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Tenney announces submissions being accepted for 2024 Congressional Art Competition, due April 19

By Press Release

Press Release:

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) today announced that her office is accepting submissions for the 2024 Congressional Art Competition from high school students in New York's 24th District.  

Since 1982, high school students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories have been invited by members of the U.S. House of Representatives to participate in this esteemed nationwide art competition. Over the years, this competition has provided a platform for over 10,000 works of art to be exhibited and celebrated.

The contest winner will have their artwork displayed in the prestigious halls of the United States Capitol for an entire year. Additionally, they will be given the exciting opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to witness their masterpiece showcased at the Capitol. Southwest Airlines is donating two round-trip tickets for the winner and a guest to attend this year’s celebration on June 27.

All submissions must be delivered to one of Tenney’s district offices by the close of business on Friday, April 19. Additional information about the competition, including guidelines and student release forms required to participate, can be found here or by calling Tenney’s District office at (716) 514-5130.

Sponsored Post: Journalism students: Work for The Batavian this summer

By Sponsored Post

Journalism students: Work for The Batavian this summer, helping us gather and report local news.  This is a hands-on opportunity to gain bylines and real-world journalism experience at one of the nation's most respected digital news publications.  To apply, send a cover letter and resume to  Please be sure to include information on relevant training and experience.

Cline's 300, Fluker's 290 lead bowling 'hit parade'

By Mike Pettinella

Brian Cline continued his torrid bowling season last week by firing a 300 game and 770 series in the Mancuso Real Estate Doubles League at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia.

The 45-year-old left-hander from Middleport spun games of 278, 192 and 300, raising his average to 239.

In December, he posted a perfect game in an 857 series in the Monday night league.

In other action around the Genesee Region USBC:

-- Tom Fluker of Batavia kept the hot hand in the StrikeForce Tuesday Doubles League at StrikeForce Lanes in Oakfield, starting with a 290 game on the way to a 751 series.

-- William Wood of Rochester started with a 276 game in a 765 series in the Thursday Owls League at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen. His other games were 231 and 258.

-- Dean Cadieux Jr. of Oakfield led the way in the Sunday Rolloffs League at Medina Lanes with a 267 game and 774 series.

-- In the Wednesday Community League at Medina Lanes, Juliana Allis of Medina registered 267--701.

For a list of high scores for the week, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of the home page.


Le Roy residents Rob Panepento and Rick Howe teamed for a 1,649 series, with handicap, to capture the Genesee Region USBC No-Tap Doubles Tournament title last weekend at Legion Lanes in Le Roy.

The winners split $480 for their efforts.

For more information about the tournament and other GRUSBC news, go to


The annual King & Queen Mixed Doubles Handicap Tournament is scheduled for this Saturday, with squads at noon and 2 p.m., at Mancuso Bowling Center.

First place is guaranteed at $500. Entry fee is $50 per team. To enter, call 716-474-7960 or 585-343-1319.

LoVeSeXy pays tribute to the music and artistry of Prince on March 9 at Batavia Downs

By Howard B. Owens
Remote video URL
lovesexy prince tribute
Giovanni Morant, lead singer of LoVeSeXy, a Tribute to Prince. Submitted photo.

Prince is a rare form of rock star, according to Chris Botelho, drummer and leader of the LoVeSeXy, which plays at Batavia Downs on March 9.

He was admired by peers and fans alike in his lifetime, and his legend has only grown since his untimely death at 57 in 2016.

LoVeSexy was formed in 2008 as a Tribute to Prince, who is ranked #27 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time, and Botelho has seen firsthand how Prince continues to attract new fans and old fans who hunger to hear his music performed live.

"He's pretty much a real rock star when there's not a lot of those types of people around any more," Botelho said. "He was someone who was real special, like just the type of person who would walk in the room and everyone would just stop and be quiet and kind of like be like, 'Can I talk and I say hello.’ Like they would be that afraid to even speak. You don't get that from other people, even other stars. And that was with everyone, not just regular people but movie stars and top musicians."

There are several quality Prince tribute acts, Botelho noted, a level of reference that is seemingly missing from the legacy of other dead megastars of the era, such as David Bowie and Michael Jackson.

"Michael Jackson, I would think, would have big tributes, and there are some tribute shows, but there's really not as much talk about him as much as you would think. It's weird. But Prince, if you go online and search 'Prince,' there are fan sites, Facebook pages, and media coverage like this. There are so many fans all over the world, so many people still, every day, posting and talking and sharing his music. It's kind of amazing."

Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson, the son of a father who was a jazz pianist and composer and a mother who was a jazz singer. He grew up in Minneapolis, Minn., and never did forsake his hometown, maintaining Minneapolis as his base and where he recorded most of his music until he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.  

Signed by Warner Brothers when he was only 19, Prince released 40 studio albums during his life -- playing all of the instruments on some -- covering a range of musical genres, from funk, R&B, new wave, soul, jazz, blues, and hip hop. He sold more than 100 million records. His biggest hit singles included “When Doves Cry,” “Let's Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Little Red Corvette,” and “Kiss,” among his 19 Top 10 hits.

For a time, Prince was known by a symbol, or The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, or just The Artist (because of a contract dispute with Warner Brothers), and it is said that he has enough unreleased material in his vault that his estate could continue releasing new albums of new material for the next 100 years.

That means there's a lot of material for a Prince tribute act to pick from, and for the 90-minute set at Batavia Downs, LoVeSeXy will concentrate on the hits, but if needed, LoVeSeXy can dig deep into the Prince catalog -- deep enough to cover two 90-minutes sets if needed, Botelho said.

"We've played shows that are, you know, entirely Purple Rain (the album) or 1999, but there's so much more to him in just that era that we feel like people already know what is there, so we like pushing out other stuff to them that maybe they've never heard before," Botelho said. "It's kind of bring the music of Prince for Prince. It's one little thing to kind of keep his memory and music alive."

And the music is the thing to LoVeSeXy, Botelho said. There are a lot of Prince tributes that concentrate on the showmanship and the craft of creating a Prince concert. For LoVeSexy, the goal is to bring the music alive. The entire six-piece band is comprised of top-tier musicians, Botelho said, and they all get their moment in the spotlight.

"It's a team sort of situation," Botelho said. "It's not about just the lead singer and a bunch of players behind. It's like the six of us together, creating and making the sound of the band. We have four lead singers in the band, so the vocals are extremely strong."

It's not that showmanship isn't there -- the primary lead singer does look like Prince, after all -- but Botelho said the band really wants to put on a show that lives up to Prince's musical legacy (if you haven't seen it, check Prince's lead guitar on this performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps (at about 3:30 into the song.)

"His live shows, I think, was a big part of why a lot of people really feel that he was above the rest as far as a performer," Bothelo said.

The LoVeSeXy lineup is:

  • Giovanni Morant, Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keys & Trumpet
  • Anthony C. Grant, Sax, Keyboards, Flute, Vocals & Percussion
  • Jodee Frawlee,  Lead Guitar & Vocals
  • Brian Eggleston, Keyboards & Vocals
  • Jeffrey Gilman, Bass & Vocals
  • Chris Botelho, Drums & Samples

It's amazing, Botelho said, to see how much love the world had for Prince when he died and how that love and appreciation has just continued to grow.

"It is a testament to how strong it was around the world when he passed," Botelho said. "All the celebrations, the purple lights that were put on all the buildings around the world. It was kind of unbelievable, really, after all these years since 2016 that now the audiences are getting bigger and bigger for all of the Prince tributes."

LoVeSeXy performs at Batavia Downs on March 9. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.  Showtime is 7:30 p.m.  For more information and tickets, click here.

Chamber Awards: Genesee County Chamber honors Offhaus Farms for its commitment to excellence, community ties

By Mike Pettinella
offhaus farms chamber awards
Travis Offhaus and Levi Offhaus.
Photo by Howard Owens.

NOTE: This week, The Batavian is highlighting the annual Chamber of Commerce Award winners with a story each day through Friday. The awards dinner is Saturday evening at Batavia Downs.

Carrying on and expanding the farm operation started by their grandfather a half-century ago, Travis and Levi Offhaus are proud of the team they have put together at Offhaus Farms, Inc., 7892 Oak Orchard Rd., in the Town of Batavia.

“It has been a team effort, not just the owners or managers,” said Levi, during a sit-down interview with The Batavian in light of the 2,000-acre dairy/crop farm being selected as Agricultural Business of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s an honor (to get this award). We all try to do our best day in and day out in every aspect.”

Offhaus Farms will be honored on March 2 at the chamber’s 52nd Annual Awards Ceremony at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road.

Other honorees are Alabama Hotel, LLC, Business of the Year: Volunteers for Animals, Special Anniversary Recognition of the Year; Holland Land Office Museum, Special Recognition of the Year; and Michelle Gillard, Geneseean of the Year.

Brothers Travis and Levi, along with their uncle, Scott, are partners in the business, which currently milks 1,400 cows per day – producing 110,000 pounds of milk each day – and farms 1,200 acres of corn and about 800 acres of hay.

The operation has come a long way since its beginning in the early 1970s by their grandpa, the late Gordon Offhaus, who was respected for his contributions to various causes throughout Genesee County. Gordon passed away in June 2022 at the age of 86.

“My grandpa was my hero from as long as I can remember,” said Travis, 34. “I was always trying to be like him. Later on, I realized the way he treated people. He gave everybody the time of day.”

Graduates of Royalton-Hartland Central School, Travis and Levi joined the family business in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

“Growing up in farming, I always enjoyed the ag business,” said Levi, 30, noting that Offhaus Farms has 25 full-time and five part-time employees in areas such as calf feeding, milking, herdsmen, nighttime managers and field crew.

Office Manager Annie Selapack is in her 20th year with the company.

While maintaining a large farm means “wearing many hats,” Travis primarily is in charge of overseeing the dairy portion, Levi coordinates the crop growing and harvesting and their sister, Liz, manages the calves and the milk culturing lab.

Travis said that the farm is affiliated with the Dairy Farmers of America and ships its milk to HP Hood and to a plant in Pennsylvania.

Nominated by Chamber’s Ag Committee
The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s Agricultural Committee, in nominating Offhaus Farms, recounted the farm’s history and credited its current success to the “dedicated people who come to work every day on the farm.”

“Throughout the years, Offhaus Farms has also developed strong relationships in the community and with area businesses that have been invaluable to the sustainability of the operation.”

It all started back in 1959 when Gordon Offhaus took out a loan for $1,800 and bought 18 cows, and rented a farm on West Blood Road in Erie County. By 1972, he had grown the farm to 45 cows, but he was still in the rented facility.

With a desire for a place of his own, Gordon and his brother, Bruce, started a joint venture and a new location. They found a good farm on Route 98 in Batavia and decided to buy it. Bruce and Gordon entered into a partnership with Ken Hall, whose father was the previous owner of the farm.

Together, Bruce and Gordon milked about 120 cows at the new locations. Things stayed that way until 1980, when Bruce decided to strike out on his own. This opened the door for Gordon’s youngest son, Scott, to join the farm in 1984. Working together, they increased the herd size to 800 cows by 1994.

In 2000, Gordon and Scott bought out Ken Hall’s estate, taking ownership on their own.

As indicated previously, Travis, Levi and Liz joined the operation and continue to chart its course today, along with their uncle, Scott.

Photos by Howard Owens.

offhaus farms chamber awards
offhaus farms chamber awards
offhaus farms chamber awards
offhaus farms chamber awards

Police vs. Fire hockey game raises $2,660 for McCarthy Foundation

By Staff Writer
batavia police vs. fire hockey

In a charity hockey game on Sunday at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena, Batavia PD beat the City Fire Department pretty handily, 11-3, but more importantly, 598 people attended, and the event raised $2,660 for the David M. McCarthy Memorial Foundation.

Photos by Philip Casper.

batavia police vs. fire hockey
batavia police vs. fire hockey
batavia police vs. fire hockey
batavia police vs. fire hockey
batavia police vs. fire hockey
batavia police vs. fire hockey
batavia police vs. fire hockey

Dozens of kids participate in Try Hockey for Free on Saturday at The McCarthy

By Press Release
try hockey for free batavia 2024

Press release:

The Genesee Amateur Hockey Association hosted 37 registered youngsters as well as five “walk-ins” at the David McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena on Evans Street on Saturday for a Try Hockey For Free Event as part of “USA Hockey  Week  Across  America,” which was celebrated at 285  ice areas across the entire United States.   

Starting at 10:40 a.m. and going until noon, local youth, ages 4 to 9, were welcomed at the rink to experience getting on the ice, learning how to “skate”, getting up after falling, basic skills with a hockey stick and shooting punks into a hockey net (all by being guided by the head coach and on-ice helpers).  This year, the youngsters had the experience of shooting on actual goalies. 

“We welcomed families to McCarthy Ice Rink from Batavia, Buffalo, Byron, Corfu, LeRoy, Nunda, East Bethany, Alexander, Byron, Brockport, Albion, Wyoming, Rochester, and Elba to try our great sport of ice hockey,” said Sharon Gray, coordinator of the “Try Hockey for Free” event. “Our goal is for these families to enjoy watching their kids learn new skills with big smiles on their faces and for the youngsters the on-ice experience.”

The head coaches for today’s event were Tim Sprague and Dan Calkins – both with more than 30 years plus starting out as GAHA players, high school players and GAHA coaches over the years.  Most of the on-ice helpers were from this year’s Batavia-Notre Dame United high school team along with their coaches – Marc Staley and John Kirkwood.  

The youngsters were excited to be coached, aided and skating with these local athletes. Also on the ice were coaches and players from the GAHA organization.  The beginning of the event featured the playing of the National Anthem, and the little people stood so proudly alongside the BND players!

The event is hosted by Try Hockey for Free Coordinators, Sharon and Bob Gray,  and the GAHA Beginner Player Coordinator,  Marcia Barnes, on behalf of the Genesee Amateur Hockey Association, which provided the ice, and the McCarthy rink staff, Katie Murray (general manager), Matt Gray (rink operating manager), and their staff.  

It is the team’s goal to provide the hockey experience to area youngsters free of charge and encourage them in  October to become a player in the GAHA Beginner Program, which starts the first week of October.  The Beginner Program consists of two sessions (October to December and January to March) with a total of 15 on-ice hours per session.

The skates used by the youngsters were provided “free of charge” by the McCarthy Rink  Management Group.

USA Hockey’s Try Hockey program, with the support of the National Hockey League and NHL member clubs, among others, is designed to provide youth hockey associations with a national platform for introducing children to the sport, free of charge.  Pure Hockey (sponsor of USA Hockey) provided free USA Try Hockey jerseys to each child.


Photos by Howard Owens.

try hockey for free batavia 2024
try hockey for free batavia 2024
try hockey for free batavia 2024
try hockey for free batavia 2024
try hockey for free batavia 2024
try hockey for free batavia 2024
try hockey for free batavia 2024

Casper Stewart becomes Batavia's first state champion in wrestling

By Staff Writer
casper stewart wresting

Casper Stewart did something on Saturday that nobody else in Batavia High School history has ever done before -- win a state championship.

He was crowned the Division II 145-pound champ after beating Kieran Cullen (Greenville, Section II) 4-2 in the finals.

His path to victory included a preliminary win over Turner Sochia (Gouverneur, Section X), a quarterfinals win over Colton Havens (Canisteo-Greenwood, Section V), and a semifinal win over Riley Monica (South Jefferson, Section III).

He finishes the season with a 52-3 record and a career record of 279-20. He was a six-time state qualifier, finishing third in 2020, 4th in 2022, and third in 2023.

His 279 wins is fourth all-time in career wins in New York State, and his 202 career pins rank him first all-time in the state and #4 nationally.

He is committed to wresting at Army West Point, a Division I program.

Submitted photos.

casper stewart wresting
casper stewart wresting
casper stewart wresting
casper stewart wresting

Byron-Bergen gets big quarterfinal win in Class C2

By Howard B. Owens
byron bergen basketball

The Byron-Bergen Bees advanced on Saturday in the Section V Class C2 tournament with a 69-37 quarterfinal win over Eugenio Maria de Houstos.

Braedyn Chambry scored 26 points for the Bees. Brendan Pimm scored 15, and Brody Baubie and Colin Martin scored nine each.

Byron-Bergen is the #1 seed in Class C2 and will face the #4 seed, York, on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Cal-Mum.

Also in Boys Basketball:

  • Also in Class C2, Alexander beat Cuba-Rushford 71-44.  Alexander is the #2 seed, led by first-year coach Jalen Smith. Alexander plays a semifinal game against Bolivar-Richburg at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Letchworth.
  • In Class C1, Pembroke beat Warsaw 69-52. Tyson Totten scored 40 points and had 10 rebounds. Pembroke Plays East Rochester in the semifinal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Pittsford Sutherland.
  • In Class C3, Notre Dame beat C.G. Finney 87-73. Notre Dame's semifinal is against Filmore at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Letchworth.
  • In Class D, Elba beat Jasper-Troupsburg 53-44.  Elba plays Andover-Whitesville on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Wayland-Cohocton.
  • In Class B2, Le Roy beat Attica, 64-49. Merritt Holly, 26 points and 17 rebounds, Matthew Hockey, 18 points, and Jake Higgins, 11 points. Le Roy, at #5, plays #1 seed Avon at 6 p.m. on Monday at Haverling.

Photos by Jennifer DiQuattro.

byron bergen basketball
byron bergen basketball
byron bergen basketball
byron bergen basketball

Elba beats Notre Dame to advance in Class D tournament

By Howard B. Owens
elba notre dame basketball

Elba beat Notre Dame on Friday in the Class D Girls Basketball Quarterfinal, 55-47. 

Sydney Reilly and Lydia Ross both scored 20 points for the Lancers. 

Emma Sisson scored 20 points for Notre Dame, and she had 12 rebounds. Lucia Fiorentino contributed 12 points and 5 rebounds. Sofia Falleti had 7 points and 14 rebounds. 

"We had a tremendous season with many accomplishments," said Notre Dame Coach Vinny Falleti. "With two seniors and underclassmen, this team came together and worked so hard this season. Even though it wasn’t the ending we had hoped for, I am so proud of this team. Irish Proud!”

Elba plays in the Class D semifinal on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Mount Morris against Avoca-Pratssburgh.

Photos by Debra Reilly

elba notre dame basketball
elba notre dame basketball
elba notre dame basketball

Cornell Cooperative offers dairy tour, registration due Monday

By Press Release

Press Release:

by Margaret Quaassdorff, Dairy Management Specialist with the NWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program

Are you a dairy producer interested in on-farm dairy processing? Looking to diversify your operation with direct-to-consumer sales? Interested in value-added production? Well, hop on the bus – we’re headed East!

On March 13 and 14, Katelyn Walley and Margaret Quaassdorff from Cornell Cooperative Extension will be hosting a tour of value-added dairy processing facilities in Eastern New York. 

The tour will include at least 6 stops and will depart from CCE-Genesee in Batavia on Wednesday, March 13 at 8:30 a.m. We will overnight in Cobleskill, and the tour will conclude on Thursday, March 14 at 9 p.m.

The cost to register is $100 and can be done online by visiting 

Final stop locations, times, accommodation information, and additional details will be shared directly with the participants after registering (or by request). 

Registration is due by Feb. 26.  Inquire beyond that date if there are spaces still available.

Tour stops (subject to change) include: 

  • Trinity Valley Dairy (Cortland)
  • Byebrook Farm (Bloomville)
  • Don’s Dairy Supply (South Kortright)
  • SUNY Cobleskill’s Dairy Processing Center (Cobleskill)
  • King Brother’s Dairy (Schuylerville)
  • Argyle Cheese (Hudson Falls)

There will be ample time at each tour location to hear about the farm business history and goals, identify challenges and opportunities of value-added production, ask questions, and browse their farm stands and stores. Following the tour, we will provide an opportunity for participants to come back together for discussion groups and educational opportunities.

If you are interested in attending, or need accommodations, and would like additional information, please contact Margaret Quaassdorff at 585-405-2567 or  or Katelyn Walley at 716-640-522 or

From Tokyo to GCC and settling into NYC, Japanese actress finds comfort in 'culture of hustle'

By Joanne Beck
Natsumi as Agave
Natsumi Sasabe plays the role of Agave in GCC's 2019 production of "Bakkhai."

Students in Tokyo are accustomed to studying first and asking questions later, so it was a breath of fresh air when Natsumi Sasabe learned the ways of education when studying as an international student at Genesee Community College, she says.

“Back in Japan, my responsibility was to take notes and really knowing something," she said during an interview with The Batavian. "At GCC, so many times students raised their hands and asked questions, and there was an agreeing and disagreeing type of energy. But I think the biggest take out that I got from GCC was that it's ok to ask questions, it's ok to be curious about something it’s, ok to talk, if that makes sense, in the classroom setting where everybody's learning the same thing. But everybody reads the same thing from a slightly different point of view. And that's what makes learning really interesting.

“I became so much more outgoing … open-minded. I think it’s a very cultural thing. I also liked this sense of community, you see everybody everyday, you belong to this group.”

The road from Tokyo
After Sasabe finished high school in 2017, she wondered what was next, and since she had always been interested in theater arts and had an eye toward the United States, she searched potential colleges. GCC stood out, she said, for its two-year theater arts program and being “very affordable.” 

That’s not to say there weren’t some bumps in the road. Sasabe, now 25, barely knew English when she landed at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. There definitely was a language barrier, and she worked to get up to speed, she said. She laughed when asked if there were any missteps. There’s a Japanese saying that means you are well known that translates to “you have a big face.” She said it once and learned her lesson — her new American friend was quite puzzled as to why she said that.

“She said, ‘What do you mean by that? That’s when I learned I cannot translate from one language to another,” Sasabe said.

She enjoyed gleaning lessons from theater arts professors Norm Gayford and Maryanne Arena, and she still keeps in touch. They can be proud of this 2019 GCC graduate: she went on to Walt Disney World and worked as a performer and dancer at the park until it shut down in March 2020 due to COVID and the pandemic.

Sasabe then returned to Japan and continued pursuing her career in theater and performing arts.  But she didn't stay out of the U.S. for too long. She moved to New York City in August 2022 to pursue her bachelor's degree in theater arts at Columbia University, graduating in May 2023. During all of this time, she has been performing in plays and short films.

Loving the culture of hustle
“I love being on stage; I love performing. I feel the heartbeat, my hands get sweaty, but I don’t get nervous. I enjoy being stressed,” she said about the constant pressure of finding her next gig. “It has definitely been a hustle. I’m job-hunting all the time. Sustaining a living in New York is definitely hard enough, and finding work is, I enjoy this culture of hustle, I keep saying it’s hard, but I enjoy it being hard.

“It’s definitely not the most stable job. I have to be aiming for, to monitor my life, my world right now, it’s a lot of preparation. I’m thinking about the audition, and needing to rest, it’s a lot of juggling and making sure so many elements are working out fine. I’m constantly in motion; sometimes I wish I could stop and breathe.”

A typical day begins early with a workout, followed by scouting for auditions, then submitting her photos and videos, sneaking in a meal, followed by setting up a camera to record herself doing monologues and dances, often from what casting directors have requested as part of the auditions.

An old actor’s mantra has been that if you’re asked if you can ride a horse, you say yes and then learn how to ride a horse. Sasabe had her own version of this when she showed up for an audition and was expected to dance. But it wasn’t ballroom, which is her strong suit. It was for tap dancing.

“I auditioned for one of the Broadway productions, and I don't know how I missed that information. But they were looking for someone who can tap well, and I have never tapped in my life, but I had a pair of shoes. So I put them in my backpack, and then went to the audition and just faked the shape of it. I did my best, and I'm still proud of it,” she said. “I did not even get a callback. I got caught immediately. And that’s where I learned, I spread myself too thin.” 

She has, however, gotten many diverse roles, including for 10 months at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, as a dancer in a music video for Japanese singer Ioni, as Ting’an, one of the leads in the film “Black Daisies/White Daisies,” as Kacy in “For Her,” and as a computer graphics designer in a Pretia AR apps commercial.

The Pretia commercial featured her as Sigourney in a mini-plot with fellow app designers and background music reminiscent of a spy movie. With no spoken words, her animated face helped tell the story with a sense of humor. She especially related to the Black Daisies project, a play about the dichotomy of Asian identities and consciousness in one body being separated into two characters –– represented by an Asian name and an English name, she said.

We're basically playing the same persona but embodied by two different bodies. And that project particularly resonated with me because I'm. Also, I'm a first-generation immigrant in the U.S.,” she said. “So as I learned English or culture in the United States, I felt that I have two different persona whenever I'm speaking English versus whenever I'm speaking Japanese, which is my first language.” 

The ongoing role of questions
She looks forward to what’s ahead for her while also occasionally taking a look back at what where she’s been and what she may have discovered along the way. She returned to Batavia two years ago to catch up with old friends.

“I wanted to see everybody who helped me go through the journey,” she said. “I definitely want to keep doing what I love, which is performing and working on short film projects in the city. I definitely want to get better; I want to do an on-camera project and act in feature films as a medium. I want to embody the story I find interesting.

“It allows me to question. You have to keep asking questions. You try to understand someone who’s not entirely myself. You have to extend a certain amount of patience; it’s being human, in the sense of being very intimate," she said. "You figure out this person and want to keep doing that on a higher and higher level.” 

Black Daisies, White Daisies
Natsumi Sasabe in the play, "Black Daisies, White Daisies."
Submitted Photo
Pretia commercial
Pretia AR app commercial with Natsumi Sasabe, left. 
Submitted Photo
Tsuki music video
Tsuki music video featuring Natsumi Sasabe. 
Submitted Photo

Borrello supports proposal that would help restore balance between executive and legislative branches

By Press Release

Press Release:

Senator George Borrello recently attended a legislative briefing in support of a bipartisan initiative he cosponsors that would prevent policy proposals from being included in the budget, a practice which has generated significant criticism in recent years.

In the twenty-five years since the ruling in Silver v. Pataki, which gave the Governor of New York unprecedented power in the budget process, many legislators and good government groups have claimed the governor’s ability to include policy in the budget places excessive power in the hands of the Executive branch. They have cited the many negative impacts of this practice, including late budgets, vetoed bills, and compromised policy.

Senate Bill 2062 sponsored by Senator Fernandez would introduce transparency and resolve the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches by amending the state constitution to prohibit non-fiscal policies and programs from being included in the budget.

"Currently, the NYS Constitution allows the Governor to unilaterally insert non-budgetary policy in the state budget, which often includes the most controversial and politicized issues. The Legislature is then required to vote on the Governor's budget proposal as presented and cannot remove policies, regardless of whether or not they have any budgetary implications,” said Senator Nathalia Fernandez, 34th Senate District.

“S2062: Protect the People's Budget (PPB) Act would provide that the Governor's appropriations must be constrained by existing law and cannot modify existing law outside of monetary changes. The bill would restore the separation of powers necessary in our government by limiting the Governor's ability to legislate in the budget," said Senator Fernandez.

First introduced in 2018, the legislation has gained bipartisan support this year with Senators Borrello, Gallivan, Rivera, Salazar, Krueger, Ashby, Brouk, Cleare, Comrie, Gonzalez, Griffo, Helming, Jackson, May, Murray, Oberacker, Ramos, Rhoads, Sanders, Sepulveda, Stec, Tedisco, Walczyk, Webb, Weber, and Weik signing on as co-sponsors of the bill.

“I’ve always been opposed to including policy into the state budget. Policy in the budget prevents full review of controversial issues, provides political cover to legislators, and causes standoffs during the budget process resulting in late budgets,” said Sen. Borrello.

“I’m happy to be in support of this bipartisan initiative, that will restore the balance of power between both branches of government,” said Sen. Borrello. “This is legislation that is needed and long overdue. I thank my colleague Senator Fernandez for bringing this issue forward.”

Free youth event promises music, fellowship, a 'safe space' during Fridays at the Rock

By Joanne Beck
Fridays at the Rock
Photo from Cornerstone Church social media post about Fridays at the Rock!

A fairly new collaboration between the traveling ministry of Glorious Destiny and Cornerstone Church has brought a youth-based event to the Batavia church that includes a live and lively musical performance and lots of free goods, from snacks and drinks to groceries, games and gift cards.

With enough negative energy already in the world, these Friday evening gatherings are meant to offer a peaceful and fun alternative for kids and families, organizer Omar Herrera says.

“And of course, in this day and age, you know that there's a lot of violence and other things that the youth shouldn’t be doing. So we just definitely want to steer the community away from that type of lifestyle, away from just getting distracted and away from going astray or anything like that. So we just want to create a safe space where people can come and really just want to be safe, be secure, and know that they are loved, know that they are cared about, know that they have a plan, that God has a plan for them, that they can be somebody,” Herrera said to The Batavian Friday afternoon. “Pastor Paul (Doyle) came to us, he used to have a youth program and wanted something new. He had a building and he had the resources, so we sat down and brainstormed some ideas to reach the youth.”

Fridays at the Rock is at 6 p.m. every Friday at Cornerstone Church, 8020 Bank Street Road, Batavia. 

These upbeat nights are opportunities for kids to “eat, fellowship with everybody, have games, prizes, live performances, and give an encouraging word,” he said.

“It’s one of the methods to reach people,” he said. “Anyone can go if they want to go, and whoever wants to come can come. We have had many families with a single mom who might not have a car … we will pick them up and take them home when they want to go home.”

Organizers provide free transportation to and from the event, and only ask that participants register in advance by a QR code or phone. From the first event, attendance has been at least 40 strong, with at least 100 people showing up by the fourth event, he said. 

“I would say one of the biggest visions that we have is — because of certain circumstances that are going on in our life, in this day and age, basically, in this world — we want to create that space where they can come in and not think about those problems, that they're going to not think about their situations or not think about anything, but really just enjoy life,” he said. “Let the kids be kids. Let adults enjoy their kids and just see them have fun. And really have fun with them, and win prizes as well. You just have a great space where people can really just enjoy life.”

There is also a free grocery giveaway after the church service at 10 a.m. Sundays. An assortment of free goods, including meats, breakfast items, bread, dry goods, fruit, vegetables and baby food will be distributed after the service. 

When asked the source of all the free goods, Herrera attributed it to God’s power and the generosity of Western New York’s businesses and farmers. 

“One of the guys who helped me, he had connections with stores and farmers, and they just donate to us,” Herrera said. “We can give out food to the community. It just started out of nowhere. God told us to go to these stores, and they are constant suppliers. 

“Where our vision is, our vision is the world. However, we’re based in the United States and right now, we’re doing a lot of work in the United States, and, of course, we’re based here in Batavia, and a lot of what we’re doing is out of New York.”

Glorious Destiny is a nonprofit that is now based in Batavia and working with Cornerstone Church, though Herrera said that he and the 40 or so missionaries do a lot of traveling, whether it’s to Rochester for a blanket and glove distribution or farther away to hand out jackets, socks and blankets to homeless in Philadelphia and New Jersey. 

Many of those missionaries are young musical artists who provide the live performances for the Friday rock series, which might feature some hip hop or rhythm and blues, he said. 

Glorious Destiny Missions, Inc. is a Christian organization that is "committed to spreading the love and message of Jesus Christ through various means around the world," according to its website. Its vision is based on Habakkuk 2:14, which states, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

For more information about these programs or to get a ride, text ROCK (for Friday) or PANTRY (for Sunday) to 347-352-6720.

Sponsored Post: Reliant Real Estate Open House tomorrow - 151 Vine Street, Batavia

By Sponsored Post
Reliant Real Estate
OPEN HOUSE - SATURDAY 11AM - 12:30PM. 151 Vine Street, Batavia-City, New York 14020. Don’t pass by this great City home-you will be pleasantly surprised as soon as you pull into drive and see the oversized 3 car garage with 4th pavilion style bay-perfect for your grill and picnic table-Your friends will be jealous! Inside the home features inviting large oak kitchen with loads of cupboard space spacious dining area and large and bright living room. This home was made for large gatherings and entertaining! Not only is there a good size first floor bedroom and bath there is also another large room which would make awesome office/playroom with pretty French doors leading to large and bright heated and fully glassed three season room featuring cozy free standing fireplace to take the chill out! This room features sliding glass doors leading to a large deck which also connects to side enclosed back porch which once held a busy -and still intact-barbershop! Before you go outside don't forget that if you go upstairs there are THREE MORE big bedrooms and another full bath! There is plenty of storage and closets throughout the home, and don’t forget the large full dry basement! This home packs a lot in-you will be amazed! Delayed negotiations until Monday Feb. 26th

Alexander Varsity Riflery team competed at the 2024 CMP 3PAR championships

By Press Release
Alexander riflery 0
From (left to right): Abigail Russel, Harrison McPhee, Charlotte Saraceni, Morgan Kidder, Devin Bubel
Submitted photo.

Press Release:

Members of the Alexander Varsity Riflery Team, sponsored by the Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 Batavia, competed at the 2024 CMP 3PAR Championships held at the American Legion Post 787 in Cicero on Feb. 18.

The team was led by Devin Bubel, placing 21st overall with a score of 502, followed by Morgan Kidder (35th) with a score of 464.

8th graders, Morgan Kidder and Harrison McPhee were awarded medals in age group 3. McPhee placed 3rd in the kneeling position, while Kidder placed 2nd in prone, kneeling, and overall.

Rounding out the team were Charlotte Saraceni and Abigail Russel, placing 38th and 42nd, respectively.

While the American Legion season has ended, Bubel, Kidder, and Alexander teammate Katelyn Green will be competing in the NYS High School Championships being held in Orchard Park on March 2.

Alexander riflery 1
Photo of Harrison McPhee and Morgan Kidder
Submitted photo.
Alexander riflery 2
Submitted photo.
Alexander riflery3
Submitted photo.

GCC's Professor Jones to receive a Fulbright award for 'Color Connection' exhibit

By Press Release

Press Release:

Genesee Community College was honored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for its distinction as one of the leading institutions with a significant representation of faculty and administrators chosen for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. 

Institutions like Genesee Community College, recognized as Fulbright Top Producing Institutions, actively promote global engagement and facilitate their campus community members in seizing international opportunities.

Heather Jones, GCC professor of fine arts was selected for a Fulbright award for the 2023-2024 academic year. While collaborating with Professor Jose Luis Gonzalez-Cabrero and the Industrial Design Department at the University of San Luis Potosi, Professor Jones will be implementing an international cultural color study project with students from both Mexico and New York, which will culminate with a student art exhibit titled "Color Connection." 

She will be teaching a series of seminars on color theory in Mexico, that will be available online for her students taking classes at GCC. Students in Mexico and GCC will photograph one color in their daily lives and facilitate conversation online by sharing these images on the dedicated Color Connection social media pages. 

The goal of the project is to take a deeper look at the expressive meaning of color in design, utilize the subject of color as a social bridge to break down cultural stigmas and reinforce empathy and respect for cultural diversity. Photographs will be juried by the students and 100 plus photographs will be exhibited simultaneously at UASLP and in GCC's Roz Steiner Gallery during March 2024. The exhibit will then be available to travel to other SUNY campus galleries.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international academic exchange program. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 talented and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds with the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. Fulbrighters exchange ideas, build people-to-people connections, and work to address complex global challenges.

Dr. James Sunser, president of Genesee Community College, expressed his gratitude stating, "This recognition underscores our unwavering dedication to fostering international opportunities for our faculty and administrators. At Genesee Community College, we believe in the transformative power of global connections, and we are proud to support our campus community members in their pursuit of scholarly endeavors worldwide."

"Fulbright's Top Producing Institutions represent the diversity of America's higher education community. Dedicated administrators support students and scholars at these institutions to fulfill their potential and rise to address tomorrow's global challenges. We congratulate them, and all the Fulbrighters who are making an impact the world over," said Lee Satterfield, assistant secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Fulbright is a program of the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program.

Fulbright alumni work to make a positive impact on their communities, sectors, and the world. They have included 41 heads of state or government, 62 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 80 MacArthur Fellows, and countless leaders and changemakers who build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

For more information contact Vice President, of Development and External Affairs Justin Johnston at (585) 345-6809, or via email: Details about the Fulbright Program can be found at

Schumer supports Genesee County's broadband expansion efforts

By Press Release

Press Release:

Genesee County is embarking on an ambitious mission to ensure universal broadband access, with the County Legislature demonstrating unwavering determination to reach every unserved address point.

County Manager Matt Landers personally engaged with leadership in each of the thirteen towns with unserved residents, leaving no address point overlooked in the pursuit of connectivity.

In a significant stride towards enhancing the quality of life for all residents, businesses, and educational institutions, Genesee County has approved a contract with Charter Communications Inc. to spearhead the deployment of high-speed internet infrastructure.

“This project will help close the digital divide in Genesee County and will bring gigabit broadband connectivity to over seven hundred residents and small businesses,” said Mark Fitchett, Regional Vice President of Operations at Charter. “We look forward to building our network and serving new customers.”

The Genesee County Legislature, in conjunction with the County Manager, has designated $2 million from the county's $11.1 million allocation of ARPA funds to support the broadband project. Allocation of ARPA funds must adhere to criteria established by the US Treasury Department. Senator Schumer has been a vocal advocate for infrastructure and broadband investments, and his proactive approach has played a pivotal role in securing the resources essential for advancing this project. 

“Access to reliable, fast internet service is not a luxury, but a necessity. In my first major act as Majority Leader, I led the American Rescue Plan to passage with billions to help hard-hit communities recover from the darkest days of the pandemic and make long-term investments to strengthen their communities, including essential infrastructure like broadband,” said Senator Schumer. 

“I am proud that Genesee County is leveraging $2 million of the overall $11.1 million in ARPA funding I delivered to finally close the digital divide in Genesee County and get Finger Lakes residents and businesses the service they require in the modern economy. Today is the start of connecting Genesee County to the future and a better quality of life for all families in every corner of the county to access the high-speed internet they need to succeed.”

The broadband expansion project aims not only to connect every corner of Genesee County, but also to elevate the overall quality of life in our communities. By increasing access to online resources, educational opportunities, telehealth services, and economic development prospects, the County is paving the way for a more vibrant and inclusive future. 

"Our contract with Charter Communications marks a significant milestone in our efforts to ensure equitable access to high-speed internet for all residents, students, families, businesses, and government entities in Genesee County," remarked Shelley Stein, Chair of the Genesee County Legislature. "With Senator Schumer's unwavering support and tireless efforts, we are poised to usher in a new era of connectivity and opportunity for all."

iGaming, EZ Bet expansion into Erie County on list of WROTB's lobbying efforts: Wojtaszek

By Mike Pettinella

The president and chief executive officer of Western Region Off-Track Betting Corp. said he is “paying close attention” to potential legislation that would permit online wagering in New York State.

Speaking by telephone this morning, Henry Wojtaszek also said leadership of the public benefit company is making its collective voice heard to loosen the restrictions on placement of EZ Bet locations in Erie County – a topic that was reported by The Batavian last September.

Concerning online wagering, known as iGaming, Wojtaszek said that he and Board Chair Dennis Bassett traveled to Albany for a “lobby day” a couple weeks ago to speak with lawmakers and their staff.

“We’re paying close attention to the legislation, and we will make sure that we attempt to be included in the bill as being eligible for iGaming,” he said. “It remains to be seen whether or not there's enough support to pass it this year. We made our position known to them that we were unified with other OTBs that we wish to be included in that legislation.”

Asked whether WROTB was in favor of iGaming, which opponents contend would hurt brick-and-mortar facilities such as Batavia Downs Gaming, Wojtaszek was noncommittal.

“At this point, we're open to seeing what the numbers are, what the study shows,” he responded. “I don't think we have enough data yet to determine how it'll affect our industry. I guess the bottom line is if it’s going to come to New York, we want to be part of the process.”

Last month, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who represents Queens, reintroduced legislation to permit remote bets such as blackjack, poker and craps. Addabbo said iGaming, along with iLottery, could generate around $1 billion per year.

His action prompted casino workers in Queens to send a draft a letter stating that Addabbo is trying to undermine their ability to make a living. Addabbo is the chair of the Senate committee on racing, gaming and wagering.

According to reporting by the New York Post earlier this week, the letter was sent by the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council union on behalf of employees at Resorts World casino at Aqueduct.

WROTB Seeks More EZ Bets in Erie County

Several months ago, Wojtaszek said WROTB “could easily get between five and 15” more EZ Bet locations in Erie County if a state law giving Hamburg Gaming (Buffalo Raceway) veto power over EZ Bet placement was changed or eliminated.

Today, he said the corporation has a new board member, Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, who says she would like to see more Erie County businesses have the opportunity to set aside a portion of their venues for those wishing to place remote bets.

The law on the books currently states that Hamburg Gaming can prevent any EZ Bet locations within a 30-mile radius of its facility. WROTB has 28 EZ Bet locations, but only one in Erie County, that being The Cove on Transit Road in Depew.

EZ Bet (standalone terminals without employees) is a money-maker for the corporation as it generated $428,000 in profit last year and is projected to increase the bottom line by $492,000 in 2024. EZ Bet wagering also makes money for the businesses, which split the proceeds with WROTB.

Wojtaszek said Rodriguez-Dabney approached him and wanted to know why the corporation wasn’t able to locate more EZ Bets in Erie County and the City of Buffalo.

“When I explained to her the statute, she said then we need to look at having this revised to accommodate some of the businesses that want to have them,” he said. “And I agree with her.”

Wojtaszek also said WROTB had been open to a revenue-sharing agreement with Hamburg Gaming, adding that several businesses have approached him about become EZ Bet sites only to get turned down by Hamburg Gaming.

He said lobbyists will continue to push for a change to this law until the end of the current legislative session, which ends in June.

“We’ll keep up our lobbying efforts because it affects other OTBs across the state as well,” he said. “Again, we went there with a unified voice two weeks ago to bring that up as part of what we’re looking for.”

Sponsored Post: Sports collects event at Batavia Downs promises memories and smiles

By Sponsored Post
batavia downs card show

By James Fink

To Bobby McClaine, it is all about memories and smiles.

McClaine and his two business partners, Brian Burke and Chris Sabatello, are presenting the upcoming "Legends & Stars Batavia Sports Card Expo," set for Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at Batavia Downs.

The event, which features sports cards and memorabilia vendors and collectors along with a laundry list of former professional sports stars, is designed as a "family-friendly" gathering.

"We want to give everyone the experience of their lifetime," McClaine said.

Some come for the chance to buy sports-related cards and memorabilia. Others come to meet and rub shoulders with sports legends.

"It's all about the experience," McClaine said. "To see the smile on someone's face because they just met one of their sports heroes is priceless."

In addition to the deep pool of vendors, among the sports stars scheduled to appear to include current Buffalo Football Player Rasul Douglas and former National Football League stars as Thurman Thomas (Buffalo), Don Beebe (Buffalo), Lawrence Taylor (New York), Don Majkowski (Green Bay), Keith McKeller (Buffalo), Ron Jaworski (Philadelphia) and from the National Hockey League Dave Andreychuk (Buffalo), Wendel Clark (Toronto), Darryl Sittler (Toronto).

Also scheduled to appear is WWE star Kevin Nash, former Major League Baseball pitcher Jack Morris (Minnesota and Toronto) and actors Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos, The Matrix, The Fugitive) and D.B. Sweeney (Eight Men Out and Fire in the Sky)

McClaine and his partners have been presenting the Legends card expo since 2018 - usually twice a year at Batavia Downs.

Batavia Downs works for its central location between the Buffalo and Rochester markets, and the event serves as another way for the venue to attract visitors not only to the gaming and entertainment destination but also to Batavia.

"People do come in for these shows," McClaine said. "Especially something like this that is geared and designed as an all-age event." 

The expo is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 25. 

Admission is $10, with children under 12 years of age admitted for free. Admission includes a $10 "free play" at Batavia Downs.

James Fink writes on behalf of Batavia Downs.

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