Local Matters

Community Sponsors

October 11, 2021 - 1:30pm

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With attendance of more than 625,000 and wagers approaching $700 million this year alone, Batavia Downs Gaming has established itself as a regional pastime and -- as the driving force behind Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. -- a significant source of revenue for Genesee County and the 16 other municipalities that it serves.

Gaming in Batavia is at a fever pitch, said Jacquelyne Leach, chief financial officer for WROTB, the public benefit company that owns the Park Road gaming and harness horse racing track as well as The Hotel at Batavia Downs.

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Genesee’s WROTB Director Addresses Recent Issues

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casino_logo.jpg“We’re anticipating record third-quarter earnings distributions of about $3 million, and we’re not done closing out September numbers,” Leach said. “When you add in the $1.2 million in earnings distributions from the first two quarters, this year is going to approach the $4.4 million generated in 1995 – and that was during the heyday of pari-mutuel wagering at OTB parlors.”

Although harness racing’s popularity has decreased over time – it once was the only “game” in town -- the sport serves a vital purpose in the overall scheme of things, Leach pointed out.

“As of right now, we have to have a valid racing license to secure our video gaming license,” she said. “If you don’t have a racing license (through the New York Gaming Commission), you can’t have a video gaming license.”

WROTB operates 27 off-track betting branches, 26 E-Z Bet locations and a telephone wagering service in 15 Western New York counties. As dictated by legislation, it contributes a portion of earnings plus surcharges to those counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

Leach said municipalities also earn monthly revenue from what is known as surcharge. Thus far in 2021, more than $450,000 have gone out in surcharges with another $130,000 or so expected for the third quarter, she advised.

$109,000 TO GENESEE COUNTY IN 2021

Genesee County will receive approximately $93,000 in earnings and $16,000 in surcharge for 2021, Leach predicted, adding to the nearly $13 million it has received from WROTB revenue since 1974. The other GLOW counties of Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming are among the member municipalities.

In her 33rd year at the Downs, Leach explained that 5 percent of winning wagers made at WROTB/E-Z Bet locations is distributed to the member municipalities based on the member’s “proportionate handle and population to WROTB as a whole.”

“For wagers placed at racetracks within New York State, 50 percent of the surcharge is distributed to the municipalities in which the racetrack is located (in this case, Genesee County) and 50 percent is distributed to the other participating member municipalities,” she said.

All of these distributions are separate from what Batavia Downs Gaming generates in sales taxes that go into Genesee County’s coffers.

“Things are really ramping up,” Leach said, reasoning that people are staying closer to home to whet their gambling appetites. “Since COVID, people aren’t traveling as much to Las Vegas. It’s more of a localized, 2-2 ½ hour drive. So, we’ve become a regional destination.”

The Bennington resident said the corporation keeps about 8 percent of the total played at the Video Lottery Terminals at Batavia Downs Gaming and through Inter Track Wagering, which, from 2001-2020, totaled a staggering $8.45 billion.

“Generally speaking, patrons have about a 92 percent chance of winning, with pari-mutuel (OTB branches, etc.) bettors having about a 75 percent chance of winning,” she said.

LEACH: ‘FOCUSED ON TASK AT HAND’

Calling it “an incredible turnaround from 2020,” Leach credited the Batavia Downs Gaming staff for creating a welcoming atmosphere.

“I can’t say enough good about the WROTB staff. Our employees work hard and are dedicated. They definitely are our best assets,” she said.

The corporation lists 385 full- and part-time employees, Leach said, with an annual payroll of about $12.5 million.

Leach (salary of $157,000) is one of four officers, the others being Scott Kiedrowski, vice president of operations ($119,000); William White, vice president of administration ($119,000), and Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer ($212,000).

“As part of the upper management team, our responsibilities have grown over the years and, despite a lot of negative stuff, we have stayed focused on the task at hand – to provide a good experience for all who enter Batavia Downs Gaming,” Leach said. “We want them to come back and have a great time here. And I think that we’re very customer service oriented, and I think, that based on the numbers, we’re certainly doing something right.”

The “negative stuff” that she was referring to includes recent audits by the state Comptroller’s Office that pointed to a lack of oversight by WROTB’s board of directors regarding distribution of sporting event tickets and use of a company vehicles from 2016-2019.

Audit findings have prompted Democratic Party leaders in Niagara County to call for criminal investigation into the way the public benefit company is operated.

LAWSUIT BY EX-EMPLOYEE CONTINUES

Additionally, Wojtaszek and Board Chair Richard Bianchi are defendants in a lawsuit by a former WROTB officer Michael Nolan, who claims he was terminated from his job without proper cause, and the board of directors has been maligned in the press for accepting health insurance policies that cost the corporation hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual premiums.

Wojtaszek said the lawsuit is “personally and politically driven” but it won’t deter him and his staff from focusing on “great customer service.”

“That’s why we’ve been successful,” he said.

Concerning the audits, he said WROTB directors asked the Comptroller to conduct it and to provide recommendations.

“We’re following those recommendations; we know that we can always improve,” he said.

On the health insurance issue, he said that the board received “differing opinions on whether or not it is allowed,” but decided to remove it going forward as a “show of good faith to address a situation that kept occurring.”

In June, directors voted unanimously to discontinue giving health insurance to board members appointed after July 1, 2021.

He praised the work of the board, stating that the “fruits of directors’ labor” are the record numbers being achieved.

Leach defended the board as well, noting that they receive just $4,000 per year in salary.

“Really, for such a multifaceted and dynamic corporation? That is dictated by the racing and pari-mutuel statute that was put in place many, many moons ago,” she offered. “Board members haven’t gotten a raise for as long as I have been here, and I’m in my 33rd year.”

CONSOLIDATING OTB BRANCHES

Directors have made forward-thinking decisions, Leach mentioned, notably the purchase of the hotel earlier this year from a private investment group, appropriating necessary funding to the Summer Concert Series and expanding programming and dining options to ensure a multifaceted entertainment venue.

She said directors approved the closing of several OTB branches in an effort to cut losses and streamline the operation.

When asked if the track and OTB parlors have been losing propositions, she acknowledged that in “years past, yes, although I will say that in 2021, our branches are doing much better.”

“We closed six OTB locations in 2020 and a lot of that handle from those six locations has transferred either to Batavia Bets, our online wagering, or to other brick-and-mortar OTB branches or EZ Bet facilities,” she said. “Actually, our branches and E-Z Bets are doing quite well right now.”

She wouldn’t speculate about the future of harness racing, other to say that a shortage of race horses is hurting the industry.

“As far as live racing goes, it’s a very expensive venture,” she said.

Leach said that the corporation is working within “a somewhat antiquated” OTB model developed back in the late 1960s.

“So, we’ve tried to cut costs there by consolidating our branch operations, closing and consolidating our handle, opening the E-Z Bets and opening Batavia Bets (online platform),” she said. “Batavia Bets has been successful ever since we opened it in 2012, but especially when COVID hit. That really took off because it was a way for patrons to wager as nothing was open.”

CONTRIBUTING TO LOCAL CAUSES

Beyond entertainment, wagering and earnings distributions, WROTB is an active contributor to charitable causes.

Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer said the corporation gives back around $50,000 annually through donations, sponsorships and fundraisers.

“Since the hotel was constructed we have provided hundreds -- and I do mean hundreds -- of certificates for stay and plays for local fundraisers, charity auctions and similar type events,” Hasenauer said. “Those offers include a hotel night, free play and free food and are valued at over $250 each.  These are offered as prizes at an organization’s event which they use to raise money for their work.  So far this year we’ve given out over 200 of these.”

Hasenauer said organizations that have benefited from WROTB events include Make-A-Wish Gala, the Batavia Police Department K-9 Unit, the Genesee County K-9 Unit, GLOW YMCA, Food Bank of Western New York and the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester.

“We have also been a partner with many organizations, firstly as a place for them to hold large fundraising and outreach events,” he said, mentioning Red Cross, Connect Life, Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. “And we have partnered with organizations for them to benefit from being a part of our major events.”

He said the summer concerts generated funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, Make A Wish, Genesee County Animal Shelter and others.

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File photos: Batavia Downs Gaming entrance on Park Road, The Hotel at Batavia Downs, harness horse racing action, Three Dog Night in concert, contribution to Make A Wish. 

Comments
October 11, 2021 - 1:20pm

While admitting that mistakes have been made, Genesee County’s representative on the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.’s board of directors said he has complete faith in the public benefit company’s leadership and sees even greater days ahead for what he calls “an asset to the community.”

“I have been on that board now for 28 years and I’d have to say, frankly, this is the best leadership I have seen in my whole 28 years that I’ve been on the board,” said Richard Siebert, commenting on a pair of recent New York State Comptroller’s audits that cast WROTB in a negative light.

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Chief financial officer: Batavia Downs Gaming in high gear, on track for record earnings distributions

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“I think (President and Chief Executive Officer) Henry (Wojtaszek) is doing a tremendous job, and our officers underneath him are doing a great job. I’ve been very impressed with the leadership and the results in this community.”

Siebert said Park Road facility’s surge in betting handle and event attendance tells him that the public supports the job that management and staff is doing.

“What we’re doing in this community and the response of this community are attributed to what our leadership group and our officers have provided to our county and OTB, in general,” he said.

The longtime Batavian also touched upon a lawsuit filed against Wojtaszek and Board Chairman Richard Bianchi by former officer Michael Nolan.

“I think a lot of this, quite frankly, is politically-motivated,” he offered. “There’s no question that there is a certain ex-Senator that’s always had a beef with Henry – more so with Henry than OTB.”

Siebert was speaking about former State Sen. George Maziarz, who represented Niagara County from 1995-2015 before deciding not to seek re-election due to legal problems. Wojtaszek served as the Niagara County Republican chairman during Maziarz’s tenure.

(See the link to a previous story below).

Regarding the audit, Siebert said he has seen the charges, which pointed to a lack of oversight by the board related to the distribution of sporting events and concert tickets, and the use of company vehicles.

“There were mistakes made before. We’re correcting them. And, again, we were the ones who asked the Comptroller to do the audit and tell us what we are doing wrong, and how we can better ourselves – which we have responded to,” he said.

“One of the problems is that we’re being accused, especially the officers, of using them as their own little boxes. Every time we have an event there, you have to have a host there to oversee the people who are in the box. The host has to make sure it’s clean, they have to pick up the bills, they have to make sure the food is served.”

Siebert said in all of his years on the board he attended only one Buffalo Sabres game.

“People like Henry and (Vice President of Operations) Scott (Kiedrowski) are going, but we have to have staff members at every single event to do the housekeeping,” he explained. “I think that part is all out of context. As far as the officers or directors, like me, using it as their own party, that just isn’t happening.”

Siebert did agree that some people might have problems with the “gold plated” health insurance plans provided to directors.

“You’re absolutely right,” he said. “I have had health insurance through the board every year since I got on it. It was one of the things provided to me if I wanted to be an OTB director. All of those directors with health insurance have been on the board for years.”

He said the Comptroller’s office reviewed the practice of paying health insurance for directors before “and no one raised an issue with it, until political people and investigative reports did. However, to eliminate any concern for the future, we did as a board vote that any new directors would not get that, period.”

The board, at its June 24, 2021 meeting in executive session, voted 12-0 to eliminate WROTB-sponsored health insurance benefits for board members appointed on or after July 1, 2021.

Siebert said the pay to be on the board is $4,000, calling it not a “real incentive” for some of the directors who have to travel from Oswego, Cattaraugus or Chautauqua counties, for example.

“That (health insurance) was a term of our employment. I took it; I’m not denying it. But, we’ve agreed that it won’t be offered to those joining the board in the future,” he said.

Looking back over the years, Siebert said he is glad WROTB purchased the harness track in 1998 (for $3.2 million).

“I fought to buy that race track because I’m here in Genesee County,” he said. “It wasn’t a done deal as there were four or five other directors who were dead against buying that track.

“It was empty. Seagulls were in it. And Marty Basinait, God bless him, convinced me to do everything I could to buy that track because he said to me, ‘If there’s ever going to be casino gambling, it will be where people are used to gaming’ and, of course, with horse racing here for so many years, it worked out.”

After buying the track, WROTB had to wait for legislative approval to obtain a racing license. That came in November 2001 when the corporation started its Inter Track Wagering operation (simulcasting). Eight months later, it held its first harness racing card.

Basinait served as WROTB chief executive officer for 29 years prior to his retirement in 2011. He was replaced by Michael Kane, who served for five years before retiring. Wojtaszek took over as president and CEO in July 2016.

Fast forward to today and Siebert said he’s amazed at what is taking place.

“Look at what these concerts are doing – for $25 – and the $10 free play. It’s so good for our community, and we’ve had minimal complaints,” he said. “We take care of our neighbors on Redfield Parkway. We don’t get complaints about noises, drugs, alcohol – anything that I’m aware of. It’s just an asset to our community.

Previously: WROTB board chair: Allegations unfounded, President/CEO Wojtaszek receives high marks.

Comments
October 11, 2021 - 11:14am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, notre dame high school, Ricky Mancuso Jr..

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The memory of a beloved Notre Dame High graduate lives on in the hearts and minds of his family and friends – and in a tree planted in his name in front of the Union Street school's main entrance. 

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ND Principal Wade Bianco and Deacon Walter Szczesny presided over a ceremony dedicating a tree in honor of Ricky Mancuso Jr. (Class of 2005) on the front steps of the school before Saturday’s Alexander at Notre Dame “Homecoming” football game.

Ricky, (photo at right), son of Rick and Julie Mancuso of Batavia, passed away on Dec. 27, 2020 at the age of 33.

“This was an unbelievable testimony to the Mancuso family who have meant so much to Batavia and especially Notre Dame High School,” Bianco said. “The turnout was fantastic; the front lawn was full of people.”

Bianco said the ND teachers and staff contributed to the purchase of the tree.

Submitted photo. Members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team were among a large gathering Saturday that honored Ricky Mancuso Jr.

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October 11, 2021 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia, notify, byron, Oakfield, Pavilion, Stafford.
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Jon Magliocco

Jon T. Magliocco, 44,  of  Batavia, is charged with rape  3rd, criminal sexual act 3rd, and criminal sexual act 1st. Magliocco was released from prison on Aug. 2nd as a Level 3  sex offender. On Aug. 16,  two people reported being raped by Magliocco. The first incident allegedly occurred sometime between Aug. 10 and 11 at a residence on  Mill  Street. The second incident allegedly occurred between Aug.  14 and 15 at the same location. Magliocco was arrested after an investigation by Det. Jason Ivison and Officer Jason Waldron. Magliocco is being held at the Genesee County Jail.

William A.  Nichols, Jr., 28, of Medina, was arrested by Medina  PD and turned over to Batavia PD on a warrant for alleged failure to appear in court as directed. He was arraigned in City Court. His current status was not released.

Michael J. Robbins, 61, of Batavia, is charged with grand larceny 4th and conspiracy 5th. Robbins is accused of stealing property from a business on East Main Street, Batavia, on July 31. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Earnest J. Reese, 74, of Batavia, is charged with DWI,  driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and moving from lane unsafely. Reese was stopped at 9:24 p.m., Saturday, on Bank Street in Batavia by Officer Peter Post.  Reese's vehicle allegedly struck a parked car.  Reese was issued an appearance ticket.

Cassandra F. Smith,  35, of York, was arrested on a warrant. Smith allegedly failed to appear in court on charges related to thefts from a  cemetery on  Harvester Avenue on  Aug. 16. Smith was processed at the jail and released.

A 16-year-old was arrested on a charge of harassment 2nd. The youth is accused of pushing and punching another juvenile during a fit. The youth was issued an appearance ticket.

Aaron J. McFollins, 42, of Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. McFollins was stopped by a Batavia PD officer on Sept. 16 on East Main Street, Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Leslie R. Parris, 38, of Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .18 or greater. Parris was stopped at 4:53 a.m., Sept. 19, on Dellinger Avenue  by a Batavia police officer. Parris was issued an appearance ticket.

Adele J. Feeley, 20, of Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, an open container, and speeding. Feeley was stopped at 10:46 p.m., Sept. 24, on West Main Street, Batavia, by a Batavia police officer. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Stephanie L. Coley, 39, of Brockport, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. At 1:58 a.m., Sept. 24, a Batavia police officer reportedly found Coley sleeping in the driver's seat of her vehicle at a location on Oak Street. She was allegedly found in possession of a crack pipe and several small bags containing an unknown white powder. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Mandy L. Miller, 41, of Batavia, is charged with arson 2nd and criminal mischief.  Miller is accused of setting fire to a carpet and a door at a residence on North Spruce Street on Sept. 25 during a dispute. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Jeremy G. Ives, 46, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 3rd. Ives is accused of damaging a residence on Highland Park, Batavia, on Sept. 26. He as issued an appearance ticket.

Kimberly J. Pol, 33, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and failure to use a turn signal. Pol was stopped at 10:12 p.m., Sept. 26, in Batavia by a Batavia police officer. Pol was issued an appearance ticket.

Christopher C. Taylor, 21, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Taylor allegedly made threats to burn down a house in violation of an order of protection. He was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Myron D. Dupler, 74, of Batavia, is charged with public lewdness.  Dupler is accused of masturbating with his penis out of his pants while at the corner of State Street and Washington Avenue at 8:12 a.m., Sept. 27. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Rae C. Cook, 32, of Batavia, is charged with assault 2nd and criminal possession of a weapon. Cook is accused of stepping another person in the neck with a knife during an argument at 10:28 p.m.,  Oct. 2, at a location on Fisher Park, Batavia. Cook was arraigned in City Court and ordered held on $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond.

Marcos Velazquez, 18, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 3rd. Valazquez allegedly smashed out several windows of a vehicle on Wood Street at 2:11 p.m., Sunday. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Jessica B. Eschenlauer, 32, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Eschenlauer is accused of striking a person with a wooden kitchen spoon during an argument at a residence on Eleanor Place at 9:30  p.m., Monday. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Jery Riley III, 43, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 4th. Riley allegedly damaged a door inside a residence on Manhattan Avenue during an argument at 4:19 p.m., Monday. He was released on his own recognizance. 

A 17-year-old is charged with harassment 2nd. The youth allegedly threatened another person with physical harm during an argument on Wednesday at a location on Hutchins Place, Batavia. He was released on his own recognizance. 

James Lee Thomas, Jr., 47, of Main Road, Stafford, is charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent person. Thomas allegedly struck a mentally disabled minor multiple times causing pain. He was arraigned in Stafford Town Court and released on his own recognizance.

Daniel Jonathan Eastridge, 26, of  Woodstock Gardens Apartments, Batavia, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08  or greater, speeding, moving from lane unsafely, and driving left of pavement markings. Eastridge was stopped at 6:03 p.m., Saturday, on Telephone Road, Pavilion, by Deputy Jordan Alejandro.  He was issued an appearance ticket.

Jayson Lee Chamberlain, 37, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with burglary 3rd and petit larceny. Chamberlain is accused of stealing property from a barn on Fisher Road, Oakfield, at 10:55 p.m., Oct. 7. He was arraigned in Oakfield Town Park and released on his own recognizance. 

Jessica J. Stocum, 44, of Batavia, is charged with assault, endangering an incompetent person, endangering an adult, criminal possession of a weapon. Stocum was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 3:19 a.m., Sunday, in the Town of Batavia. She was ordered held on $10,000 bail.  No further details released.

Cynthia M. Stewart, 40, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Stewart was arrested by State Police in connection with a theft reported at 1:41 p.m., Oct., in the Town of Batavia. She was issued an appearance ticket. No further details released.

Matthew J. Zon, 40, of South Byron, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, criminal mischief 4th, and criminal contempt 1st. Zon was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 5:24 p.m., Oct. 4, in the Town of Byron. He was ordered held on bail. No further details released.

Comments
October 11, 2021 - 9:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in gas prices, news.

Press release from AAA:

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $3.27, up seven cents from last week. One year ago, the price was $2.19. The New York State average is $3.35 – up seven cents from last week. A year ago, the NYS average was $2.26. AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) reports the following averages:

  • Batavia - $3.33 (up seven cents from last week)
  • Buffalo - $3.31 (up eight cents from last week)
  • Ithaca - $3.36 (up eight cents from last week)
  • Rochester - $3.35 (up eight cents from last week)
  • Rome - $3.36 (up six cents from last week)
  • Syracuse - $3.33 (up ten cents from last week)
  • Watertown - $3.27 (up seven cents since last week)

Gasoline demand, the need for more oil production, and the price of crude oil all contribute to the fluctuating gas prices. OPEC+, which comprises the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and allied countries, chose not to move forward with an agreement to produce more crude oil in November. These factors combined led to an increase in gas prices locally and nationally. High crude prices (touching $78 per barrel) are keeping pump prices elevated.

From Gas Buddy:

"Last week saw oil prices advance to their highest in seven years, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil surpassing the critical $80 per barrel level. The nation's gas prices were also pushed to their highest since 2014, all on OPEC's decision not to raise production more than it already agreed to in July," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "The OPEC decision caused an immediate reaction in oil prices, and amidst what is turning into a global energy crunch, motorists are now spending over $400 million more on gasoline every single day than they were just a year ago. The problems continue to relate to a surge in demand as the global economy recovers, combined with deep cuts to production from early in the pandemic. If Americans can’t slow their appetite for fuels, we've got no place for prices to go but up."

 

Comments
October 11, 2021 - 9:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

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  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Howard Owens:   [email protected]m
Comments
October 11, 2021 - 8:00am


Visit our local jobs page here.

Comments
October 10, 2021 - 11:04am
posted by Joanne Beck in Batavia Downs, music, arts, entertainment, news.

Western New York Singer Marsha McWilson was 6 years old when she learned the ropes of performing. Her brother Roger was choirmaster at a large church, and he was a stickler for accuracy.

 “I had to hit every note and look presentable … he groomed me,” McWilson said during a phone interview from her home in Niagara Falls. “It hit me when I picked up the mic, and everyone started clapping.”

That prep in St. John’s AME Church paved a musical path for her to follow, she said. She attributes the 100-voice choir, led by Kathy Jordan Sharpton (former wife of Al Sharpton), and pianist Bruce Parker, and related teachings for her gradual rise in the music industry. 

McWilson plans to dazzle spectators during her first appearance at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel. The show goes on at 7 p.m., Oct. 14 at 8315 Park Road.

Expect glitz, glamour, a combination of jazzy blues, country, and Motown, plus assorted diva costumes. A full band, backup singers, and everything from Etta James and Tina Turner to Patsy Cline and Aretha Franklin will be featured.

“I’m bringing Vegas to Batavia,” she said. “Tell ‘em just get ready.”

The licensed beauty salon owner knows many facets of the industry, so the audience will get the full package of presentation, she said. Is there a connection between her beauty business and entertaining? Well of course there is, she said.

“That’s the biggest part of everything; I have the foundation already,” she said, adding a bit of snap to her voice. “I am the total package. I sing, write, produce, do hair, make-up and pick the clothes.”

The concert will be dedicated to her sister Vanessa, who succumbed to COVID, and to her high school music teacher and longtime friend, Marva Frails, for whom McWilson just sang during her funeral this past Thursday. Frails taught her young student the ABCs in music, which are the words Every Boy Does Fine and FACE to cover the musical notes on a staff. Frails also instilled the importance of being on time and not complaining, which McWilson intends to honor.

“She taught me so many things,” McWilson said. “I’m going to stop complaining.”

After losing many friends and family members to COVID, the energetic vocalist penned a song, “Rona Mae Blues,” which can be heard on her website. Accompanied by son Cameron Connor, she genuinely sings the blues with lines such as “If only I knew it was going to be the last time I saw you” and “You tore our lives apart.” Of all the uncertainties of the pandemic, she knows one thing for sure: “You won’t believe about coronavirus until your family dies,” she said. “My sister died Christmas Day. She didn’t think she had the virus.”

It’s hard to imagine McWilson being down, given her vibrant personality, but she has definitely walked through the blues, she said. Losing six family members in a short period of time, struggling with obesity, and knocking on doors that just wouldn’t open for her could have beat her down for good. But she got back up with a mission to benefit others, she said. She advocates getting the Covid vaccine and has an undying trust that she can do all things “through Christ who strengthens me.” As for those venues that wouldn’t book her, she believes, for being a black entertainer, she knows that better objectives are in her future. 

“It’s not about the money; the message I have is to uplift them,” she said. 

McWilson recalled seeing her brother Larry on the living room floor after he had died from a heart attack. Her brother Maurice tried to nudge her into reality.

“He said that if I didn’t change my life, it could be me,” she said, noting that other siblings had died of heart attacks. “I prayed, and I walked. I called it the mind, body, and soul program. I began to get up every day and walk around Hyde Park and I prayed that God would help me.”

She prayed for help to lose weight, gain inspiration to write and sing songs and forge a path toward a successful musical career. Two hundred pounds lighter, she hit a local pinnacle as the first black female inductee for the 2020 Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame and has performed in jazz and blues festivals, at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, fundraisers and for a yearly 10-day Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage cruise.

Had she not lost weight, McWilson knows she would have missed out on so much, including flying because she couldn’t squeeze into an airplane seat and giving birth to long-awaited “miracle” children. As one of a dozen siblings, she had a tight-knit family, though McWilson has been determined to do the work all by herself, she said. She was told that her gospel couldn’t be played on the radio and that she would never be able to fly in an aircraft. She found a way. 

“I’m morphing through the pain … pain is what gets us through life,” she said. “My mother inspired me to go after what I want. She had 12 kids and none of them got in trouble. She’s my role model.”

Her favorite genre is Gospel, though she admits “the blues is getting me to the green.” She has appeared in three movies and sees herself doing more television work. Actually, her visual is much more specific than that.

“I see myself winning Grammys and Emmys … being so wealthy that I’ll be a blessing to help someone else,” she said.  

For more about McWilson, check out her website at www.marshamcwilson.com. Concert tickets are $10 and may be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/marsha-mcwilson-tribute-performance-at-bata... 

Photos submitted by Marsha McWilson.

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October 10, 2021 - 10:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, pembroke.

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Pembroke defeated Finney on  Saturday in eight-man football 22-12.

Cayden Pfalzer was 5-8 passing for 63 yards. He also rushed for 65 yards on 11 carries and scored a TD.  Tyson Totten ran for 109 yards and a TD on 17 carries.  He also caught a 4-yard pass for a TD. Caleb Felski rushed 10 times for 58 yards, completed a 9-yard pass, and had a 90-yard kick return for a TD.

On defense, Chase Guzdek, 16 tackle, Cayden Pfalzer, seven tackles, Giovanni Smart had a sack.

Photos by Elizabeth Gabbey

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October 10, 2021 - 9:49am
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Bowling, Genesee Region USBC.

It seems as though Batavian Devon Leach has made it all the way back from injuries sustained in a car accident last November.

The 27-year-old right-hander registered his first United States Bowling Congress-certified 800 series earlier this week in the Mancuso Realty Monday Doubles League at Mancuso Bowling Center -- coming through with two strikes and 9 pins in the 10th frame for an 802.

His games were 279 (with the front nine strikes), 245 and 278 (with the front six strikes).

Leach, an employee of Immaculate Cleaning and Removal in Batavia, suffered shoulder and back injuries in the accident just before Thanksgiving and had to sit out the rest of the bowling season.

He's making up for lost time, averaging 221 over the first several weeks, using a Roto Grip UFO Alert bowling ball.

Elsewhere around the Genesee Region USBC, Naomi Hyde rolled a 277 game and 636 series in the Tompkins Insurance Monday NFL League at Mancuso's, while Harris Busmire had a 297 game and 767 series in the Wednesday Men's Handicap League at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen.

For a list of high scores, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of the home page.

 

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October 9, 2021 - 5:36pm

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The Alexander Trojans raised their Section V football record to 5-1 this afternoon with a 49-6 victory over Class D rival Notre Dame.

The visitors wasted little time in exerting their dominance when junior Christian Kissel fielded a punt at his own 22-yard line, broke a tackle and raced 78 yards untouched into the end zone with 8:31 left in the opening quarter (photo at top).

Kissel’s play was the first time the Trojans touched the ball after forcing the Irish to punt from their own 47.

Kicker Eric Cline converted the point after touchdown – he was successful on all seven attempts for the game – to give Alexander a 7-0 lead.

Alexander went up 14-0 about a minute later when, following an interception by defensive back Ricky Townley, quarterback Nick Kramer broke through the line off left tackle for a 61-yard touchdown run.

Ben Merrill’s interception on ND’s next possession set up a three-yard run by Brayden Woods, capping a six-play, 61-yard drive to make it 21-0 late in the period.

Another turnover, this time a fumble after a sack, gave the ball back to Alexander at the ND 24, and seven plays later the score ballooned to 28-0 on a 13-yard screen pass from Kramer to 6-2, 230-pound sophomore fullback Clayton Bezon.

The next three possessions for ND, 1-5, resulted in a fumble, punt and interception – the last turnover setting up a two-yard TD run by Woods to make it 35-0 at halftime.

The Trojans scored again on their opening possession after intermission on a 16-yard pass from Kramer to Merrill, and went up 49-0 midway through the fourth quarter on a 13-yard run by Tyler Marino.

The Irish, victimized by four interceptions and two lost fumbles, scored with 2:46 remaining on a two-yard run by quarterback Jimmy Fanara. The touchdown was set up by an 18-yard pass to C.J. Thornley and 40-yard completion to Evan Cummings.

Cummings, who recovered a fumble in the end zone to thwart the Trojans early in the fourth quarter, prevented another touchdown when he ran down Ricky Townley after a long run deep into ND territory inside of a minute to play.

Leading rushers for Alexander were Kramer with 79 yards on eight carries and Townley with 73 yards on five carries.  Kramer was 4-for-8 passing for 47 yards and two TDs.

Defensively, Townley and Merrill each had two interceptions while Andrew Pulliam and Chase Graham recovered fumbles.

For the Irish, gained 46 yards on the ground, while Fanara completed five of 17 passes for 95 yards. On defense, Anthony Edwards was in on 14 tackles, while Anthony Fiorentino and Conner McWilliams had nine each and Vin DiRisio had eight.

Both teams play again on Friday night. Alexander hosts York/Pavilion while Notre Dame travels to Cuba-Rushford/Hinsdale.

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Alexander's Clayton Bezon attempts a fullback option pass over ND linebackers Vin DiRisio (24), Evan Cummings (12) and Conner McWilliams (58).

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Bezon is brought down by ND's Ryan Fitzpatrick but not before crossing the goal line for a touchdown. No. 52 is Cole Dean.

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Eric Klein converts one of his seven point-after-touchdown kicks. 

Photos by Howard Owens.

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October 9, 2021 - 4:37pm

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Anyone even vaguely familiar with Notre Dame High School’s athletic and academic excellence over the past six decades surely has heard of Bill “Sudsy” Sutherland, a graduate of the Union Street school who went on to become one of the area’s finest coaches and educators.

The legacy of “Sudsy,” as he was affectionally known, grew to new heights this afternoon when the Notre Dame community named its football field as Bill Sutherland Field.

Speaking before a large crowd at halftime of the Section V Class D game between the Fighting Irish and visiting Alexander Trojans, ND Athletic Director Mike Rapone called it a “fitting tribute.”

“… The Notre Dame Board of Trustees, administration, athletic department and, most importantly, our Notre Dame school community and alumni recognize that the naming of our football field is a fitting tribute to Bill Sutherland, who dedicated so much of his life to Notre Dame and its students – and much of that time was spent on this field,” Rapone said.

He then presented a plaque commemorating the occasion to Sutherland’s wife, Melanie, a 1970 ND graduate, and his children, Billy (1996) and Jennifer (2000), who were supported by the coach’s brothers, sisters, grandchildren and many members of the Sutherland family (photo at top).

Sutherland compiled a tremendous record as a coach – not just in football, but also in baseball and golf, a record so impressive that he made it into the Section V Hall of Fame. A star athlete at ND, he also is the only person inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a player and coach.

He passed away on Aug. 23, 2020 at the age of 71.

“The name Bill Sutherland and his famous nickname, Sudsy, was synonymous with Notre Dame for 41 years and he was recognized by the Genesee Region, Section V and the Monsignor Martin Association for his coaching prowess, the preparation of his teams and the way his teams competed,” Rapone said.

His teams won seven Genesee Region football titles, 13 baseball titles, two Bishop Smith baseball championships, four Section V titles in football, seven in baseball and three consecutive golf championships. In 16 championship game appearances, his teams won 14 times.

Rapone said Sutherland “helped shape the hearts and minds of Notre Dame students as a coach, teacher and administrator.”

“As a coach, Bill was known for his love of players and desire to see them excel on the field, in the classroom and, most importantly, in life,” he stated. “Coach Sutherland would be known for his fiery intensity and his ability to motivate his players like few coaches could.”

Off the field, Sutherland was an excellent teacher and mentor, Rapone said, with a special gift in “in identifying where his students were struggling and (finding) ways to help and understand to improve their performance level.”

ND Principal Wade Bianco thanked the school’s Class of 1967 for its “relentless effort” to make this dedication possible.

“Their (Sutherland’s classmates) tenacity and their passion to get this done almost matched Bill’s,” he quipped.

A reception was hosted by the Sutherland family after the game at T.F. Brown’s Restaurant in Batavia.

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From left, Notre Dame High School Principal Wade Bianco, Athletic Director Mike Rapone, Billy Sutherland, Jennifer Sutherland Forsyth, Melanie Sutherland, Pat Becker (Class of 1967) and David O'Connor (Class of 1967).

Photos by Howard Owens.

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October 9, 2021 - 3:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, oakfield-alabama, oae.

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Oakfield-Alabama/Elba notched a  convincing win over Avon on Friday, 24-7.

Bodie Hyde was 7-10 passing for 91 yards and a  TD.  Gaige Armbrewster ran 21 times for 74 yards and a TD.  Noah Currier  made three receptions for 52 yards and a TD. He also had an 80-yard kickoff return for a TD. K. Max  DeMare struck a 25-yard field goal.

On defense, Connor Scott had 12 tackles, Kameron Cusmano, nine, Kaden Cusmano,  eight, and CJ Gottler, eight.

"This was a huge win for our team," said Head Coach Tyler Winter. "We knew beating Avon was going to take a full 4 quarter battle.  They're a very strong team and we needed to play mistake-free football to get the win tonight.  Hats off to them.  This could be just the first meeting between the two of us.  Also want to shout out Defensive Coordinator Corey Winter and Special Teams Coordinator Andrew Boyce for the game plans they put together for tonight.  Those two sides of the ball came up big for us.  If we are going to be a good football program, these are the games we need to persevere in and get the job done on the scoreboard.  We are proud of our boys for doing exactly that."

Photos by Kristin  Smith. For more,  click here.

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October 9, 2021 - 10:12am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, GCEDC, Tonawanda Seneca Nation, Plug Power, wny stamp.

A lawsuit filed by the Tonawanda Seneca Nation challenging the Genesee County Economic Development Center’s State Environmental Quality Review determination in connection with the Plug Power, Inc., project has been dismissed by Genesee County Acting Supreme Court Justice Charles Zambito.

The nation contended that the liquid hydrogen facility, which is in line to become operational sometime next year at the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama, would infringe upon its “Big Woods” sacred ground that is situated near the western end of STAMP.

As plaintiff in the legal action, the nation also sought to prove the GCEDC did not provide notification prior to the completion of the environmental review process.

Zambito, in his decision released on Sept. 28, ruled that the Seneca Nation failed to add Plug Power, Inc., as a defendant prior to the statute of limitations.

GCEDC reported its environmental impact determination on Feb. 4, giving the nation four months to amend its original suit of June 4 that listed only the GCEDC two top officers and board chair and vice chair as defendants.

The nation eventually added Plug Power, Inc., as a defendant on June 18 – two weeks after the deadline. Furthermore, it did so without “leave of the Court,” Zambito wrote, causing a delay in the amended petition’s filing until July 26.

In his analysis, Zambito wrote that “the proposed amended petition is untimely as it relates to Plug Power, Inc. (deemed a “necessary party”) and the individual GCEDC respondents. The motion to amend is denied accordingly and the amended petition is dismissed.”

He also dismissed the original petition for failure to include Plug Power, Inc., ruling that while the original petition was filed in a timely fashion, “the failure to join such a necessary party can result in the dismissal of the action.”

According to the GCEDC, Plug Power, Inc., plans to build the $232.7 million green energy technology facility at a 29.884-acre site at STAMP, with a proposed initial operation creating 68 new jobs at an average salary of approximately $70,000.

The Latham-based company also will invest $55 million to help build a 345/115KV electric substation in partnership with the New York Power Authority and National Grid. The substation will support future expansion and growth opportunities at STAMP’s 1,250-acre mega-site.

The GCEDC board of directors have approved the following incentives to Plug Power, Inc.:

  • Approved Property Tax Payments (Payment in Lieu of Taxes): $2.3 million per year, $46 million over 20 years.
  • Sales Tax Exemptions: $1.1 million.
  • Estimated Savings: $117.7 million property tax savings over 20 years if assessed at cost of construction ($232.7 million).
  • Anticipated assessment is much more likely to be $60-90 million. Payments of $2.3 million per year equate to a zero percent abatement on a $65 million assessment.
Comments
October 9, 2021 - 8:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, football, sports, hfl, batavia.

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The Blue Devils suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of #1 ranked Honeoye Falls Lima, 27 to 26.

Batavia is now 5-1 and HFL is 6-0. Both are in Class B in Section V and could meet again in the post-season.

Jesse Reinhart was 14-10 passing for 123 yards and a TD.  He also ran for 68 yards on eight carries.

Aidan Anderson gained 162 yards on 12 carries and scored twice. 

Javin McFollins had three receptions for 91 yards and a TD.  Carter McFollins gained 31 yards on five catches.

Kaden Marucci had 13 tackles and an interception. Vincent Arroyo had eight tackles, Matt McWethhy, seven, and Javin McFollins, seven along with a fumble recovery.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

To view or purchase photos, click here.

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October 8, 2021 - 9:50pm
posted by Press Release in missing person, batavia, news, notify.

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Press release:

The Batavia Police department is looking for 64-year-old Michael C. Jackson who left the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing facility located at 257 State St. He was last seen at approximately 5:30 pm, wearing a red sweatsuit. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Batavia Police Department at 345-6350.

 

 

 

Photo By Howard Owens: Helicopter searching the Thruway corridor in Batavia.

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October 8, 2021 - 7:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in stumblin inn, news, elba, Halloween.

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The Stumblin' Inn is gone but not forgotten, and neither are Steve "Stork" Goff and  Jim Goff, who both passed away this year.  The brothers are commemorated with this Halloween Display at the former location of the Stumblin' Inn in Elba.

Photo by Steve Ognibene

Comments
October 8, 2021 - 7:51pm

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To help celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the Stafford Country Club invited members of the Batavia Society of Artists to paint pictures of the club grounds, and tonight those paintings were sold to members. Twenty percent of the proceeds go to the club's scholarship fund with the remainder of the sale price going to the individual artist.

Top photo: Teresa Tamfer, one of the BSA's organizers of the event, with one of the paintings by a BSA member

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Comments
October 8, 2021 - 7:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson School, batavia, City Schools, news.

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It's Fire Prevention Week at Jackson Primary with students learning about fire safety, including fire drills, kitchen safety, fire alarms, and stop, drop  and roll.

Captain Greg Ireland, Batavia Fire, has made instructional videos for the children.

Today, the fire department visited the school. Other activities include a coloring contest, a get "spotted" making good choices contest (the winners get a  ride in the fire truck), and a list of fire safety rules to discuss at home.

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October 8, 2021 - 6:30pm


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