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Youth Bureau

July 28, 2022 - 11:00pm

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The Genesee County and Batavia youth bureaus hosted their annual Safe Summer Children’s Carnival at David M. McCarthy Ice Arena on Thursday.

The event featured entertainment and games that helped introduce the children to safety concepts.  Officers from Batavia PD along with City firefighters were on hand.  Multiple other local agencies also participated.

Photos by Howard Owens

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July 19, 2022 - 9:07pm
posted by Press Release in Youth Bureau, news, Genesee Youth Lead Program.

Press release:

The Genesee County Youth Bureau is seeking applicants for the Genesee Youth Lead Program.

Applicants should be a Genesee County high school student entering their freshman through senior year.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 2.

The eight-month program is focused on developing leadership skills within an individual through each specific session and through hands-on experience. Each session will have a different focus on our community and leadership.

The Youth Lead Program will take place at Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (GV BOCES) beginning Oct. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will be held once a month on the second Wednesday of each month.

The program dates are Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 14, Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 8, April 12, and May 10.

Youth who complete the program are encouraged to use the skills and information gained through their experience to support the communities in which they live.

The selection process will be done through an application and interview process by the staff. The class size is limited.

The program will cost $75 for each student. If there is an economic hardship please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau.

Applications for the program can be found here.

Please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau with questions at (585) 344-3960 or at:   [email protected]

July 18, 2022 - 4:08pm
posted by Press Release in Youth Bureau, batavia, news.

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Press release:

The Genesee County and Batavia Youth Bureaus are planning the annual Safe Summer Children’s Carnival open to the public to take place on Thursday, July 28 from 10:15 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at David M. McCarthy Ice Arena, 22 Evans Street in Batavia.  One dollar buys a ticket to play 10 games, and children can win “funny money” to redeem for prizes.

Entertainment by “Magic and Illusions of Patrick” is scheduled from 10:15-11:00 a.m. and the games will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch break. Folks from the community should plan to bring a bagged lunch or plan to leave for lunch. 

There will also be several community agency booths that the children can visit for a chance to win one of our grand prizes.  For more information on the carnival, please contact Chelsea at the Genesee County Youth Bureau at 344-3960.

Photo: File photo from 2018 of the carnival. Photo by Howard Owens.

March 16, 2022 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, Youth Bureau, news, youth conference.

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Video Sponsor

Article submitted by Chelsea Green, Genesee County Youth Bureau.

The Genesee County Youth Conference Coalition sponsored the 32nd Annual Youth Conference at Genesee Community College on March 15, 2022.

This conference is offered on an annual basis to local seventh- and eighth-grade students in Genesee and Orleans County in an effort to address pertinent social issues of interest to youngsters of middle-school age. There were approximately 175 seventh- and eighth-grade students in attendance.

This year’s theme of the conference was “We Are Stronger Together.” 

The inspiring speaker, Earl Ameen made the trip up from Texas to speak with our students. Earl’s message inspired youth to believe in themselves, embrace love, and to become more kind and compassionate while respecting everyone.

A variety of human service organizations in Genesee County contributed to the event by organizing a workshop for students to attend that day. Workshops were tailored to be interesting, engaging, and hands-on while being taught valuable lessons. Some of these workshop topics were: healthy eating habits, building functional relationships, Geocaching, learning about disabilities, teambuilding, and internet safety. Dance, Yoga, and WERQ were popular workshops attended as well!

Members of the Youth Conference Committee are extremely grateful to the workshop presenters who volunteered their time to educate our area's seventh and eighth-graders. We are also grateful to the following businesses/organizations that provided discounts or donations for the conference…Genesee Community College, Genesee and Orleans County Stop DWI Programs, Community Action of Orleans & Genesee County, and Subway.

The Genesee County Youth Conference Committee is comprised of representatives from the following agencies: Genesee-Orleans County Youth Bureau, Genesee Community College, Genesee County Job Development, YMCA, Community Action, and Reality Check/Roswell.  

For more information on this year’s Genesee County Youth Conference or to find out how you can participate in the next event, call the Genesee County Youth Bureau at 585-344-3960.

Photos by Howard Owens

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July 20, 2021 - 2:55pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Youth Bureau is seeking applicants for the Genesee Youth Lead Program. Applicants should be a Genesee County high school student entering their freshman through senior year.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 3.

The eight-month program is focused on developing leadership skills within an individual through each specific session and through hands on experience. Each session will have a different focus on our community and leadership.

The Youth Lead Program will take place at GVEP BOCES beginning Oct. 13, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will be held once a month on the second Wednesdays of each month. Students will take the BOCES bus from their school to attend the program.

The program dates are: Oct. 13, Nov. 10, Dec. 8, Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9, April 13, and May 11.

Youth that complete the program are encouraged to use the skills and information gained through their experience to support the communities in which they live.

The selection process will be done through an application and interview process by the staff. The class size is limited.

The program will cost $75 for each student. If there is an economic hardship please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau.

Applications for the program can be found at https://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/youthbureau/genesee_youth_lead.php

Please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau with questions at (585) 344-3960 or at [email protected]us.

July 13, 2021 - 1:36pm
posted by Press Release in genesee county youth court, news, Youth Bureau.

Press release:

Calling all eighth to 11th graders, the Genesee County Youth Court is recruiting new members!

Youth Court is a voluntary alternative for young people who face disciplinary action through school or law enforcement.

Youth who are referred admit to the charge and appear before a court of their peers. Three youth judges listen to both sides of the issue and determine an appropriate disposition. The goal of youth court is to improve youth citizenship skills and decrease problematic behavior.  

Youth Court members learn about the judicial process and law enforcement; develop group decision-making, leadership and public speaking skills; participate in all roles of the courtroom: judge, prosecution, defense and bailiff. 

Genesee County eighth to 11th graders who are interested can go online to download an application from the website www.co.genesee.ny.us, where you will find a link on the Youth Bureau page.

Applications are due by Aug. 2nd.

Interviews of potential candidates will take place in August and September with the training to begin in October. 

For more information on the Genesee County Youth Court, please contact Chelsea Elliott at the Genesee County Youth Bureau, 344-3960.

June 21, 2021 - 5:02pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Youth Bureau is seeking applicants for the Genesee Youth Lead Program. Applicants should be a Genesee County high school student entering their freshman through senior year.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 3.

The eight-month program is focused on developing leadership skills within an individual through each specific session and through hands-on experience.  Each session will have a different focus on our community and leadership.

The Youth Lead Program will take place at GVEP BOCES beginning Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will be held once a month on the second Wednesdays of each month except for November due to the holiday.

The program dates are: Oct. 13, Nov. 10, Dec. 8, Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9, April 13, and May 11.

Youths who complete the program are encouraged to use the skills and information gained through their experience to support the communities in which they live.

The selection process will be done through an application and interview process by the staff. The class size is limited.

The program will cost $75 for each student. If there is an economic hardship please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau.

Applications for the program can be found here

Please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau with questions at (585)344-3960 or at:   [email protected].

June 15, 2021 - 2:48pm
posted by Press Release in genesee county youth court, Youth Bureau, news.

Press release:

Calling all eighth to 11th graders, the Genesee County Youth Court is recruiting new members!

Youth Court is a voluntary alternative for young people who face disciplinary action through school or law enforcement.

Youth who are referred admit to the charge and appear before a court of their peers. Three youth judges listen to both sides of the issue and determine an appropriate disposition. The goal of youth court is to improve youth citizenship skills and decrease problematic behavior.  

Youth Court members learn about the judicial process and law enforcement; develop group decision-making, leadership and public speaking skills; participate in all roles of the courtroom: judge, prosecution, defense, and bailiff.  

Genesee County eighth to 11th graders who are interested can go online to download an application from the website www.co.genesee.ny.us , where you will find a link on the Youth Bureau page.

Applications are due by Aug. 2nd.

Interviews of potential candidates will take place in August and September with the training to begin in October.  

For more information on the Genesee County Youth Court, please contact Chelsea Elliott at the Genesee County Youth Bureau, 344-3960.

May 20, 2021 - 9:03am

After years of high-level involvement in the fire and emergency services fields and months of overseeing testing and vaccination clinics to earn the unofficial title as Genesee County “COVID czar,” William Schutt has decided to take on a new challenge as the executive director of the Genesee County Youth Bureau.

And county legislators and management are supporting his decision by wholeheartedly endorsing him for the job at Wednesday’s Ways & Means Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

The deputy coordinator of Genesee County Emergency Management Services since August 2015, Schutt has been selected by an interview committee to replace Jocelyn Sikorski at the youth bureau, effective June 20.

Sikorski resigned in January when she accepted the executive director position at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County.

Schutt said he’s looking forward to applying his experience and talents to programs and events geared toward boosting young people.

“I’m always looking for a challenge and I really enjoy being involved in the community – trying to make a difference and pay it forward – and doing something that will make the community better in the future,” Schutt said. “So, when the position came out -- I knew the previous director -- I took a look at it. It just kind of stuck out with how I was feeling about things at the current time.”

Schutt, a Basom resident, said he talked to Sikorski about the position and her comments piqued his interest in taking a closer look.

“It may seem like it’s quite a bit different but it still involves helping people, just in a different format than doing it as a first responder,” he said. “I am used to working on a variety of projects with a variety of things going on, and obviously, as a first responder, the spur of the moment stuff, and I think all of that transfers over very well.”

Before joining the county workforce on a full-time basis in August 2015, Schutt held a per diem position as deputy fire coordinator for about five years – assisting local fire and EMS agencies through the county’s Emergency Management office.

A longtime assistant fire chief for the Town of Alabama, Schutt was the general manager for Mercy Flight Inc. Mercy EMS, based in Batavia, from 2013-2015.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said that Schutt has distinguished himself throughout his career.

“He is a familiar face to everyone – our quote, unquote COVID czar, who has been instrumental in our testing and vaccination efforts,” Landers said. “The interview committee is pleased to be recommending Bill for this position. I think his passion and organizational skills are well-suited for the youth bureau and the direction we want to take that department going forward.”

The interview committee was comprised of Legislator John Deleo and several members of the Youth Advisory Board.

Deleo, speaking to Schutt who was at the meeting, said he could see from the interview that Schutt is up to the task at hand.

“You seem to be a person that takes something and develops it. So, I’m very pleased to have you on board to take on this challenge,” he said. “With your background and everything, I think we’re going to win this. It’s kind of bittersweet though because we lose (you) from the other (Emergency Management department).”

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein commended Schutt for displaying leadership “under chaotic situations,” referring to the coronavirus testing and vaccine clinics.

“What you’ve demonstrated already on behalf of the community here in Genesee County, I just look forward for even more to come,” she said.

Schutt said he is confident that he will be able to make a smooth transition, especially considering that he has had interactions with current youth bureau employees -- Chelsea Elliott (Youth Court and Safe Harbour coordinator) and Chelsea Green (program assistant).

He said he was getting up to speed on the county’s involvement with Safe Harbour, a state-funded program that supports services to youth who have been trafficked, exploited or are at risk, and already was familiar with other programs, such as Genesee Youth Lead and Youth Court.

A native of West Seneca, he said he participated in local town youth recreation programs growing up.

“I also was a Boy Scout and my son was a Boy Scout, and were involved in sports with the kids,” he said.

Schutt and his wife, Shelly, have a grown son and daughter, and two grandchildren.

A formal vote on his appointment by the full legislature is expected to take place next Wednesday. The position carries a $61,000 annual salary.

Previously: County youth bureau's Safe Harbour program tackles problem of human trafficking

April 8, 2021 - 3:28pm

With the City of Batavia deciding to contract with the Genesee Area Family YMCA for its youth services, an intermunicipal agreement with Genesee County to fund a shared youth bureau executive director has been terminated.

As a result, the Genesee County Youth Bureau has set sail for the Safe Harbour program – focusing its attention on a state-funded initiative that offers support services to youth who have been trafficked, exploited or are at risk.

“We have received a five-year grant through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to administer its program in Genesee County,” said Chelsea Elliott, who is serving as the bureau’s deputy director while interviews are being held to find a full-time executive director. “Safe Harbour’s main purpose is to make the community and its youth aware of the problem of human trafficking.”

Elliott said the youth bureau has started a public relations campaign – putting up billboards, distributing brochures and contacting human services agencies to take part in their activities.

“It’s important to let people know what the red flags are; what to look for,” she said. “We hope that the young people in our community aren’t being trafficked, but are they able to be trafficked? Easily.”

She said in an age of social media, “everything is at kids’ fingertips.”

“We live between two big cities, so that doesn’t help our situation. So, we just want to make sure our community and youth are notified about human trafficking, and that we’re all keeping our eyes on the youth of our community – and focusing on keeping our youth safe,” she said.

In a related development, Elliott reported that the Genesee County Youth Bureau is on track to allocate financial support to six youth recreation programs and six other entities geared toward youth.

Other than the three programs run by the county youth bureau (Youth Court, Safe Harbour and Genesee Youth Lead), Genesee provides partial funding – anywhere from 5 to 50 percent of a program’s total budget – to organizations who apply for assistance.

“Genesee County is supported by OCFS, and from there our youth board decides how much to allocate to the various programs who request financial support,” said Elliott, who has coordinated Genesee County Youth Court for several years.

Recreation programs set to receive county funding through the OCFS for 2021 are Alexander, $3,414; City of Batavia, $12,000; Bergen, $1,200; Byron, $1,280; Gillam Grant, $2,650, and Pavilion, $1,000.

Elliott said Genesee County is continuing to support the Liberty Center for Youth afterschool and the summer recreation programs in the City of Batavia even though those services will be provided by the YMCA through its contract with the city.

“We have done that for a long time, and we will still do that as long as they apply for funding from us, and we have the money to allocate,” she said. “In the future, the Y will probably apply for funding.”

A chart of county youth funding to the various programs shows that the City of Batavia’s youth budget for 2021-22 is $197,136.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski said the $12,000 from the county (through OCFS) goes into the city’s general fund and indirectly goes toward youth programming.

“We’re happy to be able to continue to provide direct youth services to the youth of our community and we certainly appreciate the support of the Genesee County Youth Bureau and the Office of Children and Family Services,” Tabelski said.

In February, City Council voted to terminate the youth agreement with the county, a move that Tabelski said will save the city around $21,000 for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

On Wednesday, the county’s Ways & Means Committee voted to terminate it as well – sending the measure for a final vote by the full legislature at next Wednesday’s meeting.

Other activities to be funded by the county youth bureau through the OCFS are Genesee Youth Lead, $2,950; Genesee County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), $2,000; Genesee County Park, $6,550; Youth Bureau Outreach, $8,000; R2R (Ride to Recovery) Ministries, Inc., $2,500; United Way Backpack, $6,000.

In a related development, Kelly March of Batavia was appointed and Erin Martin, representing Darien, Corfu and Pembroke, was reappointed to the Genesee County Youth Board. Their terms will run through March 31, 2024.

Elliott said there is an opening for a youth representative on the 20-member panel.

March 25, 2021 - 12:48pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Youth Bureau will host the 18th annual Family Game Night in celebration of National County Government Month. The event will take place on Thursday, April 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at County Building 2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Family Game Night will be a “Grab 'n' Go” style event. Families will drive up to the main entrance of County Building 2 and staff will greet them with a family tote that will consist of information about the services provided by the Genesee County Departments as well as prizes and activities.

Each bag will also have snacks, beverages and of course a brand new board game for families to start their own “Family Game Night” at home.

The theme for this year’s County Government Month is “Counties Matter.” Many county residents aren’t aware of the many important services provided by County Government. Each County department will provide information that showcases their roles and responsibilities to our residents.

As we know, counties are on the front lines protecting our communities. Now more than ever, Genesee County residents are seeing firsthand the essential functions counties perform. The County provides critical services to all our residents, beginning at birth and spanning throughout their entire lives.

There is no cost for this event. Adults must be accompanied by a child to receive the board game. Please call the Youth Bureau for more information or to register at 344-3960. Registration is required by April 9th and is only open for the first 30 families to RSVP.

January 5, 2021 - 3:41pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Youth Bureau, Human Services Committee.

chelsea_elliiott_2.jpgGenesee County is calling upon one of its own to provide experience and support while it conducts a search to fill the vacant youth bureau executive director position.

The legislature’s Human Services Committee on Monday voted in favor of creating a deputy youth bureau executive director, a temporary title that County Manager Matt Landers said will be given to Chelsea Elliott, (photo at right), who has worked for the county for the past seven years.

“Chelsea currently is our youth program coordinator and she is very capable,” County Manager Matt Landers said. “She runs our Youth Court and also coordinates the education piece on the youth side of the STOP-DWI program.”

The vacancy occurred last month when Jocelyn Sikorski stepped down to become executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, effective Jan. 25.

Landers said Elliott will be working with Sikorski over the next couple weeks to review the executive director’s responsibilities.

“We realize that there is going to be a period of time that the position is vacant, and looking at the need for somebody in house to transition us, this seemed like the most appropriate fashion (to proceed),” Landers said. “… with this being a union employee that would be stepping up into the role … we feel like this is a justified and prudent move for us to do.”

Landers said the resolution passed by Human Services (and subject to a vote of the full legislature) calls for the full-time deputy position to run for up to six months.

“We don’t anticipate it taking six months. We have spoken with Chelsea and she is agreeable to step up, and then once the director position is filled, the temporary position will be eliminated,” he said. “If Chelsea does have an interest (in succeeding Sikorski), this is something where we will have an opportunity to view her in the role. Certainly, she is eligible to throw her hat into the ring.”

The deputy executive director position provides additional pay for Elliott since her duties will increase, Landers said.

The change at the top of the county’s youth bureau comes as the City of Batavia, which has shared the county executive director for its youth programming, explores the possibility of contracting with an outside agency to provide city youth services.

December 16, 2020 - 3:16pm

A citizen advisory committee supports fast-tracking a request for proposal to outsource youth services for the City of Batavia, but hopes the city would consider managing its afterschool and summer recreation programs if none of the applications received are accepted.

During a Zoom videoconferencing meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski and County/City Youth Bureau Executive Director Jocelyn Sikorski reviewed a six-page RFP with the City Youth Board.

The document, drafted by Sikorski, is earmarked to be sent out on Dec. 21 to local organizations interested in providing youth services to the city for the 2021-22 fiscal year that begins on April 1.

David Twichell, president; Paula Fischer, Kristen Gloskowski, and City Council liaison Al McGinnis represented the City Youth Board at the meeting.

“So, I guess that we're doing this as a cost-saving measure,” Fischer said, framing the city’s decision to move from an in-house operation to contracting with an outside agency. “Obviously, if things come in and aren’t a cost savings, we as a board would like to see what we could do within a budgeted amount … taking the 20-percent cut or whatever … to replace a youth coordinator, director … and hiring back part-time staff at the Liberty Center and running the program in the summer like we have in the past.”

The Liberty Center for Youth on the St. Anthony’s campus of City Church on Liberty Street serves as the city’s afterschool location.

“That is still on the table I would imagine,” she said. “I guess my question is that we’re putting out the RFP, but there still is that alternative that we don’t accept any of them and go back to running it in-house like we have for years.”

Tabelski countered by saying that it would be best to make that determination after receiving RFPs, adding, “I would hope that we find a suitable proposal.”

Sikorski concurred, stating that the city has the right to refuse any proposal, “but I think that we have community-based organizations that are capable of providing this service in Genesee County, who can make it work fiscally, not only to maintain the level that we’ve had, but also to save the city money, honestly.”

Twichell: Keep an In-House Plan on the Table

At this point, Twichell summarized the youth board’s position that it would like the city to keep its options open.

“We understand that the RFP is a good attempt to save the city money but we just want to have that left on the table that if push comes to shove, and the RFPs don’t pan out, then we might be able to set up, like we used to have it (although) we might have to reduce services at certain parks or whatever,” he said.

As far as filling vacant youth positions in the city, McGinnis said in a difficult budget year, Council wouldn’t be able to guarantee that this year.

Twichell responded, “We would like to make it aware that youth services, now, is the only department in the city without any staff.”

Tabelski explained that youth services are not classified as a city department, but are under the umbrella of administration, supervised by the assistant city manager (which is vacant at this time).

That prompted Fischer to ask if some of the administrative staff could be reassigned to the Liberty Center “like we did with (former employee) Lydia (Schauf) when we reassigned her to the YMCA during the pandemic when the youth center was closed.”

Tabelski said that Civil Service job descriptions prevented that from happening, but Fischer maintained that youth services, with a budget of around $234,000 (out of a $24 million city budget) shouldn’t “bear the brunt of your budget woes.”

“I don’t think that hiring one youth coordinator is going to break the bank or the budget,” she said. “And we’re talking about five or six part-time people … there’s a lot of different things that we could look at.”

Participation Fees: To Pay or Not to Pay

All agreed that the objective is to continue existing youth programs for Batavia and Genesee County, and the RFP incorporates that by listing eight key components: creative arts; library, media and technology; activities that include science, math and technology; homework help/tutoring; recreation and sports; science and nature; indoor and outdoor activities, and snacks/meals.

“There also is an assessment process to determine that the agency is meeting program goals and objectives, and continuing to participate with the county youth bureau,” Sikorski said. “We do several things collaboratively between the city and the county, and that relationship should continue.”

She mentioned events such as youth recognition awards, youth leaders conference, annual youth conference, and National Night Out. An outside agency running the program would have to comply with performance measures.

Cost to participants also came up, with Fischer pointing out a section on page 3 of the RFP that indicated “no, or very low cost to the City of Batavia families” for summer recreation.

“I am pretty sure the direction of City Council was that there would be no cost to families,” said Fischer, who, in recent weeks, has spoken out against what she perceives as the city’s rush to bring in another organization, such as the Genesee Area YMCA, to run the youth program.

Tabelski said she was not opposed to eliminating “very low cost” and leaving it as “no cost” for the summer rec program.

Fischer said she didn’t think it would be fair to have a city taxpayer have to pay an additional fee for their child or children to participate in city youth functions.

“I don’t think a city taxpayer should have to pay for their child to go – if you’re paying your city taxes, that should be it,” she said. “So, people paying taxes could be taxed again to send their kid to a parks program where someone else is getting it paid by their town or getting a sliding fee scale.”

Sikorski advised that if they go the route of “no cost,” then it would be free to all participants across the board “because if the town is contributing like they have for decades to that cost, then it’s applicable to everybody.”

“Working with other municipal recreation programs, there was at one point in time where our rules and regulations stated that they could not charge; (that) none of our programs could charge a fee,” Sikorski offered. “That changed in the early 2000s, and luckily a lot of our recreation programs do not charge. Some of them may ask for a donation for field trips or a small fee per week depending upon their child. And I’m talking small, I mean minimal, like $5 per kid.”

Scoring Based Upon Selection Criteria

McGinnis said the RFP needs to go out as soon as possible with the city’s 2021-22 proposed budget due to City Council by mid-January.

“We have a very tough budget this year … and this being a piece of it, we have to know where we stand,” he said.

Fischer, Twichell and Gloskowski said they were satisfied with the RFP and the timeline.

Tabelski noted that the RFP does not include a cost for these services.

“The reason you do an RFP is to find competitive pricing for services, so we don’t dictate a price to the market, we let the market come back to us,” she said.

She said the plan is to form a selection team after the RFP deadline of Jan. 15 -- with the Youth Board as part of that team -- to score the proposals, using a matrix that awards points for each of items in the selection criteria, as follows:

  • The eligible agency’s capacity to effectively, efficiently and immediately provide needed service, program design and developmentally appropriate programs;
  • The eligible agency’s proposal to meet the goals and objectives of the City of Batavia’s Youth Service & Recreation Plan;
  • The price of service;
  • The ease of utilization and accessibility of the Program to parents;
  • The capacities to provide ongoing staff development, staff availability, qualifications, rate of turn over, ability to fill vacancies;
  • The documentation that all applicable health and safety codes and licensure or registration requirements are met;
  • The fiscal solvency of the agency;
  • The capacity and experience in serving children with disabilities;
  • The capacity and experience in serving children and their parents where they are Limited English Proficient.

Tabelski said RFPs are operational and issued by the city manager or Department of Public Works, for example. Approvals are made by City Council once the RFP process is completed.

In this case, the selected agency, as well as those not chosen, are to be notified by Feb. 5.

November 10, 2020 - 12:15pm

Batavia City Councilperson-at-Large Robert Bialkowski and Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski engaged in several minutes of Q & A on Monday night over the particulars of the city’s acceptance of a Batavia Rotary Club/Rotary Foundation grant. It would be used purchase kayaks and related equipment, which then would be “gifted” to Genesee County for use as a youth outdoor recreation activity.

Council, at its Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, was preparing to vote on the resolution to receive the $6,000 in what Tabelski termed “a pass-through” transaction since the Rotary Club wished to donate the funds directly to the City Youth Bureau.

When Paul Viele, who was running the meeting in place of City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., asked for discussion, Bialkowski was ready with a series of questions.

Bialkowski said he was concerned by recent discussions with a couple of county legislators who said they knew nothing about owning anything, stating that “they will just store it for us.”

City Council learned about the resolution at its Oct. 26 Conference Meeting.

At that time, Jocelyn Sikorski, City and Genesee County Youth Bureau executive director, advised Council that the city would “gift” all equipment from the grant – kayaks, kayak launch, paddles and vests – to Genesee County, which will maintain and store it at the DeWitt Recreation Area on Cedar Street.

She also said that county workers will build a trailer for hauling the equipment back and forth.

The resolution stipulates that the city would accept the grant from Rotary for the period of Oct. 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021 “to provide assistance to expand outdoor recreation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education.”

Fast forwarding to last night, following is the back-and-forth between Bialkowski and Tabelski -- with Viele interjecting his thoughts toward the end of the mini-debate:

Q. Who will be purchasing the kayaks?

A. It will be purchased through the city and then it will be gifted to the county, so we have no liability for the kayaks or the docking.

Q. Why are we giving the county money?

A. When Mrs. Sikorski was here at the last meeting, she discussed that because it is the city Rotary, they wanted to do the grant with the city. But after myself and the county manager looked at it, it will be housed in a county park.

Q. Why are we … transferring the actual funds to the county if we’re buying the kayaks?

A. We’re not transferring the funds, we’re transferring the material after purchase – the kayaks and the docking.

Q. Because the resolution implies we are transferring the funds.

A. No, it will be purchased through the city’s procurement policy. The city will gift the equipment from this grant to Genesee County Parks who will assist with the maintenance and the storage of program equipment once purchased, and they will be responsible for the insurance for that as well.

Q. Then who will own the kayaks?

A. Genesee County. We will not own them.

Q. There seems to be some gray areas here. Who will be instructing in the use of the kayaks?

A. I know the YMCA was a partner in it and when we have youth programming, again through whatever means we do, I think it would be incumbent upon that person to have an instructor there when they bring children out there.

Viele jumped in at that point, stating that “we’re going to buy the kayaks and gift them to the county, very simple.”

Bialkowski pressed on, however, saying that “the county doesn’t know anything about us donating kayaks, and they’ll probably be plastic throwaway kayaks … the inexpensive ones, and the longer they’re in the sun, the shorter the shelf life.”

To which Tabelski replied that Paul Osborn, county parks supervisor/forester, was building a shed and a place to store them.

Q. Who will be responsible to replace them?

A. The city would not be responsible moving forward. We’re basically acting as a pass-through … (for the kayaks) to be housed at the county park, along with the docking system that we discussed at the last meeting that has the handicap accessibility.

Bialkowski said he was surprised the county doesn’t know about this, and Tabelski reemphasized that the vote on the table was to accept the grant, purchase the equipment and give it to the county.

Viele said he was sure the county knows about it.

“They have to know about it, if we’re doing this. They have to know about it, if we’re voting on it,” he said. “Maybe the legislator hasn’t read his email to see what is going on.”

Bialkowski said he didn’t think a couple of legislators would do this, but Viele said since the city is not liable, “don’t worry about it.”

After Bialkowski signified his concern about the status of an instructional program for youth, Viele remarked, “It would be a good job for you. You could teach them.”

In the end, Council voted in favor of the resolution, with Bialkowski casting the lone "no" vote.

Legislature Chair Weighs In

The Batavian contacted County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein today about this matter and although she wasn’t aware of the details, she indicated that it was likely to come up at the next Human Services meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 30.

“Basically, this is an opportunity that Rotary wanted to focus onto the city youth recreational program, and it has been working on for well over a year,” she said. “The fact that those kayaks could be donated to the DeWitt park area, it just enhances what we already have going on there and it gives opportunity for the city youth at the same time.”

Stein acknowledged the “fluid situation right now with youth services, (so) we are following our process and our procedure because we certainly want to be a good partner.”

“Everybody has a job to do and we all have steps to take to get to where we need to be,” she said.

When asked about instruction for the youth, she said the county has a kayak program that is run by the Interpretative Center staff.

November 5, 2020 - 3:45pm

Although Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski believes the Genesee Area Family YMCA could play a significant role in the future of youth services in Batavia -- enabling the city to cut ties with Genesee County to fund a youth bureau executive director, an advisory group linked to the city isn’t convinced that is the best way to proceed.

A resolution to terminate the county’s youth bureau operating agreement with the city, a contract that calls for partial payment of the salary of Jocelyn Sikorski, Genesee/Orleans and City Youth Bureau executive director, came before two Genesee County Legislature committees this week.

On Monday, the Human Services Committee approved the measure, sending it to the Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday for a final vote before being forwarded to the full legislature for ratification.

Ways & Means decided to table the resolution, however, minutes after a letter from the City Youth Board opposing the dissolution of the inter-municipal agreement found its way onto The Batavian and, likely, into the hands of Ways & Means Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg.

No one on the committee would comment when asked why the resolution was being tabled, but it is clear that the Youth Board’s opposition as well as the committee’s desire to let the city make the first move are the major reasons.

As a result:

  • The county is stuck in a holding pattern as the city leaders work through their differences. All indications point to a public discussion in some form or another at the City Council Business Meeting at 7 p.m. next Monday.
  • Tabelski is saying that there was no indication of any disagreement from the Youth Board with her proposal for the city to go in a different direction – looking at the YMCA to provide youth services -- and cut the $20,000 annual expense to help fund the executive director’s position.
  • The City Youth Board, in its letter, contends that it was not afforded an opportunity “to discuss alternative options with the Interim City Manager … prior to her decision.”

County Manager Matt Landers said he is dismayed over the situation.

“With any board or organization that dedicates so much time toward improving the community, it is obviously not a good thing to read the dissatisfaction and unhappiness of such a board,” he said. “As far as the county’s perspective, we’re a partner with the city and we certainly want to assist the city in meeting their needs with the youth. But at this point in time, it is important that we let the city decide how they want to move forward and then we can react accordingly.”

Landers said he and the legislature agree that the city should take the lead in this matter.

“We kind of put it in their hands … instead of the county going out in front and dissolving a contract. If it’s something the city really wants to do, then that’s something that they can lead out with first.”

He also said that it could be the right time to assess the agreement and explore other options.

Landers: Time for Reevaluation?

“At the end of the day, the relationship that we had with the city for a youth director was a good idea – and it was something put in place before my time as county manager, but it was a way to share services,” he said. “With any kind of agreement, you evaluate and see if there’s a different way to do it.”

Tabelski said she articulated a “different way” during an Oct. 27 meeting with the Youth Board, whose members are Dave Twichell, president; Paula Fischer, Nick Russo, Kathryn Fitzpatrick and Kristen Gloskowski. Al McGinnis serves as the City Council liaison.

“I had the pleasure of meeting with the Youth Board to talk about the situation the city finds itself in regarding budgeting amid COVID in our current budget year, the programming that we weren’t able to perform over the summer – summer recreation – and the strategic hiring freeze at the city,” Tabelski said. “We talked about what the upcoming budget for the city was shaping up to be, which is early in the budget process.”

Tabelski said she outlined big ticket items for which the city is responsible, such as snowplowing, public works, leaf collection, yard waste services, and police and fire response, and other services such as youth programs, economic development, contracting for the operation of the Falleti Ice Arena and maintaining athletic fields (including Dwyer Stadium) for residents to utilize.

“While Council won’t look at the budget until January, right now department heads are working with vendors on pricing and setting up contracts for services with the goal of providing a budget to City Council that remains within the tax cap,” she advised. “We are fiscally responsible to the citizens of the City of Batavia while still providing services that we know residents demand from the city.”

She said financial constraints and the impact of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 summer recreation program and the ongoing closure of the Liberty Center for Youth afterschool location on Liberty Street.

Unable to Reopen Youth Center Yet

“The ability to reopen the Liberty Center for Youth is still taking time to make sure protocols are in place, barriers put up and bringing back staff. So right now, the YMCA and the city share staffing requirements for the Liberty Center for Youth to open,” she said.

Since the city has not been able to hire part-time employees (due to the hiring freeze), a discussion with the county ensued, leading to a proposal to terminate the joint agreement for youth bureau supervision.

“Knowing what our budget looks like for next year, I said that we were willing to look at that and the goal was to have the program coordinator and the assistant city manager, which is myself, take on any responsibilities needed to get the youth programs up and running, and to continue,” Tabelski said.

Currently, the city is in the midst of a job search for a permanent manager – Tabelski was hired last year as the assistant manager – and also has no youth program coordinator as Lydia Schauf resigned that position to accept another job.

“We were left basically with the commitment from the Y to help reopen the center but with no employees available to staff it,” she said.

Tabelski said she explained this to the Youth Board, emphasizing that it “was time to look at it to understand what the city might be able to do in an effort to save money and deliver the programs at the same level to the residents and potentially use the YMCA as part of the strategy that I am looking into.”

Tabelski Promotes Pact with YMCA

She said she has a high regard for the YMCA, calling it a “professional organization that has an expertise in providing recreational services in our community.”

“In my mind, it makes sense for us to look at this as a broader partnership,” she said, noting that she has kept City Council informed of her activities in relation to youth services. “This could be a huge win for the YMCA and the city.”

Tabelski said she is negotiating with the YMCA to gauge its “capacity and ability” to provide afterschool and summer recreation services for the city’s youth, and added that other communities, including Perry and Geneseo, contract with the YMCA to provide their summer programming.

She said she left the door open for City Youth Board members to contact her, Sikorski or McGinnis but, to her knowledge, that has not been done. She also said that she was not informed that a letter would be released to the media.

“At the meeting, the youth board members indicated they understood the financial hardship that the city was in, they gave examples of their workplaces having to cut and lay off people, and they indicated a willingness to continue to be involved in youth programming and services and make sure those programs continue,” Tabelski said.

The interim city manager is hopeful the city would be able to enhance its youth services by contracting with the YMCA. She also defended her stance.

“I think it is incumbent upon a good manager to look at every piece of the organization and especially when we’re faced with challenges such as COVID and employee shifting,” she said. “I guess it was a perfect storm to examine how we deliver this service and see if there was an agency, such as the YMCA, that would be more capable, have more capacity and more resources to actually deliver the program and possibly enhance that program on behalf of the city.”

Tabelski said the goal is to continue to provide youth services at no or at a minimal charge – especially for summer recreation – and is convinced there are “multiple ways that can be negotiated to do that.”

“Right now, we have a contract with City Church for the St. Anthony’s building for the Liberty Center for Youth that runs another four years,” she said. “I think that as we do some long-term planning, we certainly want to look at the interaction between the current site for afterschool and what potential there might be for the (YMCA) Healthy Living campus (one of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects).”

Youth Board Reacts to 'Done Deal'

Fischer, responding this afternoon to emailed questions after talking with Twichell, said the City Youth Board’s intention was to send the letter with their concerns to City Council, but when The Batavian ran a story from the Human Services Committee meeting, it felt it was necessary to inform the public of what seemed to be a certainty.

“Once the information from the October 27th meeting was digested, it was apparent that the proposed changes to youth services would affect the quality of youth programming,” she said. “Many of the comments made by Rachel Tabelski and Jocelyn Sikorski were concerning. Ms. Tabelski was not aware of the differences between the County Youth Services and the City Youth Services. The City Youth Bureau provides direct youth programming and the County Youth Bureau does not.

“Despite the resignation of the only full-time city youth bureau employee, Ms. Sikorski was still in favor of abandoning the city program with no experienced staff remaining by ending the contract between the City and County with a year remaining. Also, Ms. Tabelski’s comment in the article, 'The city’s goal is to continue its youth programming – Liberty Center for Youth at the City Church St. Anthony’s campus on Liberty Street and the Summer Recreation Program – to the extent we that we can' was also alarming."

Fischer said the youth board did not contact Tabelski or Sikorski before sending the letter since the board is appointed by City Council and that Tabelski and Sikorski are employees and not voting members of the board.

As far as the Oct. 27 meeting is concerned, Fischer’s position is that Tabelski did receive comments from the board “regarding the outsourcing and charging for youth programming.”

“It was apparent that Ms. Sikorski had already went to the legislature and City Council with the proposal and was presented as a done deal,” she said. “When asked who would run the youth programming, the interim city manager shrugged her shoulders and said the assistant city manager, and the board asked who that would be and she said ‘me’. So, it was apparent that this was not well thought out after the resignation of the youth bureau coordinator. This sent up red flags that the youth programming was being phased out.”

The City Youth Board also does not agree with Tabelski’s plan to contract with the YMCA.

“The Board feels this would not be in the best interest of city youth,” Fischer said, adding that youth board members should be brought into the decision-making process.

“We are an advisory board. I would hope City Council would engage the City Youth Board on all matters going forward during these trying times,” she said. “The board would like to see services at the Liberty Center for Youth and the Summer Recreation Program resume once it is safe. These valuable services are less than 1 percent of the city’s budget.”

October 27, 2020 - 10:11am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, STOP-DWI, Batavia Rotary Club, Youth Bureau.

With a boost from the Batavia Rotary Club and The Rotary Foundation, the City of Batavia Youth Bureau and Genesee County Parks, Recreation & Forestry are working together to provide an increasingly popular water sport for children.

Jocelyn Sikorski, youth bureau executive director, reported to City Council on Monday night that the pond at DeWitt Recreation Area on Cedar Street has been identified as a safe and secure place for a kayak launch, made possible through a $6,000 grant from Rotary.

Sikorski, speaking at council’s Conference Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, said officials looked at a section of the Tonawanda Creek near Kibbe Park, but determined it was “not really a safe place.”

She said the launch to be utilized at DeWitt Recreation Area will be easy and safe for youth to get in and out of the kayaks.

City Council considered a draft resolution to accept the grant from Rotary for the period of Oct. 1 through April 30, 2021 “to provide assistance to expand outdoor recreation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education.” After hearing details regarding the city-county connection, it forwarded the measure to its Nov. 9th Business Meeting.

The resolution also calls for the city to “gift” all equipment from the grant – kayaks, kayak launch, paddles and vests – to Genesee County, which will maintain and store it.

Sikorski also said county workers are building a trailer for hauling the equipment back and forth.

The youth bureau is planning to teach kayaking as part of its youth center and summer recreation programming, incorporating STEM learning methods into the curriculum, she said.

As far as the Liberty Center for Youth, the youth bureau’s afterschool social and educational location for students ages 9-16, Sikorski said it continues to be closed due to COVID-19 and likely won’t open until next year.

“The City of Batavia Youth Bureau and Genesee County YMCA need to ensure that the Liberty Center participants have a safe and fun experience with us,” she said. “Currently, we are working through reopening plans carefully and monitoring the potential spike in COVID-19 cases due to increased travel through the upcoming holiday seasons.”

Sikorski said as the reopening date nears, the agency will send out information regarding the registration process as well as COVID-19 protocol in accordance with Department of Health and Batavia City School District protocol.

In other developments:

  • No one from the public spoke at a public hearing to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages (auto repair stations) in I-1 (Industrial) zones with a special use permit.

Prior to opening the public hearing, council members were required to declare the city as the lead agency in the State Environmental Quality Review, which has determined there will be no significant adverse environment impact.

The zoning ordinance change is a result of a request in January by Batavia businessman Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvements, to place an auto repair shop on his property on Ellicott Street. It is expected to be approved at the next Business Meeting.

  • City Council approved a Just Kings’ “Trunk or Treat” event for 6 to 8 p.m. this Friday, noting that all application guidelines – including a certificate of liability insurance listing the city as an additional insured – have been met.

“This is a great event for the kids,” said Council Member Rose Mary Christian, advising that city police will be participating. She said that she will be donating candy to Just Kings.

In other action, Council advanced the following resolutions:

  • Entering into an agreement with a consulting, engineering or design firm (or a combination of those types of companies) for engineering services for the $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Project at Jackson Square, a music venue located between Jackson and Center streets.

Public Works Director Matt Worth said a team including Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt, a representative of the Downtown Business Improvement District and himself are in the process of scoring the 11 companies that have applied and would get back to City Council either next month or in December with a contract in hand.

Previously, Worth said that the project calls for upgrades such as decorative pavement, enhanced lighting, relocation of electrical utilities, planters, benches, tables, chairs for seating and a new stage. Funds have been provided through the $10 million DRI award from the state to the City of Batavia.

In response to a question from Council Member John Canale about the upgrade decision-making process, Worth said that all stakeholders, such as nearby businesses, vendors who have used the area, BID officials, city staff and the public, will have the opportunity to provide input.

Worth indicated that the design work is to be performed next spring, with construction next fall after the Jackson Square performance season.

  • Accepting public dedication of Carolwood Drive Extension, also known as Clinton Gardens Subdivision Part 21A, following city approval of Batavia Homes and Development’s completion of the installation of stormwater system, sanitary sewer system, water main, house services and street paving to add five more building lots on the street.

Worth said the developer, which was responsible for all project costs, followed the city’s engineering requirements. This sets the stage for the city to take over maintenance of the street, including plowing and fire and police protection.

“One of the houses is close to completion, and it is my understanding that there is some interest (in the other building lots),” Worth said, adding that the extension eliminates two dead-end streets in that northeast section of the city.

  • Contracting with New Wave Energy Corporation of Buffalo for the purchase of natural gas at a rate of $3.28 per dekatherm, which, according to Worth, is 8 cents less than what the city has paid in the past three years.

New Wave Energy, which also has a contract with Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., submitted the lowest of two bids. The pact is for three years, starting on Jan. 1.

  • Accepting a $5,000 award from Genesee County STOP-DWI for the police department’s to set up high visibility road checks, saturation patrols and DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) call out during impaired driving crackdown periods.
October 24, 2020 - 8:33am

The City of Batavia is moving forward with the design and construction of the $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Project at Jackson Square, the popular music venue tucked in between Jackson and Center streets.

Public Works Director Matt Worth on Friday said his office has received 11 proposals from professional firms seeking to take the lead for the project that calls for the following upgrades: decorative pavement, enhanced lighting, relocation of electrical utilities, planters, benches, tables, chairs for seating and a new stage.

The cost of this work, $750,000, is the full amount of the grant issued as part of the state’s DRI program, and the expense of the design firm will be charged against the DRI grant as a project cost.

A draft resolution to enter into an agreement with an engineering or architectural firm is on Monday night’s City Council Conference Meeting agenda. The meeting is scheduled for 7 o’clock at the City Centre Council Board Room.

A letter from Worth dated Sept. 25 went out to consultants, inviting them to “provide a proposal of project understanding and qualifications” for engineering and design services. The letter indicated the city “strongly encourages participation of MWBE (Minority and/or Women-owned Business Enterprise) and SDVOB (Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business) firms.”

The state is stipulating a MWBE participation of 30 percent and an SDVOB goal of 6 percent.

Worth said a team is scoring the proposals and will announce its selection in several weeks.

“Because this project is a little different – not a straightforward, engineering street design (for example), this could end up being a team approach,” he said, advising that the consultant could be an engineering firm, design professional, landscape architectural company, or a combination.

As far as the timetable is concerned, Worth’s letter indicates investigation and design work to be performed next spring and progress through to construction in the fall – after the Jackson Square performance season. It also states that two public information meetings will be scheduled.

On another front, Worth said work on the City Centre Mall roof is complete.

“The warranty is in place, so we’re moving to the next phase,” he said. “The Mall Feasibility Study is wrapping up right now and we’ll be jumping into the DRI project with the mall concourse, which will probably include some additional roofing as well.”

Worth said specific plans for the mall project will be based on the feasibility report recommendations.

Other topics on Monday’s agenda include:

-- A public hearing to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages (auto repair stations) in I-1 (Industrial) zones with a special use permit. This action stems from a request by Batavia businessman Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvements, to place an auto repair shop on his property on Ellicott Street.

-- A resolution accepting public dedication of Carolwood Drive Extension, also known as Clinton Gardens Subdivision Part 21A, as a result of Batavia Homes and Development’s completion (and municipal approvals) of the installation of storm water system, sanitary sewer system, water main, house services and street paving to add five more building lots on the street.

-- A resolution to accept a $6,000 grant from The Batavia Rotary Club and Rotary Foundation to the City of Batavia Youth Bureau to support outdoor recreation through the purchase of kayaks, kayak launch, paddles and vests. The youth bureau has indicated that it will teach kayaking as part of its youth center and summer recreation programming, and also will incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education through this activity.

July 13, 2020 - 12:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in Genesee Youth Lead Program, news, Youth Bureau, BOCES.

Press release:

The Genesee County Youth Bureau is seeking applicants for the Genesee Youth Lead Program. Applicants should be a Genesee County high school student entering their freshman through senior year.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 4.

The eight-month program is focused on developing leadership skills within an individual through each specific session and through hands-on experience. Each session will have a different focus on our community and leadership.

The Youth Lead Program will take place at Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (GV BOCES) beginning Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will be held once a month on the second Wednesday of each month except for November due to the holiday.

The program dates are: Oct. 14, Nov. 4, Dec. 9, Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 10, April 14 and May 12.

Youth that complete the program are encouraged to use the skills and information gained through their experience to support the communities in which they live.

The selection process will be done through an application and interview process by the staff. The class size is limited.

The program will cost $75 for each student. If there is an economic hardship please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau.

Applications for the program can be found here.

Please contact the Genesee County Youth Bureau with questions at (585) 344-3960 or at:   [email protected]

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