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Tom Rivers

April 20, 2013 - 6:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, books, Tom Rivers, present tense books and gifts.

Author and journalist Tom Rivers was at Present Tense books and gifts on Washington Avenue, Batavia, today to sign copies of his newest book, "All Ears."

The book is a collection of some of Rivers' best pieces about community life during his 15 years at the Batavia Daily News.

Rivers is now editor of OrleansHub, an online news source serving Orleans County.

"All Ears" is available at Present Tense.

Pictured with Rivers, his 7-year-old daughter, Lucy.

November 26, 2011 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, books, Tom Rivers, Literature.

Ace ag reporter Tom Rivers was at Coffee Culture this morning with his son Ruben signing copies of his book "Farm Hands." The book is based on a series of articles Rivers wrote for the Batavia Daily News about his efforts to get out and work the fields, experiencing firsthand what it's like to be a farm hand. Rivers said so far the book has sold 5,500 copies. If you don't have your copy yet, it's available at Present Tense books and the Holland Land Office Museum.

September 5, 2011 - 3:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in events, Tom Rivers, pax christi genesee county.
Event Date and Time: 
September 15, 2011 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Local author Tom Rivers will be the guest speaker at the first free spaghetti dinner, "Pasta for Peace," at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St. in Batavia.

The dinner is sponsored by Pax Christi Genesee County. Tom Rivers, who authored "Farm Hands," will share his "food for thought" -- his first-hand experience with farm workers, hard work and lessons from Western New York fields.

June 5, 2010 - 11:17am
posted by Daniel Crofts in events, Le Roy, Tom Rivers, woodward memorial library.
Event Date and Time: 
June 23, 2010 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Tom Rivers, local author and longtime staff writer for the Batavia Daily News, will be at the Woodward Memorial Library to discuss his book, "Farm Hands: Hard work and hard lessons from Western New York fields." Attendees will be able to purchase copies of the book and have them signed.

This will take place at the library, which is at 7 Wolcott St. in LeRoy, from 7 until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23. Registration is not required.

May 24, 2010 - 12:05pm
posted by Joseph Langen in Tom Rivers, Farm Hands.

Tom Rivers- Farm Hands

Tom Rivers- Farm Hands

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. Tell me what you have been up t0o lately.JOE: This week I worked on three projects for GO ART!.
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: Tom Rivers is coming to speak On Wednesday.
CALLIOPE: Details please.
JOE: Tom is a reporter at the Daily News who wrote a series on farm labor in Genesee and Orleans Counties. Then he compiled his series into a book, Farm Hands, which he is discussing on Wednesday.
CALLIOPE: How were you involved?
JOE: Mostly in the arrangements and publicity. I will also be on hand for the presentation.
CALLIOPE: Sounds interesting. What else is going on.
JOE: I’ll fill you in on the other projects next time we meet.

May 21, 2010 - 1:47pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, Tom Rivers, GoArt.
Event Date and Time: 
May 26, 2010 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Tom Rivers, an author and longtime staff writer for the Batavia Daily News, will give a reading and presentation of his recently published book, "Farm Hands: Hard work and hard lessons from Western New York fields." A Q&A session will follow.

It will take place at GoArt!'s Seymour Place, at 201 E. Main St. in Batavia, from 7 until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26.

March 18, 2010 - 10:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Steve Hawley, Tom Rivers.


Daily News staff writer Tom Rivers is now famous in Albany, if that's anything to brag about.

Thursday, Assemblyman Steve Hawley delivered copies of Tom's book, "Farm Hands," to every member of the State Legislature.

From a statement from Hawley's office:

As a former farmer and president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau, the assemblyman knows how important the farming industry is to New York State. It is the assemblyman’s hope that this book will create greater awareness of the importance of the agriculture industry and how damaging the passage of the Farmworkers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill (also known as the “Farm Death Bill”), a proposal that would impose expensive labor mandates, could be to farmers.

March 5, 2010 - 2:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Daily News, business, agriculture, Tom Rivers.

rivers_farmhands_cover.jpgTom Rivers is a reporter of boundless energy. He's run in marathons and worked day-long shifts in local farm fields.

Now he's published a book.

The Batavia Daily News staff writer wrote an award-winning series 2008 about his laborious research into just want it takes to work at local farms in Western New York. Those articles are the basis of Farm Hands: Hard work and hard lessons from Western New York fields.

"Books have a little more permanence," Rivers said. "You can read about the titans of industry, such as Dean Richmond, in books, but there aren't a lot of books about the people doing the work. I just think the farmworkers make a great contribution to our community. They deserve the recognition (of being in a book)."

The stories of Tom's days and nights in the fields of Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties picking apples and chopping and throwing cabbage give the reader a great sense of just how hard farm work is.

Although he knew it would be challenging, Rivers said he was surprised by how taxing it really is. And it takes training, experience and dedication to ensure that the produce isn't damaged before it's delivered to market.

"There's this feeling that we can just throw anybody into farm work, but not just anybody can do this," Rivers said. "Buyers could reject 40 tons of cabbage if it's not just perfect, if the heads are bruised. There's more pressure on the workers than there is in my job or in most people's jobs. They have to aim for perfection."

The book contains additional material not included in the original newspaper series, Rivers said.

Rivers self-published the book and had it printed at Hodgkins Printing in the Harvester Center.

The full-color book came out looking great, Rivers said. Daily News Publisher Tom Turnbull didn't hesitate to give Rivers permission, without fee, to reprint his own articles as well as the color photos that ran with the series.

"I like that it says, 'Printed in Batavia,' but I don't feel like I was working with a second-rate company," Rivers said. "They were great over there."

The book is for sale locally at the Holland Land Office Museum and Present Tense Books on Washington Avenue.

June 5, 2009 - 7:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tom Rivers, immigration.

tom rivers elba talk.jpg

Daily News reporter Tom Rivers spoke to the Elba Historical Society yesterday evening about his award-winning series on farm labor.

Rivers gave an energetic, anecdote-laden, hour-long talk on the series in which he explained that he set out to really understand what it's like to work in the fields, doing the work that migrant workers do, and whether an average American could handle the task.

His conclusion: Not only can't the average American not handle the jobs (and they rarely apply, and when  they do, they usually wash out after two hours of work), most world class athletes couldn't handle what immigrant workers do every day.

"After being out in the fields with these guys for eight hours a day, professional sports seems pretty lame," Rivers said.

He's used his experience picking cucumbers and tossing cabbage to help him get through running a marathon, which he said wasn't nearly as difficult compared to his work among the migrants.

The work ethic of the migrants astonished him, Rivers said. He explained that in picking berries, it's important to get the ones at the right stage of ripeness, otherwise the suburban housewife will be unhappy if she arrives home with bitter berries.  At the berry farm where Rivers worked one day, the owners had tried hiring teen-age workers once, but they just didn't take enough care about which berries they threw into baskets.

"The Mexican workers impressed me with their quality control," Rivers said. "Among themselves there is a lot of pride, you could even say perfection."

Such praise for the migrant workers didn't always win Rivers fans, he said. He said people actually called the paper to complain about his stories.

"Some people have a problem with showing the humanity of farm workers," Rivers said.

May 7, 2009 - 10:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, Tom Rivers.

Tom Rivers, Sharon Larson and Ben Beagle all garnered awards from the New York Newspaper Publishers' Association.

Congratulations to all three. Details here.

August 17, 2008 - 11:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, farms, agriculture, Tom Rivers.

This weekend, Tom Rivers delivered another in his series of farm work articles for the Daily News.

Again, it's a stunning piece of writing and reporting. We could never summarize if for you in a way that would do it justice. You will need to find a copy of the paper for yourself and read it.

Besides producing a fine article, I admire Tom for sticking with such a physically demanding job under adverse conditions for a full 10 hours.

The article makes the point well that if you like -- as Jack Davis apparently does -- that there are locals ready, willing and able to do this farm work, but they're just being pushed out of the way by immigrants, you're deluded.

Darren, 42, seems a little bewildered by my interest in the job. He can't remember anyone from around here ever wanting to cut cabbage. The farm puts many ads in local newspapers seeking field help, and no locals have even called about a job in at least two decades, Darren said.

Cutting cabbage may not be "skilled" labor as we traditionally define it, but you better have the right muscles and motor skills developed, and have built some level of mental immunity to the demands of the job. This is a job that not just anybody can do. Clearly, farmers can't just hire a crew of anybody off the street and expect to fulfill the tons of orders for their crops.

Rivers is doing a good bit of public service journalism with this series.  We wish him well in the appropriate journalism awards competitions.

Of course, what these stories lack are video. We've offered the Daily News help in this regard. So far, they've declined.

July 1, 2008 - 12:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, nursing home, agriculture, UMMC, Tom Rivers.

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

  • O glorious day! Today's Daily News features the third installment of Tom Rivers' adventures in agriculture series — cherry picking. Rivers begins the article with a confession of his rampant fear of heights, ladders in particular, which makes for a tense and funny start to what proves another gem in a great series. Go read it.
  • United Memorial Medical Center received a $2.2 million state grant that will help finance the renovation of the Jerome Center on Bank Street. Reporter Paul Mrozek writes: "The project will provide 37 condominium-style apartments for low-income senior citizens, ages 55 or older. Rent will be from $475 per month to $575 per month, depending on the person's income." The total cost of the project is about $8.2 million. No date has yet been set for the start of the project, but UMMC spokeswoman Colleen Flynn said that they hope to start soon.
  • The Genesee County Nursing Home was told it will get $800,000 in "retroactive Medicaid reimbursements," money that was supposed to be granted by the state as reimbursement for Medicaid patient care provided by the nursing home. Also, the state will start to pay more for Medicaid services and the county should see an added $600,000 "in unanticipated revenue," writes Paul Mrozek, which means more good news for an institution that hasn't heard much of it in recent months.
  • And the money just keeps flowing... The city of Batavia received a check for nearly $630,000 from the state thanks to Batavia Downs video gaming facility. An article in the Daily News Friday made mention of the state funds — some went to the county and some to the town, as well. After reading today's article, I still don't quite understand why the state gives money to community's for hosting video gaming centers, which I believe are no more than video slot machines. Reporters Tom Rivers and Joanne Beck explain how it came about: "The state last year approved legislation allowing host communities to receive payments for having video gaming centers within their municipal borders. They share 3.5 percent of the total net revenue generated by the video gaming centers." I assume that "they" here refers to the "host communities." But then the next sentence says that the "money comes from the state and not the tracks that operate the gambling centers." I'm confused. Whose money is this? Is it the state's or does it belong to the Downs? Why do municipalities get a share? Anyone know how this works?
  • A fire at a home in Corfu Monday morning resulted in the death of two cats and caused about $50,000 in damage. No one was home at the time, and the Corfu fire chief said the house is not habitable.
  • The owner of BrightLine, a television marketing company, was honored as the Batavia High School Graduate of Disctinction Sunday. Jacqueline Corbelli Modzelewski graduated from the school in 1982.
  • Brian Hillabush reports on the NFL-sponsored football camp at Batavia High School. More than 400 kids are enrolled in the camp, and they come from schools all over the area. It's an interesting article, worth reading.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

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