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August 14, 2022 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Democratic Socialists of America, batavia, austin park, news.

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As the ReAwaken America Tour's stop at Cornerstone Church in Batavia wore on during its second day on Saturday, members of the Democratic Socialists of America gathered in Austin Park for a "teach-in" about fascism. 

There were about 40 people at the gathering.

The Batavian was present for a talk by Rev. Jennifer Butler, author of the book "Who Stole My Bible?"

Butler said what drew her to Jesus Christ was his radical message for his times, resisting the Roman government and the Pharisees. 

"Who stole my Bible? Christian nationalists stole it," Butler said. "What do we need to do to reclaim Scripture as a handbook for resisting tyranny? Scripture, when you read it the right way, is actually a radical book."

Starting with Constantine, Butler said, people with a lust for power and the power of the state have been distorting the message of Christ to their own ends.

"Ever since then, there's been this tendency, as there is throughout history with all religions, and in all contexts to co-opt religion in order to control people," she said. "It started with Constantine. We saw it during the Crusades. We saw it under Hitler."

She said today there is a global movement with impetus from Putin's Russia to use religion to promote authoritarianism.  

"These global oligarchs and global authoritarians are weaponizing religion and relating to each other globally to enrich themselves and to strengthen their own power," Butler said. "They're kind of like global crime syndicates that are also abusing and using religion to control people."

The strategy employed by authoritarians is to divide and conquer, Butler said. They manipulate people's emotions.

"I think first and foremost, in the people who are getting drawn in, it's fear. Fear gets weaponized. That's why actually, Scripture -- sorry to quote Scripture so much, because I know Christianity really pisses people off -- but the Bible says over and over again, perfect love casts out fear."

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August 14, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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People were still speaking around 6 p.m. under the big tent in front of Cornerstone Church Saturday, as the parking lot looked much more like a mowed hay field than it had the last two days.

Law enforcement officers stood outside of the fenced property and vendors, including a Center Street Smokehouse food truck, departed the event. A lone Genesee County Sheriff’s vehicle sat parked farther down on Bank Street Road, just before the overpass.

For all of the worry and concern expressed beforehand about violence, there apparently was none. As for rhetoric and questionable claims regarding political and health matters, that’s up to one’s own opinion.

Signs stating no guns, no knives were an anomaly not often seen at church-hosted events. The ReAwaken tour seemed well-organized, and determined to stop anyone with a weapon from entering with security checking bags and each person upon entering the event.

Overflow visitors were provided space inside the church to view speakers on a large screen, while most — including special VIPs — found a seat under the big white tent in front of the church.

Days leading up to Friday’s debut of the tour offered whispers of trouble via out-of-town protestors planning a showdown. That never happened, and, in fact, not one protestor paid a visit to the site on Friday, and there were no reports — or sightings by The Batavian — of any on Saturday.

For an event this size, it was obvious that people had the protocol down — except for the schedule being askew — with a clear sound system, visuals on a screen behind speakers, and bios for everyone. Vendors sold many related, and political, items featuring Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and others. Mario Fratto’s campaign signs were equally prominent, and a tractor-trailer on Saile Drive got a facelift with a Trump 2024 billboard-sized ad facing the road.

It wasn’t so clear what Stone’s message was, given his bemoaning of his ordeal and how he had become homeless, penniless, and without a voice due to a judge’s gag order for him not to talk during his trial. Stone, who was convicted of seven felony charges, including lying under oath to a congressional committee and threatening a witness whose testimony would have exposed those lies, was later pardoned by the former president.

"We lost our home, my car, our savings, our insurance. But most importantly, I lost my ability to speak. I was not entitled to speak for 18 months, on any subject. I had to sit by and watch "CNN," and "MSNBC" and others call me a Russian traitor, called me, a Russian intelligence asset, lie repeatedly about connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign,” Stone said. “And then I made a fateful decision. I was depressed. I was angry. I was scared for my wife. I was demoralized. And it was then that I decided to redeem myself in the blood of Jesus … At that moment, it was like cement blocks were being lifted from my shoulders.”

“Not a month goes by in which the combination of my legal fees, just our basic living expenses, and we do not live a lavish lifestyle, and my wife's uninsured expenses, are not greater than the amount of money I make every month,” he said.

Not so fast. Several news reports, including “Orlando Weekly,”Sun Sentinel,” and “The Daily Mail,” state that Stone moved out of his $1.6 million Florida home and rented it out for $9,500 a month, and purchased a smaller, two-bedroom apartment for $525,000. In July, he and his wife, Nydia reached an agreement with the government to be held responsible for more than $2 million in unpaid income taxes, penalties, and interest, subject to potential additional interest as well as subtractions for previously processed payments or credits. It also proposes a judgment against Roger Stone alone for about $453,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest.

Stone  -- who has become as famous for his back tattoo of Richard Nixon as for his self-proclaimed reputation as a 'dirty trickster' -- talked about how he worked for “two of the greatest Americans in the 20th Century, he said: Richard Nixon and Bob Dole. But they don’t match the former president, he said.

“They were very, very tough guys, but neither one of them was tougher than Donald Trump,” Stone said. “Because of his toughness, he was a great president, and it’s just because of his toughness that he will be a great president again.”

Within some banter with tour host Clay Clark, Stone was asked how much his legal costs were. Are they $1,500? Clark asked. Nope. Those expenses are $35,000 a month, Stone said. After he spoke, there was an opportunity for folks to see him, buy his book and get it autographed, and make a donation, should they feel the urge to do so.

Top Photo: Roger Stone gives the famous victory sign -- a Nixon favorite -- as he ends his talk this weekend at the ReAwaken America Tour in Batavia. Photo by Howard Owens.

August 14, 2022 - 7:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nancy Mortellaro, Richmond Memorial Library, news, batavia.

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Nancy Mortellaro just loves lisianthus flowers.

She told The Batavian two years ago, "I think they’re gorgeous. They look like roses. They’re gorgeous and they last a long, long, long time in a vase."

She has been buying seeds and planting lisianthus plants in a garden bed outside tof he Richmond Memorial Library for five years. Today, she was honored by the library's Board of Directors with a plaque naming the garden in her honor.

"Nancy Mortellaro's dedication to the Batavia community has been exemplary," Board President Gregg McAllister said. "All of us as residents of this community are beneficiaries of her vision and energy through her involvement in several organizations. She particularly has been a dear friend of the library, always interested in what is going on here, and being involved and supportive."

Library Director Bob Conrad brought about some laughs with his telling of a story about the garden's popularity.

"Not to pat my own back or toot my own horn," he began, "but our new library cards with this beautiful 1895 building photographed by a local photographer, is a great new logo, I basically deserve all the awards. And instead, I got one phone call. One angry phone call saying, 'Bob, I wanted a library card with the lisianthus garden on it.'

"I'll tell you in a community of 19,000, you can't make everyone happy. The lisianthus garden seems to. Thank you, Nancy."

Mortellaro thanked all of the volunteers who have helped her over the years, and said she was honored and happy that the community has expressed so much appreciation for the garden.

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Bob Conrad unveils the garden plaque.

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Nancy Mortellaro, sitting, center, with her family, in town this weekend for a family reunion.

August 14, 2022 - 7:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Richmond Memorial Library, batavia, news.

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After 30 years away -- with her husband Rick, working as a nurse in Albany -- when Anne Iannello returned to Batavia in 2017 for retirement -- she gravitated to the Richmond Memorial Library.

After all, it's a place of childhood memories.

Soon, she was drawn to the Friends of the Library and started looking for a volunteer opportunity.  She met Lucine Kauffman, head of the Library Visits program, who assured her she would love being a Library Visits volunteer.

"It's easy," Kauffman told Iannello.

"All you have to do was go out and deliver some books, chat up a little bit of conversation, check in with them," Iannello recalled Kauffman telling her. "Again, it's very easy."

A couple of Iannello's "easy" deliveries included bringing books during the pandemic to an elderly shut-in who told Iannello to come to her dining room window at the side of the house.  

"So after we went through some pricker bushes, the window finally it started to rise up slowly and out came a fishing net," she recalled. "Now, I would have someplace to put the books.  So, of course, again, I get some scratches from the pricker bushes wrapping the books in the fishnet, but once that was all set, I was like, 'hey, I can do this.'"

Another "easy" assignment was bringing some books to a woman who informed Iannello after she arrived in the woman's apartment that she needed to get her cat to the vet.

"Speaking of scratches," Ianello said at the beginning of her story, "if you know or have a cat, you know the cat's wonderful. It's the difficulty of getting them and chasing them in a small apartment and putting them in a box that's probably the worst part. She certainly let me know that. But there was a great outcome. So that was good as well."

Iannello's sense of humor and good cheer, along with her hard work and dedication, is why she was given the Friends of the Library Volunteer of the Year Award on Saturday.

"You make a difference when you volunteer," said Kathy Zipkin, president of the Friends Board of Directors. "You make life better for so many by delivering books and movies and by simply being a good listener with compassion. When you give your time to helping others, it shows your kindness, generosity, and quality, and character. I want you to know just how much your dedication to volunteering is so greatly valued by so many here at the library and beyond."

Iannello recommended the "easy" Library Visits program to anybody who wants to volunteer in the community.

"This is such a wonderful program, to reach out to these seniors in the community that are unable to come to the library, so we could bring the library to them," she said. "It's so important."

Photo: Anne Iannello and Samantha Basile, community and adult services librarian, with the plaque that now also contains Iannello's name as a volunteer of the year for 2022. Photo by Howard Owens.

August 13, 2022 - 8:43pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, ReAwaken America Tour, notify.

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It was a dog that brought Sharon Opdyke to a deeper faith in God and healers, she says.

Quite literally, in fact. Opdyke was visiting from Maryland, and she shared her story with The Batavian while getting a snack during the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church.

It was in May at a Tour in South Carolina. Opdyke was watching a friend’s dog and they were in the water at a beach while baptisms were going on nearby. She thinks perhaps a girl was having a spiritual awakening, and the dog sensed the commotion. The dog nearly dragged Opdyke to the water where the girl was, and comforted her with gentle nudges.

"I have never in my life seen anything like this. The dog pulled me up from the water up to where this girl was and the girl had collapsed. I don't know if (the healer) cast the demon from her. Something happened. The girl lost consciousness. And she collapsed actually into my friend's arms. She held her by the head,” Opdyke said. “And (Tour speaker) Julie Green didn't let go of this young girl and was just praying over her, and the dog, through the crowd of people, at least 300 people, made its way up to this young girl … And the dog curled right up beside the young lady.”

Witnessing what she believes was a healing was “so amazing” and something Opdyke has never experienced before, she said. She was baptized there, and her passion for God — and all that the ReAwaken America movement stands for — have increased from that point on. She also attended the tour event at Virginia Beach, and in Batavia on Friday.

“And a lot of it was General Flynn. He was our inspiration,” she said, speaking also for her husband. “And then we knew some of the other speakers that were going to be there, including Kash Patel. I think Eric, Eric Trump was there. And a lot of the pastors and then some of the prophets like Amanda Grace, Pastor Dave Scarlet, Julie Green was there ... and then I also wanted to get baptized on the beach. And that was just fantastic.

“So I ended up meeting someone on the beach in South Carolina, and she lives near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so not too far from where we are. And I actually work at a dog shelter, and they're an animal shelter. So we kind of coordinated because of that, because she also needs a dog sitter. She's not far from us. So her and I agreed to go to Virginia Beach. And we actually only went to Virginia Beach for the beach ceremony. We did not go to hear the speakers. That was phenomenal.”

She rattled off many speakers by name and some of what they spoke about at her first event in South Carolina. Many of them were also featured at the Batavia event. They shared personal and professional stories and even included some humor, she said. (David) Nino Rodriguez had everybody in hysterics, she said, “because you have to sometimes just laugh at the people that are still asleep about what’s going on in the world.”

The Batavian asked her what she meant by that.

“Just everything, the amount of evil I mean, the amount of evil that's been going on … we've been poisoned our whole life. Everything's been a lie. You know, and a lot of people are just waking up to it. Why are some people more awake than others and some people now kind of coming out of their coma that they've been in for years,” she said. “But, you know (pointing toward the sky) that's sunshine, and I mean that, you know, we’ve got to focus on the light. It's been dark all these years, everything's, we're, moving into a beautiful world. But we have to get through the ugliness. We still have a bit of ugliness and we need to wake people up.”

She cautioned about what she has learned: you can’t merely tell people. You have to show them what’s going on, she said. They have to “see this amount of evil.”

“People who think that Biden is really the president. Come on. Yeah, this is a sham. That's a joke,” she said. “Like I said, I had never seen anyone healed in my life. And when I saw that, that kind of led me even more to watch people like (author/teacher/prophetic speaker) Robin Bullock. And just some of the other prophets. I mean, I've always watched (Tour speaker) Amanda Grace.

“You know, if you're gonna sit back and just hide in your house, well, you know, there's casualties of war, and they're the casualties of war. We're at war,” she said. “It's just amazing the amount of people that (the tour is) bringing together who are like-minded.”

Born into a Republican family, she doesn’t really believe in party politics, she said. She is highly involved in her community, is a chief Republican judge, works with her local police and fire departments, and all the while sensing that something was wrong, she said. The primaries were “a joke,” and people can’t vote as easily anymore, she believes, including her local precinct not being set up properly for people with disabilities.

The name of the tour was accurately coined, she said, because that’s what is gradually happening.

“I think we're waking up America, we are waking up,” she said. “We are the majority, you know, so when people say, as they continue to see the circus that's going on in D.C., things are only gonna get worse, but they have to get worse to wake folks up.”

Photo: Sharon Opdyke of Maryland, who drove with a friend to Batavia for the ReAwaken tour, displays the T-shirt she bought for her husband. Photo by Joanne Beck.

August 13, 2022 - 4:25pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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It got loud Friday evening when Twisted Sister filled the tent — with its iconic “We’re Not Gonna Take it Anymore” — as an intro to the leader of the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church.

Not quite a packed house by the evening, the audience rose to its feet clapping and singing along as Michael Flynn took to the stage.

A few minutes later, the music died down and Flynn reiterated its meaning.

“When something happens to you, you say you’re not gonna take it anymore,” said Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was later pardoned by the former president. “Here's what I want people to understand about these types of events, and what we do here on this ReAwaken America tour is to really get into the communities and go to places where people would, you know, we’re going out to California a couple of times we went to Oregon, we're going to go back out to the West Coast, up into the Washington State, Idaho area … we're here because we want people to know that we're not giving up on you, right, we're not giving up on this region.”

Applause and standing ovations were sprinkled into his speech. Most attendees had been there all day and planned to return for a full day of speakers on Saturday as well. Flynn said that there were to be baptisms a bit later, and that was going to be “a powerful thing.”

“I know the way that our country is segmented right now,” he said. “There's so much going on. But what we have to understand is that those of us guys like me, or people like me, we're going to come in, and we're going to touch you. And we're going to remind you, we're going to teach you, and we're going to say things to you. But it's really up to you. Those of you that were here this morning heard me say we don't have all the answers. I do not have all the answers and we're gonna make mistakes as we go along this path. And is this an awakening in the biblical sense? Is this a spiritual awakening? You bet it is.”

“I mean, there's a spiritual war and there is a political war. And they are going on, they're going on in this country right now. You know, God didn't choose America, God chose Israel. America chose God,” he said.

He encouraged folks to reawaken themselves and figure out “what it is that we want as Americans.” He knows what he wants.

“I want freedom. I want my safety. I want my security. I want to be left alone. I want to be able to do the things that I want to be able to do," he said. "I served this country for nearly three and a half decades. I've absolutely seen the worst in corruption, the worst. I've seen the worst of humanity, absolute worst of humanity. I have witnessed the sacrifice of young men, principally young men, but young men and women. Great, great sacrifice.”

He spoke of how those young men and women sign on the dotted line to join the military, wanting to do something with their lives. What most of them — not even their parents — know, he said, is that they are signing up to give their “very life to this country.” And he encouraged audience members to do their part as well.

“You have to decide what it is that you are going to do. And you’ve got to decide to do something,” he said. “What we're trying to do is, we're trying to convince you to decide that your life is going to take a different path. That's what we're trying to get you to do. We have 3,000 people in here today. All I want is one person to make the decision, 'I'm going to go and I'm going to crash through life.' I've got my toes over the edge of this stage right now. Purposely. And the message is, this is where our nation is; we are at the edge … I want your attitude to change. That's part of what we're trying to do here. Change about what you believe, how you believe, or how strong is your faith; maybe that's the attitude adjustment that you have.”

He capped off his 15-minute talk by circling back to the baptisms and instructing to “put Jesus Christ first in your life.”

“I hope this event will be life-changing for you,” he said.

Michael Flynn speaks during the tour at Cornerstone Church Friday evening in Batavia.  Photo by Howard Owens.

August 13, 2022 - 12:00pm


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August 12, 2022 - 11:45pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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When first asked about why he was hosting the ReAwaken America Tour, Pastor Paul Doyle put it simply that protests about the event’s presence in Batavia was being overblown and that he wanted to host it at Cornerstone Church.

“I think it’s a patriotic, Godly event with reputable people that love the Lord,” Doyle said previously to The Batavian. “This isn’t just a secular event. These are Godly men and women … there’s going to be prayer, repentance, and because of that, the baptisms.”

Baptisms were, in fact, on the event schedule for Friday and again on Saturday evening. When he was bombarded with reporters’ questions after deciding to host the Tour, Doyle maintained then that “we’re gonna talk about Jesus Christ,” and didn’t feel there was any legal issue with a nonprofit church hosting a political event.

During his talk on Friday, the pastor’s voice gradually escalated to one of unbreakable conviction that he will charge ahead at full speed along with other pastors of the same mindset. Does talking about COVID, and vaccinations, critical race theory and other hot button topics make it political talk? Many colleagues aren’t bothered by going there, he said, and neither is he.

“I don't worry about offending Democrats for not worrying about talking about the issues that the church has to talk about. The Bible says in Psalms 119, it says 'the instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.' That tells me if you want revival, you’ve got to pull up the instructions of the Lord again. They're good and the laws of God are good,” he said to a crowd that had thinned out from earlier in the day. “The Psalmist said, 'Lord, I love your laws because they're good.' And we have generations coming up that haven't even heard them before. Because the church is too afraid. We've been too intimidated. Even the Attorney General of New York is trying to bully us for not being quiet. And I'm just not gonna have any of that right now. I’m going to talk about whatever I want from the pulpit.”

He introduced his wife Lee, who is from Mississippi, and said that they were like the North and South coming together. He compared that to what is happening right now in the country.

“And there was a new battle. It's not a battle of North and South. It's a battle of good and evil. And I'm just so thankful that there's people that are standing up and wanting to have a voice once again in our country,” he said.

Doyle emphasized that he and his church have reached out to all races, and want the African-American community to stop following the narrative that they’re victims. 

“They’ve been victims too long,” he said.

He’d also like to reach the LGBTQ community, encouraging listeners to ask themselves “what things have I been conditioned to think?” and wants people to rethink attending churches “where the blind are leading the blind.”

“I’m not interested in a mega church,” he said. “I’m interested in a mega movement."

When he first became aware of Mario Marillo, a motivational speaker who puts on large tent meetings across the country, Doyle admired Marillo for an event in Bakersfield, Calif. right in the center of a primarily Democratic state during pandemic shutdowns. He asked other church leaders if they were interested in a revival featuring Marillo, and the larger ones were not, claiming he was too political.

“He was preaching a message not only about the gospel, but he was calling out leftist agenda policies of (California Governor) Gavin Newsom that have made people miserable with, so he was preaching right in a blue state and a blue city, probably with blue constituents,” Doyle said. He was not afraid. And they came running to the altar. I mean, hundreds of them. And I saw healings.”

Fact Check: In the 2020 presidential election, 53.88 percent of the voters in Kern County (Bakersfield) cast ballots for Donald Trump. Kevin McCarthy, Trump supporter and House Minority Leader, won re-election in Bakersfield with 64 percent of the vote.  Bakersfield is red, like all of the San Joaquin Valley, not blue.

God told Marillo to bring his show to Batavia, and Cornerstone hosted him last fall. They expected 400 to 500 people at best, and instead had 4,000 to 5,000, Doyle said.

“I’m sure you know, we were praying for a revival. I told the Lord, ‘Lord, I don't care where people come from, I don't care what they've done. I don't care what color they are. We’ve gotta see hungry people that are hungry for you.’ I just believe he's answered the prayer,” Doyle said. “And so he came out here, and he had those meetings. And it just ignited a fire in me personally. And it made me start preaching much more boldly from the pulpit.”

As for things that are “too political” Doyle said that it dawned on him that meant “things that are affecting people in our churches.”

“But since when did it leave the church and go to the political arena, we’ve got to pick it out of the political realm, and put it back in the church,” he said. “So that's what we've been doing. I don't know how many news outlets have interviewed me … And they want to know what I think about stuff. And I noticed they asked all these really loaded questions, or, how do you feel about a church hosting a political event, you know, you’re a 501 (C)3. And I said, ‘You think I'm doing this because of money? You think that intimidates me? I'm like, I'm gonna do it. We've got to have a move of God in this country.”


Further Reading: Opinion: Cornerstone Church is not risking its tax-exempt status by hosting the ReAwaken America Tour


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Top photo: Pastors Paul and his wife Lee Doyle on stage Friday during the first day of the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia. Photos by Howard Owens.

August 12, 2022 - 6:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

On August 12th at 4:14 PM, Batavia Police responded to the area of Elm Street and East Main Street for a reported shooting. Upon arrival, BPD officers located two victims in the area. Both victims were treated by the City of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS. MercyEMS transported one victim to UMMC with non-life threatening injuries and one victim was treated on the scene. BPD is actively investigating the incident at this time, however has determined that there is not an ongoing threat to the safety of the public or residents in the area.

Anyone with information in regards to the incident is asked to contact Detective Ivison at (585) 345-6350, or contact BPD through the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

August 12, 2022 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, news, batavia, notify.

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Pastor Mark Burns prayed for New York's attorney general, Letitia James, and her family, during his appearance at the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia on Friday.

James earlier this week reportedly sent a letter to Pastor Paul Doyle, telling him that she was concerned the event could lead to racial violence.

Burns, an evangelist and failed congressional candidate who has reportedly appeared on a right-wing TV show and said parents and teachers of LGTBQ children should be executed, told the mostly white audience that all patriots, regardless of race, were welcome into the movement.

As of early this afternoon, no protestors had been seen on Bank Street Road.  The lone deputy parked in a driveway in the area said he had not seen any protestors.  There was no other additional local law enforcement at the location during the times The Batavian was at the church or in the area.  People at the event have generally been friendly, from what we've observed, toward members of the media. The staff has been friendly and helpful though the event seems disorganized at times and speakers have not appeared on schedule.  There is a significant contingent of private security at the event and signs at the entrance noting that guns and knives are prohibited.

The Batavian will provide additional coverage of events related to the tour, both at the church and away from it, throughout the weekend.

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Gene Ho, President Donald Trump's campaign photographer, sharing stories about working with Trump.

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August 12, 2022 - 3:18pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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Clifford and Cecilia Miller were anxious to attend the ReAwaken America Tour this morning, arriving around 5:30 a.m. at Cornerstone Church in the town of Batavia.

They made the nearly three-hour trek from Chemung County to partake in the two-day event with two others who rode with them. By 11:45 a.m., they knew the trip was well worth it, they said. The couple watched a convoy of vehicles displaying U.S. flags, sat under the large white tent listening to speakers that included Michael Flynn, and embraced fellow attendees, Cecilia said.

“Just being together here with like-minded people, meaning believers in Christ, and believing in the restoration of our country,” she said. “I’ve always been brought up in the church in one shape or form, so it gave me a foundation of the Lord. And then as I grew, I was like, there’s got to be more than this, God, you know. And so now I'm completely born again, as they say, and I'm into his word. To me, his word is our guide, that we should stand by and go by, and when we've gotten away from that, we need to bring it back.”

The Millers learned of Cornerstone when they came to see Mario Marillo speak during tent meetings last October at the Bank Street Road church. They kept in touch and then found out about the tour coming this week.

Aptly dressed in a red, white and blue ReAwaken T-shirt and Trump baseball cap on Clifford, and a John 3:16 cap for his wife, the couple was looking forward to the remainder of the day and all day tomorrow. They booked a hotel in Batavia, where other attendees were also staying, they said. Visitors came from  out of state, including New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, and out of the country from Canada.

The Millers weren't alone in the patriotic apparel, as many of the 3,000-plus crowd sported all things red, white and blue, from dresses, scarves, and hats to vests, shirts, sneakers, and even a little something for their canine companions.

The original line-up of speakers changed at some point, and Flynn had spoken before his scheduled time. He is also scheduled to speak this evening, and The Batavian plans to cover that. Earlier guests included Gene Ho, the former president’s campaign photographer; Dr. Jana Schmidt, who was not on the original schedule; Kash Patel, former chief of staff to the acting U.S. secretary of defense under former President Trump; and Dr. Bryan Ardis, an entrepreneur, chiropractor, acupuncturist and nutritionist.

Much of the discourse was about COVID-19 protocols and vaccines, with claims about the vaccine’s safety; claims of how the government and "fake news media" kept certain political happenings from being investigated (Hillary Clinton, “Russiagate”) and therefore didn’t make “the Left” more accountable for its actions; and claims of how the former president took action that would have prevented the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Fact Check: According to the official timeline of Jan. 6 and several other news outlet investigations, Trump did not authorize National Guard troops until hours after the insurrection began.

Fact Check: The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines teach the immune system to recognize and fight the coronavirus, greatly reducing the likelihood of severe disease if a person is infected. There is no evidence the vaccines impair immunity, according to SciCheck’s COVID-19 Vaccination Project.

Primary evidence that was used by a well-known Fox News anchor regarding the vaccines harming the immune system “is a much-criticized Food and Chemical Toxicology paper written by several individuals known for being opposed to vaccination or for spreading health misinformation."

“Lead author Stephanie Seneff is a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has falsely claimed that vaccines cause autism and has pushed a theory linking the herbicide glyphosate to COVID-19, among other unfounded scientific views. Senior author Dr. Peter McCullough is an internist who has repeatedly spread misinformation about COVID-19 treatments and the vaccines. Another author, Greg Nigh, practices naturopathy, a form of alternative medicine that has often embraced pseudoscientific methods,” SciCheck states. 

“When the paper was first published in April, numerous critics condemned it, with some calling for it to be retracted. (That effort was denied. Notably, the paper appeared in the journal after the editor-in-chief put a call out for papers “on potential toxic effects of COVID-19 vaccines.”)

“The paper, which does not present any original research, is a review coupled with an analysis of data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, the United States’ early warning system to detect possible safety problems with vaccines. VAERS reports can be submitted by anyone, are not vetted for accuracy, nor do they mean that a reported symptom was necessarily caused by the vaccine; the data have often been mined to incorrectly claim vaccines are dangerous” it states. SciCheck is a branch of the nonpartisan FactCheck.org. Click here for article 

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Schmidt reviewed several natural remedies that can keep one’s immune system healthy and prevent illness, such as taking in sunshine, cayenne pepper, honey and cooked mushrooms, plus turning to prayer and community, all of which have been touted in health-related newspaper, magazine, online, and television reports.

She also discouraged wifi exposure, stating that cell phones kept in men’s pockets decreases sperm count by 75 percent — provoking a long  “oooooh” from the audience — that dirt is more beneficial as an anti-depressant than Prozac, and those COVID vaccines should be avoided. (See Fact Check above.)

“Does it make any sense at all to (take in the ingredients from the vaccine), as bad these shots are, and we know they’re bad,” she said, suggesting instead to use near infrared therapy. “Remember that these shots are evil.”

Fact Check: According to Health University of  Utah Research published in the journal "Environment International," analyzed data from 10 previous studies suggested that sperm’s mobility, or its ability to move normally toward an egg to fertilize it, appears to fall by an average of 8 percent when a man is exposed to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.

Fact Check: Red light therapy is a treatment that may help skin, muscle tissue, and other parts of your body heal, according to WebMD.com. It exposes you to low levels of red or near-infrared light. Infrared light is a type of energy your eyes can’t see, but your body can feel as heat. Red light is similar to infrared, but you can see it.

Fact Check: According to an article in “Forbes” magazine, “further research on gardening found it improved life satisfaction and mood. Digging in the dirt really does lift your spirits. The digging stirs up microbes in the soil. Inhaling these microbes can stimulate serotonin production, which can make you feel relaxed and happier.” “The Atlantic” also states that “M. vaccae, a living creature that resides in your backyard compost pile, acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body, functioning like antidepressant pills to boost your mood.”

Patel teased that he would share later about the most recent incident involving an FBI raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. He claimed that Trump had authorized the National Guard to be on standby before the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that during a phone call that Patel was on, Pelosi was more concerned about when food service would be restored than about the violence at the Capitol. No evidence was found online to substantiate or refute that claim.

As for Flynn’s charges before being pardoned by the former president, Patel called them “bogus” and claimed “we actually found documentation” proving his innocence.

“And that man is still standing with us today because he believe in the fate of this country,” Patel said.

Fact Check: NPR.org (National Public Radio) states that "Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about conversations he had had with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States as he and the rest of President-elect Donald Trump's camp waited in the wings early in 2017."

"My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions," Flynn said in late 2017 at the time of his plea, according to the news site.

Patel joked that he could keep speaking, but had to get out to his booth to sell more books. Several vendors were strewn about outside and many more inside of the church, selling ReAwaken, Trump and related items of clothing, jewelry, keepsakes, books and more.

“This isn’t a Trump rally, but it’s close,” he said, with large screens in the background displaying logos and information related to each speaker.

The Millers were glad to have heard the information.

“We were learning so much deeper stuff,” Clifford said. “So that’s good for us, because we don’t really watch local news. We just don’t know what’s happening. I can’t believe what they say.”

They watch Flashpoint and Newsmax a few times a week, they said. Warm and affable, the couple spoke more about the Christian element than particular subject matters. Clifford was nearly 51 before he became a Christian he said, after spending much time “off in my own world.”

“I was seeking something different, and Jesus was my answer,” he said. “And, I'm telling you, I would have changed nothing else for it. God has brought me (to salvation).”

As smoke billowed out of nearby grills, people continued to mill around, shopping for memorabilia, catching a quick bite out in the sunshine or sitting under the tent as new speakers took to the stage every 15 minutes. As of noon, there were no protestors or visible threats of violence on site, and a counter-event was set for 11:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

The schedule runs to 7:15 p.m., when baptisms are to take place, and resumes again at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

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Clifford and Cecilia Miller of Corning traveled to the ReAwaken America Tour to be with like-minded Christians, they said, and believe that people need to get back to God; Jana Schmidt talks about natural remedies during Friday's event at Cornerstone Church; Visitors snap a photo with a traveling bus named after its owner, attorney Scott McKay, whose biography defines him as "the patriot street fighter."  Signs were placed at event entrances to provide directions and a reminder that "no guns, no knives" were allowed in. Photos by Joanne Beck.

August 12, 2022 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, cornerstone church, news, notify.

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The ReAwaken America Tour has arrived in Batavia.

Among the opening events this morning was a truckers' convoy on Bank Street Road past Cornerstone Church, where the event is being held.

Pastor Paul Doyle, who agreed to host the event after it was canceled at a venue in Rochester, has denied that the tour promotes political extremism.  Critics say event speakers peddle conspiracy theories and racism and that the rhetoric can lead to violence, such as the racially-motivated mass murder at a supermarket in Buffalo in May.

Today's speakers include retired General Michael Flynn, pardoned by President Donald Trump after being convicted of lying to the FBI during investigations into his dealings with foreign nations.  Flynn is scheduled to speak in the morning on "Why now is the time to act without fear and hesitation to save this God-given republic."

Other speakers include Kash Patel on "what is actually going on in America," Doctor Bryan Ardis, on COVID-19 protocols involving remdesivir and midazolam, Christie Hutcherson on why we must protect our borders, Julia Flynn, on a "practical plan to save America," Lance Wallnau, on God's "chaos code," Mel K on the "great reset," Dr. Rashid Buttar on the "COVID-19 chaos," Jim Meehan on fighting back against "medical corruption."

Eric Trump is speaking in the afternoon on "why the Trump family has committed their time, talent and treasure to help save America."

In the early evening, Roger Stone, also pardoned by Trump after his conviction on charges of obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering, will speak about how Jesus can save America.

As things were getting underway this morning, a number of vendors were already in place offering books, t-shirts, hats, jewelry, paintings, and other wares to the attendees (photos below).

The Batavian will have coverage throughout the weekend of the event at Cornerstone as well as counter-events at other locations in Batavia.

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The stage in the main event tent ready for guests and speakers.

August 12, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, entertainment, Batavia Players, batavia, notify.

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In its 25th year, Batavia Players’ Summer Youth Theater program returns from a pandemic year off with something spectacular to behold, Director Pat Burk says.

He chose the musical “Godspell” to give prominent and ample opportunity for the 15 youth actors to fully embrace their characters and bring the Gospel of Matthew to life in an atypically festive and colorful atmosphere.

“It’s about parables and things, and also excerpts from the Gospel according to Matthew. But you know, the whole premise of the show is just a very beautiful premise, and the show itself is physically gorgeous. I think people will be surprised at our setting this year … during Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” Burk said during an interview with The Batavian. “And that's another nice thing about the show, you can kind of put it into the setting you want it to be in. Originally it was in a junkyard in New York City. It was a bunch of homeless, kind of hippie vagrants, in the junkyard in New York City. We've changed that, and ours is very New Orleans, Mardi Gras-themed. and it is a very beautiful show. So I think people will enjoy it.”

The musical is a retelling of the Gospel of Matthew set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The disciples of Jesus spread his message of love and tolerance through the city streets as the time gets closer to Jesus's betrayal at the hands of Judas and his eventual crucifixion. Parables are interspersed with music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns, with the passion of Christ appearing briefly near the end of the show.

With its debut on Thursday, Summer Youth Theater’s production continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 East Main St., Batavia.

"Godspell" began as a project by drama students at Carnegie Mellon University and evolved from off-off-Broadway to being rescored for an off-Broadway production, which became a long-running success.

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Don’t let the actors’ ages, from 12 to 21, fool you; most are fairly well versed in theater and in working with Batavia Players, Burk said. There have been challenges, though, with the venue — First Presbyterian Church in Batavia. The widespread choreography and sets were too much for the Players’ makeshift stage while the new one is under construction, he said.

The troupe was invited to perform at the East Main Street church and accepted, meaning a complete transplanting of sets, the light and sound boards, costumes, props and stage setup, he said. They had to rent sound equipment, move and reset lights, and faced more challenges with designing a set for this particular show, he said, “which we want to really highlight the design and the costumes and the coloring, the colors involved in the show and how we're setting the show.”

“We had to bring in a bunch of really expert people to make that happen,” Burk said. “And I think people will be amazed. It's pretty expansive, and it's pretty impressive, actually.”

There also wasn’t room for the pit band that accompanies vocalists, he said. Their current, temporary digs consist of a small stage area inside Batavia City Centre until the theater construction is finished.

“Because the only shows that we do in there … we can have drums and guitars and bass and two pianos, and there's no room for that in our temporary space,” he said. “So the shows that we've done in there, if there is music, have either band recorded music that you purchase, and/or an individual piano. So, this show really requires a fuller pit, plus the choreography and dance numbers are, in our version, are fairly extensive, and they would not have worked in that space.”

That being said, the church performance space has worked out nicely for a breathtaking production that, contrary to what some people may think of biblical prose, is anything but boring, he said.

“It's absolutely gorgeous. And the music is amazing. Absolutely amazing, and it allows a lot of individual moments to shine within the show,” he said. “It's kind of an ensemble cast, which, there's obviously, one big important role. And then there's a bunch of ensemble roles, but they all have lines, they all have solos, they all have songs. It's also a good one to highlight the kids that are in it.”

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"Godspell" takes Burk back — nearly 50 years — to when he was first cast in it at 16. He found it then — as he still does today — to be a “beautiful, beguiling, and bold” over-the-top celebration that was an immediate success amidst a swirl of controversy, he said.

“It certainly was not a traditional telling of biblical parables. What many did not realize at the time was that this musical was not about the life and times of Jesus, it was about how Jesus created this loving and caring

community from a wide array of people,” he said. “Instead of being the universal story of the life of Jesus, it used Jesus as a vessel for the story of how a community is created and how it can include all.”

Ticket information is available at showtix4u.com

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Batavia Players' Summer Youth Theater cast readies for a debut of "Godspell" Thursday evening; Elise Baumer, Crystalina Baumer, Melania DeSa e Frias, Maia Zerillo and Jocelyn Coburn; front row featured actors Deacon Smith, Kai Hoag and Gabriel Burk Flanagan; Matthew Stevens as the lead of Jesus, with Samantha Jane Balbi, who is also the show choreographer; Matthew Stevens and Dorothy Sue Flanagan, the youngest member of the cast. Photos by Howard Owens.

 

 

 

August 11, 2022 - 7:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pets, animals, crime, batavia, news, notify.

A Batavia woman accused of allowing her dog, Oddey, access to narcotics, leading to emergency veterinarian treatment for overdoses three times, was a no-show in City Court on Thursday afternoon.

Cassandra Elmore may be in the hospital, acording to a friend who called court about four hours before Elmore's case was to be called, but City Court Judge Thomas Burns had no proof that the claim was true, so he issued a warrant for her arrest.

Elmore's court time was at 1:30 p.m., and there were several other cases then as well. Burns finally called her case at 2:40 p.m., and she was not in court. Her friend was informed that the court would require proof of Elmore's admission to a hospital -- a call an email or a fax from the hospital.  The court received no proof of the claim prior to her case being called.

According to police reports, Elmore showed up at veterinarian offices on May 21, May 25, and June 21 with Oddey unconscious.  

Investigators believe Oddey consumed cocaine on two of those occasions and either cocaine or another narcotic on the third.

Elmore, 30, a resident of River Street, Batavia, faces three counts of injuring an animal under New York Ag and Markets Law Section 353.

Previously:

August 11, 2022 - 5:04pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, business, batavia.

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Press Release

Everyone is invited to the grand reopening and fourth anniversary of Eden Café & Bakeshop at 2 p.m. August 16 at 242 Ellicott St., Batavia. Activities include:

  • A ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m.
  • Tastings from 2 to 8 p.m.
  • Cookie decorating with Pam from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Facepainting and more with Marcia from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“It felt (at times) like we would never find a place of our own; we’re so excited to share our new space with the public,” said owner Judy Hysek. “We’ve sold thousands of carrot dogs so far. If you haven’t tried one yet, stop over this week and grab a free sample.”

We first opened in 2018 in the incubator kitchen inside Eli Fish Brewing Co. and we finally found the perfect spot to adopt as our own. We’re located on the corner of Ellicott Street and Liberty Street, right across from the Pok-A-Dot and Southside Deli. Our space has a fresh yet relaxing vibe, seating for over 20, ample street parking and a private parking lot in the rear.

We’re still making the same great menu items from our original location and added some fun new items like Italian Cream Sodas, and ready to eat meals and snacks for anyone in a rush. We are planning on also getting a beer and wine permit.

Currently, you can dine in, carry out, or order online for pickup or delivery! Our hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11am-8pm.

About Eden Café & Bakeshop:
Eden Café & Bakeshop is a woman-owned business and has been serving Batavia, Genesee County and beyond for over four years. The plant-based restaurant was born out of the 2017 Foodie Challenge and raised in the freshLab incubator. Eden specializes in innovative plant-based dining including carrot dogs, crunchwraps, cauliflower wings.

For additional information visit CarrotDogCafe.com

Submitted photo of Eden Cafe & Bakeshop.

August 11, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
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Matthew Zakrzewski

A Batavia man accused of starting fires on three different occasions in January entered guilty pleas in County Court Wednesday to counts of arson in each, the second and third degrees. 

Matthew Zakrzewski, 42, is likely to be sentenced to 10 years in state prison on Sept. 14 as part of a plea agreement he accepted.

Zakrzewski was facing several other felonies -- which have not yet been presented to a grand jury for possible indictment -- and without the plea deal could have been sent to prison for up to 25 years.

In court today, Zakrzewski admitted to starting a fire at Washington Towers on Jan. 16, and on the same date, setting a 2009 Jeep Patriot on fire.

As part of the plea, Zakrzewski agreed to pay more than $10,000 in restitution to the arson victims.

His attorney, Fred Rarick, raised a concern about the restitution agreement because Washington Towers made a claim for replacement property in new condition, which the law doesn't require.

Rarick said he was looking for legal, fair, and equitable restitution.

District Attorney Kevin Finnell said the plea offer included stipulation to restitution as claimed, and if Zakrzewski didn't want to accept those terms, Finnell was ready to present the case to a grand jury.

At that point, Zakrzewski piped up and said, "Mr. Rarick, it's fine."

Previously:

August 11, 2022 - 1:47am
posted by Press Release in ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, news.

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Press release:

Standing in front of a Faithful America mobile billboard calling on Christian nationalist speakers at an event headlined by disgraced General Michael Flynn to “stop twisting our faith to attack democracy,” a group of local faith leaders and national clergy will speak at a press event and answer questions at 11:30 a.m. ET on Friday, August 12. 

The faith leaders will gather at First Baptist Church (306 E. Main Street, Batavia, New York) as a part of their ongoing effort to warn their communities and congregations of the dangers posed by the anti-democracy Christian nationalism, potential political violence, and disinformation on display at the upcoming stop of the ReAwaken America Tour (RAT) hosted by Flynn, Eric Trump, Clay Clark, and other notable far-right figures who helped to inspire the January 6, 2021 insurrection. The tour, which features stops across the country, arrives Friday at Cornerstone Church in Batavia for a two-day event. Flynn is expected to speak Friday morning following a worship time led by Sean Feucht, who has used members of the Proud Boys for his personal security.

Religious leaders speaking at Centennial Park in opposition to RAT will include both local and national leaders: 

  • The Rev. Dr. Roula Alkhouri, Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • The Rev. Dr. Shiela Campbell McCullough, chaplain, Batavia resident and representative of the New York State Council of Churches
  • The Rev. Dr. William Wilkinson, teaching elder and pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Medina
  • Sareer Fazili, president of Pittsford Youth Services, past president of the Islamic Center of Rochester, and member of the Barakah Muslim Charity Board of Trustees
  • The Rev. Nathan Empsall, executive director, Faithful America
  • Pastor Doug Pagitt, executive director and co-chair, Vote Common Good
  • The Rev. Jennifer Butler, founder in residence, Faith in Public Life

The tour stop in Batavia comes after organizers of the anti-democracy tour had to scramble to find a new venue following the cancelation of its originally planned stop in Rochester.

"Many might be unaware of the type of negative stereotypes and radicalization that are being brewed by the ReAwaken America Tour. In a time already full of division, this has the potential for a significant negative impact on our community’s ability to talk with one another,” said the Rev. Laurel Nelson, speaking on behalf of the Racial Justice Working Group of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley. “In fact, those who have spoken out against the tour have already been subject to vitriol and threats. Although few of the tour’s speakers expose themselves to prosecution by explicitly calling for violence, they allow their audience to connect the dots by downplaying past political violence committed in God's name, associating themselves with extremist groups, demonizing their political opponents, and urging supporters to win the battle for God against their fellow Americans. This kind of division builds hate, hurts communities and makes our democracy vulnerable to more violence.”

“We reject General Flynn and his allies’ hijacking of the Gospel for political purposes. This tour is a dangerous and immoral political event in Jesus’ name that promotes misinformation, lies, and even out-right violence, and has no place in the church of God,” added the Rev. Nathan Empsall, executive director of Faithful America, which sponsored the mobile billboard and has been working closely with clergy in Rochester and Batavia to oppose the tour.  

Nationally, more than 21,000 Christians have signed petitions from Faithful America, rejecting the ReAwaken America Tour and asking churches not to associate with the event. Another 25,000 Christians -- including the presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- also signed a previous statement from the Christians Against Christian Nationalism initiative denouncing the ideology that now underlies the tour.

August 11, 2022 - 12:48am

Press release:

In light of the disruptions that may occur from the “ReAwaken America” Tour in Batavia, Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) will be providing programs and services remotely this Friday, August 12th.

ILGR will not allow the event to interfere with its continued advocacy and service for all members of our community. Out of an abundance of caution, though, staff will conduct business as usual on Friday by telephone, E-mail, and video and web conferencing.

Last week, the governing board of the Independent Living of the Genesee Region released an anti-hate and racism statement in reaction to recent violent events in Western New York and across the country.

Director Rae Frank said “The Governing Council of ILGR felt that it was time to stand up and make it known that the people with disabilities will stand by our friends and neighbors who find themselves marginalized in our society, regardless of their religion, color, sexual identity, and other characteristics.  They have, and always will have, a friend and a partner at ILGR.” 

As a member of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. Family of Agencies, Independent Living of the Genesee Region offers an expanding array of programs and services to help individuals with disabilities take and keep control of their own lives.

August 11, 2022 - 12:44am
posted by Press Release in hlom, Henry Glowacki, batavia, history, news.

Press release:

The Holland Land Office Museum is proud to announce its next edition of our Java with Joe E morning coffee presentation on Thursday, August 25 at 9 am. This month’s presenter is Ryan Duffy who will be presenting on Henry Glowacki. Glowacki was a Polish immigrant to Batavia in the 1830s. He became a prominent Batavia citizen and went on to become a lawyer, a clerk for the Holland Land Office, was a recruiter for the Civil War, Village Trustee, and school board member amongst many other things. The event is free to the public and coffee and donuts will be available. If you wish to attend, please contact the museum at 585-343-4727 or [email protected]

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