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Senior guard Tyson Totten breaks school scoring record as Pembroke tops Holley, 57-42

By Mike Pettinella
Totten scores
All eyes are on the hoop as Pembroke's Tyson Totten launches a three-pointer in the first quarter to set the all-time scoring record during Friday night's Genesee Region League victory over visiting Holley, Submitted photos.

Senior guard Tyson Totten eclipsed Pembroke’s career scoring record on Friday night while leading the host Dragons to a 57-42 victory over Holley in Genesee Region League basketball action.

Totten poured in 31 points for Coach Matt Shay’s team, now 4-1 and coming off a first-place finish in at the Akron holiday tournament. His latest effort puts him at 1,200 points, moving him past 2023 graduate Cayden Pfalzer, who finished his career with 1,180 points.

Shay said that Totten’s success is a result of his hard work – on and off the court.

“I'm extremely proud of Tyson and feel fortunate to be his coach,” Shay said. “He strives for excellence in everything he does, whether in academics, sports, or anything else.

“Tyson has worked hard for all of the success he has had in both basketball and football. Whether it has been the offseason work we do, summer camps or the weight room, he has poured himself into it. He deserves all the accolades he gets.”

Jayden Bridge contributed 10 points, Avery Ferreira nine points and nine rebounds, and Sean Pustulka six assists for Pembroke. Destin Kuval had 19 and Vincent Golisano 13 for the Hawks.

top scorers
Three of the top four scorers in Pembroke boys' basketball history, from left, Cayden Pfalzer, Tyson Totten and Larry Kohorst (the current team's assistant coach).
Totten family
Celebrating the special achievement are, from left, Pembroke Coach Matt Shay, brother Garrett Totten, mom Jaime Totten, Tyson Totten, dad Jamie Totten and Pembroke JV Coach (and Tyson's uncle) Cory Coe.

Making Black Batavians count: city historian's book a step to help 'end legacy of slavery'

By Joanne Beck
Larry Barnes

City resident and historian Larry Barnes studied the lives of Black people who lived, worked, and/or had gone to school in the city of Batavia at some point in their lives, and the resulting message was as much philosophical as it was statistical.

Barnes is grateful for the prior work of local writer Ruth McEvoy, who thumbed through news articles from 1880 onward, and developed a list of articles about people who were Black. “That was a starting point for me,” he said, “where they lived, what they were doing, if they were working.”

Those articles did more than record people’s actions and behaviors; they documented the limitations imposed on the Black population even after the slaves were officially freed in 1865, Barnes said.

There was discrimination, Barnes notes, by imposed and non-statutory means, including deed restrictions, employment restrictions, facility restrictions, such as at Godfrey’s Pond, land, mortgage, and property rental restrictions, and the deeply subjective problem of “driving while Black,” he said.

How did that impact the Black community? Less family wealth — three cents for every dollar of non-Blacks — and lower household incomes of 60 cents for every dollar, a shorter life expectancy, higher incidence of chronic diseases and a greater chance of dying in a pandemic, being shot by police, getting convicted of a crime and being imprisoned, he said.

One source that proved to be “very interesting” for his book, he said, was the local paper, which was quite specific in identifying people as being Polish or Italian or Black in news articles, especially when the tone of the piece looked unfavorably toward the person of color, he said. They would sometimes be boldly and crudely labeled, such as a “Black stick of licorice.”

Despite the obstacles, many Blacks have had notable achievements, he said, as documented on pages 14 through 19, including:

Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965), a noted playwright and author whose plays were performed on Broadway and her best known work is “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Percy Julian (1899 to 1975), a research chemist and pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. His work laid the foundation for the production of cortisone and birth control pills.

Alain Le Roy Locke (1885 to 1954), a writer, philosopher, educator and patron of the arts who was a Rhodes Scholar and a significant contributor as a Black artist, writer, poet and musician to the Harlem Renaissance.

Barnes lists several random Black achievers, but more to the point of the book, Black Batavians have overcome and achieved much in their own right, namely the adversity of frequently having been descendants of slaves with limited knowledge of the individuals from whom they came from or precisely from there their ancestors originated, he said. 

“They have been uniquely subjected to especially long-term persecution and discrimination, including being the target of Jim Crow laws,” Barnes writes. 

“And we also observed that, largely as the result of their history, as a group, American Blacks fare less well than most other groups in personal wealth, income, health, and encounters with our country’s justice system,” he states in the book. “Finally, and this needs to be stressed, despite these differences, Blacks have, again and again, excelled in all cases of life activities. I have provided five pages of examples to drive home a point often ignored.”

There’s Mattie Butler, born in 1865, who was a personal cook for President Benjamin Harrison, who served from 1889 to 1893, and was a housemaid at Harrison’s executive mansion in Indianapolis. After later moving to Batavia, she worked at Scott and Bean’s and Henning’s department stores, dying in 1935.

Rev. Raymond Walker graduated from Byron-Bergen Central School and enlisted in the Marine Corps, later becoming a Genesee County Sheriff’s deputy and earning a master’s degree. Walker taught history at Batavia Middle School and later was assistant principal at BHS until he retired in 2005. 

Dean Edwards, a BHS 1988 graduate, is an entertainer who works as a standup comedian, actor, singer, writer and musician who joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2001 for two seasons and has worked as a voice actor, staff writer and has appeared in commercials.

The late Dr. Diane London directed the medical response in 1994 when an Amtrak derailment injured 109 passengers near Batavia, and more than 500 volunteers responded. She was the emergency doctor and medical director at Genesee County Health Department, had a medical office in Batavia, and practiced emergency medicine at United Memorial Medical Center, St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston and Lockport Memorial Hospital. 

Want to know about more awesome Black Batavians? The book, “Black Batavians: Who They Are, Their Local History, and Aspects of Our Larger Culture That Have Especially Shaped Their Experiences,” is on reserve at Richmond Memorial Library and available at Holland Land Office Museum, and Genesee County History Department.

By studying the lives of Black Batavians, Barnes spotted a trend, he said. 

“What you find over a period of time, is that, before World War II, Blacks were employed in menial jobs that didn’t require much education, and after WW II, jobs were more evenly distributed, and Blacks began to move into positions that did require advanced education,” he said. 

By the 1970s, the Black population had grown rather significantly, he said, by 10 percent, in the city of Batavia.   

People from larger cities of Buffalo and Rochester were attracted to this area’s socio-economic, safety and physical attributes that came with a smaller, rural city, he said. 

What did Barnes glean from his research about the Black population? That, because of their association with slavery, Blacks bring a different perspective — one that shapes how much of the Black population looks at the world, he said.

“Many people are surprised to learn there were slaves in Batavia in the early 1800s,” he said. “If you were a descendant of a slave, you wouldn’t know who your ancestors were. People who are Black often came here from a part of the country where Jim Crow laws are in effect.”

Bryan Stevenson, a Black lawyer, Harvard graduate and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, asserts that “we will never achieve really good race relations in our society until we acknowledge and face up to our history,” Barnes said. “An attitude of white supremacy made slavery tolerable and, later, the Jim Crow era virtually inevitable.

“And it isn’t just a Southern problem, however, but an all-American problem. Racism permeates our society,” he said.

You can read more about Stevenson’s thoughts and Barnes’ reflections on the topic, and he leaves the reader with a challenge.

“In any event, it’s time for action,” Barnes said. “Each of us can play a part. What are you going to do to help end the legacy of slavery?”

Capping off a 'tremendous experience' after 16 years

By Joanne Beck
Larry Barnes
And now, as we approach the city’s 108th birthday and another eight years for Barnes since that frigid night, he couldn’t help but also recall how his predecessor didn’t think he had the chops for the job, having only lived in Batavia a mere few years and all. Larry Barnes, who is retiring as Batavia's city historian at the end of December, in his office in City Hall, where he's compiled numerous historic documents in filing cabinets over the years.
Photo by Howard Owens.

He may not have been a City of Batavia resident for long before being appointed city historian, but whatever Larry Barnes may have lacked in residential longevity, he made up for with a growing passion.

It was while serving as an assistant to then County Historian Sue Conklin that Barnes became involved in researching city government — sifting through all sorts of materials and, as a result, becoming quite interested in the city.

That was more than a decade and a half ago.

“It’s been a tremendous experience, I’m really going to miss it,” Barnes said during an interview with The Batavian at his second-floor City Hall office. “It’s been a major part of my life for 16 years.” 

Since those humble beginnings, he has gone through a city centennial celebration, watched the unfolding process of the historic Brisbane Mansion — aka current police station — become a prospective boutique hotel or serve some other purpose as a new police facility moves toward final plans. He has researched several requests about homes that have physically been moved or relatives’ ancestors or other Batavia history, though he’s quick to tell you he’s not one’s personal genealogist. He has written books about the city’s most prominent people and places, and been quoted dozens of times over the years for news articles about the birthplace of western New York.

Batavia was once a village, founded in 1827, and became a city in 1915. Eight years ago, there was a grand centennial splash, despite a whirling blizzard that helped all ring in the New Year on Dec. 31, 2014.

In true western or upstate, take your pick, New York fashion, it was a windy, blustery, snowy, icy cold — and certainly not cooperative — evening for the plans the centennial committee had made for the outdoor portion of the event. 

But Barnes had committed to do his part as city historian.

“I remember standing on a platform trying to give a talk to a very small audience,” Barnes said. “Most of the people had gone inside where it was warm.”

And now as we approach the city’s 108th birthday, and another eight years for Barnes since that frigid night, he couldn’t help but also recall how his predecessor didn’t think he had the chops for the job, having only lived in Batavia a mere few years and all. But he’s also well aware of the fact that it doesn’t take one’s personal upbringing to be a good historian. 

Not that Barnes didn’t bring an attractive portfolio to the position; he began teaching at Genesee Community College in 1968, lived in the towns of Batavia and Byron and built a home in the City of Batavia in 2005, where he had lived for three years before taking the job. 

The city’s first historian was William Coon, who seemingly fell into the role as the city attorney, and was appointed by the mayor in 1919. He died in office after serving until 1953, which is something Barnes most definitely did not aspire to, he said: “My goal was to not die in office,” he said.

The last historian was Corinne Iwanicki, who served from 1995 to 2007, and she was succeeded by Barnes, who was the sixth city historian and the first one to be paid, if only for a short time. The position was not paid until this past year, when City Council agreed to provide a stipend. 

There also was no formal job description until former City Manager Jason Molino and Barnes worked on one that was officially approved by City Council in 2010.

Over the years, Barnes has researched various landmarks, people and happenings, such as where the first bridge was located in Batavia, when railroads changed to their current location and why, what happened to certain houses in the city, including some formerly located where the Southside roundabout is now. 

Barnes received so many questions about relocated homes that he wrote a small book about 40 houses that have been physically moved to other locations. 

“If I get interesting questions, I will do that,” he said. 

His own questions piled up about a certain population in the city that seemed to go undocumented, and Barnes wanted to do something about that. While he noticed that quite a lot had been written about Italian, Polish and Irish residents whose families had emigrated to the United States, there was nothing about Black Batavians, he said.

The first simple but pointed question had to be; who is a Black Batavian? Do you go by the color of one’s skin, or facial features, or ancestors? Answer: the person is a Black Batavian if they or someone else defines them as such, he said. 

For more about his latest book, go to: “Black Batavians: Who They Are, Their Local History, and Aspects of Our Larger Culture That Have Especially Shaped Their Experiences.”

City of Batavia receives $350K for home improvement funding, needs time to iron out details

By Joanne Beck

Christmas came a few days late this week for city of Batavia officials, but it was well worth it to open a package worth $350,000 in the form of a Community Development Block Grant, issued by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office on Thursday.

Details will be ironed out over the next few months about how the money will be allocated and who the recipients will be for home improvement funding, Assistant City Manager Erik Fix said.

“We are very pleased to have received the CDBG Grant this year.  It is a bit early for us to make any formal announcement and/or notifying eligible homeowners.  Aside from the announcement, we have not received any information in regards to how or when the grant can be distributed,” he said Friday. “We have multiple trainings and webinars in the next couple of months and should have all of the details ironed out by late-winter, early spring in time for summer renovation projects.

“In the meantime, we do have funding available in the Batavia Home Fund,” he said. “The application and details can be found in the Citizen Action Center on our website,”

Fix had previously said that the grant would coincide with the city’s comprehensive housing strategy “that we are in the process of developing.”

“It goes hand in hand with the Batavia Home Fund that the City, GCEDC and Town of Batavia signed an inter-municipal agreement to fund this past fall,” he had said to The Batavian earlier this year.  “The CDBG will provide funding for rehabilitation projects on owner-occupied, single-family home rehab projects throughout the city.  The hope is that when one neighbor makes improvements, others will as well, and the city can help foster rehabilitation throughout our communities.”

The Federal assistance Community Development Block Grant funds would enable homeowners to make home repairs with grant and deferred loan funding. Any single-family homeowner was encouraged to apply and the goal of the program was to provide “vibrancy to communities” similar to recent improvements made to Summit Street to create vibrant transformations throughout the city.

This program is to tie in with the city’s housing improvement plan and the recently created Batavia Home Fund

Hochul said that 1,400 households will benefit from more than $46 million in grant awards to support affordable homeownership. The grants will help low- and moderate-income families make repairs or safety upgrades to their homes, replace manufactured homes, and provide down payment assistance for first-time buyers. 

Batavia is part of the Finger Lakes region, which was awarded nearly $2.8 million in grant funding. 

New Year's Eve worship and brunch celebration

By Joanne Beck

Who says you have to wait until midnight to celebrate the New Year? Batavia First Presbyterian Church is hosting a morning celebration from 10 to 11 a.m. with worship, songs, stories, and prayer and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday with brunch and games to ring in the New Year. There will also be a photo booth, hats, tiaras and other New Year’s goodies to ring in 2024, organizers say.

The public is welcome to attend at 300 E. Main St., Batavia.

Batavia posts thrilling 56-52 victory over Attica for Lions Club tourney Large School championship

By Mike Pettinella
Batavia wins Lions Tournament in closing seconds.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Batavia displays the championship trophy following a close victory over Attica in the Batavia Lions Club Tournament Large School bracket on Friday night at Genesee Community College.  Photo by Steve Ognibene

Junior guard Carter Mullen’s three-point basket with 43 seconds to play broke a 49-49 tie, and Batavia High went on to defeat Attica, 56-52, in a battle of Blue Devils to win the 42nd annual Batavia Lions Club Pete Arras Memorial Basketball Tournament Large School bracket on Friday night at Genesee Community College.

The stage was set for Mullen's heroics when senior Joey Marranco hit a three-point shot with 1:45 left on the clock, giving Batavia a 49-44 lead. Attica's Jack Janes responded with a three-point shot and then followed a missed shot with a layup to knot the score at 49-49.

After Mullen's big bucket, which was launched near the sideline in front of the Batavia bench, Attica turned the ball over with 30 seconds left. That led to a free throw by junior forward Justin Smith. Attica made another errant pass at the 18-second mark, giving the ball back to Batavia.

Mullen then made a foul shot to make it 54-49 before Janes swished another three-pointer to cut the lead to two with eight seconds remaining.

Marranco was fouled with six seconds left and sank both free throws to secure the victory for Batavia, now 4-3, heading into some tough Monroe County League competition.

Attica led 13-11 after the first quarter, but Batavia rallied to take a 23-19 lead into the locker room. Batavia led 40-33 after three quarters as Smith scored six of his game-high 16 points on his way to being named the tournament MVP.

He was joined on the all-tournament team by Mullen (14 points), Attica’s Cole Harding (12 points) and Clayton Bezon (13 points), Le Roy’s Merritt Holly Jr. and Royalton-Hartland’s Dan Aquilina.

Marranco finished with nine points, and Estavon Lovett added eight for Batavia, while Carter Gorski had 11 and Janes 10 for Attica, now 6-2.

Batavia Coach Buddy Brasky credited Lovett for “doing a great defensive job” on the 6-foot-4 Harding.

“That was one of the keys to the game,” he said. “Secondly, I thought we executed our offense pretty good. Carter Mullen’s three there at the end was a huge shot. They’re a good team; we’re a good team. It was just a real competitive game.”

Attica Coach Rob Crowley said his team was tentative in the first half and missed several open shots.

“I felt we played well defensively in the first half, but we sort of hurt ourselves on offense. We held on to the ball a little too long and missed several opportunities,” he said. “It looked like we were tense because the ball wasn’t going in, and we forced it a bit. We obviously played much better in the second half.

“But it’s not like Batavia’s a bad team. I knew this would be a toss-up game, and I think if we played 10 times, we’d each win five.”

In the Large School bracket consolation game, Le Roy turned back Roy-Hart, 64-45, using an 18-0 run in the third quarter to break the game open. Holly Jr. scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and Matthew Hockey added 13 points to lead the Knights. 

See also: Alexander Trojans captures Lions Club tournament Small School crown, 61-49 over Notre Dame

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Justin Smith goes for a layup. Smith was named Tournament MVP.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Justin Smith goes for a layup. Smith was named Tournament MVP.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Attica's Carter Gorski scoring for the Blue Devils.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Attica's Carter Gorski scoring for the Blue Devils.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Carter Mullen going tfor two points.  Mullen was named an all-tournament player.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Carter Mullen going for two points for Batavia.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Estavon Lovett driving to the paint.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Estavon Lovett driving to the paint.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Lions All-Tournament players (not pictured Roy-Hart award player)  Photo by Steve Ognibene
All-tournament team, from left, Merritt Holly Jr. of Le Roy, Cole Harding and Clayton Bezon of Attica, and Carter Mullen and Justin Smith of Batavia. Photo by Steve Ognibene.

Alexander Trojans captures Lions Club tournament Small School crown, 61-49 over Notre Dame

By Mike Pettinella
Alexander wins
Alexander captured the Batavia Lions Club Small School bracket championship on Friday night at Genesee Community College by defeating Notre Dame, 61-49. Photos by Deb Reilly.

The Alexander Trojans used a 17-0 spurt at the end of the second quarter and start of the third quarter to break open a close game and went on to defeat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 61-49, for the Small School bracket championship of the 42nd annual Batavia Lions Club Pete Arras Memorial Basketball Tournament.

The game took place on Friday night at Genesee Community College, prior to the Large School title contest that was won by Batavia, 56-52, over Attica.

Batavia posts thrilling 56-52 victory over Attica for Lions Club tourney Large School championship

Tournament MVP junior center Dylan Pohl scored 21 points for Coach Jalen Smith’s Trojans, doing most of his work close to the hoop, while junior guard Kingston Woods added 14 points, mostly on hard drives to the basket.

Woods joined Pohl on the all-tournament team along with Notre Dame’s Jay Antinore and Jaden Sherwood, Oakfield-Alabama’s Avery Watterson and Elba’s Michael Long.

ND led 13-6 after the first period before Alexander rallied to take a 23-21 lead on a layup by Pohl following a nifty pass by Trenton Woods. Antinore sank two free throws for the Irish to make it 23-23 before two buckets by Kingston Woods gave the Trojans a 27-23 halftime edge.

Alexander caught fire over the first three minutes of the third quarter, scoring the first 13 points of the period on baskets by Pohl, Kingston Woods, a pair of three-pointers by Paul Schmidt, and another by Trenton Woods to make the score 40-23.

The Trojans’ advantage ballooned to 54-33, with Jacob Brooks providing five points on a three-point shot and a turnaround jumper to beat the third-quarter buzzer.

Notre Dame employed a full-court press to start the fourth period, came up with several steals and created some turnovers to close the gap. A steal and layup by Sherwood made it 58-48 with just over two minutes left before a three-point shot by Brooks with 1:18 to play sealed the outcome for Alexander.

“Our game plan was to be patient on offense and look inside as much as we can because our big man (Pohl) is one of the best in the league,” Smith said. “It was all about ball security and taking care of the ball. The more we did that, the better we got on offense.”

Smith, in his first year at the helm, said he is excited about the progression of his team, which upped its record to 6-2.

“From the start, new principles and rules came in because of new coaches, and honestly, we’ve been getting after it every day, and the guys are starting to learn what we’re expecting and looking for and starting to get the job done.”

For Notre Dame, now 6-1, Sherwood was the top scorer with 12, while Ryan Fitzpatrick tallied 11, Antinore 10 and Makyell Walker nine.

ND Coach Mikey Rapone said the game turned when the Trojans got hot from three-point range,

“Basketball is a game of runs, and they went on one there in the second half,” he said. We tried to make some adjustments … but once they started hitting from the outside, we weren't able to give help against (Pohl) inside.”

All in all, he said he was “proud” of the way his players fought back and hopes they use it as a learning experience.

“Either you springboard (from) this and realize the things we need to work on … or you feel sorry for yourselves and go on a spiral. It was good to see that fight and ‘no quit.’”

In the Small School bracket consolation game, Oakfield-Alabama downed Elba, 47-35, as Gavin Armbrewster scored 11 points and Avery Watterson and Kyler Harkness 10 apiece. Michael Long had 15 for Elba.

Photos by Deb Reilly.

Dylan Pohl
Tournament MVP Dylan Pohl goes up for two of his 21 points over ND defenders Ryan Fitzpatrick (2) and George Woodruff.
Kingston Woods
Sophomore Kingston Woods played a key role in the Trojans' victory, scoring 14 points.
Jay Antinore
Jay Antinore flies in for two of his 10 points for the Fighting Irish.
Jaden Snyder
Jaden Snyder looks for a driving lane as Fitzpatrick defends.
all tournament small
Selected to the all-tournament team, from left, Dylan Pohl, Kingston Woods, Jaden Sherwood and Jay Antinore.

Bethany issues State of Emergency for water shortage

By Joanne Beck

The Town of Bethany has declared a State of Emergency for water services during a year-end meeting on Thursday due to the town’s inability to provide water services to the affected parcels of approximately 100 residences and two dairy farms in the town.

The town’s Water District 5 had previously been approved by the town to be installed for service as of Jan. 25, 2021, however, the "COVID emergency" and resulting escalated costs caused the project to increase from $16 million to $20 million, and the town no longer had the authority, by way of bond resolution or the State Comptroller’s Office, to continue with the plan for District 5, town officials said in a related resolution signed during the meeting.

During the spring, summer, fall and winter of 2023, the southeastern portion of Genesee County, including the town of Bethany, experienced severe drought conditions and those residences and dairy farms lost all water services, with one dairy facility needing to haul 60,000 gallons of water per day to meet the needs of its livestock.

Based on the determination that the inability to provide water service to the affected parcels imperils the public health and safety, the Town Board of the town of Bethany, through Town Supervisor Carl Hyde Jr., has found it to be in the best interest of the town to declare a local State of Emergency due to the drought conditions pursuant to 24(1) of the New York State Executive Law, the town’s resolution states, and as a result of the severe drought, all eight farms with cattle are now hauling water either to supplement their well shortfalls or their well failures.

“This is not a sustainable practice nor expense that farms can endure for a prolonged period of time,” the resolution states.

“Due to lack of water in ponds, streams, etc., because of the severe drought conditions, the ability for the fire department to fight fires is extremely hampered. Water for fighting fires must now be trucked into Bethany at 3,500 gallons per truckload from eight to 10 miles away from surrounding towns, and now therefore it is hereby resolved that the town board of the town of Bethany hereby declares a State of Emergency due to the drought conditions present in Genesee County and the Town of Bethany."

This declaration shall be in full force and effect for a period of 30 days or util rescinded by Hyde, whichever occurs first, and he may issue additional declarations extending the local emergency for additional periods not to exceed 30 days until the emergency ceases or is abated.

Town Council members Jeffrey Fluker, Timothy Embt, Steven Wells and Diane Fowler signed the resolution. 

The town had been loaned a 6,700 gallon water tanker this past month from the state Office of Emergency Management, and had to return it earlier this week. Wells had not been recharged at that point, and Hyde said he would be thinking creatively about how to help town residents with their water shortages. 

Batavia Downs announces early 2024 lineup of events

By Joanne Beck

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for the Park Place Events Center for the first three months of 2024. 

On Thursday, January 11, Batavia Downs welcomes back the Polka Buzz tapings with Polka Band Seven and WBBZ.  Tickets are just $10 and you get $10 back in Free Play.  Doors open at 6 p.m. with the tapings starting at 7 p.m.  Tickets are available now on

The BBQ and Bourbon Dinner returns for two nights on February 2 and 3.  Enjoy flights of BBQ and samples from Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek as staff gives insight into the history of the brands.  Each attendee receives $50 Free Play and there will be prize drawings as well.  Doors open at 5:15 p.m., and the event begins at 5:30 p.m.  This event is only available by purchasing a hotel package, details can be found at

Beatle-Mania Magic makes their Batavia Downs debut on Friday, February 9.  Doors are at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.  A national touring Beatles Tribute band will recreate Beatles concerts with identical costumes, equipment and spot on harmonies.  Tickets start at $15 and guests get $10 back in Free Play.  Tickets are available now on  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

The 5th annual Batavia Brew Fest, presented by Genesee Brewery and Rohrbach Brewing Company is back on Saturday, February 17 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.  For $30, attendees receive two and a half hours of beer sampling from many WNY breweries.  Early bird tickets available until January 29 for just $25.  Light snacks will be served and attendees will receive a commemorative plastic sampling mug along with $15 in Free Play.  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

The Downs welcomes their first Prince Tribute with LoVeSeXy Tribute 2 the music of Prince on Saturday, March 9.  Doors are at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.  They’ll perform a remarkable, spot-on sound-alike, high-energy show featuring a wide range of songs including all of PRINCE’s greatest hits, from his early years and throughout his long career.  Tickets start at $15 and guests get $10 back in Free Play.  Tickets are available now on  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

Returning again after several years of sold out shows is Music of the Stars on Saturday, March 23.  Doors are at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.   The high-energy seven-piece band pays tribute to internationally famous artists, including Tom Jones, The Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Gary Puckett, Elvis, The Beatles and many more. Tickets start at $15 and guests get $10 back in Free Play.  Tickets are available now on  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

Batavia Downs is excited to welcome RECORD RIOT, a vinyl record vendor show on Sunday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  With 40 dealer tables and more than 10,000 LPs in the room, attendees will be sure to have a great time browsing a wide variety of music while connecting with fellow music lovers.  Details can be found online at:  $10 Early Bird Tickets or regular $5 admission tickets can be purchased at the door.  Each ticket comes with $5 in Free Play for the gaming floor.

“We have more events scheduled in 2024 than ever before, “ said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.  “These concert events are always well received by our guests, and we are excited to bring back the Brew Fest with our partners at Genesee and Rohrbach.  With a newfound interest in record collecting, we’re sure that our first onsite Record Riot vendor show will be well attended.  We’re looking forward to entertaining the people of Western New York over the next few months.”

Again, tickets are available now on

Hotel Packages for select events can be found on the hotel deals page at

Other events scheduled for the 1st Quarter of 2024 at Batavia Downs include the Experience Psychic Fair January 12 to 14 and the Legends & Stars Sports Expo on the last weekend in February.  Information on these events will be found in the coming weeks HERE.

Christmas joy reflections

By Joanne Beck
Horseshoe light display
A Christmas light display captured by Robert Zawadzki between Clinton Street and Horseshoe Lake roads in Batavia. 

Upcoming January events at GO ART!

By Press Release

Press Release:

Do-Re-Mi Preschool Music and Movement class

This class is designed for children ages 2 through 5, alongside their parent or favorite person. This session will have class on Saturday mornings from 10-10:45 a.m. in January (6, 13, 20, 27) at GO ART! in Batavia. 

We will focus on seasonal song, play, motor and locomotor movement, instrumental exploration, vocal and rhythmic call and response, listening activities, storytime, and fun! The curriculum is designed to engage young learners through play and exploration while providing a safe and nurturing space for them to discover and grow important skills, such as language, cognition, and physical development, as well as support and encourage social and emotional learning. 

Chelsea Miller is instructing this session and she has been teaching music in various capacities since 2015. She has received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from SUNY Fredonia, as well as a Master’s Degree in French Horn Performance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 

Currently, Chelsea teaches instrumental music to grades 4-12 at Elba Central School. To register your little one for this amazing class please visit, call (585) 343-9313, or email Jodi at 

Game Night

Grab a friend and come on in to GO ART! on the first Wednesday of each month for our Game Night! Game night runs from 6-9 p.m. so bring your favorite game or see what we have to offer. From classic board games, and strategy games to card games there is something for everyone. Tavern 2.o.1 will be open.

Do you have any (board, strategy, or card) games you never play and are in good to excellent condition you don't want cluttering up your house anymore? We would be happy to take them off your hands and add them to our collection. Please call (585) 343-9313 or email

Paint by the numbers: family business celebrates 100 years and counting

By Joanne Beck
Chmielowiec guys
Pictured from left are the Chmielowiec men of the more recent family business: Jack Jr., Ron, Jack Sr., Bob, Paul, and Don, a brother of the family's third generation who worked for the company during high school and college.
Submitted Photo

When Anthony Chmielowiec came to the United States in the 1910, he most likely knew that there would be hard work and uncertain times involved as he eventually pursued the American dream of becoming a successful business owner. 

And even when he didn’t know something, he suspended and pushed beyond any potential self-doubt, as was the case when offered his first managerial job.

“And this is probably the best part of our history. He came over from Poland and he settled in Buffalo and didn’t really have a job. And he saw an ad in a local paper for a painting foreman, and he had no experience whatsoever,” his great-great-grandson Jack Jr. said during an interview with The Batavian. “But he went and told them he had experience. He was hired as the painting foreman, and he watched the other painters. He learned by watching the other painters. It was the beginning of our history.”

And what a history: From those early days of Anthony Chmielowiec’s paint contracting and paint store, which led to an office and shop at 450 Ellicott St., Batavia, the business has been shared amongst the men in the family — from Anthony in 1923 and his sons Adolph (aka Jack)  and Raymond when they returned from serving overseas during World War II in 1946, to his son John Jack Sr. and Uncle Bob Chmielowiec in the 1980s, and then 13 years ago, it went to John Jack Jr. and Paul Chmielowiec. 

A. Chmielowiec and Sons opened a paint and wallpaper store on Ellicott Street in 1948, and John Jack began his own painting contracting business with his two sons, John Jack Sr. and Robert (Bob) in 1965. As the business grew, they incorporated and changed the name to Chmielowiec Painting, Inc. Commercial and Industrial painting became their main source of business, including vinyl wall coverings, epoxy floors and wall protection.

Jack Chmielowiec then retired and his sons, Jack Sr. and Bob continued to grow the business. After 45 years, both of them retired in 2010, and sold the business to their sons, Jack Jr. and Paul Chmielowiec. 

There’s no longer a shop attached to the name, and it’s a commercial/industrial painting business that caters primarily to the Rochester area, Jack Jr. said. His father, 79, was able to help celebrate the 100-plus-year anniversary of the business before he died on Tuesday. 

“I think all the family was pretty proud of the fact that we’ve sustained the business for over 100 years,” Jack Jr. said. “It’s mainly because we provide quality work, we meet certain schedules, we have a strong relationship with the contractors we do business for. It’s a pretty simple model, but it seems to work. And we treat our people good, we have good guys. It’s about as simple as it gets.”

His father retired 13 years ago and had enough trust to let it go. 

“When in a pinch and there was something he could do, he did it, but he kind of let us do our own thing,” Jack Jr. said. “I think it says a lot about the quality of the people in my family that passed it down to us. We get a lot of compliments on the quality of our work. At times they have other companies do the work and they say ‘we wish you were on the job.’”

His company does mostly interior painting work, and he can attest to the notion that although many people think everyone can paint, “everybody can’t paint.” So is there a secret to a job well done? Not really.

“Take your time and do what you’ve gotta do,” he said. 

The company has downsized since the Kodak days when it had two shifts of 30 employees painting at the plant, he said. Today there are seven employees and the office is based on Prole Road in Batavia. 

Photos courtesy of the family.

Chmielowiec store on Ellicott street
The Chmielowiec and Sons paint store when it opened at 450 Ellicott St., Batavia.
Chmielowiec grand opening
Lots of flowers help celebrate during a grand opening of the Chmielowiec and Sons paint store at 450 Ellicott St., Batavia.
Chmielowiec paint store
Chmielowiec ad
Chmielowiec T-shirt

The Barn Quilt Tree

By Lynne Belluscio
Barn Quilt
Photo submitted by Lynne Belluscio of her barn quilt tree

In the fall, when the LeRoy Music Boosters posted that they would be raising money by having businesses or families decorate trees on Trigon Park, I thought it would be a neat opportunity to include the Le Roy Barn Quilt Trail. 

After 10 years, since we first started the Le Roy Barn Quilt project to commemorate Le Roy’s Bicentennial, the project has been revitalized with the help of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Office. In fact,
the Barn Quilt Trail just received a prestigious award from the New York State Tourism Alliance.

So, I signed up for a tree and started painting small wooden squares with the Le Roy Barn Quilt designs. I knew that I wanted to include the Genesee Solar Eclipse design, and I made a couple of those with the 6-inch squares. And then I measured off the “Railroad Crossing” design from Crocker’s Hardware, and the new barn quilt that’s on No Finer Diner.

That was followed by “Jell-O Jigglers” and “Nancy’s Fancy” from the D and R Depot Restaurant. I also included the beautiful blue and purple design that was on Ruth Harvie’s garage. Some designs were just too small to transfer to the 6-inch squares, but I included “Dash Churn” from the Stein Farm, and a great apple design. I also wanted to include the design that is on the former home of Nancy and Bruce Baker on East Main Street. That wood square is only 4 inches square, and hangs from the top of the tree. I included the barn quilt that’s on the outside of the Stafford Town Hall and the “Women’s Rights” pattern that hangs in the Le Roy Village Hall. I loved including the new barn quilt design that hangs in the window of Mama Chavez’s Taqueria on Mill Street.

I was painting the red, white, and blue barn quilt that hangs on Irene’s Walter’s barn when I heard of her passing, so like some of the other trees on Trigon Park, this tree is a memorial tree. Just before I put back the paints, I decided to include the “Ingham Rose” barn quilt that is on Candy Bower’s house in Le Roy – an important part of Le Roy’s history. The wood squares had to be varnished and then drilled so they could be attached to the tree. That turned out to be a
bit more challenging than I hoped, but I had enough wood squares painted and varnished in time to hang on the tree.

As I was taking this photo, with the tree in the rain, I thought that this is a great
opportunity for folks who are looking for something to do with their families in the rain. Pick up a barn quilt map at Crocker’s Ace Hardware on Lake Street in Le Roy, or at the Woodward Memorial Library or the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Tourism office and go on a scavenger hunt to look for the big barn quilts. There are over 100 of them just in Le Roy and Stafford. And with the map, you can go up on line and learn all about the stories of the barns and the people and the barn quilts.

Lynne Belluscio is the historian for the town and village of Le Roy.

O-A student artist wins voting competition for pumpkin patch artwork

By Joanne Beck
Kempton Benjamin artwork

Oakfield-Alabama Elementary School art teacher Leah Peca has uploaded what she estimates to be thousands of kids’ artworks over the years to a website that conducts a routine evaluation and selection process for an online contest. 

Out of all those entries, there have been many creative works, but never one chosen for Artsonia’s Artist of the Week voting competition, Peca said. That was until this year, when Artsonia’s panel selected Kempton Benjamin’s golden glowy moon over a pumpkin patch. Even better yet, the painting reaped 800 online votes and captured first place for an Artist of the Week spot in his age group.

“I was thrilled. I was jumping up and down, I thought I was crazy when I got the email,” Peca said during an interview Wednesday with The Batavian. “I was just so happy for him. It's very cool, because we're a very big sports community. Athletes are constantly always being recognized, which is great, but it's very nice to see some of these other kids get recognized for their own unique talents that are outside of sports."

The voting competition on is promoted to be part of the world's largest collection of student art portfolios, exhibiting more than 100 million pieces of student art.

Artsonia developed Artist of the Week 15 years ago to encourage teachers to submit student artwork and engage the school and community to vote on and recognize students for their creative achievements, its founders state. Every week, Artsonia selects 12 random submissions in each of four different age groups (PreK-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12) from artwork submitted the previous week. Voting is open to the public for several days before the winner is announced.

Peca is one of the thousands of art teachers who uses Artsonia to showcase her students' art, manage the art room, crowdsource lesson plans, and fundraise for her classroom. Artsonia lets family and friends of student artists create and purchase custom keepsakes from the student art and then gives back 20 percent of all revenue to the local art classroom.

“Artsonia is huge in my art room. I love having portfolios of art for my students and my own children that date back to their very first days of school,” Peca said. “The kids also love the nostalgia of scrolling through their online portfolios and remembering their experiences with each project.”

Kempton, who enjoys painting nature and especially animals, was happy when his mom Malorie shared the news that he had won.

“I was excited. I was surprised,” the eight-year-old said. “I used oil pastels. I remembered going to the pumpkin patch, there were three pumpkins; I was recreating that. The harvest moon, it was golden.”

His mom said that he loves to paint and do various crafts, including working with clay. She received the congratulatory email earlier this month. Kempton received a plaque and a gift card for art supplies. He went home and ordered supplies right away, she said.

His list of goodies included pompom puppies, two bags of clay, and a craft kit to make his own kaleidoscope. 

“I'm so proud of him. He really loves art,” she said. “Any time your child gets recognized for something they enjoy or are passionate about, that's an exciting thing. He was really proud, we’re really excited for him. That was a cool recognition and awesome that he got to have other people see his cool, great work that we're always talking about.”

The online site allows families to view their child’s artwork and order items with the piece incorporated. Kempton’s grandma has already ordered a moon over pumpkin patch mug, and other family members will be ordering other items, his mom said. 

Peca has been teaching art for more than 15 years and said that she loves being around kids who are excited to try new things and realize their potential. 

“Everybody is excited to come to art class, and that joy is contagious,” she said. “And Kempton has always had such an aptitude for art, but he works so hard at it too. Whenever he finishes something, he's always asking how he can improve it or what he can do to make it better.

“He never just finishes it in terms of it,” she said. “And he always just keeps working on it. And it's so awesome.”

He spent two 40-minute classes using bright green and orange oils, purples, lavender, shades of periwinkle and sky blues, and brilliant white and yellow for the moon that’s casting a bit of glow onto the round orange pumpkins on the grass below. 

To view works on the site, go to

Kempton with award
Kempton Benjamin, 8, with his plaque. 
Submitted Photo


Batavia defeats Le Roy, 68-62, to reach Lions' Large School championship game; Holly nets 37 for Knights

By Mike Pettinella
Batavia's Justin Smith and LeRoy's Jean Agosto scrapping for the ball .   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Batavia's Justin Smith and LeRoy's Jean Agosto scrapping for the ball .   Photo by Steve Ognibene

Junior forward Justin Smith scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and Batavia withstood a 37-point barrage by Le Roy’s Merritt Holly Jr. tonight to advance to the championship game of 42nd annual Batavia Lions Club Pete Arras Memorial Basketball Tournament.

Coach Buddy Brasky’s Blue Devils turned back the Oatkan Knights, 68-62, at Genesee Community College, and now will take on Attica for the Large School bracket crown at 8:15 p.m. Friday at GCC.

Le Roy will face Royalton-Hartland in the consolation game at 3 p.m., also at GCC.

Holly, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, scored 11 points in the first quarter for Le Roy, now 4-2, but Batavia countered with long-range shooting from Cruze Rapone (two three-pointers), Joey Marranco and Carter Mullen (each with a three-point shot) as the teams played to a 20-20 tie.

Three more three-point shots – from Rapone, Marranco and Lovett – sparked the Blue Devils to a 15-9 edge in the second quarter as they held Holly to two points.

Batavia outscored the Knights, 13-12, in the third quarter, with Rapone and Mullen connecting from beyond the arc to offset Holly’s 10 points.

Holly scored 13 of Le Roy’s 21 points in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough as Smith came through with four shots from the field and a couple free throws and Mullen and Mazur sank foul shots down the stretch to keep Le Roy at arm's length.

Mullen and Rapone tallied 14 and 12 points, respectively, for Batavia, now 3-3, while Adam Woodworth scored 10 points and Jean Agosto eight for Le Roy. Holly grabbed 13 rebounds to go with his 37 points.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Large School Bracket
Attica 67, Roy-Hart 55
Batavia 68, Le Roy 62
Small School Bracket
Alexander 52, Oakfield-Alabama 35
Notre Dame 63, Elba 31
3 p.m. -- Large School consolation game – Roy-Hart vs. Le Roy
4:45 p.m. -- Small School consolation game – Elba vs. Oakfield-Alabama
6:30 p.m. -- Small School championship game – Alexander vs. Notre Dame
8:15 p.m. -- Large School championship game – Attica vs. Batavia
1:30 p.m. -- Small School championship game -- Alexander at Notre Dame
1:30 p.m. -- Large School championship game -- Attica at Batavia

Carter Mullen driving to the hoop for two points.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Carter Mullen driving to the hoop for two points.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
LeRoy's #30 Merritt Holly scored 37 points for the Knights.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
LeRoy's #30 Merritt Holly scored 37 points for the Knights.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Race to the basket.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
LeRoy #2 Tommy Condidorio going to the paint.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Batavia boxing out LeRoy, looking for the rebound.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Batavia boxing out LeRoy, looking for the rebound.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Cruze Rapone prepares a pass towards the hoop.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Cruze Rapone prepares a pass towards the hoop.  Photo by Steve Ognibene

Attica holds off Roy-Hart behind Harding's 22 points to reach Lions' Large School finals

By Mike Pettinella
Attica hoop 1
Senior forward Cole Harding lets one fly in the Attica Blue Devils' victory over Royalton-Hartland this afternoon at the Batavia Lions Club Large School bracket boys' basketball tournament at Genesee Community College. Photos by Brennan Bezon.

Updated at 9:45 p.m. with Batavia versus Le Roy score.

The Attica Blue Devils advanced to the championship game of the Large School division of the 42nd annual Batavia Lions Club Pete Arras Memorial Basketball Tournament this afternoon with a 67-55 victory over Royalton-Hartland.

Coach Rob Crowley’s team, playing the first of four opening round games at Genesee Community College, raised its record to 6-1 and now will take on Batavia, which defeated Le Roy, 68-62, in the last game of the night.

Senior forward Cole Harding scored 22 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and dished out six assists to lead Attica, which also got 18 points and 10 rebounds form senior guard-forward Jack Janes and 16 points and 12 rebounds from senior center Clayton Bezon.

Junior guard Carter Gorski chipped in with seven points for seven points.

Attica raced out to a 10-0 advantage, but Roy-Hart battled back to tie the score at the end of the first quarter. Balanced scoring pushed the winners up by 10 at the half, 36-26, and the lead ballooned to 19 in the third quarter.

“The boys played hard this afternoon and moved the ball very well,” Attica Coach Rob Crowley said. “We sort of battled ourselves at certain points in the game, making things difficult on ourselves, but found a way to stick together and get the victory.”

For Roy-Hart, Dan Aquilina scored 21, Rem Albee 18 and Brayden Ricker 10. The Rams will play in the consolation game against Le Roy at 3 p.m. Friday at GCC.

Photos by Brennan Bezon.

Attica hoop 2
Jack Janes drives in for two points for Attica.
Attica hoop 3
Center Clayton Bezon goes in for a layup. 
Attica hoop 4
Coach Rob Crowley with his team during a timeout.

Notre Dame rolls past Elba; will face Alexander in Lions' Small School title game

By Mike Pettinella
ND hoop 4
Markyell Walker drives in for an uncontested layup during Notre Dame's 63-31 win over Elba in the Batavia Lions Club boys' basketball Small School bracket tournament tonight at Genesee Community College. Photos by Deb Reilly.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had little problem extending its unbeaten season tonight as they rolled past Elba, 63-31, in the opening round of the 42nd annual Batavia Lions Club Pete Arras Memorial Basketball Tournament at Genesee Community College,

Coach Mikey Rapone’s team, now 6-0, advanced to the Small School bracket championship game against Alexander, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday at GCC.

Elba will face Oakfield-Alabama in the consolation game at 4:45 p.m.

Senior guard-forward Jaden Sherwood led a balanced attack with 19 points while junior guard Makyell Walker added 12 and senior guard-forward Ryan Fitzpatrick chipped in with 10.

The Irish jumped out to a 19-6 first quarter lead and never looked back, hitting 10 three-point shots for the game.

Ryan Marsceill and Ashton Bezon tallied nine and eight points, respectively, for the Lancers. 

Photos by Deb Reilly.

ND hoop 1
Elba's Ashton Bezon grabs a rebound in front of ND's Jaden Sherwood.
ND hoop 2
Jay Antinore shoots for ND after getting past Elba's Nick Scott.
ND hoop 5
Ryan Fitzpatrick scores for the Fighting Irish.

Top Items on Batavia's List

HUGE sale thousands of items something for everyone lots of new stuff games toys housewares clothes collectibles kitchen items ect ect ect and much more rain or shine everything covered every Saturday June 1st -October 26 9-5 3657 galloway rd batavia
Tags: garage sales
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Tags: Rentals
Gas stove, dryer, queen bed and boxspring, books, bikes, legos, mens and womens clothing and much more. Cash and Venmo accepted. May 24-26 8am-? 5050 Batavia Elba Townline rd Batavia 14020
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