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New owners plan family-oriented cafe and play center in Darien

By Chris Butler
nutty's play den rendering
Rendering from planning documents of the proposed facade for Nutty's Playden in Darien.

The Town of Darien Planning Board this week approved a special use permit for a new indoor play center and café, which will cater to parents and their young children.

This new establishment, Nutty’s Playden, will likely open sometime between mid-August to early September of this year at 1415 Broadway Road in Darien, said Crystal Nutty.

Nutty applied for a special use permit as opposed to a basic commercial permit. The location has been home two a couple of different restaurants in recent years.

“There are children involved. We will have indoor play equipment inside of the building rather than normal restaurant equipment or business furniture. This is also because we are a café mixed with a play center,” Nutty said.

“We will be taking over the lease [to the building] in August. There are a few things that the owner must do to the building before we take over the lease — like cleaning it out and making sure the bathroom is up to code because right now it is not.”

She said Nutty’s Playpen will have the following: 

  • A large play structure that offers obstacles for children “to walk through, climb through and weave around.”  
  • Slides  
  • Creative play stations where children can pretend they are veterinarians or grocery store clerks  
  • A pretend food truck as part of an imagination station
  • A separate area for children ages 0 to 2   
  • Creative stations where children can draw, color, build blocks or do puzzles.  
  • A ball pit and sensory pit for digging and exploring
  • Regular classes and events
  • A café with strictly pre-packaged items as well as fresh baked goods, coffee, soft-serve beverages and birthday parties.  

“We are waiting for the building to get cleared out and the work to get completed so we can start moving our stuff in so we can get it opened. We will have a website hopefully within the next month. We won’t be open for live booking until we get a little bit closer,” Nutty said.   

“We will be offering online booking as well as drop-ins so people can come in for open play at any time. We will have a maximum capacity. We have not figured out what that is with fire and safety because once we get everything in the building, then we will work out those numbers a little bit. That is what the next step is.”

State of Emergency declared to stop immigrants from landing on county's doorstep

By Joanne Beck
Matt Landers state of emergency
Genesee County Manager Matt Landers issues a local State of Emergency for the county Wednesday out of "an abundance of caution" due to threat of undocumented immigrants arriving here from downstate. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Citing “an abundance of caution,” County Manager Matt Landers declared a local state of emergency for Genesee County earlier Wednesday in response to rippling speculations about potential busloads of undocumented immigrants being sent this way from New York City.

One of the last straws — in an untidy political mix of statements about where immigrants should and should not go — was Orleans County’s declaration issued prior to Genesee County on Wednesday, Landers said. That was apparently one of the reasons for an executive session called abruptly after the Ways and Means meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

The private, executive session was called for what Legislator Marianne Clattenburg termed “what happened this afternoon.”

So The Batavian asked, what happened this afternoon?

“Well, a lot of it was just meetings with various stakeholders, Orleans County issuing their state of emergency was probably a prompt. Because of that, we took notice of that, there was a lot of speculation that raised our concerns about how easily a group of asylum seekers could end up at our doorstep without us even knowing,” Landers said. “So I guess it was our vulnerability that came to light of how simple and how easy and how fast that could happen, that we wanted to have this in place, in case that were to happen.

“So that was probably some of the prompts that happened throughout the day that caused us to take this action,” he said.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney had previously issued a press release opposing a move to send immigrants to upstate SUNY campuses, though that doesn’t seem to be any official step being taken by the state government at this time. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been pushing to move immigrants north.

Landers said that, because Genesee Community College receives both county and state funding, that he isn’t certain whether he would include GCC at some point in the list of entities discouraged from taking in busloads of immigrants during the county’s state of emergency. But for now, he is instead emphasizing hotels and motels.

The Batavian asked if he was aware of two busloads of people dropped off at The Clarion on Wednesday, rumored to be immigrants and news that was shared with us by a Batavian reader. They were confirmed by Sheriff’s Office personnel to be National Guards here for training, Landers said.

“Because it's about doing a good job of being aware. You know, we have contacts throughout the county that are in positions to help give any kind of advanced notification if there was an issue that came to light,” he said. “So there is a heightened awareness for county operations right now.”

State Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a State of Emergency for New York State for similar reasons, and for what Landers believes is to probably try and capture federal government financial resources, “which is understandable,” he said.

“This is more to get a better handle on control in Genesee County, and have the situation to an abundance of caution to be able to respond to a situation where we're not aware of asylum seekers coming to our community, there’s channels out there, and I do have confidence in the governor's office, through their representative, that they would try to reach out to us if there was a group that was heading to Genesee County, but there's different avenues of which that they can come from and it's not all through the governor's office,” Landers said. “So I am in consultation with the governor's office and, and the representative has been very forthcoming and upfront with me, and I think we've got a great working relationship. But that's only one piece of the puzzle. So the state of emergency is kind of trying to cover multiple scenarios, you know … And, again, we'll evaluate the state of emergency in the next five days, and see if we've covered everything, and maybe we strengthen it, modify it, or let it expire.”

The county’s Local State of Emergency was declared for Genesee County, due to New York City's program to rapidly increase the number of migrants in this County to unsustainable levels.  

“Pursuant to NYS Executive Law § 24, when a State of Emergency is in effect, the County  Manager may promulgate local emergency orders to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation under control.

By law, upon reconsideration of all the relevant facts and circumstances, such an order may be extended for additional periods not to exceed five days each during the pendency of the state of emergency.  

Press release:

Out of an abundance of caution, a local State of Emergency has been put into place by County Manager L. Matthew Landers as of May 17, 2023, in response to New York City’s program to bus migrants and asylum seekers to other counties in New York State. Genesee County is not equipped for a rapid increase of persons in need of services, and if the City of New York or other municipalities were to flood the County with migrants and asylum seekers, the situation would only worsen.

This Local Emergency Order will remain in effect for five days unless sooner modified, extended or revoked. It may be extended for additional periods not to exceed five days during the pendency of the local state of emergency. This order may be referred to as the “Genesee County Sustainable Migration Protocol."

Hawley chides majority for blocking voters from weighing in on two-state referendum

By Press Release

Press Release:

Steve Hawley

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C - Batavia) is disappointed that the Assembly Majority Conference blocked a referendum of his this week in the Local Government Committee without any debate or discussion. Numbered A.1978, the referendum would have simply put a question to voters on the next statewide election ballot: “Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?” The measure was shot down, and Hawley knows exactly why. 

“Our job as legislators should be to, first and foremost, ask our constituents questions about what they want to see us do. That is all this referendum would have done,” Hawley said. “I speculate the Majority prevented us from asking this question of all New Yorkers because they already know the answer: yes. The majority of New Yorkers are tired of the way things are, and any change, no matter how big, would be preferable to how things are right now.”

“Immigration crises, favoritism to downstate constituencies, the continued erosion of our farmlands and small businesses: these are the problems we face; infringements on 2nd Amendment rights, rampant pro-criminal policies and skyrocketing taxes and inflation. And these problems are consistently tied to the actions of a Majority spearheaded by a downstate coalition that has little regard for the rest of us. If they’re afraid of being told their actions are having a negative impact on some New Yorkers, they need a serious reality check,” Hawley concluded.

File photo by Howard Owens

BREAKING: Genesee County issues emergency declaration banning NYS from moving migrants to county

By Howard B. Owens

In response to a possible plan by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to relocate undocumented migrants from New York City to Upstate New York, Genesee County has issued an emergency declaration banning the acceptance of immigrants from out of the county for at least five days.

The ban was effective at noon today, County Manager Matt Landers told The Batavian's Joanne Beck.

UPDATES coming.

UPDATE: State of Emergency to stop immigrants from landing on county's doorstep

Judge rules against Scott Doll in latest appeal of 2010 murder conviction

By Howard B. Owens

The latest attempt by Scott F. Doll to get his 2010 conviction for murder overturned has failed to persuade another judge and his appeal based on what his attorney claimed was new evidence has been denied.

Attorney Michael S. Deal, from the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, filed a motion to overturn the conviction earlier this year. A hearing on his motion was heard by Judge Sanford A. Church on March 10.

Deal argued that he had uncovered new evidence related to the failure of the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office to collect fingernail scrapings from Doll's victim, Joseph Benaquist, and new DNA tests of people who might have had access to the murder scene should lead to Doll's conviction being overturned and a new trial granted.

Church ruled that the defendant did not present a factual assertion that the two pieces of "newly discovered evidence" could not have been available for the 2010 trial. 

"As discussed below, a sound defense trial strategy could have been to avoid further scientific testing and emphasizing the prosecution's failure to test some evidence," Church wrote. "The defense was aware, for example, of the drops of blood on the victim's boot before trial and that it had not be subjected to DNA profiling. All they had to do was ask that it be tested."

The defense could have also asked that fingernail scrapings be tested.  If the defense had made the request, the attorneys would have learned that clippings and scrapings had not been collected.

As for a bit of third-party DNA found on the victim's boot, that evidence could have been available at trial, Sanford said. There were photographs available to the defense that showed a possible bloodstain on the victim's boot.  The defense, he said, could have insisted that the bloodstain be tested.

Prior court rulings have found that for evidence to be considered "new" in an appeal, it must be evidence that could not have been discovered by the defense through diligence. 

It's also not readily apparent that the DNA comparisons would change the outcome of the trial, Sanford ruled.

For these reasons, Doll has failed to prove that his "new evidence" could not have been discovered before trial.

Church, an Orleans County judge, heard the appeal because Genesee County Court Judge Melissa Lightcap Cianfrini formerly worked for the Genesee County District Attorney's Office and had been involved in prior appeals, so she had a conflict of interest.

Doll was sentenced to 15 years to life for the 2009 murder of Benaquist. He has consistently maintained his innocence since his arrest.

On the night of Feb. 16, 2009, Doll was found walking in Pembroke in blood-soaked clothing by a deputy and questioned.  Due to the suspicious nature of his appearance and a van he identified himself as operating earlier in the evening, he was questioned by investigators who feared there was a seriously hurt or dead person in the area.  Those emergency circumstances allowed investigators wide leeway in questioning Doll and searching for a possible victim. Several hours later, Benaquist's badly beaten body was found in the driveway of his home in Pembroke.

Benaquist and Doll, a prison guard, had been partners in a used car business.

For all of The Batavian's prior coverage of Scott Doll, click here.

Photos: Local veterans receive 'Quilts of Valor'

By Howard B. Owens
Wilbur Easton, a World War II veteran, received a Quilt of Valor on Tuesday at The Office for the Aging. The quilts were handmade by AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Volunteers in the OFA Quilt Group
Submitted photo.

Press release:

Yesterday at the Genesee County Office For The Aging, “Quilts of Valor” were presented to three local Veterans. A Quilt of Valor is a quality, handmade quilt awarded to a Service Member or Veteran who has been touched by war. AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Volunteers in the OFA Quilt Group made and presented the Quilts to Robert Swanson, David Dumuhosky, and Wilbur Easton.

Submitted photos.

Robert Swanson
Robert Swanson
David Dumuhosky
David Dumuhosky
veterans with quilts

Photo: Goodyear Blimp flying over Genesee County Park

By Howard B. Owens
goodyear blimp

Reader Jeremy McClellan spotted the Goodyear Blimp flying over the Genesee County Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It is apparently in the Rochester area for the PGA tournament.

Controlled burn spreading toward barn in Pavilion

By Howard B. Owens

A controlled burn at 7833 Walker Road, Pavilion, is now reportedly out of control and spreading toward a barn.

The fire is about 20 feet from the structure.

Pavilion Fire dispatched.

The spring burn ban has been lifted, but the National Weather Service has an advisory for dry and windy conditions in place warning of elevated fire danger.

UPDATE 4:22 p.m.: Le Roy Fire asked to standby in the Le Roy hall.

Alexander tops Attica in Girls Softball 10-9 in extra innings

By Howard B. Owens
Mackenna Boyce
Mackenna Boyce Photo by Cathy Sawyer.

The Alexander Girls Softball team capped a winning season on Tuesday, beating rivals Attica in Attica. 

Alexander was down 5-0 until an eight-run fourth gave them the lead 8-5.  

Attica tied the game in the fifth at eight.  Both teams added a run in the sixth to tie it again at nine.  With one out in the top of the eighth inning, Madison Boyce delivered the knockout blow for Alexander when she tripled to right field and later scored the go-ahead and winning run.  

Emily Pietrzykowski nailed the win by retiring the side in order in the eighth to notch her sixth win of the season. She allowed eight hits, three earned runs, delivered four walks and whiffed seven Attica hitters. 

Alexander finished the regular season with a 12-6 record and potentially locking up the fifth seed for sectionals just behind potential fourth seed Oakfield in Class C1.

Pietrzykowski lead Alexander's batting, going 4-5 with two triples, two RBIs, two stolen bases and one run scored.  Melissa Sawyer was 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored.  Maddison Boyce was 2-5 with a triple and two runs scored.

“We started out this game flat and made three errors that lead to three runs for them right away," said Coach John Goodenbury. "They tacked on two runs with Robinsons' long ball, and we found ourselves in a 5-0 hole going into the fourth.  I told the girls they could make a choice right then, in the moments before we went up to hit.  They could choose to just lay down and lose or get in the box and fight like heck for it.  What I told them landed, and they made their choice to fight for it as they exploded for eight runs.  It was a loud and intense finish, at the end of the game, every girl in our starting lineup came away with at least one hit, proving that we can overcome adversity if we have faith, dig deep and play for each other.  I’ve said it before, we have a young team with talent and heart, and when it mattered most, they chose to fight and showed again what the future for Alexander softball holds."

Photos by Cathy Sawyer.

ava yaz
Ava Yax
Maddison Boyce
Melissa Sawyer
Melissa Sawyer
Faith Goodenbury
Faith Goodenbury

WROTB President seeks to put issues in rear view mirror, praises employees for achieving record revenues

By Mike Pettinella
Henry Wojtaszek
Henry Wojtaszek in a May 2022 file photo.
Photo by Howard Owens

Two weeks after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced significant changes to the structure of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors and to the way voting is conducted by the board, The Batavian sat down with Henry Wojtaszek, WROTB president and chief executive officer, on Tuesday afternoon at his office at Batavia Downs Gaming.

On the evening of May 2, as part of the state budget negotiations, Hochul, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins announced approval of a bill calling for the immediate dismantling of the current WROTB board and a move to weighted voting based on population.

It was no longer business as usual for the public benefit corporation as the previous system of one vote for one municipality was struck down. Control of the board now has shifted to the Democrat Party-heavy population centers – Erie and Monroe counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

WROTB distributes a portion of earnings and surcharges to its 17 member municipalities – 15 counties, including Genesee, and the two major cities. Most of the rural counties lean Republican.

Following is the interview with Wojtaszek, who has been with the corporation for 13 years, the last six as the president/CEO:

Q. With all of the recent changes coming from Albany, what do you see going forward?
A. I would hope that as we see the board members being appointed from the various municipalities that we continue to receive very good board members … and that I would hope that common sense would prevail. The results here have been fantastic – and that’s what ultimately matters relative to a company.

We have excellent workers here who perform at an extremely high level, the guests consistently rate their experience here as excellent; they really enjoy coming here, and they enjoy the experience that they have here. I would hope that the people who have worked here over the last many, many years – those who make up a great team – are allowed to continue to do their jobs and provide that kind of customer service.

I feel pretty confident and everyone's ability here. I have not seen any drop-off in terms of attendance … in the last couple of weeks or months. In fact, it’s only gotten busier. We’re definitely at a higher pace, and we’re going to beat last year’s record pace. It’s going to be $83 million this year (in net win). That’s money that’s split between the local municipalities and the state. We have 370 people with good jobs here, and we return a huge amount of money back to the municipalities.

Q. Do you think the jobs of rank-and-file employees will be affected? Will it come down to that?
A. There’s a union here that provides a measure of protection for a lot of the workers that work here. Again, I think that performance really should matter a lot. And whatever direction this company goes, they're going to reward those people who have performed at a high level here. So, I’m optimistic that we're going to be able to continue to provide that great service and great, great entertainment value with most of the personnel still on site here.

Q. Have you had any contact from Buffalo Senator Tim Kennedy (who sponsored the bill to restructure the board) or his office, from anybody in Erie or Monroe County, Buffalo, or from Albany regarding what the future may hold?
A. Nothing.

Q. So, you have no idea right now who will be coming in as directors? (Note: Longtime Genesee County director Richard Siebert resigned his position upon hearing of these changes, and the local Republican Party is in the process of appointing a replacement).
A. That’s correct.

Q. Do you think that the management team will continue?
A. We’ll know when the board takes their seats, which I expect will happen in June. I think it’d be difficult to have a meeting in May (the board was scheduled to meet on May 24-25), knowing that they have to be appointed and some people have to be licensed.

Batavia Downs 2014
The exterior of Batavia Downs after renovations.
FIle Photo by Howard Owens.

Q. Many Republican politicians have come out and called the move to change the voting method a “power grab.” Would you agree to their assessment?
A. I do. I think for political purposes, I would term it as a political power grab. I can certainly say that it isn’t due to the performance of the corporation or the corporation performing up to par because it continues to break records in terms of the revenue it’s generating and the amount of distribution monies that it's generating to return to the communities. That's what we are charged to do -- prevent illegal bookmaking, create jobs and to return resources back to the member municipalities, and we've done all three of them at a very high level.

Q. Do you think that the things the New York State Comptroller’s Office brought up – mishandling of sporting event tickets, health insurance for board members, legal issues, etc. – prompted people to believe that more should have been distributed to municipalities?
A. We addressed them four years ago. These issues came up four years ago, and we've obviously put in place better safeguards to make sure that we perform at a high level here. We asked for the help from the Comptroller; we asked for his advice. He gave us advice; we took his advice. It was over four years ago.

We continue to be the most regulated industry in New York State, besides maybe the nuclear energy industry. And that's okay. We’re good with that. We have to apply to the (NYS) Gaming Commission for most of the programs that we run here, including the ticket program. Every year, we get renewed by them. We have a very good relationship with the Gaming Commission. We abide by their rules, and we follow their recommendations. And we will continue to do that.

We just had an audit done by our outside auditing firm, The Bonadio Group. Everything came back completely in order; there are no irregularities. We feel very good about that. The board has always felt very good about that. We know that there are no issues within the corporation. And we feel very confident that a new board coming on is going to find the same thing. We hope that they take the time to look at what's going on here and not take some of the reports that are out there in the media as gospel, and they take the time to review what's actually going on here before they make any decisions.

Q. What do you think of WNY politicians questioning the cost of WROTB’s purchase of The Hotel at Batavia Downs.
A. Actually, the hotel has been an excellent purchase for us. It’s really worked out well. It has allowed us to become a destination -- to provide a complete experience for people who want to come here and enjoy the gaming floor, enjoy the horse racing, enjoy the concerts, have a great meal, and stay on site. We think we got it for a reasonable price. We think we'll be able to utilize it now as a marketing tool to bring people here.

Q. The board has been considering adding more rooms to the hotel. With these recent changes, is any talk of expansion now on hold?
A. What we’ve done was take a look at expansion to see whether or not it was something that was worthwhile. We never made a decision to expend any money. We were just looking at it to try to get some preliminary numbers.

Q. Didn’t the board vote to fund a feasibility study?
A. The request was (to spend) between $50,000 and $100,000 to do a market study and do a feasibility study, but it wasn’t authorized. I guess the next board would take a look at it.

Q. In light of what has happened and some of these issues, do you have any regrets?
A. I have a lot of fond memories here. We have some great workers here. I love interacting with the public that comes here, and I like to see that they enjoy themselves. Do I wish we would have handled things a little differently? There are a couple of things I wish we'd handled differently. I wish we would have been a little more open as to who utilized the tickets. I think at one point, we refused to turn that over for FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. And I know, looking back, we should have done that a little early. We probably should have revamped our ticket policies a little bit earlier. Again, all those things were done over four years ago.

Q. Have some of your guests approached you and commented to you about the recent developments?
Well, we have a lot of people that are very supportive of us here. A lot of our, our patrons, our guests that come here, are very supportive of our team that we've put together here. So yeah, I've heard a lot of support. We have had letters and a lot of comments and support in the last couple of weeks.

Batavia Downs donation Operation Warm
File photo from October 2021 when Batavia Downs made a donation to City Fire's Operation Warm, which provides coats to children in the city.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Q. Genesee County now will get two out of a total of 100 votes under the weighted system, while Erie and Monroe counties, Buffalo and Rochester will combine for 62 votes. And they’re predominately Democrat. Your thoughts?
A. I think things will be different. But again, I hope that common sense and good business sense prevail. And they allow the people here to do their jobs and to continue to do them.

Q. Do you think this was done to get you out? Do you feel that you’re in limbo at this point?
A. Like I said, no one has talked to me. We just do our job every day. We continue to increase the revenue here. We continue to provide a great product for those people who are coming here and try to have a great experience and, and then the end of the day, we'll return the monies back to the municipalities like we're tasked with.

Q. Have you thought about what you would do if the new board decided to replace you? I know you’re an attorney. Has the thought about practicing law gone through your mind?
A. We’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. I love this job. I enjoy the people that I work with to a great extent, and I'm very proud of what they've done -- what we've all done here at Batavia Downs to build such a great business.

Q. One last thing. They’ve used the word corruption to describe the actions of the board and management relating to the issues that we’ve talked about. (“This is a big victory for the people of Western New York. We are rooting out corruption, and we are removing a board that demonstrated a blatant disregard for the public good,” Kennedy said.) That’s a very strong word that speaks about people’s character and reputation. How do you react to that?
A. We know that anybody who's been here asking questions or asking for documents, we've provided complete transparency relative to what goes on here, and we will continue to do that. We’re a public benefit corporation. We understand that we do have to provide that kind of information when people are looking for it, and we'll do it. And we will continue to provide an inside look at what goes on here.”

Previously: State budget provision drastically changes structure, voting format of WROTB board of directors

Previously: County legislature chair on WROTB changes: 'Completely unfair, totally unnecessary'

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By Lisa Ace
8749 Violet Lane, Sunny Rathod

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County Republicans to interview pair interested in filling WROTB board of directors post

By Mike Pettinella

The Genesee County Republican Committee on Thursday night is scheduled to interview two candidates interested in filling the vacancy on the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors.

Committee Chair Richard Siebert, who stepped down from the WROTB director position after learning of significant structural and voting changes to the board, said he and the seven other committee members have set up a meeting for 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Old County Courthouse.

“There are two people that reached out to me that are interested in being the next OTB director,” Siebert said this morning. “The process will be that the Republican Committee will meet tomorrow night and interview the two people who asked for our endorsement.”

Siebert said the candidates are former County Judge Charles Zambito of Elba and Batavian Fred Gundell, who serves as a county election inspector.

“Our purpose is to interview them and then, hopefully, pass a recommendation to our county legislature, which would then also interview them and do the appointment. It should take place very soon,” Siebert added.

See also: WROTB President seeks to put issues in rearview mirror, praises employees for achieving record revenues  

Siebert served as Genesee County’s representative on the WROTB for 29 years. In a May 3 story on The Batavian, Siebert blasted the action by New York State leaders, calling the move, “a blatant effort to take over the jobs that we have at Batavia Downs that are appointed by their merit and not by political affiliation.”

Speaking today, he said that he heard that three other directors also resigned – Paul Lattimore Jr. (Cayuga County), Thomas Wamp (Livingston County) and Richard Ricci (Seneca County) – but speculated that others would be reappointed by their legislatures.

The Batavian confirmed that Susan May has been reappointed by the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors and that Edward Morgan is expected to be reappointed next Tuesday by the Orleans County Board of Supervisors.

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said that the local governing body is anticipating the Republican Party Committee’s recommendation.

“This is a time when all the counties are all getting reorganized,” she said. “Some have already placed the person back on the board of directors, and others have yet to do it.”

Asked if there has been any talk of a legal challenge to the changes, Stein said, “Not yet.”

“Here’s the problem at this point. There has been no harm caused to the county because nothing has really changed yet. So, until there's been a change that harms us, we are unsure that we have any standing.”

The previous framework of the board was set up by a “Home Rule” law about 50 years ago – giving each municipality that benefits from WROTB one vote.

New business lets you Take 5 for oil change without leaving your car

By Joanne Beck
Take 5 oil change site
A potential site for a Take 5 Oil Change business at the front of Valu Plaza in the City of Batavia is under review by the city's Planning and Development Committee. 
Photo by Howard Owens.

There are a few things you probably can get done without leaving your car during lunch: cashing a check at the bank drive-thru, buying a burger and fries at a fast-food place, and, of course, getting your car washed.

What about an oil change while you’re at it? Peter Pavek of Quattro Development explained the concept of just that service offered by Take 5 Oil Change during Tuesday’s City Planning and Development Committee meeting.

Peter Pavek take 5 oil change
Peter Pavek of Quattro Development. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Pavek represented an owner of the latest Take 5 to go at the corner of West Main Street and Lewiston Road, at the entrance of Valu Plaza.

“We began in Louisiana and have been expanding pretty rapidly,” Pavek said. “There are a couple in Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, in the major cities, and we’re targeting Amherst, Tonawanda and Lockport, and now Batavia.”

The service is a 15-minute oil change. There’s no waiting area, and you don’t even leave your vehicle. Plans are to demolish the current building that formerly housed a bank with a drive-thru, a coin and jewelry exchange, and a mobile phone office. Services are primarily oil changes and replacing filters and wiper blades.

Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall said that per zoning, they would rather see three bays and asked if the company would be good with that; Pavel agreed.

Given the minimal use for a waiting area, there’s also no use for many parking spaces, and Pavek said they could reduce the parking spots and add to the green space.

“Any additional green space you can maintain, that’d be great,” committee member Ed Flynn said.

The sites typically get 50 vehicles per day, with variations of busiest times throughout the day — mid-morning and especially at 3 p.m. reaching peak times, according to company data.

The committee gave a preliminary thumbs up, with instructions to return with a detailed site plan.

Theater owner promises live comedy and music in lieu of movies at The Bowery

By Joanne Beck
Red door at theater, Batavia
The future entrance/exit to The Bowery, a new entertainment venue to open in the fall 2023 in the City of Batavia. Photo by Joanne Beck.

There’s a richly iconic salon in New York City known for being luxurious in nature and set apart by its vivid red door, a symbol of Elizabeth Arden Spas and perfumes.

By no means was the red door being wrangled over Tuesday evening by property owner Ken Mistler and members of the Planning and Development Committee as luxurious in nature, but it will be the signature — of the entrepreneur’s latest venture into the world of entertainment.

This heavy-duty red door will lead the way to The Bowery.

“That’s the oldest street in Manhattan. It’s light industrial, New York City when the shanties were all downtown, in the mid-1800s,” Mistler said after the meeting.

His vision for this gritty, edgy shanty town climate will serve up a host of eclectic live musical artists and comedy acts in the movie theater-turned-Bowery,.

Mistler, and his engineer, Andy Schmieder, landed before the committee due to their request for a handicap-accessible ramp leading up to what are now double doors to be converted into one large, wide entry/exit doorway on Alva Place.

Ken Mistler and engineer Andy Schmieder
Ken Mistler, left, and Andy Schmieder, his engineer, answer questions Tuesday during the city's Planning and Development Committee meeting. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Members David Beatty, Ed Flynn and Duane Preston were less than impressed with the thick steel fire door being the main entrance to a business.

“My only criticism is that it’s a rather mundane entry for a dining/pizza shop. Is there going to be any other entrance?” Beatty said.

Flynn added that it looks like a utility room.

“There will be a marquee over it,” Mistler said, answering Flynn’s question about it not having a window. “There’s a door without a window now.”

Beatty wanted to confirm if the space would eventually be a functional theater. 


“It will eventually be a comedy club and music venue,” Mistler said.

They circled back to the door. Is it to be the final and permanent door to the establishment? Yes. With no windows? That’s right.

Beatty joked that it was going to be a speakeasy, some clandestine spot that served illicit liquor back in the days of prohibition.

“We have a problem with the look of the door,” he said.

Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall asked if Mistler would consider some type of artwork on the door, and Mistler said sure, he was open to suggestions.

The three members approved the request for a ramp, and encouraged Mistler to return with another door design when he begins his future facade work.

As for the dining/pizza shop, there won’t be any actual indoor dining, Mistler said. The pizza shop will have two purposes: one will be for a one-size pizza take-out service from a walk-up window, and the food will also be used at The Bowery for patrons. He has no intentions of competing with local restaurateurs.

“You want fancy-style pizza, go to Roman’s. I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes in the food business because that’s not what I want to do. I love to work with the restaurants in Batavia so that we could do dinner and a show again, like I did with the movie theater,” he said. “My first idea was to cater to seniors, there’s not a lot of things for seniors to do in the day, let’s give it to the seniors … a three-piece brass band, a motivational speaker, a pianist, we’ll have a piano there.”

He has connections with promoters at both ends of Batavia — in Buffalo and Rochester -- and plans to bring in comedic and musical acts from in and out of state. There will be a dance floor in front of the stage, a full bar and some edibles, per State Liquor Authority, which “requires us to have a substantial menu.”

“For once, I want to do a business that’s fun,” he said. “I’ve got contractors ready to go. Inside is completely empty. Okay, so I don't have any demolition to deal with, demolition is already done. All I have to do is put it back together, and it's a lot easier to put them together than to take it apart. Yeah. A lot easier. So I want to get it open within six months.”

He will be meeting with Randall to go over the interior design and obtain a building permit. The city has been “really easy to work with,” he said, and although people see the bad stuff, Batavia is becoming more business-friendly, he said, “which is great.”

Countywide school district budget and election results for 2023

school budget vote

Here are the results currently available from school districts in Genesee County for their 2023 school budget, propositions, and board elections.  This post will be updated with additional results as they become available.

Alexander Central School District

PROPOSITION #1 - BASIC BUDGET Shall the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District be authorized to expend the sum set forth in the budget for 2023-2024 in the total amount of $20,847,885, and to assess and levy upon the taxable property of the District the necessary tax therefore?

Yes 173 No 57

PROPOSITION #2 – BUS PURCHASES - Resolved that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to acquire (2) 64-passenger school buses and (1) small school bus, at an estimated maximum aggregate cost of $376,125, and such to be funded from the Bus Reserve, as permitted by law.

Yes 174 No 57

PROPOSITION #3 - EQUIPMENT CAPITAL RESERVE FUND - Resolved, that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to expend $140,619 from the existing 2018 & 2021 Equipment Capital Reserve Fund for the acquisition of (2) two wide view printers with estimated cost of $8,900, (1) Ventrac Mower with an estimated cost of $63,800, and (1) plow dump truck with plow with an estimated cost of $67,919 as permitted by law.

Yes 184 No 46


Resolved that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to establish a Capital Reserve Fund pursuant to section 3651 of the Education Law (to be known as the “2023 Capital Reserve Fund”), with the purpose of such fund being to finance construction, reconstruction, improvement and equipping of school buildings and facilities; such capital costs being of a type that would be eligible for financing under the local finance law, and costs incidental thereto, the ultimate amount of such fund to be $975,000, plus earnings thereon, the probable term of such fund to be ten (10) years, but such fund shall continue in existence until liquidated in accordance with the Education Law or until the funds are exhausted, and the sources from which the funds shall be obtained for such Reserve, with an initial minimum deposit of $50,000 from current fund balance at year end.

Yes 178 No 51

PROPOSITION #5 - SCHOOL BUS RESERVE FUND - Resolved that the Board of Education of the Alexander Central School District is hereby authorized to establish a School Bus Reserve Fund pursuant to section 3651 of the Education law (to be known as the “2023 School Bus Reserve Fund”), with the purpose of such fund being to finance the purchase of school buses, vehicles and equipment that would be eligible for financing under the local finance law, and costs incidental thereto, the ultimate amount of such fund to be $500,000, plus earning thereon, the probable term of such fund to be ten (10) years, but such fund shall continue in existence until liquidated in accordance with the Education Law or until the funds are exhausted, and the sources from which the funds shall be obtained for such Reserve with an initial minimum deposit of $50,000, and (ii) amounts from budgetary appropriations from time to time, and (iii) unappropriated fund balance made available by the Board of Education from time to time, and (iv) New York State Aid received and made available by the Board of Education from time to time, all as permitted by law.

Yes 173 No 56


  • Jadriene Balduf 68
  • Natalie Loranty 61
  • Sara Fernaays 97 - Winner

Write-in Candidate:

  • David Newton – 1
  • Don Smith - 1

Batavia City School District

  • Budget Yes – 263 No – 65
  • #2 Student Ex-Officio Yes – 293 No – 37
  • #3 Establish Capital Improvements Reserve Fund, 2023 Yes – 260 No – 66

Board Member Election 

Two (2) Positions (7/1/23-6/30/26) to be filled as follows:

  • Alice Ann Benedict - Votes 290
  • Barbara Bowman - Votes 277

Byron-Bergen Central School District

  • Proposition 1, school budget: YES 380  NO 108
  • Proposition 2, school bus purchase: YES 386  NO 105
  • Proposition 3, capital reserve fund: YES 372  NO 116
  • Proposition 4, Technology equipment reserve: YES 368  NO 121

School board election:

  • Lisa Forsyth, 331
  • Amy Phillips, 270
  • Lynn Smith, 283
  • Cindy Matthews, 300

Elba Central School District

  • Proposition #1 – Authorize the Board of Education of the Elba Central School District No. 1, Towns of Elba, Byron, Stafford, Batavia and Oakfield, County of Genesee, State of New York to expend $11,708,369 as set forth in the proposed 2023-24 budget and further authorize the necessary tax levy to support this budget: Yes –   110   No – 11
  • Proposition #2 – Authorize the Board of Education of the Elba Central School District to request additional state aid for energy savings contract improvements under an energy performance contract separately authorized by the board of education; which energy savings contract requires additional voter approval to be eligible for additional enhanced state building aid: Yes – 114  No – 6
  • Proposition #3 – Authorize the Board of Education of the Elba Central School District to purchase one (1) 65 passenger school bus, at an estimated aggregate cost not to exceed $168,883 and to appropriate and expend from the existing Capital Bus and Vehicle Replacement Reserve Fund for such costs: Yes – 111  No – 9

One Board Member elected for a five-year term commencing on July 1, 2023 and expiring on June 30, 2028: 

  • Dean Norton, Incumbent – 111  votes

Total Votes: 121

Le Roy Central School District

  • Proposition 1: School budget, YES 388  NO 114
  • Proposition 2: Library budget, YES 413  NO 90

School Board Election, two three-year terms

  • Denise Duthe, 391
  • Jacalyn Whiting, 690

Woodward Memorial Library Trustee, elect one

  • Lynda Lowe, 254
  • Laura Williams, 172

Oakfield-Alabama Central School District

  • Proposition #1: 2023-2024 Budget $24,094,600 Yes: 432 No: 95
  • Proposition #2: Haxton Public Library Yes: 442 No: 89

Board of Education Members:

  • Jackie Yunker-Davis - 450
  • Pete Zeliff - 353
  • Natalie Emerson - 351

*Elected to three-year terms commencing July 1, 2023

Library Trustees:

  • Carol D'Alba - 424
  • Lynette Crawford - 421
  • Denise DiMatteo - 409
  • Jessica Baker - 407
  • Janet Klotzbach - 47

*Elected to five-year terms commencing June 1, 2023

Pavilion Central School

  • Proposition 1: Annual Budget Referendum 2023 - 2024 The Board of Education has approved, for your consideration, a budget for the 2023-2024 school year in the amount of $18,869,393. Overall, this reflects a year-to-year spending increase of $582,042 or 3.18 percent. The tax levy will increase by $85,396 or 1.5 percent to $5,778,383. YES -- 192   NO -- 26
  • Proposition 2: School Board Member Election. 

Five-year term:

  • Chris Jeffres, 115
  • Lana Flint, 34
  • Roxanne Holthaus, 61

Proposition 3: Hollwedel Memorial Public Library Trustees. 

  • Kelley Harris, 162
  • Joan Gray, 166

Pembroke Central School District

  • Proposition 1 - School Budget:  277 Yes, 98 No
  • Proposition 2 - School Buses:   277 Yes, 98 No
 Board of Education election : One 5-Year Board of Education Seat:  316 votes for incumbent John Cima One 2-Year Board of Education Seat (unexpired term):  No one ran for this seat.  There were 67 total write-in votes. with 15 votes for Randy Fancher, 11 votes each for Salvatore Ianni and Michael Geck, 1 vote for Elmer Fudd and "a bunch of other real and imaginary names," Superintendent Matthew Calderon said.

Longtime Batavia music teacher delivers final concert Tuesday

By Joanne Beck
jane haggett paladino

Jane (Haggett) Paladino, longtime music influencer as Batavia High School's music teacher and department chairperson, delivers her final swan song as conductor during a band concert Tuesday evening at the high school's Frank E. Owens Auditorium. 

Paladino is retiring from the district and looking forward to new adventures ahead -- albeit with staff, students and parents enriched by her lessons and saddened by her departure. 

Photo by Howard Owens.

Muckdogs announce some new players, some returning players for 2023 season

By Press Release
alex hale
Alex Hale

Press Release:

The West Division Champion Batavia Muckdogs are happy to welcome the newest members of the team for the upcoming 2023 season! Among the many newcomers joining the reigning champs are Outfielder Anthony Calabro, and First Baseman/Outfielder Henry Daniels, both coming from the University of West Georgia. 

Calabro, a 6’0 185 pound junior, comes from St. John’s, Florida. A Division II player of the year candidate, Calabro had an excellent season batting .418 and mashing 14 home runs on his way to a 1.225 OPS while also swiping 17 stolen bases along the way.

Daniels, a 6’5 220-pound junior, is from Norman Park, Georgia. Daniels, the first base/outfield hybrid, mashed 15 home runs with a .634 slugging percentage.

Along with these new assets, many familiar faces are returning for another year of Muckdogs’ baseball. Among these include Alex Hale, Trey Bacon, Julian Pichardo, Josh Leadem, Caleb Rodriguez, Brice Mortillaro, Ryan Kinney, and Tyler Henshaw.

Standing at 5’11 and weighing 180 pounds, Alex Hale is a junior pitcher from Niagara County Community College. Hale, who throws an 86-mile-per-hour fastball, has been limited this season, striking out three in three innings with no runs allowed.

Standing at 5’11 and weighing 160 pounds, Trey Bacon is a junior utility player and pitcher from Saint Pete College. Bacon recently averaged eight strikeouts per nine innings at Santa Fe Community College. Last summer for Batavia, Trey performed at a high level with a 1.59 ERA. 

Standing at 6’5 and weighing 225 pounds, Julian Pichardo is a senior pitcher from the University of Fort Lauderdale. Pichardo will be returning for his third stint with the Muckdogs. His first year with Batavia saw him clock in with a 2.45 ERA in 55 innings pitched, along with 42 strikeouts. Last year Pichardo pitched a 3.20 ERA while striking out 17 batters in 19 innings.
Julian also won a championship playoff game last year for the Muckdogs.

Standing at 6’2 and weighing 190 pounds, Josh Leadem is a senior outfielder from the University of Rochester. Leadem is making his return to the team after playing this year for the University of Rochester, where across three seasons there, he’s accumulated a career .334 average and 61 stolen bases. Leadem hit a walk-off grand slam in this year's liberty league tournament against RIT.

Standing at 5’10 and weighing 170 pounds, Caleb Rodriguez is a senior middle infielder from Kean University. Rodriguez will be making his return to Batavia after bumping up his batting average from .252 his sophomore season to .331 his junior season at Kean University. This year he also finished with a .434 on-base percentage and 23 RBIs.

Standing at 6’0 and weighing 187 pounds, Brice Mortillaro is a sophomore catcher from Georgia Southwestern University. After a year off from the Muckdogs, Mortillaro will be returning to the team. Brice, in his 2022 campaign at Georgia Southwestern University, posted a .432 on-base percentage and .745 OPS, and in his entire collegiate career, has never made an error.

Standing at 6’5 and weighing 190 pounds, Ryan Kinney is a senior pitcher from Xavier University of Louisiana. Kinney will make his way back to Batavia this year. This past season saw Ryan continue to perform well, pitching in 19 innings along with 24 strikeouts.

Standing at 5’9 and weighing 165, Tyler Henshaw is a sophomore pitcher from Potomac State. Henshaw has been dominant this season with Potomac State, averaging 10.15 strikeouts per game while holding opponents to only a .242 batting average while he’s on the bump.

The entire Batavia team will begin their quest to repeat as West Division champions with their home opener at Dwyer Stadium against the Elmira Pioneers on Saturday, June 3rd. Following the opener will be a fireworks display for all to enjoy. For both individual and season tickets, as well
as keeping up with future games and promotional nights, please check out our website or call 585-524-2260!

Tyler Henshaw
Trey Bacon
Ryan Kinney
Julian Pichardo
Josh Leadem
Caleb Rodriguez

Submitted photos

Top Items on Batavia's List

The City of Batavia is accepting applications for a Full-time Water Treatment Plant Operator/Trainee (Salary $23.65/hr.) This is a trainee position involving responsibility for learning the duties and routines in the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant.  The work is performed under the immediate supervision of a qualified operator. Does on-the-job training to become qualified as an operator of a water treatment plant. Does related work as required. Applicant must be a graduate of a senior high school or possess a New York State high school equivalency diploma. Please submit a completed Civil Service Application to Human Resources, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY 14020 or Background check, psychological assessment, physical and drug testing are required. Candidate must become a resident of Genesee County or any adjacent town to the County of Genesee within 6 months of the date of conclusion of the probationary period for the City of Batavia. EEO. Applications can be found at
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