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From the worthless to the priceless: Experts inspect a range of items at HOLM's appraisal fair

By Howard B. Owens
HLOM appraisals
Todd Jantzi, from Bontrager Real Estate & Auction Service, talks with Gary Harkness and his wife, Debbie, about a lamp the couple brought into the HLOM appraisal event on Saturday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

It was indeed a bit like the set of an episode of PBS's Antiques Roadshow at the First Presbyterian Church of Batavia on Saturday, with local residents walking in carrying their treasures and experts giving sharing what they observed about the item while the owner awaited the verdict: Priceless or worthless.

There were items of little or no value, such as the windup Victrola, which is a great artifact but a common item in antique terms. Of keener interest to Todd Jantzi, the Bontrager's auctioneer who shared his judgment on a several items during the nearly daylong appraisal event that was a fundraiser for the Holland Land Office Museum, was the old shellac 78s the owner of the Victrola brought in.  Those are not common and, in fact, among the hardest records for collectors to find.

Many items, of course, were of middling value, like the mantle clock brought in by Crystal Rhinehart of East Bethany.

It was made by Ansonia, a well-known maker of clocks with a solid reputation, Jantzi told her.

Rhinehart said the clock had been in her family since it was new.

"This would have taken a little bit more funds to purchase it, so it probably would have kept better time than some other clocks," Jantzi said.  

Then he joked, "We usually only see these from the homes of the rich people in East Bethany." 

He valued it at $100 to $225 at auction.

Other experts on hand during the day were representatives from Cottone Auctions and Schultz Auctioneers.  A variety of items were brought in from musical instruments, such as a guitar, and pieces of art, such as a colorized 1880s etching of the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

At the end of the day, Gary Harkness and his wife, Debbie, walked in with a bag of items for appraisal.  

The largest item was the one that came out of the bag first. It was a cast white metal lamp with two candle-shaped lights.  Harkness said it sits on his mantle as a night light.

It's from the 1920s or 1930s.

"No cracks, which is uncommon for that age," Jantzi said.

Harkness pointed out a small piece of metal missing, and Jantzi said, "But usually you'll see age cracks, and there's none here."

At auction, Jantzi said, $400, maybe $500. 

Then Jantzi picked up a scrimshaw-engraved bone card-carrying case and nudged a photographer, "You'll want to get a picture of this."

Above an etching of a patriotic woman was the inscription, "Col Emory Upton. 124 New York Vols." 

The other side was inscribed, "In much appreciation from U.S. Grant, Nov. 1863."  

Upton, of course, is the Batavia-born Civil War hero, who would become a general before the war's end, and whose likeless stands vigil at Main and Ellicott in the city.  Grant, a future president, would, in a few months' time from the date of the inscription, take over command of the U.S. military and lead the Union to victory over the traitorous southern states. 

Harkness said he bought the case about 25 years ago from a dealer in Canada for $600 or $700.  

Jantzi said it's such a rare item with such historical significance, he couldn't put a price on it.

"That is cool, Gary. That is cool," Jantzi said. "The only way you're gonna find out is to put it up for auction. That's the only way you'll ever find out, but you hate to get rid of it to find out."

Harkness said he's thought about a heritage auction, but, he said, "It's not going anywhere soon." 

The historical treasure has been displayed before at the Holland Land Office Museum, he said.

Kind of like a real episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” Harkness coming in at the end with Upton's card box from Grant, gave the day of appraisals its dramatic closing.

Harkness let a couple of volunteers hold the case, and one woman said, "Oh, my God" as she looked at it in awe.

"And you touched it," said the other. "You touched it." 

HLOM appraisals
Todd Jantzi holds a bone card-carrying case inscribed from U.S. Grant to Col. Emory Upton.
Photo by Howard Owens.
HLOM appraisals
Crystal Rhinehart and Todd Jantzi discuss a clock she brought in for appraisal.
Photo by Howard Owens
HLOM appraisals
Todd Jantzi
Photo by Howard Owens

2023 Nursing graduate's 30-year journey ends with 'amazing' feeling

By Joanne Beck
GCC graduation
Sue Gagne of Batavia, a 2023 graduate of the nursing program at Genesee Community College, receives her diploma during commencement ceremonies Saturday at the Richard C. Call Arena. Photo by Howard Owens.

This weekend ended a 30-year journey for nursing graduate Sue Gagne.

It began with a chemistry class in January 1993, one of the prerequisites for a nursing degree. 

However, Gagne’s path took a different turn, with baby Allison’s arrival that same year, and the decision that school would be too rigorous to do simultaneously while raising her daughter.

“I ended up choosing a different path. I went on to have a career in mental health and chemical addiction, and focused on my family,” she said.

Her second child, baby Joe, came in 2002. Time went on, the kids got older, and Gagne revisited former goals.

“Once my son got to high school, my dream of becoming a nurse came back to mind,” she said. “With a strong support system of people in my life who encouraged me to follow my dreams, it became a reality. So almost 30 years later, I started taking one class at a time — biology, anatomy 1, then anatomy 2.”

And then one of the big moments happened: “I was accepted to the nursing program.”  

“I started the program in the fall of 2021, and here we are two years later,” Gagne said, answering The Batavian’s question of how it feels to walk across that stage. “Amazing. Although this was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done, it is also the most rewarding. My professors and classmates were absolutely wonderful, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.” 

She has two pieces of advice for anyone who might be dragging your heels to pursue a longtime goal or passion: “I would encourage anyone who has a dream not to hesitate,” Gagne said. “Get around some good people who will support your dream and go after it.”
 

Advice to 2023 grads: Put down the social media and get involved to make a difference

By Joanne Beck
Ben Bonorigo GCC graduation
Ben Bonarigo, a retired attorney from Batavia, who, as a graduate of GCC, was the first member of his family with a college degree, was the keynote speaker for Genesee Community College's graduation ceremony on Saturday in the Call Arena. "Once a Cougar, always a Cougar," Bonarigo said at the end of his speech, donning a Cougar baseball cap.
Photo by Howard Owens

Get off the couch, put down the phone and get out of the house to make a difference in the world. Some rudimentary but important words of wisdom from this year’s commencement speaker for Genesee Community College’s Class of 2023 this weekend. 

As keynote speaker, retired attorney and GCC alum Benjamin Bonarigo mused about how and what one can say to this generation of graduates full of excitement and possible angst about how to storm the life before them and make a worthwhile impact.

After all, Bonarigo’s mom accepted his early decision to return home after one college semester, due to family circumstances, with the admonishment to continue his education. Her words were understanding but moving, to the point that her son eventually fulfilled his promise to carry on with his schooling as a first-generation college student, graduating first from GCC in 1977. 

For the next four years, he studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business management in 1979 and then his Juris Doctorate in 1982.

So he knows that words matter. And Bonarigo listened not only to what his mom said, but knew that she “recognized the importance of education, even though hers was limited,” he said.

“I’m so grateful to her and to GCC because she provided the direction and GCC the foundation for me to continue up the educational ladder. I wouldn't be standing here without both of them in my life. For those of us here, like myself, who lived a good portion of our lives. I know what you may be thinking, as I am, that we should be using our life experiences to direct these graduates like my own mother did to tell them what to do, how to do it, and what to look out for along the journey to come,” Bonarigo said during the 55th annual commencement ceremony at the Richard C. Call Arena in Batavia. “After all, who better to lay out a plan for them than those of us who have been through many of life's ups and downs and who have had to face many of life's challenges. No doubt.

“We have an obligation to help them down life's winding pathway. But my question to all of us here today is, do we have that right? Our world has made tremendous advances in our lifetime. We can fly rocket ships to Mars with regularity. A driverless car can chauffeur us anywhere we want to go,” he said. “Almost all of us have in our pockets that computer that we use to research to buy anything in a day or to call, text or do math, or email anyone in the world. It's been said before, and most would agree, that we live a more affluent lifestyle than generations before us.”

He added that, despite all of those remarkable developments, “We leave this generation with several problems,” such as mental health issues, dramatically increased suicide rates over the last decade, and unyielding spikes in drug addiction.

“Even with all the affluence and wealth we have acquired, social unrest is out of control, and the politics of the day just adds fuel to the fire,” he said. “People are dying all over this world, for reasons that none of us can really comprehend. And that's just the shortlist. As we look at this, are we really in the best position to lay out the plan for these folks? What has become clear to those of us who have lived long enough is that material things don't bring us true happiness.

In fact, those of us like me who have seen the sun rise thousands of times, are desperately trying to get rid of stuff that in earlier days meant so much to us. We have lived the dream of chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Are we really better off for it? Are we fulfilled by our success and acquiring things?” he said. “Graduates, would you believe us if we told you that unless you have a higher purpose in life than acquiring worldly goods, you may be unfulfilled in this life? This seems contrary to everything that you've been taught, which is to be like PacMan, acquiring everything that comes your way.”

He quoted England’s late Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Dr. James Sunset, GCC’s president, talked about “what we give” — more specifically, about what those on campus have given to students by their very own accounts. Graduates have shared with him how parents, family, friends and others have helped along on their educational journey, and he asked for a round of applause to thank them all on this culminating day of all efforts. But they weren’t the only ones, he said.

“You've also told me about another group of strong supporters that have helped you along the way, that pushed you and challenged you and encouraged you to achieve your best,” Sunser said. “They're the faculty and staff of the college. They believe in you and were willing to give you the best they had by sharing their knowledge, and especially their time.”

It’s about taking a stance to care that matters, Bonarigo said. Not being involved breeds indifference, he said, pointing to the big picture of life.

“Indifference to the greatest democracy in the world occurs when we don't feel our vote is worthwhile. When we feel it is more comfortable to complain about the way things are run, than to make a difference by running them ourselves,” he said. “So I say to you, get off social media, get off the couch, get out of the house, make a difference in this world, do the things that we may not have been so good at. Maybe, ladies and gentlemen, our problems are not as great as I make them out to be today.

“I’ve taken a very close look and studied these graduates. And they're actually smarter and more aware than we ever were. They are energetic and bright. This will allow them to recognize easily our shortcomings and failures. I see in them a strength, a commitment and resolve to seek a better way forward to see the need to live in peace and harmony, not only with their neighbors, but all the people of the world,” he said. “They will find a way to smooth out the bumps in the path that we leave behind with their intelligence, hard work and ability to give more of themselves than we ever did. 

"My hope is that we can all live long enough to see and appreciate the differences that they will make. Let me take this final moment to tell these graduates something we all believe and that we know we have a right to say: that we are also very proud of you and how much we believe in you, and the future you will create.”

Bonargio has been a well-worn name in this area, Batavia especially, having founded Bonarigo and McCutcheon Law Firm 40 years ago, and also previously working as an attorney for the city and town of Batavia and village of Oakfield, president of Genesee County Bar Association and several other professional and civic involvements, including Batavia youth football, Holland Land Office Museum, Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, Literacy Volunteers, and Little League Baseball.

Adhering to the motto "Once a Cougar, always a Cougar," he ended his speech with those words and firmly placed a GCC Cougar-themed baseball cap on his head. 

To view more than 60 photos from GCC's commencement ceremony on Saturday, click here.

GCC graduation
Alex M. Maldonado earned a degree in digital art.
Photo by Howard Owens
GCC graduation
Molly Snyder received a degree in fashion business
Photo by Howard Owens
GCC graduation
Photo by Howard Owens
GCC graduation
Melanie Diaz-Negron earned a degree in nursing.
Photo by Howard Owens.
GCC graduation
Photo by Howard Owens
GCC graduation
Photo by Howard Owens
GCC graduation
Photo by Howard Owens
GCC graduation
Photo by Howard Owens

The Batavian's coverage-leading stories of the past week

By Howard B. Owens

In the past week, The Batavian once again brought you more news about Genesee County than any other news source.  

Below is a list of the bylined stories The Batavian published over the past week ahead of any other news outlet, and, again, in many cases, The Batavian was the only news source to bring you these stories.

The Batavian's dedication to bringing you the most local news first is a good reason you should sign up today for Early Access Pass.  News coverage is a lot of work, and in order to continue to stay on top of it, we are asking for reader support through Early Access Pass.

Please be sure to sign up for Early Access Pass today.

Batavia's last champion boxer, Tim Edgerton, dies at age 62

By Howard B. Owens
tim edgerton boxing golden gloves
File photo from 2013. By Howard Owens.

Timothy Freeman Edgerton, whose distinguished life as a citizen of Genesee County included winning a Golden Gloves championship in 1977 in Texas, died at age 62 at home in Oakfield on May 7.

He is the last known boxer with roots in Batavia to have won a championship.

His obituary was released today.

Edgerton was born Aug. 6, 1960 in Batavia. He graduated from Byron-Bergen and attended GCC for a year. He then transferred to Sam Houston State University in Texas, where he majored in Criminal Justice.

As a youth, Edgerton was captivated by boxing stories of his uncle Norman, who once battled for a Golden Gloves title and lost. In 1976, he took boxing lessons in Rochester. He was unable to get on a Golden Gloves card in Buffalo -- for some reason, the only names drawn were all Buffalo residents, so he hung up his gloves for a little bit.

He moved to Houston, and while there, he decided to try again to compete for a Golden Glove title.  While signing up, he was recruited by a boxing team, Cut and Shoot, Texas.

They were a few boxers short for the team, Edgerton told The Batavian in 2013 in an exclusive interview. They could provide people to work his corner. That way, Ederton got help, and if he scores any points, the Cut and Shoot team gets the points.

That sounded like a fair deal, Edgerton said.

"Of course, they had no idea what my skill level was," Ederton said. "They just went into it blind, kind of like I went with them blind."

From The Batavian's 2013 story

Then this man from Cut and Shoot, Texas, had another proposal for the 174-pound fighter.

"The guy says, 'What would you think about fighting as a heavyweight?' and I said, 'Are you kidding me?' "

Edgerton would be giving up at least 25 pounds to every fighter he faced.

"You'll be giving up a lot of weight, but you're quick, you're fast," the man said. "Jab and move, stay away from them, try to score some points. Your chances are better as a heavyweight. I know some of the kids in the lightweight division. They're really good. I don't know you, but that's the best I can offer."

Edgerton and Lettie talked it over. The man, whom Edgerton still didn't know from a fence post, seemed to know what he was talking about.

After winning the preliminary bouts, Edgerton was facing a man 45 pounds heavier in the finals.

"He had had to go 220, maybe 225 pounds," Edgerton said. "He was bigger. He was taller. And I won. I don't know how. Maybe out of fear. But I was able to take it to him pretty good.

"It did work out where he was bigger and stronger, but he was slower," Edgerton added. "I could outmaneuver his punches, you know, duck. A couple of times, he swung, and I could just literally feel the air rush overhead. If he ever hit me, I would have been gone. They would have been carrying me out."

The fight went all three rounds, and for a moment, Edgerton thought he could score a knockout.

"In the third round, I almost had enough to put him down," Edgerton said. "He was stumbling back into the ropes, but I didn't have enough.

"In my corner, they yelled out, 'stick and move, stick and move, you got the fight won, just stick and move,' so that's what I did," Edgerton added. "I got on the bicycle, and started sticking, moving, moving, sticking. He couldn't catch me. He was tired. I was in better shape, thank God, and I ended up winning."

With the victory, Edgerton won his Golden Gloves title, and as a heavyweight. Those points also put the team from Cut and Shoot, Texas, over the top for a team championship.

That was Edgerton's last fight. He finished with a career record of 19-6.

Edgerton married Lettie, whom he met in Texas. 

He wanted to return home, but couldn't land a crime-fighting job in Genesee County. He went to work for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, living in Detroit for a while.

Eventually, the job brought him back to Batavia

In 1993, he developed Operation Child Intercept, which has been adopted nationwide, to combat the illicit transportation of missing and abducted children across the international borders into the U.S.

Edgerton served on the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District board for 15 years and was an advocate for student rights, improved school nutrition, and diversity and inclusion. He also served as President and a key member of the Elementary Community School Organization (ECSO), where he helped bring skating parties, winter carnivals, public speakers, and countless other special events to the students and larger community each year.

tim edgerton golden gloves
File photo from 2013. By Howard Owens.

Trojans get first-round softball playoff win over East Rochester, 20-5

By Howard B. Owens
Alexander softball
Madison Boyce

In Girls Softball on Friday, the Alexander Trojans kept their season going with a 20-5 win over East Rochester.

Freshman Ava Yax, along with Sophomores Faith Goodenbury and Brianna Neyman, led Alexander at the plate as the three hits each for a combined 9-11 on the day. 

Ava Yax was 3-4, with four RBIs, two runs scored, and two stolen bases, while Faith Goodenbury was 3-3 with a two-RBI double, one run scored and one stolen base and Brianna Neyman was 3-4 with a double, two RBIs and one run scored. Madison Boyce, Melissa Sawyer, and Carley Shepard all contributed with Multi-hits games.  Emily Pietrzykowski extended her hitting streak to 13 games with a triple to right center. The 17 team hits pushed Alexander over 200 team hits on the year. 

Madison Boyce picked up her sixth win (6-2) on the bump with another dominant performance where the hurler tossed six innings, allowing five hits, one earned run,  and one walk. She whiffed 11 batters.  It was her fourth double-digit strikeout outing of the year and brought her strikeout total to 86 through nine starts.

Next up for Alexander (#5 seed) is the Section V Quarterfinal matchup with Oakfield (#4 seed) on Monday at 5 p.m. in Oakfield.

“The girls did a great job in the box again today," said Head Coach John Goodenbury. "Any game that your team can come out and get 17 hits while your pitcher tallies double-digit strikeouts is going to be a good day.  Today was nice for the girls, but we all know what lies ahead of us Monday with Oakfield.  We will try to focus on the game at hand, but we all had Oakfield on our minds today. That’s going to be a fun game, and they did beat us twice this season by one run each time, so we just want to go in there, play solid defense and let the chips fall where they fall. We’ve had a fantastic season so far, and we just don’t want it to end.”

Submitted information. Photos by Cathy Sawyer.

Lillian Szymkowiak
Lillian Szymkowiak
Emily Pietrzykowski
Emily Pietrzykowski
madison boyce
Madison Boyce
Emily Pietrzykowski
Emily Pietrzykowski
Bridget Ripstein
Bridget Ripstein
Melissa Sawyer
Melissa Sawyer

Photo: Attendees of Business After Hours at Norton's Chizzlewood

By Howard B. Owens
Norton Chizzlewood
The Batavian owes publication of this photo to Fran and Bobbi Norton, owners of Norton's Chizzlewood at 4309 Gilhooly Road, Alexander. The Batavian attended a Chamber of Commerce Buisnesss After Hours at Noton's on May 11 and forgot to follow up with coverage.
Photo by Howard Owens.Business

Sponsored Post: Great new price on 7 Gateway Drive

By Lisa Ace
7 Gateway Drive, New Price

Solid home in great location-literally a minute from shopping, dining and thruway entrance for quick commute to wherever you need to go! This 3 bedroom home has a spacious main floor large and bright living room good size kitchen with plenty of cupboards and sliding glass door which leads to great enclosed three season room perfect for all the great weather coming your way! The basement is partially finished into great rec area and utility room has laundry and room for all your storage need's. Located on great City street this home has great yard with loads of perennials and pretty back yard with deck and small patio area ready for you to play and entertain! The home has been well maintained and is ready for the next person to move in and make it their own!

Photo: Woodpecker in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
woodpecker
Frank Capuano shared this shot of a woodpecker in his backyard in Batavia.  He said he had to act quick to get the shot. By the time he was ready to snap again a crow had chased it away.

Batavia PD and Lions Club partner up to fix bikes for BCSD

By Press Release
police_lions-club-edit.jpeg

Press Release:

The Batavia Police Department would like to thank the Batavia Lions Club for its generous donation and work during the Day of Caring.  Batavia PD donated several slightly used bicycles to the Lions Club.  

During the Genesee County Day of Caring, the Lions Club partnered with Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle to service/fix up these bikes.  Once the tuneups were completed, the Lions Club donated eight bicycles back to Batavia PD to be distributed to local children in need. 

The Batavia PD School Resource Officers teamed up with guidance counselors from Batavia City Schools to select these children.  Batavia PD and the Lions Club have agreed to continue this partnership in the years to come to ensure we can help the community in which we serve. 

Batavia PD would like to thank the Lions Club, Adam Millers, and the Batavia City Schools for their assistance in this newly founded program.

Submitted photo

GO Health warns of dangers of radon in homes, encourages testing

By Press Release

Press Release:

You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. But breathing in high levels of radon can increase your risk of lung cancer even if you don’t smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and it is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is the reason it is so important to get your home tested for radon.

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps into your home through cracks in the foundation, walls and joints. It can be found in well water and in dirt floors. Whether your home has a basement, sits on a slab, is brand-new or old, radon can build-up and go undetected. 

Testing your home with a short term radon test kit is a quick and easy way to determine if there are high levels of radon in your home. The Genesee County Health Department has a limited number of short term test kits available free of charge for Genesee County residents. These test kits are easy and quick to use.

“Testing for radon is one of the easiest preventative health measures you can take,” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “If your radon levels are low, we suggest you test every couple of years. If your radon levels are high, we can give you information about how to mitigate the radon. Either way, you have made an important step to keep your family safe.”

For more information about radon and how to receive a free radon test kit in Genesee County, contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 x5555 or Health@co.genesee.ny.us.

Hawley signs letter calling for migrants to stay off SUNY campuses

By Press Release

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C -Batavia) signed a letter today alongside several Assembly legislators calling on Gov. Hochul to prevent SUNY college campus dormitories and other facilities from being used as undocumented migrant housing during the unprecedented migrant crisis from downstate New York. The letter highlights the need to keep these public schools serving their primary purpose, that being the housing and support of students attending the institutions full-time. Hawley would like to see alternative housing solutions for migrants considered.

“SUNY is considered underfunded and undermaintained as it is,” Hawley said. “The migrant crisis our state is facing is only going to continue if local leaders are not brought in to help coordinate a plan that is the least impactful on residents currently living in these upstate communities. I sincerely hope the governor reconsiders this haphazard proposal before it becomes another unmanageable crisis.”

Sticker contest reaps thoughtful creations about voting

By Joanne Beck

When Genesee County Board of Elections organizers announced the I Voted sticker contest earlier this year, they hoped for not only more awareness about the election process but also some cool artwork submissions from area students.

The results did not disappoint. This inaugural event reaped several sticker scenarios, with the Grand Prize going to Elijah Webster of Pavilion Central School for a Portrait of Women's Suffrage Leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

I voted grand prize

First Place went to Olivia Gillard of Batavia Middle School  for her rendition of Eagle over Bars.

I voted first place

Both the grand and first prize artworks will be visible on I Voted stickers to be handed out to voters during this year's upcoming elections, and the other winning designs will be used for voter outreach and on social media campaigns.

"It is wonderful to involve our Genesee County students in our electoral process,” Democratic Election Commissioner Lorie Longhany said in a press release Friday. “It will be exciting to see the student’s graphic designs in print
and used in our outreach and distributed to voters during early voting and on election day. As an artist and part-time art instructor, I was so pleased with all the designs."

Remaining student recipients are:

  • Second Place: Logan Almekinder of Pavilion Central School - City Skyline
  • Third Place: Kelly Parsons, Byron-Bergen Central School - I Voted Teddy Bear
  • Honorable Mention: Summer Snyder, Alexander Central School - I Voted Snail on Stars and Bars
  • Honorable Mention: Piper Hargrave, Alexander Central School - I Voted Epic on Stars and Bars
  • Honorable Mention: Maddy McKenzie, Pavilion Central School - I Voted Abstract

The I Voted committee congratulates the winners who were chosen and for all artists who submitted "so many incredible designs."

I voted second place
I voted third place
I voted hon mention
I voted hon mention
I voted hon mention

Sponsored Post: Just listed: 3238 Broadway Road! Call Reliant Real Estate today

By Lisa Ace
3238 BroadwayRd Alexander

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Spartans set for tough test at Watertown, looking toward June 17 home opener at GCC's new field

By Mike Pettinella
Spartans football
Head Coach Harry Rascoe, left, and Drew Crofts, assistant athletic director at Genesee Community College, promote the Genesee County Spartans’ use of the new football field at GCC this season.

The Genesee County Spartans football club travels north this Saturday for a non-league game against the host Watertown Red and Black.

“Watertown is a powerhouse in the Gridiron Developmental Football League and an awesome organization, but if we play Spartans football – hard-nosed and disciplined – I feel we can play with any team in the country,” said Head Coach Harry Rascoe.

That’s a strong statement considering that Rascoe and his coaching staff have had only a couple months to recruit players and conduct practices in preparation for their inaugural season in the Northeastern Football Alliance.

Rascoe said that the team’s quarterbacks – Joe Canzoneri and Alex Rood – will each play two quarters against Watertown as the competition for the starting job continues.

“This weekend will allow us to get a look at both QBs and see some players at different positions in a real game. We are excited to play finally after weeks of practice,” he said.

Canzoneri is a 2010 graduate of Batavia High School and a three-year starter at QB for the Blue Devils. He attended GCC for two years. Today, he owns his own barber shop on Ellicott Street.

“I joined the team because I wanted to see if I still have it or not,” he said, noting that he held a couple passing records at BHS. 

Rood graduated from BHS in 2020, went on to play quarterback at Geneva College and now competes in track and field at Brockport State College.

“This is a great opportunity to continue playing at the semi-pro level,” he said.

When the squad’s regular home season gets underway on June 17 (opponent to be determined), the game will take place at the new synthetic turf football field behind the Richard C. Call Arena at Genesee Community College.

GCC Assistant Athletic Director Drew Crofts said the college is eager to show off the facility.

“It was completed last summer and it’s something we’re very proud of,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know that it’s here; it’s kind of a hidden gem.”

Crofts said the plan is to host different teams on the field, which also serves as the venue for the college’s lacrosse and soccer teams.

“We’re excited about having the Spartans play here. The team is great for the community, so we’re hoping they draw big crowds.”

Rascoe, a GCC graduate, said his staff and players “are pumped to be the first football team to play at the new stadium.”

“We can’t thank the community and all of our sponsors enough for the support,” he added.

Saturday’s game – 7 p.m. kickoff -- will be livestreamed, Rascoe said. The link to watch the game: https://www.youtube.com/@steveweedprod/streams

The remainder of the Spartans’ schedule is as follows:

June 3 – at Auburn
June 10 – at Lockport
June 17 – home vs. TBD, 7 p.m.
June 24 – home vs. Broome County, 7 p.m.
July 15 – at Broome County
July 22 – home vs. Lockport, 7 p.m.
Aug. 5 – TBD
Aug. 12 – home vs. Auburn, 7 p.m.

GENESEE COUNTY SPARTANS ROSTER
0 Jedidiah Reese RB/WR
1 Marc Montana K
2 Alex Rood QB/RB
3 Jzon Richardson Sr. RB/WR
4 Tyler Budzinack WR/DB
5 Josh Bradley WR
6 Patrick Krantz DB
7 Gunner Rapone DE/OL
8 Joe Canzoneri QB
9 Dame Butler Sr. DB
10 Eric Snell TE
11 Corey Nicholas WR/DB
12 Evan Cummings WR/DB
13 Alan Riggi WR/DB
14 Kier Moore WR.DB
16 Marley English DE/LB
17 Daryl Leach DB/LB
20 Brandon Bethel FB/LB
21 Delonta Curry LB/DB
22 Cody Wenner DB
23 Rob William Jr. RB
24 Kris Geising DB
25 Tre Woods DB
26 Dillon Szpaicher LB/DL
27 Baylee VerCruysse OL/DL
28 Keith Neureuter DB
29 Dylan Bordonaro WR
32 Brooks Boyle LB/DB
33 Robert Thurston Jr. TE
39 Howie Wilson TE/DE
40 Matt Dillon LB
42 Kyle Dougherty LB/DL
44 Ethan Jennings LB/DE
45 Amir Cleveland DB
46 AJ Spearance LB
52 Jordan Chambers RT
53 Alton Rupp C
56 Steve Kowalczyk DT
58 Jon Grann LB
65 Chezeray Rolle DT
67 Travis Mosher DT
68 Adam Hausfelder OL/DL
70 Tim King OL/DL
71 Anthony Natrigo FB/LB
75 Austyn Fernandez OL/DL
78 Randy Reiner DL
88 TJ Henderson DE/TE
92 Matt Mead OL/DL
98 Steve Stink OL/DL
99 Rylee Elliott OL/DL

COACHING STAFF
Harr Rascoe, Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Craig Tiberio, Defensive Coordinator
Burton Howell, Special Teams/Offensive Assistant
Cody Vohs, Line Coach

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 rascoeh@yahoo.com.

Spartans QBs
Alex Rood, left, and Joe Canzoneri will be under center for the Spartans as they compete in the Northern Football Alliance.

Zooming in for a 'total' grasp on 2024's eclipse

By Joanne Beck
GC chamber group in solar glasses
2023 File Photo of the unveiling for Genesee the Eclipse marketing message and Genny the Cow mascot for the April 2024 total eclipse weekend event. Photo by Joanne Beck

Planning a year out for an event may seem to be a bit of overkill — after all, it’s an entire year away, and there are 365 days to get things and people in place, so what’s the rush, right?

Well, for the county’s Chamber of Commerce, school districts, businesses, nonprofits and other organizations, those days, weeks and months are filling up quickly with to-do lists for the 2024 debut of the first total eclipse to grace this area in decades, and not another one to arrive for 126 more years. 

For the latest planning meeting this week, 43 people registered to sit in, and momentum is building, Chamber President Brian Cousins says.

“I believe there are more than a few businesses and organizations that are jumping on board already and taking an interest.  The three presenters today – Holland Land Office, Batavia Downs, and Genesee County Parks — are all in development of their planning, brainstorming elements to have, and creating programs to ensure public interest,” Cousins said Tuesday. “There are certainly more, which we engage with often – and invite them all to share in their ideas.  Being creative and promoting individual organizations and businesses during the eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Unlike the county fair and other yearly signature events that are planned well in advance and are continuously being updated and tweaked, this is a one-shot deal for these organizers and the folks counting on a fun event during this particular weekend in April 2024.

Genny the cow mascot

There was a kick-off celebration and unveiling of Genny the cow and mascot last month for the Genesee the Eclipse marketing message for the county, and there have been monthly Zoom meetings for stakeholders wanting a piece of the action come to the special 2024 event.

What does that actually mean for Genesee County?

  • Educational opportunities for students
  • Telescope lending library programs Rules and protocols for navigating the roads during what could be a mad dash to find a spot to sit and experience the three-minute, 42-second eclipse 
  • Related safety measures by law enforcement 
  • Orders of enough amenities for visitors 
  • Event merchandise to sell (the Chamber will have T-shirts, sweatshirts, and solar glasses)
  • Musical entertainment, parking lot configurations
  • Alerting local retailers to prepare with sufficient inventory for shoppers, and forewarning residents about potential traffic delays and increased demands for food and beverages 
  • Hundreds of senior citizens at Batavia Downs
  • Historically relevant details culled from Holland Land Office

Treat it like a Super Bowl
Trish Erzfeld, who led her county’s efforts during the 2017 eclipse in Missouri, was quite familiar with locals asking, “What’s all the fuss about” during early planning stages.

“It’s just a really weird two minutes, 40 seconds. They didn’t know how to relate to it,” she said during May’s Zoom meeting this week.

But then Erzfeld put it in terms that most anyone can relate to: think about the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby. Those events aren’t so much about one singular moment, but about the experience, she said. There’s the camaraderie, the crowd, and, perhaps the best part — the tailgating, with themes, food, decor, drinks, clothing colors and a unity in spirit.

Now you’re talking — that’s what planning and coming together for the eclipse is all about, she said, as meeting participants agreed. 

They all wish to make this a weekend experience for residents and visitors alike, in which they will remember it, cherish it, talk about it, and think fondly enough of this community that they might just want to make a return visit to see the Holland Land Office Museum, or place some bets at Batavia Downs, eat at that fun downtown restaurant, grab a craft brew, or shop for fine men’s wear.

Economic Boon
The largest factor in developing plans this far out is for those that will not be in the path of complete totality, but will make plans to travel to our community for the event, Cousins said.

Erzfeld, who is also director of Perry County's Missouri Heritage Tour, outlined that all of their hotels and restaurants were “packed full the entire weekend of the eclipse in 2017 (which was also a Monday),” he said.

“The economic impact and opportunity that our community has is tremendous.  Being able to promote those plans in advance to those that are looking to view the eclipse in our area is very important,” Cousins said. “In thinking about the impact that we can have on a personal level, there’s not many events that everyone gets to experience at the same time together in one community. We are incredibly lucky, and I’d like to be able to say that we all rallied around this event that was something special for us all to share – that was positive, natural, and awe-inspiring.”

Think of customers, employees, scheduling
Some business owners may operate as if nothing is different, Erzfeld said. However, most may want to consider the services they offer and how they can be as customer-friendly as possible, such as:

  • Closing for the day and allowing employees and customers to enjoy the festivities.
  • Revising hours based on activities happening on that Monday (total eclipse day).
  • Think ahead of what will happen if clients cancel.
  • Can you provide your parking lot as a viewing space.
  • Will you coordinate special sales with the eclipse theme.

No matter what the business — from a veterinarian, beauty spa, hotel and gym to dog groomer, dentist and clothing store, it’s client-based and is worth some consideration of how you want to handle that April weekend and especially Monday, she said.

Her community provided free parking and entertainment for visitors, plus transported folks from nearby hotels into town, and made many connections with people who have since made repeat trips back to visit, she said.

Her county, population 19,000, saw an influx of about 10,000 people from 36 states and 17 countries during the 2017 eclipse. There is great interest in this kind of thing, and people are willing to travel for it.

Cool, weird shadows
Shannon Lyaski spoke about plans — from basic to the weird — at Genesee County Park.

“Generally speaking, people are going to be showing up, you know, being ready to view the eclipse. And just, you know, making sure that there's porta potties, making sure that there are people there to direct the traffic in the parking lot, especially because in April, it's likely to be muddy, and we don't want parking on the lawns and stuff like that. So we'll have volunteers helping with parking, really, you know, the show is happening in the sky,” she said. “It’s just such a cool thing that's happening. 

"We're planning to have possibly some white canvases, either on the side of the building or on the ground," she said. "Because one of the natural phenomenon that happens during a total solar eclipse is shadow bands, you get these really weird shadows happening because of the way the (sun) light is bending around the moon, and the corona is visible, which is also really cool. But because of the way the light is coming through the atmosphere, you get these really weird shadows.”

There won’t be leaves on the trees, allowing for a lot of open space to see, she said. There may be a bounce house for kids since no one is expecting them to just sit there waiting for this thing in the sky to happen, she said.

The Rochester Museum and Science Center has an eclipse ambassador program with funding for 50 organizations, most of which are centered around the city of Rochester, she said, however, “We became recipients of that, and so we are getting … a $,1000 stipend to help with expenses to support the programming around the eclipse. 

"Also, a telescope is included, which is very beneficial to the park, because then this is something we can use for future events as well.”

She is trying to get a big screen “so that everyone can see what’s happening in the telescope,” she said, in addition to everyone having eclipse glasses.

There’s is no camping at the park, and no horses will be allowed during this event, she said.

“We’re promoting ‘leave-no-trace.’ We want people to enjoy the park, but not destroy it either,” she said. “We’re very excited, when I’ve talked to other parks, there is a darker sky there.”

Going home to roost, building educational lessons
Erzfeld described the eerie sense of environment when the eclipse was coming. True to lore and rumors, cows did return to the barn, and chickens went home to roost. Skies began to get darker as the wind shifted. If one was living in a more primitive time, it certainly could be perceived as the end of time, she said.

And on that note, Erzfeld encouraged participants to think long-term with their planning, and to make their efforts and related materials outlast the April 2024 event. For example, Missouri folks crafted a special sundial that still sits on the courthouse lawn to commemorate the 2017 eclipse event they had.

“So it was a real challenge in 2017, because, like I said, nobody really knew how to wrap their arms around this. So we ended up doing a lot of community outreach and community educating,” she said. “Our schools, I think our science teachers got behind it. But there could have been so much more because your music teachers can get behind this, your art teachers can get behind this, your language, English teachers, you know, and poetry and stuff. So I think our teachers will do a much better job this time around in bringing whatever they teach — their own little spin on the Eclipse, and that's what we're encouraging them to do.”

County school districts are getting the day off during the eclipse on that Monday, and educators are working on programs and activities related to the event.

"We welcome all organizations, businesses, and community leaders to attend our monthly Zoom calls to hear about the planning, create ideas, share brainstorming, and develop a sense of urgency for those plans – so we can present a great showcased event for those outside our community that may visit," Cousins said.  

They are able to join in and participate here 

Fire fighters to 'Fill The Boot' for MDA June 2 in Batavia

By Press Release

Press Release:

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has collected critical funds in the community since 1954 – one dollar at a time – as part of the Fill the Boot program for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 896 will be continuing this long-standing tradition as its members kick off the annual program raising funds to support MDA’s vision to accelerate research, advance care, and advocate for the support of MDA families.

Dedicated firefighters from Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 896 will hit the streets with boots in hand asking pedestrians, motorists, customers, and other passersby to donate to MDA on June 2 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Main and Court streets, and Ellicott and Court streets in the City of Batavia.

The partnership between MDA and IAFF began in 1954 when the IAFF signed a proclamation designating MDA its charity of choice and vowing to continue raising awareness and funds until cures are found. To date, the nearly seven-decade partnership has raised more than $679 million with involvement from over 300,000 fire fighters nationwide. These funds have led in part to over a dozen FDA-approved drugs in as many years for those with neuromuscular disease. Those treatments were created from MDA’s vision to open a new field of medicine and push the boundaries of the medical frontier we call genetic medicine.

“What the IAFF has done for MDA over the past 68 years is unprecedented,” said Donald S. Wood, Ph.D., President and CEO of MDA. “With the support from our partners at the IAFF, MDA is doing the impossible in accelerating research, advancing care, and advocating for people living with neuromuscular disease. We have a mission to empower the people we serve to life longer, more independent lives and we will fulfill this mission together, with the IAFF.”

About the IAFF

The International Association of Fire Fighters represents more than 326,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect more than 85% of the nation's population. More than 3,500 affiliates and their members protect communities in every state in the United States and in Canada. 

About Muscular Dystrophy Association

Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) is the #1 voluntary health organization in the United States for people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related neuromuscular diseases. For over 70 years, MDA has led the way in accelerating research, advancing care, and advocating for the support of our families. MDA’s mission is to empower the people we serve to live longer, more independent lives. To learn more, visit mda.org.

Community Action to host free 'spring cleaning' Tuesday in Batavia

By Joanne Beck

Press Release:

Community Action of Orleans and Genesee is hosting a free “spring cleaning” giveaway event on Tuesday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of the building at 5073 Clinton St., Batavia. 

Clothing, food, household items, personal care items, toys and much more will be available to the community for free.
There is no need to pre-register for the event. 

In addition, several agencies and organizations will be available as a resource to the community. These organizations include Eagle Star Housing, Neighborhood Legal Services, CORE the Learning Center, Genesee ACE, Genesee County Health Department, Fidelis Care, Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, Elderwood Health Plan, Ask Marshall/OFA, Healthy Living-The Cancer Services Program, Molina Healthcare and Independent Living of the Genesee Region.

After our event Community Action will continue to accept donations on a rolling basis for more information contact David Dodge 585-343-7798 x114. Unfortunately, due to limited storage capacity, larger items such as furniture can not be accepted at this time.

Community Action of Orleans and Genesee is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and have served low-income and disadvantaged families for over forty years. Community Action programs are designed to empower as well as provide opportunity to those who are not yet self-sufficient.

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