Making (an effort at) connections

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 12:17

Another day of sun and blue skies. Another day of running all over the city plugging in connections.

First stop: the Batavia Fire Department. Chief Larry Smith was kind enough to come out for a curt yet pleasant introduction. He passed me off to Sally Hilchey — officially the "senior typist" of the department, though it seems like she does a lot more than type. She'll be passing on any department updates to us, so expect instant communication from that side of the public safety duo. As for the other half...

Second stop: the Batavia Police Department (third time). Unfortunately, Lt. Eugene Jankowski was out on SWAT training this morning and couldn't yet green light my hopeful connection with the department. He should be back to me by late afternoon (I hope).

Third stop: back to City Hall. I'm still waiting to hear back from City Manager Jason Molino. In the meantime, I thought to stop by the Public Works department and see if we could get updates from them on construction and maintenance projects around the city. We'll have to get Jason's approval for that. So I tried to catch him in person, but he was tied up on a call.

Fourth stop: I couldn't drive by this sculpture another time without stopping by and getting the story. No one was home. Maybe we'll hear from the artist another time.

Fifth stop: Richmond Memorial Library. I met with Library Director Diana Wyrwa who was kind and helpful. Looks like we'll be getting regular updates from their corner. Plus, we will have the results of the library budget vote as soon as the ballots are counted. Look for that post tomorrow evening.

Veteran's Housing Project

Submitted by Brian Clark on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 10:22

I'm wondering if anyone out there has any information or photos of the Veteran's Housing Project located at the corner of State and Denio Streets. It had two stone pillars on each side of the walkway to enter the project. I believe the pillars are still in place. The project was formed for veterans and their families to live in at the end of World War II. I know many former and present Batavians lived at the project during the the late 40's and early 50's. The Batavia Clippers played at MacArthur stadium and my grandfather, Charlie Pixley was the groundskeeper at the stadium. Anyone have memories, stories or photos?

From The Batavian's Vaults: Gold

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 09:49

Some years ago, a pug-eyed French aristocrat gave me a book to read. She was a trunk of a woman with a tongue more refined than any cut gem I've ever held. When she spoke the language, it was like a lesson in grace and custom. She was a whole other class of beast.

That book was L'Or by Blaise Cendrars. It was about a Swiss-born pioneer named Johann Augustus Sutter, quiet tycoon of the California gold rush. Sutter was a tragic character, as flawed as any other that had graced the stage of American history. His men found gold by accident. He amassed wealth by design. He died poor and broken by fate.

In an article from The Batavian, June 22, 1895, an old miner tells of the day the gold was discovered. It reads:

"There is alive but one of the men who worked for Sutter in the mill at Coloma, where on Jan. 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold. That survivor is James Brown. He is nearly 70 years of age and makes his home with a grandchild in Pomona valley. He is the only man living who was present when Marshall washed the yellow grains in the camp doughpan, and he is the man who first tested the flaky scales with fire, and going forth from the shanty to where the men were at work on the mill race cried, "Boys, here's gold!"

"I am the oldest miner alive in California today," said he the other day. "I don't mean the oldest in years, but I was the first miner. ... It was Marshall came to me and told me about the books about gold and mines he had been reading, and on the afternoon of Jan. 23, 1848, he determined to do a little prospecting. He asked me to bring him the pan. It was a common ordinary pan that we baked bread in and the like. He spent all the afternoon with that pan trying to find gold, but he hadn't got anything by supper."

The next day, everything changed when Marshall came back with the "little flake-like scales" of gold. Meanwhile, Sutter was working his men hard.

"But we made no kick," he went on. "We had agreed to accept cattle, horses and grub in part payment for our work. Moreover, we picked up enough gold before we left the place to square our account with the captain's Coloma enterprise. We had come with a bigger mission than that of seeking gold. We were Mormons. Many of us were soldiers. I had been serving with my battalion, and after our disbandment was marching with the rest of our people to Utah."

But the old miner stayed on with Sutter, at least until the captain's mill was finished. By then, news of the gold had spread.

"Did I stay long at Coloma after the completion of the mill, you ask? No, sir. Only a few of us did. Myself and most of our people only remained long enough to dig up enough gold to equip ourselves for marching back over the plains to meet those of our people who were coming out to join us."

James Brown made a fine cut — about $1,500 in gold dust, he reckoned.

"Marshall, who found it first, had none at all. Marshall was not lucky anyhow. He was one of the original bear flag men — one of the filibusters who thought he owned the country. They had selected the bear flag as their banner because bears were so abundant out here in those days. The first bear flag was nothing but an old strip of canvas, on which the men daubed a picture of a bear with tar, their paintbrush being their own fingers."

Monday morning news roundup

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 08:37

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

• Two Batvia men are in jail on charges of criminal trespass following separate incidents. Witnesses told police that Gregory Seppe, 49, was rummaging through a garage on East Avenue. Thomas Culver, 29, was arrested following an investigation into the unlawful entering of a home on State Street in April.

• The Charter Review Committee for the city of Batavia will meet tonight at 6:30pm in the Council Work Room of City Hall.

Batavia enters the internet age

Submitted by trclarktd on Sat, 05/03/2008 - 21:18

The internet provides opportunities for people to connect in a way that is not tied to time, space, or location. This site has the potential to provide the base for a stronger Batavia through the exchange of ideas and information that people might not otherwise have access to. As the incoming President of the Batavia Lions Club I hope that this exchange grows to help the betterment of this city we call home.

"Helping Hands: Bringing Pride Back To Our Neighborhoods"

Submitted by cmallow on Sat, 05/03/2008 - 18:00

I'd like to extend my thanks to everyone that participated in this week’s clean up on Thorpe, Watson and Maple streets, it was a good step in the right diretion. We were able to make a nice improvement on those streets, giving just a few hours of our time. Deb Pappalardo wrote the following to ask the public for their help with next weeks effort. This is a very important initiative for our cities neighborhoods and I would hope all willing and able will turn out to give a little time to make Batavia a little greener and cleaner. As you may or may not know, New Hope Church was involved and provided volunteers as well. It was a terrific turn out, more than we could have hoped for. Seeing the residents of that neighborhood coming out with their children to help was reassuring. It appeared as though our efforts were appreciated and may inspire them to continue to make their neighborhood more aesthetically pleasing. This will be an ongoing effort throughout the coming months, and maybe even years to come. New Hope Church will be working with us or we with them, however you want to look at it. Since it will be executed on a strictly volunteer basis we are counting on the residents of Batavia for help. Everyone has something to offer. For those who want to be a part of this effort but really don't have a lot of time to spare, they can donate money, product or both. We have someone donating yard signs. A kind of "Helping Hands Was Here" sort of sign to be moved from place to place. We have people donating the use of trailers to haul garbage and debris away. There are those who are paying the fees to where the garbage and debris are going. Some are donating tools to rake yards and sweep streets, gloves and garbage bags to pick up and bag garbage and yard waste. For a time, Julie and I are going to bring our rolling kitchen out to prepare donated food for the volunteers. What we need the most are able bodies. We had such a great turnout on our first run but we don't want to see people burn out. And, those who donated trailers won't be able to offer them up every Saturday. If there are others who have trailers and willing to donate we certainly could use them. I have a hitch on my truck. Next week we will be working Jackson, Highland and Liberty Streets. We need volunteers. We need equipment. Rakes, brooms, yard waste and garbage bags, gloves, mowers, weed eaters, hauling trailers, anything that can be deemed yard care equipment. We need food. Hotdogs, hamburgers, buns, chips, condiments, bottled water, propane. Anything anyone wants to donate. It's a community effort and no one's donation is too great or too small. Deb Pappalardo If anyone wants to know what he or she can do to be a part of this effort please call New Hope Church at 585-343-2997 or email Barb Toal at

Community news encourages civic engagement

Submitted by Howard Owens on Sat, 05/03/2008 - 17:53

Recently, I finished reading a book published in 1941 called Managing Newspaper Correspondents.  It was written for editors of small daily and weekly newspapers.  At the time, according to the book, there were 250,000 newspaper correspondents.

Correspondents were not professional journalists -- some were paid, most weren't.  In the age of the Internet, we might call them "citizen journalists."  They were people who wrote for the local newspaper because they enjoyed telling other people what was going on in their towns or their neighborhoods.

I have no idea how many such correspondents are still used by newspapers, but after about twenty years in the community newspaper business, I'm confident it is some number well south of 250K.

Correspondents did more than report what they called "locals," and media pundits now call "hyperlocal."  They helped facilitate the conversation in a community.  They played a vital role in bringing a community together.

A few years ago, Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone.  The title illustrates a simple point -- there were more people bowling in America than ever before, but fewer bowling leagues.  Our society has evolved into something where people participate less in their communities and spend more time in isolated activities.

There are a lot of social forces that have contributed to this trend, of course, but I can't help but think there is some connection between local newspapers getting more "professional," taking all of those "locals" out of their news columns, and the weakening social cohesion across America.

This isn't an issue in many European countries, where local newspaper readership remains strong and civic engagement remains high, and Europe has long commutes, smaller families, television, video games and the Internet, too.

We hope The Batavian can be part of a new trend to put the "community" back in community news.

This isn't an effort we can successfully undertake alone.  We need your help.

Here's what you can do:

  • Stay informed. Listen to WBTA and subscribe to the Daily News.  Use The Batavian to either fill in the gaps (no one news organization today can get to all the news) or catch up when pressed for time.
  • Contribute. Participate.  Be one of our correspondents. You can post your own news and commentary on The Batavian as blog posts, or you can comment on what somebody else has posted. You can also send your news tips to Philip Anselmo (e-mail: philip (at) the batavian dot com).
  • Believe in Batavia.  Batavia has a lot going for it. People working together in a spirit of hope can accomplish worthy goals. There's no reason that Batavia can't build on its long history of success as a community and become an even better place to live and work.
  • Encourage your friends, family and co-workers to do all of the above.  E-mail the link to this post to them. Help them discover there is a new way to contribute to Batavia.

Previous Related Posts


Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean to Open at GCC

Submitted by burk_patrick on Sat, 05/03/2008 - 14:36

Whew...this is a busy time for me so on this wonderful Saturday I wanted to take the time to remind everyone that the Batavia Players, Inc. Spring Show...."COME BACK TO THE 5 & DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN is opening on Thursday, May 8th and running through Saturday, May 10th. Performances are at 7:30 PM at the Stuart Steiner Theater at Genesee Community College. Tickets are $10 for General Admission and $8 for Seniors and Students. The play was a wonderful hit that starred the likes of Cher, Kathy Bates, Sandy Dennis and many more on Broadway. The content is PG - 13 in nature. Please join us this coming week. The play centers around the Kresmonth 5 & Dime outside of Marfa, Texas during the time of filming "Giant". The movie starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Our characters are depicted in 1955 during the filming and again in 1975 at the 20th Year Reunion of the Disciples of James Dean. A comedy/drama that is brilliant with dialouge and bright in character. I am pleased to direct our local cast which includes Valeria Antonetty, Shawnie Euren, Lynda Hodgins, Nikole Marone, Peggy Marone, Joan Meyer, Patti Michalak, Rachel Oshlag and featuring Jake Bortle as "Joe". I hope that you will all join us for this wonderful production. This is the second of four shows in the Batavia Players, Inc. 2008 Season. Next up - "Jesus Christ Superstar" in August.

Register to Vote!

Submitted by daniel.jones on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 19:12

The Genesee County Young Democrats will be running a voter registration table at Genesee Community College (in the forum) on May 7th and 8th from Noon to 8pm.

There is still time to register to vote in the General Election, as Voter Registration forms typically take 30 days to process. For those already registered to vote, becoming registered or too young to be registered. as I was once involved but too young to vote myself, we will also have information on how to get involved in the Young Democrats and in the local political scene from the Democratic end.

However, even if your not interested in becoming actively involved in politics we will, regardless of party affiliation, help you become a registered voter none the less. See you on the 7th and 8th!

Out and about

Submitted by philip.anselmo on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 15:33

Well, the thunderheads that rode my back all afternoon finally broke and clapped out a fine downpour that soaked me through and through as I jogged from the old county courthouse to my car. It was an apt climax to an ominous day that smelled alternately of manure, garlic bread and peonies.

Not much to report as the day has been spent more in preparation than any actual news gathering. In characteristic style, I made my introductions by getting lost all over the place. Lost in the tunnels of the VA Medical Center. Lost in its auditorium. Lost in both courthouses (old and new), in the county office building and in a parking lot — don't ask.

I met some more great folks indoors and out. Paul Figelow stopped by Main Street Coffee to say hello. He's the owner of a sort of video production company: Dan Jones introduced himself via Instant Message. Dan seems like a fellow who has a lot to say, so, hopefully, we'll see some more of him on here. He heads up a Young Democrats group in Batavia.

There were others as well. Maybe they will come by and introduce themselves.

I'm off to continue my urban wanderings, maybe make a few phonecalls. None yet returned today — it's Friday. If I don't see you back here today, have a fine weekend.

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