the Village of LeRoy Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will hold the 8th annual “Shop With a Cop” event. The event will take place Saturday, December 10th at the Walmart located at 4133 Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia. 

Approximately 30 children will be participating in Saturday’s event, and any excess funds raised will be banked towards next year’s event. Each child will have the opportunity to take a photograph with Santa and meet their individual police officer before browsing the store.

“I want to acknowledge the hard work and effort put forth by our officers into organizing this event for the community and in particular Detective James DeFreze who does a tremendous job every year in putting this event together,” Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said. “We are proud of the efforts of our department to have started this event eight years ago, and by partnering with the Le Roy Police Department and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, this has become a highly anticipated event in the community.”

Donations have been received from Wal-Mart, H.E. Turner & Company, Inc., the Batavia Police Benevolent Association, Civil Service Employee Association (CSEA), Bonarigo and McCutcheon law office, and other members of the community.

Approximately $2,800 has been raised to date.  Those interested in donating can contact Detective James DeFreze at [email protected].

“On behalf of our department, the Village of LeRoy Police Department and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office we would like to thank Walmart for their generosity and assistance in making this event possible,” Heubusch said.

File Photo of City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch participating in Shop With a Cop in 2021. Photo by Howard Owens.

December 6, 2022 - 2:00pm

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Press release:

The Genesee County Interagency Council, Inc. honored Esther Leadley at their monthly meeting on Nov. 16 with their first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.  The council recognized Esther with a plaque citing “outstanding service and commitment” to the council for 26-plus years.

Leadley began her career in Genesee County in 1985 with Genesee Community College working with displaced homemakers.  From there, Leadley worked as a member of the Genesee County Legislature and the EOP in Geneseo, as well as served on many area boards and councils.  Leadley is currently a board member of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, as well as a Community Advocate.

December 6, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, genesee county, health department.

img_2281paulpettit.jpgFrom the study of diseases and visiting people where they're at, to finding families that have been exposed to toxic levels of lead, it would seem that the Health Department of Genesee Orleans is taking health on the road. 

The Health Department would like to set up a mobile clinic to provide various services, such as health checks and vaccines, and had issued a request for proposals. Only one bid came in — for a 25-foot and a 30-foot recreational vehicle from Don Brown Bus Sales, Inc. of Johnstown, Public Health Director Paul Pettit said during Monday’s Human Services meeting. 

Pettit asked that the county reject the bid in lieu of finding something for a smaller price tag.

“We've been working on trying to get a mobile RV in place with some of the COVID money. We could have utilized one of these to do things through all of the last couple years with our testing clinic and also the vaccines,” Pettit said. “Unfortunately, when we put it out, all things came in over our price point. So I'm working with Jeff to modify that and put it back out again, and hopefully get something that's within the budget. So we have to reject this one.”

The bid would have been about $40,000, which is several thousand more than what’s available, he said. When asked for other uses of the mobile van, Pettit pointed to migrant outreach.

“So we do go to the farms and different things, we take it out to different clinical activities in the evening. And it’s available for other departments, essentially a mobile vaccination clinic,” he said. “But if we use it for other purposes, we're also looking to get a sprinter van, and they are in Orleans County. So we'll have different types of approaches and so forth … and to have it available, again for, hopefully, we don't have to use the word pandemic again, but for a similar situation.”

Pettit proposed an inter-municipal agreement for a shared position of director of health promotions and epidemiology coordinator to the current agreement between Genesee and Orleans counties. The annual stipend for shared administrative staff listed in this agreement will increase to $8,500 annually, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

A year from then, effective Jan. 1, 2024, the contract would include a 2 percent cost of living increase. Related expenses to this move are eligible for state aid, the resolution states.

Epidemiology is the study of the presence or absence of diseases, including the frequency and origins of diseases that occur in different groups of people.

Human Services Committee members were also asked for preliminary approval of a grant from the Housing and Urban Development agency to support a lead removal effort in Genesee, Orleans, Livingston and Wyoming counties.

The total grant of $2,455,000 would help minimize hazards, especially from older homes that may contain higher levels of lead in paint.

“So you're dealing with homes with younger kids, typically. We obviously are going to get their blood level tested when they want to do it, and if it's elevated, that's where we get involved. But there's probably a lot of scenarios where these homes just don't have the kids anymore, and you're not getting blood tests,” he said. So the XRF machines (considered the gold standard in lead paint testing) are pretty amazing. And they literally — you could shoot this wall and it can tell you all the layers of paint. They literally can read it right through a textbook. Yeah, I mean, it's pretty amazing.”

The committee agreed to pass the resolution on to the Ways & Means Committee, and then on for a final vote by the Legislature. The $2.455 million grant would be for related lead detection and treatment through December 2026.

December 5, 2022 - 10:40pm

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At least one question that readers and The Batavian had about the new electric vehicle charging stations on the west side of town has been answered: they are open for business.

Two Teslas were captured in action this weekend at the station on Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia. Emails and a phone call this past week to Lisa Appelbaum, project developer of Charging Infrastructure, were not returned, nor were emails to Tesla's Press Office returned for comment. 

Photo by Howard Owens.

 

December 5, 2022 - 1:34pm
posted by Press Release in news, Batavia Middle School, notify, centennial.

Press Release

In celebration of Batavia Middle School’s 100th anniversary, the Batavia City School District is hosting a celebration on Thursday, December 8, at 7:00 PM with a special concert by the Batavia Middle School Band, Orchestra, and Chorus, as well as a presentation of the recently restored historic bells that called students to school more than 150 years ago. 

Construction of the current Batavia Middle School building began in 1922. The building originally housed both junior and senior high school students. The existing Batavia High School building was built in 1961, and 96 Ross Street was officially redesignated Batavia Middle School. 

“We’re proud to be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Batavia Middle School. The history of 96 Ross Street is the foundation of the Batavia City School District. Whether through the old Batavia High School building or the Middle School building we enjoy today, generations of Batavians have passed through these halls,” said Superintendent Jason Smtih. “Batavia Middle School is a jewel in our District, and we can’t wait to see what the next 100 years will bring.” 

Over the last year, Batavia Middle School staff members, in collaboration with Genesee Valley BOCES, worked to restore a pair of historic bells that were once used at 96 Ross Street, then Batavia High School, through 1924.

With support from the Batavia City School District leadership team and in collaboration with our BCSD Maintenence Department and the Genesee Valley BOCES Auto Body Department, the bells have been restored to working condition and will be placed inside the Batavia Middle School auditorium on both sides of the stage. 

“It’s been so rewarding to restore these historic bells to their original beauty and purpose,” said Batavia Middle School Principal Nathan Korzelius. “It truly was a collaborative effort between our BMS team and the wonderful crew of teachers and students at Genesee Valley BOCES. These bells will be displayed proudly and will remind every student who passes through these halls of the history of this wonderful building.” 

The 100-year celebration and presentation of the restored bells will take place in the Batavia Middle School Auditorium (96 Ross Street) on Thursday, December 8, at 7:00 PM. The school’s band, orchestra, and chorus will perform a special arrangement designed especially for this event. The celebration is free and open to the public.

December 5, 2022 - 12:57pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, GO ART!, batavia.

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A battle of the publishers this weekend came close to a tie, pitting former Daily News publisher Tom Turnbull against Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian. The match-up was for GO Art!'s Bartender Challenge, a fundraiser for the Batavia-based  nonprofit.

After about two dozen patrons participated, the total tips were counted: $164 for Turnbull and $159 for Owens. All in good fun, it ended well with a contribution of $323 for Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. 

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Photos by Stephen Ognibene.

 

December 4, 2022 - 5:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Christmas in the City, parade, batavia, downtown, BID, news, Christmas.

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Downtown merchants, through the Business Improvement District, hosted their annual Christmas in the City Parade on Saturday evening.

Photos by Philip Casper.

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