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June 1, 2020 - 8:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in protest, black lives matter, George Floyd, news, video, batavia.
Video Sponsor

Ken Marrocco, a Batavia resident, was at the intersection of Main and Ellicott in Batavia this afternoon and evening carrying a sign that read "Black Lives Matter."

Marrocco was responding to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer, a death that has sparked nationwide protests, some peaceful, some turning violent.

June 1, 2020 - 7:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek, outdoors, fishing, news, photos, batavia.

gonefishinontonawanda2020.jpg

It was a beautiful evening for fishing on the Tonawanda Creek behind the courthouse in Batavia.

gonefishinontonawanda2020-2.jpg

June 1, 2020 - 7:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

  • Positive Reform Agenda Also Includes National Ban on Excessive Force; Independent Investigations of Police Abuse; Disclosure of Disciplinary Records of Police Officers Being Investigated 
  • Governor Cuomo: "I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It's frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there's no excuse for it. No right minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course."
  • Cuomo: "You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage. But then you say, 'Here's my agenda. Here's what I want.' That's what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse."
  • Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed a positive reform agenda amidst the ongoing protests across the state and nation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The reform agenda includes a national ban on excessive force and chokeholds by law enforcement officers; independent investigations of police abuse conducted by independent, outside agencies - not by local prosecutors; and disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

We're talking about reopening in one week in New York City. Now we're seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could, in fact, exacerbate the COVID-19 spread. We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see there's mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people. After everything that we have done. We have to talk a minute and ask ourselves what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?

We have protests across the state that continued last night, they continued across the nation. Upstate we worked with the cities very closely. The State Police did a great job. We had, basically, a few scattered arrests, upstate New York. But the local governments did a great job, the people did a great job, law enforcement did a great job. The protestors were responsible. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad, either, upstate.

 I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It's frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there's no excuse for it. No right-minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It's not just Mr. Floyd, it goes back - there are 50 cases that are just like Mr. Floyd. We've them here in New York City. What's the difference between Mr. Floyd and Amadou Diallo? Or Abner Louima? Or Eric Garner? What is the difference? What have we learned? Nothing?

So, yes, we should be outraged. And yes, there's a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police. But it's something worse. It is racism. It is discrimination. It is fundamental inequality and injustice. My father spoke about it in 1984. The speech called "The Tale of Two Cities." People still talk about it. The point of the tale of two cities is there's two Americas. Two sets of rules. Two sets of outcomes. Two sets of expectations. It's true. It was true then, it's true now. Look at our prisons and tell me there's not inherent injustice in society. Look at public housing, tell me there's not inherent injustice.

Look at what happened with this COVID infection rate nationwide. More African Americans infected, more African Americans dead proportionally than white Americans. Of course, there's chronic institutionalized discrimination. There is no doubt. There is no doubt. And there's no doubt that it's been going on for a long time and people are frustrated, and it has to be corrected and it has to be corrected now. And there's no doubt, that this nation as great as it is has had the continuing sin of discrimination. From before the nation was formed and it started with slavery. And it has had different faces over the decades, but it's still the same sin. That is true. That is true. So let's use this moment as a moment of change? Yes. 

When does change come? When the stars align and society focuses and the people focus, and they focus to such an extent that the politicians follow the people. That's when change comes. "Well, the leaders lead!" Baloney. The people lead. And then the politicians see the people moving, and the politicians run to catch up with the people. How did we pass marriage equality in this State, giving a new civil right to the LGBTQ community? Because the people said, "enough is enough. How can you say only heterosexual people can marry, but the LGBTQ people— they can't marry? How is that constitutional? How is that legal?" You have your own preference— God bless you. But how in the law, do you discriminate between two classes of people. We passed marriage equality.

 After the Sandy Hook massacre, after all those years we tried to pass common-sense gun safety. Do you really need an assault weapon to kill a deer? But then the Sandy Hook massacre happened, and the people said, "enough. You're killing children? Young children in schools with an assault weapon? In the Sandy Hook massacre. Enough."

And in that moment, we passed common-sense gun safety in the State of New York. Record income inequality? People said, "enough" and passed a real minimum wage in this State that went all across the nation. There's a moment for change, and is there a moment here? Yes. If we're constructive and if we're smart, and if we know what were asking for! It's not enough to come out and say, "I'm angry, I'm frustrated." OK. And what? "Well, I don't know, but I'm angry and frustrated."

And you want what done? You need the answer. "Well, I want common-sense gun reform." OK, what does it look like? Here it is— three points. "Well I want to address income inequality." Well, what do you want? "Here's what I want. Minimum wage at $15. Free college tuition." What do you want?

You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage! But then you say, "here's my agenda. Here's what I want." That's what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse. When you have the local District Attorney doing the investigations— I don't care how good they are— there is the suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that DA works with that police department every day and now that prosecutor is going to do the investigation of that police department that they work with every day? Conflict of interests can be real or perceived. How can people believe that the local prosecutor who works with that police department is going to be fair in the investigation? It shouldn't be state by state. Minnesota Governor Walz put the attorney general in charge. Good. In this state, I put attorney general in charge of investigations where police kill an unarmed person. Good. But it shouldn't be the exception. It should be the rule. There is no self-policing. There's an allegation, independent investigation. Give people comfort that the investigation is real. 

If a police officer is being investigated, how is there disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer is being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this was a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? By the way, the disciplinary records can also be used to exonerate. If they have disciplinary records that say he never, she never did anything like this before, fine. That's relevant too.

We still have two education systems in this country. Everybody knows it. Your education is decided by your zip code. Poorer schools in poorer communities have a different level of funding than richer schools in this state. $36,000 per year we spend in a rich district. $13,000 in a poor district. How do you justify that? If anything, the children in a poorer community need more services in a school, not less. How do you justify that? You can't. Do something about it. You still have children living in poverty in this nation? Well, when we had to, we found a trillion dollars to handle the COVID virus, but you can't find funding to help children who live in poverty? No, you can find it, United States. You just don't want to. It's political will. When you need to find the money, you can find it. Let's be honest, the federal government has a printing press in their basement. When they have the political will, they find the money.

The federal government went out of the housing business and never re-entered it. We have a national affordable housing crisis. Of course you do. You don't fund affordable housing. I'm the former HUD secretary. I know better than anyone what the federal government used to do in terms of affordable housing with Section 8 and building new public housing. And we just stopped, and we left it to the market. Now you have an affordable housing plan. That's what we should be addressing in this moment. And we should be saying to our federal officials, "There's an election this year, a few months away. Here's my agenda. Where do you stand?" Say to the congress, the House and Senate, "Where's your bill on this?" 

I heard some congressional people talking saying well maybe they'll do a resolution. Yeah, resolutions are nice. Resolutions say in theory I support this. Pass a law, that's what we want. A law that actually changes the reality, where something actually happens. That's government's job is to actually make change. Make change. You're in a position to make change. Make change. Use this moment to galvanize public support. Use that outrage to actually make the change. And have the intelligence to say what changes you actually want. Otherwise, it's just screaming into the wind if you don't know exactly what changes we need to make. 

And we have to be smart in this moment. The violence in these protests obscures the righteousness of the message. The people who are exploiting the situation, the looting, that's not protesting. That's not righteous indignation. That's criminality and it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don't want to make the changes in the first place because then they get to dismiss the entire effort. I will tell you what they're going to say. They're going to say the first thing the President said when this happened. They're going to say "These are looters." Remember when the President put out that incendiary tweet? "We start shooting when they start looting or they start looting, we start shooting?" That's an old '60s call. The violence, the looting, the criminality plays right into those people who don't want progressive change. And you mark my words, they're going to say today, "Oh you see, they're criminals. They're looters. Did you see what they did breaking the store windows and going in and stealing?" And they're going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they're all criminals, they're all looters. That's what they're going to do. Why? They don't want to talk about Mr. Floyd's death. They don't want people seeing that video. They want people seeing the video of the looting. And when people see the video of the looting they say "Oh yeah, that's scary. They're criminals." No, look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd. That's the video we want people watching.

Now, I don't even believe it's the protesters. I believe there are people who are using this moment and using the protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy, who want to disrupt. By the way, there are people who want to steal. And here's a moment that you can use this moment to steal. You can use this moment to spread chaos. I hear the same thing from all the local officials. They have people in their communities who are there to quote-unquote protests. They're not from their community. They don't know where they're from, extremist groups, some people are going to blame the left, some people will blame the right. It will become politicized. But there is no doubt there are outside groups that come in to disrupt. There is no doubt that there are people who just use this moment to steal. What, it's a coincidence they broke into a Rolex watch company? That was a coincidence? High-end stores, Chanel. That was a coincidence? That was random? That was not random. So, can you have a legitimate protest movement hijacked? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And there are people and forces who will exploit that moment and I believe that's happening.

But we still have to be smart. And at the same time, we have a fundamental issue which is we just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings. And now mass gatherings with thousands of people in close proximity one week before we're going to reopen New York City? What sense does this make? Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread. We don't even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gatherings. We don't even know. We won't know possibly for weeks. It's the nature of the virus. How many super-spreaders were in that crowd? "Well, they were mostly young people." How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello or shook hands with their father or hugged their father or their grandfather or their brother or their mother or their sister and spread a virus?

New York City opens next week. Took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart? New York tough. We went from the worst situation to reopening. From the worst situation to 54 deaths in 50 days. We went from the worst situation to reopening in 93 days. We did that because we were New York tough. New York tough was smart. We were smart. We were smart for 93 days. We were united, we were respectful of each other. We were disciplined. Wearing the mask is just discipline, it's just discipline. Remember to put it on, remember to pick it up, remembering to put it on when see someone, it's just discipline.

It was also about love. We did it because we love one another. That's what a community is. We love one another. And yes, you can be loving even in New York. Even with the New York toughness, even with a New York accent, even with a New York swagger. We're loving. That's what we've done for 93 days in a way we've never done it before. Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime has this city and this state come together in the way we have. I don't think it ever will again, in my lifetime. Now you can say maybe it takes a global pandemic for it to happen. I don't know if that's true and I don't know that the power of what it was like when it came together might not be so beautiful that people want to do it again.

Remember when we all acted together during coronavirus and we rallied and we knocked coronavirus on its rear end. Remember when we all wore masks and we had to have hand sanitizer? Remember what we did? Wow. When we come together, we can do anything and it's true. It's true for the state, it's true for a nation. When you come together and you have one agenda you can do anything. You want to change society, you want to end the tale of two cities, you want to make it one America? You can do that, just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end.

People united can do anything. We showed that, we just showed that the past 93 days. We can end the injustice and the discrimination and the intolerance and the police abuse. We have to be smart. We have to be smart right now. Right now in this state. We have to be smart tonight in this city because this is not advancing a reform agenda. This is not persuading government officials to change. This is not helping end coronavirus. We have to be smart.

June 1, 2020 - 6:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, elba, scanner.

A caller reports three little children are walking in the roadway in Elba in the area of Bank Street Road near Whitney Mill Road. One of the tykes is in a stroller; the caller estimated their ages to be from 2 to 4. There is no adult with them. A Sheriff's deputy is responding.

June 1, 2020 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

New Cases

  • As of 2 p.m.
    • Genesee County received one new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 189 positive cases.
      • The positive case resides in Batavia.
      • The positive individual is in their 20s.
      • The positive case was on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • One of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
    • Orleans County received four new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 234 positive cases.
      • One of the new positive individuals resides in Ridgeway, three of the new positives individuals live at Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
      • Of the new positive case one of the individuals is in their 20’s, one of the individuals is in their 60s, one of the individuals is in their 70s and one of the individuals is in their 80s.
      • The new positive case was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • Two of the previous positive cases has recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Nineteen of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
      • We are sorry to report that we have lost one more county resident due to COVID-19. The individual resided at the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of these individuals during this very sad time.

Click here to view the Genesee and Orleans counties' online map of confirmed cases.

Phase Two is now open in the Finger Lakes region! There are still limitations. We encourage business owners to go to the NY Forward website and click on Phase Two for more information.   https://forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries

Per Governor Cuomo, gatherings of 10 or less are permitted with social distancing and sanitization protocols in place. The executive order is only good for 30 days or unless it is extended. 

For questions go to NY Forward website and the Regional Control Room (for guidance and to answer your questions:  mailto:[email protected]). To file a complaint about a business, location or incident in your community you can call (833) 789-0470 or file online.

  • Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting for Reopening America, click here.
  • Dentists statewide can reopen starting today -- June 1st -- while adhering to best practices for safety and social distancing guidelines.
  • All businesses opening in Phase Two are required to have their Business Safety Plan in place, review the summary guidelines for their business and read and affirm the detailed guidelines. All this is to be kept on the premises. The local health department will not be reviewing these plans, however they need to be accessible for state and local authorities.

To learn more, visit New York State on PAUSE online NYS on PAUSE. To assist local authorities with enforcement of these orders, the Governor established the New York State PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force where individuals can file complaints regarding the operation of nonessential businesses or gatherings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click here to file a complaint online. You may also call 1-833-789-0470. Businesses that are not in compliance with the Governor’s executive order may be penalized.

  • A reminder that outdoor seating for restaurants is still prohibited according to the Governor’s Executive Order and Phase One and Phase Two guidelines. Restaurants are to provide takeout or delivery for off-premise consumption only until Phase Three or until the Governor states otherwise.  

Swabbing and antibody testing is becoming increasingly available in the WNY region. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your primary care provider and they will determine if testing is right for you. If the counties receive an increase in swabbing supplies and the protocol for testing is changed, we will notify the public. The Health Departments are not providing public swabbing due to lack of supplies. For more information on testing click here.

There is free antibody testing available for food delivery and restaurant workers now through Thursday, June 4th. Testing is walk-in testing from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and face masks are required at each of the testing locations. The closest testing location is Erie Community College North Campus. It takes a while for antibodies to build up, so it is best to wait until at least 21 days have passed since you had a positive viral test or the symptoms of COVID-19 started.

If you were already tested and the results were negative, or you have never been tested and you have been exposed to the virus at work or at home, you can also be tested using the dried-blood spot test. For antibody testing system questions use this email.

Reopening Guidance: Links to assist businesses

o   Link to the NY Forward Reopening guide (PDF).

o   Regional Control Room email.

o   Link to NY Forward website.

o   Link to NY Forward "Can I reopen?" Business Look-up Tool.

  • Public/Private Beaches guidelines.
  • COVID-19 Test Site Finder.
  • Masks / Face Coverings Both counties are still low in supplies of masks. They are being distributed to high-risk agencies / businesses as prioritized and if there is a supply left over they will be distributed in an appropriate manner. County plans for releasing supplies to the public will be forthcoming as supplies become available. Additional information will be released by the respective County Emergency Management offices as appropriate.  
  • ROC COVID-19 Health Screener: This symptom tracker for the Greater Rochester region is a scientific study collected aggregate data by zip code to track hot spots of COVID-19. The data will potentially show how the virus may be spreading, identify areas that may be at risk and determine how our efforts are working to slow the spread. You can participate by taking the daily survey whether you are having symptoms or are feeling healthy. It just takes a few seconds. To learn more, click here
  • The Nursing Home hotline number is (833) 249-8499 or click this link for the online form.
June 1, 2020 - 3:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BBQ for Equality, news, video, live stream, batavia.
Video Sponsor

Interview with Macy Paradise, about the upcoming BBQ for Equality

June 1, 2020 - 2:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in Genesee County Treasurer's Office, news, coronavirus.

From Genesee County Treasurer Scott D. German:

Effective immediately, the Genesee County Treasurer’s Office is now reopened to the public while still complying with face-mask requirements.

The Treasurer's Office located in County Building #1 on the third floor is now open from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

I am asking anyone coming to the Treasurer’s Office to please use the front entrance on Main Street or those needing the elevator to use the entrance on the west side of the building facing the old courthouse. The door on the Court Street side will become an exit only once the DMV reopens.

While we are still in the coronavirus pandemic, I am encouraging residents to please mail in your tax payments as well as any notarized applications for Certificates of Residency to: Genesee County Treasurer, 15 Main St., Batavia, NY 14020.  

Anyone owing taxes to the county may look up the amounts due on our website.

Should you have any questions, feel free to give my office a call at (585) 815-7803.

June 1, 2020 - 2:08pm

Press release:

Calling all eighth- to 11th-graders in Genesee County interested in Youth Court! Youth Court is a voluntary alternative for young people who face disciplinary action through school or law enforcement.

Youth who are referred admit to the charge and appear before a court of their peers. There are three youth judges who listen to both sides of the issue and determine an appropriate disposition. The goal of Youth Court is to improve youth citizenship skills and decrease problematic behavior.

Youth Court members learn about the judicial process and law enforcement, group decision making; develop their public speaking skills; participate in a great leadership opportunity; and learn and participate in all roles of the courtroom: judge, prosecution, defense, and bailiff.

Eighth- to 11th-graders who are interested can go online to access an application form on the Genesee County website.

Print the application, fill it out and:

  • Mail it to: Chelsea Elliott, Youth Court, Genesee County Youth Bureau, 2 Bank St., Batavia, NY 14020
  • Or scan it electronically and email it to:   [email protected]
  • Or fax it to: (585) 345-3063

Applications are due by July 31st.

Interviews of potential candidates will take place in August with the training to begin in October.

For more information on the Genesee County Youth Court, please contact Chelsea Elliott at the Genesee County Youth Bureau, 344-3960.

June 1, 2020 - 2:06pm

The agenda for Tuesday night’s Batavia City School District Board of Education meeting sheds more light on the jobs earmarked for termination or abolishment under the 2020-21 budget,

According to the agenda of the meeting, which can be viewed on the BOE website’s YouTube channel, the following positions are being terminated, effective July 1:

-- Five elementary teachers (who worked at either Jackson Primary School or Batavia Middle School);
-- A special education teacher (middle school);
-- A reading teacher (middle school).

Additionally, numerous positions will be abolished. They are:

-- Coordinator of assessment and instruction (administration);
-- Instructional technology coordinator (administration);
-- Deputy school district treasurer (district-wide);
-- Math teacher, science teacher and social studies teacher (high school);
-- Half-time music teacher (high school);
-- Library media specialist (middle school);
-- Reading teacher (middle school);
-- Special education teacher (middle school) and special education teacher (high school);
-- Nine elementary teachers (six at Jackson, two at John Kennedy Elementary and one at middle school);
-- Clerk-typist (middle school);
-- Building maintenance worker (middle school).

Personnel cuts were approved by the board of education at its April 28th meeting in order to close a significant gap in a $51.4 million budget. Staff reductions and other cost-saving measures enabled the board to present a budget with no property tax rate increase.

Previously, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski reported that 12.5 positions were reduced through retirements and resignations, with 10 more full-time-equivalents cut via long-term substitute assignments ending June 30.

Board of Education President Patrick Burk today said he thinks this action will have minimal impact upon students.

“We’ve done this with the cooperation of our building leaders and principals and we are working very hard to make sure that the impact on students is minimal. I believe that it will be,” he said. “All we can do now is plan and see what is going to be happening for the upcoming year – and all that’s up in the air still. We’ll find out what the actual impact is as time goes on.”

Burk said that the process has been very difficult as well as “sad and nerve-wracking.”

“I’m a big supporter of our staff as people will tell you,” he said. “I think we have an excellent staff. We do a great job of hiring. We do a fantastic job with making sure students are cared for. Anytime that things are interrupted for any reason it’s a very sad situation.”

Voting on the budget is taking place by absentee paper balloting.

Absentee ballots must be returned by mail no later than 5 p.m. on June 9 to the Office of the District Clerk at Batavia High School Administrative Offices, 260 State St., Batavia, NY 14020. Any absentee ballot received after 5 p.m. on June 9 will not be considered.

When asked if he was concerned about the reduction of so many elementary teaching positions, Burk explained that decreased enrollment in the younger grades played some part of that decision.

 “I do know that two or three of those were because of enrollment. If we don’t have the enrollment, we can’t maintain the number of sections we have in a specific grade,” he said. “All people in all positions who work for this district are very important to me, and I think that that message could be lost. My hope is that eventually we will have some sort of rebound and not all the negative that seems to be out there – with what could be coming down the road.”

Burk responded to a question about the cost per pupil by stating that it’s not a true assessment of a district’s effectiveness. He said the district’s total enrollment (Universal Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade) is around 2,400 students.

“I know that we’re much lower than many other small city schools, and obviously, in some cases we might be a little bit higher, but it’s not a good practice to really compare from that level because a lot of it is dependent on what has to be made available in the district,” he said.

He said a particular small city school has less students than Batavia, but a larger budget because it services a “tremendous number of students with special needs – especially English language learners.”

“So, right there you’re bringing in a tremendous amount of people to work and develop language skills, plus special ed and more. Plus, when you’re in a situation like that, it’s over every grade – not just one grade that you have to add someone to,” he said.

Burk said Batavia supports a wide variety of educational programs at all grade levels, including elementary music and art.

“Kindergarten isn’t even mandated in New York State; we offer full-day kindergarten,” he said. “There are a lot of things that are really comparing apples to oranges unless you’re looking at the services that are provided.”

Burk also commented on last week’s vote by the Batavia Teachers’ Association to reject a proposal by administration to change the school day starting and ending times. If it had passed, the district would have realized an additional $200,000 in savings that were not part of the 2020-21 budget.

“If the staff and the families are not in favor of the proposal …that’s certainly understandable," he said. "It was done in a way to make sure that we can keep everything going properly for our kids – and everything’s going to same this year anyway. I’m fine with the vote, and I thank them for putting it to a vote. It’s pretty much what I expected.”

June 1, 2020 - 2:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, reopening, Richmond Memorial Library.

Press release:

At 1 p.m. today (June 1) the Richmond Memorial Library reopened with limited services, including:

  • Browsing and circulating the library collection
  • Library account services (new cards, paying fines)
  • Placing holds on LOCAL materials only
  • Reference services
  • Faxing, photocopying
  • Limited computer access
  • Virtual library programs

Sorry, the library is NOT yet open for:

  • Sitting
  • Reading
  • Gathering
  • Playing
  • Interlibrary loans or holds
  • In-person library programs

The library has returned to its normal hours of operation for these services: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, for the safety of library staff, any library patron who is over 2 years of age must cover their nose and mouth with an appropriate mask or cloth face-covering in order to enter and remain inside of the library building.

Library patrons who are unable to medically tolerate a face-covering may request exemption or accommodation by contacting the Library Director Robert Conrad by telephone at (585)343-9550, ext. 7, or  or email:   [email protected]

Please return most materials (books, movies, music, etc.) to the drive-up or walk-up book returns located outside of the library.

Materials unsuited for book returns (e.g., board games, Playaway devices) can be returned inside of the library. Fines will be waived on items returned before June 22.

All returned items will be held in quarantine and sanitized before being shelved or circulated. Sorry, we cannot accept donated materials until further notice.

The library's 2020-21 budget was amended to require no tax levy increase. Therefore, the library budget vote previously scheduled for May 7 was cancelled.

The library's 2020 trustee election will be held on June 9 via absentee ballot conducted in conjunction with the Batavia City School District's budget vote and trustee election.

Richmond Memorial Library’s online resources remain available 24/7!

Check out Hoopla and OverDrive for audiobooks, eBooks and more! Freegal offers free music downloads and unlimited streaming of thousands of songs through September. Borrow your favorite magazines for free with RB Digital.

There is a lot to discover at batavialibrary.org where all you need is your library card!

June 1, 2020 - 1:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in social justice, news, batavia, Williams Park, notify.

100587039_286339972521442_8533694546469453824_n.jpg

What once was billed as a protest is being transformed into a call for unity in the City of Batavia.

Area resident Macy Paradise formed a group called "Community Against Social Injustice" met with city leaders today and together they worked out a plan for a BBQ for Equality to be held at Williams Park at noon on Sunday.

Originally, Paradise and group members were planning a "protest" outside City Hall on Sunday but after violence erupted in other cities following peaceful protests, Paradise said he recognized the risk to local businesses in holding an event downtown.

He said the City of Batavia and City Church have agreed to donate food for the BBQ. The restriction on public gatherings in the park will be lifted Sunday afternoon for this event.

Statement from Macy Paradise:

In light of the recent destructive events happening nationwide and after meeting with many head city members, we’ve decided to team up with the city to take a proactive approach to getting our voices heard! The City of Batavia has teamed up with Community Against Social Injustice to bring OUR CITY a BBQ FOR EQUALITY in place of the protest. We will meet at NOON on Sunday, June 7th at Williams Park to show that this community can come together as ONE for the same cause, equality! The City of Batavia and The City Church are donating the food and resources necessary to make this event successful! This will be a FREE family-friendly event with many guest speakers, including The City of Batavia’s Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, who will share his views on the recent events happening in our nation and to promote equality within our community! Show up and MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD! We are ALL capable of standing TOGETHER to show that Black Lives Matter and that our community is strong and working together towards the same mission, EQUALITY!

Our mission is to show our community that we are unified in the efforts to end the social injustices happening to our brothers and sisters of color. We hope to bring the whole community together in one place to show how important it is for local police to denounce the actions of those officers who have committed these social injustices to the minorities in this community in hopes that we come together in the fight for equality. We listened to the voices of our local residents and business owners and decided we would make a much more proactive stance if we shifted from a protest to a BBQ/Rally for equality. We’d love all elected city officials, civil servants, businesss owners, and residents to come together and hold each other accountable in the fight for equality. Hopefully this alleviates the fears and brings more people together for a peaceful cause!

Chief Shawn Heubusch confirmed the plan and said city officials were concerned about outside agitators using an event downtown to come here and cause trouble.

"We don't want to see happen here what happened in Rochester," Heubusch said. "It's better that we come together united and have everyone sit down and have a good conversation rather than everybody screaming at each other."

Heubusch will be one of the speakers at the BBQ and he will share his thoughts on the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.

"We're calling on our elected leaders to participate and show those looking for justice that we're united," Heubusch said.

The Batavian will have a live stream interview with Paradise at 3:30 p.m. today and with Heubusch on Wednesday morning.

June 1, 2020 - 1:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Chorale, corvid-19, coronavirus, news.

In the pandemic era, it might be a while before members of the Genesee Chorale can do what they love most, coming together to sing for the public, so Director Ric Jones organized the musicians to create a socially distanced vocal performance.

Each member of the ensemble recorded their parts individually and Jones mixed them together into a single performance.

June 1, 2020 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in gas prices, news.

Press release from AAA:

Today’s average is $1.98, which is 2 cents higher than a week ago. One year ago, the price was $2.83. The New York State average is $2.18 – same as last week. A year ago, the NYS average was $2.94.

AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) reports the following averages:

  • Batavia -- $2.22 (up 1 cent since last week)*
  • Buffalo -- $2.20 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Ithaca -- $2.10 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Rochester -- $2.20 (no change since last week)
  • Rome -- $2.18 (no change since last week)
  • Syracuse -- $2.09 (up 1 cent since last week)
  • Watertown -- $2.18 (no change since last week)

Due to more communities re-opening, the demand for gasoline is increasing, leading to an increase in national, state and local gas prices. As we transition through the reopening phases, and more businesses open across NYS, the demand will grow stronger and will continue to drive up local pump prices. Also, another contributing factor to the higher prices we typically see as the weather warms: summer blend fuel. This more expensive blend of gasoline cost more to produce than winter blend, which also impacts our pump prices during summertime.

*NOTE: The Batavia price reflects an average price for gas stations from throughout the county.

From GasBuddy:

"The pace of increases has begun to throttle back over the last week in most states as gasoline demand's recovery has slowed, keeping prices from matching their rapid pace from just a couple weeks ago.

Prices will continue to move in lockstep with the coronavirus situation, so it remains challenging to know where prices will go in the weeks ahead," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

"Oil prices saw another weekly rise, closing last week at over $35 per barrel due to a collision between oil production cuts and gasoline demand in the U.S. which has been on the mend, leading oil's rally.

"The recovery in gas prices is likely to continue, though at a slower pace than what we've seen, with $2 per gallon likely coming in the next week or two."

June 1, 2020 - 12:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Pavilion, transfer station.

The Town of Pavilion Transfer Station will reopen for regular hours starting this Wednesday, June 3. It is located at 1 Woodrow Drive, Pavilion.

Hours are:

  • Wednesday 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday 7 a.m. to noon

Tickets will be available to purchase at the center.

Masks are required by all residents wishing to use the transfer station. Please maintain six feet of distance between people while at the transfer station.

Do not come to any town facilities if you have experienced fever or other symptoms of illness.

June 1, 2020 - 12:13pm

Batavia First Presbyterian is hosting an online prayer event this evening (via Facebook): "Prayer for Remembrance and Healing."

It is a prayer service from 7 to 7:30 p.m. to remember the murder of George Floyd and to pray for the healing of our country.

Rev. Shiela Campbell McCullough and Rev. Roula Alkhouri will be leading this together.

"Let us unite our hearts in prayer, honoring the life of George Floyd, and praying for the healing of our country from racism and violence. We will ring the church bell and spend some time in silence remembering the (nearly) nine minutes George Floyd gasped for air."

June 1, 2020 - 9:34am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Alexander Central School District.

The Batavian has reached out to school board candidates in Genesee County to get their answers to five questions prior to voting on June 9.

Candidates for a spot on the Alexander Central School District Board of Education (in alphabetical order) are Christopher Mullen and Diane Steel.

One position is up for election for a term of five years commencing July 1, 2020 and expiring on June 30, 2025 to succeed Richard Guarino, whose term expires on June 30, 2020.

The questions are as follows:

1 -- What is your position on your school district’s proposed budget for 2020-21? What parts do you support? What parts would you change if you could?

2 -- Are teachers in your district compensated adequately?

3 -- With what we know now about COVID-19, should schools reopen in the fall?

4 -- Are you satisfied that your district responds to parents’ complaints and concerns in a way that ensures the parents know they have been heard?

5 -- What two books published since The Enlightenment have influenced you the most?

CHRISTOPHER MULLEN

1 -- I am supportive of the 2020-21 school budget and am thankful that the district worked together to develop a 0-percent tax levy increase for this school year. I support the overall structure of the administrative team not taking pay increases this year and setting the tone for fiscal responsibility. I also support all the extracurricular programs that are offered and supported by the district community. I would like a better understanding of the planning and structure of the budget before I could honestly have an opinion about what should be changed.

2 -- I believe that based on the geographic area and the size of the school that teachers are compensated fairly. I also believe that the community strongly supports the teachers and the work they do for the kids of the district.

3 -- Schools should open if we are able to accurately and safely follow the distancing guidelines and other recommendations that support keeping the kids and staff from spreading the virus. This will require a collaborative effort on everyone's part to get kids back to school in the fall. Faculty, students and parents all want school to reopen and be able to reunite again, however, we need to continue to make sure we are responsible and wise how we move forward with this process.

4 -- I believe this is an area that we could continue to develop and improve.

5 -- I had 3. Stepping Up A Call to Courageous Manhood, Dennis Rainey; Quiet Strength, Tony Dungy; Simplify. ten practices to unclutter your soul, Bill Hybels.

DIANE STEEL

1 -- Our District’s 2020-21 total budget is very similar to the 2019-20 total budget. During these uncertain times, while we are experiencing record high employment and reduced wages, taxpayers are most concerned with tax increases. Parents are most concerned about keeping programs and services. I believe this budget strikes a balance for both. I agree that both of these concerns are equally important and maintaining them both should be the focus. I believe we all should be concerned about filling the deficit, if the Governor goes through with his threat to cut funding to schools. This could have a catastrophic effect on future budgets and I look forward to using my financial background, problem solving skills and advocacy for parents, teachers and the community to develop future budgets.

2 -- Alexander has great educators. However, over the past few years, many teachers and staff members have left the district. This is of great concern to me. Teachers teach because they love what they do, so why don’t they want to do it in Alexander? I would recommend the implement of a forum where teachers and staff feel they have a voice. It is important to engage all stakeholders to best move our district forward.

3 -- I would support schools reopening this fall. What I have learned from COVID-19, is that people, our students need in-person interaction with others. Distance learning puts an undue hardship on our families, parents, teachers and staff. Our district does not have the infrastructure in place to make this happen long term. Our children need to interact with their peers and with their teachers. The role the school environment plays on the lives of the student goes far beyond academics. Our kids need and thrive on a routine that the school day provides. Athletics provide for team building and physical activity. Students are influenced by their relationships with their teachers and other students. Schools play a big role in the type of adults our youth become. All this being said, safety of students and staff should be a priority.

4 -- My biggest concern moving forward is that the District effectively communicate with students and parents. It should not be a guessing game. Parents should not be made to feel bad when asking for information. We should respond upon receipt of the first request and should acknowledge all correspondence. The communication on continuing education during this COVID-19 was poor at best. I personally had to send multiple emails to advocate for my daughter’s education. Most of all, it is appalling to me that if you attempt to contact the Board of Education, your elected officials, that the superintendent, is the only one to acknowledge or respond. To me that is completely unacceptable. If elected to the Board of Education, I will respond to each and every email I receive. I may not have the information you need, but I can assure you I will get it! As a parent and taxpayer, the lack of dignity and respect shown by the superintendent, administration and Board of Education to the students, teachers, staff, parents and this community has been my most recent desire to make a difference. I’m not afraid to ask the difficult questions and advocate for what this community needs and wants. I can no longer just sit by and watch the school be destroyed. Being a community of legacy graduates, what really saddens me is that so many of the recent graduates and the Class of 2020 can’t wait to get out of Alexander schools. That is a red flag and a really loud statement for me to take action. “Do nothing, get nothing.”

5 – No response.

May 31, 2020 - 2:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Le Roy, scanner.

A caller in Le Roy reports a deer ran into her basement and now appears to be injured. No address given. The deer is still in the basement. Le Roy police are responding.

May 31, 2020 - 12:04pm

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about the challenge of trying to keep ourselves busy with new and varied activities.  

The Kiwanis Club of Batavia came up with a way to help families fill the day with some good old-fashioned cheer, as they worked to fulfill their mission of serving the children of the world in our community

Club members assembled 100 Family Game Night Kits that will be distributed to local families.

Each kits has two family-friendly card games, fixin's for s’mores, ingredients for a batch (or two) of authentic homemade popcorn, and a container of “snickerdoodle salt” -- a specialty item made by Kiwanians!

“We know families have been quarantined and that they are out of books, games and movies -- a Family Game Night Kit seemed to be a great choice for everyone,” said Kiwanis Club President Bob Conrad

The kits have been given to Batavia City School District to distribute through all of their schools. All district family names have been entered into a drawing and the winners will be selected at random.

“It’s great that it reaches across the socio-economic spectrum,” said district social worker Julie Wasilewski. “I am more accustomed to working with the underserved, this is broader, and I like that. We really appreciate it!”

School representatives will be working to get all of the games distributed over the next couple of weeks, winners of the kits will be contacted by school officials for delivery.

“The generosity of the community during this time has been great, and we love the idea of bringing joy to families through the simple things in life,” said John Kennedy School Principal Amanda Cook. 

Video provided by Batavia City School District.

Photos by Jeanne Walton.

Disclosure: Jeanne Walton is on the Board of Directors of the Kiwanis Club of Batavia and was chair of this project.

May 30, 2020 - 7:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, protest, batavia, Upton Monument, notify, video.
Video Sponsor

A Batavia resident spent most of the afternoon carrying a protest sign in front of the Upton Monument at Ellicott and Main in Batavia that read "George Floyd is Every man!"

George Floyd, 46, died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 while a police officer, based on a video made by a teenage witness, kept a knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on the road, while the officer had his knee on his neck.

During the incident, Floyd told officers multiple times he couldn't breathe. At one point, he cried out, "Mama!" according to news reports. Floyd reportedly said, "My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts," and requested water. The police do not audibly respond to Floyd who begged, "Don't kill me."

The police officer who kept his knee pressed against Floyd's neck is reported to be Derek Chauvin. He has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin along with fellow officers Thomas K. Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng, were fired immediately after the incident.

Chauvin reportedly had 19 prior complaints against him for alleged misconduct.

Floyd was originally from Houston, Texas, and had a prior felony arrest but moved to Minnesota to start a new life and had no criminal record in Minnesota. He and Chauvin had worked together as security guards at a nightclub prior to closure of the establishment due to coronavirus.

At the time of the deadly incident, Floyd was accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

The incident has touched off protests and riots nationwide.

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May 30, 2020 - 6:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, le roy pd, news.

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Le Roy PD released these photos of one of the patrol vehicles involved in Wednesday night's chase of Joshua Blessed, the Virginia truck driver who tried to flee law enforcement following a traffic stop for speeding in the village.

Blessed rammed this patrol vehicle, along with other law enforcement vehicles, and fired several shots both during the pursuit and after coming to a stop near Geneseo. Police officers returned fire and Blessed died as an apparent result of bullet wounds.

Previously:

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