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April 12, 2015 - 6:16pm

To Opt Out or Not?  That is the Question

by Gretchen DiFante - posting as a parent of students impacted by the assessments.  

Some of the Batavia City School District students will take New York State tests beginning this Tuesday. Many others are exercising their right to opt out of these tests. 

My husband and I have watched our children take these state exams since our eldest was in elementary school (she’s now 22 years old); however up until this year, we’ve never seen any of our five children exhibit any unusual stress or anxiety over these tests.  This year is different, and in the past two weeks our fourth grader’s anxiety over taking the tests has escalated daily.  Discussion of the topic between my eighth grader, her classmates and us, her parents, has recently dominated our family conversations.

Our district teachers had an evaluation system tied to several new items last year, including observations, and they performed very well as did teachers state wide.  Then the governor basically said something like, “teachers performed too well, and they really can’t be that good, so let’s make the evaluation system more difficult (and more ludicrous).”  Please tell me in what other industry in the world does that happen?  The position in which the governor is willing to put our teachers is, in my opinion, unforgiveable.  We have phenomenal teachers in our district and in the state.  I’m not saying that because I’m a school board member.  Being a school board member just makes me feel more protective of our teachers, but my opinion is based on having five children who have either graduated from or are currently being educated in this district.  My children have had outstanding teachers, coaches and administrators who have taught them life lessons way beyond the “basics.”  They have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills, been there to lift our kids up when they’ve struggled, spent extra time with them when they’ve realized untapped potential that needed fueling, worked side by side with my husband and me as we faced some very difficult challenges and even cried tears with us at moments of crisis.  

One of the best overviews I’ve read regarding the recent education bill and its impact on our teachers is written by Valerie Strauss and entitled, What the ‘thoughtless NY government just did to teachers,’ published in the Washington Post on April 3.  The reader can access that article at this link:

From our children’s friends and in countless social media posts I read, there seem to be two main reasons for opting out of the upcoming tests:  they are afraid their teachers will be unfairly judged if they perform poorly on the tests and they “hate” (or fill in the blank with similar words) Common Core. 

The nation’s governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), developed Common Core.  Teachers, parents, school administrators, and experts from across the country, together with state leaders, provided input into Common Core standards.  The design for the Common Core standards was based on scholarly research, surveys on the skills required of students entering college and workforce training programs, assessment data identifying college and career-ready performance, comparisons to standards from high-performing states and nations, National Assessment of Educational Progress frameworks in reading and writing for English language arts, and findings from Trends in International Mathematics and Science and other studies which concluded the traditional mathematics curriculum (the way my generation learned, paying attention parents?), must become substantially more coherent and focused in order to improve student achievement. 

All that research and wisdom, and we seem to have a significant number of people in this country who know more about educational needs than this body of research shows and this group of experts believes.  

Responsible interpretation of research requires critical questioning and strategic thinking and an objective perspective.  Ironically, the exact skills Common Core is designed to reinforce; but you see, I didn’t grow up in an educational system designed to teach those skills.  I was, however, lucky to be the daughter of teachers who instilled those skills in opportunities outside the classroom. 

I was horrible at math. Linear equations still make me nervous. As a young adult, the field I wanted to enter required lots of math; and because I saw myself as inadequate and, yes, too stupid, to master the math, I never pursued that path.  Our first three kids were educated prior to Common Core, and I could rarely understand their math past Middle School.  Common Core came, and I scratched my head at some of our daughter’s third grade math.  But something weird happened; my husband, a former civil engineer, who had always understood our kids’ math, was struggling to understand some of the basic math principles as well.  We did research on Common Core and found that the math curricula were designed to teach fewer concepts but to dive very deeply into those concepts and to teach them from the linear, visual and language-based perspectives.  I had heard opponents criticize Common Core as catering to one single type of learner.  Then a really odd thing happened in the DiFante house earlier this year, my husband was helping our fourth grader with her math and said, “I don’t understand this at all, maybe your Mom can help you,” to which our daughter responded with, “Yeah, right Dad.” 

I looked at the math problem and didn’t see a problem at all.  Instead I saw a very logical story, and I immediately knew how to arrive at the answer – it was math without numbers – a dream come true! What I learned is that the Common Core Math Standards require students to learn multiple ways to solve problems and explain how they got their answers.  The standards and resulting curricula are designed so the linear learners like my husband and verbal learners like me and visual learners as well have unprejudiced opportunity to build three different yet equally important logical approaches to mathematics.  I hope the reader can truly grasp how exciting that is!  Our childrens’ brains are getting trained a different way; and it is because of this that our children will be better strategic thinkers and able to make better decisions by virtue of a more robust and disciplined thought process than our brains were trained to undergo.

I know this change is painful for parents; we all feel inadequate and protective at the same time; however, we need to move forward for the sake of our children.  Progress is good and needed.  If, like many, you thought the previous educational approach in our schools was good enough and not in need of fixing, consider the huge body of evidence showing that two-thirds of American college students attending four-year colleges fail to earn their degrees within six years and estimating the cost of 1.7 million students nationwide in remedial college classes at $3 billion a year.  Remedial coursework makes taxpayers pay twice -- once for students to learn in high school, and again in college.

A 2011 national survey by the ACT, showed four out of five students in college remediation had high school GPAs above a 3.0!

If you are still a disbeliever, ask anyone on the faculty or in administration at Genesee Community College to tell you about the changes they have witnessed in the remedial needs of incoming freshman. 

Lest readers think it’s only college-bound students who need changes, please have a conversation with any employer in this county who is in charge of hiring employees in any industry from the manufacturing floor to the board room and listen to them describe the challenges inherent in the available pool of candidates.

Regarding the tests beginning this Wednesday, the Batavia School District’s official opinion regarding opting out is stated in the four points listen below:

1. We are a Focus District, and if we do not make our participation rate of 95% on the exams, we potentially could lose more local control for our district.  Two or more years of not making it could lead to us being a Priority District which would have even worse ramifications than being a Focus District.

2.  If our participation rate dips below 95% we can lose a portion or all of Title 1 federal grant, which impacts 26 teaching positions.  It would be the equivalent of losing funding for 12 full time teaching positions. 

3.  We do not use the exam to punish/fire teachers.  We have worked collaboratively for years with the BOE, administrators and teacher union to ensure that we keep perspective over this one piece of data for student achievement.  It is not used in BCSD to hurt our teachers or students. 

4.  The state tests allow us to compare our students to other students across the state that are similar to our population.  In general, we do very well compared to other small city school districts.  

While the way in which the state rolled out Common Core is certainly flawed, overall Common Core standards are good.  Common Core is necessary.  That said, we have two years behind us.  Our district has spent countless hours, resources and dollars to ensure our students are getting the best instruction and our teachers are getting support for curricula development and delivery.  If we walk away now, we walk away from progress; but I fear it will be too late if we have a significant number of our students opt out of state testing.  I encourage parents to protest - write letters, march on Albany, refuse to take, “no” for an answer when it comes to both teacher appraisals and New York State’s roll out of Common Core, but please don’t fall into the trap of being wholeheartedly against Common Core and making choices that cause stress for all students and may, in the end, hurt the district overall.   Get informed, ask questions, challenge what you hear; and if you don’t know how to challenge what you hear, ask a third grader – they are in their third year of Common Core, and IF they haven’t already been prejudiced against what they’re learning and IF you can listen to them without judgment, they just may be able to help you see some value in what they have to say. 



April 12, 2015 - 1:39pm
posted by Michael S. Cole in My Life.

January 2015 "Bernice Cole", my mother, my cheerleader,my inspiration passed on to a better life.

The feeling is indescribable and often unbearable,one i cannot describe and often try to repress.

Batavia is my mother & family,it's where my identity in life was formed,without her my emotions are mixed.

She & my father moved us to this town away from the repression of the "south" and the raw life of the bigger cites(Buffalo&Rochester) of where most our extended family resided. It was often nice to visit,but it was not the serenity Batavia provided.

My mother had many friends and a community that loved her as we did.

My heart weeps for her,but when i come to Batavia I will always know she is there and I know that I'm home.

Mom, know that i miss you & love very much!


April 12, 2015 - 1:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at West Main Street Road and Wortendyke Road. East Pembroke Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

April 11, 2015 - 6:50pm
posted by James Burns in batavia, GCC, art, chris collins.

The 2015 Congressional Art Competition winner and honorable mentions were announced today at Genesee Community College in the Roz Steiner gallery.

The competition was open to high school students to enter their visual art. Oil paintings, photographs, works in pencil, paints, pastels and mixed media where hung in the gallery. All created by our very own, very talented, local high school artists. 

The Roz Steiner Gallery at GCC was filled with happy visitors admiring classical and modem works. The gallery had the look and excitement of an opening at MoMA in Manhattan.  The exhibit runs in the gallery April 23 through May 18. If you are at all interested in art you should try and see this impressive exhibit. 

Rep. Chris Collins was on hand to announce winners and congratulate all the students involved. But before the award announcement, Collins also took time to personally and privately tour the exhibit and admire the truly impressive works.

UPDATE: Here are the winners:

Winner -  Mallory Showalter, Clarence High School
1st runner up – Kazuki Kanehira, Clarence High School
Honorable mention – Danielle Saeva, Clarence High School
Honorable mention – Cheyenne Ernst, Batavia High School

During his opening comments Representative Collins renewed his support of the Arts in schools.

The winner’s work will be exhibited with the winners from all of the rest of the congressional districts at the U.S. Capitol for a year. For more information on the Congressional Art Competition please visit:

To see more picture go to:

April 11, 2015 - 4:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors hosted a farewell luncheon at GO ART! this afternoon for Raffaele Ponti, the musical director and conductor of the orchestra for 18 years who will conduct his final concert with the GSO tomorrow.

The luncheon was attended by board members and several longtime orchestra members, including Helen Grapka, pictured above with Ponti and his daughter, Sofia.

Sofia is holding the violin Grapka played for 46 years with GSO. She sold it to the Ponti family, along with the violin of her late husband, John, when she retired from music a few years ago. Sofia will play it during her featured performance at tomorrow's concert.

Grapka is the last surviving founding member of GSO.

In the 1940s, she and her husband played with a small orchestra organized by a local man who wanted to be a conductor each Jan. 1 at the old folks home in Bethany. At the 1947 show, Helen and John had a conversation with two members of their string quartet and decided they should start a local orchestra.

The GSO's first concert was later that year, in November, at the old Dipson Theater. Some 1,400 people attended and hundreds more were turned away at the door. Grapka remembers men showing up in tuxedos and the women dressed in long gowns and minks.

From the beginning, the orchestra attracted the finest musicians in the area and had a dozen first violinists that first season.

John Grapka was musical director at the New York State School for the Blind and after teaching at a public school for six years, Helen taught music at the School for the Blind for 20 years.

She's proud that what she and her husband started has lasted into the 21st Century.

"If anything ever happens and it all falls apart, it will never happen again," Grapka said. "It's important to keep it going because it's such an important cultural thing for the community."

Tomorrow's concert is at 4 p.m. at Batavia High School.

Ponti with an award presented to him by Board President Paul Saskowski and Board Member Roxanne Choate. 

Below are pictures from yesterday's rehearsal at Batavia High School. Dave Mancini is also performing with the orchestra tomorrow. The Rochester resident will perform on some of his own compositions, including "A Piece for Him," which he wrote and dedicated to his father. Members of the Student String Workshop (featured in some of the photos below) will also perform with the orchestra.

April 11, 2015 - 7:58am
posted by James Burns in batavia, GCEDC, MedTech Park, Innovation Zone.

Officials unveiled the Innovation Zone at MedTech Park in Batavia yesterday. The Innovation Zone is designed to attract high-tech entrepreneurs and start-ups. To help start-ups it will provide working space and free Wi-Fi as well as programing and business services for a $200 a month fee.

A total of $50,000 for the Innovation Zone was provide by the National Grid’s CleanTech Incubation Program. The project was run by the GGLDC (Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp.), which is the real-estate arm of the GCEDC (Genesee County Economic Development Center).

April 10, 2015 - 6:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Frost Ridge Campground.

There's no dispute that there was live music at the Frost Ridge Campground in Le Roy prior to 2008, and there's no dispute there was amplified music there, either, said an attorney representing the family that brought suit against Frost Ridge seeking to shut down its summer concert series.

Those prior acts, however, do not constitute a prior use of Frost Ridge as a concert venue with amplified life music, Mindy Zoghlin told Judge Robert C. Noonan during a hearing in Superior Court today where Zoghlin and Town of Le Roy Attorney Reid Whiting argued that Noonan should favor them with a ruling barring amplified live music and demanding relief from other alleged zoning violations.

(The record) at best establishes there were people playing music around the campfire and when there were skiers there was amplified music," Zoghlin said.

David Roach, representing the owners of Frost Ridge, David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell, told Noonan that and other points raised verbally by Zoghlin and Reed were addressed in his written memo to Noonan answering their motions for summary judgement, so he wasn't going to belabor the points today.

In the memo, Roach argues that there were live music shows at Frost Ridge under prior ownership that were open to the public.

In fact, Roach argues, that everything from the live music issue, to the camping use of the campground and current structures on the property, all fit within the prior, non-conforming use of the property.

Even if those uses have expanded, he argued, case law favors Frost Ridge. 

"Nothing in the record indicates Frost Ridge has ever changed its recreational use or expanded it to something non-recreational," Roach wrote, citing a case known as Hollow v. Owen. "'...a mere increase in the volume or intensity of the use is not necessarily an extension or enlargement of such use.'"

Among the reasons Zoghlin said Noonan should find in the favor of her clients, David and Marny Cleere and Scott and Betsy Collins (Marny and Betsy are sisters and granddaughters of the original property owner), is that a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) determination that the concerts fell within prior, non-conforming use was, essentially, illegal.

Noonan has already ruled that the ZBA failed to provide proper public notice of the meeting in 2013 where the board came to a unanimous conclusion that everything at Frost Ridge, including live amplified music, was permissible because of the historical use of the property.

The property became a ski area and campground in the 1960s and later new zoning laws were adopted by the Town of Le Roy that made the area a residential/agriculture zone.

There's no way, Zoghlin argued, that a concert venue falls within the town's definition of an R/A zone.

Roach argued that Noonan's ruling on the public notice issue went merely to the procedural sufficiency of the notice, but did not overturn the finding. Citing case law, Roach argues that even granting the notice issue, the ZBA had the authority to make the determination.

Zoghlin wants the ZBA determination overturned, arguing that the decision was reached in such a defective fashion that even referring the case back to the ZBA would be inappropriate.

Roach told Noonan that such a ruling would still result in the ZBA taking up the issue again, and the ZBA would likely reach the same conclusion, and then that determination would result in new lawsuits by the current plaintiffs (Cleere and Collins and the Town of Le Roy), so Noonan would then be dealing with four lawsuits total over one single issue.

If Noonan finds the ZBA determination defective, the only reasonable action, Roach said, would be to refer the case back to the ZBA to cure the procedural defect of its original determination (meaning, hold a properly noticed public hearing).

At the end of the hearing, Noonan reserved his decision and promised a written decision soon.

If Noonan doesn't issue a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff's, the suit will proceed, perhaps, eventually, to a jury trial. If that's the case, Zoghlin said, Noonan should reinstate the temporary restraining order barring live amplified music at Frost Ridge.

Roach said that such an order would put Frost Ridge out of business and therefore impermissibly grant the plaintiff's the ultimate outcome they seek through the lawsuit. He also argued that during the period last summer when concerts were once again allowed at the campground, there were no complaints, no arrests, no disturbances and a deputy was positioned in the neighborhood to monitor noise and found the venue in compliance with Noonan's orders. The town has also established a noise ordinance, rendering moot the need for a restraining order.

So far, six concerts at The Ridge have been booked for the summer.

For our prior coverage, click here.

April 10, 2015 - 6:00pm
posted by Lisa Ace in Sponsored Post, advertisement, Reliant Realty.

Solid and nicely kept City home in central location and ready to move in! This home has been upgraded and freshly painted throughout, with more room than it appears from the road! Good size rooms and a walk-up, finished attic that adds a whole lot more room for storage or play! Large back enclosed porch for nice nights and a place to kick off your shoes! Come check this one out, nothing to do but move in and make it your own!! NOW $92,000. Call Lynn Bezon today!

April 10, 2015 - 2:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A vent on the roof of Ken's Charcoal Pits/City Slickers blew off the roof a short time ago. Owner Ken Mistler said the trees seemed to have saved three cars that were parked on the street from damage.

The restaurants remain open.

Meanwhile, a reader sent in the bottom picture of a downed tree at the Blind School and Bethany fire has been dispatched to 9524 Clipnock Road for a report of a utility pole that has broken and only being held up by wires.

There's also report of a tree down with wires involved at 240 State St., near Hart Street, Batavia, and wires "ripped from the residence" on Pearl Street Road. City fire is responding to the first call, East Pembroke to the second.

UPDATE 2:48 p.m.: A tree fell onto a car at 161 Washington Ave. in the city and wires are also down. City fire responding.

UPDATE 2:56 p.m.: A tree and wires are down across the roadway, blocking traffic, at 259 Ross St. and city fire is responding.

UPDATE: more photos ... 

State Street

Centennial Park

Washington Avenue

UPDATE: Ross Street

UPDATE, photo from Greg Rada of Clipnock Road.

April 10, 2015 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A 20-year-old Le Roy resident allegedly used a knife in a confrontation with another person and has been charged with second-degree assault as a result.

Le Roy PD did not release information on the nature of injuries, if any, sustained by the victim.

Jarrod K. Fotiathis was jailed on $20,000 cash bail or $40,000 bond.

He is also charged with criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of alcohol.

Brittany B. Cina, 25, was also charged with harassment, 2nd. Cina allegedly punched a person. She was issued an appearance ticket.

April 10, 2015 - 12:27pm
posted by Jess Wheeler in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

The return of three teaching positions and the lack of a tax increase highlight a 2015-16 budget proposal for Batavia City schools following this week's budget meeting. 

The reinstated teaching positions include a science teacher and a social studies teacher, both at the middle school level. The third position is for a districtwide music teacher.

There are students on a waiting list to take music classes.

The preliminary budget released in January projected a .55-percent increase in the tax levy, but with new state aid numbers that increase was zeroed out.

“The governor has always given budget projections,” Business Administrator Scott Rozanski said. “This year, he did not. So we used the budget numbers from the current year. When the state budget was finalized, we saw an increase of about $427,000. We used that to reduce the tax levy to 0 percent.”

The $427,000 will be coming in New York State Aid.

The proposed budget includes an increase in mileage for transportation at John Kennedy Intermediate School.

“I think the Board has sensed the needs of the taxpayer and has done even better than the governor projected,” Rozanski said.

The board meets again April 14 to finalize the budget proposal.

The public vote is May 19. The election will include the budget, transportation and three open seats on the school board.

April 10, 2015 - 12:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

From Carol Grasso:

Hi everyone, May 9th we are having a Birthday Party for the Aunnal Dinner for the Peace Garden.  Former Miss Teen New York State Corin Stellakis will be our guest speaker this year. The dinner is at Terry Hills Restarant 5:00pm cocktails and dinner at 6:00pm. $25.00 per ticket. Please call if you would like to go.585-343-1027. We are honoring Kathy Jasinski, Rob Borroughs, Kelly Rapone,and Potters Lumber Yard,( Mary Dix). Hope to see you there. Mark your calendars!!

April 10, 2015 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama.

Eastbound semi-truck traffic is being shut down on Lewiston Road at Route 77 to Knowlesville Road, Alabama, because of a low-hanging wires.

There's also a utility pole leaning over the roadway on Lewiston Road. All eastbound traffic on Ledge Road will be closed at Route 77.

Alabama fire with mutual aid from Indian Falls responding.

National Grid is reporting a 30-minute ETA for the Ledge Road incident.UP

UPDATE 12:34 p.m.: There's a report of wires down at 12 Walnut Street, Batavia.

April 9, 2015 - 9:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, brownfield areas, brownfield opportunity area.

The governor's office announced the designation of 12 brownfield opportunity areas today, including one in Batavia. Here's a portion of the press release. We've included the top overview portion of the press release and the section about Batavia.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the designation of 12 brownfield opportunity areas in economically challenged communities across New York State. The Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program helps local communities establish revitalization strategies that return dormant and blighted areas into productive areas to spur economic development. This designation is based upon plans of varying focus that reflect local conditions, and projects receiving this designation are given priority status for grants and additional Brownfield Cleanup Program tax credit incentives.

“By designating these sites as brownfield opportunity areas, we are helping to reimagine their potential as vibrant parts of the surrounding communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “This distinction allows us to put their rehabilitation on the fast-track with additional state resources, and that means new development, jobs and opportunities in the future. This is another way that our administration is joining with local partners to revitalize blighted areas across the state, and I look forward to seeing their transformation continue in the days to come.”

Prior to their designation, these communities received planning grants financed through New York’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program to complete a nomination that set forth revitalization strategies and promoted sound redevelopment and enhanced environmental quality within the affected areas. The Department of State accepted the nominations for these BOAs and has determined they meet the necessary requirements and criteria for designation. Developers, property owners and others with projects and properties located within a designated BOA will be eligible to access additional Brownfield Cleanup Program tax incentives and receive priority and preference for State grants to develop projects aimed at transforming dormant and blighted areas in their communities and putting them back into productive use.

Brownfields Reform and State Superfund
Separate from the sites receiving BOA designation today, the 2015-16 State Budget extends the Brownfields Cleanup Program for 10 years, and includes important reforms to protect taxpayers and promote brownfield redevelopment, particularly Upstate. The Budget also includes a new $100 million appropriation and extends the State Superfund cleanup program for ten years. The Superfund has been instrumental in identifying, investigating and cleaning up hazardous waste sites throughout the State.

Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said: “These designations will serve as tremendous environmental and economic development engines for communities in need of public and private investment. The added incentives will afford these communities great opportunities for new housing development, businesses and job creation, and overall beautification.” The Secretary of State is charged with the designation of BOAs after a community planning process.

Val Washington, president, New Partners for Community Revitalization, said: "From Buffalo to the Bronx, from Wyandanch on Long Island to Lewis County in the North Country, New York's BOA Program is showing its worth. Uniquely, it brings community and municipal leaders together to develop plans to revitalize neighborhoods impacted by multiple brownfields. We applaud and support Governor Cuomo's important announcement today, and appreciate his leadership in increasing state government support for developers who will work in these designated areas."


Batavia Opportunity Area, Genesee County -- This consists of a 366-acre area characterized by an estimated 75 potential brownfield sites located within the Batavia Central Corridor. The primary community revitalization objectives include: cleaning up and redeveloping underutilized, vacant and brownfield properties with appropriate uses; stabilizing existing neighborhoods; and continuing the revitalization of the Downtown Business District. A $266,508 BOA Program grant financed planning activities.

City of Batavia Manager Jason Molino said: “We would like to thank the Department of State for providing the funding and guidance to complete Batavia’s Batavia Opportunity Area plan. The Batavia BOA has been an overwhelming success and we have already seen significant developer interest in our brownfield sites. To date we have already received more than $2 million in grant funding for TEP, NY Main Street and CDBG applications that advance recommendations in the Plan.”

April 9, 2015 - 4:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

WATCH: Stephen Pike, the 18-year-old accused of digging up his father's grave, explains why he did it.Read more HERE:

Posted by 13 WHAM ABC on Thursday, April 9, 2015

From The Batavian's news partner, 13WHAM.

Steve Pike, the 18-year-old Perry resident charged with aggravated cemetery desecration, explained today why he dug up his father's urn at St. Joseph Cemetery.

I get it," Pike said. "They might have saw disrespect, but he's my father. I think the urn is right under only about that deep under. I never even thought I would be as close to my dad as I was. I got his jacket. I got his Coca-Cola stuff. I got all this stuff, but you know you want closure." 

Pike's father died in 2006. 

"I can't find anybody. Nobody really gets it. So I went over to the cemetery and I just grabbed a shovel. Little, not a big shovel. Just lifted up the dirt, put up the grass, and I found it and I kind of just broke down emotionally right there, and I'm like, 'Wow, Dad,'" he said. "I never thought I would be that close to my dad. I can't hug him. If his body was under there and not his ashes, I'm not going to dig up his body."

Pike turned himself in today. He was issued an appearance ticket and released.

UPDATE: Here's a link to 13WHAM's full story where Pike explains further that he didn't learn who his biological father was until after his father died.

April 9, 2015 - 4:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, WNY Independent Living.

Press release:

WNY Independent Living, Inc., wants feedback from youth and young adults 14-24 years of age with mental /behavioral health problems and their parents and educators.

Focus groups are wanted that are comprised of individuals with a “behavioral health” diagnosis, parents of youth/young adults with mental/behavioral health challenges and/or educational service providers/teachers who work with youth/young adults. These focus groups are focused on areas which include disability, developmental/mental health challenges, substance abuse/use, trauma, eating disorders, and environmental disabilities, etc. Focus groups are available to youth/young adults, parents, teachers and service providers.
Each focus group is looking to create a report which shows stakeholders (youth/young adults, parents and services providers) feel is needed in Western New York to support youth/young adults with mental health/behavioral health needs, parents/caregivers, and education/service providers. Through the overall outcome of the focus groups, WNY Independent Living's goal is to create programs and services which will close gaps in current behavioral health services, training, and information to provide to youth/young adults, families and educators within the WNY community.
The focus groups can be set up at any location or WNY Independent Living, Inc., can provide a location in Lockport, Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Batavia. The focus group takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. We greatly appreciate input as it will create long term outcomes and goals to assist transition age youth/young adults in need of support while attending and remain in high school, transitioning to college or work in being successful and sustaining employment down the road.

Our goal is also to divert youth in high school from dropping out, based on mental health/behavioral
health challenges and needs.
If interested in being part of a focus group to design new and inventive future services please contact Lynnette Torgalski at (716) 836-0822, ext.154, or e-mail at [email protected], or Chris Hoff at (716) 836-0822, ext.103, e-mail at [email protected].

April 9, 2015 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, Mr. Batavia.

The Batavia High School student government hosts its third annual Mr. Batavia Contest at 7 p.m., April 17.

Eleven seniors have signed up and picked the charities they will represent. Proceeds from the event go to the winner's charity. Last year, Mr. Batavia raised $2,200 for Habitat for Humanity.

The contestants and their charities:

  • Bryce Rogers, Ricky Palermo Foundation
  • Andrew Maniace, Batavia VA
  • Samir Jain (not pictured), Michael Napoleon Foundation
  • Dylan Beckman, Habitat for Humanity
  • Brandon Smart, Volunteers for Animals
  • Josh Franks, Anna’s Wish
  • Adam Taylor, Care-A-Van Ministries
  • Eric DiLaura, Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
  • Nick Bauer, Crossroads House
  • Jordan Fluker, Genesee Cancer Assistance
  • Ben Demare, Boy Scouts of America National Youth Leadership Training

Hostesses for this year's event are (names not in order): Emily DiBacco, Carly Scott, Katie Kesler and Maggie Folger.

April 9, 2015 - 4:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements.

GO ART! Workshop -- "Eavesdropping on the Writing Life"

Join author Joe Langen for a look into the magical and mysterious world of writing.

This program will be presented at GO ART! Center Seymour Place, 201 E. Main St., Batavia, at 1 p.m. on Saturday April 18.

He is a retired psychologist and has written for publication since 1990. He started writing a biweekly column which appears in the The Daily News in Batavia on alternate Saturdays. He has published two collections of columns, "Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life" and "Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage."

He has written a memoir of his nine years in a Catholic seminary and monastery, "Young Man of the Cloth," which took place during the turbulent and exciting years of change for the Catholic Church.

He wondered about the many abusive priests who were in the seminary at the same time he was. He explored this topic in "The Pastor’s Inferno," a novel about an abusive priest coming to terms with his abuse. There do not appear to be in print any other books which explore the mind of an abusive priest.

He recently published Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life, a self help book which explores the nature of stress, where it comes from, how it affects your body, mind, feelings and soul. He details physical, mental, emotional and spiritual approaches to dealing with stress and also considers the future of stress.

He is currently completing a self help book for teens, "Navigating Your Teen Years: Tips for the Voyage." This book is based on the author’s 35 years of working with teens and their families as well as interviews with teens in Genesee and Monroe counties.

All of his books have been self-published. He will discuss his joys and challenges in seeking publication for his work. He will also share selections from his writings. If you have wondered what it would be like to publish your own work or just want to understand a little more about what it is like to be a writer, please join us for a taste of the writing life.

Read more about Joe Langen’s writing at

April 9, 2015 - 4:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Milestones.

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is pleased to announce that David Wolcott, of Batavia, was recently initiated into Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Wolcott was initiated at Ithaca College.

Wolcott is among approximately 32,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors, having at least 72 semester hours, are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff, and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine and headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline honor society. The Society has chapters on more than 300 college and university campuses in North America and the Philippines. Its mission is "To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others."

More About Phi Kappa Phi

Since its founding, more than 1.25 million members have been initiated. Some of the organization's more notable members include former President Jimmy Carter, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, novelist David Baldacci and YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley. The Society has awarded approximately $15 million since the inception of its awards program in 1932. Today, more than $1 million is awarded each biennium to qualifying students and members through graduate fellowships, undergraduate study abroad grants, member and chapter awards and grants for local and national literacy initiatives. For more information, visit

April 9, 2015 - 3:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements.

Ascension Parish will host the Fruit of the Vine Wine Tasting Fun Raiser ™ on Sunday, April 25th from 5-8 p.m.

This year the event is open to the general public and for adults 21 years of age and older (proper identification is required). This event will feature premium Finger Lakes wines handcrafted by Eagle Crest and O-Neh-Da Vineyards of Hemlock Lake.

Hors d'oeuvres along with assorted cheeses and crackers will be served. A classical guitar ensemble will accompany the evening’s festivities along with works of art by local artist Carole LaValley. All proceeds benefit Ascension Parish.

The cost of the event is $25 per person or $26.75 online at

Ascension Parish
19 Sumner St.
Batavia, NY 14020
Phone:  585-343-1796
Fax:  585-343-0919
[email protected]





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