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September 14, 2020 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, education, schools, video.
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With new social distancing protocols in place, the Batavia City School District opened all four of its campuses today for the 2020-21 academic year.

September 13, 2020 - 6:01pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in schools, education, batavia, news.

Response from Alice Ann Benedict, trustee in the Batavia City Schools District.

Do you support the district's policy and reopening plan?  Why or why not?
I am in total support of the district with the hybrid plan. It is well thought out and the superintendent and staff have worked very hard this summer to comply with the governor’s requirements and also do what’s best for all students, faculty and staff. They have been very prudent in their consideration of all involved including parents and staff. We realized, through surveys and registrations, that a majority of students wanted in-person teaching. Certainly, there was a percentage that wants virtual classes, so the district accommodated them all with a definite aim to improve academics and keep everyone safe and healthy.

What feedback have you received from the parents in your district?
The feedback that I’ve gotten is mainly positive. Parents felt more assured with the open question and answer sessions that were available, plus with all the information available on the district’s website, most questions are answered.

September 13, 2020 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in outdoors, birds, animals, batavia, news.


Jason Smith shared this photo of a male cardinal feeding a female cardinal in the backyard of his Batavia home.

September 13, 2020 - 8:00am
posted by David Reilly in news, batavia, history, education, nostalgia, covid-19, St. Mary's School.

After attending school (elementary, high school and college) for 18 years and teaching school (fifth and sixth grades) for another 33, I have been a part of opening day 51 times. And that doesn't include the overlapping times when my own two children headed back to their educational journeys.

But nothing in all that time is going to compare what the beginning of this school year will be like due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Taking temperatures, wearing masks, social distancing, plexiglass separating panels, lots of sanitizing, and a whole lot more that teachers and students are going to face including some days at school and other days virtually, all because of COVID-19.

I have never regretted being retired, but I am even more happy about it this year and convey my best wishes to all those who will try their best to make the 2020-2021 academic year a productive one.

Back in the 1950s at St. Mary's School in Batavia, we certainly had a less worrisome time when our summer vacation ended. Some preparations had to be made, but nothing approaching what parents and kids have to do now, even before the virus.

Bow Ties and Buster Browns

There was no fretting about what to wear to impress our classmates. We had uniforms, so each kid looked as plain and mundane as every other one. For the girls, it was a light blue blouse with a dark blue skirt, and the boys wore a light blue long or short sleeve shirt with dark blue pants. The pièce de résistance for the boys was a blue clip-on bow tie. If I had a nickel for every one of those I lost I could have bought a lot of Junior Mints.

I'm pretty sure that the school had a deal with Charles Mens' Shop (which is still in business) to stock the uniforms and each year my mom would buy me two shirts and two pairs of pants. Between roughhousing on the way to and from school and outdoors at lunchtime, by June those pants would have been patched more times than a pothole at Ellicott and Main.

When it came to shoes, things were pretty simple. We'd head to Thomas and Dwyer's Downtown and Mr. Dwyer or Skinny Weiss would find a new pair of Buster Brown's in our size. We hated those goofy-looking round-toed things, but Mom was paying so that's what you got. The girls would arrive on day one with new saddle shoes or Mary Janes. I don't think sneakers were allowed.

Lunch Box and Lunchroom

In the '50s we didn't have backpacks, but choosing your lunchbox was a big deal. This was before everything was plastic and they were made from metal and most contained a Thermos.

Howdy Doody ones were a favorite of the younger kids, while the older boys wanted Davy Crockett or The Lone Ranger. By the way, those metal boxes could come in handy if you had to defend yourself from a bully.

During the first couple years of St. Mary's existence we were housed in the basement of adjoining Notre Dame High because the elementary school was still under construction. Once we got in the new building our lunch habits changed because we had a school lunchroom.

Mrs. Isabelle Suranni, who was a chef at various restaurants in the area, prepared the food right on the premises. Unlike most other lunchroom food I encountered over the years St. Mary's was tasty, especially the spaghetti. My mom worked in the kitchen for a couple of years and whenever spaghetti was served she'd bring some home for dinner.

So, that was about it -- uniform, shoes, lunchbox. Maybe a couple pencils and a box of eight crayola crayons. There was no list sent home of all the things the parents needed to buy.

As far as teacher preparations that were made for school's opening, it was certainly a big deal for me when I was teaching. We'd head back to our classrooms a week or two early to get the classroom ready. Desks were arranged, bulletin boards decorated, name tags made, lessons prepared, and so on.

'Convent'-ional Classroom

For seven of my eight elementary school years, my teacher was a nun -- a Sister of the Holy Cross (inset photo below right from the 1950s). I don't know how many of them had formal teacher training but I'd guess not many.

I could be cynical and surmise that the nuns spent their summer sanding and honing their rulers and yardsticks to use on us little delinquents.

But, since most Catholic schools had 40-50 students in a class, more likely they were catching their breath and recuperating from the previous semester.

Maybe they had nun spas where they would go to get refreshed. Probably not.

I don't recall much about bulletin boards or decorations, but with 50 desks there probably wasn't room for any. There were always a bunch of strategically placed statues though. Some saint was always looking over your shoulder when you were about to launch that spitball.

A Long Year Ahead

I can't imagine having more than 30 kids in a class, but it must have given the nuns some preopening day anxiety. Actually, I could identify with that feeling somewhat because my very first teaching job after graduating from college in 1969 was in a Catholic school, Sts. Peter and Paul in Rochester.

I was also similar to the nuns in that I really didn't have much preparation for teaching. I had, quite honestly, taken the job in order to secure a deferment from the military draft. I had only taken a couple education classes at St. John Fisher and never did any student teaching. Essentially, I was winging it.

My very first day I started out by handing out index cards to my sixth-graders and asking them to write down their name, address, phone number, and parents' names. I had a boy in the class who was from Lebanon named Toufik. 

As I circulated around he raised his hand. “Yes, Toufik,” I said. “How can I help you?”

“Mister,” he replied. “How do you make a T?”

“Oh boy,” I thought. “What have I gotten myself into?

First Days

Only two of my St. Mary's opening days stand out in my memory of boyhood, both of which I mentioned in a previous story.

In first grade, school started on a Wednesday, but because I had strep throat, I didn't arrive until the following Monday. I was a shy kid so I was probably terrified to come in on my own.

A boy named Lenny, the briefest of classmates, had the absolute greatest opening day entrance in my 51 years when he showed up with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and promptly got expelled. There was an ad at the time which said, “I'd walk a mile for a Camel.” Lenny only got to walk about 50 feet before the black-habited arm of a nun whisked him off the premises forever.

On my first opening day after retiring, I took my boat and went fishing. On the first opening day of my longtime girlfriend's retirement, we took a day trip to the pretty little Finger Lakes Town of Skaneatles.

What will we do on the first day of school this year? I'm not sure except that it won't involve little kids. Or nuns.

Photos and images courtesy of Dave Reilly.

September 12, 2020 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, video, batavia.
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A group of area residents gathered in front of City Hall carrying signs today protesting the lack of visitation with seniors in nursing homes.

September 12, 2020 - 7:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

A rider is down in the roadway after the report of an accident involving a motorcycle in the area of 240 State St., Batavia.

City fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Dispatchers are asked to check on the availability of Mercy Flight.

UPDATE: Mercy Flight was not required. No further word on injuries.

September 12, 2020 - 4:00pm

Genesee Community College Associate Professor of History Derek D. Maxfield (above photo) had a reception this afteroon at Roman's restaurant in Downtown Batavia and signed copies of his first book, "HELLMIRA: The Union's Most Infamous Civil War Prison Camp -- Elmira, NY."

He became an expert on the excruciating conditions at the infamous POW camp while researching material for his book.

He will be featured on C-SPAN tonight at 6 o'clock sharing what his research uncovered about this notorious time period in Elmira's history.

It is the largest city and the county seat of Chemung County. "The Queen City" was incorporated in 1864. By the late 19th century, it was a major transportation hub, connecting commercial centers in Rochester and Buffalo with Albany and New York City.

Called by some the "Andersonville of the North," the prisoner of war camp in Elmira is remembered as the most notorious of all Union-run POW camps. It existed for only a year -- from the summer of 1864 to July 1865. But in that time, and for long after, it became darkly emblematic of man's inhumanity to man. Confederate prisoners called it "Hellmira."

In the end, Maxfield suggests that it is time to move on from the blame game and see prisoner of war camps -- North and South -- as a great humanitarian failure.

"HELLMIRA: The Union's Most Infamous Civil War Prison Camp -- Elmira, NY" is available through AmazonSavas Beatie -- and was released in July as an audio book as well.

Most of the information in this post provided by GCC.

September 12, 2020 - 2:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in abate, news, fire service, batavia.


Kelly Boyle delivers a few remarks this afternoon at Town of Batavia Fire's Station 1 to thank the volunteers for their service to the community as part of an ABATE motorcycle ride around the county to recognize firefighters.

Boyle said, "We thank you because you're there for us. You save us no matter who we are, white, black, or brown, you are there to help us when we need it most."

ABATE a national nonprofit organization of motorcycle enthusiasts which has a chapter in Genesee County -- also visited Mercy EMS, City fire, Stafford, and Le Roy today in their "Ride for the Red."

(ABATE is dedicated to preserving motorcyclist rights, promoting safe operating practices and raising motorists' awareness of motorcycles.)






September 12, 2020 - 11:55am
posted by Press Release in City Fire, hydrant flushing, batavia, news.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing fire hydrants in the areas north of Main Street and west of Bank Street on:

  • Thursday, Sept. 17 from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and
  • Friday, Sept. 18 from approximately 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Homes and businesses nearby will be affected. These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored. If you do experience a discoloration of your water, run cold water for about five minutes or until clear.

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

September 12, 2020 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Just Kings Social Club, batavia, news.


The Just Kings Social Club distributed 80 backpacks containing school supplies to children at Austin Park on Friday evening.

The club raised funds to support the project through sales of chicken dinners and other fundraising events. 

A member of the club said there are still some funds available for school supplies if there were any parents who could not bring their children by for a backpack. The Kings can be contacted through their Facebook page.


September 11, 2020 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia, video.
Video Sponsor

The gaming floor at Batavia Downs reopened this week, along with Fortune's and the Backstretch Grill, and the Grandstands will be opening soon, after a six-month closure mandated by the State of New York in the battle against COVID-19.

Race fans, however, are still prohibited at this point from attending live harness racing.


Update: Sept. 11, 3 p.m.

Even at a fourth of maximum capacity, Batavia Downs Gaming will be able to keep its employees on the job but, unfortunately, monetary distributions to the municipalities it serves will suffer.

That’s the perspective of Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. that oversee operations at the casino, harness race track and OTB parlors in 15 counties plus the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

A public benefit corporation, WROTB returns a portion of its profits to counties and the two metropolitan communities.

“You know, we've done the math, we've done some projections, and we certainly can pay our bills probably at 25 percent,” Wojtaszek said on Wednesday, the day the gaming facility was allowed to reopen – but only at a quarter of the maximum occupancy. “If we remain pretty steady, we can pay our bills. We can keep our employment levels pretty close to where we were before.”

Wojtaszek said “difficulty” comes into play when considering profit and return to municipalities – “which is obviously one of the big reasons why we exist.”

“We exist to make sure we create jobs and create an environment for people to have an entertainment venue, but also to return money to the municipality. So that's going to be a little tough. But I think for now, even at 25 percent, we can cover our costs.”

He said the business has to dig itself out of a “deep hole” caused by ongoing utility and building maintenance costs and unemployment insurance and by having to pay employees still on the job.

Despite the setbacks, Wojtaszek said he it is “very rewarding to see people come back so quickly.”

“We were having people call us all the time during the last six months," he said. "They were stopping at the front door. A lot of emails following our Facebook page. So, when we knew we had a pretty good following of people who want to come back here, we'd like to think we do deliver great customer service."

Batavia Downs has had to cancel its summer concert series due to the pandemic, but six of the eight bands have been rescheduled for next year, Wojtaszek said.

“And we’ve added two,” he said. “We have Queensrÿche signed up for sure. And then the eighth band will remain silent until I confirm it. But it's a great band. They'll be probably the best band we've ever had here.”

September 10, 2020 - 6:30pm

29 Buell St., Batavia. Solid City home larger than you would think. Newer furnace and all windows upstairs just replaced. First-floor bedroom plus three really good size rooms upstairs all with closets.

Mechanically home is in great shape not a lot to do interior besides your own decorating. Rooms were just painted. Gas bill is $81 on a budget plan and electric average is $65. Home sits on awesome partially fenced in back yard with plenty of room to play. Large double wide driveway for you and your guests -- an affordable city home!

19 Wood St., Batavia. Super affordable city home! Featuring: Three bedrooms, one and a half baths, and 1,704 square feet. These owners did all the big things for you – now it's just a matter of you making it your own! Roof, all windows, furnace, hot water tank, and upgraded 150 amp electrical panel, what else is there?

Rooms are spacious, there was a half bath added on first floor, new laminate flooring just done in kitchen, and brand-new back steps leading inside to a back mudroom. All appliances are staying.

The front porch is cute and the yard both front and back is super cute and loaded with flowers. Back yard is fully fenced and is selling with the hot tub! There is a detached garage but currently used as the place to hang out – both summer and winter because there is wood stove as well!

These owners do not pay flood insurance. A lot of space for the money, definitely worth checking out! Call Lynn Bezon today or click here for more infomation our listings.

September 10, 2020 - 2:40pm

Press release:

Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia is continually opening its doors to the community and is inviting everyone to their events throughout September and the rest of this year. In addition to worship services, Northgate offers dozens of volunteer-led small groups, many of which are open to the public.

Several groups relaunch this month, including:

GriefShare, a 13-week group designed to help and encourage those grieving the loss of a loved one due to death. The format is a weekly video presentation and discussion time that offers hope and comfort. Find more information at http://www.griefshare.org/about. Meetings will take place on Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m., starting Sept. 15th. To sign up, visit https://northgatefmc.churchcenter.com/groups/ There is a $15 cost for workbooks, scholarships available.

DivorceCare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. Don’t go through separation or divorce alone. DivorceCare seminars and support groups are led by people who understand what you are going through and want to help. You will learn how to heal from the deep hurt of divorce and discover hope for your future. A new 13-week session begins on Saturday, Sept. 19th, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. To sign up, visit https://northgatefmc.churchcenter.com/groups/ There is a $15 cost for workbooks, scholarships available.

Mothers of Preschoolers or “MOPS” are women who gather together twice a month to share and support each other in the remarkable journey that is motherhood. Meetings consist of relevant speakers, fun crafts, supportive conversations and fellowship. Moms can choose a 9 o'clock morning group or a 6:30 evening group. MOPS is open to all moms with children from birth until their youngest child finishes kindergarten. Groups will be meeting online through the end of the year, with hopes to meet in person in 2021. Membership is currently $32, scholarships are available. Register at our Popsicles at the Pavilion event on Sept. 19, 11 a.m. at 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia, or visit https://northgatefmc.churchcenter.com/groups/

Celebrate Recovery meets every Thursday evening at 6:30 (including any and all holidays that fall on a Thursday, unless there is a serious snow storm) at our North Campus. Our CR leaders guide and assist those of us who are gaining joy and freedom in Christ as we apply the 12-Steps of Celebrate Recovery to the hurts, habits and hang-ups we all struggle with. All are welcome! We believe anyone and everyone would benefit by attending this group, where we allow God to transform our lives. We are able to share openly and honestly about our struggles with people we come to trust, who will maintain confidentiality, and who will not judge us. For more info, go to: https://northgatecr.weebly.com/

For more information about any of these groups or other events, please contact the Northgate office at (585) 343-4011 or email [email protected]

September 10, 2020 - 12:24pm
posted by Press Release in coronavirus, news, batavia, corfu, Le Roy, masks, hand sanitizer.

Submitted photo and press release:

On Saturday, Sept. 12, members of the City of Batavia Fire Department, volunteer Corfu Rescue Hook and Ladder Company #1, and the Le Roy Fire Department will be participating in a mask and hand-sanitizer distribution for residents of Genesee County in response to New York State Department of Health Guidelines.

The FREE distribution of washable, cloth masks and hand sanitizer will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. at:

  • City of Batavia Fire Station – 18 Evans St., Batavia
  • Corfu Fire Station – 116 E. Main St., Corfu
  • Le Roy Fire Station – 4 Clay St., Le Roy

Genesee County Office of Emergency Management reminds everyone to WEAR A MASK. Protect your community. Stop the spread of coronavirus. Be respectful.

September 10, 2020 - 12:14pm
posted by Press Release in infrastructure, news, batavia, roadwork.

Press release:

Motorists in the City of Batavia are advised that the City of Batavia and the New York State Department of Transportation are performing utility work on Route 98 / Oak Street (between Route 5/ West Main Street and Burke Drive).

This work is expected to end today at about 3 p.m., then it will continue Monday through Friday of next week (Sept. 14-18). Daily hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Motorists should expect lane reductions and delays.

If you have questions, contact the Bureau of Maintenance at (585) 345-6400, opt. 1.

September 9, 2020 - 8:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

An accident involving a tractor-trailer is reported in the area of 401 W. Main St., Batavia.

Westbound traffic is blocked in both lanes.

No extrication required.

City fire on scene.

UPDATE 8:33 p.m.: There is also a sedan involved in the accident.

September 9, 2020 - 4:58pm
posted by Press Release in news, coronavirus, covid-19, batavia.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received two new positive case of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Batavia.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 50s and one individual is in their 90s.
    • One of the individuals was not on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Two new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states. 
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
  • Orleans County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
    • One of the community positive cases resides in Gaines.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 60s.
    • The community positive individual was not on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Eight new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.

One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.

September 9, 2020 - 2:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, bergen, batavia.

Shane Christopher Bunce, 38, Chili Avenue, Rochester, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation. At 6:36 p.m. on Sept. 8, after an investigation into a motor-vehicle theft that occurred on Clinton Street Road in Bergen, Bunce was arrested. He was issued an appearance ticket and uniform traffic tickets and is due in Bergen Town Court on Oct. 14. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Dimmig, assisted by Deputy Kyle Krzemien. Also, during the grand larceny investigation, it was allegedly found that Bunce possessed a stolen dirt bike. He was arrested and charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree. He was processed at the Genesee County Jail and released with an appearance ticket for Oct. 20 in Batavia City Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Krzemien, assisted by Deputy Erik Andre.

September 9, 2020 - 10:58am
posted by Press Release in batavia, downtown, business, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors approved incentives for a building renovation project in the City of Batavia at its Sept. 3 board meeting. 

Neppalli Holdings LLC will invest approximately $1.165 million to renovate a three-story building at 99 Main St. in Downtown Batavia. The renovation and redevelopment of the 7,500-square-foot building, which was built in 1865, includes a new storefront, façade, and reconstruction of the existing three floors.

A dental practice will reside on the first floor with the second floor being developed for commercial office space. The third floor will include two two-bedroom market-rate apartments.

Neppalli Holdings LLC is the latest transformational building renovation project to proceed in Downtown Batavia through Governor Cuomo’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The project will be receiving sales and mortgage tax benefits totaling $63,500.

September 9, 2020 - 10:53am
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, news, batavia, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Officials at Batavia Downs Gaming today announced that in accordance with the state’s guidelines for reopening, Batavia Downs Gaming will once again be open beginning at 8 a.m. today, Sept. 9th. 

Upon arrival, all guests of Batavia Downs will undergo temperature checks and must have on a face covering. Clear markings on the floor will indicate where patrons may go in order to maintain safe social distancing.

Select Restaurants and Bars will be open and patrons may enjoy food and drink inside those restaurants.

Batavia Downs will be increasing the rigor of cleaning and sanitizing procedures throughout the facility. They will also be increasing the number of shifts and hours of their environmental service team to maintain the desired level of cleanliness upon reopening. There will be more than 120 hand-sanitizing stations located on the gaming floor, event spaces and in all the restaurants.

Batavia Downs asks that guests looking to visit wash or sanitize their hands frequently and always after visiting the restroom. They should wipe down frequently used personal items such as their phone and glasses. If someone is feeling ill or has felt ill recently, they ask that you remain home until you are feeling better.

“We are so looking forward to welcoming back our guests,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs. “Our staff is working diligently on providing a safe, secure entertainment environment for everyone to return to and enjoy.”

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