More thoughts (from a Councilman)

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 11:50

I've still had no luck catching the city manager or police lieutenant — both very busy men, it would seem. Must be tough business running a city and keeping it safe. I wouldn't doubt it. Fortunately, City Councilman Bob Bialkowski got back to me. We had a chat this morning about his thoughts on what's going on in the city these days.

Bob's a former crop-dusting pilot, "semi-retired" now, he says. That means he has "only one" airplane, from which he does aerial photography — his current business. He's been flying since he was a kid.

On his Web site bio, Bob mentions "community improvement" under his special interests. So I thought I'd ask him about that. So I ask him, quite simply: what needs to be improved, and how do we improve it?

"We've got some pockets of decline," he says. "We have to change some of our zoning laws, change code enforcement. We need to try to improve these areas."

That means public education on how to properly dispose of yard waste, for example. Get the word out to people, whether it's through the newspaper, through our site, in pamphlets included with the water bill — people need to be more aware, says Bob.

He says that "entire neighborhoods are a problem — trash all over, abandoned cars in the back yard." Head over to the southside of the city, to Jackson Street, over near Watson and Thorpe streets, State Street, and you'll see what he's talking about.

"But you can pick any street," he says.

Meanwhile, he goes on, the city has a tough time keeping up with all the violators. The code enforcement staff is minimal. Absentee landlords know how to work the system to "avoid" making the necessary improvements for "four or five months" at a stretch. Add to that the increasing crime rate — Bialkowski says the city department is 300 calls above their total for this time last year, which set records itself — and you've got a situation that could get out of control fast.

Nor is that all. Bob also takes issue with the taxes. They're too high, he says.

"Every year, more property in the city gets taken off the tax roll because of non-profits and tax exempts," he says. "And they use city services. They put their trash out by the street for pickup, but they don't pay for it."

In many ways, that's a valid claim, says City Assessor Michael Cleveland, who estimates the tax exempt properties in the city to total about 30 percent, without looking at the tax rolls. You have to understand, however, that Batavia is a county seat, he says. As the hub of Genesee County it's going to get the churches, the county offices, the organizations, all those who are tax exempt.

Could that just be the price of convenience then?

Genesee Country Farmers Market finds home

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 11:16

Not homeless for long, the Genesee Country Farmers Market signed a contract with Batavia Downs to set up shop in its parking lot for the summer season.  The market was told by Kmart a couple weeks ago that it could no longer use its parking lot, which had been home for the farmers for about a decade.

Offers to host the market poured in from all over the community — and some towns nearby.

"We were probably offered every parking lot in Batavia," says Paul Fenton, the market's director. "We had a ton of input on this. The community support was tremendous."

In the end, Batavia Downs, at 8315 Park Road, offered the market the best deal — proximity to the old site and a vigorous promotional backer. The market will be open from 8:00am to 5:00pm starting June 10 and closing for the season on October 31.

Says Fenton: "You'll see a lot more promotional stuff, a lot more giveaways. We're going to double our giveaways. And the Downs will help us with a few of those things."

Call (585) 343-9491 for more information.

Fine dining at the Pok-A-Dot

Submitted by Howard Owens on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 10:22

pok-a-dotThis morning, breakfast at the Pok-A-Dot.

True greasy spoons are treasured finds these days. The Pok-A-Dot is a classic.

From the moment I walked in, I could see the crowded counter was full of local residents who probably had been coming there for years.

As I saddled up on an empty stool, I quickly observed -- no printed menus. Speedy decision, go for the safe, sure-to-serve choice to save fumbling over options and giving myself away as a first-timer (as if that wasn't obvious from the get-go), so I went for coffee, eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast.

A word about the coffee: It will wake you up in the early morning. 

The young ladies cooking and serving the food were friendly and knew everybody in the joint but me. The conversation was personal and never touched on anything more weighty than whether to pick the chocolate or glazed donut. It made for a relaxing meal.

As I've written before, Batavia benefits from an abundance of dining establishments.  My goal: To try them all.  Any suggestions for lunch today?

Meanwhile, Philip and I will be spending the better part of today hanging out at Main Street Coffee (our permanent office is near ready).  If you stop by, please be sure to say hello, and the coffee will be on us.

UPDATE: Using Google Image search to see if there were any pictures of the Pok-A-Dot floating around on the Web, I found "The Cyber Pok-A-Dot," a large collection of photos of Pok-A-Dot customers.  Very cool.

Genesee Democrats screen film on Iraq

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 09:03

Press Release from the Genesee County Democratic Committee:

The Genesee County Democratic Committee will host Jon Powers, an Iraq War veteran and Democratic candidate for the 26th Congressional district, for an airing of the documentary, Gunner Palace, at 6:00pm Monday (May 12) at the Elks Club, 213 Main St., Batavia. Gunner Palace is a film based on the 2/3 Field Artillery unit that Powers served with in Iraq. Following the movie, there will be a question and answer session with Powers.

The cost is $25 for adults, $10 for students and free for any veteran wishing to attend.

Tuesday morning news roundup

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 08:29

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

• A Batavia man was charged with criminal trespass, criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child this morning. A resident of Columbia Avenue told police that the man refused to leave her home.

• Seventy-five sheep have gone missing from a Wyoming County pasture in the town of Arcade.

• Residents within the city of Batavia School District can vote on the Richmond Memorial Library budget today from noon to 9:00pm. The total budget is about $1.15 million — some $40,000 more than last year, or an additional $5 for a $100,000 home. Tracy Stokes is running unopposed for the only open seat on the library's board of directors.

• Speaking of budgets and what the public thinks of them — the Batavia City School District will hold a budget hearing at 7:00pm at Jackson School on South Jackson Street tonight.

Some thoughts (from a Councilwoman)

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 16:35

Today I made calls. In fact, I called every City Council member — that's nine, for those of you who aren't keeping count. Only one answered: Rose Mary Christian. I told her about our site, about the great folks who were already making it better, and I said: "On the city Web site, under your bio, you say: 'Everyone should get involved in their community.' So, what should folks be doing?"

Her first thoughts were for the elderly and the handicapped. We should be taking care of them, she said. Then she talked about child molesters. She wants to put signs up outside the homes of child molesters that identify them as such.

"We have to protect the kids," she says. "They can't protect themselves."

The other issue that had Rose Mary Christian worked up this afternoon: school taxes. Homeowners without school age children unfairly pay the brunt of those taxes, rather than parents who rent being more responsible for the cost, she says. Her idea: charge parents of school-aged children a fee to send their kids to school. That would help reduce the burden on property owners, she says.

What do you think?

Monday afternoon news roundup

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 12:57

From the Daily News (Monday):

• Thomas A. Aquino, 52, confessed to 10 burglaries in the city over the past several months. He also told city police that he was the "Pillowcase Burglar" of the early 1980s, responsible for burglarizing "at least 20 homes in 1983." He is expected to plead guilty today, according to reporter Scott DeSmit.

• Owners of downtown businesses, homes and a church were honored Saturday by the Landmark Society of Genesee County for their preservation efforts. Recipients included Mother's Chicken-N-Fish on Ellicott Street, New Hope Ministries on Bank Street Road and several homeowners.

• The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will host the Jam for a Cure fundraiser Saturday at 4:00pm at the Batavia Party House on East Main Street. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for anyone under 21 and include dinner and entertainment. Call Will Barton at (585) 409-0419, Paul Barton at 409-5901 or Jonah Alley at 813-3986 for more information.

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

Support your veterans

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 12:37

Head down to Center Street for a Block Party, starting at 6:00pm on May 16 — the first night of the Genesee County Veterans Appreciation Weekend. Stay for the food and music... But not too late as the festivities contintue Saturday morning (May 17) at 9:00am. That's when registration opens for the Motorcycle Run that starts at Stan's Harley Davidson on Saile Drive and heads through the city to end at the VA Medical Center. Then, at noon, veterans and their families will tour the VA grounds in an honor walk, followed by food and music.

Speakers will take the mic at various events througout the weekend to talk about services for veterans and their familes. Call (585) 344-2611 for more information.

My thoughts for Monday

Submitted by burk_patrick on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 12:23

Standing in John Kennedy School (Named for a former Superintendent of Schools NOT the President) this morning I was pleasantly surprised to hear our students perform for the visiting National School Boards Association Technology Seminar and visit. It was indeed a highlight to see the standing ovation they recieved after their phenominal performance. Kind of brings back to mind my reasons for living here in the first place. Elementary Students may not have the grandest of voices, but the purity of innocence and the ability to entertain is certainly apparent. When kids sing as wonderfully as these children did it is indeed special. Hats off to our Elementary Chorus teachers at all three schools for making this morning's program a big hit. Our guests from nine states were indeed impressed. The Arkansas and Louisianna delegations pulled me aside to tell me so. What a moment. I am always proud of our students and the work that they do. I could not get the smile off my face. It is indeed a great day to be the President of Board of Education of the best school district in Western New York. ALSO - the BHS Drama Club Show is at John Kennedy Elementary this weekend. Check out "Our Town" on of my favorite plays....oh and it just happens to be Directed by my very talented daughter Caryn and Asst Directed by my very talented daughter Malloryann.....Dad is proud of them both. As most of you know I am currently putting the final touches on the Batavia Players, Inc. production of "Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean". It is this weekend at GCC - Thursday - Saturday at 7:30PM. Come join us for this wonderful play. IT does have a rating of PG-13. Players is happy and appreciative to have the college available for for both of thier of thier spring productions this season. IN TWO WEEKS - Auditions for Jesus Christ Superstar - Batavia High School....MY BIGGEST SHOW YET!!!!! Please check out this week's show and future offerings. The new Principal at Batavia High School started today... A great big welcome Christopher Dailey.... He is a fine principal and will make a great addition to our High School. He was a former Asst Principal at Churchville-Chili. We wish him many wonderful years at BHS. I hope everyone takes advantage of this wonderful new source of news and information sharing that we have here in Batavia. I think it is wonderful....lets me work on my writing skills as well as catches me up on what others are doing.... Hope you enjoy my little efforts on most days.... See you around town and check out this weekend's two plays.....

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