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January 26, 2020 - 8:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia, weather.

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A light amount of heavy, wet snow is falling in Batavia and the roads are getting slick.

At about 8:35, a vehicle failed to negotiate a curve in Ganson Avenue and slid into a tree.  City Fire and Mercy EMS were called to the scene to evaluate a pregnant woman who was riding in the backseat.

Officer Mark Lawrence said City DPW has been notified of road conditions and are expected to start treating roadways.

Here at The Batavian, we go out at night to find out what's going on so you don't have to. Help us do more to inform you about what's going on in your community by becoming a supporter.

January 26, 2020 - 2:20pm

Amid the unpredictable spread of the potentially fatal coronavirus, which has already been confirmed in three cases domestically, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed today (Jan. 26) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot access a special federal funding account known as the "Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund" until the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), led by Secretary Alex Azar, officially declares a “public health emergency” related to the coronavirus.

Schumer made the case to affirm this emergency declaration and further revealed that in the recent budget deal he just negotiated, he was able to increase the very account relevant to combatting the coronavirus from $50 million to $85 million.

“If we have learned anything from the risks that new viruses pose to public health it is that a ‘stitch in time saves nine,’ and the more we can do to be proactive, the better off the public will be,” Schumer said.

“The CDC has been doing a tremendous job so far at being proactive and working around the clock to protect public health, but if we are going to make sure they can sustain this pace and remain at-the-ready should the outbreak get worse, they will need immediate access to critical federal funds that at the present time they remain unable to access.

"That is why, today, I am urging HHS to follow the CDC’s proactive lead: declare a formal public health emergency for the coronavirus. In doing so, HHS will unlock tens of millions for the CDC to access.”

Schumer explained that in the recent budget deal he just negotiated, he and Representative Nita Lowey, the chairwoman of House Appropriations Committee, were able to increase the account needed to combat the coronavirus from $50 million to $85 million.

Schumer explained exactly what the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund dollars will help the CDC achieve.

“The critical thing about these specific dollars is that the CDC has full discretion," Schumer said. "The agency can use them for whatever activities it deems appropriate, so long as they inform Congress. This kind of flexible funding needs to be unlocked now should this outbreak worsen."

Schumer said the dollars could also be used by the CDC for, amongst other things:

  • Epidemiological activities, such as contact tracing and monitoring of cases;
  • Additional or enhanced screenings, like at airports;
  • Support for state, local, and tribal health departments;
  • Public awareness campaigns
  • Increased staffing.

Schumer explained that the sole purpose of his push today is to ensure the feds have the dollars necessary to wage a proactive and ongoing war against this developing outbreak. Even though the current risk to the American public remains low, Schumer said the federal funds must be unlocked now so that the CDC has them at-the-ready.

He added that, thus far, the CDC’s work has been critically important and that the agency will need immediate access to more funds if coronavirus continues to infect more Americans. He made the case for the emergency declaration as he detailed what happens next at the federal level amid this developing outbreak.

Schumer also confirmed today that a SUNY Stony Brook professor, who was visiting family in Wuhan, China, has been unable to return to the United States as a result of China’s lockdown. Schumer said today that he has worked with the State Department and Embassy officials to ensure the SBU professor is in constant contact with U.S. officials. Schumer said the United States is working on arranging a flight home for the SBU professor.

The novel coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV” by CDC) can cause a wide range of symptoms, from those similar to the common cold to more severe respiratory illness that can be fatal. There is currently no direct cure-all, but a vaccine is currently under development at the National Institutes of Health.

According to the Washington Post, Chinese officials first detected this new strain of the virus on Dec. 31 in Wuhan, China. They initially linked it to an unsanitary food market where seafood and mammals were sold for human consumption. Scientist said people who were sickened were likely to have eaten something infected with the virus.

To date, there are nearly 2,000 confirmed cases in China, more than 50 reported deaths, and confirmed cases across 10 countries. The first case in the United States, discovered in Washington State, was confirmed on Jan. 21st, and there have been reports of a second case in Illinois and a third in California.

In response to this outbreak, travelers from Wuhan, China are being screened for symptoms associated with the virus at five U.S. airports, including JFK. Additionally, China has placed travel restrictions on several cities and banned large public gatherings in an attempt to contain the virus.

To protect against infection, the CDC recommends basic hygiene techniques such as frequent hand washing, staying hydrated, and coughing into one’s arm or a tissue. If there’s a fear of animal transmission, CDC officials urge people to wash hands after contact with animals and thoroughly cook any meat before consumption.

January 26, 2020 - 12:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Beth Parlato, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Yesterday, the county chairs held a closed-door meeting to pick career politician Chris Jacobs for the GOP ballot in the special election. This decision does not reflect the voice of the voters of NY27. Jacobs has voted to raise taxes and fees, funded planned parenthood, has been weak on the Second Amendment and voted to provide free college tuition. As a Republican in name only, he is the wrong fit for the constituents in the reddest district in New York State. 

As the true conservative, our message has resonated with voters. In six short days, we had over 2,500 voters sign our pick Parlato petition. Our campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, our grassroots continue to build and we are gaining momentum as our movement continues to motivate and excite voters throughout the district.

We believe the voters deserve to have their voices heard. Therefore, we will continue our campaign and look forward to winning the Republican nomination in the June primary.

January 26, 2020 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, alexander.

A two-car, head-on, minor-injury accident is reported in the area of 3325 Broadway Road, Alexander.

The accident is partially blocking the roadway.

Alexander fire along with Mercy EMS dispatched.

January 26, 2020 - 10:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy Fire, news, Le Roy.

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Jared Chick was named Firefighter of the Year for the Le Roy Volunteer Fire Department at the department's annual awards and installation dinner on Friday night, held at the Stafford Fire Hall.

Le Roy responded to 289 alarms in 2019.

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Craig Johnson was issued the Medal of Valor for rescuing a woman from an early morning house fire in May 2019.

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Rick Bater, past chief

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The installation of fire fighters; Joe Orlando, left, Josh Fendler, right. 

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Tim Yaeger administers the oath of office for Le Roy's officers and board members.

January 26, 2020 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in water main, infrastructure, news, batavia.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Department is on location of a water main break in front of 185 Pearl St. The water will be turned off on Pearl Street from 100 Pearl to the western City line.

We appreciate your understanding while this repair is being made. City crews will make every attempt to restore water as soon as possible.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: Water service has been restored.

January 25, 2020 - 9:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Jacobs, NY-27, news, notify.

Press release:

State Senator Chris Jacobs received the Republican nomination for the special election to Congress from Western New York’s now-vacant 27th Congressional District seat.

 “I’m honored by this opportunity and I want to thank the county chairs and my fellow candidates,” Jacobs said. “Western New York needs a strong advocate in Congress who will stand with President Trump and get results for the American people.”

“Governor Cuomo is doing all he can to hand this seat to the Democrats, but I’m prepared for the fight,” Jacobs said. “I’ve got a track record of winning tough races and delivering real results for this community and we’ll win this race by focusing on strengthening the future of Western New York by creating an environment for job growth, defending our borders and preserving our shared values and ideals.” 

About Chris Jacobs
Chris Jacobs is a conservative reformer, small businessman and New York State Senator representing Erie County in Western New York. First elected to the Senate in 2016 and re-elected in November of 2018, Chris has been a strong voice for Western New York, fighting against policies driven by New York City political interests that are harmful to the region. He has also been a strong advocate for government reform. The first piece of legislation Chris introduced in the Senate was term limits for all state elected officials.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Jacobs was the first Republican clerk elected in Erie County in 40 years. As county clerk, Jacobs was credited with reforming the operations of the Office’s Real Estate Division, which had fallen into dysfunction. Jacobs drove dramatic efficiencies and revenues throughout the Clerk’s Office without increasing the number of employees. He was also credited with building the clerk’s “Thank A Vet” Program, now the largest veterans discount program of its kind in the entire state. As clerk, he also ran Erie County’s Pistol Permit Division, where he received an accommodation for his strong defense of Second Amendment rights, especially during the passage of the New York SAFE Act.

A small business owner, Jacobs is the founder and owner of Avalon Development. Founded in 2002, Avalon has redeveloped many vacant and historic buildings in Western New York. Chris has received numerous awards for bringing older buildings and the communities around them back to life. His projects have focused on providing unique and affordable space for small businesses to thrive. Jacobs’ business experience is one reason he believes that small business creation and growth is critical to the region’s comeback.

Jacobs' first job after college was working in Washington, D.C., for former Buffalo Congressman and Buffalo Bills quarterback Jack Kemp. In 1994, Jacobs returned home to Western New York to start the BISON Scholarship Fund, a charity that raised donations to help send children to private and religious schools. BISON will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary this fall, over that time providing scholarships for more than 20,000 children throughout Western New York. Jacobs believes that all children in America, no matter their income or their address, deserve an education of the highest quality.

Jacobs grew up in Western New York. He is married to Martina Jacobs and they have a daughter, Anna. He is a graduate of Boston College and has an MBA from American University in Washington, D.C., and a law degree from SUNY Buffalo.

January 25, 2020 - 12:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, pembroke, batavia.

Daniel Jon Lewis, 23, of Genesee Street, Lima, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. Lewis was arrested Jan. 23. He is accused of stealing a vehicle from the 5000 block of Clinton Street Road in Batavia at 8:39 a.m. on Jan. 3. He was issued an appearance ticket for Feb. 6 in Town of Batavia Court, at which time he will be arraigned. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Investigator Chad Minuto.

Jennifer Ann Clarke, 22, of Beckwith Drive, Pembroke, is charged with stalking in the fourth degree and second-degree aggravated harassment. She was arrested Jan. 23. She is accused of sending several text messages and making several phone calls to an individual after being told to stop contacting that person. Clarke was arraigned in Pembroke Town Court on Jan. 23 and then was released under supervision of Genesee Justice. Clarke is due in Pembroke Town Court again on Feb. 4. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor, assisted by Deputy Erik Andre.

January 25, 2020 - 12:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, STOP-DWI Crackdown, Super Bowl Weekend.

Press release:

Genesee County STOP-DWI coordinator Matt Landers announced today that the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, City of Batavia Police Department and the Village of Le Roy Police Department will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving.

The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on Friday, Jan. 31st and will end on Monday, Feb. 3rd. The Super Bowl is America’s most watched national sporting event and Super Bowl Weekend is historically a deadly period for impaired driving.

Genesee County Sheriff, William Sheron Jr. said, “Let’s all be on the winning team, don’t drink and drive.”

Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem.

New York State Police, County Sheriffs and municipal law enforcement agencies will collaborate across the state and will be out in force in this coordinated effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths.

You can help to make a difference by having a plan! Download our new mobile app – “Have a Plan” and you will always be able to find a safe ride home.

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, designate a responsible driver before the game begins. We want fans to remember that it’s a choice. So root for your favorite team; enjoy your friends and family and remember “DON’T DRIVE, GET A RIDE!"

The Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign also targets St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend, Halloween and the national Holiday Season in December.

January 25, 2020 - 11:54am
posted by Billie Owens in news, ILGR, disabilities.

Press release:

The Western New York Independent Living Inc. Family of Agencies (WNYIL) will be holding its 40th Annual Meeting of members, consumers, staff, and other friends of the Agency on June 9 – and wants to do something new and exciting.

For years, WNYIL has honored an individual and a company, each of which has made an outstanding contribution to activities benefitting the community of citizens with disabilities in the preceding year. Previously, Agency staff have discussed candidates internally and reached a consensus; but, for this landmark anniversary, we are offering YOU an opportunity to nominate people and corporations that meet the following criteria – but your responses are needed by May 15. Here are the awards:

Elayne G. Wels Community Support Award: This award is given to an individual who personally and/or professionally supports, promotes and embraces the Independent Living philosophy throughout the community.

Corporate Support Award: An award given to a company that supports WNYIL and promotes and embraces the Independent Living philosophy throughout the community. Some honorees from prior years include: the Northtown Automotive Companies; Main Mobility; Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel LLP (now part of Bond, Schoeneck and King PLLC); the University Heights Arts Association;and Zajac Funeral Home Inc.

In case you wondered, the Independent Living (IL) philosophy is the belief that the person who has a disability is the best expert on her/his needs and should be empowered to make the final decision on personal services and solutions, and must be heard in issues of systemic advocacy. It is the product of the Independent Living civil rights movement of citizens with disabilities that began in the 1960s, and has spawned hundreds of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) nationwide, including one in Genesee County on West Main Street in Batavia.

If you are aware of an individual and/or a company which has served those with disabilities, please contact Daniel Colpoys, WNYIL’s Chief Community Engagement officer at (716) 836-0822, ext. 166; or email him with the nominee’s name, a paragraph about his/her/its qualifications and contact information, as well as YOUR name and contact information, to [email protected].

Thank you for your willingness to help acknowledge deserving members of our community!

The Western New York Independent Living Inc. Family of Agencies offer an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

January 25, 2020 - 11:44am
posted by Billie Owens in civil war, Rudely Stamp'd, GCC, history, news.

Submitted photo and press release:

From their tiny offices on the second floor of humanities suite at Genesee Community College's Batavia Campus, Associate Professor of History Derek Maxfield (top photo, left) and Professor of English Tracy Ford became colleagues, then friends, and eventually formed their own theater group, Rudely Stamp'd, where they became generals from a bygone era.

Maxfield's passion for history and Ford's obsession with the written and spoken word is no longer confined to their separate classrooms, or even GCC. The dynamic duo has begun performing their unique program around the country.

The Fairfield County Heritage Association in Lancaster, Ohio, will celebrate General William T. Sherman's 200th birthday in a grand gala on Saturday, Feb. 8, from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Mill Event Center located at 431 S. Columbus St., in Lancaster -- Sherman's hometown. The Association has invited Rudely Stamp'd, starring Maxfield, who plays the role of General Ulysses S. Grant and Ford as General William T. Sherman to be featured as part of the celebration!

Performed by Rudely Stamp'd nearly two dozen times in venues across the country, "Now We Stand by Each Other Always" features conversations between Grant and Sherman at critical times during the Civil War. Act I takes place at Vicksburg, Miss., as the men plan for the fall of the city to Union forces in July 1863. Act II portrays a meeting between the generals in Cincinnati, Ohio, as the men plan for the Atlanta and Overland campaigns in 1864.

Finally, Act III takes place at City Point, Va., as Sherman briefs his chief about his wildly successful exploits in Georgia, during the March to the Sea, and his campaign through the Carolinas. The generals also plot an end to the remaining Confederate armies. Acts II and III will be performed at Sherman's Birthday Celebration in Lancaster on Feb. 8.

The Rudely Stamp'd program illustrates the collaboration, dedication and expertise of GCC professors. Maxfield and Ford combined their talents and their craft as teaching professionals to create a program that not only benefits local communities, but often provides GCC students, specifically the History Club, with unique opportunities to appreciate the importance of history and its continued significance on contemporary times.

Many of the performances have also engaged students in event planning, sound and light technology, public speaking and understanding the value of community collaborations, which is a key value under the College's declared mission.

While many of the local performances have been free and open to the public, tickets to the Lancaster performance are $40 each. Available online at www.fairfieldheritage.com, or by calling the office at 740- 654-9923.

The ticket cost includes hors d'oeuvres, the Rudely Stamp'd performance, a General Sherman look-alike contest, Civil War costumes and trivia contests, and much more!

"This will be our third out-of-state performance, and Tracy and I continue to be impressed with how audiences engage with the characters, and are truly absorbed by their story," Maxfield said. "Being asked to perform in Sherman's hometown and on his 200th birthday is a profound honor for us."

For more information about the "Now We Stand by Each Other Always," contact Derek Mayfield at [email protected] or go to https://rudelystampd.wordpress.com/. Rudely Stamp'd is also scheduled to perform in Brunswick, N.C., on March 3.

January 25, 2020 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, news, awards.

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Photos by Howard Owens. Information via Sheriff's Office press release.

Officer of the Year Award – Investigator Christopher A. Parker
Investigator Christopher A. Parker has distinguished himself in the performance of service to the citizens of Genesee County during 2019. Investigator Parker’s professional skill and devotion to duty are evident in his work practices. He is a 22-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office and continues to maintain an exemplary drive with regard to every aspect of police work. His commitment to public safety is apparent as he is credited with recent investigations leading to the removal of two illegal handguns from our community. The quality of Investigator Parker’s work was displayed this past year during a successful prosecution of a fatal hit-and-run motor vehicle accident in which he was the lead investigator. He dedicated countless hours to ensure justice which resulted in a vehicular manslaughter conviction. Investigator Parker undertakes investigations into complex financial crimes against the elderly, works as a fire investigator, and is an invaluable intelligence resource. Investigator Parker has fostered relationships with law enforcement personnel from countless agencies and works to gather and share intelligence concerning criminal activity.

Investigator Christopher A. Parker has reflected great credit upon himself and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and most deserves to be named Officer of the Year.

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Distinguished Service Award – Emergency Services Dispatcher Steven L. Robinson
Emergency Services Dispatcher Steven L. Robinson has distinguished himself as a member of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. Thirty years ago, Dispatcher Robinson began his lengthy career in emergency communications; and during this time, he has been the recipient of numerous awards for his professionalism and dedication. Dispatcher Robinson has spent many years as a trainer of new dispatchers and provided critical insight during the consolidation and creation of the Genesee County Emergency Services Dispatch Center. Additionally, Dispatcher Robinson played an integral role in establishing quarterly workshops in which law enforcement officers and dispatchers meet face to face to discuss topics of mutual concerns. He often volunteered for extra assignments including maintaining records validation within the New York State Integrated Justice Portal.

Emergency Services Dispatcher Steven L. Robinson reflects great credit upon himself and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

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Longevity Awards

  • Correction Officer Andrew D. Hurley, 10 years
  • Chief Deputy Joseph M. Graff, 15 years
  • Emergency Services Dispatcher Stephen R. Smelski, 15 years
  • Undersheriff Bradley D. Mazur, 20 years
  • Deputy Sheriff John P. Weis, 20 years
  • Deputy Sheriff Nathan W. Balduf, 25 years
  • Investigator R. Pete Welker, 25 years

Meritorious Awards

  • Sr. Correction Officer Jason R. Queal, 1st

Commendations

  • Principal Financial Clerk Deborah A. Shea, 1st
  • Deputy Sheriff Richard S. Schildwaster, 1st
  • Correction Officer Michael F. Lindsley, 1st
  • Investigator Joseph D. Loftus, 2nd
  • Correction Officer Andrew D. Hurley, 2nd
  • Correction Officer Daniel J. Renz, 2nd
  • Deputy Sheriff Ryan W. Young, 3rd
  • Sr. Emergency Services Dispatcher Jason W. Holman, 3rd & 4th
  • Youth Officer Howard J. Carlson, 4th
  • Emergency Services Dispatcher Lynn B. Riccobono, 6th
  • Sergeant Andrew B. Halem, 6th
January 24, 2020 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in County Republicans, news.

The Genesee County Republican Party met last night and made the following endorsements, according to Chairman Richard Siebert:

  • Family Court: Eric Adams
  • 138th Assembly District: Steve Hawley
  • 61st State Senate District: Ed Rath
  • Sheriff: William Sheron
  • Coroner: Adam Palumbo and Karen Lang

As for the NY-27 congressional race, the Republican county chairs will meet with the candidates, perhaps tomorrow. Siebert said he was told to keep his morning open but he has yet to receive confirmation of a meeting.

CORRECTION: We neglected to include Scott German, endorsed for county treasurer.

January 24, 2020 - 10:41am
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, news, batavia.

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported in the city at Central Avenue and Jackson Street. It is blocking traffic. City fire and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 11:11 a.m.: A driver with two minors as passengers struck an unoccupied parked car for unknown reasons. One person was being evaluated by medics. The accident is under investigation.

UPDATE 11:26 a.m.: Law enforcement is requested to the scene.

January 24, 2020 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Scholastic Bowl, news.

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Alexander edged out Batavia 260 to 240 points in Thursday's first match of the Scholastic Bowl at Genesee Community College. 

In the high-scoring match, Le Roy also tallied 190 points for third place.

In the second match, Akron beat Pavilion 340-90.

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January 24, 2020 - 8:07am

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On a national level, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses has decreased over the past two years, but that trend doesn’t give the nearly 450 members of the GOW Opioid Task Force any reason to relax their efforts in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

That was the message communicated by the coalition’s leaders on Wednesday during their quarterly meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road in Batavia. About 100 people representing a cross-section of organizations from the three counties attended.

“We’ve seen a 5 percent decrease from 2017 (in the number of opioid-related deaths) and that’s a positive thing … but we need to stay the course, even if the numbers are going down,” said Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties.

Pettit’s statement is especially true when considering the data from the GOW counties, particularly Genesee, which had an opioid overdose death rate of 36.2 per 100,000 people in 2017 – one of the highest in the United States.

That number went down to 21.1 in 2018, but in Orleans County the rate rose from 17.1 to 29.5 from 2017 to 2018 while in Wyoming County the rate stayed the same at 27.

The opioid epidemic started due to physicians’ overprescribing drugs such as Oxycodone, Pettit said, and evolved into serious problems with heroin and fentanyl after laws were passed that restricted access to the prescription drugs.

Drug overdoses resulted in nearly 800,000 deaths to Americans from 1999 through 2018, including 47,590 from opioids in 2018 alone, Pettit reported.

Pettit applauded the work of the GOW Task Force which has taken on the crisis by pooling the resources of the three counties and developing six “work groups” that meet on a regular basis – Access to Care, Community Education, Data, Family/Loved Ones/Allies, Law Enforcement and Naloxone.

He also noted the significance of funding provided by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

“The funding is very important in that it enabled the task force to hire someone (a project coordinator) with a dedicated focus,” he said. “They see the value in what we are doing.”

The meeting also featured reports from the chairpersons of the work groups and task force evaluators, updates from the GRHF President Matthew Kuhlenbeck and GOW Task Force Coordinator Christen Ferraro, and a summation of the state’s new bail reform law by Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen (see story below).

Access to Care – John Bennett and Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, executive director and project director, respectively, at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and Holli Gass, clinic director at Spectrum Health and Human Services, outlined the numerous services and programs that have been instituted in all three counties – programs such as expanded jail services, childcare for patients, crisis housing and certified peer recovery advocate training.

Bennett also said that a 16-bed detox center and recovery recreation center in Batavia and a 25-bed women’s and children’s residence in Albion are on the horizon (with the recovery center at the former Bohn’s Restaurant expected to open by the end of February).

Community Education – Sherri Bensley, a GCASA employee, explained the role of this work group is to facilitate the task force meetings, including setting up venues, speakers and vendor tables, and to coordinate media campaigns with the three county’s hospitals.

Specific ongoing projects are educating the senior population about opioids and the handling of prescription medications and assisting the task force in distributing “Dispose Rx” packets.

Data – Brenden Bedard, Genesee County director of community health services and deputy public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said the role of the evaluators is to ensure that task force initiatives are data-driven, to get that data to the community and to use the data to support grant applications.

In addition to the county overdose death rates mentioned above, he reported that there were 23 opioid overdose deaths in the three counties in 2019 – down from 38 the previous year – and that Naloxone (Narcan) administration – given to those who are overdosing from opioids -- has decreased in all three counties since 2017.

Bedard also said that more than 2,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected during “take back days” in both 2018 and 2019.

Families, Loved Ones and Allies – Sue Gagne, coordinator of the Recovery WOW program, said that the goal of her work group is to support families of those in active addiction or recovery and families of those who have died as a result of drug use.

She reported that the group plans another Overdose Awareness Day this summer at Austin Park.

Law Enforcement – Batavia City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch touted the tri-county law enforcement collaboration on projects such as drug drop-off and jail programs, and participation in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative that creates non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

Naloxone – Chairperson Charlotte Crawford reported that more than 1,300 people have been trained in the use of Narcan, including all of the peer recovery advocates.

A video, “Narcan After Care,” can be viewed on the GOW Opioid Task Force website at https://www.gowopioidtaskforce.org/.

Tom LaPorte, Ph.D., research scientist with the Center for Human Services Research, University of Albany, said that evaluation objectives include reaching 1,800 users per year with opioid information, deploying peers or recovery coaches to assist 90 percent of opioid patients and increasing the number of people trained to administer Narcan by 500 per year.

“This provides us with useful feedback that providers of services can use for data-driven decision-making,” he reported.

In closing, Kuhlenbeck and Ferraro spoke of the importance of making sure grants were available for programs in rural counties, and set goals as follows:

-- Establish and implement policies and protocols at United Memorial Medical Center, Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital, and for contacting Peers/Wyoming County Community Health System Recovery Coaches on call every time a person arrives at the emergency department due to opioid use.

-- Establish a three-prong approach: peers called, bridge scripts are given, and naloxone training is provided.

-- Schedule and conduct doctor-to-doctor trainings and conversations in each county on opioids, non-opioid pain management alternatives, and limiting opioid prescription writing.

-- Conduct at least two community education events around non-opioid pain management alternatives, and create and publish two press releases or news articles on non-opioid pain management alternatives.

-- Communicate with Buffalo and Rochester hospitals to share policy best practices and advocate for and locally lead action toward improvements.

The next quarterly meeting of the GOW Task Force is scheduled for April 23 at a site to be determined.

Photo above: Taking part in Wednesday's GOW Opioid Task Force meeting were, from left, Christen Ferraro, task force coordinator; Donald O'Geen, Wyoming County district attorney; Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties; Laura Paolucci, Wyoming County public health administrator, and Matthew Kuhlenbeck, Greater Rochester Health Foundation president.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 24, 2020 - 8:07am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GOW opioid task force, bail reform law.

The Wyoming County district attorney on Wednesday spoke out against New York State’s new bail reform rules, stating that they will adversely affect law enforcement’s efforts to assist those struggling with drug addiction.

Speaking at the GOW Opioid Task Force quarterly meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia, Donald O’Geen said that state lawmakers’ decision to require automatic appearance tickets or “released on own recognizance” status for all misdemeanor and non-violent felonies means that many who are using opioids or other drugs won’t have access to treatment programs provided in local jails.

“This law takes us back to where we we’re 30 years ago,” he said, adding that the powers-that-be in Albany passed these new rules without the input of the police agencies or attorneys who deal with crime on a regular basis.

Bail now can only be set on certain qualifying offenses, such as first- and second-degree assault, rape, manslaughter, sexual abuse, but suspects must be set free for crimes such as second-degree burglary, grand larceny, non-violent homicides and, according to O'Geen, "every single drug case.”

“We want to treat the users, but you have to (be able to) get after the dealers,” he said.

O’Geen said the reform measures are based upon a “false narrative” – that poor people are languishing in jail because they can’t make bail.

“That is definitely not true,” he said. “The ones incarcerated are the flight risks and those who present risks to public safety.”

The district attorney also noted that the time restrictions to turn over documents to defense lawyers – in most cases, 15 days – put a huge burden on police, district attorneys and labs.

“This is not CSI New York. You don’t go to a commercial break and the labs (results) are done,” he quipped.

He said that the new rules, which took effect on Jan. 1, have created a “lawlessness system” where many of those charged don’t show up for their court appearance.

“If they don’t show up, we have to send a second notice,” he said. “If they fail to appear again, we have to wait another 48 hours and send out another notice before we can issue a warrant for their arrest.”

O’Geen said pressure is being put on Gov. Cuomo to modify the law, but criticized the State Assembly for “holding fast” to the current provisions.

“I think the only way it will happen (modifications) is through his budget,” he said. “That’s how it passed in the first place.”

According to a Siena College poll released on Tuesday, more New Yorkers are taking O’Geen’s view.

The poll found that 49 percent of respondents said the changes were bad for New York while 37 percent said they were good for the Empire State, a far cry from April 2019 poll numbers that showed that 38 percent said it would be bad and 55 said it would be good.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 23, 2020 - 9:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, VTL Impact Aid, batavia, news, notify.

Another proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to shift local revenue to the state coffers has come to light: Cuomo is proposing eliminating the local share of video terminal lottery money from facilities such as Batavia Downs. 

That would mean a $440,000 loss in revenue for the City of Batavia, $200,000 for Genesee County and $160,000 for the Town of Batavia.

Local officials are not pleased.

County Manager Jay Gsell has a laundry list of complaints about new mandated expenses in funding. This is just an extra burden for the county to shoulder.

Gsell said what he called a "bait and switch" on Aid to Municipalities funding where county sales tax proceeds will replace direct state aid, cuts in community college aid, and no reimbursement for early voting expenses.

"NYS counties will be gathering in Albany next Monday through Wednesday to gain more insight and develop resolution and position papers for the upcoming 2020 NYS legislative session," Gsell said. "The sentiment so far coming from the executive branch is disheartening and discouraging and fraught with peril from my perspective only three weeks into the new Genesee County budget year."

City Manager Marty Moore said the news of the VLT cuts comes at a bad time -- just as the city is wrapping up its own budget process.

"The loss of the VLT money is tough considering we balance the general fund to the penny," Moore said.  "Our feeling is obvious -- please put it back."

He called on state officials to enter into some dialogue and communication with local governments and listen to the impact the cuts will have locally.  

Since Batavia Downs doesn't pay any local property tax, the VLT money helps offset the expense of hosting the facility in the county, the town, and the city.  The facility needs support for crowd control at major events, police protection, fire protection, health and safety support, along with the roads that get people to and from the gaming casino.

"I do think it's important that our operations are supported by the money that comes along with it to help pay for some of the expense," Moore said.

In a budget statement, the governor's office justifies the cuts by the suggestion that local municipalities receive more in "VTL Impact Aid" (the formal name of the program) than it costs to host the facility.

This category of State aid was created to support assumed local service needs associated with hosting VLT facilities, but the revenue benefits of hosting a facility outweigh any associated costs. Further, not all municipalities that currently host VLT facilities receive aid through this program and the State does not provide additional "impact-type" aid for other types of facilities which may have similar local public service impacts as VLT facilities, including community colleges, SUNY campuses, and State office buildings. Accordingly, the Executive Budget eliminates VLT Aid outside of Yonkers, which is the only municipality receiving this aid to direct the funds to educational purposes.

It's been a point of pride for Western OTB officials for years that the facility supports the counties that oversee the facility with VTL money. 

Henry Wojtaszek, Western OTB CEO, said he will be closely monitoring the proposal.

"We work well with local governments and understand that these VLT aid monies substantially help them," Wojtaszek said. "We hope that local elected representatives will listen to the concerns of our host municipalities and work towards the best possible outcome."

Both State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer said they will work to protect the local share of VTL funds.

"This cut in aid is unacceptable," Ranzenhofer said. "At a time when the governor is proposing more unfunded mandates on our local governments, these reductions will have devastating impacts on our local taxpayers.  The governor is attempting to fill the budget deficit, that he created by overspending, through cutting crucial funding to Genesee County communities."

Hawley said, "The Governor needs to look toward actually cutting spending (that’s what real families and businesses do). We have a self-inflicted $6.2 Billion deficit (we spent that more than we took in). Why in the world would he look to take money that is shared with our local communities (which helps keep our local taxes lower than they would be without this money)? He’ll be hurting our local communities."

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January 23, 2020 - 4:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, county office of the aging, Ruth Spink.

Submitted photo and press release:

Ruth Spink attended her last monthly management meeting Jan. 15th before retiring from the Genesee County Office for the Aging where she served as director.

Before reading a retirement commendation, Genesee County District #9 Legislator Gary Maha shared memories of when he met Spink years ago.

County Manager Jay Gsell thanked Spink for her dedication to ensuring quality, relevant services were provided to Genesee County’s senior and disabled population. He went on to say, “Ruth recognized the value of older adults, their wisdom and experience, and worked tirelessly to embrace the positives of aging.”

Spink began her employment with OFA as the aging services specialist in 1994 and was promoted to services administrator in 2001.

She went to work at the Genesee County Nursing Home as a supervisor before returning to OFA in 2006 where her vision for the department was to become more of a long-term care support system for the county, as well as a resource for information and referral. Spink took great care to empower OFA employees and began an informal cross-training program to allow employees to learn aspects of different jobs.

Nearly all County department heads and supervisors were on hand to congratulate Spink. It was bittersweet for all who heard for the last time how much she loved working for Genesee County.

Top photo, from left, Legislator Gary Maha, OFA Director Ruth Spink, Legislature Chair Rochelle M. Stein, Legislator Gordon Dibble.

January 23, 2020 - 4:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, elba, bergen, oak field.

James E. Tripp, 58, of Batavia, is charged with three counts of possession of a sexual performance by a child, a Class E felony. The incident allegedly occurred Oct. 13, 2017 and he was arrested by NYS Police Troop A in Batavia on Jan. 21 and arraigned at 10:08 a.m. in Town of Batavia Court. He was issued an appearance ticket for a later date, unspecified, in Batavia Town Court.

Kyle A. Mancuso, 27, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with: unlawful imprisonment; harassment in the second degree; and criminal mischief in the fourth degree. Mancuso was arrested Jan. 19 following an investigation of a domestic complaint that occurred that morning at 3:29 a.m. on Ellicott Street in Batavia. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and was due there again today (Jan. 23). The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Jordan McGinnis.

Brian J. Miller, 38, of Harvester Avenue, Batavia, is charged with: second-degree harassment; criminal mischief; and criminal obstruction of breathing. Miller was arrested after a Jan. 12 domestic incident on Harvester Avenue. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court, released on his own recognizance, and is due back in court Jan. 30. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Felicia DeGroot, assisted by Officer Alec Roberts.

Johnathan Brice White, 27, of Buffalo Street, Bergen, is charged with falsifying business records in the first degree and criminal contempt in the second degree. On Jan. 23, White was arrested. It is alleged that White made a false entry into the business records at Genesee County Jail by using the personal identification number belonging to another inmate. It is also alleged that White's intention to defraud was to conceal his identity while violating an order of protection. He was issued an appearance ticket for Jan. 28 in Batavia City Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Travis DeMuth.

Phillip P. Heale, 41, of Woodrow Road, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. Heale was arrested Jan. 15. He is accused of violating an order of protection barring him from contacting the protected party at 11:27 p.m. Jan. 15 on Washington Avenue in Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket for Batavia City Court and is due there Feb. 4. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Flanagan.

Franklin Dean Cook, 37, of Ridge Road, Elba, is charged with first-degree criminal contempt. He was arrested Jan. 22 on an arrest warrant out of Elba Town Court that was issued Jan. 15. It is alleged that on Jan. 8 on Ridge Road in Elba that he violated a stay away order of protection. He was arraigned in Elba Town Court and is due back in court on Feb. 26. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush, assisted by Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Travis James Schultz, 31, of Webber Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with driving while intoxicated -- first offense, and refusal to take breath test. Schultz was arrested following an investigation of a hit and run accident that occurred at 12:59 a.m. Jan. 19 on West Main Street in Batavia. Police located the suspected vehicle involved and arrested Schultz, who was released with appearance tickets. He is due in Batavia City Court on Feb. 5. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis, assisted by Officer Sean Wilson.

Christopher M. Sims, 31, of Batavia, address not provided, was arrested by Wyoming County Sheriff's Deputy William Asquith on Jan. 21 on Silver Lake Road in the Town of Perry. Sims was allegedly found to be operating his vehicle while the registration was suspended for an insurance lapse. He is charged with operating a vehicle with a suspended registration. Sims was released on an appearance ticket for Town of Perry Court and he is due there at a later date (unspecified).

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