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November 9, 2015 - 5:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stop DWI.

Press release:

Genesee County STOP-DWI Coordinator Matt Landers announced today that the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, City of Batavia Police Department and the Village of Le Roy Police Department will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving.

On the night before Thanksgiving, friends and family reunite, celebrate, and kick off the holiday. However, it's also become known as "Blackout Wednesday," the start to a dangerous weekend, with more drunk drivers out on the road. Law enforcement officers across New York State will take to the roads in an effort to stop impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives.

The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on Nov. 25th and will end on Nov. 29th. New York State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force.

“Thanksgiving is a time when families travel, sometimes great distances, to be together” said Genesee County Undersheriff William Sheron. “It’s our intention to have extra patrols out to make our roads and highways as safe as possible during this holiday season.”

Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem.

City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch wants to remind drivers that, “Thanksgiving is a special time to spend with friends and family, make sure that you have a plan to get home safely. Our officers will be extra vigilant for impaired drivers this Thanksgiving season to ensure your safety.”

The STOP-DWI Thanksgiving Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association with additional funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and implemented by the STOP-DWI Foundation. Throughout the remainder of the year the Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign will also target the national Holiday Season in December.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol- and drug-related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. It is significant to note that in 2012, 416 motorists died in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, the highest toll of deaths for any holiday weekend period. Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

November 9, 2015 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, bergen, schools, education.


Press release:

Students at Byron-Bergen Elementary School have focused their efforts on an impressive goal to benefit their school for well over a year. They have been busy planning, organizing, budgeting, working with partners, and raising needed funds. They finally saw all their hard work pay off at an outdoor ceremony at the school’s playground on Nov. 4 when Principal Brian Meister cut the ribbon and opened the new four square playing court.

The project began with the school’s Student Council. Student leaders from grades four through six recognized that a need existed for a safer location for students to play the popular playground game, four square. For years, students had played on a concrete sidewalk next to the parking lot. Errant balls often came much too close to cars and traffic. Student leaders created a proposal to build a new play area with a permanent four square court, partnering up with the community's STEP Boosters, and finding support from the Board of Education and administration leaders.

They planned and organized a number of successful fundraising events and activities. Students researched court building guidelines and rules, designed the court, managed the budget, hired contractors, and directed the work.

“This project came straight from student ideas and has been entirely executed by our students,” Meister said. “It is reality today because our students made it happen.”

The opening ceremony featured a short speech from Student Council President Elli Schelemanow, who thanked the Board of Education, the Byron-Bergen Administration, the Bergen Highway Department, The Pike Company, the Byron-Bergen Maintenance Department, Visual Impact Signs and Graphics, and the elementary school Art teacher Melissa Coniglio. Student Council Vice President Frank Hersom, Treasurer Lexi Vurraro, and Secretary Kendall Phillips were also on hand to assist in the ribbon-cutting, along with BOE President Debra List and Amy Phillips, and STEP Boosters Treasurer Carrie Baubie.

The student court design includes four courts for four square play, with additional areas for shuffleboard and hopscotch. 


November 9, 2015 - 11:06am


If you haven't heard yet, coloring books are now a thing. OK, sure, we all had coloring books as kids, but now that we're all grown up, we're finding coloring books again, but not the "see spot run" type of coloring books, the pirate-on-the-ship coloring book that 3-year-olds scribble on, but books with pages of complex designs, fine lines and thin strips of blanks awaiting our choices of ruby, ginger or burgundy.

Adult coloring books are the hottest item at Karen's Yarn, Paper, Scissors, said owner Karen Crittenden. Her Saturday morning coloring sessions are popular enough that reservations are required and she's added a monthly evening session. This Saturday, more people than anticipated turned out for a coloring group at the Richmond Memorial Library.

"I find it very soothing to take a thing that is just black and white and turn it into something that is beautifully colored," said Lynn Bartlett Taylor during Saturday's event at the library. "Even though I'm not an artist, it makes me feel like I am in my own way."

Read articles or talk to participants and the common themes of why adults color in coloring books are it's meditative and it's a stress reliever.

In a recent article for Parade Magazine, psychologist Alice Domar, Ph.D., executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston, said one reason adults find coloring so relaxing is it engages the entire brain. It's impossible to multitask or worry about kids or money when both sides of your brain are absorbed in coloring between the lines. 

“It’s impossible to worry about dinner or the laundry or anything else when your mind is completely engaged,” Domar explains. “With knitting or other crafts, you can watch TV or multitask, but coloring really requires you to be in the moment. And that makes it meditative.”

She suggests coloring to patients who need stress relief, particularly those who loved the activity as a child.

“Coloring brings you back to a simpler time. It’s pleasurable. It’s a chance to sit and be mindful -- and at the end you get this beautiful result. You have a real sense of accomplishment.”

Taylor said she gets totally absorbed in the pictures she's creating.

"It's very meditative," said Taylor, who started coloring with her grandchildren in 2004, then stopped for awhile, then came back to it after hand surgery as a form of physical therapy.

"I can't make pictures of my own but I can fill in the colors for somebody else and everyone turns out different and I can't see the picture when I start out, but as I add the color, it starts coming alive. It's like each picture has its own personality."

For somebody just getting into adult coloring, Crittenden said they have a lot of options, from whether they want to start with complex designs, what themes to choose (mandalas are popular, but there is a host of other subjects available from birds and flowers to fanciful landscapes and seascapes), the medium to use (pencils, markers, crayons) and whether the colorist has enough skill and experience to handle more artistic expressions such as gradients and shading.

"The biggest thing I don't want them to do is get frustrated," Crittenden said. "They'll look online. They'll look in the stores. They'll look at the picture books and say, 'I want to do that,' and a lot of those techniques out there take some time and practice and some skill."

New colorists can also get started cheaply, if they like, or make a pricier splash, depending on their budget.

"There are $4 coloring books and you can get a set of pencils for $7," Crittenden said. "It's not expensive to get into, but you can go upwards. I mean some of these coloring books, like this one, it's an actual book. That's $25, and you can go on up from there."

Part of the thing of color is it works both as a solo pursuit and as a social activity. Across the country, adults get together in small groups on a regular basis to color together. There are Facebook and Pinterest groups dedicated to adult coloring. Colorists loving sharing their work.

But seeing all of this public activity it would be tempting to think adult coloring is just a woman thing, but that's not the case at all, Crittenden said.

"I'm finding that a lot of men are doing it, too," Crittenden said. "The last time we had a set of insect coloring books in, they went out of here fast. A lot of women were buying them for their men. A lot of men color with their wives. They're like secret colorers. A lot of times on Facebook women will post and say 'this one belongs to my husband,' or 'my husband did this one.' The wives are posting about them. It's probably just that more women are open about coloring."

After all, men have stress, too.

Crittenden herself using coloring to relax her mind.

"I have the skill to draw this, but drawing this takes too much of my concentration," Crittenden said pointing to a design in a book. "If I'm coloring this, I'm coloring it at the end of the day. My coloring books are up by my bed with my pencil tin. When I do this, I'm doing this at bedtime. For me, it gets my brain to stop, because I have a brain that doesn't stop.

"It's going like all the time and if I don't stop it at bedtime, I can't sleep because my brain keeps going and going and going and going and going. Ideas just keep flying into my head. If I don't stop, it just keeps going and this helps my brain stop working enough so I can fall asleep."











November 9, 2015 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, weather.


I got back to Genesee County from Batavia's game in Rochester yesterday shortly after sunset.  


November 9, 2015 - 8:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen.

A motor vehicle accident with injuries is reported in the area of 7652 Clinton Street Road, Bergen.

Bergen Fire and ambulance dispatched.

UPDATE 8:35 a.m.: All occupants out. Pole snapped.

November 9, 2015 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Millennials, comprehensive plan, Jason Molino.


Batavia's landscape is changing, with more vegetable gardens, chicken coops and solar panels, and that's a trend the city would like to see continue, said City Manager Jason Molino while showing off his family's new greenhouse in the backyard of their home on Vernon Avenue.

Molino said code enforcement officers Ron Panek and Doug Randall report seeing more and more of these sort of backyard amenities, which is right in line with the city's strategic thinking about creating a more livable and sustainable environment, the kind of environment marketing studies and news reports show Millennials are seeking.

"This is just one example of what you can do," Molino said. "It shows how you can take your space and make it more livable and enjoyable for the whole family."

This particular greenhouse cost Molino a bit less than $900 to build, and the size of it required a city permit. But greenhouses can be built for a lot less and at a smaller scale so that no permit is required. As the city goes through its comprehensive plan review, one thing planners will be asked to consider is how to both streamline the process and protect the ability of residents to incorporate these sort of projects into their yards.

Every board, nail and pane of glass was locally sourced, Molino said, including the unique roof, which is a green roof grown right here in Batavia.

Comprised of several varieties of sedum, which is a plant that stores water and grows well in a wide range of climate zones, green roofs help insulate a building, control stormwater runoff (and thereby inhibit the flow of pollutants into storm drains) and improve air quality.

Vegetal I.D. is a company based in Batavia (the U.S. division of the French company Le Prieuré) that grows trays of sedum for green roofs on land leased from C.Y. Farms. The company's customer base, said Sander Teensma, is within a 500-mile radius of Batavia, which brings in a variety of climates where these sedum roofs thrive.

"This is an idea that is gaining momentum," Teensma said. 

For the Molino family, the greenhouse is a project "that took on a life of its own," Jason said. For the past few years, the Molinos have been growing vegetables in their backyard, and as their children have gotten older, they've become more active participants in the process. It's a life-learning lesson the Molinos want to encourage. So they started talking about what they could do next -- more raised beds, a chicken coop, or perhaps a greenhouse.

Molino got his uncle involved and they started designing a greenhouse and finding sources of local material for construction. One thing led to another, and Molino decided a green roof would be perfect for the project, especially since there was a local company that could provide the roof.

And the whole project fits right in with the direction of the city's plan for a revised comprehensive plan that aims to focus on amenities and lifestyle choices for the up-and-coming generation of Americans who seek a life less defined by corporate dictates, more authentic in food choices and more environmentally conscious.

The comprehensive plan can help guide the city toward the kind of living environment people increasingly seem to be seeking so it doesn't lose out on the growth opportunity.

"We incorporate those ideas into the comprehensive plan so we advance the ideas and they can be done more easily," Molino said. "It helps market the community to capture a lot of the growth that's going to happen in the county over the next 10 years."

If projects such as STAMP are successful -- and the coming of 1366 Technologies is a hopeful sign -- then it should mean an influx of the kind of jobs Millennials will seek, then it's critical for Batavia to position itself as a livable community for those workers, or risk losing most of them to Buffalo or Rochester.

"The comprehensive plan reflects the values we want to see in the community over the next five to 10 years," Molino said. "We want to encourage and make it easier (to build these sorts of projects). If these are the amenities and quality-of-life features that people want, and we're seeing a trend when they buy homes and properties, how do we ensure that we can continue that trend and how can we build off of that? That's what the comprehensive plan does."


Craig Yunker, of C.Y. Farms, Jason Molino, Sander Teensma, and Paul Brent, production manager for Vegetal I.D.


November 8, 2015 - 11:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.


The watchword for the Batavia Blue Devils this football season has been relentless. Coach Brennan Briggs has it stenciled on the back of his game day windbreaker. But there's another word that can apply to the 2015 edition of the team: dominating.

Over the past six games, no opponent has been able to finish a game within three touchdowns of the Blue Devils. Whether on the ground or through the air, the Batavia offense has scorched every defense they've faced and the defense has been, well, relentless.

The Blue Devils started the year ranked #1 in a coaches' poll, but Briggs wouldn't discuss on the record how much confidence he had in his team. After today's win over Livonia by a score of 52-20 for the team's second straight Class B Section V title, Briggs admitted he believed this team was that good all along.

"It's what I expected," Briggs said. "I downplayed it all year because there was a lot of hype. I don't like the high expectations. I just like to out there and get the job done. The kids have answered the bell every single week."

Briggs (top photo with the trophy) is in his fourth season as head coach and he becomes the first head coach in school history with back-to-back sectional titles in football to his credit.

A lot of credit for today's win goes to the ground game led by Dom Mogavero and Ray Leach, and senior QB Greg Mruczek's performance was certainly title worthy, but what it really comes down to, the players say, is the play of the offensive and defensive lines.

"They've been incredible all season for us," said Mruczek, who was 9-11 passing for 158 yards and two TDs. "They work hard every single day at practice. They work hard. The trenches are where football games are won and I think people overlook that sometimes."

Mogavero put together another stellar performance, rushing for 177 yards on 14 carries, scoring twice, and he gave all the credit to the linemen.

"Those guys work hard in the trenches," Mogavero said. "They played their tails off."

Danny Williams, who has been a team leader on defense all season and had eight tackles today, said it's an amazing feeling to be part of a winning team that works so hard together.

"We're such a family," Williams said. "I've never been on team that's got my back more than this team does. However I play, they've got my back. If I mess up, there's somebody right there to make the tackle. If I don't mess up, I make the tackle or they make the tackle. It's so easy to get down, but they just help me pick up. It's great."

Batavia came ready to play a tough, physical game, Briggs said.

"The nice thing is, they're (Livonia) a smashmouth team and we wanted to show that 'hey, we can beat people up in the trenches and we can do a great job,' " Briggs said. "Our kids just played relentless football all day long. They wanted it and nobody was going to take it from them."

Trevor Sherwood had three catches for 32 yards and a TD, Malachi Chenault had two grabs for 15 yards and Anthony Gallo scored on a 60-yard TD reception, which was the second play of the game and set the tone for the day.

"It was definitely huge," Mogavero said. "It definitely gave us a little kickstart."

That well-balanced game is part of what makes Batavia hard to beat, Briggs said.

"We have athletes all over the field and we also have tough guys in the trenches, and if we want to run the ball we can run it," Briggs said. "If we want to throw it, we can throw it. A lot of it comes down to what we're seeing, what we think we can do and what we can do to open other things up. Our line, our receivers and our running backs -- all of them together just make a great football team."

Next week, we get to find out if Batavia is indeed that good. They will play Cheektowaga for the Far West Regional Championship, a stepping-stone to a shot at a state championship game. The Blue Devils went into last season's regional with high expectations, only to bump into the reality of the Warriors, losing 35-18. The 2015 edition of the Warriors are 12-0 and have as many dominating wins as Batavia.

They players are eager to go against the Warriors, they said, with some thoughts of avenging last year's loss and some just out to prove they deserve the victory.

"We're going to want some revenge, but we've got play hard just like we played today and then we'll see what that score, what that outcome, is," Williams said.

Mruczek is excited at the prospect of matching up with Cheektowaga again.

That's definitely going to be a fun game," Mruczek said. "We're all looking forward to the opportunity to play them again for sure."

Asked if the team was looking for a chance for revenge, Mogavero wouldn't go there, not quite.

"We're definitely grateful for the opportunity to play them again this year," Mogavero said.

Briggs downplayed any talk of revenge, even after saying, "we feel like we owe it to them."

"They're a great football team," Briggs said. "We're going to have to come prepared and I know they're going to come prepared."

Game time for the regional is 1 p.m., Sunday, at Sahlen's Stadium.



Anthony Gallo made a 60-yard TD reception on the second play of the game, and after that, there was no more looking back for the Blue Devils.


Dom Mogavero scores on a two-point conversion after Gallo's TD reception.


Ray Leach on the carry.


Ray Leach headed for the end zone.








To purchase prints of game photos by Howard Owens, click here.

Slide show of photos by Howard Owens:

Slide show of photos by Jim Burns:

November 8, 2015 - 6:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Thurway, accident.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported in the area of mile marker 397.5 on the eastbound Thruway.

The injuries initially described are not serious.

East Pembroke fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 6:16 p.m.: A second Mercy ambulance requested to the scene, non-emergency.

November 7, 2015 - 9:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, business.


Steve Foster got into the handcrafted gift business when he started making metal sculptures at Adams Welding and Fabrication, and today he expanded the gift business into a space open to other crafters. On the Adams Welding property, 5782 Main Road, Stafford, Foster opened a gift shop filled with crafts of his own creation along with other artisans who have brought items by for him to sell.




November 7, 2015 - 8:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hockey, sports, batavia, Falleti Ice Arena.


It was Try Hockey for Free Day at Falleti Ice Arena and Nora, almost 3, couldn't wait to play, said her father Brian Gildner. In fact, Nora is eager to play every time Brian takes her older brother to practice.




November 7, 2015 - 6:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Le Roy, Stafford.
   David Martin

A 54-year-old Batavia resident is facing an attempted assault on a police officer charge after allegedly trying to drive his vehicle away from a traffic stop while an officer's arm was inside the vehicle.

David J. Martin, of Elm Street, allegedly led law enforcement on a pursuit into Stafford, where he was stopped with the aid of spike strips.

Following arraignment on several charges, including DWI, Martin was jailed without bail.

The incident began with a traffic stop after a Le Roy PD officer observed a vehicle in the village without license plates. Martin was identified as the operator. The officer observed that it appeared Martin had been involved in some sort of altercation. During the investigation, officers came to believe Martin had been driving drunk. Martin was instructed to step out of the vehicle, which, at that point, had its engine shut off. Martin allegedly started the engine and while patrols attempted to prevent Martin from putting the vehicle in drive, Martin allegedly started driving away while an officer's arm was still in the vehicle. Martin allegedly continued on the roadway and patrols tried to get him to stop.

Charges against Martin include: attempted assault on a police officer, a Class D felony; DWI, second offense, a Class E felony; aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony; unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree, a Class A misdemeanor; resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor; obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor; two counts of reckless driving, a misdemeanor; no distinctive plate, a violation; driver’s view obstructed, a violation; unsafe start, a violation; two counts of improper or unsafe turn/turn without signal, a violation failure to keep right, a violation; and refusal to take a breath test, a violation. Along with these charges, the Genesee County Sherriff’s Office has also charged Martin with: fleeing a police officer in motor vehicle in the third degree; speed over state limit/55 mph, a violation; and speed in zone, a violation.

Martin is scheduled to reappear in Town of Le Roy Court at 1 p.m., Nov. 19.

November 7, 2015 - 5:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, jeff redband, UB Bulls.


That's Jeff Redband, the former Batavia HS hoops star, in the white shirt, though, technically, he's a redshirt.  

Redband is sitting out his freshman season at Daemen College as a redshirt, giving him time to develop his game for the Division II level. He can practice with the team, but can't suit up for games. The status allows him to avoid losing a year of NCAA eligibility.

Daemen kicked off it's first official Division II season with an exhibition game against the UB Bulls, a Division I team that made the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, but was rocked in the off season by some key personnel changes.

Head coach Bobby Hurley left to take a position at a higher level university and last season's MAC player of the year, Justin Moss, was dismissed from the university for an alleged theft from a dorm room.

The Nate Oaks era, however, started in fine style, with the Bulls dominating Daemen 87-68.  The Bulls played the aggressive brand of basketball, which Oaks prefers, though were bedeviled by 24 turnovers.

Oaks, in his first season as a Division I head coach, has a reputation for being the top-flight recruiter, and the early returns for his freshman class look good.  C.J. Massinburg, from Dallas, scored 25 points, going 5-6 from beyond the arc and snagging five rebounds. Nick Perkins, a freshman from Ypsilanti, Mich., scored 12 points and had eight rebounds.   (In photos, Massinburg is 3 and Perkins is 33.)













November 6, 2015 - 6:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, byron.

A car vs. tree accident is reported in the area of 7691 Caswell Road.

There are unknown injuries.

Byron and South Byron fire departments along with Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: A utility pole may also have been hit.

UPDATE 6:37 p.m.: Byron is back in service.

November 6, 2015 - 5:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, accident.

A two-vehicle accident in which at least one vehicle has rolled over and a person is trapped is reported in the area of 7205 Oak Orchard Road, Elba.

Elba fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: Mercy EMS transporting two to UMMC.

November 6, 2015 - 5:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee valley wind ensemble, music, entertainment, elba.

The Genesee Valley Wind Ensemble kicks off its third season with a 4 p.m show Nov. 15 at Elba Central School with pieces by John Williams, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Mark Camphouse, among other composers.

Yvonne Freeman, a member of the ensemble and a board member sat down with Lucine Kauffman for her WBTA show called "Genesee Life" and discussed the ensemble and upcoming show.

Freeman said the program is intended to be challenging and provide a wide variety of classic and modern sounds for the whole family.

Chap's Elba Diner, normally closed on Sunday evenings, will open after the concert and provide discounted dinners to ticket holders.

There are two major differences between a wind ensemble and a typical orchestra, Freeman said. First, there are no strings, and second, there is typically one musician per part.

"Each person has to be really good at their part," Freeman said. "There's nobody else that is going to cover those measures that are tough."

To listen to the entire interview, visit the Genesee Life page on WBTA's Web site.

November 6, 2015 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, byron, Le Roy.

Andre Bailey, 28, of Rochester, is charged with grand larceny, 3rd. Bailey is accused of stealing $4,000 from the bank safe at Woodforest National Bank, located inside Walmart. Bailey was employed by the bank.

Jay D. Schutt, 27, of Le Roy, is charged with DWI. Schutt was stopped by State Police on Warsaw Road, Le Roy, for allegedly speeding. At the Batavia barracks, he allegedly tested with a BAC of .16.

A 17-year-old resident of Pearl Street Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. The youth is accused of intentionally damaging the property of a family member while the person was not at home. He was jailed on $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond.

A 17-year-old resident of Route 237, Byron, is charged with forcible touching. The youth is accused of grabbing a fellow student's body parts. 

November 6, 2015 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, Bullying.


Press release (submitted photos):

For the third year, the Byron-Bergen Elementary School community of students and teachers united to celebrate their culture of diversity and anti-bullying.

The afternoon of October 27 began with a school tradition: the photograph of more than 500 students, taken from the vantage point of the school's rooftop. Their matching anti-bullying T-shirts featured the District's strategic goal for the year, "Creating leaders one student at a time."

After the photo was taken, the school gathered for its annual Anti-Bullying Assembly. Principal Brian Meister started things off with an acknowledgement of the District's recent designation by as a New York District of Character, thanking the students for making their school a shining example.

Much of the afternoon's entertainment was based on Carol McCloud's award-winning book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" "Bucket fillers" say and do nice things and help fill people's emotional buckets with positive feelings, while "bucket dippers" treat others hurtfully and leave them feeling sad and empty. Teachers and students presented a gameshow-type skit, complete with prizes, where student contestants had to guess whether teachers were demonstrating bucket-filling or bucket-dipping behavior. 

The school recognized participants in the 2015 Empire State Games with a special video commemoration of the event and an awards presentation. The proud winners included students: Camryn Brookhart, Robbie Gaylord, John Klafehn, Draven Liles, Chelsea Vanelli, and Emily Yun.

The school's Students of the Month and the Sixth-Grade Safety Patrol also received special honors.

The assembly included music, provided by the sixth-grade choir, a great dance number illustrating beauty in diversity, and a promise from the newest Pre-K members of the Byron-Bergen school community, to support others and report bullying behavior. Older students led the assembly in reciting the Seven Habits from the school's Leader in Me Program, which along with the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program forms the foundation for Byron-Bergenís character-building success. 

For more information on the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program visit HYPERLINK "" For information on The Leader in Me visit HYPERLINK ""  

November 6, 2015 - 3:19pm

Press release:

On Friday, Nov. 6th, the Veterans One-stop Center of Western New York officially opened its Batavia office. Located at 29 Liberty St., the Grand Opening and Open House gave the community an opportunity to visit the new space and meet Veterans One-stop Center of WNY staff. Stakeholders from the community were present to support the event.

“Today is a wonderful day for the Veterans community. This community has been in need of this type of organization for decades and I look forward to working with the Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY and continuing to help Veterans in the community,” said Gary Horton, member of the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY Board of Directors and former board member of the Genesee Veterans Support Network.

In July of this year, the Genesee Veterans Support Network consolidated with the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY.

“For the past year, we have been privileged to work with dedicated veterans’ advocates in Genesee and Wyoming counties to make this day possible,” said Roger L. Woodworth, president & CEO of the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY. “We look forward to continuing to work with the community to invest in our veterans, providing access to opportunities that allow veterans to continue to serve as civic assets.”

With the opening of the new Batavia office, the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY will be able to more effectively empower veterans in the region through their successful model of community impact. Veterans and military family members will have access to services that lead to economic success, housing stability, and emotional health and well being.

The Veterans One-stop Center of WNY provides local support for veterans in collaboration with existing local, regional and national resources.

November 6, 2015 - 3:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement after President Obama formally rejected the Keystone XL pipeline.

“President Obama once again put politics ahead of American job opportunities and the energy security interests of our country,” Congressman Collins said. “Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline wastes an opportunity for America to achieve energy independence and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.”

November 6, 2015 - 9:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Thomas Rocket Car, batavia, history.


Caked in decades of dust, pockmarked with dings, dimples and rust, the Thomas "Rocket Car" was tucked snuggly into Dick McClurg's garage Thursday afternoon and Ken Witt smiled like a child who just got his first bike.

"She's finally back home," he said.

Witt, like other members of the volunteer crew who helped retrieve the car from a barn in Lockport, where it's been stored since 1977, admitted he's had a few sleepless nights in anticipation of bringing the car back to Batavia.

"That has been exciting, the last couple of days, when we were getting these guys coordinated, all of us were saying, 'It's coming home,' " Witt said. "We've all been waiting to get it here."

The Thomas "Rocket Car" was designed by former Batavia resident Charles D. Thomas. He and Norman Richardson, a talented welder and body man just out of high school, built the car in a rented garage near Main and Ellicott Avenue in 1938. The design, and several innovations in the car, such as a rearview periscope and independent suspension, were dreamed up by Thomas while working on his 1935 thesis for the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Mich.

Once the car was built, Thomas tried to interest any one of the Big Three in Detroit to move the car into production. But whether the automakers felt threatened, or because of the prospect of the World War, or it would have been too expensive to retool, all three companies took a pass. One Detroit executive reportedly told Thomas that his car was 10 years ahead of its time. Thomas went onto a successful career in Buffalo with the maker of the Playboy automobile, and he apparently kept the Thomas car and drove it for some time.

When the car arrived at McClurg's, Witt took an odometer reading: 96,296.

The car was acquired by a group of local antique car buffs, including Witt and Dick Moore, from Gary Alt, of Lockport.

Alt, whose antique car collection consists of a dozen Chevys from the 1930s, found the Thomas wasting away in a field in Batavia in 1977 when he drove out here with the intention of buying a 1934 parts car. When he saw the Thomas, he had no idea what it was. He'd never seen it before or heard of it, but he knew it was unique and worth saving, so he bought it and the parts car and hauled them back to his farm property near Lockport.

The car has been stored in a barn since, and Alt sort of became the car's historian. He tracked down Charles Thomas and Norm Richardson in Buffalo and interviewed them and acquired a binder full of documentation on the car. He wrote an article about the car a few years ago for an antique auto magazine, which is how Witt and Moore became aware that the car still existed.

"It's time to go to another home and let someone else enjoy it," Alt said of his decision to finally sell it.

The local group will restore it, with McClurg heading up the task at his Old World body shop on West Main, and when the work is complete, hopefully by July, the car will be donated to the City of Batavia so it can be put on public display and hopefully become a tourist attraction.

Alt clearly relished showing off the car to the buyers when they came to pick it up Thursday. He told them all about the grill work, the engine, the solid fenders, the blue leather interior, the periscope, the original die kit and showed off the dozen or so original pictures he had obtained. He's taken loving care of it, even if he never got around to restoring it himself.

It has, however, been restored once before, probably in the 1950s, though it's unclear who might have done that work.

The current grill is not quite the original grill designed by Thomas (McClurg will restore the grill to its original design), and while it's apparent the original color of the car was maroon, it was painted red when it was restored. That red faded to pink during the years prior to 1977 that it sat outside.

Those years in a field also took its toll on the chassis. The undercarriage is nearly rusted through. The only thing holding it together is the car's solid body, though it's rusted at the edges. The frame will likely need to be refabricated, but the restoration crew has a leg up on where to turn, potentially, for the work: Graham Manufacturing.

In all the paperwork saved by Alt is a complete list by Thomas and Richardson of every piece of material that went into building the car and where it was sourced. The original frame was fabricated at Graham, as it turns out.  

McClurg, who is officially retired from the auto restoration business, is used to working on cars for which there are thousands of companies, meaning a supply of spare parts, but with the Rocket Car, there's only one. But McClurg said that won't be a problem.

"Rust doesn't care," McClurg said. "Everything is there to work with. You either have to refabricate or work with what's there. It's just got to be done. It's all labor intensive."

Once the car was out of the barn yesterday, Witt got to see the car all the way around for the first time, and he admitted to a sense of awe and wonder.

"It's unimaginable to me, and I've been collecting cars since the early '60s, to think that really, a couple of guys, Richardson and Thomas, were able to do this, because many of the sheet metal things were handcrafted," Witt said. "We've even unloaded the tools used when this was crafted, when it was shipped, and to think of the engineering, it was truly 10 years ahead of its time."





Norm Richardson with the Thomas in a photo that was part of Gary Alt's collection.






Norm Wright, left, Dick McClurg, Ken Witt, Dave Salway and Gary Alt.


Back home in Batavia ... 


Ken Witt checks the odometer.




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