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Eclipse viewing party at Batavia Downs includes live music, snacks, and more

By Press Release

Press Release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced details for their Eclipse Party, scheduled from 1 - 4 p.m. on Monday, April 8 during the Total Solar Eclipse happening that day.

Tickets are just $20 and attendees receive back $10 in Free Play. Attendees will receive ISO-certified Eclipse Viewing Glasses, Snacks, and Beverage Sampling courtesy of Tops Markets, Starry, Sunkist, Blue Moon, Heron Hill, and the Totality Black Lager from Rohrbach, Strangebird, and Three Heads Brewing.

There will be Live Music courtesy of Nerds Gone Wild, WNY’s Premier ’80s Party Band from 1 - 3 p.m. Attendees will have access to the track apron for Eclipse Viewing for the 3-minute, 43-second Eclipse.

The gaming floor will have promotions and giveaways prior to the party as well.

“We are excited to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event with the people of Western New York and beyond, “said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We look forward to entertaining all those coming to the area and are keeping our fingers crossed for clear weather.”

Tickets are available now on

Hotel Packages for this event for out-of-towners, or locals wishing to take a staycation, can be booked by calling Sara at (585) 344-6155. Hotel packages include 2 nights of accommodations (Sunday and Monday) alongside a free blanket and complimentary welcome dinner on Sunday night.

Other events scheduled on Eclipse weekend include the Experience Psychic Fair April 5 - 7.

Derby Gala, Tacos and Tequila, and more return to Batavia Downs

By Press Release
derby gala batavia downs 2018
Derby Gala at Batavia Downs, 2018.
File photo by Howard Owens.

Press Release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for events taking place onsite alongside the 3 Triple Crown Races this spring as well as newly announced vendor shows and fundraisers.

The Derby Gala returns on the first Saturday in May - May 4. Cost is $139 per person and includes Buffet Dinner, Open Bar, a $20 Wager on the Derby, Derby Glass, a Derby T-shirt, $60 in Free Play, and bourbon sampling from Woodford Reserve, the official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.

A limited number of hotel specials are available on that day - The special is $449 and includes 2 entries to the party and a hotel room that evening.

On that same day, the Park Place Room will be host to the Superfecta Special - which includes a $25 Free Play, $5 Wager on the Derby, Derby Program, and a Lunch. The cost is $30 per person and attendees can pay at the door.

On Preakness Stakes Day - Saturday, May 18, the 3rd Annual Tacos and Tequila event takes place inside the Park Place Room. The cost is $35 and includes Tequila Sampling from multiple vendors, a Taco Bar, $20 in Free Play, a $5 wager on the Preakness Stakes, and a Taco Holder to take home. Early Bird Tickets will be available for $30.

The hotel special for this event is $229 and includes 2 entries to the event and a hotel room that evening.

The final jewel of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes, this year in Saratoga, on Saturday, June 8. That same day inside Park Place is the Bourbon and Whiskey Fest. The cost is $35 and includes Bourbon and Whiskey Sampling, Grazing Stations, $20 in Free Play, and a $5 wager on the Belmont Stakes. Early Bird Tickets will be available for $30.

The hotel special for this event is $299 and includes 2 entries to the event and a hotel room that evening.

Tickets to the Derby Gala, Tacos & Tequila, and Bourbon and Whiskey Fest can all be purchased at

Those wishing to book the hotel specials can find direct links to do so on the hotel deals page on the Batavia Downs website at

“Last year our Triple Crown events had record attendance,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “Our events calendar is more packed than ever to keep guests coming back for outstanding, unique experiences onsite.”

Prior to the Triple Crown, other Spring events announced by Batavia Downs and available on include:

The Batavia Downs Record Riot Vendor Show is Sunday, March 24 - attendees will be able to browse multiple vendor tables to discover a wide selection of vinyl records including rare finds, all while connecting with fellow music lovers.  Tickets and details are available at

The Batavia Downs Silent Disco returns on Saturday, March 30 - Tickets are $20 and include $10 in Free Play.  Attendees can listen to 3 different channels of music on headphones and dance the night away.

The 2nd Annual Fur Ball Gala Animal Fundraiser on April 13 - Tickets are at $75 and monies raised go to the Whispering River Animal Rescue & Begin Again Horse Rescue.

Nickel City Wrestling’s return to Batavia Downs is on Sunday, April 14 - tickets are available at

Tickets are also on sale on for Music of the Stars, Prince Tribute Show, and the entire Rockin’ The Downs Summer Concert Series.

Byron-Bergen announces second quarter honor and high honor roll

By Press Release

Press Release:

The 2nd quarter High Honor and Honor Rolls have been released for Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School by Principal Paul Hazard. Hazard and the Byron-Bergen Central School District staff offer their congratulations to these students. 

HIGH HONOR ROLL – Charlotte Bloom, Riley Boland, Evelyn Borycki, Madison Carson, Alyssa Chupp, June Dorman, Katherine Erion, Leland Fregoe, Aaiden Gaiser, Olivia Galdun, Connor Hoopengardner, Hunter Jarosinski, Isabella Kessler, Delilah Malin, Sophia Matthews, Jack Miller, Maylee Moore, Trevor O'Brien, Lia Ray, William Scharvogel, Miranda Stanton, Landon Starkweather, Frank Trigilio, Contessa Vander Wyst, Benjamin Vargas, Kaylanah White, Teagan Williams, Dahlia Wolff

HONOR ROLL Tristen Davidson, Ce'Andre Johnson, Emmarose Michaels, Kelly Parsons, Caleb Rassel, Ava Smith, Gunner Starowitz, Connar Tuerk

HIGH HONOR ROLL - Evan Bannister, Eala Coniglio, Samantha Copani, Emily Diehl, William Duell, Mason Farner, Zachary Gay, Cambria Goodenbery, Lila Graff, Ainsley Kent, Ruth Kuipers, Alexander Kuszlyk, Isabella Lewis, Taylor Louis, Levi McGrath, Lillian Meier, Liliana Moore, Parker Moore, Brook Pagels, Evan Phillips, Alexandra Pocock, Natalie Randall, Lucy Rea, Jenna Redick, Audrey Rimmerman, Michael Rogoyski, Cooper Sandow, Owen Sinclair, Genevieve Smith, Madeline Smith, Miley Stalica, Xavier Vargas, Jillian Weaver, Carson Wells, Willow Wilder, Paige Winkler

HONOR ROLL - Ryanna Armstrong, Cole Carroll, Brooklynn Culmo, Stryker Emrich, Colton Erion, Carter Fogg, Annabelle Haywood, Josiah Hiscutt, Annabella Madera, Olivia Mundell, Laney Niedzwiecki, Dominik Redmon, Dylan Utter

HIGH HONOR ROLL - Nataly Barrera Zuniga, Zoey Bower, Rylee Burch, Emalyn Canfield, Cody Carlson, Gianna Cicatelli, Lauren Gartz, Isabella Gifford, Wyatt Lewis, Taylor Lundfelt, Logan Marou, Emma Matthews, Hannah Riedmiller, Brandon Schuck, Kyle Smith, Elliana Tanner, Jack Walker, Rena Wilson 

HONOR ROLL - Tyler Barberio, Joseph Brumsted, Audrey Dorman, Brayden Gelsomino, Ian MacMillen, Seth Prefontaine, Theodore Schelemanow, Bradley Tatar 

HIGH HONOR ROLL - Sara Bishop, Sarah Campbell, Adam Cardenas, Gianna Clark, Connor Copani, Addison Cummings, Justin Deleo, Gary Donofrio, Gianna Graff, Mia Gray, Megan Jarkiewicz, Pearl Jolliff, Carter Kuipers, Malacai McGrath, Maryn Meier, Grace Mundell, Paige O'Brien, Evan Orto, Bradley Pocock, Colin Rea, Katherine Rogoyski, Simone Scharvogel, Rayne Sheard, Solomon Smith, Hayden Starkweather, Elizabeth Starowitz, Aubrey Stein, Emma Wolfe 

HONOR ROLL - Katelyn Ball, Liam Boyle, Laura Curts, Logan Czachorowski, Grace DiQuattro, Ava Goff, Hayleigh Griffin, Abigail Mattern, Allison Rimmerman, Kane Tyson, Andrea White, Evan Williams 

HIGH HONOR ROLL - Aiden Barberio, Ryan Benstead, Jake Carlson, Deborah Catalino, Kendall Chase, Abigail Cook, Lea Donofrio, Ava Gray, Rachel Hanel, Ella Lewis, Jackson Lundfelt, Anna McLaughlin, Connor Moran, Meghan Muscarella, Ian Pulcini, Sydney Salmonds, Ashley Schlenker-Stephens, Lily Stalica, Rose Wilson, Jade Wolff, Mikayla Yohon 

HONOR ROLL - Zachary Brookhart, Noah Clare, Isabella Davidson, Craig DiQuattro, Annabelle Erion, Jack Farner, Chesney Fregoe, Logan Fregoe, Haylee Gartz, Peyton Goodenbery, Samuel Hersom, Eli Kupfer, Martin Mac Connell, Arianne McLaughlin, Kasey Pagels, Adam Piper, Rayden Robinson, Trent Sheard, Roman Smith, Shawna Spinks, James Starowitz, Hannah Wittman 

GRADE 12: 
HIGH HONOR ROLL - HannahRae Amador, Emma Balduf, Carlee Barons, Brody Baubie, Jeffrey Borycki, Tyler Chapman, Gabrielle Graff, Autumn Hafner, Mackenzie Hagen, Makala Hoopengardner, Kaidance Kimble, Hanna Loewke, Lincoln McGrath, Dru Nowatchik, Stephanie Onderdonk, Jillian Peters, Novalee Pocock, Carter Prinzi, Quintin Rich, Victoria Rogoyski, Travis Shallenberger, Riley Sharpe, Malachi Smith, Lydia Zaffrann 

HONOR ROLL - Trevor Beale, Chloe Gilbert, James Heick, Colin Martin, Brendan Pimm, Andrew Smith, Emma Starowitz, Connor Windhauser, Megan Zwerka 

GCC Board of Trustees honor a legend on and off the court, Dr. James Sunser

By Press Release
Photo of Dr. James Sunser with GCC Trustee Ms. Jacalyn Whiting, courtesy of Genesee Community College.

Press Release:

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees took the opportunity during halftime of their Men's final home basketball game of the season to celebrate the career of someone who has been a true legend both on and off the court. 

Dr. James Sunser is concluding his final academic year as President of Genesee Community College, and this was the first of a few events planned to honor his service.

Throughout Dr. Sunser's career, he was known to step onto the basketball court with students. His willingness to engage in friendly matches, share his love for the game, and connect with students beyond the traditional walls of academia has set him apart as a leader. 

Dr. Sunser's approachability and enthusiasm, whether in a Board Meeting Room or on the Basketball Court, created an atmosphere where students feel not only supported but genuinely connected.

That evening, those present not only honored his role on the court, but his role in shaping the course of this institution. In his 13-year career at the college, Dr. Sunser has been a leader who has tirelessly worked toward the betterment of the college and the success of its students.

During Dr. Sunser's tenure, his efforts spearheaded major capital campaigns for the Student Success Center and the Richard C. Call Arena. Innovative academic and student spaces were also developed such as a state-of-the-art criminal justice lab, vet tech lab, solar electric lab, and student eSports space. 

In addition, his leadership within the GCC Foundation led to extensive renovations of College Village to provide students with enhanced living space, social space, and technological improvements.

Dr. Sunser accepted a basketball signed by each Trustee as a token of their appreciation to symbolize their heartfelt gratitude for his outstanding contributions and commitment to students.

Genesee County Interagency Council announces scholarship opportunity

By Press Release

Press Release:

Genesee County Interagency Council Inc. is pleased to announce that we will be offering a $1,000 scholarship for the Fall 2024 semester.

Those eligible to apply: 

High School Seniors living in and attending a high school in Genesee County (including those home-schooled)

  • Who are enrolling in a Junior College or University and majoring in Human Services, Social Work, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies, Sociology, or Psychology. 

Genesee Community College Student living in Genesee County and currently majoring in Human Services, Social Work, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies, Sociology, or Psychology.

  • Who are remaining at G.C.C or transferring to a 4-year university

Because the goal of this scholarship is to support those students who have a strong drive to contribute to the field of Human Services, special consideration will be given to those students in good academic standing, who have already demonstrated a commitment to the field through their employment, volunteer, academic, and/or extracurricular pursuits.

Completed applications must be received by Friday, May 3. The awardee will be notified by phone by June 3. The award will be presented at our June picnic meeting at Dewitt Park Recreation Area (detailed information will be provided during phone notification). 

We look forward to having the opportunity to support a Genesee County student in their pursuit of a degree in the field of Human Services. 

Please call Kari Heidemann (Scholarship Chair) for an application and more information at 716-550-0934.

Looking for something fun to do with your dog? Toss and Fetch is coming, informational meeting Saturday

By Joanne Beck


Soka with frisbee
Soka, eager participant of Toss and Fetch and the youngest member of Christi Waldron's team, goes after a roller. 
Submitted Photo

If you and your four-legged friend are looking to shake things up with a little competition, exercise, fresh air and amusement, Katie Ellsworth of Countryside Canine and her co-captain Christi Waldron are gathering a K9 Toss and Fetch Frisbee league in Genesee County.

Small dogs, big dogs, shy or feisty, all are welcome to participate in this timed fetching event with options of using rollers on the ground or frisbees in the air, Ellsworth says.

“It’s something fun to get people out with their dogs,” she said. “It’s an affordable, fun time and really doesn’t require a lot of skill. It’s something we can all build together. So you start with rollers and then you can learn how to throw a frisbee and your dog catches it. So it’s just something fun to get people out there with their dogs and enjoying their time together.”

There will be an informational meeting for people — no dogs this time — at 11 a.m. Saturday at Countryside Canine, 9207 Alexander Road (Route 98), Batavia. 

Ellsworth and Waldron will review the rules of the game and etiquette, as well as how the league works — including that the ranking is posted as part of an international league competition.

If you and your partner are serious enough, you might qualify for international Toss and Fetch, they said.

“You’ll be competing against hundreds of other teams and clubs worldwide,” Waldron said. “Above all else, it’s a great activity to just have fun with your dog and meet great people.” 

The five-week league begins at 9 a.m. on April 21 and the fee is $25 per team (person and dog), and $20 for a second dog.

The response has been enthusiastic so far, Ellsworth said, with 40 members registering. There is no limit to participation, so additional people are welcome and encouraged to attend the weekend meeting. Each team is given 60 seconds to see how many times the dog can retrieve the frisbee and bring it back, and repeat. 

Points are given for each team, and those scores are posted at Toss and Fetch. Don't worry about this being too highly technical or overly competitive, given its online description: “the easiest, friendliest, funnest dog sport on the planet.” Tucked into the myriad worldwide league locations on the map is Batavia, NY. 

Ellsworth has been involved with animals since childhood, having grown up on a dairy farm near North Java and being part of 4-H early on, she said. She hopes to return to 4-H, incorporating her love for dogs, with details yet to be worked out, she said.

She and her husband Andy opened Countryside Canine in Hamlin three years ago and then moved in November to an extensive 78-acre lot in the town of Batavia. She and Waldron have been friends through herding and other dog events, and then Waldron also suggested bringing a disc league to the area.

“And that was my whole goal, and opening a dog place in the area was to kind of bring that back because there’s really not much in the area that offers fun stuff with your dogs,” Ellsworth said. “I don’t think there’s an actual daycare facility, so I’m going to do that soon. I’m just trying to figure out proper personnel being there and such because my husband and I are doing everything by ourselves right now.” 

Plus, with three little kids, that adds to the challenge, she said. Once up and running with a complete line of services, they want to offer boarding, grooming, lessons, doggie daycare, groomed trails for pack walks and hikes, and the Toss and Fetch leagues (there are seven five-week seasons per year). The site is open now for some of those services, and they are planning to expand those this year.

For more information about the league, email for more info or to sign up. Or go to the LINK for the private group. 

Go to Countryside Canine for more details about its services or email Ellsworth at

NYS Association of Counties recognizes deputy manager, other leaders with certificate

By Press Release
NYSAC photo with Tammi Ferringer
Submitted Photo

Press Release:

County officials from across the state this week honored five of their peers for graduating with a certificate from the County Government Institute. The Institute, founded in 2004, is part of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). 

The graduates included:

  • Tammi Ferringer, Deputy County Manager, Genesee County
  • Anthony J. Nemi, Legislator, Niagara County
  • Elizabeth Partee, County Supervisor, Seneca County
  • Lou Anne Randall, Director of Finance, Madison County
  • Paul Ruszkiewicz, Legislator, Orange County

The graduation was held during the 2024 NYSAC Legislative Conference in Albany County, in a ceremony honoring the county officials for upholding the pillars of leadership, accountability, and integrity at their graduation ceremony from the County Government Institute.

“CGI has been instrumental in helping me stay current on a broad array of issues and topics that go right to the nuts and bolts of local government operations,” said Anthony J. Nemi. “I am convinced that CGI has made a more effective legislator for those I represent.” 

The County Government Institute is an educational program in partnership with Cornell University. CGI instructors are NYSAC staff, county leaders, and Cornell faculty members who are experts in local government structure and issues. County leaders who graduate from CGI have earned a certification that demonstrates their dedication to good government and to upholding CGI’s high standards of county leadership.

“The County Government Institute’s comprehensive curriculum prepares county officials with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the intense demands of local government today,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.

The Institute's curriculum includes extensive course work on government ethics, building consensus in a political environment, principles of county budget and finance, and public sector labor/management relations. The courses are supplemented with electives, training sessions, and continuing education courses.

“The wide range of topics and chance to meet with colleagues from around New York State oftentimes give me a new perspective on an issue we may be facing,” said Lou Anne Randall. “We need to continue to encourage others to take advantage of the great resource we have in NYSAC. 

“The County Government Institute is an outstanding program that has helped me to more effectively perform my duties as a County Legislator,” said Paul Ruszkiewicz.

Courses are offered at all NYSAC conferences, and regionally throughout the year, to enable county leaders to stay up to date on timely issues and opportunities in local government. The knowledge and skills gained through CGI will serve county officials throughout their time in public service and beyond.   

“By completing the County Government Institute coursework, graduates demonstrate a commitment to excellence in local government that is at the heart of our association’s mission,” said NYSAC President Daniel P. McCoy. “The skills and knowledge they acquire are a great asset to them and the communities they serve. On behalf of our entire association, I offer my congratulations.”  

For more information about the County Government Institute, visit or reach out to Chancey Young, NYSAC Member Information Manager via email at

Leap Year Baby born at UMMC

By Staff Writer
leap day baby born at UMMC

Finnegan Alexander Wilson was born on Thursday, Feb. 29, at UMMC, making him a Leap Year Baby.

 His parents are Laura and William Wilson.

Barn destroyed in early morning fire in Alexander

By Howard B. Owens
alexander barn fire

A hay fire was reported inside a barn at 10216 Alexander Road, Alexander, at 1:18 a.m. on Friday, and the barn was quickly fully involved.

Alexander Fire responded along with Elba, Town of Batavia, City of Batavia FAST Team, Corfu, Attica, East Pembroke, Le Roy, Oakfield, Bethany, Darien, and the Office of Emergency Management.  Barre was on standby for Elba. Wyoming County Correctional assisted at the scene. 

The cause and origin of the fire are under investigation, according to Alexander Deputy Chief Nathan Fix.

No animals were involved and no injuries were reported.

The location is Blumer Dairy.

Alexander cleared the scene at 9:10 a.m.

Photos submitted by Deputy Chief Nathan Fix/Alexander Fire.

alexander barn fire
alexander barn fire
alexander barn fire

Genesee County high school musicals

By Kara Richenberg

With the high school musical season in full swing, here is a rundown of all of the musicals being performed at Genesee County high schools:

  • Alexander PTA presents "Finding Nemo Kids." Show times are March 1 at 7 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m.
  • Batavia High School presents "Footloose the Musical." Show times are March 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. and March 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students/seniors. 
  • Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School presents "Beauty and the Beast." Show times are March 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students/seniors, and 4 and under are free.
  • Elba Central School District presents "The Little Mermaid." Show times are March 1 at 7 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. 
  • Le Roy Jr./Sr. High School presents "Chicago: Teen Edition." Show times are March 7, 8, and 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students/seniors.
  • Notre Dame High School presents "Anastasia." Show times are March 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. 
  • Oakfield-Alabama High School presents "The Wizard of Oz." Show times are March 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. and March 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students, and kids 5 and under are free.
  • Pavilion High School presents "The Sound of Music." Show times are March 15 at 7 p.m. and 16 at 2 p.m. Donations will be accepted at the door and will be used to defray the cost of future PCS productions.
  • Pembroke Jr. Sr. High School presents "Cinderella." Show times are March 8 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for k-12, and kids 4 and under are free.

Three honored for combined 40 years of service at HomeCare and Hospice

By Press Release
Submitted photo of (from left to right) Kim Pauly, Sandra Grant, Patricia Meek, Megan Morlock, and Gage Reiss - Employee Relations Coordinator, HomeCare & Hospice and Total Senior Care.

Press Release:

HomeCare & Hospice celebrated 10 years at its current location on Liberty Street in Batavia in November 2013. Several employees also reached milestones at the Batavia office in 2023: Patricia Meek, Sandra Grant, and Megan Morlock.

HomeCare & Hospice (HCH) helps maintain independence at home with compassion in communities throughout Allegany, Cattaraugus, Genesee, and Wyoming counties. 

Patricia Meek is the volunteer coordinator for HCH. When asked about her time with HCH for twenty years (!), Ms. Meek stated, “After my 30 years as a teacher in the Rochester School district, I am now spending time on the opposite end of life – dignity in dying. What we do here at hospice is remarkable and I thoroughly enjoy making connections for people.” 

From the aides to the nurses, Ms. Meeks connects staff and volunteers with our patients. It was an eye-opener for her when she applied what she learned from her many years with HCH to keep her partner, Harvey Granite alive with serious CHF, renal disease, and COPD for 3 wonderful years. 

Sandra Grant was recognized for her fifteen years with the organization. She started out as a part-time RN providing hospice care and now is currently a per diem homecare RN for Wyoming and Genesee County. “I love providing education, comfort, and compassion to our patients – I have learned so much from those I’ve cared for throughout the years.”

“Working at HCH has made me value the little things in life. It has made me appreciate life’s lessons more. I love what I do – my heart is with hospice,” added Megan Morlock. Mrs. Morlock celebrated five years of service with HCH. She started out as an RN care coordinator out of Little Valley (HCH office) and is currently the Nursing Services Manager. 

The employees were recently recognized at the Batavia office with the senior staff team. The three employees were recognized with an achievement certificate, pizza, cake, and a gift. 

Kim Pauly, Human Resources Director, HomeCare & Hospice and Total Senior Care commended the staff, “Please know that you are an important member of our team, and your abilities and contributions are an important part of our continued success.

HomeCare & Hospice encompasses a licensed home care program allowing patients with short-term needs or chronic conditions to remain in their own homes and a hospice program providing medical care and emotional support for patients and their families coping with a terminal illness. Both focus on quality of life.

For more information, please call 585-343-7596, visit, or email

Richmond Memorial is calling artists to participate in first ever Tiny Art Show

By Press Release

Press Release:

Interested in participating in a small program that is taking over libraries around the country? Richmond Memorial Library is excited to announce the first-ever Tiny Art Show.

Starting Friday, March 1 register online to reserve a kit that will be available for pick-up starting Monday, March 4 from the library’s Reference Desk. Each take-home kit includes a 4”x4” canvas, paints, a palette, and brushes. 

This program is for ages 12+ and is open to the first 30 who register. Using the supplies provided and/or your own materials, create a tiny artwork (no larger than a 4-inch cube). 

This is an art show for ages 12 and up please create your art with that audience in mind. The artwork must be suitable for display in a public space for all ages. 

Objects, paper, and materials of any kind except food may be glued to the canvas or turned into a sculpture, but artwork must be 4" in all directions or smaller. 

Nonfiction and IT Librarian Elizabeth Beardslee shares that, “We are excited to offer this program to our patrons! We hope they love the idea as much as we do. We look forward to the tiny art bringing people into the library to see the displays. Our hope is that this is a program that can grow and get bigger each year!”

These tiny artworks will be displayed in the main area of the library, as well as on the library’s social media pages starting April 1. 

The deadline to return the artwork to Richmond Memorial Library by March 29 to be included in the Tiny Art Show. One entry per artist. 

Artwork can be retrieved from the library by the artist after the show, starting May 6. Artwork that is not picked up by June 31 will become the property of Richmond Memorial Library and may be discarded. The library reserves the right to exclude any work. 

The registration link will appear online at on March 1. For more information, contact Librarian Elizabeth Beardslee at or Teen Services Library Assistant Ellen Caton at

Chamber Award: Alabama Hotel recognized for history of community service and success

By Howard B. Owens
alabama hotel chamber award business of the year
Bonnie Woodward, owner of the Alabama Hotel, and Joe Bradt, general manager.
Photo by Howard Owens.

NOTE: This week, The Batavian is highlighting the annual Chamber of Commerce Award winners with a story daily through Friday. The awards dinner is Saturday evening at Batavia Downs. This is the final story in the series.

Bonnie Woodward has owned the Alabama Hotel for a relatively short time, but big news events have twice already taken center stage in the restaurant's business operations.

She bought the restaurant and bar from another Woodward, Danny, in 2019, and a few months later, COVID-19 forced her to close the tavern in the town of Alabama.

Then Winter Storm Elliott on Christmas Eve 2022 brought unexpected challenges that she and manager Joe Bradt met with such cheerful charity they made national news.

"(The attention) definitely shocked me," Bradt said. "In the days afterward, all the media attention and the phone calls and the messages from people shocked me."

The attention, Woodward said, warmed her heart.

"It really does," she said. "So many people were thankful for such a simple thing that anybody should have done, you know, just open up your home to people and take care of them while they're in trouble."

What Bradt did, with Woodward's blessing and support, was let stranded travelers stay in the restaurant, providing shelter, warmth and food while the blizzard made travel conditions potentially deadly. For those 48 hours, he was the sole member of the Alabama Hotel staff on-site to take care of more than 100 stranded travelers.  He prepared meals (with guests and a local resident and neighboring business owner helping) and kept guests comfortable while the storm raged around them.

The Alabama Hotel -- along with hundreds of first responders, other generous residents in Genesee County, and countless other government workers and residents -- are the reason nobody died during the storm.

That dramatic role the restaurant played during the storm, along with its long history of providing charitable support to the community, is why the Alabama Hotel is the 2023 Business of the Year for Genesee County.

Winter Storm Elliott
Events started on Dec. 24 as Elliott rolled into Western New York and the Thruway Authority, with no apparent plan to ensure traveler safety, closed the I-90, forcing travelers unfamiliar with the area onto snow-covered, wind-swept two-lane roads during whiteout conditions.  When travelers realized they wouldn't get far, they looked for shelter, and Google told them about the Alabama Hotel at the crossroads of Route 77 and Route 63.  A hotel would be a good place to go, right?

The restaurant didn't open on Christmas Eve as planned to keep employees at home and safe during the storm. Bradt spent the morning getting things in order since the restaurant wouldn't reopen until Jan. 4. 

When he was done, "I loaded up the Jeep with my Christmas dinner and Bonnie's Christmas dinner, which I was going to drop off at her house, and left here about 12:30. I didn't get a quarter mile up the road, and there was no visibility. The roads were completely covered, and there was already an accident right here," Bradt told The Batavian the day after the storm ended.

"I immediately turned around and said the safest place I can be is here for now. You know, I'll just wait it out here. No sooner did I put the key in the back door and unlock the back door than people were knocking on the front door. That didn't stop for two days."

The weather outside was vicious.  Heavy, lake-effect snow blown around by 35 mph winds with 70 mph gusts. The roads were nowhere for anybody in any vehicle, let alone people unfamiliar with the area in sedans, minivans and luxury SUVs. 

People came looking for a hotel. They found a friendly place with no proper guest rooms, not entirely prepared for this level of hospitality, but willing to provide shelter from the storm.

Once first responders learned the Alabama Hotel provided a warming shelter, they started shuttling stranded motorists there.

As many as 140 people passed through the restaurant over two days, with 120 staying the night on Christmas Eve.

Was it stressful?

"I don't know if stressful is the word for it," Bradt said. "I think, at times, it was overwhelming. You know, I spent some time at the bottom of the basement stairs, whether on the phone with Bonnie or with my wife or chef Swimline, getting advice from him and just crying it out, you know. I'm gonna take a few minutes for myself to figure it out. Where are we at? what's our next step? What are we doing now? You know? It wasn't just a blizzard, right? It was a blizzard in the middle of Christmas."

The Alabama Hotel was once a key stagecoach stop between Buffalo and Rochester.  It was built in 1844, and at one time, the second floor was an actual hotel.  It was always a place that served meals and libations, but Woodward doesn't know when the hotel ceased being a hotel.

It has always been a community hub in the town of Alabama.  At one time, it was the main meeting hall and the courthouse, as well as a venue for weddings. It's still a place where locals gather for drinks and camaraderie, even while the restaurant attracts patrons from throughout WNY.

"It's like Cheers," Woodward said. "They're really friendly, and when strangers come, they'll bring them into their fold, and they'll talk to them, and they feel comfortable. People like that."

Earl Woodward purchased the Alabama Hotel in 1956.  His wife was Agness, known to friends and family as Bunny.  

Earl had cancer and wanted to make sure he left behind something that could provide for and shelter his family.  After he passed, Bunny, her children, and her mother, Nannie, lived upstairs in the former hotel and Bunny and Nannie ran the business.

Earl and Bunny's son Mike -- Bonnie's husband, who passed away in July -- ran the business next.  Patrick Woodward ran the business from 1990 until he passed away in 2000.  Danny, his son and Bonnie's nephew, ran the hotel for the next 29 years.  

Bonnie bought the restaurant in 2019 to keep it in the Woodward family, though her experience didn't extend much past washing dishes in the kitchen as a youngster.

"Most of the employees are employees I inherited with the restaurant," Woodward said. "They took me under their wing and taught me the business."

Shortly after she took over, Josh Swimline approached her about a job. He already had a successful food truck but was looking for a chef's job as well.

"He's done a marvelous job in the kitchen," Woodward said.

The other thing that happened shortly after she took over the business, besides the storm, was COVID-19.  Without the community's support and people buying take-out meals, the restaurant might not have survived the shutdown.

Then she hired Bradt as her general manager, just months before Winter Storm Elliott.  They had known each other for years because both have been frequent volunteers in the community -- youth sports, the Lion's Club, and just about any volunteer effort in the community, they would both be there helping out.

"We both had the same goal all the time," Bradt said. "Who can we help? How can we help? So deciding to come here and work with Bonnie was easy."

To the uninitiated, the location of the Alabama Hotel might seem rather isolated for a restaurant to be as popular and as successful as it has been for all these years. Bradt said it comes down to the food.

"I'm surprised by the amount of people, with the amount of good food in Buffalo, who come this way," Bradt said. "I'm surprised at the number of people that come this way versus going that way."

Woodward said the restaurant's fame has mostly spread by word of mouth. 

"People say, 'We've always heard about this place, and I wanted to just stop and see what it was like,'" Woodward said. "During the summer, a lot of people would walk the refuge (the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge) and birdwatch and all that other stuff, and then they would stop here for lunch or dinner."

Good Food and Friendly Ambiance
The restaurant is also a popular destination for bikers in the summer and snowmobilers (when there is snow) in the winter.

The Alabama Hotel has always been known for its fish fries, chicken and biscuits, and it's also taken on a reputation far and wide for its salad bar, Wednesday night pizza night, prime rib on Thursdays, and the swamp burger, which is a hamburger with cajun seasoning, mushrooms, onions, and American cheese.

The fish fry, Bradt said, remains something special and also illustrates the care they put into meal preparation.

"We've have half a dozen suppliers, Bradt said. "We will stop at no end to find the best quality fish and the rest of the ingredients. We've tried different things, and we go with quality. Quality might cost us a little bit more, but quality is our number one goal."

The publicity from Winter Storm Elliott has helped business, too.  Woodward said business is up more than 60 percent since the storm. Bradt said he gets stopped by customers in the restaurant regularly to let him know they heard about what he and the restaurant did to help out travelers.

And on Saturday comes one of the county's most prestigious honors, Business of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce, and Woodward and Bradt are both a little surprised by it.  They're also honored because, to them, it doesn't just represent that single 48-hour event.  It represents what the Alabama Hotel has meant to the community for so many decades and that through turmoil and change, it's still a popular place for food and friendship.

Because of the awards ceremony at Batavia Downs, the restaurant will be closed on Saturday. Bonnie Woodward booked six tables so 48 people could attend, including nearly all of the employees and "diehard" customers, as well as members of the Woodward family.

"It's really important to us to make sure that the employees feel included in this," Bradt said. "It's more than just the blizzard, you know. Without our employees and our staff and the people who continue to come through those doors every day, whether it's to grab a quick burger or have a drink, the doors wouldn't be open."

Previously: Alabama has its own Christmas story to tell, and stranded travelers aren't 'home alone'

alabama hotel chamber award business of the year
Photo by Howard Owens.
alabama hotel chamber award business of the year
Photo by Howard Owens.
alabama hotel chamber award business of the year
Photo by Howard Owens.
alabama hotel winterstorm elliott
Christmas Eve at the Alabama Hotel during Winter Storm Elliott in 2022.
Submitted photo.
alabama hotel winterstorm elliott
Weary travelers at the Alabama Hotel during Winter Storm Elliott.
Submitted photo.
alabama hotel winterstorm elliott
Travelers who were stranded at the Alabama Hotel during Winter Storm Elliott help prepare a meal in the restaurant's kitchen.
Submitted photo.
alabama hotel winterstorm elliott
Christmas Eve dinner during Winter Storm Eillott at the Alabama Hotel.
Submitted photo.

Everybody's getting 'Footloose' this weekend at BHS

By Joanne Beck
Batavia High School opens this Friday evening with Footloose musical.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
BHS Production Club presents "Footloose the Musical" this weekend, running at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Batavia High School, 260 State St., Batavia. 
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Amidst the stress of rehearsals, learning lines and choreography, and directing 34 people with varied levels of experience, there were welcomed moments of levity tucked into the tension for everyone taking part in “Footloose the Musical,” Director Caryn Wood says.

Take, for example, Batavia High School senior Ephraim Hanna, who is playing the character Willard Hewitt. 

“Just in general, the student that plays Willard is hilarious. In personality, the student himself is very calm and quiet. And a little bit reserved and shy. And then when he goes on stage, he's absolutely hilarious,” Wood said during rehearsals Thursday at the high school. “And the kids aren’t used to doing southern or like country bumpkin-type accents. And so, one of the students who plays Reverend Shaw Moore (student actor Peyton Woeller) has to say the word creek and, of course, pronounces it crick. And a lot of the cast laughs. They think it’s hilarious because they're just not accustomed to that.”

BHS Production Club plans to present the fun and laughter — plus a whole lot of music and dancing — at the Frank E. Owen Auditorium stage at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at BHS, 260 State St., Batavia. 

Based on the movie made in 1984, this musical “bursts onto the live stage with dynamic new songs” and celebrates the exhilaration of youth, wisdom of listening to one another and the power of forgiveness, according to its promotional description. 

The story is about Ren McCormack, a city kid who loves dancing as a form of escaping the stresses of life, and he and his mom end up moving to Bomont, a small southern town where Rev. Shaw Moore just effectively banned the activity. Ren and Willard end up befriending one another as Ren also gradually builds relationships with others as they discover they may have more similarities than differences. 

With the title of “Footloose,” it might go without saying that this show includes a lot of fancy footwork, from jazz and lyrical to country line dancing to tap influences. However, it really also means “a lot of choreography and a lot of intense, long dance rehearsals,” Wood said. 

Dance instructor and choreographer Denise Leblanc-Chatt returned again for what has become a longtime relationship of providing her experience and expertise so that students can envelop those lessons and deliver them onto the stage. 

“The kids have no dance experience. And this is a very physical thing for them that they are not accustomed to,” Wood said. “And they have done an excellent job rising to the challenge to bring a ton of energy to this dance-heavy show.”

They have been learning dance steps and practicing since the end of December for about two hours at a time for two to three days a week and for even longer as it grew closer to show time, she said.

LeBlanc-Chatt owns and is head instructor at The Dancing Place Dance Academy in Batavia and has studied the art for the past 50 years.  

“She’s a phenomenal choreographer and dance teacher, and we are lucky to have her,” Wood said. “She does an excellent job of making non-dancers look impeccably energetic on stage.” 

So, most definitely, learning the dance routines in and of itself was a major challenge, she said. But there are always other hurdles to consider, especially when you’ve got a mix of more versed actors and newcomers, which was true of many of the freshmen, sophomore and some junior novice actors, she said.

“I also think that any time you're working with students, especially students who don't have a lot of performance experience but want to be involved, you're really training them physically and emotionally, to deep dive into characters and what are their characters' motivations? Why are they doing this? What are they feeling? What is their physical appearance right now? Making fully well-rounded, fully fleshed-out characters can also be a challenge for a new performer,” she said. “Our cast is made up of kids that had been performing for several years and done a couple of shows a year, and kids where this is their very first show.”

Most of the characters are high school kids, along with some parents, school administrators, and a restaurant owner. Costumes are street clothes, but they had to be plentiful, with characters needing five or six different costumes throughout the show, Wood said. 

If you’re at all familiar with the original movie, you will “definitely hear and see all of those people,” she said. And then some.

“There’s also a lot of additional music and dance numbers added to make it a full musical. I think that the musical version of Footloose stays really true to the original movie but also pulls in influences to make a broader range of shows where it doesn't have to be set in the 80s; it is applicable in its message at any time period. It will always work, and it's very transferable and very, very entertaining, very upbeat and positive and can be explosive with energy at various points,” she said. “Overall, I feel like the message is of healing and forgiveness, definitely forgiveness. I think that there's some characters who are struggling with forgiving themselves and other people for tragic events in their past. And that message of forgiveness and healing through music and dance and relationships is a powerful one. And I think the kids are doing a fantastic job relaying that message.”

Advance sale tickets are $10.50 online, $10 for students/seniors and $12 for adults at the door.

Buy tickets HERE

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

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

Elba Drama Club presents 'Little Mermaid' this weekend

By Howard B. Owens
elba little mermaid

The Elba Central School Drama Club presents "The Little Mermaid" this weekend.

Show times are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and are available at the door.

Key roles are: 

  • Ariel, Laina Casper
  • Prince Eric, Emilio Rosales
  • Sebastian, Sadee Dillon
  • Ursula, Aerianna Cintorino
  • Scuttle, Jocelyn Miller
  • Flounder, Evan Armbrewster
  • Triton, Bailey Brunner

Photos by Howard Owens.

elba little mermaid
elba little mermaid
elba little mermaid
elba little mermaid
elba little mermaid
elba little mermaid
elba little mermaid

Elba upsets #2 seed in Class D to advance to championship game

By Staff Writer
Elba basketball

The #7 seed, Elba, in Class D knocked off Andover-Whitesville, the #2 seed, 40-36 on Wednesday to advance in the sectional tournament.

The Lancers will contend for the Class D championship at Blue Cross Arena on Saturday.  Game time is 4 p.m. against #1 seed Avoca-Prattsburg, who beat Hammondsport in their semifinal 90-60.

For Elba, Angelo Penna scored 12 points. Nickolas Scott scored 11 and Ashton Bezon scored 10.

Photos by Debra Reilly.

Elba basketball
Elba basketball

Top Items on Batavia's List

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