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Judicial commission recommends censure for Darien justice over social media posts

By Howard B. Owens
jennifer nunnary
Justice Jennifer R. Nunnery

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct is recommending censure of a Town of Darien Justice in connection with social media posts attributed to her that used foul language and contained sexual innuendo, with some of the content being associated with her role in the legal system.

Justice Jennifer R. Nunnery has the option of requesting a review of the commission's determination, which was submitted to the Court of Appeals on Aug. 23. If Nunnery does not request a review within 30 days, the commission will censure her in accordance with the determination.

A censure is a formal reprimand. It does not otherwise affect Nunnery's standing as a lawyer or a judge.

Nunnery was admitted to the bar in 2015 and became a town justice in January 2020.

She is accused of making inappropriate social media posts between December 2020 through April 2021. She apparently made changes to her behavior on social media and deleted the problematic posts after being counseled by a supervisor.

Among the social media comments cited by the commission:

Nunnery
Nunnery comment 2
nunnery comment 3

The commission states that the third of those posts received 57 reactions and 31 comments before Nunnery removed it in April 2021.

During this time frame, Nunnery reportedly also posted two responses to a re-shared seven-year-old post. Nunnery is accused of making comments about being hungover, using profanity, and in a separate comment, she recalled drawing a picture of male anatomy on the face of a person she apparently knew who was passed out on a plane.

She is also accused of liking posts regarding the candidacy of a person running for city judge in Buffalo, Carrie Phillips, and of a candidate for school board in Alexander, Lindsay Bessey.

In the commission's view, these likes, which could be seen by most members of the public, gave the appearance of a judge endorsing candidates for office, which is prohibited conduct.

In a press statement, Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said, “Judges are obliged, on and off the bench, to uphold the integrity and dignity of judicial office and to avoid partisan political activity. While those constraints apply regardless of the forum, a judge should be especially careful when communicating on social media, which can compound the impropriety of an inappropriate message by spreading it far and wide.”

In the determination report, the commission states that Nunnery said she was unaware that her "likes" of posts were visible to the wider public. The commission also states that Nunnery was aware of the privacy setting options available on social media posts.

"Respondent now appreciates that the integrity of the judiciary is undermined when a judge publicly posts puerile and explicit content," the commission stated, adding that she also now understands the appearance of endorsing candidates through "likes."

"The Rules require judges to maintain high standards of conduct and to 'act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary," the commission stated. "The Rules also prohibit judges from engaging in extra-judicial activities which 'detract from the dignity of judicial office.' Respondent violated these rules when she made inappropriate and undignified public posts and comments on Facebook, some of which referenced her role as an attorney in the legal system."

The commission continued, "It is well-settled that judges are held to a higher standard of conduct than the general public. 'The ethical standards require a judge to avoid extra-judicial conduct that casts doubt on the judge’s impartiality . . . or detracts from the dignity of judicial office . . .  Upon assuming the bench, a judge surrenders certain rights and must refrain from certain conduct that may be permissible for others.'"

And quoted the rules on judicial conduct, "[e]very judge must understand that a judge's right to speak publicly is limited because of the important responsibilities a judge has in dispensing justice, maintaining impartiality and acting at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judge's integrity.”

Nunnery, a Batavia native and Batavia High School graduate, was named a Woman of Distinction by the YWCA in 2016.  The press release announcing the award states she was in the Army Military Police Corp and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2006.  She was honored for her work with veterans and for sharing her own experience with PTSD.

She attended GCC and later obtained a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Brockport State College and pursued law at University at Buffalo Law School.

At the time, she had a law office in downtown Batavia. She volunteered as a veteran mentor at the Batavia Veterans Treatment Court in City Court. She was also an advisor on the GCC Paralegal Advisory Committee and for the Alexander High School’s Mock Trial Team.

And they're off: Batavia Downs looks to add 'historical horse racing' component to gaming experience

By Mike Pettinella

Batavia Downs Gaming is looking to add an “historical horse racing” component to its gaming options.

“It’s our No. 2 (priority) behind getting involved in I-Gaming,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. at the public benefit company’s board of directors meeting this morning.

Historical horse racing, or HHR, has been around for several years and, in most instances, refers to gaming that permits players to wager on replays of past horse races – while placing their bets on slot-like historical racing terminals, or HRTs.

Wojtaszek said HHR has been “put in place to help Off-Track Betting locations,” and statistics show that it has become a multi-billion industry in itself.

According to the Betting USA website, six states – Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wyoming – offer historical horse racing wagering as of January 2023.

“We’re making a push to pass legislation (to allow HHR in New York State) in 2024,” Wojtaszek said.

HHR machines come in a wide variety of styles, but all are based on the results of randomized past races. 

Also, from the Betting USA website:

“… each round of play begins with the machine selecting one race at random from a database of up to a hundred thousand past races. The terminal obscures names and dates but provides a handicapping form so players can select three horses, just as they would at a live race.

However, many terminals offer a way for players to automate the selection process, so they end up with a machine that looks and feels just like a slot. Only the last few seconds of the race are displayed on a small part of the screen. The rest of the monitor displays reels and symbols to show the player what, if anything, they won off the slot pull.

The Batavian previously has reported about WROTB’s desire to get in on the iGaming craze, which covers any kind of online betting that wagers on the outcome of a game or event. Sports betting, poker, eSports and online casinos are under the iGaming umbrella.

“Data shows that brick-and-mortar (facilities) are not hurt by (iGaming). So, we’re in the mix,” said Wojtaszek, pointing to a possible rollout in 2025.

He did acknowledge that Batavia Downs Gaming likely won't be authorized to offer sports betting, which has grown exponentially via apps such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars.

Wojtaszek said those four sportsbooks hold about 90 percent of the market share, and “we’ll probably see a shrinkage” in the number of other sportsbooks as time goes on.

In other developments:

-- Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach reported that Batavia Downs Gaming set another record in July, amassing $7.8 million in net win – the highest figure in corporation history. Net win is the amount of money left in the Video Lottery Terminal machines after paying out the customers.

Credits played for the month fell just short of $100 million, an increase of $6.9 million compared to July 22 and $13.5 million compared to July 21.

On the pari-mutuel (horse racing) side, the handle was $4.7 million in July, down 7 percent from last July but up 5 percent from the corporation’s operating plan.

The July surcharge to be returned to the 17 municipalities came in at $56,675, and operational earnings of $1.04 million for July have Leach predicting that third-quarter earnings distributions to municipalities will come in at around $2 million.

-- Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer reported that the public is invited to see and take a photo with a Clydesdale from 2-4 p.m. this Saturday during Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational Pace weekend at Batavia Downs.

The heavy draft-horse breed – that averages 68 to 72 inches tall, 2,000 pounds in weight and was made famous by the Budweiser brewing company – will be stationed in the winner’s circle of the racetrack.

The Kane Memorial will feature a full field of eight horses that have excelled this year on the harness horse racing circuit.

Racing secretary Don Hoover said that the wagering handle, when considering simulcasting and on-site betting thus far, for 23 race days, is averaging $243,237 – up 77 percent over the average handle in 2022. The live handle (patrons at Batavia Downs) is down about 9 percent from last year, however.

-- Paul Bartow of Watkins Glen has joined the board of directors, representing Schuyler County. His appointment by his county’s legislature completes the 17-member board roster.

Bartow is vice president of the Schuyler County Cooperative Extension and a member of the county planning commission and historical society boards.

Muckdogs and 'Skip' come to terms for 2024 and 2025 seasons

By Press Release
Batavia Muckdogs v. Geneva Red Wings July 11 2023
Batavia Muckdogs Manager Joey Martinez during a 2023 baseball game at Dwyer Stadium.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs have agreed to terms with current Manager and coach Joey “Skip” Martinez for the 2024 and 2025 seasons.  Skip Martinez took over in 2021, the first season CAN-USA Sports took over ownership of the Muckdogs.  The Florida native and former Detroit Tigers draft pick has come to know Batavia as a second home these past few years.            

Since taking over, Martinez has led the Dogs to the playoffs in two of his first three seasons. The Muckdogs won the West Division in 2022 and fell just 1 game short of winning the PGCBL Championship that season. Under Martinez, the Muckdogs claimed the #1 seed in the regular season in both 2022 and 2023. 

"Joey has done a great job for us here in Batavia, and we are pleased to have him back," said Muckdogs Owner Robbie Nichols. 

“I am very happy to be back to my second home and continue to be part of the Nichols family and our Muckdogs Mafia, I hope to be here amongst family for a long time. Thank you for the continued support for our organization, We will be back, and we will be better,” said Martinez.

Season tickets are on sale as low as $99 for the 2024 season.  If you are interested in tickets, sponsoring the Muckdogs, or hosting a group event next year at Dwyer Stadium, call 585-524-2260.  For the latest news throughout the offseason, check out their website at www.canusamuckdogs.com. The Muckdogs will be hosting the Battle of the Badges this Saturday at 6 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium and will be hosting Muckdogs Trick or Treat on Saturday, October 21st 3 to 6 p.m.

Former luthier at Roxy's, and a partner, bring music retail back to Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
Logan Music Store Jeremy Logan
Jeremy Logan, luthier and co-owner of a new music shop in Batavia, Logan's Music.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The way Jeremy Logan sees it, Batavia needs a music store. 

A community this size needs a place not just to buy instruments but all of the accessories musicians sometimes need on short notice, from strings and reeds to picks and drumsticks.

Logan worked for 13 years at Roxy's Music Store, and after Rose Caccamise died and the store closed, he knew there was a void to fill.  He worked from home repairing guitars for former Roxy's customers and continued taking guitar lessons from Paul Runfola at St. Anthony's.

Going to a lesson one day, he drove by a recently vacated storefront next to Southside Deli on Ellicott Street and thought it might be a good location to start a music store.  A few days later, there was a for-rent sign in the window.

He spoke to Runfola about it, and they decided to form a partnership and open a store.

In less than two weeks, Logan's Music has already started generating buzz among local musicians, and a lot of players are stopping by to say hello and check out the store. He's even made a few sales.

Currently, the store is stocked with second-hand guitars, from a gold-top Gibson Les Paul to custom Telecasters, along with lower-end models, as well as a few guitars Logan built or customized himself.

Logan, born in Batavia and raised on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, fell in love with guitar at an early age. As he grew older, he wanted to find a way to make a living in the music business.

"I've loved guitar since I was kid, you know, but I wasn't good enough of a player to go further," Logan said. "I could play in local bands, but I wanted something consistent."

In 2000, he enrolled in the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix and, after his studies, moved to Eugene, Oregon and worked for a company making graphite guitar necks.  

Then he returned home and eventually took a job at Guitar Center in Buffalo, first in sales and then as a luthier when the company decided to open a repair shop.

One day he happened to Roxy's and met Rose.

"I was just talking with her and told her what I did and everything, and she said, 'Come over here,' and we sat down in the corner we talked for about a good hour about what I was doing. The next day, she gave me a call and offered me a job.

Logan liked holding down a job closer to town, and he gained a reputation among local guitarists as an expert luthier.  

He became a luthier because he loved tinkering with guitars but also because he wanted to build custom guitars himself.

"I've always wanted to make my own kind of crazy designs," Logan said.

There's also satisfaction, he said, in bringing a broken guitar back to life, whether that is for a customer who drops by with a damaged instrument or if he finds a crippled axe at a flea market or garage sale, giving him an opportunity to turn it into something that brings joy to a customer.

"I like fixing guitars, taking a perfect junk guitar and making it playable and getting it to somebody who can use it," Logan said. "That's always really cool.  I like the look on someone's face when they get a guitar. It's always the same feeling. I like just bringing a guitar back to life and getting it out to people to where they're it's to be played and not just sitting in a pile of junk."

The selection of second-hand guitars in the shop offers shoppers a wide variety of choices.  He has buyers who go out and find them, and now that he has a storefront, customers will bring in guitars to sell.  That makes the selection always eclectic and always changing, making the store a bit of a paradise for local guitar players who haven't had a place in Batavia to browse a variety of guitars for a couple of years.

He's still building his stock but has no plans in his current small space to stock many other instruments.  He does intend to carry supplies to support all kinds and levels of musicians in the community and is open to suggestions. 

"I had a music teacher from John Kennedy come in, and he was talking to me and asked me if I was going to carry certain stuff, and I said I don't really know what to carry for schools, so he sat down, and he gave me a whole list of what he needed," Logan said. "He said he would send over a teacher from Batavia High School, too.  That was cool because everybody has been ready to give me advice and what is needed for the community. That is what I've wanted. It's going to be hard to take the place of Roxy's, but there was nothing here for the community, so it's cool (to get advice)."

Logan's Music is at 302 Ellicott St., Batavia. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is 585-201-7133.

Logan Music Store Jeremy Logan
Alan E. Rose, formerly of Nashville, stopped in at Logan's to buy a new guitar and amp last week. He said he was really happy to find the store, another blessing, he said, in a string of recent blessings. He moved to Batavia so his daughter could help care for him after he became partially paralyzed. He hadn't been able to play guitar for three years and could only recently pick up an instrument again.  With a voice like Waylon Jenning's and some fine flat-picking, he put on a little show playing his political novelty songs based on familiar tunes.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Savarino explains reason for business closure

By Joanne Beck

Sam Savarino cited a loss of more than $3.3 million that stemmed from a construction job at SUNY Alfred State College as reason for closing his Savarino Companies, and therefore leaving Batavia's Ellicott Station apartment complex in the lurch this week. 

Savarino sent The Batavian a four-page outline detailing what had transpired during that job, and we wanted to publish that explanation, albeit lengthy over the course of three years, here.

It began with DASNY
Savarino had a contract with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, known as DASNY, to perform the construction of a student housing project at Alfred. The project was called MacKenzie Hall Phase III renovation and associated asbestos abatement. It was broken down into three phases, and phase 3A was to be done before 3B and 3C were to begin, Savarino said, though there was some overlap between all three phases.

The pandemic plays a role
Soon after Savarino began the work in March 2020, it was suspended by DASNY due to COVID-19 and state executive orders. Savarino reserved its rights based on the project shutdown, and DASNY eventually determined that the work would resume on May 18, 2020, and the schedule would be reset. Phase 3A was then to be completed by July 23, 2021.

Phases 3B and 3C were to begin on May 17, 2021, and Savarino objected to the schedule that was being imposed and reserved all of its rights, he said. He moved toward completion of Phase 3A and also began certain work on the other two phases.

Alfred's change of plans
On April 30, 2021, more than two and a half months prior to the required substantial completion of Phase 3A work, DASNY informed Savarino that Phase 3B and 3C were being put on pause, Savarino said. Alfred College had determined that it needed to continue the use of dormitory rooms that would have been renovated as part of Phase 3B and 3C. No other reason was given at that time, Savarino said.

For a variety of reasons, including COVID-19, supply chain issues, shortage of labor issues, owner delay issues (e.g., late change order work and failure to require design professionals to timely respond to Savarino requests for information and assistance) and other issues that were not attributable to Savarino, the Phase 3A work was not substantially completed by DASNY’s imposed date of July 23, 2021, Savarino said. 

He was issued a temporary approval of occupancy by DASNY on or about Nov. 3, 2021, with respect to Phase 3A. Completion of “punch-list” items was still remaining.

Terminating services
Notwithstanding its approval of occupancy, DASNY provided notice to Savarino on Nov. 4, 2021, that it intended to terminate Savarino with respect to the Phase 3A work and the remainder of the project, being the Phase 3B and 3C work that DASNY had paused back on April 30, 2021. 

Savarino contested its termination in writing on Nov. 16, 2021, as well as during a conference call that was afforded to Savarino on that day, he said. By letter dated Nov. 19, 2021, DASNY terminated Savarino, purportedly for cause. Savarino has objected to its termination and has claimed that DASNY has breached the contract. Savarino has reserved all rights.

Good faith punch list
Notwithstanding the Nov. 19, 2021 termination, Savarino and its subcontractors continued to perform in good faith the “punch-list” items on the Project until DASNY terminated Savarino’s right to do that on or about Dec. 7, 2021. This punch-list work could have been completed within a short period of time, But DASNY required that it have in place a take-over agreement with Savarino’s surety, Endurance Assurance Corp., before any work could continue. This would prove to delay completion of the work, he said.

On DASNY’s demand, Endurance agreed to complete the work on the Project. Endurance requested that the surety be permitted to hire Savarino as its contractor to complete the work. This was a permitted alternative under the performance bond, but that alternative required the owner’s consent. DASNY flatly refused, Savarino said.

Completion/Takeover Agreement
Eventually, Endurance and DASNY entered into a Completion/Takeover Agreement that was executed on April 5, 2022. This allowed the completion of the Phase 3A “punch-list” work and set new dates for completion of the Phase 3B and 3C work. The surety hired Loewke–Brill Consulting Group as its representative and replacement contractor, all at great cost to Savarino, he said. 

While the agreement provided Savarino with the ability to assist Loewke–Brill, he was essentially barred from the site. Savarino assisted in scheduling, continuing subcontracts with subcontractors, payment applications and other matters to progress the work. DASNY’s own actions delayed the completion of the Project, he said. 

The “pause” on the Phase 3B and 3C work on April 30, 2021, for the convenience of Alfred State College, cannot be attributable to Savarino, he said, and its refusal to allow work on the Project to proceed until the Completion/Takeover Agreement was signed on April 5, 2022, further delayed the Project.

Building his case
Savarino denies that it was appropriate for DASNY to terminate his work on the Project. Savarino said he believes that the termination resulted from deteriorating relationship between Alfred State College and DASNY and DASNY’s attempt to “save face” by blaming Savarino for delays in the completion of the Project. 

Savarino further believes, according to his email, that, in any event, other causes contributed to the delay in completion of the Project. Savarino has engaged an expert to study the delays that he incurred that were outside of his control, and preliminary indications from that expert indicate that an extension of time in favor of Savarino for the Phase 3A work beyond DASNY’s imposed date of July 23, 2021, would be appropriate.

Moreover, the contract with DASNY provides for liquidated damages for a delay in project completion. If these are appropriate in amount and not unenforceable as a penalty, that would provide DASNY its remedy for delay in completion. 

Savarino believes that, in any event, Alfred State College was not materially impacted by the delay in completion of Phase 3A. The students that would have occupied Phase 3A were housed in other facilities on campus, he said.

Filing his lawsuit
On Nov. 15, 2022, Savarino filed a lawsuit against DASNY in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, with the venue in the County of Albany, to seek an adjudication of the respective claims of the parties. That lawsuit is now in the discovery stage.

It should be noted, he said, that Phase 3B of the Project achieved a temporary approval for occupancy as of Aug. 11, 2023, and is now being occupied. It is anticipated that Phase 3C will be completed by the anticipated date of Nov. 24, 2023, as set forth in the Completion/Takeover Agreement with Endurance.

Savarino claims that it has been severely impacted by DASNY’s actions on this Project. Savarino will be seeking damages from DASNY in the currently pending action, he said.

Savarino included an attachment that tallied estimated damages of $3,310,282.82 based on the increased costs and legal fees that Savarino incurred that were caused by DASNY’s actions.

Wings Over Batavia Air Show returns after 25-year Hiatus

By Press Release
raptor14.jpg
Submitted photo

Press Release:

Batavia and the Genesee County Airport welcome back the Wings Over Batavia Air Show September 2-3, marking a renewal of an event that last took place in 1998. The show will feature a mix of military and civilian aircraft including the U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-22 Raptor, and P-51 demonstration teams as well as world-class aerobatic performers Michael Goulian, Rob Holland, Matt Younkin, and more.

“This is a family-friendly event with aircraft performances that will delight the crowd,” said Air Show Director Dennis Dunbar. “And once the sun sets, the show will continue with a one-of-a-kind pyrotechnic musical featuring aircraft flying through explosions that are choreographed to music. It will be unlike anything
you’ve ever seen.”

Air show gates open on Saturday and Sunday (of Labor Day weekend) at 2 p.m. Flying begins at 5 p.m. and continues through twilight hours. The show ends at 9 p.m. with choreographed fireworks and aerobatic aircraft performances.

The air show lineup will be one of the largest of any air show in 2023 across North America. The lineup will include: 

  • U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Team
  • U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor
  • U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight
  • P-51 Mustang Demo Team “Mad Max” & “Little Witch”
  • Nathan Hammond
  • Matt Younkin – Beech 18
  • Michael Goulian
  • Ken Rieder
  • Rob Holland
  • Bill Stein
  • Kevin Coleman
  • Jim Peitz
  • Lee Lauderback – P-51 Mustang “Crazy Horse”
  • Choreographed Pyromusical Fireworks Show
  • Luke Aikins – Red Bull Airforce
  • Airythmia

The air show also presents a volunteer opportunity for civic groups, schools, sports teams, and more to raise funds for their organization. Volunteers have a backstage pass to the sights and sounds of the air show and will receive a volunteer t-shirt and food and water during their volunteer shift. Simply visit the Wings Over Batavia website www.WingsOverBatavia.com and click on the ‘Volunteer’ button to sign up.

WNY Cannabis Growers Showcase coming to Batavia

By Press Release

Press Release:

Greenside Cannabis, in partnership with Dank, Buffalo’s first
licensed adult-use dispensary, and Empire Hemp Co., is thrilled to announce the WNY Cannabis Growers Showcase. 

This unique event will be hosted at Empire Hemp Co.'s retail CBD store, 204 E. Main St., in Batavia, NY, beginning on August 29, 2023, and continuing weekly from Tuesday to Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m., until December 30, 2023.

The WNY Cannabis Growers Showcase is designed as a pop-up adult-use dispensary where local OCM (Office of Cannabis Management) licensed cultivators can directly sell their high-quality cannabis products to consumers. This showcase aims to highlight the best of Western New York’s burgeoning cannabis industry, offering a curated selection of products, including flower, edibles, and vape products.

Participating Cultivators and Processors: Currently, the showcase features an impressive lineup of local cultivators, including Greenside Cannabis, Tarot Tokes, Flwr City, and House of Sacci. Additionally, Empire Hemp Co. will be
offering a selection of gummies and vape carts that will be available for purchase at the event.

A Community-Centric Approach: “This showcase is more than just a place to buy cannabis—it’s a celebration of the incredible talent and innovation that exists within the Western New York cannabis community,” said Alexis Heim, CEO of Greenside Cannabis. “We are proud to partner with Dank and Empire Hemp Co. to create a space where local growers can connect directly with consumers, educate the public, and elevate the entire industry in our region.”

"We're thrilled to host the WNY Cannabis Growers Showcase," says Chris VanDusen, CEO of Empire Hemp Co. "It's not just about showcasing the best cannabis products in the region, but also about building a community, supporting local businesses, and celebrating the rich tapestry of cannabis culture in Western New York."

Event Details:

● Dates: August 29 - December 30, 2023
● Days: Every Tuesday to Saturday
● Time: 1-7 pm
● Location: Empire Hemp Co. Retail CBD Store, 204 E. Main      St., Batavia, NY

This event is for adults 21 and over. Please consume responsibly.

Documents say Savarino defaulted on financial agreements, GCEDC and city work on 'next steps'

By Joanne Beck
ellicott station savarino business closed
File photo by Howard Owens.

The next steps are yet to be determined.

That seems to be the ongoing response from city and county officials in the aftermath of an announcement by CEO Samuel Savarino that his company will be ceasing operations and laying off its employees.

Savarino is the developer of Ellicott Station, the four-story apartment complex touted as an economic lifesaver for downtown Batavia and for working individuals and families in need of an affordable, quality and safe place to live.

That economic vision was blurred earlier this year when the online rental application indicated income requirements of very low to low ranges, seemingly squelching the notion that the units would indeed be for workforce individuals. The Batavian had reached out to Savarino requesting details about a lottery that awarded rentals to 55 tenants. He wasn’t privy to such information, he had said at the time.

Apparently, the Genesee County Economic Development Center had more luck. The agency had, according to its June 29 meeting minutes, “requested “blind” demographic information to ascertain 1) where the lottery winners are from and 2) what percentage of the lottery winners are gainfully employed.

“Despite numerous efforts, there has only been partial information received back from the developer.  On July 13th, a demand letter was issued to provide the information requested to assess if the project meets the requirements of Workforce Housing,” the minutes state.

Savarino finally responded on July 31. After careful analysis, GCEDC determined that the developer remained “in default for performance reasons.”

There is an insufficient number of lottery winners that meet the GCEDC definition of workforce housing, which is aligned with the industry definition as well,” the minutes state.

When reached for comment about the company closure Wednesday, Steve Hyde, CEO of the agency, said that “next steps are yet to be determined.

To clarify, the majority of the GCEDC financial agreements for the project are termed over 30 years that start following the completion of the project. These are structured as performance-based. Additionally, the project was notified in July that it is in default of its GCEDC financial agreements and is currently in a cure period to meet the goals of a workforce housing project,” he said. “In light of the news yesterday, the project being in default to our financial agreements enables the GCEDC to have a greater role in ensuring a positive solution as we work with all parties involved. We continue to work with the City of Batavia towards this goal."

Savarino issued an emailed statement Tuesday, and added that there would be no further comment at this time. The Batavian reached out to one confirmed future tenant of Ellicott Station, who did talk to a Savarino employee. Carla Laird was featured in The Batavian after the lottery happened this past spring, and her excitement hasn’t diminished about moving into Ellicott Station, though she is concerned.

Laird was told to continue planning for her new apartment, with a move-in sometime between December and February. The Batavian emailed Rachel Good of Savarino Companies to confirm this and has not received a response.

On Tuesday, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said that the city had not been contacted by Savarino Companies before the announcement and is, therefore, "reviewing and evaluating all information as it comes forward."

"Over the past month, the City has worked with the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) to demand Savarino Companies provide workforce housing at Ellicott Station as promised in their applications to the State and City.  The City will be meeting with regional and state partners to seek assistance to move the Ellicott Station Project forward," Tabelski said Tuesday. "As more details become available, we will update the community.”

Back in February, city and county officials responded to the news that Ellicott Station was not going to be as workforce-friendly in diverging ways. City Council sent a letter to the state Home and Community Renewal agency seeking assistance to ensure that income levels could be increased to offer a better mix of rental opportunities.

Hyde focused on the longstanding and dilapidated defunct buildings at 30-50 Ellicott St., and how Ellicott Station was designed initially “and continues to contribute to helping achieve the goals of the Batavia Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI),” he had said in February.

He pulled an excerpt from the DRI application for the Build Ellicott Station Project:

“The DRI program will be a comprehensive approach to boost Batavia’s economy by transforming the downtown into a vibrant neighborhood where the next generation will want to live, work and raise a family.  A key component of the DRI program is to advance strategic private and public investments that will provide catalytic impacts to facilitate downtown revitalization.”

“I believe the Ellicott Station Project, in its current form, continues on this path by making public/private investments, revitalizing a blighted parcel which is helping to transform our downtown into a vibrant neighborhood that offers opportunities for our young adults in the community to live, work, play and raise a family in a significantly upgraded area of downtown Batavia,” Hyde said. 

Savarino had said he wasn’t sure why city officials were upset, as income qualifications hadn’t changed according to his understanding. 

He said that those numbers were fixed in 2019 per 50 to 60 percent of the area median income at the time. The project will have to be up and operating before it can be adjusted, he had said at the time, but that is a possibility. 

“So if wages have gone up in that time, then the income restrictions will go up, and if they’re going down, the income restrictions will go down,” he said.

Previously:

Eight-week road closure in Alabama to begin Monday

By Press Release

UPDATE: The county has clarified that the road closure will be between Lewiston Road from Route 77 and Route 63 junction to Knowlesville Road in Alabama.

Press Release:

The Genesee County Highway Department would like to inform the public about an upcoming road closure on Lewiston Road between Route 63 and Knowlesville Road in Alabama.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 28, the road will be closed to all traffic for approximately eight weeks to facilitate a culvert replacement project.

The culvert replacement project is an essential infrastructure improvement aimed at enhancing the safety and functionality of Lewiston Road.

The existing culvert will be replaced with a new culvert pipe to improve water flow under Lewiston Road and ensure the long-term sustainability of the roadway.

Community Night Out continues to grow in partnership between Batavia PD and City Church

By Howard B. Owens
Batavia Police Community Night out food being served
Part of Community Night Out at St. Anthony's is free food for community members who attend. 
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Tuesday's turnout for Community Night Out at City Church's St. Anthony's may have been the biggest since the church first hosted the event in 2019, according to Pastor Ryan Macdonald.

"(We're) very blessed," Macdonald said. "Packed out event. I don't think we've ever seen this many people out at his event before. I'm thankful to have all these agencies here so the community understands what is available."

Community Night Out, formerly National Night Out, was an event Batavia put on at various locations in the city every year, but it seems to have a long-term home at St. Anthony's, and a partner in City Church, that has helped it grow.

Macdonald said he's thankful for all the sponsors who support the event and the event's charity this year, Batavia PD's K-9 program.

The event is an important community outreach program for Batavia PD, said Det. Matthew Wojtaszczyk.

"The purpose of our event is to bring the community out, as you can see, to build positive relationships with the community in a relaxed setting where we're not at a 911 call or an emergency call, a stress-free environment to just build relationships within the community," Wojtaszczyk.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Batavia Police Community Night out.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
More than 400 people attended the Community Night Out.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Batavia Police Community Night out.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Ray Williams cutting hair.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Dan Calkins from Youth Bureau.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Dan Calkins from Youth Bureau.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Det. Matthew Wojtaszczyk, Batavia Police department.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Det. Matthew Wojtaszczyk, Batavia Police department. 
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
Det. Eric Hill, Batavia Police department.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Det. Eric Hill, Batavia PD.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Pastors Ryan and Samantha MacDonald, St. Anthony's, City Church.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Pastors Ryan and Samantha Macdonald, St. Anthony's, City Church.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Young girl with facepaint and balloon by the youth bureau.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Pre-apprenticeship program at BOCES paid on-the-job training and instruction

By Press Release
image002.jpg
Submitted photo of Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program students, from left, Kyle Stefan, Alex Matthews and Trejan Mills run a training module mechatronics equipment during a morning instruction session during the six-week program in Batavia.

Press Release:

After a meeting with an advisor at Genesee Community College, Kyle Stefan entered the Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program with an open mind.

Stefan, a Pavilion High School graduate, believed he made the right decision to join the Batavia-based workforce program well before the six weeks of paid on-the-job training and instruction were complete.

“I would have never found my passion for a career in HVAC if it wasn’t for the pre-apprenticeship program,” said Stefan, one of ten students graduating on Aug. 24. “There’s no way to know if there is something you like to do without trying. I am able to apply what I learn in a classroom setting to my work at Arctic Refrigeration and find out this is a career I would like to pursue.”

For the third consecutive year, the Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program has welcomed students from diverse backgrounds, levels of education, and career experiences with an opportunity to jump-start successful careers.

During the program, participants attend morning classes in the Genesee Valley BOCES classroom, training with $700,000 of mechatronics equipment funded in part by a Genesee County Economic Development Center grant. In the afternoons, and for a full day on Fridays, students apply the lessons they learn at employers in Genesee, Livingston, and Monroe counties.

“I really enjoyed the freedom to use the equipment and materials to build things and you learn and go at your own pace,” said participant Bradley Burdett. “I would recommend this program to anyone because there are a lot of opportunities. It’s beyond just a classroom education as we are learning and experiencing life lessons.”

Burdett, an Attica High School graduate, enrolled in the program on the recommendation of program instructor Rich Monroe after teaching Bradley for two years at BOCES. With student participation at Genesee Valley BOCES increasing since the launch of GLOW with Your Hands in 2019, Genesee County Economic Development Center Vice President of Business and Workforce Development Chris Suozzi sees the program as the next step in empowering students to take the future into their own hands. 

“The pre-apprenticeship program offers a unique opportunity for students to discover their career path without the burden of college debt,” said Suozzi. “The jobs this program introduces students to provides them with a promising opportunity to enter into the workforce in the in-demand careers in our region.”

The Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program has grown annually since its inception in 2021. This year’s students joined pre-apprenticeship tracks at USG, Arctic Refrigeration, Turnbull Heating and Refrigeration, Radec Electric, Go Forth Electric, and OXBO. 

The program and experience with Radec Electric have supported a career change for Darlene Robare-Kessler of Fairport. Robare-Kessler said she appreciates the safe learning environment and mix of classroom and real job experience.

“I love the hands-on aspects of working with manufacturing equipment and the program has helped align my experience in the food and beverage industry giving me another side of the manufacturing industry to explore,” said Robare-Kessler. “(The program) is empowering me to gain practical skills that I will be able to utilize within the workplace and hopefully throughout my career.”

image004.jpg
Submitted photo of Genesee Valley Pre-Apprenticeship Program students, from left, Darlene Robare-Kessler and Katlyn Day run a training module on mechatronics equipment during a morning instruction session during the six-week program in Batavia.

Haxton Memorial Library announces fall story times

By Press Release

Press Release:

Baby and Preschool Storytimes will resume in September at Haxton Memorial Library in Oakfield.

Preschool Storytime is held on Monday mornings at 10:30 a.m. and is designed for children ages 2-5. It includes stories, rhymes, songs, and activities related to a theme. Older and younger siblings may attend.

Baby Storytime is held on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and is designed for infants and toddlers ages 0-24 months and a caregiver. Older siblings are also welcome to attend. We will share rhymes, songs, and simple board books,
followed by playtime!

The Haxton Memorial Library located at 3 North Pearl Street in Oakfield, provides residents with a variety of programs, events, and materials that are listed on the library’s website at www.HaxtonLibrary.org.

Tenney reintroduces bill to retain qualified immunity for police officers

By Press Release

Press Release:

File photo of 
Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24), alongside Congressman Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), today reintroduced the Local Law Enforcement Protection Act, which protects qualified immunity for police officers serving at the state and local levels nationwide.

The legislation reinforces the principle established in the Supreme Court case Saucier v. Katz, which ruled that a police officer can only be held liable if there is a clear violation of an individual's constitutional rights. The Local Law Enforcement Protection Act prevents state and local governments from seeking specific federal grants if they strip away qualified immunity protections for police officers.

The year 2021 was the deadliest year for our law enforcement officers in over two decades, and 2023 is not much better. So far this year, 226 police officers have been shot, and 75 have died in the line of duty. With numerous states and localities significantly cutting police budgets and chipping away at qualified immunity safeguards, the Local Law Enforcement Protection Act serves as a crucial legal safeguard, providing necessary protection to police officers who dutifully serve communities with dedication and honesty.

“With crime rates continuing to surge across our country and assaults against our brave police officers on the rise, it is deeply concerning that Democrats in Congress and Albany continue to advocate for defunding the police and ending qualified immunity,” said Congresswoman Tenney. “Our law enforcement officers risk their lives every day for our communities, and they deserve to be able to perform their duties without fear of frivolous lawsuits. By introducing the Local Law Enforcement Protection Act today, Rep. Garbarino and I reiterate our call for members on both sides of the aisle to stand in solidarity with our police officers. I will always stand with our men and women in blue who risk their lives every day for our community.” 

“The Left’s assault on essential police protections is inexcusable and only makes it harder for law enforcement officers to do their jobs keeping our communities safe and criminals off the street,” said Congressman Garbarino. “For years, qualified immunity has served as legal protection for law enforcement officers from being sued for lawful actions undertaken as part of their official duties. At a time when police recruitment and retention is at staggering lows and crime remains at record highs, I am proud to co-lead this legislation to discourage state and local governments from taking harmful policy action against our law enforcement community.”

Read the full text of the bill here.

Too expensive to bring up to code, old Bethany Town Hall demolished, cupola and bell saved

By Howard B. Owens
bethany town hall demolition
A member of the demolition crew uses a chainsaw to cut one of the supports of the cupola before a crane lifts it off in one piece for the purpose of preservation.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Before Tuesday, the last person to ring the bell in the cupola of the old Bethany Town Hall was now-retired Town of Bethany employee Kenny Morgan.

That was 25 years ago, at least.

And he got in a bit of trouble for doing it.

"Why did you ring the bell?" The Batavian asked.

"I don't know," Morgan said. "We had to go over there and do some work, so I figured since I was there and the rope was dangling down out of the opening, I would just ring it a little bit."

All of the "old timers," as he put it, started calling the Town Hall and showing up in the parking lot to see what the emergency was, he said.

The town supervisor at the time told him, "Don't ever do it again."

Today, the bell was rung one last time while it was still, technically, in the cupola (the top of the structure had just been removed) by a member of the demolition crew hired to take down the old town hall (see video at the bottom of this story).

The building represents memories and their community to the residents of Bethany, but strictly speaking, it's not a historical building, so there's no funding to bring it up to code for public use, which would cost in excess of $2 million. The town board decided to hire a firm to bring it down before nature and vandals cause any issues.

The cupola and bell are being saved (the bell, once removed, was taken off-site by the contractor to a secure location to protect it from potential thieves) for a small park that will take the place of the old town hall.

The whole project is costing the town $119,000, said Supervisor Carl Hyde.

"The past residents of Bethany smiled on us today because the cupola came down without a problem," Hyde said. "All in one piece. The bell in the yoke came down without a problem and in one piece, so evidently, it was meant to be. The way I look at it, everything went smoothly. You know, it's a sad day, but it's gonna preserve the property. It's going to preserve the bell and the cupola in a green space. That will let people know that there was actually something here that was important to the residents."

The contractor doing the demolition work is out of Akron, Wargo Enterprises.  

Demolition started with the removal of the cupola and bell, which took a couple of hours of meticulous work.

The crane operator predicted the cupola would weigh between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds. If it weighed more than 12,000, he was going to call in another crane.  Once it was off the building, he said gauges indicated it weighed less than 6,000 pounds.

The bell was made in Batavia by James H. Cochran in 1884.

With the cupola and bell safely removed, the Wargo crew got busy with heavy equipment smashing down the building.

Wayne Walker, who was born and raised in Bethany -- and last heard the bell ring long ago when he first got out of the military service and rang it himself -- said it's time to move on.

"It's seen its time," Walker said. "You would need to spend a lot of money to get it the way it should be. It's just a waste of money."

Previously:  Out of options, Bethany Town Board seeking bids for demolition of old town hall

NOTE: This story contains nine photos. The Batavian prepared 39 photos for publication.  To view all 39 photos, click here.  At the bottom, the photos below is a video of the bell ringing.

Photos by Howard Owens.

bethany town hall demolition
bethany town hall demolition
bethany town hall demolition
bethany town hall demolition
bethany town hall demolition
bethany town hall demolition
bethany town hall demolition
bethany town hall demolition
Remote video URL

NEXgistics marks construction progress of new distribution facility in Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens
topping off ceremony
NEXgistics employees listen to speakers at the construction site for their company's new distribution center in Pembroke during a topping-off ceremony to mark progress in the project. 
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

NEXgistics, a leading name in logistics and supply chain solutions, celebrated a significant milestone today in the construction of its new corporate headquarters. In a time-honored tradition, the final piece of steel was hoisted 50 feet above a cheering crowd during a topping-out ceremony signaling the next phase of construction.

The event was attended by key company stakeholders, local officials, and other project partners, united in their efforts to secure NEXgistics’ long-term future. Scheduled to open by the end of 2023, the new 140,000-square-foot facility ushers in a new era at NEXgistics.

Steve Northman, President of NEXgistics, addressed the crowd by saying, "We are thrilled to reach this significant milestone for our new headquarters. This modern facility will embody our company values of innovation, collaboration, and growth. It will serve as a hub for our talented team to better serve our clients as we grow right here in Western New York."

Town Supervisor Tom Schneider said, "Creating good-paying jobs is an essential part of our plans to move the Town of Pembroke forward. The logistics industry is a growing sector in our regional economy, and businesses like NEXgistics are creating more jobs for local workers. I thank NEXgistics for their investment and look forward to their future success and growth."

The new NEXgistics headquarters, being completed by Montante Construction, reflects the company's commitment to investing in its future. With state-of-the-art features and a design that prioritizes sustainability and functionality, the headquarters will house various departments, including executive and collaborative offices and warehouse spaces.

“Reaching the topping-off milestone is an exciting accomplishment, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with NEXgistics to bring their vision to life,” said Doug Elia, President of Montante Construction. “We are proud to create a space that enables NEXgistics to grow and invest in our community for years to come.”

The construction project is estimated to cost $17.6 million and is a generator of significant economic activity in Corfu, NY and beyond. The facility will support 24 jobs and result in additional direct and indirect benefits to the region.

"NEXgistics is a family business that has grown by leveraging technology, expertise, and strategic partnerships to drive innovation and supply chain efficiencies,” said Steve Hyde, Genesee County Economic Development Center president and CEO. “This project builds on their success and affirms our strategic investment in key sectors of the Genessee County economy to create cutting-edge products and jobs."

NEXgistics topping off ceremony
Steve Northman, President of NEXgistics
Photo by Howard Owens
NEXgistics topping off ceremony
Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC.
Photo by Howard Owens.
NEXgistics topping off ceremony
Photo by Howard Owens.
NEXgistics topping off ceremony
Photo by Howard Owens.

House fire reported on Colorado Avenue, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
18 colorado avenue fire

A house fire is reported at 18 Colorado Ave., Batavia 

City Fire dispatched. Second alarm for Alexander, Town of Batavia, Elba, City home monitors.

UPDATE 2:54 a.m.: The fire seems to have been knocked down.

UPDATE 4:32 a.m.: Firefighters do not believe the house was occupied. There is as of yet no information available on cause or origin.  City Fire initially received a call for the smell of smoke in the area of East Main Street and Masse Place. A firefighter said it smelled like a house was burning somewhere.  Then a call reported a structure fire at 18 Colorado Avenue. The house was fully involved when City Fire arrived on scene.

UPDATE: Press release:

On Wednesday, August 23, 2023, the City of Batavia Fire Department responded to a report of smoke in the area of Masse Place and East Main in the City.  As crews were searching for the source, City of Batavia Police discovered a residential structure on fire at 18 Colorado Avenue. Initial fire units arrived to find fire showing from the front of a two story, single family home.  Fire crews entered the home to perform searches for any occupants and extinguish the fire. Searches for occupants were negative. The fire caused significant damage to the majority of the structure, the remaining portions suffered smoke and water damage. No one was home at the time of the fire. One cat perished in the blaze.  

No injuries were reported. 

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by City of Batavia Fire Department.   

The City of Batavia Fire Department was assisted by the City of Batavia Police, Codes Department, and Water Department as well as the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center, the Town of Batavia Fire Department, the Elba Fire Department, and Oakfield Fire Department. 

Photos by Howard Owens

18 colorado avenue fire
18 colorado avenue fire
18 colorado avenue fire
18 colorado avenue fire

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