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August 5, 2017 - 1:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, patriots trip, veterans, news, Announcements.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) poses with veterans and their family members in front of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., during a previous year’s Patriot Trip.  

Submitted photo and press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) would like to remind veterans of his upcoming 10thAnnual Patriot Trip to Washington D.C., which will take place from Sept. 21 -24. In 2016, more than 100 veterans and their family members attended the trip.

The Patriot Trip provides these heroes with a great opportunity to connect with fellow veterans and honor the memory of their fallen brothers and sisters.

All veterans, even those who have attended the trip previously or live outside of the 139thAssembly District, can still sign up. The approximate cost of the trip is $375, which includes meals, transportation and admission to the memorials.

“Having the opportunity to meet and spend time with so many local veterans truly is a blessing and I can honestly say I look forward to this trip every year,” Hawley said.

“There is still plenty of room for veterans to sign up, even those who have been on a previous year’s trip, and I encourage all veterans and their family members who are interested to look into joining us on this spectacular journey.”

Attractions Hawley plans to visit this year on the trip include:

  • Gettysburg
  • World War II Memorial
  • Korean Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Vietnam Memorial
  • Naval Academy at Annapolis
  • Arlington National Cemetery with wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns

Dinner at the Spates Community Club on Fort Meyer

**Staying at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, Md.**

*Early registrants will be visiting the White House, others will visit an Embassy and/or the U.S. Capitol*

If you or a veteran you know want more information about this year’s Patriot Trip X, please call 585-589-5780 or email [email protected]. To view photos from previous years, use the following link: http://vetsdctrip2008.shutterfly.com/.

August 4, 2017 - 10:03am
posted by Jack Keenan in hlom, batavia, veterans, news.

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The Holland Land Office Museum honored veterans in a special ceremony at the museum on Thursday night.

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July 31, 2017 - 1:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in Alabama, news, Announcements, veterans.

Press release:

The Town of Alabama Historical Society will host a dedication ceremony of the Town of Alabama Veterans Memorial at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5.

The event will take place at the Alabama Town Hall, located at 2218 Judge Road, South Alabama.

Light refreshments will be served. The Town Museum will also be open.

If you would like more information about the Veterans Memorial, please contact Joe Cassidy, of the Town of Alabama Historical Society at (585) 813-2812 or email [email protected]

July 1, 2017 - 11:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, veterans, news.

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Funeral services were held today for Master Sgt. Charles L. Higgins, a former Batavia resident who died June 19 at age 36.

Higgins served in the Army and Army National Guard from 1999 to 2017. 

For his full obituary, click here.

June 19, 2017 - 1:05pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in news, batavia, veterans.

Press release:

Victor Roberts, veterans benefits advisor, NYS Division of Veterans' Affairs, will be at the Downtown Batavia Public Market this Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to distribute NYS FreshConnect Checks to local veterans.

FreshConnect Veterans Checks are a component of Governor Cuomo's "New York Fresh Connect Farmers' Markets" (FreshConnect) program. The program is designed to assist New York farmers by increasing the sale of locally grown food in communities.

FreshConnect checks will be issued as a one-time annual benefit: 10 - $2 checks ($20) -- one packet per household, per season. Checks will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis to veterans and current members of the Armed Forces of the United States, members of their immediate families, including un-remarried surviving spouses of a veteran.

Employees of New York State and veterans or service members with immediate family members employed by New York State are not eligible for FreshConnect checks.

"Recipients will not require ID," Roberts said, "but they will need to sign a form accepting the program's rules and regulations."

"The checks can be used to purchase fresh produce from participating vendors at the Market," said Market Manager Mike Bakos. "The Market is excited to be a distribution point for FreshConnect Veterans Checks and we thank all of our veterans for their service to our great country."

June 15, 2017 - 4:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ptsd clinic, VA Hospital, batavia, veterans, news.

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As part of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, the VA in Batavia hosted a speaker series today featuring three veterans who have been through the trials of PTSD and recovered.

Dr. Caryn Di Landro, head of the PTSD clinic at the Batavia VA, said the people who attended -- members of the community interested in PTSD journeys, veterans in general, veterans receiving service at the clinic and staff working with veterans with PTSD -- were there to learn more about the experiences of those who have suffered from the condition.

The three speakers were Dr. Jessica Goodell, a psychology intern at the clinic, Marine Corps veteran, and author of "Shade It Black: Death and After Iraq"; Nicholas Stefanovic, from the Rochester Treatment Court and Marine Corp veteran; and, Earl Granville, former Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman and veteran of Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia.

Granville, in photos, told his own stories and the stories of others about the journey from trauma to finding a new purpose in helping others.

This is an annual event open to all members of the community.

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June 12, 2017 - 2:46pm

Press release:

As part of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, VA Western NY Healthcare System will host its second annual awareness event beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 15, at the Batavia VA Medical Center's Building #4 Auditorium.

The complex is located at 222 Richmond Ave. in the City of Batavia.

"Take a Knee" on PTSD is open all and is intended to increase awareness of the health issues surrounding PTSD and potential treatment options. The program ends at 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Attending and sharing their experiences will be:

  • Psychology intern and Marine Corps veteran Jessica Goodall, author of "Shade it Black: Death and After in Iraq," (written with John Hearn);
  • Nicholas Stefanovic, Rochester Treatment Center and Marine Corps veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF);
  • Earl Granville, former Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman and veteran of Operation Joint Forge -- Bosnia, OIF and OEF.

For more information, call Amberley Roberts, LMSW, or the PTSD Program, 1-585-297-1200.

June 12, 2017 - 7:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Middle School, batavia, news, veterans.

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Mia Schrader, a student at Batavia Middle School, read her winning essay yesterday on what the American Flag means to her during a Flag Day ceremony at the VA Hospital in Batavia.

Students at the school wrote essays and made paper flags for the veterans and took part in the celebration yesterday, which included a performance by St. Joe's Brass Band.

All of the student essays were bound into the book to leave at the VA Center for the veterans to read and one copy, along with a Certificate of Appreciation, was given to Stephen Stanko by Frank Panepento. Stanko is a Vietnam veteran, serving in Vietnam from 1967-69 with the Marines.

Mia said she appreciated the flag because it symbolizes the sacrifices others have made so she can live in peace and security and pursue an education and the activities in life she enjoys.

"I think if you can’t talk to the people who have served us and thank them in person for what they have done, then look to the American flag," Mia said. "That is definitely a way to thank the people who have served us."

Listen to Schrader read her essay (mp3).

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June 10, 2017 - 11:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, batavia, news.

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Karie Schmigel wipes a tear away during a ceremony dedicating a memorial bench for her daughter, Sgt. Shaina B. Schmigel, this afternoon at War Memorial at St. Jerome's in Batavia.

Sgt. Schmigel, a paratrooper, died in a training exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 30, 2014.

During her military career, Schmigel served in Iraq in 2011 and earned the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Army Good Conduct Medal.

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June 9, 2017 - 8:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Flag Day, veterans, va center, batavia, news.

It would mean a lot to Frank Panepento if you would come out to the VA Center in Batavia at 1 p.m. on Sunday to celebrate Flag Day with our veterans.

It will mean a lot to him because it means a lot to the veterans living at the center.

Panepento helped organize the event, which will include a motorcycle procession from Stan's Harley-Davidson and a presentation by students from Batavia Middle School, who wrote essays on what the flag means to them. 

The BMS Art Department also created flags for the veterans.

"For the residents in the hospital, just to know that someone cares about them is huge," Panepento said.

St. Joe's Brass Ensemble, which Penepento leads, will also play.

June 4, 2017 - 5:50pm

Submitted photo and press release:

A Memorial Day Parade is a proud tradition of the Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post 576 in Le Roy. Families typically gather along with other Legion families at the Post for their annual cookout. A special Brick Dedication, new to this year’s activities, also took place at the Post's Veterans Memorial after the ceremonial parade.

The Veterans Memorial Brick Program is a great way to honor a special veteran in your life by engraving a brick with their name.

This practice of pride provides a place of honor and reflection for veterans, their family and friends, and those who desire to show their respects to those service men and women who have and continue to boldly serve our county.

A 4-inch-by-8-inch engraved brick costs $50 (with wording space for 40 characters); an 8-ich-by-8-inch engraved brick costs $100 (with wording space for 60 characters).

Ladies Auxiliary Member Barb Schlonski, in photo on far left, is holding a brick in honor of her father’s Army military service, World War II TEC 4, Charles E. Birge. When returning home, the American Legion was of special significance to Charles and Helen Birge, where they enjoyed a lifetime of social and community events.

Mary Birge, second from left, also a member of the Ladies Auxiliary, is holding a brick in observance of their mother, Helen M. Birge, for her years of Auxiliary Services.

Barbara Howard, third from left, and American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Public Relations Representative Jeanice Howard, proudly share a brick in admiration of their father, Henry, who stood on “Red Alert” during the Cuban Missile Crisis. PFC Howard served in the Army from 1961 to 1963. The sisters have also dedicated a brick to deceased uncle Michael T. Howard, who courageously served in Vietnam.

Le Roy's American Legion Post has been host to numerous events through the years, such as card games, bingo, breakfasts, holiday celebrations, bowling and the site is available to the community for wedding parties and local churches in time of need.

To visit Le Roy's Post 576 online, click here:

To view a copy of the order form to buy a Veterans Memorial Brick from the Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post 576, click here.

You can print it out, fill in the blanks, then mail it with your check to the Legion in Le Roy. Checks should be made payable to American Legion Post 576. All the details, including the address, are on the form.

Pictured in uniform representing Servicemen's Club of the Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post #576 in Le Roy are, from left: Past Commander Don Schafer, Vice Commander Jerry Diskin and present Post CommanderJohn "Chip" Graney. Pictured standing below them are members of the Post's Ladies Auxiliary, from left, Barb Schlonski, Mary Birge, Barbara Howard and Jeanice Howard.

May 29, 2017 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Memorial Day, veterans, batavia, news.

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To purchase prints, click here.

May 27, 2017 - 2:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Memorial Day, batavia, news.

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Veterans, other volunteers, and family members were in cemeteries throughout the area today to replace worn flags and place new flags on the graves of the men and women who served in the U.S. military.

It's an annual tradition locally to honor military personnel on Memorial Day Weekend.

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Emilio Rosales, 8, places a flag at Elmwood Cemetary. Also placing flags was his sister, Valentina, 5.

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Daniel Tomaszewski and his family, from Freedonia, made their annual trip to the St. Joe's Cemetery in Batavia to plant flowers on the grave site of his parents, who grew up and were married in Batavia before moving to Freedonia. With Daniel are wife Kristin, daughter Josephine and son Mason.

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Tim Burch places a flag at a marker in Elmwood Cemetery.

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Don Morris at Elmwood.

May 17, 2017 - 3:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, news, veterans, Announcements.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced that his 10th annual Patriot Trip to Washington, D.C,. will take place Sept. 21 – 24. More than 100 veterans and their family members participated in the 2016 trip, which included stories of valiant service members and valuable time spent together reflecting on the courage and dedication exhibited by our nation’s veterans.

Hawley is a longtime supporter of veterans and has served on the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee since 2006.

Only veterans who have never been on the trip before may sign up now. After Aug. 1, veterans who have been on the trip before and those living outside of the 139th Assembly District may apply. The approximate cost of the trip is $350, which includes meals, transportation and admission to the memorials.

“I look forward to this trip each year as a way to give back to those who have served our country and remember those who have perished in combat,” Hawley said. “I came up with this idea after a similar trip I took with my father, a World War II veteran.

"Through the experiences of my father and my own service in the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, I have gained a tremendous understanding and respect for the sacrifices endured by our veterans. It is for these reasons that I continue the Patriot Trip each year and have solidified it as one of the staples of my service to our community.”

Attractions Hawley plans to visit this year on the trip include:

  • White House 
  • WWII Memorial
  • Gettysburg Memorial
  • Korean War Memorial
  • Vietnam War Memorial
  • Iwo Jima – The Marine Corps Memorial
  • American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
  • Air Force Memorial
  • 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon
  • Arlington National Cemetery, including the Changing of the Guard
  • Wreath Laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns – Vietnam Veterans

If you or a veteran you know want more information about this year’s Patriot Trip X, please call 585-589-5780 or email [email protected]. To view photos from previous years, use the following link: http://vetsdctrip2008.shutterfly.com/.

May 10, 2017 - 2:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, veterans, Memorial Day.

Press release from the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency:

Below is the Memorial Day schedule of ceremonies in Genesee County for Monday, May 29. All ceremonies will include at least full military honors: wreath laying, rifle salute and taps.

7 a.m.  –  Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Genesee County Park, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 193. (GC Park & Forest: 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany)

8 a.m.  –  Williams Park (Batavia) WWI Memorial. This memorial honors the 35 Batavians who gave their lives in the First World War. (Williams Park: 101 Pearl St., Batavia)

8:30 a.m.  --  Batavia VA Medical Center, at the main flagpole, sponsored by the VAMC. (Batavia VAMC: 222 Richmond Ave., Batavia)

8:45 a.m. (approx.)  --  NYS Veterans Home, at the main flagpole, sponsored by the NYS Veterans Home. (NYS Veterans Home: 220 Richmond Ave., Batavia)

9:30 a.m.  --  Upton Monument. This monument honors the dead of the Civil War, and all wars since. (Upton Monument: Junction of Main and Ellicott streets, Downtown Batavia)

10 a.m.  –  Veterans Plot on Harvester Avenue. This memorial honors all war dead of all wars in Elmwood and St. Joseph’s cemeteries.

10:30 a.m.  –  UMMC Jerome Center (16 Bank St., Batavia). This is the site of the Genesee County War Memorial, honoring all war dead from Genesee County. The Batavia Concert Band will perform patriotic music starting at 10 a.m., with ceremonies to follow. The names of county veterans who have died since the previous Memorial Day will be read and a flag placed to honor each of them. Memorial services will be carried out by Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post #332; Hansen Brothers Marine Corps League Detachment #951; Veness-Strollo Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1602; Disabled American Veterans Chapter #166; and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #193. (Note: There will be a new sound system in use.)

April 24, 2017 - 10:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in VFW Post 1602, batavia, veterans, Sea Cadets, news.

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A contingent of Navy Sea Cadets volunteered their time Saturday to help clean the grounds of the VFW Hall on Edwards Street, Batavia. The exterior work comes after members recently completed interior renovations.

January 28, 2017 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in AMERICAN LEGION POST #576, Le Roy, news, Help Our Heroes, veterans.

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As part of a three-day event to raise money to assist veterans, the American Legion Post #576 is hosting a four-man bowling tournament at Legion Lanes, 53 W. Main St., Le Roy.

The fundraiser began on Friday night and continues today and Sunday with squads at noon and 3 p.m. -- and will also feature a chicken BBQ this afternoon, and a chance auction and a raffle through Sunday.

Last year, the event, now in its third year, raised $1,800 for the VA and the Disabled Veterans of America. This year, said Scott O'Neill, the post hopes to raise more than $2,000.

It's not too late to enter -- openings are available -- but if you're unable to make the event, donations can be mailed to:

Help Our Heroes/Scott O'Neill
American Legion Post #576
53 W. Main St.
Le Roy, NY 14482

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January 27, 2017 - 6:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia VA Center, batavia, news, veterans.

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A new, $2.8 million renovation project at the VA designed to improve the conditions of long-term veteran residents of the Community Living Center, Maple Lodge, was unveiled today in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by veterans, VA staff and dignitaries. 

Maple Lodge is a completely gutted, redesigned and renovated wing of the VA Hospital in Batavia and features 19 private rooms and one semi-private room.

There were upgrades to central heating, air conditioning, and ventilation. 

The design consists of an open kitchen, eating areas, and several living room spaces complete with a fireplace. The kitchen table always has snacks or fruit available along with coffee, tea, and the ability to make fresh-baked goods, reinforcing the home atmosphere. Lastly, all rooms now have state-of-the-art lifting equipment for a safe patient environment that concurrently lowers the risk of staff injury.

John McCune, a disabled veteran living at the lodge, spoke during the ceremony and praised the comfort of the renovations and the great care and support he gets from the staff.

"It's a thankless job they do in many instances, but for me, I try to thank them each and every day, because I do appreciate the job they do, especially for somebody like me," McCune said.

He also praised his fellow lodge residents.

"It wouldn't be a brotherhood without each individual's unique story that comes along with living here," he said. "I can't tell you truthfully and honestly from the first time coming onto the ward, it's a home."

Several speakers praised all the individuals who helped make the renovations possible, from the VA leadership to the local maintenance staff and administration staff members.

"This is truly a community living center," said Kimberly Kwietniewski, geriatric and extended care line manager. "As you know, it takes a village, and if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to care for our wonderful heroes."

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Kimberly Kwietniewski

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John McCune

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Richard Collins, a World War II veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

January 4, 2017 - 1:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, agriculture, veterans.

Press release: 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced today that he has been reappointed Assistant Minority Leader of the Assembly and will sit on the Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, Insurance, Ways and Means and Rules committees.

“After a relaxing holiday season, I am excited to get back to work on behalf of the citizens in my district and continue to make strides rebuilding our infrastructure, securing crucial education funding, protecting our vets and fighting Albany corruption,” Hawley said. “I am overjoyed to have the great opportunity to serve on such important committees in the Assembly, and look forward to offering my expertise as a small-business owner when it comes to insurance and agriculture issues.”

This is the first term that Hawley will serve on the Rules Committee, which is the final stop for many bills before they reach the floor for a vote. It is also the group that controls many important operations of the House.

“The Assembly Rules Committee is one of the most important governing bodies in Albany, and I couldn’t be more honored to serve as one of its members,” Hawley said. “This committee is usually the final stop for legislation before it either comes to the floor for a vote or dies in committee. This is an excellent opportunity to safeguard upstate against radical and misguided legislation supported by downstate special interests, and I plan to do just that.”

December 2, 2016 - 11:14am

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Press release:

On Friday, Dec. 2, funeral directors Justin Calarco-Smith, Joshua Smith and Steven Johnson of the H.E. Turner & Co., Bohm-Calarco-Smith, and Burdett & Sanford Funeral Homes were honored to present a check in the amount of $1,000 to Jim Neider and Tom Cecere of the Joint Veterans Honor Guard of Genesee County. 

This donation was made in the names of the 31 area veterans who the funeral home group was privileged to arrange funeral services for in the past year. 

The Joint Veterans Honor Guard is a dedicated group of volunteers comprised of veterans from across our county. They provide funeral honors to our fallen. The honors include a color guard, the playing of TAPS, and a firing squad. This year, they have rendered honors to more than 60 fallen veterans throughout Genesee County.

One of only a handful of such organizations statewide, Genesee County is extremely fortunate to have selfless volunteers who are at the ready in a moment’s notice.  They stand, without complaint, in the heat, cold, wind, snow and rain to pay final tribute to their comrades. 

“We are humbled by the members of our community who selflessly served this great nation. Additionally, we consider it a privilege to care for our veterans and their families when called upon,” said Funeral Director Justin Calarco-Smith, who along Joshua Smith, Randy McIntire, James Smith and Steven Johnson operate H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Homes in Batavia and Bergen, Bohm-Calarco-Smith Funeral Home in Batavia, and the Burdett & Sanford Funeral Home in Oakfield.

“This donation will allow us to continue to honor and serve Genesee County’s veterans in the manner they deserve for a long time to come,” said Jim Neider, commander of the Honor Guard.

The funeral homes plan to honor the veterans they care for annually by making similar donations to a local veterans organization each year.

Photo: Steven Johnson, Tom Cecere, Joshua Smith, Jim Neider and Justin Calarco-Smith.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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