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Car reportedly hits house on Akron Road, Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens

A car has reportedly hit a house at 304 Akron Road, Pembroke.

Dispatchers are checking on the availability of Mercy Flight.

Entrapment is reported. 

Pembroke Fire and Indian Falls Fire along with Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 10:20 p.m.: The Indian Falls chief on scene reports the house WAS NOT struck. A fence was struck away from the house.  He is checking for entrapment.

UPDATE 10:21 p.m.: The chief reports the driver says he is not injured. Firefighters will need to get the door open.

UPDATE 10:25 p.m.: The driver is out of the vehicle.

Sponsored Post: Investment opportunity! Just listed - 8468 Seven Springs Road, Batavia

By Sponsored Post

Profitable investment opportunity! 8468 Seven Springs Road in Batavia is a meticulously maintained property with a total of eight units. The main house offers 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a commercial-grade stove and hood system in the kitchen, custom built-ins, and a brand-new bathroom on the first floor. Outside, you will find a beautiful concrete patio with a hot tub, and private outdoor shower, perfect for the spring and summer months ahead. The second building on the property is a barndominium that offers 4 newly renovated one-bedroom units with off-street parking and on-demand hot water. The third building offers 1 newer one-bedroom unit and 2, 2 bedroom newer units with off-street parking and on-demand hot water. The property is located on 2.5 acres of land with a pond. This is a perfect opportunity for an owner-occupied investment in a convenient location in Batavia.

Soul Food Brunch dishes ‘food for thought’ while commemorating Black History Month

By Mike Pettinella
Kenyetta Reese
Photo by Mike Pettinella.

The first Soul Food Brunch at GoArt! on Tuesday afternoon provided both tasty African-American cuisine and some honest food for thought.

The gathering at East Main and Bank streets drew about 60 people, including members of Genesee County’s Black-owned businesses that were featured on a flyer handed out to the attendees.

After enjoying a menu of fried chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, eggs, greens, macaroni and cheese, banana pudding and lemon pound cake, many of the attendees stuck around for a brief presentation led by brunch organizer Kenyetta Reese, a case manager at UConnectCare.

While the event was set up to highlight Black History Month, Reese noted that she and her family have been subjected to racism in recent months and years.

“I’ve actually experienced racism in the past six months,” she said. “So, if you could raise your hand here if you have also experienced racism in the past six months? How about in the past 30 days?”

Several people raised their hands.

Reese said recent events “have stirred up some trauma that she had from all of the hockey seasons that I was quiet.”

“My presence was loud, but I was somewhat quiet,” she recalled. “So, this event is for my son. He’s somewhere in this building.

“For every single time he was called the N-word on the ice, from the stands, for every unnecessary penalty, for the time parents called the police on him for checking their kid into the boards. Yes, someone actually called the police.”

She said her son was kicked out of games “for no reason.”

“For every game he cried, and I didn’t know. This event is for him, and I will no longer be quiet. His time is right now,” she said to applause.

Reese said that blatant racism is dismissed or disregarded.

“Microaggressions or exclusionary behaviors, if you will, boldly still exist and live hard for people of color still in 2024,” she offered. “With that said, we are here to celebrate Black History Month by sharing knowledge and a meal. Most importantly, to celebrate one another with two allies of our community and our workplace.”

She encouraged attendees to meet someone new today as “there’s a lot of power and strength in this room and in this building right now.”

Reese’s daughter, Tzyonah, took the stage, providing statistics pertaining to Black people and mental health.

“Did you know that 63 percent of black people believe that a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness?” she said. “People may experience shame about having a mental illness and worry that they may be discriminated against due to a condition.

“Nearly 90 percent of Black and African American people over the age of 12 with a substance use disorder did not receive treatment.

"In 2018, 58 percent of Black and African-American young adults with serious mental illness did not receive treatments.

"According to the APA (American Psychological Association), only 4 percent of psychologists are African-American. African American adults are 20% more likely to experience mental health issues than the rest of the population.

"Twenty-five percent of African-Americans seek treatment for a mental health issue compared to 40 percent of White individuals.”

Tzyonah said that she “struggles with” mental health issues … but continues to “work on myself and I continue to grow.”

“I remain so unbelievably vibrant, positive, resilient, strong, independent, hardworking.”

She said her custom printing business, Made by Tzy, provides her with a creative outlet “that brings me joy.”

“It gives me a voice and a platform to create dialogue and showcase the beauty, triumph and struggle of the Black experience through my art.”

From there, Brandon Armstrong, owner of the first Black-owned barber shop in Genesee County – Royals at 317 Ellicott St., Batavia, took a few minutes to talk about the Moors, African people around the 700s AD that, in his words, “were very smart and civilized back in those days.”

“They were well-studied in science and math … and they ushered in like a renaissance era,” he said. “Europe was very uncivilized. They weren’t bathing; there was a lot of sickness, a lot of diseases, and they were living with their animals.”

Armstrong said the Moors “came in with medicine – rubbing alcohol, disinfectant, soap – and showed the people how to groom themselves and bathe. They brought them clothing.”

He mentioned that the Moors originated the famous Italian dress shoe, the Moorigator.

“If you just look at that the word Moori, it’s a variation of the word Moorish. Right? And then if you look at the gator, the gator isn't indigenous to Italy, right? So, we see the black influence, even to this day, down to the shoes and from African culture.”

GoArt! Executive Director Gregory Hallock followed Reese by announcing the agency has received a grant from BlackSpace, a New York City-based nonprofit collective of planners, architects, artists and designers devoted to creating spaces in communities to shine a light on Black culture and creativity.

He said he has scheduled a gathering at 6 p.m. March 11 at GoArt! for people to share ideas with architects for the new space.

“So, a space that we're digging down is available for us to do what we want to it, because it's not historic,” Hallock said, speaking of plans to install two art studios/classrooms, wood workshop, storage room, gallery and other amenities in the building’s basement. “It will become historic once it’s finished.”

Cathy Mack, a GoArt! director said most in the Black community aren’t aware of the programs that are available and encouraged those citizens to make reservations to attend the meeting and provide their input.

Hallock also reported that the agency is collaborating with another nonprofit to build a new 18,000-square-foot space in Medina that will include galleries, a podcast studio, a film studio, artisan shops, a music studio, artist-in-resident spaces, art classrooms and a music garden.

soul food brunch
Fried chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and mac and cheese were on the menu at Tuesday's Soul Food Brunch at GoArt!
Jada Rolle of Le Roy's Transformation Salon addresses the gathering at the Soul Food Brunch on Tuesday. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Pembroke will play for C2 championship after win over East Rochester

By Howard B. Owens

Pembroke beat East Rochester on Tuesday, 54-36, to advance to the Class C1 championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena.

Tyson Totten scored 22 points for the Dragons. Avery Ferreira scored 17 points.

"One of the staples of our program has always been defense, and when you play games this late in the season against quality teams, sometimes that is what you have to hang your hat on, and that is precisely what we did tonight," said Coach Matt Shay. "I was very pleased with our effort tonight and how we battled on that end."

The #3 seed Dragons take on #1 seed Lyons on Saturday.


Trojans to take stage at Blue Cross Arena for Class C2 final on Saturday

By Howard B. Owens
alexander basketball

The Alexander Trojans, seeded #2 in Class C2 is heading to Blue Cross Arena on Saturday to via for a sectional championship after beating Bolivar-Richburg on Tuesday 52-49.

The Trojans will face #1 seed Byron-Bergen.

Game time is noon.

Dylan Pohl scored 26 points for Alexander. Trent Woods scored 16.

Photos by Brennan Bezon.

alexander basketball
alexander basketball
alexander basketball
alexander basketball

Chambry sinks final shot free throw to send Byron-Bergen to C2 finals

By Howard B. Owens
byron bergen basketball

Byron-Bergen's Class C2 semifinal game came down to the last shot, with the ball in the hands of the Bees top scorer, Brayden Chambry.

Of course, he sunk the free throw.

Final score: Byron-Bergen, the #1 seed, 61-60, over #4 seed York.

Chambry scored 30 points. Brody Baubie scored 13, Brendan Pimm, 10, and Colin Martin, eight.

Next up: #2 seed Alexander, at noon on Saturday at the Blue Cross Arena for the Class C2 championship.

Photos by Jennifer DiQuattro.

byron bergen basketball
byron bergen basketball
byron bergen basketball
byron bergen basketball
byron bergen basketball

Notre Dame topples #1 seed to advance to final in Class C3

By Howard B. Owens
notre dame semifinal basketball

Notre Dame earned a trip to Blue Cross Arena this Saturday with a 73-65 win over Fillmore on Tuesday in the Class C3 semifinal.

The Fighting Irish will play Arkport-Canaseraga for the championship at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

ND came into the game seeded #4 and went on to upset #1 seed Fillmore behind 23 points for Jaden Sherwood and 21 points for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Jay Antinore scored 11 points and Chase Antinore scored nine.

Sherwood also had eight rebounds.

Jay Antinore was assigned Fillmore's leading scorer, Zach Sission, on defense and held him scoreless from the field. Sission's five points in the game came on free throws. Antinore had six steals.

Arkport-Canaseraga is the #3 seed.

Photos by Pete Welker.

notre dame semifinal basketball
notre dame semifinal basketball
notre dame semifinal basketball
notre dame semifinal basketball

Borrello announces his candidacy for reelection

By Press Release

Press Release:

Senator George Borrello officially announced he is seeking re-election to the New York State Senate to represent the 57th District.

“Representing my constituents in Western New York is a great privilege and one that I strive to honor by giving 110 percent every day.  Albany is dominated by New York City legislators and activists whose priorities and values are a world apart from ours. I’ve made it my mission to be a champion for our district and rural New Yorkers,” said Senator Borrello.

“Right now, our state is facing a crisis of epic proportions caused by the unrelenting influx of migrants into New York. It is consuming billions in taxpayer funds at an alarming rate. Yet our governor refuses to rescind the ‘sanctuary’ status that is fueling the crisis,” said Sen. Borrello. “We need elected officials who will stand up for everyday New Yorkers who are rightly saying ‘enough is enough’”.

“As the City’s dominance has grown, the fight to secure our fair share of resources for our schools, roads, and other essential services has intensified. It is also critical that we continue to push back against one-size-fits-all policies that neglect to account for upstate realities,” said Sen. Borrello. 

“There is no better example than the natural gas bans and electric school bus mandates that are slated to go into effect in just a few years. Our rural setting and cold, snowy winters aren’t compatible with all-electric energy sources and, in the worst scenario, represent life and safety hazards.”

Senator Borrello noted that while statewide issues garner headlines, constituent service is a core priority.

“I am proud of the record my team and I have when it comes to helping our constituents. We logged more than 2,000 constituent cases in 2023 alone, spanning a wide range of issues. Behind those figures are real folks who reached out for help with problems – some complex and others that were addressed through a phone call. But in a rural area like ours, where services can be scarce, we recognize the vital importance of this assistance.”

“I’ve been a leading voice against the government overreach that is threatening our constitutional freedoms. We not only won the first court ruling against the governor’s ‘isolation and quarantine’ procedures, but we’ve also mobilized people across the state who realize the risks of giving the executive too much-unfettered power,” said Sen. Borrello.

“New Yorkers are asking for help. In the most recent Siena poll, a majority cited affordability and crime as their top concerns and a majority also said the quality of life in our state is declining. There is too much at stake to sit on the sidelines. That is why I am running for re-election. The future of our region and our state is at stake, and I am committed to doing everything I can to make the changes we need to not only survive but thrive in the years ahead," said Sen. Borrello.

Senator Borrello has represented the 57th District since winning a special election in 2019 and being re-elected in 2022. The district, one of the Legislature’s largest geographically, encompasses Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Genesee, and Wyoming counties, as well as a portion of Allegany County.

More information on George Borrello is available at and @BorrelloforNY on Facebook.

GO Health warns of increased encounters with wildlife

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are warning residents to stay away from wildlife and stray animals.

“Due to the mild winter and warmer temperatures, there has been a rise in the instances of people encountering wild animals and strays throughout Genesee and Orleans Counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health. “In the past month, several residents have required rabies treatment following an animal encounter.”

Rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, bats, and skunks, but pets can be at risk of the virus too. “If you see an animal in need, even if it is a baby animal, avoid touching it and contact animal control, stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for GO Health. “It is also important to keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination.”

Rabies can be fatal if left untreated. It can be transmitted through direct contact with saliva through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth. 

If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention. All bites should be reported to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. 

To prevent the spread of rabies, the health department reminds residents to take the following precautions:

  • Keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations
  • Obey leash laws. Keep your pets under direct supervision and on a leash so they do not come in contact with wild or stray animals. If an animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the health department.
  • Avoid contact with wild or stray animals. Do not handle, feed, touch, or attract wildlife (raccoons, skunks, bats, bunnies, rabbits, and foxes) or stray dogs and cats.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. 
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters. If you find a bat in your home, safely capture it and call the health department. DO NOT release it! For a video on how to safety capture a bat, visit
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood or if you see an animal showing signs of rabies. Signs of rabies in animals may include aggression, excessive drool or saliva, confusion, hair loss, and loss of movement or function.

Residents are encouraged to take note of our upcoming drive-thru rabies vaccination clinics for dogs, cats, and ferrets in Genesee and Orleans Counties which are offered at no charge. 

Genesee County Rabies Clinics at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia)

  • Thursday, May 16, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 8, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 10, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Orleans County Rabies Clinics at the Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 State Route 31, Albion)

  • Saturday, April 13, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, June 5, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 10, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 19, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.

For more information on GO Health’s programs and services, visit You can also contact your respective health department: 

  • Genesee County- 585-344-2580 x5555 or 
  • Orleans County- 585-589-3278 or 

Photos: Sunset, Kelsey Road, Batavia

By Staff Writer
batavia sunset

Two photos of the sunset taken off Kelsey Road in the town of Batavia on Tuesday evening.

Photos submitted by Corey Coles.

batavia sunset

Chamber Awards: VFA earns special recognition in its 40th year caring for animals

By Joanne Beck
vfa chamber award
Members of Volunteers For Animals gather at Genesee County Animal Shelter in Batavia. 
Photo by Howard Owens

There they were: a dozen frightened, skinny, matted, shaking dogs — mostly poodles or poodle mixes — desperate for food, medical care, flea treatment, and, most of all, a loving and safe home.

Lucky for them, they were rescued by Genesee County dog control officers and delivered into the caring arms of Volunteers For Animals. From that moment on, those little guys and gals received much-needed baths and grooming, veterinary attention, dental work, and one by one — or in some cases, two by two — they were adopted to forever homes. 

It would be nice, perhaps, to think that this was an isolated case of animal neglect or abuse; however, there are many more stories. And for each one that volunteers share, they also share a smile when it ends in adoption. 

“It’s the happiest thing ever to see one walk out the door, and when the right family comes along, we say ‘yay, they got adopted,” VFA member Marcy Colantonio says.

Colantonio feels so strongly about the nonprofit that, in addition to being a member for the last seven years, she nominated the group for the Chamber of Commerce Special Anniversary Recognition of the Year Award.

“I think we do so much for the community and for the cats and the dogs. You know, this isn't home. And they need people to speak for them to help them find the right homes and the perfect homes for them. They don't need to be sitting in a kennel or in a cage, and I just like to promote this,” she said. “All we do, we take care of them, make sure they have a good life here, but it's not the best life. Ideally, they all need homes. So that's why I'm here, to help them find the perfect place for them.”

In 1984, there was an eager and active group of caring individuals who wanted to help four-legged creatures, and so it formed a nonprofit that, as the name implied, was truly about Volunteers For Animals. 

Those volunteers began at the modest — and often described as sad — shelter on Mill Street on the south side of Batavia until a new one was built in 2001. Ever since that first day, they have been cleaning cages, doing laundry, washing dishes, feeding cats and dogs, ensuring they get proper medical treatment and tests, and taking the pups out for regular walks, greeting and screening prospective adopters and — the most gratifying job of all: watching temporary shelter guests go home with their new families.

In more recent years, VFA has focused on fundraising for a strong spay and neuter program so that animals don’t reproduce and potentially create more unwanted innocent offspring. But all of this seems so clinical compared to what actually goes on at the shelter on Route 5 in the town of Batavia.

Amidst the feedings and tests and medical treatments — all valid in their own right — are the dozens, or hundreds, of stories, the tears, the smiles, the laughter, the compassion of people, pulling for an animal’s victory from abuse, abandonment, neglect, and putting in tireless effort, whether it’s to provide hands-on care, map out successful fundraisers or promote the nonprofit and shelter occupants. 

Colantonio joined for a reason familiar to most others: because she had a heart for the work.

“I wanted to do something for the animals, I knew someone who always shared good things about Volunteers For Animals and she said give it a try,” Colantonio said inside the adoption visit room at the shelter. “I fell in love with it.”

She has adopted a beagle and cat from the site, and as she and fellow volunteers Angie Knisley and Wendy Castleman began to think of rescue stories, the names just rolled off their tongues. 

There was Gigi, a white pitbull mix who had been at the shelter for 300 days and went through the Pathways to Home program, Ricky the cat, who was very sweet and landed a wonderful home eventually, Brad Pit, who was involved in an unfortunate long-term court case who had to remain at the shelter until the case was resolved, and was adopted once it was over. 

And Ruffles, a pretty tiger cat, who came in as a stray with a bad uterine infection. 

“Within days, you could tell she was feeling much better,” Castleman said. “She would’ve died on the street. She simply needed to be spayed.” 

Colantonio and Knisley waved and smiled as Ruffles and her new pet parent said goodbye and left the shelter. 

Castleman, who has been a member for two decades, said that VFA used to be mostly focused on the shelter itself and has expanded outward into the community, with a satellite location for cats at PetCo, a low-cost spay and neuter program, and the Path to Homes program, which began in 2018, with selected dogs being placed with inmates at Albion Correctional Facility and volunteer trainer and VFA member Tom Ryan working with them to prepare the dogs for adoption. 

Way before then, however, when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, VFA answered the call for those residents who not only worried about their own lives but the lives of their beloved pets left behind in the massive flooding. 

“Things seemed to change with Katrina. There was a huge shift, and there was a more of a recognition that there were places that had large volumes of animals that needed to be adopted and were adaptable,” Castleman said. “And for me, personally, it was a huge game changer. And I think those core volunteers are still very active. And to include the community and make it a more positive experience for both the public and the animals.”

Those rescues became a big source of news and more happy local adoption stories as volunteers drove dogs back to Batavia to a safer harbor. They have continued to snatch dogs from the jaws of high-kill shelters in other states for quick turnaround adoption times, as folks here always seemed eager to help out and welcome a four-legged into their own homes.

There’s a core of about 30 volunteers — some committing once a week and others more or less often — with 40 foster families tending to kittens to free up space for adult cats in the shelter but willing to bring the young ones in for visits when needed.

“We have a really good adoption rate because of the public; people think about adopting,” Knisley said. “I think, too, the gratitude that we feel towards the volunteers themselves because our volunteers come in and cover every day of the year. Somebody is here helping, and it's such an important integral part of us is having people here, and besides the wonderful donations that we get with the money to do what we do, it's the people.”

They are proud to say that 95 percent of every dollar donated goes directly to help the animals in Genesee County and the surrounding area, and there are no salaried employees in the organization. The breakdown for 2023 includes 76 percent for veterinary care, which was $170,827; 17% for medications, vaccine and food supplies, or $37,856; 5% for fundraising, $11,047; and 2% for rescue dog fees, or $4,560. 

It is rewarding, emotional and sometimes difficult being an animal welfare volunteer, Colantonio said. 

“We see the best of humanity and the worst of humanity,” she said. “From being saved from an abusive situation, rescued from a hoarder home to simply taking in a pet that is no longer loved or wanted, the well-being of the dog or cat is always our first priority.”  

One of those situations involved a barely recognizable pooch that came to the shelter with so much puss from infections that he had to stay in a bathtub for a while, Castleman said. 

“His ears and mouth were pouring with puss,” she said.  “We took him to a vet clinic, and the vet said ‘we can clean it up, he needs antibiotics, vet care and he had dental work.”

While the prognosis was iffy, and the amount of grotesque puss was “heartbreaking,” that dog turned out to be a “gorgeous Pomeranian.” His name was Nook, and he was most definitely a cutie. He proved positive that miraculous transformations can take place for what might seem like a hopeless cause.

It was the same for those dozen poodles, rescued from a hoarding situation. Most of them recovered and were adopted, including two little girls who went on to live for nine years with a local reporter. They had major dental work, anxiety, social issues, inability to take stairs, walk on a leash or hold down their meals many times or remain housebroken, but were loving, comfortable and loved. 

“They just rebound,” Castleman said.

After all, that’s what Volunteers For Animals, celebrating its 40th year, is all about: hope for hopeless animals. 

Photos by Howard Owens

vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award
vfa chamber award

Retired sergeant is presented with proclamation, best wishes

By Joanne Beck
Eugene Jankowski and Daniel Coffee
City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. listens as retired Sergeant Daniel Coffey says a few words with his proclamation during Monday's conference meeting at City Hall. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

A devoted leader and public servant passionate about his community and what he does, those are a few descriptions for retired Sergeant Dan Coffey, who was given a belated proclamation and best wishes from the City Council this week for his 20 years of service with the Batavia Police Department.

Coffey walked out the door of 10 W. Main St. for his Jan. 5 retirement this year after a career that put him in positions of police officer, field training officer, general topics instructor, lead firearms instructor and having served on the department’s emergency response team, before being promoted to sergeant in June 2012.

He took command of the first platoon soon afterward. He was in charge of the department’s fleet of vehicles, credited for being “integral in the day-to-day operations of the department,” for taking on many projects, and for serving his community and the department with passion and dedication. 

A lifelong city of Batavia resident who graduated from Notre Dame High School, Coffey attended Genesee Community College and obtained an associate degree before he earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Brockport State College. 

He began his career as a police officer at the City of Batavia Police Department on Oct. 5, 2003. His other career experiences include time as an emergency services dispatcher at Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, a manager at a local restaurant, and as a former chief for the Town of Batavia Fire Department, where he continues to volunteer.

The public has recognized Coffey with “many appreciation letters and positive comments,” the resolution read. He is a past recipient of the Kiwanis Club Criminal Justice Award and has received other departmental awards, the proclamation states.

He has also distinguished himself as a leader and mentor within the department and the city of Batavia, it states.

“Now, therefore, in a true spirit of appreciation for 20 years of dedicated service to the city of Batavia, City Council makes this proclamation to sincerely thank Daniel J. Coffey for his dedicated service to our community and to wish him well in retirement,” City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said, reading the proclamation to Coffey during Monday’s conference meeting.

Coffey accepted the citation from Jankowski, a fellow retired police department member, and said a few words to the audience, which included some department personnel.

“Thank you very much for the sentiment. I really do appreciate it,” he said. “It was a good career. I enjoyed working for the city of Batavia, and it really does mean a lot to me that my service was recognized. I really do appreciate all the people here. Thank you.”

His retirement did not last long. Coffey was hired in January as director of campus safety for GCC in Batavia.

Town of Byron changes location for Wednesday informational meeting

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Town of Byron Sewer District and Waste Water Treatment proposed project informational meeting has been changed from the Town Hall to the South Byron Fire Hall, 7398 South Byron Rd. Byron on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.

This change was made to accommodate the number of attendees. 

MRB Group, project Engineers will be explaining the reasons leading to the proposed project and the plans going forward.

Public questions are welcome.

The regularly scheduled Byron Town Board Meeting will immediately follow the informational meeting.

Batavia City Schools board considers overriding tax cap as one option for $3M budget gap

By Joanne Beck

A $3.1 million budget shortfall due to potentially retaining seven positions funded by grants that will end this September, a decrease in state aid, and a transportation contract that’s gone up by more than $500,000 has triggered a tax cap alert for Batavia City School board members.

That is, at least some of them have agreed they would consider overriding the state-mandated tax cap increase, which for the city district is .72 percent. Members had a first go-round of the 2024-25 budget during Monday’s board meeting.

“If it is coming down to it, we’re going to have to look at every option,” Vice President John Reigle said.

Business Administrator Andrew Lang presented projected revenues and expenditures, retaining current staffing, busing and programs. The proposed general support budget would be $6,977,767, or an increase of $505,98; an employee benefits increase of $657,194; transportation, which just received a five-year ok from the board for $3,310,108 for the first year, or a 20.2 percent increase and provides transportation for students from home to school, athletic events, field trips and summer home to school. 

What Lang calls the rollover expenditure budget includes current staffing of seven full-time, long-term substitutes that have been funded through COVID-19 grant money of $5,804,256 that will end in September, five full-time social workers funded through a full-service community schools grant, five full-time instructional staff retirement replacements, all departmental requests for equipment and supplies, and two full-time school resource officers, one of which is funded with those COVID-19 grant funds about to expire in six months. 

Items that also will roll over and cannot budge are salary increases in accordance with collective bargaining agreements and individual contracts and projected employer contribution amounts for employee and teacher retirement systems, he said. There is also a free school supplies for all students program, also purchased with COVID funds. 

All totaled, the 2024-25 budget would be more than $62 million, at $62,052,726, compared to the current year’s budget of $58,875,814, for a difference of an additional $3,176,912. 

As for overall enrollment projections, those are expected to gradually decline, Lang said. Numbers had dipped to 2,006 in 2021-22, and then rose back up to 2,031 in 2022-23, 2,072 in 2023-24, and then slipped back down to 2,047 in 2024-25, and are projected to fall to 2,034 in 2025-26 hover around there in 2026-27, fall again to 2,022 in 2027-28 and bounce back to 2,046 in 2028-29. Numbers have been nowhere close to the all-time high of 2,167 of 2019-20. 

Those extra positions were added three years ago with COVID funds as a measure to deal with the aftermath of shutdowns and what educators believed was an issue of students struggling with social-emotional learning and related academic achievement.

“So there are some things that we need to be thinking about,” Superintendent Jason Smith said, referring to what he believes was “learning loss” attributed to COVID-19. “So we saw last month our test scores have been competitive. I’m not excusing the damage the pandemic caused, but it’s been four years … at some point, you can say the gap has been closed. Yes, we still want to give services to kids. We have seen some nice improvements across the district, and we still have some more work to do. But we also have to be careful that if we absorb that amount of almost $6 million into the general fund, which is what the plan is now, that may not be the most fiscally prudent thing to do.” 

Lang recommended that the next steps would be to increase the revenue by appropriating additional reserves, increasing the tax levy, and/or continuing to lobby for additional state aid. Expenses can be decreased through attrition and no additional hiring, he said, consider what to do with those grant-funded positions, and there’s an option not to replace the retiring personnel for more savings.

Board member Alice Benedict asked about transportation. 

“We also have flexibility on transportation too, do we not?” she said.

Smith initially said no.

Benedict pursued her line of thinking, adding that busing is not mandated, so the district is not bound to provide it.

“It’s something that can be looked at,” Smith said. “I’m not sure it’s something we would do.”

“Having lived here all my life, transportation has changed quite a bit,” Benedict said.

Smith said he believes there will be more Foundation Aid to come from the state. He turned to the board and asked if members wanted him to return with budget recommendations, and if there was any interest in exceeding the tax cap.

“I would,” Board President John Marucci said as Reigle also weighed in.

“We never want to, but I think it’s an option we have to look at,” Reigle said. 

He wanted to make sure that the SROs and school safety remained in place, and no board member suggested cutting any personnel at this point. Smith said that the administration would return with recommendations at the next meeting.

The group plans to meet at a budget workshop on March 12 at the District Office. A proposed budget is to be adopted by April 22 and be available for public review by May 6 and presented during a budget hearing at 6 p.m. May 14. A district vote will be on May 21.

Le Roy district announces merger of legendary football program with former rival, Cal-Mum

By Howard B. Owens
leroy calmum merger 2012 file photo
File photo from 2012

The rivalry was once among the most legendary in Section V - Caledonia-Mumford vs. the Oatkan Knights of Le Roy.

The rivalry waned when leagues were realigned a few years ago, and starting next season, the once fierce fighters on the field will be brothers on the gridiron. 

Both school districts have approved, pending Section V approval, a merger of the two football programs.  The merger will affect all levels of football in both communities.

The Knights are coming off a 2023 campaign in which the team won its record-setting 16th Section V title.

The Le Roy Central School District said in a statement on Tuesday evening:

Please know that this decision was made with the best interests of our students and our school district in mind and keeps the mission of our shared services committee central to our decision-making. The decision to merge football teams with the Caledonia-Mumford CSD reflects the collaborative spirit and commitment to providing exceptional opportunities for our student-athletes.

The statement acknowledged the rich football history in both communities and said the merger would strengthen football opportunities for all age groups and help both districts sustain 11 main football programs.

The district said there would be future announcements about the plan to carry out the merger, practice and game schedules and locations, and a selection of a head coach and additional coaching staff.

"The team name, mascot, and colors will also be determined by student-athletes in partnership with our athletic directors and coaching staff at a later date," the statement read. 

It concluded, "We are excited about this merger and the future of the Caledonia-Mumford and Le Roy football program."

Over the past few seasons, Cal-Mum has been merged with Byron-Bergen for football and cheerleading.  On Tuesday evening, Athletic Director Rich Hannan and Superintendent Pat McGee issued the following statement.

We are writing to update everyone on a developing situation with our football and fall cheer program here at Byron-Bergen. Last week we were made aware that Cal-Mum is exploring a new partnership for their football and fall cheer squad that does not include Byron-Bergen. While we did not initiate this change, we are already actively exploring possibilities for our student-athletes to continue competing in their chosen fall sports.

High wind watch issued for Wednesday

By Staff Writer

A high wind watch starts on Wednesday at 11 a.m., carrying a significant threat to safety and property, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters expect winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.

High winds are expected through Wednesday night.

Possible difficulties include toppled trees, downed power lines, scattered power outages, and travel could be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles.

BND wins first Section V title as a unified program 3-2 in overtime

By Steve Ognibene
BND United first ever Section V, Class B championship after three years as a unified program.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
BND United's first-ever Section V, Class B championship after three years as a unified program.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Batavia Notre Dame, a merged hockey team in its third year as a united unit, won its first Section V Class B championship Monday in dramatic fashion -- pulling out an overtime victory.

United struck first in the first period. 

Brennen Pedersen came off the bench to keep the puck from crossing the blue line for offsides, taking a pass from Jameson Motyka and opening up the scoring for United 1-0 with seven minutes left in the opening period.

Nine minutes into the second period, Ivan Milovidov scored unassisted, which gave United a 2-0 lead.  

Webster Thomas cut the lead by one goal, scoring with four minutes left in the period to make it 2-1.

In the third period, after two penalty kills, United maintained the lead with under four minutes left. Webster Thomas scored again to tie the game 2-2 and send it into overtime.

In overtime, each squad had opportunities until Joe DiRisio scored the game-winner on a rebound to give BND the Class B title.  

BND United had 34 shots on goal.  Rhys Tanner made 32 saves for United.

Section V awards were given to Joe DiRisio, named MVP, and Ivan Milovidov, player of the game.

United moves on to the Regional round versus Kenmore East at Noon on Saturday at RIT.

Coach Marc Staley said he told his team going into overtime to take a couple of deep breaths and go out and do what they've done all year, to trust the process.

"This game could have gone either way," Staley said. "I mean, their goalie made some great saves. Our goalie made some great saves. We ended up getting a loose puck in front of the net, and we banged it home. That's how it goes."

He added, "You know, you get a little luck when you need it.  We got a little luck when we needed it."

DiRisio, who scored the winning goal, credited the win to the close bond between team members.

"We just stayed together, really, DiRisio said. "We're brothers. We're family. We love each other. And we knew we had to stay level for it. I feel like being level mentally is 80 percent of the game. It's just it's huge."

The win, making history for the program, was a magical moment, he said.

"Obviously, it's history. It's kind of a numbing feeling because you're just so excited; at least, I am. It's just, it's incredible. It really is."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Joe DiRisio taking a shot on net.  DiRisio scored the game winning goal in overtime.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Joe DiRisio taking a shot on net.  DiRisio scored the game winning goal in overtime.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Ivan Milovidov escaping a forecheck going toward the goalkeeper.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Ivan Milovidov escapes a forecheck going toward the goalkeeper.  Milovidov scored the second goal for BND.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
#18 Brennan Pedersen gave BND the lead on a shot from the blue line.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Brennen Pedersen gave BND the lead on a shot from the blue line. 
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
Orion Lama setting up a pass to teammate Brady Johnson.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Orion Lama setting up a pass to teammate Brady Johnson.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Sam Pies entering the zone setting up a play.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Sam Pies entering the zone setting up a play.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
United's bench celebration after winning the game in overtime.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
United's bench celebration after winning the game in overtime.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Players from BND United raising the Class B Section V trophy.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Players from BND United raising the Class B Section V trophy.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

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