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Stafford resident struck and killed while retrieving mail on Route 5

By Howard B. Owens

A 74-year-old Stafford resident was struck and killed by a 2010 GMS Sierra on Thursday on Route 5 in the Town of Stafford, according to State Police.

James R. Ehmann was getting his mail at the time he was struck, according to the report.

The Sierra was traveling westbound and entered the turn lane at Batavia Stafford Townline Road when it struck Ehmann.

Paramedics attempted life-saving measures and Ehmann was transported to United Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The 52-year-old driver, who was not identified by State Police, is suspected of impairment or distracted driving.

The NYSP Collision Reconstruction Unit and Bureau of Criminal Investigation assisted in this investigation.

A friendly merger: H.E. Turner and Gilmartin sign deal

By Joanne Beck
Gilmartin new owners
New managing team, from left, Steven Johnson, Joshua Smith, Justin Calarco-Smith, and T.J. Woodward, gather in front of Gilmartin Funeral Home in Batavia in recognition of a new deal for H.E. Turner Funeral Home to purchase Gilmartin and its two other funeral homes. 
Photo by Howard Owens

For two longstanding, reputable businesses, even though they had been competitors, their futures were heading toward an intersection that both sides eventually knew was coming.

Business trends, staffing needs, customer spending habits and the pandemic all played a role in merging their paths.

“The big thing is that Gilmartin, and Marley's, and Eaton Watson have always had a stellar reputation in the communities that they serve. And we felt as if we did, too, or do, and from all parties’ standpoint, it seemed to make sense. The funeral business is not unlike any other industry. We're facing just immense staffing problems. And our staff are harder to come by because you have to be licensed. And that's not an easy process for folks.

And both of us recognized… that a staffing problem was imminent, and so that, coupled with the changing societal views of funeral services — people going more towards cremation and less towards casket burial — it just started to make sense that each side needed to do something in order to remain,” Steven Johnson said in an interview with The Batavian about H.E. Turner’s deal to buy Gilmartin Funeral Home & Cremation Company Inc. 

It wasn’t about a risk of going out of business, he said, “because that is certainly not the case.” But, rather, it was a desire of both Batavia-based businesses to “secure the legacies of all of our founders well into the future,” he said.

Turner, the oldest continuously operator-owned business in Genesee County, Johnson said, was founded in January 1910. Owners Johnson, Justin Calarco-Smith and Joshua Smith and Gilmartin owner T.J. Woodward completed the deal on Aug. 14, although perhaps no one’s the wiser because not much on the surface is changing, aside from some managerial details. 

Timothy “T.J.” Woodward, owner of Gilmartin at 329 West Main St., Batavia, said it was still a bit raw to talk about, as it was “a very, very difficult decision” to make. 

“It was a super emotional decision. My grandpa started the funeral home,” he said.

His grandfather, the late Darwin Gilmartin, founded the home in 1955. Timothy D. Woodward, T.J.’s dad, bought the business in 1986, and T.J., in turn, purchased it in 2011, which is when he also bought Eaton-Watson from his dad. The third-generation funeral director purchased Marley Funeral Home in Attica two years later. 

He began in the business at 19, and it has been the majority of his life. This decision seems about “10 to 15 years earlier than I had wanted,” he said.

“But I think it was inevitable one way or another, I think that they were either going to buy me out, or I was gonna buy them out at some point. So I think it was inevitable,” Woodward said. “I looked at the opportunity that I had in front of me and thought that it was best for myself and my family. And that's the direction I decided to go.”

Customers have been informed, and all of the prior licensed funeral directors will remain in place, including Turner’s other acquisitions of Marley Funeral Home and Eaton-Watson. That means that T.J. Woodward will still be at Gilmartin, Tom Bush will remain at Eaton-Watson and Zachary Curtis, a funeral director at Turner, will be managing the day-to-day operations of Marley and “taking that off T.J.’s plate,” Johnson said.

“We’re looking at this as a merger and sharing key staff. Each funeral home has to be managed by a different director. We have eight full-time licensed funeral directors. So I think what the public should know is that the service and the attention to detail that they have come to expect from each of the respective firms will not change. All of the people that they know and have come to trust and have friendships with throughout the years are still here,” Johnson said. “The only things that are changing are some sharing of staff. And some behind-the-scenes managerial things that no one would ever know about if we didn't say anything.

“So, we're not jacking prices, we're not playing any games, we're gonna continue to do things the way that we have always done them,” he said. “Both firms have enjoyed an extremely good reputation locally, in the Greater Western New York area, and in the state. We're active in the state and the national associations. T.J., Justin, Josh, Zach and I are not going anywhere.”   

Turner also employs three part-time licensed funeral directors and has one state-registered resident intern pursuing a license, plus unlicensed staff that assists with directing funerals, taking first calls, and performing housekeeping and maintenance duties.

Turner owns all of the eight properties, and the company, though a competitor with Gilmartin for decades, has always been on friendly terms, Johnson said. There just came a point about a year ago when both funeral home owners began to discuss options about Turner purchasing all three of Gilmartin’s funeral homes, Johnson and Woodward said.

Johnson stepped into the business in January 2011 and has been a part-owner since 2020, with an accumulated 20 years in the funeral business. One factor that really played a role in changing the industry was the pandemic shutdown and social distancing requirements, he said.

“I think there's always going to be people who want to bury, and I think there's always going to be people who want to cremate. But I don't ever see it going back closer to 50/50 like it was. We're closer to 65 percent cremation right now. And honestly, COVID very much exacerbated that. I mean, it dramatically increased after COVID. A huge part of that was that people couldn't have services,” Johnson said. “I do think that people still see a value in having a funeral or a celebration of life of some sort. I think that people still see value in viewing their loved ones. I do see the business changing or continuing to adapt or evolve.

'Funerals are not something that funeral directors invented as a way to make money. People want to have funerals. I mean, what we're looking for is for somebody to stand in the front of our family and friends and say something nice about the person that died. That's all we're looking for. And, you know, that's what we do. We facilitate that. And no matter what happens, the grief process doesn't end; it doesn't change. There's no way around it. The only way to get through grief is to go through it. And a funeral director’s job, truthfully, is to help facilitate healthy grief by having viewings and funerals, and ceremony of some sort.” 

He wants to assure those folks who have prepaid with any of the funeral homes that all of it remains safe and secure. “We are honoring any pre-arrangement,” he said. 

A little H.E. Turner history
This story, according to the company's website, begins in January of 1910, when Harry Ernest Turner, a native of Clarendon, and Harry D. Bartlett of Holley bought the Williamson Furniture and Undertaking Store. 

The furniture and funeral combination wasn’t unusual at the time. Historians believe early furniture stores carried coffins and other funeral accessories, which made them a natural link to the funeral business.

Turner, who worked ten years in a furniture store in Holley before purchasing the Batavia store, published a weekly newspaper, The Holley Standard, as a sideline. Bartlett served as Orleans County Clerk in the early 1900s, and the pair also had a joint interest in stores in Byron and Holley, which they sold a few years after they came to Batavia. 

H.E. Turner & Co. was operated at 111 Main St., the former Newberry Building, until 1921, when it was moved to the Cary Mansion at 211 East Main St. Fourteen years later, the firm moved to the Bean Mansion at 403 East Main St., where it remains today.

Harry Turner served as president until his death on January 30, 1949, when James B. McCulley and Harold J. Bishop took over. The furniture line was gone by the time Bishop assumed sole ownership of the business following McCulley’s death in 1953. 

Bishop continued the business with the help of new associates, Harold Kruger and Edward Canty, for a dozen years preceding his own death in 1965, at which time Canty became president of the funeral home. He and Kruger carried on the Turner tradition with the help of Amos Grefrath and George Patterson.

Mr. Canty retired in 1972, at which time Patterson took over as president. Kruger retired in 1975. Patterson died in December of 1976, and management became the responsibility of James F. Smith, Amos Grefrath and Ed Canty’s nephew, James Canty. 

Jim Smith worked at the former C.W. Bohm Mortuary before he came to Turner’s. He became president of the firm in 1977.

As the business grew, so did Smith’s desire to continue the Turner tradition of fine service to the community. He opened the funeral home in Bergen in July of 1988. 

Amos retired in 1986. Jim Canty retired in 1992, leaving Jim Smith the sole owner of the funeral home. 

In October 2012, Mr. Smith transferred ownership of the firm to his two sons, Justin D. Calarco-Smith, and Joshua J. Smith, along with his longtime trusted friend and employee, Randy W. McIntire. Jim Smith died on Aug. 9, 2023. 

In April of 2020, Randy W. McIntire transferred his interest in the firm to Steven L. Johnson, who has been with the firm since January 2011. Together the staff has more than 115 years of funeral service experience.

Marley Funeral Home was founded in 1921 by Ervin J. Marley as E.J. Marley Furniture & Undertaking. In 1949 Richard O. Merle and his wife, Alice, purchased the firm. David M. Sokol began working there in 1973 and together with his wife, Beth they purchased the firm in 1991. Dave sold to Gilmartin Funeral Home in 2012.

Eaton-Watson Funeral Home was founded on Lake Street in Perry by Stan Eaton prior to WW II. The firm was sold to Russ Watson in the 1950s, followed by Kathy Miller in the early to mid 1990s, who moved the firm to its North Main Street location in 1999. She sold the firm to Gilmartin Funeral Home in 2007. Tom Bush has been a funeral director at that funeral home since 2002 and the Managing Funeral Director since 2007.

Turner also owns Robinson and Hackemer Funeral Home in Warsaw, which it purchased three years ago.

Law and Order: Suspect in theft of coat from Dick's arrested

By Howard B. Owens

Brian William Kennedy, 47, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, possession of burglary tools, and conspiracy 6th. Kennedy is accused of entering Dick's Sporting Goods at 2:49 p.m. on Nov. 6 and removing the security tag from a coat. He then allegedly left the store without paying for the coat. He was located by deputies inside Walmart a short time later. In the initial report, there was a possible second subject involved in the case. No second arrest has been announced by the Sheriff's Office. The deputies handling the case are Chad Cummings, Jenna Ferrando, and Richard Schildwaster.

John J. Saddler, Jr., 36, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Saddler is accused of stealing a bag of commissary items from the Genesee County Jail on Nov. 6 at 5:49 p.m. during commissary distribution. Saddler was issued an appearance ticket.

Sylvan Parker Grayson, 34, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with obstructing governmental administration 2nd.  Grayson, an inmate at the Genesee County Jail, is accused of using shaving cream to obscure the view of a camera in the jail. He was arrested and returned to custody in the jail.

Rochester man previously accused of selling fentanyl arrested on new drug dealing charges

By Howard B. Owens
Alterique Day
Alterique Day

A Rochester resident has been accused of dealing drugs in Genesee County following a six-month-long investigation by the Local Drug Task Force into the possession, transportation, and sale of crack cocaine.

Alterique Day, 51, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony, and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony.

Day was taken into custody on Nov. 7 by deputies on a sealed grand jury indictment warrant issued by Genesee County Court. 

In late August, Day was accused of selling a quantity of fentanyl to an agent of the task force in the City of Batavia and taken into custody. He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and criminal possession of a weapon. He was initially held on bond but then released later in accordance with state bail laws.

On the new charges, he was arraigned in County Court and released on his own recognizance in accordance with state bail laws.

The task force was assisted by deputies, deputies from Livingston County, and the District Attorney's Office.


Photos: 'Leave your troubles outside' sets tone of O-A's annual Cabaret

By Howard B. Owens
oakfield-alabama cabaret night 2023
Cara Williams, grade 11, performs "She Used to Be Mine" from Waitress.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The Oakfield-Alabama Music Department presented its annual Cabaret night before a packed house in the school's auditorium.

The night's theme was 'Leave your troubles outside, with dozens of students performing solo or in ensembles.

oakfield-alabama cabaret night 2023
Shane Coast, grade 9, performs Weird Al Yankovic's "I Love Rocky Road," a parody of "I Love Rock and Roll" by Joan Jett.
Photo by Howard Owens.
oakfield-alabama cabaret night 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.
oakfield-alabama cabaret night 2023
Emily Gould, grade 9, performs "A Million Dreams" from The Greatest Showman.
Photo by Howard Owens.
oakfield-alabama cabaret night 2023
Kaylle Merkel, 9th, Allison Wiliams, 9th, Teagan Falk, 10th, Emily Szplyman, 10th, Jessica Sosnowski, 11th, Cara Williams, 11, and Rachael Wight, 12 (order from the program not necessarily the order on stage), perform "Vienna" by Billy Joel.
Photo by Howard Owens.
oakfield-alabama cabaret night 2023
Amora Mabon, 10th grade, performs "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl.
Photo by Howard Owens.
oakfield-alabama cabaret night 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.

Zonta Club donates to Richmond Memorial Library's 'Comfort Boxes'

By Press Release
Submitted photo of (left to right): Karen Czajka, Samantha Basile, and Andre’ Miller

Press Release:

The Zonta Club of Batavia-Genesee County has partnered with the Richmond Memorial Library to tackle Period Poverty in our community. On Wednesday, Nov. 1, members of the Zonta Club delivered $500 of menstruation products for the library's ‘Comfort Boxes’.

Richmond Memorial Library began providing these ‘Comfort Boxes’ in their restrooms to anyone in need of personal hygiene products. The Journal of Global Health Reports disclosed that two-thirds of the 16.9 million low-income women in the United States were unable to afford menstrual products in the past year, with half of this number having to choose between menstrual products or food. 

The Zonta Club of Batavia-Genesee County partnered last year with donations to the Community Closet and will donate further products to Community Action of Orleans and Genesee later this month.

New donation to help expand critical care at UMMC in Batavia

By Press Release
Rochester Regional Health
Submitted photo of (from left to right): Christine Fix - The Jerome Foundation Executive Director, Robert Balbick - The Jerome Foundation Board President, Tracy Ford - UMMC Foundation Board President, Daniel Ireland, RRH President and COO of Finger Lakes Rural Hospitals.

Press Release:

The Jerome Foundation, a Batavia-based organization that receives, manages and distributes non-profit funds for health-related purposes, donated $150,000 to Rochester Regional Health’s United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC), and specifically its plans for a new, state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  

The renovated ICU will triple in size and bring crucial medical care to patients who are often the sickest, most vulnerable, and most in need in Batavia and the surrounding communities. 

“Building a new, expanded and modern Intensive Care Unit is a priority project for United Memorial Medical Center, and another example of Rochester Regional Health’s unwavering commitment to the health and wellbeing of our rural residents.  It means in a time of crisis, our community can get lifesaving critical care right here at home, reducing the need for difficult trips to bigger cities,” said Dan Ireland, RRH President & Chief Operating Officer, Finger Lakes Rural Hospitals.  “We want to thank the Jerome Foundation for this generous donation, and for its continued support that allows us to provide world-class health care to our patients here in the Genesee County region.”

Over the years, the Jerome Foundation has supported several UMMC projects including the construction of a new Healthy Living Campus and new Radiology Department.

“The Jerome Foundation has a long history of supporting worthwhile organizations in our community and what can be more appropriate to our mission than continuing our financial assistance to United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC),” said Robert Balbick, The Jerome Foundation President.  “UMMC provides our community with invaluable professional medical services and its commitment to do so in the future in part depends upon contributions from our community. This $150,000 gift to UMMC is an investment in that future for every one of us in this community.”

The expanded ICU will triple in size from its current space and include:

  • Ten private patient rooms with bathrooms
  • One bed dedicated to pediatric patients
  • Central nurses station, with workstations outside each room
  • Cutting-edge technology in each room including integrated telemedicine and enhanced monitoring capabilities, and additional lift and transfer equipment in the rooms
  • New ICU waiting room

UMMC is still completing all the future ICU’s design details and continues with its fundraising efforts. 

Re-Think Thanksgiving at Richmond Memorial Library

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Perry Ground.

Press Release:

Join the Richmond Memorial Library on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. as Perry Ground shares “Re-Thinking Thanksgiving: A Native American Perspective on an American Holiday.” This program is free and open to all. Recommended for families with children in 4th grade or higher and all adults.

Much of what people ‘know’ about Thanksgiving is actually a blend of fiction, myth, and history that has become widely accepted as truth. But the events of what we call “the First Thanksgiving” are nothing like our traditions today.

The creation of this holiday has little to do with the feast that took place in 1621 between the Pilgrims and the Indians. Storyteller and Cultural Educator, Perry Ground will give an overview of this very misunderstood holiday.

The presentation will discuss the actual events of 1621, including the feast, and the relationship between English settlers at Plymouth and the Wampanoag, the Native people who inhabited the area. The concept of Thanksgiving held by many Native Americans will be emphasized through the presentation. Learn the true story and re-think Thanksgiving- a great educational opportunity for all ages.

Presenter Perry Ground is a Turtle Clan member of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy.  He has been telling stories for over 30 years as a means of educating people about the culture, beliefs, and history of the
Haudenosaunee. Perry learned many of the stories he shares from elders of Native American communities and feels that practicing and perpetuating the oral traditions of Native people is an important responsibility. 

Professionally, Perry has worked in several museums including The Children’s Museum of Houston, Sainte Marie among the Iroquois, and Ganondagan State Historic Site. He has shared stories at countless museums, libraries, classrooms, and festivals throughout the northeast and has guest lectured at numerous colleges. 

Perry is the former Project Director of the Native American Resource Center within the Rochester (NY) City School District and served as the Frederick H. Minett Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for the 2021-22 academic year.

For more information about Perry Ground, visit Richmond Memorial Library is located at 19 Ross Street in the City of Batavia. For more about the library, visit

Pedestrian struck on Route 5 near Batavia Stafford Townline

By Howard B. Owens

A serious injury pedestrian and car accident is reported on Route 5 and Batavia Stafford Townline Road in Batavia.

Traffic is being shutdown at Prole Road and at Seven Springs Road.

Mercy Flight was on standby but has been canceled.

Town of Batavia Firee and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Le Roy woman dies after car strikes deer on Route 19

By Howard B. Owens

A 58-year-old Le Roy woman died at the scene this morning after her car struck a deer on Route 19 near Selden Road in the Town of Le Roy.

First responders confirmed with dispatch this morning that there was a fatality when they arrived on scene.

The victim is Judith A. Purdy. 

Purdy was driving north on Route 19 when her 2016 Nissan struck a deer that had just entered the roadway. The Sheriff's Office reports that she died from injuries that were the result of the collision.

She was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner John Peck.

The accident is being investigated by the Sheriff's Office. Assisting at the scene were Le Roy Fire, Le Roy Ambulance, and Le Roy PD.

Veterans Day is about 'recognizing the heroes that are around us'

By Joanne Beck
bhs veterans event
Rocco Pellegrino, standing at left, takes part of a Veterans Day ceremony Thursday morning at Batavia High School. The event included the school's chorus, band and string ensemble, fellow veterans and guest speaker Stephen Hawley. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Looking at the short row of veterans seated at the front of the Frank Owens auditorium Thursday morning, one might come to a conclusion that Air Force veteran Lurando Mata had already realized: the pool is decreasing. 

Mata and the other servicemen attended the annual Veterans Day ceremony hosted by Batavia High School. With each passing year, especially for older veterans of World War II and others of decades ago, those who were in the military are no longer here to share their stories.

Mata has lost a couple of buddies to COVID, he said, and his circle of comrades is definitely “shrinking.” 

Yet he continues to attend the high school event, which this year included a talk by state Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, patriotic songs performed by the chorus, band and string groups, and recognition of veterans in the audience. 

For Mata, his reason was simple as to why he wanted to be there. 

“I’m involved in the community,” the 71-year-old said. “I volunteer for Crossroads and Care-a-van, we do events for people.”

As a Native American veteran — his tribe is based in Monterey, California — Mata has experienced hate and judgment, and he just keeps pressing on. He grew up in Washington State and was drafted while in college.

He served in the U.S. Army and in the Air Force Reserves during the Vietnam War, working first on helicopters and then on tanks in corrosion control. 

He was with about a half dozen others who were asked to stand when their signature song for the Armed Forces was played. 

High School Principal Jenni Wesp welcomed and introduced each segment of the program, seeming awestruck with emotion at one point.

“Wow, it’s giving you all the feels,” she said.

Rocco Pellegrino, who attends every year at the request of his two granddaughters and grandson, stood up during the Navy anthem.

“I come every year,” he said, putting his hand to his heart. “It hits right there. It’s very emotional.  It just brings you back, you know. When I was in the service, it takes me back to when my brother served in Vietnam, he was in the infantry, and it was very trying moments, you know. “

Pellegrino, who came to Batavia from Italy when he was 10, wasn’t certain whether today’s youth can fully appreciate what this day is all about.

Rocco Pellegrino at BHS
Rocco Pellegrino of Batavia, a U.S. Navy veteran.
Photo by Joanne Beck

“I don’t think the kids really understand what we went through,” he said. “A lot of us were drafted. Some of us volunteered. My brother came back from Vietnam, and he says, ‘Rocco, whatever you do, if you get drafted, join the Air Force or the Navy, and see if you could stay out of ‘Nam.”

He was drafted and joined the Navy. It was “the best thing I ever did,” he said, “like they say, it made a man out of you.”

He was based in San Diego and enrolled in dental technician school, where he had the threat of being sent to Vietnam hanging over his head if he flunked out. “They put the fear of God in you,” he said.

“So it was up to you to make it, and then I came here to the East Coast. I was aboard the ship the USS Puget Sound for a year and a half. That was a destroyer tender,” he said. 

Steve Hawley at BHS
State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, a veteran of the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, talks to students, school district and community members and fellow veterans Thursday morning during a Veterans Day event at Batavia High School.
Photo by Joanne Beck

It’s the stories of those like Pellegrino and Mata that are important, Hawley said. He encouraged audience members to thank family members who serve or have served and ask them about their experiences. 

“I’m sure many of you have grown up with family members, parents, grandparents, moms, dads, aunts, and uncles who served as well. I'd encourage you, when you go home later today, to take some time, to first thank them for their service and talk to them. And most importantly, in everyday life, but on Veterans Day especially, when you're talking to a veteran, listen to them, listen to what they have to say. Because, hopefully, they're speaking from their heart and from their minds,” Hawley said. “And we need to remember why we're able to assemble here today, free to exchange ideas and free to speak freedom of speech. So please thank a veteran for their service. Not only can their stories inspire us, but veterans also carry an incredible ability to work hard and to contribute to their community right here in Genesee County and right here in Batavia. 

“We have one of the largest populations of veterans in all of New York State. And we can see that hard-working, determined spirit out in our own backyards,” he said. “This is the thing that makes Veterans Day so special; it isn't just about remembering the past. It’s about recognizing the heroes that are around us today. And every day.”

bhs veterans event
Veteran Lurando Mata, right, stands to be recognized during the Navy anthem Thursday at Batavia High School. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Graham Corporation receives $110 million in orders in October, including orders from U.S. Navy

By Press Release
graham manufacturing tour 2023
File photo from 2023 by Howard Owens.

Press Release:

Graham Corporation (NYSE: GHM ) (“Graham” or the “Company”), is a global leader in the design and manufacture of mission-critical fluid, power, heat transfer, and vacuum technologies for the defense, space, energy, and process industries, announced a record level of monthly orders in October 2023. 

The Company received approximately $110 million in total orders in October 2023, primarily related to follow-on orders for critical U.S. Navy programs. These defense orders are expected to be recognized in revenue beginning in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2025 through early fiscal 2030. 

Daniel J. Thoren, President and CEO, commented, “We are proud to be a strategic supplier for the U.S. Navy providing highly valued vacuum, heat transfer, turbomachinery, and other critical equipment to support the U.S. Navy’s Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. The follow-on orders received this month continue to validate our key role in the Columbia Class submarine and Ford Class carrier programs. These programs are essential for the future safety and security of our country and the team at Graham recognizes the vital role our equipment plays and the necessity to deliver essential components to our customers.”

Sean Valdes of Le Roy joins Tompkins as one of two new branch managers

By Press Release

Press Release:

Expanding the capabilities of its Western New York (WNY) management team, Tompkins Community Bank has appointed two new branch managers, Jacob Hale in Chili and Sean Valdes in Perry. In their new roles, Hale and Valdes will oversee their respective branches, cultivating relationships with other businesses in the communities and ensuring that customers’ needs are met.  

“The addition of Jacob and Sean to our management team ensures that we will continue to provide personalized guidance to help clients grow our community,” said Laura Geary, vice president, and community banking manager. “I am personally excited to see Sean’s and Jake’s experience in action and know that our clients and community in both Perry and Chili will benefit from working with these dedicated professionals.”  

Submitted photo of 
Jacob Hale.

Previously, Hale served as the assistant manager of Tompkins’ Batavia branch. A dedicated employee, Hale has consistently been recognized by Tompkins, earning the company’s Rising Star and Top Sales Performer Awards in 2020 and then again in 2022 as well as externally, recently winning GLOW’s Best of the Best Banker for 2023. Hale currently serves as a board member for the United Memorial Medical Center Foundation, Rochester Regional Health (UMMC), and volunteers with the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation and Junior Achievement of Western New York. He and his fiancée, Alicia Alexyn, reside in Chili and are expecting their first son this November.  

Submitted photo of
Sean Valdes.

A SUNY Brockport’s business administration program graduate, Valdes previously owned and operated D & R Depot Restaurant & Catering Services, in Le Roy, for over 25 years. Valdes consistently grew his business, fostering relationships within the community to encourage economic development. Valdes hopes to bring this customer-centric view to his new role, working to ensure that members of the Perry community have access to the banking solutions that will help them achieve their goals. A founding member of the Kiwanis Club of LPS (Le Roy, Pavilion, and Stafford), Valdes also served as the vice president of small business for the Le Roy Business Council. Additionally, the Le Roy Rotary Club recognized Valdes with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award in 2021. Valdes currently resides in Le Roy with his wife, Jen, and two daughters.

Alexander beats Elba in volleyball crossover game

By Howard B. Owens
alexander elba girls volleyball crossover 2023

The two Section V Class D champions in Girls Volleyball met on Tuesday in a crossover game to determine who advances in the postseason, and Alexander beat Elba three matches to zero.

Photos by Debra Reilly.

alexander elba girls volleyball crossover 2023
alexander elba girls volleyball crossover 2023
alexander elba girls volleyball crossover 2023

Operation Green Light demonstrates respect for veterans in Downtown Batavia

By Joanne Beck
old courthouse green cupola 2023
Amidst the nighttime lights in downtown Batavia, the green-lit cupola of the old County Courthouse is part of Operation Green Light for veterans.
Photo by Howard Owens

If you've been driving at night on Routes 5 or 33 and looked up at the Old County Courthouse, you've spotted the green-capped building already. Befitting of a patriotic theme, the lit cupola sits above the Upton Monument from the west, casting a faint lime green glow on the eagle.

While green may not seem so patriotic, it represents a yearly tradition that can't get any more red, white and blue, at least in spirit: Operation Green Light is all about offering up one's respect for veterans.

On Wednesday, the Genesee County Legislature proclaimed this time, which runs through Veteran's Day (Saturday) as an opportunity to place a green light in your home or business window to demonstrate "respect, admiration and the utmost gratitude for all of the men and women who have selflessly served their country and this community in the armed forces." 

The proclamation continues: 

WHEREAS, the contributions and sacrifices of the men and women who served in the Armed Forces have been vital in maintaining the freedoms and way of life enjoyed by our citizens, and

WHEREAS, Genesee County seeks to honor these individuals who have paid the high price for freedom by placing themselves in harm’s way for the good of all, and

WHEREAS, New York States Veteran Population has decreased by 44% over the last 20 years, and

WHEREAS, Veterans continue to serve their community in the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, church groups, civil service, and

WHEREAS, approximately 200,000 service members transition to civilian communities annually, and

WHEREAS, an estimated 20% increase of service members will transition to civilian life in the near future, and

WHEREAS, studies indicate that 44 percent to 72 percent of service members experience high levels of stress during the transition from military to civilian life, and

WHEREAS, active Military Service Members transitioning from military service are at a high risk for suicide during their first year after military service, and

WHEREAS, the Genesee County appreciates the sacrifices our United States Military Personnel made while defending freedom and believes accord them specific recognition in appreciation of their service and to demonstrate the honor and support they have earned. Now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, with designation as a Green Light for Military Service County, Genesee County hereby declares from October through Veterans Day, November 11 th, 2023, a time to salute and honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform transitioning from Active Service, and be it further

RESOLVED, that in observance of Operation Green Light, the Genesee County Legislature encourages its citizens in patriotic tradition to recognize the importance of honoring all those whose immeasurable sacrifices helped to preserve freedom by displaying a green light in a window of their place of business or residence.

old courthouse green cupola 2023
The cupola on top of the old County Courthouse, illuminated green, at 7 Main St., Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens

$1M of surplus money going to municipalities in Genesee County

By Joanne Beck

For the second time this year, the Genesee County Legislature is doing some profit-sharing.

The group agreed to share $1 million of unbudgeted revenue with the county’s towns, villages and the City of Batavia. Those bonuses will be arriving in denominations from about $6,000 for the Village of Alexander up to just under $195,500 for the city. 

It should be welcomed news for struggling municipal leaders, including Pembroke Town Supervisor Tom Schneider, who spoke up at the recent county budget hearing to remind legislators of the financial constraints that he and others are dealing with.  Pembroke will be receiving $85,420. 

Referred to as a voluntary distribution payment, the money is a collective unanticipated earnings from interest and sales tax proceeds. The last distribution was made in February. 

The Legislature agreed Wednesday that, since “the County of Genesee recognizes the consideration and cooperation of the Towns, Villages and City of Batavia as partners in the delivery of services to our citizens,” it would like to make this voluntary distribution payment as listed below:

  • City of Batavia - $195,441
  • Town of Alabama - $ 32,116
  • Village of Alexander - $ 5,976
  • Town of Alexander - $ 34,030
  • Town of Batavia - $143,474
  • Village of Bergen - $ 15,520
  • Town of Bergen - $ 39,781
  • Town of Bethany - $ 32,507
  • Town of Byron - $ 34,611
  • Village of Corfu - $ 11,495
  • Town of Darien - $ 73,341
  • Village of Elba - $ 8,256
  • Town of Elba - $ 27,495
  • Village of LeRoy $ 58,008
  • Town of LeRoy - $ 66,461
  • Village of Oakfield - $ 15,228
  • Town of Oakfield - $ 23,098
  • Town of Pavilion - $ 44,522
  • Town of Pembroke - $ 85,420
  • Town of Stafford - $ 53,220

The funds are paid with $500,000 each of sales and use tax and interest and earnings, according to the related resolution.

B-B library board grateful for support: Bergen gets new tax, Byron funded by town

By Joanne Beck

Although the Town of Bergen vote and the total number for Byron-Bergen Public Library’s Proposition 3, known as Municipal 414, was favorable, the measure will only go into effect for the Town of Bergen, where residents’ yes supported the 55-cent annual tax with a majority yes vote.

Library Board President Sally Capurso clarified that with a statement Wednesday evening. She first thanked all voters who supported the proposal on behalf of the board of trustees. 

“We are especially grateful to the residents of the Town of Bergen, where the proposal was passed, affording us the opportunity to become self-sustaining,” Capurso said. “Although the proposal did not pass in Byron, we were heartened by the support in that area. The Library will now receive the 55 cents/1,000 assessed value from the residents of the Town of Bergen. The BBPL Board of Trustees will continue to make annual requests to the Byron Town Board. The Byron Town Board has included a $6,200 contribution to the library in their 2024 budget.”

The Batavian had previously listed a total vote from both towns of 689 yes to to 618 no. Byron’s no vote outweighed the yes by 303 to 255, and since each town is counted separately, the new tax will not go into effect for Byron residents. 

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