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Photo: Chapin donates salt spreaders to Town of Batavia Fire

By Staff Writer
chapin town of batavia fire
When the folks at Chapin International learned that the Town of Batavia Fire Department needed salt spreaders to help emergency responders keep vital paths and driveways clear of ice and snow, the Batavia-based company came through with a donation of two spreaders for the Stringham Drive station. Pictured are Bill Kegler, Chapin's VP of operations, and Daniel Jacques, a director on the Town of Batavia Fire board.
Submitted photo.

A farmer's wife and artist, Bernice Yunker passes away at 98

By Howard B. Owens
bernice yunker
File photo from 2013 of Bernice Yunker in her studio, Farmer's Wife Studio, in the Yunker home on Transit Road in Elba.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Bernice Yunker was more than a farmer's wife.

Born July 26, 1925 in Mineral City, Ohio, Yunker led an adventurous life -- once biking from Buffalo to and around Conesus Lake -- as a young woman before meeting her future husband, Carl, in Bennington at a small church where her father was pastor. They married in Attica in 1947.

After her time with her family in Buffalo, where her father had been a pastor, and before joining her parents in Bennington, Bernice studied art at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, and then at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She worked part-time at the DuPont Plant in Rochester as director of graphics to help the war efforts on the home front.

When the Yunkers married, Carl was already a farmer but a short time later, they acquired 100-acres in Elba and established a home, where they would eventually raise seven children.

The Yunkers quickly established themselves in the community and became active in the Elba Presbyterian Church.  Bernice became the first woman to serve on the Elba Central School District Board of Education. She volunteered at church, with the Arc of Genesee County, the Genesee County Nursing Home, and the Hospice of Genesee.

But she is perhaps best known in the community as a talented and creative artist and art teacher.  She was a member of the Genesee Arts Council and a founding member of the Batavia of Society of Artists.

In their home on Transit Road in Elba, Carl built an art studio for Bernice. In 2013, she told The Batavian that she was proud to call herself a farmer's wife, hence, the name of her studio -- Farmer's Wife Studio.

She often told her children, “Music and art are the frosting on the cake of life!”

Her husband and their children together built, from that initial 100-acre parcel, one of the largest farm operations -- CY Farms -- in Genesee County, growing crops, raising cattle, and notably operating Batavia Turf Farms.

Mrs. Bernice Dorothea Beisheim Yunker, 98, died peacefully at home with family at her side on January 15, 2024.

Carl Yunker, at age 97, died in 2021.

In her obituary, her family says, "Bernice was the best of moms and also cared for others in the community. She used her creative gift as a visual artist to serve others and honor God. During her 74 years in Elba, Bernice supported Carl, her family and the community with kindness, energy and frankly, a lot of art and art lessons!"

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Elba


bernice yunker
Bernice Yunker with a few of her paintings in her Farmers' Wife Studio in Elba. Previously unpublished file photo from 2013.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Retired minister, author discusses the appeal and tenacity of Methodist circuit riders

By Joanne Beck
Greg Van Dussen
Author D. Gregory Van Dussen with his latest book, Circuit Rider Devotions.
Photo by Joanne Beck.

People began to nudge Greg Van Dussen in the direction of penning a book while he was writing book reviews and articles, but it wasn’t until he retired as a Methodist minister that he began to take them up on it.

“The minute I retired, in 2011, I started writing my first book — Richard Beatty saw me writing notes furiously on napkins — at (the former Coffee Culture) in Batavia,” Van Dussen said during an interview with The Batavian at his town of Batavia home. “One of the results of these books is the parishioners have said they feel like it’s helped them get in touch with their spiritual roots. That feels very fulfilling. My editor has said no one else is doing this kind of writing.”

His third in a trilogy series of “Circuit Rider Devotions,” has just come out, and they are part of several books on the same topic authored by D. Gregory Van Dussen, the long version, though his friends call him Greg. 

So what drove him to write not one but three voluminous tomes, each approaching 800 pages, about assorted characters from Methodist upbringings traveling to initiate the denomination’s movement across North America?

“I’ve been really fanatically interested in the subject, it was about early Methodist preachers. For my whole adult life, I've been collecting books. So I've got antique books all over the house, biographies, autobiographies, that sort of thing, hymn books. But what really got me into this was, a few years ago, I was asked to teach a workshop in Buffalo on this subject, and it was very well received. And as I was going home, I wondered if anybody would be interested in a book of devotions based on the lives of these people,” he said. “So I contacted four publishers, and they all turned the idea down. And the final one was accepted enthusiastically. And they've been printing all my books since.”

A native of the Rochester area with roots in the suburbs, including Brighton and Spencerport, Van Dussen has had to pick up and move many times as a minister of 39 years, landing in Batavia three separate times, currently living in the east part of town with wife Jackie. He has also been district superintendent for the 54 regional churches and has been an adjunct professor of worship and Celtic spirituality at Roberts Wesleyan and Irish and American history at Brockport State College.

A rather prolific writer, the 76-year-old has completed seven books with plans for more, even if it means obtaining help through Parkinson’s, a diagnosis he received in 2021.

Any outsider paying attention to the trials of circuit riders — bands of preachers traveling around in the crudest of conditions in the early pioneer days braving the elements of weather, poverty, their fellow man, wild animals and disease — can’t help but see a hint of similarity in the author’s own struggle with an illness that he admits has tested his spirits.

He was assisted with Volume 3 of “Circuit Rider Devotions” by a friend and editor, Duane W. Priset. He is receiving physical, occupational, and voice therapies, enduring time spent at home versus going out into the community in his usual affable way and traveling right now. But as any true circuit rider would have testified, Van Dussen is carrying forth his mission.

“I felt there was a message to get out,” he said. “It’s fulfilling a purpose in my life.”

In the foreword, Priset says that Van Dussen brings the reader “head-to-head and heart-to-heart” with widely-known and lesser-known evangelists, pioneer preachers and their spouses, local pastors, lifelong learners, founders, journalists, editors, bishops, university presidents, theologians, hymnists, and missionaries who, in diverse ways and settings, “refreshed the lives of the people throughout the vast and developing countryside of early North America.”

There are 366 entries, many of them about women — a fact that Van Dussen thought may surprise people, especially given the rough and tumble existence of a circuit rider. But women braved the adversities for Jesus Christ just as much as men did, he said. 

There was Julia A.J. Foote, for example, who was not only a woman but an African American, which added another layer of danger and complexity to her task. As with each entry, this one begins with a piece of scripture: "In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8.

Van Dussen explains that some people encouraged Foote “on the road of discovery and growth,” as others who often unknowingly sought to block her journey. One group seemed to hold her back, yet, ultimately made her stronger while the other pulled her forward, supplying her with a vision of what God could accomplish through her, he said. 

At one point, she shared her first attempts.

“To the glory of God, some did believe and were saved, but many were too wise to be taught by a child — too good to be made better. From this time, many, who had been my warmest friends, and seemed to think me a Christian, turned against me, saying I didn’t know what I was talking about — that there was no such thing as sanctification and holiness in this life — and that the devil had deluded me into self-righteousness. Many of them fought holiness with more zeal and vigor than they did sin.”

Anyone who has enjoyed a “mountain top” encounter with God knows how difficult it can be to relate to someone who has not experienced that, Van Dussen writes. Add to that the understandable incredulity so many have regarding a radical transformation of character, and the skepticism that surfaces when someone young speaks words of wisdom, and you can see what this young woman was up against.”

“Yet when we look at relevant scriptures and read the faith and wisdom in her words, we also can feel the power of her testimony, and rejoice with her,” he writes. 

That passage ends with a small prayer in a soothing, formulaic set-up for each entry. 

Lord, take away from me both undue skepticism and gullibility as I hear people use words to convey that which is beyond words. Keep before me the truth in scripture and the teaching of your spirit, and grant me your life-giving wisdom as I seek to understand and teach in your church and anywhere else you lead me. Let me read in you, and bring peace wherever I go.

And one by one, stories are told, messages shared, prayers recited and scriptures put to practical use through the real lives of people like Julia Foote.  Van Dussen set it up that way to be “manageable chunks" of about a page or page and a half long.

“So that makes it easy for people to get into,” he said. “And I could dig out some of the most interesting parts of what they wrote or what they did, without trying to write full-scale biographies. This book is between the different groups of Methodists. So you might have a Free Methodist, Wesleyan and African Methodist, Episcopal, Canadian residents, whatever, and in the big Methodist church here, and might think they’re all separate and distinct, but they’re also very similar. So this tends to bring the family together, so to speak.”

Those riders would travel 20 miles per day for six to eight weeks at a time in one-year blocks across Canada and the United States, spreading a message, recruiting folks, and opening up Methodist churches. The system was “painfully difficult at times, and tremendously rewarding at other times, he said, while being “very effective in getting the word out and capturing their purpose.”

They developed ways to have connections with one another during the lonely stints on the road, including hosting camp meetings. The closest ones to this area were in a forest in Bergen, with some 16,000 people attending between the years 1850 and 1870, he said. 

Those meetings were rivaled as one of the biggest events only by a camp in the back woods of Kentucky, with no bathroom or cooking facilities, he said. That one drew from 20,000 to 40,000 people, and evoked “a lot of emotional response to the preaching.”

Why brave the real dangers of predatory animals and a conflict with native Indians and diseases such as the cholera epidemic of the early 1830s in the Wild West? It was a matter of faith and Biblical principles.

“They were very evangelistic. So they really felt that it was important to get the word out to everybody they could,” he said. “There were some others that were the Baptists were similar in that respect. And that's probably why in the 19th century, the Baptists and the Methodists were rivals to be the largest churches of the country.”

He cited examples of people who stick out in his mind for their impact, including Peter Cartwright, a circuit rider who stayed in a tavern one night when nothing else was available. A woman asked him to dance, and he agreed as long she would pray with him. On their knees, they prayed, and he was “so effective in marshaling the attention of that crowd, that the next day they formed the first Methodist church of that town of 31 people,” Van Dussen said. 

He obviously has a command of the material, citing the various real-life characters and situations throughout the book. He also has a passion for the craft, as he plans to pursue his next writing project and navigates the hurdles before him.

“We're pretty active, and I'm very active. And I think I've had to give up, at least temporarily. It’s hard. I can't get to church. I can't get to the coffee shop in the morning. I can't go to somebody's house. I haven't been out of this house since I got back from the hospital in the fall, late summer, August,” he said in his gentle whisper of a voice. “However, I'm determined to progress from this in a positive direction. I was actually in hospice care for a short time this fall, and I graduated from there or flunked out of the program. They said, ‘you’re making way too much progress to stay in our program.’”

He is moving onward to his next book about the relationships between the book characters and how they worked to help, teach and inspire one another. Despite their meager lifestyles while on the road, many of these people were brilliant and accomplished later on, having knowledge and insight to share, he said. 

His books are available at the Holland Land Office Museum and

In his review of Van Dussen’s latest book, Elba author Bill Kauffman describes it as “a beautifully written and lovingly conceived daily devotional for ministers — though laypeople will also find it richly rewarding.” 

“I tried to bridge the general reader and the academic reader,” Van Dussen said. “People tell me that I lean more to the academic, and it's really true … but I have found that lots of people are able to grapple with this material and enjoy it.”

Tenney introduces act to grant child support payments during the prenatal period

By Press Release

Press Release:

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) and Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) today introduced the Unborn Child Support Act to enable expecting mothers to receive child support payments during pregnancy.

Additional cosponsors of the legislation include U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Katie Britt (R-AL), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Lankford (R-OK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and U.S. Representatives Jim Banks (R-IN-03), Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05), Ben Cline (R-VA-06), Bob Good (R-VA-05), Clay Higgins (R-LA-03), Nick Langworthy (R-NY-23), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL-13) and John Moolenaar (R-MI-02).

Specifically, this bill allows the courts, in consultation with the mother, to grant child support payments during the prenatal period, extending retroactively to the physician-determined point of conception. Additionally, it provides flexibility for mothers who seek to avoid the involvement of the father by offering discretion as to whether those mothers receive child support.

“Every human life is important, and expecting mothers should have the physical, emotional, and financial support they need to reflect that,” said Congresswoman Tenney. “The Unborn Child Support Act provides mothers with the opportunity to access child support payments during pregnancy while giving them the flexibility to deny these payments, should they choose. I am honored to lead this bicameral legislation in the House and will continue to work to ensure mothers and their unborn children have the support they deserve from conception.”

“New mothers and unborn children deserve care from conception, and child support should reflect this. Modifying child support laws to allow pregnant mothers to receive it is commonsense and long overdue,” said Senator Cramer. “Instead of imposing mandates, our bill empowers mothers by giving them the choice to receive pre-natal child support. Now, more than ever, there is a greater responsibility for Congress to pass legislation to protect and support mothers and children.”

NYS Senate Republican Conference unveils a 'New Hope for Empire State'

By Press Release

Press Release:

The New York State Senate Republican Conference has unveiled “A New Hope For The Empire State,” their legislative agenda for 2024. The agenda prioritizes the issues that affect everyday New Yorkers, but have been neglected by the radical left politicians who control Albany.

Extreme policies pursued under one-party rule have directly caused a decline in New Yorkers’ quality of life. Over the course of the past several years, we’ve seen destructive policies passed by radical Democrats that have pushed New York to its brink.

Sanctuary state policies have only increased the inflow of migrants, impacting local government services to the detriment of residents who already live here. The recent rise in antisemitic rhetoric coming from DSA radicals at all levels of government has stoked divisions within our communities. Places of higher learning have become breeding grounds for the antisemitic bullying we see occurring on college campuses throughout the country. Throughout the holiday season, we witnessed protests disrupting the Thanksgiving Day parade, the New York City tree lighting, the New Year's Eve ball drop, travel at airports, and more.

Our law enforcement community has its hands tied because of policies that prioritize criminals. The complete disregard for society is flat-out appalling. We need sound-minded people and a sound-minded plan to bring New York back to what it once was.

“New Yorkers are deeply dissatisfied with the direction of our state and our Conference is here to provide an alternative path forward. I have traveled throughout the state and people are tired, frustrated, and angry. They feel forgotten. Over the course of the year, we have seen crimes and costs rise. Antisemitism is infiltrating our schools and communities and has become the norm. The migrant crisis has only gotten worse because New York City politicians continue to push their feel-good policies, but it is these radical policies that are driving New Yorkers out. As the Leader of this conference, I will not take a back seat to the progressive agenda destroying our state. Our Republican Conference will fight to give hope to those New Yorkers who feel they have no alternative but to leave our state. Our common sense agenda provides solutions to build a greater New York for future generations,” said Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt.

“Ask any New Yorker, and they will tell you their quality of life has deteriorated over the last few years because of leftist policies enacted by New York Democrats. Their policies are so out of touch with reality that New Yorkers from every region are fleeing to other states that are safer, affordable, and free.  Our policy agenda will reverse this downward spiral and bring common sense to New York’s government and put it back in the hands of our citizens where it belongs,” said Senate Deputy Republican Leader Andrew Lanza.

“New Yorkers are all longing for accountability from our state government and searching for signs of hope that things will get better. Antisemitism, in particular, is running rampant not only on our streets but also on our college campuses. Now more than ever, we owe it to our Jewish communities to ensure their safety. The lack of affordability and public safety continue to be problems impacting taxpayers, and it is because of these significant quality-of-life issues that New Yorkers feel forced to flee to other states. Our conference stands ready to advance an agenda that will bring our state back from the disaster that extreme policymaking has wrought upon us,” said Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, SD 9th.

“Since 2020, more people have left New York than live in Vermont. People are leaving because they’re tired and fed up with the direction our state is going. In poll after poll, people are telling us that there's too much crime and that it's too expensive to live here. The governor is ignoring these serious concerns and continues to push an agenda that’s out of step with the priorities of middle class families across the state. Our Senate Republican agenda is solely focused on solving quality of life problems because we hear you and we work for you. It's that simple,” said Senator Jake Ashby, SD 43rd.

“A New Hope For The Empire State” is a comprehensive legislative agenda for 2024 outlining a plan to fight for New Yorkers who are tired of the radical left legislature controlling Albany. This agenda prioritizes increasing affordability, improves public safety, and builds a greater New York:

Increasing Affordability

  • Reigning in out-of-control spending: enact a spending cap, rejecting tax increases and unfunded mandates, and providing tax relief for all New Yorkers;
  • Taking action to help all New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet by rejecting extreme climate proposals, incentivizing new housing construction to deal with the housing shortage, and making child care more accessible and affordable; and
  • Improving the state’s business climate by protecting small businesses and farms by reducing regulations and unfair costs.

Improving Public Safety

Protecting New Yorkers from antisemitism and other hateful violence by making any antisemitic behavior a hate crime, making all hate crimes bail eligible, protecting hate crime victims and houses of worship, and implementing financial penalties on both college universities and students who condone or engage in antisemitic behavior while receiving state aid;

  • Rejecting efforts to continue New York's sanctuary state status;
  • Reversing failed criminal justice policies that have made our communities less safe, including bail reform, discovery reform, and others;
  • Rejecting policies that put criminals above victims and law-abiding New Yorkers; and
  • Providing more services and funding to address mental health crises and substance abuse disorders.

Building a Greater New York

  • Closing the pandemic learning gap,  expanding school choice, and further investing in vocational education and workforce development;
  • Providing support to our veterans to reacclimate and find educational and career opportunities; and
  • Investing in and strengthening our infrastructure to encourage growth.  

“It is clear New Yorkers are unhappy. Our plan offers a vision to correct that and bring New York back as a desirable place to live. As we head into a new legislative session, we will outline common-sense solutions to address these issues and improve the quality of life of every New Yorker,” concluded Senator Ortt.

More details of the New York State Senate Republicans’ “A New Hope for the Empire State” 2024 legislative agenda will be unveiled in the coming weeks. The full report is attached or available here.

“It seems that New York Democrats have adopted a strategy of ignoring the chaos and crime their radical policies have created in the hope they can convince state residents that life in the Empire State under their rule is just fine. But, like all of their strategies, it’s failing miserably. New Yorkers are painfully aware that affordability, public safety and accountability have all worsened under Democrat one-party rule. That is why hard-working, productive New Yorkers are fleeing our state in record numbers. Our plan offers practical, achievable solutions for improving all of these issues and reversing the damage of the past five years. It needs to be enacted before it’s too late,” said Senator George Borrello, SD 57th.

“As more and more people flee our state, it is clear that policies adopted under one party control are not working. We must place a greater emphasis on making our state more affordable and attractive for residents and businesses by controlling spending and rejecting tax increases. We must also re-examine recent changes to our criminal justice system which have taken discretion away from judges and put the rights of criminals above the rights of law abiding citizens. New Yorkers deserve and demand better,” said Senator Patrick Gallivan, SD 60th.

“One-party control has resulted in many misguided and out-of-touch policies that have had a detrimental effect on our state and forced many New Yorkers to flee for better opportunities elsewhere. We have seen criminals and illegal migrants prioritized over law-abiding citizens while burdensome taxes, mandates and regulations continue to crush families, businesses and communities. A change in direction and a different approach is needed, as I have continued to advocate. Our plan will provide a new hope for New Yorkers and offers sensible solutions that will make New York more affordable, provide for greater economic opportunity, improve public safety and build a stronger, better and more prosperous state,” said Senator Joseph Griffo, SD 53rd.

“Affordability and public safety continue to be the top two priorities and concerns my constituents share with me. They are asking us to make it safer and more affordable to live and do business in New York State. I have put forth proposals to tackle these issues and will continue to fight against policies and mandates that crush our families, farmers, small businesses, and local communities,” said Senator Pam Helming, Chair of the Republican Conference, SD 54th.

“Whether it’s punishing commuters with congestion pricing, a smash and grab shoplifting epidemic, thousands of illegal immigrants flooding our streets or out of control spend and tax policies, it’s clear one-party rule in Albany is devastating New York. Every special interest group seems to have more of a voice than the hard-working taxpayers of our great state. This plan is our pledge to restore our voices and bring common sense back to our state. Let’s get it done,” said Senator Jack Martins, Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference, SD 7th.

“From enacting a senseless gas ban to weakening public safety to allowing uncontrolled migration, one-party rule is clearly failing and forcing our residents to decide if they are able to raise their families here.  Our plan will bring common sense back to our state and show all who live and work here that New York can and must do better.  We owe it to those who elected us to do all we can to enhance their lives and to work together to accomplish that goal,” said Senator Mario R. Mattera, SD 2nd.

“There’s no time to waste, we are losing family and friends on a daily basis as more and more New Yorker’s are fleeing this one-party rule and their radical policies. We must pass common sense legislation like “A New Hope for the Empire State” legislative agenda for 2024, to once again make New York affordable, safe, and a place where we can thrive,” said Senator Dean Murray, SD 3rd.

“Every day I hear from constituents who tell me they are packing their bags and leaving New York, it is a trend that we must halt.  The time is now to reverse the damage done over the last several years thanks to one party rule in Albany and deliver crucial changes that people deserve.  Government needs to be accountable to real concerns and our 2024 agenda meets that fundamental demand,” said Senator Peter Oberacker, SD 51st.

“We face an affordability crisis.  We face a border crisis.  Law and order is in free fall.  The Albany Democrat direction for New York simply fails to produce any hope for a long-term, sustainable future for communities, families, workers, businesses, industries, and taxpayers.  New York is a state in decline that continues to become less safe, free, affordable, economically competitive, responsible, and far less strong for the future. We are at a dangerous crossroads and we must enact an across-the-board agenda to cut taxes, address affordability, and rebuild stronger and safer communities,” said Senator Tom O’Mara, SD 58th.

“I am proud to stand with my New York State Senate Republicans colleagues to advance a robust agenda that will enhance public safety and address affordability issues impacting the state.  The vast majority of New Yorkers want a return to common sense criminal justice policies that put the needs of law enforcement, crime victims and law-abiding citizens before criminals, and economic policies that provide relief, not additional burdens. 2024 is a new year, and an opportunity to deliver for the hardworking men and women who call the Empire State home,” said Senator Anthony Palumbo, SD 1st.

“There's no greater evidence that New York State is headed in the wrong direction than the fact that more people moved out of New York than any other state in the country. This plan provides the roadmap to put New York State back on the right track; prioritizing public safety, making New York more affordable, and investing in the right priorities. Governor Hochul and the Democrat majorities in the state legislature need to adopt this legislative agenda, because doubling down on the same failed policies will only drive more people out of New York and further deteriorate the quality of life for those who remain,” said Senator Steven Rhoads, SD 5th.

“My Republican colleagues and I are laser-focused on solving problems and cleaning up the mess years of radical, one-party rule created in Albany. Thanks to Albany's extreme policies, the cost-of-living crisis is putting the American Dream out of reach, our communities are less safe, and parents and other local voices are routinely ignored. I'm fighting to change this, starting with a clear-eyed view of New York's real problems and a willingness to apply a common-sense approach to fix them. I'll continue to deliver on these and other goals in 2024,” said Senator Rob Rolison, SD 39th.

“From crime rates to economic stagnation and declining population rates, it’s clear that New York State is heading in the wrong direction. Rather than continue the same unsafe, failing policies, it’s time to pursue a new direction that makes our communities safer and helps grow our economy. I’m proud to join my Senate Republican colleagues in advancing an agenda that would accomplish exactly that,” said Senator Dan Stec, SD 45th.

“There can be no greater example that our beautiful state needs a dramatic course correction than the fact that over 101,000 people escaped from New York last year, leading the nation in out-migration of population, with over 631,000 people leaving the state since the pandemic.  New Yorkers need and deserve a holistic agenda change in state government to stop the hemorrhaging by creating an environment that is conducive to making the Empire State more affordable, safer, and a place that enables opportunities for economic growth and protects people’s quality of life,” said Senator Jim Tedisco, SD 44th.

“If you're trying to find the reason why so many people have fled the state, why New Yorkers don't feel safe and continue to get nickeled and dimed to death, look no further than Albany Democrats.  For the past five years, one-party rule has continuously put the rights of criminals ahead of victims, borrowed on the backs of our grandchildren's grandchildren to pay for record spending in state budgets.  I could go on.  Our plan offers real solutions and a path forward to make New York less expensive and more business-friendly,” said Senator Mark Walczyk, SD 49th.

“My constituents in Rockland County have had it with Albany. The policies and budgets adopted by radical progressives over the past few years are the cause of our current crisis. We need steady and serious leadership to turn this around. That’s why Rockland voters elected me to the Senate, and it is the focus of my efforts," said Senator Bill Weber, SD 38th.

“More and more New Yorkers are fleeing our state to find a safer and more affordable life for their families. Democrats have doubled down on their failed policies of overspending, undermining public safety, and disregarding common sense. The Republican Conference is offering solutions such as making the Property Tax Rebate program permanent and protecting hate crime victims during the discovery process. It is time to hold Democrats accountable for their failure to reconsider ineffective policies,” said Senator Alexis Weik, SD 8th.

CAN-USA and Batavia Community Schools Foundation team up for charity hockey game Feb. 4

By Press Release

Press Release:

CAN-USA Sports has teamed up with the Batavia Community Schools Foundation for their inaugural Blue vs White Charity Hockey Game. Sunday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. with doors opening at 4 p.m. at the David McCarthy Memorial Arena.

The game will feature local business owners, Batavia City School District Alumni, and local youth hockey leaders. 

“I think it is going to be a really fun event to see local leaders in our community go head-to-head in a game to raise money for the Foundation. Some of these players may be dusting off their skates from a time long ago and some will be showcasing their hockey skills in front of families, neighbors, and co-workers, but that gives you even more reason to come out and see them in action” – Marc Witt, General Manager & Ownership CAN-USA Sports (Batavia Muckdogs Baseball).

A full roster will be released at the event, but see below the current players signed up to participate:

  • Steve Pies, Owner – Max Pies Furniture & Batavia Hockey Alumni
  • Guy Pellegrino, Owner – Pellegrino Auto Sales & Notre Dame Hockey Alumni
  • Peter Corbelli – Member of the 1st Batavia Varsity Team
  • Pierce Corbelli – Batavia Hockey Alumni
  • Dan Calkins – 2006 Sectional Championship team & Batavia Alumni
  • Batavia City School District Faculty Members: Tom Ingalsbe, David Froese, Anthony Consiglio, and Deven Grimshaw.

If you or someone you know owns a local business who would like to help sponsor either or both of the events please contact Marc Witt, General Manager/Ownership – CAN-USA Sports, for opportunities. 

Tickets for the event start at just $10 with proceeds benefiting the Batavia Community Schools Foundations. Tickets can be bought online, here or in person at the David McCarthy Memorial Arena box office.

Philosophy based on ‘Housing with Dignity’ drives UConnectCare’s residential services

By Mike Pettinella
detox center
UConnectCare’s Detox Center, which is located behind the Atwater Community Residence on East Main Street in Batavia. Submitted photo.

In an ongoing effort to provide the most efficient and compassionate treatment methods for those struggling with substance use disorder, UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse) has expanded its residential services program.

“Professional studies show the positive impact that recovery residences have in both outpatient and inpatient settings,” said Allison Parry-Gurak, director of Residential Services at UConnectCare. “With that being said, we offer a detox center and residential settings to meet a wide range of individuals at various stages of their recovery journey.”

According to a study by the Recovery Research Institute, utilization of recovery residences, also called sober homes or halfway houses, improves substance use outcome. At UConnectCare, these residences are alcohol and drug-free living environments that provide peer support and other services for those seeking recovery from SUD.

Parry-Gurak said the local nonprofit agency provides various level of care including the conversion of Atwater House to an “820 program.”

This allows UConnectCare to offer three “elements of care” when it comes to residential services – (1) a medically supervised program for those with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms or, stabilization; (2) a structure and supportive community living experience that builds a foundation for recovery, or rehabilitation; (3) case management and long-term assistance through a variety of programs or, reintegration.

Additionally, UConnectCare operates supportive living, transitional safety units and permanent supportive housing programs in both Genesee and Orleans counties.

They include the following:

-- Atwater Community Residence in Batavia, a short-term (usually three months) home that offers 21 beds for men and women, ages 18 and older, and features in-house recovery-focused groups, individual therapy and vocational training.

-- A detox/stabilization center, located behind the Atwater Home, a 16-bed facility that provides shorter term medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization services for adults who are struggling with SUD. UConnectCare has an “open access” policy, starting at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday as well as late admission under specific guidelines, Parry-Gurak said.

-- Supportive living beds, 19 of them in Genesee County and five in Orleans County.

-- Transitional safety units, housing for six to nine months on average, with the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative program an avenue for families dealing with substance use issues.

-- Permanent supportive housing.

“All of these programs are under our ‘Housing with Dignity’ umbrella, which really means that we strive to provide the best care to our clients in a welcoming and safe environment,” Parry-Gurak said. “Recovery housing is a valuable part of our continuum of care that can help people transition to an independent life and improve their substance use outcomes.”

UConnectCare offers other housing opportunities, including The Reentry Program that helps connect individuals returning to the community after incarceration services such as substance use disorder treatment, mental health treatment, housing, food, clothing, employment and/or job training, childcare, transportation and medical care.

Parry-Gurak, a UConnectCare employee for 5 ½ years, has been in her current position since November 2021. She reported that the agency is seeking full- and part-time professional counselors, medical staff (LPN, RN), residential aides and food service workers.

“UConnectCare has been a Best Company in New York every year since 2018 and truly is a great place to work,” she said. “The agency offers flexible scheduling that values a balance between work and family, paid time off, benefits for full-time employees and a cooperative, team atmosphere.”

For more information about UConnectCare’s residential services or employment, go to

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for UConnectCare.

Amesbury dominates in Byron-Bergen win

By Howard B. Owens

Janessa Amesbury's 25 points lifted Byron-Bergen over Wheatland-Chili in Girls Basketball on Thursday, 34-30.

In boys basketball on Thursday, 

Batavia beat Honeoye Falls-Lima 55-50.  Carter Mullen scored 24 points and Justin Smith scored 14.

Le Roy beat York 78-73. Merritt Holly, for the fourth time this season, topped 40 points in a game, scoring 41. He had 14 rebounds. Jean Agosto scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds. Jake Higgins scored nine points and had nine rebounds. The game went into two overtimes.  The Knights are 11-2 and on a seven-game win streak.

Photos by Jennifer DiQuattro


WROTB earnings in 2023 at an all-time high: CFO

By Mike Pettinella

Preliminary figures from last month’s activity throughout Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. are indicating that the public benefit company will rack up another record year in 2023.

“Our preliminary numbers for December as well as the last quarter of the year were such that it looks like we’ll have achieved record earnings for ’23,” said WROTB Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach during Thursday’s board of directors meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming. “It’s trending toward $9.3 million to $9.4 million.”

Leach said that earnings in October and November rose to $1,078,193 – up more than $500,000 than the anticipated in the corporation’s operating plan.

In light of that, $44,091 was distributed to WROTB’s 17 member municipalities in surcharge for the month of November.

As reported on Thursday, Dennis Morgan, director representing the City of Rochester, was elected by the board to serve as chair.

The vice chair position will be held by Edward Morgan (Orleans County), who served in the same capacity for many years before the board’s dismantling by New York State last spring.

In other developments, the board approved:

  • A contract with former Buffalo Sabre Danny Gare for “goodwill appearances” on behalf of WROTB in 2024. The pact calls for Gare to receive $29,000, with details to be spelled out in the near future.
  • A one-year contract with Great Lakes Environmental & Safety Consultants, Inc., for $20,400 for “continual workplace safety compliance assistance.”
  • A proposal from L&M Specialty Fabrication of Batavia for $90,853.58 for a complete custom gate with electric and truck modifications for the harness horse track at Batavia Downs.
  • A contract with Jim Fink for one year at $1,500 per month to support WROTB’s social media marketing and provide organizational updates to staff.

Law and Order: Batavia man accused of strangulation and assault

By Howard B. Owens
brandon marsh
Brandon March

Brandon J. March, 39, of Batavia, is charged with strangulation 2nd, assault 3rd, and menacing 3rd. March was arrested on Dec. 28 following an investigation into an incident on South Lyon Street. March is accused of kicking a person while threatening to kill that person. March was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.

Donald G. Vanelli, 60, of Oakfield, is charged with burglary 3rd, criminal mischief 4th, conspiracy 5th, and petit larceny. Vanelli was arrested on Jan. 4 on a warrant stemming from an investigation into a break-in at a business on Mill Street. At least two suspects stole property from the business, according to police. Vanelli was arraigned and released under supervision.

donald vanelli
Donald Vanelli

Tanisha N. Gibson, 38, of Batavia, is charged with assault 2nd, criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Gibson was arrested on Jan. 8 following an investigation into an incident on Dec. 2 on Bank Street. Gibson is accused of spraying pepper spray in the face of another person. Gibson was arraigned and released.

Tanisha Gibson
Tanisha Gibson

Johnathan M. Falk, 25, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and conspiracy 6th. Falk is accused of cooperating with another person to steal property on Jan. 5 from 7-Eleven on East Main Street. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Samuel J. Hernandez, 21, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Hernandez is accused of shoplifting from West Main Wine and Spirits on Jan. 5. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Jaliyla S. Shelton, 18, of Rochester, is charged with two counts of grand larceny 4th. She is accused of stealing two cars in Batavia. She was arrested on Nov. 2 and issued an appearance ticket.  She is accused of failure to appear on those charges and was arrested on a warrant on Jan. 10. She was arraigned and released.

Crystal L. Dacey, 29, of Attica, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th and petit larceny. Dacey is accused of stealing property and prescription pills from another person on Jan. 10. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Timothy D. Cobb, 19, of Buffalo, is charged with unlawful fleeing a police officer 3rd. Cobb is accused of fleeing from a police officer following an incident at Speedway at Oak and Main on Jan. 3. The pursuit was terminated, but Cobb was apprehended a short time later. He was issued an appearance ticket and multiple traffic tickets.

James R. Briggs, 48, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Briggs is accused of stealing merchandise from Family Dollar on East Main Street on Jan. 4. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Joshua W. Bombard, 18, of Pavilion, is charged with assault 3rd and criminal mischief 4th. Bombard was arrested after police officers responded to a report of a fight at a location on Ellicott Street on Dec. 27. Bombard is accused of injuring another person and damaging that person's property. He was arraigned and released.

Jennifer M. Beswick, 41, of Batavia, is charged with DWAI/Drugs and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Beswick was arrested on Dec. 27 by Batavia PD following an investigation into a traffic accident that occurred on July 29. Beswick was issued an appearance ticket.

Jason C. Mann, 47, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 4th. Mann is accused of damaging another person's property during a fight in the parking lot at 587 East Main St., Batavia, on Dec. 24. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Martin J. Rodgers, 39, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 4th. Rogers is accused of damaging a window at a residence on Oak Street on Dec. 19 during an argument. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Naquan J. Shepherd, 24, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Shepherd allegedly hit another person during an argument on Hutchins Street, Batavia, on Dec. 20. Shepherd was issued an appearance ticket.

Ronald J. Murray, 29, of Batavia, was arrested on a warrant on Dec. 26. The warrant stems from an incident on Aug. 11. Murray is accused of possessing narcotics. He was arraigned and released. 

Henry C. Roberts, 19, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Roberts is accused of shoplifting from Tops on Dec. 29. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Levy Spikes, Jr., 50, of Batavia, is charged with DWI. Spikes was charged following a traffic stop by a Batavia PD patrol on Dec. 24 on Lewiston Road. He was issued traffic tickets.

Malik Isiah Ayala, 32, no permanent address, is charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Ayala is accused of stealing a pair of Nike sneakers from Dick's Sporting Goods at 4:22 p.m. Jan. 13. When taken into custody, he was allegedly found in possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Mark E. Green, 42, of Hermitage Road, Warsaw, is charged with harassment 2nd. Green is accused of hitting another person at a residence on Briarwood Terrace, Batavia, at 5:50 p.m. on Jan. 14. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Scott David Murray, 38, no residence provided, is charged with assault 3rd and criminal obstruction of breathing.  Murray was arrested on Jan. 2 in connection with an incident reported on Dec. 30 at a location in Darien. Murray is accused of striking another person in the face multiple times and applying pressure to the neck of that person multiple times.  He was held for arraignment.

Joseph M. Andrews, 47, of East Crestwood Court, Lockport, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, open container, and speed not reasonable and prudent. Andrews is accused of driving off the roadway at 9:03 p.m. on Jan. 13 on Lewiston Road, Oakfield, while intoxicated. The incident was investigated by deputies Mason Schultz and Zachary Hoy.

Maxim James Reynolds, no age provided, of Lakes Road, Hamlin, is charged with DWI and false personation. Reynolds was stopped at 2:33 p.m. on Jan. 14 on Reed Road, Bergen, by Deputy Nicholas Chamoun. He was issued an appearance ticket.

WROTB's new director from Erie County fires off slew of questions; board grants raises to senior officers

By Mike Pettinella
Bassett and Wojtaszek
Dennis Bassett, left, was elected as chairman of the board of directors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. at Thursday morning's meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming. At right is President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Timothy Callan, the newest appointee to the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board, isn’t able to vote yet – he’s waiting for his license from the New York Gaming Commission – but that didn’t prevent him from questioning the other directors and WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek on several matters Thursday morning.

Callan, the Erie County Deputy County comptroller, is representing Erie County on the board after his appointment by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Callan’s boss, County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick, has been an outspoken critic of the public benefit company’s policies and practices.

He is replacing Jennifer Hibit, secretary of the Erie County Democratic Committee, who resigned due to a state law prohibiting “party officers” from serving on the WROTB board.

As Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester), who was elected unanimously today as the board chair for the remainder of his four-year term, led the meeting, Callan made his presence known, seeking answers about the corporation’s hiring practices, salary adjustments, branches, lobbying firms and insurance.

When Personnel Committee Chair Elliott Winter (Niagara County) introduced the establishment of a new position, assistant general manager for Food & Beverage, Callan sought information about WROTB’s hiring practices.

Wojtaszek said the new job is not a union position, adding that employees coming in at “Grade 6 or below are hired by me, after posting and after an interview usually with the department head, and the higher level positions are hired by the board.”

Callan said that the proposition of a new assistant general manager “prompted me to ask these general questions about who hires, interviews, makes decisions on personnel.”

Responding, Wojtaszek said that, in this case, he would be the one doing the hiring.

Callan then asked for a document showing the different positions in the corporation, with Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach pointing him to the operating plan for 2024. After that, Callan requested a copy of the WROTB organizational chart.

Next on Winter’s report were monthly salary adjustments for the corporation’s senior management team -- $1,250 for Wojtaszek, $1,041.67 for Leach, $625 each for VP/Administration William White and Chief Operating Officer Scott Kiedrowski and $416.67 for VP/Operations Sean Schiano.

Winter based the raises -- ranging from $15,000 per year for Wojtaszek to $5,000 per year for Schiano -- on “the success of the corporation in 2023.”

Callan asked what the salaries would be after the adjustments, with Wojtaszek answering, “we can get you those numbers.”

The Batavian received those numbers from Leach in an email this afternoon.

The increases, which were approved unanimously by the board, bump the salaries up as follows:

  • Wojtaszek, $299,128
  • Leach, $244,045
  • Kiedrowski, $180,098
  • White, $174,898
  • Schiano, $142,072.

“These are considerable salary adjustments,” Callan noted. 

Bassett responded, “They really aren’t,” and asked Director Jimmy Wilmot (Monroe County), who has experience in the gaming industry, to “talk big picture” about the competitive environment facing casinos such as Batavia Downs Gaming.

“I won’t get into the weeds about private businesses that I’ve participated in … but this industry in general is very nomadic; to keep people, you have to pay them,” Wilmot said. 

Callan said he understood that, adding that “this is a governmental entity.”

“This is a government entity that is competing in a very competitive commercial environment,” Bassett offered. “And if we're going to -- as we talked in our committee meeting yesterday -- if we're going to keep leading-edge people that manage this business the way we would like them to manage it and lead the way we have led …”

He then cited 2023 statistics that indicate Batavia Downs Gaming increased by 11 percent in net win (the amount in the video lottery terminals after payouts), by 8.4 percent in attendance, by 14 percent in beverage and food sales and by 15 percent in hotel sales and suites.

“And we increased our distribution to municipalities which is key to me and most important to me; that was up over 9 percent,” he added. “This board felt that with those gains – and it doesn’t happen every year – and with the success this leadership had in 2023 … it was important to reward the leadership team.”

Callan then asked if each one of those officers had contracts (they do) and if the contracts provide for adjustments such as these and annual cost-of-living adjustments.

The answer he received was that there are no cost-of-living provisions in the contract and that the officers’ base compensation can be reviewed only by the board of directors.

“When was the last time that these five individuals had compensation adjustments?” Callan asked.

The board authorized contracts for each of these officers in May 2023, just prior to the reorganization of the board by the state government, and each of the five received substantial raises at that time as well.

Callan’s next topic was the status of WROTB’s eight branch locations, or what used to be called OTB parlors. 

“It’s my impression or maybe more than an impression that the branch locations don't make a lot of money and, in many cases, are negative in the corporation’s financial statement,” he said. “The cost to operate the branches is more than the revenue coming in from the branches.”

Callan wanted to know if there is a plan in place pertaining to the branches, wondered out loud what happens to employees when branches are closed and asked whether there are plans to close more branches in 2024.

Bassett acknowledged that the branch operation side of the company is under scrutiny.

“We have been looking at the branches, and we have been closing branches that were not profitable,” he said. “And a number of employees in those branches have been retiring. And what I presented to the leadership team yesterday was a strategic plan.”

He said that part of the strategic plan is to “reinvent” the branches “because we do want WROTB out in the community and how we can work with those branches to better have them be a part of the overall look and feel of our organization.”

In previous meetings, Wojtaszek informed the board that management was taking a hard look at the branches, and he reiterated that at Thursday’s meeting.

“The answer is that we will be looking at the branches very shortly -- within the next couple of months,” he said. “We haven't made any decisions. We talked about previously meeting with the branches and the employees ahead of time, and that is what we intend to do before we make any decisions.”

Leach said that seven of the eight branches were not profitable in 2022 but did point out that revenue from branch activity does contribute to the surcharge distributed to the 17 member municipalities.

Further discussion of the branches, initiated by Callan, focused on whether the corporation owned or leased the buildings and how sales of those buildings are recorded.

Three resolutions before the board spelled out six-month extensions with three Albany-based lobbying firms – Bolton-St. Johns at $8,500 per month, Upstate Strategic Advisors at $3,500 per month, and Mercury Public Affairs at $8,000 per month.

On this subject, Callan asked whether the corporation was getting its money’s worth and whether there were metrics in place to gauge its effectiveness.

“Generally speaking, what are the lobbyists doing? Are they lobbying state legislators? Are they lobbying the governor’s office? Are they interacting with the Gaming Commission? Are they interacting with local governments?” he said.

“All of the above,” Wojtaszek said.

Continuing, “We discussed some topics and, as you said earlier, are not appropriate to discuss in a public forum. We have certain items that we're going to ask them to look at, and we certainly will share that with you in another setting.”

Bassett said the board desires to put metrics in place to be able to evaluate the success of the lobbyists.

“We want to … have a level of specificity around those individuals that we’re hiring and the results they provide to this board.”

All three resolutions passed without a “no” vote.

Directors passed a resolution to contract with Travelers Insurance Co. through Dec. 10, 2024, for property insurance for the Hotel at Batavia Downs. The premium is set at $59,261.

With that, Callan asked about the process of contracting with insurance companies.

Wojtaszek said management is reviewing proposals for Batavia Downs Gaming, with the intention of using a competitive bidding process. Garland Insurance of Phoenix, Ariz., has provided insurance for the facility since 2016.

Oakfield Republican Committee still seeking candidates for three positions

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Oakfield Republican Committee is looking for candidates to fill the following positions. All are four (4) year terms.  

  • Village Trustee (2)
  • Town Justice (1)

The Committee will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 6:30 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Village Offices, 37-39 Main Street, Oakfield.

The Oakfield Republican Committee will also hold elections for their officers at this meeting.  Open positions on the committee are as follows and are four (4) year terms:

  • Chairman
  • Co-Chairman
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary

Interest persons should submit their letter of intent to Melissa M. Haacke, Secretary ORC, 19 Bennett Ave, Oakfield, no later than Jan. 22.

Hometown rivals to assist the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation

By Press Release

Press Release:

A full slate of both girls and boys basketball is scheduled for Jan. 27 and we hope to see you there. Batavia High School will take on the Notre Dame Irish for a full day of both JV and Varsity girls and boys basketball. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.

Game times are as follows:

  • JV Girls: 2:30 p.m. Batavia High School Gymnasium
  • JV Boys: 4 p.m. Batavia High School Gymnasium
  • Varsity Girls: 6:30 p.m. GCC Gymnasium
  • Varsity Boys: 8 p.m. GCC Gymnasium

Admission will be Adults $5 & Students $2, Children 5 & under - free! There will be a 50/50 raffle at each game.

The Foundation will be running concessions and is looking for donations of soda, water, pizza, candy, and chips! All donations assist our fundraising efforts! Please call Laurie for any donations or questions @ 585-409-3275.

The Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation was established in 2007 in memory of Michael Napoleone who died at the age of 8 of Burkitts Lymphoma, a form of pediatric cancer. Since its start, the Foundation has given over $725,000 to families facing the challenges of a pediatric cancer diagnosis. They have donated over $75,000 to Youth programs from their grant funding, and supported research in the amount of $95,000. They also donated $50,000 to Golisano Children's Hospital and recently just completed their  $25,000 gift to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia.

The Foundation depends solely on volunteers and less than 3% of monies raised are applied to administrative costs.

Come out and watch your hometown teams and support a great cause!

Hawley expresses concerns over Hochul and the Majority's budget

By Press Release

A Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia).

Press Release:

“It’s that time of the year again. The Majority in Albany is once again desperately trying to clean up its mess by spending money we don’t have on projects we don’t need. Lowering the amount our public schools will receive to help teachers and students rebuild after COVID and giving over $2 billion to try to solve the self-inflicted migrant crisis are just more examples of downstate interests trumping the needs of Western New Yorkers. This administration needs to be more fiscally responsible. Families across our state have to create reasonable budgets and live within their means. It’s about time Gov. Hochul and the Majority did the same.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley represents the 139th Assembly District, which includes Genesee and Orleans Counties and parts of Monroe, and Erie counties. For more information, please visit his official website

Town of Alexander seeking three candidates for republican committee

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Town of Alexander Republican Committee is seeking registered party members who are interested in becoming the endorsed candidate for the following Town of Alexander open positions:

  • Town Highway Superintendent (4 year term)
  • Republican Committee, one each for District #1 and #2.

Those interested, please contact Barbara Eddy, Chairperson at 585-507-9930, no later than February 1.

Accident reported on Thruway

By Howard B. Owens

A pickup vs. car accident is reported in the area of mile marker 397.4 in the eastbound lane on the Thruway.

Pembroke Fire and Indian Falls dispatched. East Pembroke requested to the scene.

No word on injuries.

Closures for Thursday due to winter storm forecast

By Joanne Beck

Wintry weather ahead, according to the National Weather Service, has resulted in the following cancellations for Thursday:

  • The New Year's Dance for Genesee County Adults with Developmental Disabilities scheduled for this Thursday, Jan. 18, has been cancelled due to the severe winter weather. It has been rescheduled for Thursday, Jan. 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Elba Central School will be closed on Thursday 1/18 due to the winter storm.
  • Batavia City Schools is closed, and all after-school activities are canceled.
  • Richmond Memorial Library.
  • Alexander Central School.
  • Genesee Valley BOCES.
  • Notre Dame High School.
  • Oakfield-Alabama Central School.

Send your cancellations and closures to

Press release:

The National Weather Service has predicted more heavy lake snow, with accumulations of one to two feet. Storm totals could locally exceed four feet. The highest amounts will be in Erie County, which is closer to the lakeshore. The band will move back southward across the Buffalo metro late early Wednesday evening. It will then move south of Buffalo tonight into Thursday morning, before shifting back north across the Buffalo metro area Thursday afternoon as it weakens and impacts areas closer to the  Lake Erie shore. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph this evening will result in blowing and drifting snow, with near-whiteout conditions at times.

WHERE: Erie, Genesee, and Wyoming counties.

WHEN: Until 7 p.m. Thursday.

IMPACTS: Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Areas of blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions will impact the morning or evening commutes. Bitter wind chills as low as 10 below zero could result in hypothermia if precautions are not taken.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS: Heavy snow will fall in relatively narrow bands. If traveling, be prepared for rapidly changing road conditions and visibilities.

Batavia trio is ready to help with your financial planning, investment needs

By Joanne Beck
Prudential ceremonial ribbon-cutting
Chamber of Commerce President Brian Cousins looks on as Michael Battaglia, David Zauner and Elisa Martin perform the ceremonial rites at their new Prudential Advisors location at 1 Court St., Batavia. 
Photo by Howard Owens

Setting up shop under the Prudential name is about more than selling insurance, Michael Battaglia says. In fact, he and his business partners offer personal financial investment advice, and estate and retirement planning strategies in what he considers to be a “holistic approach.”

“It looks at all parts of someone’s financial situation,” Battaglia said while preparing for the ceremonial opening of Prudential Advisors this week at 1 Court St., Batavia. “There's kind of been that trend, I think, within the industry, especially with insurance companies that have gotten more so into the investment type retirement planning, where they're not just life insurance or long-term care, but branching out more, looking at all parts of a financial household, and helping them with, you know, transferring 401K's into an IRA. Basically, investment advice and setting up a brokerage account, kind of you name it, and anyway that we can help to provide an investment strategy.”

He said that among the three of them — Battaglia, a native Batavian, David Zauner of Corfu, and Elisa Martin from Churchville — they are proud to be working for a company with a 150-year foundation, plus their own combined experience of at least 30 years in the field. 

Martin has primarily been a financial planner, which rounds out the financial advisor services of Zauner and Battaglia, including insurance and financial products to protect your family, save for and live through retirement, to save for education and small business.

“We all bring something different to the table,” Martin said.

Although they cut a celebratory ribbon for their new downtown office this week, the trio had a soft opening in August 2023. And despite little fanfare, customers have been finding them already, they said. They have regular hours and are available for appointments, however, “we don’t want to deter anybody to stop in and say hello,” she said. 

They had been working in a Pittsford office, and when a private office in Attica closed, they wanted to close a gap of having nothing to serve customers between Buffalo and Rochester, Battaglia said. 

“There really isn't any representation here. So we saw that that has been a good opportunity to help clients in this area … we’re really right here in the center of Genesee County, everybody's familiar with it. We're between Domino's and Batavia Tailors in that building, so we’re pretty visible there to them, and the traffic here is great,” he said. “So we feel we found a really visible spot that people could easily find us and fill that void that was kind of created. We do anything from life insurance, annuities, investments, and IRAs; we help small businesses with 401Ks and simple IRAs. So, financial planning.” 

A lot of people don’t realize, Martin said, that the moment they stop working, they may not have certain insurance or financial protections in place. 

“It’s putting a circle around them,” she said. “Everybody’s situation is different; it requires its own individual attention, to have their own correct individual plan.”

Zauner believes that no two people have the same exact financial needs.

“So it’s important to work with someone who understands your unique hopes and dreams, “ he emphasizes on the company website. “I value connecting with my clients in a meaningful way.”

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. For more information, call 585-993-2567.

Top Items on Batavia's List

TAKE NOTICE THAT The Town of Elba is requesting Bids for the 2024 Cemetery Mowing season, with extra clean-up and trimming of trees/bushes. This will include three (3) cemeteries, Pine Hill Cemetery on Chapel Street, Maple Lawn Cemetery on Maple Avenue and Springvale Cemetery on Edgerton Road. Bids are for a 1-year contract and the successful bidder must provide their own $500,000.00 Liability Insurance certificate. A complete list of specifications/properties can be obtained by contacting the Town Clerk’s Office at (585)757-2762, ext. 10. Sealed bids should be clearly marked “Elba Cemetery Mowing Bids” and submitted no later than 4:00 p.m., Thursday, March 7, 2024 at the Town Clerk’s Office, 7133 Oak Orchard Road, Elba, NY 14058. Bids will be opened at 1:00 p.m. at the Town of Elba Town Hall on Monday, March 11, 2024. The Town Board reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids that do not comply with their specifications. By Order of the Town Board, Trisha Werth Town Clerk
Tags: employment
Part -Time Children's Library Clerk Position available at the Haxton Memorial Public Library Application is available on the library website: Or apply at 3 North Pearl Street , Oakfield. Any questions please call 948-9900
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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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