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Pembroke Central Schools to present $27 million budget to voters

By Howard B. Owens

At Monday's board of education meeting, the Pembroke Central School District board approved a $27,289,194 spending plan for the district.

Pembroke Superintendent Matthew Calderon said the state provided the district with no increase in foundation aid.

He said the tax levy will stay within the tax cap limit, with an increase slightly below the cap for the 13th consecutive year.

"We needed to pair down our initial budget draft by $870,000 to get down to the final number," Calderon said. "Thankfully, no current full-time employees were cut."

The proposed budget will be presented at a public hearing at 6 p.m. on May 14 at Pembroke Central School.

The budget vote is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on May 21 in the high school auditorium.

HomeCare & Hospice seeks volunteers for United Way Day of Caring

By Press Release
Submitted photo of the Pathway of Life Garden located at Grandview Cemetery in Batavia.

Press Release:

HomeCare & Hospice will be participating in the Genesee County United Way Annual Day of Caring on May 23. 

United Way volunteers will be matched to local agencies and non-profit organizations to assist in hands-on projects in their communities. 

HomeCare & Hospice of Batavia will be seeking volunteers to assist in cleaning the Pathway of Life Garden at Grandview Cemetery which is a memorial brick garden surrounded by beautiful foliage, flowers, benches, and a place of relaxation and quiet reflection. The bricks are a lasting public tribute to your loved ones.

Volunteers are needed on May 23 beginning at 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. to complete pruning trees, pulling up the walkway to remove roots, weeding, grass removal, and power washing of benches and walkways.

Individuals or teams can sign up to volunteer by contacting Caitlyn Farnung at or by calling 585-242-6517. Volunteer registration is open until May 10.

If you or someone you know could benefit from hospice, please contact HomeCare & Hospice at 585-343-7596 or visit

Byron-Bergen career day is focused on the future

By Press Release
Students interact with representatives from the Gillam Grant Community Center during the Opportunity Fair.
Photo by Jada Atwood.

Press Release:

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School College and Career Counselor Rob Kaercher is helping students get inspired for their futures. On March 28, students in grades 6 through 12 took part in Career Day which included 75 guests from local companies, organizations, colleges, unions, and military branches. 

The goal of the event was to introduce students to career opportunities across a broad spectrum of skills.

“The focus for a long time was on just getting students enrolled in college and that’s no longer the case,” said Kaercher. “We want the students to explore options and think about what they want their future to look like. From there, we can help them get the tools they need, whether it be a degree or certificate or apprenticeship.”

Students rotated through a variety of presentations including a young alumni panel where recent graduates discussed their diverse paths after graduation. Other presentations highlighted college degree programs, careers in the military, trade unions, agriculture, civil service, and not-for-profits.

One panel presentation with a local twist focused on jobs and career paths in Genesee County. It was moderated by Chris Suozzi, VP of Business and Workforce Development from the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and included Deputy Director of Human Resources in Genesee County Tracy Augello, Director of Human Resources for the City of Batavia Rebecca McGee, New York State Department of Labor Workforce Program Specialist Robert Coe, and President of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Brian Cousins. 

They discussed local jobs, who is hiring, what is important in landing a job, and how different careers have different training requirements.

"The Byron-Bergen approach to Career Day is a refreshing change from the traditional choices of college or trade school,” said Jr./Sr. High School Principal Paul Hazard. “Mr. Kaercher and our team are helping students identify their goals and skill sets, and then find the right path to achieve their aspirations. That is also why Coach Fitch was an ideal keynote speaker.”

The students attended a keynote address by Fairport Basketball Coach Scott Fitch. He talked about his experience coaching Team USA and his involvement in Section V. He also shared personal stories from his players that illuminated the damage social media can do to career paths for students who are not careful with the content they post and curate. He emphasized staying positive on social media.

“Through the lens of social media, I challenged the kids to be better,” said Fitch. “To be better people, students, and friends. Many of the kids were nervous at the thought of us looking at their social media. The kids really resonated with the message and were a great audience. Byron-Bergen is a special place because people care. I was very excited to be a part of Career Day. Few schools offer a day like this to their students.”

“Coach Fitch’s presentation was really impactful,” said Kaercher. “Our students may not think they have much of a digital imprint, but everything they post or comment on can affect their future.”

The day rounded out at the Opportunity Fair. Veering again off the well-worn path of a traditional career fair, the Opportunity Fair featured career paths as well as summer jobs, volunteer opportunities, representatives from colleges, the military, unions, local non-profits, government agencies, and entrepreneurs. The Opportunity Fair was a chance for students to seek out and learn more about their areas of interest in a casual setting.

“It’s so important to be exposed to companies and speakers and network with people who could inspire you on a career path that you love,” said Kaercher.

Keynote speaker Scott Fitch presents to high school students.
Photo by Jada Atwood.
Students learn about emergency rescue services.
Photo by Jada Atwood.
Students attend a presentation about careers in the military.
Photo by Jada Atwood.

Elba tops Kendall in softball, 9-4

By Staff Writer
softball elba

Elba picked up its fourth win in the team's fifth game of the softball season on Monday, beating Kendall 9-4.

Brea Smith picked up the win. She K'd five hitters and walked only one.

Maddie Thompson was 2-3 with an RBI.  Lydia Ross scored twice and drove in a run, going 2-4 and walking once.

Photos by Kristin Smith.

softball elba
softball elba
softball elba
softball elba

Muckdogs announce 2024 promotional schedule

By Press Release
Batavia Muckdogs June 19 2023
File photo by Howard Owens

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs have officially released their 2024 promotional night schedule.  This season the Muckdogs will have four fireworks shows -- June 1, 15, July 3 & 20, $1 Hotdog & $2 Beer Night return, four brand new theme nights, & a blast from the past!

This season, fireworks shows will be sponsored by Graham Corporation & Batavia Downs (Sat. June 1), Oak Orchard Health, HP Hood, & Rochester Regional Health (Sat. June 15), Tompkins Bank & Turnbull Heating & Air (Wed. July 3), and O-AT-KA Milk Products (Sat. July 20). The Helicopter Candy Drop will make a return on Saturday, July 27, vs Jamestown. Dwyer Stadium will also feature some new things, as Dave’s Ice Cream will host a giveaway night, Bark in the Park (bring your dogs to the game!), Kids Free Night (July 5), and Bills Mafia Night.  The Muckdogs will also have something old but new in 2024 as well.  On Friday, June 28, Batavia Clippers Night will be at Dwyer Stadium for fans of baseball in Batavia from decades past.  The Muckdogs will have lots of other fun and giveaways this summer.  The Muckdogs will also have a free T-shirt giveaway on Sunday, June 30 & the Helicopter Candy drop courtesy of Pete Zeliff returns on Saturday, July 27. The full schedule is available at

The Muckdog's opening weekend is set for Saturday, June 1, at 6:30 vs. the Elmira Pioneers with post-game fireworks and then back Sunday, June 2nd 4:05 vs. the Niagara Falls Americans with meet the team night. 

Season tickets are on sale starting at just $99.  585-524-2260 or visit for special promotions, season tickets, or group information.  See you at Dwyer Stadium this summer.



Genesee Symphony Orchestra postpones May 5 concert to next season

By Howard B. Owens

Due to scheduling conflicts among musicians, the Genesee Symphony Orchestra's final concert of the season has been rescheduled for the 2024-25 season.

Season ticket and Flex ticket holders can use their current tickets for the rescheduled concert. 

The original date of the concert was May 5, and it was built on the theme "American Pictures."  It was going to feature the works of composers from the United States such as Aaron Copeland, William Grant Still, and Florence Beatrice Price. 

PUBLIC NOTICE: Hearing set for race track on Harloff Road, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Public Hearing will be held by the Town of Batavia Planning Board regarding an application for a Special Use Permit by East Coast Speedway (Jason Bonsignore) to open and operate a racing track on property that was the former polar wave at 3500 Harloff Road, Batavia, NY - Tax Map 151.  This is in a Commercial/Recreation District.

Said hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 at the Batavia Town Hall at 7:15 p.m. at which time all interested persons will be heard. Written comments will be accepted prior to that date.  You may email the Chairman at or text 219-9190.

by order of the Town of Batavia Planning Board
Kathleen Jasinski, Chairman


PUBLIC NOTICE: Hearing set for biogas plant at Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

By Legal Notices


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Public Hearing will be held by the Town of Batavia Planning Board regarding an application for a Special Use Permit by Genesee Biogas, LLC to construct and operate a renewable gas facility consisting of two digesters, a gas storage tank and associated equipment for the purpose of digesting organic wastes to produce renewable natural gas and/or electricity and heat. A utility corridor consisting of waste forcemain lines, electrical lines and water lines will run from each of the main waste stream plants (i.e. O-AT-KA, HOOD, etc.) to this facility.   A small portion of the waste stream will be received by truck delivery.  The facility will consist of a series of tanks, infrastructure, heat exchangers and buildings including an18,000sf receiving and unloading building.  A new commercial driveway is proposed to West Ag Park Drive.   This is located in the Genesee Valley Agricultural Business Park Tax Map #20-1-108.

Said hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 at the Batavia Town Hall at 7:00 p.m. at which time all interested persons will be heard.   Written comments will be accepted prior to that date.  You may email the Chairman at or text 219-9190.

by order of the Town of Batavia Planning Board
Kathleen Jasinski, Chairman

Today's local deals: Pastore's Pizzeria, Settler's, Alex's, and more

By Kara Richenberg

NOTE: Members of Early Access Pass get first crack (four hours earlier access than non-members) at making Deals of the Day purchases. Join Early Access Pass today to ensure you don't miss any valuable deals.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered you must sign in using the "sign-in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • You will receive your physical gift certificate through postal mail. If you have questions about the receipt of your gift certificate before opening a dispute with PayPal, please use the contact email address below.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Sign-in issues? First, make sure you are registered for Day using the link at the top of this post; Second, if you know you're registered, use the "sign-in" link in this post; do not use the "login" box on the left side of the page.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Kara Richenberg:

Downtown business owners battle for their patients, city considers options

By Joanne Beck
Dr. Joseph Canzoneri
Dr. Joseph Canzoneri addresses City Council Monday evening about parking concerns due to the beginning of construction for the new city police station at Alva Place and Bank Street. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

A private meeting that began at the city police station Monday for a dozen downtown business owners to discuss parking concerns with city management and the architect of a new police station spilled out before City Council later during an open conference session at City Hall.

The meeting lasted for more than an hour, and when walking out of police headquarters at 10 W. West Main St., Patrick Privatera, owner of Village Physical Therapy, seemed none too optimistic about the future of the business that he established in the corner of Alva Place and State Street, adjacent to a parking lot that is being completely devoured by construction staging for the new police facility. 

“So we deal with patients who have mobility issues that have cardio, cardiac, you know, less than lower cardiovascular stamina, they can't walk from across the street. I mean, it's easy to say go park by a JCPenney, but if you're someone with COPD or can't walk 50 feet, that's going to make the difference between coming to our office and not coming to our office. They're not going to come to our office.”

That’s not how he understood it would be when city management spoke to business owners in January 2022. Manager Rachael Tabelski had introduced the idea that “we’re going to be neighbors and build a police station” without any discussion, he said. 

“There wasn’t really any asking what does your business need? It was just saying this is happening,” he said. “And, in fact, I’m surprised it took this long, because, I mean, I put together a pretty lengthy document of some concerned questions and concerns, I asked for a meeting, we were supposed to have met. And she was funny. It was an email exchange; she basically called me instead in lieu of a meeting and accused me of being anti-police, and nothing’s further from the truth. I just invested a quarter of a million dollars in this building and relocated my practice there. I just want some place for my patients and my staff to park, that’s it.”

He said that parking for this week has been ok, but he’s been told the entire parking lot will be closed for construction. He’d like the city to give business owners more time to figure out how to deal with this, but “they’ve got weather, they’ve committed a lot of resources to this, whether it happens or not, they need to do something,” he said. 

“I hope they give us time. I have room potentially on my property there to construct our own parking,” he said. “If I had more time, I might be able to, but not in four days.”

As others headed to City Hall for the council meeting, Privatera opted not to go. He said emotions were heated, and he didn’t think the situation would get resolved in that meeting. 

Dr. Tom Mazurkiewicz came out of police headquarters more frustrated than satisfied.

His take: The city isn’t willing to negotiate a reduction in the construction area's footprint and a move of the staging area to the other side of Alva Place.

Mazurkiewicz, who has a chiropractic practice on Washington Avenue, said the only response officials gave business owners to the reason for not putting the staging area next to JCPenney was, “It’s not in our budget.”

See also: Police station project manager explains need for space around construction site

He and fellow business owner Joseph Canzoneri said that their businesses will survive the 18 months of disrupted parking even though revenue will drop significantly, but that isn’t really their number one concern, said Mazurkiewicz.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said. “That’s all I care about.” 

Doctors Joseph Canzoneri, Adam Gregor and property owner Sharon Kubinec picked up the ball and ran with it during the conference meeting. Canzoneri, a longtime podiatrist also on the west side of the parking lot along State Street, spoke about the plight of his patients and the hurdles they have to overcome as it is without having to deal with parking issues.

“Many of these people suffer from COPD and carry oxygen, have cardiac issues, neuromuscular and severe back problems from trauma broke, degenerative changes, affecting balance and ability to walk any distance or on uneven surfaces, ” he said. “They have diabetic foot issues, such as ulcerations or amputations, have a leg prosthesis, individuals post-surgical both from podiatry and orthopedics (Le Roy physical therapy is affected). Patrons with poor vision are forced to walk long distances or on uneven terrain, not to mention young parents carrying children in car seats and using strollers. Many patients use assisted devices like wheelchairs, motorized scooters, crutches, canes, open cast boots and braces, making it even more difficult in the winter to traverse these distances and different terrains, curbs, grass, stone, and the list goes on.”

The issue for him and the other business owners is that their patients, although being offered parking on side streets, are parallel parking and not very close to the medical office. Parallel parking is not the same as handicapped parking, Canzoneri said, because there are still obstacles to getting out of one’s vehicle and navigating uneven terrain from the vehicle to the office. 

Why are people so up in arms now, after the city has had planning sessions and press releases about construction and timelines for this new facility?

“We understand the city had public meetings regarding the approval of the police department. We understand the proposed building will be on designated city property, and the site and rendering of the building were made public,” Canzoneri said. “What we did not know is the staging footprint until nine days ago. There should be an opportunity for public input in a public hearing, especially when the proposal adversely affects the business detrimentally. We are all within 500 feet distance to the project. At a minimum, notices should have been sent out for public input prior to this project going out for bid. When was the planning board meeting set regarding the staging area? If the city bypassed this due diligence required for all projects believing that the city doesn’t need input because it is the approving and permitting authority, then that is poor communication, poor community outreach and poor planning.”

Gregor, who took over the dental practice formerly occupied by Dr. Kubinec at 180 Washington Ave. about two years ago, said that he was “deeply troubled by the negative impact this closure will have on my patients in my practice.” As in Canzoneri’s case, Gregor’s patients also have mobility issues or young children in tow, he said, and the parking lot closure will “undoubtedly create an inconvenience” at best. 

“I have not once been approached regarding how this project could impact the care of my patients and on my business. My displeasure with this project arises from the fact that it is already different from the proposed plan, which Dr. Joe had just mentioned was only presented to us last week. We collectively as business owners had concerns about the construction zone footprint as it was originally presented to us. We were assured that measures would be taken to minimize disruption to the businesses operating within the complex,” he said. “However, the sudden and expanded closure of the parking lot has blindsided us and proposed this year poses a serious threat to my patients and to the well-being of my practice. The closure of the parking lot threatens to undermine all the hard work and investment I've put into building my practice in this location. The closure of the parking lot will undoubtedly create inconvenience and frustration for my patients, potentially leading them to seek dental services elsewhere. 

“Furthermore, the lack of parking will likely turn new patients from choosing my practice and may even cause some of my existing patients to leave. Dental Care is already a daunting task for many individuals and adding the stress of finding parking only serves to exasperate their anxiety,” he said. “I believe that there are ways to mitigate the disruption without jeopardizing the livelihoods of those who operate here. To not care about the situation is to not care about us as medical professionals, business owners and taxpayers just as important to not care about the situation as to not care about the citizens who seek care in our offices. I hope that moving forward, we can collaborate and cooperate with each other rather than contend with one another.”

Sharon Kubinec, who served as practice manager for her husband during his time as dentist at the site, spoke as a concerned property owner and someone who knows how busy those medical practices are each day, she said. She also cited Ricky Palermo as a patient who uses at least three of the services in that complex and who will have potential difficulties navigating the path to each office in his wheelchair. Palermo was invited to tour the parking lot and surrounding areas since there wasn’t wheelchair access to the second-floor meeting room at the police station, but could not make that meeting. 

“Ricky Palermo, who wanted to be here tonight, goes to Dr. Joe, Dr. Adam and Dr. Tom, and he can't go to his foot doctor, his chiropractor and his dentist for 18 months the way it is situated now over there,” she said. 

She suggested that the city could do something similar to what United Memorial Medical Center had done some years ago with a bus that shuttled employees between the North Street site and Jerome Center on Bank Street when parking was tight. Only this time, the bus would pick up patients at the former JC Penney building and take them to the medical offices, she said.

Canzoneri proposed a larger parking area for patients and clients, and city and contractor staff would park in the lot across Alva Place closer to the JC Penney site, which he said would also be used as more of a staging area. 

“This will still provide a convenient staging area, plenty of room to stage safely, also cost-effective, and most importantly, safety for our clients and pertness, not to mention relief to the detrimental financial risks to the businesses that are being imposed by these egregious parking restrictions and proposals,” he said.

There are more than medical practices at the complex, such as Amanda Lowe’s business. Lowe, the owner of Jagged Edges, said outside police headquarters after the earlier meeting that she hated to say anything publicly because she understands her business is sustaining far less impact than some other businesses. However, if she knew this parking restriction was coming, she might have selected a different location when it was time to relocate from her original site on Veterans Memorial Drive.

“I definitely bought the location based on knowing that I had the parking,” Lowe said. “ I wasn't aware of how big the project is. And you know, the impact it was going to have on our customers coming in. It probably would have made a difference on the location because there were two different locations I was looking at. Parking was one of the biggest reasons (she selected her current location). I knew that this was in the works before, but coming from being in the town to come into the city, I wasn't really fully aware of how long the construction would be and the impact and all the businesses.”

Marc Johnson, owner of Millennium Computers, may not experience the same impact as the medical offices, but it isn’t negligible either.

 “I’ve got people coming in with heavy computers in their hands. They're not going to walk from JC Penney's over to my place,” Johnson said.

He is considering converting some of the green space he owns next to his office into parking for his business.

“I haven’t done anything with it for 20 years except mow it,” he said. “If push comes to shove, I'll just put my own parking in. Ideally, it'd be nice to share the burden with the city or whoever else and make it bigger than just a handful of parking spots for Millennium. And then, you know, my neighbors that are in the medical world can have some handicapped parking there.”

City Manager Rachael Tabelski said that she believed the information she initially provided was correct regarding construction coexisting with parking near business offices. 

“Once we learned that the contractors controlled the entire site, we had to decide whether to delay the project, spend more money on it, or just take the entire parking lot and find more accommodations for the business owner.”

 She said those accommodations under immediate consideration are adding wheelchair ramps for easier access to curbside parking. There are a potential 68 parking spaces on the streets around the complex. The city is also considering hiring a shuttle to assist patients from parking to offices.

 “If people parked at City Centre, they could get a ride in, Tabelski said. “Hopefully, that would take care of issues with folks with mobility.”

 While there were public hearings about the project where anybody could have raised parking issues, it was never mentioned.

 “We went through the process, and in everyone's mind, you saw a rendering that still had the big L going through it where parking is,” Tabelski said. “We all should have jumped to the conclusion, ‘Oh, that's great at the end, but what happens during construction,’ right? I definitely lean on the architects we work with and the contractors to guide me through this because I'm neither. I'm a city manager. But I do want to make sure that our businesses have what they need to get their patients in, and I go to a lot of the businesses, so it's definitely not personal; we want to help. We don't want to hurt their business in any way.”

She said the city is “all over” a proposal by Marc Johnson, owner of Millennium Computer on Washington Avenue, to convert a green space he owns next to his building into a parking lot.

“It'll be a temporary construction, an accommodation,” Tabelski said. “We will be (working on it) as soon as we can get millings and build a foundation out there. He has offered -- as far as I know -- I'd hate to speak for Marc -- to allow some public parking there as long as he reserved spots for his business. So, we're interested. He came with this great solution and I think we can get eight to 10 spots there. There's also another grass parcel. I'm not sure who owns it, but I'm going to try to find out and see if they'd be interested in a similar thing.”

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said he understands that it's going to be an inconvenience for people. 

“But it's been an inconvenience for men and women in the police department to work in an antiquated building and not be able to serve the public. That building is not just a building; it's a tool because there's certain requirements for juveniles, for victims, for defendants. They have rights. They have laws that protect them and we are not able to comply with that as efficiently get in the building, not to mention that the gentleman we all know, wasn't even able to get into the building for a meeting,” Jankowski said, referring to Palermo. “It’s not easy to get a sense of where the new building will be. So when I hear we're supporting the police, and then I see that it doesn't appear that we're supporting the police. I know as a former police officer, how I would be feeling right now when I hear all this outreach and all this stuff going on. And I see the city making every attempt to try to make accommodations. But it's not making anybody happy. So we’ve got to reach a middle ground, we’ve gotta reach some kind of compromise, we have to get this building over the finish line. Because if we don't, it was explained just a few minutes ago, extreme cost overruns will put the project in jeopardy.”

After the meeting, he said that he was very disappointed in the city's response when “we’re trying to do something good for the community and our public safety, which is very valuable to this community.”

“I really take public safety very seriously. And yet, we're meeting all this resistance over a few parking spaces that we're trying to make accommodations for. But that doesn't seem to be good enough,” he said. “This is all temporary. This is only for a few months, and we're doing our best to try to work it out in the meantime. And there are many ideas, and I'm sure the city manager will find a solution that will do her best to accommodate as many ideas as we can any way we can.”

When asked what he thought about Jankowski’s public response to business owner comments and an appeal for consideration, Canzoneri said he felt “terrible.”

“They show no empathy for the patients,” he said. 

Howard Owens contributed to this story.

Dr. Adam Gregor
Dr. Adam Gregor stresses the importance of protecting patients and the business during Monday's conference meeting at City Hall.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Police station project manager explains need for space around construction site

By Howard B. Owens


A graphic released on April 11 by the City of Batavia showed what city officials believed at the time would be the available parking at Bank and Alva during the construction of the new police station.  Late last week, officials revealed that the entire parking lot north of Alva Place will be fenced off during construction.

The local press was not permitted in a meeting on Monday between business owners concerned about impacts on their shops during the construction of a new police station in Batavia, but afterward, the project manager spoke exclusively with The Batavian about what he tried to communicate during the discussion.

Pearl explained the scope of construction, the need for the use of parking space next to the primary construction site, and the coordination and liability issues involved.

With five contractors involved -- there is no lead contractor -- there is a lot of complex work that needs to be coordinated with timelines that need to stay in sync.

The sudden dust-up over parking has contractors nervous about staying on schedule, Pearl indicated.

For this $15 million project, there is a general contract, a site contractor, an electrical contractor, a plumbing contractor, and a heating contractor. They’re all under separate contracts.

See also: Downtown business owners battle for their patients, city considers options

“Now that this has become an issue, I have to speak on behalf of this group because they're aggrieved now, too,” Pearl said. “They’re under contract that go under state and federal government rules. And they're like, ‘Wait a minute, nobody can agree to just be moving this fence around because there's insurance issues, liability, and all kinds of stuff. Plus, we need space to work.’”

In the meeting with business owners, Pearl said he tried to convey the message that “this is our world.” He tried to show them what the contractors are supposed to be doing and why.

“We’ve got to put that fence up all around the parking lot on the city's boundary, and then we will transfer all the liability to the contractors," Pearl said. “They're responsible for everything that happens here. They can't have people in here. They're not trained, they're not wearing safety gear. The first thing the contractor is going to do is come in with expensive equipment, like a Thruway project or something or a road project. They're gonna be grinding up all this asphalt because it's all getting refurbished and pulled up. And we got to access the sewers and infrastructure elements underneath.”

Pearl explained that the need for contractor space next to the job site involves much more than asking workers to walk an extra 40 feet, as some business owners seem to believe.

Once the asphalt is ripped out, a sewer line must be removed. It is buried 15 feet underground on the west end lot.

Then, all the footings for the walls need to be dug out. Digging out the footing space and foundation will create debris that must be moved into the west end of the lot where it can be sorted -- refill, recyclable, and waste. 

The stormwater draining system gets rebuilt.

A mesh of conduits and tubing needs to be installed with contractors needing easy access to supplies.

All-terrain vehicles with forklifts will need to move around the perimeter of the building in space that was seemingly designated as parking before city officials learned those renderings were wrong.

Scaffolding will be erected around the building and will intrude into that same "parking space."

While some workers can show up with their tools in their sedan, Pearl explained that the concrete guys can’t do that. They drive pickups with all their tools in compartments around the bed of a truck.  Concrete workers need to work fast. They have a limited time to complete tasks once the concrete is poured. 

“What they're doing is constantly going back and forth to their trucks,” Pearl said. “You'll actually see them moving their trucks because they're working fast. When heavy concrete comes in, there's a time limit on it for their working procedures. They're not going to allow us to tell them to park across the street. That's insane. From their perspective, they don't even want to park over here (he pointed to the site plan). They want to park here. And then two hours later, they're gonna be here, and three hours later, still here. They'll work not an eight-to-five. They'll stay if the poor require them to stay till 10 o'clock at night.”

Quality control testing needs to take place on the job site, which means equipment needs to be set up and stored close to the new construction.

“They can’t do that across the street because they gotta be where the thing is happening,” he said.

Each contractor needs a trailer for office space, so there are five trailers total, plus one each for state and federal inspectors.

Utilities need to be run to those trailers and the job site.

Moving all of that infrastructure to the other side of Alva would mean double installation of infrastructure.

“That's multiple of everything,” Pearl said. “So technically, my message was, we can do anything you want. But we're going to crucify the budgets."

Workers' safety is also at risk if they have to cross a public roadway from the job site to a staging area.

“If we're having people walking across the public street, we’re putting workers at risk,” Pearl said. “Guys get busy, tired, dirt in their eyes, they're sweaty, they might not be paying attention after the 100th time walking across the street.”

Pearl said the map showing swaths of parking around the construction site went out before it was shown to him. During the Monday meeting, he said Tabelski apologized for the miscommunication.

After Monday's council meeting, Council President Eugene Jankowski expressed frustration that some people seemingly can't except that city management made an honest mistake.

He said that rather than castigating city employees, those affected should understand that a mistake was made and that the city is trying to rectify it.

“There were timelines that had to be met,” Jankowski said. “Rachel had an older drawing. It wasn't an updated drawing, and she thought she would be ahead of the game by getting it out to them.  When  Ken (Pearl) found out about it, he realized that she had sent out the wrong drawing. She apologized to everyone in the meeting earlier today (Monday), explaining that that was her mistake and that it wasn't intentional. However, I've seen affected business owners on Facebook saying the city lied and that the city purposely blindsided us. That's not true. It was an honest mistake. And we're doing our best to correct that.”

Jankowski suggested that small business owners might be more understanding of the fact that everybody is trying to do their best for the community.

“The part that really perplexes me is and it causes me severe disappointment, that we're trying to do something good for the community and our police department and our public safety, which is very valuable in this community. I really take public safety very seriously. And yet, we're meeting all this resistance over a few parking spaces we're trying to accommodate. But that doesn't seem to be good enough.”

Pearl noted that the public part of the police station construction story has always been that this was a three-phase project, with a new police station, new secure parking for the police, and rebuilt public parking.

People seem to have missed the “rebuilt public parking,” he suggested, because that means eliminating all of the existing parking lot.

“When you build a police station, you're talking about doing a 100-year building if you can pull it off,” Pearl said. “If I'm building a warehouse for my business, I might only care that it lasts 20 years. I’m going to invest low in it. A church might want the building to last 200 years. A car dealership, I'm gonna remodel it in five; I don't need certain standards the same all the time on a project. We spent a lot of time working out all this stuff. I think when this is all done for the public. They will get something that boosts that neighborhood. Because somebody's spending money on it, in my experience, that tends to give people comfort if they want to think about investing in something, new or remodeling something, because now somebody did it, values are going up a little bit. If nobody does it, nobody does it, you know”

Placement of construction fence for new police station draws complaints

By Howard B. Owens
police station contruction
Photo by Howard Owens

On Monday morning, workers moved a construction fence off the sidewalk behind a group of office buildings on Washington Avenue, Batavia, that was erected late last week in preparation for the start of construction of the new Batavia police station.

Dr. Tom Mazurkiewicz said he and other businesses in the complex were upset with the placement of the fence and even just moving it off the sidewalk isn't good enough.

He claimed that city officials presented plans to the businesses showing the fence being placed in the parking lot, where space is striped for a second row of cars, keeping the first row open for business parking.

After the fence was erected, he said city officials told him OSHA requirements dictated the location of the fence and "the plan changed."

He doesn't believe there is an OSHA requirement for that particular placement of the fence.

"They're just lying about everything," Mazurkiewicz said. "It's a mess."

Brett J. Frank, the city's director of public works, declined this morning to comment on the situation, citing a meeting planned for Monday evening as the reason.

City officials will meet with representatives of the businesses, which are mostly medical offices, at 5:30 p.m. at the current Batavia police headquarters. Mazurkiewicz said the issue has also been added to the City Council agenda for Monday. That meeting starts at 7 p.m.

On Friday, City Manager Rachel Tabelski put out a statement addressing the parking issues:

“The City of Batavia Police Department will move from their 167-year-old converted mansion, known as the Historic Brisbane Mansion.  There have been no less than five studies conducted since 1991 to determine the future of the police station in Batavia, as well as a citizen task force commissioned to investigate possible site locations.  The location of the new facility was identified by the task force.

“Working with the construction team, the City will continue to provide the community and surrounding businesses, and their patrons with free parking with some restrictions in place.  The safety of the construction workers and those using the Alva lot is the highest priority.  At this time, the West Side of the Alva Parking Lot is available for medical/customer parking; the streets of Washington, State, Bank and Alva have free on-street parking as well.

“Patrons of Washington and State Street businesses without mobility issues are encouraged to park in the City Centre lot, leaving adjacent street parking for individuals who need access.  The City recognizes that parking will be inconvenient, but the goal is to minimize the impact on businesses and residents.  The City looks forward to project completion and appreciates everyone’s assistance and cooperation during the 18-month construction period.

The lack of parking is costing him business, Mazurkiewicz said.  He had seven clients cancel appointments on Thursday and Friday and two on Monday morning. 

He had one 90-year-old client try to walk from the open spaces behind Millenium Computer to his office, which is at least 150 yards across three grass outcroppings that disrupt the sidewalk.

He said city officials told him they would create three on-street handicap spaces, but Mazurkiewicz believes that many elderly patients either can't or won't parallel park if that's required to use those spaces.

"We need at least eight handicapped parking spaces," Mazurkiewicz said.

He said one customer told him, "I can walk 20 feet, but I can't walk 150 yards," and he added, "What about a mom with a baby in a car seat? That's 50 pounds. Is she going to carry it 150 yards?"

When asked what he expected in terms of parking availability once construction is finished, he said he didn't know. "They haven't told us," he said.

The city is building a $15 million, 21,000-square-foot facility at Alva Place and Bank Street. It is partially funded by a $2.5 million USDA grant and low-interest loan from the USDA.

Joanne Beck contributed to this story.

police station construction
One of three grass patches that disrupt the sidewalk along the Washington Office office complex.
Photo by Howard Owens.
police station contruction
A construction worker taps down asphalt in the parking lot of the construction site after digging a hole to inspect something under the asphalt.
Photo by Howard Owens.

HLOM mini-exhibit 'St. Joseph's Drum Corps: 53 years later'

By Press Release

Press Release:

Come by the Holland Land Office Museum and check out our new mini-exhibit, "St. Joesph's Drum Core: 53 Years Later!"

From April to the end of September, view photographs, uniforms, and other artifacts relating to the nationally ranked local drum corps from the twentieth century!

Beginning in 1931 under the direction of Rev. T. Bernard Kelly, pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Batavia, the St. Joseph's Drum Corps was created and went on to be nationally ranked. Winning 8 New York State American Legion titles and other national titles! The drum crops were active until 1971. However, they have a reunion corps called the "Mighty St. Joe's" in Le Roy.

The exhibit includes uniforms, photographs, instruments, and much more of members of alumni of the Drum Corps.

The mini-exhibit is available during regular museum hours, Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. with regular admission. Come and check it out on your next visit to the Holland Land Office Museum.

Column: Memories of Making Bread

By Anne Marie Starowitz
bread oven hlom
Photo courtesy the Holland Land Office Museum.

Today, making bread is easy. You buy a loaf of frozen bread, defrost it, and bake it. In 1996, there was a machine called the Bread Machine. You would put all the ingredients into the machine and turn it on. It would mix the ingredients, time the bread to rise, and then bake the bread. Now, you can go to a supermarket and buy fresh bread.

In the ‘60s, my grandmother, Jennie Bellow, would bring her homemade bread to Batavia every Sunday. We all enjoyed her bread and took it for granted. On one of my Sunday sleepovers in Le Roy, I watched my grandma get out all sorts of things to make her white bread. Flour, yeast, and Crisco were some of her ingredients. She also took out a flat piece of wood, a towel, and five bread pans. I asked why she was getting everything out the night before, and she said I would find out the following day. 

Jennie Bellow
Jennie Bellow

Early the next morning, I watched her make her bread. I had no idea it would take all day. First, we would measure the flour, put the yeast in warm milk, and add one scant wooden spoonful of Crisco. We would mix the ingredients by hand, which is called kneading. The towel was to cover the dough, hoping it would rise. Finally, the bread was ready for the pans. The result was beautiful but so time-consuming. My grandmother was born in 1900, and making bread was a way of life for women in the 1900s as it was in the 1800s.

One of the first things Joseph Ellicott did as a local agent of the Holland Land Company was to have mills, both grist and saw, built in Batavia to encourage settlement. Before the erection of the gristmill in Batavia in 1804, the people sometimes did not have bread or anything to make it from. Flour was brought on packhorses before the roads were of such a character as to allow better transportation. The Tonawanda Creek dam was used to power a sawmill and, a little later, a gristmill.

Both corn and wheat grain had to be ground for bread and other foods. The grindstones at the gristmill reduced corn to meal and wheat grain to flour. “Rye and Indian,” made from cornmeal and rye flour, was the only bread the early settlers could make. Grinding the grain into flour for the pioneers meant a journey to the gristmill by ox sled in both summer and winter.

I wonder if the giant stone doughnuts that stood on East Main Street near the corner of Ross Street could have been gristmill stones. Many years ago, they were at the entrance of a burned house. I can remember them always being there; after the fire, they disappeared.

In the Holland Land Office Museum, there is a colonial kitchen. You can imagine our early settlers cooking in the kitchen using a fireplace. Upon request, you can view a reflector oven. This was one way the early settlers made bread. A reflector oven is a box usually made of tin designed to enclose an article of food on all but one side to cause it to bake by capturing radiant heat from an open fire and reflecting the heat toward the food. The next time you buy freshly baked bread at your local supermarket, think of the time it took to make bread from “scratch!”

I treasure the memories of cooking and baking with my grandmother. I know how to make her bread from scratch, but it is not the same not having my grandmother next to me in her cobbler apron showing me how to knead the bread.

Byron-Bergen, Elba and O-A team up to ‘stick it’ to T1 Diabetes

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Team “Stick It” (Front left-right) Oakfield-Alabama Teacher Jen Prichett, Byron-Bergen Athletics Secretary and Oakfield-Alabama parent Mary Hughes, Byron-Bergen Director of Instructional Services Betsy Brown 
(Back left-right) Byron-Bergen High School Counselor Kristie Holler, Oakfield-Alabama SRO Jordan Alejandro, Elba parent Jimmy Diehl, Byron-Bergen SRO Josh Brabon.

Press Release:

The Byron-Bergen, Elba, and Oakfield-Alabama learning communities are teaming up to “stick it to type one diabetes”. All three districts have students and staff affected by Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and are working together to make a big impact at the largest T1D event in the world.

On Sunday, May 19, the three communities will come together at Sea Breeze Park for the annual JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) One Walk. The global initiative raises millions of dollars for T1D treatments and cures but, for this team, it’s personal. 

“Oakfield-Alabama is proud to partner with our neighboring school districts and community members to support this cause,” said Oakfield-Alabama Superintendent John Fisgus. “So many people are affected by Type 1 Diabetes, and it is so important to raise awareness and join forces in these events.”

“I have two daughters, Sophia and Mckenna, with Type 1 Diabetes and I’m so grateful for the support from their Oakfield-Alabama school community,” said ‘Stick It’ team captain Mary Hughes, herself a staff member at Byron-Bergen. “I’m also amazed by how the Byron-Bergen community rallied to support me and my family when my second daughter was diagnosed last December.”

The same month that Hughes’ second daughter received her T1D diagnosis, Michael, a kindergarten student at Elba was also diagnosed. 

"The Elba community has been amazing during Michael's new diagnosis and has allowed his friends in school to learn about Type 1 Diabetes,” said Michael’s mother, Ashley Diehl. “Mary and I have been friends for years and now our children are in this together. We've joined forces to bring awareness to Type 1 Diabetes so others can look out for signs of diabetes in people who are undiagnosed and so our friends and family can help us work toward a cure.” 

“Elba Central School is pleased to participate in the walk to raise funds for JDRF,” said Elba Central School District Gretchen Rosales. “One of the cornerstones of Elba Central is to come together for our school family; when one of our Lancers is in need, we are all ready to help. Similarly, the Byron-Bergen and Oakfield-Alabama school districts operate with a shared mission - our school families support each other. I am pleased to join with Mr. McGee and Mr. Fisgus and the three-school community to fight for the collective future of all families in need. We are proud to be united in this effort.”

Each year the JDRF One Walk brings over 900,000 participants together worldwide, but team “Stick It” isn’t stopping there. Members of Team “Stick It” are heading to the Buffalo Marathon on May 26. Michael’s father, Jimmy Diehl, and Byron-Bergen Director of Instructional Services Betsy Brown will both run the half marathon. Oakfield-Alabama SRO Jordan Alejandro, Byron-Bergen SRO Josh Brabon, Byron-Bergen Athletics Secretary Mary Hughes, Byron-Bergen High School Counselor Kristie Holler, and Oakfield-Alabama Teacher Jen Prichett will run the full marathon to raise awareness for T1D.

“Byron-Bergen is all about taking action to support our community,” said Byron-Bergen Superintendent Pat McGee. “I’m proud to see the Bees hit the pavement with our friends and neighbors to raise awareness and support for our community members living with Type 1 Diabetes.”

“Our team’s goal is to educate our friends and family about Type 1 Diabetes and the research that is needed to find a cure for our kiddos and people everywhere,” said Hughes. 

For more information about these events or Team “Stick It”, visit the JDRF “Stick It” team page

Former Batavia resident Terry Anderson, journalist taken hostage by terrorists in 1985 dies at age 76

By Howard B. Owens
terry anderson and jim owen
Terry Anderson, right, autographs a book for the late James Owen at an event at Batavia Downs commemorating the opening of the International Peace Garden in Batavia in February 2011.
File photo by Howard Owens.

Terry Anderson, a journalist and a Batavia High School graduate who gained international attention after being taken hostage by an Iranian-backed terrorist group, has died in Greenwood Lake, in the Hudson Valley.

He was 76 years old.

Anderson was the Beirut bureau chief in 1985 for the Associated Press when he was kidnapped by armed men who dragged him from his car after he dropped off a tennis partner following a match. The pistol-wielding men yanked him from his car and pushed him into a Mercedes-Benz.

The terrorists were reportedly members of Hezbollah, an Islamic Jihad Organization in Lebanon. He was reportedly blindfolded and beaten and kept in chains and moved to 20 different hideaways in Beirut, South Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley.

His release came 2,454 days later following intense lobbying by his sister, Peggy Say.

Anderson and Say were born in Lorain, Ohio, where their father, Glen, was a village police officer. While still children, their parents moved to Batavia, where their father worked as a truck driver and their mother, Lily, was a waitress.

After Anderson was kidnapped, Say didn't feel the case was getting enough attention from the U.S. government and the United States. She launched a national campaign to raise the awareness of people to the plight of her brother and other hostages held by Hezbollah.

Say, who had returned to Batavia after relocating for a time, enlisted fellow journalists, humanitarian groups, world figures, and U.S. citizens in the cause, which led to the nation being festooned with yellow ribbons. 

She also received assistance from many fellow Batavia residents, such as Anne Zickl, who died in 2014.

Say died in 2015 at age 74.

Terry Anderson's daughter Sulome told the New York Times that Anderson died following complications from a recent heart surgery.

Anderson's last public appearance in Batavia was in February 2011 to dedicate the International Peace Garden.

State budget includes tax credit that addresses crisis in local news

By Press Release

Press release:

Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature unveiled the final state budget Saturday, including a payroll tax credit for local news outlets, modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, in the sweeping package. With the passage of this bill, New York is now the first state in the nation to incentivize hiring and retaining local journalists. This game changer for the local news industry comes just months after the launch of the Empire State Local News Coalition, an unprecedented, grassroots campaign powered by more than 200 community newspapers across the state.

Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, the Senate bill sponsor, said: “I’m elated that our first-in-the-nation Local Journalism Sustainability Act is passing in the state budget. A thriving local news industry is vital to the health of our democracy and it’s our responsibility to help ensure New Yorkers have access to independent and community-focused journalism. Thank you to Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Governor Hochul, our Assembly Sponsor Woerner and the over 200 local publications of the Empire State Local News Coalition who helped pass our bill. Our efforts will help ensure that our democracy will not die in darkness.”

"Without local news coverage in our community, there would be a lot that our local governments do that voters would never know about nor have any way to realistically question; there would be no accountability," said Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian.  "We created Early Access Pass to give the community an opportunity to support local journalism and help us hire more reporters. This tax credit will help those dollars, along with our vital sponsor support, go further, and should open the door for us to hire more reporters, which is the legislation's primary purpose. We're hopeful this legislation will help ensure Genesee County continues to get the local news coverage it needs and deserves.

"I also want to thank our local representatives, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Sen. George Borrello, for their support of this critical piece of legislation," Owens added. "They both recognize the importance of local news coverage to our community and understand the crisis state the local news industry is in."

The program--$30 million per year for three years--allows each eligible newspaper and broadcast business to receive a 50% refundable tax credit against the first $50,000 of an employee's salary, up to a total of $300,000 per business. $4 million will be allocated to incentivize print and broadcast businesses to hire new journalists. The remaining $26 million will be split evenly between businesses with fewer than 100 employees and those with more than 100 employees, ensuring that hyperlocal, independent news organizations can access these funds. 

After stalling for years, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act catapulted into a top legislative priority this session following the early-2024 founding of the Empire State Local News Coalition and the coalition’s mobilization of support from hundreds of New York hometown papers as well as a broad range stakeholders from around the country, including the Rebuild Local News Coalition, Microsoft, and El Diario. Organized labor, including NYS AFL-CIO, CWA District 1, and national and local news guilds, also played a critical role in mobilizing support for this historic bill. 

"The Empire State Local News Coalition is thrilled by the state budget’s inclusion of a payroll tax credit for local news outlets modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. New York is now the first state in the nation to incentivize hiring and retaining local journalists–a critical investment given that hundreds of New York’s newspapers have closed since 2004, leaving too many New York communities without access to vital local information. The objectivity of this credit shows that there is a fair way for public policy to support local news without jeopardizing journalistic integrity. This program is a model for other states across the U.S. to follow as communities across the country raise their voices to save local news,” said Zachary Richner, founder of the Empire State Local News Coalition.

“We’re incredibly proud of the 200 newspapers in our coalition, which built an unprecedented grassroots movement in support of saving New York’s local news industry in a few short months. We’re especially grateful to Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, whose tireless advocacy for this tax credit was instrumental in moving it through the legislative process. The coalition thanks Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Assembly Sponsor Carrie Woerner, and the entire legislature for supporting this industry-saving policy, and we look forward to continuing our advocacy for local news in the years to come," Richner continued. “Other states and stakeholders interested in replicating this playbook and hearing about lessons learned should reach out to us at”

Since launching in February, the coalition has quickly mobilized stakeholders across the state to rally behind the bill. In addition to rallying with grassroots advocates in Westchester and Albany, members led petition drives, letter-writing campaigns, editorials, and advertisements, sounding the alarm on the decline of local journalism.   

New York’s leadership on this issue could change the course of local journalism in the U.S. The budget’s inclusion of this tax credit comes at a watershed moment for the journalism industry: New York State has experienced hundreds of newspaper closures in the past few decades. 

Lockport woman charged with murder in case of body found in Alabama

By Howard B. Owens
henry mugshot
Kathryn Henry

A 33-year-old Lockport woman has been charged with murder by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office for allegedly causing the death of Michael Poole and then attempting to conceal Poole's body in a remote area of the town of Alabama. 

Kathryn A. "Kat" Henry is charged with murder in the second degree, a Class A-1 felony, which carries a potential sentence of 15 years to 25 years in state prison. 

The body of the 59-year-old Poole, from Olcott, was found in Alabama on March 19 during an investigation into a report of a missing person from Niagara County.

Henry is accused of conspiring with another person in the death of Poole. The other suspect is not yet named and has not yet been arrested, but charges are expected. The Sheriff's Office said there is no concern for public safety.  The suspect is already in custody on another matter.

Henry is also charged with:

  • Assault in the first degree, a Class B felony
  • Concealment of a human corpse, a Class E felony
  • Hindering prosecution in the first degree, a Class D felony
  • Tampering with physical evidence, a Class E felony
  • Conspiracy in the second degree, a Class B felony
  • Conspiracy in the fourth degree, a Class E felony

Henry was arraigned on Friday and ordered held without bail.

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