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PJ-themed dance party big hit in Byron

By Press Release

Press Release:

On Thursday, April 11, Genesee County’s Adults with Developmental Disabilities came in their cozy PJs and comfy slippers but hit the dance floor in lively fashion. A beautiful evening of dancing continued with all the favorite tunes being played by DJ, Big Saxy. 

Pizza and snacks were set out by the great volunteers, most were members of the Byron Ladies Auxiliary. The lights were turned up and Morgan Leaton, the dance organizer, asked everyone to form a large circle. She called anyone celebrating an April birthday to the center and then led everyone in the ‘Happy Birthday’ song. That was followed by the ‘Hokie Pokie’ and the ‘Chicken Dance’. The Byron firewoman present donned her uniform and led everyone in the ‘YMCA’ dance, a group favorite!

Toward the end of the evening, Leaton announced the date and theme of the last dance of the season, May 16, for a Hawaiian Luau.

Dances are from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. and are open to anyone with developmental disabilities aged 13 and up residing in Genesee County. Proper staffing is required. If you would like more information or wish to contribute to or volunteer, please contact Morgan Leaton at 585-815-3157 or


All shiny and new, Genesee County Jail is shaping up with new deputy superintendent and dedication set for Friday

By Joanne Beck
Jeffrey Searls with office decor at new jail
Deputy Jail Superintendent Jeff Searls in his office at the new Genesee County Jail on West Main Street Road in Batavia. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Jeffrey Searls has amassed a career so wide and varied that perhaps even he has underestimated just how much, such as when his wife Kristie asked him how many challenge coins he had collected.

A former deputy field office director for the U.S. Immigration Department who has also been part of a security detail for a former president and is now deputy superintendent of Genesee County Jail, Searls modestly told her about 15 or 20. Challenge coins are traded with others in the field and often in the military, similar to business cards, only more aesthetically pleasing and collector-worthy.

She took hold of the collection of colorful coins — more like dozens plural  — and lined them up in rows on a wooden flag that decorates his office at the new Genesee County Jail. A minor detail to some, though they speak to the nearly two dozen years of work both out in the criminal justice field and in administration. 

“And so she bought me that, and I had more coins. So then I had to get another one. Then, over time, they filled up; it was one of those things I just kind of threw them in there and didn't pay attention,” Searls said during an interview at his office in the new jail. “And then she's like, you know, they’re kind of nice, you should display them. I’m like, yeah, you're right. I really had no idea how many I had then because I've just thrown them in that basket over the years. And I'm like, wow, I’d say quite a few. So it's kind of a neat little collection.”

Admittedly, Searls is not akin to clutter, so all the shiny newness aside, his office will likely remain as orderly as it was on this day, with few but meaningful pieces of decor on the walls and bookshelves, including the coins flags, a wooden flag-themed Special Response Team plaque, two buffalo — the animal, not city —  items and a group police photo. 

He has worked at other jobs prior to immigration, he said, including a stint at CY Farms “way back when,” and as a probation officer in 1997, but since 2000, his criminal justice/law enforcement career has taken off.

“I was eligible to retire and was looking for other after-retirement jobs, so this situation kind of fell in my lap, really. I had experience running the Detention Center for Immigration on Federal Drive, and it was just the right timing. So I applied, interviewed, and got selected,” he said.

At first blush, he said he enjoyed being an officer where the bulk of the action outweighed the administration side of things; however, after more contemplation, he revised that response.

“I did like being an officer, but I also enjoy being an administrator as well. I like being able to lead others and providing the tools they need to help them succeed in reaching their goals,” Searls said. “I also enjoy helping to take a vision and turning it into reality. Similar to the new jail project that started out as a conversation, to plans on paper, to construction, then ultimately it will be a fully operational facility.”

Ever since he took a criminal justice course in BOCES, Searls, who grew up in Elba, “really liked it,” he said and leaned toward becoming a cop or a fireman to help his community. 

“I always wanted to make a difference,” he said. 

A resident of Batavia for the last 18 years, he began as a detention enforcement officer—similar to a corrections officer, he said—and then moved up the supervisory ranks. In 2017, he became the facility director until 2022, when he was promoted to deputy field office director.

“I was in charge of the upper 47 counties of New York State for federal immigration. So from all the way from Erie, Pennsylvania border all the way up to Champlain and down to just north of Hudson County, Dutchess County, so the Albany area,” he said. “I was deputy field office director, so I was second in charge of the state for the agency. But in that role I'm detailed quite often. So I was detailed to Washington, D.C. and played different roles there. So I was in charge of fugitive operations, which is like going out and finding people like what the marshals would do, looking for immigration fugitives. 

“I was in charge. I was overseas,  I oversaw it nationally for a six months detail. And then also, I did another headquarters detail where I worked at the Southwest border Coordination Center. That was in conjunction with Customs and Border Protection, border patrol, and with the influx of migrants, in the last few years, worked together with a multi agency task force to try to address that,” he said. “So as the deputy national incident commander, working federally, I had to go all over the place, realistically. I did multiple stints on the southern border, mostly in Texas and Louisiana as well. Short-term details from 30 to 60 days, but I also was acting facility or acting field office director for Philadelphia for four months. So I was in charge of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia.”

His boss was ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the job meant being team leader with a SWAT team, emergency response for hurricanes in New Orleans in 2008, part of a large-scale security team for President-elect Barack Obama during his transition in Chicago, and even having to remove high-risk individuals from the United States. One thing he hasn’t done when it comes to immigration is work directly along the southern border, namely Mexico.

Since 2017, he has predominantly been in administration, running the Buffalo immigration office.

“I loved the field action, but I like teaching the younger guys. When you work the field, it’s very early morning and very late nights,” he said. “Being an administrator, some of the enjoyable aspects of it were completing projects. And similar to the new jail here, being able to get it off the ground. Most of those projects that we did were smaller in scale, but to start from scratch and get them running was very exciting, too; not along the lines of criminal justice work, but I did enjoy that, having seen the fruits of your labor.”

As deputy jail superintendent since December 2023, Searls knows all about seeing projects come to fruition. The $70 million facility is set to open for an invitation-only mingle and dedication on Friday after a year of groundbreaking, construction, change orders, infrastructure, training, and finishing touches at the Route 5 site. 

Searls is deputy to Jail Superintendent Bill Zipfel. 

“My duties since I started have been to do everything to transition for us to move from the old jail to the new jail so he's able to focus on the day-to-day operations of the current jail. And to try to open a new place is a lot for one person to be in charge of, so the sheriff and the superintendent have wanted me to coordinate things here, so I've been a go-between with contractors, other vendors that are putting our security systems in and keys and doors and every little thing that goes along with construction, and also working with the commissioner of corrections of a transition team that we work with, which is four correction officers that work for us, that we have pulled from the schedule and they work here daily,” he said. “And they have worked directly with the commissioner of corrections on new policies and procedures, mainly due to the physical plan of the facility. 

"A lot of our procedures are going to be completely different here. We've been working with them developing the new policies and procedures and putting together a training program for our officers because we're going to have to know how to handle the different scenarios," he said. "Many of our officers are very experienced; however, they just have a new place and a different way of going about things. We're going to have to work through it, just how it's going to look here.” 

An example of such policies is the inmate grievance process. Searls said inmates receive a tablet that they can use for music, TV and a phone. They can also list their grievances on the tablet as an electronic log. 

“And so they've reviewed that and tried to tweak it to make it better now with technology. We have tablets here; we have different technological tools. But ultimately, if you know an inmate has a grievance, they can always say it in person, put it right down on a piece of paper, or do it through the tablet. So helping us just make sure all of our policies are in line to meet the standards that are in place,” he said. “Many, many standards have had to adjust because of technology, the changes in it. A lot of old procedures that were listed on paper had to be now with the technological age. 

"If you can use a tablet, and email, is it necessary to print all that paper out? So adjusting policies like that, there are ways or other things that always in the past had to be on paper, paper logs, now we can go with more electronic logs," he said. "So that’s been very helpful. And, obviously, in the long run, a cost savings to the county.”

The new jail provides opportunities for more outdoor recreation and larger day rooms to relax and watch TV, he said. There are some work positions in the kitchen and laundry areas, and he would like to see more work programs be developed in the future. 

Genesee County Animal Shelter is adjacent to the jail, and there are potential opportunities for inmates to help out by walking dogs or other duties, he said, but that type of program has yet to be established. 

There will be one head cook that’s a county employee and two part-time cook jobs will go to inmates that don’t have a lot of violence in their records, he said. 

Other staff includes four part-time nurses who cover shifts seven days a week and a physician who comes in two days a week. About 46 corrections officers have been hired, with four more needed to make it the 50 full-time required, plus six full-time senior corrections officers.

Friday's private dedication and tour is something to look forward to for all involved, he said.

“This is a big deal and something people should be proud of,” he said. “We’re excited to get in here, and I’m very proud to be part of it.”

The jail’s capacity is 184 inmates—148 men and 36 women—and they are expected to be housed in June. Once the males are situated in the current jail, the females will be brought in from outlying facilities in Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe counties, he said.

Once the new jail is established and flowing, Searls will focus on assisting Zipfel with daily tasks, including performance evaluations and policy reviews.

“We may have to change a few things and continue the process with that day to day,” he said. “Initially, just getting used to the space and the distance to travel from if there is an incident, that emergency incident that we need to respond to right away, there's a greater distance to travel to, but overall greater distance to travel to, by the COs to get to. So if there was a fight or medical emergency or something they had to respond to, there's a little bit greater distance. For the most part, it's just one floor, except in the housing unit, there are two floors, but it is very easy to maneuver through the facility. But it's just a greater distance.

“Overall safety concerns, the design of the facility keeps you safe. It is different than our current jail in the way it's set up there, in small, very small groups, small areas, you will have the potential for 40 people together in an open area. So there's the potential that you have one CO working with those 40 guys, you're outnumbered,”  he said. “However, generally in my past, I have not had issues with that. It's just all about communication, effective communication just between the COs, jail management, and the inmates, and effective communication usually handles any disturbance.”

There won’t be any changes to officers being armed and the use of force policies, he said, and having one officer dealing with larger groups of people is actually “a very effective and economical way of handling the inmate population.”

“Ultimately, the big key is effective communication, just being able to talk to people and respectfully, that's the main thing," he said. "But overall, the bigger the facility the potential of larger numbers. Obviously, we'll bring in the females, so that's gonna bump up our numbers on average, lately, 15 to 20 at the most, right there. We've been housing females out forever to other county jails, and as other local jails may be going through the same process, they may ask for the same type of favor."

"So I'm sure in the future, we may be housing other counties’ inmates maybe short term if they have a building project. And then there's the possibility of potentially housing federal inmates if the need arises, whether it's U.S. Marshal inmates or immigration inmates, that's open for discussion. There's a lot of moving parts with those as far as establishing a memorandum of understanding and a contract. And they have a different auditing process and things like that. So that's open for discussion down the road," he said. "Ultimately, we initially want to get open, take care of ourselves, make sure we're good to go and then see about eventually being able to utilize the full facility."

Searls and wife Kristie, a teacher at Jackson Primary School, have a son Shawn, who’s in his junior year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and two golden retrievers, Bentley and Dunkin. 

Jeffrey Searls in new jail lobby
Genesee County Jail Deputy Superintendent Jeff Searls takes a seat in the shiny new lobby.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Award-winning author Grace Lin visits B-B Elementary School

By Press Release
Grace Lin with a Byron-Bergen student.
Photo courtesy of Gretchen Spittler.

Press Release:

On Wednesday, May 1, Newbery and Caldecott Award-winning author Grace Lin visited Byron-Bergen Elementary School. Lin presented to students in kindergarten through grade 5. She shared her creative process with the students and read them excerpts from some of her books.

Lin shared her book "A Big Mooncake for Little Star" with kindergarten and grade 1 students. They discussed the Moon Festival and traditional foods and activities associated with it. Lin then drew a rabbit for them and discussed the significance in Asian cultures of the rabbit and the moon.

Students in grades 2 and 3 learned about the process of how Lin's stories start as an idea and become a published book. Students acted out publishing a book as editors, art directors, designers, printers, and binders. They then read "The Ugly Vegetables", Lin's first published book.

Students in grades 4 and 5 learned about Lin's chapter book, “The Year of the Dog” and learned how to draw a dog. This book shares family stories and characters from the author’s real life but is not a memoir. They also learned about the Chinese zodiac calendar and Lunar New Year celebrations.

At the close of each presentation, Lin taught the students how to say goodbye in Chinese, zàijiàn.

“I hope that by seeing me it enriches their love of books,” said Lin. “I feel like meeting an author creates a newfound love of books.” 

“Having Grace Lin visit our school was a great opportunity for our students to hear from an amazing author and illustrator,” said Byron-Bergen Library Media Specialist Marielle Follaco. “Our students were engaged in her stories and enjoyed learning about Chinese culture. I have no doubt her visit has helped get our students excited about reading.”

Lin writes and illustrates fiction for children of all ages including picture books up through young adult novels. Many of Lin's books include details from her life and family, frequently incorporating traditions from and references to Chinese culture. Lin’s visit was sponsored by the School Library System at Genesee Valley BOCES.

Grace Lin with Byron-Bergen students.
Photo courtesy of Gretchen Spittler.
Grace Lin teaches students about the publishing process.
Photo courtesy Gretchen Spittler.

Resurrection Parish students receive sacrament of reconciliation

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Father Matt Zirnheld and First Reconciliation students.

Press Release:

Congratulations to our Resurrection Parish First Reconciliation students on receiving the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time on May 4.

Pembroke Fire District honors its most dedicated members at annual dinner

By Howard B. Owens
Raymond Mault, Firefighter of the Year, and Chief Jamie Waff.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Many of the honors on Saturday night during the Pembroke Fire District Awards and Installation Dinner at the Fire Hall in Pembroke went to those men and women who showed up for more than 100 calls during 2023 and to those who have put in at least 50 years.

But the Firefighter of the Year Award went to somebody who didn't go on the most calls and hasn't yet made it to 50 years but, despite battling an illness, has still made his presence felt.

"I usually run it past all my chiefs to see if we have a general consensus of who is deserving (of Firefighter of the Year)," said Chief Jamie Waff. "This year, it was a dictatorship of one. I just basically said. "No." Usually, we base it on call volume and training. You know, leadership. Well, this person didn't have the most calls. But he's shown everyone here how strong he is, the courage he has, that dedication that he has to this fire company. When he got sick, he was worried about not being able to make his 10% (of calls) to stay active. But he's still here for maintenance. He's still here for the calls he can make." 

Raymond Mault is Pembroke's 2023 Firefighter of the Year.

Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Steve Hawley were on hand, in part, to honor the four people with 50-plus years of service to the Pembroke Fire District (Both the Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department and the Indian Falls Volunteer Fire Department are part of the district).

Both Borrello and Hawley highlighted the importance of volunteer fire services.

"You know, it's funny," said Borrello, "when you gave out awards for one year (of service), there were a few giggles in the room. But I've got news for you. Most of the people out there have zero years, and they're gonna continue to zero years. You're the folks that are stepping up to do the things that other people won't do."

Borello said there are 80,000 volunteer firefighters in New York, and their volunteer fire service saves state taxpayers more than $4.7 billion in public safety expenses.

"Whether it's one year, 30 years, or 50 years, God bless what you do," Borrello said.

Hawley said volunteering is part of the fabric of America.

"The most positive thing that we can do is volunteer, and that's what you do each and every day," Hawley said.

George Klotzbach, left, with an award for more than 50 years of service to the Pembroke Fire District.
Photo by Howard Owens
Norm Waff recognized for more than 50 years of service.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Ed Mileham recognized for more than 50 years of service.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Pembroke Fire Chief Jamie Waff, with 20 years serving as chief, received a card and a gift from the district.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Dave Linneborn received the EMS Member of the Year award.
Photo by Howard Owens
The members with more than 100 calls in 2023 were (not in order): Ron Tyx, Craig Blake, Jimmy Garrett, LuAnne Mileham, Dan Mault, Roger Mault, Dave Linneborn, George Klotzbach, Dave Olsen, Kevin Ross (not pictured), and Ed Mileham.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Members of the truck committee (not in order): Jimmy Garrett, Norm Waff, Dan Mault, Gerg Warren, and Ron Tyx.
Photo by Howard Owens.
District Commissioners (Not in order): Adam Schafer, LuAnne Mileham, Shane Savage, Jimmy Garrett, and Michele Sformo.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens.

First year for new visitors specialist at Iroquois Wildlife Refuge sees 538% increase in guests

By Virginia Kropf
logan sauer
Logan Sauer, who was hired last year as a Visitors’ Services Specialist at the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge, has increased participation in programs by 538 percent during his first year there.

When Logan Sauer learned there was an opening at the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge on Casey Road, he jumped at the chance to apply.

Sauer, 27, who grew up in Virginia, was working as a visitors services specialist for the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in the Twin Cities and was anxious to return to the northeast.

He started his new position with the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge in January 2023 and has since seen the refuge break records for attendance and participation in the program.

Sauer's duties as a visitors specialist are a little different than those of the refuge manager.

Tom Roster has been the refuge manager for 25 years.

The manager oversees the refuge's day-to-day operations, while Sauer works with the public and creates programs to attract visitors. 

“I’m essentially a ‘people person,’” Sauer said. 

Sauer has revamped much of the programming and opened the refuge to visitors every Saturday, as opposed to only four Saturdays a year before he came there.

“As a result, we’ve seen a high uptake in visitation and public programming,” Sauer said.

In 2022, the year before Sauer arrived at Iroquois, 857 people participated in programs, but the first year Sauer was here, that number jumped to 5,470, or a 538% increase. Likewise, visitation rose from 1,619 in 2022 to 2,549 (a 58 percent increase) in 2023.

One of the most popular new events was a Full Moon Luminary Night Hike, during which the Headquarters’ Trail was lined with ice lanterns, and hot chocolate was provided in the Welcome Center afterward.

“Four hundred and thirty people attended that and want to do it again,” Sauer said. 

A Warbler Walk at Swallow Hollow on Knowlesville Road on Saturday, led by photographer and Buffalo State professor Ruth Goldman, sold out 

Sauer, who also happens to be an artist, has incorporated art into events at the refuge.

“We started painting classes, free of charge,” he said. “People come here to bird and fish, and now they can paint what they see.”

Sauer said the Spring Spectacular, the biggest event of the year, is next Saturday (May 11). His goal is to have 1,000 visitors, and 800 have already signed up.

“We will highlight the interaction of nature, culture and arts,” he said.

Thirty exhibitors are expected, along with raptors, food vendors and special art projects by Friends of Iroquois Wildlife Refuge, funded by Go Art!

May programming will also include a beginner nature photography course at the Visitor's Center from 9 a.m. to noon on May 18. Pre-registration is required.

On May 25, seed ball and paper making will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Participants can drop in any time, and materials will be provided.

The popular Family Fishing Day, scheduled for June 8, will feature a day of free fishing and aquatic education with the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office. Families are invited to drop in any time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Ringneck Marsh off Oak Orchard Ridge Road. No permits are required, and all supplies will be furnished at no cost. Staff will be on hand to assist. Registration is requested.

More details on programs can be found on their Facebook page. To pre-register for programs, e-mail Sauer at or call (612) 759-8662 and leave a message.

Sauer added he didn’t know much about Western New York when he came here and didn’t think he’d like it.

“But I’m happy to be here, and I don’t plan to leave any time soon,” he said.

He said he is always open to new ideas and welcomes suggestions.

Notre Dame beats O-A and Batavia on way to Rotary title

By Staff Writer
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024

Notre Dame beat Oakfield-Alabama and Batavia on Saturday at Dwyer to win the Rotary Tournament Title.

In the first round, the Irish beat the Hornets 5-1.

Also, in the first round, Batavia beat Le Roy 5-2.

In the nightcap for the championship, Notre Dame beat the Blue Devils 3-2.

No stats were provided for the games.

Photos by Pete Welker.

batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024


batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024
batavia rotary baseball tournament 2024

Alzheimer’s Association says ‘let’s talk about health,’ online conference set for May 17

By Press Release

Press Release:

An all-day, online conference to assist and educate healthcare professionals and caregivers for older adults living in rural areas across New York will take place on Friday, May 17, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

“Let’s Talk About Health: Caring for Older Adults in Rural New York” will feature several speakers discussing the many challenges faced by older adults in rural areas when seeking health care.

“Access to health care and other supportive services are critical to maintaining good health as we age, yet older adults in rural areas face a variety of access barriers,” says Thera Blasio, director of professional education for the Rochester & Finger Lakes Region Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, a co-sponsor of the event. “These challenges are a topic not often covered in health professions education.”

The goal of the conference is to identify and mitigate the challenges of providing health care in rural areas by increasing knowledge of population health data, treatment strategies and supports and services in order to encourage and build resilience in rural caregivers and health care providers.

The following speakers and topics will be featured:

  • Ann Marie Cook, president/CEO, of Lifespan of Greater Rochester, will discuss the New York State Master Plan on Aging.
  • Carol Podgorski, PhD, MPH, LMFT, professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, will address depression in older adults.
  • Greg Olsen, MSW, director, of the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), and Becky Preve, executive director, of the Association on Aging in New York, will present on the free services offered by their offices and how to access them in rural areas.
  • Lynda Shrager, OTR, MSW, CAPS, chief executive officer, At Home for Life, will discuss accommodations to help keep older adults safe in their homes.
  • Stacey Wicksall, MSLIS, director, of Macedon Public Library, will share how the local library can assist people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. 
  • Arick Combs, LCSW, CDP, dementia care coordinator, Finger Lakes Health Care System, will present on the importance of early detection in the Veteran community.
  • Lauren Snyder, Alzheimer’s Association volunteer, Finger Lakes Walk Champion, will discuss the many free programs and services available through the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The event is free, but Continuing Education Units (CMEs, CEUs) will be available for a $10 fee. Individuals can register online at

The program is co-sponsored by the Rochester & Finger Lakes Region Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center at the University of Rochester, Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, Lifespan of Greater Rochester, and the Western New York Rural Area Health Education Center (WNY R‐AHEC), in addition to funding through grants from the New York State Department of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, call 800.272.3900 or visit

Local firefighters set to ‘fill the boot’ for MDA May 31

By Press Release

Press Release:

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has collected critical funds in the community since 1954 – one dollar at a time – as part of the Fill the Boot program for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). 

The Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 896 will be continuing this long-standing tradition as its members kick off the annual program raising funds to support MDA’s vision to accelerate research, advance care, and advocate for the support of MDA families.

Dedicated fire fighters from Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 896 will hit the streets with boots in hand asking pedestrians, motorists, customers, and other passersby to donate to the MDA on May 31 from 7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., at Main and Court Street, and Ellicott and Court Street in the City of Batavia.

The partnership between MDA and IAFF began in 1954 when the IAFF signed a proclamation designating MDA its charity of choice and vowing to continue raising awareness and funds until cures are found. To date, the nearly seven-decade partnership has raised more than $679 million with involvement from over 300,000 fire fighters nationwide. 

These funds have led in part to over a dozen FDA-approved drugs in as many years for those with neuromuscular disease. Those treatments were created from MDA’s vision to open a new field of medicine and push the boundaries of the medical frontier we call genetic medicine.

“What the IAFF has done for MDA over the past 68 years is unprecedented,” said Donald S. Wood, Ph.D., President and CEO of MDA. “With the support from our partners at the IAFF, MDA is doing the impossible in accelerating research, advancing care, and advocating for people living with neuromuscular disease. We have a mission to empower the people we serve to life longer, more independent lives and we will fulfill this mission together, with the IAFF.”

Byron-Bergen made list for ‘Best High Schools’

By Press Release

Press Release:

Byron-Bergen Senior High School was named on the 2024 list of America’s Best High Schools as determined by U.S. News & World Report. To qualify for this title, Byron-Bergen Senior High School ranked in the top 40% of schools nationally. This is the sixth year in a row that Byron-Bergen Senior High School has earned this distinction.

"I am incredibly proud of our students and staff,” said Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School Principal Paul Hazard. “This recognition is further validation that Byron-Bergen is a special district.”

According to the publication’s website, the list identifies top-performing high schools based on scoring comprised of six factors:

  • College readiness (30% of the ranking): The College Readiness Index, or CRI, is measured by the proportion of a school's 12th graders who took and earned a qualifying score on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams in the 2021-2022 academic year. 
  • College curriculum breadth (10%): This is the percentage of 12th graders from the class of 2021-2022 who took a wide variety of AP and IB courses across the multiple disciplines and the percentage of 12th graders who earned a qualifying score on them.
  • State assessment proficiency (20%): This measures how well students scored on state assessments that measure proficiency in reading, science and mathematics. States often look closely at student performance on these tests to determine whether learning in core subjects is achieved and to review how well schools are educating students.
  • State assessment performance (20%): This is the difference between how students performed on state assessments and what U.S. News predicted based on a school's student body. 
  • Underserved student performance (10%): This is how well the student population receiving subsidized school lunch and Black and Hispanic populations perform on state assessments relative to statewide performance among students not in those subgroups. This state assessment underserved student performance indicator is based on 2018-2019 state assessment data. 
  • Graduation rate (10%): For the 2023-2024 rankings, the graduation rate corresponds to the 2022 high school class graduation cohort who would have entered ninth grade in the 2018-2019 school year. High school graduation rates were collected directly from each state along with the math, reading and science assessment data.
  • For more information on Byron-Bergen’s ranking on the U.S. News & World Report list, visit  

Fire hydrant flushing on city’s north side begins Tuesday

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing and testing fire hydrants on Tuesday, May 7 through Thursday May 9 from approximately 9 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. in the general area of North of Main Street and West of Bank Street. 

Homes and businesses nearby will be affected. These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored.

If you do experience a discoloration of your water, run cold water for about 5 minutes or until clear. This annual testing is essential to maintain the communities class III Insurance Services Office (ISO) public protection classification, and to assure that fire hydrants are operating efficiently for fire protection purposes.

Along with maintaining the fire rating, the test monitors the health of the city's water system, identifies weak areas in the system, and removes material that settle in the water lines. Checking each hydrant improves fire department personnel knowledge of the hydrant locations.

If you have any questions, or should notice a hydrant in need of repair, please contact the fire department at 585-345-6375.

Northgate to host charity rummage sale Friday and Saturday

By Press Release

Press Release:

Northgate is excited to announce that we will be hosting our annual Rummage Sale on Friday, May 10 from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Saturday, May 11 from 8 a.m. - noon at Northgate South Campus located at 350 Bank Street, Batavia. 

The proceeds from this event will go to fund the development of a Women’s Farm Project in Gahanda, Rwanda, which will teach sustenance farming to the women within the community, as well as Northgate's Costa Rica Missions Trip high schoolers within the congregation will be taking in July 2024. 

Drop off times for donations will be Monday-Wednesday, May 6-8, from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 5:30- 7:30 p.m.

All acceptable items should be clean and in good condition. Items not accepted are as follows: mugs, VHS tapes, TVs that are not flatscreen, adult clothes/shoes, car seats, cribs, flammable or hazardous materials, and firearms. Electronics that are in working order will be accepted. 

Please consider joining Northgate for this sale and contributing to the important work that these charities do. For more information, call the Northgate office at (585)343-4011. 

Bank Street to be closed from Alva to Washington on Monday

By Press Release

Press Release:

Please be advised that Bank Street from Alva Place to Washington Avenue will be closed on Monday, May 6 from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. 

We recommend selecting an alternate route to minimize traffic congestion.

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

Plow Days returns to Elba

By Virginia Kropf
tractor days elba
Louis Esten of Elba stands by a row of Farmall tractors ready to participate in Plow Days Saturday and Sunday at the Torrey Farm at 7411 Oak Orchard Rd., Elba.
Photo by Virginia Kropf

A love of antique tractors and the desire to show them off prompted Louis Esten of Elba to found Plow Days 26 years ago.

With help from most of his family, including son Michael, grandson Ayden and a family friend Daniel Gerould of Elba, Esten has held Plow Days one weekend every May at the Torrey Farm at 7411 Oak Orchard Road, about one-half mile south of Elba.

The first day of Plow Days was on Saturday and it continues on Sunday.

John Torrey is also an avid collector of antique tractors, with a collection of about 85 Farmalls and an extensive collection of die-cast toy tractors and pedal tractors.

One of the antique tractors expected to take part in the plowing demonstrations is a 1938 McCormack Deering 04 owned by Larry Boyle of Medina. Larry’s son Terry worked with Esten at Path Truck Lines in Oakfield, and Esten convinced Terry to get his father’s tractor running for Plow Days. 

Terry has spent the last three months working on the tractor, which hadn’t been run in 50 years. The tractor is No. 24 out of only 104 built. Terry estimates he has put at least $5,000 in it. Friday afternoon, Esten loaded it on his trailer and brought it to the Torrey Farm to take part in the demonstrations.

Plow Days started Saturday with 15 to 20 tractors working in the field, all of them McCormick Deering and Farmall, with the exception of one Cockshoot, a Canadian/Oliver brand.

There is no charge to attend Plow Days, which runs until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Esten said they have been rained out only once since 1998, and people still came to view tractors in the barn, enjoy the camaraderie and visit the vendor booths. Breakfast and lunch are available from food trucks on the grounds.

tractor days elba
John Torrey of Elba lines up a portion of his collection of antique tractors along Oak Orchard Road every spring. He lends his farm for Plow Days every May, a plowing demonstration of dozens of antique tractors, mostly Farmalls and McCormack Deerings.
Photo by Virginia Kropf.
tractor days elba
These are just some of the antique tractors lined up over the weekend to take part in Plow Days Saturday and Sunday at the Torrey Farm, just south of Elba on Oak Orchard Road.
Photo by Virginia Kropf
tractor days elba
Louis Esten of Elba, right, founded Plow Days 26 years ago and has held it every year except during Covid with help from son Michael, left, and grandson Ayden. Second from left is Terry Boyle of Medina, who restored the 1938 McCormack-Deering to participate in Plow Days. Boyle learned about Plow Days while working with Esten at Path Truck Lines in Oakfield.
Photo by Virginia Kropf

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