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August 12, 2022 - 11:45pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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When first asked about why he was hosting the ReAwaken America Tour, Pastor Paul Doyle put it simply that protests about the event’s presence in Batavia was being overblown and that he wanted to host it at Cornerstone Church.

“I think it’s a patriotic, Godly event with reputable people that love the Lord,” Doyle said previously to The Batavian. “This isn’t just a secular event. These are Godly men and women … there’s going to be prayer, repentance, and because of that, the baptisms.”

Baptisms were, in fact, on the event schedule for Friday and again on Saturday evening. When he was bombarded with reporters’ questions after deciding to host the Tour, Doyle maintained then that “we’re gonna talk about Jesus Christ,” and didn’t feel there was any legal issue with a nonprofit church hosting a political event.

During his talk on Friday, the pastor’s voice gradually escalated to one of unbreakable conviction that he will charge ahead at full speed along with other pastors of the same mindset. Does talking about COVID, and vaccinations, critical race theory and other hot button topics make it political talk? Many colleagues aren’t bothered by going there, he said, and neither is he.

“I don't worry about offending Democrats for not worrying about talking about the issues that the church has to talk about. The Bible says in Psalms 119, it says 'the instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.' That tells me if you want revival, you’ve got to pull up the instructions of the Lord again. They're good and the laws of God are good,” he said to a crowd that had thinned out from earlier in the day. “The Psalmist said, 'Lord, I love your laws because they're good.' And we have generations coming up that haven't even heard them before. Because the church is too afraid. We've been too intimidated. Even the Attorney General of New York is trying to bully us for not being quiet. And I'm just not gonna have any of that right now. I’m going to talk about whatever I want from the pulpit.”

He introduced his wife Lee, who is from Mississippi, and said that they were like the North and South coming together. He compared that to what is happening right now in the country.

“And there was a new battle. It's not a battle of North and South. It's a battle of good and evil. And I'm just so thankful that there's people that are standing up and wanting to have a voice once again in our country,” he said.

Doyle emphasized that he and his church have reached out to all races, and want the African-American community to stop following the narrative that they’re victims. 

“They’ve been victims too long,” he said.

He’d also like to reach the LGBTQ community, encouraging listeners to ask themselves “what things have I been conditioned to think?” and wants people to rethink attending churches “where the blind are leading the blind.”

“I’m not interested in a mega church,” he said. “I’m interested in a mega movement."

When he first became aware of Mario Marillo, a motivational speaker who puts on large tent meetings across the country, Doyle admired Marillo for an event in Bakersfield, Calif. right in the center of a primarily Democratic state during pandemic shutdowns. He asked other church leaders if they were interested in a revival featuring Marillo, and the larger ones were not, claiming he was too political.

“He was preaching a message not only about the gospel, but he was calling out leftist agenda policies of (California Governor) Gavin Newsom that have made people miserable with, so he was preaching right in a blue state and a blue city, probably with blue constituents,” Doyle said. He was not afraid. And they came running to the altar. I mean, hundreds of them. And I saw healings.”

Fact Check: In the 2020 presidential election, 53.88 percent of the voters in Kern County (Bakersfield) cast ballots for Donald Trump. Kevin McCarthy, Trump supporter and House Minority Leader, won re-election in Bakersfield with 64 percent of the vote.  Bakersfield is red, like all of the San Joaquin Valley, not blue.

God told Marillo to bring his show to Batavia, and Cornerstone hosted him last fall. They expected 400 to 500 people at best, and instead had 4,000 to 5,000, Doyle said.

“I’m sure you know, we were praying for a revival. I told the Lord, ‘Lord, I don't care where people come from, I don't care what they've done. I don't care what color they are. We’ve gotta see hungry people that are hungry for you.’ I just believe he's answered the prayer,” Doyle said. “And so he came out here, and he had those meetings. And it just ignited a fire in me personally. And it made me start preaching much more boldly from the pulpit.”

As for things that are “too political” Doyle said that it dawned on him that meant “things that are affecting people in our churches.”

“But since when did it leave the church and go to the political arena, we’ve got to pick it out of the political realm, and put it back in the church,” he said. “So that's what we've been doing. I don't know how many news outlets have interviewed me … And they want to know what I think about stuff. And I noticed they asked all these really loaded questions, or, how do you feel about a church hosting a political event, you know, you’re a 501 (C)3. And I said, ‘You think I'm doing this because of money? You think that intimidates me? I'm like, I'm gonna do it. We've got to have a move of God in this country.”


Further Reading: Opinion: Cornerstone Church is not risking its tax-exempt status by hosting the ReAwaken America Tour


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Top photo: Pastors Paul and his wife Lee Doyle on stage Friday during the first day of the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia. Photos by Howard Owens.

August 12, 2022 - 6:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

On August 12th at 4:14 PM, Batavia Police responded to the area of Elm Street and East Main Street for a reported shooting. Upon arrival, BPD officers located two victims in the area. Both victims were treated by the City of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS. MercyEMS transported one victim to UMMC with non-life threatening injuries and one victim was treated on the scene. BPD is actively investigating the incident at this time, however has determined that there is not an ongoing threat to the safety of the public or residents in the area.

Anyone with information in regards to the incident is asked to contact Detective Ivison at (585) 345-6350, or contact BPD through the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

August 12, 2022 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, news, notify.

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Christian Nationalism is a threat to freedom and the American way of life, a group of pastors told a small gathering in a parking lot behind the First Baptist Church in Batavia this morning, while across town about 3,000 people were gathered at Cornerstone Church for the ReAwaken America Tour.

Among the speakers at First Presbyterian was Rev. Nathan Empsall, an Episcopal minister and director of Faithful America, an online organization that Empsall said puts its faith in action for social justice and love.

"Christian Nationalism, is defined by researchers and academics as a cultural framework and a political ideology, a political world worldview, not a religion," Empsall said. "Christian Nationalism, is the merging of the national American identity with a religious identity, making them one in the same, saying you aren't a real true American unless you're a conservative Christian. The hallmark phrase of Christian Nationalism is that America is a Christian nation. That's not true, of course. We are a pluralistic nation."

Empsall said Christian Nationalism is a threat to freedom in America.

"The goal of Christian Nationalism is not to follow Jesus," Empsall said. "The goal of Christian Nationalism is to seize power, political power, at any cost, no matter who you have to hurt along the way. No matter how many rights you have to take away from other groups, no matter how many elections you may have to try and overturn despite the will of the voters. It's typical of authoritarian movements in this regard."

He tied many of the speakers at the Tour event to the Jan. 6 insurrection, when Donald Trump supporters stormed the capital to try and overturn the presidential election results. 

He suggested that while the ReAwaken America Tour may not be explicitly violent, it does builds the framework for future political violence.

"When we talk about the threat of violence, we're not saying ReAwaken America is a bar and at the end it's gonna have a drunken brawl in the parking lot," he said. "You might not see violence today. What we are worried about is another January 6 happening, but perhaps not in the nation's Capitol, perhaps in every town or local state capitals when elections don't go the Christian nationalist way next time.

"When you raise the stakes as high as they come and demonize your opponents in God's name, you don't have to tell people to commit violence," he added. "They connect the dots."

That said, he is ready to embrace Mike Flynn and Roger Stone, he said, two Trump allies and former advisors speaking at the Tour event, as brothers in Christ.

"Now look, if Mike Flynn and Roger Stone, and the pastors who are with them today, tell me that they are Christians, I believe them," Empsall said. "I don't know their relationship with God. I don't know their heart. I do not doubt them. But I do know that their actions and their words are not Christian actions. They are not Christian words.

"So this morning," he added, "as we hear all the lies from Qanon 2.0 about public health and about democracy -- we ask them to know the truth for the truth shall set you free. We say to Clay Clark and Mike Flynn, 'brothers, don't bear false witness. Come home like the prodigal son.' We follow the Prince of Peace. We love our neighbors. We don't call them Team Satan because they don't share our politics or because they share a different approach to our faith or to faith itself."

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Rev. Roula Alkhouri, the pastor of Batavia First Presbyterian Church, hosted the event.

"Our hearts are broken," she said. "Because of the damage this tour, this ReAwaken America Tour, has already caused around our country, using the cover of religion to sow division and hate. I have experienced this kind of hate personally since I started speaking up and saying that we shouldn't have this here, this kind of language and this kind of hate-inciting event. I've received a lot of hate for this."

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August 12, 2022 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, news, batavia, notify.

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Pastor Mark Burns prayed for New York's attorney general, Letitia James, and her family, during his appearance at the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia on Friday.

James earlier this week reportedly sent a letter to Pastor Paul Doyle, telling him that she was concerned the event could lead to racial violence.

Burns, an evangelist and failed congressional candidate who has reportedly appeared on a right-wing TV show and said parents and teachers of LGTBQ children should be executed, told the mostly white audience that all patriots, regardless of race, were welcome into the movement.

As of early this afternoon, no protestors had been seen on Bank Street Road.  The lone deputy parked in a driveway in the area said he had not seen any protestors.  There was no other additional local law enforcement at the location during the times The Batavian was at the church or in the area.  People at the event have generally been friendly, from what we've observed, toward members of the media. The staff has been friendly and helpful though the event seems disorganized at times and speakers have not appeared on schedule.  There is a significant contingent of private security at the event and signs at the entrance noting that guns and knives are prohibited.

The Batavian will provide additional coverage of events related to the tour, both at the church and away from it, throughout the weekend.

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Gene Ho, President Donald Trump's campaign photographer, sharing stories about working with Trump.

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August 12, 2022 - 3:18pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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Clifford and Cecilia Miller were anxious to attend the ReAwaken America Tour this morning, arriving around 5:30 a.m. at Cornerstone Church in the town of Batavia.

They made the nearly three-hour trek from Chemung County to partake in the two-day event with two others who rode with them. By 11:45 a.m., they knew the trip was well worth it, they said. The couple watched a convoy of vehicles displaying U.S. flags, sat under the large white tent listening to speakers that included Michael Flynn, and embraced fellow attendees, Cecilia said.

“Just being together here with like-minded people, meaning believers in Christ, and believing in the restoration of our country,” she said. “I’ve always been brought up in the church in one shape or form, so it gave me a foundation of the Lord. And then as I grew, I was like, there’s got to be more than this, God, you know. And so now I'm completely born again, as they say, and I'm into his word. To me, his word is our guide, that we should stand by and go by, and when we've gotten away from that, we need to bring it back.”

The Millers learned of Cornerstone when they came to see Mario Marillo speak during tent meetings last October at the Bank Street Road church. They kept in touch and then found out about the tour coming this week.

Aptly dressed in a red, white and blue ReAwaken T-shirt and Trump baseball cap on Clifford, and a John 3:16 cap for his wife, the couple was looking forward to the remainder of the day and all day tomorrow. They booked a hotel in Batavia, where other attendees were also staying, they said. Visitors came from  out of state, including New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, and out of the country from Canada.

The Millers weren't alone in the patriotic apparel, as many of the 3,000-plus crowd sported all things red, white and blue, from dresses, scarves, and hats to vests, shirts, sneakers, and even a little something for their canine companions.

The original line-up of speakers changed at some point, and Flynn had spoken before his scheduled time. He is also scheduled to speak this evening, and The Batavian plans to cover that. Earlier guests included Gene Ho, the former president’s campaign photographer; Dr. Jana Schmidt, who was not on the original schedule; Kash Patel, former chief of staff to the acting U.S. secretary of defense under former President Trump; and Dr. Bryan Ardis, an entrepreneur, chiropractor, acupuncturist and nutritionist.

Much of the discourse was about COVID-19 protocols and vaccines, with claims about the vaccine’s safety; claims of how the government and "fake news media" kept certain political happenings from being investigated (Hillary Clinton, “Russiagate”) and therefore didn’t make “the Left” more accountable for its actions; and claims of how the former president took action that would have prevented the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Fact Check: According to the official timeline of Jan. 6 and several other news outlet investigations, Trump did not authorize National Guard troops until hours after the insurrection began.

Fact Check: The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines teach the immune system to recognize and fight the coronavirus, greatly reducing the likelihood of severe disease if a person is infected. There is no evidence the vaccines impair immunity, according to SciCheck’s COVID-19 Vaccination Project.

Primary evidence that was used by a well-known Fox News anchor regarding the vaccines harming the immune system “is a much-criticized Food and Chemical Toxicology paper written by several individuals known for being opposed to vaccination or for spreading health misinformation."

“Lead author Stephanie Seneff is a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has falsely claimed that vaccines cause autism and has pushed a theory linking the herbicide glyphosate to COVID-19, among other unfounded scientific views. Senior author Dr. Peter McCullough is an internist who has repeatedly spread misinformation about COVID-19 treatments and the vaccines. Another author, Greg Nigh, practices naturopathy, a form of alternative medicine that has often embraced pseudoscientific methods,” SciCheck states. 

“When the paper was first published in April, numerous critics condemned it, with some calling for it to be retracted. (That effort was denied. Notably, the paper appeared in the journal after the editor-in-chief put a call out for papers “on potential toxic effects of COVID-19 vaccines.”)

“The paper, which does not present any original research, is a review coupled with an analysis of data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, the United States’ early warning system to detect possible safety problems with vaccines. VAERS reports can be submitted by anyone, are not vetted for accuracy, nor do they mean that a reported symptom was necessarily caused by the vaccine; the data have often been mined to incorrectly claim vaccines are dangerous” it states. SciCheck is a branch of the nonpartisan FactCheck.org. Click here for article 

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Schmidt reviewed several natural remedies that can keep one’s immune system healthy and prevent illness, such as taking in sunshine, cayenne pepper, honey and cooked mushrooms, plus turning to prayer and community, all of which have been touted in health-related newspaper, magazine, online, and television reports.

She also discouraged wifi exposure, stating that cell phones kept in men’s pockets decreases sperm count by 75 percent — provoking a long  “oooooh” from the audience — that dirt is more beneficial as an anti-depressant than Prozac, and those COVID vaccines should be avoided. (See Fact Check above.)

“Does it make any sense at all to (take in the ingredients from the vaccine), as bad these shots are, and we know they’re bad,” she said, suggesting instead to use near infrared therapy. “Remember that these shots are evil.”

Fact Check: According to Health University of  Utah Research published in the journal "Environment International," analyzed data from 10 previous studies suggested that sperm’s mobility, or its ability to move normally toward an egg to fertilize it, appears to fall by an average of 8 percent when a man is exposed to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.

Fact Check: Red light therapy is a treatment that may help skin, muscle tissue, and other parts of your body heal, according to WebMD.com. It exposes you to low levels of red or near-infrared light. Infrared light is a type of energy your eyes can’t see, but your body can feel as heat. Red light is similar to infrared, but you can see it.

Fact Check: According to an article in “Forbes” magazine, “further research on gardening found it improved life satisfaction and mood. Digging in the dirt really does lift your spirits. The digging stirs up microbes in the soil. Inhaling these microbes can stimulate serotonin production, which can make you feel relaxed and happier.” “The Atlantic” also states that “M. vaccae, a living creature that resides in your backyard compost pile, acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body, functioning like antidepressant pills to boost your mood.”

Patel teased that he would share later about the most recent incident involving an FBI raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. He claimed that Trump had authorized the National Guard to be on standby before the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that during a phone call that Patel was on, Pelosi was more concerned about when food service would be restored than about the violence at the Capitol. No evidence was found online to substantiate or refute that claim.

As for Flynn’s charges before being pardoned by the former president, Patel called them “bogus” and claimed “we actually found documentation” proving his innocence.

“And that man is still standing with us today because he believe in the fate of this country,” Patel said.

Fact Check: NPR.org (National Public Radio) states that "Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about conversations he had had with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States as he and the rest of President-elect Donald Trump's camp waited in the wings early in 2017."

"My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions," Flynn said in late 2017 at the time of his plea, according to the news site.

Patel joked that he could keep speaking, but had to get out to his booth to sell more books. Several vendors were strewn about outside and many more inside of the church, selling ReAwaken, Trump and related items of clothing, jewelry, keepsakes, books and more.

“This isn’t a Trump rally, but it’s close,” he said, with large screens in the background displaying logos and information related to each speaker.

The Millers were glad to have heard the information.

“We were learning so much deeper stuff,” Clifford said. “So that’s good for us, because we don’t really watch local news. We just don’t know what’s happening. I can’t believe what they say.”

They watch Flashpoint and Newsmax a few times a week, they said. Warm and affable, the couple spoke more about the Christian element than particular subject matters. Clifford was nearly 51 before he became a Christian he said, after spending much time “off in my own world.”

“I was seeking something different, and Jesus was my answer,” he said. “And, I'm telling you, I would have changed nothing else for it. God has brought me (to salvation).”

As smoke billowed out of nearby grills, people continued to mill around, shopping for memorabilia, catching a quick bite out in the sunshine or sitting under the tent as new speakers took to the stage every 15 minutes. As of noon, there were no protestors or visible threats of violence on site, and a counter-event was set for 11:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

The schedule runs to 7:15 p.m., when baptisms are to take place, and resumes again at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

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Clifford and Cecilia Miller of Corning traveled to the ReAwaken America Tour to be with like-minded Christians, they said, and believe that people need to get back to God; Jana Schmidt talks about natural remedies during Friday's event at Cornerstone Church; Visitors snap a photo with a traveling bus named after its owner, attorney Scott McKay, whose biography defines him as "the patriot street fighter."  Signs were placed at event entrances to provide directions and a reminder that "no guns, no knives" were allowed in. Photos by Joanne Beck.

August 12, 2022 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, cornerstone church, news, notify.

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The ReAwaken America Tour has arrived in Batavia.

Among the opening events this morning was a truckers' convoy on Bank Street Road past Cornerstone Church, where the event is being held.

Pastor Paul Doyle, who agreed to host the event after it was canceled at a venue in Rochester, has denied that the tour promotes political extremism.  Critics say event speakers peddle conspiracy theories and racism and that the rhetoric can lead to violence, such as the racially-motivated mass murder at a supermarket in Buffalo in May.

Today's speakers include retired General Michael Flynn, pardoned by President Donald Trump after being convicted of lying to the FBI during investigations into his dealings with foreign nations.  Flynn is scheduled to speak in the morning on "Why now is the time to act without fear and hesitation to save this God-given republic."

Other speakers include Kash Patel on "what is actually going on in America," Doctor Bryan Ardis, on COVID-19 protocols involving remdesivir and midazolam, Christie Hutcherson on why we must protect our borders, Julia Flynn, on a "practical plan to save America," Lance Wallnau, on God's "chaos code," Mel K on the "great reset," Dr. Rashid Buttar on the "COVID-19 chaos," Jim Meehan on fighting back against "medical corruption."

Eric Trump is speaking in the afternoon on "why the Trump family has committed their time, talent and treasure to help save America."

In the early evening, Roger Stone, also pardoned by Trump after his conviction on charges of obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering, will speak about how Jesus can save America.

As things were getting underway this morning, a number of vendors were already in place offering books, t-shirts, hats, jewelry, paintings, and other wares to the attendees (photos below).

The Batavian will have coverage throughout the weekend of the event at Cornerstone as well as counter-events at other locations in Batavia.

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The stage in the main event tent ready for guests and speakers.

August 12, 2022 - 8:16am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, GLOW YMCA, downtown, Restore NY, notify.

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Rochester Regional Health and United Memorial Medical Center officials would like Genesee County on board to assist with a $2 million grant for the Healthy Living project in downtown Batavia.

Working through Ed Flynn of LaBella Associates, hospital officials plan to apply for the grant and, if approved, funding would “flow through the county,” County Manager Matt Landers said Wednesday.

“There would be no county match, and no county cost,” he said to legislators during their Ways & Means committee meeting at the Old Courthouse.

Restore NY grant
The grant is to go toward some of the demolition costs of the GLOW YMCA site between Wiard and Bank streets, he said. The county can charge up to $10,000 for administrative costs, “which should be more than enough for us to cover our costs,” Landers said.

“I would liken this similar to a (Community Development Block Grant) project where the (county’s Economic Development Center) usually comes to us and has a private business out there that wants to secure funds for a project for economic development and their job creation,” he said. “And then we basically utilize grant ministries, grant administration services … So this will be a very similar arrangement, but less intensive. According to Ed Flynn, the CDBG project is a little more intensive. This is less intensive. So I don't see a drawback.”

The unusual part, he said, was that this request is to approve an intent to apply before actually applying for the grant. That letter of intent was due Thursday, and the next step would be to get the Legislature’s blessings on the actual grant application, he said.

“So if there are reservations around, they can still be raised,” he said. “So it's a little nontraditional process where I'm coming to you with the intent to apply. And then we'll be voting on formal permission to apply, within the attached resolutions, that will come forward probably in September.”

The committee approved his request, and Genesee County will be submitting a Restore NY round six grant to support the development of the Healthy Living Campus. United Memorial Medical Center – Rochester Regional Health (UMMC-RRH), and GLOW YMCA have partnered to develop a $33.5 million, two-story 78,000 square-foot regional health and wellness facility, which will integrate a new YMCA facility with state-of-the-art medical space for the Healthy Living program.

New versus old YMCA
Restore NY funds will be used by the development team to demolish the old 40,000 square-foot YMCA, and an 8,500 square-foot obsolete boiler house owned by UMMC-RRH, which will provide space to accommodate a new downtown park and parking lot. The project was selected as a priority Downtown Revitalization Initiative project and is also supported by the Batavia Brownfield Opportunity Area plan. UMMC/RRH will lead the development team.

Demolition of YMCA won’t be for a while, as the new building site at the former Cary Hall and Elks Lodge needs to be in place for the facility’s members to use, said Rob Walker, CEO of GLOW YMCA. There shouldn’t be any downtime for members, as they will transition over to the freshly completed site while the older YM building is taken down, he said.

“And continue operations without hurting the community and our services to the community — that was important to us, both from a mission standpoint and service standpoint, but also fiscally being responsible as well,” Walker said Thursday to The Batavian. “So the demolition is all dependent on completion of, and a certificate of occupancy for, the new YMCA UMMC building.”

The facility has previously been outlined — a pool, updated exercise equipment, and brand new amenities alongside Healthy Living’s teaching kitchen, classrooms and offices — and Walker described the outside space being “a nice streetscape park area” with benches, trees, lighting and an open grassy area for some outdoor activities, plus additional parking space.

“That's the beauty of what we're doing. There'll be additional parking there that kind of complements the site. There's two main entrances to the facility, one is on the northwest section, and then one is on the south section, that both enter into and through a nice corridor to the welcome desk, where a member services representative will direct them to where they need to go.”

He also emphasized that the nonprofit’s board and volunteers have talked about this eventual move for the last four or five years, and the county’s Senior Center was always part of the vision.

“Our true hope is that we can add on to the YM space where the current one is to include the Senior Center. It’s really important to volunteers and board members,” he said. “It’s our hope that the Genesee County Senior Center would join the Healthy Living campus.”

The former Cary Hall and Elks buildings have been razed, and new construction is to begin this fall. It was important to YMCA leaders not to disrupt the many services offered, including childcare, swimming lessons and exercise classes and offerings to varied age groups, he said.

“We want to be able to continue to do those services and keep the momentum that we have with those programs as well. They're all doing really well, there's a lot of wait lists, and we're going to be able to serve more people in the new facility. So that's going to help. Our capacities are pretty much limited in the existing YMCA,” he said. “It takes a little while to line up these contractors. We'll have a better idea this fall, or even late summer, on the timing of that lineup. Obviously, there's a lot of labor shortages, supply issues, that are affecting all these contractors.”

Construction plans
As has been said early on, the plan remains for completion to be in late 2023, or early 2024, depending on the labor and supply availability. A project such as this typically takes 16 to 18 months, and that’s if “everything flows under the construction timeline,” he said. But it’s a fluid timeline, he added.

Walker is grateful for the local support of municipalities and donors. Project costs are about $23 million for YMCA and $10 million for the RRH-UMMC portion.

“We appreciate the county and the city support on earmarking, this. Our escalation costs have been tremendous in the last two years. So we've had to dig deeper than we already have. We've raised over $14 million on our side, on the Y side, so we've got to keep going,” he said. “And we will, but we've got 95 percent of what we need. So we're confident that in the next four months we'll be able to close the small gap.”

Top photo: 2022 File Photo of demolition for the new Healthy Living Campus in downtown Batavia. The next phase to knock down YMCA is set for this fall, and officials are in the process of applying for a $2 million Restore NY grant to help with costs. Photo by Howard Owens.

August 12, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, entertainment, Batavia Players, batavia, notify.

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In its 25th year, Batavia Players’ Summer Youth Theater program returns from a pandemic year off with something spectacular to behold, Director Pat Burk says.

He chose the musical “Godspell” to give prominent and ample opportunity for the 15 youth actors to fully embrace their characters and bring the Gospel of Matthew to life in an atypically festive and colorful atmosphere.

“It’s about parables and things, and also excerpts from the Gospel according to Matthew. But you know, the whole premise of the show is just a very beautiful premise, and the show itself is physically gorgeous. I think people will be surprised at our setting this year … during Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” Burk said during an interview with The Batavian. “And that's another nice thing about the show, you can kind of put it into the setting you want it to be in. Originally it was in a junkyard in New York City. It was a bunch of homeless, kind of hippie vagrants, in the junkyard in New York City. We've changed that, and ours is very New Orleans, Mardi Gras-themed. and it is a very beautiful show. So I think people will enjoy it.”

The musical is a retelling of the Gospel of Matthew set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The disciples of Jesus spread his message of love and tolerance through the city streets as the time gets closer to Jesus's betrayal at the hands of Judas and his eventual crucifixion. Parables are interspersed with music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns, with the passion of Christ appearing briefly near the end of the show.

With its debut on Thursday, Summer Youth Theater’s production continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 East Main St., Batavia.

"Godspell" began as a project by drama students at Carnegie Mellon University and evolved from off-off-Broadway to being rescored for an off-Broadway production, which became a long-running success.

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Don’t let the actors’ ages, from 12 to 21, fool you; most are fairly well versed in theater and in working with Batavia Players, Burk said. There have been challenges, though, with the venue — First Presbyterian Church in Batavia. The widespread choreography and sets were too much for the Players’ makeshift stage while the new one is under construction, he said.

The troupe was invited to perform at the East Main Street church and accepted, meaning a complete transplanting of sets, the light and sound boards, costumes, props and stage setup, he said. They had to rent sound equipment, move and reset lights, and faced more challenges with designing a set for this particular show, he said, “which we want to really highlight the design and the costumes and the coloring, the colors involved in the show and how we're setting the show.”

“We had to bring in a bunch of really expert people to make that happen,” Burk said. “And I think people will be amazed. It's pretty expansive, and it's pretty impressive, actually.”

There also wasn’t room for the pit band that accompanies vocalists, he said. Their current, temporary digs consist of a small stage area inside Batavia City Centre until the theater construction is finished.

“Because the only shows that we do in there … we can have drums and guitars and bass and two pianos, and there's no room for that in our temporary space,” he said. “So the shows that we've done in there, if there is music, have either band recorded music that you purchase, and/or an individual piano. So, this show really requires a fuller pit, plus the choreography and dance numbers are, in our version, are fairly extensive, and they would not have worked in that space.”

That being said, the church performance space has worked out nicely for a breathtaking production that, contrary to what some people may think of biblical prose, is anything but boring, he said.

“It's absolutely gorgeous. And the music is amazing. Absolutely amazing, and it allows a lot of individual moments to shine within the show,” he said. “It's kind of an ensemble cast, which, there's obviously, one big important role. And then there's a bunch of ensemble roles, but they all have lines, they all have solos, they all have songs. It's also a good one to highlight the kids that are in it.”

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"Godspell" takes Burk back — nearly 50 years — to when he was first cast in it at 16. He found it then — as he still does today — to be a “beautiful, beguiling, and bold” over-the-top celebration that was an immediate success amidst a swirl of controversy, he said.

“It certainly was not a traditional telling of biblical parables. What many did not realize at the time was that this musical was not about the life and times of Jesus, it was about how Jesus created this loving and caring

community from a wide array of people,” he said. “Instead of being the universal story of the life of Jesus, it used Jesus as a vessel for the story of how a community is created and how it can include all.”

Ticket information is available at showtix4u.com

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Batavia Players' Summer Youth Theater cast readies for a debut of "Godspell" Thursday evening; Elise Baumer, Crystalina Baumer, Melania DeSa e Frias, Maia Zerillo and Jocelyn Coburn; front row featured actors Deacon Smith, Kai Hoag and Gabriel Burk Flanagan; Matthew Stevens as the lead of Jesus, with Samantha Jane Balbi, who is also the show choreographer; Matthew Stevens and Dorothy Sue Flanagan, the youngest member of the cast. Photos by Howard Owens.

 

 

 

August 11, 2022 - 11:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY STAMP, Charles Schumer, news, notify.
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The pandemic exposed a weakness in the U.S. economy, Sen. Charles Schumer said today while at a car dealership in Genesee County -- not enough computer chips are manufactured in the U.S., leading to a shortage in the semiconductors that help cars, along with phones, computers, and appliances, run.

Currently, only 12 percent of chips are manufactured domestically, according to Schumer, compared to 37 percent in the 1990s.

Many foreign competitors, including China, are investing heavily to dominate the industry, Schumer said. Nearly 75 percent of global semiconductor production is now occurring in East Asia, and foreign government subsidies drive the majority of the cost difference for producing semiconductors overseas and in the U.S.

In response, Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, introduced the CHIPS and Science Act, which with the president's signature this past week, is now law.

It provides over $50 billion in federal incentives to get more chips made in the U.S.

"We say (in the bill), not only do they have to make the chips here, but they can't make any more of them in China," Schumer said. "That is very, very good for America. We're saying we want to build the future in Batavia, not Beijing, in Syracuse, not Shanghai. So I wrote this legislation with upstate in mind."

Schumer is bullish on WNY STAMP, the 1,250-acre technology park that is now shovel-ready in the Town of Alabama.  He believes that before long, there will be a semiconductor plant at the park.

"Companies are seeing upstate New York is the place to be," Schumer said. "We hope there'll be many more. And we're fighting very hard to get one at STAMP. It is seen as a great opportunity at some of the chip companies -- I'm not allowed to say who -- but they have already visited here a couple of times. The bottom line is that manufacturing chips here in New York has the potential to be our 21st century Erie Canal."

He promised to do everything he can to attract chip manufacturers to upstate New York.

"We have more shovel-ready sites, including the STAMP facility right here in Genesee County than any place in the country," he said. "I'm gonna use my clout as majority leader in making (upstate New York) the center of the country with $5 billion of federal money for all of our semiconductor advanced research and development, which attracts people here. We have a great workforce here. We have great universities here. We have cheap water and cheap electric power, which these chip plants need as well, so you put that all together, and we are ideally suited now that this bill passed."

From a press release, highlights of the legislation:

Specifically, Schumer highlighted that the bill includes:

  • $39 billion for the CHIPS for America Fund to provide federal incentives to build, expand, or modernize domestic facilities and equipment for semiconductor fabrication, assembly, testing, advanced packaging, or research and development to help attract major chip manufacturers to shovel-ready sites like STAMP in Genesee County.  
  • $11 billion for Department of Commerce research and development including creating a National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) a public-private partnership to conduct advanced semiconductor manufacturing, with Albany Nanotech primed to be a top contender to serve as a major hub for the NSTC, and other specialized R&D programs that universities across the state are in a strong position to compete for.
  • $2 billion for the DoD CHIPS for America Defense Fund.
  • $200 million for the CHIPS for America Workforce and Education Fund to kick start the development of the domestic semiconductor workforce, which faces near-term labor shortages, by leveraging activities of the National Science Foundation.
  • A new Investment Tax Credit for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment.

Schumer explained that New York is uniquely suited to take advantage of these federal investments to reassert America’s global technological leadership. New York is currently home to over 80 semiconductor companies that employ over 34,000 NY workers, including global industry leaders like GlobalFoundries, Wolfspeed, onsemi, IBM, and other major microchip and innovation companies that support them like Corning Inc. in Monroe County which just announced a $139M, 270 job expansion in anticipation of this bill. Schumer said investments like these are only the beginning though, and now that his bill has finally become law, the ripple effects from more chip fabs and their supply chains being built in places like Upstate New York will give companies like Baxter and the American economy the stability it needs to avoid shocks like this again in the future. 

August 11, 2022 - 10:57pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in Scribner Road, pembroke, news, notify.

After a weeklong investigation, cracks in the roadway and on the property at 445 Scribner Road in Pembroke are not the result of a sinkhole, according to the Genesee County Director of Emergency Management Tim Yaeger.

Geologists have classified the event as a catastrophic movement of earth.

“Will it keep occurring? We are not sure,” Yaeger said.

Yaeger said the last time they noticed any shift or movement in the ground on Scribner Road was this past Monday and Tuesday. Monitoring equipment will be installed in a well to check water levels in the affected area and a seismograph will be placed to see if the ground is still moving.

On Monday, an excavation crew will arrive and dig up the 70-foot section of the road that is cracked to see if there are any other visual signs of movement. Earlier this week, there were core samples taken from about 30 feet deep with the assistance of Nature’s Way Contracting. Geologists and engineers from Clark Patterson Lee have also been assisting the Town of Pembroke, along with Genesee County and NYS DEC.

The NYS DEC has not completed their report as of yet Yaeger said. They are looking into a nearby quarry that is only one mile from Scribner road and the Nati home, which was condemned on Sunday.

“They were blasting on the other end of the quarry on Mondays and Fridays,” Yaeger said.

A phone meeting on Thursday morning with geologists, the DEC, the quarry operator, the town supervisor, zoning officer, code officer, and the highway supervisor has not uncovered any clues as to what exactly happened last Sunday morning at 6 a.m. when cracks started to appear in the driveway and roadway in front of 445 Scribner.

“We’re not seeing anything definitive of what’s causing the shift of earth,” Yaeger said.

Town Supervisor Tom Schneider said that people are on edge.

On Thursday evening a group of Scribner Road residents attended the regular Pembroke Town Board meeting where Schneider provided an update on the situation.

“We are very concerned about the neighborhood. The town is trying to get a handle on it and some data," he said. "They have developed a plan and there is going to be a lot of work out there on Monday to try and get a look at everything and get a better determination.”

Schneider said the quarry has an incentive zoning agreement with the Town of Pembroke to expand the quarry in the town of Pembroke, however, that will not move forward at this time.

“I will recommend that we put that on hold until we know exactly what happened with certainty," he said. "We are hiring a third-party Geotech firm to review any data collected. “

Scribner Road residents were advised to contact the Town Supervisor or call 911 if they hear strange noises or notice something in their basement. Strange popping noises preceded this past Sunday’s event for four to five days prior.

Gene Nati, whose home was condemned on Sunday, was at the meeting and thanked the Town of Pembroke. His home as of Thursday night was still standing.

“I want to let the board know, the supervisor Tom Schneider, has been phenomenal. For a small town, I absolutely cannot say enough about the effort and time he has put in. Scott Turner, Town Highway Supervisor -- incredible," Nati said. "On Sunday they’re sitting at my house, they’re doing what they gotta do, he has cried with my wife and myself. They have been there through this whole thing.”

Scribner Road will remain closed until next week while experts look at the road more thoroughly.

CLARIFICATION (2:30 p.m., Aug. 12): Town Supervisor Tom Schneider informs us that the house has not been condemned.  It has been tagged "Do Not Occupy" only.  He said:

Our Town engineer did an inspection yesterday, with my Code Enforcement Officer Jim Wolbert, and believes the house should not be condemned at this point.  He will provide a report to the town which will also be provided to Mr. Nati that contains recommendations for stabilizing the structure.  We all feel terrible for the situation that has fallen upon Mr. Nati and his family and is working at the Town level to get any answers we can.  I want to thank Mr. Nati and his neighbors for allowing the Town’s consultants to do what they need to do while investigating this situation.  I’d also like to thank NW Contracting from Alden, NY for getting started on sampling operations as fast as they can.  Brad Beyers with County Line Stone has also been very forthcoming with data requested by the Town’s Engineer and Geologist.   More extensive testing and investigation will begin on Monday; hopefully, we’ll know a lot more about this incident next week. 

 

 

August 11, 2022 - 7:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pets, animals, crime, batavia, news, notify.

A Batavia woman accused of allowing her dog, Oddey, access to narcotics, leading to emergency veterinarian treatment for overdoses three times, was a no-show in City Court on Thursday afternoon.

Cassandra Elmore may be in the hospital, acording to a friend who called court about four hours before Elmore's case was to be called, but City Court Judge Thomas Burns had no proof that the claim was true, so he issued a warrant for her arrest.

Elmore's court time was at 1:30 p.m., and there were several other cases then as well. Burns finally called her case at 2:40 p.m., and she was not in court. Her friend was informed that the court would require proof of Elmore's admission to a hospital -- a call an email or a fax from the hospital.  The court received no proof of the claim prior to her case being called.

According to police reports, Elmore showed up at veterinarian offices on May 21, May 25, and June 21 with Oddey unconscious.  

Investigators believe Oddey consumed cocaine on two of those occasions and either cocaine or another narcotic on the third.

Elmore, 30, a resident of River Street, Batavia, faces three counts of injuring an animal under New York Ag and Markets Law Section 353.

Previously:

August 11, 2022 - 5:04pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, business, batavia.

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Press Release

Everyone is invited to the grand reopening and fourth anniversary of Eden Café & Bakeshop at 2 p.m. August 16 at 242 Ellicott St., Batavia. Activities include:

  • A ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m.
  • Tastings from 2 to 8 p.m.
  • Cookie decorating with Pam from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Facepainting and more with Marcia from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“It felt (at times) like we would never find a place of our own; we’re so excited to share our new space with the public,” said owner Judy Hysek. “We’ve sold thousands of carrot dogs so far. If you haven’t tried one yet, stop over this week and grab a free sample.”

We first opened in 2018 in the incubator kitchen inside Eli Fish Brewing Co. and we finally found the perfect spot to adopt as our own. We’re located on the corner of Ellicott Street and Liberty Street, right across from the Pok-A-Dot and Southside Deli. Our space has a fresh yet relaxing vibe, seating for over 20, ample street parking and a private parking lot in the rear.

We’re still making the same great menu items from our original location and added some fun new items like Italian Cream Sodas, and ready to eat meals and snacks for anyone in a rush. We are planning on also getting a beer and wine permit.

Currently, you can dine in, carry out, or order online for pickup or delivery! Our hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11am-8pm.

About Eden Café & Bakeshop:
Eden Café & Bakeshop is a woman-owned business and has been serving Batavia, Genesee County and beyond for over four years. The plant-based restaurant was born out of the 2017 Foodie Challenge and raised in the freshLab incubator. Eden specializes in innovative plant-based dining including carrot dogs, crunchwraps, cauliflower wings.

For additional information visit CarrotDogCafe.com

Submitted photo of Eden Cafe & Bakeshop.

August 11, 2022 - 4:20pm

Business is booming this summer at Genesee County’s six public libraries, which are having to adjust their budgets to account for rising costs of materials – especially when it comes to eBooks.

Two local librarians – Kim Gibson of Haxton Memorial Library in Oakfield and Diana Reding of Corfu Public Library – joined Thomas Bindeman and Lisa Erickson, officials with the Lockport-based Nioga Library System, at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting earlier this week to submit a request for funding and update lawmakers on library activities.

The county appropriates funds to each one of the six libraries to support the purchase of materials such as computers, books, music, movies and magazines. For 2023, the libraries are asking for $41,680 (the same amount as last year), which represents about 13 percent of their cumulative budgets.

Broken down by library, the dollar amounts are as follows:

  • Byron-Bergen Public Library, $4,570 requested, $32,780 materials budget, 13.94 percent;
  • Corfu Public Library, $3,500 requested, $16,255 materials budget, 21.53 percent;
  • Haxton Memorial Library, $3,200 requested, $10,000 materials budget, 32 percent;
  • Hollwedel Memorial Library, Pavilion, $1,950 requested, $14,700 materials budget, 13.27 percent;
  • Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, $22,210 requested, $182,210 materials budget, 12.19 percent;
  • Woodward Memorial Library, Le Roy, $6,250 requested, $62,000 materials budget, 10.08 percent.

The bulk of funding for the libraries comes from the residents of their municipalities. In the case of Corfu, Hollwedel, Richmond and Woodward, their budgets are put to a public vote. With Haxton and B-B, the town/village provide most of the funding at this point, but progress is being made toward changing the designation of those libraries to enable a public vote.

Bindeman said libraries are being challenged by increased costs for transportation – “Our fuel expenses are up by $19,000 this year,” he said – and for eBooks, a popular reading option.

“eBooks are costly to libraries,” he said. “People can go online, or they can go online at the library and download them. A consumer could go online and possibly get a book for 15 to 20 bucks, but the library’s cost for the same book might be 80 to 150 dollars.”

He said it’s what publishers and authors call “intellectual content” that drives up the price.

“Publishers and the authors feel that if a library gets it, they're getting ripped off because it's in the electronic world. And they feel once it gets on the internet, people will lift the book and all that,” he said. “And plus, normally if a consumer buys an eBook, he or she will only read it once or twice. And they see if a library buys it, it's going to have multiple uses.

“So, they're going to lose money on that, and that's why they charge so much. Also, we really don't own the book. It's only a lease for two to three years.”

He said electronic publishers “control the agenda” and it’s hurting the library system.

“We really don't have much voice. Because eBooks cost more for libraries, that means we won't be able to buy as many titles (books in print),” he noted. “Sometimes, it's kind of counterproductive to whatever they're thinking.”

Gibson and Reding used terms such as “amazing” and “come full circle” as they described how their libraries have bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic regulations that severely limited onsite interaction.

“We're getting back to pre-COVID levels -- getting our hours back to pre-COVID hours and getting staff and all that back to normal, whatever normal might be,” said Bindeman, who has been with Nioga for more than 40 years, the last 17 as the system’s director.

He said the Genesee libraries appreciate the county’s funding, understanding that government entities are facing similar financial challenges.

For more about the Nioga Library System, a non-profit cooperative library system that supports the 21 independent public libraries in Niagara, Orleans and Genesee counties, go to www.niogalibrary.org.

August 11, 2022 - 4:00pm
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 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 10:00 a.m. Daily Mass Monday’s 5:00 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 10:00 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 9:00 am (Arise-relaxed with band music) or 10:45 am (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 .

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. We are holding in-person worship services at (UPDATED TIME) 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, led by Pastor John Goehle. 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. Two worship experiences are offered each Sunday: 9:45 a.m. in person in the church sanctuary, with appropriate safety protocols, and 11:15 a.m. -- a Zoom-only service. Please call the church office to obtain Zoom access codes, 585-2800

Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St., Batavia. We will be continuing in our “Dangerous Journey” series based on the Christian Classic: “Pilgrim’s Progress” – “The Valley of Humiliation” with Pastor Shirk. There are classes and childcare for nursery age - kindergarten during the 9:30 a.m. service. 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 o'clock via Facebook Live on “Pastor McCaffery's” page.

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. Life is a journey; we all know that journeys can be long, difficult, and trying. The book of Numbers tells us about a journey that lasted almost 40 years and took the Israelites from Mt. Sinai to the land of Canaan. Their journey was full of difficult people, complaints, disappointments, and delays. Does that sound familiar? Join us for our new series Numbers: Struggles of the Journey as we look at what lessons we can learn from their journey to help us with ours. Join us Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11 a.m., 8160 Bank St. Rd., 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 Tenth Sunday After Pentecost.  The sermon titled: “Looking Forward  is based on the scriptures from Hebrews 12:1-3. Adult Bible Class will resume in September.  Our service begins at 10 a.m. or can be viewed 'live' on Facebook. Our Youth class meets at 9:30 a.m. 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]

August 11, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
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Matthew Zakrzewski

A Batavia man accused of starting fires on three different occasions in January entered guilty pleas in County Court Wednesday to counts of arson in each, the second and third degrees. 

Matthew Zakrzewski, 42, is likely to be sentenced to 10 years in state prison on Sept. 14 as part of a plea agreement he accepted.

Zakrzewski was facing several other felonies -- which have not yet been presented to a grand jury for possible indictment -- and without the plea deal could have been sent to prison for up to 25 years.

In court today, Zakrzewski admitted to starting a fire at Washington Towers on Jan. 16, and on the same date, setting a 2009 Jeep Patriot on fire.

As part of the plea, Zakrzewski agreed to pay more than $10,000 in restitution to the arson victims.

His attorney, Fred Rarick, raised a concern about the restitution agreement because Washington Towers made a claim for replacement property in new condition, which the law doesn't require.

Rarick said he was looking for legal, fair, and equitable restitution.

District Attorney Kevin Finnell said the plea offer included stipulation to restitution as claimed, and if Zakrzewski didn't want to accept those terms, Finnell was ready to present the case to a grand jury.

At that point, Zakrzewski piped up and said, "Mr. Rarick, it's fine."

Previously:

August 11, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Genesee County Legislature, Farm Bill S9509.

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When Shelley Stein heard about Senate Bill 9509 to eliminate the Farm Laborers Wage Board, she had to jump on it immediately, she says.

The 2019 Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act contained a provision to create a Wage Board to evaluate lowering the overtime threshold for farm laborers below 60 hours a week. In January 2022, the Wage Board recommended lowering the threshold to 40 hours over 10 years starting in 2024.

Not only was the Wage Board’s creation and the ensuing recommendation ill-conceived, but the provision also went against the majority of public hearing testimony that opposed the board in the first place, Stein said Wednesday.

“(Testimonies) indicated that nobody wanted any change to the overtime threshold of 60 hours of the work week, that was from farmers, farm workers and industry stakeholders. However, the wage board did vote to reduce the number of hours and to continue to reduce it until it got down to 40 hours of work,” she said during the Ways and Means meeting. “The Commissioner of Labor has been given the responsibility to make the final determination and what this Senate bill does is, it recognizes that there is only one person who is familiar with agriculture on the three-member board. Their actions do not mirror what the major request was during this process. And so, it’s time to throw out the wage board.”

Legislator Christian Yunker, also from a farming family, agreed, adding that the wage board had flaws from the start.

“The idea of the wage board was a set-up from the beginning,” he said. “And it is timely because we're late on the way here … and so any noise we can make throughout the state is fantastic.”

The Genesee County Legislature chairwoman and part of the family-run Stein Farms in Le Roy knows that of which she speaks. An average farm work week is 60 to 65 hours, she said, and the first proposed cut shaves up to nine hours off of that with a total of 56 hours a week. The state is supposed to make up for those hours worked between the maximum and 60, which would mean paying out time and a half for each worker (four hours a week) on each farm in the state. The reduction of hours goes down from there, for an eventual maximum of 40/week, which means the state is to pick up even more hours in the future.

Though she has concern about whether the state is really financially equipped to pay out the difference, it isn’t Stein’s primary reason for opposing the Wage Board conception. It will damage Genesee County’s economy for years to come, she said, and the “good work that farms are doing for climate change will be lost forever.”

The committee agreed to support the bill that was just established on July 25, and it will be forwarded on to the whole Legislature for vote during its meeting on Aug. 24. An adopted resolution will then go to an inter-county consortium of 13 Western New York counties, and to stakeholder agricultural groups for further support and endorsement, Stein said during an interview with The Batavian after the meeting.

“And then, as the result indicates, we will be sending this on to the governor and to the Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and also our assembly speaker, Mr. (Carl Heastie), along with our local representatives who we know feel the same way that we do, and and we are assured of their continued support.,” Stein said. “The wage board not taking into consideration 70 percent of the testimony, and doing exactly the opposite, makes no sense to how our democracy is supposed to work. And here in New York State, of course, the area where we are known for making and producing food to feed the rest of our state, it makes us shake our head because this puts food at risk.”

She is hopeful that such resolutions to eliminate the Wage Board will sway the governor and downstate elected leaders, since (they) do not want to put their constituents at risk "any more than we do" with food.

“Part of what really will hurt them is the fact that farmers are the largest donation source for food pantries and New York State feeding programs, especially Nourish New York. What this overtime threshold reduction of ours does is it puts at risk those programs that New York State touts and is so proud of, but they don't happen without the produce coming from the farms,” she said. “So this is a balancing point. And we recognize that in agriculture, but we also recognize that our workers want to work. And that is the American Dream for them that they are reaching to, and they are aspiring to, and for the New York State government to be determining when you can work and how long you can work in a field that has seasons. It does have the plant that determines the season, or the animal that  determines the season.”

Does this create competition with other states, since migrant workers may want to work elsewhere without a weekly limit?
“That is an issue, and a lot of the articles that you'll see being released in the media currently is that those who follow a crop are avoiding New York State because their wages are being held down by foreign producers who are price takers of their product, and cannot keep up with the overtime hours required after 60 hours in a week. So those states like Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and Massachusetts, and Vermont, are really benefiting from the great skill sets that we had developed here in New York State,” Stein said. “And those workers are off to Michigan, and they're off to Ohio and Wisconsin. And some of them even into Canada, which of course makes that international competition. And it's a disadvantage that our state is actually putting the farmers under at this point.”

A Commissioner of Labor is appointed, and a union leader is elected by union members, but Stein takes issue with the “one sole agricultural involved person” who represents agricultural interests.

“Our Commissioner of Agriculture certainly should have had a position on this wage board so that there could be an actual balance at the start,” she said. “New York State already imposes a higher minimum wage than any of the states around us. So we start off already being disadvantaged and on a back foot, because the farm gate prices do not allow us to set our prices for our foodstuffs that we are so proud to make here in New York.”

Even if the new farm bill is successful, the weekly working cap could remain, yes?
“The cap could remain. However, I would think and I would hope and have faith that then that would actually be repealed,” she said. “We have learned to live at the 60-hour threshold; it is not easy. We are limiting the hours of our staff, and we are paying overtime to staff at a much higher minimum wage rate than most other states around us. And anecdotally, when our staff go to file their taxes — and this is staff that works year-round — they're told that they actually earn too much to be afforded any help through any programs that might have been available to any other citizen of a community of New York State. So the reality check needs to happen as to the income levels of our farm workers, and to recognize that they are well paid for the work that they come here to do so that they can provide for their families back home.”

“And if they intend to work just six months a year and have six months of the year off, they are willing to do the work in that vein, and that is their preference. It is hard for me to understand how the state can say that they're ready to pay the difference between the 60 hours and the first reduction to 56 hours. I don't know of any other private industry that the state is willing to pay payroll for that aren't state workers,” she said. “So all of this is very messy. And it need not be if the government would just step out of the food production hours of labor, we would all be better off here in New York State. And we could continue to provide that high-quality local food on the precious ground that we have here, especially in the Finger Lakes area, because we are making the highest and best use out of our natural resources, our land and our water here.”

Stein is grateful for her fellow legislators’ support, and that of state Assembly leaders on the Agricultural Committee and Senator George Borrello (R, C, I, LIBT), who is promoted as “an unwavering advocate for rural New Yorkers and a champion of agriculture” and is behind the farm bill, she said.

“There are a lot of moving parts in this. And it could just be simpler by the removal of that decision of the wage board, and also the wage board itself,” she said. “That's our issue today. And that's our request.”

The resolution will move onto the Legislature next week. It reads, in part:

“Whereas, Genesee County is urging state legislature to provide the farmers and farm workers relief from the already onerous burden the Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act and other existing government mandates which have placed our farms at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states and Canada. Now, therefore, be it resolved Genesee County emphatically opposes any decrease to the 60-hour farm worker overtime threshold proposed by the Farm Laborers Wage Board.

Be it further resolved, Genesee County urges Governor Hochul to strongly consider Senator Borrello’s request of repealing the act, section 674-a of the labor law, relating to establishing the Farm Laborers Wage Board and eliminating the three-member Farm Laborers Wage Board.

Furthermore, be it resolved, Genesee County Legislature directs the Clerk of the Legislature to submit a copy of the adopted resolution to Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, NYS Assembly Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Hawley, Senator Borrello, Senator Rath, NYS Labor Commissioner, NYS Agriculture and Markets Commissioner, NYS Farm Bureau, Genesee County Farm Bureau, NYSAC and Inter-County Association of Western New York.”

File Photo of Genesee County Legislature members, with Chairwoman Shelley Stein, front, who is urging county and state leaders to support a farm bill that would repeal the current Farm Laborers Wage Board. 

August 11, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, genesee county, employee recognition.

Next week’s employee recognition festivities have been a long time coming, county leaders say, and the list of recipients has grown to an impressive size.

Genesee County Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein gave major kudos to the Human Resources staff charged with event planning Wednesday.

“It’s been 10 long years in the making, and you guys are knocking it out of the park,” Stein said during the Ways & Means Committee meeting. “People are super excited about it … over 200 of our employees are going to receive a milestone recognition. And that just speaks volumes about the employer that the county is, and all of our manager and department heads make that possible.”

That announcement may seem like a glorified promo for the county; however, maintaining more than 200 employees at the municipality for 10 years or more flies in the face of today’s job-hopping mentality. Stein believes it is a testament to worker satisfaction. And perseverance on the part of staff wanting to ensure a recognition event finally happens.

For 10 years, Genesee County ceased such celebrations because of its financial situation, she said.

“We had shared more of our revenue than perhaps we should have at that point, and we had the stress of a nursing home still. We had more of a Medicaid/Medicare responsibility … at that point, we stopped all employee appreciation or recognition,” she said. “And so now with the ability to address a thank you, and to recognize our staff that has chosen to work with the county for the years that they have, this is just an absolutely phenomenal opportunity for us to say, thank you.”

The county’s newsletter issued a written thanks from County Manager Matt Landers and Stein. One of his first goals after being hired as manager was to reinstate the annual recognition event, Landers said.

“Unfortunately, COVID had a different set of plans in mind,” he said. “However, after a couple of years on the job, we are bringing back this event to recognize longevity milestones of the dedicated Genesee County employees who have given so much to our county and residents.”

He referred to the Legislature for allocating funds “to bring Human Resources’ vision to fruition,” he said. Employees are being highlighted for work records of 10 to 60 years. They will be treated to a lunch from Red Osier, an ice cream truck visit and other goodies next week.

After the decade-old pause, summer is the time to bring out the party hats and express “our appreciation and accolades,” Stein said.

“It’s never too late to start anew. During the pause, the county has experienced fiscal stress, the sale of the county nursing home, water restrictions (which continues), and the latest hurdle — a pandemic that truly turned all of our lives on end. During our lives, we have never encountered a true-life pandemic like 2020 through today. We were scared for our health, families, and shutdowns. We banded together, took steps to continue providing services, and were bold in our approach to serving each other and our community members,” she said. “Our frontline public safety and health department members took the brunt of daily information whiplash. Through the constant requests for tools to empower us to respond, we banded together giving courage to each other.

"The fear and fright faded aside as services could be provided. The ability to fight for good health provided strength to us all. Partnerships all across our county were formed and engaged us all. Our confidence was recovered," she said.

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