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Schumer makes statement announcing NY received more funding than it sent to Washington

By Press Release

Press Release:

Today, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) released the following statement on how the historic federal relief he has delivered for New York has led to New York receiving more back from Washington than the state has sent in taxes, according to the NYS Comptroller. 

This is the third year in a row that New York has had a positive balance of payments, after a long history of facing the opposite and sending more to Washington than it received:

“For decades and decades, New York State paid more to the federal government in taxes than we got back. My mentor, the late Senator Moynihan always decried this imbalance. But now for the third year in a row, thanks to the historic federal investments I passed — especially from the American Rescue Plan— New York is getting back more from the feds than it paid in taxes,” said Senator Schumer. 

“When I became majority leader, I vowed to fight this imbalance, and I am proud I secured billions in relief and investments for New York. And after I led the effort to pass into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Law, my CHIPS and Science bill, and the Inflation Reduction Act, more federal investment will be headed to New York, something I’ll continue to fight for. It’s never been more clear: it pays to have the Senate majority leader from New York.”

Tickets now on sale for GCC's 43rd annual fashion show 'A Night at the Cinema'

By Press Release
Photo of GCC's 2023 Fashion Show, courtesy of Genesee Community College.

Press Release:

Lights, Camera, Fashion! Get ready to experience glamour, style, and cinematic magic as GCC's fashion program presents its 43rd annual fashion show "A Night at the Cinema," an immersive journey through the silver screen's most iconic moments and timeless fashion inspirations. 

Set to take place on Saturday, May 4 at 6 p.m. at the Richard C. Call Arena on GCC's Batavia Campus, this exclusive event promises to be a testament to the creativity and talent of GCC's fashion students.

Each of the scene coordinators presents a line inspired by a genre of film. Whether you are enamored by rom-coms, intrigued by paranormal films, inspired by historical films, energized by sci-fi, captivated by the red carpet premiere, or mystified by fairytales and fantasy, you will find looks you love on the runway. From luxurious evening gowns to sleek, sophisticated suits, each garment has been meticulously designed to evoke the spirit of Hollywood. Merchandising students are also collaborating with local boutiques including Savers, Goodwill of Batavia, and Catwalk Consignments of Clarence to showcase a diverse range of styles and demonstrate the versatility of fashion through sustainable and thrift finds.

In addition to the breathtaking fashion showcase, "A Night at the Cinema" will feature immersive set designs and special surprises that promise to transport attendees to the golden age of cinema. With every detail curated to evoke the magic of the silver screen, guests will be immersed in a world where fashion and film converge in a display of artistry and elegance.

The GCC fashion program extends its gratitude to show sponsors Sage Rutty and Company, Inc., Cleaner Than Before and More Cleaning Services, and Whole Life Fitness for their unwavering commitment to fostering creativity and innovation in the fashion program. Their dedication to the students and community is deeply appreciated, and the College is honored to have them as partners in this spectacular event.

"I am incredibly excited for our students to showcase their talents and creativity through this year's fashion show," said GCC's Assistant Professor of Fashion Business Merchandising, Laura Taylor. "A Night at the Cinema" is a truly immersive production, featuring pre-show interviews, photo-ops with coordinators, and a post-show party and vendor market. Our students have put in a tremendous amount of work and effort to make this year's show, a truly unforgettable experience. We are immensely grateful to our generous sponsors whose support has made this event possible."

As it has in the past, the Fashion Show will include a vendor fair giving local businesses a chance to showcase their products and services. There are still a few tables available for additional vendors. Interested businesses should email Tables are only $25.

This year's fashion show offers exclusive sponsorship opportunities for businesses, organizations, and individuals interested in supporting the GCC fashion program. For more information, please contact Laura Taylor at Don't miss out on this exciting event, celebrating the timelessness of fashion and the talent of GCC's fashion students.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a red carpet paparazzi photo shoot, vendor fair, and complimentary concession stand. Following the show, attendees can enjoy a meet and greet with the designers and stylists.

Tickets are on sale now at General admission tickets are available for $10 and include access to the vendor fair, meet and greet, and a selfie photo spot. VIP tickets are available for $25 and include the same perks of general admission along with seating in the VIP area and a gift bag. 

General admission tickets will be available until May 4 at 6 a.m., and a limited number of walk-in general admission tickets will be available at the door for cash only. VIP tickets will be available through May 1. VIP tickets will not be available at the door.

For more information contact Vice President, Development, Admissions, and External Affairs Justin M. Johnston at (585) 345-6809, or via email:

Hawley welcomes West Point officers and cadets to the state Capitol

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) meeting with Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland and West Point cadets during West Point Day in Albany.

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) meets with Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland and West Point cadets during West Point Day in Albany.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia), along with his colleagues, welcomed a group of officers and cadets to the state Assembly for the 72nd annual West Point Day in Albany. Located in West Point, the United States Military Academy has been at the forefront of training the next generation of military leaders. 

The Academy has had countless notable alumni who have greatly impacted our nation including Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur, George S. Patton, and many others. To be considered for West Point, cadets must get the sponsorship of an authorized nominating source, which includes members of the state Assembly. 

Throughout his years in Albany, Hawley has had the privilege of sponsoring numerous cadets from Western New York as they move to begin their military career at West Point including Aidan Anderson, son of Mike and Korinne Anderson of Batavia. Hawley was proud to welcome these officers and cadets to the state Capitol and is glad to see this prestigious tradition continue.

“West Point Day is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Hawley. “As sponsors of these young men and women, we have the unique opportunity to congratulate our hometown cadets for all the hard work they have put in at the nation’s most prestigious military academy. At a time when recruitment numbers are at an all-time low, it’s refreshing to see so many young people with the passion and drive to use their talents and abilities to serve their country. After taking the time to speak with the cadets and their officers, it's clear to me this class truly exemplifies West Point's motto of “Duty, Honor, and Country.” I wish all the cadets the best going forward in their time at West Point and I look forward to seeing the impact they will have in years to come.”

VFA celebrates 40 years with a party, and you're invited to join on May 18

By Joanne Beck
volunteers for animals
2022 File Photo of VFA member getting a snuggle from a temporary shelter occupant.
Photo by Howard Owens

This year of 2024 is a big one for Volunteers For Animals, a nonprofit that just last month received the Chamber of Commerce Special Anniversary Recognition of the Year Award and will celebrate its 40th anniversary next month.

And what better way to celebrate than with a party filled with refreshments, a special cake, activities for children, multiple door prizes, favors and a little history thrown in? It’s set for 1 to 4 p.m. May 18 at First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia. 

“It’s a chance to take the time to get together and to celebrate with each other and the community, a time to reflect on our beginnings as well as plans for the future,” volunteer and event planner Angie Knisley said. “(And to) honor those who selflessly founded the organization and remember all they had to accomplish to get us where we are today. This is not an easy story to tell. These early founders and volunteers sacrificed much to establish the VFA, a nonprofit all-volunteer humane-type society for companion animals in Genesee County.”

The Anniversary Celebration this year will also give VFA the opportunity to communicate its mission, programs and needs more fully and widely, she said, including, of course, the vital importance of having volunteers to help with varied tasks.

VFA’s mission is “to provide care, comfort and protection to companion animals in need tin Genesee County by engaging the hands, hearts and minds of our community.”

Organizers want to include all of the people who not only helped to establish the organization but who also helped to maintain and further grow it, she said. That list is quite long, as there have been folks — individually and in groups, business.

s, veterinary practices — since those early days in 1984 up to now that have provided support of time, labor, money, services and/or goods.

“We want to thank our supporters, including those businesses in the area, that have helped us through the years,” she said. “And again, the list of those who have helped through the years is vast. We are working on the best way to recognize our supporters and communicate our appreciation.

“We do not want to miss recognizing anyone,” she said. “But, we also want to respect those that would have, or may prefer, to remain in the background and not want to receive much focus/attention.”

The nonprofit rightfully received its due attention in March for the Chamber award after 40 years of volunteers serving four-legged friends' needs through Genesee County Animal Shelter. 

At the event, there will be displays about the history and people who founded VFA, information about its current programs, and photos of animals that have been adopted over the past many years.  

There won’t be any fundraisers at the event; however, “we are kindly asking for a $5 donation,” Knisley said, and children are free. Attendees are asked to register by May 10 for planning purposes so that there will be enough refreshments and cake. 

The church “has graciously and generously donated the use of the reception hall” for the party, she said, and is helping out with the event. 

VFA greatly appreciates the kindness, Knisley said. 

She hopes that the public will attend this open house party and help the volunteers mark this special occasion together. 

To RSVP, click on the QR below, contact the animal shelter at 585-343-6410 or visit 3841 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. 

VFA QR code

Sgt. Thomas A. Sanfratello honored by Buffalo Sabres as Fan of the Year

By Howard B. Owens
Remote video URL

As part of Fan Appreciation Night on Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres honored Sgt. Thomas A. Sanfratello as the team's Fan of the Year.

Sanfratello, a 34-year veteran of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, died in the line of duty on March 10 while dealing with a disturbance at Batavia Downs. Two Batavia residents are accused of resisting arrest. Michael Elmore is accused of using a heavy piece of jewelry, a chain necklace, to hit Sanfratello during a struggle.

The tribute included a video highlighting Sanfratello's career in law enforcement and the bond Tom and his son Ian shared through their love of the Sabres. Ian and his sisters, Kyla and Alexis, were on the ice for a presentation of a memorial jersey to the family.  The Sheriff's Office Color Guard presented the colors and the National Anthem was sung by by Buffalo resident Cami Clune, who also has a bit of a connection to Batavia in that she has performed at Eli Fish Brewing.

For previous coverage of the passing of Sgt. Sanfratello, click here.

Elba rallies in the seventh to beat Alexander 10-4 in Girls Softball

By Howard B. Owens
elba alexander softball

Elba beat Alexander 10-4 in Girls Softball on Wednesday.

Adi Norton had three hits and an RBI. Brianna Totten had two RBIs.

Brea Smith fanned five Trojans.

The Lancers were down 4-1 going into the top of the seventh inning and scored nine runs.

Photos by Kristin Smith.

elba alexander softball
elba alexander softball
elba alexander softball

Multiple Genesee County highway projects to begin Monday

By Press Release

Press Release:

Over the upcoming months, the Genesee County Highway Department will undertake multiple projects across the county that will temporarily impact local travel routes. 

Fargo Road Bridge: 

A bridge replacement project will begin on April 18 in Bethany, to upgrade the current bridge on Fargo Road over Black Creek near Route 63 and Little Canada Extension. The bridge will be closed during construction, with a designated detour in place. Construction is expected to continue until the end of August.

Oak Orchard Road Bridge: 

The Oak Orchard Road Bridge over Oak Orchard Creek in Elba will be closed starting April 15 for a superstructure replacement. The bridge will be closed during construction, with a designated detour in place. Once completed, the bridge will reopen for full legal loads. Construction is expected to continue until approximately June 1.

Junction Road Bridge:

Junction Road between Covell Road and Hartwell Road in Pavilion will be closed to all traffic during working hours (typically 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.), Monday through Friday, starting on Monday, April 15 for a bridge repair. The project is expected to be completed by the end of April depending on the weather.

Perry Road Paved Shoulders Installation:

Perry Road in Pavilion will undergo shoulder paving starting April 15. The road will be closed during work hours (usually 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.), Monday to Friday, but local residents and emergency vehicles will have access. Work zones will change daily, starting between Route 19 and Route 20. This project extends from Route 19 in the north to Route 63 in the south and is expected to finish, weather permitting, by the end of April.

Residents and commuters are advised to plan alternate routes and expect temporary inconveniences during these construction periods.

Accomplished musician set to perform at Bergen concert series Sunday

By Press Release

Press Release:

Photo of Jaclyn Breeze
courtesy of

Jaclyn Breeze of North Chili, a composer and flutist, will perform at 6 pm this Sunday, April 14, in the Bergen Community Concert Series at the Bergen Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 38 South Lake Avenue (Route 19).

Ms. Breeze is an accomplished performer and composer who has produced commissioned works performed in North America, Europe, and Asia. The North Chili resident and graduate of Roberts Wesleyan and Syracuse universities, says her pieces and concerts are designed to foster community between artists and audiences.

Her concert has been titled Imitations. The listener will be transported by the flute solos to hear imitations of things such as butterflies, trains, rivers, and more. 

The concert is part of a series offered by the church to celebrate the renovation of the historic Viner pipe organ that was installed in the sanctuary in 1907. 

“We want to share a variety of music with our community, so have planned a spring series of concerts in celebration,” said Alden Snell, church organist.

Sunday evening’s free performance will conclude with a hymn sing accompanied by Dr. Snell, an Eastman School of Music professor, on the organ. 

Ms. Breeze is also passionate about teaching, having worked as a theory TA at Syracuse while earning her Certificate of University Teaching and teaching private lessons. She is currently the host of Jazz 90.1’s Kidz Zone, which provides lessons and activities for families to do together to learn more about jazz artists. She also serves as the pianist at Holley Presbyterian Church. Her coming projects include commissions for soprano/piano duos, Pierrot ensemble, and solo piano.

Refreshments will be served following the hour-long performance. A free-will offering will be accepted. 

Other concerts in the series are: 

  • George Collichio, guitar, special Door of Hope Coffeehouse event at the church, Saturday, April 27, 6 p.m. Mr. Collichio is a national recording artist, performer, educator, and private guitar instructor from Rochester. He has nine national CD releases and plays over 100 shows per year. He is a college professor (guitar and music theory) and founder of "Collichio School of Music" which has two locations and hundreds of students. 
  • Organ recital featuring students from the Eastman School of Music, Sunday, May 5, at 6 p.m.

All concerts are at the Church, 38 South Lake Ave., Bergen. A free-will offering will be accepted.

GCC's Forum Players present Sondheim's 'Into the Woods'

By Press Release
Photo of Jasmine Wessel as Rapunzel, courtesy of Genesee Community College.

Press Release:

Join GCC's Forum Players as they present "Into the Woods" April 25 - 27 at 7 p.m. and April 28 at 2 p.m. at the Stuart Steiner Theatre. Featuring students from various majors at Genesee Community College, this production marks the return of musical theater to GCC after a multi-year hiatus. 

Tackling the complexities of Sondheim's classic tale, the cast embarks on the challenging journey of bringing his emotionally rich compositions and clever lyrics to life on stage, recognizing the difficulty and ultimate reward in mastering Sondheim's iconic music.

Into the Woods follows classic fairytale characters on an adventure to fulfill their deepest wishes. The Baker and his Wife want more than anything to have a child, Cinderella desires to attend the King's Festival, and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. 

When the Baker and his Wife realize their wish cannot come true because of a Witch's curse, they set out on a grand quest to break the spell. As their stories intertwine, they will all learn to be careful what they wish for. Even wishes don't come without consequences.

Lapine and Sondheim focused on the characters's individual quests in Act 1. The second act sees the characters dealing with the consequences of their actions and coming together as a community. One of Sondheim's most popular works, Into the Woods features exquisite music, whimsical settings, dark humor, and themes that will stay with the audience long after the curtain closes.

The cast includes Maya Webb as The Giant/The Narrator, Paul Daniszewski as The Baker, Ashlyn Puccio as The Baker's Wife, Isabella Wheeler as Cinderella, Qasim Huzair as Jack, Grace Wheeler as Little Red Riding Hood, Jeriko Suzette Nemeth as The Witch, Marc Sapareto as Cinderella's Prince / Wolf, Jasmine Wessel as Rapunzel, Chris Brown as Rapunzel's Prince, Chris Bush as Jack's Mother, Seth Coburn as the Mysterious Man, Cassidy Crawford as Cinderella's Stepmother, Rosie Carioti-Darling and Sienna Korytkowski as Cinderella's Stepsisters, Shakeem Walcott as Cinderella's Father, Lauren Ruch as Cinderella's Mother / Little Red's Granny, and Aden Chua as The Steward.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for GCC students and seniors. If you are a GCC Student or Employee, tickets are free. Tickets can be purchased at Contact with any questions.

Questions for the director? Contact Brodie McPherson at

Questions for the vocal director? Contact Lauren Picarro-Hoerbelt at

General questions can be answered by Jessica Skehan, Arts Center assistant, via email at or call (585) 343-0055 x6490

WNY mental health professional Sue Gagne named 2024 Woman of Distinction

By Press Release

Press Release:

Submitted photo of Sue Gagne.

Sue Gagne, a registered nurse and dedicated mental health professional, has been named by Senator George Borrello as the 2024 New York State Senate ‘Woman of Distinction’ for the 57th District.

Senator George Borrello said he selected Ms. Gagne as the district’s honoree because of her significant contributions to the mental health field and the vulnerable individuals it serves. Her work has spanned more than two decades and both the nonprofit and public service sectors. She currently serves as the Assistant Director of Adult Services at the Wyoming County Mental Health Department.

“At a time when our communities are experiencing unprecedented mental health crises, we have become acutely aware of the vital role of professionals like Sue Gagne. Her career has been focused on connecting struggling individuals with services and expanding the availability of resources and programs for rural residents,” said Senator Borrello. “Now, more than ever, her expertise and contributions are crucial to the well-being of our families and communities.”  

“While the prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse is similar between rural and urban areas, access to services is typically far more limited in rural areas. Compounding the problem of fewer services are additional barriers, including the cost of care and higher levels of social stigma, both of which can discourage people from seeking help. Sue has been a warrior in the fight to eliminate these obstacles and others that prevent people from getting the help they need to live stronger, healthier lives,” said Sen. Borrello.

First connected to the field when she was seeking help for a struggling family member, Ms. Gagne soon realized it was an area where she could make a difference and fulfill her desire to help some of the most marginalized members of society.

Starting at the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties in a part-time support position, she rose to become the executive director. Among the achievements of her tenure was the launch of Visions of Hope Recovery Center, a peer-driven program aimed at helping individuals with mental health challenges reach their full potential.

Her next role was as the dual recovery coordinator for Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties where she worked to bridge the substance use disorder community and the mental health community.

In 2019, she decided to fulfill a long-held goal by becoming a registered nurse and enrolled in a program at Genesee County Community College, graduating in 2023.

Today, she is using her expertise and dedication as Assistant Director of Adult Services at the Wyoming County Mental Health Department. In this role, she works with individuals with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI) who are considered high-needs, making sure they have the support they need. Ms. Gagne is also contracted through the Genesee County Mental Health Department to serve as the Suicide Prevention Coordinator where she leads various suicide prevention efforts.

She credits her 2005 participation in Leadership Genesee, a year-long citizenship education and leadership development program, with giving her the connections and confidence to stretch herself and make pivotal changes in her professional life. She was nominated for the Senate’s Woman of Distinction Award by the organization’s director, Peggy Marone, who cited her tremendous dedication and effectiveness as a mental health advocate and leader as motivation for her nomination.

“I was fortunate to spend a year with Sue in Leadership Genesee 2005 and even more fortunate that we’ve remained friends ever since. Sue is a unique person who has an organic acceptance for everyone no matter where they come from, live, or what they do. Her sense of humanity’s well-being shows in every professional and personal calling she has. I am more than honored to have nominated Sue for this distinguished award,” said Peggy Marone, executive director of Leadership Genesee.

Ms. Gagne is very active in professional organizations and community programs, with roles that include serving on the state board of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), serving as a co-chair of the Family, Loved Ones & Allies committee of the region’s opioid task force and serving as a representative to the WNY Regional Planning Consortium.

Established in 1998, the New York State Senate Woman of Distinction Award is hosted annually to pay tribute to women who have demonstrated remarkable character, initiative, and commitment to serving their neighbors, strengthening our communities, and acting as role models.

Ms. Gagne will be honored at a ceremony in Albany on May 14 along with honorees from across the state, and locally, on July 15.

Construction, parking restrictions to begin Monday for new police station downtown

By Press Release

Press Release:

Beginning the week of April 15, construction will begin on the new police station on the Alva Place parking lot. This will cause disruptions to the parking in the immediate area. 

Please refer to the map of parking in the area that will remain as well as a general overview of the construction site itself. 

Patrons to the businesses located along Washington Avenue and State Street, adjacent to the parking lot, are encouraged to park alongside Washington Avenue or a surrounding side street whenever possible. 

Handicap accessible parking will remain accessible during the project with some disruptions for milling and paving operations. 

Employees who work at any of the facilities adjacent to the parking lot are encouraged to park in the City Centre parking near the old JC Penney's building.

As a reminder parking along the southside of Washington Avenue is limited to 2 hours from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. except Sundays and Holidays. There is No Parking along the north side of Washington Avenue at any time. 

Please follow all posted parking regulations to ensure the safety of all who use the area.

GCC announces Dr. James Sunser as 56th commencement speaker

By Press Release

Press Release:

Photo of Dr. James Sunser, courtesy of Genesee Community College.

Genesee Community College (GCC) proudly announces Dr. James Sunser, esteemed President of GCC, as the distinguished commencement speaker for the institution's 56th commencement ceremony. The ceremony is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 18 at 1 p.m. at GCC's Richard C. Call Arena.

Dr. Sunser's selection as commencement speaker marks a fitting tribute to his remarkable tenure of leadership and service to Genesee Community College. After more than 13 years at the helm, Dr. Sunser announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2023-24 academic year. His retirement comes after a career characterized by unwavering commitment to student success and transformative initiatives.

"I am deeply honored and humbled to have been selected as Genesee Community College's commencement speaker. It is a privilege to address such a vibrant community of learners as they embark on their next journey. I am thankful for the opportunity to inspire and celebrate the achievements of the class of 2024," said Dr. Sunser.

Under Dr. Sunser's stewardship, GCC witnessed significant milestones, including the development of the Richard C. Call Arena and the Student Success Center. These capital projects represented the largest fundraising efforts ever undertaken by the College, reinforcing Dr. Sunser's commitment to advancing educational opportunities for all students.

Moreover, Dr. Sunser provided exemplary leadership during the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring continuity of services while prioritizing the health and well-being of the campus community.

Prior to his tenure at GCC, Dr. Sunser held several senior-level positions at SUNY Onondaga Community College over a span of 22 years. His illustrious career also includes five years as an administrator at Syracuse University. Dr. Sunser's contributions extend beyond GCC; he currently serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education's Executive Committee, having previously served two terms as Chair in 2020 and 2021.

Genesee Community College extends a warm invitation to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community to join in honoring Dr. Sunser at the 56th commencement ceremony. His address promises to inspire and resonate with graduates as they embark on their own paths of academic and personal fulfillment.

For more information contact Vice President, Admissions, Development, and External Affairs Justin Johnston at (585) 345-6809, or via email:

Volunteers needed for United Way Day of Caring on May 23

By Press Release

Press Release:

United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes is hosting its annual Day of Caring on May 23. Day of Caring is the largest single day of volunteering in the region. Six counties, including Genesee, Ontario, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, and Wyoming will mobilize over 6,000 volunteers on May 23.

The dedicated committee of volunteers in Genesee County has helped to match agencies with volunteers for 15 years! Hundreds of volunteers in Genesee County will work together to meet the needs of dozens of local agencies and non-profits.

By participating in these engaging, hands-on projects, volunteers help create a brighter future for local communities and help those in need.  

There are still volunteer spots available and agencies to support in Genesee County. Sign up as an individual, or as a team with friends, family, or colleagues using the contact information below for a fun-filled day of giving back to the community! Register to volunteer in Genesee County by April 19 to receive a T-shirt. Registration for volunteer opportunities will be open until May 10.

Join us for the Genesee County Day of Caring kickoff on May 23 at Dwyer Stadium, starting at 8 a.m.

Looking to volunteer in Genesee County? Contact Caitlin Farnung at or (585) 242-6517.  

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Reach out to MarcAnthony Bucci at or (585) 242-6449 to learn more. 

Jason Upton brings ministry of music to EverPresent Church on April 26

By Press Release
jason upton

Press release:

Jason Upton is a singer/songwriter with the heart of a pastor. 

Whether Jason is leading people in worship through singing or speaking, Jason does his best to carry the Father’s heart. 

His songs and his messages reflect a life fully lived in a relationship with God, family and friends. Jason and Key of David Ministries have several recordings available that document Jason and his band expressing the heart of God for His people through song, instrumental spontaneity and spoken word. 

Jason currently lives in Wisconsin with his wife Rachel and their children Samuel, Emma, Lucy and Oliver. 

Upton performs at 7 p.m. on April 26 at EverPresent Church, 4 Batavia City Centre, Batavia.

For more information about Jason Upton and Key of David Ministries, please visit

Seating is very limited, so secure your ticket today.

To purchase tickets, follow this link:

Health Department seeking information on dog that bit person in Centennial Park

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department is seeking information about the location of a dog and its owner following a dog bite incident on Monday, April 1. The incident occurred at Centennial Park (151 State Street) in Batavia, NY. 

The owner was a middle-aged male with a reddish beard and black glasses. The dog involved in the incident was described as a black and tan German Shepard with a harness that was running loose in the park.   

The health department would like to locate the dog as soon as possible to confirm that it is healthy. This would indicate that the rabies virus would not have been transmitted at the time of the bite. 

If you have information about the location of the dog and its owner, please contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555.

Richmond Library vote to include tax levy increase of $13.8K, two board seats

By Joanne Beck

A proposed budget of $1,696,912 for Richmond Memorial Library includes a property tax levy of $1,395,283, an increase of $13,814 for the 2024-25 school year, and goes up for vote on May 2.

The Batavian has sent several questions regarding the budget to Library Director Beth Paine, and will provide an updated article once responses are received. 

Paine said in the budget newsletter that she looks forward to upcoming programs and initiatives.

“As I look forward in 2024 and continuing into 2025, I see our continuing update projects for technology, a jam-packed Summer Reading Program, some brand new and innovative programs for all ages, like our new Minecraft Mondays that start on April 15, and some outdoor projects to enhance the beauty and use of space on the library’s property. And I am happy to report that even with all of these amazing updates, the Board of Trustees has been able to keep our budget increase to only 1%,” she said. “Our main goal is to not only provide Batavia residents with an open and free library to visit to check out a book, but also a community center where you can learn about everything from how to open an email account to how to create a journal, to getting help filing your taxes. We thank you for your consistent support and for allowing us to continue to serve you and the entire Batavia community.”

The budget is an increase of $15,753. One main question is about how the budget is outlined on the library’s website, but does not include the prospective tax rate increase to coincide with that $13,814 levy increase. How will this affect taxpayers?

The library has a robust race this year for the board, with three candidates running for two seats vacated by Board President Jessica Ecock Rotondo and Norm Argulsky. Those candidates are:

Christina Mortellaro

Christina Mortellaro is a native Batavian and lover of libraries. She is interested in becoming a Library Trustee because she firmly believes that public libraries are cornerstones of democracy, keepers of history, and providers of equitable access to information and space in a community.

Christina is the current Director of the TRIO Adult Educational Opportunity Center (AEOC) at SUNY Genesee Community College (GCC), a federally-funded college access program that supports adults who are low-income and potential first-generation students throughout Western New York. She holds an MSEd in Higher Education Administration from SUNY Brockport and a dual BA in English and Communication from SUNY Geneseo.

Prior to working as the director of AEOC, Christina was an Assistant Director and Student Advisor with the TRIO Upward Bound program at SUNY GCC, a similar program for high school students. Before working in higher education, Christina served two terms with Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps VISTA, a different federally funded program working to alleviate the effects of poverty in Rochester, NY.

Christina currently serves as a Board Member At Large for the Association for Equality and Excellence in Education, Inc. (AEEE), a professional association that supports college access professionals at 125 colleges and universities in New York and New Jersey. She will transition to be AEEE’s Western New York Representative this fall.

Other current and relevant volunteer experience includes being a current volunteer with Richmond Memorial Library’s “Books Sandwiched In” committee, serving on the executive board of GCC’s Inclusive Excellence Committee, and being a former 13-year volunteer with HOBY Leadership.

In her spare time, Christina loves to spend time with family, friends, and the cats in her life. She loves to read, write, craft, travel, and support the arts.

Delipe Oltramari

Felipe Oltramari has been a resident of the City of Batavia for the past 17 years. Along with his wife, they have raised two daughters in Batavia. Felipe works as the Director of Planning for Genesee County and has been working for the department for over 20 years. Felipe graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo and received a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science, concentrating in Environmental and Community Land Planning, from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). He is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and accredited with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNUa).

John Roach

John Roach is from Kenmore, in Erie County. He moved to Batavia in 1974, when he started working for New York State.

He retired from the New York State Department of Corrections as a Senior Counselor after 36 years, starting out as a Correction Officer at Attica. He also worked at the Wyoming, Orleans and Albion Correctional Facilities.

John is a Vietnam War Veteran who served as a Military Police Investigator. He then joined the US Army Reserve and retired after 32 total service as a Master Sergeant, working in Facility Management for the Division Engineer. Other positions in the Reserve were Nuclear Security, Drill Sergeant, Instructor, Training Evaluator and Division Engineer Office.

John was a volunteer with the local Boy Scouts for 29 years.

He served on the City of Batavia Charter Commission twice and on the Mall Operating Committee one term.

John believes in public libraries as a necessary part of a community and wants to help keep ours going.

The vote on May 2 will ask citizens to say yes or no to the tax levy of $1,395,283, and to vote for two out of the three candidates for a three-year term. 

Batavia church to host viewing party Thursday for controversial film '1946'

By Joanne Beck
God Loves Everyone sign at BFPC
2020 File Photo at Batavia First Presbyterian Church shows the sign that's still out front displaying the church's message: "God Loves Everyone No Exceptions." There will be a viewing party of "1946" at 6 p.m. Thursday at the site, 300 E. Main St., Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens

The word homosexual apparently didn’t show up in the Bible — any Bible in any translation — until 1946, and this is due to a translation choice of Greek words used in 1 Corinthians by a team preparing a modern edition of the Bible.

Based on this premise, a team of researchers traced how that word -- homosexual — and God’s judgment against it — made it into the Bible, creating, in their view, a Christian anti-gay movement. Or so the theory goes in the controversial documentary film “1946” directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio.

Roggio’s hope is that the film begins “the necessary conversations that rid this bad theology from the church and from our homes.” 

Homes that have included her own, with her father, Pastor Sal Roggio, who disapproved of her sexual orientation, given his understanding of the word of God.

“1946, The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture” will be part of a viewing party at 6 p.m. Thursday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia.

Organizers encourage folks not to miss this opportunity to watch what they believe will be a “thought-provoking documentary film screening exploring the tireless researchers who trace the origins of the anti-gay movement among Christians to a grave mistranslation of the Bible in 1946.”

Even with little background in Biblical literature, it seems to beg questions, such as why only point to 1 Corinthians 6:9, which is where the word “arsenokoitai” is used.

Alan Schlemon, who muses about the film and believes the central point is “irrelevant” even if it’s true, says that the word arsenokoitai, “does appropriately condemn homosexual sex,” is an aside to other passages documented prior to the New Testament. 

“Pro-gay theology advocates, like the ones who created this film, love to point out that Paul invented a new Greek word (arsenokoitai) in 1 Corinthians 6:9. Since there are no instances of that word being used in Greek literature elsewhere, they often call into question any translation that implicates homosexuals,” Shlemon said in his online site. “There are, however, at least two reasons why translators have chosen ‘homosexuals’ (or something equivalent) for the English rendering. One reason is that the word arsenokoitai is formed by combining two Greek words, arsen, meaning “male,” and koite, meaning “lying.” Arsenokoitai literally means ‘men who lie with a male.’ It’s not surprising that the most prominent English translation today — the NIV (2011 revision) — translates the Greek as ‘men who have sex with men.’ 

“It’s also worth noting that ancient Jews used the Hebrew phrase mishkav zakar, which means ‘lying with a male,’ to describe male-to-male sexual contact. Therefore, having a Jew invent the Greek term arsenokoitai follows the same pattern of condemning homosexual behavior by referring to the euphemism ‘men who lie with a male.’ But there’s a second reason that solidifies this translation. The Greek words arsen and koite appear together in two Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) verses … Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 — the very two verses in the Mosaic Law that condemn homosexual behavior,”  he said. “In other words, Paul invents a new Greek word that literally means ‘men who lie with a male,’ and the two-component words that are used to create this new word are found together in the two Mosaic prohibitions of homosexuality.”

Rev. Jim Morasco, pastor of Morganville United Church of Christ in Stafford, watched the film. The producer is a lesbian whose father is a pastor who believes his daughter has a choice to be gay or not, and they are part of the film, which focuses on a group of people asked to make a revision of the Bible in 1946 at Yale University.

“The movie follows what they're doing at the university. It's a personal back-and-forth between the daughter and the father. And then there's the overall, what does it say in the Bible and why,” Morasco said. It's interesting. I'm not a Bible scholar by any means. But I've read similar things about what the Bible was made with, together with all the revisions.

“The people that were there were putting this together, and they interpreted it as homosexual. But what they say the truth is, it's not homosexual love; it’s a form of love.” 

How does he rectify Biblical literature of various degrees throughout the Old and New Testaments regarding homosexuality and not just in 1 Corinthians? 

“It’s simple,” he said. I don’t use the Bible as a rule book; I use it as a guidebook. I look at scripture … my basic understanding is that God is love,” he said. Use it as a recipe book rather than a rule. It’s a living document. The stories are inspirational rather than real. We can all relate.”

He said the Bible has some 900 different versions and thousands of interpretations in various languages. Much of it stems from the Roman Empire, which consolidated the Christian religion with the Roman government. 

Morasco said a passage about the man as head of the household and the woman serving under him is one example of how the Bible can be interpreted—or misinterpreted—according to one's personal bias or agenda. That is more about Roman law, not through any Godly inspiration or directive. 

“That’s the structure adopted,” he said. 

He doesn’t agree with those people who take a firm stance and tell others, “You can’t argue with me because I’m copying what the Bible says.” 

“That’s not the way it is; I don’t agree with that,” he said. “I have friends who are gay and friends who are transgender. They’re human beings, and to put a label on somebody makes them less than human. They’re people.”

Robin Schumacher, columnist for The Christian Post, also takes a dive into the Greek words of Paul’s New Testament letters and says that “the most straightforward, hermeneutical conclusion we can come to is that Paul was against the idea of males engaging in sexual intercourse together.”

Schumacher also takes a bottom line stance when “the literal-historical-grammatical method” is used to interpret the writing of Paul on this topic. 

“We find the Apostle can’t be used to validate homosexual behavior,” Schumacher said. “That being the case, the most logical thing to do for those wanting to justify homosexuality is to stop trying to modify what the Bible says on the subject and instead assume the position of the late atheist Christopher Hitchens, who once remarked, “What do I care what some Bronze Age text says about homosexuality?”  

As someone who has watched the film in its entirety, does Morasco agree with its conclusion?

“I think it’s a possibility,” he said. “God loves us no matter what we are and who we are.”

Morasco plans to attend the viewing and participate in breakout group discussions afterward. He said all opinions are welcome. 

“I grew up Catholic, ordained a Baptist, and am a reverend at a United Church of Christ. I’ve been exposed to a lot of different ways,” he said. “I might do it differently. I’m not saying that anyone is wrong.” 

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