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May 16, 2020 - 5:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, notify, Batavia Downs Gaming, covid-19.

Horse racing in New York State could resume as early as June 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today at his COVID-19 pandemic press conference.

The governor said that racing would take place without spectators and with safety measures that will be outlined in detail in the days ahead, and the restart would hinge upon the continuous decline of New York’s total hospitalization rate from the virus. 

While live racing isn’t scheduled to officially begin at Batavia Downs Gaming until July 22, Henry Wojtaszek, president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., said today’s announcement is welcome news.

“We’re certainly happy to hear that, and we have been doing a great deal of work preparing for our opening (of the gaming facility) sometime in June,” he said. “We have been working with the (New York State) Gaming Commission internally and will start working on the track in about a week or so to get that ready.”

Batavia Downs’ harness racing slate currently lists 65 dates, beginning on Wed., July 22 and ending in early December.

When asked if Batavia Downs Gaming has a reopening plan in place, Wojtaszek said that “it’s a work in progress” that is being shared at every step with the Gaming Commission.

Live Racing GM/Director Todd Haight, Vice President of Operations Scott Kiedrowski, and Wojtaszek are steering the drafting of the facility’s reopening plan in conjunction with the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association, “with whom we have a very good relationship,” Wojtaszek said.

“We’re also working with our trade association, the New York Gaming Association, and individually to cleanse and sanitize, and put the safety protocols in place,” he said, noting that some parts of the operation are included in Phase Three and some in Phase Four of the state’s four-phase reopening strategy.

“That’s why we’re hoping to open sometime in June,” he said.

Wojtaszek said that all employees are back to work, some on a regular basis – such as security, surveillance and maintenance staff – and others either working at the Park Road site, from home or on call.

Also, today, Cuomo said that Watkins Glen International race track would be able to reopen for NASCAR races in August, and baseball was mentioned as a sport that could conduct its season without fans in the stands.

The governor reported that daily hospitalizations and intubations have dropped to around 400 new cases per day.

May 16, 2020 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.
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As Genesee County moves into its first week of a Phase One reopening from a pandemic lockdown, Public Health Director Paul Pettit said it's reasonable to expect to see more positive COVID-19 cases reported, both because of an increase in testing, and because people will be in contact with each other.

But positive cases are not the key metric to monitor, Pettit said. What he and government officials will watch is the availability of hospital beds. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to maintain a 30-percent capacity available at hospitals.

With hospitals now permitted to perform elective procedures, there are fewer beds available than when those procedures were prohibited, Pettit indicated.

"A lot of the indicators aren't really directly honing in on a specific number of cases or a number of positives," Pettit said. "They're really honing on our regional capacity to deal with them. A lot of it's focused on hospitalization, ICU beds, number of available beds. Those types of criteria are a more important indicator of how we can handle and respond to the most vulnerable populations because again, our immune-compromised, those with underlying health issues, need hospital beds, need higher levels of care. That's going to be our issue."

Continued acceptable hospital capacity in the Finger Lakes Region will be a key indicator as New York becomes unpaused for each phase of the reopening.

To keep that number low, Pettit said, people need to continue to take all necessary precautions against spreading the disease.

"It is expected we're going to see an increased number of cases, but we need to do our best to continue to try to keep them low," Pettit said. "Make sure we're practicing our social distancing, and hopefully not have spike rates in severe cases that are going to impact our health system."

Unpausing New York is expected to happen in four phases by region:

Phase One:

  • Construction
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
  • Retail -- (Limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off)
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale Trade

Phase Two: 

  • Professional Services
  • Retail
  • Administrative Support
  • Real Estate / Rental & Leasing

Phase Three: 

  • Restaurants / Food Services

Phase Four: 

  • Arts / Entertainment / Recreation
  • Education

The Finger Lakes Region is one of the first regions in the state to enter Phase One, and while each phase is generally expected to take four weeks, there is already talk of Finger Lakes entering Phase Two on May 29, Pettit indicated.

While experts debate just how many COVID-19 tests need to be administered on a daily basis to help control the spread of the disease in an open economy, there is consensus that a lot of testing is needed.

Petit expressed concern that there are not enough tests available in Genesee County to meet our needs. That means only people who meet the criteria for testing, such as close-contact with a positive case or a vulnerable person who is symptomatic, can get tests locally. However, he noted, there is an ample supply of tests available in Monroe County and local residents who want a test without meeting that criteria can drive to testing locations in the Rochester area.

The health director does have more confidence in the local capacity to handle contact tracing when a positive case is identified, which is another key strategy in helping to control outbreaks. Pettit said if there is a local spike in cases, New York has additional contract tracing resources local health officials can summon.

He also noted, for anybody looking for a job, that the state is looking to hire more contract tracers.

For those expecting a lull in the disease spread during the summer, before a resurgence in the fall, Pettit suggested we not count on much of a lull but expect a second wave in the fall or winter.

"When you look at the data in the Southern Hemisphere, which have been inverted with their summer, they still had a lot of cases," Pettit said. "They still had a lot of transmissions. So it's really hard to say how that's going to play out for us locally here in the summer, when that the warmer weather comes along. That's why we're really stressing the importance of making sure we stick with the guidelines. We don't want to see those spikes."

The seasonality of COVID-19, or lack of it, is just one of the things that are still unknown about the novel coronavirus.

"There's a lot to be learned about this virus, (there) is a lot that we're trying to understand as we move forward in time," Pettit said. "We obviously can only implement and act the way we're able to based on the knowledge that we have. So the best thing we can do is encourage folks to continue to practice social distancing and do their best to protect others by protecting themselves."

May 15, 2020 - 1:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, corfu.

James F. Perry Sr., 35, of Central Avenue, Batavia, is charged with five counts of second-degree criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor. Perry was arrested at 9:20 p.m. May 9 on State Street in Batavia following an investigation of a child crying in a residence. Perry was released with an appearance ticket returnable to Batavia City Court at 1 p.m. on June 30. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Jordan McGinnis.

William J. Galliford, 59, of Batavia (no address provided), is charged with trespass and second-degree harassment. Galliford was arrested at 10:45 p.m. at the Budget Inn on Oak Street in Batavia. It is alleged that he refused to leave after being told he was no longer allowed on the premises. It is also alleged that Galliford threatened a police officer. He was issued a computerized appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court at 1 p.m. on June 16. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Nicole McGinnis.

Amanda S. McDonald, 37, of Ellsworth Avenue, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. She was arrested after an investigation into a complaint alleging that she allowed a minor to use an illegal drug. McDonald was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court June 16. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Alec Roberts.

Justin Paul Pawlowski, 41, is charged with: Aggravated driving while intoxicated -- with a child passenger; DWI; DWI -- drugs; and failure to keep right. At 9:23 a.m. on Feb. 14, the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center received a report of driver on Route 33 in the Village of Corfu who was possibly intoxicated. The vehicle was stopped for an alleged failure to keep right and an investigation allegedly revealed the driver was impaired by drugs. Pawlowski was issued tickets returnable to Town of Batavia Court on June 29. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin McCarthy, assisted by Deputy Ryan DeLong.

Christopher J. Diers, 37, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree harassment. Diers was arrested after an investigation of a domestic incident that occurred at 10:50 p.m. May 9 at an apartment on State Street. He was released with an appearance ticket to be in Batavia City Court on June 30. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Jordan McGinnis.

Jacob J. Camerera, 29, of South Jackson Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. Camerera was arrested after an investigation of a violation of an order of protection complaint at 8:42 p.m. April 29 on Hutchins Street in Batavia. He was released on an appearance ticket for Batavia City Court on June 23. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Jordan McGinnis.

Adam Michael Jellison, 42, of Sierk Road, Bennington, is charged with second-degree harassment. Jellison was arrested on May 10 in connection with a domestic incident that occurred at 8:44 p.m. on April 2 on Columbia Avenue in Batavia. He is also charged with third-degree criminal mischief stemming from an incident at 4 p.m. April 30, also on Columbia Avenue. He was arraigned on both charges May 11 in Batavia City Court and released on his own recognizance. He is to return to city court June 18. The cases were handled by Batavia Police Officer Connor Borchert.

Rae C. Cook, 31, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Cook was arrested at 3 p.m. May 11 following a larceny investigation. It is alleged that at 12:30 p.m. April 23 Cook committed petit larceny at Sav-A-Lot on Ellicott Street in Batavia. Cook was issued an appearance ticket, returnable to Batavia City Court on June 2, then released from custody. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Joshua Girvin, assisted by Officer Austin Hedges.

Margaret M. Pillo, 47, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Pillo was arrested following an investigation into a shoplifting incident that occurred at the Dollar General store on East Main Street in Batavia at 4:50 p.m. May 8. She was issued an appearance ticket then released and is due in Batavia City Court on June 30. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Kevin DeFelice, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

May 15, 2020 - 11:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Batavia Police Department is investigating a series of car break-ins and petit thefts in Batavia and police say the crimes are happening throughout the city during the overnight hours.

This video was submitted by a reader from a home surveillance camera. The photo below was provided by Batavia PD.

Det. Eric Hill said he didn't have at hand the total number of break-ins recently, but that is no more than usual for this time of year.

The cars being hit have been left unsecured.

Hill asked us to remind readers, "to bring valuables inside, lock their vehicles, and report any suspicious activity to us."

He also said if other residents have video of suspected criminal activity to please share them with police to help identify a suspect or suspects.

Anybody with information can contact Officer Peter Post at (585) 345-6350.

breakinsmay2020.png

May 15, 2020 - 8:51am

The Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night recommended approval of a zoning text amendment to allow mixed-use buildings in the Town of Pembroke Interchange District, but not before a discussion on the practice of placing housing units in industrial parks.

Tom Schubmehl, a member of the planning board and Pembroke resident, said he had some reservations about the Town Board’s application to modify zoning in the Interchange District -- a wide area around Thruway Exit 48A, extending to Route 5 along Route 77.

“Is there any other district in the county industrial districts that allows residential use? Schubmehl asked, directing his question to County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari.

Oltramari said that the Interchange District was different from a traditional industrial district.

“It can have commercial and it can have industrial … it has the Flying J (Travel Center). It has other things like that and includes an industrial park from the EDC,” Oltramari said, adding that he couldn’t think of other similar areas in the county that permit mixed-use facilities.

Schubmehl said he couldn’t either and said “it is a concern of mine that we start letting residential fill in this space. It's going to be no different than the rest of Pembroke.”

“I know it has no bearing on the impact of inter-community that we're discussing here tonight as a County Planning Board, but as a resident of Pembroke, I think it's bad idea,” he stated.

$3 Million Commercial/Resident Project Proposed

The Genesee County Economic Development Center is touting a $3 million commercial/residential project at its Buffalo East Technology Park, which is situated in the Interchange District.

J & R Fancher Property Holdings LLC has proposed building a 32,254-square-foot, three-story facility on two acres in the park, and is waiting for a public hearing and GCEDC board vote on its application to receive more than $600,000 in property, sales and mortgage tax incentives.

According to the GCEDC, the project consists of 17 market-rate, one- and two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors, with space for four commercial tenants, as well as indoor parking and a fitness center on the ground floor.

Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of business development, was on the planning board’s Zoom videoconference meeting last night, and pointed out that his agency worked with the Town of Pembroke on attracting the venture.

“They were all in favor for it,” Suozzi said. “Certainly, there's a housing shortage need in Genesee County. If anybody hasn't seen the housing study that LaBella (Associates) put out, (it’s) on the Genesee County website. And there's a big shortage of housing.”

GCEDC: 'Live, Work, Play' Model

Suozzi said the GCEDC is promoting a “live, work, play model” and that housing – particularly at industrial parks -- is an essential component in that thinking.

“And I know the location … in Pembroke is a great location because it's across from the school and already has a Tim Hortons that wasn't part of the EDC project, but it has that ability to be right next door to it and also has 7.9 acres in total that is being proposed, of which 2 (acres) are buildable and the other 5.9 are wetlands,” Suozzi offered. “They're all protected. It's a green space.”

He went on to say the project will generate tax revenue for the Town of Pembroke and reiterated that the town board is endorsing it.

Schubmehl then asked Suozzi if the GCEDC was going to consider residential at the WNY Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama.

“Well, you know, if the town said yes, I would certainly look at it, but it's not really up to Chris Suozzi and it’s not up to the EDC -- it's up to the municipality,” he said, again referencing a housing shortage.

“We look at economic development as a whole, and we bring in these companies … and the workers are living in Rochester and Buffalo, (so) we’re not optimizing the economic benefit of Genesee County,” he said. “And that's what that housing studies are showing; (that) there's a big need and we're missing the boat in terms of that revenue staying right in our county.

“So, to me, this is a new world right now and housing’s a big part of it, and the 'live, work, play' model is starting to change what's going on Downtown Buffalo right now … It's because all these old factories are being recondition and rehabbed and the millennials are jumping all over them and they're seeing growth in their workforce.”

Director Promotes Mixed Use for STAMP Site

Oltramari said he could foresee mixed-use buildings at the STAMP site, especially in a technology district closest to the hamlet of Alabama.

“I could see mixed-use buildings in that because the whole point of that is sort of having like an actual link between the hamlet and the business park,” he said. “You could have commercial businesses on the bottom floor, sort of like a main street kind of scenario. And I think that's been the vision for, you know, that kind of part of the park for a while now. So, I think even the town would be in favor of that at STAMP.”

Schubmehl asked whether or not the “live, work” model was actually in the proposal in front of the board, which prompted Oltramari to say he didn’t see it as a major issue.

“I think the era of separating uses, just for the sake of it commercial from residential or, you know, the whole reasoning behind that is to keep incompatible uses apart,” he said. “I don’t see that as a reason anymore, especially in the business parks.”

Planning Board Chair Laraine Caton then asked for a vote and all members, including Schubmehl, voted in favor of the request.

“No, I'm not opposed to it for the purposes as a planning board, we’re worried about inter-community problems here,” Schubmehl said. “And that's not an inter-community problem.”

In other action, planners:

-- Recommended approval with modifications of a special use permit for Jesse and Jolene Coots of Le Roy to operate an ATV, automotive event, hill climb, mud bog and time trial course on 10 acres of a 110-acre vacant parcel of land that they own on Perry Road in Pavilion.

The applicants said they plan to hold events two or three times this year (with the schedule dependent upon the COVID-19 pandemic).

The board’s modifications focus on the applicant obtaining written documentation from NYS Department of Conservation that the project will not be encroaching on wetlands as well as a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for the potential Federal Wetlands. It also asks that the Coots submit an application for 9-1-1 Address Verification to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office to ensure that an address is assigned that meets Enhanced 9-1-1 standards.

-- Recommended approval with modifications of a special use permit request from Waifin Properties LLC of Clarence Center to operate a contractor’s yard in a Commercial District at 850 Main Road, Pembroke.

The proposed yard would encompass a 100-foot by 100-foot area on a 7.6-acre lot.

The board said the applicant is required to surround equipment and materials storage area with a fence of at least 8 feet high that has a gate, which shall be closed and locked except during working hours.

May 15, 2020 - 7:01am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county legislature, Richard Seibert.

The process to replace John Hilchey on the Genesee County Legislature begins with the Republican Party committees in the two towns that he represented, according to the county’s Republican Party election commissioner.

“The procedure would be that the Republican committees in the two towns – Alabama and Oakfield – would have to have a meeting to interview candidates to replace John,” Richard Siebert said Thursday. “Upon having that meeting, when they selected a candidate, they would then recommend that candidate to the County Legislature, which makes that appointment.”

On Thursday, Hilchey, the District No. 1 legislator, resigned, citing conflicts with his employment. He joined the legislature after winning the election in November 2017.

Siebert said the person who emerges from the committee meetings – “hopefully the best qualified person they can find,” he noted -- would serve for the rest of the year.

“And that person would still have an opportunity to get on the ballot for the November election, which they call an ‘opportunity to ballot’ and any party can do it, not just the Republicans,” he explained.

Others could run for the post as well, Siebert said, meaning there could be a contest in six months.

He also said the winner this November would serve in 2021 and then, provided he or she wishes to continue, be on the ballot again in November 2021, when that seat goes for a four-year term.

Potential candidates for the seat must reside in Alabama or Oakfield to be eligible.

Letters of intent will be accepted until May 22 and should be sent to Alabama Chairman Earl LaGrou at 7420 Macomber Road, Oakfield, NY 14125, or Oakfield Chairman Daniel Manges at 7475 Fisher Road, Oakfield, NY 14125.

For questions, contact LaGrou at (716) 912-8195 or Manges at (585) 813-3516.

Siebert said he was shocked to hear of Hilchey’s resignation.

“I can’t remember a legislator just stepping down,” he said. “I do know that John was very devoted and was a great asset to those two towns and will be deeply missed.”

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein accepted the resignation with regret, stating that “we are losing a community leader who has served the people of Alabama and Oakfield honorably and well.”

May 14, 2020 - 4:19pm
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 166 positive cases.
      • The positive case resides in Darien.
      • The positive individual is in their 30s.
      • The newly positive individual was not on quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • One of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Four of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
      • Genesee County has received word of one new death notification related to COVID-19. The individual was over 65. Our condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this difficult time.
    • Orleans County received four new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 146 positive cases.
      • One of the positive cases resides in Ridgeway and one of the positive cases resides in Kendall.
      • Two of the positive cases reside at The Villages of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation Center.
      • One of the individuals is in their 30s, one of the individuals is in their 60’s, and two of the individuals are in their 70s.
      • None of the newly positive community cases were on quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • Four of the previous positive community cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Twelve 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.
      • Orleans County has received word of one new death notification related to COVID-19. The individual was over 65 and a resident of The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center. Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this difficult time.

covidchartmay142020.png

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

May 14, 2020 - 3:27pm

Press release:

Genesee County District #1 Legislator John Hilchey submitted a resignation letter dated May 14, 2020 to Legislature Chair Rochelle M. Stein.

“With my role as a Genesee County Legislator having a negative impact on my current employment, with risks of possible negative financial impact upon my employer, I hereby submit my resignation as Genesee County Legislator District #1, effective immediately. It has been an honor to serve the residents of Alabama and Oakfield and a greater honor to serve with such a fine group of legislators," signed, sincerely, John R. Hilchey.

Legislature Chair Rochelle M. Stein stated, “It is with deep and profound regret that I accept Legislator Hilchey’s letter of resignation. We are losing a community leader who has served the people of Alabama and Oakfield honorably and well. Mr. Hilchey brought expertise and vast experience to his role as legislator and we are grateful for his service.”

May 14, 2020 - 2:48pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, covid-19, coronavirus.

Whether you’re an owner of a business, executive director of a nonprofit organization, manager of a public service agency or pastor of a place of worship, if you don’t have a plan for reopening according to New York State COVID-19 guidelines, then now is the time to develop one.

That was one of the key messages conveyed by Genesee & Orleans Public Health Director Paul Pettit and Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell at a Zoom videoconference this afternoon.

The hour-long webinar, hosted by Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, attracted 185 people – many of whom are wondering what they need to do to get their workplace up and running again.

Both Pettit and Gsell emphasized the importance of having a plan in place that addresses physical distancing, protective equipment, cleaning and hygiene, communication, and screening – all of the bullet points on the NYS business reopening safety plan template (pdf).

Reading from the document, Pettit said that “this plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval, but must be retained on the premise of the business and must be made available to the State of New York Department of Health, local health or safety authority in the event of an inspection.”

“We can’t give you any clarity of what that means beyond potentially if you have an issue, if we potentially trace back an outbreak or a cluster to a business or a location based on contact tracing, we’re probably going to be asking you to let us see your plan,” he continued. “How are you ensuring that you are protecting your employees (and how) you’re protecting your consumers if they came into the business?”

Gsell said the state government and health officials are trusting that all businesses and organizations follow the requirements listed and fill out the form.

“It’s scout’s honor that you put the plan together and then you have gone to the website and attested that you’ve done this and you have it on file at your plant location, your business location – whatever that may be,” he said. “The county, itself, is going to have to do this and we’re starting to do that already.”

He added that the template is for all entities, no exceptions.

“It does not leave anybody out … in terms of how they want us to plan and continue the protocol, and also recognize that at this point, the State of New York also doesn’t want to have hundreds of thousands of plans on file that they would probably not ever be able to get to,” he said.

The Genesee & Orleans Health Department also has drafted a document for business owners – a reopening guidance and fact sheet (pdf).

Pettit noted that the plan for reopening is being driven by the state and that Genesee (along with Orleans and Wyoming counties) is “tethered to our surrounding Finger Lakes Region counties” as the strategy calls for a regional approach.

“The governor has been very clear that his decision – the Empire State Development and his administration – has the final say on what happens here locally,” he said. “We do not have the flexibility here to create our own plan. We did try that route when we first found that we were able to start potentially opening on May 15th, we wanted to put together a more local plan for Genesee and Orleans county, but that was shot down … All of the metrics and all the data are going to be driven by what happens regionally.”

He then talked about the impact of the coronavirus in Genesee County, noting that: 165 people have tested positive; 1,785 tested negative; 15 are in isolation; 56 are in quarantine; three have died; and 95 have recovered.

Pettit mentioned that the health department recently “did break apart the community from regulated facilities (nursing homes, for example) and we did that because we wanted to make sure there was a clear delineation between what was happening in the community versus what was happening in these kind of captive audiences, these residential facilities.”

He said Genesee has experienced “very little” community spread; it’s mainly been driven by what’s going on in this regulated facility environments.”

While the exposure has been low thus far, Pettit said he hopes that a future spike doesn’t occur and derail the region’s progression from Phase One (starting tomorrow) through the other three phases.

Pettit said it is vital that people continue practicing social distancing and take other precautions.

“Our biggest concern on the public health side is we all of a sudden start to un-pause and see significant increases in spikes, the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations – the governor has been very clear that it will lead to the region being paused again,” he said. “We want to be able to move forward successfully and safely, and we want you guys to start to generate some income and revenue … in a safe, smart and strategic way.”

Other key points from the webinar:

-- Gsell said that each phase will have at least a two-week time frame – and possibly up to four weeks -- between them, during which an analysis of the seven metrics will take place. The outcome of the data assessment will determine whether a region moves ahead, stays in place or goes back on “pause.”

-- The state considers contract tracing as a determining factor that has kept some regions (including Western New York – Buffalo area) from advancing into Phase One, Gsell said.

“This is where the science comes in and where the state is going to continue to hold our feet to the fire with what we know about the people who we are dealing with and what is being reported to the State of New York and also to our local county health department,” he said.

-- NYS Executive Order 202.16 mandates that all essential businesses or entities, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees.

Pettit said if people can’t maintain six feet of separation, then they must wear a mask.

For more information, call ESD at 1-888-364-3065.

The webinar was presented by the Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District, Batavia Development Corporation, and Genesee County Economic Development Center.

May 14, 2020 - 11:51am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, New York Forward, covid-19.

The Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, is a day away from Phase One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s four-phase strategy to reopen the economy, but it has to continue to fulfill all seven health-related components to keep moving in the right direction.

“Right now, we’ve met all seven of the metrics, hospitalization rates, bed capacity, testing, and so on, and they all have to stay in the green or we go back to a ‘pause’ on Phase One again,” advised Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell this morning.

Gsell said the entire nine-county Finger Lakes Region will be monitored by the state on a daily to make sure it is within the parameters of the metrics:

-- Decline in Total Hospitalizations;
-- Decline in Deaths;
-- New Hospitalizations;
-- Hospital Bed Capacity;
-- ICU Bed Capacity;
-- Diagnostic Testing Capacity;
-- Contact Tracing Capacity.

“That’s what we’re following and we can’t get ahead of the governor,” Gsell said. “This is how controlled this is going to be.”

The state has a website, New York Forward, that includes a detailed list of the businesses that are eligible to return in six categories assigned to Phase One:

-- Construction;
-- Agriculture;
-- Forestry, fishing and hunting;
-- Retail (limited to curbside or in-store pick up or drop off);
-- Manufacturing;
-- Wholesale trade.

Additional documents on the website include summary and guidelines, along with a safety plan template for reopening, for each business category.

According to the website:

“Businesses in each region will reopen in phases. Reopening refers to nonessential businesses and business activities. Essential businesses and business activities that are open will remain open. The guidelines below apply to both nonessential businesses in regions that are permitted to reopen and essential businesses throughout the state that were previously permitted to remain open.”

Phase Two includes professional services, retail, administrative support, real estate/rental & leasing; Phase Three expands to restaurants and food services; and Phase Four lists arts, entertainment, recreation and education.

Incidentally, playing tennis is being allowed under Phase One, Gsell noted.

Each area of the state is guided by a Regional Control Room that is responsible for keeping tabs on metrics and providing regular updates to communities. Members of the Finger Lakes Control Room include county legislature chairs Rochelle Stein (Genesee), Lynne Johnson (Orleans) and Jerry Davis (Wyoming).

Gsell issued a warning to citizens to continue to practice social distancing measures and wear masks as necessary during the reopening.

“I understand that people are restless and anxious but if we proceed too fast, in a confused and chaotic manner, the (COVID-19) virus will come back in a real negative way,” Gsell said. “We won’t just be behind the 8-ball, the 8-ball will take us down like the Rock of Gibraltar – and we don’t want to go there.”

May 13, 2020 - 7:04pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county legislature.

By a narrow margin earlier tonight, the Genesee County Legislature voted in favor of a resolution that removes authorization from the county treasurer to make revenue distribution payments to towns and villages until further notice, thus rescinding agreements forged in 2018 and 2019.

Five legislators – Chair Rochelle Stein, Marianne Clattenburg, Andrew Young, John Deleo and John Hilchey – voted “yes” and four legislators – Gregg Torrey, Gary Maha, Christian Yunker and Gordon Dibble – voted “no.”

Legislature Clerk Pam LaGrou announced that the measure passed with a weighted vote total of 172, eight more than the 164 needed for approval.

Earlier, an attempt to table the resolution also failed, with the weighted vote number to table at 154. The four legislators who voted “no” to the resolution were the ones who voted “yes” to hold off.

Just prior to the final vote, Stein made a brief statement in an attempt to quell town and village officials’ fears.

“I would just like to offer that I have been having a conversation every week with our leaders and there is every intent to ensure that they are not left behind, and we are all in this together,” she said. “There is the opportunity for all of us to work through this together and make sure we successfully come through. There is intent to continue to provide support for towns and villages as we have demonstrated before and that will continue.”

After the vote, Vickie Almquist, a Village of Bergen trustee who was signed into the Zoom videoconference meeting said, “Thanks for nothing.”

The resolution to rescind the authority to make the quarterly payments has caused quite a stir throughout the county (see an earlier story from today below, headlined, Legislature chair asks towns, villages to 'stick with us and hold tight' as county deals with loss of revenue).

Clattenburg said that the resolution was necessary because the county realizes it is unable to make the payments (which include sales tax receipts) “at the level of 2018, so this takes away the treasurer’s ability to make those payments at that level.”

Her statement prompted another question from Almquist: “For ever and ever?”

Dibble, who represents the towns of Pembroke and Darien, then proceeded to make a motion to table the resolution, explaining that “such actions could be delayed without the loss of options currently available to us.”

“I’m confident that the towns and villages fully understand the negative potential this situation has created and that a significant loss of revenue is certain,” he said. “I ask that we table this resolution before us to take advantage of the additional weeks such tabling would afford us.”

Yunker seconded the motion, and that was followed by Almquist asking, “So, you’re going to do this forever then, huh?”

Then a man, identified as Elba Village Mayor Norm Itjen (see comments below), asked why he wasn’t allowed to speak, mentioning that he raised his hand at the beginning of the meeting and “was passed over.”

“This will show in a vote,” he said, and was followed by Almquist's comment, “Really, you’re never going to give us any money ever again.”

“I hope you guys get voted out next time,” Itjen said, before the duo were muted out of the meeting.

The three other legislators who voted against the resolution spoke prior to casting their ballots, reasoning that they could use the time before another round of payments was due (in July) to receive more information and provide more clarity.

Maha said he was going to vote against the resolution “because after listening to our representatives from the towns and villages, I understand their frustration and share some of their concerns with the language that’s in this resolution.”

“We have plenty of time – two months – to rescind this resolution. I think we can get together and craft some language so it isn’t so strong. At the end, it says we’re going to discontinue these payments until further notice. I think we can change some of the language that would satisfy our towns and villages and show our support for them, and allow us to continue making distribution payments to them without any specifics … as to how much.”

Torrey said he worked closely with the three towns that he represents (Alexander, Bethany and Pavilion) and the Village of Alexander when the current agreement was crafted.

“I’m not comfortable leaving them in a vacuum during this very difficult time,” he said. “I think we have time to get more clarity and draft a replacement agreement that will better serve the county and our partner towns and villages.”

Yunker, who represents the towns of Elba, Byron and Bergen, said that rescinding the treasurer’s authority to make the payments leaves the villages with “no clarity and zero commitment, and without a replacement (document).

“All we need to do is act like they are our partners and come up with a resolution, committing something to them,” he said. “I believe we have time – a distribution doesn’t need to be made for several months -- and we can work with our partners … to see what comes out of the federal stimulus, and see what comes out of the state budget and use the time. There’s no rush, so I’m going to vote ‘no.’”

In other action, legislators:

-- Passed a resolution calling on the Congressional delegation to provide counties with direct federal aid to support counties’ COVID-19 response and reopening economic activity efforts, further stating that counties outside of New York City can expect to lose between $1.5 billion to $3.5 billion in local revenue and state aid.

-- Passed a resolution accepting a grant of $74,261 from the New York State Board of Elections’ NYS HAVA CARES Act program to implement measures necessary for responsible, safe, and fair elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, for a contract term beginning March 28, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.

May 13, 2020 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

As of 2 p.m.

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 165 positive cases.
    • Two of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Four of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
  • Orleans County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 142 positive cases.​
    • Two of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Ten 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.

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

May 13, 2020 - 4:03pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, the Batavia Development Corporation and the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District appreciate the response of small businesses to a recently conducted online survey.

With the anticipated resumption of manufacturing and construction services in the Finger Lakes Region on May 15, the business organizations are looking to collaborate in developing a plan to assist small businesses on Main Streets in city, towns and villages across Genesee County to help them ready for their reopening.

"Governor Cuomo's NY Forward plan provides a path for Genesee County and the Finger Lakes Region to reopen intelligently and safely," said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde. "The input of our small business community, manufacturers and local leaders shows that re-opening safely is a shared priority, and our economic development team supports that mission."

Conducted the week of May 4th, more than 100 businesses in various sectors, including dining/hospitality, entertainment, fitness, medical services, nonprofit, professional services and retail completed the on-line survey.  Among the highlights:

Challenges to Reopening: Businesses see getting customers back into their doors (63 percent highest or next highest), access to PPE (46 perceny highest or next highest) and developing a safe reopening plan (41 percent highest or next highest) as their biggest challenges to reopening.

Financial Assistance: 63 percent of businesses applied for either the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Payroll Protection Program (PPP) programs. Of those that applied, 50 percent had received EIDL assistance, and 82 percent had received PPP assistance.

Interest in Business Supported Programming: Respondents support a coordinated Genesee County Shop Local campaign (87 percent) expressed interest in safety plan development and training (45 percent).

Along these lines, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce will host a Zoom Webinar on Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. featuring Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee County. 

The topics to be covered during the webinar include the status of the County’s reopening; formulating a reopening plan for your business; sanitation and social distancing tips at your workplace; and, reopening guidance from the Genesee County and Orleans County Health Departments.

The webinar will be accessible at the following link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82534812321?pwd=d1FBUmhQUGxuaWNUY2xqZzlQdkFZdz09

Meeting ID: 825 3481 2321

Password: 295833

Or dial by your location: +1 929 436 2866

May 13, 2020 - 3:54pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, NYS Department of Labor, covid-19.

Press release:

The New York State Department of Labor today announced that in just over a month, more than 330,000 New Yorkers have been approved for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program, which provides unemployment benefits to individuals who do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.

In total, the Department of Labor has now paid $7.4 billion in unemployment benefits to New Yorkers since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March — three-and-a-half times the total paid in benefits last year.

In addition, the Department of Labor announced emergency measures to ensure unemployed New Yorkers who have been assessed forfeiture day penalties will receive benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions, which suspend forfeiture days for the duration of the pandemic emergency, will allow more unemployed New Yorkers to receive financial support during this unprecedented crisis.

“Every state is facing a historic surge in unemployment claims and New York is no different, but we have moved faster and more aggressively than others to get beneficiaries their money, and in just over two months have paid out over three-and-a-half years’ worth of benefits,” NYS Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said.

“We know New Yorkers are struggling, and we know they need support now, and we are working day and night to get money into more New Yorkers’ hands faster — including through these emergency measures — and we will continue to provide the support people need to help them weather this unprecedented crisis.”

Created by the Federal CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27th, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program provides unemployment benefits to Americans who are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance, including those who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, farmers, and those who have other COVID-19 barriers to work.

The program’s implementation has faced multiple setbacks from the Federal government, including cumbersome guidance that required applicants to first apply for traditional unemployment insurance knowing they would be denied, receive a formal denial, and only then apply for PUA. In late April, that guidance was streamlined, and New York immediately launched an updated unemployment benefits application that allowed New Yorkers to seamlessly apply for either traditional unemployment insurance or PUA, depending on their eligibility.

New York State is now able to process PUA applications rapidly and has approved over 330,000 New Yorkers for this program. As part of the Department of Labor’s proactive communication efforts, these New Yorkers are receiving emails and text messages to inform them that their applications have been approved and remind them to certify weekly to continue receiving benefits.

May 13, 2020 - 2:38pm

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein is taking exception to what she says is misinformation about a proposed resolution to rescind revenue distribution payments to towns and villages during the coronavirus crisis.

Reacting today to news that the Genesee Association of Municipalities and the Town of Bergen supervisor are objecting to the measure, Stein said that the resolution to cancel agreements from 2018 and 2019 that authorize the county treasurer to make quarterly revenue payments to the towns and villages is a temporary move that has yet to cause “harm to anybody.”

“The legislature has considered at Ways & Means (committee meeting) that we are going to rescind the authorization for those two agreements so that there is no authority for the treasurer to write those checks,” she said. “That has to happen because there is no further action necessary for the treasurer to just write those checks.”

She said that is the key to the “whole conversation that I think the towns and villages like to just overlook. And the last three words in the resolution to rescind say, until further notice.”

“At no point has the county said there will not be any further revenue distributions. That’s a comment that comes from the towns and villages,” she said. “There are two sides to this story and it’s very unfortunate that our comments and our weekly call and awareness that we’ve been providing (have been misconstrued) because we want our partners to take action like the county has taken action.”

The Batavian has obtained copies of a resolution passed by GAM representatives at a special Zoom meeting on Monday night as well as a letter written on Town of Bergen letterhead from Supervisor Ernest Haywood.

GAM Seeks Alternative Solution

The GAM resolution – passed by a 20-1 vote with the Town of Oakfield voting “no” – reads, in part, that elimination of the funding would cause extreme financial hardships for Towns and Villages, which already have adopted budgets, made expenditures and have borrowing obligations based upon the revenue from Genesee County.

It went on to request the county to continue the revenue sharing, “and if the amount of sales tax is reduced then the amount to be paid to towns and villages … be reduced by the same amount (percentage) as the county sales tax revenues were reduced by.”

GAM President Thomas Dix, a Pembroke Town councilman, contacted today said the members understood the county’s unenviable position … “but they we’re hoping to find an alternative solution that might allow for some more revenue to be shared with the towns and villages – and the City as well, since the City has a unique position.”

Dix offered that the all governmental leaders in the county take their jobs very seriously and are considering the situation “very, very carefully from all angles.”

“They are capable of thinking outside the box and they are capable of disagreeing and compromising on any issue, always in the best interest of the people they serve,” he said. “And I take my job very seriously as president of GAM by making sure that every municipal leader has a clear line of communication with every other municipal leader. Because I believe that it's when communication breaks down that we start to see the worst problems come to the surface.”

Haywood’s letter expands upon GAM’s resolution, stating that “immediate action needed: call or email today as action to eliminate funding is set for Wednesday p.m.”

Indeed, the full legislature has a Zoom videoconference meeting scheduled for 5:30 today and the resolution in question is No. 8 on the agenda.

Bergen Supervisor: Call Your Legislator

Haywood’s letter exhorts people to call or email Legislator Christian Yunker, who represents the towns of Elba, Byron and Bergen, or Stein to “tell them to continue to share, even at a reduced rate, the sales tax revenue with the towns and villages.”

Continuing, the letter states:

“The legislature is set to take action on a proposal that will eliminate the sharing of revenue all together. We understand the county is getting less but the county should keep all they are getting and should continue to share the lesser amounts with towns and villages.

“Tell them to be sure we (County and Towns and villages) are ‘all in this together’ by the county not keeping all sales tax revenue but continuing to share at the reduced rates they receive it. Without the revenue, the town will be in critical financial shape and will ultimately next year have to raise taxes by over 20 percent to accommodate for the loss of revenue.”

A phone call to Haywood for further comment on his letter was not returned by the time this article was posted.

Stein emphasized that the county has continually kept “our partners” abreast of developments coming from Albany.

Stein: Directive Issued on March 28

“On March 28th, I told the chief elected officers of the communities here that the schedule that we had set forward for the revenue distribution – and it’s not the sales tax anymore and we have to be very clear about that – would not be met this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the New York State On PAUSE,” she explained. “The county would not be able to write checks that we could not cash.”

Stein said she repeatedly has communicated that “we are all in this together and together we are going to find a way to be successful regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State On-Pause, or the state government budget gap of $13 billion and growing.”

“And it is important to remember that this is not our fault,” she said. “But what is important for us is to have a plan moving forward. We have four points of measurement. The first one is a possible federal COVID 4 stimulus directly to the towns, villages and counties. For us, that would be a game-changer.”

She said the county is waiting to hear from Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding changes to the state budget, expecting between a 20 to 50 percent decrease in state aid for mandated services. Cuomo has specified four measuring periods for adjustments – the first being the month of April and the second being May 1 through June 30.

“As we gain knowledge on each one of those events for measuring where the revenue to the county is and the impact, I’ve asked the towns and villages to stick with us and hold tight,” said Stein, noting that the county has instituted hiring freezes and furloughs along with holds on capital projects. “We’ll have greater clarity and understanding as we move through these time periods.”

First-quarter Payments Have Been Made

Currently, all first-quarter payments to towns and villages have been made on time and per the amounts set by the previous agreements, Stein said.

“Right now, to date, there is no harm to anybody. Together, we can work our way out of this, but we also know that this is not a one-year situation,” said Stein, who also is heavily involved in the reopening of the economy as the Genesee County appointee to the Finger Lakes Region control room. “Our NYSAC (New York State Association Counties) group is indicating this will impact our budget through 2024."

Dix and Batavia Town Supervisor Gregory Post both said they recognize the county’s plight and trust that the communication lines remain open.

“My own personal opinion as a citizen, I understand that it’s in the best interest of Genesee County residents, although towns and villages do not like the idea because it’s going to hurt their budgets directly,” Dix said. “Once you understand the backside of it and … how the money is being shared and how the state impacts that decision, it is actually probably the best way to protect the interests of the residents of Genesee County.”

Post called the county resolution “a prudent measure” that eventually will work itself out.

“I don’t feel it will be a permanent thing,” Post said. “But GAM wants some reassurance that this doesn’t end the sales tax agreements. I don’t think it will but nobody knows for sure what is going to happen, especially with state mandates. The legislature has indicated there will be candor and transparency.”

May 13, 2020 - 12:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, HEROES Act, Genesee County manager, Jay Gsell.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell is at the front of the line when it comes to calling for the federal government to provide monetary relief to cash-strapped local municipalities but, at first glance, he’s thinks the latest $3 trillion stimulus plan may have gone too far.

“I think it is a bit of an overreach – although I haven’t read between the lines – and (observe) that the Republican Senate and White House are not exactly lining up anymore with fed stim 4,” Gsell said this morning in response to the 1,815-page bill proposal released on Tuesday night by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The bill, called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, is a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that includes $915 million for state and local governments and additional $1,200 checks for individuals (up to $6,000 per family).

It also would provide an extra $600 a week federal unemployment benefit through Jan. 31 – an extra disbursement that was supposed to run out at the end of July.

Additional benefits of the bill include billions for essential workers’ “hazard pay,” coronavirus testing, U.S. Postal Service, the Payroll Protection Program, pandemic-era voting challenges in November, and hospitals and health care providers.

Another $1.2 billion is earmarked for police departments for salaries and equipment, and state and federal prisons.

View the entire bill here.

Batavia City Manager Martin Moore said he wasn’t sure how the proposed legislation would end up, but he’s all in on support for counties, cities, towns and villages.

“Any help that we can get will surely be welcome … especially given the unfunded mandates that we have to deal with and the reduced revenues,” he said. “(Another federal stimulus) would not only help us this year, but with next year’s budget as well.”

Gsell said the overarching parameters of the bill likely will be challenged by Republicans and President Trump, and pointed to an erroneous report in The New York Times that could make it even more difficult for it to pass.

“A reporter from The New York Times put New York in the same boat as Illinois and California, writing that New York is asking for a bailout of its state pension funds. That is a fallacy. This state’s retirement system is not in financial ruin; in fact, it is 96-percent funded, which is a platinum standard.”

He said the result of that report is that Senate Republicans and the White House perceive that all states with Democratic governors and looking for handouts to bail out their pension systems.

Gsell said New York’s counties see another stimulus as a “vital measure to bridge the gap” caused by significantly reduced sales tax and, potentially, state aid reimbursement. And, he said, time is of the essence.

“Getting relief relatively soon, this month, is vital, but it may not occur to June and July,” he said. “That won’t bode well for our workforce … and getting a sense of what is the new normal.”

He said there are a couple other bills out there, including one supported by Sen. Charles Schumer “which I think may have a better chance than this Pelosi bill.”

“When it goes from $1 trillion to $3 trillion, that’s a big jump, and any attempt at consensus-building gets blown up,” Gsell said. “Then it ends up being every Congressperson for himself, with many taking a wait-and-see attitude until after the economy opens up.”

May 13, 2020 - 9:58am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Box 585, Chuck Hammon, Henrietta Fire District.

cover_issue_no_1.png

In most communities, street corner fire alarm boxes have become a thing of the past, giving way to the widespread availability of landline and cellular phones.

For those who don’t remember, when someone pulled one of those red fire alarm boxes, the signal was sent to fire headquarters where firefighters matched the number of the box to a corresponding location on their chart. And, just like that, crews were off and running to the hot spot.

The spirit of the call box lives on today, however, in the form of a digital magazine called Box 585, an initiative spearheaded by former Genesee County firefighter Chuck Hammon, (photo at right), who currently is employed as a Station 5 lieutenant for the Henrietta Fire District.chuck_h_1.jpg

Box 585 is a local training group for the Greater Rochester area and our mission is to provide training programs and resources to 585 (area code) firefighters so they can perform at a higher level on the fireground,” said Hammon, 35, who spent 16 ½ years in public safety in Genesee County.

He said the magazine – which can be found at box585fire.com and also at https://www.facebook.com/box585firetraining/ -- is an idea that evolved after years of networking among local firefighters, specifically those in Genesee County.

The first edition, a 28-page eye-pleasing display of helpful articles and sharp photos, was released last week and already has received “thousands of page turns and views,” Hammon reported.

He said that stories are written and photos submitted by local contributors with specific goals in mind – to enhance communication, share ideas and increase awareness about the importance of physical and mental fitness. 

“When we started Box 585 Fire Training & Performance LLC, we knew our digital foundation would be the quarterly magazine and our website, specifically for 585 firefighters by 585 firefighters,” Hammon said. “While we are building our in-person training and physical and mental performance programs, we can continually release content to firefighters in the area.”

Hammon began his career in public safety as a volunteer with the Stafford Fire Department, before accepting jobs with City of Batavia fire ambulance crew and Le Roy ambulance.

A New York State fire instructor, he worked as a City firefighter until 2015, when he and fiancée, Le Roy native Kerry Woodward, moved to Henrietta.

He said that constant difficulties with scheduling and communication prompted him to create a “centralized place” to advertise classes and trainings for firefighters and instructors in the 585 region.

“Often the class postings would be passed along to chiefs but not make it to the firefighters that needed the course,” he recalled. “Now as a new resident and instructor in Monroe County, I see the same scheduling needs here.”

Hammon noted that instructors from Genesee County are on staff and will be available to provide their colleagues with training and information both digitally and in-person.

In addition to the posting of class schedules, local firefighters who submit articles and photos are creating a network among departments, Hammon said, adding that he will include association events and fundraisers in the magazine.

“Local vendors can advertise so that firefighters can see what equipment, apparel, and services are available in their backyard,” he said. “Our photographs are only from local photographers and those photographers have the opportunity to have their talents showcased. If the digital format is not your thing, it can be printed out and displayed at the firehouse or fire halls.”

Hammon explained that the “box” term hasn’t completely disappeared from firefighting jargon.

“In the modern fire service, a "Box" is a term departments use to have predetermined resources respond based on a geographic location or hazard,” he said. “Fire chiefs are constantly updating their box books and running orders to ensure the community is getting the appropriate resources for their emergency. Fitting to our mission, we are providing resources to Box 585.”

box_585_flat_3.png

May 12, 2020 - 7:42pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Federal Stimulus, NYSAC, covid-19.

Update: May 13, 9:30 a.m.

Congressional Democrats reportedly are proposing the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act -- a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that includes additional $1,200 checks for individuals (up to $6,000 per family) and $915 billion for states and local governments.

In addition, the extra $600 a week federal unemployment benefit would be extended through Jan. 31, 2021, under the proposal. That extra payment was supposed to run out at the end of July.

The bill would also provide:

  • $200 billion in “hazard pay” for essential workers, such as grocery store employees and health care personnel;

  • $75 billion toward more coronavirus testing;

  • Send $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service;

  • Add $10 billion to the Payroll Protection Program meant to help businesses and especially underserved businesses and nonprofit organizations;

  • $3.6 billion for local officials to prepare for pandemic-era voting challenges in November;

  • $600 million to police departments for salaries and equipment

  • $600 million for state and federal prisons;

  • Provide $100 billion to hospitals and health care providers to cover costs, with a special focus on health care entities in low-income communities.

The New York State Association of Counties is applauding the proposal.

“The federal stimulus proposal introduced today includes funding allocations that have been championed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and the entire NY Congressional delegation. This essential funding is necessary for essential public employees to provide essential services to stamp out COVID-19 and begin the process of reopening communities," said NYSAC President John F. Marren in a statement.

"County leaders commend House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey and Speaker Pelosi for beginning the negotiating process by introducing this important legislation. We thank New York’s bipartisan congressional delegation for fighting to help New Yorkers survive and thrive during the pandemic."

May 12, 2020 - 6:28pm

When she first jumped into the race for the NY-27 congressional seat, Darien resident Beth Parlato got off to a fast start in fundraising from individual donors.

She raised $271,000 in eight weeks. Her campaign coffers now stand at $554,153.62, which includes some PAC money and a personal loan but so far that isn't half of the $1,253,465.46 Chris Jacobs has in his campaign account.

Parlato said she knows what she's up against in trying to win a congressional seat against a candidate who can afford to drop $446,000 of his own money into his quest for a seat in D.C. So when the novel coronavirus swept through New York and she was forced to cancel five fundraisers, Parlato took what she thought was the next most sensible route to keep her effort financed. She borrowed $150,000 against her property on Seven Day Road.

That loan, which she turned around and loaned to her campaign, promoted a reader to contact The Batavian and suggest the loan violated Federal Election Commission rules.

At first blush, based on language on the FEC site, that might seem true.

When a candidate obtains a bank loan for use in connection with his or her campaign, the loan is considered to be from the bank and not from the candidate's personal funds.

However, two experts in campaign finance interviewed by The Batavian for this story said Parlato's use of money obtained from a second mortgage to make a personal campaign loan is legal.

"It's her personal money," said Paul Cole, a Republican who was once heavily involved in WNY politics, working for Tom Reynolds and Chris Lee before running David Bellavia's 2012 primary campaign. He is not currently involved with any congressional campaign.

"She's going to be personally responsible for paying back that banknote regardless of what happens in terms of the campaign," Cole said. "She's going to have to pay back that loan."

While the campaign, if it raises enough money, can repay the loan to Parlato, if the campaign for any reason can't raise enough money to pay back the loan, Cole said Parlato is still personally responsible to repay the money to the bank.

Michael E. Toner, an election law attorney in Washington, D.C., also said it is legal for a candidate to take out a second mortgage on his or her own property and then loan that money for a loan to his or her campaign.

A footnote on the FEC site also indicates such a loan is permissible:

The personal funds of a candidate include: Assets which the candidate has a legal right of access to or control over, and which he or she has legal title to or an equitable interest in, at the time of candidacy ...

Parlato, who is endorsed by the Conservative Party and is running the GOP primary, has raised $376,691 from individual contributors. She collected another $11,000 from political action committees.

Jacobs, the endorsed Republican in the special election and also a candidate in the primary, has raised $720,856 from individual contributors. He's also raised -- from PACs, other congressional campaigns, and corporations -- $85,699.

The other Republican in the race is Stefan Mychajliw, who has raised $75,576. He's loaned his campaign $465.

Democrat Nate McMurray, running in both the special election and unopposed in the Democratic primary, has raised $527,886. He's received more than $30,000 from PACs and has not loaned his campaign any money.

The Libertarian candidate is Duane Whitmer, who has raised more than $20,000, half of which comes from a loan from himself to his campaign.

CORRECTION:  Parlato is not a candidate in the special election, as previously stated.

May 12, 2020 - 5:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • As of 2 p.m.
    • Genesee County received one new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 165 positive cases.
      • The positive case resides in Batavia.
      • The positive case is in their 30s.
      • The newly positive individual was not on quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • Zero of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Five of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
    • Orleans County received eight new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 142 positive cases.
      • All of the new positive cases were in state-regulated facilities: Two from The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center, five (one counted from the weekend for a total of six) from Western NY DDSO Group Home, and one from Orchard Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.
      • Of the new positive cases one individual is in their 20s, three individuals are in their 30s, one individual is in their 50s, one individual is in their 60s, one individual is in their 80s and one individual is in their 90s.
      • Two of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • 10 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 saddened to report another death from The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of this individual during this very sad time.

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

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