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October 6, 2022 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, Le Roy, notify, Alexander, elba, Oakfield.
Daniel Goodell

Daniel Lee Goodell, 41, of South Volutia Street, Wichita, Kan., is charged with sex abuse 1st. Goodell was arrested by the Sherriff's Office on a warrant in Kansas and returned to New York. He is accused of sexually abusing children less than 11 years old in 2009 and 2010 in Alexander.  He was arraigned in Town of Alexander Court and ordered held without bail. Goodell was also arrested by State Police and charged with 12 counts of Sexual Abuse 1st, 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of sexual conduct with a child. The State Police alleged that between 2019 and 2021, Goodell abused children less than 14 years old on multiple occasions. Goodell moved from New York before the criminal investigation was opened, according to State Police. Goodell was extradited from Kansas on Sept. 30.  On the State Police charges, he was arraigned in Town of Alexander Court and ordered held on $30,000 bail or $60,000 bond.

Delonta R. Curry, 21, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds and criminal possession of a weapon. Curry is accused of possessing a weapon on school grounds on Feb. 13 at 8:26 p.m. on Washington Avenue. He was arrested on a warrant on Sept. 24, arraigned in City Court, and ordered held on bail.

Shawn R. Wisniewski, 33, of Medina, is charged with petit larceny. Wisniewski is accused of stealing from a business on Jackson Street on Sept. 20 at 10:36 a.m. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Chazmar T. Walters, 29, of Le Roy, was arrested on a warrant on Aug. 15. The nature of the warrant was not released. Walters was released and ordered to appear in City Court at a later date.

Daniel T. Henning, 42, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property 5th. Henning is accused of possessing stolen property while on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, on March 28 at 2:55 p.m. He was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and released on his own recognizance.

Jolene Y. Stevens, 33, no permanent address, is charged with failure to appear. Stevens was arrested on multiple warrants. She was arraigned in City Court and ordered held on $500 bail, $1,000 bond, or $5,000 partially secured bond.

Phillip P. Heale, 44, of Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass 3rd. Heale is accused of being on property he was previously banned from being on. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Evan F. Maynard, 21, of Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd. Maynard is accused of being involved in a disturbance on Sept. 24 at 8:24 p.m. at a location on East Main Street, Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Justin T. Calmes, 44, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Calmes is accused of violating an order of protection on Aug. 29 at midnight. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Jennifer L. Cudney, 41, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and operating a vehicle with a suspended registration. Cudney was stopped on Sept. 18 at 7:31 p.m. on Bank Street by a Batavia patrol officer. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Jason H. Freeman, 41, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Freeman is accused of stealing beer from a business on Jackson Street on Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Jeffrey A. Hewitt, 43 of Le Roy, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, failure to properly signal, driver's view obstructed, unlicensed driver, and aggravated unlicensed operation 1st. Hewitt was stopped by a Batavia patrol office on Sept. 25 at 10:37 a.m. on Summit Street. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Laura B. Beatty, 44, of Batavia, is charged with unlawful dealing with a child 1st. Beatty is accused of providing alcohol to a juvenile at her residence on Oak Street on Sept. 24 at 10:05 p.m. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Brian M. Raphael, 34, of Batavia, and Michelle L. Misiak, 57, of Batavia are charged with petit larceny. Raphael and Misiak are accused of stealing groceries on Sept. 27 from a store on East Main Street, Batavia. Both were issued appearance tickets.

Karrie A. Morrow, 39, of Batavia, was arrested on two bench warrants. The nature of the warrants was not released. She was released under supervision. Morrow was also arrested by State Police on a petit larceny charge. Morrow is accused of stealing merchandise valued at $17.98 from 48 Express Deli on Park Road on Sept. 29. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Renee Lynn Coughlin, 32, of Park Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with falsely reporting an incident 3rd.  Coughlin is accused of falling reporting an incident to police on Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. on Park Avenue in Oakfield. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Jamie Lee Broadbent, 39, of Federal Drive, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Broadbent is accused of entering an unsecured storage room and a vacant room at a hotel at 4371 Federal Drive, Batavia, and stealing items belonging to the hotel. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Hunter Joseph Stetz, 19, of Zimmerman Road, Hamburg, is charged with possession of a forged instrument. Stetz is accused of being in possession of a forged NYS driver's license on Aug. 25 at 8:15 p.m. while at Darien Lake. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Dale W. Gress, 54, of Elba, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Gress was stopped by State Police on Oct. 5 at 12:13 a.m. in the Town of Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.

October 6, 2022 - 8:10am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Wings Over Batavia, notify, genesee county.

tim_hens_linkedin.jpegA best-case scenario for the resurrected Wings Over Batavia air show is that a profit would be made, but Tim Hens will settle for a bit less.

“I would like it to be a break even,” the county highway superintendent and air show committee liaison said to county legislators Wednesday.

As promised last month, Hens returned to the hot seat and reported an estimated county expense for the event.

“Our best guess is around $12,705,” he said.

That total would be for county Sheriff’s Office deputies and Emergency Management Services staff to provide security, traffic and crowd control. The breakdown was estimated to be $5,400 for offsite traffic control; $2,055 for EMS presence; and $5,250 for pre-show preparations by highway and facilities maintenance staff.

Aside from whatever the show itself may take in from the admission price, Hens and the committee are hopeful that all of that traffic will eventually leave the airport on Saile Drive and go shopping, eating and/or taking in some local entertainment.

The county will also see increased sales tax because of the air show and related Wing Ding event held within the City of Batavia,” Hens said.

An estimated increase in sales tax proceeds during the three-day event would be from $20,000 to $40,000, he said.

“There actually would be no increased costs on our insurance policy, which was surprising to me,” he said. “We asked them to look at the airshow, there was a skydiving event as part of the history. And pyrotechnic fireworks are part of the event. There was no actual added costs, which was good news to hear.”

Ways & Means legislative members generally agreed to move forward with the event request, however, the approval of legislators Gary Maha and Chairwoman Shelley Stein included a caveat.

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"So I would move this for approval in a second," Stein said. "At the same time, I don't want this to cost the county over that $40,000, you know, I would very much like it to break even with our sales tax because I think it's going to be a great opportunity to bring this back to Batavia.

“But I think, as Gary said, we just don't want to sign a blank check," she said. "I absolutely want to be supportive of this.”

Legislators emphasized that the county was not sponsoring this event, but lending its support via a resolution and the potential costs of labor mentioned above. Wings Over Batavia LLC is forming a non-profit entity and will be the group responsible for the air show.

The request will move on to the whole Genesee County Legislature for a vote later this month.

If given final approval, the air show is tentatively scheduled for mid-September 2023. 

To view a prior Wings Over Batavia air show, check out this Youtube.com video made in 1997 by EFP Network. This was one year before the last air show took place.

Top Photo of Tim Hens from social media. 2022 File Photo of Genesee County Legislature Chairwoman Shelley Stein. Photo by Joanne Beck.

October 6, 2022 - 1:47am
posted by Press Release in spiritual connections, religion, news.

Arbor House, 350 Bank St., Batavia. We are a community of believers and disciples of Jesus Christ. Arbor House was founded to be a place of safety, refreshment, and renewal for all. Each week we gather to hear the spoken Word, eat from the Lord’s Table, and enjoy fellowship with all who come. If you have been hurt by a church before we want to be the place where you can find healing and hope. All are welcome! Service will be in person on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. and available live stream on Facebook. (350 Bank Street Road, Batavia, NY) For more information about Arbor House visit arborhousefmc.com.

Ascension Parish -- Roman Catholic Community, Batavia. We are open for Mass in the Church on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. Daily Mass Mondays at 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall. Confession time is Saturdays from 3:15 to 3:45 p.m. in Church. Please join us for our Sunday streaming Mass online at 10 a.m. We invite everyone to join us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ascensionromancatholiccommunity. Please follow us on Facebook for any Mass time changes. Our webpage: www.ascensionrcc.com.

Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia, invites you to join us for in-person worship on Sundays at 9 a.m. (Arise-relaxed with band music) or 10:45 a.m. (Sanctuary -liturgical and organ) or on Livestream via Facebook Live for both times at: https://fpcbatavia.org/  or https://www.facebook.com/fpcbatavia/videos/

Batavia First United Methodist Church, 8221 Lewiston Road, Batavia. Our mission & vision statement:  “To be disciples we must listen, learn, lead and love our way to God.”  Reverend Wayne Mort leads our worship service every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. in the church sanctuary. You can also find the service on Facebook.  And we invite you to learn more about Batavia First UMC by visiting our website at www.BataviaFirstumc.com.

Byron Presbyterian Church, 6293 W. Main St., Byron. Sunday Service begins at 9:45 a.m. Kim Dewey, Clerk of Session. Laurence Tallman, Music Director Oct. 2, Celebrate World Wide Communion – service led by Rev. Laurel Nelson (585) 548-2800[email protected]

City Church, 210 E. Main St., Batavia, is open for Sunday morning services at 8:30 and 10, and Thursday evenings at 7 o'clock. Everyone is welcome to join us for worship and a message. We also have a noontime Sunday service at our St. Anthony's location at 114 Liberty St. in Batavia. You can also connect with us online, through our Facebook page, or our YouTube channel.

Cornerstone Church of East Pembroke, part of American Baptist Churches USA, 2583 Main Road, East Pembroke. Our Sunday service is at 10:30 a.m. with Pastor Glenn Bloom preaching. Bible Study is every Wednesday at 10 a.m. We are a small church and welcome new members; we are following social distancing rules and masks must be worn. (585) 762-8721

East Bethany Presbyterian Church, 5735 Ellicott Street Road, East Bethany. Our Sunday morning worship service is held at 10:30 a.m. and led by Rev. Dr. Shiela McCullough. Visitors are always welcome. You can find out more information on our Facebook page or by emailing us at [email protected].

Emmanuel Baptist Church, 190 Oak St., Batavia. Join us for services in person or livestreamed via Facebook and EBCBatavia.com. Be part of the family today and join in the blessings of Jesus in your life!

EverPresent Church, 4 Batavia City Centre, Batavia. Come visit us for our upcoming events. Be our Guest on Sundays for Worship and the Word at 10:30 a.m. Children are dismissed after the second worship song to a morning filled with lessons, laughs, learning, play, and a craft. Doors open at 10 a.m. Check out the website for more information on EverPresent. We are hosting a Rummage Sale on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 9 a.m. If you would like to DONATE some goods for us to sell at this event, please call (585) 250-4400 (we accept gently used items, and all items must be in working condition). All proceeds are going toward our building fund for the renovation of our HVAC and exterior work. Don't forget our women's meeting on Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guest Speakers are Mary Woods, Karen Vanyggarden, and Pastor Michelle Norton. More information to come along with registration on our website. We look forward to seeing you soon.

First Baptist Church in Batavia, 306 E. Main St., Pastor David Weidman, where "Christ the Center, Love for All" is very evident to all who enter. We invite you to our Full Gospel Sunday services at 10 a.m.; prayer and Bible study on Wednesdays from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.; Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., please come and browse in our beautifully renovated "Thrift Shoppe." You'll find many bargains, including $2, $6, and $10 bags sales on all unmarked clothing. You can also enjoy a light lunch at Lydia's Kitchen while you shop. Questions? Email:  [email protected]. Call us at (585) 343-9002.

First Baptist Church Elba, 31 S. Main St., Elba, is open for the main service in person at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays. For more information about our church go to www.fbcelba.net. The pastor is Michael Davis. Email: [email protected] / Phone (585) 757-2722

First Presbyterian Church of Byron, 6293 W. Main St., Byron, worships at 9:45 a.m., in-person. Reading: Psalm 111 p. 492, LP 873 and Luke 17:11-19. Message: “Gratitude Expressed” by Rev. Mark Ross. Laurence Tallman is Music Director. For more information, call 548-2800, or visit us on Facebook or at www.byronfpc.org 

Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St., Batavia. The Morning Worship Service begins at 9:30 a.m. with a series in Philippians, “No Matter What”. Our fall kids programs are: Nursery & Grace Kids for ages 2 through grade – 5 from 9:30 -10:30 a.m. KidZone Kids are for grades 1st through grade 5 on Sunday evenings from 6-7:30 p.m. Grace Student Ministries (Grades 6-12) Sunday Evening at 6 – 7:30 p.m. Let’s Get Acquainted begins as well at 6 p.m. If you are unable to join us in person for worship, the service is live-streamed at www.gracebatavia.org. or view it on our Facebook page: Grace Baptist. 

Indian Falls Methodist Church, 7908 Alleghany Road, Corfu. Reverend Karen McCaffery will hold a Worship Service inside the church sanctuary at 10 a.m. Sundays. Or join our service via Facebook Live or on YouTube by searching for IFUMC TechTeam. Weekly Online Bible Study and Prayer Services are held on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live on “Pastor McCaffery's” page.

Morganville United Church of Christ, 8466 Morganville Stafford. We’d love to meet you!  Please join us and our "God is still speaking" church, at 10:00 Sunday as Reverend James Morasco shares some thoughts to ponder for the week. Our church is located at 8466 Morganville Road.  Friend us on Facebook! and visit us any Sunday!

North Bergen Presbyterian Church, 7068 N. Bergen Road, Bergen, is open for in-person services at 10 a.m. Sundays. The phone is (585) 494-1255.

North Darien Bible Church, 9768 Simonds Road, Corfu. We are open! Sunday worship service begins at 10 a.m. Children's Church classes are available for children ages birth through sixth grade, including a classroom for children with special needs. For more information, visit our website. You can also watch LIVE on our Facebook or YouTube channel. Join us from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of every month for our free community closet, full of clothing, coats, and shoes for all. (585) 547-9646.

Northgate Free Methodist Church, 8160 Bank Street Road (North Campus), Batavia. Over the last few years, it feels like more and more topics have become things we don’t talk about. Politics, abortion, sexuality, and more. Emotions get high, feelings are hurt, and relationships can be damaged. But sometimes we have to talk about difficult subjects, especially when we are trying to understand what the Bible teaches us about them. Join us for our upcoming series “Hard to Say” as we look at Things You Don’t Talk About At Church. Join us Saturday at 6 p.m., and Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11 a.m., 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia. For more information about Northgate Free Methodist Church and to watch our services online go to northgatefmc.com or facebook.com/northgatefmc

Oakfield-Alabama Baptist Church, 2210 Judge Road, South Alabama. On Sundays, Bible School for all ages at 9:45 a.m. & Worship at 11. Men's Bible Study meets weekly on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. Email:  [email protected] or call the church office at (585) 948-9401.

Our Lady of Mercy & St. Brigid parishes, Lake Street, Le Roy. All Masses are livestreamed Saturday at 4:30 p.m.; Sunday mornings at 7:15 & 9 & 10:45. Daily Masses are livestreamed at 7:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. Saturday. View on YouTube and Facebook. Visit Fr. Matthew’s parish website.

Resurrection Parish (St. Mary and St. Joseph churches in Batavia). Services livestreaming at 5:30 p.m. every Saturday from St. Mary's Church via Facebook, or view the livestreaming Mass on YouTube by searching for Resurrection RC Parish or visit the parish website. In-person Masses are 4 p.m. Saturday and at 11:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church; and at St. Mary's Church at 7:30 and 9:15 a.m. Sunday.

St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia. Join us on Sundays at 9 a.m. on zoom, 10 a.m. in the church building, and on Facebook Live. Links and the bulletin can be found on our website: https://www.sjecbataviany.org/

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1 E. Main St., Le Roy, is open for in-person services at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Communion will be offered to people in their seats and will only include bread. We welcome you to join us -- either in person or online. For more information, visit our website.

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 18 W. Main St., Corfu. Weekend Masses are celebrated: Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 8:30 a.m. at the Corfu Church Site; and at 11 a.m. Sunday at the East Pembroke Church site, 8656 Church St., East Pembroke. Weekday Masses are celebrated on: Monday and Friday at 8 a.m. in Corfu, and Thursday at 8 a.m. in East Pembroke; on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Corfu followed by Adoration. Corfu Masses are also available for viewing on our YouTube channel. All information is on the church website and on Facebook. Email:  [email protected] (585) 599-4833

St. Padre Pio Parish, 56 Maple Ave., Oakfield. Weekend Masses are celebrated: Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Sunday at 8 a.m., and at 10 a.m. in the Oakfield Church Site, 56 Maple Ave., Oakfield. Weekday Masses are celebrated Monday 6 p.m. in Elba (Our Lady of Fatima Church, 65 S. Main St.); Tuesday at 8 a.m. in Elba; Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Oakfield; Thursday at 8 a.m. in Oakfield; Friday at 8 a.m. in Oakfield.

St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 6188 Main Road, Stafford. In-person service, including Holy Communion, is at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings. All  Are Welcome. 

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Batavia, This coming Sunday we will celebrate the 18th Sunday After Pentecost.  The sermon titled: “Healing Journey.”  is based on the scriptures from Luke 17:11-19. Adult Bible Class Sunday at 8:30 a.m. with a new "Verse on Verse Bible Study on Revelations" Our service begins at 10 a.m. or can be viewed 'live' on Facebook. Our Youth class meets at 9:30 a.m. Sunday School children will attend the service through the children's sermon and will then go to their Sunday school rooms for their studies. Communion is part of the service on the 2nd and 4th Sundays.  God continues to bless us richly as we focus on Him and His plans for our congregation and community.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 75 Main St. in Attica, worships at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays, and Darien United Methodist Church, 1951 Broadway (Route 20), Darien Center, worships at 9 a.m. on Sundays. For the Zoom connection, email [email protected] and request the link(s). Prayer requests may be left at Trinity's voicemail (585) 591-1549 or with Pastor Pam at (716) 560-0290.

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"Spiritual Connections" -- The Batavian will post updates to connect people with their places of worship, religious services, fellowship opportunities, and/or spiritual advisors, etc. There is no charge for this service.

If you have information to announce, please email: [email protected]

October 6, 2022 - 1:33am
posted by Press Release in Museum Quilt Guild, Alexander, news.

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Press release:

The Museum Quilt Guild of Batavia will present their biennial show, “Stitches in Time”, on Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will be more than 150 quilts displayed at the Alexander Fireman’s Recreation Hall, 10708 Alexander Road (Rt 98), Alexander.

In addition, there will be vendors, demonstrations, a silent auction, a boutique and a basket raffle.

Admission is $5; children under 10 are free.

For more information, contact Elaine (585) 880-0456 or visit our website at www.themuseumquiltguild.com

Photo: Submitted photo. Best of show quilt from 2018

October 6, 2022 - 1:16am
posted by Press Release in Sheriff's Office, news.

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Press release:

Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jacob A. Kipler recently graduated from the 78th Basic Course for Police Officers at the Niagara County Law Enforcement Training Academy held at Niagara County Community College. 

Deputy Kipler is a 2013 graduate of Maryvale High School, Cheektowaga, NY.  Following high school, Deputy Kipler enlisted in the United States Marine Corps from 2013 to 2018 and was awarded several medals, badges and citations.  He was an aviation mechanic and achieved the rank of Sergeant.  After the Marines, Deputy Kipler pursued a college education at the Community College of Vermont and Erie Community College where he earned an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a 3.6 GPA.   

Sheriff Sheron stated, “Deputy Kipler was hired on March 7, 2022, and is currently participating in our 14-week field training program.  He is performing well, and we look forward to his addition to our road patrol.”

October 6, 2022 - 12:30am
posted by Press Release in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, news.
jackpickardbhs2022.jpg laurenreimerbhs2022.jpg
Jack Pickard Lauren Reimer Nathan Canale

Press release:

Three Batavia City School District students have earned academic honors from the College Board National Recognition Programs. These National Recognition Programs grant underrepresented students with academic honors that can be included on college and scholarship applications and connect students with universities across the country to stand out during the admissions process. Only 62,000 students across the country have received this recognition.

  • Jack Pickard, Senior: National Rural and Small Town Award
  • Lauren Reimer, Senior: National Rural and Small Town Award
  • Nathan Canale, Senior: National Rural and Small Town Award

“We couldn’t be more proud of Jack, Lauren, and Nathan for receiving this tremendous honor,” said Superintendent Jason Smith. “Their hard work throughout their time at BCSD has certainly paid off. I know this recognition will help bolster their college applications and make them truly stand out.”

“Bravo to these three exceptional BHS students,” said to Batavia High School Principal Paul Kesler. “Jack, Lauren, and Nathan exemplify the values and work ethic that we strive for at BHS, and we congratulate them on this wonderful achievement.” 

Eligible students have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and have excelled on the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10, or earned a score of 3 or higher on two or more AP Exams. Award categories include: National African American Recognition Program, National Hispanic Recognition Program, National Indigenous Recognition Program, and National Rural and Small Town Recognition Program.

Students are invited to apply during their sophomore or junior year and, after determining eligibility, will be awarded at the beginning of the next school year. Students will receive their awards in time to include them on their college and scholarship applications. 

October 5, 2022 - 11:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, sports, batavia.

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Batavia High School honored some of its outstanding Blue Devils of athletic seasons past at the Athletic Department's annual Hall of Fame induction dinner, held this year at Batavia Downs.

Inducted were:

  • Benjamin Martino (1959): Football, Wrestling
  • Paul Blossom (1968): Football, Swimming, Track & Field
  • Richard Saunders (1971):Athlete: Swimming, Football, Baseball, Bowling; Coach: Swimming, Wrestling, Baseball
  • Sandy (Samiec) Reeg (1979): Tennis
  • Kristie (DuRei) DeFreze (2005): Gymnastics, Cheerleading, Track & Field
  • Michael Chmielowiec (2005): Basketball
  • Boys Basketball Team (2005): State Semi-Finalist
  • Jermaine Henderson (2006): Football, Track & Field

Photos by Howard Owens.  Top photo: Sandy (Semiec) Reeg, Rick Saunders, back, Michael Chmielowiec, front Benny Martino, Kritstie (DeRei) DeFreze, Jermaine Henderson, Paul Blossom.

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The 2005 Boys basketball team: Dan Kines, Justin Williams, Adam Brasky, Michael Chmielowiec, Kevin Saunders, Ballard Maye, Jon Tretter, Buddy Brasky.

October 5, 2022 - 10:43pm

Management of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., in an effort to provide transparency in the wake of challenges to its policies and procedures, presided over a three-hour session with chief financial officers from seven of its 17 member municipalities this afternoon at the Park Road facility’s board room.

The public benefit company has been hounded in recent months by an audit from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, by charges of fiscal irresponsibility by a disgraced former state senator and, most recently, by a series of letters sent by Erie County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick seeking answers to questions concerning the following issues:

  • The sale of the Hotel at Batavia Downs (dated July 15);
  • Benefits (specifically ‘gold-plated’ health insurance) received by board members (July 18);
  • The use of external legal counsel (Aug. 1);
  • The retention of outside lobbyists (Aug. 8);
  • The possible misuse of promotional and marketing materials (Aug. 24).

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, speaking by telephone this evening, said he “appreciated that Hardwick was trying to get information” and added that the meeting ultimately will strengthen the corporation’s relationship with the municipalities.

“Overall, I think the meeting went extremely well and was productive for all involved,” Wojtaszek said. “Our goal is to be transparent, so we were happy to provide them with good, positive economic news that is resulting in record revenues to various counties this year.”

Corporation officials who made presentations at the session, along with Wojtaszek, were Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach, Compliance Consultant Paul Moskal, Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer and David Hart of Hart Hotels, which operates the hotel.

Genesee County Treasurer Scott German said he attended the meeting to learn more about WROTB’s methods.

“They started off by essentially going over the financials – the financials of horse racing and then the casino,” German said. “Then they gave each individual county that showed up our own sheet based on our financial information (such as revenues and surcharge issued to the municipalities).”

German said WROTB officials addressed the health insurance for directors, use of promotional tickets and use of company vehicles – “stuff that has been rehashed on TV for a couple of years now.”

“From what I heard, and this is coming from the side of OTB, their explanations were adequate, I guess. They made sense,” he said. “They explained how and why they give out tickets. For example, when they gave away tickets to see Garth Brooks in concert, they said they saw a dramatic increase in bets and profitability on those two particular days. It brought people in.”

German said that most of the questions came from Hardwick and Erie County Deputy Comptroller Timothy Callan with a few posed by Oswego County Treasurer Kevin Gardner.

Wojtaszek said Hart explained that the $7.5 million paid by WROTB to purchase the hotel from its original investors (ADK Hospitality) was warranted. 

“David showed them that the price paid was fair based on the appraisal that was done and the numbers that we have been able to sustain at the hotel,” Wojtaszek said. “And revenues continue to increase.”

On the health insurance subject, Wojtaszek said the board of directors will be addressing that issue in the coming weeks with the goal of establishing “a comprehensive way to provide coverage for all of our employees.”

He also said that Moskal conducted an audit on the corporation's practices, made suggestions "and we are following those suggestions."

Wojtaszek noted that he will be continuing the dialogue with Hardwick’s office and will provide additional documents that Hardwick requested. He said that all 15 member counties plus the cities of Rochester and Buffalo were invited to today's meeting.

The letters sent by Hardwick to WROTB can be viewed by going to the Erie County Comptroller’s Office website – www4.erie.gov/comptroller/.

October 5, 2022 - 10:05pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, genesee county, Board of Elections, notify.

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Voting in Genesee County — two primaries this summer, plus future races for governor and president — has become more of a problem for the Board of Elections, Dick Siebert says.

Not only have workers been more scarce, but voters don’t seem to be filling the extra voting days required by the state.

“We've had two primaries, which we didn't anticipate. We had the June primary. And then we had the August primary. The turnout was extremely bad. And what we've talked about before, that's always concerning to us,” Siebert, the Republican Party representative as Board of Elections commissioner, said during Wednesday’s Ways & Means meeting. “And it disturbs both of us that there's always talk about extending early voting. Like Lorie and I have always said in other counties … we don't need more than nine days, it's more than sufficient. When you're running, you know, 10 voters a day for how many hours? It's disturbing because there's an expense to it. But we have no control over it. It is what it is. It is what we have to live with.”

The June Primary had a Democratic turnout of 12 percent, or 1,072 votes, with the Republican turnout at 17 percent, or 2,892 votes, he said. August's Primary tallied 2,358 votes for 14 percent of the eligible Republican voters. That pales to the 17,000 registered Republicans and 9,000 registered Democrats that could cast a vote. 

With the upcoming local, state and national elections, it is destined “to be a busy year for us,” he said. And given that “workers are walking away from us,” it has been an ongoing challenge to shore up staffing gaps.

Board of Elections staff has been discussing ways to entice workers — breaking up a day into shifts to avoid the long hours of 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and promoting the job as a way to earn extra holiday money, he and the Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Lorie Longhany said.

“We recruited eight people from those efforts,” she said. “It seems like a post-COVID phenomenon; we have people commit, and then they call and uncommit, or they don’t show up, which is a real hardship on us.”

Both major parties have been working to get the word out, they said, about the need for elections staff. Legislators asked questions about the criteria for employment. Anyone 17 and older who is a Genesee County resident and pre-registered for one of the two parties of Republican or Democrat may be qualified for the job. They just need to keep focused on the task at hand, Longhany said.

“We can’t have people disrupting a poll site. It’s not politics; it’s about a fair election,” she said, as Seibert added that “everyone that wants to vote gets a vote.”

How does the county update its list of voters? Staff monitors the list and removes those who notify the board office that they have moved, and they also review a “move list,” Longhany said. Much of that is dependent on the voter, who has responsibility for notifying the board office and registering in the new county of residence, she said. As for people who have died, “every single morning, staff go through the obituaries,” she said.

“People in this county are very fortunate; it’s very well run,” Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said.

Seibert recommended that Longhany, who lives in Le Roy, be appointed as commissioner again next year. Her term, if approved by the whole Legislature, will run from Jan. 1, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2026.

Committee members voted to forward the proposal.

Photo: Dick Siebert, Republican representative as Board of Elections commissioner, gives county legislators a department review, and recommends Lorie Longhany, Democratic representative as board commissioner, for the next three-year term.  Photo by Joanne Beck.

October 5, 2022 - 4:52pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) led Congressmembers Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Joe Sempolinski (NY-23), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), and Claudia Tenney (NY-22) in calling for New York State Department of Education Commissioner Betty Rosa to release 2021-2022 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics assessment data. Traditionally, the state has released this data in August before the start of the next school year. However, this data for the previous school year have yet to be made public.

“Around the country assessments are showing us COVID-19 caused detrimental learning loss in our students. School closures, quarantines, and remote learning left many students behind and widened the achievement gap – especially for students from traditionally disadvantaged populations,” Jacobs said. “A portion of American Rescue Plan Funding has been allocated to New York school districts to address learning loss, yet in true NYS government fashion, we have yet to get transparent answers on the state of our students’ assessments. As we work to begin our long road to academic recovery, we need a full and accurate picture of the loss that occurred in NYS students – the Commissioner must release this data immediately so academic plans can be formed and implemented effectively and expeditiously.”

"It is way past time that parents have the answers they deserve and demand. What lasting effects did our extended COVID lockdowns have on our children, and why has the NYS Department of Education not been more forthcoming with their data? We need to have all of the information so that we can do what is best for our students and their education,” Congressman Sempolinksi said.

"Albany needs to immediately release the standardized test scores for the entire state. There is no good excuse to delay this a day longer, and the further the state stalls, the more suspicious New Yorkers will understandably become that the state is trying to hide the data from the public," Congressman Zeldin said.

“Assessment data for mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) are made available for New Yorkers to review every August. However, with an election approaching, Governor Hochul withheld the data this year, in what appears to be a clear attempt to cover up the damage done by New York’s unscientific COVID mandates, which undoubtedly had a significant impact on learning. New York should make its data public now, just as it has in past years. Our children must always come first,” Congresswoman Tenney said.

October 5, 2022 - 2:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sunset, indian falls, pembroke.

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Photo by Joanne Meiser.

October 5, 2022 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

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October 5, 2022 - 12:05pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia Club, T.F. Brown's.

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A tradition that started at the former Batavia Club at 201 East Main St. more than 80 years ago continues with longtime Batavia entrepreneur Ben Mancuso Jr. – who is 89 years young today – leading the way.

Mancuso, former Genesee County Family Court Judge Charles Graney, former bank executive Ned Chatt and former school superintendent Robert Smith meet every Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. from May through December to play bridge. The venue these days is T.F. Brown’s Family Restaurant at 214 East Main St., an establishment owned by Mancuso’s son, Rick.

“We’re not sure exactly when it (the bridge club) started but at least back into the 1930s, and probably before that,” Chatt said.

The Batavia Club was founded in 1887 and served as a social gathering place until 2000, when it was sold to Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council for $1.

Chatt and Graney rattled off four names of those who were bridge club fixtures in the early days – Bill Dipson, Steve Hughes, Harry Lown and Van Richards.

When asked if they play for fun, Chatt quickly replied, “We have fun, sure, but there’s more to it than that.”

Today’s competition – the quartet rotates partners and adds up individual points – was marked by a surprise birthday party for Mancuso, who said he celebrated last night as well when Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hit his American League-record 62nd home run in Texas.

“That was just super,” said Mancuso, a lifelong Yankees’ fan who used to welcome members of the Bronx Bombers to Batavia in his role as chairman of the annual Notre Dame Sports Night.

Photo: From left, Robert Smith, Ben Mancuso Jr., Charles Graney and Ned Chatt at T.F. Brown's today. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

October 5, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in SAFE Act, news, crime, Le Roy, notify.

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Federal prosecutors have an interest in a North Carolina man who was arrested March 19 in Le Roy after allegedly being found in possession of an AR-15 rifle in violation of the SAFE Act.

Michael Alan Jones, 24, of Raleigh, has been charged in U.S. District Court in Western New York with possession of a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon, and has reportedly reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

The FBI's interest in Jones may have more to do with his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection in Washington, D.C.

The online news site RAW Story links Jones to two extremist groups, the Proud Boys and Patriot Front, and places Jones in the Capitol on Jan. 6.

At 4:36 p.m. March 19, deputies Kenneth Quackenbush and Nicholas Charmoun stopped a gray Nissan Sentra driven by Jones for an alleged traffic violation. Upon approaching the vehicle, the deputies observed several knives, military surplus gear, and two compound bows inside the vehicle, according to a Federal affidavit by an FBI agent. 

 The affidavit says a passenger in the car was identified only as PK.  The deputies reportedly observed a backpack on the passenger-side floorboard with bolt cutters protruding from the pocket.

Upon searching the vehicle, the deputies located pry bars, bolt cutters, and gloves, which, the affidavit states, the deputies believed to be consistent with burglary tools. They also found pepper spray and ammunition. 

When asked about the ammunition, according to the affidavit, both Jones and PK claimed ownership.  

Jones later said he owned everything in the vehicle except the backpack, and that the ammunition was "someone else's."

The agent wrote, "GSCO deputies asked JONES if there was a firearm inside the vehicle. JONES responded, 'There shouldn't be.'"

Deputies determined that the plate on the vehicle didn't match the vehicle, and the plate was removed from the vehicle and the vehicle was towed from the scene.

A subsequent inventory search uncovered, according to the report, military surplus gear, Beofang handheld radios, additional knives, and the "Army Tactical Combat Casualty Care Handbook."

Deputies also located in the trunk a Palmetto State Armory AR-15 rifle, bearing serial number 5CD729076, and a 30-round Magpul PMAG magazine was found in the trunk of the vehicle.

The agent says that Jones told deputies that he purchased the firearm a "long time ago," but never fired it. He allegedly said he brought the rifle from North Carolina to New York.

The agent said that on April 19, the FBI interviewed a person in North Carolina who had worked with Jones at a Cracker Barrel in Mebane, N.C., and that this former co-worker, HN in the report, said initially that he didn't recognize the rifle but that he had purchased it for Jones. He said he purchased it through the Palmetto State Armory website and used PayPal to complete the purchase.

The rifle violated the state's SAFE Act because the rifle was equipped with a flash hider, capable of accepting a removable magazine without a pinned magazine release, and was equipped with a telescopic stock. 

Jones' prior felony conviction in North Carolina, referred to in the Federal charging documents as "a crime against nature," involves Jones, at 18 and 19, having sex with minors, aged 14 and 15. He was arrested on charges.

According to sources, Jones has no known ties to Genesee County. It's unknown why Jones and PK, who is from the Finger Lakes region, were in Genesee County when deputies spotted the Sentra reportedly making an illegal turn in the area of Route 33 in Le Roy.

Locally, Jones was initially charged with criminal possession of an assault weapon 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon 3rd (ammunition feeding device), unsafe turn, number plate violation, and driving an unregistered vehicle on a highway. 

Jones, according to the arrest report, served in the U.S. Army.  The report states he wasn't employed at the time of his arrest and his highest education level was high school.

District Attorney Kevin Finnell said the local case was dropped after Jones was charged Federally because of a defendant's Constitutional protection against double jeopardy. 

Sheriff William Sheron praised the effort of Quackenbush and Charmoun in apprehending Jones.  

"This was another example of good police work," Sheron said. "Looking beyond the traffic ticket."

October 4, 2022 - 10:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in County Mental Health, news, youth services.

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Traci Russo, a juvenile case supervisor with the county's Probation Department, speaks about options for helping troubled youths during the Systems of Care Summit at Terry Hills on Tuesday morning.

The event was hosted by Genesee County Mental Health.

Lynda Battaglia was the featured speaker and there were three panels of professionals in the area's agencies that deliver mental health-related services and other services for children in the community.

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October 4, 2022 - 9:51pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Empire Hemp Company, batavia, cannabis, notify.

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He kind of hates to admit it, but the doom of COVID for most businesses was actually a boon for Empire Hemp Company, Chris Van Dusen says.

“Back then we had hired some employees, and we had COVID hit. So we did a walk-up window for COVID. And it was taking off. So we decided, to survive here we were going to open a store,” said Van Dusen, company founder and CEO. “So we had to let the guys go. And that's how we opened the store. So the store really took off … it was just the two of us doing everything.”

His other half, wife Shelly Wolanske, has been as fully immersed in the business as he has, first with a site on Swan Street in 2019, and a downtown store in April 2020. Van Dusen recently heard of a convenience store about to open with plans for selling cannabis products, and he wanted to clarify how one becomes a legal entity in the ever-growing field of cannabis establishments.

It’s not as easy as hanging up a sign, he said.

First, there’s an official Office of Cannabis Management that operates through the New York State Department of Labor. It regulates everything. That means applications, certifications, inspections, and many administrative hoops to jump through in order to be above board, he and Shelly said.

According to cannabis.ny.gov, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is charged with issuing licenses for businesses to participate in New York’s adult-use, medical, and cannabinoid hemp industries. The OCM is developing regulations that will outline how a person or business can apply for and receive a license in the new adult-use cannabis industry.

The OCM will promote social and economic equity for applicants who have been harmed by the prohibition of cannabis for adult-use licenses, establishing a goal of awarding 50 percent of licenses to social and economic equity applicants, the site states.

Due to the nature of cannabis — more loosely known as marijuana, pot, weed — it has been tough going with those hoops, especially with banks and credit card companies that want no part of the business, Van Dusen said. That has made it tough to get loans and revert to a cash-only operation for sales, they said. And at the opposite end, there are the certified growers.

“We currently are working with, right around 20 growers right now. So we need this. They're calling us every day ever since we got the conditional licensing process, we're on the list,” he said. “There's people who know what they're doing. There's people who don't know what they're doing. So we need to secure our supply in the supply chain to make sure that we can get products to the dispensaries when they are ready to open at the end of the year.”

What? Empire Hemp is not a dispensary? Nope. It is the top-tier guy who does all of those applications to be able to buy, process and then dispense products. The store carries CBD products, made by the extraction of oil from the cannabis plants. As for straight-up cannabis, that will get shipped to a certified dispensary for retail sale.

That extract was priced at $4,500 a kilo in September 2019, and dropped to $500 a kilo by November of that year, he said.

“So our whole business model just went, and then the price just dropped because the supply became so huge because the whole country was doing it,” he said.

“COVID actually was a blessing for us. We would be out of business, because it got us through with those PPP loans to bridge that gap because that's when we said we're either gonna go out of business or we need to open a store, because we need cash, we need to get it; our online sales have dropped dramatically” he said. “We were doing really well. But because of the credit card processing getting canceled… all of our ranking on Google dropped and we've never been able to recover.”

They built the store at 204 East Main St., Batavia, on a “shoestring budget,” and said it’s been well received so far. There are at least 50 different types of CBD oils, lotions, balms and scrubs that have garnered loyal customers with praise for the pain-relief properties, Wolankse said.

So anyone can sell these products? No.

“We have a CBD retail license, and we have a manufacturing processing license so we can sell them. There's a lot of people that carry CBD products and they don't have a retail license. I don't even know if they know they need a retail license,” Wolanske said.

Merchants that are selling cannabis products without the proper license are not registered with the state, and therefore most likely bypassing sales tax payments. The state will be cracking down on these entities to ensure that only law-abiding — and tax-paying — businesses are operating, he said.

What type of licensing do you have?

"Okay, so the first one we got was a retail license for CBD, but that one is for the adult-use cannabis. We got the adult-use cannabis processing and manufacturing license, and then there's the adult use cultivation license," he said. "So we are now a recreational marijuana cultivator as well as processor so we can grow, process, manufacture, and distribute,” Van Dusen said.

Everyone, from the growers to the Empire Hemp facilities, must be inspected for proper documentation, cleanliness, packaging, and hygiene practices, he said. Empire Hemp’s wholesale license allows them to sell products to “the dispensaries when they open up the legal ones,” he said.

He is waiting for more than 800 dispensary applicants to be reviewed and chosen by the state for the first legal dispensary license. Once selected, those applicants will get a choice of a few locations to set up shop. They won’t be able to dictate where their dispensary will be, he said.

For example, an applicant in Erie County may have a choice of being in Batavia or Brockport, but not necessarily in his/her hometown location. The upside is that the designated site will be a turnkey operation, ready to open for business, Van Dusen said.

Working the steps

The state took steps to first license growers, then the processors and manufacturers, and now the final point of retail sale — dispensaries. He, his wife and his silent partner cannot turn their store into a dispensary, since they are the processor, manufacturer and distributor. But they can have someone else come in and, as a legally chosen dispensary, sell cannabis products in the future, he said.

But what about all of these small shops selling cannabis, usually under the guise of selling a sticker or T-shirt that includes up to 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana?

They’re not legal, Van Dusen said. They haven’t jumped through the hoops of applications, certifications and inspections of the product and sales site. Furthermore, the state has not even selected and announced the legal ones yet.

His frustration is not just sour grapes that others are opening more quickly and with less expense, he said, but also about taking the proper steps to sell a safe, quality product as Empire Hemp has done these last three years.

“And consistent products, you know you're getting the same product each time, you're getting a safe product,” he said. “And the growers, before we even get their cannabis, they've got to go through a line of testing. You want to make sure that their cannabis is secure. We can’t even receive it unless it has passed.”

“It's like when I see that it's really upsetting because we've played by the rules, we do everything we're supposed to do to be complicit and compliant with the law, and then these guys just come in and open up the stores like they're gonna make tons of money,” Van Dusen said. “I think it's had an impact on our retail store.”

“So people are trying to do it the right way, they're trying to follow what New York State has laid out. And then you have this whole other group of people that are just doing like this wild, wild west, and they're just doing whatever they want to … I mean, the milligrams in some of these products. I'm surprised these people aren't in the hospital,” he said.

State cannabis law requires that individual packages contain a maximum amount of product, such as 100 milligrams per package. Some stores are selling 500-milligram packages since they’re not inspected, he said.

“These are messing people up, like people don't know what they're getting into,” he said.

Another issue is the packaging, he said. There are packages out there that are clear, which allows UV rays in that can alter the product, versus Empire Hemp’s opaque packaging with nitrogen injected inside to keep the product fresh — for more than a year, he said.

As for smoke shops on the nearby Reservation, those business owners don’t have to legally abide by the same protocols as other New York State owners have to, similar to the sale of tobacco and gasoline products.

Van Dusen said that selling cannabis is not much different than alcohol. Both are legal in the state, however, you can’t just go and open up a shop to sell alcohol. Same with cannabis. And he wants the public to be aware of illegal operations. He visited a shop in Batavia and bought a package of cannabis quite easily, he said. However, he doesn't know where the product was grown and how it was processed, packaged and distributed. It did only contain 1/8 of an ounce. 

“The products that you buy at these illicit smoke shops that are selling what they think is ‘legal cannabis,’ are not,” he said. “Legal dispensaries will be opening by the end of the year, and keep your eye out for Empire Hemp products.”

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Top Photo: Chris Van Dusen and wife Shelly Wolanske, owners of Empire Hemp Company in Batavia, talk about the legal requirements for being officially involved in the cannabis industry; Chris shows a package of product he bought locally from what he believes is an illegal dispensary, since the state has not announced the chosen applicants yet. Photos by Joanne Beck.

October 4, 2022 - 9:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
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Wesley Thigpen

A man already in prison for child sex abuse will have more time to consider a plea offer on the latest charge he's facing following a court appearance in Genesee County on Monday.

Wesley G. Thigpen is being given time to consider an offer of a guilty plea to predatory sexual assault against a child, a Class A-II felony, with a sentence of 10 years to life.

A month ago, County Court Judge Melissa Lightcap Cianfrini rejected a previous guilty plea, entered by Thigpen in May, which would have capped Thigpen's sentence at 13 years.  Members of local law enforcement and the victim's family objected to that prior plea deal.

After reading the Probation Department's pre-sentence investigation report, and considering the letters she received, Cianfrini said the agreed-upon terms of the plea deal were "woefully inadequate."

Thigpen is already in prison on a guilty plea in September 2019. That plea to child sex abuse capped his prison term at four years.

On Monday, he asked for a new attorney, a motion that Cianfrini denied.

He is scheduled to appear in court again at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

 

 

 

October 4, 2022 - 9:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ascension Parish, Oktoberfest, batavia, news.

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Ascension Parish hosted its first Oktoberfest on Saturday in the parking lot of Sacred Heart on South Swan Street in Batavia.

There was beer, wurst, giant pretzels, and traditional German music performed by The German American Musicians.  There was also a basket raffle and pull tabs.  

The event was a fundraiser for the parish.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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