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GCC welcomes former Batavia Police Sgt. Daniel Coffey as director of campus safety

By Press Release

Press Release:

Photo of Daniel Coffey 
courtesy of GCC. 

Genesee Community College proudly announces the swearing-in of Daniel Coffey as the new Director of Campus Safety. The official ceremony took place on Monday, Jan. 8, marking the commencement of Coffey's tenure in this crucial leadership role.

Dan brings a wealth of experience and a distinguished career in law enforcement and emergency services to Genesee Community College. Serving with the Batavia Police Department since 2003, Coffey has consistently demonstrated excellence and leadership in various capacities. Notably, he was promoted to Sergeant in 2012. His exceptional contributions have been recognized through prestigious awards, including the Kiwanis Criminal Justice Award in 2018 and the Meritorious Service Award in 2016, further highlighting his commitment to public safety and community service.

In addition to his commendable service with the Batavia Police Department, Coffey has been an active member of the Town of Batavia Fire Department, Inc. since 2001. His dedication to the community is evident through his five years of service as Fire Chief, where he also held roles as Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief Captain and Lieutenant. In 2004, Coffey received the Chief's Award, a testament to his outstanding contributions to the fire department.

Genesee Community College is confident that Coffey's extensive background in law enforcement, emergency services, and leadership roles will greatly enhance the safety and security measures on our campus. We look forward to the positive impact he will undoubtedly bring to our college community.

Upon his swearing-in, Coffey shared his enthusiasm for the new role, stating, "I am honored and excited to join the Genesee Community College team as the Director of Campus Safety. My experience in law enforcement and emergency services has prepared me well for this position, and I am eager to contribute to the safety and well-being of the college community."

Please join us in welcoming Daniel Coffey to Genesee Community College. We are confident that his leadership will further strengthen our commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff.

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

With prostate cancer again in the news, RRH urologist discusses screening and treatment

By Howard B. Owens
dr. gantz rrh
Dr. Jacob Gantz

The nation's defense secretary's treatment for prostate cancer has put the disease in the public spotlight again, and officials at Rochester Regional Health/United Memorial Medical Center had a specialist talk with reporters on Wednesday to help people better understand detection and treatment.

Lloyd Austin's struggle with prostate cancer and subsequent post-surgery infection led him to seek treatment without alerting the White House.

That, in itself, became a controversy, but as USAToday reports, many men are reluctant to discuss a prostate cancer diagnosis.

 "I find that it's something that a lot of men don't talk about," Dr. Samuel Haywood, a urologist specializing in prostate cancer, says. "Men can be very stoic, and they don't like to talk about their health issues."

But facing up to prostate cancer can help men save their own lives, suggested Dr. Jacob Gantz, a urologist with RRH.

"It's crucial to be screened because by the time the disease, prostate cancer, would develop and cause symptoms, symptoms that the patient would be able to detect, it likely would be a very advanced disease and much more difficult to treat," Gantz said. "Catching prostate cancer early in its disease course makes the treatments much more effective. And it makes the treatments much more manageable and easier to do for the patient."

Screening consists of an annual PSA test (part of blood tests for an annual physical) and a digital rectal exam. Generally, men between 55 and 75 should be screened annually, but that can vary with family history.  A man whose father, or a grandfather, uncle, or brother had prostate cancer is at greater risk of developing the disease. Black men are also at elevated risk for prostate cancer.

"Prostate cancer in its early stages doesn't cause any outward symptoms that a patient would be able to pick up on," Gantz said.

Treatment has evolved and improved over the years, and outcomes are often favorable, Gantz said.

"Treatment of prostate cancer is not one size fits all," Gantz said. "It depends on the patient's age, the stage of the cancer, potentially the degree of spread of the cancer. In some cases (standards of treatment include), watching the cancer, evaluating it over time with biopsies, as well as MRIs and other adjunctive tests to monitor the progression of cancer."

The cancer can sometimes be spot-treated in the prostate instead of treating the whole gland, Gantz said.  That can help reduce the potential side effects of treatment.

Radiation treatment is also an option, he said.

If necessary, the prostate can be removed, called a radical prostatectomy.  This is where advances in technology really make a difference, Gantz explained.

"Robotic-assisted removal of the prostate has kind of revolutionized the treatment of prostate cancer," Gantz said. "Before (robotics), the surgery was much longer. There was much higher blood loss, much more invasive, and it required a hospital stay for at least several days. Since the introduction of the robotic platform, the surgery has become minimally invasive. It usually requires only one night in the hospital and a catheter for a few days, and the recovery is much faster with good cancer outcomes as well. Long-term complications have also improved with the radical prostatectomy being done robotically, such as sexual side effects as well as incontinence due to leaking of urine, has improved as well. But that being said, despite it being minimally invasive, it is still a major surgery."

As with any major surgery, complications are rare, but also an ever-present risk.  It was complications, reportedly an infection, that sent Austin back to the hospital on Jan. 1. 

Gantz said he is, of course, not Austin's doctor, so has no specific information on his treatment or complications, but complications can include, he said, leaking urine (possibly the complication Austin struggled with, according to news reports), which can cause a bowel infection and for the bowels to not function properly. 

"All of these complications, fortunately, as far as I can tell, from what I've read, are reversible and pretty easily reversible with no long-term damage," Gantz said.

Gantz emphasized that while prostate cancer is treatable, it takes a man to regularly see a primary care doctor to ensure it's detected early.  Once discovered, the treatment strategy becomes a discussion for the patient and a urologist.

"Prostate cancer treatment really depends on the patient, the goals of the patient, their age, as well as their health status," Gantz said. "It's very important when deciding what treatments are right for a patient to have a dialogue with their urologist to weigh the pros and cons of each treatment and then, therefore, come to a conclusion about what's right for that patient."

In the age of silver screens, Batavia residents had several options to go out for entertainment

By Anne Marie Starowitz
batavia dipson family theater
dipson movie poster union station

As baby boomers, the Mancuso and Dipson theaters were essential to our childhoods. 

A Saturday afternoon in the 50s and 60s would be spent at one of these theaters. If we took our pop bottles to your corner store and redeemed two cents for every bottle, you could save enough money to afford the .50 needed for admission to a movie.   

We first had to check the Legion of Decency, a list of films nailed to the back door of our Catholic Church stating what movies were appropriate for our ages.  Disney movies were at the top of the list of acceptable movies.   

In the 70s, I remember exactly where I sat when I saw "Jaws." I can still remember the fear I felt when the great white shark opened its jaws and the screams I heard in the theater, including mine.

Theaters in Batavia have a very early history. Imagine, in 1874, an Opera House on Main Street. It had seating for 1,000 with a stage that could be converted into a dance hall. A balcony and seating boxes on either side of the stage were reserved for courting couples. John Dellinger built the Dellinger Opera House, the center of local entertainment for over 50 years. Most people saw their first live performance on the stage at the Dellinger. Road companies stopped in Batavia regularly in the 1880s and 1890s. Amateur shows could be performed on this stage one day, and the next day, you could watch professional acting companies take the stage.

In 1900, a store on Jackson Street was the site for the first showing of motion pictures. Later, silent pictures were shown in Ellicott Hall on Court Street. To make the silent picture more exciting, sound effects such as train whistles, blank gunshots, and the noise of crashing cars were added.

early batavia theater

Batavia’s first theater was called the Lyric Theatre, located at 49 Main St. It had 36 seats fastened to the inclining floor. Other theaters, such as the Dreamland on Court Street and the Orpheum Theater at 122 Main St., were places to see “moving pictures.”

Two new moving picture theaters opened in 1913, the Grand at 72 Main St. and the Family Theatre on Jackson Street. The Grand could seat 584 patrons, and the Family Theatre could seat 600. A pianist or violinist could be heard while showing a moving picture, adding excitement to the movie.

A group of local businessmen financed the Family Theatre. It was considered to be one of the prettiest theaters in this area. The furnishings were from New York City and consisted of seats made of oak, 12 chandeliers, and a stage curtain that could be opened to show a stationary picture screen made of plaster.

Nikitas Dipson came to this country from Greece in 1909. He was interested in movie theaters, which began in 1913 when he lived in Jeanette, Pennsylvania, where he managed a small motion picture theater. He later moved to Batavia and managed The Family Theatre. 

In 1914, he temporarily bought the theater on Jackson Street until he could build a new modern theater on Main Street. He purchased two buildings at 36 and 38 Main St. They were not big enough for his new theater, so he closed the Family Theatre and moved the films, screen, and pianist to the Grand Theatre.

The New Family Theatre could seat 700 people and reopened in 1923 with a high domed ceiling lighted with radiant light and a 21-foot-deep and 43-foot wide stage. The orchestra seats were sitting from the other seats by a walnut rail. A console organ was in the pit, and a fireproof curtain could be lifted mechanically to the roof. The sides of the auditorium were decorated on either side with mural paintings.

The Lafayette Theatre, built just to show films, stood facing the Family Theatre for over 40 years. In 1947, the Lafayette Theatre, the property of Nikitas Dipson, closed. 

Nikitas Dipson finally could build his theater on 36 and 38 Main St. The theatre opened on April 17, 1947. The inner lobby was decorated with mural paintings depicting scenes from Genesee County’s early history. Floral designs covered the walls. After the house lights went out, the floral lights would glow softly for a few moments. This air-conditioned theater could seat 1,400. This theater would alternate with the Mancuso Theatre, housing the graduation exercises from Batavia High School and later Notre Dame High School. Dipson’s beautiful theater eventually fell victim to Urban Renewal in 1973.

Mancuso brothers decided to build a theater at 212 East Main St. It opened on June 4, 1948. The theater was as large as Dipson’s and advertised as modern as any theater in the country with “power enough to light a city.”  It had excellent acoustics because of the construction of the walls and ceiling. The side walls were decorated with flat sculptured figures. It was considered at that time to be one of the most satisfactory little theaters outside New York City. On opening night, 1,600 people filled every seat for the showing of "The Emperor’s Waltz." Today, that theater saved from the wrecking ball is currently the home of City Church. 

new family theater batavia

Nikitas Dipson dominated the motion picture business for 40 years, owning or operating all the motion picture theaters in the county at one time or another, including the two drive-in theaters on East Main Street Road and Clinton Street. Under an arrangement with the Mancuso Brothers, he ran the Mancuso Theatre, the Dipson Theatre, and the Family Theatre. Eventually, the two main theaters were ultimately divided into Cinema I and II. 

In mid-1979, William Dipson and Mancuso Brothers asked the McWethy Construction Company to build two mini theaters on the northwest corner of the mall. The theaters opened in 1980 as Mall I and Mall II. After 33 years, the theater closed. 

Over the years, Batavia has lost many buildings and businesses.   In June 2013, Ken Mistler, a local businessman who owned several downtown businesses, purchased Mall I and Mall II Movie Theater. He remodeled the Batavia Show Time Theater and showed first-run movies for many years. He's currently renovating the theaters into a new entertainment venue.

It seems sad that all we have left from these beautiful historical buildings are memories and pictures from old postcards and newspaper clippings. 

Photos courtesy Genesee County History Department.

mancuso theater batavia

Santa spreads extra joy at Christmas dance, next one set for Jan. 18

By Press Release
Submitted photo from Christmas Dance.

Press Release:

On Thursday, Dec. 14, dancers arrived in their holiday garb and Santa hats to join in the celebration at the Christmas Dance for Genesee County’s Adults with Developmental Disabilities at the Byron Fire Hall. 

The hall was decorated and the DJ alternated dance tunes with Christmas music as dancers moved around the floor. Snacks were prepared and pizza was served up by many members of the Byron Ladies Auxiliary as well as some volunteers.

Around 7:30 p.m. dance coordinator, Morgan Leaton grabbed the mic and got the group’s attention by announcing that Santa had arrived. Folks cheered as Santa, waving to everyone, walked across the dance floor, and was seated in his special chair next to the Christmas tree. 

One by one folks came up and sat next to Santa. They each had some time to talk to Santa and pose for a photo. Santa gave everyone a Christmas gift. After everyone had their time with Santa, he waved goodbye and “Merry Christmas” as he walked out of the building and out of sight.

Toward the end of the evening, Morgan Leaton rounded up everyone for a group photo and reminded them that next month’s dance, the New Year’s Dance will be held on Thursday, Jan. 18. She promised the crowd a fun-filled evening to celebrate the new year!

The dances are open to anyone with developmental disabilities aged 13 and up residing in Genesee County. Proper staffing is required. If you want more information or wish to volunteer, please contact Morgan Leaton at 585-815-3157 or

Submitted photo from Christmas Dance.

Hawley issues message that Hochul is 'in lockstep with radical majority'

By Press Release

A Statement from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) on the State of the State Address.

Press Release:

“Gov. Hochul has once again shown she is in lockstep with the radical majority in Albany. As if giving criminals a free pass and taking control away from local governments wasn’t enough, this administration seems hellbent on chipping away at Western New York’s way of life by doing nothing to lower the cost of living and allowing migrants to flood into upstate communities. Time and time again we have been let down and left out by big-city politicians. It’s time for our leadership to step away from these radical policies and start working for everyday New Yorkers.”

Outpour Ministries to host grand opening for 'Hub' and distribution center, seeks truck for food pickup

By Press Release

Press Release:

What began as a small outpouring of love in 2018 has grown into a ministry that not only nourishes the body, but minds and hearts as well. Pastors Meno and Erika Lopez spread the Good News of the Gospel, welcome all who need a friend, and value each person, no matter what phase of their sobriety or personal journey.

Team Lopez has found that food inequality often pairs with a hunger for the truth, a desire to fully be welcomed, and a need to walk with the Lord. 

Throughout their years of ministry, they have witnessed hundreds of conversions and celebrated the lives that have started anew. With this spirit of community, care, and salvation the Lopez Pastors have taken the next steps to make a greater impact throughout all of Western New York.

Embodied by the good works they have accomplished, including bringing millions of dollars of food distribution to small communities with donations from Feed the Children and Convoy of Hope, they are taking one more step for a greater impact. 

This missionary couple has announced that Outpour Ministries Evangelistic Hub and Distribution Center will host a Grand Opening on Jan. 19 at 47 West Main Street in Corfu. 

Part of this Hub’s service will offer training and provide all the food that is necessary to impact small communities in Western New York.

The Lopez family’s most current need is to secure a truck large enough to pick up all food and necessary household items to continue their far-reaching community assistance. To learn more about partnering with Outpour Ministries, to offer a donation, or to volunteer, please visit or call Pastor Erika Lopez at 716-237-0214.

Registration open for Genesee 4-H youth tractor safety program

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program is now accepting registrations for its 2024 4-H Youth Tractor Safety Program. The program is open to youth aged 14 and over and covers farm safety, tractor safety, tractor operation, and other related topics.

This program is a part of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program, which is a certification program that allows youth ages 14 and 15 to be certified to legally operate farm equipment for hire. After completing the training course, youth will need to pass a written knowledge test and driving test to receive the certification.

The program is scheduled to run Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., January through April at farm machinery dealerships throughout Genesee County. The fee for the program is $25 and youth must also be currently enrolled 4-H members. Registrations are due Jan. 27. 

To register for the program or receive more information, please contact the Genesee County 4-H Office at or (585) 343-3040 ext. 101.  Registration forms are also available online at

Jackson Street water project to continue Thursday

By Press Release

Press Release:

Please be advised that Blue Heron Construction will continue to work on interconnections to side streets for the Jackson Street water project on Thursday, beginning around 7:30 a.m. on Wood Street.

Loss of water should be expected in the surrounding area depending on valve closures. If discolored water occurs when water pressure is regained, please avoid doing laundry or cooking until the water runs clear.

We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank the public for their patience and cooperation as we work to improve our community.

Grand Jury Report: Two men accused of committing multiple crimes together, one with additional charges

By Howard B. Owens
Jalen Brown
Jalen Brown

Jalen I. Brown and Devante M. Wells are indicted on counts of grand larceny in the third degree, a Class D felony, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, a Class E felony, conspiracy in the fifth degree, a Class A misdemeanor, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in the first degree, a Class D felony, grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class E felony, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in the first degree, driving while ability impaired by drugs, a misdemeanor, reckless endangerment in the first degree, a Class D felony, two counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, a Class D felony, reckless driving, a misdemeanor. Brown and Wells are accused of stealing property from Dick's Sporting Goods on June 24 with a value in excess of $3,000. They were allegedly in possession of a stolen 2005 Buick. They are accused of coordinating their alleged theft together. They are accused of stealing a 2023 Volkswagen valued at more than $100. Brown is accused of driving the Volkswagen on Route 63 in the town of Alabama while impaired by drugs. He is accused of driving recklessly. He is accused of damaging a Sheriff's patrol vehicle and the Volkswagen, causing more than $1,500 in damage to each vehicle. 

Devante Wells
Devante Wells

Devante M. Wells is indicted on counts of burglary in the third degree, a Class D felony, grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class E felony, and conspiracy in the fifth degree. Wells is accused of entering Kohl's Department Store on Feb. 13 with the intent to commit a crime, of stealing property more than $1,000, and of agreeing to participate in the alleged crime with another person.

Devante M. Wells is indicted on one count of bail jumping in the second degree, a Class E felony. Wells is accused of failure to appear for court as ordered on Aug. 8.

Devante M. Wells is indicted on one count of bail jumping in the second degree, a Class E felony. Wells is accused of failure to appear for court as ordered on July 18 in connection with a felony charge.

Terrance Falk is indicted on a count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony. Falk is accused of possessing a folding saw on Oct. 24 in the City of Batavia.

Ivette A. Dejesus is indicted on a count of bail jumping in the second degree, a Class E felony. Dejesus is accused of failing to appear in court on June 20 as ordered in connection with a felony charge.

Fernando Santiago-Vega and Robert L. Ball, III, are indicted on counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class E felony, and conspiracy in the fifth degree, a Class A misdemeanor. Santiago-Vega and Ball are accused of stealing property from Target valued at more than $1,000 on Jan. 20.

Jamie A. Dutton is indicted on counts of tampering with physical evidence, a Class E felony and obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. Dutton is accused of hiding a glass crack pipe under a porch on Dellinger Avenue on Aug. 25. He is accused of attempting to prevent a government official from performing his duties.

Isrrael Obregon, Jr., is indicted on counts of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony and DWI, a misdemeanor. Obregon is accused of driving on a revoked license on May 29 in the Town of Batavia while intoxicated.

Scott Culp wins 5th Scratch Memorial tournament; three Genesee County bowlers cash

By Press Release
Culp and Stefanik
Scott Culp, left, and Pat Stefanik.

Press release from Genesee Region USBC:

If the Genesee Region USBC awarded rings instead of plaques, Scott Culp’s victory at the 70th Scratch Memorial Tournament at Mount Morris Lanes would have been “one for the thumb.”

The 45-year-old high-revving right-hander showed that he continues to be at the top of his game by winning his fifth Scratch Memorial crown, defeating Pat Stefanik of Williamsville, 244-165, in the title match.

Culp, a Honeoye Falls resident, started the championship match with six strikes. He earned $650 while successfully defending the title he won iln 2023. He also won this event in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

“It’s so exhilarating,” said Culp, when asked how it feels to win five times. “There are a lot of good bowlers who compete in the Genesee Region association.”

Culp posted an 817 score in the Sunday morning qualifying squad – the third of three four-game squads to determine who would advance to the four-game semifinals. He said he was fortunate to move on.

“The way the day started out, I wasn’t sure if I would make it past the qualifying round,” he said. “But once the semifinals started, I decided to push everything to the right and fortunately it worked out for me.”

Usually, Culp, known for his high backswing, stands on the left side of the approach, using an inside line. His adjustment led to semifinal games of 244, 221, 198 and 266 for a 929 total on the challenging 39-foot Middle Road V2 oil pattern that gave him the No. 1 seed for the five-bowler stepladder finals.

Perry father-son duo of Brian and Brady Weber earned the No. 5 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, with Brian topping Brady, 210-143. From there, the third-seeded Stefanik, the lone lefty in the finals, edged Weber, 169-159.

Stefanik then defeated Adam Philp of Batavia, 201-173, to advance to the title match against Culp. Stefanik won $350 while Philp took home $240, Brian Weber $200 and Brady Weber $180.

Three other Genesee County bowlers cashed in the event – Batavians Mike Pettinella and Gregg Wolff and Mickey Hyde of Alexander.

The tournament drew 65 entrants and paid out $3,000 in prize money, including $300 added to the prize fund by the GRUSBC.

Philp and Kevin Gray Jr. of Warsaw led the Saturday 10 a.m. qualifying squad with lofty 956 totals and split the $25 bonus as the tournament’s high qualifiers. Gray finished with a 279 game (the event’s high game) but unfortunately suffered an arm injury in the second game of the semifinals and had to withdraw.

Also qualifying off the Saturday 10 a.m. squad were Pat Donaghue of Pittsford (914), Brian Weber (886), Matt Slocum of Perry (841) and Hyde (836).

Qualifying off the Saturday 2 p.m. squad were Shawn Better of Geneseo (924), Stefanik (889), Dana Nowak of Livonia (860) and Brady Weber (844).

Qualifying off the Sunday 10 a.m. squad were Pettinella, who led the squad with 820, followed by Culp (817), Dennis Van Duser of Perry (803), Mark Brown of Attica (793) and Wolff (791).

In the semifinals, Philp recorded 891, Stefanik 872, Brady Weber 807 and Brian Weber 794.

Donaghue had 787 to place sixth overall, followed by Better, Hyde, Pettinella, Nowack, Wolff, Brown, Van Duser, Slocum and Gray Jr.

Coach's Corner: with workforce programs, you control your destiny

By Chris Suozzi
Photo of "Mechatronics Lab" courtesy of GCEDC. It shows a student in the 2023 Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Bootcamp using the mechatronics equipment that youth apprentices train with at the Batavia Career & Technical Education Center.

The end of the NFL regular season brings words that I like to put into practice as an economic and workforce professional. None is better than the cliché than a team is “controlling its own destiny.” 

It’s a reward and a challenge.

You’ve earned that control by outperforming your peers. You need to keep winning, and the next step of your journey is assured.

That’s also what makes this part of our workforce development calendar so energizing. Youth apprenticeships reward our most engaged students by giving them their pick of career opportunities.

Just ask Bailey Burdett, a current HP Hood technician and former Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program electro-mechanical technician graduate who has earned significant hours of related training and instruction that is applied to his apprenticeship coursework.

And although he needs to complete four years of on-the-job experience, he only needs to take four more classes during his apprenticeship to become a Journey Worker electro-mechanical technician.

Similar to players emerging as key playoff contributors, Bailey is getting his reps in as he grows, and the best part is that like NFL practice squad players, he and others in apprenticeship programs still get paid on the way to the big time.

Students can join the Finger Lakes Youth Apprenticeship Program during their junior year of high school where they will job shadow at various employers throughout the region including Tambe Electric, Oxbo, Nortera and others.

This is where students observe the type of work that is performed daily, taking in the bustling and robust atmosphere of the advanced manufacturing industry. 

It’s like you’re the rookie who was just drafted and are trying to find your way in the professional world. You get to take in practice and have an older veteran take you under their wing. This process is all about asking questions and figuring out where you fit in. Taking this portion of the job seriously is essential if you want to succeed in this evolving industry.

The real fun begins after your job shadow.

In your senior year, after you receive in-class instruction using state-of-the-art mechatronics equipment at Genesee Valley BOCES in the morning, you will go to your designated employer to receive paid on-the-job training.

This is your time to shine! You get to showcase everything you learned the past year and prove to your peers and teammates why you belong in your industry.

After the youth apprenticeship program, you will have received up to 288 hours of training, equivalent to two years of apprenticeship-related training and instruction.

You’ll be well on your way to completing your apprenticeship hours required to work as a technician, and getting a head start against the competition.

Be like Bailey and the dozens of graduates that have completed these programs. Take your career into your own hands!

Coach SwazZ is ready to help, to answer your questions, and to make a connection for you. Contact me at 585-343-4866 or

Packed audience learns, plans for total solar eclipse to arrive in April

By Joanne Beck
Eclipse presentation tidbits
It's standing room only as 100 registered attendees take advantage of a free presentation hosted by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at Eli Fish.
Photo by Joanne Beck

How do you organize a total solar eclipse party? You planet.

It wasn’t long before the collective “ahhhh” came from an audience Tuesday that had registered for retired science teacher and NYS Science Teacher’s Association fellow Gene Gordon’s total solar eclipse presentation. 

While there may be some people still uncertain as to why this is a big deal for Genesee County, those 100 folks can now appreciate that, come April 8, when a total solar eclipse occurs, “Buffalo, Batavia, and Rochester are right smack in the middle of it,” Gordon said. 

“So you can actually be looking and watching it getting closer and closer, which is a really cool thing,” he said during the event at Eli Fish Brewing Company in Batavia. 

Not to confuse that comment with his warning a few minutes later. For those intending to view the eclipse, do not look at the sun, he said. He equated that to staring at the UV light emitted from welding equipment, which will burn your corneas, he said. That’s what those funky black-and-white cow-themed 3-D viewing sunglasses are for, he said, referring to the free pair everyone received with registration. 

As for warnings, that also goes for taking photos or using binoculars or a telescope without solar filters, he said. 

Gordon’s work included creating a NASA research class, and has images and details about the eclipse and a description of what will actually happen on April 8: A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. People viewing the eclipse from locations where the moon’s shadow completely covers the sun – known as the path of totality – will experience a total solar eclipse. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by the bright face of the sun.

Once the eclipse arrives, it will be evident by a blanket of darkness. Even if it gets cloudy, viewers ought to be able to see totality, he said. 

Animals, highly sensitive to shifts in nature, may give clues for the impending arrival by acting differently, possibly wanting to hide or respond as if it’s actually nighttime (so nocturnal creatures might be waking up) even though it will be approximately 3:19 p.m. on that Monday afternoon. 

Think everyone else will be hard at work? Maybe not. School districts are closing for the day so that students can participate in eclipse activities, and the Chamber of Commerce and other area organizations and businesses are planning events to celebrate what will be a once-in-a-lifetime happening for many citizens, especially right here in Genesee County. 

The next total solar eclipse will be on Aug. 23, 2044, to be visible from Greenland, northern Canada and in Montana and North Dakota.  

Scott and Becky Kelley of Batavia plan to take the day off from work so that they can participate in this piece of local history with their three-year-old grandson.

“He’s very interested in planets,” Scott said. “He knows all the planets, he loves anything to do with space.” 

The couple plans to do something with family in a field in Le Roy that day. Their grandchild served as motivation to attend the presentation, and they learned a few things about the upcoming event.

“I didn’t know what to expect, it was very interesting,” Becky said. “I didn’t know the exact times.” 

The eclipse path should begin to arrive around 2:06 p.m., and in Genesee County at 3:19 p.m., with a maximum time of 3:21 p.m., Gordon said. The total eclipse is to end by 3:23 p.m. “You’ve got around four minutes,” he said.

One of the “coolest things” to do before, during and after the event is to definitely take photos, Gordon said, but focus on the people and activities around you.

“It’s a party,” he said. “And stay a couple of hours afterward; the roads will be jammed. Try to have fun and experience it in a meaningful way.”

Janice Spiotta joined her mom, Mary Hodgins, for the outing, and they are planning for a family gathering --- with one member coming from Boston — on April 8 as well. It seemed like a good idea to attend the presentation for future planning, Janice said.

“Because it's a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I want to learn what I need to know to make the most of the viewing and see what's going on in our community,” the Batavia resident said, answering where she would view the eclipse. “I’m not 100 percent sure yet. We live in the town where there's not streetlights and it's darker, so we may just do it in our backyard. But I've also heard that maybe the Genesee County Park, or at DeWitt Park, might be good locations. So we haven't decided yet.”

They each found some of Gordon’s talking points surprising.

“The size of it (compared to other planets), I was amazed at that,” Hodgins said. “I have a lot of people coming here from out of town, one of my daughters is coming in.”

Spiotta thought the impact on animals was interesting, she said, “and we’ll hear the birds and the activity of even crickets and things before we even can see it ourselves.”

“I thought that was fascinating,” she said.

Chamber marketing director Katy Hobbs reminded attendees that they can purchase the book, “Genny Sees the Eclipse,” a children’s book that describes how the animals respond to the eclipse and ensuing darkness, and other related merchandise, plus see the list of upcoming events at

Eclipse presenter Gene Gordon
Retired science teacher, NYS Science Teacher Association fellow, state mentor and NASA research class creator Gene Gordon exudes his passion for a total solar eclipse to hit this area on April 8 during a talk Tuesday in Batavia. 
Photo by Joanne Beck
Eclipse presentation tidbits
It's standing room only as 100 registered attendees take advantage of a free presentation hosted by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at Eli Fish.
Photo by Joanne Beck
Eclipse view
Presenter Gene Gordon shows the view of an eclipse up on screen. 
Photo by Joanne Beck
Eclipse details with Katy Hobbs
Katy Hobbs of the Chamber of Commerce reminds folks that they can find a list of upcoming eclipse events and the online shop for merchandise to commemorate the April 8 total solar eclipse.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Former Alex's chef moves from the art of cooking to the art of HVAC

By Howard B. Owens
Hassan Silmi Lion HVAC
Hassan Silmi.
Photo by Howard Owens

How big of a leap is it to go from chef at one of Batavia's best restaurants to owning your own heating and air conditioning installation and repair business?

Not as far as you might think, says Hassan Silmi, who spent a decade in the kitchen of Alex's Place on Park Road to owning Batavia-based Lion HVAC.

In a busy kitchen, Silmi noted, things break, things that are often in need of immediate repair. So when things broke, Silmi set aside his sauté pan and picked up a screwdriver or wrench.

"It's one of those things where maybe I could figure out, get this thing running again and not ruin my Friday or my Saturday cooking at the restaurant," Silmi said. "Besides, whoever you're going to call on a Friday or Saturday night, they will charge you exorbitant money, and that's usually when everything breaks at the restaurant. So it was one of those things -- I could figure it out."

There's also, like cooking, a creative aspect to HVAC work. You might work off a menu, preparing preset recipes, but sometimes you just have to find the right way to do something different.

"There's still a decent amount of puzzle figuring things out," Silmi said. "I could install a furnace, and another guy could easily look at it completely differently and take, you know, the utilities from any direction. Everyone has their own visual look at how they are going to hook it up. How are we going to connect to the boiler? How are we going to branch this system out? The ductwork. One company's work isn't going to look the same if I do it or some other company does it. There's enough diversity, but to the average person, it's like, how it works is how it works."

Silmi is a Batavia High School graduate and went through the culinary arts program at BOCES.  While BOCES exposed him to the idea of working in a trade, he said even then, he could have chosen a different path. 

"There were a lot of things that intrigued me," Silmi said. "I could have easily gone into auto, or I could have easily gone into carpentry or easily went into heating and cooling, but I was intrigued by food at one point. It (BOCES) was definitely helping to keep the mindset to want to stay in the trades."

During his years in the restaurant business Silmi did well enough and managed his money well enough that he could buy some rental properties.  That was the next phase of his move toward entering the heating and cooling business.  He had to be his own handyman on his rental properties.

"It was always one of those things where I enjoyed the mechanical aspect of everything," Silmi said.

A few years ago, he decided to leave his job at Alex's Place and enroll in the HVAC program at Monroe Community College. While there, he took additional electrical classes, additional plumbing classes, as well as welding.

He started doing work for friends and family, and he had a neighbor who was a contractor. He was struggling to find trade help, so he started working with him, and that led to Silmi thinking, "I can make this work."

He struck out on his own nearly a year ago.  

While he's a one-man operation, he said he's keeping busy doing both commercial and residential work.

By background and training, he said, he's become a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.

"I find myself, like, 'Oh, your dryer's not working. Let me take a look at it," Silmi said. "But in order to go heating and cooling, it's really because you have to know gas, you have to know electric, you have to know plumbing. You can't just dabble in things."

GCEDC board to consider assistance for $15 million apartment complex at Medtech

By Howard B. Owens
Countryside Apartments MedTech GCC
File photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) board of directors will consider an initial resolution for a proposed market-rate housing development on MedTech Drive in the town of Batavia at its board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 11.

MedTech Landing LLC plans to invest $15 million to construct 100,000 sq. ft. of apartment buildings totaling 80 units. The project is comprised of five buildings with a dozen one-, two-, and three-bedroom units and one 8-unit building, along with 6 six-car garages. 

The project aligns with the GCEDC’s Housing Policy #1 and a recognized need for housing availability. The Genesee County Housing Needs Assessment identified in 2018 that 4,800 units were needed in the next 20 years across single-family homes and rental units.

MedTech Landing LLC is seeking a sales tax exemption estimated at $720,000, a property tax abatement of approximately $3,031,048, and a mortgage tax exemption of $120,000.  It is estimated that $12 of economic impact will be generated for every one dollar of public sector investment.

The project would also generate up to one million dollars over 20 years that will be dedicated towards the Batavia Home Fund (BHF) which was created to address shared housing goals and establish methods to fund beneficial activities to enhance the area’s housing stock.  The BHF is a collaboration between the Town and City of Batavia and the GCEDC.  

“As we all know, there is a housing crisis across New York State, and resolving it requires innovation and collaboration, and BHF is a unique way for our community to address our housing needs,” said Batavia City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “As we continue to revitalize our downtown core and infill areas adjacent to the town of Batavia, we are confident that the BHF will encourage developers and homebuilders across the region to invest here.”The Batavia Home Fund is being supported by host benefit agreements with developers and homebuilders for future multi-family housing projects in the City and Town. Projects will be considered by a committee of City, Town and GCEDC officials to determine how funds raised will be utilized.

“As the agricultural, commercial, and industrial sectors continue to grow in the Town and surrounding communities, it’s important that the workforce needed to fill these jobs have good housing options like the ones that MedTech Landing will provide,” said Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post. “An important component of this effort is refurbishing and rehabilitating existing housing structures, and this development will contribute to that effort through the BHF.” 

If MedTech Landing LLC’s application is accepted, a public hearing will be scheduled on the proposed agreement in the town of Batavia.

The Jan. 11 GCEDC board meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the MedTech Center’s Innovation Zone, 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia. Meeting materials and links to a live stream/on-demand recording of the meeting are available at

Previously: Apartment complex with 80 units proposed across the road from GCC

Sponsored Post: New Listing! Welcome home - 168 South Main Street, Batavia

By Lisa Ace
Sunny Rathod

Nestled in a private setting, this charming Cape Cod home is situated on over a half-acre city lot and offers beautiful landscaping and a welcoming front porch. A newer 50-year metal roof offers durability and peace of mind. Inside you will find hardwood floors spanning the entire home. On the first floor there is a convenient bedroom, full bathroom, generously sized living room streaming tons of natural light through large windows and a bright eat-in kitchen with subway tile and a beautiful bay window. Upstairs there is another bedroom and a half-bath. In the back of the house, a convenient heated mudroom offers space to kick off snowy boots and store jackets. The backyard offers a heated above-ground pool surrounded by lush greenery in the summer months. This property provides a welcoming and versatile living space for those seeking a home that embraces both style and comfort.

Richmond Library invites you for a ‘Blizzard of Reading’

By Press Release

Press Release:

Richmond Memorial Library invites adults and teens to participate in A Blizzard of Reading from January 8 – March 1! The program is open to any adult or teen ages 13 – 17. 

In order to be eligible for prizes, participants must have a valid library card from any library in the NIOGA system. Each participant can earn up to 6 grand prize entries! Read four books (or three books and a magazine) to earn entries for a chance to win prizes. Attend a library program and play our literary locations scavenger hunt around the library for a
chance to earn more entries. 

Grand prizes:

  • Adult Grand Prize 1: Wooden book valet- conveniently holds your book and a mug of something warm and cozy.
  • Adult Grand Prize 2: $25 to Author’s Note Bookstore in Medina 
  • Teen Grand Prize: Play for a chance to win your very own book cart! 

All prizes and information are on display in the lobby of the library.

All who participate will receive a custom Blizzard of Reading bookmark at the end of the program. Registration begins at 9 am on Monday, January 8 at the library or and continues throughout the program. For more information about upcoming library events, visit

Genesee Valley Wind Ensemble sets recital for Feb. 3 at GO ART!

By Press Release

Press Release:

Genesee Valley Wind Ensemble (GVWE) invites the public to join them at GO ART! for their Winter Small Ensemble Recital on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 4 p.m.

The purpose of the GVWE is to serve and to provide the Greater Genesee Valley audience with new and familiar live music, to serve its membership with the opportunity to perform challenging wind ensemble literature, and to create the opportunity for the conductor and musicians to grow their collective musical talents.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (55 and older) and veterans, $5 for students (with ID), and children 5 and under are free.

Tavern 2.0.1 will be open during the event with beverages available for purchase. This program is made possible, in part, with the support and collaboration with the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. For more information please contact or visit

Sponsored Post: New Listing! Welcome home - 2324 Pratt Road, Pembroke

By Lisa Ace
Sunny Rathod

Explore this charming 3-bed, 1.5-bath brick ranch farmhouse on 2.6 acres in the Pembroke School District! Featuring an entertainer's kitchen with an open floor plan, epoxy river/black walnut island top, farmhouse sink, and maple hardwood floors, this home is ideal for gatherings. The finished Bills/Sabres bonus room in the basement makes it a Sunday hotspot. You'll find ample storage with a 20x10 barn, 2.5-car garage, and basement workshop. For outdoor lovers, a private trail to Tonawanda Creek awaits. The kitchen was remodeled in 2012, and a full bath in 2023. Septic was serviced in May 2023, and central air with a Rheem furnace was installed in 2012. Regular maintenance and a thorough July 2023 inspection ensure top-notch quality. A Briggs and Stratton generator (2012) and a new water heater (April 2023) Don't miss this meticulously maintained farmhouse.

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The Batavia Housing Authority is seeking a positive, hardworking teammate to perform a variety of outdoor landscaping tasks, primarily mowing, with some trimming and cleanup work. The Groundskeeper is independently responsible for outdoor landscaping tasks on a weekly basis with some flexibility. This job may require some weekend hours when necessary. Part-time position Pay Range: $19.00/hr - $22.00/hr Anticipated start date: May 2024 Application deadline: April 29, 2024 See full job description at: Complete Civil Service Application at: Contact Information Nathan Varland Executive Director Batavia Housing Authority 400 East Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020 (585) 344-1888 Location: Batavia
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Seasonal cook at Stafford Country Club. Immediate start, great work environment, competitive pay! Please send resumes to:
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For Rent - Lower 1 Bedroom Apartment Private country setting, lower one bedroom apartment with all appliances and parking. Sunroom with gas fireplace and patio. Includes water and heat. NEW LOWER PRICE! $1000/Month plus electric. No pets, no smoking. References and security deposit required. Available June 1st, 2024. Call 585-344-3141.
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