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Batavia PD beats City Fire 14-13 in last at bat

By Howard B. Owens
batavia pd softball

After trailing the entire game, Batavia PD staged a comeback win in the bottom of the seventh inning to take the third meeting in a charity baseball game between the police department and the City of Batavia Fire Department.

The final score was 14-13 on Saturday evening at Dwyer Stadium.

Proceeds benefited the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.

Photos by Howard Owens.

batavia fire and batavia pD softball

Clydesdales visit Batavia Downs for photo ops with patrons

By Julia Ferrini
clydesdales at Batavia Downs

Visitors to Batavia Downs on Saturday got a chance to visit with some magnificent horses, and we don't mean the usual race horses that run around the harness track at the Downs, but the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Visitors had the option of getting their pictures taken with these large and finely groomed animals.

Among them was Red, an 11-year-old Clydesdale who travels 330 days a year, according to handler Andrew Lacrosse. 

Not only are the horses used as intended -- they are considered workhorses -- they are also the brewery’s trademark.

While the company owns 130 horses in all, three traveling teams of 10 horses make their way throughout the United States to the delight of horse enthusiasts across the country.

The Clydesdales are recognized for the feathers around the horse's ankles and that trademark look is breed-specific. Although some Clydesdales can be taller, Red is approximately 18.3 hands in height (about 6’3'' tall) and weighs about 2,200 pounds. Measuring from toe to heel, the animal wears a size nine shoe, says Lacrosse. By way of comparison, the average horse wears a size three. 

There was no cost to meet and be photographed with Red, however, the event was held in an effort to earn donations to support “Folds of Honor” and garner interest in horse racing. The organization provides scholarships to military members and their families, said Angelina Miconi, social media marketing manager for Batavia Downs.

Photos by Julia Ferrini.

clydesdales at Batavia Downs
clydesdales at Batavia Downs
clydesdales at Batavia Downs
clydesdales at Batavia Downs


Photo: Double rainbow in Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens
double rainbow

Jim Reinhardt submitted this photo of a double rainbow behind his house on Saturday afternoon.

We suggested he look for a pot of gold in his pond.

Photo: Deborah Conti fills vacant board seat in Town of Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens
Schneider swears in conti

On Thursday, Pembroke Town Supervisor Tom Schneider welcomed Deborah Conti to the town board and administered the oath of office.

Conti fills the seat of Warran Clark, who passed away in July after a long illness. She was appointed by the board through the end of the year and is on November's ballot to finish out Warren's term.

Submitted photo.

HCR's role for Ellicott Station: to 'deliver 55 affordable homes to Batavia'

By Joanne Beck
ellicott station savarino business closed
A photo of the apartments at Ellicott Station under construction from earlier this week.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The state Office of Homes and Community Renewal has and will be involved with the Batavia-based Ellicott Station project, which has been thrown into some doubt recently after developer Sam Savarino announced he was shutting down his development firm, Savarino Companies.

An agency spokesperson responded to The Batavian’s request for comment, given that HCR initially awarded Savarino $1.2 million per year of low-income housing tax credits for 10 years based on his ability to secure investors, and more recently awarded Savarino $5.7 million in low-income housing tax credits for the downtown apartment project.

"HCR has been actively monitoring the progress of the construction of Ellicott Station and will continue to do so as we work to ensure completion of this critical project and deliver 55 affordable homes to Batavia,” the spokesperson said Friday. 

The Batavian had asked HCR about its role in the Ellicott Station project, the requirements of receiving the tax credits and if they could be transferred to another developer if Savarino walked off the job. 

The agency further added that:

  • No tax credit funds are disbursed until a project is 100 percent completed.
  • As with any HCR-financed affordable housing development, a new sponsor will be required to implement the terms of affordability in the existing regulatory agreement. 

It is unclear as to whether the apartment complex will remain in the current very low to low-income level, as per application guidelines on the Ellicott Station website, as city officials have been discussing the possibility of getting those levels raised to include workforce income levels. 

City Manager Rachael Tabelski said Thursday that city officials will be meeting with HCR to further discuss the current situation of Savarino’s company closing and the apartment complex’s income levels and future at a meeting in September. 

Savarino has not responded to requests for further comment since issuing a statement regarding the closing on Tuesday. As is posted on the company website, Savarino Companies, LLC, a full-service construction firm located in Buffalo, New York, will be winding down and ceasing operations.

"The primary factors governing the firm’s decision are ongoing and increasing costs related to a project the company’s surety was forced to complete at Alfred State College, a recent termination of work and the company’s inability to obtain surety bonding or acceptance of alternative performance guarantees for $110 million of 2023 work which the company would otherwise have had underway at this time," the site states. "Without that work, it would not be possible for the company to operate profitably.

"Savarino Properties, LLC, which is an independent company and provides property management services throughout Western New York, will not be impacted."

As of late Thursday afternoon, no one from Savarino Companies had reached out to the city about the fate of Ellicott Station, though there has been some apparent work activity noted at the 50 Ellicott St. site.

Hawley criticizes NYS plan to require background checks for ammo purchases

By Press Release

Press Release: 

FIle photo of 
Steve Hawley

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) denounced the state government’s recent decision to require background checks for all ammunition purchases in New York. While the current system allows for free customer background checks for firearm purchases, this initiative would hand over this duty to the New York State Police.

Once this new system goes into effect, customers will be charged an additional fee of $9 for firearms and $2.50 for ammunition in order to cover the cost of a background check. Hawley is disappointed the state government is once again disregarding New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights.

“This new plan to require background checks for ammunition purchases is completely outrageous,” said Hawley. “Not only does this infringe on our Second Amendment rights, but they’re making responsible, law-abiding gun owners foot the bill. Actual criminals are not going to go through the process of doing a background check and pay an additional fee on top of that. This will only deter law-abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional rights,” continued Hawley.

“As New Yorkers, we shouldn’t have to worry about career politicians in Albany picking away at our rights piece by piece. As your assemblyman, I’ll do everything within my power to make sure our Second Amendment rights are safe and secure.”

Tenney and NY reps announce bipartisan support for regional tech hub designation

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24), alongside Congressman Joe Morelle (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Nick Langworthy (R-NY), Marc Molinaro (R-NY), and Brandon Williams (R-NY), announced their bipartisan support for the New York Semiconductor Manufacturing and Research Technology Innovation Corridor (NY SMART I-Corridor) application for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs) Program.

The bipartisan group of New York members together support this initiative as an opportunity to build on the strengths of their unique communities, collaborate across specialized industries and reinvigorate economic growth for years to come. Following enormous community effort and collaboration from universities, field experts, and local and federal advocates, the NY SMART I-Corridor application offers a promising future for the Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse region.

“Over the past few years, we have seen how our reliance on foreign countries for semiconductors can cause shortages, economic harm, and the undermining of our national security,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. 

“Designating Western New York as a Tech Hub will help make our national supply chains more secure and self-reliant while bringing jobs to Upstate and Western New York. Home of the industrial revolution, with this federal investment, our community can continue to be a source of technological innovation and advancement. I am honored to join a bipartisan group of New York legislators as we work to boost innovation, support our local economy, and create opportunities for our businesses to thrive.” 

“For generations, Rochester has been synonymous with innovation, and it has long been my priority in Congress to launch our next chapter of growth and prosperity with Tech Hub designation,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “Federal investment in local innovation will build on the strengths of our unique communities and catalyze the growth of our domestic semiconductor industry benefitting all Americans. I’m grateful for the bipartisan support of my colleagues from the New York delegation and look forward to our work together reinvigorating the Finger Lakes region for the next generation.”

Union rep: Employees want their ideas to be heard before more Off-Track Betting parlors are closed

By Mike Pettinella

The labor relations agent for the employees union at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is calling for an “open and honest" conversation with management and the board of directors concerning the future of the public benefit company's brick-and-mortar OTB branches.

Antonella Rotilio. (photo at right), who attended Thursday’s board meeting at the Park Road facility but was not on the agenda to speak, said recent closings of OTB parlors have occurred without proper communication with the union, and a published report of more closings have branch employees worried that they will be losing their jobs.

“My number one concern is obviously for my members (employees). They had read a few weeks ago in article printed by The Batavian in which (WROTB President/Chief Executive Office) Henry (Wojtaszek) had stated that they were possibly going to be closing more branches. I believe it was five,” Rotilio said by telephone this morning.

“These employees are reading these articles. And they have to go to work. They have to work those jobs, and they just saw that another branch closed (the Phoenix branch in Oswego County was closed at the end of July). And all of them are afraid. This isn't a corporation where they come in and they're there a year and then leave. Some of our members -- a lot of our members of the branches -- have been there 30 years. So, this is a big thing. They've spent their entire adulthood in those branches. It's more than a job; it's their life.”

Rotilio represents workers through the United Professional & Service Employees Union Local 1222 at Batavia Downs Gaming and at eight OTB parlors throughout the corporation’s 15 counties and cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

She was referring to a story in The Batavian following the July board meeting, at which Wojtaszek said management’s plan is to reduce the number of OTB branches from the current eight to five by 2025. He said more emphasis is being placed on EZ Bet, which are self-betting terminals in existing bars and restaurants. WROTB has 27 EZ Bet locations across Western New York.

“When they read an article like that and see what’s happening, they’re nervous,” she added. “So, they thought is, why can't we have a conversation with the board and management because we work at the branches, and we handle the customers. I think a conversation that's open and honest and maybe gives options -- maybe listens to what the members have to say and the ideas that they have to maybe cut costs and keep the operation going – would make them feel like they had a little control over their future. To not know if tomorrow they're going to come into your shop and they say, ‘We're closing,’ is an awful feeling.”

They eight OTB branches are located in Williamsville, Cheektowaga, Auburn, Jamestown, Gates, Penfield, Tonawanda and Rochester. Twenty years or so ago, there were more than 30 branches scattered throughout WROTB’s 15 counties and cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

Rotilio said management and the board owes it to their employees to include them when considering short- and long-term plans for these locations. Instead, she contends, branch workers are hearing from customers about rumors of branch closings.

“Customers will come in and they're telling employees what they're hearing because there's some kind of attachment to either the corporation or someone who works at the corporation,” she said.  “It’s like months before an action is taken and the customer knows, while they employees are thinking, ‘Is this true?’ And the union is not told at all in advance what they’re going to do.”

She said employees at the Military Road branch in Niagara Falls were given 10 days’ notice.

“We were very upset about that, and we reached out to the corporation. And when Phoenix closed, they notified us after the fact,” she said. “That’s why I think meeting with us -- meeting with the members and having an honest conversation and looking at the numbers together – would have a positive impact because everybody is worried about their job.”

Rotilio acknowledged that the handles (revenues) vary at the different branches and said she realizes that the financials dictate company policy.

WROTB officials on Thursday reported that the branches, grouped in with intertrack wagering, Dial-A-Bet, EZ bet, online Batavia Bets and live racing, incurred year-to-date losses of about $600,000. That includes a book loss posted on the sale of the Military Road OTB branch in Niagara Falls.

Contacted this morning, Wojtaszek said that finances “are a big part” of the equation, but said the corporation needs to consider the employees as well.

“Our obligation is to make revenue and turn it over to the member communities,” he said. “To maximize revenue; to make sure that we do work with our employees. As I have said many times, we have the best employees in Western New York, we believe that.

“What will happen in the next few months is that we will discuss the branches and the situation with the various counties that currently have branches in them and find out what their intentions are. We will, obviously, we will include the workers, the employees within that discussion. We will let them know what’s going on. So, that’s certainly the plan.”

Wojtaszek said the COVID-19 pandemic “forced us to take a hard look at where we were going for the future and that’s when we put together the plan that we discussed a few months ago (to close three more branches by 2025).”

“But, certainly we should be discussing with the members of the board where those locations for the branches are and then we should be discussing with those employees, how it affects them. That is the plan.”

When asked if management knew which branches were earmarked for closing, Wojtaszek said the proposal wasn’t etched in stone, but is something that “we are continuously looking at.”

“It’s something that changes over a period of time, depending on the circumstances. If one of these branches are doing better, financially, it might not need to close, or if other circumstances change. But, at the time, it was based upon geography, where EZ Bets were relocated, and in the end, it's always going to be how are they doing financially?”

He said the corporation is not looking to totally eliminate the branches but has indicated that an emphasis is being placed on EZ Bet locations, which are housed in established businesses such as restaurants and/or bars.

Wojtaszek defended WROTB’s decision to close branches in recent months, noting that the corporation sustained losses for a long period of time.

“I think the moves that we have made over the last couple of years were warranted,” he said. “We don't want anybody to lose their jobs or employment. But we'll do what's necessary to make sure that the corporation remains strong. But again, we'll do that with the advice and input from the various board members and also we will speak with our employees as we make any moves going forward.”

He said there will, in fact, be the “open and honest” conversation that Rotilio is advocating.

Dealing with communication shutdown: 'a long process,' city manager says

By Joanne Beck
sam savarino
File photo of Sam Savarino, president/CEO of Savarino Companies, which he announced he was closing this week, during the groundbreaking of Ellicott Station.
Photo by Howard Owens

Suffice it to say that the name Savarino will be the word of the day for some time to come, as working through the recent company’s closure and what that means for Ellicott Station will be “a long process,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said Thursday.

The Batavian had reached out to Tabelski late Tuesday about any updates on the closure of Savarino Companies and how that may impact the work-in-progress at the Southside apartment complex known as Ellicott Station. 

Tabelski responded on Thursday to say that company President Sam Savarino has not been in touch with the city since the publication of the news and that city officials are continuing to work on the situation. 

“There’s been no contact from the company,” Tabelski said. “We’re trying to gather as much information as we can. We don’t have answers yet, and we’ll be working on it. And looking to get those answers for everybody in the community, what next steps might be and what that might look like.”

She confirmed that prospective developers have contacted the city expressing interest in the project and that no vendors or subcontractors have called with concerns or complaints at this point.

City officials plan to meet with staff from the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal in September, which has been in the works since the city learned about lower-than-expected income requirements at Ellicott Station.

First promised as market rate, then workforce housing, the apartment complex's application surprised city officials earlier this year with low to very low-income levels, prompting them to reach out to HCR for assistance to see what could be done to raise those income levels to allow for workforce housing tenants. 

Apparently, in addition to the apartment complex, on-site work has also included preparation for a brewery, which had been discussed in original plans but had fallen through with the one company, Buffalo-based Resurgence Brewing. Savarino had later said that he still intended to follow through with the plan for a restaurant and/or brewery, whether it be another vendor or his own company. 

The developer owns the property at 30-50 Ellicott St. as part of a deal brokered by Batavia Development Corp. in an effort to throw a spark onto an underutilized piece of “brownfield” property that needed a remediation and economic boost.

New York State’s Office of Homes and Community Renewal promised $1.2 million per year for 10 years in low-income housing tax credits -- incentives that were tied to the developer securing an investor or investors to back the project.

He requested approximately $3.6 million in economic incentives, with a $2,105,792 property tax exemption, a $790,512 sales tax exemption, and a $180,792 mortgage tax exemption. The bulk of the incentives are only realized by the developer after the compilation of a project.

Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde said Wednesday that the agency is working to determine the next steps to be taken and that the agency had already found the company to be in default of its financial agreement. 

Savarino was awarded $425,000 of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant money and $5.7 million of HCR’s low-income housing tax credits.

In 2017 and 2018, the city also awarded his company two grants: one from Empire State Development called the Restore New York grant for $500,000 to rehab the old electric building that’s on the site and a $250,000 National Grid grant to enhance the Ellicott Trail on the property area right behind the Savarino campus. 

Savarino stated at the start of the project that the estimated construction costs at the time were more than $22.5 million.  The total of awarded grants, incentives, and tax credits is about $11.6 million. With the project incomplete, Savarino has not yet realized the full value of those incentives, grants, and tax credits.

The Batavian has reached out to Savarino for further details about the closure and future of Ellicott Station and its 55 previously confirmed tenants; and to HCR for comments about the agency's ongoing role and responsibility in this situation and will provide an update when/if a response is provided.


Record-setting class graduates from 2023 BOCES pre-apprenticeship program

By Press Release
boces pre apprentice program graduation
In a reception line of staff and officials who were part of the program this year, Darlene M. Robare-Kessler is congratulated by Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for GCEDC.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

Ten participants from the third annual Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program graduated from this year’s six-week paid training program. The “boot camp” style program is an earn-while-you-learn model which pairs in-class instruction at the Genesee Valley BOCES in Batavia and on-the-job training at several local advanced manufacturing companies. 

The Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program was created in 2021 to assist companies in the greater Rochester and GLOW Region (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties) with recruitment and training for one of the region’s largest industries. Participants graduated from the program with 96 hours of state-of-the-art mechatronics training and more than 100 hours of on-the-job experience at advanced manufacturing at companies in Genesee, Livingston and Monroe counties. 

“This program continues to train workers of all ages, skill levels and abilities for a wide array of high-demand careers in advanced manufacturing,” said Bob Coyne, Executive Director of the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA). “The ‘Genesee Valley Boot Camp’ is an incredible partnership between industry, academia and workforce development partners in our community.”

The Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program includes hands-on simulation training for a variety of available careers; including electromechanical trades, construction materials manufacturing, agricultural manufacturing and more. In addition to the classroom time, participants received paid, on-the-job training and a fast-track opportunity for a full-time career with local manufacturing companies.

“Enabling students to acquire hands-on skills training without incurring any costs, the Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program stands as a pivotal workforce enhancement,” remarked Jon Sanfratello, Director of the Instructional Program at Genesee Valley BOCES. “This remarkable training initiative forges a career pathway that effectively addresses workforce employment demands. Such practical skills development serves as a shining illustration of our dedication to aiding GLOW regional students and current employees while also meeting the precise needs of our local business community.” 

"The BEST Center at Genesee Community College remains grateful for the funding provided by SUNY DOL and its Reimagine Workforce Preparation Training Program that provides resources for high-demand training for industry-recognized credentials like the Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program", said Jennifer Wakefield, Executive Director of Workforce Development, "We look forward to continued collaboration in this program to expand opportunities for increased pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training." 

Training was provided at no cost to the students and companies due to grants secured by Genesee Community College’s BEST Center, Genesee Economic Development Center and the Workforce Development Institute.

Participating employers for the 2023 program include Oxbo, United States Gypsum, Triton Mechanical, Goforth Electric, Diamond Packaging, Arctic Refrigeration, Maris Systems Design and more.

“This year’s Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program offered students a unique opportunity to discover their career path and their future without the burden of college debt. Thanks to our participating employers, students have been introduced and empowered to succeed in these in-demand careers through instruction and on-the-job training,” said Chris Suozzi, Vice President of Business and Workforce Development, Genesee County Economic Development Center.

boces pre apprentice program graduation
Ethan Appis with Richard Turner.
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Ben Bishop
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Bradley Burdett
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Kaytlin Day
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Alexander Matthews
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Trejan Mills
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Xavier Mitchell
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Wyatt Parker
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Darlene M. Robare-Kessler
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
Kyle Stefan
Photo by Howard Owens.
boces pre apprentice program graduation
The 2023 Graduating Class
Photo by Howard Owens.

GC Master Gardeners announce fall plant sale

By Press Release
master gardner fall gala 2016
File photo, Fall Master Gardner Gala in 2016.
Photo by Howard Owens

Press Release:

Save the date!  Saturday, September 16, from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., the Genesee County Master Gardeners will be hosting their annual Fall Garden Gala and Plant Sale at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, 420 East Main Street in Batavia.

This plant sale features hardy garden perennials, most of which are grown by Master Gardeners.  Fall is a good time to plant many perennials as there is still time for them to grow a strong root system before winter. A wide variety of house plants will also be available for sale.

Learn how to artfully arrange flowers fresh from the garden, as talented Master Gardeners create arrangements and bouquets right before your eyes! These beautiful flower arrangements will be available for sale.

Don’t forget to stop inside for the Basket Auction. You never know what treasures may appear. The Basket Auction drawing will begin at 12:30 p.m.

The Master Gardener Helpline will be open to answer your gardening questions.  Not sure what your garden soil pH is? Bring in a soil sample for FREE pH testing.

Don’t miss your chance to pick up some great plants at great prices. Arrive at 10 a.m. for the best plant selection.  No early birds, please.

Proceeds from the sale benefit the educational outreach of the Genesee County Master Gardener Program.

For more information contact Jan Beglinger at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, (585) 343-3040, ext. 132, or stop by the Extension office at 420 East Main Street in Batavia.  Visit our website at: for more information.  Like us on our Facebook page for Gala and other Master Gardener program updates

Tenney announces support for creating a Space National Guard

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24), member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, announced her support for establishing a Space National Guard as the reserve component of the Space Force. This builds on Tenney’s previous support for establishing the Space Force, which occurred during the Trump administration.

Under the current system, individuals who serve as de facto Space Force reservists are part of the Air National Guard. This could prevent these individuals from participating in official Space Force educational and training opportunities and cause organizational issues. Importantly, creating a Space National Guard would require no additional personnel, units, or facilities and would improve communication, reduce costs, and allow these dedicated space warfighters to continue supporting the Space Force’s missions at a high level. 

Tenney recently cosponsored H.R.3048, the Space National Guard Establishment Act, to formally establish the Space National Guard as the primary reserve component of the U.S. Space Force. H.R. 3048 was introduced in the House by Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). 

“Now more than ever, as our adversaries continue to ramp up their space capabilities, we must enhance our own efforts and continue to focus on space exploration and defense,” said Congresswoman Tenney. “By supporting the creation of the Space National Guard as the primary reserve component of the U.S. Space Force, we are leveraging the technical expertise of part-time reservists who work full-time in the private sector. The bipartisan and bicameral support for the establishment of the Space National Guard illustrates the importance of cooperation in advancing our military capabilities. Notably, this would have a direct impact on the 222nd Command and Control Squadron, based in Rome, New York, which is part of the 107th Attack Wing, based at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. This Air National Guard Squadron would be a natural fit for the Space National Guard. Further, the 222 CACS is particularly vulnerable to the potential risks of continuing to delay establishing a Space National Guard. I look forward to the positive impact this will have on our region and on our nation's ability to maintain its dominance in space."

“There are seven states and one territory that have a space mission as part of their Air National Guard Wing’s and New York State is fortunate to be one of them,” said John Cooper, Chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council. “The creation of a Space National Guard is critical to us in New York State as the 222nd Command and Control Squadron in Rome, N.Y. presently performs a space mission and is part of the 107th Attack Wing in Niagara Falls, NY. The establishment of a Space National Guard must be included in the operational structure of the Space Force and is critical to the future of the 107th Attack Wing. Failure to do so could negatively affect the State of New York and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station for many years to come. We are fortunate to have our foot in the door with the future of the Space National Guard through the existing work of the 222nd Command and Control Squadron and the 107th Attack Wing. We encourage our federal delegation to support any legislation that supports the creation of a Space National Guard as without it we will lose qualified and experienced Airmen who already perform this mission on behalf of our nation.”

“The 222nd Command and Control Squadron (222 CACS) of the 107th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard, has a unique and enduring partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO),” said Colonel Andrew Carlson, Commander of the 107th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard. “Our highly trained space professionals provide surge and contingency support to the NRO and are also involved with the State Partnership Program. My personal opinion is that the creation of a Space National Guard (SNG) would prevent the possibility of a future training void. This void could happen if the US Space Force decided to limit their space-based training programs to those service members with only Space Force Specialty Codes, and not Air Force Specialty Codes (members of the 222 CACS have Air Force Specialty Codes). It is also my personal opinion that an attempt to transfer Air National Guard space mission sets and space professionals into the Active-Duty component, even on a part-time basis, will potentially cost the US Space Force expertise that could require 7+ years to recapitalize. Lastly, it is my personal opinion that the creation of a Space National Guard would appropriately align the members of the 222 CACS to provide forces in accordance with US Space Force deployment models. In the 222 CACS members’ current status, they will align to the Air Force Generation (AFFORGEN) model as Air National Guard members, even though they are space professionals.”

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of Col. Andrew Carlson and do not represent the New York Air National Guard, the United States Air Force, or the Department of Defense. 

Batavia Downs announces dates for Oktoberfest, Family fun day, and more

By Press Release
weiner dog race batavia downs 2018
Photo from teh 2018 Wiener Dog Race at Batavia Downs.
Photo by Howard Owens

Press Release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the on-sale dates for several upcoming events taking place this fall at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.

On Friday, September 22, the Ricky Palermo Foundation Comedy Night will be held inside Park Place. Attendees will receive admission to a night of comedy, a free drink, a buffet dinner, and $25 in Free Play. Tickets can be purchased at

Monday, September 25 will be Batavia Downs’ Oktoberfest featuring music from Fritz’s Polka Band. This free event will run from Noon - 3 p.m. The Homestretch Grill doors will be open and several Polish food specials will be available.

On Saturday, September 30, the 3rd annual Vodka & Gin Fest, presented by Deep Eddy Vodka and Ford’s Gin will take place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. For $40, attendees will have access to vodka and gin sampling as well as grazing stations and receive $25 in free play as well as a free program and $5 wager on that evening’s races at Batavia Downs. Designated Driver tickets will also be available. $35 early bird tickets are now on sale at for a limited time.

WBBZ’s popular show, Polka Buzz, will tape their show inside the Park Place Room on Thursday, October 5 – tickets and details will be available at a later date.

Batavia Downs’ famous Family Fun Day & Wiener Dog Races will take place on Sunday, October 15. Family-related activities will also take place including on-site entertainers, kettle corn stand, pumpkin decorating for kids 15 and under, carriage rides, and pony rides will take place from 12 - 2 p.m. with the wiener dog races commencing at 2 p.m. The time was moved up to accommodate guests who want to make sure they don’t miss the Buffalo Football game at 8:20 p.m. that evening.

The Batavia Bacchus Wine Festival will be happening on Sunday, November 5 from 1 - 3:30 p.m.  For $35, attendees will have access to wine sampling from local and national wineries as well as grazing stations. All attendees will receive $25 in free play. Designated Driver tickets will also be available. Tickets for this event will be on sale later in the fall. This event will take place well ahead of that night’s Buffalo Football game at 8:20 p.m. giving attendees time to watch the game after the event.

“Our event schedule remains jam-packed for the fall,” said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. “We pride ourselves on providing a diverse variety of events for the people of Western New York.  Our guests will find that these events are fun, well run, and affordable.”

Tickets for other previously announced September events like the Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift Tribute show, the Elvis Tribute Show, and the Silent Disco are on sale now at


Jimmy Sturr performing at Batavia Downs for Polka Buzz earlier this year. Photo by Howard Owens
Jimmy Sturr performing at Batavia Downs for Polka Buzz earlier this year.
Photo by Howard Owens

GO Health educates public on ticks and tick borne diseases

By Press Release
Submitted photo of tick dragging.

Press Release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) encourage residents to protect themselves, their children, and their pets from tick-borne diseases. Not all ticks can cause disease and not all bites will make you sick, but as ticks become more widespread, there is a higher risk the ticks will carry disease. 

It is important to learn how to prevent a bite, how to check for ticks, how to remove a tick, and what to do if you think you could have a tick-borne disease. 

“Lyme disease is endemic (widespread) throughout New York State,” states Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for GO Health. “Lyme disease is also the most common disease spread by ticks in New York, but there are other serious diseases ticks spread including Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. There are many different species of ticks, but locally the most common is the deer tick. The deer tick is a vector (carrier) for several diseases (Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis) and received the name because of its habit of living and feeding on white-tailed deer, however, ticks acquire Lyme disease by feeding on infected mice and other small rodents,” stated Bedard.

“According to the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, Genesee and Orleans Counties have had 36 local cases of Lyme disease between 2018-2020,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health. “Ticks are here locally and you can’t tell which are infected by disease or not.”

Ticks are found in many types of settings such as woodlands, tree stumps, lawns and gardens, around stone walls, nature trails, outdoor summer camps, and playing fields. Ticks do not jump or fly, they attach to their host when a human or animal makes contact with something that a tick is on, like tall grass, shrubs, or an animal. The risk of human infection with Lyme disease is greatest in late spring and summer, but ticks can be active any time the temperature is above freezing. 

“We know the ticks that cause Lyme disease are in Western New York, that is why it is so important to make sure you do regular checks for ticks while outdoors and when you first get home,” said Pettit. “It is also important to check pets for ticks after they spend time outdoors.”

GO Health started conducting local tick surveillance in both counties this month. Tick dragging is a widely used technique for the active collection of host-seeking ticks and is done by dragging a cloth over the top of vegetation and regularly checking it for the presence of ticks. The collected ticks are sent to the laboratory and tested for the presence of tick-borne diseases. Over the next few months, health department staff will continue tick dragging in local parks and public places.

To prevent tick-borne illness exposure while outdoors, you and your family can do the following: (

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently while outdoors.
  • Use insect repellent with 20-30% DEET. Follow the instructions.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Avoid dense woods and busy areas.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.

Additional prevention tips to create a tick-free zone in your backyard to keep you, your family, and pets safe from tick exposure include: (

  • Keep grass mowed, along with clearing tall grasses and brush.
  • Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and woodpiles.
  • Keep woodpiles and bird feeders away from your home.
  • Keep family dogs and cats out of wooded areas to reduce ticks brought into your home.
  • Place swing sets, sand boxes, decks and patios in a sunny spot away from yard edges and trees.
  • Place a 3 foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment.

To properly remove a tick, you should use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the ticks by its mouthparts, as close to the surface of the skin as you can. Carefully pull the tick straight up without twisting. Do not touch the tick. Do not squeeze the body of the tick (it may increase your risk of infection). Clean your hands and the areas on your skin where the tick was. Watch the site of the bite for rash (3-30 days after bite). 

Removing a tick within 36 hours of attachment to the skin can lower the risk of contracting Lyme disease. You can view the following video to learn more about what you can do if you find a tick attached to you:

To learn more about ticks, Lyme disease and other diseases ticks can spread visit the New York State Department of Health, 

For more information on Health Department programs and services, visit or call your respective health department at:

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

Follow GO Health on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at GOHealthNY.

One arrest reported for Lumineers concert at Darien Lake

By Howard B. Owens

The following arrest was made by the Sheriff's Office in conjunction with the Lumineers concert at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.

Nicholas J. McKee, 27, of King Avenue, New Castle, Ontario Canada is charged with criminal Trespass 3rd after allegedly jumping over a fence into a restricted area of the concert venue.

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