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April 10, 2017 - 10:39pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, DePaul.

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DePaul President Mark Fuller says the proposed DePaul Batavia Square Apartments on East Main Street, an 80-unit complex for income-eligible tenants, is his way of giving back to the community that he calls home.

"I grew up in Warsaw, went to RIT, and worked at Eaton, Yale & Towne before finding out I didn't like what I was doing," said Fuller, opening a presentation about the project at Monday night's Batavia City Council meeting.

"I then worked for the county, met my wife, Michele (Rapone), and we've been married for almost 40 years. My kids went to Notre Dame and I live in Le Roy, I'm Genesee County through and through."

Fuller, along with DePaul Vice President Gillian Conde, attorneys Ashley Champion and Jonathan Penna, and architect Joe Gibbons, shared details of their plan with Council, which later passed a resolution -- with Alfred McGinnis casting the lone "no" vote -- to introduce a necessary ordinance to change the zoning in the vicinity of the Batavia Gardens apartments (661, 665 and 679 E. Main St.) from Industrial to Commercial and to set a public hearing on the matter for April 24.

Champion pointed out that DePaul was in agreement with the Batavia Planning & Development Committee's recommendation to change from Industrial to Commercial zoning (not the original proposal of Industrial to Residential) to "more closely align with the goals and perspectives of the city's Comprehensive Plan."

But the theme of the video presentation -- which included photos of other DePaul renovation projects and testimonials from three residents of the Rochester-based company's Batavia Apartments on East Main Street near Eastown Plaza -- was that, according to Fuller, "there is a huge need for affordable housing in Batavia."

He said that New York State has identified Genesee County as needing affordable housing and has allocated $3.2 billion across the state for projects such as these. Residents of Batavia Square, should it come to fruition, would receive services to meet special needs and be charged rent based on income limits, for example, $27,000 for an individual and $38,700 for a family of four.

"Every project fills within two to three weeks, and we have huge waiting lists on all of our projects," he said.

Fuller said he is convinced the Batavia community will support the venture, which will include DePaul applying for financial incentives -- PILOTs or payment in lieu of taxes -- from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

"What’s amazing is – I talked to Kiwanis last week, I’m speaking to Rotary in a couple weeks and I’ve been out meeting with everybody in the community – to a person, everybody wants the project," Fuller said. 

"The history of DePaul, we’ve got a great reputation in Batavia, and I’m really doing this because people approached me and wanted more housing in Batavia. The lack of adequate, handicap-accessible housing for special needs and everything else (is there), so I’m really doing this to give back to Genesee County – my hometown."

Of the 80 units, 36 have been designated as affordable units with preference given to elderly people and/or people with mobility disabilities, four are set at market rate, 30 are for people with special needs linked to services, and 10 will be allocated for veterans.

Fuller said that comments that DePaul is making money off of veterans or doesn't need the tax breaks stem from those who "don't know the whole story."

"We’re getting no money to house veterans. We’re just setting aside 10 units (as priority for veterans) and it could be more if there’s 20 veterans … we’re setting 10 units aside to guarantee because our housing projects fill in 10 days."

As far as the PILOT is concerned, Fuller said DePaul would be unable to get involved without it.

"These projects would not be doable without a PILOT with the city, but it’s important to point out that we’re a not-for-profit but we’re still giving a significant tax payment to the city for 30 years – more than four times than what they’re getting for that property now."

Fuller said the development will create 18 jobs as well as another 200 construction jobs.

Gibbons outlined details of the complex -- a 5-acre parcel with 24 units in Building A, 24 units in a three-story Buildilng B, and 32 units divided into four eight-unit two-story townhouses. The plan calls for 56 one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom apartments and 94 parking spaces (which could be expanded).

"It will be highly energy efficient through Energy Star and NYSERDA programs, and typically 50 percent will be handicapped-accessible," he said.

Conde said that rent will be set at $700 for a one-bedroom unit and $850 for a two-bedroom apartment, but residents have to show an income to be eligible. Utilities, wireless Internet and cable TV are included, along with around-the-clock staffing and a sophisticated security system.

She added that "housing specialists" are on staff to help link tenants to services in the community, but before being accepted all applicants "receive extensive background checks" -- with those convicted of non-DWI felonies or sex offenders not eligible.

"We manage our own tenant list ... that's a huge piece toward having respectful communities," she said.

The DePaul team said it will be meeting once again with the Genesee County Planning Board later this week over the rezoning issue, and hopes for a positive outcome over the next several weeks with City Council.

"This is really just the first start – the hard part is getting the money out of Albany," Fuller said. "We certainly have done it a lot, we’ve got the project in the works, we’ve been told this is a high priority. Our goal would be to have that all in place by the winter so we can start construction in early spring 2018, and that’s about a two-year construction period."

April 10, 2017 - 3:00pm

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April 10, 2017 - 2:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
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 Ann Marie Capuano

A Batavia woman is accused of threatening employees of a business on State Street Road with a knife after they found her in the building allegedly burglarizing the establishment.

Arrested was Ann Marie Capuano, 32, of Montclair Avenue, Batavia. 

She is charged with burglary, 3rd, menacing, 3rd, criminal trespass, 3rd, possession of burglary tools and criminal mischief, 4th.

The break-in was reported at 8 a.m., Saturday.  

When deputies responded, Capuano was located leaving the area on a bicycle on State Street Road. She was stopped for questioning.

Capuano was identified as the suspect.

According to the Sheriff's Office, she threatened staff of the business with a knife when they located her in the business and requested she remain at the business until the arrival of law enforcement.

She was jailed on $5,000 bail.

The incident was investigated by Investigator James Diehl, Deputy Chris Erion, Deputy Chad Cummings, Deputy Jenna Ferrando, with assistance from Batavia PD.

K-9 Destro helped locate evidence at the scene.

April 10, 2017 - 1:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, batavia, news.

Press release:

The City has completed its curbside collection of limbs and branches from the March 8 windstorm. Any resident with limbs and branches are encouraged to bring them to the Yard Waste Station on Law Street, Monday thru Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.

April 10, 2017 - 11:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in east pembroke, pembroke, news, crime.

Crime isn't out of control in East Pembroke, but the idea of a neighborhood watch program in the hamlet is to make sure things don't get worse, said Amber Winters, one of the group's organizers.

There is crime in every neighborhood, she said, and East Pembroke isn't unique.

"It’s a pretty normal rate of crime here but that doesn’t mean we have to be OK with it," she said.

More than 150 people have joined a Facebook neighborhood watch group. The group has joined National Neighborhood Watch, a division of the National Sheriffs' Association, and is planning a meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. at the elementary school April 19.

The Sheriff's Office is fully supportive and will participate in the meeting, said Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.

"Years ago we used to have several neighborhood watch groups in the county and they kind of died off," Dibble said. "We're very interested in neighborhoods that want to start these up.

"We’re excited to see what we can do to give this group what it needs," Dibble said.

The main purpose of neighborhood watch group is just to help neighbors get to know each other better, which helps residents identify things that are out of the ordinary.

"There are more rental properties now and people are coming in and we're looking at a lot of new faces all of the time," Winters said. "We just don't know anybody anymore and we want to connect all of the new families and the faces and the houses who don't know each other so we get to know each other."

One impetus for the group was the assault at the Arrow Mart a couple of months ago. Some community members thought, Winters said, that maybe they should do something before crime does become a serious problem in the hamlet.

"With all the car break-ins, people attacked in their homes, the assault at the Arrow Mart, we were feeling more frustrated," she said.

At the meeting on the 19th, people will be able to meet each other, but the Sheriff's Office will also be on hand to let the community know what it has available to help the group.

"We just don’t know our neighbors like we did back in the day," Dibble said. "It’s the truth. We know that."

East Pembroke residents are looking for a chance to change that.

April 10, 2017 - 9:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael ranzenhofer, ride sharing, news.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) has issued the following statement:

“I am proud to vote for a State Budget that will finally give a green light to ride-sharing services all across Western New York. For years now, Upstate New Yorkers have been left behind. Many residents have been demanding this new transportation option. It is long overdue.

“I have been leading the charge to bring transportation network companies to our community. I have cosponsored and voted for legislation in the State Senate two years in a row, and I launched a petition last December to encourage Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly to adopt this legislation. 

“Providing access to ride-sharing services will positively impact our community by creating thousands of new jobs, reducing drunk driving deaths and helping to boost small businesses and tourism spending.”
 

He also released this statement on passage of the budget:

The New York State Senate has approved the remaining bills of the 2017-18 State Budget. State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) has issued the following statement:

“Today's approval of a final budget is a victory for Western New York residents. The plan continues fiscal discipline by limiting spending growth at or below 2 percent for the seventh year in a row and rejecting Governor Cuomo's new tax-and-fee hikes. 

“Numerous efforts are enacted to improve New York's business climate, create more jobs and further strengthen our economy. The new budget approves the most comprehensive workers' compensation reform in a decade, reducing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for businesses, municipalities, and not-for-profits. Homeowners will benefit from a total of $3 billion in STAR property tax relief. The budget also protects last year's $4.2 billion in income tax cuts for middle-class families and tens of thousands small businesses.

“Most importantly, I am excited that ride-sharing services will finally arrive in Upstate New York. Additionally, the budget delivers our fair share of state transportation dollars, including a $1.5 billion increase to accelerate infrastructure projects and $65 million more for local road and bridge repairs.”

April 9, 2017 - 3:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, indian falls, news.

A hit-and-run accident is reported at the Log Cabin Restaurant, located at 1227 Gilmore Road, Indian Falls. A gray sedan with a handicapped sticker reportedly knocked over a motorcycle and left the scene of the non-injury, property damage accident. "There's a lot of motorcycles there," says a deputy at the scene.

UPDATE 4:49 p.m.: A deputy: "The other party decided to show back up. Out doing a report at the Log Cabin."

April 9, 2017 - 3:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, Darien, news.

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A rollover accident with entrapment is reported at 10391 Alleghany Road (Route 77). Darien Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding. A Sheriff's deputy is on location. Mercy Flight in on ground standby.

UPDATE 3:31 p.m.: The male driver had a medical issue, and the van he was driving left the roadway and went into a culvert and hit a berm and it landed on its wheels on the other side of the culvert. The driver suffered minor facial injuries due to air-bag deployment and he was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The van does not appear to be seriously damaged.

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April 9, 2017 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, pets, animals, news.

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A reader says this dog seems to be wandering the area of Batavia Elba Townline Road, near Plum Creek Driving Range, the past few days, apparently lost.

The dog is skittish and the reader hasn't been able to get close enough to check for tags.

April 9, 2017 - 12:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, city centre, mall.

In a letter to his clients, an attorney for the Mall Merchants Association is trying to change the terms of an already finalized settlement agreement with the City in the long-standing legal fight over the past, present and future of the City Centre mall, said City Manager Jason Molino.

In a letter dated April 6 and provided to local media late Friday, Attorney Hugh C. Carlin said the settlement with the city was only tentative and that there were two significant issues still to be addressed.

He accused Molino of discussing the settlement with the media in violation of an agreement, but word of the settlement came not directly from Molino but was a matter of public record because it was on the City Council agenda the first week of February.

"The City has proceeded with every aspect of this matter in accordance with the settlement terms that were agreed upon by the City and merchants representatives in December," Molino said.

Molino had not seen a copy of the letter before it was provided to local media outlets.

The terms of the settlement were agreed to through an 18-month-long mediation process in which both sides ran up significant legal bills, Molino said.

"In that time frame, the merchants have changed attorneys several times, however after extensive discussions, both parties agreed to settlement terms which were outlined publicly in the city’s February presentation," Molino said.

In his letter, Carlin said there are two main factors of disagreement remaining between the city and the mall merchants. 

First, there is an issue related to easements for pedestrian and vehicle traffic for each property owner in the mall. The attorney also accused the city of using heavy-handed tactics to force a settlement by "hoarding" nine foreclosed properties and refusing to pay maintenance fees.

"During the negotiations between your representatives and the City, the issue of individual owners' rights to access their properties was not discussed," Carlin wrote. "In fact, the only restrictions on City property that were addressed related to the present contractual obligations of the City to maintain specific numbers of parking spots.

"The City now insists that, as part of any settlement, the easements be terminated," Carlin added. "The termination of the easements raises significant issues concerning your title. If the easements were terminated, your ability to refinance or transfer your parcel in the future would likely be jeopardized."

This misrepresents that facts, Molino said.

"It’s important to note that the first term agreed upon was the termination of all prior agreements, making them null and void," Molino said. "By the nature of terminating these agreements, all covenants, easements, and restrictions placed on real property associated with those agreements would be terminated as well.

"This included the concourse and city parking lots. For the merchants' attorneys to claim this issue was never discussed is simply not true as a third-party mediator, merchants' representatives and merchants' attorneys themselves all reviewed and approved the terms prior to an agreement being reached."

Carlin now says he won't support an agreement that changes the terms of easements. 

"The City's inexplicable and irrational proposal comes at a cost to the Merchant Association," Carlin wrote. "The City will give the inferior and unacceptable easement only in 'exchange' for a cost-sharing arrangement for roof repairs should the sum of those repairs exceed $650,000. As you may recall, one of the primary reasons for the merchants negotiating team reaching an agreement with regard to the settlement framework was the City's assumption of all costs relating to the roof replacement without any cap on costs."

As for the foreclosed properties, Molino said Carlin was also informed on state law regarding how the city is obligated to handle those properties.

"The merchants' attorney has been repeatedly advised that upon foreclosure of real property taxes under the Real Property Tax Law all prior rights, interests and restrictions of record are terminated in the parcel," Molino said. "Hence, under the RPTL the City has no legal obligation to pay the past or future maintenance fees on foreclosed parcels under the historic mall agreements.

"To suggest otherwise evidences a serious lack of understanding of municipal law practice and procedure. However, if the settlement agreement is executed and the concourse user fee law adopted, the City would pay future user fees on foreclosed parcels."

Molino said it is normally against city policy to discuss ongoing litigation in public, but given the nature of the misstatements by Carlin to his clients, he wanted to clarify matters.

"Unfortunately, it appears from this letter that the merchants' attorney is attempting to reverse, back down or change the agreed upon settlement terms between the City and Merchants Association," Molino said. "While this is concerning on many levels, most concerning is the merchants' attorney is preventing the City and Merchant Association settlement terms from being executed, stopping the City from moving forward with the needed capital improvements to the concourse.

"Furthermore, after having expended close to $90,000 in legal fees over the last year (over $200,000 since 2009) without a signed settlement agreement, the letter from merchants' attorney appears to be an unfortunate attempt to deflect attention and blame. Sadly, the significant expenditures forced by the merchants' attorney suit and handling have drained substantial funds from the group's budget, and away from repairs and improvements of the mall."

Despite the disagreements, both Molino and Carlin said they are hopeful the 2008 lawsuit filed by the merchants can be settled.

"We are obviously disheartened by the turn of events in this case, but will persist in efforts to remain hopeful that cooler heads will reach a settlement consistent with the terms negotiated and agreed to in December and presented to you in February," Carlin wrote. 

Molino: "Regardless of this setback, the City remains hopeful that despite the merchants' attorney's obstructions to the settlement process, the original terms negotiated in good faith between the City and Merchants Association will be executed in the near future, and the mall can be improved, adding value to the merchants' properties and open to the door to future revitalization in the City’s Downtown."

April 9, 2017 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, byron, news.
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     Jacob Russell

Jacob J. Russell, 21, of Walkers Corners Road, Byron, is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, unlicensed growing of cannabis, unlawful possession of marijuana. Russell was arrested Friday on a warrant by the Local Drug Task Force. He was allegedly found in possession of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, and a quantity of processed marijuana and marijuana plants. Task force members also allegedly found two illegal knives and cash. Russell was arraigned and jailed on $7,500 bail. Additional charges are possible.

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     Charles Williams

Charles "Gusto" Thigpen Williams, 38, of South Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd. Williams was arrested on a grand jury indictment for the listed charges following an investigation by the Local Drug Task Force. Williams allegedly sold crack cocaine at a location in the City of Batavia. Williams was jailed pending arraignment in City Court.

 

 

 

April 9, 2017 - 12:43am
posted by Billie Owens in elba, accident, news.

A one-vehicle rollover accident is reported at 7499 Oak Orchard Road, Elba. There are minor injuries, but the occupants are out of the vehicle. A utility pole is damaged and power lines are down on the vehicle. Elba Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding. Fire police are called the shut down a portion of the roadway because of the tangle of power lines. National Grid is notified.

April 8, 2017 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield Museum, Oakfield, history, news.

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The Oakfield Museum opened for the season today and one of the new displays honors one of Oakfield's founding families, the Wolcotts.

Jay Wolcott, pictured, provided information for the display on the family's history.

Erastus Wolcott and Oliver Wolcott settled in Oakfield in 1801. Jay is the 6th generation of Wolcotts to live in Oakfield, a family that goes back 12 generations in America.

The Wolcotts over six generations in Oakfield have been farmers, business owners, and civic officials.

April 8, 2017 - 6:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, batavia, news.

A two-car accident is reported in the area of 311 E. Main St., Batavia.

A first responder reports minor damage, no injuries.

City fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

April 8, 2017 - 6:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCC, chris collins, NY-27, news.

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This is the winning picture in the NY-27 Congressional Art Competition, by Leah Buddenhagen, of Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School.

Buddenhagen couldn't be at the awards ceremony today at Genesee Community College because she was busy taking a college entrance exam.

Rep. Chris Collins was on hand for the awards ceremony and spent time touring the gallery and meeting individually with each of the students who were able to attend.

The were 71 pictures entered into the competition from high school students from throughout the NY-27.

The show was judged by Roz Steiner Art Gallery Director Mary Jo Whitman and GCC Associate Professor of Fine Arts Heather Jones.

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Runner-up, by Maya Lake, Medina High School.

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Madeline Keenan, of Batavia High School, in front of her picture, which received an honorable mention, with her family. The other honorable mention went to Zackary Dubel, Iroquois Central High School.

April 8, 2017 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, news.

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“After a long, exhaustive budget process, we have finally come to the end of the road. I am pleased that we have increased funding to repair our roads, bridges and highways and provided resources for a slew of capital projects across upstate. Although they are not totally ideal, we have made changes to the Charitable Gaming laws which will help raffles and charity functions at thousands of churches, nonprofits and fire departments across the state.

“The restoration of library funding that was slated to be cut by the governor and securing a record high in education aid are major victories for us as well. We have also legalized ride-sharing services like Uber upstate and will provide adequate funding for the Western New York Veterans Home, which are crucial to our region.

“Despite these victories, New York City initiatives like Raise the Age, increased income taxes and SAFE Act funding, along with many political projects for downstate, have tainted our final budget. I will continue to fight against the siphoning of our resources to New York City in the months ahead and ensure we receive our fair share.”

April 8, 2017 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, batavia, news.

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It's almost like it's a misunderstanding that a little bit of communication might clear up.

Patricia Dieck, a resident of Batavia, is worried about maintaining health care coverage for her family, which is one reason she was participating in a protest on East Main Street this morning, across the street where Rep. Chris Collins was meeting with members of his "coffee club."

Asked later about Dieck's concerns, Collins said the issues she raised wouldn't affect her family as New York residents.

Dieck said she is worried Congress might still pass the so-called "repeal and replace" bill for the Affordable Care Act, known as the American Health Care Act, and though the bill seems to be dead, she thinks Collins should listen to her on the issue.

"I have serious concerns," Dieck said. "I have a child who is on Medicaid who depends on it. I also have a child who has a pre-existing condition. Where is he going to get health care if that goes through? He (Collins) needs to start walking in our shoes and stop thinking like a billionaire."

"None of that is true because in New York, and in every state, the commissioner of health decides on the essential benefits package," Collins said.

According to Collins, many of the objections people had to the AHCA were based on a misunderstanding about how much responsibility for deciding coverage packages still resides with the states. 

"I would say she totally misunderstands what’s going on, which is kind of a shame because in many cases, these protesters are deliberately misleading people into things that are just not so," Collins added.

It's even a misunderstanding, Collins said, that he won't listen to constituents who disagree with his positions on this and other issues.

He just won't do it in the "town hall" format protesters are asking for because he doesn't think these events are productive.

"What folks are advocating for is more of an organized protest," Collins said. "They’re not interested in a conversation of any kind. I would rather spend my time meeting with constituents one on one, have them come in the office, or speak with groups at lunches and so forth, and open it up to any kind of questions."

Dieck said she and the other protesters don't believe their opinions matter to Collins

"We just want to be heard," Dieck said. "We want a chance to have a civil conversation with Chris Collins. Many people here have sent letters, we have called him, and we get no response. We’ve asked him to do a town hall. We understand he never did town halls before, but everyone else is doing them. We want one. That’s what the constituency wants, so we’re asking him to do one."

Collins disputes that constituent communication is going unanswered or unheeded. All calls, letters, and emails are tracked, he said. Staff will cull specific letters for him to see or provide summaries of constituent communications on issues. 

"I do get individual letters that I look at," Collins said. "I do trust my staff, we’ll call them a filter of sorts, but I’m comfortable that they don’t keep things from me.

"We absolutely track what comes in over the telephone," Collins added. "We track what comes in the mail. Sometimes it’s a postcard campaign and you can get 5,000 postcards, and you just treat those as they are, but we track as best we can the mood of our constituents."

Some of the communications end up in staff scheduling meetings with Collins in his office, but he said he thinks some people misunderstand how little time he actually spends in the district. The past several weeks, for example, he's been in Washington, D.C. Now he has two weeks home to travel the district and meet with as many people as possible.

He had two events in Batavia today, among 10 events in the district this weekend, and the coffee club meeting was the only one that was a campaign fundraiser.

Asked if she or any of her fellow protesters had protested at other fundraisers elected officials might have, such as a $500 or $1,000 per plate dinner for Sen. Charles Schumer, Dieck said she felt this event was different.

"This is a $55 coffee club," Dieck said. "My husband is a Republican and he wasn’t invited. It’s an exclusive club. I don’t think he (Collins) should be doing it. I think it should be open to everybody."

Collins said it is open to everybody.

"We want as many people as we can," Collins said. "It’s what we would consider a lower dollar event at $55 and that’s a year’s membership and we do 10 or 12 of these a year and we do them all around the eight counties. This is a not small group of special invitees. If somebody wants to join our coffee club, they should. I had 50, 60 people there. They asked questions. I answered the questions. I told them what’s going on in Washington. There could be Democrats there. There can be, whatever, there."

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April 8, 2017 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education.

Staff made this video for the Mr. Batavia show last week showing just how happy they are to be working at the school.

April 8, 2017 - 7:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in meat raffle, Batavia Rotary Club, batavia, news.

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The Batavia Rotary Club hosted its first meat auction Friday night at the social hall of Accession Parish on Swan Street in Batavia.

About 300 people turned out, bringing their own snacks and meals, eligible for a cup of free beer with their entry ticket, and the chance to win packages of meat, from hamburger to bacon and steaks to shrimp. Raffle tickets could only be bought with single dollar bills and some tickets had more than one chance to win, with each prize often being available to more than one winner.

The event replaces the Rotary's Corvette Raffle, which was a major fundraiser for the club for years before concerns arose about tickets sales that were deemed in violation of state law. 

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