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April 8, 2021 - 3:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, byron, Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

Tricia Mae Blatt, 34, of East Main Street, Byron, is charged with: fourth-degree grand larceny; aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree; unlicensed operation; and operating an unregistered motor vehicle. At 3:47 p.m. on April 3, Genesee County Sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a larceny on East Main Street in the Town of Byron. After an investigation, Blatt was arrested. It is alleged she took a cell phone valued at more than $1,000 from a person, then left the scene operating an unregistered vehicle while her license was revoked. Blatt was issued appearance tickets and is due in Town of Byron Court on May 3. The case was handled by Deputy Erik Andre, assisted by Deputy Kyle Tower.

James Joseph Gabrys, 29, of Gasport, is charged with: possession of a hypodermic needle; criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree; and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Gabrys was arrested at 3:39 p.m. April 8 on Bloomingdale Road on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation for an incident at 2:47 a.m. that morning. He was transported to Genesee County Jail and issued an appearance ticket to be in Alabama Town Court on May 4. The case was handled by Austin Heberlein, assisted by Sgt. Michael Lute.

Mark Frederick Kurzanski, 58, of Olde Stone Lane, Lancaster, is charged with first-degree criminal contempt. At 7:24 p.m. on April 5, Kurzanski was arrested for an incident that occurred at 7:08 p.m. on West Main Street Road in Batavia. He was subsequently arraigned in Batavia Town Court and is due in Genesee County Court on June 2. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Dimmig, assisted by Deputy Zachary Hoy.

April 7, 2021 - 8:17pm

Resolutions to keep a security guard at the Department of Motor Vehicles and forge a secure arrangement with Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden are on their way to the full Genesee County Legislature.

The board’s Ways & Means Committee today voted in favor of amending a contract with Securemedy Inc., of Waldorf, Md., to continue funding a security guard position at the DMV at County Building I on West Main Street in the city.

Cost of the added expense of $28,800 is expected to be covered by Federal Emergency Management Agency/disaster assist funding connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Clerk Michael Cianfrini, speaking at the committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse (and via Zoom videoconferencing), said having a security guard “has been basically invaluable to us down at the DMV, especially since we reopened.”

Cianfrini said that on a daily basis, between 10 and 50 people come to the office from either outside Genesee County or without an appointment.

“The security guard is able to stop them before they get into the DMV,” he said. “He has actually been there long enough now that he familiar with some of the documents and can answer questions for us. He’ll get the documents for people.”

The clerk said that the presence of the armed guard – his first name is Rich – provides much-needed protection.

“From our perspective, I’d love to see him there permanently. Looking down the road, at some point, the governor is going to lift restrictions. At some point, we’re going to have to go back to being open to the public,” he said.

When that happens, Cianfrini said he expects to be “inundated with out-of-county people coming in. Buffalo and Rochester – just hearing how far behind they (the DMV offices there) are.”

“They’re scheduling appointments – and in some cases, other counties are a month or two out, or more. They’re all going to come here,” he said. “I’s going to be … I won’t say a mess – but it’s going to be very hectic, and the presence of a guard would certainly help keep some order.”

Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg said the DMV staff has the backing of the legislature.

“You have our total support,” she said. “It will continue even if we have to fund it from our own budget.”

Keeping the ‘Peace’ (Garden)

The committee also voted in favor of a defined memorandum of understanding between the county and the Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden -- the volunteer group that services and supports the approximately 11,000 square feet of county property on West Main Street, adjacent to the Holland Land Office Museum.

Barb Toal, FBPG vice president, said she is on board with the MOU’s stipulations and looks forward to continue working with the county to enhance the area that commemorates the peace between the United States and Canada since the War of 1812.

“We’re really thankful for all that the county does for us, and works with us on this project,” Toal said. “We’re just here to help beautify Batavia and make use of that area along the creek. I guess I just want to make sure that you people realize how much we enjoy working with you …”

Clattenburg promptly returned the compliment.

“You do a wonderful job of beautifying that area,” Clattenburg said. “It really does fit well within the property of the Holland Land Office and it is a tourist attraction.”

Toal said the original purpose of the peace garden was to “promote the Holland Land Office, and to try to keep the doors open of that building.”

In related action, the committee approved a contract with the FBPG Foundation to lease 682 square feet of space at the Engine House, 3 W. Main St., for administrative purposes from May 1, 2021 through April 30, 2022 at $100 annually.

April 7, 2021 - 4:55pm

firingpinchamberaward2018.jpg

Town of Batavia Planning Board members concur that details – not conceptual drawings, ideas or generalities – ultimately will determine the course of Brandon Lewis’ request for a special use permit to develop an upscale shooting club, along with other entertainment options, on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Rd.

On Tuesday night, planners posed several questions to Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, and Matthew Hume, a Batavia architect who drew up the site plan on property not far from Area 51 Motocross and the New York State Thruway.

Lewis kicked off the Zoom meeting with an overview of his plan and ended it – about 50 minutes later – by agreeing to provide specific information pertaining to hours of operation, the level of target practice, and safety measures prior to an April 20 public hearing on the matter.

It was the second time Lewis appeared before the board. He spoke briefly about the project last month following a presentation of his proposal to the Genesee County Planning Board.

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski advised Lewis that the board and other town officials have received numerous letters from residents about the plan – with some for it and some against it. She said that safety and noise are two of the major concerns.

Along those lines, planner Paul Marchese said it was imperative that Lewis give board members as many details as possible – the who, what, where, when, why and how – in order for them to make the best decision for the town and its residents.

'Carte blanche' is not an option

“You’re going to have to have some defined tasks – for approval or disapproval,” Marchese said. “We can’t give you a blanket, do what you want out there. From your wide scope events, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just giving you carte blanche approval on something that’s not defined – especially for a special use permit.”

Marchese said Area 51 has a set schedule and there isn’t much latitude when it comes to special use permits.

“I think it’s an interesting concept (but I’m) concerned about continual firearms – it’s pretty loud,” he said, also wanting to know what type of guns will be allowed. “I can understand why the neighbors would be concerned.”

Prior to Marchese’s comments, Lewis touted his “professional approach” to the venture, noting that he and his staff have the qualifications and experience to run a safe and successful shooting range. His plan also includes a small drive-in theater and RV park (primarily for overnight guests) and having the property serve as an event venue for concerts and car shows, for example.

Lewis said he believes that the layout and topography of the land, with its hills and berms, are a good fit for the shooting range, which would serve law enforcement personnel, club members and the general population.

“Another (thing we could provide) would be paintball,” he said. “With 22 acres, the way the land is situated, we could easily run paintball out there with the board’s approval. It’s easy to set up – nothing to construct or build – other than the blow up areas that people use for that type of activity.”

Hours of operation a bone of contention

That all seemed well and good to the board, which turned its focus to shooting days and times as well as noise mitigation after Lewis proposed being open seven days a week – possibly from dawn to dusk.

“We’re looking at a mixed model of operation. We’ll be a private club; the shooting range will be a private club,” Lewis said. “Our intent is Monday through Friday during the work week (and) it will only be open to members. To be a member of the club, you have to take a very extensive safety class. You’ll essentially become an NRA (National Rifle Association) … certified range safety officer, and that covers a lot of information.”

Lewis said he would like to pattern the club after the privately owned Rochester Brooks in Rush.

He said the level of staffing would increase on the weekends, much like The Firing Pin.

“You would come down as a member of the public (with) quicker but still extensive safety briefing to get you up to speed,” he said. “When you’re out on the range shooting – under those circumstances -- there will be a range safety officers present within arm’s reach, monitoring everybody and keeping everybody safe.”

At this point, planner Paul McCullough asked about the normal operating hours.

A later start is a possibility

Lewis said that most people target shoot from dawn to dusk, but he would be open to starting later – maybe at 9 or 10 a.m.

“Depending on the interest and the activities that we’re doing, you’re right, it would probably be dusk – especially obviously in the winter months,” he said. “In the summer, we might push that back on certain nights. Doing trap or skeet, a lot of people work until four or five and couldn’t come out until seven or eight o’clock, and we would cut it off at whatever time is required.”

He did add that he would like to be open at night at different times to accommodate law enforcement and civilians who want to practice shooting with low-level light, using a flashlight or other device.

McCullough said his “concern” was the potential of seven days a week with up to 10 hours a day of potential gunfire.

“I would like to know exactly what days and what hours to inform the neighbors,” he said. “Just the constant noise, I think, will be my issue.”

Lewis said he will clearly define the night shooting, especially in the summer, and hoped to be able to schedule it in connection with Area 51 racing that currently is permitted to 11 p.m.

Noise level can be suppressed

“But that would certainly be limited – maybe twice a month. Another thing, going back to the range design, there’s a lot that you can do to try to keep the sound from property as much as you can with different landscaping and physical sound barriers,” he advised.

“As far the long distance ranges where you would be shooting the bigger firearms, there’s a very interesting technique … of using large tires, suspending them from an A frame and you almost make a suppressor outside out of tires … it knocks out a lot of the noise. We’ll have from various shooting positions with the larger firearms, will essentially be shooting from inside of a structure with sound proofing material that will help soak up a lot of that. We fully understand that noise will be a concern and we want to do what we can to alleviate that.”

Partridge then suggested limiting the hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

“If we go into that route of limiting your hours, how many times a month would you need, let’s say, to dusk -- twice a month?” Partridge said. “I could see allowing it during the weekdays (that) you’re going to go to dusk twice a month or once a month, but that has to be spelled out in your permit.”

Lewis said he would work with town officials to come up with a plan that works for everybody.

Logistically, Lewis said the land will be divided into several “bays,” taking advantage of the artificial hill that was made when Polar Wave tubing occupied the site.

“We’ll be enhancing with some ballistic rubber (that is) perfectly suitable to use on outdoor range,” he said. “It will make it much safer, increases our berm depth, makes it a much more consistent berm that you can shoot into – and it makes it much easier to clean, which is another huge concern of ours. Obviously, the remediation and keeping tabs on the lead to manage the property without hurting the environment (are important).”

He also pointed out the height of the berms (14 to 16 feet) as a positive thing, but acknowledged that having five different ranges – and modifications for competitions – bring about challenges in defining exactly where those target areas will be at various times.

What about existing gun clubs?

After Building Inspector Dan Lang mentioned that there are other shooting ranges in the Town of Batavia, Lewis asked if they were regulated by special use permits or “grandfathered in.”

Lang said the private club on Hopkins Road has been there for quite some time and wasn’t sure of the process used to sanction it.

“Trap shooting is what they focus on, and they also have private membership (with no limits on the type of firearms),” Lang said. “They’ve always had that set schedule, and we haven’t gotten any complaints. It’s gone through that cycle already.

“This being a new proposal, there is a lot more involved with it. Some of the tactical stuff and the training, I think is as important as anything. But would they be considered grandfathered in? Yes.”

Hume added that members of the Hopkins Road club can shoot anytime of the day, and noted that they schedule special events on specific days.

As far as Lewis’ proposal, Hume said that even though they may be open seven days a week, there won’t be shooting for 24 hours.

“Sometimes you get that guy that has a little time during the day … and I think that is what Brandon is trying to provide to his members as well. He doesn’t want to have to say you can only go there on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., and that’s it,” Hume said.

The more information, the better

Town Engineer Steve Mountain reiterated the need for Lewis to be “as descriptive as you possibly can at this time on operations and how things are controlled.”

“The concept site plan layout is good but there is so much more information that the planning board is going to need before ultimately making a decision,” Mountain said.

Jasinski then advised Lewis to prepare for the April 20th public hearing, adding that no decision will be made at that meeting although all letters and emails sent to the planning board will be shared at the hearing.

“We will just listen to the comments and we will work as fast as you can get the information to us,” she said.

In the long term, Lewis said he would like to see the shooting range succeed and eventually find “another home for it” as the other uses at the venue take hold.

“I don’t want to say it’s a means to an end (as) the shooting range is where our base is and have the most support. I do see the need for it and certainly believe in it, and I do think the property is very well suited for it. So, I definitely see getting a lot of support from our already established customer base for that use,” he offered. “Again, maybe to help us develop a better one down the road and some of these other uses can really take over and use the property. I’d be completely fine with that.”

Previously: Planners pepper shooting range developer with questions about safety, noise, movie screen glare, berms

Previously: Developer: Outdoor shooting range, drive-in theater will offer 'healthy, family activity'

File photo: Brandon Lewis at The Firing Pin, 2018.

April 6, 2021 - 5:51pm
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, coronavirus, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County reporting 27 new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in the:
      • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
      • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
      • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 90s. 
  • Twenty-six of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Nine of the current positive individuals are hospitalized. 
  • Two of the new positive individuals are inmates at the Genesee County Jail. 

 

Orleans County reporting 11 new positive cases of COVID-19.  

  • The positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
    • Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 50s and 70s.
  • One of the new positive individuals was on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • Four of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
April 6, 2021 - 5:22pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Video Lottery Terminal funds, Sen. Ed Rath.

Municipal leaders would be pleasantly surprised if the final New York State budget for 2021-22 includes the restoration of Video Lottery Terminal funding generated from activity at Batavia Downs Gaming.

“If it is indeed true that we will receive the $440,789 that we typically have gotten or even a portion thereof, we could bring back some of the programming we cut in our budget – such as equipment for various departments and overtime for special police details,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said today.

Tabelski said City Council did not budget for the VLT money, which has become a volatile issue in state budget negotiations – in, then out and then back in again at a reduced amount.

She was reacting to a press release shared by state Sen. Edward Rath III this morning, indicating that the state’s final budget bill includes $800,000 in VLT aid to be split among the city, Town of Batavia and Genesee County.

Rath said that he strongly opposed when the VLT provision originally was left out of the Senate One-House budget.

“Many of our communities are beginning to recover from COVID and the financial implications, to cut their funding at such a critical time would be detrimental,” he said.

Tabelski said she wouldn’t support using VLT money to fund hiring or unfreezing of positions. Instead, she said she would recommend funding police, fire and/or public works positions that were previously unfunded should the state fully restore its Aid and Incentives for Municipalities.

“The AIM payments have been more stable; with the VLT money, we’ve been on a rollercoaster,” she said.

Previous VLT allocations resulted in $200,392 coming to Genesee County and $160,388 coming to the Town of Batavia.

County Manager Matt Landers said he budgeted $160,313 – a 20-percent reduction -- in VLT aid in 2021, but, until recently, was concerned that the county wouldn’t even receive that much.

As far as the Town of Batavia is concerned, Supervisor Gregory Post said the board did not budget for this funding in 2021 because “it has not been reliable.”

“We always were waiting until the last minute (to see if it would be coming),” Post said. “In 2020, when we did budget for it, we received notice that we wouldn’t be receiving it at the expected time.”

Post said the town received part of the VLT funds in 2020 and the rest, minus 5 percent, early in 2021.

He said the $160,388 in unanticipated revenue is “good news” and will help the town “attenuate significant loss in revenue from Genesee County.”

Landers and Tabelski thanked Rath and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley for their efforts to restore the full amount.

“We are grateful to both Senator Rath and Assemblyman Hawley for lobbying for this revenue that benefits the county, city and town greatly,” Landers said.

A spokesperson for Rath moments ago confirmed that the full amount of VLT funding has been put back into the budget, and expected it to be passed over the next several hours.

April 6, 2021 - 2:32pm

drchristiavaccineteens.jpg

An expert in pediatric infectious diseases with Rochester Regional Health is encouraging all young people, 16 years and older, to get vaccinated for COVID-19 but in Genesee County, for 16- and 17-year-olds, getting vaccinated is going to be more difficult.

Of the three vaccines being administered around the state and the nation are from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16- and 17-year-olds.

There are no clinics for the Pfizer vaccine planned for Genesee County, which means 16- and 17-year-olds looking to get vaccinated will need to travel Rochester or Buffalo to get the shot in the arm -- twice.

"We are encouraging the 16 and 17-year-olds to sign up for the state-run vaccine sites that provide the Pfizer vaccine which can vaccinate those who are 16 and older," said Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public information officer for the Genesee County Health Department.

There are several state-run clinics in our region, Goodrich-Kresse said.  Individuals aged 16 and 17 can check the state site for vaccine locations and check to make sure they are for the Pfizer vaccine.

"Currently, we do not know when or if Pfizer will be provided again locally," Goodrich-Kresse said.

Dr. Cynthia Christy, associate chief of pediatrics for Rochester General Hospital, who spoke to regional media yesterday to encourage young people to get vaccinated, acknowledged that COVID-19 poses little health risk to most young people but said people age 16 and older should consider what it could mean for people around them if they became contagious.

"I would imagine that teenagers do have the sense that nothing is going to impact them and that if they got it, they would be fine," Christy said. "So I think the angle for them is, well, what about your family? What about your grandparents? You probably would be fine if you got it, but this way will prevent you from impacting anyone you love."

For young people, who have been consistently less susceptible to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the Pfizer vaccine is believed to be 100-percent effective, Christy said, and the side effects are minimal (slightly sore harm, possible low-grade fever).  

"As I said before," Christy said, "tell them 'let's bring this pandemic to an end, let's keep me from getting an infection, and let's keep my family and friends safe.' "

Photo: Dr. Cynthia Christy during video conference with regional media.

April 6, 2021 - 1:38pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Business/Education Alliance.

winters.jpgGenesee’s large employers have stepped up to “premier” status in their continued support of the county’s Business/Education Alliance, a shared-services partnership offered by Genesee Valley BOCES to connect skilled trade-oriented students with the business community.

Director Karyn Winters (photo at right) on Monday afternoon updated members of the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee on BEA activity over the past year – emphasizing the many adjustments that were made to counteract COVID-19’s negative effect on programming and finances.

Afterward, in a telephone interview with The Batavian, she expounded upon some of these measures, which included introducing the Genesee County Premier Workforce Membership to big companies.

“The time seemed right this year because we knew that with our smaller businesses – the mom-and-pop shops who have normally been able and have been very supportive of the BEA – that things were probably going to be very tight budget-wise,” said Winters, a Pavilion native who has been serving as BEA director since 2017.

Winters said she expected a decrease in contributions this year due to the impact upon small businesses due to the coronavirus, but also realized that the larger companies were flourishing.

“We knew that our friends at Liberty Pumps, business is booming there, weren’t stretched financially, and we could ask for a lump sum of money to support us as the need was there to hire immediately,” she said. “We knew that this would be a good opportunity to approach those larger companies to just continue to support our mission.”

Seven Companies at the ‘Premier’ Level

Liberty Pumps, along with Bonduelle USA, Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), HP Hood, O-AT-KA Milk Products, Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning, and U.S. Gypsum, signed on to contribute $5,000 annually for the Premier Workforce Membership.

“We thought it might be valuable for those companies to save them some time and energy to just approach them once a year and say, for a flat rate, they could provide funding for all BEA events and services, rather than following up with them for donations for different events throughout the year,” she said.

These seven companies will receive: a gold sponsorship (valued at $2,500) of the GLOW with Your Hands career exploration event scheduled for Sept. 28 at the Genesee County Fairgrounds; a BEA Business Membership; sponsorship for all BEA summer career exploration camps and career days; a job fair for graduating seniors in June; and funding and support for purchasing specialized equipment needed in elementary, middle and high schools.

“The job fair is important for companies that have entry-level openings – where they can meet and potentially hire senior class members on the spot,” Winters said. “How nice for those seniors who might not be on the track to go to college to say I have a job lined up and my employer potentially has benefits that I’m going to need as an adult. I see it as a win-win for different organizations and for our community in general.”

Winters said having to cancel BEA’s various in-person career events during the 2020-21 school year and switch to virtual settings was disappointing, to say the least.

A Back to the Blackboard Moment

“Most of our programs have been in person, and we’ve never experienced anything like this where we’ve had to completely reinvent ourselves to allow us to continue to provide that career exploration programming while maintaining social distancing,” she said. “So, it was very much a back to the blackboard, rethink everything kind of moment for us … There was a lot of prediction of what we could do, and then just kind of diving in and going for it.”

She said the BEA utilized YouTube, Zoom and Google Meet to show career interviews and to connect people as best as possible.

“Even with Junior Achievement, one of the programs that we administer here in Genesee County, we had to reimagine the online format, and had to make sure that people were aware that the program still existed,” she said. “Nothing really changed except for a new format.”

Still, Winters said she can’t wait for a return to in-person learning and programming.

“I think this whole experience has kind of reinforced the importance of interacting with different people who have different perspectives and backgrounds. It just enhances what students are aware of career-wise and what is possible for them, too,” she offered. “I’m not saying that ‘virtual’ can’t provide that, but there’s something about the in-person that is that much more valuable, and I am looking forward to bringing that back when it is safe to do so.”

When exploring the BEA’s finances, it is evident that it is getting the most from its budget – which was a bit more than $71,000 for 2020-21.

Winters said the agency receives most of its backing from the school districts that are part of Genesee Valley BOCES, and also gets money from the business members and Genesee County.

Cost-sharing Makes Things Work

“Since we’re a shared service, each district pays on annual fee (which is partially reimbursed by New York State), she said, noting that school money covers her salary and benefits. “Schools receive great, quality programs at a fraction of the cost.”

Businesses pay anywhere from $100 to $220 per year, depending upon the number of employees, she said, with this money supporting career day events, scholarships and summer career camps.

“It makes those camps affordable for families, too, as we only charge $95 per student,” she said.

Funding from Genesee County has leveled out at $3,107 annually for the past five years, which equates to 40 cents per student based on 7,717 students under the Genesee Valley BOCES umbrella.

In her report, she noted that Wyoming County contributes $4,300 to its workforce development program, which breaks down to 89 cents per student.

“That is there more to point out how other counties are supporting their workforce development office and the value of that support,” Winters said. “It’s not necessarily to shame the county because I am more than grateful that Genesee County does contribute to the BEA. I think it is important that they do contribute.”

Winters said county funding is “crucial because we typically run a $1,000 to $3,000 deficit each year and that helps to fill our gaps so that we come out pretty balanced.”

Stein: County is Doing What it Can

Following Monday’s Human Services Committee meeting, Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein was asked about the county’s contribution in light of the challenges the BEA had been facing.

“The contract is based on our budget that we put together last November,” Stein said. “And because we have to budget that year ahead, changing that now -- without a full conversation -- is not going to happen.”

Stein pointed to the county’s “generous” history of sharing sales tax with outside agencies, but acknowledged that currently the county is “handcuffed in supporting those agencies that we would really like to.”

“The BEA has always been one that we knew that was shorted for the activities that they are doing, and the career exploration that they provide for our young people, and to bring them back to the careers that are here at home,” she said. “Yes, Karen makes a great case, but we also have the partnership in workforce development at the GCEDC, which helps to augment those career explorations. That’s one of their pillars and I know that they work really well together, right now, especially for our food processing industries and our mechatronic career exploration.”

Winters also thanked the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce for donating office space to the BEA at its Park Road location.

“That is a huge part of our budget. Because we have that connection and the Chamber believes in our mission, it allows us to operate on a shoestring budget,” she said.

As things seemingly are getting back to normal, Winters said plans are to hold three career exploration camps for middle school students in July – two culinary arts camps (Taste of Italy and Cookie Camp) and Camp Hard Hat. Each camp will be limited to 15 students.

For more information on the June job fair and the July summer camps, go to the BEA website – www.beagenesee.com.

April 6, 2021 - 12:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Alabama.

Peter Joseph Mancuso, 32, of Northwood Drive, Williamsville, is charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree criminal contempt. It is alleged that he caused damage to a person's vehicle at 8:44 p.m. March 6 on Roberts Road in Alabama, in violation of an order of protection. Mancuso was arraigned in Genesee County Court April 5, released on his own recognizance and a subsequent order of protection was issued. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Chad Minuto, assisted by Deputy Ryan DeLong.

Jeanna Marie Hattaway, 34, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with third-degree criminal trespass. Hattaway was arrested after she entered Walmart at 9:35 p.m. April 2, in violation of a June 12, 2018 Notification of Restriction from Property that was issued by Walmart Stores Inc. Hattaway was issued an appearance ticket and is due in BataviaTown Court on April 15. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen, assisted by Deputy Erik Andre.

April 6, 2021 - 9:20am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia High girls' basketball.

reigle_wormley_hein_.jpg

For the second straight season, Batavia High varsity girls’ basketball standouts Mackenzie Reigle and Bryn Wormley have earned Monroe County League Division 4 honors.

Reigle (18 points per game) became a two-time Division 4 Player of the Year while Wormley (17 ppg) was selected to the first all-league team for a second time. The senior guards each hit the 1,000-point mark this season en route to leading the Lady Blue Devils to a 10-5 record and an appearance in the Section V Class B1 tournament title game.

For their varsity careers, which began in the seventh grade, Reigle and Wormley scored 1,117 and 1,049 points, respectively, and are in a select group of BHS players to enter the 1,000 point club. Others are Tiara Filbert (1,574), Ryann Stefaniak (1,357) and Madison McCulley (1,015).

At Monday night’s team banquet at Batavia’s Original pizzeria, Coach Marty Hein said both girls were selected as Ronald McDonald House All-Stars, but the annual exhibition game will not be played this year due to COVID-19.

Photo: Bryn Wormley, left; Coach Marty Hein, and Mackenzie Reigle at the Batavia High varsity girls’ basketball banquet Monday night. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

April 5, 2021 - 9:15pm

Starting Tuesday, all New York residents 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – a major breakthrough coming a full year after the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

But, according to Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, this development doesn’t negate the fact that less than a third of Genesee County citizens has been vaccinated.

“Only 31 percent of the county (has received the vaccine),” Pettit said at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse. “We’re lagging behind the rest of New York State and the Finger Lakes Region, but we’re closing that gap.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that beginning tomorrow, 16- and 17-year-olds can only get the Pfizer vaccine, while those 18 and older will be eligible to take the Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Moderna shot.

Pettit said he expects Tuesday to be a “big day” with the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (for those 18 and over) scheduled to be administered from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Genesee Community College. As of 8:30 this evening, 18 appointments were available.

For more information, go to the GO Health website at G O Health COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule and Guidance – Orleans County Government (orleanscountyny.com).

The health director also said that the virus’ positivity rate in the county is “picking up a little bit, which is not unexpected.” He said the rate is at 2 percent in the Finger Lakes Region, up from 1.5 percent a couple of weeks ago.

He also noted that other strains of the coronavirus have been identified in Western New York – leading to more infections – and officials are seeing an increase in those in their 30s and 40s.

“Again, not unexpected as we have concentrated on vaccinating seniors,” Pettit said. “Once we focus on them (younger people), we will see those numbers go down. But there are still a lot of unvaccinated people.”

He continues to urge folks to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

“Keep vigilant … stay the course,” he said, adding that all three vaccines have been proven to be effective in preventing the virus, reducing symptoms for those who do get it and, “most importantly, the vaccine prevents death.”

When asked about the Excelsior Pass, an app that enables people to prove that they have been vaccinated, Pettit said determining its expiration date is a work in progress – and is subject to statistical measurements.

“We’re not sure of how long the vaccine holds up and we only have eight months of data,” he said.

Pettit said that current recommendations call for a booster shot a year after the first vaccination, but that doesn’t consider new variants and strains.

“There will be a booster shot at some point,” he predicted.

In related action, the committee forwarded a resolution to the Ways & Means Committee to extend for another six months (through Dec. 31) two temporary positions to assist with the county’s response to the coronavirus – a full-time clerk typist and a full-time COVID-19 response specialist.

“This is necessary since we continue to provide vaccinations and testing,” Pettit said. “Hopefully, this will be the only extension we need.”

In other action, the committee granted permission to apply for a grant to help the health department prevent childhood lead poisoning and for surveillance of blood lead levels in children.

Funding of $1.1 million over five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be awarded through cooperative agreements to support primary and secondary prevention strategies for childhood lead poisoning prevention and surveillance.

Strategies include ensuring blood lead testing and reporting; enhancing blood lead surveillance; improving linkages to recommended services; and developing policies for targeted, population-based interventions with a focus on community-based approaches for lead hazard elimination.

Calling it a “big challenge,” Petti said he expects lead poison testing to pick up as COVID subsides. Should the department receive the grant, he said another employee will be hired to assist with the large data component attached to the funding.

April 5, 2021 - 4:23pm
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, coronavirus, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County is reporting 47 new positive cases of COVID-19, including data from over the weekend.
    • The new positive cases reside in the:
      • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
      • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
      • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. 
  • Seventeen of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Nine of the current positive individuals are hospitalized. 
  • Twelve of the new positive individuals are inmates at the Genesee County Jail. 

 

Orleans County is reporting 18 new positive cases of COVID-19, including data from over the weekend.

  • The positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
    • Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
    • East Region (Kendall, Murray, Clarendon)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
  • One of the new positive individuals was on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Twenty of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • Five of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
  • Five of the new positive individuals are inmates of the Albion Correctional Facility.
  • One of the new positive individuals is an inmate of the Orleans Correctional Facility.
April 5, 2021 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Stafford, batavia, bergen.

Hezekiah N. Burch, 19, (inset photo right) is charged with: two counts of first-degree rape with forcible compulsion, a Class B felony; first-degree sex abuse with forcible compulsion, a Class D felony; and attempted sex abuse in the first degree with forcible compulsion, a Class E felony. The charges allegedly stem from separate incidents on Hutchins Place over a one-month time frame earlier this year involving a child less than 15 years of age. Burch was arrested at 6:15 p.m. March 29 after a sex abuse investigation. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in jail in lieu of $40,000 cash bail, $60,000 bond, or $80,000 partially secured bond. He was due back in city court April 2.

Kyle J. Gugel, 35, (inset photo left) was arrested in the City of Batavia for allegedly violating an order of protection, illegally entering a residence and forcibly raping a victim at 9:30 a.m. on March 18 on West Main Street. He was arrested at 9:30 p.m. March 31 and charged with first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony; first-degree rape, a Class B felony; and second-degree burglary, a Class C felony. No court, jail or bail information provided.

Alejandro Rodriguez, 24, was arrested at 5:30 p.m. on March 28 and charged with: third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor; and second-degree robbery, a Class C felony. It is alleged that at 5:09 p.m. March 28 that Rodriquez was involved in a domestic incident on Dellinger Avenue in Batavia wherein he punched a woman in the face and stole property from her. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in jail in lieu of $2,500 cash bail, $5,000 bond or $7,500 partially secured bond. Rodriguez is due back in city court tomorrow (April 6).

Adam M. Jellison, 43, was arrested at 9:30 p.m. on March 25 following an investigation of a domestic incident that occurred Jan. 1 on Columbia Avenue in Batavia. He is charged with first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony, and second-degree strangulation, a Class D felony. Following his arraignment in Batavia City Court, he was jailed without bail.

Jeffrey J. Keily, 51, of Hidden Pond Lane, Walworth, is charged with: driving while intoxicated -- first offense; aggravated DWI per se -- with a BAC of .18 percent or more; operating a motor vehicle without insurance; and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle on a highway. Keily was arrested at 7:37 p.m. April 3 on Clinton Street Road in Stafford after deputies were dispatched for a report of an erratic driver. After an investigation, it is alleged Keily had a BAC of more than three times the legal limit. He was released with appearance tickets to be in Stafford Town Court on April 21. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush, assisted by Deputy Jonathan Dimmig.

Kerwin Rey Vega, 33, of Flint Street, Rochester, is charged with: driving while intoxicated -- with a conviction within the last 10 years; aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree; DWI with a child passenger less that 16 years old (child is 11); operating a motor vehicle while having an open container of alcohol; operating a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device; and refusal to take a breath test. At 1:12 a.m. on April 4, Vega was arrested after a traffic stop in the Town of Bergen. Vega was released on appearance tickets and is due in Bergen Town Court on April 14. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Deputy Nicholas Chamoun.

Rae Cook, 32, was arrested and charged with second-degree harassment at 7:30 p.m. March 30 after multiple disturbances at a Batavia residence. She was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court tomorrow (April 6).

Kristen Marie Owens, 32, of Main Road, Stafford, is charged with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and speeding in excess of 55 mph. She was arrested at 7:59 p.m. April 2 on Route 237 in Stafford after a traffic stop. She was issued appearance tickets in be in Stafford Town Court on April 15. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Sgt. Andrew Hale.

Shane Crites, no age provided, was arrested on an active warrant out of Lamar County Sheriff's Office in Paris, Texas, where he is considered a fugitive from justice. He was arrested after a traffic stop at 11:13 p.m. March 25 on West Main Street Road in Batavia at Colonial Boulevard. Crites was arraigned in Batavia City Court then put in jail to await extradition to Texas. He is due back in Batavia City Court on April 22.

Paula Pierce, 29, was arrested on a Batavia City Court Bench Warrant on March 18 for failure to appear in court. Pierce was located after she called police to report an unrelated incident on State Street. She was released on an appearance ticket and is due in city court April 8.

Amanda Maben, 42, was taken into custody in St. Lawrence County on March 24 on a Batavia City Court Bench Warrant. She was arraigned in Wyoming County Court on a Wyoming County warrant in addition to the Batavia warrant. She was released on her own recognizance and is due in city court April 28.

April 5, 2021 - 9:32am

When it comes to Genesee County’s water supply, municipal officials are fixated on a goal of a regionalized system under the umbrella of the Monroe County Water Authority.

Projects continue to move forward to the east and west of Genesee County as part of what is known as Phase 2 – resulting in an additional two and a half million gallons per day. And much more work is planned for Phase 3, which is expected to increase the county’s daily water output by another six million gallons.

With a steady influx of economic development in the county and the prospect of large-scale manufacturing at the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama in the near future, the demand for water is bound to amplify.

“We’re flipping over rocks everywhere we go to find more water,” said Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, who is responsible for carrying out the county’s strategy.

Hens said that developing a regional water supply will result in a “resilient, safe and affordable” commodity for years and years.

“That’s probably the best thing for everybody,” he said. “The cost of repairing stuff down the road would be borne by the entire MCWA service area, not just the Village of Le Roy, for example, trying to replace its own water plant.”

Great Lakes water: Safe and plentiful

He said water coming from the Great Lakes is safe and plentiful.

“The water is safer (because) you’re dealing with Great Lakes water as opposed to water that might be contaminated with a flood or runoff or anything else that might go wrong,” he said. “It’s safer and, honestly, it’s more redundant because we will have potentially water supply from four different water plants on the Great Lakes.”

Genesee County has been working over the past two decades to achieve its quest for eight and a half million gallons per day, Hens said, calling the effort “very complex with a lot of intermunicipal relations.”

He said the county’s system currently pumps about four and half million gallons a day through the City of Batavia’s water treatment plant. That water, in turn, is sold to the communities in the central part of the county.

The key player in all of this is the Monroe County Water Authority.

“We get about two and a half million gallons per day from the MCWA through the North Road booster station in Le Roy,” Hens said. “And then Monroe County buys a little bit of water from Erie County to feed Darien, Pembroke and Corfu on the west side.”

Pump station upgrades ongoing

Hens said several pump station upgrades are either in progress or on the schedule as the county works to meet the demand:

  • Mumford and Churchville, small portions of Phase 2 that are set to come online by April 15;
  • Morgan Road in Scottsville; Scottsville; Riga, and North Road, which were submitted to MCWA for consideration last week;
  • Golden Road booster station in the Town of Chili, which was submitted to MCWA on March 5.
  • Bissell Road in Bergen, which calls for the installation of 1,700 linear feet of water main to the MCWA connection, and would provide up to 35,000 gallons per day. Hens said this minor project should be done by June.

Additionally, Hens said that installation of water mains on North Road and Vallance Road in Le Roy and a water line on Chestnut Ridge Road in Chili (that will feed into the yet-to-be-constructed Golden Road booster station) is finished.

Hens said that the pump station upgrades and the Golden Road booster station will mark at end to Phase 2 work.

“All of those projects combined will increase our water supply,” he said. “Hopefully, by this time next year we will have everything done and we can have that water available for the summer of 2022.”

Hot days tax the water supply

While Hens said he looks forward to the warm summer months, he is concerned about “those 90-degree days that put a strain on the water supply.”

“Right now, we’re kind of tapped out on water supply,” he said. “On a hot summer day, like last year on the Fourth of July, we were kind of in drought conditions. We’re pretty much – there was no water left to tap. We were producing all the water that we could produce, and it was being used up on a daily basis.”

Genesee County is taking steps to secure water for its central (including the City of Batavia) and western zones as well, Hens said.

“The city water plant draws water from two primary locations – the Tonawanda Creek and the wells on Cedar Street (in front of the county highway department near O-At-Ka Milk Products),” Hens advised.

He said Well A and Well B are active, but are susceptible to an extended drought. For that reason, the county is looking at adding a third well, Well C.

“Given the fact that we are at – kind of peak supply, peak demand right now until Phase 2 is completed – we need to make sure the Batavia water plant has enough water coming out of it to meet the demand, especially in the summertime,” Hens said. “Well C would be there not necessarily to produce more water but as a backup in case one of the other wells has an issue. That way, we can be assured that the city plant can produce as much water as needed.”

Well C is vital to the overall plan

Hens said the county has completed an environmental review and may be ready to award a bid to Frey Drilling to get this project moving.

“It will probably be late summer or the fall before its online. It’s going to be a critical piece for the next few years to have that,” he said.

On the west side, Hens said the county gets about a million gallons a day from Erie County to serve residents in Darien, Pembroke, Corfu (and a small area in the Town of Alabama).

“We’re looking at every single drop of water that we can get until we can do Phase 3 and eventually Phase 4,” he said.

He said he looked into a project with Erie County that officials thought would create an additional two and a half million gallons per day, but it fell through.

“Last fall, we did some hydraulic testing with Erie and Monroe counties, combined, and artificially created a demand by pumping into Genesee County to see the effect on Erie County. When we were pumping in at a higher rate, we caused pressure issues in Erie County as far west as Cheektowaga along Walden Avenue,” Hens said. “Because of that, it would actually cost more money because of the need to do system upgrades, and we kind of shelved the idea."

Looking ahead, the county is embarking on the environmental, design and master planning work for Phase 3.

Phase 3 completion three years away

“In a perfect world, we would start Phase 3 construction by 2023, but it’s hard to say. I’m hoping, fingers crossed, that Phase 3 can be delivered, complete and operational by 2024 -- 2025 at the latest,” he said.

Hens said a major component of Phase 3 would be to run pipelines back into Monroe County, all the way to the Shoremont Treatment Plant in Greece.

“That’s quite a bit of pipeline, with a lot of it through urban areas, and will be a very expensive project,” he said.

Upon the completion of Phase 3, Hens said that the City of Batavia water plant would be taken offline.

Furthermore, county officials are discussing a proposal to establish a Niagara County-MCWA relationship similar to the current Erie County-MCWA pact, Hens said.

“This could benefit us as we await Phase 3 and provide water to STAMP’s large water needs in the future and benefit MCWA in the long-term as they might be the source beyond what Niagara County could provide to STAMP at full build-out,” Hens explained. “Monroe County, if it agrees, would operate the systems. We’re not sure if it’s feasible; it’s just an option because we’re definitely going to need the water.”

Previous: Genesee governmental leaders ready to address call for a countywide unified water rate

April 2, 2021 - 3:09pm

savarino_1.jpgEllicott Station.

The concept was born five years ago when Julie Pacatte, coordinator of the Batavia Development Corp. at the time, introduced Samuel Savarino, chief executive officer of Savarino Cos. of Buffalo, to an excited group of municipal leaders who gathered at the site of the former Santy’s Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna construction company on Ellicott Street.

Savarino proceeded to announce that his firm was selected to repurpose the 3-acre parcel in the City of Batavia’s Brownfield Opportunity Area into a development featuring office, retail, residential and entertainment space.

Fast forward to today and one would assume that not much has happened since that March 2016 press conference. To passersby, the location looks the same -- run-down buildings with broken and boarded up windows; an eyesore, to say the least.

Behind the scenes, though, much has taken place. And Savarino, in a telephone interview today with The Batavian, said that the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” is in clear view.

Closing Could Happen in May

“I expect there will be a date in May when there will be a closing,” Savarino said.

What that statement means is Savarino believes that New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which is allocating around $5 million in low-income housing tax credits to the project, may be at a point where lawyers can sit down, pull together all of the financial pieces and set the stage for demolition and construction.

“The closing with HCR (is the next step). The day after that we will be out there working; maybe a little bit before that, actually,” he said.

Savarino said the parameters of the venture have not changed.

The $22.5 million project calls for construction of a five-story apartment building with 55 new, modern workforce housing units, as well as a brewery, restaurant/beer garden and potential further development on 3.31 acres. It is expected to create 20 jobs in the city’s downtown area.

Resurgence Not Part of the Brew

He did report, however, that Resurgence, a Buffalo-based brewery, is no longer part of the plan.

“They sort of timed out,” he said. “We’ve got another plan in there for a brewery, and we’ll probably have a hand in operating it.”

Savarino acknowledged that he has heard the grumblings from city officials and others about the time that has elapsed since the initial announcement, but he said he let people know from the beginning that “we had our work cut out for us.”

“I said that it would take quite a while because we had, by our initial calculations, between a $5 million and $8 million gap in funding to make the thing work. There was a lot of work that had to be done to close that,” he said.

“We had one path we were going on with new market tax credits and after a year and a half or two years of heading down a path toward closing, and we were informed by the state that that wouldn’t work.”

Housing Tax Credit a Big Factor

He said his company was able to pursue a different strategy involving the acquisition of low-income housing tax credits.

“We identified the funds and brought them in, and closed the gap and have done what we said -- that we would work hard to do (this) from the beginning. I know that it has taken a lot of time to do it, but we’re on the cusp of beginning construction over there and overcoming the challenges that we had.”

In September of last year, HCR announced an award of $5.7 million in low-income housing tax credits for the project, but since then, that amount has been reduced, Savarino said.

“Part of the delay beside COVID and HCR is that the market had changed. One of the things we needed to have is an investor for the low-income housing tax credits that we have. But because of COVID and other things, the market kind of fell out for things like that,” he advised.

He said the market has recovered to a certain extent – and he has lined up the necessary backing from financial institutions. But that $5.7 million figure is now closer to $5 million.

“We did not get as much in the sale of the credits as we had anticipated, so it’s costing us some money out of our pocket,” he said. “But we made the calculation that even though it is costing us many hundreds of thousands of dollars more, to delay this any further would cost us more still, and that we would be disappointing a lot of people by losing the season and we don’t want to wait any longer.”

Several Funding Sources

The Ellicott Station project will be getting $425,000 from Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and has been approved for $3.6 million in tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center. Back in December 2016, it was awarded a $1.9 million Consolidated Application Grant through the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council.

Savarino said that the entire deal closes at the same time.

“There’s funding coming in, there’s private financing that comes into it. So, there’s a lot of moving parts, but it all comes together at a project close. After that, you can start (construction),” he said.

He said that his company has done everything it could to prepare for the financial closing, including required remedial work connected to the Brownfield applications.

“There are literally hundreds of matters that have to be attended to … prior to the closing. The good thing is that we have been at this so long that a lot of those things have been taken care of,” he noted.

But as far as shovels in the ground, nothing yet.

“When we have been notified of any issues, we have done our best to attend to them over there,” he said. “And I think we boarded up some windows and secured the fence a couple of times. I will tell you that I know some people are impatient for some activity on that site.”

Savarino said he hopes to learn the actual closing date with HCR, but realizes that the agency is dealing with many other projects across the state.

“Although we have to seek the permission of HCR to do this, I have said to people in the city that once we know we have a closing date, we can do things like let contracts out for the work and actually have equipment on the site on the day of the closing,” he said.

HCR to Decide When Things Advance

He said his company may be allowed to demolish the old garage and the Santy’s building ahead of or right after closing, but emphasized that HCR is calling the shots.

“We don’t what to get ahead of the state in this – HCR – by announcing when we’re going to start and things like that,” he offered. “Every time we do, we hear from them. We have dealt with them on several other projects. We have done our part to reach the closing, and it’s just a matter of scheduling it.”

Locally, the Batavia Development Corp. continues to be a player in the project, and Andrew Maguire has been the director of economic development for the city-supported agency since November 2019.

“The BDC continues to work with the developer of Ellicott Station -- Savarino Companies,” Maguire said. “The proposed project aligns with Batavia DRI investment strategy and the Batavia Opportunity Area plan to advance redevelopment of strategic sites in the city. Ellicott Station is one of the key sites identified.”

File photo: Sam Savarino addresses City Council, November 2016.

April 1, 2021 - 2:53pm

In modern and jazz dance terms, the Batavia Players’ Main Street 56 Dance Company is just a “fan kick” away from the start of a new era at its new home at 35 City Centre.

Project Manager David Ciurzynski, of Ciurzynski Consulting LLC, of Attica, today said that the $417,000 award from the New York Main Street Anchor Grant Program to the Main Street 56 Theater and Dance Company project likely will allow the dance studio portion to open for business sometime in June.

“(The funding) is going to allow us to design and build a new façade on the front of the building so you won’t have that old ‘mall’ look, and it will also help us with the lobby space in the areas that we had cut back on our design to fit into our budget,” Ciurzynski said. “So, it really balances out the project and allows us to complete it properly.”

Ciurzynski said interior drawings are almost done and building permits for the dance studio have been received.

“People at the mall may have seen some activity there as we have put up the drywall and installed some doors for the dance studio,” he said. “With that being said, we’re hoping to have it open in June.”

As far as the theater is concerned, he said design development drawings are expected by the end of the week “so we can start looking at finalizing the budget for that, getting permit review and get that bid out.”

Ciurzynski said he anticipates the theater being complete by the end of the year.

The Batavia Players has hired Thompson Builds of Churchville as the general contractor.

The project is being funded by a state Downtown Revitalization Award of $701,750, the recent NY Main Street Anchor Grant and a fundraising campaign.

“Part of the budget is being covered by volunteer labor as well,” he said. “It’s getting easier because we have funding; work is getting done. This is a real thing now for people.”

Ciurzynski said his involvement in the project has opened his eyes to the Batavia Players’ contributions to the community.

“It has been just an honor to work for these people. I never realized how many children and how many families that they reach through their educational and dance programs,” he said. “These are programs that people will be able to use during the reduced school times for their art classes for school. It’s really a big benefit to have this right in the middle of our city.”

In related action, the Batavia Development Corp. Board of Directors this morning formally approved acceptance of the $417,000 grant, which is awarded through the Housing Trust Fund Corporation and the Office of Community Renewal, to rehabilitate 14,000 square feet of vacant space for the theater.

Healthy Living Campus Update

Ciurzynski is representing Rochester Regional Health and the GLOW YMCA on the development of the Healthy Living Campus in Downtown Batavia – a $22.5 million project funded by a $4 million DRI award, $7.5 million grant from the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program II and a local fundraising campaign.

He said the project is at the design development stage, which means that the submittal of site plans to county and city planning boards isn’t too far away.

“We need to make sure we have all the funding sources in place … and also the material pricing and availability,” he offered, adding that he hopes that work will be bid out and some construction will start this fall. “We will try to balance that all out with the market, which is extremely difficult right now to do on a large project like that. Steel and copper pricing is unstable right now, and we just have to make sure that we can minimize its effect on our project.”

Ciurzynski said the plan is to take down Cary Hall on East Main Street, construct a new building and move the current YMCA operation into it.

“After that, we’ll take down the old Y,” he said. “It’s a good 12 to 15 months’ worth of construction for the new Y. If we start late this year, it will be late 2022 or early 2023 before that building comes down.”

He also said he would like to see the Office for the Aging (which is attached to the current YMCA) be a part of the Healthy Living Campus.

“We’re in talks with the Office for the Aging but right now the plan is to keep it where it is. That’s a work in progress. We would have to develop a plan to separate the building, and put in new utilities to make sure it is operational,” he said.

“The hope would be that we could find a way to incorporate them into the overall campus and save people money and be able to provide the same services and make the buildings work all at the same time.”

Calling it a “dynamic process” due to the fact that the venture includes two nonprofit organizations and the City of Batavia, Ciurzynski said it will take “time, patience and understanding to bring all the parts and pieces together.”

“But when we’re done, it is going to be a very transformational program in the center of our city that will provide much for health care and wellness for youth and seniors,” he said.

Previous: Healthy Living Campus consultant: Access to services at forefront of large-scale Batavia projects

April 1, 2021 - 12:44pm

img_3735chipoltelocation.jpg

National restaurant chain Chipotle, founded in Denver in 1993, has its eye on Towne Center at Batavia for a new location according to a special use permit application filed on its behalf by COR Development Company, owners of the plaza.

The building is the former location Metro Mattress in the same structure as Game Stop and Five Guys.

If approved, the location would be modified to include a drive-thru and outdoor seating.

Chipotle, with more than 2,000 locations nationwide, specializes in Mexican-style cuisine and especially known for its build-your-own burrito bar. 

The application for a special use permit and site plan review will be heard this month by the County Planning Board before being sent to the Town of Batavia Planning Board.

Neither COR nor Chipotle, at least so far, have filed an application with Genesee County Economic Development Center for any tax abatements.

March 31, 2021 - 6:17pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed a bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and over in New York State, action that will be the subject of much debate until and following the new law’s implementation, which is expected in about 18 months.

The Batavian reached out to local government representatives, substance use prevention professionals, hemp producers and retailers, law enforcement and the chair of the Genesee County Libertarian Party for their thoughts on New York becoming the 15th state with legal recreational marijuana.

Chris Van Dusen, president, Empire Hemp Co., Liberty Square, Batavia:

“I think it is really exciting news. The legislation that they have come up with, I think is pretty fair and it doesn’t cut out the potential for small businesses to get into the industry. I think it is a good plan, and the taxation is not too out of control on it.

“I am looking forward to expanding our business into the ‘rec’ market through another corporation that we will start – not Empire Hemp Co. – but we will plan on being involved in a processing capacity.”

Van Dusen said the facility in Liberty Square is for processing – “where we turn all of the raw hemp into CBD oil” – and he is close to opening a retail store on Main Street.

When asked about the legislation having safeguards against marijuana getting into minors’ hands, he said he believes that a new Office of Cannabis Management will implement guidelines similar to what are in place for alcohol use.

“And I think that a lot of the tax dollars will be going back into treatment programs and social programs, and that will be a benefit to the community as well,” he said.

The law, which was passed on party line voting in the Democratic Party-controlled Assembly and Senate on Tuesday, calls for a 13-percent excise tax, with 1 percent going to the county and 3 percent earmarked for the municipality (town, city, village) of the dispensary.

“The growers and the processors are going to get into it, there’s going to be an upfront investment. But as far as the end user costs at the retail level, I don’t think it’s going to be much outside what you are seeing in the other legal states as far as what you get for what price or, frankly, what you find on the black market. I think it hopefully will take more out of the black market – having it regulated like this will allow for a cleaner, safer product that’s regulated versus what’s coming off the street – imported from who knows where.

Batavia City Manager Rachael Tabelski:

“Without having a chance to read the entire bill yet, I can safely say that if there were a dispensary within the City of Batavia, it is my understanding that the city would gain 3 percent of the tax revenue related to that dispensary.

“That certainly is a brand-new revenue source … but it is all hypothetical until you have one. I want to continue to read through the legislation and we’ll be working with NYCOM (New York Conference of Mayors) – the city’s association. So, we’ll wait and see what their guidance looks like. The local level does have some decisions to make in this. We don’t have any decision-making on adult use, but we do have decision-making on whether the city allows for a dispensary and then we can regulate the times, place and manner through local zoning.

“Whether Batavia has a distribution point in the city or not, people will now be allowed to use it per the regulations and guidelines that came out. If that is the case, it might warrant a legislative choice (by City Council) to be made or the choice to do nothing, and just let it happen. I certainly will be getting information to City Council to help them understand the legislation and how communities align with the legislation.

“There’s growing, there’s retail and there’s use. No matter what happens with the growing and the retail, there is going to be use in our city. It’s going to happen, in that, if we have the ability to bring in revenue, that may be an option for us. We certainly will have some growing pains associated with legalized use and, especially, kind of the edible product that might be included in this.”

Shannon Ford, director of Prevention, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse:

“From a Prevention perspective, I’m very concerned about this. Legalizing marijuana will have a negative impact on our youth for sure. Although youth will not be able to use marijuana legally, we know there will be an increase in access if the adults in their lives are possessing and using it.

“In addition, over the last couple of years, youth perception of harm of smoking marijuana has decreased. With more media messages and legalization/commercialization, I anticipate the perceived risk of harm will further be reduced. Both access and a decreased perception of harm will likely increase youth marijuana use.

“As it is legalized for adult use where it will be monitored for ‘purity,’ youth will still be seeking it on the streets, where we know there is a higher potential of risk.”

Mark Potwora, Genesee County Libertarian Party chair:

“My opinion -- and I would say it is the opinion of the Libertarian Party -- is that it is something that should have been legal a long time ago, and for some reason, what was not legal years ago is legal now. A lot of people suffered because of marijuana laws (on the books). A lot of families and 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids got a marijuana charge that kind of ruined their lives for a while.

“The problem I have with the legalization of the whole thing is that they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. They’re doing it because they want money. They want to raise revenue. They’re not doing it because it’s the right thing to do. That kind of bothers me, but I’m glad that they’re legalizing it.”

Potwora compared marijuana use to alcohol use.

“It’s just like alcohol. It shouldn’t be administered to young kids and there is an age limit. And, along the lines of medical marijuana -- which a lot of people have – it is not a negative. It’s probably a good thing. Whoever smokes marijuana or pot now, I don’t think they’re going to create a whole new industry of pot smokers. If you didn’t smoke it before – because it’s so easy to get – I don’t see any big problem coming up that they aren’t already addressing.

He also said the current marijuana laws give police “an in” to search people.

“They (police) say, ‘Oh you’re smoking pot. Come here, I want to pat you down.’ And they always took it farther and farther. This is one less thing for them to have a reasonable cause to mess with you, I guess.”

Nola Goodrich-Kresse, Genesee Orleans Public Health educator:

“Public Health has had a standing position in opposition of legalization of marijuana in New York State for several years. Our state association, The New York State Association of County Health Officials, officially has maintained opposition to legalized adult use of cannabis, based on the quantifiable adverse impact it will have on public health.”

She then offered the following bullet points for consideration:

  • Legalization will create a similar path to tobacco with the need to build infrastructure and systems around dealing with the downstream issues that will come.
  • Legalization does not mean safe and healthy, it creates a false sense of security and belief, especially in youth that it is safe since it is legal.
  • There has been general support for medical use of cannabis, which has been in place for over five years, and has been effective in helping those with identified medical conditions.
  • Evidence indicates that long-term cannabis use can lead to addiction. There is cannabis withdrawal syndrome, which makes cessation difficult and contributes to relapse.  Adolescents are particularly susceptible as compared to those who begin use in adulthood. Adolescence are approximately two to four times as likely to have symptoms of cannabis dependence within two years after first use.

Jeremy Almeter and Pavel Belov, co-owners, Glass Roots, 12 Center St., Batavia:

"While today is certainly a step in the right direction, we are still far from declaring this our 'milestoned' moment. We at Glass Roots have been committed to destigmatizing and normalizing cannabis for over 15 years. By building trust and serving our community, we have seen there are no applicable stereotypes for cannabis usage.

“ ’Recreational’ cannabis is a misleading term; adult-use is what we are truly achieving today. This legislation specifically addresses and builds the foundation for an infrastructure, which ensures that cannabis products will be handled in a safe and secure manner from seed to sale.

“The fight has just begun. Access to plants and the many benefits they offer us and our animal friends is a basic right. To all the people who grew up indoctrinated with lies that compare cannabis to heroin use or its ‘gateway’ -- we are here to say the light at the end of the tunnel is upon us.

“Moving forward, we plan on working closely with community leaders to cultivate a safe and educational environment for cannabis culture within Genesee County.”

Glass Roots is an on-site glass-blowing facility that sells art pieces as well as CBD oils and other hemp products.

An email and phone call to Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron Jr. were not returned at the time of the posting of this story.

More about the today’s legalization, called the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act:

  • The new law erases convictions for marijuana possession that would now be legal, and directs 40 percent of pot tax revenue to communities of color that excessively faced pot charges.
  • Possession of up to three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated forms of the drug will be allowed for recreational use.
  • Three Senate Democrats voted against the bill, which passed 40-23, while no Democrats voted against it in the Assembly, where it passed by a 100-49 tally.
  • State officials are indicating that marijuana sales are expected to generate $350 million in revenue to the state per year, and around 50,000 jobs will be created.
March 31, 2021 - 2:36pm

The New York Power Authority Board of Trustees’ decision Tuesday to allocate low-cost hydropower and funding to Plug Power’s expansion project at the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park is another vital step in the Genesee County Economic Development Center’s efforts to promote the 1,250-acre mega site in the Town of Alabama.

That’s the way Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and chief executive officer, sees it after learning that the NYPA board approved a 10,000-kilowatt hydropower provision along with $1.5 million in funding from the Western New York Power Proceeds program.

Plug Power, based in Latham, will be investing $290 million on the construction of a green hydrogen fuel production plant and a 450-megawatt electric substation to serve the STAMP complex.

“Funding from the Western New York Power Proceeds program and the allocation of low cost hydropower from the Niagara Power Project are critical components to Plug Power’s $290 million investment at the STAMP site,” Hyde said.

“The collaboration among NYPA, National Grid and Plug Power to build a 345-115kv electrical substation, which will allow access to 100-percent renewable and reliable low-cost power, will provide our agency a significant advantage in our marketing and promotional efforts on behalf of STAMP against other sites nationally and globally.”

Hyde said he was “extremely grateful” for NYPA’s support of the project, which reportedly will create 68 jobs and produce 45 tons of green hydrogen daily.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the NYPA board approved economic development awards to 23 entities that will support 2,292 jobs across the state — with 870 jobs being newly created — and spur more than $580 million in private capital investments.

Eighteen operations are receiving awards through ReCharge NY energy allocations, while the remaining five are receiving Niagara hydropower allocations and funding awards to enterprises in Western New York.

Included among the awards is a 5,100-kW power allocation to Plug Power for its expansion project in Monroe County that will create nearly 380 jobs.

March 31, 2021 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news, notify.

chiefandchild460maplefire.jpg

The community is pulling together, rallying around a family of six that was burned out of their home at 37 Maple St., Batavia, yesterday morning.

There are a few donation and fundraising efforts that have started since news of the fire hit local news home pages yesterday.

A new store, the Junk Drawer, at 238 Ellicott St., is accepting item donations for the family, and Ally Scofield has set up a GoFundMe page for the family.  

Items that can be dropped off at the Junk Drawer include clothing items for boys age 3- to 6-months and age 10 to 12. Size 14 and 16 women's pants, 2x-3x women's shirts, men's 32 and 34 pants, women's 12-15 pants, and women's large shirts. They also need personal items such as shampoo, soap, etc.

The GoFundMe campaign has set a goal of raising $5,000 and has already exceeded $3,000.

The family had lived at the residence for three years but did not have renter's insurance. They lost seven pets and all of their personal belongings and household items.

Top photo: City Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano comforts Bentley Sherman, who lived at the residence with his mother and grandmother.

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March 31, 2021 - 2:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, elba, Pavilion.

Daniel William Knauss Jr., 51, of West Park Street, Pavilion, is charged with third-degree menacing. On March 29, Knauss turned himself into the Genesee County Jail. The charge stems from an incident at 7:10 p.m. on March 25 in which Knauss allegedly chased a person around a yard on West Park Street while conveying verbal threats, causing the person to fear physical injury from the defendant. Knauss was processed at the jail and released on an appearance ticket to be in Town of Pavilion Court on April 6. The case was handled by Deputy Andrew Mullen, assisted by jail Corporal Chaya and jail deputies Bartholomew and Strumpf.

Ian Robert Standinger, 24, of Brookview Road, Rochester, is charged with: false personation; speeding -- doing 76 mph in a 30-mph zone; unregistered motorcycle; uninspected motorcycle; operating a motor vehicle without insurance. At 3:57 p.m. on March 30 on Ford Road in Elba, Standinger was stopped for allegedly speeding. Upon interviewing him, he allegedly identified himself with a false name. He was also charged with operating an unregistered, uninspected motorcycle without insurance. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello.

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