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Chris Lee sworn-in to represent the 26th Congressional District

By Philip Anselmo

Republican Chriss Lee was reticent during last year's campaign season, often declining interviews and frequently unwilling to speak one-on-one with the press. Most news that came our way came via cut-and-paste press releases put together by his campaign team. Yet that strategy proved the way to win the seat in the 26th Congressional District, which, if we're to be honest with ourselves, was the real goal—transparency and cooperation mean nothing without that win. With such a strategy, Lee beat out Democratic challenger Alice Kryzan, who was much his opposite: ferocious in her willingness to get out and talk with anybody who would listen.

Well, Lee is now one day into his new job and already proclaiming that his "doors are always open." In fact, he even held an open house immediately following the ceremony in Washington! Quite a turnaround from the campaign trail. Here's more from the press release that went out late yesterday afternoon:

“It is an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Western New York,” Congressman Lee said. “I am prepared to fight every day for new jobs, lower taxes, and real accountability for the hard-earned money Western New Yorkers send to Washington. For starters, we need a sensible economic recovery package that makes the right investments to spur future growth and provides much-needed tax relief for working families and small business owners.
“We also need Washington to stop treating fiscal responsibility like an afterthought. I will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to control federal spending and hold Washington accountable for every decision it makes.”

Lee continued on in the same vein.

“We face significant challenges right now, and I am ready to work with anyone who is committed to getting our economy moving again, regardless of what party he or she belongs to,” Congressman Lee added. “Changing the way we do business in Washington will require a sustained bipartisan commitment to forward-looking solutions.”

What are your thoughts on Lee's opening day statements? Does it sound like he will in fact get things done for the people of this district? Or does it sound like the same old political blather—i.e., "a sustained bipartisan commitment to forward-looking solutions"?

As we said, Lee made it a point to avoid debates, avoid public appearances that were not choreographed and avoid interviews by the media. That sort of behavior, in the midst of a very public campaign, whether it was strategy or personality, does not speak to a character of unquestioning and altruistic cooperation. Yet here he is, making promises of openness and availability. In fact, Lee will host a pair of open houses at his two local district offices in Williamsville and Greece on January 24. Lee will be in Williamsville first from 9:00am to noon, and in Greece from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

“Our doors are always open to our constituents; listening to their concerns and addressing their needs is our highest priority,” Congressman Lee said.

He will not make any appearance in Genesee County. We sent an e-mail to his office to find out what representation Genesee County will have since both of his district offices are out of the area, in the Buffalo and Rochester suburbs. We will get up any response as soon as it comes our way.

Now, I may have come out of the gate with a critical edge to my blade, but I don't at all mean to condemn Lee before he even gets a chance to prove himself. That being said, we plan to keep a close eye on our newest representative in Congress to see if he lives up to his promises—or if he lives up to his campaign strategy.

Weather advisory extended into Thursday morning

By Philip Anselmo

Many area schools are already delayed this morning to help give highway crews time to get the roads salted. Ice is the main problem right now. Wind will become the hazard this evening. As for the best news of all: expect more of it, throughout the day today.

A winter weather advisory issued yesterday by the National Weather Service that was supposed to run through 5:00pm today has been extended through the evening until 5:00am Thursday. From the advisory:

Freezing rain will produce very slipper conditions across the area this morning. A changeover to all snow and increasing westerly winds will make driving hazardous tonight.

Freezing rain will change to occasional rain and drizzle this morning. Additional ice accumulation of less than one tenth of an inch expected. Expect periods of snow tonight with 1 to 3 inches possible by Thursday morning. Accumulations of 2 to 5 inches are likely well south of Buffalo and Batavia. The snow will also be accompanied by westerly winds gusting up to 35 mphs at times.

Here's a look at conditions out on the Thruway at the Batavia interchange:

News roundup: School delays

By Philip Anselmo

Several area school districts have delayed opening school for two hours as a result of icy roads, according to WBTA's Dan Fischer. They include: Batavia City Schools, Attica, Le Roy and Pavilion. Fischer reports that a number of roads simply have yet to be salted.

In other news, 40 workers have been let go at Lapp Insulators in Le Roy. On its Web site, the company is described as "a world-leading manufacturer of high voltage ceramic and composite insulators for the global electric utility industry." A loss of 40 employees will bring the total workforce down to 98. There is no news on the WBTA site as to why the company enforced the lay offs.

D'Errico family sees possible ESG fees as a problem

By Brian Hillabush

Alyssa D'Errico has always been a star on the volleyball court. She has won state titles, club titles and two national championships at Penn State.

But one of her favorite volleyball memories is the 2006 Empire State Games when she was chosen to kick off the ceremony by lighting the torch that kicked off the opening ceremony.  

D'Errico has three gold medals in the scholastic competition and picked up a silver in the open division last year.

With the news that athletes may have to pay up to $300 to play in the games, she isn't positive she will be back for another ESG.

"It doesn't really bother me right now because I'm so far removed," D'Errico said. "If I was still in high school, it would bother me. But right now I'm not as big a part of the team and I would be playing open. But as a college student, I don't know if I could play if they charged $300. I think it would make it a lot less fun because I've always looked forward to playing for and representing Western New York."

Alyssa made an excellent point when the idea of having to pay to play in the ESG came up. She believes it is an honor to represent your region, but a player would be better off spending the money to pay to play club volleyball, where she will be noticed by college recruiters.

D'Errico won three state titles at Byron-Bergen while reaching the 1,879 kills and 1,521 digs in her career.

But a big reason why she landed a Division I scholarship to play with Penn State is because of her years with the VolleyFX Magic Club. She helped lead that team to four regional titles and a 17th-place finish in the 2006 nationals.

"For $300, you can go to a camp and get training, rather than just play," D'Errico said. "It was a great experience, but I guess it depends on who (the ESG team) is trying to attract. It is definitely going to deter people from trying out because of the cost."

Alyssa's mother Cindy was a member of the 1977 volleyball national A2 team and is still heavily involved in the sport. She coached the Bees while Alyssa was in high school and still attends all of her home matches at Penn State.

She helps scholastic coach Rob Werkmeister with player selection and runs the masters division, which could be one of the sports eliminated if there are cut-backs.

She thinks a charge would make things very difficult for a lot of players.

"It's going to be tough," Cindy said. "There are going to be families and parents that are going to have to decide if going to Empires is going to benefit their sons or daughters."

Empire State Games in trouble

By Brian Hillabush

This very well could be the beginning of the end of the Empire State Games.

It was announced by The Buffalo News this morning that the Empire State Games might be downsizing, and in fact starting to charge athletes up to $300 each to participate in the summer games.

"I would say that this is a very unfortunate thing because it would keep a lot of scholastic athletes that are trying to play in Empires out," said Batavia coach Buddy Brasky, who has coached the last three Western squads. "There are a lot of kids that couldn't afford to pay that feed. It could lead to the end of the Scholastic Empire State Games." 

Western Regional director Lou Reuter also doesn't feel very good about the future of the games.

“I can understand that everyone is having to take a hit,” he told Buffalo News reporter Niki Cervantes, because of the weak economy and state budget crisis. “But it’s almost like the demise of the Empire State Games.”

Reports are that some sports - assuming the non-spectator sports - could flat out be eliminated, but without help from the state, this year's games in the Hudson River Valley could be in serious trouble.

Brasky can only keep 10 players on his scholastic boys basketball team, but can see where it will be a problem for him to attract quality players that are from lower income families.

"(If I were going to recommend) that a player tries out for the games, I would leave it up to the individual athlete," Brasky said. "I still think it is a worthwhile experience, but they have to see if it is worth a $300 experience. With all the AAU basketball out there, I don't know if kids would pay that kind of money to play in the Empire State Games."

Brasky has 10 roster spots to worry about. Imagine what the track & field coaches and wrestling coaches would have to worry about if those larger squads. 

As somebody that has covered these games before, I know that there is funding by the New York State Office of Parks and other organizations, but I have never noticed a lack of corporate sponsorships. It really is never a problem to get a $6 hot dog or $4 bottle of water either.

Times are tough for everybody as we are dealing with this economic downswing, but having a chance to get the best athletes in the state together during the summer time for a chance to compete is something worth fighting for. 

And it might not be just athletes that would feel the frustration if the student athletes are charged to participate. Some coaches just don't know if the extra effort of trying to get good enough talent to compete will be possible, or even worth it.

"I'd have to think about (coming back to coach this summer," Brasky said. "This is the first time I've heard about this, so I'm going to get in touch with director Lou Reuter. This is something I'm going to have to think about, if I want to keep going under these circumstances."

On the Beat: Batavia man faces multiple drug charges

By Philip Anselmo

Shane Reisman, 39, of 143 State St., Batavia, was arrested yesterday by Genesee County sheriff's deputies following an investigation into the transportation and sale of illegal drugs. Reisman was charged with several felonies, including: third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, fifth-degree sale of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Reisman is alleged to have sold "quantities of pills" to an undercover agent of the Genesee County Local Drug Enforcement Task Force. Following the arrest, made at Resiman's home Monday, he was sent to Genesee County Jail without bail pending an arraignment in county court later this afternoon.

Poll: What would you ask the governor?

By Philip Anselmo

Folks in the region will have several opportunities to meet and speak with our governor in February. An article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports this morning that Gov. David Paterson will hold a series of at least four town-hall style meetings upstate to "allow residents to ask questions and interact with the governor on the ideas he lays out in the State of the State address." Gov. Paterson will give his State of the State this Wednesday at 1:00pm.

Of those meetings that have so far been scheduled, three will be held within a short distance of Batavia: one in Buffalo on February 18, one in Rochester on February 11 and another in Geneseo on February 12. Others will likely be held in Watertown and Binghamton.

From the article:

Paterson has moved away from Spitzer's plan to split up some state duties, particularly economic development, into upstate and downstate branches. Paterson has argued that New York is one state with a united purpose.

Andrew Rudnick, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, said an upstate address isn't necessary so long as the governor gives the region the attention it needs.

If the symbolism of an upstate speech, "isn't followed up by definitive policy and asset allocation, what much difference does it make?" he said.

Most people would likely agree that the most pressing issue now facing the state is the budget crisis. A few weeks ago, Paterson released his budget proposal that caused quite a stir. We've put together a poll with a few topics that might come up when the governor visits upstate. Pick whichever you most want to hear about. I figure that the budget proposal will likely be a major part of the State of the State this Wednesday, so try to think what's most important to upstate other than that.

What should the Governor discuss when he visits Upstate?
( polls)

A wintry mix will make for slick roads tonight and tomorrow

By Philip Anselmo

We've received yet another winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service. This one goes into effect tonight at 8:00pm through 5:00pm tomorrow.

A wintry mix will produce slippery travel tonight through Wednesday. Light snow is expected to overspread the Niagara Frontier, Genesee Valley and northern Finger Lakes this evening. The light snow will change to sleet and freezing rain from southwest to northeast after midnight. Occasional light freezing rain and freezing drizzle is expected to continue through Wednesday. The freezing rain may change to just rain later Wednesday with temperatures rising just above freezing.

Snow accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible before the changeover. Ice accumulations of up to a tenth of an inch are possible.

Be careful out there. This doesn't sound like the worst we've had—freezing drizzle isn't all that intimidating—but even a tenth of an inch of ice can cause some hairy driving conditions.

Attica native remembers local basketball tourney from 1975

By Philip Anselmo

Many thanks to Sean Feeney for sending along this remembrance:

I remember playing in what I think was the original Batavia Lions Club tournament in December 1975 while playing for Attica. We played Batavia in the opener losing by a point or two to Batavia led by now coach Buddy Brasky and Jimmy Orosco. Kevin Kellogg and Doug Miller were our leading scorers. We played Notre Dame in the consolation game. ... I do not remember who Batavia played in the final. I believe Buddy Brasky was the tournament MVP.  Myself and I think Jimmy Orosco were on the all tourney team with someone from ND and the other team in the tourney. Batavia warmed up to the Ohio players "Love Rollercoaster".

The Batavian is great. I love catching up on high school sports back in WNY!

Sean Feeney
Alpharetta, GA

I wanted to post this to the site to see if it sparked any other memories in our readers. Was this the original Lions Club tournament in 1975? Or did it start later on, in 1982, as we had believed? Do you remember? Did you play?

In memoriam: Norm Koch: "To our Comrade... he's going home"

By Philip Anselmo

Rigs lined up over a dozen deep stretched along the side of East Main Street in Corfu this morning. Its riders, along with many more, crowded inside the Pembroke Community Center to pay their last respects to Norm Koch, former chief at the Corfu Fire Department and longtime firefighter who died in the line of duty assisting at the scene of a car accident in East Pembroke Tuesday. Koch served as commissioner and captain of the fire police in East Pembroke. He was 79.

Shortly before noon this morning, county dispatchers sounded the final alarm in honor of Captain Koch. This was that message:

This is the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center going on the air with a last alarm assignment for East Pembroke Fire Police Captain Norm Koch.

Captain Koch answered his last alarm December 30th at 12:34 hours at the age of 79. He served the East Pembroke Fire Department for 21 years.

The Alexander, Corfu and East Pembroke Fire Departments are thankful for the 58 years of service Past Chief, Commissioner and Fire Police Capt. Norm Koch has provided to the communities they serve.

His task completed, his duties well done. To our Comrade, his last alarm, he's going home.

Meanwhile, outside the Corfu Fire Department, the buckets from the Batavia and Le Roy ladder trucks joined some thirty feet from the ground to fly the flag in salute.

Poll: Looking for a good cup of joe...

By Philip Anselmo

All the lights are extinguished. All the percolators are turned off, the swizzle sticks packed away and the steamers have all run out of steam. It's official... the end of an era.

Main Street Coffee is closed.

We would like to wish former proprietor Rob Credi the best of luck in his future endeavors. Credi took us in when we were still crawling, just learning how to walk, back in May. Main Street Coffee was the home base for The Batavian for several months before we procured an office of our own. We were always treated like family there. And we'll always consider it our home away from home. We hope that right now Credi is still sleeping, for once not having to get up before dawn to help us start our day with a fresh cup of coffee and a hot bagel sandwich.

All that being said, what do we do now? Where do we go now for a good cup of coffee served with class and culture and often—especially in the case of Credi—a touch of comedy? Let's take it to the polls... I'll tell you all right now that I'm voting for Hot Shots. I've always been and plan to remain a staunch supporter of locally-owned and operated cafés. So that's me. How about you? 

Who's got the best cup of coffee in Batavia?
( surveys)

Best of the Batavian — 2008 Edition: Your Picks!

By Philip Anselmo

We've tallied the results and put together our lists of The Batavian's Top Ten Posts and Top Ten Stories of 2008. You may notice that we don't run them down neatly one through ten. There were many ties. So here you are:

Top Ten Posts of 2008:

1. Batavians choose not to live like they do in big cities...

2. Waterfowler's morning...

3. Le Roy remembers Hooks...

4. O-A stuns Pembroke in final seconds...

5. Saturday Day Trip... (Tie - 5th)

5. Chainsaw artist Rick Pratt... (Tie - 5th)

6. A truck that's got a story to tell... (Tie - 6th)

6. Contemplating Bill Kauffman's Batavia... (Tie - 6th)

7. Hillary's Seat: If We Were Speaking Locally... (Tie - 7th)

7. Telling stories that tell stories: The art of Brian Moore... (Tie - 7th)

Top Ten Stories of 2008:

1. Pontillo's in Batavia closes—owes more than $112,000 in back taxes...

2. Muckdogs win NY-Penn League Championship...

3. My T Acres barn fire...

4. High school football...

5. Six-year-old brings loaded gun onto school bus...

6. First major winter storm... (Tie - 6th)

6. Elections... (Tie - 6th)

7. House fire on Lewiston Road claims life of teenage boy...

8. Youth football...

9. The mall...

There you have it. The people have spoken! Please follow the links to view the vote count or to navigate and view any of the top posts you either missed or wish to read again. Thank you! Here's to a new year that will be even more exciting than the last.

On the Beat: Son accused of punching his father in the head

By Philip Anselmo

Christopher P. Ball, 26, of 4902 Ellicott Street Road, Batavia, was charged with second-degree harassment early Sunday morning, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Ball is accused of punching his father in the head during a domestic dispute. Ball was sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $250.

Christopher Archer, 17, of Pembroke, was charged with second-degree harassment Friday, deputies said. Archer was allegedly involved in a fight following a domestic dispute.

Edward J. Roshea Jr., 40, of Corfu, was charged with driving while intoxicated Sunday, deputies said. Roshea Jr. was stopped by deputies for allegedly failing to keep right of the center line.

Rumblings of interest across the state in potential consolidation of town and city — Batavia inches into the spotlight

By Philip Anselmo

A potential consolidation for Batavia has caught the attention of more than just the local crowds. An editorial from the crew at the Syracuse Post Standard that went up a few days ago asks the question: One Batavia for all?

If Batavia's voters approve municipal consolidation next fall, it should make waves at least throughout the state. As Attorney General Andrew Cuomo recently noted, New York's 10,521 local government entities are excessive. Towns, villages, school districts and special assessment districts consume too many tax dollars and pit folks against each other who should join forces.

Is Batavia ready to make waves? What good or bad could come from the consolidation?

Notre Dame graduate teaches hoops at YMCA in Greece

By Philip Anselmo

A story in the Democrat & Chronicle yesterday features Batavia Notre Dame graduate Tim Sullivan, now one of the country's best basketball shooting coaches. Sullivan, who graduated in 1978, then "walked onto the team at Canisius College in Buffalo," now puts on some 400 shooting clinics across the country each year.

This article, by John Boccacino, is a fun read, and there are more than a few great tips for any amateur basketball enthusiast looking to beef up his or her shot. It's clear that Sullivan knows his stuff.

After every shot attempt Sullivan preached that, as part of their follow through, the participants kiss the shoulder of their shooting side to guarantee a complete, accurate shot.

His wise words were met with confusion. "When he started talking about that, my friend Matt Noto and I looked at each other and said, 'OK, that won't work,'" said Steven Ciotti, 13, a seventh-grader at Greece Athena Middle School who plays for Greece Basketball Association's seventh-grade house team. "But then he started shooting and he just wasn't missing. I think he made almost 95 percent of his 200 shots and we were all amazed."

Jammin' for Jen: Raising funds for a community member in need

By Philip Anselmo

We received the following notice from the Friends of Jennifer:

    Jennifer Bobzin was in a serious accident with a tractor trailer on Monday, October 20, 2008 around 1 p.m.  She was put into a coma by the doctors to perform a Bifrontal Craniectomy (part of her skull cap was removed to make room for swelling of the brain), the surgery was finished around 730 p.m. Monday night. The injuries sustained in the accident were mainly to her face and head. She has several facial fractures and trauma to her head/brain, with bleeding.
    Jennifer was transferred to St. Mary’s Brain Injury Unit on November 13th for rehabilitation.  She is doing well and has even progressed to being able to come home for occasional day visits.
    Jennifer is a single mom, and recently purchased her first home for herself, her mother and her boys.  Due to the accident and the extent of her injuries, the financial situation is poor.
    In an effort to help with the many medical and everyday expenses, her friends have planned a benefit dinner and concert for
January 24, 2008.  The benefit will feature four live bands, dinner, a Chinese auction, door prizes, raffles and a live auction as well.  We are planning on about 400 people.  We are currently seeking donations from area businesses for items to use in the auctions and raffles.  We are also looking for donations of food items or monetary donations to offset the cost of the dinner.
    For more information you can check out the websites that have been set up for Jennifer. is the website that has been tracking her progress with daily updates and a guestbook that can be signed, and has been set up to promote the benefit.   Businesses will be promoted on the my space website as well as area radio stations and newspapers.
If you need to contact someone, please feel free to call Jennifer’s sister Shari at 585-813-7675.  Donations can be mailed to Shari Loewke at 6664 Townline Road Byron, NY 14422.

Thank you,
Friends of Jennifer

Shopping with local merchants improves the local economy

By Howard B. Owens

Many people love those big box, big chain stores. Often, they have a better selection of items then smaller, locally owned stores, not to mention the potential of better prices.

But is going to Wal-Mart, Target or Home Depot first, instead of one of the many local merchants that might carry the same wares the best choice for your community or yourself?

USAToday carried an interesting piece this past week on the virtues of shopping local.

There are good reasons for buying local. It reduces the need for shipping, which reduces pollution, and it supports the local community. "A study we did found that for every $100 spent in a chain store, $14 went back into the local economy. For a locally owned business, it was $45," says Stacy Mitchell, author of "Big-Box Swindle" and researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "Locally owned businesses buy a lot of services from other local businesses. So by buying from one local business, you're not only supporting that business, you're supporting other local businesses."

The author offers examples of how she shops local. Of course, not all of those options are available in Batavia.  At times, unfortunately, the big box stores seem unavoidable.  But what are you doing to make a better effort to support your local economy?

(via Rochester Turning)

Batavia man struck by car in Watertown

By Howard B. Owens

Jordan M. Hadfield of Batavia was struck by a car -- allegedly on purpose -- in Watertown yesterday.

The Watertown Daily Times reports that Eric W. Walker, 27, of Watertown, is being charged with two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and one count of falsely reporting an incident as well as leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

Allegedly, Walker struck Hadfield and then drove home, where he called police and said somebody had smashed the windshield of his car while it was parked outside.

No word on the condition of Hadfield, or even if he was taken to the hospital.

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