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Video: Railfanning in Batavia

By Philip Anselmo

Railfanning is alive and well here in Batavia. Railfanning, I've since found out, is the verb (to railfan) that goes with the noun (a railfan) that describes the phenomenon of inching up to a set of railroad tracks and holding still as the train bullets past. has this to say about railfans:

Along the rails of America, stretch from one coast to another, you will see people standing beside the tracks enjoying the splendor of trains. Whether it is a freight train, a passenger train or an excursion train, little parallels the adrenaline rush caused by a train barreling past at 60 mph.

Turns out, there's an especially avid railfan from Cleveland who documents his outings. He's 14 years old and he calls himself: ConrailForever, and it looks like he was in Batavia this past month getting footage of his railfanning escapades. Here's one of the videos we picked up off YouTube this morning:

Any railfans out there in Batavia?

Looking for a reporter

By Tami Underhill

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. 

As a social worker through the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Catholic Charities, I sit on the Orleans County Domestic Violence task force.  Our task force would like to educate the community about recent changes to the domestic violence law, including expanded options for access to orders of protection. 

Our next meeting is October 1st, in Albion and we are looking for a reporter from The Batavian to develop a story about the expanded access laws.  If anyone is interested, please contact me to discuss this further.  Thank you.

Thank You!

By Mollie Radzinski

I just thought I should give a big thanks to everyone who has supported my work with the Muckdogs this season! I'm glad to hear/see that so many of you appreciated the stories and blogs and my work in Batavia while there. I am quite jealous I didn't get to be there as we took the title! My parents were at the game and were giving me the play-by-play. They said it was amazing...wish I was there!

I first have to thank Howard and Philip for getting me involved with TheBatavian and letting me borrow the computer to do video while I was in Batavia...that will be great for my resume! Shirley, Dave, Travis, Casey, Naomi, Dan, Will, fellow interns, etc: I am honored to have been part of such a great team!  Big thanks, too, to all the fans I've met and got to know this season. It was so nice to meet all of you and chat at games!

I'm very busy here at Kent State already. For our student-run TV station, TV2, I assistant produce, anchor the news on Thursdays at 6:30 and take part in our sports show SportsCorner. I also produce a news package every week for the station/class. For our online news site I write a sports blog and I work for Kent State Athletic Communications, which includes working all the football, basketball, baseball games, etc (this will be my 3rd year working with Kent State baseball...obviously you know where my heart lies sports-wise :-) )...I think that's everything....most of my news stories will be posted on my youtube site ( and all our newscasts, shows and blogs are at check it out and keep in touch! I'd love to hear from you all! You can also e-mail me at

Thanks again to everyone! I hope to hear from you soon!

Gala at the Co-op

By Philip Anselmo

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County will be recognizing its volunteers on October 7 at 5:30pm at the Kennedy Building on the county Fairgrounds. The event is open to the public.

Mike Borholder will receive the honor of "Friend of Extension" at this year's event.

The “Friend of Extension” award is an honor bestowed upon an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to aid in the success of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County. Mike has been a supporter of Extension for over 15 years and has always gone above and beyond to ensure the success of Extension’s Youth programs.

Other highlights of the evening include a tribute to Extension’s many dedicated volunteers, elections to fill positions on the board of directors, celebration and recognition of 4-H youth, and educational displays. Hors d’oeuvres and desserts will be available.

Call the Extension at (585) 343-3040 ext.101 to reserve your seat.

Lay of the Land: Taxpayers to the rescue: Too little too late?

By Philip Anselmo

All things local may keep our blood pumping each morning as we scan the doppler for clouds over our heads, but the national scene never ceases to prod our ponderings as we chew the cud of the day. With that in mind, we thought to start the morning—along with our roundup of other local media leads—with a look at which stories are quickening the collective pulse of the nation.

Here's what we found inciting the editorial finger to wag this morning (feel free to talk amongst yourselves):

Bloomberg reports that "we the people" will back the loan to bail out yet another private Wall Street institution:

The U.S. government took control of American International Group Inc. in an $85 billion bailout to prevent the bankruptcy of the nation's biggest insurer and the worst financial collapse in history.

The Federal Reserve will provide a two-year loan, take 79.9 percent of the New York-based company's stock and replace its management because "a disorderly failure of AIG could add to already significant levels of financial market fragility," according to a statement by the central bank late yesterday.

This quote in the Bloomberg article is especially revealing:

"Nobody really knows what it would have meant if they would have been allowed to fail, but there was an enormous amount of systemic risk," said David Havens, a credit analyst at UBS AG in Stamford, Connecticut. "It's an enormous relief."

Nobody really knows. In an NPR account of the bailout broadcast this morning, commentators were heard to say that if AIG had been allowed to fail, the "already delicate" economy would have been hurt even further, "confidence in the economy" would have been weakened even more and it would become even more difficult for borrowers to get loans from banks. Even more, even further—there's a good reason they call these moves bailouts. The ship is sinking, folks. All hands off deck. Worst financial collapse in history, according to Bloomberg—and they're not the only one to say it.

What do you think? Does a government bailout help staunch the blood flow from an already profusely wounded economy? What does this matter to the everyday John and Jane down the block? I asked my six-year-old niece yesterday if she thought the economy was doomed or if we might get done with this backslide and start climbing back up soon, and she was doom and gloom all the way. She's a smart kid. Should we believe her?

Any financial gurus out there who can give us a better idea of what's going on and what to expect?

Here's some more coverage:

News roundup: Two injured in accident in Alexander

By Philip Anselmo

Genesee County sheriff's deputies reported a two-car crash yesterday in Alexander that sent two women to the hospital. Eighteen-year-old Jonnie L. Ficarella, of Attica, swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid colliding with a stopped car waiting to turn in her own lane. She struck the vehicle of 24-year-old Tori M. Bentley, of Varysburg. WBTA's Dan Fischer reports that Ficarella was taken to United Memorial Medical Center for treatment. Bentley had suffered more serious injuries and had to be taken to Erie County Medical Center. We phoned both hospitals this morning to find the condition of the women, which was not available through WBTA. Bentley is listed in fair condition as of 8:00am. Ficarella had already been released.

My experience

By chris freeman

Hi i am Chris Freeman.  For the last four months I worked for the Batavia Muckdogs as an intern.  I was actually the PA announcer.  Eventhough, I was not being paid, I had such an awesome time at dwyer stadium.  I learned things like selling tickets, power washing and learning how to effectively speak into a microphone.  I felt like i was part of the Muckdog family although i was just an intern.

I would like to thank Travis Sick, Casey Freeman and Shirley Figueroa for always putting up with my work habits.  I learned alot from those guys.  Thank you for that.  I would also like to thank Big Dave for encouraging me to be an entertainer.  I will always remember this experience every time I go past Dwyer Stadium.  I had an amazing time there.  I dont care if the fans will ever remember me for when i announced in the year 2008, while wayne was on radio.  I just want the fans to remember one thing and that is " Thats another Turnbull K".

BHS girls soccer

By Mary Emminger

I cannot seem to find any info on any of the BHS girls soccer events.  I think this is a great idea but I am interested in all of the local sports.  Did I miss it or is there no coverage?  Thanks

News roundup: Big jump in farm revenue

By Philip Anselmo

Ag industry revenue in Genesee County and statewide surged, according to the Daily News. Tom Rivers reports that farms in the state brought in $4.45 billion in 2007 as compared with $3.49 billion in 2006. Genesee County alone climbed up 27 percent, from $140.2 million to $178.5 million.

Typically, the total agricultural receipts vary 1 or 2 percent each year, said Steve Ropel, director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service in New York.

"This is one of the sharpest increases I've ever seen," he said Monday by phone from Albany. He (has) worked 36 years studying farm statistics.

Increased demand for dairy (overseas) and corn (for ethanol) fueled the 28 percent increase for the state. That means you can thank the increase in the price for a gallon of milk and, in a way, the increase in the price of a gallon of gas—indirectly for encouraging the use of biofuels—for driving the surge in ag revenue.

See the article in the Daily News for the full details and figures, including a chart listing the comparable revenue between 2006 and 2007 for nine upstate counties.

Surplus school revenues for the 2007-08 school year mean a reduction in the district's tax levy of $45,000, and that means a decrease of $1.12 per $1,000 in assessed value for taxpayers.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7:00pm tonight at the Batavia Town Hall, 3833 W. Main Street Road, for anyone interested in learning more about the environmental impacts of the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park being planned for E. Main Street Road.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at

Good News for City of Batavia Schools from Business First to Taxes

By Patrick D. Burk

At last night's Board of Education meeting, my fellow Board of Education Members were met with three areas of great news.  The first being that our SPECIALIZED SUMMER PROGRAMS will increase graduation rates and students remaining in school instead of dropping out.  All points lead to an upswing as the critical services are provided for a large number of children at risk.  One excellent point that was made is that children who stay in school for the summer do indeed maintain more knowledge and continue to progress.  Also students were being identified earlier to insure proper intervention.  Since drop out rates are now divised through a "new and uninproved" is imperative that we focus on early intervention.

Our New High School Principle, Chris Daley, meets with 10 High Risk Students each and every week and so do our High School Counselors.  It has been proven that the individual attention given to a student that is not achieving can actually turn that student around 360 degrees and provide for continued confidence as they progress through High School.

That brings us to our second piece of Good News.  I have never been one to profess great relevance in Business First's Ratings of schools.  This was largely due to a veiled process and a cumbersome explanation form.  Things do change however, and now there is a greater explanation of how ratings are compiled and how schools end up with the compiled number that they do.  OUT OF 97 School Districts in Western New York Batavia City Schools Ranked 38th.  Now I realize that is not TOP 10, but it is our highest ranking ever in the ratings history and shows that we are going in the right direction.  It also proves that we are ONE OF THE TOP CITY SCHOOL DISTRICTS in NEW YORK STATE. 

Business First also produced six categories and benchmarks on how the list was created.  In TWO AREAS Batavia is in the TOP 10 out of 97.  We tied for 7th as one of Western New Yorks Over Achieving School Districts.  This means that in spite of poor socio-economic indicators and financial considerations, our students do extremely well.  In fact one of our students place in the TOP 25 or Western New York and another placed in the 25 Alternates list.  Economic indicators such as the free and reduced lunch percentage of students are used to determine this benchmark.

In the are of Student Access, we ranked SECOND out of all 97 Schools in Western New York.  This is exciting, because it once again shows that we are going in the right direction by making our teachers and professionals more apt to work with students on a one-to-one basis.  The ability to better serve our students while increasing overall success is the NUMBER ONE GOAL of the City of Batavia School District.

The THIRD PIECE OF GOOD NEWS is that YOUR SCHOOL TAX RATES are going DOWN.   There is approximately a 4.4% decrease in the tax rate or on average a $1.10 per thousand reduction.  As late as last night, another $47000 was found in excess and it was returned to the taxpayers to lower the current school tax rate.  This is indeed good news from the standpoint of trying to control the escalating tax issues that this area has and continues to face.  More work in this area has to be done but it is a start.

Comment me with any questions and I will try to answer them.  Also, I am always here to answer your concerns either via this blog or privately.



Wellenzohn not returning as GM

By Brian Hillabush

The rumor flying around Dwyer Stadium during the playoffs about Batavia Muckdogs General Manager Dave Wellenzohn not returning for next year is true.

The Rochester Red Wings Managment, LLC and Wellenzohn just released a joint press release confirming that he will not be back in 2009.

"In order for the Rochester Red Wings to proceed towards branding our product in Batavia better, Dave and Rochester Community Baseball both recognize that we should have somebody with more Red Wings' experience running day-to-day operations," said Red Wings Chairman of the Board Naomi Silver.

Silver thanked Wellenzohn for the work he did over the winter to keep the organization together while the the New York-Pennsylvania League, the Rochester Red Wings and the City of Batavia worked to keep the team in Batavia.

Having a very short promotional season, Wellenzohn still managed to sell outfield signs to local businesses, bring in a staff to work games and had some unique promotions to help sell season tickets.

Both parties are leaving on good terms, according to the press release.

"I feel the experience I've gained during my time in Batavia will only help me down the road and I look forward to my next opportunity in professional baseball. The 2008 season was a great year in Batavia, with winning the New York-Penn League Championship, and I'm glad I had a chance to be apart of it," Wellenzohn said. 

"I have nothing but high marks for Rochester Community Baseball and have every confidence that they'll do a great job in Batavia, just like they have in Rochester."

Wellenzohn has already been in contact with several organizations about possible job opportunities. 

The 2008 NY-P League champions expect to announce their new front office staff sometime in the early fall.

Plagiarizing for your candidate?

By Philip Anselmo

Letters to the editor have long been a means of expression for the average guy or gal who doesn't have have a bullhorn loud enough to get everybody's attention otherwise. Of course, much of that has changed owing to the ostensibly even playing field of Internet publishing. Still, though, many folks opt for the more conventional route of the op-ed page of their local rag, and aside from a few snips here and there, the letter writer's voice comes through relatively unscathed, literally for better or for worse.

Leave it to the political machines then to undermine the sanctity of even this bastion of individual expression by issuing cookie-cutter templates that authors are encouraged to pretty much just sign and send in to the newspaper as his or her own letter to the editor.

Leave it  to the political machines to squelch any vestige of individuality still left us, for we can't have too much of that running rampant in an election year. Folks may actually wake up to the reality that just about none of these candidates—whose own individuality has often been subsumed by the machine—really represent them and theirs.

Here's what I read in an editorial from the Democrat & Chronicle this morning:

Some candidates and their agents on the Web are urging their supporters to use their "guides" in writing letters to the editor. The guides are really form letters in another form. The practice is dishonest and unfair. The dishonesty is obvious — the "guided" letters in no way disclose that the content is largely the product of someone other than the writer. It's unfair, too, because legitimate letter writers who produce original material may lose their space on the page to a bogus submission.

As with so much else on the Web, common sense is the best guide. If an anti-John McCain or Barack Obama site tells you something is a "fact," confirm it with one or two other sources. Don't forward material to your buddy list without fact-checking. If you write anything on the Web, be sure the work is your own and that fact and opinion are clearly delineated.

The campaigns should put a stop to phony letters. But the best way to end this practice is for those asked to engage in these fake-outs to say no. Better Web practice begins with millions of daily users doing the right thing.

There are a few things at work here worth some conversation.

1. How does anonymously produced generic information effect the relativity of truth and individuality? Does it further obscurity or transparency?

2. What are we to make of the ever-broadening underhandedness of the political machines that seem to outpace at every turn any sense of what it means to do the right thing? (This would be the main question posed by the editorial.)

3. What has become of individual expression if the line between the individual and the machine has become so blurred that the former acts as no more than the ratifier of the latter's mass-produced misinformation?

Finally, what may be the most important question to ask here is: How do we navigate in such a sea of misinformation? The editorial suggests that the responsibility lies with each individual—make sure your own work is your own work. But isn't this getting ahead of ourselves when the real issue is that the individual has been so comprimised by such political tactics that he or she sometimes can't even be located?

News roundup: Keep a close eye on the pump

By Philip Anselmo

WBTA picked up the story this morning that's getting play across the state: Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has warned consumers to watch out for price gouging at the gas pumps in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Gas station owners cannot arbitrarily raise the price of gas as a result of a natural disaster. Folks who suspect price gouging are encouraged to call 1-800-771-7755.

This from the Niagara Gazette:

The average cost of a gallon of unleaded gas in the Buffalo Niagara market was $3.90 Monday — the highest in the state — according to the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The state average was $3.83 while the national average was a penny more.


“By the time Hurricane Ike made landfall Friday, retailers (in New York) were already experiencing significant hikes in the wholesale price of gasoline,” said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops.


The attorney general’s office took similar action against price gouging after Hurricane Katrina. More than a dozen gas stations across the state were fined more than $63,000 for price gouging then.

In other morning news... National Grid reports that all but about 50 residents of Genesee County got that power back on as of this morning. Most of those folks are in Pavilion. No word on WBTA when those homes will be back on the grid.

Byron-Bergen girls still strong

By Brian Hillabush

 While every program in high school sports must deal with graduation every year, it seems like the Byron-Bergen girls volleyball team gets hit extremely hard every year.

At first it was Alyssa D'Errico, who went on to play at Penn State, where she has won a Division I championship. D'Errico led B-B to three consecutive New York State Public High School Athletic Association titles.

Last year it was Alannah Heale and Stacey Hahn graduating and going on to play in college.

But again, girls step up and now the Bees are 6-0 after cruising past Aquinas 25-14, 25-19, 25-23.

"All 12 girls on the team have really stepped up this year," said coach Kristen Partridge. "We had some very good players graduate, but somebody had to step up."

The biggest star B-B has this year is senior outside hitter Mary Cocking, who is a three-time Genesee Region League all-star and was an obvious choice as a team leader.

She led the way Monday with nine kills, six digs and three aces.

"The girls look to her as the leader on the court," Partridge said. "When she's up, they are up. When she's at her best, they are at their best. She is very experienced and a definite team leader."

With libero Krysta Lougheed missing time early in the season with a knee injury, Ali Phillips has filled in well for her.

She was a key contributer as well as Sarah Hartman, who handed out 16 assists with four aces. Kayla Konieczny had 14 kills in the impressive victory over Aquinas (2-3).

"(Aquinas) is stronger than they have been in the past," Partridge said. "They posted a good challenge and the girls played a good, well-rounded game."

No celebration for Muckdogs until next season

By Brian Hillabush

After the Batavia Muckdogs won the New York-Pennsylvania League championship Sunday night with a victory over Jamestown at Dwyer Stadium, the players all charged to the mound to celebrate the victory.

But that will be the only celebration that the team will be doing until the start of next year.

In a telephone conversation Monday afternoon, Rochester Red Wings Chairman of the Board Naomi Silver said that there are no plans for any parade or party to celebrate the title at this time.

"We will probably do a parade when the season is about to start next year," Silver said. "All the player personnel left this morning. There really isn't much we can do at this point."

Sophie's Run takes a rest in Batavia

By Philip Anselmo

A trio of runners in periwinkle pullovers brightened up an otherwise drab afternoon in Batavia today. Nicole Chuchmach, Jill Harper and Natalie Atkinson gathered outside the RV run by their "support team" outside Wal-Mart today to get out the word about Sophie's Run.

Sophie's Run is meant to raise awareness of colorectal cancer, and to do that, the three ladies left their home of Milton, Ontario in Canada on September 1. They will run nearly 500 miles to New York City, where they should arrive on October 24, spreading the word about colorectal cancer all the way.

The runners have been through the heat and the cold, the wind and the rain. They did their best to prepare, but they couldn't predict every obstacle, such as, say, massive bulldogs chasing them down rural lanes.

"You train," said Jill Harper, "but you can't train the emotions."

Officially, the three ladies are in Caledonia, where they'll start tomorrow on the next leg of their run down through Avon and Lima to Canandaigua on their way to the finish line in New York City. For the past few days, they've been staying in Batavia at the Holiday Inn—whom they have nothing but profuse graitude for hosting them. They've even recruited a local gal to run the next 14 miles with them.

For more information on Sophie's Run, check out the Web site and keep up with the blogs.

On the Agenda (Town Board): Add another streetlight on Route 33?

By Philip Anselmo

Batavia's Town Board will meet Wednesday at 7:00pm at Town Hall, 3833 W. Main Street Road, preceded by a 6:00pm caucus during which board members will meet for an informal discussion of upcoming issues and resolutions. On the agenda is a vote to install a streetlight at the intersection of Clinton Street Road (Route 33) and Terry Hills Drive, plus some routine business. You can download the full agenda here: Town Board Agenda (Sept. 17).

UPDATE (Philip): Please note that "streetlight" does not mean traffic light in this post. It means, rather, street lamp. The town will not be voting to install a traffic light at an intersection with a dead end road with only six homes—as I must admit that I at first interpreted. They will be voting to install a means of illumination on what town Supervisor Greg Post told me was the only dark spot on Route 33 from Route 5 to the Batavia town line.

News roundup: Restoration in store for Cultural Center on Main Street

By Philip Anselmo

An old brick building on Main Street will get a much needed facelift and interior restoration, according to the Daily News. Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council's Cultural Center in Batavia has long been in need of renovation, and now the group has all the funds they need to finish the project.

Dick and Kathy Seymour were honored at a dinner over the weekend as having made the donation that tipped the scales. The Cultural Center will be renamed in their honor, becoming Seymour Place once the work is finished.

The Cultural Center is undergoing exterior work right now.

The Daily News today includes coverage of the Muckdogs championship victory Sunday night and the wind storm that swept through the region in the early morning hours. Both stories were included on The Batavian this morning.

The Genesee ARC Friends & Family 5K will be relocated  to Elba this Saturday and again in 2009 due to the road construction along Wlanut Street in Batavia. Participants can check in at 8:30am Saturday and get ready to race at 10:00am.

From the article (no author listed):

This event raises money for disability services and helps fund the Genesee ARC Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship. Graney was a dedicated parent, a long-time supporter of Genesee ARC, and a strong advocate for persons with developmental disabilities.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at

Three Questions: Chris Lee

By Philip Anselmo

Three weeks ago, we sent out three questions to the candidates running for congress and state senate in our local districts (the 26th and 61st, respectively). Our questions were simple, straightforward, and we hoped they would be enough to paint a bit more of a detailed picture of the candidates striving to represent the people of Genesee County.

Those questions went out to every candidate running in the Democratic primaries for those races, plus the Republican candidates. We forgot to send them out to the Independents, but we rectified that this morning and sent the questions out to Michael Ranzenhofer, candidate for the 61st Senate District.

One problem. No one wrote back.

We didn't get a response from a single campaign, until this weekend. It came from Republican Chris Lee who is trying to win the seat for the 26th Congressional District.

He got us these answers:

What is your favorite thing to do in Genesee County?

Taking my son Johnathan to the Genesee Country Village & Museum.

When you meet a person who has never been to Western New York, what is the first thing you tell him or her about the region?

I normally brag about what a wonderful place Western New York is to raise a family and how friendly the people and our warm winters.

What is your favorite book about Western New York?

Window on Congress: A Congressional Biography of Barber Conable. Conable was a Republican Congressman from Western New York and President of the World Bank. This book illustrates how Conable was able to bring people together to accomplish some great things for Western New York. The book served as an insight on how to be a leader in Congress who constituents trust and admire.

On the Beat: Shoplifting spree?

By Philip Anselmo

William P. Viscionte, 47, of Rochester, and John C. Gould, 42, of Mt. Morris, were charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property Friday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. The two men were apprehended following reports that they had stolen merchandise from Target in Batavia. They were stopped on the Thruway just west of Batavia. Deputies allegedly found "numerous other pieces of stolen merchandise" in the vehicle. Investigation continues. Both men were sent to Genesee County Jail with no bail.

Tanya M. Wicker, 32, of Hemlock, was charged with possession of untaxed cigarettes and attempt to evade tobacco tax Friday, sheriff's deputies said. Wicker was allegedly in possession of 10 cartons of cigarettes purchased at the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

David M. Ross, 39, of 17 Highland Ave. (Apt: Lower), Batavia, was charged with unnecessary noise, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest Saturday evening at his home, city police said. Police had responded to a noise complaint. When Ross was issued an appearance ticket he allegedly threatened the officers.

Robert E. King, 49, of Geneseo, was charged with theft of services and third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle over the weekend, sheriff's deputies said. King is accused of using Batavia BOCES vehicles, equipment and personnel to transport scrap from the campus to be returned for cash on several incidents from May through August of this year. He allegedly kept that money for himself.

All of the above reports were issued in published releases by the respective departments.

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Crossroads House is a comfort care home for the dying. We are a non-for-profit organization that provides its services free of charge. We run on a supportive community and selfless volunteers. With out both of those we would not be able to serve our community. If you have a caregiver's heart and 2 to 4 hours a week, we would love for you to become a part of our Crossroads House family! No experience required, we will train you and provide mentors and experienced volunteers to guide you. Please go to to apply, click on volunteer tab to complete application or email
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