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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 www.uconnectcare.org.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for UConnectCare.

Amesbury dominates in Byron-Bergen win

By Howard B. Owens
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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

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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.

HIRING OF ASSISTANT GM FOOD/BEVERAGE
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.

RAISES FOR EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
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.

LOOKING AT THE FUTURE OF OTB BRANCHES
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.

QUESTIONING ROLES OF WROTB LOBBYISTS
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.

SEEKING COMPETITIVE BIDDING FOR INSURANCE
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 news@thebatavian.com

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.

Photo: Sundog in Batavia

By Staff Writer
snow dog
 A sundog on Wednesday morning in Batavia. Photo by John Michaels.

 

UConnectCare continues foundation scholarship program, deadline March 8

By Press Release

Press Release:

UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse) is continuing its Foundation Scholarship program for 2024.

Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded, UConnectCare Chief Executive Officer John Bennett announced.

They are as follows:

  • One to a Genesee County high school student.
  • One to a Orleans County high school student.
  • One to an adult student pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
  • One to a technical/trade school student.

Bennett said that the scholarships, which will be awarded at the agency’s annual membership meeting in May, will go to individuals pursuing their education at an institution of higher learning in the fields of human services or social services.

“With a goal of improving community health, the board of directors of both UConnectCare and the UConnectCare Foundation are excited about the prospects of supporting those who are committed to the behavioral health field,” Bennett said. “Without question, agencies such as ours are always ready to hire educated, dedicated, and skilled employees.”

He noted that students enrolled in a Genesee or Orleans County school can apply for the scholarship even if their primary residence is in another county.

Applications are available on the UConnectCare website – www.uconnectcare.org – or can be obtained by contacting Diane Klos at Diane Klos at 585-815-1883 or dklos@unconnectcare.org. Completed applications must be received via email or postmarked by March 8.

Other pertinent scholarship information is as follows:

  • Applicant must be accepted at an accredited college or university and enrolled in or matriculated in an eligible program/major.
  • Eligible programs or majors include Social Work, Nursing, Health Science, Mental Health Counseling, Psychology, or Human Services.
  • Current UConnectCare employees, board members and UConnectCare Foundation board members are NOT eligible.
  • Relatives of UConnectCare employees, board members and UConnectCare Foundation board members ARE eligible.
  • Applicant must provide academic history such as high school and/or college transcripts.
  • Applicant must provide two letters of recommendation from someone who knows the applicant’s work/volunteer/academic history. Letters from relatives will not be accepted.
  • Applicant must provide a resume or personal biography including work history, volunteer experiences, and extra-curricular activities.
  • Applicant must provide an essay that addresses educational and employment objectives as they relate to the mission of UConnectCare. Financial need, volunteerism, employment history, and civic involvement will be given careful consideration.
  • The scholarship monies will be awarded upon completion of the fall semester. The award recipient must provide a copy of their transcript demonstrating at least a 2.0 GPA.
  • Applicant may be invited for an interview before final awards are made.

Town of Batavia planners set public hearings for motocross, apartment projects

By Mike Pettinella

The Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night scheduled a pair of special use permit public hearings for Feb. 6 – one for the reopening of a motocross track on Harloff Road and the other for the addition of a third apartment at a former church building at the intersection of Slusser Road and Main Road.

Jason Bonsignore, a former National Hockey League player and current auto/motorcycle racing promoter, is looking to restore a couple properties and operate what used to be Kelly’s Motorsports on the weekends, hopefully starting this spring.

Bonsignore came to the planning board several weeks ago with his proposal and returned to the Batavia Town Hall last night to receive word that a public hearing would be set.  He has been working with town engineers and zoning officers on a revised site plan that would pave the way to conduct racing of motorcycles, ATVs and go-karts.

Apparently, two 22-acre and 17-acre properties were purchased a couple years ago by Michael Lauterborn, a longtime friend of Bonsignore, after sitting vacant for nearly 15 years.

Bonsignore’s racing ventures are Action Park East Speedway in Greene (Chenango County) and Champion Speedway in Owego (Tioga County).

The Rochester native has been a part of the speedway scene for 28 years following a long pro hockey career that included stints with the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Town Hall.

City of Batavia resident Wesley Winters is seeking a special use permit to add a three-bedroom apartment to the former Presbyterian church at 8591 Slusser Rd. in what is termed the Hamlet Commercial District.

His proposal was recommended for approval last week by the Genesee County Planning Board, with the following modifications:

-- The applicant eliminates two parking spots in the parking plan as they are located within the right-of way of Slusser Rd;

-- The applicant obtains approval/documentation from the Genesee County Health Department regarding the adequacy of the septic system for the additional unit.

Winters said the building has housed two two-bedroom apartments since 1975. He said he has been working on the outside of the building for the past five years and will be doing all of the interior renovations himself.

His public hearing is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Town Hall.

Elba beats Holley 58-31

By Staff Writer
elba basketball

Sydney Reilly's double-double helped propel Elba over Holley 58-31 in Girls Basketball on Tuesday.

Reilly scored 29 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

Lydia Ross scored 14 points. Mariah Ognibene scored five points and five rebounds.

Photos by Debra Reilly.

elba basketball
elba basketball

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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
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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 Crossroadshouse.com to apply, click on volunteer tab to complete application or email Ashleymanuel@crossroadshouse.com
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