Morning News Briefing
Written by Michael Baldwin on May 20, 2021
New York voters approved 99.2% of school district budgets on Tuesday, May 18, according to preliminary results compiled by the New York State School Boards Association. Executive Director Robert Schneider says “The high passage rate for proposed budgets is a welcome endorsement of spending plans that will strengthen educational programs and restore some of the academic and student support services that were curtailed by the pandemic.” A decade after the state’s property tax cap went into effect, 654 districts proposed budgets with tax levies that were within their caps and required only a simple majority to pass. Of those districts, 99.7% saw their budgets pass.
An arrest has been made almost two years after a vehicle was reported stolen in the Town of Batavia. State Troopers say they arrested 57-year-old Edward Ruckdeschel of Batavia. He was charged this week with felony third-degree grand larceny. But it didn’t end there…Troopers leveled additional counts of grand larceny for vehicle thefts in Bethany in January 2020 and Le Roy in February 2020. He was initially detained.
Assemblyman Steve Hawley is joining his colleagues in the Assembly Minority calling for the passage of a bill that would prohibit statewide elected officials from profiting on published works while serving in their position. This legislative push follows news that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be earning more than $5 million on a book deal for a memoir he wrote during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when over 15,000 seniors passed away in nursing homes under his administration’s watch.
The Batavia Fire Investigation Team continues to examine the cause of a house and garage fire from Tuesday night. A garage at 202 Liberty Street was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived at 8:15 p.m. Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano said responding crews made an aggressive exterior attack on the garage and a concurrent interior attack containing and extinguishing the fire to a single room on the second floor of the home. The situation was call under control in under 30 minutes. The home was occupied with three residents and one pet that were able to safely escape prior to the fire department’s arrival. Due to the intensity of the fire, the home received significant smoke, heat and water damage. City Fire was assisted at the scene by the City of Batavia Police Department, Bureau of Inspection along with Elba and Alexander Fire Departments. Additional assistance was provided by the Town of Batavia Fire Department, Mercy EMS and Genesee County Emergency Dispatch.
A transformative project in the center of Downtown Batavia will advance towards construction in the next few months. The Jackson Square revitalization project has completed preliminary design after numerous public meetings. In 2018, Governor Cuomo announced eight transformational projects for Downtown Batavia as part of $10 Million Downton Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Enhancing Jackson Square was one of the eight projects chosen to receive a strategic investment grant of $750,000 to transform public space in a public plaza. Eugene Jankowski Jr., City of Batavia Council President and DRI Co-Chair says “the upgraded public plaza will become a lively hub and common space for community interaction, and provide connections to multiple businesses through its unique configuration.”.
Gov. Cuomo announced updated guidance for health and safety measures at child care, day camp, and overnight camp programs, effective right now. The measures include protocols for COVID testing, physical distancing, and sanitation, among other requirements to help prevent COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health will continue to monitor and evaluate health metrics for child care facilities and camp programs and, if necessary, will issue further guidance.