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Le Roy resident, Thruway worker, killed on the job on Thursday

By Howard B. Owens
vinny thruway
Submitted photo of Vincent J. Giammarva of Le Roy.

A 62-year-old resident of Le Roy, Vincent J. "Vinny" Giammarva, was killed on Thursday while working on the Thruway in Chili after being struck by a tractor-trailer.

According to the Thruway Authority, Giammarva was inside a work zone when he was struck. His co-worker, Mark Vara, 58, of Scottsville, was seriously injured when the eastbound tractor-trailer entered the work zone just before 12:30 p.m.

The accident occurred near mile marker 368, between Exit 47 in Le Roy and Exit 46 in Henrietta.

Giammarva was pronounced dead at the scene. Vara is listed in critical condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.

"Our Maintenance employees embody the heart and soul of this organization. Roadside workers risk their lives daily to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road," The Thruway Authority released in an unattributed statement. "The entire Thruway family is in mourning, and our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of everyone involved."

Giammarva was a heavy construction equipment operator for the Thruway Authority. 

In a statement, the Thruway Authority also said, "Vinny was a dedicated public servant who worked in the Thruway's Henrietta Maintenance Section for nearly 20 years. Vinny’s unwavering dedication embodied the very essence of this organization, which is now left with an unimaginable void and a long grieving process ahead."

The 64-year-old truck driver from Oswego has not otherwise been identified. State Police investigators said they don't believe drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash. There have been no charges filed but the investigation is ongoing.

Former security adviser Flynn to debut film at Cornerstone Church Friday evening

By Joanne Beck

Controversial U.S. Army veteran Michael Flynn, who last visited Batavia with the Reawaken Tour in 2022, will be showing a film he produced aptly titled "Flynn" during another evening visit to Cornerstone Church.

The film is described as "A gripping and revealing true film exploring the life of General Michael Flynn, from his rise in the US Military to the severe political persecution he faced exposing corruption as the National Security Advisor to President Trump." Flynn, who served more than three decades in the military and at one point was head of the U.S. Intelligence Agency, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was later pardoned by former president Donald Trump.  In addition to himself, the film also features family members, talk show host Tucker Carlson, businessman Devin Nunes and journalist Lee Smith.
 Flynn appeared with a host of other guest speakers during the 2022 Reawaken Tour, which rolled into Batavia after being barred from a Rochester site due to concerns of potential violence over the tour's talking points and subject matter.  The event will begin at 5 p.m., and the film will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at Cornerstone Church, 8020 Bank Street Road, Batavia. 
 Tickets are $35 and $200 for a VIP package. To purchase, go HERE.

Tenney introduces the Essential Caregivers Act

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Claudia Tenney.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24), alongside Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Congressman John Larson (CT-01), and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Essential Caregivers Act today.

This bill would protect the residents in long-term care facilities, giving all residents nationwide the right to have in person access to an essential caregiver when visitations are restricted due to a declared emergency. The bipartisan bill seeks to prevent a repeat of the isolation and lack of care that long-term care residents were unjustly subjected to during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also requires CMS to set clear and fair guidelines for essential caregivers to protect the safety of facility staff and residents.

Additional cosponsors of this legislation include Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Adrian Smith(NE-03), John Rutherford (FL-05), Derrick Van Orden (WI-03), Susan Wild, (PA-07), Mike Carey (OH-15), Mike Lawler (NY-17), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Susie Lee (NV-03), Juan Ciscomani (AZ-06), Don Bacon (NE-02), and Donald Davis (NC-01).

“Under federal law, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have the obligation to allow their residents access to caregivers,” said Congresswoman Tenney. “Sadly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this right was denied to many residents and families, causing many seniors and patients to suffer and die alone. This injustice should never occur again, which is why Congressman John Larson, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Senator John Cornyn and I introduced the Essential Caregivers Act. We must fix this loophole to protect the rights of senior citizens, those with disabilities, and their families during the next public health crisis.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the vital role family members play in the care and wellbeing of their loved ones in long-term care facilities,” said Senator Blumenthal. “The Essential Caregivers Act ensures that in the event of a future emergency, residents in these facilities will still be able to receive the support, care, and companionship that their family members provide. This commonsense legislation allows at least one designated essential caregiver to have safe, in-person access to their loved ones at all times—ultimately protecting the overall physical, emotional, and mental health of long-term care residents.”  

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that isolation hurts all of us, yet countless families were prevented from being with their loved ones during their time of need,” said Congressman Larson. “I am glad to join Rep. Tenney and Senators Blumenthal and Cornyn in this bipartisan and bicameral effort to expand visiting access for essential caregivers during future public health emergencies to ensure residents can get the support they need from their loved ones and never again face the isolation that was a reality for far too many patients.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how invaluable caregivers are to the physical and emotional wellbeing of long-term care facility residents and their families,” said Senator Cornyn. “This bill would ensure residents have consistent access to their loved ones or other designated caregivers, even during public health emergencies when regular visitation may be limited.”

Pembroke coach who brought community together over 30-year career honored with field dedication

By Kara Richenberg
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Ron Funke throws first pitch to Jessica Edwards.
Photo by Kara Richenberg 

On Wednesday a little rain couldn't stop the Pembroke community from coming out and honoring one of its own with one of the highest honors for a coach. 

Ron Funke, retired Pembroke teacher and Varsity Softball coach, was honored with Funke Field and a dedication ceremony.

More than 100 community members, alumni, and teachers came out to honor Funke before the Lady Dragons' home game against Oakfield-Alabama. The Pembroke Marching Band also entertained the crowd.

Arron Brown, a sixth-grade teacher and president of the Pembroke Teachers Federation began the ceremony and spoke "Many of us had the pleasure and the privilege to coach with Ron. What he shared during long bus rides or early morning practices helped us all become better coaches, educators, and people. Those conversations mean so much to so many of us."

Superintendent Matthew Calderon and John Cima, Board of Education president, both spoke about Ron's legacy and commitment to the Pembroke community.

"I would have never been able to do this alone. I would like to thank Bruce Phalzer, Ken Maurer, JC Kabel, and Al Miano," Funke said. "I have many great memories and have all the former Lady Dragons to thank for that."

After the unveiling of the official Funke Field sign, all past and current Lady Dragon softball players were asked to gather around the pitcher's mound for the first pitch of the game.

Funke threw the first pitch to Jessica Edwards, who is a Pembroke graduate, a former Lady Dragon softball player, and a Board of Education member.

The umpires then officially ejected Funke from the game. Everyone in attendance laughed. Calderon congratulated Funke. 

Matt Calderon and Funke
Superintendent Matthew Calderon, congratulates Ron Funke.
Photo by Kara Richenberg
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Pembroke Marching Band entertains the crowd. 
Photo by Kara Richenberg
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Funke family gets ready for the unveiling of the sign.
Photo by Kara Richenberg
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Unveiling of the Funke Field sign.
Photo by Kara Richenberg
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Ron Funke with the new Funke Field sign.
Photo by Kara Richenberg

Emily Pietrzykowski tosses 1-hit shutout as Alexander beats Perry 5-0.

By Staff Writer
alexander softball

Junior right-hander Emily Pietrzykowski spun a gem for Alexander in softball on Thursday, going the distance and surrendering only one hit in a 5-0 shutout over Perry.

Sophomore Ava Yax led the Trojans at the plate, going 2-2 with an RBI, two walks, a run scored and a stolen base. 

Pietrzykowski was 1-2 with a double, a walk, and a run scored and a stolen base. 

Melissa Sawyer, Melanie Bump and Ella Felski all landed singles on the day.

"This was a bit of a pitcher’s duel today, and both girls pitched very well," said Coach John Goodenbury. "Emily really had her changeup working great and kept their hitters off-balance in the box. Our girls also played a very solid game on defense to back her up.  I feel like we turned a corner after a tough 1-3 loss to Avon on April 23.  Since then we have gone 7-1 and have outscored our opponents 94-17.  Today, Perry showed us their ability to put the ball in play, and I am sure they will be a tough matchup for anyone moving forward.  We look forward to a difficult 5 p.m. matchup with Notre Dame on Friday at GCC."

Submitted photos 

alexander softball
alexander softball
alexander softball
alexander softball
alexander softball

Notre Dame defeats Elba 10-2 to lead Class D heading in to softball sectionals

By Press Release
Pitcher Mia Treleaven lead the offense for Notre Dame.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Pitcher Mia Treleaven lead the offense for Notre Dame.  Photo by Steve Ognibene

Press release:

Sophomore Mia Treleaven got the start in the circle for the Lady Irish tonight and pitched a gem, going seven innings, giving up 2 hits, 2 runs (0 earned) and striking out 9 batters while only walking one.  

Brea Smith took the loss for Elba, pitching 6 innings, giving up 11 hits, 10 runs (7 earned) and striking out 1 batter and walking two.

Leading the way offensively for the Lady Irish were Emma Sisson, Katie Landers and Anna Panepento, each contributing 2 hits.  Sisson also added a run scored and an RBI, Landers had a double, runs scored and an RBI, and Panepento scored 2 runs.  Loretta Sorochty, Mia Treleaven, Sofia Falleti, Amelia Sorochty and Olivia Gillard each contributed hits.  L. Sorochty had a run scored, and an RBI, Treleaven had a double and 2 RBIs, A. Sorochty added a run and 2 RBIs and 7th grader Gillard added a double, a run scored and 2 RBIs, along with drawing a walk.  

For the Lady Lancers, Smith and Thompson each had a base hit, and Thompson drove in 2 RBIs.

The win moves the Lady Irish to 13-2 on the season and drops Elba to 7-7.  

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Notre Dame senior breaks 48-year-old school record in shot put

By Howard B. Owens
mavrik hall shot put

Mavrik Hall, a senior at Notre Dame High School, broke a school record in shot put at the Batavia Track & Field Invitational on Saturday that has stood for 48 years.

Hall threw 51 feet, one inch, breaking Mike Cordes's 1976 record of 50 feet, eight inches.

According to Mike Rapone, Notre Dame's principal and athletic director, Hall is a five-sport athlete who excels in football, basketball, indoor track, golf and outdoor track. 

He is the defending Section V B5 champion in both the shot put and the discus. 

Loni Hall, Mavrik's proud mother, said her son hasn't had a shot put coach at Notre Dame and that he is self-coached.

She said Mavrik intends to attend Columbia College in South Carolina for business, where he will also throw shot put.

Submitted photos.

mavrik hall shot put

Batavia PD releases safety tips after bear spotted in back yard on Vine Street

By Howard B. Owens
bear on vine street batavia

Batavia PD has a timely reminder for city residents: Never approach a bear.

The warning comes after a Ring camera on a residence on Vine Street recorded a bear walking through backyard.

Other safety tips:

  • Secure food, garbage and recycling;
  • Do not leave pet food outside;
  • Remove bird feeders if you spot bears in your yard;

More tips regarding being bear-wise can be found on the DEC website.

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Sponsored Post: New listing: 9300 Shepard Road! Call Melissa Johnson today to see this beauty

By Sponsored Post
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Town planners field comments on biogas, racetrack projects; hear update on Byrne Dairy proposal

By Mike Pettinella

An employee of the company that owns and operates the Synergy Biogas manure digesting facility in Wyoming County on Tuesday night downplayed concerns over potential odors from a proposed renewable gas facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on the east side of Batavia.

Speaking at the Batavia Town Planning Board meeting at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road, Melissa Franklin, technical sales & services representative, responded to local resident Wayne Nichols’ belief that the Genesee Biogas plant would cause a stink, literally.

“This is a different plant than Synergy. This will have camlock fittings and a different air system, and it will be confined,” Gilbert said. “Synergy is very different than this one.”

Nichols said he owns farmland near the site of the project but does not live in the area. He said he is looking out for those who live on Batavia Stafford Townline Road and others in the vicinity.

“I’ve worked in the ag industry for 70 years and there is no such thing as a confined system,” he said at the public hearing.

Lauren Toretta, president of CH4 Biogas, which is seeking a special use permit to build the facility, said the plan is to construct “an environmentally and economically beneficial project.”

She said having a renewable gas facility closer to O-AT-KA Milk Products, HP Hood and Upstate Niagara will mean trucks won’t have to drive as far to dispose of the waste.

CH4 Biogas proposes to construct and operate a plant consisting of two digesters, a gas storage tank and associated equipment for the purpose of digesting organic wastes to produce renewable natural gas and/or electricity and heat.

A utility corridor consisting of waste force main lines, electrical lines and water lines will run from each of the main waste stream plants to the facility.

Toretta said a small portion of the waste stream will be received by truck delivery.

Nichols said his wish is that they find a different location, farther from the city limits.

“It’s not as clean as we think,” he said. “There are sometimes when I come in on Ellicott Street into Batavia, if the wind is out of the east, when you get down by the old Sylvania plant, and the smell coming from O-AT-KA is putrid. It stinks.”

In other action, the board:

-- Conducted a public hearing concerning a special use permit application from Jason Bonsignore of East Coast Speedway to open and operate a racetrack on the former Polar Wave property at 3500 Harloff Rd. in a commercial/recreation district.

Bonsignore cited his company’s “good track record” over 28 years and promised a family-friendly facility that would “fill a niche” for dirt bike and go-kart enthusiasts. While several people supported his project, a woman and man who live nearby said they objected to the amount of noise and the increase in traffic.

The former National Hockey League player went on to say that his track will be quieter than the neighboring Area 51 motocross track and will operate on one night a week for practice, on Fridays until 11 p.m. and, occasionally, on Saturdays.

-- Received an update on the Byrne Dairy project on Lewiston Road, near the First United Methodist Church, from Christian Brunelle, senior executive vice president of Sonbyrne Sales, Inc.

Brunelle said he has revised the site plan to address the Genesee County Planning Department’s recommendations focusing on walkability and the positioning of the building.

He said changes include shifting the building to the south, toward the new Rumsey Road; moving parking spaces, adding picnic tables on a concrete patio; adding a sidewalk, and moving the stormwater drainage to the east, behind the store.

Brunelle also said the company understands that the New York State Department of Transportation is requiring a left turn lane into the property for vehicles heading south on Route 63 and that Byrne Dairy will install a white “greeting fence” along Route 63.

The proposed dairy would be situated in a development that will include a new Tractor Supply store.

Time to stop stigma surrounding mental health, substance use: Former NFL QB Ryan Leaf

By Mike Pettinella
Ryan Leaf
Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf speaking to the public at Genesee Community College on Wednesday night. Photos by Howard Owens.

Growing up in what he calls “the cowboy culture” of rural Montana, former National Football League quarterback Ryan Leaf said that he never saw another man reach out for help with mental health issues because of the stigma associated with it.

Leaf failed to live up to the expectations of the No. 2 pick in the 1998 NFL draft, leaving professional football after a relatively uneventful five seasons. He then turned to drug use, which led to his arrest and incarceration for 32 months.

Today, a week shy of his 48th birthday, he tells his story at venues throughout the nation when he’s not commentating on college football and the NFL as a radio and television host. 

On Wednesday night, he capped his appearance in Batavia with a two-hour talk in front of 70 people at Genesee Community College. Earlier in the day, he spoke to about 300 high school 11th- and 12th-graders at the GCC gymnasium (see story below).

Leaf's presentations were sponsored by UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse).

Leaf shared that he didn’t have the ability to cope with failure, instead blaming others and taking a self-righteous and “I’m better than you” attitude. He said he didn’t know where to turn when his emotional health worsened.

“I wasn’t used to seeing people being vulnerable or transparent, it's just not,” he said. “It's a huge reason why I didn't seek help because I grew up in what you would consider a cowboy culture of Montana (and) then in locker rooms in college and in the NFL where you've never seen another man simply say, ‘I'm really struggling here. Can you help me?’

“So, if we haven't seen it, what would make us think anybody would be able to do it? Right? It's not taught. What has been taught is rub some dirt on it, get it back in there, toughen up.”

He went on to say that his father, who he said he admires, told him, “Why can’t you just stop (taking the Vicodin pills that led him astray)? Yeah, if I could stop, I would have done that a long time ago. Clearly, this was not a choice. And the idea was stigma exists -- the idea that someone may know that you need help is more frightening than actually getting the help that you need.

“That's what stigma is, and it will be the last rail that you have to climb over for people to take mental health and substance abuse seriously.”

Married with two young children, Leaf, now a Connecticut resident, illustrated his point by comparing those with a medical illness with those suffering from mental illness.

“A perfect example, two kids get sick in the same neighborhood. One has leukemia and one deals with a mental health disorder or substance use disorder. The difference in comparison to how the public then treats the family of the leukemia child in terms of support, food, things of that nature in comparison to what the individual family deals with when it comes to the mental health side of things … they're ostracized, they’re isolated, they’re talked about … when in reality, there's medical science that exactly the same thing exists. It's a disease.”

Leaf, realizing that some in the audience were in recovery, credited those in attendance for coming to hear him speak.

“You had a choice to be at home, stay at home, and not do something to try to be part of the solution tonight within your community,” he said. “So, I applaud all of you and you should applaud yourselves for being able to go off and do that and be a part of it.”

As for his own life, Leaf said he was driven by competition – “my first drug of choice,” he said -- at a young age and developed into a three-sport star (basketball, football and baseball) in high school.

“I worked harder than anybody else, and so I was rewarded with the opportunity to play at any college,” he said. “I was able to get an education for free and relieve my parents of the burden of having to have to foot the bill or something like that,” he said. 

He said he didn’t fit into the Montana culture and looked to escape, signing with Washington State University, where he led his team to a trip to the Rose Bowl and became a Heisman Trophy finalist in his junior year.

His collegiate success led to him being selected by the San Diego Chargers right after Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL draft. With it came a five-year $31 million contract, including an $11.5 million signing bonus.

Despite Leaf’s extraordinary athletic talent, his dream of a long NFL career and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame never materialized as he was ill-equipped to handle adversity. He ended up playing for four teams before calling it quits. From there, his dependency on Vicodin led to possession and burglary charges as he continually searched for a way to ease his inner pain.

Eventually, after two years in prison, he was able to turn his life around by finally considering the plight of others around him.

“When you make it about someone else, you're not thinking about you at all, you're not thinking about your problems and your troubles with things you've dealt with, you're actually thinking about someone else's issues,” he said. “That's what empathy is … you actually put yourself in the shoes of someone else going through something. And I don't think I really had an empathetic bone in my body until I was confronted with all my stuff.

“There was no talk of mental illness or drugs or alcohol in my life when I got to the NFL because there just wasn't. It turns out that I was dealing with mental health issues. I just didn't understand it.”

Leaf compared himself to Peyton Manning, who is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, as he pointed out the public’s perception of success.

“If I placed Peyton Manning right here and I stood next to him right now in front of us and asked you to point out the failure and the success, I don’t think it would be hard for anybody to do the pointing,” he said. “But that’s how people view and define success and failure.

“We’re both far removed from playing NFL football. He’s been retired for some time and I as well. If you look at our resume and our life right now, Peyton is a 48-year-old father of two and so am I. I own a profession and consulting company -- a broadcasting one a does he. We both do a ton of philanthropic things and give back to our communities. We both are very happy with our lot in life and … suffice to say, we both have the life of our dreams.”

Leaf said the “baggage” of the past doesn’t define a person’s life today and hope for the future.

“I mean a lot of people quit from that aspect of things like it will never get better. And I think it's the furthest from the truth,” he said. “It does not matter at all what has gone on in your past if you’re willing to accept that and surrender to who you are and why you're here. It's all about what you do today and tomorrow.”

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for UConnectCare.

Leaf
GCC Leaf

Leaf urges students to focus on attitude, behavior, effort

By Mike Pettinella

Attitude. Behavior. Effort.

“Those are three things you can control,” said Ryan Leaf, former National Football League quarterback and now a sought-after motivational speaker, to about 300 high school juniors and seniors on Wednesday morning during a prom awareness event at the Genesee Community College gymnasium.

Leaf, the No. 2 selection in the 1998 NFL draft (right after Peyton Manning), came to Batavia as a guest of UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse).

Following a stellar collegiate career at Washington State University where he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in his junior year, Leaf was drafted by the San Diego Chargers – receiving a five-year, $31 million contract, including an $11.5 million signing bonus.

The Great Falls, Mont. Native said that being handed that kind of money only reinforced his belief that he could do anything he wanted.

“Money, power and prestige; I had it all,” he said to the students from Batavia High, Oakfield-Alabama, Elba, Byron-Bergen and Lyndonville at the outset of what turned out to be a two-hour talk. “I really felt that I was more important than anyone else.”

With wins in his first two NFL starts, Leaf was on top of the world. But in week three of his rookie season, a loss to Kansas City, he had “the worst game of my life” and was devastated.

“I wasn’t equipped to deal with it,” he said, adding that he experienced “arrested development” at age 13. “I was humiliated and embarrassed.”

Life in the NFL went downhill quickly after that, with Leaf sharing that he doesn’t remember many good things about his five-year NFL career. He went on to play for Dallas, Tampa Bay and Seattle before mental health issues prompted him to, in his words, “walk away from the think I wanted to do since I was 4 years old.”

Falling into depression and living under the burden as being known as one of the biggest draft busts ever, Leaf said he turned to taking Vicodin to ease his pain.

“I didn’t want to feel anything and the Vicodin did that for me,” he said. “It was eight years of a constant chase.”

Leaf said he squandered all of his money and resorted to going through friends medicine cabinets in search of his high – and then to entering strangers’ homes to find pills. Law enforcement caught up to him in March 2012 and he was sentenced to seven years in prison for burglary and possession of narcotics.

“For 26 of the 32 months that I served, I did nothing much watch a little TV at the end of my bed,” he said. “I wanted to die. I didn’t want to be there.”

Fortunately for him, his cellmate urged him to help some of the other inmates learn how to read. Reluctantly, he accepted the offer and, later on, he set out to become a substance abuse counselor.

Over the past 12 years, Leaf, 47, has maintained sobriety and has worked tirelessly to improve his life through AA meetings, therapy, prayer and meditation, and reaching out to others.

“What changed is (that I embraced) service to others, and it’s not money-generated,” he said. “Just sharing my story. And (addressing the students) your life’s story is just as inspirational and impactful as mine because you’re still here. Sharing that is the most serviceable thing you could do.”

Leaf, a Connecticut resident, talked about how he changed his attitude toward women – “I never respected women,” he said – and speaking glowingly of his wife, 6 ½-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter.

When not traveling around the U.S. speaking about substance use and mental health stigma, Leaf, chief executive officer of RAM Consultant, Inc., serves as a college and NFL analyst for Westwood One Sports and hosts a radio and television shows.

Stating that he’s “OK” with his past, Leaf said, “We all screw up and then think it’s the end of the world. But it’s not. You can stumble and fall but you need to keep trying. It doesn’t matter what happened it the past.”

He encouraged the students to “do the little things” that provide strength in times of temptation.

“You always have a choice,” he said, mentioning drinking and driving, drug use and sexual activity. “Enjoy the next couple weeks (before proms and graduations). It’s fleeting. It goes by so fast.”

DA says Grand Jury indictment of Elmore and Wilcox in death of Sanfratello supported by evidence

By Howard B. Owens
michael-j-elmore-town-of-batavia-court
File photo of Michael Elmore entering the Town of Batavia Court for his initial arraignment on criminal charges.
Photo by Howard Owens

Some in the community may want Michael J. Elmore, accused of causing the death of Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello on March 10 at Batavia Downs, to face a murder charge, but District Attorney Kevin Finnell said he believes a Genesee County Grand Jury reached the correct decision when it delivered an aggravated manslaughter count against Elmore.

michael j. elmore
Michael J. Elmore

Finnell said that, as a legal matter, he couldn't reveal whether the Grand Jury even considered a murder charge or if he sought murder as a possible count against Elmore, but he did say the Grand Jury reached its conclusion for the counts against Elmore based on evidence.

"As you know, I can’t discuss what transpired with or in the grand jury, so I can only say that the charges that were filed with the indictment were supported by the evidence," Finnell said. "As for the original charging decisions, I would advise that my office and the Batavia City Police Department had discussions regarding the charges that would be filed by BPD, and those that were filed were the most appropriate given the information that was available at the time."

Elmore is accused of fighting with Sanfratello when the 32-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office tried to eject Elmore and Lyndsey J. Wilccox from a bar at the casino.

According to charging documents filed immediately after Elmore's arrest, Elmore left the facility and returned with a heavy metal chain in his hands. The chain was apparently jewelry he was wearing at the time. Elmore is accused of hitting Sanfratello with his fists and with the chains and, at one point, getting Sanfratello in a chokehold.

A source connected to the investigation has told The Batavian that Elmore wrapped the chain around his fist and hit Sanfratello with it wrapped around his fist. Finnell said he couldn't discuss exactly how the defendant may have deployed the chain.

"The information we have about the incident involving the chain specifically is that Mr. Elmore removed it from his neck and held it in his hand as he fought with Sgt. Sanfratello and Batavia Downs Security," Finnell said. "Mr. Elmore threw punches with the chain in his possession. I can’t comment further on the manner in which the chain was utilized."

Elmore's social media posts indicate that he has, on occasion, worn heavy metal chain necklaces. 

The incident that led up to Sanfratello's death began at 12:43 a.m. on March 10, a Sunday morning following a pair of events at Batavia Downs on Saturday night, when Sanfratello and Batavia Downs security responded to the Rush 34 bar for a disturbance. There, Sanfratello confronted Wilcox, 39, of Batavia and ordered Wilcox to leave the building. While being escorted out, she allegedly became combative with Sanfratello. She is accused of hitting Sanfratello several times with the intent to injure him. 

Lyndsey Jean Wilcox
Lyndsey J. Wilcox

As Wilcox was being arrested, Elmore became involved and was also ordered to leave. He reportedly walked out of the building and came back in with a chain in his hand (a chain he was apparently wearing that night).

During the struggle, which included assistance from Batavia Downs security, Sanfratello reportedly tried to deploy his taser in an attempt to subdue the person attacking him.

According to initial reports, Sanfratello suffered a medical emergency during the struggle and became unresponsive. There was extensive effort, according to witnesses, to revive him with CPR. He was later pronounced dead by a county coroner.

Elmore was indicted by the Grand Jury on counts of:

  • Aggravated manslaughter in the first degree, a Class B felony. He is accused of intending to cause serious physical injury to a police officer and, as result, causing the death of a police officer;
  • Aggravated criminally negligent homicide, a Class C violent felony. He is accused of causing the death of Sanfratello with criminal negligence;
  • Assault in the first degree, a Class B violent felony. Elmore is accused of causing the death of Sanfratello while in the commission of another crime, burglary in the second degree;
  • Burglary in the second degree, a Class C violent felony. He is accused of knowingly entering a building unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime in the building and threatening to use or did use a dangerous instrument.

Elmore and co-defendant Wilcox are indicted on counts of:

  • Burglary in the second degree, a Class C violent felony. Elmore and Wilcox are accused of remaining unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime in the building and, while in the building, causing serious physical injury to another person;
  • Assault in the second degree, a Class D violent felony. Elmore and Wilcox are accused of causing physical injury to a police officer who was in the act of performing his official duties;
  • Obstruction of governmental administration in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. The pair is accused of trying to intentionally prevent a police officer from performing his official duty by means of intimidation, physical force, or interference.

Wilcox is separately charged with resisting arrest, a Class A Misdemeanor. She is accused of intentionally trying to prevent her legal arrest.

Elmore and Wilcox will be arraigned in County Court on the counts in the indictment on May 20. 

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

GCC fashion students provide 'A Night at the Cinema' in 43rd annual show

By Staff Writer
gcc fashion show 2024

Glam and glitter under the bright lights were the order of the night on Saturday as the Genesee Community College fashion program presented its 43rd annual fashion show.

The theme was "A Night at the Cinema." 

Student designers presented their takes on the silver screen's most iconic moments and timeless fashions.

Photos courtesy Genesee Community College.

gcc fashion show 2024
gcc fashion show 2024
gcc fashion show 2024
gcc fashion show 2024
gcc fashion show 2024
gcc fashion show 2024
gcc fashion show 2024
gcc fashion show 2024

Former NFL QB Ryan Leaf to share his story at GCC, Room T-102, at 6 o'clock tonight

By Mike Pettinella
Ryan Leaf and students
Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf poses with six of the 300 or so students this morning following his prom awareness presentation sponsored by UConnectCare at Genesee Community College.  The public is invited to hear his inspirational story that focuses on substance use recovery and mental health sitgma at 6 o'clock tonight at Room T-102 at GCC. Photo by Mike Pettinella/UConnectCare publicist.

Top Items on Batavia's List

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