Skip to main content

Seniors who participated in Youth Court commemorate the end of their terms

By Howard B. Owens
youth court
Sadie Nickels (Youth Bureau’s Program Assistant) chording senior Ella Bromsted
Photo by Howard Owens

Tuesday was graduation night in the Old Courthouse in Batavia for the seniors who have participated in Youth Court during their high school years.

Youth Court adjudicates actual cases involving youthful offenders. It's a voluntary alternative for young people facing disciplinary action.  The young offenders are those who are willing to admit to wrongdoing and submit to a hearing before their peers, who will recommend a sentence based on facts presented at trial. 

The goal of Youth Court, which began in Genesee County in 2008 and is coordinated by the Genesee County Youth Bureau, is to develop citizenship skills among students as well as help them develop decision-making tools and better understand the judicial process.

The graduation was timed to coincide with National Law Day.

Six of the nine school districts in Genesee County participate, and this year there were 23 students involved in Youth Court. 

Youth Court proceedings are confidential.

"The youth who come before our members really learn from their mistakes, and they don't end up somewhere else in our criminal justice system," said Chelsea Elliott, youth program coordinator.  "We hope they come here, they say, 'I don't want to get in trouble again,' and then they don't end up across the street at Family Court or anywhere else in our criminal justice system."

Following the brief graduation ceremony, the students performed a Mock Trial for the parents who attended to observe.

youth court
Sadie Nickels Chording Senior Matthew Tanner, a Byron Bergen Student
Photo by Howard Owens
youth court
Graduating Seniors.
Photo by Howard Owens
youth court
Aveline Tomidy listens to the respondent as she plays the role of Judge.
Photo by Howard Owens
youth court
 Lilyana Burke, a Batavia student playing prosecution
Photo by Howard Owens
youth court
Gus Crawford Again as the Respondent
Photo by Howard Owens
youth court
Lilyana Burke Questioning the Respondent 
Photo by Howard Owens
youth court
Judges look at Gus Crawford a Batavia Middle School student who is playing the respondent
Photo by Howard Owens

Unusual Discovery Made on Vacant Property in Pembroke

By Chris Butler

A vacant lot on Snipery Road in Pembroke is up for sale, but a search and survey process recently uncovered a surprise 133 years in the making.

As it turns out, a small portion of the property’s northwest corner is part of the tax map — but it is not part of the title.

This is according to the minutes of last week’s Pembroke Town Board meeting.

“Search work was done on this little parcel, and a deed was discovered from 1890 showing ownership to the Highway Commissioners of the Town of Pembroke,” according to the minutes.

“There was no other title or deed found moving the property out of the hands of the Highway Commissioners of the Town of Pembroke. We checked all public records, and due to the time frame, there are no records on file of the town owning the property and no board minutes since the Town Board minutes don’t begin until 1911.”

Board members were also informed that the current adjoining property owner has paid taxes on the property for an undisclosed number of years. To clear up the search and survey, and deed, the town must sell the property back to the adjoining property owner for a nominal fee.

Town Supervisor Thomas Schneider Jr. will speak with Town Assessor Tina Rados at an undisclosed time to get a value. Board members must pass a resolution by permissive referendum to finalize the sale, according to the minutes.

GO ART! Offers Class in Ukrainian Egg Decorating

By Press Release
File photo by GO Art!
Submitted photo.

Press Release:

GO ART! is offering a special 2-session class in Ukrainian Egg Decorating, or pysanky, with master pysankar artist, Irene Grassman, as part of our Explore Art! program. The classes will be held on Saturday, May 6 and May 13, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at GO ART!, 201 East Main St., Batavia. 

The class is open to participants age 12 and older, those who sign up should expect to attend both classes to complete the project. The cost is $25 per person, in total, and all materials and tools will be provided. Contact GO ART! at 585-343-9313, email info@goart.org, or sign up online at goart.org. Registration is requested by May 3. 

Irene Czolacz Grassmann was born in Germany in a displaced persons camp and came to America with her parents in 1952. While quickly adapting and embracing the customs of their new homeland, Irene’s parents continued to observe and instill their beautiful Ukrainian culture and heritage in their children. 

From an early age, Irene was interested in various Ukrainian arts, including embroidery and ceramics, but fell in love with the art of writing Pysanky (decorated eggs) continues to this day. She has taught history and the process of the Pysanka through BOCES-Continuing Education Programs; the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University; various cultural festivals in Buffalo, Kerhonkson, and Rochester, as well as teaching the Art of Pysanky at a Ukrainian American Youth Association Arts and Crafts Camp in Ellenville, NY in the Catskills for 17 years.

Participants will learn about traditional motifs, symbols, designs and colors, many of which are used to wish good luck and prosperity to the receiver of the egg. The word Pysanka is derived from the Ukrainian word, “pysaty” which means to write—which is how artists describe the process of creating their beautiful and intricate designs.

File photo provided by GO Art!.

Red and white cat looking for home in the area of State and MacArthur, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
lost kitty
Submitted photo

Ginger is a bit lost, and maybe this kitty belongs to you.  David Austin said the feline had a red collar on when he first spotted the beauty in the area of State and MacArthur.  The collar is gone, but the cat is still in the neighborhood.  He would like to reunite the cat with its proper home.  He can be reached at  (585) 300-3441 or Christina can be reached at (585) 297-3082.

New trophy, same hard ball excitement on tap for annual Rotary Tournament on Saturday

By Howard B. Owens
Rotary Baseball Tournament 2023
Four standout seniors playing in Saturday's Rotary Baseball Tournament: Bryceton Berry, Notre Dame, Colton Yasses, Oakfield-Alabama, Daniel Bialek, Attica, and Alex Johnson, Batavia.  Photo by Howard Owens.

Tournament Director Tom Turnbull is sticking to "23rd Annual" for the 2023 Rotary Baseball Tournament, even though there have only been 18 champs actually crowned over the two-plus decades since the first game.

Rainouts and two seasons lost to COVID-19 have kept a few names off the championship trophy -- which is new this year (see photo above) after the former trophy filled up with the plaques of previous winners.

Notre Dame's coach, Rick Rapone, at Tuesday's Rotary Club meeting in Batavia, called it the premier tournament in the area that every local baseball player is excited to compete in.

The first pitch Saturday is at 11 a.m. with the battle of the Blue Devils, Batavia vs. Attica.  Game 2 is at 2 p.m. when two hot teams face each other for the second time this season -- Oakfield-Alabama vs. Notre Dame.  Notre Dame is a pitching powerhouse, and the Hornets pack a lot of offensive punch. The last time these two teams met, Notre Dame prevailed.

The championship game is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.  However, if Attica beats Batavia, the game will be played at 2 p.m. on Sunday because Attica has its senior prom on Saturday night.

Admission is $5 for an adult all-day pass and $3 for a student or senior all-day pass. All proceeds from the tournament will help benefit Batavia Rotary Club charities.

Walk this way: task force seeks to use grant for cross-'walkability' study

By Joanne Beck
Alz walk
File photo of a fundraising walk in the city of Batavia, by Howard Owens.

A walkability task force has tentatively put one foot in front of the other and landed at the Bank Street crosswalk between Main Street and Washington Avenue.

The task force, made up of six members of the county that include public health, planning, transportation, Office for the Aging, the Youth Bureau and an elected official, were given an assignment to take photos of various “walkability/rollability” successes, challenges and surprises in Batavia — one of the largest areas for pedestrians — and one spot popped up most frequently, participants Paul Pettit, director of the Public Health Department, and Kaitlin Pettine, communications rep for the department.

“Based on this assignment, one area that we believed walkability/rollability could be improved was Bank Street between Washington Avenue and East Main Street,” Pettine said to The Batavian on behalf of both. 

Backing up to the beginning of this project: It stems from a $10,000 grant to fund a walkability virtual academy for communities to explore and solve issues of poor walkability for pedestrians. 

This involved a training seminar and a photo assignment. Another step is likely to be some type of demonstration, perhaps at the site of the crosswalk, for the potential dangers and safety measures that can be taken, OFA Director and task force member Diana Fox said.

“It would be a pop-up demonstration,” she said. 

One of the problems with that section, with Bank Street itself, is that it is quite wide, and the city may be involved by narrowing the width and “shrinking the distance of the crosswalk,” she said.

“And so the pop-up is being able to do some demonstrations and purchase materials to create different crosswalks and designs to make some green space so that the edge of the curb comes out more so that you have to slow things down,” Fox said during this week’s Human Services meeting. “So that's one of the things that we're looking at doing with that, and creating a whole demonstration. We’ll probably do it by the end of the summer and in September.”

A video was made in May 2019 to promote that very crosswalk and how to ensure safety when crossing. Former City Manager Martin Moore and Former County Manager Jay Gsell assisted folks across the walk, offering advice in a campaign for safety awareness and education, Gsell said.

"We find this intersection is a heavily-used pedestrian traffic area, and there has been too many pedestrians 'near misses' between vehicles and pedestrians," Gsell said. "We said, 'let's make an effort to heighten awareness, and to also start the process to put signs up."

People park across the street, "like they're supposed to," he said, and then proceed to use the crosswalk, as they hope it's safe -- but that isn't always the case. Motorists sometimes blow through the walk without stopping or even slowing down. 

As for the task force's vision, this is all in the conceptual phases right now.

The Batavian asked if members of Healthy Living and GLOW YMCA would be part of this effort, given the brand new campus being built adjacent to the crosswalk.

“Healthy Living/YMCA folks were not involved in the academy, but will be invited to the table along with other interested stakeholders as the process moves forward,” Pettine said.  

Will the entire grant amount go towards the demonstration to be done in downtown Batavia or to be used for various walkability efforts?  
“The goal of the Walkability Virtual Academy (WVA) was to bring stakeholders together to participate in this academy so that we have the foundation for future planning around walkability/movability in our county. We hope that we can bring the knowledge learned to towns, hamlets, and villages to improve the collaboration among partners regarding future designs and plans that relate to walkability and movability,” Pettine said.  “Having this baseline work completed will also position us to be more competitive in future grants to address initiatives throughout the county."

How do you see the money being spent, and is there a chance that some of it could actually go to implement ideas that the task force comes up with?
“The WVA Taskforce is still in the planning process for how the $10,000 will be used. We just completed the academy classes and are in the process of developing an action plan,” she said. “What is written in the action plan will determine what the $10,000 will be used for. The funding could be used for pop-up demonstrations as well as walkability improvements.”

Since this is a federal grant, the task force must meet compliance obligations to receive the funding.

The Batavian reached out to Chief Shawn Heubusch for information related to the Bank Street crosswalk, and this story will be updated when those answers are received. 

To watch the entire video recorded in 2019, go HERE.

Are you a pedestrian in the city of Batavia? What do you think is the most dangerous “walkability” section here? Let us know at joanne@thebatavian.com.

Congresswoman Tenney Announces May Mobile Office Hours

By Press Release

Press Release:

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) announced today her May mobile office hours. During these hours, constituents can receive one-on-one assistance from Tenney’s team of expert caseworkers on issues regarding federal agencies such as the Veterans Administration, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, or Passport Agency.

If you are interested in attending any of these mobile office hours, please schedule an appointment by contacting Tenney’s District Office at (315) 236-7088 or walk in at any time to receive assistance. Please note, scheduling an appointment ahead of time will allow for an expedited casework experience.

In addition to Tenney’s mobile office hours during the month of May, Tenney maintains three full-time offices in Lockport, Victor, and Oswego, with regular satellite hours in Watertown every Tuesday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. The Lockport (716-514-5130), Victor (585-869-2060), and Oswego (315-236-7088) offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information on casework services and office locations can be found at tenney.house.gov.

Mobile office hours will be available at the following times and locations:

County: Genesee
Date: Wednesday, May 10
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Place: Genesee County Office Building
Address: 7 Court St., Batavia, NY 14020

Photo: File photo of Claudia Tenney by Howard Owens

Tenney blasts Albany's backroom deal to weaken rural counties on Batavia Downs board

By Press Release

Press release:

Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) today released the following statement on the passage of New York State Senate Bill 7855. 

This bill, which was passed as part of the New York State budget, changes the structure of Western Regional Off-Track Betting (OTB). The change will effectively diminish the role and input of rural Western New York counties.

Local leaders from across Western New York joined Tenney in condemning the highly politicized backroom deal, which upends decades of precedent to reduce the input of rural communities and hand disproportionate power to Democrat-leaning cities. The decision was made without any input or consultation from regional stakeholders. 

“Negotiated and agreed upon in the dead of night without any input outside of Erie County and the City of Buffalo, the termination of every appointed commissioner of the Western Regional Off Track Betting Corporation is an attack on rural New York counties,” said Congresswoman Tenney. “For half a century, the Western Regional OTB has operated under shared control between 15 county governments and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, promoting economic growth, jobs, and tax revenue across Western New York. With the passage of New York’s Big Ugly Budget, the Western Regional OTB has been politicized, and the role of rural counties has been greatly diminished, with far more power now set to go to the cities. Now more than ever, when crime rates are skyrocketing, taxes are soaring, and people are fleeing the state at unprecedented rates, Governor Hochul should be focused on correcting these problems, not destroying the Western Regional OTB.”  

"The Western Regional OTB language snuck into the state budget is Albany's latest attack on rural communities. Governor Hochul and Albany Democrats have conspired to eliminate the longstanding arrangement that allowed 15 counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo to have balanced representation on the OTB board. The voice of rural counties is being smothered out simply because they are represented by Republicans. This is nothing more than a partisan power grab disguised as reform," said New York State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt.

“With the proposed legislation, including changes to the language in New York State’s Budget agreement regarding the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation, will limit the number of representation Cayuga County has and negatively impact our county. This new plan will immediately remove the current OTB Directors and create a new board, giving more power to larger municipal governments in the public benefit corporation’s service area and taking away the voices of both smaller and rural counties. Ultimately, I strongly oppose any changes to this new agreement as it will create an unfair representation and take economic benefits away from Cayuga County and its surrounding counties,” said David Gould, Cayuga County Legislature Chair.

The proposed legislation to change the membership of the Board of Directors of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation will negatively alter the balanced representation formula previously provided by the State Legislature and the Governor. This agreement has proven to be fair and impartial by affording each municipality that comprises the Corporation an equitable voice in all Board matters. I strongly oppose any changes to this agreement as it will cause undue harm to Livingston County and its governance and economic interests in the Corporation,” said David LeFeber, Livingston County Board of Supervisors Chair.

 ​​“This is just one more example of Governor Hochul and a downstate, socialist-dominated Legislature usurping the home rule of upstate counties, ignoring 50 years of shared governance by 17 partner counties of OTB in favor of a blatant, and we believe illegal, power grab. The fact they did so under the cover of darkness with not so much as a conversation with the counties impacted is the height of arrogance and abuse of power. We will talk with our partner counties and decide on what steps to take next,” said Niagara County Legislator Majority Leader Randy Bradt.

"This proposed legislation being rammed through would cut the representation of Oswego County down. Diluting the voices of rural counties would only serve to shift the economic benefits away from Oswego and concentrate power to larger counties. Oswego County stands firmly against this,” said James Weatherup, Chair of the Oswego County Legislature. 

“Genesee County, the host county of Western New York Off Track Betting, calls on Governor and State elected officials to halt the assault on rural counties who own, provide guidance and leadership to the most successful OTB operation in NYS. Senate leaders are pushing to restructure the board of director's voting power to two-thirds of the urban counties of Erie and Monroe and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. Through S7855A resetting the rural counties to 37 percent of weighted voting, from 1 entity/ 1 vote structure since inception of WOTB, 50 years ago. The successful leadership of WOTB is due to consistent leadership by rural counties that provided seed funds to operate and own WOTB. Our rural county leadership has experience in managing municipalities, providing value to owners of WOTB and especially safeguarding investments made by our taxpayers of Genesee County,” said Shelley Stein, Genesee County Legislature Chair.

Once again, Albany is okay with large counties taking away the representation of smaller and rural counties in a power grab ... this time, it is the board of directors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting/Batavia Downs Gaming that is the target. Currently, each member county gets equal representation, but not in the new plan, weighted voting will give control to the large counties, especially Erie County. Governor Hochul should line-item veto this legislation that hurts small counties like Orleans. Fifty years ago, by the Home Rule vote, OTB was created, and representation balanced and fair. This attempted change is wrong,” said Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislature Chair.

“To take a fair voting system that has worked for over 50 years and turn it into an unfair politicized system is no more than three people in a backroom politics. Its sole purpose is to take our voices away, and it will do just that. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I urge my colleagues to vote no,” said Chairman Michael Enslow, Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

“Wayne County needs equal representation in regard to the OTB setup. There are a lot of people that come from Wayne County that come to participate at the OTB, and we need a voice in what goes on there,” said Phil Eygnor, Wayne County Board of Supervisors Chair.  

Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation names five 2023 scholarship winners

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation Scholarship Awards Dinner will be held on Wednesday, June 7 at 6 p.m. The Foundation is excited to be able to celebrate its heritage together. It promises to be a wonderful evening of friendship, pride and of course a delicious Italian food, it will be hosted at Batavia Downs. 

Tickets are $35.00 and may be purchased from Board members and Ben’s Appliance. The Foundation will also have tickets available to purchase for our Spring 20/20 Raffle, which supports our Senior Scholarships.

The Foundation is pleased to honor our 2023 Outstanding Italian-American, James Saraceni, on this evening as well.

Kaylie kratz

Kaylie F. Kratz, a Notre Dame High School senior and is the daughter of John and Jill Kratz. She plans to attend SUNY Cortland majoring in Early Childhood Education. Kaylie is a member of National Honor Society and was named Student of the Month for Excellent Academic Involvement 9th thru 12th grade. She also accepted the Mercedes Mahoney Mancuso Memorial Award for students excelling academically despite obstacles. 

Kaylie was awarded Future CEO Award for demonstrating growth and excellence. She also was Employee of the Month in response to her leadership in the workplace.

Kaylie participated in Environmental Action club and LE3. She was a after school/summer camp activity coordinator 9th thru 12th grade and participated in chorus at Notre Dame.

Kaylie volunteered at St. Joseph’s Regional School for various fundraisers and at the Notre Dame high school office. She also prepared healthy meals at Commit to Well to donate to the food pantry and hospital. 

Kaylie’s experience growing up Italian, inspired her to see the love that family shares for each other and the deep admiration for the Italian Culture. She will always remember her Italian experience that will remind her to honor her culture.

Cooper_fix

Cooper J. Fix, a Batavia High School senior and is the son of Aaron and Kristen Fix. He has been accepted at Oswego State University and plans to major in exercise science/physical therapy. Cooper was inducted into the National Honor Society for 8th-12th grade and National Art Honor Society for 11th and 12th grade.

Cooper participated in link crew, swimming, football, track and field, tennis and source of strength just to name a few extracurricular activities. He was the recipient of the 2022 Judd-Gouinlock Citizenship Award and
2023 NYSPHAA Sportsmanship Award.

Volunteering is a big part of Cooper’s life; he volunteers at community closet, soup supper and is a collector and greeter for Sunday Mass at Ascension Parish. He has been a part of National Honor Society projects, Source of Strength community projects and Make a Difference Day.

Cooper quoted Benjamin Franklin “Never base your life’s decisions on advice from people who don’t have to deal with the results of your decisions.” This quote has guided Cooper to support his ability to lead and know life is what you make it!

seancryzka

Sean Czyryca, a senior at Le Roy High School and is the son of Michele and Mark Fuller. He will be attending Hillborough College in Tampa, Florida majoring in General Studies.

Sean participated in soccer, baseball, football, basketball, chorus, drama club and peer counseling. He is a member of St. Joseph’s Parish in LeRoy and Our Lady of Mercy RC Church.

Sean volunteers at Eagle Star, DePaul and is a Blood Donor. Sean enjoys to sing, especially a Frank Sinatra tune, and of course, dance!

He stated that participating in school musicals has given him the confidence to pursue his future career goals.

Sean believes growing up in an Italian environment has shown him love for family, church and food!

aden chua

Aden J. Chua, a Batavia High School senior who will be graduating Summa Cum Laude and is the son of Allison and David Chua. Aden plans to attend Genesee Community College and then further his education at a 4-year college to achieve his goal as a Screen Writer and Theology major. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Tri-M Musical Honor Society and was offered Key Scholar Grant from Elmira College.

He has participated in many activities: jazz band, musical demons, concert band, chorus, strings in sync. orchestra, marching band, production club, musicals, drama club and cross country. The clubs he participated are: Source of Strength, Z club, Umoja, baking club, video game club, board game club, and was a Mr. Batavia candidate.

Aden volunteers at the Community Closet, The Veterans Home, ARC and the Community Garden along with 5k Race for Autism. He attends BASE Classes at Northgate Free Methodist Church, a participant in overnight camping trips.

Aden believes bring Italian means putting your family above all except God. Being there for your family though difficult times and joyous times is what accomplishes a full life.

michaelmarchese

Michael A Marchese, a Summa Cum Laude recipient and senior at Batavia High School is the son of Paul and Sandra Marchese. He will be attending Paul Smith College to earn a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Science. He was inducted into the National Honor Society and received Service and Academic Excellence Award in his sophomore year. 

Michael has participated in band for 8 years in the percussion section and orchestra for 12 years as a cellist. He participated in cross country and track for 6 years, earning a section patch for cross country for 2 years. He also participated in indoor track for 5 years earning a sectional patch and Tennis for 1 year.

Michael is completing his Eagle Scout Award by participating in The Boy Scouts, Scouts BSA(12 years), Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Patrol Leader. He also participated for 2 years in the National Leadership Training. 

He volunteers for the Rotary Club Fly-in Breakfast, Student Council, Boy Scouts fundraisers and community service programs.

Michael’s Italian Heritage has taught him to connect with family. Knowing when the pasta is done boiling, learning to be a speaker and be heard and a good cook! Now that’s Italian!

Sweet Betty's reopens with new owners and ready to please

By Joanne Beck
sweet betty's
Steven Kelso and Kristen Beardsley, new owners of Sweet Betty's, which reopened Wednesday at 15 Main St., Le Roy. Photo by Joanne Beck

It wasn’t very long after Sweet Betty’s closed before the void was palpable to the Le Roy community, Kristen Beardsley says.

“I have a lot of friends and family in Le Roy and we could tell they were really missing this place. And it's kind of like, there's really not a lot of places to eat in Le Roy, to sit down and eat,” Beardsley said to The Batavian during Wednesday’s reopening of Sweet Betty’s. “People just like to come here. The kids like to come here after school. It was nice for kids that were in sports. 

"I see it as a mom of two kids that when kids are in sports, there's not a lot of time, and on weekends, there's not a lot of time to be making dinners. So it just makes it accessible,” she said.

Beardsley, head chef and partner Steven Kelso and silent partner Gabe Dean approached former owner Gabrielle (Gabby) Keister, who closed the Main Street restaurant in October 2022, in January of this year, closing on the purchase in February 2023.

Much of the menu will remain the same — chicken sandwiches, tenders and souvlaki wraps, Italian sausage hoagies, cajun popcorn shrimp and burgers a la cheddar bacon, jalapeño bacon jam, mushroom swiss, and other varieties; assorted salads, sides and homemade desserts.

One change is that pizza was removed from the menu, since the new owners figured that’s a food item that can be purchased elsewhere in lieu of their menu, which features specialty fare.

New offerings include Kelso’s mac & cheese creations, from the reuben with corned beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese to the Betty Bomber with sliced steak, peppers and onion. Kelso also makes daily soups, such as Wednesday’s cream of broccoli and Italian wedding.

With more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant business, including several at O’Lacy’s, Kelso of Batavia adds the kitchen element to Beardsley’s front-of-the-shop serving experience as a waitress.

They have several employees, including at some point Beardsley’s children, Lily, 16, and 14-year-old Kaleb; and Jo Berl, whose smile is a natural behind the counter serving up hard and soft ice cream cones and meals in the bright dining area.

“It was a very popular place before that and Gabby and Scott set a high standard, so it's just being prepared to continue what they started,” Beardsley, of East Bethany, said. “So, we're all prepared.”

Sweet Betty’s is at 15 Main St., Le Roy. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday.

For more information, call 585-502-6084. or go HERE.

sweet betty's ice cream
Jo Berl serves up vanilla with raspberry swirls ice cream cone at the restaurant. Photo by Joanne Beck.

 

Siebert steps down as WROTB director, calls Albany action 'a blatant move to take over jobs'

By Mike Pettinella

Batavian Dick Siebert, longtime director of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., said today that he is stepping down as Genesee County's representative on the public benefit corporation's board.

Speaking on WBTA Radio, Siebert issued the following statement:

"I've been told that when the governor signs the budget today, I will be fired by people other than people who appointed me -- the county legislature 29 years ago. Quite frankly, I thought I would be fired or terminated by the board that appointed me but I'm hearing that I will be terminated. All 17 of us will be terminated and there will be new appointments to be made for directors representing Batavia Downs.

"I've never been fired a day in my life for any job I've ever done. So, rather than being fired by someone that I don't even work for, I've chosen, after 29 years, to notify my chairman and OTB Chairman Bianchi that I am resigning as of today. And so, it ends my career of 29 years of Batavia Downs.

"... and I point I would also make is that this isn't about the distribution of money. This is about distribution and who appoints jobs. We have five department heads; we have 14 department heads, and we have several people that are not union. So, this is a question of who makes the appointments. It's been the board that we have now.

"It will strictly be by weighted vote, and it'd be by the Democrats in Erie and Monroe County and cities that control all the vote. It's 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.

"I'm worried about all of our employees that happen to be Republicans up there right now, quite frankly."

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

By Mike Pettinella

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein expressed “shock and surprise” today over the circumstances surrounding the profound changes made to the structure and voting parameters of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.’s board of directors.

On Tuesday night, it was announced that language in the just-adopted state budget includes a bill to dismantle the current 17-member board and revoke the one-person, one-vote arrangement that has been in effect for 50 years.

“I was not of the understanding, quite frankly, that this was going to be part of the budget,” Stein said by telephone. “That to me was a shock and a surprise. It is surprising the policy is so wrapped up in a financial document.”

Stein segmented her thoughts into specific areas affected by the legislation, namely the removal of the 17 current directors, the appointment process, the weighted voting format, the county legislature having to appoint or reappoint the director and the host agreement status of Genesee County, the Town of Batavia and the City of Batavia.

DISMISSAL OF CURRENT BOARD?
“What is even more surprising is that it calls for the immediate removal of the 17 current directors, and the counties will be faced with reappointing or appointing a new director,” she said. “Directors, for counties without executives, would be chosen by boards of supervisors or county legislators.”

Richard Siebert has been Genesee County’s director on the WROTB board for nearly 30 years.

Although the process of selecting a director for Genesee County wouldn’t change, it would have to start from scratch as a result of the new provision.

“When we get the bill back, the bill itself, we will work with our county attorney to ensure that when actions must be taken, we will have to comply with the law,” she noted. “That’s number two.”

The third point she addressed is what she called “the incredible change to a weighted voting (system).”

“If my math is correct, 62 percent of the vote will be held by Monroe and Erie counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo,” she said. “What means to me is that an organization that is returning funds back to its owner municipalities – and is proven to be highly successful – … will see a reduction in the influence and the leadership and guidance that has proven valuable for this organization to grow …”

Stein said that the county has reaped exponential returns from the initial $23,000 investment it made in 1974 to buy into the public benefit corporation.

“I know that this county has been well benefited by those returns,” she said. “And we in Genesee County are more impacted because we currently have host agreements with the Downs as we provide to the entity fire, public safety, highway services. Since OTB is a non-taxpaying entity for property taxes. So, these three communities -- the county, town and city -- receive a host benefit.”

A POLITICAL POWER GRAB?
Stein, echoing several Republican state representatives, called the bill “a power grab.”

“It’s so political, and it has been so toxic because of certain individuals,” she said. “The rest of us still have to maintain a decorum where we can get business done at the Downs and at OTB because record profits have been shared out to counties.”

She noted that revenue is shared through a “home rule” statute that was passed many years ago by the state legislature and approved by the governor. 

“All that could change, but I hope it doesn’t,” she added.

The legislature chair also said she was disappointed that the county’s representatives in Albany were unable to read the bill beforehand.

“George Borrello and Steve Hawley were not able to read that bill until after it was passed. So again, the three people in a room (actually two men and Gov. Kathy Hochul) have not served us well at all here in New York State,” she said.

Stein also spoke about the state Comptroller’s audit that found deficiencies in certain areas that triggered State Sen. Tim Kennedy’s push for board restructuring.

“OTB is just like any other public entity,” she said. “They’re audited. There are deficiencies found. The organization has an opportunity to address the deficiencies and to improve or change aberrations.

“That's exactly the same behavior pattern that we have in our local governments that the OTB just underwent, and they certainly have taken those deficiencies, and they've corrected them. They took those words and made themselves stronger, better and more resilient.”

SEN. KENNEDY’S STATEMENT
The Batavian sought comment from Kennedy today, but his media manager said he was unavailable today.

She did email a statement from him, however:

“We talk a lot in the state legislature about prioritizing accountability and transparency - about rooting out corruption. Last night, we created an opportunity to deliver on that. From audits to investigations, the Western Regional OTB has been plagued with a pattern of mismanagement and misconduct for years, and a slap on the wrist isn't going to fix this behavior long-term.

“By including a reform I've sponsored to restructure the OTB's board in this year's budget, we're introducing an opportunity for fair representation that serves the public good. This is a common-sense, good government policy, and it's a reflection of the real, meaningful work we continue to advance on behalf of Western New Yorkers.”

Stein took exception to the use of the word “corruption.”

“That's a really strong word. The value that we have in our rural county representatives is that actually most of them know how to run a business. So, they have been sharing their expertise and guidance for years, which has proven beneficial to the off-track betting, to Batavia Downs, to the plans to grow the opportunities here in Genesee County.”

RETALIATION IN PLAY?
She also said the bill reinforces the perception that “only New York City matters to the powers-that-be in Albany.”

“For the state only to look at Western New York when there are four others (OTBs) really makes this smack of retaliation, it makes it smack of It makes it smacks of a power play. For an organization that is returning funds back to its member counties, it is throwing away years of guidance and leadership and business development at OTB and the Downs.”

Stein concluded by recalling something that Siebert said to her about the merging of Batavia Downs and WROTB.

“One thing that Mr. Siebert told me a long time ago was when the racetrack was approached by OTB to join together, they were very concerned about where their representation might go,” she said. “Well, today's the day it happened. And I can't respect the process that this went through. In my view, it is completely unfair and totally unnecessary.”

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

By Mike Pettinella

Tuesday’s passage of the New York State budget includes a provision that means it’s no longer business as usual for the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.’s governing body.

Effective immediately, the new legislation – spearheaded by Democratic State Sen. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo – dismisses all 17 directors on the board and revamps the voting format to give more influence to municipalities with the most population.

It used to be that each of the 15 counties, along with the cities of Buffalo and Rochester, would have one vote; the bill’s new language calls for a weighted system ranging from 24 votes (Erie County) down to one vote (Wyoming, Orleans, Seneca and Schuyler counties).

Genesee, which has been represented by Richard Siebert for more than 29 years, now will get two votes.

While Kennedy reportedly is calling the measure “a big victory for the people of New York,” the WROTB board chair and local Republican are speaking out against it.

“We’re disappointed by the language included in the state budget,” said Board Chair Richard Bianchi in a statement issued last night. “It was negotiated in secret with no open discussion, debate, or input from our member counties. In the short term, we will remain focused on fulfilling the responsibilities to our partners in local government as we look to evaluate potential next steps.” 

In his statement, Bianchi pointed to the record revenues achieved by the Batavia-based public benefit company that owns/operates Batavia Downs Gaming, harness horse racing track and The Hotel at Batavia Downs.

“Many in the hospitality industry never recovered from the COVID era. We not only grew but set new records for revenue, leading to the largest distribution of profits ever to member counties and cities,” he said. “That leadership came from the Board of Directors. We are proud we of the direction and leadership we provided during those historically difficult times.” 

Bianchi pointed out that, in 2022, revenue from net wins increased by 14.5 percent – to $76 million.

“As a result, revenues distributed to member municipalities were at an all-time high. Additionally, Batavia Downs Gaming contributed $37.25 million to State Education via the New York State Lottery. This number was also a record, surpassing 2021’s number by $4.7 million,” he concluded.

The impetus to restructure the WROTB board came from a New York State Comptroller’s audit that found fault with the corporation’s use of tickets to sporting events (notably, Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres) and concerts, and for President/CEO Henry Wojtaszek’s use of a company vehicle.

Wojtaszek, contacted this morning, said he did not wish to comment on the just-passed legislation.

The Batavian this morning reached out to Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein and Republican Assemblyman Steven Hawley for comment. The legislature is responsible for making the director appointed to the WROTB board.

Hawley, along with Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney and Republican Sen. George Borrello, criticized Kennedy’s proposal last week. They all maintain that the change is politically motivated and "a power grab trying to diminish the influence of smaller, less populated counties."

Enter through the coffee shop for art and music @ The Harve

By Joanne Beck
The Harve Brian Kemp and Mary Jo Whitman

Nothing like the smell of burnt shopping cart to go with your morning coffee.

That was just one of several teasers thrown online to pique viewers’ interest during these past four months of preparation for a surprise exhibit on the city’s east side.

Considering the involvement of artists, sponsoring businesses, with the lead being GO ART!, and Harvester Center LLC serving as host, this project has been kept under wraps fairly well. 

That is until now, when founders Brian Kemp and Mary Jo Whitman decided it’s time to announce:  Enter Through The Coffee Shop @ The Harve.

“So Brian came to me with this idea, he was like, ‘We should take over an industrial space and see what we can do.’ And you know, Brian always has a lot of ideas. And the next day, he said, can you meet me at the Harvester in 30 minutes? He showed me the room, and he's like, ‘You want to do it?’ I'm like, ‘All right. ‘And that's how it started,” Whitman said.

While that may sound like a rather calm beginning, it has been anything but ever since they temporarily claimed the 7,000-square-foot space at 56 Harvester Center in January.

Rectangular in shape, with long rows of windows for ample natural sunlight, it’s a space easily accessible through The Pub Coffee Hub, owned by Rob Credi.

The Harve

Kemp and Whitman put the word out for artists, and the walls have been gradually bleeding color with brilliant murals and 3D sculptures, while the room's footprint has been carpeted with the shell of a red car, artwork and the makings of a bar area. 

Is it an art exhibit? A gallery? A space for mingling and reflection while enjoying refreshments and listening to live music? Or perhaps a new avenue for artists to publicly expose their creations? Yes, yes, yes and most certainly, yes.

One other possibility, of course, is that it also brings people over to Harvester Center, which seems to be getting more buzz as a growing business center again. 

The Harve’s debut will be with an opening reception from 5 to 11 p.m. June 3, and a VIP invitation-only event the evening before.

The Harve

Step into the capacious room, and it’s hard not to notice the sweeping mural of a blonde-haired, vivid blue-eyed doll on one end wall that sits next to a take on the Cheshire cat in a vibrant purple atop red mushrooms in a dazzling, eye-catching still vignette. And all of it was painted by Dan Butler in an astounding four days.

Across the room in a corner is Kemp’s studio, filled with various materials and about 20 works already done.

“It’s been cool having this much space,” he said. “I have 10 more things I’m working on.”

On one wall is Whitman’s sculpture-in-progress. It seems fitting, given a prior disclosure, that she often leans toward darker works of art. 

A big black puff of clouds stretched along toward the top of the wall, with two people dressed in black below, and one of them with a shopping cart — painted black — against the wall. It actually rains, and the clouds have lightning, she said.

From those early moments of walking into such an expansive space, she and Kemp didn't really fumble with ideas of what to do or how to go about bringing their collective visions to life, they said. 

The Harve

“It’s absolutely amazing how everything has just fallen into place. Rob’s extending his hours when we’re open Fridays and Saturdays in June,” Whitman said. “We just started asking questions. There was a BBC documentary, ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop,’ so it’s a parody of that, ‘Enter Through The Coffee Shop.'

“It was just perfect clarity based on ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop,’ but kind of an opposite message that you know, instead of commodifying the arts let’s bring the arts to people to help support local business,” she said.

There will be two cars in the show, and they will hopefully be in the demolition derby in July, Kemp said. Having wheels helps with their other vision for the main floor, which brings together street art, graffiti and murals.

The Harve

“We’re literally going to have the place kind of like a street, we're gonna have little elements of this street scene. Like we're trying to make it look like a street … traffic cones, construction cones, the cars,” he said. “You can just come in and walk around. You can grab a seat. Rob … will be open, so you can grab a coffee or a sandwich. We're hoping to have some alcohol available.”

There are a couple of comfy couches there right now for seating, and tables and chairs will be moved from The Pub Coffee Hub for exhibit patrons, he said. They have booked four acts for live music already, with the potential for more.

They’ve worked with about 10 artists, Credi and Jarrod Clark, who manages Harvester Center LLC. Go HERE to stay up-to-date on details.

Mary Jo Whitman

Photos of Brian Kemp, an artist and owner of T-Shirts Etc. in Batavia, and Mary Jo Whitman, an artist who works at GO ART! in Batavia, at The Harve at 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia, by Howard Owens.

Hawley, Borrello issue statements reacting to new state budget

By Press Release

Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

“Our state budget has finally passed, only a month later than it should have. Not only were there numerous empty seats on the side of the Majority as we trudged through the debate and voting process, but this budget is prepared to spend $229 billion worth of taxpayer dollars. That’s double the budget of Florida and Texas, despite New York having fewer residents than either of those states. Spending indiscriminately and passing the costs over to taxpayers almost unilaterally is not the way to attract or retain people or business to this state, and I fear it will continue the downward trend of New York’s economic strength.”

Statement from State Sen. George Borrello:

“New Yorkers have heard repeatedly over this last month that ‘the right budget is more important than an 
on-time budget.’  

“Yet, the sad truth is all the extra time did not produce ‘the right budget.’ It produced another bad budget that, once again, ignores New Yorkers’ top concerns – affordability and public safety – and spends us into a fiscal death spiral. At $229 billion, this budget means we will be spending $627 million in taxpayer dollars every single day.  

“Government watchdogs have decried the reckless spending which will explode next year’s projected budget gap and set us up for a long-term structural deficit of over $15 billion. New Yorkers, who already pay the highest taxes in the nation, will not find any relief in this budget and may very well see increases in the not-too-distant future because of the excessive spending. Property taxpayers are also at risk of higher taxes in the next few years as the state begins withholding federal Medicaid funds that were designed to help counties with these costs.  

“Throughout the process, the narrative we’ve heard is that the governor was fighting for changes to the bail law to strengthen public safety. Many people had high hopes that we would finally get a significant tightening of the disastrous changes that have transformed our criminal justice system into a dangerous revolving door. Disappointingly, the promised changes are nothing but a shell game that will do nothing to reverse the tide of rising crime. Ninety percent of crimes are still not eligible for bail. Judges still do not have the discretion they need to hold dangerous individuals, despite the rewording of the ‘least restrictive’ standard.  

“With a budget process conducted behind closed doors, it is easy to slide in controversial items in the last minute to prevent opposition from having time to organize. We saw that happen with the addition of a provision to dismantle the existing board and governance structure of the Western Regional OTB. This blatant power grab will undermine the voices of the rural counties that are part of the OTB board and put at risk the successful operation of Batavia Downs, the only profitable Western Regional OTB location.   

“While elected officials love to proclaim their support for small businesses, ‘actions speak louder than words,’ as they say. Small businesses’ requests for the state to help pay down the crushing COVID-era unemployment insurance debt that was unfairly dumped in their laps were ignored once again. Adding insult to injury, small businesses, farms and employers of every size will have to find a way to finance the higher minimum wage mandates in this budget, even as the last increase is less than six months old.  

“There were a few positive outcomes worth noting. The advocacy of myself and my colleagues was effective in removing the Executive Budget’s harmful housing mandates that would have steamrolled over localities’ home rule rights with regard to zoning and right sizing communities.  

“It is also encouraging that the fierce opposition of myself and the members of our Conference on the governor’s all-electric mandates helped remove her proposed requirements on existing homes from this budget. However, the mandates for new construction remain and are set to begin in 2025, which will have a devastating impact on the construction sector and related industries. That is just one of many fights that remain on this critically important issue.    

“New Yorkers deserve ‘the right budget’ and an on-time budget. This year, they received neither.”  

UMMC celebrates excellence, awards and patient healing

By Joanne Beck
ummc clinical award

Since United Memorial Medical Center has partnered with Healogics, an industry leader in wound care, it has cared for 9,000 patients and 40,000 wounds in the last seven years alone, with "highly skilled and trained staff” leading the hospital’s Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center as the recipient of two awards for its treatment achievements this week, Healogics Director of Operations Toni McCutcheon said Tuesday at the North Street facility.

“There are 65 collective years of experience in this wound care center, which is amazing. They provide exceptional wound care within the community. And since the center's opening, they have encountered nearly 40,000 wounds. It's amazing. It's amazing what the center does, it is reasonable to expect this center to have exceptional care and amazing healing outcomes,” she said. “So with that, the first award I'm going to present is an award for Clinical Excellence. This award is achieved by clinics that are in the top 10 percent of the wound meats adjusted comprehensive heal rate. The center is compared against over 600 other centers within the country that achieved top 10 percent.”

She added that, having visited the center, it’s an obvious team effort, and “these patients are well cared for and their wounds are healed and that's important to get them back their quality of life.”

This is a first for the Clinical Excellence Award, and a seventh time to be named Center of Distinction.

Dan Ireland, CEO of UMMC, spoke on behalf of hospital leadership and the board to congratulate the team and tell them, “we can’t be more proud of what this team has accomplished for the seventh time.”

“I can reflect on years ago when we first opened the center, we were all excited to have hyperbaric machines like that was the really cool thing to have. And we would show them off, but it quickly went beyond the fact of the equipment that we have, but to this great culture of a care team that we have here,” he said. “And it can't go without noticing it is all types of providers that play a role in here. You know from from Dr. Canzoneri and his provider team, to our PAs to our LPNs to our nurses to our support staff. They collectively work together to make sure that care is provided to the highest level and to be able to receive an award like this with such high score.”

One his Dr. Joseph Canzoneri’s “special patients,” Cherry Carl, shared her story of needing help for a hematoma that was ‘huge, painful” and could not be treated by her primary care physician. So she researched it and found UMMC’s Wound Care Center.

She drove two hours round-trip, and Dr. Canzoneri agreed to help. He explained what he was doing step-by-step and treated cut out the hematoma so that she could heal.

woman shares story at ummc awards

"No matter who you are, no matter where you are in your life's journey, you're welcome here. And no wound I think, is too small in this place. And then he exudes confidence. And he made sure that I knew what I had to do when I went home,” she said. “That meant weeks of coming here once a week, so he could scrape and scrape, and then it healed, but I if I hadn't come … because the wound was infected with Mersa an E. Coli. And if I had ignored it, I don't know.”

Canzoneri said that 50 million people globally suffer from foot and leg ulcerations each year, and the average healing time in most cases is over a year. That puts patients at high risk for amputations, death and other comorbidities, he said.

“Studies have proven and shown that basically, this team approach that we have here, especially at UMMC, helps reduce these comorbidities and mortality by 9 percent. Now, our job at UMMC wound care is not just to heal the patient, but it's to heal the patient as fast as we can and prevent the reoccurrence,” he said. “Our team approaches and uniqueness at UMMC help us further utilize our well-trained nurses, our dieticians, hospitals, physicians, infectious disease team vascular specialists, podiatry, orthopedics, nephrology, endocrinology or cardiology consultants, radiology, physical therapy, orthotics, home nursing care, and I'm sure a few others I forgot to mention. 

"This ability to coordinate quickly and effectively is what the patient needs in our Wound Care Center is what really makes us and helps us achieve that seven-year center of distinction,” he said.

group ummc award

 

poem

Top Photo: Toni McCutcheon, director of operations for Healogics, left, presents an Award of Clinical Excellence to United Memorial Medical Center's Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, led by Dr. Joseph Canzoneri, far right, Tuesday at the Batavia facility; team members celebrate their seventh Center of Distinction Award, also presented during the event; and a special patient shares her story with event participants. Bottom photo, a poem written by Cherry Carl for Dr. Joseph Canzoneri. Photos by Howard Owens.

Save-A-Lot paving project postponed

By Press Release
save a lot parking lot

Press Release:

Due to weather, the paving project in the Save-A-Lot parking lot has been postponed to the following schedule:

Friday, May 5

  • Overnight parking (tenant) area closed for paving operations

Monday, May 8

  • Overnight parking (tenant) area closed for striping of lot

Tuesday, May 9

  • Paving west side of entire lot

Wednesday, May 10

  • Paving east side of entire lot

Vehicles that are using permitted parking are asked to temporarily use the City lot off of School Street or any other permitted parking areas in City owned lots.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Photo of parking lot next to Save-a-Lot in downtown Batavia by Howard Owens.

GLOW Solid Waste to host free paint recycling collection

By Press Release

Press Release:

For the first time, the GLOW Region Solid Waste Management Committee is holding a paint ONLY collection. The program is being held as a result of the NYS Paint Stewardship Law that was passed in 2019 and went into effect on May 1, 2022. It is being paid for by fees collected by retailers that sell a specific list of paint products. At GLOW’s 2022 household hazardous waste collection in Batavia, over 40,000 lbs. of these products were collected and recycled. 

Green Sheen Paint will do the collection, which will be held on Saturday, June 10, in Pavilion. It is expected that this collection will result in less paint coming into GLOW’s August collection in Mt. Morris, resulting in shorter wait times at that collection.

In order to participate in the collection, residents must make an appointment. Appointments can be made online by going to GLOW’s website, www.glowsolidwaste.org and clicking on the link for the collection they want to attend. Those without internet access can call 585-344-2580 ext. 5463, 585-815-7906 or 800-836-1154

The collection is open to residents and businesses in the Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming county regions. Materials must be in original containers no more than larger than 5 gallons in size. All materials are accepted at NO CHARGE. Locally Sherwin Williams retailers and Crocker’s Ace Hardware in LeRoy also accept eligible products on an ongoing basis. Information on those and other locations can be found at www.paintcare.org.

Acceptable materials include but are not limited to:

  • LATEX and Oil base paint, primers, sealers, under coaters
  • Varnishes, lacquers and shellacs
  • Deck sealers, floor coatings and textured coatings
  • Metal coatings and rust preventatives
  • Waterproofing, concrete/masonry/wood sealers and repellants

Unacceptable materials include those below and more:

  • Tar or bitumen-based products
  • Aerosol cans
  • Auto and marine paints
  • Aluminum paint

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 tdean@batavianewyork.com. 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 https://www.co.genesee.ny.us
Tags: Jobs offered

Authentically Local