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June 2, 2020 - 9:56am

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

In the Batavia City School District, incumbents Barbara Bowman and Tanni Bromley along with recent appointee Alice Ann Benedict are running for three board seats. The candidates receiving the most votes will serve from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023, while the third-place candidate’s term will be June 9, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

The questions are as follows:

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

2 -- Are teachers in your district compensated adequately?

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

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

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

ALICE ANN BENEDICT

1 -- I am in total support of the year’s district proposed budget for 2020-2021. The BOE, Scott Rozanski, Superintendent Soler worked hard and responsibly to meet all the educational needs of the students of this district with this budget.

2 -- Great teachers are the most valuable resource in our school district. That being said, Batavia is not the most affluent community in New York State and our ability to compensate our staff is based on our taxpayers’ ability to fund the district. I believe, in general, that our current compensation is adequate and I hope that our community’s prosperity will help improve our district’s long-term ability to continue to attract and retain the best and brightest educators and team members available.

3 -- I think that our district should follow the guidelines that will be suggested by the Governor, New York State School Boards Association, The Genesee County Health Department and our Superintendent. Each school district in the state has a different circumstances to contend with. Our school district is different than, let’s say, Elba’s because of the number of students, their school campus, their busing policies etc. Therefore, we should consider our own needs and use a process that best suits our district, that takes into account our students, our campuses, our busing needs etc. and reopen when it best suits all concerned, when its safest for all students, staff, families and our community. With that being said, I’d like to thank and commend our teachers and staff for how they’ve handled this crisis and truly put the needs of Batavia students and families first. 

4 -- From my previous BOE experience (11 years on the BOE) I have realized three things about responses to parents: 1. Our BOE should be speaking with one voice to ensure consistency and clarity of our message. 2. Going forward, I will promote transparency and open communication and answers to any questions and be forthcoming whenever possible. 3. I encourage parents and families to ask questions and engage with us during this difficult time. It’s important for the BOE to listen and respond thoughtfully whenever and wherever we can. During these unprecedented times, it’s essential for the BOE to be as transparent and supportive of open two-way communication as possible.

5 -- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin; American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America by Edmund S. Morgan

BARBARA BOWMAN

1 -- After careful consideration and further conversations, the board unanimously approved the proposed budget. We supported the budget in its entirety. I cannot stress enough how important I feel it is to support the teachers and to support the community. I believe to be of substantial help to our students, who are our first priority, we need to be able to use collaboration and work together as a team.

2 -- The Teachers Association negotiates their compensation on a 3-4-year contract. The Board of Education approves the final negotiation contract on the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools.

3 -- I believe Batavia CSD should follow the guidelines that will be provided by Governor Cuomo and the Genesee County Dept of Health, on the advice of the CDC and WHO. Having said that, as a grandparent, I support the reopening of school in the fall, provided we can follow all safety guidelines put forth. Technology is an amazing tool and should be used but it can never replace teacher- student interactions and relationships.   

4 – The Board of Education allows the opportunity for all public to be heard during public session in addition to allowing questions to be submitted for review on the district website. We obviously cannot answer every question that is received however when there are several questions with similar content, we as a board, take time to consider them and provide thoughtful answers.

5 -- To Kill A Mockingbird; Night.

TANNI BROMLEY

1 -- After careful consideration and further conversations, the board unanimously approved the proposed budget. We supported the budget in its entirety.

2 -- The district continuously has a full pipeline of candidates for open positions, this is in part due to having competitive compensation as compared to similar districts. Additionally, our Teachers Association negotiates their compensation on a 3-4-year contract which The Board of Education approves on the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools.

3 -- I believe Batavia CSD should follow the guidelines that will be provided by Governor Cuomo and the Genesee County Dept of Health, on the advice of the CDC and WHO. If the guidelines are to open in the fall with certain restrictions and accommodations, then yes.

4 -- The Board of Education allows the opportunity for all public to be heard during public session in addition to allowing questions to be submitted for review on the district website. We obviously cannot answer every question that is received, however, when there are several questions with similar content, we as a board, take time to consider them and provide thoughtful answers.

5 -- Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom; Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

June 2, 2020 - 9:15am

Mention the Genesee County Youth Bureau and thoughts of after-school activities or arts and crafts may come to mind. But, as you learn more about the agency’s operation, it becomes clear that interaction with today’s adolescent population is not all fun and games.

Youth Bureau Director Jocelyn Sikorski touched on a couple of the more serious issues on Monday as she presented a departmental review and outlook at the County Legislature’s Human Services Committee Zoom videoconferencing meeting.

Sikorski said the bureau received 30 referrals – the most ever – to Youth Court in 2019, with 24 of them coming from law enforcement and the remainder from schools and the Probation Department.

Eighteen of the referrals (and subsequent trials) occurred in the last three months of the year, resulting in a very busy time for Program Coordinator Chelsea Elliott and Program Assistant Chelsea Green, she said.

She recounted the story of a 15-year-old boy who was referred to Youth Court on a criminal mischief complaint and ended up having to perform 35 hours of community service, write three essays for reflection and a letter of apology, and take anger management classes.

“A lot of his issues were with his father, specifically, and as a result, she (Elliott) placed them to do community service at our local animal shelter,” Sikorski said. “And because of his age they asked that a parent be with him.”

Sikorski said that the boy and his dad completed the service together at the animal shelter and they continue to do so.

“On top of completing the community service hours and building the relationship with his father – which was something that was vital to his success – they are still supporting our local animal shelter,” Sikorski reported. “He is one of our positives out of our Youth Court system. They’re all very positive, but that’s one that really stood out.”

The director also shared a story connected to the department’s Safe Harbour program that deals with child trafficking and human trafficking. The youth bureau is in the first year of a five-year funding cycle through a contract with the Department of Social Services.

“Since COVID started, we had a call from Restore (a program of Planned Parenthood) and they said they have a young woman who they believed is being trafficked who was coming in for medical services, but they couldn’t ask her because the individual who was potentially trafficking her was coming to all her appointments,” Sikorski said.

Due to the virus guidelines, that other person was not allowed in the exam room, and that gave counselors a chance to provide resources such as domestic violence information and a list of places where the woman could go for temporary housing.

Sikorski said the young woman has two small children, so “she’s not necessarily ready to leave, but if she needs help, she knows where she can get it now and they were able to have that conversation with her.”

She said the bureau’s goal this year is to provide community education and training and to conduct a media campaign leading to a needs assessment to youth-serving professionals (police, school counselors) who work with anyone that would come in contact with a young person who could be at risk of being trafficked.

In 2019, the youth bureau distributed 35 Go Bags to at-risk or runaway youth, Sikorski said. These backpacks include supplies for a night – health and beauty products, a blanket, hat and gloves, granola bars, trail mix, bottled water and gift card for coffee. Twenty-seven of the Go Bags went to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, which has a bag in the trunk of all its patrol cars.

On the subject of activities and events for youth, Sikorski said COVID-19 has brought things to a standstill and that could be the case for a while longer since youth programs are in Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan.

“Our funded programs, all but one are closed and not operating at this time,” she said. “I’m waiting to hear back from some of our funded youth rec programs for the summer months.”

Sikorski said springtime is normally the bureau’s busiest time of the year,

“About every other week we had major events scheduled, and moving into the summer as well that we have had to cancel or postpone,” she said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll have some semblance of normalcy in the fall where we will be able to get back to doing the things we routinely do for our community, but it has been a challenge.”

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The Genesee County Youth Bureau provides a variety of services, activities and events, primarily in Genesee County, including the Liberty Center for Youth in the City of Batavia, and also in Orleans County. For more information, go to its website

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

Press release:

New Cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reopening Guidance: Links to assist businesses

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

o   Regional Control Room email.

o   Link to NY Forward website.

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

  • Public/Private Beaches guidelines.
  • COVID-19 Test Site Finder.
  • Masks / Face Coverings Both counties are still low in supplies of masks. They are being distributed to high-risk agencies / businesses as prioritized and if there is a supply left over they will be distributed in an appropriate manner. County plans for releasing supplies to the public will be forthcoming as supplies become available. Additional information will be released by the respective County Emergency Management offices as appropriate.  
  • ROC COVID-19 Health Screener: This symptom tracker for the Greater Rochester region is a scientific study collected aggregate data by zip code to track hot spots of COVID-19. The data will potentially show how the virus may be spreading, identify areas that may be at risk and determine how our efforts are working to slow the spread. You can participate by taking the daily survey whether you are having symptoms or are feeling healthy. It just takes a few seconds. To learn more, click here
  • The Nursing Home hotline number is (833) 249-8499 or click this link for the online form.
June 1, 2020 - 2:06pm

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

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

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

Additionally, numerous positions will be abolished. They are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statement from Macy Paradise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The questions are as follows:

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

2 -- Are teachers in your district compensated adequately?

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

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

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

CHRISTOPHER MULLEN

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

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

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

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

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

DIANE STEEL

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

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

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

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

5 – No response.

May 31, 2020 - 1:29pm

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt devastating blows to businesses of all types and sizes, but not many have been hit harder than the bowling industry.

The 2019-20 bowling season was cut short when the virus hit in mid-March, forcing leagues to cancel their seasons with four to eight weeks remaining.

As the crisis continued, tournaments at the national, state and local levels were cancelled – keeping bowlers on the sidelines and preventing organizations and center proprietors from generating millions of dollars in budgeted revenue.

With June a day away, bowling centers remain closed in most states. In New York, bowling has been lumped together with other forms of entertainment into Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan and it likely will be at least another month before centers are allowed to open their doors.

Proprietors, reeling from end-of-season losses, also have seen their spring and summer league programs washed away. They are uncertain about the start of the 2020-21 season in late August and early September, and wonder what league bowling will look like going forward.

“Bowling is not going to be the same for a while,” said Jack Moran, proprietor of Roseland Family Fun Center in Canandaigua, a facility that offers 34 traditional bowling lanes as well as eight VIP lanes, café, sports bar, and an arcade with laser tag and bumper cars.

Social distancing parameters – requirements that people stay at least six feet away from each other – have prompted the United States Bowling Congress to temporarily waive playing rules stating that two lanes must be used for competition and that bowlers must alternate lanes.

The USBC also waived the requirement that both lanes must be used for a bowler to be eligible for awards and average recognition.

What that means is, for league play, a team could bowl the entire game on lane one, for example, and its opposing team, could bowl its entire game on lane three.

Additionally, bowlers will be allowed to use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to clean their bowling balls during competition – a change from the current rule that states that no cleaners can be used during competition.

Although it is yet to be seen whether those new rules will be put into play, proprietors hoping to run summer leagues after reopening may have no alternatives.

“What are we going to do for six to eight weeks of summer leagues? We’re better off trying to run a special promotion to get people in the doors again, so that they feel safe,” said Moran, a past president of the NYS Bowling Proprietors Association. “We’re not even sure if people coming back in September are going to feel safe.”

Randy Hanks, proprietor of the 18-lane Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, said he is planning to separate customers by around 15 feet for open bowling.

“If a family’s is using a pair (of lanes) and they’re on lanes one and two, the next one used will be lane five – 15 to 20 feet away,” he said. “Plus, I’m going to have them prepay, leave the (house) balls and shoes on the ball return, and we’ll sanitize them after everybody is done.”

The NYS BPA already has drafted a long list of health- and safety-related protocols that proprietors will use to ensure a safe environment. Details can be found in the article below.

Hanks said the restaurant portion of his business has been open for take-out only, but revenue pales in comparison to normal operation.

“We lost four summer league, including our adult-junior league that would have ended the day we maybe can open up – June 26th,” Hanks said. “I don’t even want to look to see how much I lost since March 15 compared to the same time the last two years.”

Moran said his staff has been working hard to implement the protocols – markings on the floor, plexiglass shields, acquiring digital thermometers to check everyone’s temperature coming into one specified entrance, and so on.

“From what we’re being told, we will be allowed to open at 50 percent of our occupancy,” he said. “In my case, it equates to about 120 people in my center.”

He said he has talked to colleagues in other states to get a pulse on the situation.

“Talking to my friends in Ohio and Florida – they have been able to open up but it’s limited hours and every other lane for social distancing,” he said. “Right now, we’re trying to look at what the league structure will be like in September – and it’s not looking good if this thing goes six months.”

Mike Sputore, manager of Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, said he is looking to reopen the 24-lane center in mid- to late-August with all the protocols in place.

Echoing the concerns of the whole industry, he said time will tell on how to proceed.

“There are just too many uncertainties at this time,” he said. “How do we run the leagues? Do we use just one lane? How much time will it take to bowl? Will more than one league be able to bowl at a time? I just hope people don’t give up league bowling.”

May 31, 2020 - 1:24pm

Numerous bowling centers around the nation – and especially in New York State – are “on the brink” of closing for good, according to a well-known Long Island proprietor who is spearheading a grassroots campaign to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow these recreational facilities to open up sooner than currently planned.

“We want to make everyone aware that bowling centers are more like restaurants, and should be permitted to reopen in Phase Three (of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan) instead of Phase Four,” said John LaSpina, president of Maple Family Centers, a chain of four bowling centers in the New York City area and another location in Florida.

La Spina has held numerous bowling leadership positions at the national, state, and local levels over a 60-year career. He has received multiple honors, including being selected as the International Bowling Industry Person of the Year in 1994 and to the New York State Hall of Fame in 2016.

He is calling upon New York state bowling association officers, league bowlers, and local government officials to contact their local legislators and request that the governor places bowling into Phase Three, a move that would enable bowlers to enjoy their sport two weeks earlier than currently planned.

Bowling is not the same as professional sports played in huge stadiums, and events staged in arenas and the theater, La Spina said.

“As bowlers centers have plenty of room and as proprietors understand the challenges we face, there is no reason why we can’t open up bowling in Phase Three so we may save some of the centers that are on the brink,” he said. “We respect the rules of social distancing and can easily and safely accommodate bowlers in our large facilities with 50 percent occupancy sooner rather than later.”

LaSpina said he is afraid that more and more businesses, not just bowling centers, will be closing their doors and may not come back as a result of the devastation caused by the coronavirus.

He and others representing the NYS Bowling Proprietors Association have drafted a letter that includes “talking points” and a list of protocols that bowling center personnel has put in place to protect the health of customers and staff.

Just a few of the protocols include:

-- Cleaning the seating, ball return, and scoring area using a disinfectant rated for COVID-19 between each lane usage;
-- Disinfecting each bowling center rental ball before and after each use, and each rental shoe before and after each use;
-- Providing social distancing throughout the facility to eliminate shared spaces;
-- Providing cashless payment options where possible;
-- Providing a separate entrance and exit for guests;
-- Installing plexiglass barriers at counters, between employees and customers;
-- Limiting group reservations to six or less.

He also said that people can email him at [email protected] if they need to identify members of the state Senate and Assembly in their area.

“We’re appealing to anyone – local mayors, police commissioners, restaurateurs and owners of other businesses – who can help us make our case, who know that bowling is a safe activity and that those who operate bowling are responsible people with a plan to keep everyone safe and to keep their facilities clean,” LaSpina said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The incident has touched off protests and riots nationwide.

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May 30, 2020 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, news, notify.

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments have received six more COVID-19 cases. Orleans has four new positive cases (bringing the total to 225) and Genesee has two (bringing the total to 188).

Contact tracing has been initiated and all who have had direct contact with the individuals will be notified by Health Department staff. Three of the Orleans County individuals are residents of Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and one is a community resident. The two individuals from Genesee County are both community members.

There is currently no further information to release on ages and locations. Mapping to include the positive cases from the weekend will be updated on Monday afternoon.

Now that we are in Phase 2, we ask residents to continue social distancing, mask wearing, and proper hygiene even in the company of whom we trust the most -- family, friends, and coworkers. We also ask residents to be respectful of the business owners and wear masks while you are in their establishment.

If you are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition, call the business and ask for curbside delivery. We can all show people that we care and respect them by continuing these practices to keep everyone safe.

May 30, 2020 - 6:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, Le Roy.

The home of Joshua Blessed, the truck driver who fled from Le Roy Police on Wednesday and eventually died in a shootout near Geneseo, was raided by the FBI according to a Harrisonburg, Va., TV station news report.

Blessed owned a home in the community of Weyers Cave, near Harrisonburg.

A source with the FBI's field office in Richmond, Va., told WHSV that Blessed was the subject of a joint investigation by the FBI and Virginia State Police following the incident in New York. No information was released about what investigators were looking for in Blessed's home or what may have been found.

Blessed, who claimed to speak directly with God, posted anti-police videos on his YouTube channel and on his website claimed to be called by God to start a second civil war.

The News-Leader, a newspaper in Waynesboro, Va., reports that Blessed was accused in 2015 of assaulting a teen relative. He was convicted of assault. Following an appeal, he was ordered to undergo anger management treatment and perform 100 hours of community service. The case was dismissed in 2018.

He has two adult children. In 2005, he and his family moved from California to Virginia.

Previously:

May 30, 2020 - 1:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Oakfield.

Heidi M. Connolly, 44, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with seven counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a felony, and one count of third-degree grand larceny, also a felony. Connolly was arrested at about 5 p.m. on May 28, arraigned in Genesee County Court, then released on her own recognizance. It is alleged that between October 2018 and October 2019, Connolly allegedly falsified paperwork at the Genesee County Department of Social Services Building and as a result fraudulently received $3,631 in benefits. She was released on her own recognizance and is due in county court on July 7. The case was investigated by GC DSS Fraud Investigator Robert Riggi and GC Sheriff's Deputy Erik Andre, assisted by Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Lute.

Christopher M. Smith, 26, of Pratt Road, Batavia, and James C. Malone, 23, of South Pearl Street, Oakfield, are charged with unlawful possession of marijuana in the second-degree, a violation. They were allegedly found in possession of marijuana after an investigation by a Batavia Neighborhood Engagement Team (NET) officer and the Genesee County Local Drug Task Force. The May 28 press release from the Genesee County Sheriff's Offices does not say when or where the arrests were made. The defendants were issued appearance tickets and are due in City of Batavia Court on June 23.

May 29, 2020 - 10:49am

With Phase Two of New York’s reopening plan temporarily on hold due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for a review of the health data by “international experts,” Genesee County business owners hoping to open their doors to the public can only sit and wait for another update out of Albany.

That update may be coming very soon, said state Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, speaking by telephone after a nearly 15-hour legislative session that ended around 2:30 this morning.

“My belief is that he (Cuomo) is going to make an announcement this morning that on Saturday we’re going to enter Phase Two,” Hawley said, after expressing his dismay over how things have been handled since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in mid-March.

“I’m not sure how he has been able to do it pretty much all on his own up to this point with looking at statistics and data as he likes to call his decision-making process,” Hawley said. “I’m not sure why all of a sudden, he wants to bring in whoever his experts are. He has quite a few around him and pretty much has single-handedly run the state for the past two months.”

On Thursday, published reports indicated that Cuomo said he has “international experts who (will) go through it and we’ll follow the data.”

“The reopening in the first five regions ends tomorrow. When the reopening of Phase One ends, we’ll give the experts all the data. It is posted on the web, but let them analyze it. And if they say we should move forward, we’ll move forward,” the governor stated.

The Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming counties, entered Phase One on May 15.

Regional leaders were expecting to enter Phase Two today, with that action clearing the way for more retail stores, barber shops, salons, real estate offices and professional services to reopen.

Hawley said the time has come, with adherence to proper safety guidelines, to return to some sense of normalcy.

“Enough stalling,” he said. “We have done what we need to do for the last two and a half months, and we’ve been doing it well. Western New York is not New York City.”

The assemblyman also said Republicans attempted to pass a resolution to a bill last night during session “that would have taken away his (Cuomo's) powers and suspended his one-man rule, but it failed on a party-line vote pretty much.”

“We need to get back on track and have three co-equal branches of our government operating as it was intended to do in our country and our state,” he offered.

Hawley also criticized the state Department of Labor for delays in processing unemployment insurance checks for those who have been laid off through this health crisis.

“We have folks who have been waiting for unemployment for eight, nine, 10 weeks,” he said. “The Labor Department was operating under a system known as MS-DOS, which is an outdated, archaic technology that was used back in the 1980s. It was never updated in all these years.”

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein also weighed in this morning, acknowledging that patience has “worn thin.”

A part of the regional control room, Stein said that prior to official word from Cuomo, business owners could put their licenses at risk by opening on their own.

“We would just ask for additional patience and we understand that (patience) has already all worn thin. But to get out ahead of the governor is not a good position to be in,” she said.

She added that new guidance has been posted on the New York Forward website.

--------------

Genesee County Fair cancellation a tough break for 4-Hers

Stein said she was disappointed over the cancellation of the Genesee County Fair and felt bad for the young people involved in 4-H.

“The 4-H youth who participate in educational programs all year long, and have an animal ready to go to the Fair that they have spent an incredible amount of time, either training or growing --this type of learning experience that 4-H provides for our youth, along with the animal agriculture education, for me, that’s the hardest hit,” she said.

Co-owner of Stein Farms in Le Roy, she said she understands the work that goes into getting ready for the fair.

“It’s not just a couple weeks before the fair,” she said. “It starts when the animal is born, and there is a significant amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into these animals and these projects. That’s where my heart really has been saddened by this.”

She said she supports the Agricultural Society’s decision to cancel.

“I know it’s been a terribly difficult decision for the Ag Society to come to, but as I see that other fairs have done the same to protect the health and safety of others, I know that just this one time, just for now, this is what needs to happen,” she said.

May 28, 2020 - 5:46pm

There will be no change in the daily schedule for students at the four Batavia City School District buildings.

“After thoughtful consideration and collaboration over the last six weeks, the members of the Batavia Teachers’ Association voted against a proposal to change the start and end times at all district buildings,” BTA President Mark Warren said following today's online voting by union members.

District administration had suggested the change during the 2020-21 budget process, maintaining that the proposed starting and ending times would save $200,000 in transportation costs. The outcome of the vote will not affect the passed budget.

With the “no” vote by the teachers, the school day will continue as follows:

-- Batavia High and Batavia Middle, 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

-- John Kennedy Elementary and Jackson Primary, 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The proposal called for BHS and BMS to be on 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. schedule, and for JK and Jackson to be on a 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. schedule.

Warren said he exit polls revealed two main concerns.

“The current research on sleep patterns and the school day for teenagers supports a later start time for secondary students, and concerns were also expressed over modifying the students’ schedule in the midst of all of the changes going on due to the pandemic,” Warren said.

He said the BTA’s goal moving forward is “to work collaboratively with district administration as we determine the best path to reopen the school buildings in the fall to ensure the safety of students and employees.”

Warren said all four building votes would have had to be favorable for the measure to pass, but indicated that it was rejected at all four schools.

May 28, 2020 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, Le Roy.
Video Sponsor
blessedmug2020.jpg
             Joshua Blessed

A man from Harrisonburg, Va., whose social media posts indicate he thought he spoke directly to God and received visions of the devil, has been identified as the driver of a tractor-trailer involved in a high-speed pursuit through three counties last night before he engaged in a shoot-out with police near Geneseo.

Joshua Blessed, formerly Sergio Jourev, 58, was killed in the incident. He had also posted a video to his YouTube account with the headline "Brave Patriot defending US Constitution and 2A vs. Domestic terrorist gang member 'blue devils.' "

The video is taken from the dashcam of a police patrol vehicle and shows what appears to be a traffic stop where the driver opened fire on the police officer and engaged in a protracted gun battle before fleeing in his sedan.  

The description of the video asks viewers to join Blessed's "militia" and links to a website where he claims that in February 2018 he received a new message from heaven calling on him to recruit an army to fight a new civil war.

Livingstone County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty said Blessed fired numerous rounds at officers and struck four patrol vehicles, two from Livingston County, one from Genesee County, and one from Le Roy PD.

The bullet that hit the Genesee County Sheriff's patrol car entered through the windshield, struck the headrest and became lodged in the plexiglass divider between the back and front seats.

"I believe if he wasn't ducking, then it would have been right to his head," Dougherty said.

Blessed was employed by a trucking company, Yurman Express, in Harrisonburg and was driving to Batavia to pick up dairy products when at 8:37 p.m. a Le Roy police officer attempted to stop his tractor-trailer for speeding through the village.

When he was uncooperative with the first officer, the officer called for backup. When the second officer arrived, both officers approached the cab of the truck, each getting onto the running boards on both the driver's and passenger's side of the vehicle.

Le Roy Chief Chris Hayward said the officer on the passenger side observed a handgun in the vehicle.  

One of the officers stepped down from the truck and at that point, Blessed began to drive off. The other officer was able to safely jump from the moving vehicle.

As he fled, Blessed rammed his truck into a Sheriff's patrol vehicle that had responded as backup for the Le Roy officers. He headed westbound on Route 5 toward Batavia. Batavia PD was alerted and officers responded to the city line but before Blessed reached Batavia, at some point after passing through Stafford at a high rate of speed, he managed to turn his truck around.

Sheriff Bill Sheron said he hadn't yet spoken with the officers involved, so it wasn't clear to him how the trucker managed to execute a U-turn on Route 5.

"I think they were quite amazed, too, that he was able to maneuver the vehicle the way he did," Sheron said.

Now eastbound, when Blessed returned to the Village of Le Roy, he proceeded south on Route 19 toward Pavilion. Sheriff's deputies attempted to stop the truck at the county line with spike strips. Blessed continued south through Wyoming County to Route 63 in Livingston County near Geneseo.  Livingston County deputies also tried to deploy spike strips to no avail.

In Livingston County, Blessed started taking shots at police officers.

At one point, Sheriff Dougherty pulled up along the passenger side of the cab of the truck and Blessed fired rounds in his direction. Neither the patrol vehicle nor Dougherty was struck. 

"This isn't a common type of situation where you not only have a heavy, heavy vehicle that is near impossible to stop but also the person then taking shots at cops," Dougherty said. "So it was a stressful, intense incident."

Once the vehicle was stopped, the gun battle continued. Sheron said at least one of his deputies fired shots at Blessed.

The official cause of death for Blessed has not been determined but Dougherty said he sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

On his website, Blessed wrote in February 2018:

This is Joshua Blessed the man of Yahweh, for the spirit of אליהו /EliYahu ( My El is Yahweh), is upon me!

As of February 12. 2018, I received from heaven a new task; “go, begin recruiting for a heavenly hosts/army,..”

My brother, the king of heaven Yahweh of hosts said to me,  “…the civil war is coming and many shall die and descended to hell for the fruits of their life,…”

Here is my confession; As for me, for many years I was blind /slave of “the Beast”,… but now my spirit is revived by my Redeemer Yahweh of hosts, and His holy spirit is upon me and causes me > love Yahweh unto death, for He took away the fear of death of me,…It is why now I seek to die as His warrior for His great name > the king of heaven Yahweh of hosts!

The Batavian's news partner 13WHAM is reporting that Blessed had been banned from a militia site for reportedly being "self-destructive."

He posted multiple videos equating law enforcement with the devil and domestic terrorists. He also posted videos, speaking in what may be a Russian accent, describing dreams and visions he had.  

His Facebook page indicates he was banned by the network for violating community standards in April, a ban that was extended to June 16. His offending posts were described as bullying.

Dougherty said investigators are looking into Blessed's social media posts in an attempt to work up a full profile of the man.

"(Among the) things that we're looking at: How extreme is he?" Dougherty said. "What other encounters has he had with police? What led to this yesterday? Again, there are so many unknowns that we can't interview him on. So these are things that we have to put together. And this is what police agencies do. We put together a timeline and try and get the best answers possible to conclude our investigation."

Dougherty praised the professional response of members of law enforcement from the multiple agencies who participated in the incident.

"Members from various agencies put their life on the line trying to warn traffic ahead, blocked the roadways, get everybody removed all the while knowing that he's popping shots," Dougherty said. "I can only tell you that it is simply unbelievable that nobody was injured."'

UPDATE 6:50 p.m.: An editor with the Harrisonburg Daily-News Record contacted the Sheriff there about Blessed and says the Sheriff told him his office never had any encounters with Blessed, at least nothing serious. Our news partner 13WHAM reports Blessed had a wife and two children.  

Also from 13WHAM: Drivers recall fearing for their lives as they got caught in middle of dangerous pursuit

Previously: After high-speed chase that ended with shoot out, Le Roy chief kept thinking of the 'what ifs'

Video provided by our news partner 13WHAM.

May 28, 2020 - 5:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in Bethany, news, genesee county, Shared Sales Tax Revenue, notify.

From Carl Hyde Jr., Bethany town supervisor:

At an emergency financial Town Board Meeting in Bethany last night, May 27, after discussion on the FACT of Genesee County breaking its agreement with the towns and villages for Shared Sales Tax Revenue it agreed to, the Town of Bethany made some hard choices.

The Sales Tax Revenue Sharing has made up 50 percent of the town's budget for decades to keep town taxes low.

The Genesee County Legislature ended that on the evening of May 13, 2020.

The Town of Bethany's budget was passed in November of 2019 for the 2020 year; taxes came in and plan were made for 2020, the county dropped a BOMB on all towns and villages.

The Town of Bethany voted unanimously to furlough the Highway Department from June 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2020. The employees will be brought back on occasion in emergency situations.

With the revenue to the town cut off, we need to have money to get through the winter plowing.

The Bethany Town Board is planning budget adjustments and cuts in spending to plan for the 2021 budget, which will likely have a tax increase if the county keeps the sales tax revenue going forward.

May 28, 2020 - 4:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, batavia, Le Roy, Bethany.

Dillen Andrew Merrell, 24, of Bernd Road, Le Roy, is charged with third-degree assault. He was arrested on May 26 following the complaint of an assault that allegedly occurred at 11:36 p.m. on May 22 on Ellicott Street Road in Bethany. He was arraigned in Genesee County Court May 26 and released on his own recognizance. He is due to return to county court at 3 p.m. on Aug. 11. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Brabon, assisted by Officer Jordan Alejandro.

Destiny M. Green, 23, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment -- physical contact. Green was arrested at 12:45 p.m. on May 23 after allegedly subjecting a person in her household to unwanted physical contact by striking them with a shoe and then kicking them repeatedly. Green was issued an appearance ticket, then released after her arrest. She is due in Batavia City Court on July 22. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens, assisted by Officer Stephen Quider.

Daniel R. Yates, 50, of Pearl Street, Batavia, is charged with dog running at large. He was arrested at 5:23 p.m. on Pearl Street after his two dogs allegedly escaped from his home and subsequently a person was bitten by one of the dogs. He was issued an appearance ticket after his arrest and is due in Batavia City Court on July 21. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens.

James W. Shute, 37, of Humphrey Street, Warsaw, is charged with disobeying a court order. On May 22, Batavia Police Officer Peter Post arrested Shute for second-degree criminal contempt after he allegedly violated an order of protection on May 16 on Main Street in Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on July 28.

Corey Allen Brown, 34, of Highland Park, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Brown was arrested after an investigation into a bicycle that was stolen on April 22 at 5:53 p.m. on Highland Park. Brown was arrested, issued an appearance ticket, and is due in Batavia City Court on July 14. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Flanagan.

Alicia M. Lyons, 40, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Lyons was arrested at 5:17 on May 21 at the Kwik Fill on the corner of Jackson and Ellicott streets in Batavia after officers were called for a reported larceny. After a brief interview, Lyons allegedly produced the stolen property and turned it over to the officers. Lyons was arrested, issued an appearance ticket for June 16 in Batavia City Court, then released from custody. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis, assisted by Officer Felicia DeGroot.

May 28, 2020 - 4:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • As of 2 p.m.
    • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19, for a total of 185 positive cases.
      • The two positive cases reside in Batavia.
      • One of the positive individuals is less than 20 and one is in their 50s.
      • One of the positive cases was not on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.
      • Two of the total active positive cases are hospitalized.
    • Orleans County received two new positive case of COVID-19, for a total of 211 positive cases.
      • One of the new positive individuals resides in Albion and one of the new positive individuals resides at Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
      • Of the new positive case one of the individuals is in their 40s and one of the individuals is in their 80s.
      • None of the new positive cases were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • Two of the previous positive cases have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
      • Eighteen of the total active positive cases are hospitalized. Please note those in the hospital may be from the community or a state-regulated facility. We do not separate them out to protect their privacy.
      • We are sorry to report that we have lost another county resident due to COVID-19. The individual resided at the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this individual during this very sad time.
May 28, 2020 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, notify, news.

truck_am_2_copy.jpg

No traffic stop is routine. Cadets are taught that truism at every law enforcement academy in the nation. Field trainers drum it into their heads when rookies first hit the road.

A "routine" traffic stop of a white tractor-trailer on Main Street in Le Roy last night turned out to be a stark reminder for his officers that they always need to be prepared for the unexpected, Le Roy Chief Chris Hayward said this morning.

Hayward got to bed late last night, slept fitfully and said what kept running through his head were all the "what if" scenarios. He considered how things could have turned out much worse after a trucker decided to lead local law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit through three counties. The trucker was killed in an apparent shoot-out at a location near Geneseo in Livingston County.

No bystanders nor officers were injured or killed. That's a relief, Hayward said.

"It's one of those things that you try to convey to your officers, especially your young officers, that there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop," Hayward said. "I think this incident conveyed that effectively. I'm thankful nobody was hurt last night.

"I kept thinking of all the 'what ifs,' " he added. "What if he decided to open fire on our officers on West Main Street rather than in Livingston County? You think of all of those scenarios and you're thankful for all of the young folks involved. I thought of all those officers in this situation and they did a tremendous job, as did the dispatchers in both counties, keeping the information flow going in both counties. The dispatchers did a tremendous job."

The chase started when a Le Roy officer initiated a traffic stop of the truck for speeding on West Main Street. The driver stopped and the officer approached the driver's side, climbed up on the running board to talk to the driver. The driver refused to provide documentation or identification. At that point, the officer backed off and requested backup.

When a second officer arrived, they both approached the driver again. They spoke to the driver, each positioned on opposite sides of the cab. At one point, one officer stepped off. Then the driver rolled up his window and started to drive away. The other officer was able to jump off the running board of the moving truck and was not hurt.

A deputy was arriving on scene at that point and the trucker rammed the patrol vehicle.

The three patrol vehicles then gave chase westbound on Route 5.

A witness in Stafford told The Batavian the pursuit passed her house at a high rate of speed. A short time later, she called back to say the truck and seven patrol vehicles were then eastbound.

"It's wild, like something out of a movie," she said.

That was a description others shared, Hayward said this morning.

There was nothing suspicious about the driver or the vehicle that popped up when officers ran -- as is routine on traffic stops --  the truck's plates, the chief said. He didn't have information at hand on where the truck was registered. 

"We had nothing to explain at that time why the operator was doing what he was doing," Hayward said. 

Officers were positioned at locations on Route 5 to set up possible spike strips, and at one point the trucker rammed a Le Roy patrol vehicle participating in that operation. The vehicle sustained significant damage but the officer was not hurt.

Sheriff Bill Sheron said he hadn't yet spoken with the officers involved this morning, so it wasn't clear to him how the trucker managed to execute a U-turn on Route 5.

"I think they were quite amazed, too, that he was able to maneuver the vehicle the way he did," Sheron said.

The trucker led officers back into the Village of Le Roy where he made a right-hand turn on Route 19, going southbound into Wyoming County, where Wyoming deputies joined the pursuit. The trucker continued to Route 63 into Livingston County.

He then reportedly stopped and began shooting at law enforcement officers.

Genesee County deputies were involved in exchanging gunfire with the driver, Sheron said.

One bullet from the driver went through a window of deputy's patrol vehicle, Sheron said, narrowly missing the head of the officer. Sheron declined to name the officer involved at this time.

"God must have been watching over us last night because it could have ended up much worse than it did," Sheron said. "That one vehicle took a round through the windshield and you can't get much closer. Thank God for every day."

Top Photo: The truck involved from this morning. All photos courtesy our news partner 13WHAM.

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May 28, 2020 - 11:05am

The Batavia Development Corporation has selected five new projects in the downtown area for New York Main Street grants through the state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency.

BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire reported at a board of directors Zoom meeting this morning that award letters have been mailed to five applicants who are looking to rehabilitate buildings within the Downtown Revitalization Initiative/Business Improvement District.

“The total amount of the grants for the five projects is $277,500, and I think all of these awards will be accepted,” Maguire said, adding that he will inform the board of the specifics of the applications prior to its June meeting.

Maguire said three of the projects are residential conversions and “encompassed in those five applications are 10 commercial units.” He said grant amounts vary depending upon the type and extent of the work involved.

The NYMS grant program provides funds to units of local government, and not-for-profit organizations for the revitalization of historic downtowns, mixed-use neighborhood commercial districts, and village centers. Targeted commercial/residential improvements include façade renovations, interior commercial and residential building upgrades, and streetscape enhancements.

Entrepreneurs who accept the grants pay for expenses up front and are reimbursed according to parameters set by NYMS administrators.

In another development, Maguire said that two projects that previously received DRI building improvement funds have reached the construction phase.

Owners of buildings at 99 Main St., (Neppalli Holdings LLC) and at 242 Ellicott St., (Vance Gap LLC) are at a point where they can “start moving forward” on construction, Maguire said.

A grant of $137,600 was awarded to 99 Main St., with the description as follows: first-floor dental practices, second-floor open concept commercial, third-floor high-end market-rate residential, plus façade work. The total project estimated cost is $600,000.

A grant of $27,200 was awarded to 242 Ellicott St., with the description as follows: exterior repair to masonry, fixed fabric awning, windows and fiber cement panel and trim knee wall. Second floor full rehabilitation (residential), common area improvements, windows, lights. The total project estimated cost is $68,000.

In other action, the board:

-- Voted to amend the corporation’s agreement with the City of Batavia to split the City’s $110,000 annual contribution to the agency into two equal payments – one to be made in the first quarter of the fiscal year and the other to be made in the third quarter of the fiscal year -- instead of the full payment at one time.

The City also provides office space, office equipment, and payroll/accounting services to the BDC free of charge.

-- Tabled an amendment to the corporation’s bylaws to increase the number of voting members. When the measure is passed, it would enable former BDC President Pier Cipollone to rejoin the board as a voting member.

-- Heard from City Manager Martin Moore that the developer of the mixed-use Ellicott Station project (the former Soccio & Della Penna site) has been working with the City’s code enforcement department, “walking through approvals” and understanding that to “consummate the lot split, the garage (on the property) has to be gone.”

Batavia City Council members have previously publicly expressed their frustration over the lack of activity at the vacant parcel, which constitutes a significant part of the City’s $10 million DRI award from the state.

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