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April 18, 2019 - 5:15pm

Submitted information and photos from VA WNY Healthcare System:

A luncheon was held today at the Quality Inn in Batavia for VA Voluntary Service volunteers to recognize their many hours of volunteer service to veterans at VA WNY Heatlhcare System.

Irvin Bratz, in photo above, is pictured with Danielle Bergman, interim associate director for VA WNYHS. Bartz was specifically recognized for his 7,500 hours of volunteer service.  

Below, members of the Brockport Elks Lodge provided a donation to VA Voluntary Service in the amount of $1,500.

Below, the luncheon was well attended.

Below, VA Chaplain Brian Stuttler with VA volunteers.

April 18, 2019 - 5:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, YWCA SPRING FEST, news, charity.

Submitted photos and press release:

It's that time of year again to plan for YWCA Spring Fest, formerly known as the Carnival at Batavia Downs. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 9 -- only seven weeks away!

This is its fourth year and it promises to be the best one yet.

The YWCA of Genesee County is taking over the event which means it will become bigger and better! The YWCA is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

The proceeds of Spring Fest will go toward supporting programs that help enhance the lives of families in Genesee County.

Also, anyone wishing to set up a game booth may do so for free and proceeds can go to the charity/nonprofit of your choice.*

The YWCA Spring Fest is a family friendly event for the whole family. It is the only festival during the month of June in Genesee County for families.

There will be bounce houses, a train ride, pony rides, exotic animal petting zoo, games, 10 food trucks, entertainment, face painting and more than 100 artists, vendors, crafters, authors, potters, jewelers, entrepreneurs, quilters, spice purveyors, exotic jerky sellers, maple syrup sappers, bee product vendors and toy reps from throughout Western New York.

Come and enjoy a fun-filled day with family at Spring Fest. Free Play Coupons for the adults inside the casino and FREE admission and parking. Batavia Downs is located at 8315 Park Road, Batavia.

* To get a game booth contract that you can print out, fill out and mail in, click here.

Send to: Lucille DiSanto, 3732 S. Main Street Road, Batavia, NY 14020

Note: Batavia Downs Gaming reserves the right to deny any applications.

April 18, 2019 - 4:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, news, notify.

Despite a shortage of corrections officers, officials have been able to hold down overtime pay at the Genesee County Jail, Superintendent William Zipfel told members of the County Legislature's Public Service Committee on Wednesday.

Zipfel made his report as part of a Sheriff's Office department review with the committee.

Overtime was more than $17,500 less in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2018, Zipfel said.

The jail is understaffed by six C.O. positions even with three C.O.'s recently completed training and two more in the pipeline.

"We're constantly doing interviews and background checks," Zipfel said when asked about filling the vacancies.

Because of the vacancies, there hasn't been jail staff available to handle inmate transports, so the task has fallen once again to deputies on road patrol.

The prison population continues to exceed the jail's capacity.  

While there has been an average of 16.16 women (who can't be held locally) incarcerated under Genesee County jurisdiction, which is about two more than last year, there has also been an increase of male prisoners who must be housed at other county jails.

The state seems to be contributing to an increase in the jail population because of new policies that have prison inmates being released on parole sooner and then being picked up on parole violations faster. Those parolees, when found in Genesee County, are held locally until transferred to state prison.

The kitchen is also turning out to be another place the jail is saving money, Zipfel said, praising head chef Bill Cultrara. He said last year in the first quarter, the jail served 20,194 meals at a cost of $30,722, or $1.52 per meal. In the first quarter this year, Cultrara and staff served 4,500 more meals but at cost of $1.15 per meal.

Older inmates, inmates with more health problems, more mental health problems, and substance abuse problems, are driving up other costs, such as prisoner transports to the hospital and other health providers.

Sheriff William Sheron told the Legislature that felony and drug cases in the first quarter were on par with 2018.

He said illegal drugs remain a concern, particularly cocaine, heroin, and LSD. He said there seems to be an increase in LSD use among high school students.

For the concert season at Darien Lake, he said one show is sold out, a few more are likely to sell out, and 17 shows of an anticipated 20 to 25 have been announced. He said he anticipates adequate law enforcement staffing for the shows.

The Sheriff's Office is also expecting the construction of a new communications tower in Attica, actually in Wyoming County, which will eliminate dead spots in Pavilion, Alexander and Darien.

April 18, 2019 - 4:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in CountryMax, business, news, batavia.

Submitted photos and press release:

CountryMax announces the opening of its new Batavia store located at 4160 Veterans Memorial Drive. The new Batavia location is the 17th store operated by the local, Western New York family-owned business.

The 23,000-square-foot store showcases multiple custom-built, wood-themed interior elements reflecting local history, as well as climate-controlled small pet rooms, a wild bird center, and over 2,000 square feet of premium, healthy foods for dogs, cats, and pets of all shapes and sizes.

In addition to the massive selection of healthy pet options, the new location features a large selection of barn and stable feed and supplies, as well as expansive lawn and garden offerings for all seasons.

Additional features include “Scrub House” self-serve dog wash, a “Ship” Fish Room, special events room, and a custom-built wood lodge filled with homesteading products; beer, wine, cider, and cheese making kits; housewares; gifts and novelty items.

CountryMax is celebrating 35 years in 2019. It has grown by being known as the neighborhood store that can compete with competition both big and small, with prices and selection consumers have come to demand, as well as a customer service experience that goes above and beyond traditional expectations of today’s retail stores, such as their full carry-out service for purchases big and small.

"I think anyone who shopped with us in the past knows we have a huge, unique selection of products that fits the Batavia area," said Brad Payne, director of Sales, “and they are going to be thrilled to see the amount of time, effort, and work that has gone into creating the new CountryMax store experience.”

Grand Opening Celebration

A Grand Opening Celebration is being planned for the weekend of May 18 and 19. Vendors will be on hand, along with experienced CountryMax team members to provide valuable product information, free samples, and demonstrations to benefit customers. FREE CountryMax Tote Bags full of “goodies” will be handed out to the first 250 people both Saturday and Sunday.

Bring the whole family and enjoy face painting, bounce house, games, prizes, food and fun!

Pets are welcome, too! Details will be available at www.countrymax.com.

Batavia new store hours are Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

April 18, 2019 - 4:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
rhimkellymugapirl2019.jpg
      Kelly Rhim

Kelly J. Rhim, 40, of Colvin Avenue in Rochester, is charged with attempted assault, 1st, and assault, 2nd, for an attack he is accused of perpetrating at 1:05 a.m., Saturday outside of T.F. Brown's in Batavia.

Rhim is accused of stabbing the victim in a parking lot outside the establishment. 

He turned himself in following an investigation by Batavia PD. 

The victim of the alleged stabbing was transported to an area hospital, treated and released.

The investigation was led by Det. Thad Mart, and Batavia PD said no further information about the incident would be released.

Rhim was jailed on $25,000 bail or $50,000 bond.

April 18, 2019 - 3:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia GOP, news, notify.

Press release:

I believe the local Democratic leadership has lost sight of its responsibility to serve its own constituents. Rose Mary Christian has represented Batavia’s sixth ward for over 28 years. Although I have at times agreed with her on issues and at other times disagreed, I have always respected the fact that Rosemary understands service at the local level and works very hard to serve the residents of the sixth ward. That’s why she’s held her seat for so long. All 28 years she has represented the sixth ward, Rosemary has enjoyed the support of local Democrats. However, that changed this year and it changed for reasons that should trouble any community-minded Batavia Democrat. 

Rosemary was very concerned with the radically liberal abortion/infanticide bill that was passed by Albany and Downstate Democrats and decided to speak out for the unborn. The local Democratic leadership, obviously in lockstep with the radical views prominent in Albany, New York, and Washington decided that an honest objection from a local Democrat who had the courage to speak out was unacceptable. Having endorsed Rosemary just a very few weeks earlier, the leadership decided to rescind her endorsement and suddenly a candidate emerged who tried, unsuccessfully, to challenge her in a primary this June. Isn’t there any loyalty to a local representative who has shown loyalty to her party and her constituents for so many years? Whose interests are to prevail in the Batavia and Genesee County Democratic Party; the local constituents, or the kingmakers in Albany? It looks like the answer is obvious. In addition, I respectfully hope Batavia’s sixth ward Democrats express their independence and send a message to the kingmakers by supporting your long term representative without punishing her for speaking up on an issue that she is passionate about; supporting the lives of the unborn.

If you want a better voice at the local level and an honest commitment to represent your interests first, join our local Republican party. I personally promise that your voice will be heard and respected. We are also committed to doing what’s best for the City of Batavia, even if that requires some sacrifices by our local candidates.

You can contact me or any Republican Committee person and we will happily assist you in making the change.

Sincerely,

David Saleh, Chairman,
City of Batavia Republican Committee

April 18, 2019 - 2:27pm

Public Notice

Genesee County is completing the process of updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP).

The HMP documents the County’s vulnerability to hazards and its strategy to reduce that vulnerability. The draft of the updated HMP is now complete and available for review at www.geneseecountyhmp.com under the "Draft Documents for Review" page.

A meeting to discuss the draft HMP will be held on Tuesday, May 28 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Genesee County Office of Emergency Management Services, 7690 State Street Road, Batavia.

Additional information about the HMP and the planning process is available at www.geneseecountyhmp.com. Contact Tim Yaeger, coordinator, Genesee County Office of Emergency Management Services, for more information at 585-344-0078.

April 18, 2019 - 2:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, Tops Friendly Market, Le Roy.

Press release:

As part of a $40 million capital improvement program, Tops Friendly Markets is investing back into a number of its stores with several major floor-to-ceiling interior renovations and updated exterior facades, landscaping, and parking lots. These stores will remain open during their respective renovation projects so as not to inconvenience shoppers.

One of the six stores to be renovated during phase one is in Genesee County -- the Le Roy store at 128 W. Main St. When the renovation is complete, there will be a Grand Reopening at the store at 11 a.m. on July 16.

Stores will be remodeled to provide customers with a warm, inviting atmosphere that highlights the fresh departments. Shoppers will find an expansion of Tops’ produce, bakery, and deli/carry out café areas as well as finding a wide selection of natural and organic and gluten-free offerings conveniently integrated throughout the main aisles.

New flooring, energy efficient equipment, cart corrals, shopping carts, as well as a whole new interior décor will give stores a refreshed and vibrant appearance.

“Throughout our stores, shoppers will see expanded refrigerated produce allowing for more variety and convenience, new offerings including an in store cut fruit and vegetable program, and an increase of antibiotic-free meat and seafood selections,” said John Persons, president and chief operating officer. “We’re also looking to bring a new coffee shop and comfortable sit-down area to a few of our locations which is an exciting addition for our shoppers.”

Additionally Tops is aggressively investing in its stores by rolling out new services where customers can shop online for store pick up, without even getting out of their cars, or have their groceries delivered to their homes or businesses in as little as an hour.

“By the end of May 2019 Tops will have 20 stores that will offer grocery pickup service to its customers with expansion into our other major markets on the horizon,” said Persons. “When we create an even more exceptional shopping experience and help make grocery shopping simple, friendly and easy, our shoppers benefit at the end of the day.”

The first phase of renovations are already underway at the Tops locations noted below with Grand Reopening events already earmarked on the calendar.

The other locations to be renovated during phase one are in, respectively: Elmira, Saranac Lake, Cheektowaga, Alden, and on Sheridan Drive in Buffalo.

Additionally Tops is pursuing more stores for renovations for phase two of the program and are currently in the planning and permitting process. These stores will be named at a later date.

###

Tops Markets LLC is headquartered in Williamsville and operates 159 full-service supermarkets with five additional franchise stores and is the largest private, for-profit employer in Western New York.

As a leading full-service grocery retailer in New York, Northern Pennsylvania, and Western Vermont, and with the support of 14,000 associates, at the core of our mission is to help our communities flourish.

We support programs that seek to eradicate hunger and disease; promote the education of our youth; and to ensure we reduce environmental waste and energy consumption while providing our customers with sustainably sourced, high quality products. For more information, visit www.topsmarkets.com

April 18, 2019 - 10:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Elections, news, notify.

There's nothing "cast in concrete" yet, Information Technology Director Steve Zimmer told members of the County Legislature at the Ways and Means Committee meeting on Wednesday but New York State is considering requiring all counties in the state to segregate the computer networks of elections commissions from any other computer network in the county.

It's not clear yet, Zimmer said, exactly what the state will require but in Genesee County, at a minimum, that might mean a new high-speed Internet line going into County Building #1, where the election commission operates, with new switches, and taking the commission's computers off the network currently in that building.

That will cost at least $20,000, Zimmer said.

What he doesn't know is if he will also be required to install a separate fiber optic from County Building #1 to the main data center to further segregate the elections commission from the rest of the county network.

No official directive has been issued yet but Zimmer expects the state will mandate some change in advance of the 2020 election.

"Everyone is scared to death of the Russian hackers or that something is going to happen with the 2020 election, so the state is coming up with a lot of ‘what ifs’ and 'what do we need to do to improve security in local elections offices,' " Zimmer said.

April 18, 2019 - 10:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia.

A 55-year-old Batavia man who was arrested in January 2017 after staff at the Richmond Memorial Library observed him viewing what appeared to be child pornography on library computer entered a guilty plea yesterday in Federal Court to a count of access with intent to view child pornography.

Robert Roy Richmond faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced Aug. 27 by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.

An FBI investigator was contacted by local law enforcement after a library employee who was working in the DVD section saw a man at a computer looking at a pornographic picture of a child in fishnet stockings.

As soon as the man left, the employee shut down the computer and put an out-of-order sign on it in order to preserve any potential evidence until police arrived.

A subsequent forensic examination revealed that there were seven images on the computer which met the definition of child pornography.

Richmond was identified as the suspected computer user because he had to input his library card number to access the system. He was also identified as a suspect by the employee through a photo lineup.

April 18, 2019 - 4:40am
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, fire, news.

A possible fire is reported at 18 Genesee St., Apt. 5 E, in the Le Roy Meadows Apartments. Smoke is reported in the building. Le Roy fire and ambulance are responding along with the city ladder unit.

Caledonia Fire Department is on standby. Everyone is out of the structure, but firefighters on scene are unable to make entry and request a second alarm.

Bergen and Pavilion are called along with a fast team out of Mumford. Stafford to fill in at Le Roy station.

UPDATE 4:43 a.m.: The second alarm is canceled. Fire is extinguished, per command. Ventilating structure.

April 17, 2019 - 6:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, news.

(Washington, D.C., April 17) -- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the government of Tunisia and the United States have finalized U.S. export certificates to allow imports of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products into Tunisia.  This announcement follows meetings between U.S. and Tunisian officials on the safety and wholesomeness of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products.

“President Trump continues to prioritize the opening of new markets for U.S. agricultural products, and we welcome Tunisia’s agreement to begin imports of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “New access to the Tunisian market is an important step in ensuring that American farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports of U.S. agricultural products.”

“I'm convinced that when the Tunisians get a taste of U.S. beef, poultry, and eggs, they're going to want more. These products coming into Tunisia are safe, wholesome, and very delicious,” said Secretary Perdue. “At the direction of President Trump, USDA remains committed to opening up new markets across the globe. While we continue to supply Tunisia’s domestic animal proteins sector with quality U.S. grains and oilseeds, I have no doubt that U.S. beef, poultry, and eggs will only help increase competitiveness and consumer choice within Tunisia.”

In 2018, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Tunisia exceeded $264 million. Over 90 percent of exports were corn, soybeans, or corn and soy products.  Initial estimates are that Tunisia would import annually $5-10 million of beef, poultry, and egg products from the United States, with additional growth over time.

More details on requirements for exporting to Tunisia are available from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Library.

April 17, 2019 - 4:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, elba.

A structure fire is reported at 4325 Ridge Road in Elba. The initial call was for the smell of something burning inside the residence. The location is between Fisher and Quaker Hill roads. Elba Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics. A person at the scene is said to have trouble breathing.

April 17, 2019 - 4:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, news, business, batavia, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Press release:

Upstate Niagara Cooperative announced today that they have completed their acquisition of a yogurt plant located at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia.

The Western New York-based dairy cooperative had signed a purchase agreement on Feb. 28th to buy the facility from Climb Your Mountain Inc. in a transaction facilitated by Harry Davis & Company.

“We’re very excited to have finalized our purchase of this manufacturing plant in Batavia,” said Larry Webster, CEO of Upstate Niagara Cooperative. “As a dairy cooperative owned by farm families throughout the region, this acquisition is located central to our member milk supply. 

"This production-ready facility is only a few years old and represents an investment by our member-owners towards continued and long-term growth for our cooperative. We look forward to adding manufacturing jobs within the Genesee County community while offering additional products and manufacturing capabilities to our customers.”

Exact plans regarding when the plant will reopen and what products will be manufactured at the facility have yet to be announced.

The Upstate Niagara Cooperative is continuing to work with the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) on this project. In the last decade, dairy products manufacturing companies have invested more than $500 million into facilities in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and Genesee County has more than 1,500 acres of shovel-ready sites to accommodate additional growth in the dairy, food and beverage industry.

“The Genesee County Economic Development Center is pleased that the Upstate Niagara Cooperative is strengthening their investment into producing excellent products and great careers at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC.

“With our tradition of agriculture and strong farm families, as well as our infrastructure assets, shovel-ready sites, and workforce talent, Genesee County is truly a dairy, food and beverage powerhouse.”

The Upstate Niagara Cooperative and its members were recognized earlier this year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce as their 2019 Agricultural Organization of the Year.

April 17, 2019 - 2:52pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Interagency Council is pleased to announce that we will be offering two $1,000 scholarships. 

The first scholarship will be for a high school senior living in and attending high school in Genesee County, in good academic standing, and majoring in Human Services, Social Work, Sociology or Psychology (at any college). 

The second scholarship will be for a student currently attending Genesee Community College, in good academic standing  and majoring in Human Services, Sociology or Psychology.

Because the goal of this scholarship is to support those students who have a strong drive to contribute to the field of Human Services, special consideration will be given to those students who have already demonstrated a commitment to the field through their employment, volunteer, academic, or extracurricular pursuits. 

The deadline for applications is Wednesday, May 1. The awardee will be notified by June 1 and presented at our June 19th picnic meeting.

Our last year’s scholarship recipient was from Batavia High School and prior to that, Byron-Bergen!

If you have any questions, or to obtain an application, please contact your area high school guidance counselor or contact Amy Swanson at [email protected]

April 17, 2019 - 2:33pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in news, genesee county, history.

Above, Michael Eula, Ph.D., Genesee County historian, looks at a letter from the New York State Bar Association, inviting Genesee County to participate in the Historical Society of the New York Courts’ County Legal History Project.

 

Genesee County is among more than a dozen counties which have been invited by the New York State Bar Association to participate in the Historical Society of the New York Courts’ County Legal History Project.

The project entails documenting the law itself in each county and how it has changed through the years, said Genesee County Historian Michael Eula, Ph.D.

Eula received a letter April 1 from Leah Nowotarski, of Warsaw, a member of the Committee for Bar Leaders of New York State, requesting Genesee County’s participating in the history project. According to Nowotarski, a number of counties, including Clinton, Dutchess, Franklin, Rockland and Westchester, have already completed their histories, which are posted on the Historical Society of the New York Courts website.

Other counties which have also joined the project are Albany, Broome, Columbia, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Nassau, Ontario, Putnam, Queens, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Wyoming.

The history project is being led by Jonathan Lipmann, retired chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals; Stephen P. Younger, past president of the New York State Bar Association; and Marilyn Marcus, executive director of the Historical Society of the New York Courts.

“This is an opportunity to showcase Genesee County’s rich and fascinating legal history, and how that legal history functions within the wider context of New York and national history,” Eula said. “Genesee County laws, and the courts that administer them, are examples of how the traditions are continuously being adjusted to the changes evident in the development of Genesee County’s history.”

Eula has chosen the title “Flexible Tradition: the History of the Courts in Genesee County, New York, 1802 to the Present” for his submission to the project.

While he has already begun research on the project, he anticipates it will take him a year to complete.

“Being county historian is not the only thing I do,” Eula said. “I am also the County Records Management Officer, so at best, I get to spend an hour and a half a day on the Legal History Project.”

Eula said he is happy Genesee County was included in the Historical Society of the New York Courts’ County Legal History Project.

“I’m going to look at courthouses we have had in Genesee County, their architecture and the famous cases which were held there,” Eula said. “I will also look at the law itself in Genesee County and how it has changed to keep up with a changing society.”

Eula said he has a whole archive of documents from the 1800s to search through. There is information on civil cases, criminal cases and much more, he said.

He will also explore how punishment has changed over time and how we define family law.

One of the most famous cases in Genesee County history is that of local businessman R. Newton Rowell, who walked into their bedroom and found his wife with her lover Johnson Lynch, the great-grandson of President John Adams. Rowell shot and killed Lynch, but the jury acquitted him.

“That is an example of how society and views have changed,” Eula said. “He probably wouldn’t have been acquitted today. I will also be looking at the law in terms of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in Genesee County.”

Another interesting fact -- most people don’t realize we had slaves in Genesee County until New York abolished slavery in 1827.

“Even before then, as far back as 1813, slaves who were accused of a crime were given the right to a trial by jury,” Eula said.

The historian said it is interesting to note how a court itself is structured.

“You always have the judge on a platform, so we have to look up,” Eula said. “That tells us we are in a place of authority. Words used by lawyers in a courtroom, as time has gone on, have become almost like a foreign language.”

Eula will also explore how the legal world affects a typical resident of Genesee County, such as a hard-working farmer who is summoned as a juror. When he comes off the fields into a courtroom, it is a very different world from his normal one, Eula said.

Eula will also be submitting photos with his essay.

“I am very happy the Bar Association included Genesee County in its project,” Eula said.

Photo by Virginia Kropf.

April 17, 2019 - 2:02pm

A statement sent today from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) following the expansion of the MERIT Scholarship to veterans who lose their lives or become disabled in the line of duty.

“Gold Star Families and disabled veterans have been neglected for far too long and today we are finally righting an injustice and fulfilling our obligation to them," Hawley said. "We will never be able to fully repay our veterans and servicemembers for their role in protecting our nation but I am proud to have led the statewide bipartisan effort to see that the MERIT Scholarship is expanded.

"It is paramount to cover all of our nation’s heroes and their families under this program, and I thank Governor Cuomo for doing the right thing.”

April 17, 2019 - 1:55pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in Camp GLOW, peace corps, volunteerism, news, batavia.
Liz Richards, a Batavia native, has been serving with the Peace Corps in Jamaica, where she is involved with a project called Camp GLOW – Girls Leading Our World. Pictured above are the young girls she worked with during the four-day camp this year. Richards will co-direct the fourth annual camp in Jamaica in August.

 

Joining the Peace Corps is something Liz Richards had always thought about.

A 2009 graduate of Batavia High School and a 2012 graduate of Brockport State College, Richards earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at the New School in 2014.

She didn’t decide to follow her dream of joining the Peace Corps until she was working for a tech company in Manhattan, she said.

“While there, I was responsible for corporate responsibility and service initiatives and realized how important volunteerism was to me, and that I wanted to build a career out of community development,” Richards said. “Peace Corps was the best way to do that, and the experience so far has really been incredible.”

Richards is a Peace Corps volunteer in the education sector in Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica. Her main project is literacy tutoring for struggling readers in grades one through six.

“But being a volunteer means so much more than that,” Richards said. “We learn about each others’ cultures, seasons and holidays, both inside and outside the classroom.

"So far, students have loved seeing pictures of Western New York snowstorms, learning about Thanksgiving and celebrating both countries’ Independence Days, where we talked about our shared history as former British colonies.”

Right now, Richards is working on two big projects, one that will bring a wide range of opportunities to her school and one that will benefit teenage girls all across the island, both of which she said are incredible passion projects.

Over the last year, Richards has been working with teachers to address some major needs at their school, including getting parents more involved in school life, giving girls safe and gender-equitable access to sports, and improving the overall quality of physical education classes, which right now are sparse due to lack of access to proper equipment, she said.

The result was a partnership with a Peace Corps Small Grants Program called “Girls Netting Success.” This project will address all of the needs above, and more, by helping them start a netball team for girls in grades five and six, Richards said.

It will also give students the opportunity to socialize with each other and regional schools through Jamaica’s national primary school netball league. In addition, Richards said it will help teachers guide the girls toward healthier lives; give parents an outlet to participate through extracurricular activities; and will be truly gender equitable by giving boys a safe place to play netball and football, too, and will allow teachers to give more comprehensive physical education classes.

Another project Richards is really excited about is Camp GLOW, which stands for Girls Leading Our World. The first Camp GLOW was hosted by Peace Corps volunteers in 1995 in Romania, and in August, Richards will co-direct the fourth annual Camp GLOW in Jamaica.

Purpose of this four-day camp, Richards said, is to empower campers with lessons about self-care and confidence, healthy living, healthy relationships and goal setting. Campers will then take these skills back to their communities and continue to empower themselves and others.

“We are excited to be partnering with a Jamaican organization called 'Young Women of Purpose', which specializes in career training for young women ages 13 to 25,” Richards said. “The most exciting part of this camp is watching campers see themselves in the women who facilitate workshops and learn from us the qualities that strong women have in common across borders.”

Richards said it is exciting to show the community that means the most to her – her Batavia community – some of the things happening in the Jamaican communities, which have opened their hearts and stories to her, and in some way have become her “home away from home.”

“Anyone is welcome to contribute, and even a dollar can make a big difference,” Richards said. “Jamaicans have a saying ‘wan, wan koko, full basket,’ that means ‘we fill our baskets one coconut at a time.’ But even sharing stories like these is a contribution.

"The most important thing Peace Corps has taught me is that we are one global community and we build friendships by sharing our stories.”

Anyone wishing to support Richards efforts in Jamaica can log on to Camp GLOW Jamaica 2019 Peace Corpshere and make a donation. 

Submitted photos courtesy of Liz Richards.

April 17, 2019 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, sports, batavia, hockey, Babes on Blades, Seniors.
Submitted photo and write-up by Head Coach Craig Jackson:

 

The Batavia “Babes on Blades” women’s senior hockey team finished off another strong season this year by competing in and winning the area's annual Scottsville Women’s Senior Hockey Tournament during the last weekend of March for the second year in a row.

In the first game, the Batavia team defeated the always tough Buffalo “Stampede” by a 6 to 1 score.

The second game of the tournament was against the Brockport “Ladies on Ice.” Batavia started fast and were up 3 to 0 at the end of the first period. Brockport tightened up with the teams trading goals. Batavia won the game be a 6 to 2 score.

In the third game of the tournament, Batavia played against the host team Scottsville “Chicks with Sticks.” This game was more of a defensive game between the two teams with Batavia ending up with a 3 to 0 win.

The championship game finished with a rematch against the host Scottsville team again. Batavia scored the first goal about halfway through the first period and never looked back as they ended up with the win by a 8 to 0 score. Strong defensive play and goal tending during all the games was key to the tournament win.

April 17, 2019 - 12:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, batavia, news.

A large amount of debris is reportedly burning on the lawn at 3816 Pearl Street Road, Batavia. The fire was called in by a neighbor. Town of Batavia Fire Department is responding.

The location is between Treadeasy Avenue and Donahue Road.

A statewide burn ban has been in effect since March 16 and it ends May 14.

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