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Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm

One local official's perspective on recent community issues

It is clear to me that there is a lot of pain in our community and that people are looking to the leadership to better understand what is going on and what to do. Here’s my perspective.

I would like to start by saying that my heart truly goes out to the children and families directly affected by the Tourette's-like symptoms. I cannot even imagine how hard and possibly devastating this is for you! As a parent I do know what it is like to have your dreams for your child shattered (even if only temporarily) by forces with more power than you.

What I understand is that everyone would like answers. I am with you on this. We have some answers, but many of our questions are currently unanswered. It is very clear that there are a few students in our district of high-school age that are experiencing very real symptoms that resemble Tourette's. They and their parents are looking for answers as to why this is happening to them. I am not a doctor, neither is the school district. I do assume, though, that the reasons may not be the same for everyone and that everyone directly affected is desirous of a clear conclusion. While we search for answers we should keep in mind that the human brain is an extremely complex organ that we still do not fully understand.

Initially it seemed like this was an issue strictly affecting the school district and the high school specifically. My reaction as a community leader was that everything was being taken care of and under control, no need to worry. As the numbers of students affected began to increase it started to look like maybe there was a need for concern, but the school district was on top of it, so no need to panic. In the last few days, though, the situation seems to have escalated and spiraled rapidly out of control causing many rumors that have resulted in panic.

I am here to say that I do not have the answers. I know only what you already know. I've read Superintendent Cox's publications, read The Batavian and the Daily online, watched some of the Today Show and Dr. Drew, and listened to the opinions of others. What is clear to me is that there is more than one issue going on here and that the first brought the others to light. Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of some very strong parents who desperately want answers, we now know that the site of the train derailment 40-plus years ago was not properly cleaned up. It seems this is now being addressed. We also learned that there is another Superfund cleanup site in the area. The experts believe that these sites do not have anything to do with the Tourette's-like symptoms that are being exhibited by some of our youth. It is a good thing, though, that this was questioned otherwise we might not be seeing action at the derailment site. Clearly the contamination is not even near the school. I was speaking with someone today who served on the conservation committee at the time that the school was built, it seems very unlikely that any contaminated soil from the derailment site was used at the school site. I say it seems very unlikely because the site was already known to be contaminated before the school was built, but I take nothing for granted and support testing to put that question to bed for everyone.

Howard Owens, owner of The Batavian, did some research on some of the rumors that have been floating around. You can read what he found here: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/le-roy-high-school-property-rumors-a.... I also recommend looking at: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/follow-information-epa-and-dec-situa.... Finally, this statement was released yesterday in regard to water tests: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/nih-offers-no-cost-consultations-bet.... It also includes an offer from NIH and NIHM, that was reiterated on Dr. Drew last night, for free consultation through these agencies. I hope that the families will take this offer as it seems that with these two agencies working together on their behalf answers will be found. Also I would like to call your attention to the Le Roy Pennysaver this weekend as I happen to know that there will be a well researched piece in regards to the derailment in there. To satisfy my own curiosity I have also asked my own DEC contact if the school is built on a swamp or just swampy and will let you know when I have an answer.

I am not an expert on the environment. Those of you who know me know I am a relentless recycler that even throws toilet paper and paper towel cores in the recycle bin with used tissues rather than into the landfill; I try to guilt people into saving Terra Cycle items for the school because it earns PTSO money, when truly I just am grateful to keep it out of the landfill; that I carry paper coffee cups around with me for hours and hours until I find a recycle bin; I freak out a little on my family if they buy water in plastic bottles (ok, a lot); and I also know a great deal about VOCs in regards to paint and stain and would like to see more no-VOC products used in our public facilities. Even so, the Superfund sites and the environmental questions at the school are beyond my area of expertise.

What I can say for certain is that I do not believe in any way that there is a conspiracy to cover something up. You know that if I am proven to be wrong about this I will be the first to step up and admit it. I understand why people might believe there is a cover up, though. I support productive questioning of everything. Does the (swimming) pool ring a bell? All of us live here together in the same small community, shop at the same stores, go to the same gyms and restaurants, and most of us even drink the same water, including Mrs. Cox. I do not believe that anyone is trying to maliciously cover up. I do believe, though, that none of us are experts on how to deal with the situation, particularly the resultant media spotlight.

Above all else, I believe that together as a community we can find answers, overcome this, and heal. We are strong as a team. Perhaps one of the most important ways we can do this is to try to stop the rumors. Rumors tend to be inflammatory and divisive. They can be productive if we look at them as being a tool to finding answers, but if we look at them as truth then we stall our own efforts to move forward and find real answers. Please let us not point the finger of blame, but instead unite around the truth we have and the questions we want answered and around the families who have brought all of this to our attention. Human beings are incredibly strong and resilient in the face of adversity. Let’s show our strength to each other and the rest of the country and heal as a community. United we stand, divided we fall, has been proven true after all.

Below I will paste several links to recent Batavian coverage of this issue so that you have quick references to look at. Earlier today I posted on my FB page that I was considering blogging about this and asked for my friends’ input on what I should include. I believe I have covered much of it; more of it will be covered in the Pennysaver this weekend. I would like to know from the rest of you what you would like to see from your community leaders, particularly those of us who are elected. I want to know your ideas. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing them here please feel free to confidentially contact me via email me at [email protected].

As always, I appreciate your reading this and your input. Thank you, Howard, for providing us with this forum to update people and to discuss issues on.

Today: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/hawley-issues-statement-le-roy-illne... Yesterday: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/le-roy-illnesses-todays-efforts-gath... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/le-roy-superintendent-releases-lette... Monday: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/photos-drive-down-gulf-road-le-roy/3... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/hochul-responds-question-about-situa... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/statement-released-le-roy-central-sc... Over the weekend: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/statement-released-le-roy-central-sc... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/specialist-questions-scientific-vali... (This is not an exhaustive list.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm

east coast trip

post by Eric [Rick] von k... in batavia, Blogs, opinion, tourism

My wife and i just returned from a 2 week trip to visit my daughter in Tampa. We take the normal routes up thru and i have some interesting obsevations. Leaving Florida and entering Georgia there is a nice sign that says "Wer'e glad Georgia's on your mind" followed by a beautiful welcome center. As we traveled, every state had a great clean, and well manned welcome center[ I think you know where this is going] Didn't seem to matter if it was a poor state or more affluent, friendly people Displaying why you should visit their state. I believe we paid around 3 dollars total tolls. When we got to Pennsylvania there was another georgeous center. It was built over the site of a mine collapse. On the monument was the name of every miner who died, and inside was a small museum of mining history, with mining tools and pictures. I don't consider Pennsyvania to be a rich state, but they are proud. When we finially reached our NY border on the mighty rt 90 Eisenhower interstate system we stopped at the Welcome center, It was a 10 by 10 building and they gave us a ticket and proceeded to charge us around 5 dollars to drive on substandard potholed trail.Ask me again WHY do live here??????

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

The Day of the Pool Discussion

post by Jennifer Keys in Blogs, Le Roy, Le Roy pool

Tonight we will be discussing the pool at the board meeting at 7 at the Le Roy Village Hall. Below is a letter that the mayor has distributed to Village Board members, various local media, and has had me distribute to the Le Roy Business Council. I hope he won't mind that I have blogged it here; I did let him know that was my intention, though, and did not get any opposition. I will simply type it here in its entirety and exactly as the Mayor typed it. I will not paraphrase or summarize as I would like you to look at it and draw your own conclusions. Please note that the previous board voted to close the pool at the board meeting prior to Bob Taylor and me being sworn in. We were not a part of that decision. Please do attend the meeting as I know you have strong opinions and that is what makes democracy work. As always, thank you for reading. Thank you, Howard, for giving us this space to use.

"Dear Mr. Welsh,

     Thank you for your visit Wednesday, it was a very informative meeting. I came away with two important insights. First, your ease with which you can raise funds and second, your recognition of the Village Board's reticence to expand infrasturcture costs in a time of difficult budgets.

     The primary reason that the Village Board unanimously decided to close the LeRoy Pool was based on projected expenditures for both current and future repairs and operations. However, we know that repairs and operations can be done by a private entity for much less cost than if done by the Vilage. The proposed schedule of repairs presented that you presented in your letter of July 12, 2011 clearly illustrates this, for example:

                       Removing the surrounding deck of the large pool and replacing it with correctly pitched deck and attending to various drain connections would cost the Village an estimated $45,000, the Welsh proposal estimates that it can be done for "free" with donated materials and labor.

                       Installing an "unblockable" drain cover would cost the Village an estimated $8,000 (without contingency) as opposed to $4,135.48 as estimated in the Welsh proposal.

     Your group has shown skill and ability in their desire to restore the pool. They have a proven record as fundraisers that is to be admired. However, the emerging reality is that in the next few years the Village will have many calls for funding of infrasture maintenance and improvement projects. It is also known that finances for the Village will become increasingly more difficult as the impact of the 2% tax cap is fully felt.

     Given these realities and the welling up of support from a segment of the Village and the Town, I will ask for the following resolution in the next meeting of the Village Board:

Be it resolved-

        That the Trustees of the Village of LeRoy declare the pools and associated buildings surplus.

        That the Trustees sell the pool and related buildings to a new entity such as "LeRoy Pool, LLC" for $1. The Village would retain the right to purchase the facilities for $1 should "LeRoy Pool, LLC" decide to sell all or part of the facilities.

         That the Trustees lease a plot of land that encompasses the pools and related buildings to "LeRoy Pool, LLC" for ninety nine years (or other appropriate period) for $1. We avoid the cumbersome New York State process of turning public parkland into private land by this lease.

         That in its annual budget the Village will provide a payment for services rendered to the citizens of the Village of LeRoy. A starting amoung for the 2012-2013 and the next four budget years is suggested to be $11,000. This more than covers the Village's non personnel costs based on the last years of operation.

     This is the best possible outcome-the formalized "LeRoy Pool, LLC" can continue to take advantage of low cost repairs and fund raising from the willing. The Village has a budget item that would experience little volatility-very helpful in the 2% tax cap era, and takes the Village out of the pool business. Apparently the Town has indicated a willingness to financially support the pool as it has in the past. Together the Village, Town, user fees and fund raising provide a strong base of operations. After the above resolution has been passed by the Village Board, representatives from Village and the "LeRoy Pool, LLC" can meet to formalize the agreement.

     Hopefully this note expresses the intent and spirit of our meeting.

     Best Wishes,

            George E. D. Brady, Mayor

            The Village of LeRoy


Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Winter Running!

post by Jennifer Keys in Blogs, Le Roy

Make no mistake. I LLLLLLLLLLLOVE Winter!! Love it, Love it, Love it! I love the fresh crisp air. I love the beautiful white snow. I don't even really mind driving in it when necessary. The best days are the ones that are cold AND sunny, though rare. It's also very enjoyable when it's warm enough to run outside. My threshold for running is about 9 degrees, give or take a couple depending on the day. This is due to my asthma and not the fact that it's cold out.

Today was a great day for a run. I run on the sidewalks when they are clear, but in the winter I run in the roads. I try to stay on side streets, but since I live on a main street that is impossible 100% of the time. Running on the black top is much easier on the body than running on the cement, but I still go for the sidewalks when possible.

It felt good to get out today. Last week was a killer and I didn't get out at all. I was so excited to get out today! It was even worth getting soaked by the slop.

Thank you to all of the drivers who moved over when they saw me coming. It is greatly appreciated by both me and my family. It was wonderfully kind and considerate of you!

The snow will eventually leave until next season. The temperatures will warm above 40. Then you will see me out on my bike too!!!!! I saw someone on a bike on Friday. What a sincerely brave and amazing soul.

Isn't it awesome to share the roads with everyone?!

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Safety: Cause for Pause!

post by Jennifer Keys in Blogs, Le Roy

Wow what a day! I’m a planner. I never planned for this, though.

While at work my husband texted me that the kids had been evacuated from the elementary school. I was on the phone with a very understanding client. I listened to my voicemail and learned that the school had followed the procedures they had outlined for emergencies and my children were at the Church of the Living Waters’. This was somewhat comforting because I’m somewhat familiar with the building and I knew that their teachers and school staff were looking out for them and I was sure they had plans for this.

What I didn’t know was whether or not my son or his staff had an Epi-Pen with them. I was certain there would be food as it was lunch time and how better to pass the time and keep people calm than to feed them. You see for us safety has an entirely different meaning than it does for most. Shelter and caring, competent staff are awesome, but then there’s the food thing. As a child with an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts and tree nuts he was in danger of being exposed to a deadly, yes deadly, allergen in this environment and I had no control over it. So began my nightmare. My in-laws aren’t on the robo-call list, so they were completely unaware. The chief of police, who I am lucky to know, was busy, of course. What was the point in calling the school, after all it was evacuated? I could try the church, but wouldn’t all of the parents be doing that? I tried the village clerk, thank goodness, and Java’s. It made me feel better to know that someone with authority knew that I was a little panic stricken by the thought of my son in a potentially uncontrolled, hazardous environment and let’s face it, if you want to know anything you contact the local coffee shop, no matter where you live. I also tried the one teacher’s cell number I had just-in-case. Of course she didn’t answer; it was probably in her purse locked in the drawer of her desk, because who goes to work thinking they need to carry everything with them in anticipation of evacuation.

Fortunately for me, the school nurse had my cell number. She called. She had an Epi-Pen with her, but there was going to be food and we could come get him if we wanted to. Of course! Fortunately, having called my in-laws first they were waiting and ready to go when I called to pick him up. I thought I was breathing then, but when my father-in-law called to say he was in their car I suddenly realized that I still hadn’t been breathing; not even after the nurse’s call. In my mind, even though there was an Epi-Pen and competent people taking care of him, it was still a tenuous situation because there was going to be peanut butter, but once he was in his grandparents’ car that threat was gone and suddenly I really was breathing again.

Before I even got back to Le Roy I received the robo-call stating that the school was clear. There was no longer a threat and they had returned the children back to school for the day. Wow! Wow, because until that moment it had never really occurred to me that there could actually be a bomb there. I thought it was likely a hoax by a disturbed child who didn’t really realize what it meant. All of a sudden it occurred to me that precautionary measures have roots in reality. It could have been a true threat. It suddenly seemed more real. Wow, because the person who apparently put forth this hoax really did not have a true understanding of the depths, the varying levels at which this threat could go. Wow, because apparently with all of the planning we have done to make school safe for my son I realized I had no clue what the plan was for evacuation in regards to him. But mostly, Wow, because we are fortunate enough to live in a society that so proactively plans and is able to mobilize in such a quick fashion to ensure the safety of our most precious resources. We have staff at our school and in our village who know how to take care of business quickly and who do so without thought of harm to themselves. After all, whoever investigated this was taking a personal risk; there really could have been a bomb and it really could have gone off causing serious injury or worse…

When I arrived at my in-laws to pick up my children one was without backpack and hat and the other was without everything. That was probably the happiest I have ever been to see my children on a cold March day without proper outside attire. Will they end up with colds? Probably. Will those colds be a pain? Undoubtedly. Do I care? NOPE, because they are alive and colds are temporary!

So, what was the purpose of today’s rambling blog? Selfishly, I had to just kind of have diarrhea of the fingertips and get it all out because I don’t seem to be able to wrap my head around this entirely, even with all of my professional experience to back me up. Also, I hope that it made someone laugh because we all have our breaking point and I definitely know mine! I also hope it puts everything in perspective for everyone involved; it has for me.

Finally, I write this to thank everyone involved with keeping our children safe and for understanding the concerns of all of us panic stricken parents. What a truly hard, but worthwhile job you have, that I’m sure is not yet complete as I write this. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! We are all indebted to you!

I’m so grateful for living in such an advanced society!

What if we didn’t have cell phones? Or even worse, evacuation plans? Sure I would still be at work enjoying my ignorant bliss, but what if he was exposed to peanut butter? In hindsight, I’ll take today’s chaos over ignorant bliss any day!

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, December 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Do you ever wonder why little things drive you nuts?

post by Ricky G. Hale in Blogs

  1)  Did you ever wonder why they call the letter "w" a double "u", when its really a double "v" ?

  2)  Did you ever wonder why they call ground beef "hamburger", when there's no ham in it?

  3)  Did you know that the United States Mint has never minted or issued a coin called a "penny"? However, to this day, people still refer to the one cent piece as a penny. Do you know why?

  4)  If the term terrestrial refers to "of or relating to the earth or its living things" (as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary), then why is the possibility of allien life refered to as "extra" terrestrial? If they are allien and not of this earth, shouldn't the term be "non" terrestrial? 

  5)  Why do they call a grapefruit a grapefruit? It doesn't look like a grape to me, what about you?

  6)  Why do people say "God bless you" when you sneeze? Do they think you're possessed by the devil?

  7)  Why do they refer to distilled alcohol as "sprits"? Have you ever been haunted by it? (maybe the next morning, many of us can attest to !) 

  8)  Why is a quarter (25¢) still refered to as 2 bits?

  9)  Why do people refer to a "hot water heater" as such? If its allready hot, why would you be heating it?

  10)  Are you spending your precious time trying to find the answers to these silly questions? Are they driving you nuts? Good luck on your search.

  1. BONUS: What are the following ?     è     æ     þ     ð     How and what are they used for?
  2. We'll see if you're all as nuts as I am. I welcome your comments. 
Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm

AT&T's public service message on texting and driving

post by Howard B. Owens in Blogs

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

Adult Male Cat Seeks Its Humans

post by Stephanie Benson in announcements, Blogs, Christmas Day Stray, found cat

Is this your kitty?


He showed up at our house on Christmas Day and is still here - safe, snug, fed, watered and happily using a litter box.  I don't think he had eaten in a few days, and he seemed genuinely freaked out by being outside in the cold.

Now, he's a great guy, but he can't stay.   We've got five existing adoptees and a baby; it's already Crazy Town here and we're playing musical rooms to keep everybody separated.


He's super affectionate and well-behaved.  He's clean, no ear mites or eye junk or apparent respiratory problems.  It's clear that he is a well-socialized and loving house cat.

If you are one of my neighbors in northeast Pembroke, you will have already gotten a flier about this.  If his home is further abroad than the exotic confines of Mogadore/Phelps Road, please contact me at fromtheboonies at gmail dot com.

If you dumped him, well, who am I to judge you.  He provided me the opportunity to take in a stranger in need on Christmas Day, and I'm grateful for the experience.  In any case the good folks at the Genesee County Animal Shelter (Volunteers 4 Animals) have 'room at the inn' for him, and he'll be taken there tomorrow unless his humans claim him sooner.

I'd also like to plug an organization I discovered while researching my his options: Spay Our Strays.   They rehabilitate feral cat colonies.  They run monthly clinics and the general idea is Trap, Spay/Neuter, and Release (or placement on a farm as a barn cat).

In this case their services aren't really appropriate since I think this guy lives in a house.  However, we get feral cats turning up out of the fields all the time and they drive our house cats absolutely nuts.  In one case there was a physical altercation that left us with a $250 vet bill.  I had no idea there was such an organization, but wow am I all for what they do and hope to assist their efforts going forward.

Thanks for reading!

Contact info again:  fromtheboonies at gmail dot com


Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 10:00 am

everybody elses problem

post by robert fazio in Blogs

 this country's is in dire need of help. the problem is nobody wants to give up qnything of their own. it is take it away from the other guy and leave me to live my life as i am now doing. wake up people we all have to make a sacrifice

Friday, December 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Prison for Retirement

post by Ricky G. Hale in Blogs

Are you elderly, on a fixed income, and having a hard time making ends meet? Do you have to choose between eating or taking your medicine? Do you have to choose between paying the heat bill or freezing to death? Are you alone with nobody to watch over you or properly care for you? Are you tired of those ridiculous letters from the City of Batavia telling you that you have to paint your house, install a new roof, mow your lawn, etc.? (They don't care, they don't have to pay for it). Are you tired of paying ridiculous taxes that never stop increasing? Are you tired of seeing your tax dollars being spent on supporting the bums that are to lazy to work, or know how to manipulate the system to receive free public assistance? Is your head ready to explode because of the injustice?


                Everything is free compliments of the happy tax payers! You get 3 squares a day, you never have to buy groceries or prepare your own meals; its done by others, and its free.You get all the eye care, dental, medical, and medicine you need; and its free, no limit. No more co-pays or generic drugs. Prisons only dispense the expensive brand name good stuff, they're not allowed to give out generic drugs like the rest of us have to take. You don't have to pay any utility bills, its all free. You don't have to pay any room & board, its free. Need an education? Didn't graduate or go to college? No problem, you can get your GED and a college degree, and its free. You get all the TV , radio, and computer  you want for free. You don't have to worry about paying taxes any more. You don't have to worry about a mortgage or fear of losing your home or losing your job, let the goverment house you and support you, its free. Feeling a little horny while in prison? No problem, you get conjugal visits for free (the rest of us have to pay for it, one way or another). Still don't like the way you're being treated? No problem, you can sue the state; and guess what, all the legal expenses and court fees are free. The state appointed prosecution and defence lawyers will drag it out for an appropriate period of time to put money in their pockets, and then settle out of court, with several thousand dollars of tax payer's money being awarded to the prisoner; and its all free! How can things possibly get much better? It sounds like the perfect retirement to me. Better yet, what's the sense in waiting for retirement age? You can join now, you don't have to wait. Its all free, you don't have to pay a single penny! That's right, you too can become a bum. 

     As for the rest of us law abiding hard working men and women that actually contribute to society, doesn't it give you a warm feeling all over when you pay your taxes? Doesn't it make you feel good when you look at your pay stub and see the deductions? Don't you just wish you could contribute more to the cause?

               I don't know about the rest of you, but I've had enough and I'm mad as hell ! But I'm just a peon unable to do anything about it.             

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