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December 30, 2021 - 12:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, Bethany, Le Roy, notify.

James L. Simonds is indicted on counts of burglary in the third degree, false report: fire, explosion, hazardous substance upon school grounds, and endangering the welfare of a child. Simonds is accused of entering John Kennedy School, 166 Vine St., Batavia, on Jan. 28 with the intent of committing a crime and while at that location did communicate false or baseless information about the occurrence or impending occurrence of a fire, explosion, or hazardous substance, on school grounds in a manner that was likely to cause public alarm. He is accused of knowingly acting in a manner to be injurious to the physical, mental, or moral welfare of a child.

Cynthia M. Mack is indicted on counts of burglary in the third degree and criminal mischief in the fourth degree.  Mack is accused of entering a dwelling on Lake Street in Le Roy on June 4 with the intent of committing a crime and while in the dwelling did intentionally damage property.

Robert C. Strollo is indicted on a count of failure to register a change of address as a sex offender. On or about Dec. 1, 2020, Strollo allegedly failed to register a change of address with the NYS Criminal Justice Service within 10 days of changing his address from a residence on Bethany Center Road, Bethany.

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December 29, 2021 - 5:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Stafford, news, notify.

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A Stafford man has been charged with multiple felonies in connection with an incident on Saturday that led to Route 5 being closed to traffic in both directions for several hours.

Christopher C. Say is accused of setting a detached garage on fire at a residence on Main Road in Stafford and being uncooperative when crews from the Stafford Fire Department arrived on the scene.

Say allegedly barricaded himself in the garage and claimed explosives would detonate if the garage was approached.

Sheriff's deputies evacuated residents from the immediate area.

Along with Batavia Police Department's emergency response team, negotiators from both Batavia PD and the Genesee County Sheriff's Office were dispatched.

After negotiations stalled, Say allegedly drove a motor vehicle backward through a closed garage door, breaking the garage door and damaging the vehicle. He reportedly continued down the driveway, striking a fence and a marked patrol car.  He was then taken into custody without further incident.

During the incident, Say also allegedly burned another person's face causing a physical injury.

Say is also accused of possessing a metal knuckle knife.

Investigators claim there was evidence found in the garage to support Say's claim that the garage was equipped to explode.

Say was arraigned in Stafford Town Court and charged with:

  • Making a terroristic threat, a Class D felony
  • Criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, a Class D felony
  • Criminal mischief 2nd, a Class D felony
  • Attempted arson 3rd, a Class D felony
  • Criminal mischief 3rd, a Class E felony.

Say was ordered jailed on $20,000 bail, $40,000 bond, or $80,000 partially secured bond.

Also assisting in the incident were New York State Police, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Genesee County Emergency Management, and Mercy EMS.

Photo: File photo from Saturday

Previously: Route 5 closed in Stafford

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December 29, 2021 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, Stafford, Bethany, notify.

Glenn Howard Wright, 51, of Broadway Street, Bethany, is charged with DWI, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, no seat belt, and stopped in the roadway on a public highway.  Wright was arrested after deputies David Moore and Kyle Krzemien were dispatched at 2:41 a.m., Dec. 28, to the 6700 block of Clinton Street Road, Stafford, for a report of a vehicle parked in the roadway.   Wright was issued an appearance ticket.

Amber Lynn Turner, 28, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny.  Turner is accused of shoplifting from Walmart in Batavia at 3:33 p.m., Dec. 28. She was issued an appearance ticket.

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December 28, 2021 - 1:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Michael Tomaszewski, notify.

The trustee in the Michael S. Tomaszewski bankruptcy case has asked the court to order Tomaszewski's wife to turn over an anticipated income tax refund once it is received.

Attorneys for Trustee Mark J. Schlant filed the motion last week after Tomaszewski was sentenced to two to six years in prison for defrauding funeral pre-arrangement customers out of, collectively, more than $500,000. 

According to the motion, Michael and Valerie Tomaszewski have jointly claimed refunds of $27,121 for their 2019 and 2020 income tax filings. 

The motion asks the court to order Valerie to turn over $13,560 to the court to help settle some of Michael Tomaszewski's debts.

"The Trustee understands that the Debtor recently might have become somewhat limited in his ability to deal with matters such as this and that the necessary arrangements might put Mrs. Tomaszewski in control of the funds," the motion reads. "Therefore the Trustee wishes to secure Mrs. Tomaszewski's cooperation in effecting the turnover."

The bankruptcy judge, Robert H. Jackson, has not yet responded to the motion.

In bankruptcy filings, Tomaszewski lists $1,094,346 in assets against $3,242,390 in liabilities. 

At his sentencing on Dec. 22, Judge Charles Zambito ordered Tomaszewski ordered the former funeral home operator to pay $569,434.92 in restitution to his victims, starting at $2,000 a month once he's released from prison.

Tomaszewski admitted to misappropriating funds from clients who paid for pre-arrangement services. There were at least 91 such victims.  Many of those victims have filed stipulations with the bankruptcy court protecting those debts from discharge through the bankruptcy process.

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December 27, 2021 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Stafford, batavia, notify, begen, Oakfield.

Sarah P. Lytle, 39, of Batavia, is charged with torture/injure/failure to provide sustenance to an animal.  Lytle was accused of animal cruelty after Batavia PD was asked to assist the Probation Department with a house check at 10:39 p.m., Dec. 21, on State Street. Lytle is accused of keeping a dog in a cage without adequate food or water and the cage contained the dog's own feces. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Brian Paul Demko, 44, of Montclair Avenue, Batavia, is charged with DWI, use of a vehicle without an interlock device, refusal to take breath test, driver license restriction violation, driving with motor vehicle vision obstruction. Demko was stopped at 12:36 p.m., Dec. 23, on Main Road, Stafford, by Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush. 

Mathew Paul Parker, 32, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass. Parker is accused of trespassing at Walmart at 3:02 p.m., Dec. 21. He was taken to the Genesee County Jail for prints and photos and released on an appearance ticket.

Jeffrey Michael Kirkey, 50, of South Wind Court, Rochester, and Jessica Lynn Zicari, 38, of Suston Street,  are each charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Kirkey and Zicari were arrested after Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush and Deputy Kyle Krzemien responded to Route 33 in Stafford for a report of a vehicle partially blocking the roadway.  Kirkey and Zicari were allegedly found in possession of cocaine.  The suspects were processed at the Genesee County Jail. Zicari was released on her own recognizance. Kirkey was turned over to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office on an outstanding felony warrant.

Robert W. Russo, 46, of Winter Park, Fla., was arrested as a fugitive from justice at 2:06 a.m., Dec. 18, by Batavia PD when he was located by an officer investigating an unrelated complaint. The warrant out of Orange County, Florida, was for an alleged assault.  He was arraigned in City Court and ordered held in the Genesee County Jail.

Marcell F. Greene, 37, of Bliss, was arrested on a bench warrant. Greene allegedly failed to comply with a court-ordered program. She was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

John J. Saddler, 34, of Batavia, is charged with grand larceny 4th. Saddler is accused of stealing cash from the pants pocket of another person at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 25, at a location on East Main Street, Batavia.  He was issued an appearance ticket.

Jason P. Gorton, 25, of Batavia, is charged with assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon and criminal possession of a weapon. Gorton was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 10:51 p.m., Dec. 26, in the Town of Batavia.  He was released on his own recognizance.  No further information was released.

Chase E. Shultz, 31, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Schultz was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 1:45 p.m., Dec. 23, in the Town of Oakfield. Schultz was issued an appearance ticket. No further information was released.

Kaleb J. Bobzien, 23, of Lockport, is charged with criminal contempt. Bobzien was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 5 p.m., Oct. 5, in the Town of Batavia. He was ordered held in the Genesee County Jail. No further information was released.

Anthony J. Maye, 21, of Bergen, is charged with rape 3rd (inability to consent) and sexual abuse 3rd. Maye was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 12:48 p.m., Oct. 26, in the Town of Bergen. He was released on his own recognizance.  No further information was released.

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December 24, 2021 - 1:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, Le Roy.
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Marcella Greene Chelsea Mutter

Marcella F. Greene, 37, of Fernwood Park, Rochester, and Chelsea M. Mutter, 28, of Miller Avenue, Batavia, are both charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd and criminal possession of a controlled substance 4th.

Greene and Mutter were arrested by members of the Local Drug Task Force after local law enforcement responded a call at Quality Inn and Suites, 8250 Park Road, about an attempt to locate a warrant subject.

Upon investigation, Greene and Mutter were allegedly found in possession of crack cocaine. They were taken into custody without incident and also arrested on multiple outstanding warrants.

The duo was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court.  Greene was released under supervision of Genesee Justice. Mutter was released on her own recognizance. 

Batavia PD assisted in the investigation.

Brian Thomas Durett, 31, of Mount Vernon, Rochester, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, and speed not reasonable and prudent. Durett was charged following an investigation by Deputy Moore of a report at 12:39 a.m., Dec. 24, into a report of a vehicle in a ditch on I-490 in Le Roy.  He was released on an appearance ticket.

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December 23, 2021 - 2:29pm

A victory over Pittsford tonight would give Batavia Notre Dame a psychological lift through Christmas and snap a long Section V hockey drought against the suburban Rochester school.

“This is a very important game for us, psychologically, as it can get us to 6-2 heading into next week's tournament at the (LECOM) Harborcenter in Buffalo, and knowing that a Batavia team hasn’t beaten Pittsford since, I think, 1994,” Head Coach Marc Staley said this afternoon.

The game is set for 6 o’clock at the Batavia Ice Arena on Evans Street.

bnd_united_logo.jpgThe Batavia Blue Devils were unable to defeat a Pittsford club when they met regularly in Monroe County League competition over the past three decades and, last year, Notre Dame dropped a 5-3 decision to the Panthers in the first round of the sectionals.

Batavia and Notre Dame combined forces prior to this season as "BND United" and has won five of its first seven contests. Pittsford is 3-3-1 but the record doesn’t indicate the overall strength of this year’s Panthers’ team, Staley said.

“This looks to be a dead-even game,” he said. “They have played against some very strong teams – Fairport, Massena and Penfield – and play a similar style to ours.”

On paper, United has more offensive firepower than Pittsford with five players in the top 10 in scoring among the six Independent teams. BND has scored 47 goals and given up 25 while Pittsford has scored 22 and allowed 22.

Senior Gavin Schrader is No. 1 in points with 13 goals and 14 assists, freshman Jameson Motyka and junior Ronin Hofmaster each have six goals and 11 assists, senior Vin DiRisio has nine goals and seven assists, and freshman Brady Johnson has seven goals and eight assists.

BND goaltender Courtney Schum has a 3.53 goals against average in her seven games.

The Panthers have three players with five goals apiece – senior Aidan McGrain, junior Lucas Procious and sophomore Henok Hankinson, while junior Will Masaschi has four goals and nine assists. Goalie Aden Brown has a 2.96 GAA.

Staley said both teams have solid power play units and it could come down to which team stays out of the penalty box.

“The team showing the most discipline likely will come out on top,” he said. “It shapes up to be a close game.”

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December 22, 2021 - 4:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, Michael Tomaszewski, batavia, notify.
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If Michael Tomaszewski were to receive the maximum sentence in prison under the law for his crimes, the court would have no leverage to ensure he paid back his victims the more than $500,000 he stole from them, County Court Judge Charles Zambito told a courtroom full of people defrauded by the disgraced funeral director this morning.

To help make sure Tomaszewski is motivated to make restitution, Zambito sent him to prison for a bit less than the maximum term.

Instead of 2 1/2 to seven years in prison, Zambito ordered Tomaszewski to serve from two to six years on the most serious charge he admitted -- grand larceny in the third degree.

On his scheme to defraud and his offering a false instrument for filing, the sentence was 1/3 to four years each, and on the misdemeanor improper burial charge, 364 days.

All sentences are to run concurrently.

"What I can’t break away from is that for 12 years, you went to work every day knowing that the day before you had broken the law and you were going to break the law again," Zambito said. "This isn’t something that you forget about. This is something you don’t know about. You knew what you were supposed to do with that money. You just chose not to do it. Why? Because it was beneficial for you and you figured you would never get caught. That says more to me about your character than any good works you have ever done. I just can’t get around it."

Zambito said the best interest of the community is that Tomaszewski's victims have some assurance that restitution is possible.  With a maximum sentence, once Tomaszewski's time was served, he couldn't be hauled back into court if he stopped paying restitution.  Today's sentence will ensure that if he slips on his obligation, he can serve as much as 15 years total on the conviction.

Public Defender Jerry Ader argued for a community-based sentence (probation, with no prison time) to best ensure Tomaszewski made restitution to his victims. 

During his statement to Zambito, he reminded the judge he had the latitude to use Genesee Justice as it was originally intended, to bring restorative justice to victims and offenders. 

Used in that way, Tomaszewski would be required to meet individually with each of his victims so he would have to face the totality of his crimes, to feel the shame, to explain himself.

"It's innovative," Ader said. "It's not used.  But it's what people want. People are longing to be heard. They want my client to feel shame, more than he's shamed already."

Interim District Attorney Kevin Finnell said he wanted to see Tomaszewski go to prison for the maximum time the law would allow, characterizing Tomaszewski's actions calculating and a crime against the whole community.

"People trusted him," Finnel said. "(His involvement in the community) was simply a way of gaining trust, to be the good guy, to make friends, 'then you will come and give your money and I will take it.'  Mr. Tomaszewski took their money and then broke their trust. 

"What Mr. Tomaszewski did was so egregious, so calculating, so wrong. I would submit that the court has no alternative but to sentence him to the maximum allowed and that's a 2 1/3 to a seven-year term."

Ader pushed back at what he characterized as Finnell's attempt to paint his client as some sort of evil mastermind who fooled everybody in the community just to enrich himself.

He said there is no evidence Tomaszewski has a gambling problem or a drug use problem.  He said his client used the funds he failed to keep in trust to help grow his business; that he invested it in new buildings and new business ventures.

"It all went back into his business," Ader said. "It was wrong and he know it was wrong and he couldn’t stop because the business was helping people and he wanted to help people.

"My client isn't some sort of Bernie Madoff character who is stealing money in this Ponzi and living lavishly. That is somebody who should be punished for the rest of his life. This is somebody who mismanaged. And if you want to call that poor business, poor judgment, those are choices he made. Bad choices. Criminal choices. But they were choices. Yes, his intent, obviously, was to put that money back into the business but he still provided services."

Zambito didn't buy it.

"I don’t believe you are somehow sacrificing your own life, depriving yourself or your family," Zambito said. "You had what appeared to be a very successful business. You say in your pre-sentence investigation that you invested in the business. 'I needed the money for the sprinkler system. I needed the money to start the Dibble Center. Don’t you think there are other business people out there who need the money to improve their businesses, who want to do the best they can to start new ventures? They borrow the money if they don’t have it. They go to banks."

The defense delivered to the court more than 50 letters from members of the community, including letters from people who were clients of the funeral home, attesting to Tomaszewski's good character, saying he was a good guy who just made a mistake and mismanaged his business.  They pointed to his involvement with the Lions Club, to his charitable work, to his support of community organizations.

Zambito said he also had a binder containing information on 91 victims of Tomaszewski's fraud, documenting more than 12 years of criminal activity that cost members of the community more than $500,000. Yes, some of those victims do only want restitution, Zambito said, but many others want justice, they want Tomaszewski to go to prison.

"They believe that the scope and breadth of your crimes outweigh the positive things that can be said about you," Zambito said.  "I get that you did good things but you did it with other peoples' money."

After adjusting for the $32,000 Tomaszewski was going to pay today and five percent interest on the original amount of restitution required, Tomaszewski owes his victims $569,434.92.

Zambito ordered Tomaszewski to pay $2,000 a month upon his release from prison, which Zambito said he felt Tomaszewski would have no trouble making full restitution within 10 years of his release because he's shown he has the ability to earn money, particularly in the restaurant business.  

Currently, Tomaszewski's former funeral home building is listed for sale for $1 million and another building he owns on West Main Street is listed for $165,000.  He also has a pending bankruptcy with $3,242,390 in liabilities.  The money owed to victims who filed claims in the federal court cannot be discharged through the bankruptcy proceeding.

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Al Kurek, one of Tomaszewski's victims, made a statement to the court during today's hearing. He called Tomaszewski one of the community's "golden boys" who had a successful business and won people's trust but squandered his accomplishment. 

"There was only one problem," Kurek said. "All the time he was offering comfort and condolences, he was practicing deceit.  He sat across from clients over the years, stared them in the eye, shook their hands providing them with assurance and comfort while all the time knowing that their monies were going directly into his pocket.

"What he actually gave clients was mental anguish and suffering as well as lies, pain, grief, and heartache. The Batavia community had its soul scorched when all of Michael's criminal and unethical activities were revealed." 

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Joan Mariucci said Tomaszewski stole her trust.

"There are two Rs," she said. "There’s rich and there’s retired.  We’re retired. We’re not the rich. We don’t have that kind of money just laying around to give to someone else."

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Interim District Attorney Kevin Finnell.

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Public Defender Jerry Ader.

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Judge Charles Zambito.

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December 22, 2021 - 12:34pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county, Gov. Kathy Hochul, covid-19.

Genesee County is expected to receive up to $1 million to help in its COVID-19 prevention efforts as well as around 3,000 in-home test kits over the next few weeks, County Manager Matt Landers said in response to an email from The Batavian today.

“Based on information from the press release (from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office) yesterday, Genesee County is in line to be reimbursed for up to $1 million in costs,” Landers said.

The money is earmarked for local health departments for vaccine and testing sites, staffing, and personnel expenses related to media campaigns, supply distribution and enforcement of mask/vaccine mandates.

Landers said he doesn’t see the additional funding having a signficiant impact upon the county’s ability – or willingness – to enforce Hochul’s rule requiring those over the age of 2 to wear masks or show proof of vaccination when entering businesses.

“We are still waiting on more guidance on what the money can be used for, but based on the short window to spend this money, it does not appear that Genesee County will have any greater ability to enforce the state’s mask rule,” Landers advised. “More than likely, we will use some of this money to promote our residents to get vaccinated or boosted, testing clinics and vaccination/booster clinics.

“Genesee County believes that masking in public settings does offer greater protection against the spread of COVID-19, and encourages businesses and residents to take appropriate precautions during this holiday season.”

Landers reported that he was just notified that more test kits (likely in early January) and masks (on Thursday) will be coming to Genesee County.

“Our Emergency Management Office is coordinating the distribution efforts for both and we will have details in the days following. We haven’t received word on the exact distribution numbers yet, but we are anticipating around 3,000 take-home test kits to be distributed to the public in early January,” he said.

The county manager said he “appreciates” the open communication line with the governor’s office and the distribution of supplies to rural counties such as Genesee.

According to Hochul’s press release, the state is prepared to release $65 million to New York’s 62 counties to help enforce the most recent mandates, which was announced two weeks ago and expires on Jan. 15.

The governor said she is opposed to more school or business shutdowns to the coronavirus “because we have the tools available to all of us (and) we’re going to keep fighting back.”

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December 21, 2021 - 4:12pm

Wastewater treatment facility disinfection projects in the Town of Pavilion and Villages of Bergen, Elba and Le Roy have been identified for funding through Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council’s program to improve water quality, combat harmful algal blooms and update aging infrastructure across New York State.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, in a press release issued today, announced that more than $272 million is being awarded to 179 projects to protect and improve water quality.

These awards are in addition to the $196 million awarded to 488 projects from multiple State Agency programs through Round XI of the Governor's Regional Economic Development Council Initiative announced last week to stimulate New York's post-pandemic economic recovery.

“Our state's economic development goals cannot be achieved without clean water for drinking, recreation, and the overall quality of life New Yorkers expect and deserve,” Hochul said. “These sustained investments in water quality improve the health of our communities while creating economic opportunity through well paying, long lasting jobs.”

The Water Quality Improvement Project grant program is administered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and funds projects that directly address documented water quality impairments or protect a drinking water source.

Genesee County grants -- all to install ultraviolent effluent disinfection at the municipalities’ wastewater treatment plants -- will go to the following initiatives:

  • Town of Pavilion: This project will improve the quality of treated effluent entering the Oatka Creek. $428,000.
  • Village of Bergen: This project will improve water quality by reducing pathogens in the plant's discharge. $137,500.
  • Village of Elba: This project will improve the quality of treated effluent entering the Oak Orchard Creek Tributary. $288,750.
  • Village of Le Roy: This project will improve water quality by reducing pathogens in the treatment facility's discharge to the Oatka Creek. $1,000,000.
December 21, 2021 - 11:48am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, union hotel, Village of Corfu, Potter Lumber.

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Tom Dix is looking for a little help from his friends as he and his mother carry on their mission of renovating the historic Union Hotel at the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue in the Village of Corfu.

Dix, who owns Potter Lumber on Maple Avenue with his mom, Mary, is in the midst of the monumental task of bringing the restaurant, bar, eight-lane bowling center and, eventually, the 16-room hotel back to life.

Determined as ever, he said it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” the project is completed.

Purchased by Tom and Mary in September 2018 – they closed on the property on the birthday of Mary’s late husband, Bill – the 25,000-square foot, three-story building has had multiple owners over the years.

It was built in 1828 and served as a stagecoach stop for travelers passing through Western New York in the 19th century. The facility has been closed since around 2013.

Tom Dix said he and his mom couldn’t stand by anymore and watch it deteriorate further.

“We would drive by every day, sometimes twice a day, and saw that it was dying and falling apart,” he said.

So, he decided to invest his time and money (likely $200,000-plus when it’s all said and done) into fixing it – starting with the exterior, which has taken on a new look thanks to local artists/craftspeople Charlie Flagg, Sue Weber and Mark Zimmermann.

Flagg and company are in the process of painting murals of scenes that depict notable moments in the village’s history, while Dix is fortifying the roof, installing vinyl siding and making other repairs to beautify the outside walls.

“Now, we’re just about ready to go to town on the inside,” said Dix, noting that reopening the restaurant and bar are priority No. 1. But to move things along at a quicker pace, he is appealing to community members to roll up their sleeves and help out – and he will pay them for their time on a per diem basis.

“I really don’t have a timetable; it’s just that we have been hindered by a lack of workers,” said Dix, adding that he has handled all of the engineering and design aspects of the project.

He said the electric and heating were upgraded by Shayne Poodry, who owned the building from 2007-2018, but much work needs to be done in the areas of insulation, drywall, doors and windows, the cupola, chimney, lanes and pinsetters (at the former Andrews Lanes).

Mary Dix said she is convinced that Union Hotel means a lot to village residents and the Pembroke area in general.

“It has been here forever,” she said. “The whole community is enthusiastic about what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Flagg, who has been painting for more than 40 years, said Tom Dix contacted him last winter about doing something on the outer walls.

“They called me because they knew of my reputation, I believe, of being a muralist in the area,” Flagg said. “And we got together and I told him, I’d think about it last winter, when I went to Florida. I thought about it down there. And I came up with the idea of bringing the history of Corfu around the outside perimeter of the building.”

Flagg, 78, said there are 10 murals on one side (facing Maple Street) and there will be more on the Route 33 side.

“That’s going to have the new Veterans Cemetery that is on Route 77 and the Fun Country (Six Flags Darien Lake) amusement park and large angel wings where you can stand up and have your picture taken – and you’ll become an angel,” he said.

The back (south side) of the building will feature old signs, such as “Buy a Chevy for $580” and “Sirloin Steak at 18 cents a pound,” Flagg said. “Nothing but signs and bricks on the back.”

He credited Weber and Zimmermann for their contributions.

“Sue is a fantastic painter – that’s why I wanted her to interject her thoughts into the project, and Mark has been a godsend. I wouldn't have got nowhere near as far as I’ve done without him.”

Flagg said that Zimmermann is going to step up to the lead role in the near future.

“I'm getting ready to hang it up because I'm getting pretty old. But he he's got the ability to take over,” he said. “Our plan is to finish it next spring when I return from Florida.”

The Union Hotel venture is just a start, Flagg said.

“If you look across the way you got Burling Drug Store, which is going to have five murals on it. And there are four or five other projects,” he advised.

“This town is going to be a picture town. You’ve got a million people that drive by 77 and 33 every year. We are trying to get them to stop here in Corfu …  to draw people in, to create some interest and, hopefully, when they’re here, they’ll spend a few bucks.”

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Photo at top: Tom and Mary Dix on the front porch of the Union Hotel in Corfu; Photos at bottom: Murals on the outside of the building that illustrate the village's history (the bottom one is of the Dix family). Photos by Howard Owens.

VIdeo about the project from 2019:

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December 20, 2021 - 10:58pm

As parents and school leaders grapple with how to manage ongoing student mental health issues as a result of the pandemic, increased isolation and heavy social media use, it seems to come down to the basics.

That was the message from Tharaha Thavakumar, a school-based therapist with Genesee Mental Health, during a Zoom meeting with media Friday. 

“I think we just need to be putting out more goodness, with the way everything is in society,” she said. “I think we have to not normalize violence. I think we need to start seeing the kindness and the goodness, and other things that are happening in the world that are not violent.” 

That’s a tall order, considering that social media has pushed the limits of fun and innocuous posts into dangerous territory. Thavakumar’s talk, sponsored by Rochester Regional Health, stemmed from a TikTok challenge to kids across the country. They were encouraged to participate in a “Shoot Up Your School” challenge on Friday, Dec. 17. While some districts across the country closed school for the day, many others, including Batavia City Schools, tightened their safety protocols and had school resource officers and/or local police on-site or nearby just in case of an event.

There were no reports of any shootings Friday, but even the anticipation of such events can make for “heightened awareness,” Thavakumar said. Although there were no imminent threats, the idea of someone bringing a gun to school and using it can definitely cause “a lot of anxiety to the parents, to the teachers, to the faculty, to the students,” she said.

Living in an online world ...
“It’s unfortunate that social media has this power to kind of cause these threats and anxieties,” she said. “We’ve already had a rough year, just coming off of remote learning and hybrid learning.”

Take the pandemic and related stress, and then add “those societal threats” to it, and it really has a negative impact to mental health, she said. 

“It’s initially always that humans go to the negative; it’s how we view things,” she said. 

Having children of her own, Thavakumar understands the need to weigh each situation to determine the level of safety or danger. Her teenage son didn’t want to go to school after hearing about the challenge the night before. His mom suggested that they wait and see what, if anything, happens on Friday before making a final decision. On Friday, they came to a mutual conclusion.

“My kids did go to school today, I felt confident enough in school safety. I knew my son would be surrounded by kids he knew,” she said. “The kids I work with had a lot of anxiety; they had lockdown drills. Actually experiencing it is scary, it is something very traumatizing the kids have to go through … a pandemic and masks, school shootings, and threats seem to be happening more frequently. This is a reality that kids have to deal with, so it’s a constant trauma.”

Those intense feelings can make it very difficult to focus on academics, she said, and kids adapt to being in “fight or flight mode” and acquire “a whole lot of” physical ailments, poor sleep and mental health issues. 

“And then we wonder why kids can’t do well in school, because they’re in constant survival mode,” she said. 

Communication is key ...
As pointed out by Batavia High School Principal Paul Kesler and senior Kylie Tatarka at this month’s city schools board meeting, good communication is crucial for helping kids cope. Both high school members talked about a strategy of having counselors visit students in class to check out how each is doing. That falls in line with Thavakumar’s advice.

“Talk to the kids and work on relationship building. If you as a parent notice your child is withdrawing, get them help,” Thavakumar said. “Just be aware … children are going through a lot. If they say they’re nervous, ask them why. Validate how they feel, and I think that’s the biggest thing that we miss. A lot of times were like it’s Ok, everything will be fine. No, it’s Ok to be upset.”

If one’s child doesn’t want to talk to his or her parent, then find a trusted person who they can and will talk to, she said. Kids are worried about what’s going on in the world, she said, and having a trusted relationship lets them know there’s someone they can go to when needed. 

How to begin ...
The School Mental Health and Training Center offers articles, assessment tools, and tips for how to deal with a mental health concern and emotional well-being. The site also provides mental health conversation starters to offer examples of what parents might say to get the ball rolling with a tight-lipped child.

This toolkit provides sample prompts for a variety of situations or concerns as well as tips on how to discuss good mental health habits in students and how to create a safe, caring, and age-appropriate atmosphere for ongoing conversation and dialogue with children and youth.

Instead of asking a yes/no question, such as “Are you okay?”, the site suggests to start a conversation that invites your child to share beyond a one-word answer. These may include:

• “It seems like something’s up. Let’s talk about what’s going on.”
• “I’ve noticed you’ve been down lately. What’s going on?”
• “Seems like you haven’t been yourself lately. What’s up?”
• “You don’t seem as ______ as you usually are. I’d like to help if I can.”
• “No matter what you’re going through, I’m here for you.”
• “This might be awkward, but I’d like to know if you’re really alright.”
• “I haven’t heard you laugh (or seen you smile) in a while. Is everything okay?”
• I’m worried about you and would like to know what’s going on so I can help.

Not all conversation starters need to be questions, the site states, and many times a caring statement and a moment of silence is all it takes for someone to begin sharing.
When noticing a change in behavior, it’s important to focus on the reason or emotion behind the action rather than the action itself. Avoid asking “Why are you (not) ______?” and, instead, state what you are noticing and what might be behind the behavior.

For example:

• “I’ve noticed that you seem more anxious on Sunday nights. What’s going on?”
• “Have you noticed that you’re not eating all of your dinner lately? I wonder if something is bothering you.”
• “I haven’t seen you playing basketball like you used to. What’s up?”

Noting, and asking about, a child’s behavior in a non-judgmental way avoids a typical “good/bad” dynamic that also demonstrates concern and care, it states. 
Thavakumar’s advice to highlight more of the good in the world diminishes what the site calls "a reinforcement of negative stigmas."  The Mental Health Association of New York State urges adults to watch for ways that students are practicing good mental health and wellness skills and to talk about it with them. 

For more information, visit the School Resource Center at mentalhealthEDnys.org.

December 20, 2021 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

There are currently 35 Genesee County residents hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Health Department data released today.

The county also reports 209 positive COVID-19 tests since Dec. 16.

There are currently 275 known active cases in Genesee County.

Of the previously reported positive cases, 150 people have completed their mandatory isolation.

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December 20, 2021 - 3:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, crime, batavia, notify, Bethany, Pavilion.

Sidney C. Underhill, 72, of Batavia, is charged with stalking 4th and trespass. Following prior complaints of Underhill showing up and watching at places where the occupant of a residence on Swan Street, Underhill was allegedly located in the backyard of the residence, where he does not reside, without permission. Underhill was arraigned in City Court. An order of protection was issued and he was released on his own recognizance. 

Tevin D. Bloom, 28, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Bloom is accused of violating an order of protection by going to a protected party's house. He was issued an appearance ticket.

J'Shon K. Naegely, 25, of Batavia, is charged with false personation. During a welfare check at a residence on Dellinger Avenue at 1:40 a.m., Dec. 15, Naegely allegedly lied to police about his identity. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Michael L. Jackson, 40, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Jackson allegedly stole items from a local business at 9:55 p.m., Dec. 10. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Heather M. Davis, 55, of Lockport, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Davis is accused of violating an order of protection by contacting the protected party at 8:39 a.m., Dec. 10. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Jordin M. Schultz, 23, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. During a probation home check at 11:23 p.m., Dec. 11, Schultz was allegedly found in violation of an order of protection. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Lucas Potrzebowski, 27, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Potrzebowski is accused of pushing another person to the ground during a dispute at a local business at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 3.  He was issued an appearance ticket.

Charles A. Tomaszewski, 59, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Tomaszewski is accused of violating an order protection by having contact with the protected party at 8:44 p.m., Nov. 15, at a location on Redfield Parkway. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Thomas J. Leonard, 38, of Batavia, is charged with burglary 2nd, criminal mischief 4th, and criminal nuisance 2nd, after he allegedly damaged property and entered a residence on East Main Street, during an argument at 5:14 p.m., Dec. 11. He was arraigned in City Court and ordered held on $5,000 bail, or $10,000 bond, or $20,000 partially secured bond.

Christopher J. Diers, 39, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Diers is accused of stealing items from a store on East Main Street, Batavia, at 9:59 a.m., Dec. 10. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Samantha E. Hosmer, 34, of Medina, is charged with bail jumping 3rd. Hosmer was arrested on a warrant out of City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Kenneth T. Marrocco, 29, of Batavia, is charged with obstructing governmental administration, criminal mischief 4th, and resisting arrest. Marrocco is accused of breaking the glass of a window of a storm door while attempting to force entry into a residence on Montclaire Avenue, Batavia.  When police arrived, Marrocco is accused of resisting arrest and allegedly kicking a Batavia police officer in the face.  He was arraigned in City Court and issued a stay-away order of protection along with an appearance ticket.

Michael J. Hilton, 30, no permanent address, is charged with petit larceny. Hilton is accused of shoplifting from a local business at 5:55 p.m., Dec. 7. He was issued an appearance ticket. He was held in the Genesee County Jail on an unrelated warrant issued by NYS Parole.

Joseph D. Turner, 39, of Albion, was arrested on a bench warrant for alleged failure to appear at 3:30 p.m., Dec. 15 by Albion PD and turned over to Batavia PD. Turner accepted a plea agreement to dispose of the case.

Kay E. Dilker, 31, of Albion, was arrested on a bench warrant for alleged failure to appear at 4:15 p.m., Dec. 14, by Albion PD and turned over to Batavia PD. She was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Jason Patrick Wickson, 40, of Ellicott Street Road, Pavilion, is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. At 10:21 p.m., Dec. 8, medics were dispatched to a residence in Pavilion on the report of a patient suffering a possible stroke. Upon arrival, Pavilion medics and Mercy EMS personal found Wickson suffering a possible overdose from narcotic use. Wickson is accused of using a narcotic in the presence of two children.  He was transported to UMMC for medical treatment. Once released from care, Wickson turned himself in the Genesee County Jail for processing and was released on an appearance ticket.

Scot J. Hinze, 35, of Batavia, is charged with felony DWI. Hinze was stopped on Dec. 17 by State Police in Alden for alleged failure to keep right. He allegedly failed a field sobriety test and was processed at SP Clearance where he was allegedly found to have a BAC of .16. Hinze was issued an appearance ticket.

Penny L. Mase, 65, of East Bethany, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. mase was stopped at 10:31 p.m., Dec. 18, in East Bethany by State Police. She was issued an appearance ticket.

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December 20, 2021 - 11:42am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, town of batavia, solar systems, Wendel.

After taking several months to review the Town of Batavia’s regulations governing the installation of solar systems, a seven-member committee working with a Williamsville consulting firm is ready to share its recommendations with the public.

An informational session is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Dec. 29 at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

The final draft of the town’s revised Solar Energy Local Law is available for viewing on the Town of Batavia website.

Town Board member Chad Zambito is the chair of the committee that also includes Town Building Inspector Dan Lang, Town Zoning Board members Steve Tanner, Don Partridge and Paul McCullough, Town Zoning Board of Appeals member Brittany Witkop and town resident Nancy Brach.

Drew Reilly of Wendel Companies served as the group’s consultant.

Zambito said the committee used the New York State Model Solar Energy Law as a basis for the town’s law, with some modifications. He said he hopes to receive feedback from residents at next week’s meeting.

According to the document, the town has the authority to develop a solar code through town law and Section 20 of the Municipal Home Rule Law of the State of New York, which authorize the town “to adopt zoning provisions that advance and protect the health, safety and welfare of the community, and, in accordance with the Town Law of New York State, to make provision for, so far as conditions may permit, the accommodation of solar energy systems and equipment and access to sunlight necessary therefore.”

It advances a five-fold “statement of purpose” – emphasizing the need to capitalize on renewable energy, reducing electricity costs to residential and commercial customers, increasing employment and business development, mitigating solar’s effects on agriculture and the environment and linking to the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

The revised law also lists solar term definitions, time frames, safety guidelines, decommissioning (end of use) procedures, maintenance/fees and enforcement/penalty provisions.

The bulk of the document is devoted to “permitting requirements” for the four levels of solar systems – Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4.

  • Tier 1 systems are defined as roof-mounted solar panels and new building-integrated systems, and are must meet design, glare and height guidelines.
  • Tier 2 systems, such as accessory structures, also have to comply with glare, setback, height, screening, visibility, equipment placement and lot size requirements. Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 systems are permitted in all zoning districts and are not subject to site plan reviews as long as the specific criteria are in order.
  • Tier 3 (larger) systems are permitted through the issuance of a Special Use Permit within the Agricultural Residential zoning district. They are subject to additional requirements, including maximum percentage of land use, written application, public hearing, underground utility lines, vehicular paths, signage, glare, lighting, tree cutting, screening/landscaping, noise, decommissioning and security.
  • Tier 4 systems along the line of those proposed for widespread areas in Byron and Oakfield/Elba, also need a Special Use Permit. These may qualify for a Solar Energy System PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) and will require a Host Community Agreement as determined by the Town Board. Additional restrictions on large-scale Tier 4 systems include submission of an Agricultural Impact Statement, Economic Impact Analysis and Host Community Agreement proposal.
December 18, 2021 - 8:41am
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, notify, Batavia Notre Dame United, Batavia Ice Arena.

Senior winger Gavin Schrader scored three goals and freshman Brady Johnson tallied a pair of goals and three assists to lead Batavia Notre Dame to a 9-2 victory over Fulton in Friday night's opening round of the Dave McCarthy Memorial Christmas Tournament at the Batavia Ice Arena.

The victory puts United in the championship game at 3 this afternoon against Webster Schroeder, which defeated Bishop Timon, 10-0.

United, 4-2, scored twice in the first period, three times in the second and four times in the third as it outshot the Red Raiders, 50-20.

Jameson Motyka opened the scoring a minute and 46 seconds into the game (assisted by Parker Corbelli and Johnson) and Johnson made it 2-0 about two minutes later (assisted by Andrew Kasmarek and Motyka).

Kasmarek (assisted by Gino Falleti and Addison Warriner) gave BND a 3-0 cushion early in the second period before Nick Long answered for Fulton with 9:28 on the clock.

About four minutes later, Schrader – who now has 13 goals this season – converted a pass from Ronin Hofmaster before returning the favor, setting up Hofmaster for a goal with 1:40 left in the period. Alex Johnson assisted on Schrader’s goal and Zack Eschberger picked up an assist on Hofmaster’s goal.

In the third period, following a goal by Jameson Motyka (assisted by Brady Johnson), Schrader scored back-to-back power play goals with 11:47 and 9:42 on the clock. Motyka and Brady Johnson assisted on the first one, with Hofmaster and Eschberger assisting on the second goal.

Brady Johnson closed out the scoring with 8:04 left (assisted by Noah Whitcombe).

United goaltender Courtney Schum made 18 saves, including a stop on Fulton’s Nick Long on a breakaway midway through the first period.

Owen Dixon scored the other goal for Fulton, 1-5-2. Fulton and Bishop Timon will meet in the consolation game at noon.

December 17, 2021 - 5:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, elba.
tarrence_williams_mug.jpg
Tarrence Williams

Tarrence Yuron Williams, 22, of Porter Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 4th, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal obstruction of breathing and blood circulation, and menacing 3rd.  On Dec. 15, dispatchers received a report of a disturbance at the Quality Inn and Suites, 8250 Park Road, Batavia.  Williams is accused of choking another person at that location. He was taken into custody and allegedly found in possession of a quantity of crack cocaine.  Deputies obtained a search warrant for his room at the hotel and located an allegedly illegal firearm.  Williams was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and ordered held on bail of $5,000.  Batavia PD and the District Attorney's Office assisted in the investigation.

Sidney Carl Underhill, 72, of Oak Orchard Road, Elba, is charged with disobeying a mandate.  Underhill allegedly violated an order of protection at 10:31 p.m., Dec. 8 at a location on Main Street, Batavia.

Dianna Lynn Sprague, 50, of Vine Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Sprague is accused of shoplifting from Walmart in Batavia. 

Alexander Rian Toal, 18, of Swamp Road, Byron, is charged with menacing 2nd and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17 years old. Toal is accused of placing a person in fear of his life by displaying what appeared to be a firearm and threatening that person while a child under age 17 was present.  He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and released on his own recognizance.

Stephen G. Ognibene, 64, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd.  Ognibene is accused of violating an order of protection by not surrendering his firearms.  He was issued an appearance ticket.

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December 17, 2021 - 10:21am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Airport.

The Genesee County Airport will receive $159,000 in federal funding through the recently-enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced on Thursday.

The latest round of funding will distribute $136,977,897 to 59 airports across New York State. Money can be used for improvements related to runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, who oversees operations at the airport on Saile Drive, said he believes this award is another in a series "of standard funding that we normally get that doesn't have any fanfare attached to it."

Hens said he is waiting for more details on a similar funding announcement in the fall and has no specific information about yesterday's news.

 

December 16, 2021 - 11:01pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, Bullying, batavia, notify.

5876fbc8-85c0-489b-9631-3e5f05a07732.jpeg

Adjusting bullying protocols to better accommodate student needs is in the hands of Batavia City School board members, Rebecca Eldridge says. 

And she urges them and the district at large to work more diligently to improve the way district personnel responds to student accusations of verbal and physical attacks. 

“I stand here tonight on behalf of many students and families whose stories and voices have been dismissed,” she said to the Board of Education during its meeting Thursday at Batavia High School. “Two weeks ago my family became one as well. I implore you to take action for every single student that walks through these halls. Enforce policies for every student every day.”

The story she shared came in between her introduction and final urgings. Her son had been assaulted to the point of a swollen eye, bloody nose, bruised ribs and abrasions to his legs, she said. Yet he, too, was suspended along with the bully for defending himself. Perhaps even more upsetting was that she learned he was sent on to his next class after the attack, and did not receive medical attention until later, she said.

“That is neglect without question,” she said. “Staff failed to report to their superiors, which is school policy.”

Not once but three times her son suffered “intimidation, threats and physical harm” from this bully’s sibling, she said. That history plus this particular assault she highlighted resulted in her son being physically injured and emotionally scarred due to trauma, she said.

The day she learned about the assault, Eldridge received a letter notifying her that her son had been suspended for throwing a basketball at the bully, she said. The bully had been seriously taunting her son for four years, and “the school has done nothing.”

Meanwhile, he has missed out on school academics and sports, she said, as district officials reminded her to “be grateful for two — not five — days suspension.”

“Your son was not the aggressor, but we have to; it’s policy,” Eldridge said, repeating what district officials told her. 

She maintained that the district’s Information Technology and “higher administration” staff confirmed there was audio of the event with her son, and that she was subsequently lied to that there was none. The situation violates school policies, Code of Conduct and the Dignity For All Students Act, she said.

Her son’s record has been expunged, she said, “without conversation or an appeal.” Camera footage has disappeared as prior statements have been recanted, she said. 

Eldridge is looking for a shift in the system.

“Recently students and the community have desperately asked for their voices to be heard, changes to be made,” she said. “Change is in your hands tonight. Students including my son deserve nothing less than that from every one of you.” 

There was no board discussion about the issue after she spoke, however, she told The Batavian after the meeting that she was encouraged by what two board members privately expressed.

“They both thanked me for speaking,” she said. “One said ‘thank you for your courage,’ and the other said ‘I heard you, I heard you.’ I hope me speaking tonight has a positive impact, and brings change for our schools, for our children, and our community. As I said to them, it’s in your hands tonight.”

Parent Lidia Arteaga, who had previously spoken with The Batavian for a related article (Batavia City Schools’ parents speak out about bullying at the district), could not attend the meeting, but agreed with Eldridge’s main message. Arteaga’s daughter has experienced much verbal bullying, she said and deserves to be safe at school. Her daughter had created a pamphlet to raise awareness of the bullying episodes taking place without disciplinary action by the district. Her daughter was suspended for that act.

“Yes, change has to happen,” Arteaga said to The Batavian after the meeting. “Let me tell you that if anyone touches my daughter and they come back with those weak excuses, I will do anything I can to make them pay. I don’t know if change will happen, but I’m proud of my little girl for trying to make a difference. It’s at least opened the door for more communication.”

The Batavian asked Interim Superintendent Scott Bischoping for a response to Eldridge’s accusations, and he could not offer much comment, he said.

“I am unable to discuss a specific student discipline issue,” he said, offering to talk more about the situation in the future. 

Top photo: Parent Rebecca Eldridge urges Batavia City School Board of Education members to take action and ensure the safety of students from bullying during a board meeting Thursday at the high school library. Photo by Howard Owens

December 16, 2021 - 10:04pm

eve_1.jpgThe COVID-19 pandemic has sabotaged many projects over the past two years, but it hasn’t been able to stop planners and consultants working with Genesee County from advancing the Genesee 2050 Comprehensive Plan and Recreation Plan.

In fact, the coronavirus paved the way for a new dynamic – the ability to meet via Zoom and other social media outlets to engage members of the focus groups who have contributed to the Comprehensive Plan, said Eve Holberg, planner/project manager with Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect of North Tonawanda.

Speaking at a presentation to the Genesee County Legislature tonight at the Old County Courthouse (and via Zoom), Holberg (photo at right) said that moving the process online has alleviated the challenge of bringing stakeholders together and has been key in communicating the various surveys that helped mold the documents.

“Zoom and other meeting platforms … can boost the efficiency of the focus groups (who) want to see their quality of life preserved,” she said.

About 10 people attended in person and several others viewed and listened remotely to the presentation, which also included an overview of the Recreation Plan and the Genesee 2050 Hub Site (www.Genesee2050.com) by Michael Kane and Jenny Mogavero, respectively, principals at Prospect Hill Consulting in Buffalo.

Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect and Prospect Hill Consulting have been commissioned by the Genesee County Planning Department to draft the updated plans, which carry the overarching goals of enhancing quality of life issues and providing viable places and opportunities that promote healthy living, recreation and the arts.

‘NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S PLAN’

Holberg said the economic, cultural and educational landscapes have changed considerably since the county first embarked on comprehensive planning more than 20 years ago.

“This is not your grandfather’s Comprehensive Plan,” she said, noting that she and others have been working on this for 18 months. She also touted the Genesee 2050 interactive website that will "carry the plan forward.”

The vision of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan targets the wishes of the residents of Genesee County and the willingness of county government “to advance budgeting and funding to achieve these ambitions,” she said.

Overall recommendations include maintaining and expanding the focus groups that have set the plans in motion and to sustain Smart Growth, the component that preserves the county’s farmland, promotes sustainable growth and supports economic development strategy.

The Genesee 2050 Comprehensive Plan lists 10 priority elements that are keys to achieving its goals:

  • Land use, environment and place making;
  • Agriculture and food production;
  • Arts, culture, parks and recreation;
  • Housing opportunities;
  • Transportation and mobility;
  • Technology and utilities;
  • Community wellness;
  • Economic and workforce development;
  • Safety, security and justice;
  • Government and education administration.

Holberg provided an example when talking about transportation and mobility, suggesting a pooling of transportation resources (Social Services, Office for the Aging, Veterans Services) “to make it possible to have a better mobility system and to keep people in their communities.”

RECREATION PLAN: AN ALL-IN VENTURE

The first of its kind in Genesee County, the Recreation Plan is a road map for future development – “an ambitious plan” that considers the extensive facilities and parks in the City of Batavia and the county’s towns and villages, Kane said.

The plan’s five goals and objectives – “which remained consistent as the project evolved,” Kane said – are as follows:

  • Develop plans that equitably meet community recreation needs;
  • Promote healthy living;
  • Promote tourism through recreation, arts and cultural attractions;
  • Promote new trails and park development, and local and regional trail connections.
  • Promote/maintain youth recreational services.

Parks in the county for the most part are in excellent shape, Kane said, adding that information on all the parks and recreation areas is attractively displayed in the Recreation Plan.

His team reviewed more than 50 plans, including county, town and village comprehensive plans and New York State’s open space/recreation plans, and assessed the parks’ accessibility by walking and by car to “identify gaps in the county’s recreational inventory.”

Thus far, more than 20 projects have been identified, including expansion and upgrading of Ellicott Trail, creation of a new trail at Genesee Community College, paving of the shoulders of county roads for recreational use, establishing public spaces at Oatka Creek and reuse of the former amusement park at Indian Falls.

Kane said the projects are prioritized by how strongly they hit the five goals mentioned above. He also said these potential projects give Genesee County and other municipal entities a better chance to receive grant funding.

HUB SITE: AN EXTENSION OF THE PLAN

The Genesee 2050 Hub Site is a tool for the county to maintain the Comprehensive Plan and a platform to support community engagement activities, Mogavero said.

“It includes tools, data and documents for the focus groups .. and ensures that the plan will have a long shelf life,” she said, advising that the website will include the ability for public feedback in real time and links to agencies and maps to obtain current information.

In the end, Holberg said both plans reflect the values shared by county residents.

“Everyone wants more trails, and (because of that) the county can look for funding opportunities,” she said.

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