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Plane spots brush fire in Bethany

By Howard B. Owens

A pilot has called in an apparent brush fire in Bethany, near Ellicott Street Road and Paul Road, perhaps halfway to Bethany Center Road.

Law enforcement and Bethany fire chiefs are trying to confirm the location.

One small controlled burn was found in the area but the area is being checked further.

The plane was in contact with a Rochester tower in Monroe County, which relayed the information to Genesee County dispatch.

UPDATE 6:07 p.m.: A small controlled burn located at Route 63 and Clapsaddle. Still investigating.

UPDATE 6:20 p.m.: Residents burning sticks in their backyard were told to put the fire out, which they did. The Bethany assignment is back in service.

USDA undersecretary visits the Pok-A-Dot, expresses hope foreign markets will grow for farmers

By Howard B. Owens

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When Rep. Chris Collins is in Batavia around noon and has time to stop for lunch, he usually makes that stop the Pok-A-Dot. Today, he had with him Greg Ibach, undersecretary/marketing and regulatory programs for the USDA (center). Joining them for lunch were Dana H. Coale, deputy administrator of the USDA, and Peter Fredericks, associate market administrator for the Northeast Market Area for the USDA.

They had just come from Wyoming County where Collins hosted a roundtable discussion for dairy farmers. They then toured the Rudgers Registered Jerseys Farm in Attica.

Before lunch was served, Ibach spoke with The Batavian about a few issues that concern local farmers.

Farmers across the nation are nervous about new protectionist trade policies but Ibach expressed optimism that things will work out favorably for agriculture.

"I’m a farmer from Central Nebraska," Ibach said. "My children and grandchildren are our fifth and six generations to grow up on our family farm. Through the years, as we’ve seen great growth opportunities for export agriculture, we always seem to hit up against phytosanitary barriers, quotas, or tariffs that have limited our true potential to grow agriculture markets. We, as farmers in the Midwest, have always asked the government to do something about those barriers and of export markets. This is administration is trying to do something about it."

He said he understands the anxiety and shares the anxiety, he said, but progress with KORUS (the free-trade agreement with South Korea) and the reports he is getting on NAFTA negotiations are positive for farmers.

"I’ve got to believe the world still wants to be consumers of U.S. products," Ibach said. "If they understand that the ticket to be able to continue to ship to us is that they expand our opportunities, I think we will be successful here and I think we’ll see even higher growth rate for agriculture commodities down the road. We may have to suffer a little bit here in the short term but we will get the benefits in the long term."

Many farmers have specific complaints about NAFTA but few want to see the agreement torn up. Locally, farmers complain about limits on the Canadian dairy and produce markets. Ibach said he understands those concerns and believes they are being addressed in negotiations.

"I'm confident we will reach an agreement that is better for everybody," Ibach said.

Another big concern for local farmers is immigration. They continue to struggle to find a sufficient and stable workforce.

Ibach said its a concern shared by farmers and ranchers across the nation, especially when it comes to temporary worker visas for employees who need to be on their farms year around.

"We're trying to work with Congress and the Department of Labor to understand those needs," Ibach said. "Secretary (Sonny) Perdue has a senior advisor who works on this issue every day. We’re trying to try to help find programs and adjustments that can be made to address agriculture worker concerns."

One of Ibach's areas of specialty is expanding ag markets to the rest of the world and he said he sees great opportunity in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, India and Africa.

"The entire continent (Africa) is projected to have quick, high growth," Ibach said. "At the same time, they have a lot of poverty. We're just starting to see a middle class emerge. With their agriculture, just with them trying to feed themselves, there is room for us to work with them on that and have them accept the technology out there as far as biotech to allow them to grow themselves as well as be customers of ours."

Here's a press release from the office of Chris Collins about the dairy roundtable:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today hosted USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach for a dairy roundtable in Wyoming County and tour of Rudgers Registered Jerseys Farm. Collins and Ibach discussed the 2018 Farm Bill, NAFTA negotiations, and other issues that impact local dairy farmers.

“With the release of the Farm Bill and ongoing NAFTA talks, it is my hope that our region’s dairy farmers will soon see some relief,” Collins said. “Agriculture is the backbone of our region’s economy and it is essential that we implement policies that help our farmers succeed. I thank Under Secretary Ibach for traveling to my district to talk about important issues that face Western New York dairy farmers.”

“As a fifth generation farmer myself, I appreciate the many ways that Rudgers and other Western New York dairies contribute to their communities and the region,” Ibach said.“The American dairy industry faces challenges from a number of directions. USDA will continue to listen and work hand-in-hand with producers of every size and our Congressional partners, like Congressman Collins.”

This week, the House Agriculture Committee favorably reported the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes important reforms to the Margin Protection Program (MPP). This program provides critical protections to dairy farmers as milk and feed prices fluctuate, and proposed changes will allow farmers to receive more coverage at less cost.

The Farm Bill also strengthens investment in trade promotion initiatives, designed to build upon our current agriculture exports. This week Collins sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to put an end to Canada’s Class 7 pricing program. As NAFTA negations continue, Collins pledged to work with the Trump administration to get rid of this program, which has created an unfair playing field and has essentially eliminated U.S. exports of certain dairy products. 

Additionally, Collins and Ibach discussed with farmers the unfair and complicated H-2A visa system that treats workers on certain types of farms different than it treats those on dairy farms. As a strong advocate for year-round legal work status, Collins and Ibach voiced commitment to finding solutions so dairy farmers can depend on a reliable and willing workforce.

Collins added: “I always enjoy meeting with our region’s dairy farmers and thank the Rudgers family for their hospitality and honest discussion about what we need to do to get this industry back on track. I look forward to continuing our work together on ways to strengthen and grow our dairy economy.”

Photos: Earth Day at DeWitt Recreation Area

By Howard B. Owens

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The County's Parks Department hosted an annual Earth Day event at DeWitt Recreation area, which included events for children, a nature walk, park cleanup, and of course, plenty of people showed up to fish.

The lake is at near record-high levels, which is quite a turn around from about a year ago when you could walk on dry land out to the island.

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Photo: A painting by Alexander native Noah North

By Howard B. Owens

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This is a painting by Noah North of Oliver Vaughn, a resident of Darien who died at age 14 in 1833.

I stopped by to see it today at the Holland Land Office Museum because until a few days ago, I hadn't heard of North, who, it turns out, is a painter from Alexander of some minor national renown. His name has never come up before, at least in my presence, in any discussion of local artists.

The painting of Vaughn is one of North's earliest when he was still being trained by M.W. Hopkins, of Albion.

He is recognized among collectors and art historians as a folk portrait artist (also called "naive" or "primitive"). 

He relocated to Ohio where he continued to pursue his portrait career and then returned to WNY, married a woman from Darien, and settled in Mt. Morris, where he eventually adapted to the new medium of photography (working in daguerreotype).

Within the region, North's work can also be seen at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester and the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford. His work is also in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Folk Art, and the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont.

For the next four hours, one of his paintings is available on eBay for $9,000.

Photos: Annual open house at the Oakfield Historical Society

By Howard B. Owens

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East Bethany resident Rick Hale holds up a scrimshaw horn he made himself, one of a few antique and reproduction pieces he brought to the Oakfield Historical Society's annual open house today to display. His collection included handmade rifle reproductions and 500-year-old powder horns (below).

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Jim Ferris, of Alabama, demonstrates how a pioneer could have light any time as long as he had something to make into a wick and animal fat to render into an oil.

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Lineup all set for American Warrior Concert at The Ridge NY June 1-2

By Billie Owens
Information from Tracy Lyons -- team leader, American Warrior Concert, Strength In Numbers Entertainment:
 
LE ROY -- The Ridge NY in Le Roy is hosting the second annual American Warrior Concert Friday and Saturday, June 1-2, and veterans and military (active and reserve) members get FREE general admission, along with children age 12 and under.
 
Veterans and military members (active and reserve) can also opt to upgrade and get half off of VIP tickets, if they wish.
 
General admission ticket prices for the public are: One Day -- $30; One Day VIP -- $60; Both Days -- $50; Both Days VIP -- $100. There is also a ticket service fee for all ticket purchases; all sales final.
 
American Warrior Concert (AWC) is known for its "Celebration of our Troops, Veterans and American Way of Life."

This event also donates to a nonprofit veterans' organization and this year's event beneficiary is WNY Heroes Inc. It provides veterans, members of the armed services, and the widows and children of deceased veterans with access to essential services, financial assistance and resources that support their lives and sustain their dignity.
 
All ages are welcome at AWC. There will be a main stage, acoustic side stage, optional camping, VIP tent, craft beer, BBQ, vendor booths, and at least 28 bands/performers.
 
The concert is made possible by partnering with The Ridge NY and sponsorships from local businesses, including: Red Osier Landmark Restaurant; TJV Mechanical; CAM Construction; Oliver’s Candies; Livingston Associates; Batavia Legal Printing; Ken Barrett Cadillac Chevrolet; Stan's Harley Davidson; Genesee County SCOPE; Watson Guitars; Le Roy Hardware; Genesee Valley PennySaver; Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew; Orcon Industries; Crosby's Stores; Eye of Newt Tattoo; Steven Drexler Agency; Wilkins RV; Hawley Insurance; U.S. Gypsum Co.; Northwoods Sportsman Club; The Divine Tree; Andy's Pizzeria; and D&R Depot to name a few.

There will be bands from many genres of music, lots of local vendors and other organizations that serve our veterans.

An Honor Wall will be set up, with local submissions made by people wishing to honor their military friend/family heroes. With a $5 contribution, you can honor a vet. You provide pics and a bio of your vet honoree and they will post them online, and a physical wall with these displays will honor them at the concert site. To honor a vet this way, click here.

We hope to make this year's event bigger and better and would love to see more veterans come and enjoy our concert for free.
 
Veterans and military (active or reserve) click here to sign up for your free general admission show tickets.
 
To buy tickets, click here.
 
For camping info, click here. Campers receive two free general admission tickets; or they can upgrade and get 50 percent off VIP tickets.
 
For complete information online, visit Strength in Numbers Entertainment: www.strengthinnumbersent.com
 
Here's the lineup:
 
FRIDAY JUNE 1
 
MAIN STAGE

SIDE STAGE (acoustic)

SATURDAY JUNE 2

MAIN STAGE

SIDE STAGE (acoustic)

For questions or additional information, contact Tracy Lyons with AWC via email tracy@strengthinnumbersent.com or by phone: 585-409-3926; or contact Dan Clor, AWC founder, Strength in Numbers Entertainment via email danclor@strengthinnumbersent.com or by phone 714-742-0204.

Busy day of learning at Fire Training Center

By Howard B. Owens

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Nearly 100 firefighters and other emergency responders were at the Fire Training Center today to participate in four different classes to help them be better prepared for accident and fire responses.

Gary Hearn, regional emergency manager for Amtrak (bottom photo), taught a class on train passenger emergency response procedures.

There was advanced instruction for emergency medical technicians taking place in another classroom.

In still another classroom, the first day of two days of training sponsored by Tompkins Insurance on emergency vehicle operations.

And out in the back of the training center, the Firefighter II class spent eight hours learning about and practicing accident victim extrication.

"There can be severe damage, so they need to learn as many tricks as possible to get these folks out as quickly as possible," said Jim Bouton, deputy emergency coordinator.

The training center is often a busy place, Bouton said, but today was a little extra busy.

"Quite often the building is full but we’re out here on a back road and nobody sees us," Bouton said. "Sometimes, though we have a tremendous number of programs going on. Today we just happened to have every single classroom and training area filled."

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Sponsored Post: Open House - Sunday - 66 Clinton Street, Batavia

By Lisa Ace


Just a real awesome ranch at City's edge! There is curb appeal galore with this large corner lot that has an adorable private back yard....stepping stones, pond, landscaped and cute storage shed with decked patio. Inside bright and airy with gorgeous hardwood floors throughout -- all freshly painted walls and woodwork.

This home features super-spacious bedrooms, dining area and living room with huge bay window and end wall that has pretty gas fireplace with lots of built in shelves for all your keepsakes! There is oversized side entrance/utility area with laundry and an absolutely HUGE attic area that will surprise you with all its room. Easily could be that hideaway space to hang out or just an abundance of storage space -- you choose!

This is truly an amazing patio home with no maintenance! Visit Lynn Bezon from Reliant Real Estate at the open house this Sunday from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. or click here for more information on this listing.

Photos: CASA's Casino Night at Terry Hills

By Howard B. Owens

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Genesee County's CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) hosted a casino night fundraiser at Terry Hills this evening. The advocacy program provides legal assistance to children in the court system due to neglect or abuse.

The event was sold out.

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Negative rating by Rochester group for 'arts, culture and leisure' in GC seems to miss mark

By Howard B. Owens

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Genesee County has a lot going for it, several positive check marks, in a new "community report card" from ACT Rochester but a big surprising negative: Arts, Culture, and Leisure.

The Rochester-based nonprofit agency scored Genesee County with a red mark and trending down in the report released today.

For anybody who participates in arts and culture in Genesee County, that might be a surprise.

Gregory Hallock, director of GO ART!, said he definitely disagrees with the assessment.

"There is a ton of stuff happening in Genesee County," Hallock said. "We have murals all over the county. You can walk an art trail downtown. We have the Genesee Symphony Orchestra, Batavia Players, the Wind Ensemble, the Concert Band. We have breweries. That is art and culture. It's everywhere. It's in architectural design. Our building (GO ART! in Seymour Place downtown) is not only historical, it's an architectural accomplishment. There is just art everywhere."

He then started listing off more arts and culture in Genesee County, such as Genesee Community College's art gallery and theater, and the museums, and the restaurants, and the art schools and dance studios.

"That's a lot," he said. "One of the biggest things is you don't realize it's here. It's everywhere. Art is all over the community."

Hallock moved to Batavia from Buffalo and he said he thinks there is a more active arts community in Batavia than there is in the bigger city.

None of those things, however, are measured by ACT Rochester.

Ann Johnson, the initiative's director, said the report card tries to work with objective, quantifiable data that is accessible through public records. It would be cost prohibitive to survey every county's arts group, even if every county has an art group, to get a complete picture.

What is measured in the report for arts and culture is tourism spending per resident ($1,576), recreation spending per resident ($205), and the number of art teachers in the county's school (with 77, higher than most other counties in the state).

Genesee County tends to beat out other counties in the region in all these counties but not the rest of Upstate.

Johnson acknowledged that the data doesn't capture everything about a community's art and culture activity and how a community might feel about it. The numbers measure, in reality, whether people are coming to a community for arts and culture and leisure. It doesn't measure what local residents are spending for local arts and cultural events.

"I don't think Genesee County should feel at all that all that the red is a negative indication," Johnson said. "It is actually what the data shows us when we add up the indicators in that category. It shows up as red."

Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce said the report reminded him of the old aphorism, "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

There's more to tourism and culture in Genesee County then can be captured in numbers and there is no comparison for a rural community when measured against larger counties.

"Anybody trying to base what goes on in tourism based solely on statistics is not really getting the whole picture of what is going on," Turnbull said. "Just compiling stats and trying to make a point I think is really irrelevant. I think it is unfair to us."

Potentially, a person who might think of relocating to Genesee County, or worse, a site selector for a big company, might find this report online and get a negative impression of Genesee County as a place to come and enjoy arts and entertainment.

That is a concern, said Steve Hyde, CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center.

"I'm all about trying to change the image and enhance the image of this community," Hyde said. "We're really focused on growth we've had that focus for years. We've made a lot of progress but it's a marathon, not a sprint. When reports like this come out, where they may not have all of the relevant facts in order to make a judgment, it is rather weak and distorts reality."

Coming out of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Process, Hyde said he witnessed firsthand how the local arts community on growing and enhancing what they do, including GO ART!, Batavia Players, and Batavia Showtime.

"I look at those trends and they are very good trends for arts, culture, leisure and the local economy," Hyde said. "We are active and engaged and working to make things better. That's the point I would make to a site selector, that we are engaged more than (what) a couple statistics might show that comes out of a book."

To pick up on comments by Hallock, Genesee County has a lot to be proud of in this category:

  • Batavia is the only small city in America with both a professional baseball team and a symphony orchestra;
  • There is also a chorale, a wind ensemble, and a concert band;
  • There are numerous local performing musicians and music acts;
  • GO ART!;
  • There are several art studios/schools in Batavia and Le Roy;
  • There are also dance schools throughout the county;
  • Besides art classes, our high schools have thriving music and theater programs (Le Roy just won a national award).
  • Batavia High School has a rock band class;
  • We have Batavia Players/Theater 56;
  • We have Batavia Showtime;
  • There are a number of very good, locally owned restaurants in the county;
  • Museums include all the town museums along with HLOM, the Jell-O Museum and the County History Department;
  • There is live music at Darien Lake, Batavia Downs, the Ridge NY;
  • There are local bars/taverns throughout the county that are venues for local and regional acts;
  • We have two locally brewed beers;
  • We have parks, including Darien Lakes State Park, the County Park, and DeWitt Recreation Area;
  • Darien Lakes Theme Park and the water park at Quality Suites & Inn;
  • The Batavia Arts Society;
  • We have a writers' group and we have local poetry readings;
  • The Batavia Photography Club;
  • The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation;
  • Polish Falcons Club, Nest 493, Batavia;
  • Gillam Grant Community Center in Bergen;
  • Richmond Memorial Library, plus libraries in Byron-Bergen, Pavilion, and Corfu;
  • The City Art Canvas, murals throughout the county;
  • Downtown has a popular and growing public market in the summers;
  • Community events all year long in every town and village;
  • Three bowling alleys, recreational sports leagues of all types, high school sports;
  • Gyms in Batavia and Le Roy;
  • Mixed Martial Arts events;
  • Batavia Downs Casino & Hotel -- with the oldest lighted harness racing track in America;
  • We have several active veterans' groups;
  • We have numerous rod and gun clubs throughout the county;
  • There are snowmobile trails;
  • There are several golf courses and a number of annual golf tournaments;
  • Concerts in Jackson Square and the Ramble;
  • An autumn wine walk downtown and Christmas in the City;
  • Nationally recognized artists such as Roy Mason, Noah North, and Nina Mason Booth came from Genesee County; 
  • Genesee Community College is a hub of arts and culture, with the Roz Steiner Art Gallery and the Stuart Steiner Theater, and it's a great source of multicultural events (the annual Fashion Show is a big draw);
  • The John Gardner Society, which honors the memory of Batavia's most famous novelist with an annual reading at the Pok-A-Dot;
  • The Tonawanda Indian Reservation holds cultural events;
  • Annual tourism draws like the worldwide Magicians Convention, regional Psychic Fair, Batavia Train Show, Foxprowl Com-Con, and the Batavia Antique Show and Sale;
  • There is agritourism that includes Maple Weekend, tours of alpaca farms, and farm-to-table events that showcase locally grown food;
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardeners program, with training, workshops, demos, plant sales, and more;
  • Genesee County is one of the very few small markets in the county with three competitive news outlets (The Batavian, WBTA, the Batavia Daily News).

What did we forget?

Photos: File photos.

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Reminder: Earth Day Celebration at DeWitt, Night Hike at county Park & Forest

By Billie Owens

Earth Day Celebration at DeWitt on Saturday

Earth Day is your chance to take care of your planet and your wild neighbors! Join us at DeWitt Recreation Area in Batavia for our “Earth Day Celebration” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 21st.

Help clean up the park to keep the habitat safe and healthy for wildlife! Learn to make cool stuff from recycled materials. Enjoy wild games and a naturalist-guided hike to see where animals live and discover what good things you can do for them!

Scouts can earn badge requirements and service hours! Help keep the community ecologically healthy and undeniably beautiful! Meet at Pavilion 2 for all activities. Celebration is FREE and open to the public.

Please preregister for activities by calling 585-344-1122!

Earth Day Night Hike at Genesee County Park & Forest

Celebrate the magic of spring with our Earth Day Night Hike at the Genesee County Park & Forest from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21st!

Meet at the Interpretive Nature Center and explore the forest by moonlight as we search for animals, hear nature folklore and listen to the wild chorus of the night. Visit the headwaters of Black Creek and find out why April’s moon is called the Fish Moon.

Create a memory this Earth Day! Cost is $5/person, $10/family. All ages welcome. Preregistration is required, call 585-344-1122 to register!

For more information visit our website at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/parks/, or contact Shannon Morley at Shannon.Morley@co.genesee.ny.us or (585) 344-1122.

Local businesswoman collecting shoes to raise money to go to Uganda this fall and help the poor

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The cofounder of The Essential Oil Center in Batavia is conducting a shoe drive fundraiser now through June 10 to raise money for a Uganda Mission Trip in September.

Michelle Gillard will earn funds based on the total weight of the pairs of gently worn, used and new shoes collected, as Funds2Orgs will issue a check for the collected shoes. Those dollars will benefit the Uganda Mission Trip that Gillard will be serving on this fall.

Anyone can help by donating gently worn, used and new shoes on Sunday, June 10, at the Artisan Vendor Carnival at Batavia Downs Gaming from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., or by contacting Gillard at 297-0779 for pickup at any time.

If you or your organization feel you can collect 25 pairs of shoes, contact Gillard and she can provide you with the materials to collect them.

All donated shoes will then be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network of micro-enterprise (small business) partners. Funds2Orgs works with micro-entrepreneurs in helping them create, maintain and grow small businesses in developing countries where economic opportunity and jobs are limited.

Proceeds from the sales of the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraisers are used to feed, clothe and house their families.

"We are so excited about this shoe drive," Gillard said. "We know that most people have extra shoes in their closets they would like to donate to us.

"By doing so, we raise money for this great cause, and we have the chance to help families in developing nations who need economic opportunities. It's a win-win for everyone. We have already reached 25 percent of our goal.”

By donating gently worn, used and new shoes to the Uganda Mission Trip the shoes will be given a second chance and make a difference in people’s lives around the world.

Requirements for Shoes:

Shoes must be new or gently used. They should be clean, no rips, no tears and soles must be attached. If possible each pair should be tied or rubber-banded together. Kids and adults shoes are accepted. Sneakers, shoes (even heels), boots and sandals are all acceptable.

About Uganda Mission Trip:

Gillard became involved with the organization Sole Hope a couple years ago. What started as an individual fundraiser to help Sole Hope has turned into a heartfelt passion to help others on multiple levels. Join us in supporting great causes, Funds2Orgs and Sole Hope and the people of Uganda.

Gillard's planned trip to Uganda in September will be the first of what she hopes are many mission trips to serve in that nation's slums and orphanages.

Accident with injuries in parking lot of Batavia Downs

By Howard B. Owens

A two-car motor vehicle accident with injuries is reported in the parking lot of Batavia Downs on Park Road.

Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 2:22 p.m.: No need for fire, Town of Batavia back in service. Injuries are not due to the accident. It is a medical condition that caused the accident.

Genesee Tourism: A grand opening to a new way of eating

By Genesee County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center

This Earth Day, the very first 100-percent vegan restaurant in Genesee County is opening up to share a different kind of delicious food with locals and visitors alike. Yep, you read that right! One-hundred-percent vegan food will be served up at Eden Café & Bakeshop!

Located inside Eli Fish Brewing Company, at 109 Main St., Batavia, there is a glimpse of the garden, with generous plant-based meals, fresh juices, and even treats to satisfy your sweet tooth. Join Eden Café & Bakeshop for their grand opening THIS SUNDAY, April 22nd, starting at 12 p.m.

There will be lots going on including a Cutco knife giveaway, raffles, and branded tumblers will be available for purchase. Be one of the first to experience a new kind of cuisine after the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. 

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What began as a thought of opening a zero-waste store, slowly turned into Eden Café & Bakeshop. Owner, Judy Hysek, is bringing some seriously tasty and animal-free food choices to all in and around Genesee County!

Hysek has been vegan for three years, which just so happens to be enough time to experiment with plant-based foods and create some delicious concoctions to share with you!

“I’m hoping to open the community up to a new way of eating," she said. "I want to make it easier for people who don’t know how to eat without meat and dairy… I would have gone vegan a lot sooner if there was more support, education, and availability... I’m just trying to add to the awareness and make it more accessible."

Now, let’s get down to business. Let’s talk about the food!

Carrot Dogs: You may have heard of these soon-to-be-famous “dogs” already, especially if you follow Eden Café & Bakeshop’s Facebook Page.

Imagine a carrot, in the shape of a traditional hot dog, which has been infused with deliciousness and then topped with more deliciousness of your choice. You’ll have to try it for yourself the next time you're in Eli Fish.

Word on the street is that even omnivores can't tell the difference between a carrot dog and a traditional hot dog. We dare you to give it a try and test your taste buds to see if you can tell the difference. Try your first carrot dog on a roll or wrapped in a pretzel and baked until golden brown! 

Cauliflower Wings: Where have these been all our lives? Since Western New York is the home of Buffalo Wings, it only makes sense to have “wings” on the menu at Eden.

You can have your wings tossed in Buffalo sauce or topped with the sweet mustard sauce. You can’t go wrong with either sauce -- so good! The breaded and baked florets are served with carrots and celery sticks with a house-made dip. The cauliflower wings can also be made gluten free and they're just as tasty!

Loaded Nachos: What goes better with a cold brew from Eli Fish than a pile of nachos? What about a pile of nachos smothered in a vegan beer cheese? There is nothing more satisfying!

Speaking of cheese…

Eden will have a variety of house made vegan, artisan cheeses including almond feta and cashew mozzarella, which will come on the poutine. (Poutine is a dish originating from the Canadian province of Quebec consisting of French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy.) Where else can you get poutine in Batavia, let alone a vegan poutine?!

Other menu items include desserts like cashew cheesecake, cookies, brownies and more. Desserts will rotate to give everyone the opportunity to try something new and yummy!

Last but definitely not least -- fresh juices, smoothies, lemonades and kombucha! This week I was lucky enough to try a fresh juice made of apples, strawberries and raspberries. (Please make this a rotating juice, it was so good!)

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Did you know?

Veganism is on a climb throughout the world. In the United States, a recent report by Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017, says “6 percent of U.S. consumers now claim to be vegan, up from just 1 percent in 2014.”

Eden is here to satisfy some taste buds and open some minds to the benefits of eating healthy, saving animals, and the planet. Everyone should rejoice and get involved in the efforts to sustain our planet and you can start right at home, or at Eden.

Oh, and by the way -- Eden is donating all gratuities to a nonprofit right here in Genesee County. Mockingbird Farm Sanctuary in Byron provides a home and lifetime care to animals regardless of their condition or past. Their goal is to improve the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the animals who live on the farm. Eden is already showing love to others trying to make a difference right here at home!

For more information on Eden Cafe and other hotspots in Genesee County, visit: https://visitgeneseeny.com/

Ferrellgas in Batavia hosts annual Customer Appreciation Day May 12

By Billie Owens

Ferrellgas in Batavia is hosting its annual Customer Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. It is located at 655 Ellicott St.

Grill tank fills -- unlimited quantity -- will be $5.

All attendees will be eligible for drawings. No purchase necessary to enter the drawing.

"On-site raffles will be huge this year," says management.

They include Omaha steaks, a TV, propane prizes for new and existing customers, and lots of basket raffles for kids and adults alike.

All proceeds will benefit the Michael Napoleone Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research.

Pre-sale raffle tickets are available at the Ellicott Street store.

First-place prize is a dual fuel grill and patio heater; Second-place prize is a stainless steel grill and accessories; Third-place prize is a propane firepit and accessories.

Call 1-800-437-4856 for more information.

Photos: Rockin' BMS

By Howard B. Owens

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Batavia Middle School was rockin' this morning with a visit from the rock band class at Batavia High School to help kickoff STEAM Day at the school.

The band's visit was intended to also give middle school students of another idea for a class they might take when they get to high school.

The band played The Ramones, Tom Petty, The Kinks (twice depending on how you count "You Really Got Me" with the Van Halen intro of "Eruption"), and Cream, among others.

During a Bryan Adams song, the students broke out their mobile phone flashlights and waved them in the air just like any other rock concert.

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BOCES students win awards at state leadership conference

By Howard B. Owens

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Press release:

Earlier this month, hundreds of high school students from across New York state attended the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) State Leadership Conference, which was held in Binghamton.

Students from the Mount Morris and Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers attended this competition and earned the highest awards in their events. These students proved to be the top student technology experts in the state. As a result of earning these awards, four students have qualified to attend the National FBLA Leadership in Baltimore in late June.

“FBLA is a great learning opportunity for our students, they gain confidence in their abilities and develop valuable networking skills to aid them in their future,” said Maggie Poray, Batavia CTE Center Programming and Interactive Media instructor.

Angel Felix and Spencer Herring are Computer Information Systems students who attend the Mount Morris CTE Center. Both are students from Geneseo Central Schools. This team won first place in the Computer Game and Simulation Competition.

This is the second year that Angel has competed in this competition. Last year, he also earned first place in the Computer Game and Simulation Competition. This year’s game has a theme, “A Day in the Life of a FBLA student.”

“It is a two-dimensional game that is played on a computer. The characters have different activities such as competing in FBLA events and even fundraising. In our game, the characters are also developing a game. We spent six months working on this project which includes two main and 10 other characters,” Angel said.

Spencer said, “This was my first year entering the FBLA Competition, Angel and I are a great team. It’s an open-world game, which means the player can roam a virtual world and approach objectives freely.

"Angel and I thought about some of the things we do as FBLA students and we put that into the game. We had some programming glitches to work through but we worked together to fix these issues.”

“Angel and Spencer put a lot of hard work and dedication into their Computer Game and Simulation competition. They were able to build on the experience from last year to develop their skills in programming, design and problem solving to develop an amazing computer game to present to the judges this year,” Poray said.

Larry Harvey, Mount Morris CTE Center Computer Information Systems instructor said, “We are incredibly proud of our students for competing and producing results that will enrich their lives for years to come.

"The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership along with the Future Business Leaders of America organization, believe that the most important skills that we teach are the ones that the students will use far beyond school and into everyday life.”

Taylor Tyczka is a Batavia CTE Center Programming and Interactive Media student from Attica CS. She is a junior and was elected as NY FBLA District 10 State Vice President. This is the first time that a student from the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership has been elected as a state FBLA officer.

“I am very excited to be elected for this position," Taylor said. "I worked very hard on my campaign. I will attend state FBLA meetings and serve as a liaison between the schools and chapters in District 10 and the state FBLA.

"I’m very thankful to my advisors and my teacher, Ms. Poray, for providing me with this opportunity to attend this state conference. This is an honor for me to serve.”

Donovan Kelley is a Batavia CTE Center Programming and Interactive Media student from Caledonia-Mumford. He earned fifth place in the Computer Applications Competition.

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