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Photos: Matsiko Orphan Choir at Liberty Pumps

By Howard B. Owens
Matsiko Orphan Choir

The Matsiko Orphan Choir performed a series of shows Wednesday for employees throughout the plant of Liberty Pumps in Bergen.

The choir is a group of children from Africa who tour the nation to encourage people to become sponsors of the program, which provides educational opportunities for the children.

"The main goal of us performing at so many places around the United States is trying to find sponsorship for these kids and kids just like them back home," said Sam Windham, one of the group's directors. "What the sponsorship is, is people who step into their lives, they give $40 a month, and that $40 takes these kids all the way through university, takes them through elementary school, high school university, so when they graduate, they'll be able to accomplish any of their dreams. They have grown up to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and anything they've ever dreamed of. And hopefully, when they graduate, they'll be able to change their country from the inside and stop the cycle of poverty that's been going on from generation to generation and the next generation of kids."

To learn more about becoming a sponsor, click here.

Matsiko Orphan Choir
Matsiko Orphan Choir
Matsiko Orphan Choir
Matsiko Orphan Choir
Matsiko Orphan Choir
Matsiko Orphan Choir
Matsiko Orphan Choir
Matsiko Orphan Choir

Pavilion Central School hosts Alumni Hall of Fame induction

By Press Release

Press Release:

Three new honorees will be inducted into the PCS Alumni Hall of Fame on Friday, June 2. Each of the Hall of Fame laureates will speak to the student body in a morning assembly. The Alumni Hall of Fame exists to honor outstanding alumni for their achievements as adults. Equally important, it provides examples for current and future students, showing them the types of achievements that are possible if they apply the excellent educational foundation they acquire at PCS. It is the school's highest honor for its graduates. 

The 2023 Honorees are Dr. William R. Anderson, MD, Ph.D., FACG, gastroenterologist, Class of 1972; Roxanne Milligan Dueppengiesser, youth educator & agriculture advocate, Class of 1984; Martin Thomas Griffith (Marty) Sr. EVP, chief banking officer, CNB Bank Class of 1980.

Past inductees have included TJ Majors, a NASCAR racing spotter; Gregory Reinhart, a world-renowned opera singer; Jay Brooks, a landscape artist; Ed Spence, a veteran and founder of Warrior House for Veterans; as well as many others whose life's work provides a model for present-day PCS students. The assembly will be held at PCS high school at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

Genesee County Spartans' home opener moved up to this Saturday at Genesee Community College field

By Press Release

Press release:


Genesee Region football fans will have their chance to root for the home team -- the Genesee County Spartans -- sooner than expected.

Spartans Head Coach Harry Rascoe announced that the first-year semipro squad will open its season this Saturday, with kickoff set for 2 p.m. at Genesee Community College’s new football stadium (located behind the Richard C. Call Arena).

“We had a team drop out of our league and we were able to pick up a game on Saturday against the Buffalo-based New York Falcons of the Gridiron Developmental Football League,” Rascoe said. “We’re excited to finally get out in front of the community.”

The non-league game is sponsored by Iron Reps Gym of Le Roy. Admission is $5. Children under 12 will be admitted at no charge.

Rascoe said the offense will be guided by quarterback Joe Canzoneri, who will be looking to get the ball into the hands of runners and receivers Rob Williams, Alex Rood, Brandon Bethel and Jed Reese.

The defense is led by defensive ends T.J. Henderson and Gunner Rapone, who combined for four sacks, three forced fumbles and 10 tackles in an exhibition game two weeks ago in Watertown.

“We lost the game, but it was a good learning experience,” Rascoe noted. “We definitely will be able to build from it.”

The remainder of the Spartans’ schedule is as follows:

June 10 – at Lockport, 7 p.m.
June 17 – home vs. Ithaca, 7 p.m.
June 24 – home vs. Broome County, 7 p.m.
July 15 – at Broome County, 7 p.m.
July 22 – home vs. Lockport, 7 p.m.
Aug. 5 – at Ithaca, 7 p.m.

For more information about the team, including how to become a sponsor, go to the team’s Genesee County Spartans Facebook page or contact Rascoe at

Atticus the Cat missing around Hull Park and Ross Street in Batavia

By Staff Writer
missing cat
Atticus has gone missing from his home in the Hull Park, Ross Street neighborhood of Batavia.  He was last seen wearing a collar with a tag of his owner's name, Shannon Little, and Little's phone number on it.  Little can also be reached at  Little is offering a $300 reward for the safe return of Atticus.
Submitted photo.

Notre Dame loses Girls Softball crossover game, 3-0

By Staff Writer

Submitted story:

Notre Dame lost a pitcher's duel Tuesday evening in Fillmore against D2 Champion Scio/Friendship.  

Scio opened up the game by scoring a run in the bottom of the first on two of their four base hits.

That one run held up through all seven innings of the contest as Scio pitcher Nevaeh Ross gave up only one hit and struck out 16 batters. 

Mia Treleaven thwarted Ross's bid for a no-hitter in the top of the seventh inning. 

Ross also led the Scio offense with two hits

In the Class B crossover game, Batavia lost to Wellsville, 15-0.

Notre Dame runs away from Sodus in Class C consolidation game, 17-4

By Howard B. Owens
Notre Dame Baseball

Blowouts are rare in title games, but that's what the Notre Dame Fighting Irish did on Tuesday in a game between two Class C champions to see who will represent Section V in the Far West Regional Championship.

The Irish, who won the Class C1 crown, beat the C2 champs 17-4.

The game was played in Canandaigua.

Notre Dame scored eight runs in the first inning.

Jaden Sherwood notched the win, allowing just three hits and four runs over five innings while fanning nine. Ryan Fitzpatrick came on in relief for the final two innings and recorded all six outs by Ks.

The offense banged out 13 hits, with Sherwood, Jordan Welker, Bryceton Berry, and Chase Antinore all getting multiple hits.  Sherwood went 3-5. Jay Antinore had three stolen bases.

Photos by Pete Welker.

Notre Dame Baseball
Notre Dame Baseball
Notre Dame Baseball
Notre Dame Baseball
Notre Dame Baseball
Notre Dame Baseball

ILGR & UHAA announce new series of exhibitions of artists with disabilities in the Genesee Region

By Press Release

Press Release:

The ARTiculations Ability Exhibition -- a forum for artists with disabilities in Genesee, Wyoming, and Orleans counties to display their work publicly -- will open at Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) in their office at 319 West Main Street in the Crickler Executive Business Center in Batavia on Thursday, June 1. Titled “Back of Beyond,” it features the work of Gina Schelemanow, who uses ink, wash, tape, and markers.

A self-described “non-binary neurodivergent goofball that lives in Genesee County, they (the preferred pronoun) are passionate about social justice, community building, and being a silly goose. They started printmaking and painting last year, after a rough mental health spell. Their art is meant to bring joy and oddness to all who enjoy it.”

A reception with light refreshments will be held for the artist at the ILGR office from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 8.  A product of a partnership between ILGR and the University Heights Arts Association (UHAA), the Exhibit will be on display through August 31.

Other artists with disabilities residing in the Genesee, Orleans & Wyoming County areas are encouraged to submit their work to this juried competition, as there will be additional ARTiculations planned quarterly exhibits in the future.

For questions on the event, please call Catherine DeMare at 585-815-8501, ext. 400.

Lewiston road in Alabama will be closed starting June 5

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Highway Department would like to inform the public about an upcoming road closure on Lewiston Road between Route 77 and Knowlesville Road in Alabama. Beginning Monday, June 5, the road will be closed to all traffic for approximately three weeks to facilitate a culvert replacement project.

The culvert replacement project is an essential infrastructure improvement aimed at enhancing the safety and functionality of Lewiston Rd. The existing culvert will be replaced with a new culvert pipe to improve water flow under Lewiston Rd and ensure the long-term sustainability of the roadway.

Second motorcycle operator accused of running over accident victim following collision

By Howard B. Owens
accident in batavia
Photo of motorcycle driven by Gregory Vigiano on Friday following an accident on West Main Street in Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens

After further investigation, a third involved driver in an accident on West Main Street, Batavia, on Friday has been arrested.

Mark Flaming, 33, of Batavia, is charged with two counts of tampering with evidence, one count of leaving the scene of a serious personal injury accident, unregistered motorcycle, uninsured motorcycle, improper plates and operating without a proper license.

According to police, a motorcycle driven by Gregory Vigiano, 34, of Batavia, was struck by a minivan driven by Rebecca Santiago, 34, of Stafford, following an alleged illegal left turn.

The investigation by Officer Sam Freeman reportedly found that Flaming, on another motorcycle, ran over Vigiano while Vigiano was down in the roadway.

Flaming is accused of then fleeing the scene. He allegedly later attempted to alter the appearance of his motorcycle to avoid detection following the collision.

Vigiano sustained serious injuries and was transported by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital.  He is listed in satisfactory condition at Strong.

Flaming was issued traffic and appearance tickets.

Santiago was issued tickets on Friday for alleged illegal left turn and operating with a suspended driver's license.

Eden Cafe presents First Friday Art Show of local talent

By Press Release

Press Release:

Eden Cafe & Bakeshop is thrilled to announce its inaugural First Friday Art Show, a monthly event showcasing the works of talented local artists. The art show will kick off from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

In celebration of Pride month, our first month's exhibit will feature the incredible artwork of students from Glow Out, a prominent local program that provides education and awareness of and around the LGBTQ+ community.

Eden Café & Bakeshop is excited to collaborate with Glow Out, an organization renowned for nurturing and empowering individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. The artwork displayed will reflect the unique perspectives and experiences of these talented students, making for a thought-provoking and visually stunning display.

Starting with this inaugural event, Eden Café & Bakeshop will continue to feature new artists each month, ensuring a diverse and ever-changing selection of artwork. The First Friday Art Show will provide a platform for artists to showcase their talent and connect with art enthusiasts and potential buyers.

Artists interested in participating in future exhibitions are encouraged to submit their artwork for consideration. Submissions should include high-quality pictures of their art, a brief artist statement, the mediums and dimensions used, and the price for sale. Interested artists can email their submissions to Judy Hysek and Marcia Bohn at or visit for more information.

"We are excited to launch our First Friday Art Show, providing a creative space for local artists to shine," said Judy Hysek, owner of Eden Café & Bakeshop. "Through this initiative, we hope to foster a sense of community, celebrate diversity, and support the incredible talent that resides within our city. We invite art enthusiasts, community members, and everyone passionate about the arts to join us for an evening of artistic exploration, inspiration, and connection." 

The First Friday Art Show at Eden Café & Bakeshop promises to be an enriching experience for all attendees. Art lovers, supporters of local talent, and members of the community are encouraged to mark their calendars and join the reception on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., featuring light hors d'oeuvres at Eden Café & Bakeshop located at 242 Ellicott St., Batavia.

The artwork will be available for purchase throughout the month, allowing patrons to bring home a unique piece of local art. 

Be aware of mental health 365 days a year

By Joanne Beck

May has had the special designation of being Mental Health Awareness Month, and although public service campaigns and messages remind people about the importance of heeding one’s own and others’ mental health needs, it’s far from a 30-day requirement, Lynda Battaglia says.

“The county Legislature gave a proclamation for mental health awareness month, but really, it is a specific month to recognize individuals with lived experience who are peers who might be in recovery and to really bring light to the community that people need to be aware of what mental health is, from various perspectives,” said Battaglia, director of Genesee County Mental Health, during an interview with The Batavian.

Lynda Battaglia
Lynda Battaglia, director of Genesee County Mental Health. Photo from Psychology Today website.

“The county Legislature gave a proclamation for mental health awareness month, but really, it is a specific month to recognize individuals with lived experience who are peers who might be in recovery and to really bring light to the community that people need to be aware of what mental health is, from various perspectives,” said Battaglia, director of Genesee County Mental Health, during an interview with The Batavian. “Mental health affects every part of you, as a person. It affects your emotions, your mind, your body, your spirit. All of it is connected. So in a broad sense, everybody needs to practice and pay attention to what their mental health is, whether they're in a good mental health space or a not-so-good mental health space. And it is something that we should be made aware of all year long, not just in a 30-day span.

“It might affect you more during one season of the year than it does another. Maybe you get into a negative mental health space around a certain time of year, maybe focusing on holidays or an anniversary, the death of a loved one, the social climate that we're in,” she said. “But the social climate that we're in right now, with mass shootings being on the news all the time … that has the potential in and of itself to affect somebody's mental health. And it's not just adults that we're talking about; we’re talking about kids too, kids who are paying attention to the news, and they’re practicing active shooter drills, how to shelter in place, or how to hide, that has a potential to impact youth mental health, right?

"Because they are walking in every day saying, ‘I need to carry my phone with me because, if something happens, I want to be able to text somebody.’ My daughter said that to me a few weeks ago, and it cut my core. Because what young people have to go through today is so difficult.”

Sometimes people are in a profession — social work, therapy, first responders, doctors, nurses — that have the potential to weigh on somebody's mental health, also, she said.

“So I think what I love about this opportunity is bringing light that we have individuals who have a diagnosis,” she said. “And you know, AJ is going to talk on that, but then you have the different perspectives, and mental health is such a broad view that you can really spend a long time talking about, like, what is mental health? And how do you make yourself aware of it?”

From the practical side of this, how does one know if he or she is struggling with a mental health issue versus just having a bad day?
Rachel Mieney, clinical director of Genesee County Mental Health, said that one indicator is when someone becomes overwhelmed by various stressors in the world and begins to notice that “their thoughts or feelings are starting to impact their lives in some way.”

“Then it might be the time to reach out to a professional. And, you know, I think we're seeing less stigma now. And I would like for that to continue moving in that direction, where people are willing to come and get help. It's scary, but it's a very brave thing to do to say, you know, I'm struggling. I need help. And I think one of the big things is that trends that we're seeing in terms of what's walking into our clinic is a lot of trauma, a lot of anxiety, a lot of depression,” she said. “And my message would really be that there is hope. It might feel in the moment like, this is hopeless. Nothing's ever gonna get better. But there's people like AJ with lived experience that says it is possible.

“And from the clinical perspective with working on therapy, goals and interventions that we can use, I've seen clients get better too,” she said. “And that's one of the best parts of my job is seeing someone recover and heal and get through whatever they're working on. And most of our therapists here are trained in trauma work. So that's something really great that we can offer.”

Only soldiers have PTSD, right?
People sometimes think that they haven’t experienced trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder because they haven’t served in the military, fought in a war, been in some major combat situation. But trauma is the worst thing that has ever happened to you. It could be a fight, a car accident, divorce, domestic violence, some form of abuse or witnessing a tragic event.

“When we assess for trauma, we just ask for the worst things that have ever happened, so for some people, it could be the loss of a loved one, it could be a car accident, it could be an injury, and then it could be something more significant, you know, like abuse history. So trauma is really anything that's impacting your ability to function on a daily basis, something that triggers you,” Mierney said.

If everybody looked back into their past and thought about some of the things that happened to them, and it's affecting them now, it's cumulative trauma, Battaglia said. 

Perhaps a person’s parents had an ugly divorce when she was a child, and the home was unstable, or there was drug use in the home, or not enough food to eat,  domestic violence, and/or sexual assault.

“People with trauma, some of the folks that we see, with severe trauma histories really have a cumulative set of trauma. Now, that's not to say that like Rachel said, somebody that has a really bad car accident, that can also be very traumatizing, that might be the one thing in their life. And every time they get back on the road, somebody hits the brake or stops or a deer runs out, it's going to trigger them, right?” Battaglia said. “And they're going to kind of relive that trauma all over again. So, like Rachel said, it really starts to impact a person's ability. And for some, they’re just recognizing it now that that's what it is.”

So what do you advise someone who is depressed but feels stuck and doesn’t know how to begin to get help? That seems to be a bit of a catch-22.
“It is, and it’s just kind of reminding them that it feels really bad right now, but it doesn't always have to be this way. And we'll set small goals so that it doesn't feel like, okay, well, you're gonna do these 10 things, and you're going to feel better. It's like, Okay, we'll do one little thing, like, maybe you'll get out of the house one day, for an entire week, or maybe you'll spend 10 minutes talking on the phone to support. So we set the goals really small so that they can feel like, okay, I accomplished that,” she said. “And then we start building on that. So we really try to just not overwhelm and just kind of meet them where they're at and take it one step at a time. So we can do phone, and we can do video (appointments). So that's actually been a benefit of COVID. We really were able to open up the modality of services we can offer. And that's helped with that trend. Transportation barriers too.”

Local Resources
For more information about mental health services in Genesee County, call 585-344-1421 or go to Mental Health Services

For services at the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties, call 585-343-2611, or go to MHA    

For more information from the Rochester-based National Alliance on Mental Illness, go HERE

In a mental health crisis, call or text 988 for resources.

AJ: 'I'm still here,' one man's mental health journey

By Joanne Beck
Rachel Mieney and AJ Scheuerman
Rachel Mieney, clinical director of Genesee County Mental Health, and AJ Scheuerman, a peer guide who has been diagnosed with bipolar and schizoaffective disorder, talk about mental health issues at the county health facility in Batavia.

AJ Scheuerman was 16 when he had his first episode of a yet-to-be-diagnosed mental health illness. It was not only the first incident, but also unforgettable, leaving AJ’s family broken, confused, physically injured, and the teenager left to deal with the consequences in a locked psychiatric ward.

Although AJ’s story may seem atypical compared to the millions of seemingly able-minded people suffering from depression on a day-to-day basis, they all share the importance of this month and what it means to be in tune with one’s own mental health awareness.

Illuminating Behaviors
AJ became fixated on lightbulbs, wearing white button-down shirts, and on cutting himself. Seeing himself bleed  “was a reminder that I'm human, that ultimately, I'm just flesh and blood,” he said.

“So, I’d go for long walks during this time, and just think about different things. One night, I went for a really long walk, and I was listening to my iPod. And I thought that the songs were made for me, that these people knew about me, and they were trying to communicate to me about the secret society that I was supposed to be a part of,” he said.

The Batavia resident would go for these walks, and while listening to songs, he became convinced that the artists weren’t just singing to an audience but that they were singing a message directly to AJ.

After three months, he decided to share his discovery with his parents, but they didn’t have the same response as he did to the music or the messages that he believed he was receiving. He had gone on an extensive walk one night and didn’t return until the next morning.

“I got lost. I actually had to ask for directions from a couple of different places. I got home at, like, 4 a.m. And my mom was waiting for me … I couldn't sleep because I was just thinking about what it was that these people were trying to communicate to me through the songs and stuff. I had this idea that people break away from the Bible secretly. And that was the secret society that they wanted me to be a part of. So in the morning, I tried to tell my parents about the secret society and all this stuff. And they were just listening to me. And I'm trying to put on the songs for them and, like, show them that the songs were talking to me and just give examples that they could be enlightened the same way I felt like I was enlightened,” he said. “And then I didn't get any response from them. So I showed them the scars on my thigh from when I cut myself, which I cut myself pretty much every night. So my thigh was just like a scab. My mom started crying. My dad was like, ‘Is this because I never showed you how to shave?’ And it was just confusing that he would have that reaction."

Confusion to Delusion to Action
"So then my mom, she started crying. And she said, ‘Your dad has thin blood; your dad has thin blood.’ And then I was like, okay, so that means that if he got cut, he would bleed out. Yeah. And I was like, do they want me to hurt my dad? The secret society wants me to kill my dad? And I was like, 'No, I can't do that.' Why are you making me do this? And then that's kind of how delusions start. And then my dad was like, ‘Come on. Let's go to the bathroom. I'll show you how to shave.’ So then, we went to the bathroom, and I took the razor out of the bag of razors. My dad was standing in the doorway. And I thought, my dad wants this. My dad is a willing sacrifice. My dad wants me to attack him.”

And all of that mental build-up led AJ to slash his dad’s face with the razor. His father staggered backward, and AJ slashed him again, dropping the razor to then begin punching him in the head.

“And I recoiled because of the way that his skull felt on my fingers,” AJ said. “And he fell to the ground.”

Meanwhile, his mom had called the police, explaining that her son was just 16. She hugged AJ as his father escaped, and then the police arrived.

“I was taken to psychiatric jail for 39 days,” he said.

Eventual Diagnosis
AJ was diagnosed with bipolar and schizoaffective disorder, a chronic mental health condition in which someone experiences symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder. These symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, lack of pleasure, decreased mood and poor attention.

If AJ seems to be one of those anomalies that we don’t run into very often, one in about every 300 people develops this disorder at some point in their lives, according to

For Genesee County’s population of roughly 60,000, that’s 200 people struggling with schizoaffective disorder and many more with bipolar and depression, which affects more than 18 million adults (one in 10) in any given year across the United States, according to the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists depression as the primary reason why someone dies of suicide about every 12 minutes for cumulative 41,000-plus death a year.

Although Scheuerman, or AJ as he much more prefers to be called, isn’t quite at the point of happiness for being alive, he is at a place of knowing that he has survived his ordeal so far. He was put on prescriptions that have negative side effects, he said, and he has to weigh the pros and cons of being alive on meds versus possibly getting worse without them.

Living to Try Another Day
He admitted that he has never fully sought out and attended counseling of his own volition; it has been something forced upon him, he said. The Batavian asked if he thought he ever would have reached out for help on his own, and he wasn’t certain if he would have. Meds have helped to keep his worst symptoms of violence from escalating, and hospitalizations — he’s had 11 of them to date — have kept him alive.

“I’m still here is kind of my message,” AJ said. “I’ve been through a divorce and just different delusions. I tried to kill myself when I was 17. Because of delusions, and yeah, I’m not living my best life right now. But I’m still here. And I’ve survived what I’ve survived.”

Do you see a place for mental health treatment now, even though you say it’s been imposed on you? Do you think it has saved your life?
“Yeah, I’d say, I guess, begrudgingly, I would say that medication has saved my life,” he said. “So my family, I couldn’t have done it without my family, especially my mom and my ex-wife. I’ve kind of been resistant to therapy. I don’t really get too much out of it.

"I went through psychoanalysis for about a year that it made me realize why I’d had the delusions that I’d had, and I thought that I could go off medication because I had realized why the delusions were the way they were,” he said. “But, ultimately, that didn’t help me either. Just because it was the fact that I was having delusions and not the impetus behind the delusions that I needed to know about.”

A common scenario most people may relate to is when prescribed a 10-day course of antibiotics for an illness. By day six or seven, you may begin to feel better and stop taking the pills because they don’t seem necessary anymore. It was a similar feeling for AJ, he said, in that he started to feel better and believed the meds were no longer required to remain healthy.

And it didn’t work.

“Yeah, I went off the meds, and I was hospitalized within a few months,” AJ said.

This is common behavior, Genesee County Mental Health Clinical Director Rachel Mieney said. A lot of times, people will be on medication and start doing well enough to think they can go off their meds.

“And some people are able to use tools that they've learned in therapy and to kind of maintain the progress they've made,” she said. “And then for other people, sometimes, you need that medication, especially if it's more of a brain chemistry type thing where the medication is really necessary to allow you to be able to function.”

As AJ talked about his struggles and recovery — imposed as it has been at times — he said he considers medication to be a “boogeyman” in his life, stealing who he is at his very core and leaving him not feeling “like you’re the person that you’re meant to be.”

Mieney strongly encourages people like AJ and anyone, really, who is struggling with any type of mental health issue to seek help, not go through it alone, and know that there is hope.

From Patient to Peer
Despite his ups and downs and uncertainties about the joys of life, AJ does have a few positives: he’s “definitely” stable and is able to function in society, he said. He also has a job as a peer guide at the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties to “help people with mental illness.”

Through his own experience, AJ works with others to “focus on helping the person achieve goals.”

“And for the most part, I can’t even tell that people have a mental illness that I work with,” he said. “It’s just there. They’re just people, and they have hopes and aspirations. And I’m there to help them with those hopes and aspirations.”

What does it feel like to be a useful tool for people and to help them?
“It’s great that I have a use for the episodes that I’ve had. There’s no, ‘Oh, I’m not sure what this feels like for them. I’m not sure what to do.’ It’s always like, ‘Okay, I’ve been through this, and I can help them with whatever ailments they have,” he said. “And just the goals that they ate, the barriers that they put on themselves, I can kind of help them to break down those barriers by being like, I’ve come this far … I’m still here, and I can help you in any way that I can.”

Mieney wanted to reiterate that whole piece for not only AJ but others doubting the value of their bumpy lives.

“You’ve been able to use your experience to help other people. That’s huge. A lot of people feel like that, you know: I’m the only one that deals with this. And so you can show them no, 'I’ve done it too,'” she said. “'And I’ve succeeded.' And it’s not perfect. There’s going to be side effects with medications. There’s going to be episodes that happen depending on the diagnosis, but, you take it one day at a time. You work through it.”

Le Roy's Evan Williams has a singular passion for musical theater, and Broadway beckons with Jimmy Awards

By Howard B. Owens
Evan Williams Newsies 2022
Evan Williams performing in Le Roy High School's production of Newsies in 2022.
Photo by Howard Owens.

A lot of well-meaning adults around Evan Williams' life have a bit of advice in the form of a question:  "What's his backup plan?" 

"What is he going to do if it doesn’t work out?" they ask.

Musical theater is going to be what Evan Williams does, says his mother, Laura.  He might wait tables while building his career, but singing and acting, or perhaps some other career role in or around Broadway, is what he is going to do with his life.

She doesn't have any doubt about it.

“People ask all the time about his fallback plan, but I can’t see him doing anything else,” Laura said.

One of his inspirations and mentors, John Bolton, a Le Roy graduate who has made a career in musical theater, TV and movies, said he hates the term "backup plan." 

"Back-up plan means this is what you're going to settle for if things don't work out," Bolton said. "You should always have something else that interests you in life, but a backup plan always sounds second-rate. It's not going for your dreams."

Williams has his best chance yet to go after that dream.  He's one of 100 students from around the nation who has won a place in the Jimmy Awards in New York City.

He secured his spot last week by winning -- along with Hope Galloway (Brighton High School) -- the Rochester Broadway Theatre League's "Stars of Tomorrow" competition.

Judges from the league visited the musicals of dozens of high schools in the Finger Lakes region and selected 40 students to compete in "Stars of Tomorrow."  After a first round, those 40 competitors became 20, then 10, and then the final two.

Last year, Williams also made the final 10.  This year, he won.

Evan Williams as Jean Valjean in the Le Roy 2023 production of Les Miserables.
Evan Williams as Jean Valjean in the Le Roy 2023 production of Les Miserables.
Photo courtesy Laura Williams.

"Evan was prepared and focused," said Bolton, who was an early round judge and then coach throughout the competition.  "He's got an amazing voice. He took our notes and worked at it, as did the entire Top 40.  He took very slight adjustments because he's well prepared. He owned the night, as did Hope Galloway.  Everybody was wonderful. If it had taken place on another night, maybe someone else would have won, but that night, Evan claimed it. He owned it."

It was an incredible experience, Williams said.

He said the weeks leading up to the competition were anxious days.

"I had a lot of pressure to take on," Williams said. "Everyone had been telling me that I was gonna be the one, but I wasn’t gonna take anyone’s word for it other than my own."

He had grown up watching the Jimmys, hoping for even a regional consideration.  

"I never had really thought of it as a reality until it became a reality," Williams said. "I knew it was possible, but I didn’t want to allow myself to think I didn’t have to work for it. I never want to do that for anything. Nothing should be handed to anyone. I had said to Nate Yauchzee on the way to the event that I remembered watching kids get picked to compete at NYC Bound and just being astounded, so even the fact that I was lucky enough to be part of the competition, not once but three times is crazy. On top of that, I think sixth-grade Evan would be incredibly proud of the fact that he is the first person from Le Roy to represent Rochester at the Jimmy Awards. I hope that there are some little Evans in the world who watch those videos and are inspired just the way I was."

Jacqueline McLean has directed the recent high school musicals at Le Roy and recognizes that Williams is a special talent.

"Evan has a heart of gold," McLean said. "Often, he's not thinking about himself. He's thinking for the better of the group, about a better musical, a better performance from the team. He's a team leader, and I'm a big believer that you're not going to get anywhere if you're not kind.  He shows that often."

She said Williams is magnetic, that he connects with audiences in a way that's unique, that she hasn't seen other students be able to do.

"I have no doubt that he's going to go to college, and he's going to make a career out of this," McLean said. "I always joke with him, 'Don't forget the little people, don't forget where you came from because we're going to be cheering for you for years to come.'"

She's proud of Williams, but she's also proud of the entire Le Roy Music Department.  Le Roy was represented in Rochester by not just one but five students, and three of them made the final 20.

Le Roy's musical this year was Les Miserables.  The production was honored in every category of the theatre league's awards for 2023. Recognized as leading cast members from Le Roy were Ashlyn Puccio, Aubry Puccio, Cooper Terry, Jackson Cain, Maureen Klaiber, and Nathan Yauchzee.  Among large schools, it was recognized for excellence in overall musical production, excellence in vocal ensemble, excellence in dance ensemble, excellence in production crew, and excellence in student orchestra.

"When you see kids over the years," she added, "you pick out the ones who have the 'it' factor.  We've had a lot of them in Le Roy.  We joke about it a lot -- that it must be something in the water.  There is so much talent in this town."

After graduation, Williams, in pursuit of his musical theater ambitions, will attend Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

Attending college for music theater puts him on a very different career path than Bolton, who also grew up in love with theater, who started out in regional theater and then took a chance and moved to New York City and happened to make the right connections to build a career.

It helped that he, too, is a nice guy, but he recognizes he might be the best guide for Evan's career.  Bolton's partner is a theatrical agent, so was able to offer Williams advice on universities to target.

Other than that, he's just a big believer that Williams should focus on what he loves.

"All signs are saying that Evan Williams can do this," Bolton said. "He's diving into a situation in New York in a few weeks with 100 other students from all over the country, and he will form friendships that will last a lifetime. He will form connections that will last a lifetime."

Bolton has known Evan's mother, Laura, since they were very young.  Bolton's mother and Laura's mother, Lynn Belluscio, the Le Roy historian, have been good friends. Social media helped Bolton and Laura reconnect, and so he's been able to watch Evan's passion for theater blossom.

Laura said the main advice Bolton has ever given her son, because Evan is taking just a different path in his career, is to embrace his passion.

“John is always in Evan’s corner but more along the lines of, ‘follow your dreams, sing the songs that make you happy, be true to yourself,’” Laura said.

She's extremely proud of her son.

"Not only does Evan work hard, but he’s also genuine," Laura said. "He lifts people up and celebrates everybody’s success.  In this career, he’s learned quickly that if he’s going to go places, he has to help other people. It’s far more than a kill-or-be-killed arena. That’s what I’ve noticed. Clearly, that’s a parent's answer, but that is what makes me proudest, and I know that makes Justin proud as well."

Williams has heard those well-meaning words about having a fallback plan, but he agrees with his mother. He can't see himself doing anything else.

He said he's listened to interviews with stars like John Meyer, who said he didn't necessarily get the best grades in school in mathematics. He was always a music guy. Williams said he's tried to do his best in school, even in mathematics, but those academic subjects, or even sports, have never been his focus.

"Some kids grind at science or they grind at mathematics. They go home and do their science homework or their math homework.  When I'm not in school, I spend my time with voice lessons, music lessons, rehearsals, or something like that.  That's my form of success," Williams said.

"This is something I want. If I keep pushing for it, I believe it can happen.  I’m a big if you can dream it, you can do it. I'm that kind of guy."

Evan Williams Newsies 2022
Evan Williams performing in Le Roy High School's production of Newsies in 2022.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Batavia Muckdogs, with stacked roster, tuning up to defend division crown

By Howard B. Owens
muckdogs scrimmage

Skipper Joey Martinez likes grinders.

And he's not afraid to say it. He thinks the 2023 Batavia Muckdogs look like a better team than the one that won a division title in 2022.

"This team is special just because we have another crop with just great young men," Martinez said. "We've got a bunch of grinders. That's kind of the style we like. We like the grinders. They're recruited that way on purpose, you know. We try to get guys that are going to come into this community, as well, and be a part of it, that they represent the Batavia Muckdogs name well everywhere and every day. This team is gonna be special with a lot of talent as well as compared to last year. That was a special team, right, as you know, that team was special. We got about 10 returners from that team. We hope that that transition helps with the new guys and tells them what we're about here. I think this roster potentially could be better."

Martinez said the key to fielding a winning team in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League is pitching, and he thinks this year's roster is stacked with arms. 

He also said the team has several players with great bat skills, including two players who hit 14 home runs each at the collegiate level this season. 

There are also returning local favorites such as Alex Hale. The Batavia High School grad was "phenomenal" for the Muckdogs in 2022, Martinez said. 

"We also have a couple of other local GCC kids who are going to be a big part of what we do," Martinez said, including Ty Woods, from Alexander.

"I think you got to look out for guys like Anthony Calabro, Henry Daniels, Adam Agresti," Martinez said. "There are so many names to throw at you. I mean, we just have a lot of talent."

Owner Robbie Nichols is excited about a lot of things in the 2023 season, from the fan experience to the players who will take the field.

"I think it's going to be exciting on Saturday," Nichols said. "We've got a great team again. You're going to see a great fireworks show.  We're going to have a lot of fun promotions going, and people who come to the games are going to have a lot of fun."

He said there is some sort of promotion for every home game in 2023, including the return of Dollar Hot Dog Night and $2 Beer Night, along with a helicopter dropping 250 pounds of candy.  

He said he's really impressed with the roster Martinez and his coaches have put together.

"Skip has done a great job," Nichols said. "You look out here; we got a pitcher that's 6'3", 315 pounds and throws in the 90s. We just got a kid on the mound that's 6' 10". They're all hand-picked from around the country. We've got players from California, Florida, Georgia, you name it. We've got two kids that hit 14 home runs, led their conference. I'm kind of excited about this year's team."

That should translate into another winning season, right?

"I will go on record and predict a repeat as the West Division champion," Nichols said. "From there, we'll have to see. That Amsterdam team, the other division, always has somebody that is tough. We're ready. I think we're a little bit loaded this year."

The Muckdogs open the home season on Saturday at Dwyer Stadium at 6:35 p.m. The Muckdogs take on the Elmira Pioneers. There will be a fireworks display following the game. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 585-524-2260.

For the complete season schedule, click here.

See also:

Photos of Tuesday's Red vs. Black Muckdogs scrimmage at Dwyer Stadium. Photos by Howard Owens.  To view more photos from the scrimmage or to purchase prints, click here.

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Batavia Muckdogs Owner Robbie Nichols helping clean up the stands during the scrimmage.  
muckdogs scrimmage
muckdogs scrimmage
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Photos: Fans introduced to 2023 Muckdogs at Eli Fish

By Howard B. Owens
Muckdogs season ticket holders were invited to Eli Fish on Tuesday evening to meet the members of the team for 2023.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The entire roster of the 2023 Batavia Muckdogs was represented in an event at Eli Fish Brewing Co. on Tuesday, where season ticket holders could also pick up their tickets for the new season, which opens Friday in Elmira.

The Muckdogs play their first home game on Saturday and fireworks will follow the game.

See also: Batavia Muckdogs, with stacked roster, tuning up to defend division crown

Fans picked up their 2023 season tickets.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens.
muckdogs Joey Martinez
Skipper Joey Martinez returns for his third season as head coach of the Batavia Muckdogs.
Photo by Howard Owens.
muckdogs Robbie Nichols
Muckdogs' owner Robbie Nichols.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Tyrone Woods, from Alexander and currently attending GCC is a member of the 2023 Batavia Muckdogs.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Muckdogs Superfan Russ Salway.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens
Photo by Howard Owens

Fifth and sixth graders from St. Paul's participate in 'laying of flags' for Memorial Day

By Press Release

Press Release:

St. Paul Lutheran School’s fifth- and sixth-grade classes and parents traveled to the Bath National Cemetery in Bath to participate in the laying of flags on all 20,000 grave sites for the commemoration of Memorial Day. 

They joined the local fifth grade class that has been participating for the last 43 years. Their teacher, Mrs. Dunn, has a personal connection to the cemetery, as her grandfather, Vernon Rowe who was in the Navy, and her grandmother Pearl Jean Rowe, are buried there. 

The students identified the Civil War, Spanish War, Korean War,  World War I and II sites among others including Medal of Honor recipients. All felt overwhelmed and honored to participate in this special day.

GC Youth Bureau to host Family Game Night Friday

By Press Release
2022 family game night
2022 File photo of Genesee County Youth Bureau's Family Game Night, which rotates around to various locations in the county. This year it will be at the David McCarthy ice arena in Batavia.

Press Release:

Genesee County Youth Bureau will be hosting its 20th annual Family Game Night from 5 to 7 p.m. this Friday at the David McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena, 22 Evans St., Batavia.

The night will consist of interactive booths with activities, games and prizes for families and youth serving organizations. This event is free and includes pizza and assorted beverages. 

Each family will take home one brand new board game after they visit each booth so they can start their own family game night!  Just for attending you will be entered into a raffle to win one of several prizes from businesses all around Genesee County. 

Following the event, please stick around for free roller skating with your family! (Please bring skates as rentals are limited) Adults must be accompanied by a child to receive the board game.

Please call the Youth Bureau for more information or to register at 585-344-3960.

The Genesee County Youth Bureau would also like to thank Applebee’s, Lamb Farm, Alabama Hotel, Terry Hills, BJ’s, Subway and YWCA for donating, and David McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena for hosting the event.

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