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December 23, 2021 - 1:47pm
posted by Press Release in Schumer, upstate, news, COVID-19.

Press Release:

With COVID’s Omicron variant spreading and Upstate New York overwhelmed by the latest surge, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expand testing capacity and support for Upstate communities.  Schumer made a personal call to FEMA Assistant Administrator Keith Turi and Acting FEMA Region 2 Administrator Chad Gorman to urge them to deploy 200 mobile testing sites in New York, 100 across New York State and an additional 100 in New York City. Schumer said that expanding access to testing is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially as we enter the peak of holiday travel and the heart of the harsh winter months.

“Upstate New York is seeing record high COVID cases, and with variants like Omicron already here, we must stop the spread in its tracks and that means testing testing testing. That is why I am calling on FEMA to immediately deploy mobile testing sites across Upstate New York, to give struggling communities the support they need to keep their residents safe,” said Senator Schumer. “Especially as people travel over the winter holidays, easy access to testing is critical to ensure the safety of themselves and loved ones. FEMA must provide Upstate communities the support they need to protect public health and to stay ahead of this variant into the winter.” 

New York State today saw a record over 28,000 new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, signifying a significant increase in case counts from just a week ago.

Schumer’s request comes on the heels of his successful push for the federal government to provide free at-home tests to New York community health centers & mobile sites. President Biden announced earlier this week that the federal government woulddeliver 500 million free at-home rapid testing starting in January. Schumer said that these at home testing kits in tandem with 200 mobile testing sites in the communities that need them most is vital to protecting the health of New Yorkers.

“We now have the testing infrastructure and tools we didn’t have early on in the pandemic,” said Schumer. “It’s one of the keys to stop this surge and keep recovery going.”

According to the World Health Organization, the most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 6-feet; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated.


A copy of Senator Schumer’s original letter to FEMA appears below:

 Dear Administrator Criswell:

I write today to ask for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) assistance as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent increase in cases due to the Omicron variant. The spike in cases has brought upon an increased demand for testing that is sure to strain the already robust testing infrastructure in New York City. In addition to supporting the City of New York’s request for an increased supply of at-home test kits, I ask that FEMA authorize the opening of 100 mobile test sites in New York City, and 100 additional mobile test sites across the rest of the state, including in Long Island.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, FEMA has played a central role in New York City’s fight against COVID-19. While I am grateful for these efforts and for the work of FEMA staffers, I ask that FEMA continue this partnership and build on its efforts as cases increase due to the Omicron variant. On December 21, 2021 New York City recorded its highest 7-day daily average of cases at nearly 9,500 cases. As reports of daily cases and hospitalizations continue to trend upward, it is vital that FEMA provide the City with the necessary resources to help slow this spread. With more testing capabilities in the form of at-home kits and testing sites, the City can better gauge the trends of this variant and provide more accurate guidance and information to residents.

Thank you again for your leadership and assistance over the past year as New York and the nation continue battling COVID-19. FEMA has been an invaluable partner in combatting this pandemic and I ask that as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly you continue this partnership and swiftly provide New York City the increased at-home testing kits requested in their letter to the Administration and authorize the opening of 100 testing sites across the City and 100 additional sites across the State.  

I appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions


December 8, 2021 - 10:15am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, sports, horse racing, award, upstate.

Press Release: By Tim Bojarski, president, UNY-USHWA

The Upstate New York Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association is pleased to announce that New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley is the recipient of their 2021 President’s award for his strong support of the harness racing industry and the agricultural jobs it helps to sustain. 

Hawley is a Batavia, New York native and grew up there before leaving to attend college at the University of Toledo and then serve in the Army National Guard and U. S. Army reserves. When he returned home, he became the owner/operator of Hawley Farms and also owned and managed a property and casualty insurance company for over 35 years. 

Always working for the betterment of the community as a businessman, Hawley wanted to take it one step further and successfully ran for office in the 139th New York Assembly District in 2006 and has been proudly serving his constituents ever since.    

As a businessman, Hawley always had a friendly acquaintance with Batavia Downs and brought friends and customers there for dinner and to see the races and through his visits he grew to understand how integral the sport of harness racing was to the agricultural infrastructure in Genesee and surrounding counties. So as a politician he has been a staunch supporter of the track and its principles ever since he has been in office. 

Over the years Hawley has served on many committees while in office including the racing and wagering committee and currently the agriculture committee and in those positions, always fought hard to protect the people that racing employs both directly and in supporting industries. 

Outside of Albany, Hawley continues to be a friend of the track first hand as over the years he regularly participates in promotions like celebrity races and fundraisers for various worthy causes throughout the year. 

And since 2010 Hawley has sponsored his “Night At The Races” at the Downs and in the 11 years it’s been held, has brought thousands of people who otherwise might not have ever come to the track and introduced them to the sport that has been a mainstay of the economic fabric of Batavia, New York for over eight decades.

“I have known Steve for a long time and have witnessed first hand his passion for this community and his appreciation for the sport of harness racing. He genuinely understands the intricacies of the business and how hard our horsemen and horsewomen work to ensure the well-being of our horses while earning a living in a very difficult industry. He fights to keep the sport healthy so it’s economic impact on agriculture can continue in the area and supports Batavia Downs gaming as its revenue continues to support local communities,” said Tim Bojarski, President of UNY-USHWA. “Our organization is proud to present him with this gesture of our appreciation.”

Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel said “Throughout the years, Steve has been a champion not only of Batavia Downs but of the entire racing and gaming industries. He has introduced many people to our historic race track all while supporting legislation that helps the people of New York who work for the casinos and tracks and it’s through Steve’s hard work that our industry continues to grow and prosper. We congratulate Steve on receiving this well-deserved award.” 

For his outstanding service to the sport of harness racing, Steve Hawley will be presented this award in the Purple Haze Winner’s Circle at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 11) during UNY-USHWA’s Night of Distinction. Saturday is the final night of the meet and post time is at 5 p.m.

Photo Credit - NYS Assembly website

January 6, 2009 - 8:41am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Buffalo, Rochester, governor Paterson, Albany, state, upstate, Geneseo.

Folks in the region will have several opportunities to meet and speak with our governor in February. An article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports this morning that Gov. David Paterson will hold a series of at least four town-hall style meetings upstate to "allow residents to ask questions and interact with the governor on the ideas he lays out in the State of the State address." Gov. Paterson will give his State of the State this Wednesday at 1:00pm.

Of those meetings that have so far been scheduled, three will be held within a short distance of Batavia: one in Buffalo on February 18, one in Rochester on February 11 and another in Geneseo on February 12. Others will likely be held in Watertown and Binghamton.

From the article:

Paterson has moved away from Spitzer's plan to split up some state duties, particularly economic development, into upstate and downstate branches. Paterson has argued that New York is one state with a united purpose.

Andrew Rudnick, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, said an upstate address isn't necessary so long as the governor gives the region the attention it needs.

If the symbolism of an upstate speech, "isn't followed up by definitive policy and asset allocation, what much difference does it make?" he said.

Most people would likely agree that the most pressing issue now facing the state is the budget crisis. A few weeks ago, Paterson released his budget proposal that caused quite a stir. We've put together a poll with a few topics that might come up when the governor visits upstate. Pick whichever you most want to hear about. I figure that the budget proposal will likely be a major part of the State of the State this Wednesday, so try to think what's most important to upstate other than that.

December 4, 2008 - 10:50am
posted by Philip Anselmo in business, Albany, finance, economy, upstate.

Last night, as I sat nursing a nearly warm stout and picking at the last bits of a charred creole burger in a local sports pub, a cross-legged CNN reporter flashed her inane smiles and asked her inane questions of former president Bill Clinton on the television suspended on the wall above my head. At one point, the text bar flashed something like: "Economy will recover in three years, says former president," or some such statement. Essentially, Clinton was telling us that everything would be all fixed up by the time (conveniently) we arrive at the next presidential campaign season.

Anyhow, the prediction got me thinking. Or, to be more specific, the pretension to make such a prediction got me thinking. Meteorologists can't accurately give you the weather ten days out. Weather is subject to a little thing called chaos mathematics. Chaos. Ditto, economics. So how does this guy have it all figured out, and how is he fixing the date for us?

Over the past few days, in my perusals of our two area metropolitan newspapers—the Buffalo News and the Democrat & Chronicle—I've noted a surfeit of articles on folks making claims about the character, depth, meaning and longevity of our current recession; in particular, the recession and its affects on the economy of Upstate New York. So what I thought to do was put together a sort of pastiche, culling fragments from six articles that appeared this week in these two publications. Then we can take a look at them, side by side as it were, and see if we can't get a better look at any truths that may be lurking in the shadows.

We'll start with an article we referenced yesterday from the Buffalo News. It's about Robert Wilmers, chief executive officer of M&T Bank Corp., who claims that upstate needs "big projects" to help drive its future growth. Here's what Wilmers has to say about the recession in particular:

Wilmers was asked when he believed the recession will end. “The recession will last for a long time, and I don’t think 2009 will be a good year economically,” he responded.

An article from the Democrat & Chronicle (Tuesday) backs that claim. Not only are we now officially in our 13th month of the recession, but we New Yorkers will likely remain much longer in the grips of the recession.

New York officials and economists are wondering if this downturn will hurt the state for a longer period than the nation feels pain. Data from the state Department of Labor show that the two most recent U.S. recessions, which each lasted eight months, started sooner and lasted later in New York, costing 545,000 jobs between 1989 and 1992 and 330,000 jobs between 2000 and 2003.

Our factory production would also indicate that we're headed for a long hard slide. From a Buffalo News article (today):

“The manufacturing sector is in a recession,” said Mikhail Melnik, a Niagara University economist.

With the nationwide financial crisis causing consumers to tighten their purse strings and companies to hold back on spending, Melnik said he does not expect a quick turnaround by the local economy.

“The situation is expected to worsen over the next several months,” he said.

If you think that's bad. According to another article in the Buffalo News (today), it's only going to get worse.

The U. S. service sector shrank far more than expected in November, as employment, new orders and prices plunged, hurting retailers, hotels and airlines. Meanwhile, Americans hunkered down heading into the holidays, forcing retailers to ring up fewer sales and factories to cut back on production.

The Institute for Supply Management’s closely watched gauge of activity in service industries, where most Americans work, showed that for every company adding jobs, eight cut payrolls last month. That ratio led some economists to boost their forecasts for layoffs for November to levels not seen since the early 1980s.

As for the unemployed, expect to see many more of them over the next year. With the jobless rate expected to hit 6.8 percent by the end of the week, analysts are predicting that we'll see an increase to near 9 percent by this time next year.

But wait a second! We've got another prediction. From this same article:

“I am looking for this recession to last 18 months, ending in June,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s in New York.

Eighteen months! But Bill Clinton said three years. As for "New York officials," they seem to expect this sucker to pick up more steam as we head into the New Year. Plus, we've got Wilmers telling us that we're in it for at least another year or more.

But we're shopping. Or... at least, we were on Friday. An article in the Democrat & Chronicle (today) is literally entitled: Shoppers forgot about recession on Friday. This first line especially is worth a laugh, which may have even been intended:

The economy has officially been in a recession for the past 12 months, but apparently no one told Black Friday about it.

We even spent an average of $25 more per shopper than last year—which, at this time, it ought to be pointed out, was also in recession.

Bargains prompted many to buy more than usual. Spending more during the big sales — some New York retailers offered discounts of up to 60 percent off normal prices — can mean saving money in the long run.

"I'm always the bargain shopper, and this year this is our Christmas present" said Kerry Bryan, 28, of Chili, who bought a $600 television at Best Buy on Friday morning for herself and her fiancé. "If we get it early, it's just a bonus."

A $600 television! Is that really the purchase of a recession-stricken American? And she even calls it a bonus! We're expected to near double digit unemployment rates by the end of next year, and we've got people spending hundreds of dollars on luxury items. Maybe things aren't that bad.

One guy is willing to go out on a limb and say just that. This is from another article that appeared in the Democrat & Chronicle (yesterday).

Charles Plosser, president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said growth should resume in the second half of 2009, though overall economic expansion for the year will be tepid, probably falling short of 2 percent.

Plosser forecast that the national unemployment rate, currently 6.5 percent, will rise above 7 percent in 2009.

But the former dean of the Simon school at the University of Rochester said he does expect a turnaround to begin late in the year.

"The housing sector should finally (hit) bottom and the actions taken by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury will gradually help financial markets return to some semblance of normalcy," Plosser told the audience at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Rochester.

So, things should start looking rosy again come Christmas time next year. Oh, except for the more than 7 percent of the population who will be out of work.

I don't know, folks. We've got a lot of information here. A lot of different people telling us a lot of different things. Who do we believe? Any of them? Does the guy falling off his barstool on the other end of the bar any less qualified to make predictions than Bill Clinton or Charles Plosser or "New York officials"?

Check back later today Friday for our look at the credit crisis here in Genesee County.

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