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City property owners asked for help with water line inventory as part of 'complicated process,' potential $30M cost

By Joanne Beck

Water — whether there’s too much of it through flooding out west or not enough with the drought right here in Bethany, or the materials used for it, such as the case in Newark, NJ, which spent nearly $200 million to replace residents’ lead water lines, and now has become an issue for the city of Batavia — is no doubt a force to be reckoned with sooner or later.

Newark’s officials were lauded for creating a lead line replacement program — replacing all 23,000 lines — and the Environmental Protection Agency is enforcing a Lead and Copper Rule Revision that Batavia must follow by developing a service line inventory, city management says. 

Although they’re not certain about a timeline to follow, the first step is to get that inventory completed by Oct. 24, 2024, Public Works Director Brett Frank said. 

DPW Director Brett Frank

“What we're basically asking the public to do is, we've got to gather a bunch of landline inventory, it's your water service inventory that we're looking to obtain. So right on the city website underneath the Public Works page, if you click that ... that'll take you to a flyer that explains what a water service line is, and what the common materials are. And we're looking to have people scan a QR code and take a picture of their water service line," Frank said. "Easiest way to tell what kind of line you have is, if it's old galvanized steel, you take a magnet, and it'll stick right to your water service line, which runs directly to your water meter. It’s typically going to be one of four materials, it's either going to be galvanized steel, copper, plastic, or in extremely rare cases, it's going to be a lead service line inside the home, which we rarely ever run into. So it's not anything for people to be alarmed about."

Earlier this week during City Council’s business meeting, Frank and City Manager Rachael Tabelski reviewed the program and plan to gather service line information from residents. This doesn’t mean that city water is unsafe; to the contrary, the city provides high-quality drinking water, Tabelski said: “We test the water several times a day,” she said.

The city has an effective corrosion control process tore cue the risk of lead leaching from lead plumbing materials, and the city routinely tests the water and results are consistently below the EPA action level for lead, according to that water pamphlet Frank mentioned.

This first step is just about getting an idea of how many property owners in the city have pipes with lead in them, either the pipe itself or having been soldered together with lead. Using a magnet will identify the pipe material, because if it sticks, the pipe is galvanized steel versus copper, plastic, or lead. 

Due to this being a potential monster of a project, Frank is hoping that residents will use the city website and/or pamphlet and QR code, take and submit a photo of their water lines, and reduce that portion of work from city staff. Eventually, it may come to hiring an intern or seasonal staff to assist with gathering inventory if citizens aren’t responding to this appeal for assistance, he said.

Meanwhile, the city has applied for grant funding to do a “potholing” project to discover the existence of lead lines between the public side — the city’s responsibility — on the street over to the private side — the homeowner’s property, which runs from the curb line through the basement to the water meter. 

“So if that grant comes through, that would give us enough data to where we could plug it into what's called a predictive modeling platform,” he said. “So that's the goal is to get this grant to do roughly, 1,100 to 1,200 potholes, plug that into what's called a predictive modeling platform, and then we could use that data, which is accepted to kind of map out where we believe we will find lead services. A complicated process, right?”

Right. All of this process has to happen before the city even gets to the point of discussing lead line replacement. And once that arises, the city, while nowhere near where Newark was financially, is still looking at a $30 million project cost, Tabelski and Frank said. 

Lead has been a hot topic of the moment, not only with water lines, but also within the home. Genesee County Health Department has devoted funding for the dangers of exposure to lead-filled paint in older homes, as lead is a toxic material, and can cause health issues, especially in children. 

Perhaps that’s why it was “one of the big items” for discussion at a recent New York Conference of Mayors that Tabelski and Frank attended. While they don’t want to sound any alarms, nobody wants to see issues from undue lead exposure down the road either. 

We're facing about $30 million of lead replacements, not only on the public side but on the homeowner side. We are meeting weekly now to try to deploy a plan because by October we need to identify as many lead or non-lead services in the city to gain a better understanding of what our replacement will actually look like. And to hone in on that $30 million cost,” Tabelski said. “There's been new rules that have come out that basically say you can't replace the city side and not replace the owner side. So legally, we need to work through some of those challenges.” 

If anyone has questions or would like to schedule to have your pipe checked in your home, call 585-343-6345 or email

Batavia National Guard soldier receives new rank, new responsibilities

By Press Release

Press Release:

Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general for the state of New York, announces the recent promotion of members of the New York Army National Guard in recognition of their capability for additional responsibility and leadership.

Richard Stewart from Batavia, assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 427th Brigade Support Battalion, received a promotion on Jan. 16 to the rank of chief warrant officer 4.

Army National Guard promotions are based on a Soldier's overall performance, demonstrated leadership abilities, professionalism, and future development potential.

These promotions recognize the best-qualified Soldiers for a career in the New York Army National Guard.

It was a triple feature at Batavia Downs Thursday

By Tim Bojarski
Photo of Imprincessgemma A courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

After a lengthy respite, winter returned to western New York as persistent snow and wind kept things challenging for the Thursday afternoon (Feb. 15) card at Batavia Downs. The program featured the three top weekly classes and two big efforts from the meet’s leading drivers.  

The $14,000 Open Handicap pace for fillies and mares was up first and Imprincessgemma A (Brett Beckwith) got her first victory of the year.

Leaving from post five, Imprincessgemma A cut fractions of :28.1, :58.3 and 1:28 while Ball Diamond (Keith Kash Jr.) followed close in the pocket. Ball Diamond pulled to advance at the top of the last turn and almost drew even as they entered the stretch. But Imprincessgemma A held sway and paced away to a 1-¼ length victory under a line drive in 1:57.3.

It was the 43rd career win for Imprincessgemma A ($3.90) and it pushed the 10-year-old’s lifetime earnings to $601,489. Imprincessgemma A is owned by Elite Harness Racing and is trained by Shawn McDonough.

Imprincessgemma A was also one of four driving wins on the card for Brett Beckwith who also won with Stars And Stones (2:00.3, $6.90), Angelo J Fra (1:58.1, $9.20) and Silver Buckeye (2:02, $8.00). Beckwith currently sits second in the driver standings.

Then in the $15,000 Open I Handicap for male pacers, Umberto (Dave McNeight III) got his second win in a row on the strength of an impressive effort.

Umberto also left from mid-pack, post five, and crossed over to the lead in the first turn. After setting up shop on the point, Umberto paced unchallenged through swift quarters of :27.3, :57.2, and 1:25.1. In the last turn, McNeight laid back for the ride home and Umberto strode to the line by 2-¼ lengths and won in 1:54.

Umberto ($7.40) is owned by El Dorado Stables and is trained by Dave McNeight Jr.

Finally in the $15,000 Open I Handicap trot, E Street (Jim Morrill Jr.) drew a rare inside post and tripped-out to an upset feature win.

Big Box Hanover (Larry Stalbaum) took the lead before the quarter as E Street sat behind him in the cozy pocket. After hitting the quarter in :29, positions remained unchanged to the half and up the backstretch. It was there that Special Prosecutor (Drew Monti) made a first-over push and joined the fray at three-quarters in 1:30 flat. Big Box Hanover responded to the challenge and pulled away by a length as they hit the straight. But at the same time, E Street dipped into the passing lane and within the length of three pylons, had the lead and bolted home by a length in 1:59.3.

E Street ($16,60) is owned by Elite Harness Racing and trained by Rachelle Mungillo.

E Street capped off a driving grand slam for Morrill as well after he had already won with P C Foreign Affair (2:02, $10.40), Just A Wrangler (1:55.4, $6.50) and Mayweather Hanover (1:59.1, $5.30).

Trainers Taylor Fritz and Andy Torre both had conditioning doubles on Thursday.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Monday (Feb. 15) at 3 p.m. and the card will feature the $100,000 finals of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for pacers. Also, there will be a $2,669 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 13th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website ( under the “Live Racing” tab and all the racing action can be viewed as it happens for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

Photo of Umberto courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.
Photo of E Street courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

Bank Street downtown closed part of Friday due to water project

By Press Release

Press Release:

Please be advised that Bank Street, from Main Street to Washington Avenue, will be closed until midday on Friday as the Bank Street Water project nears completion.

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

Batavia Girls dominate Geneva on Senior Night, even out win-loss record

By Howard B. Owens
Left to right in black t-shirts are Julia clark, Anna Varland, Isabella Walsh and Julia Preston were honored on senior night.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Left to right in black t-shirts are Julia Clark, Anna Varland, Isabella Walsh, and Julia Preston were honored on senior night.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

On Senior night, one win-shy of a .500 season, Batavia came out strong against Geneva and came away with a 59-19 win.

The game began with a 6-4 early in the first quarter lead for the Blue Devils but trailed at the end of the quarter 11-8.

With a strong second half, Batavia turned out the light on Geneva, going into the half with a 33-12 lead, and the game was never close again.

After a couple of consecutive seasons where wins were hard to come by, Coach John McCulley sees progress in a 10-10 season and a group of young players developing winning habits and gaining experience.

"The season started out pretty good," McCulley said. "We had a light schedule. We started out with a bunch of girls that hadn't played at the varsity level. The senior girls that I had, that's what made it so special throughout the season. The senior girls I had were a huge help for me, as far as the right attitude, and teaching the young girls the right way to handle things. And so the season went pretty well. We had our ups and downs but as far as I'm concerned, from last year to this year, leaps and bounds. We've learned a lot, everything, every game, we progressively got better."

There are nine freshmen in the program, between varsity and JV and McCulley believes they have high ceilings.

"The freshmen are going to be phenomenal for me," McCulley said. "And I got Jamie (Macdonald) coming back another year that she just took leaps and bounds towards the end of the year. I think she's going to accept this role as a leader and just be a powerhouse next year."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Anna Varland shooting from the paint.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Anna Varland shooting from the paint.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Isabella Walsh getting through Geneva defenders.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Isabella Walsh getting through Geneva defenders.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Karizma Wescott going for three points.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Karizma Wescott going for three points.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jamin Macdonald going to the hoop on a fast break.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Jamin Macdonald going to the hoop on a fast break.  
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Jackson Street water project to continue

By Press Release

Press Release:

Please be advised that Blue Heron Construction will continue to work on interconnections for the Jackson Street Water project today, Thursday, February 15, on Jackson Street.  

Loss of water should be expected in the surrounding area depending on valve closures.  If discolored water occurs when water pressure is regained, please avoid doing laundry or cooking until the water runs clear.

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


Downtown BID FeBREWary beer walk is Feb. 24

By Press Release

Press Release:

Join us for our annual FeBREWary Beer Walk Downtown Saturday, Feb. 24 from 4 - 8 p.m. with 23 participating businesses. Registration is to be held at GO ART!

Come walk The Downtown Business Improvement District, sip some delicious craft beer, and visit local businesses. Shop our downtown as you visit with friends and family, eat some great food, and see what is new. 

FeBREWary tickets are $35.00 per person, and you must be 21 or over to attend. No one under 21 will be allowed entry. 

Tickets are available at Adam Miller Toys & Bicycles, Yngodess Shop, and Eventbright. For more information, visit our Facebook page or at

Genesee County land owners given to Feb. 24 for inclusion of agricultural land

By Press Release

Press Release:

From Jan. 26 to Feb. 24 a land owner may submit a request to include entire parcels of predominantly viable agricultural land within a certified New York State Agricultural District.

NYS Agricultural and Markets Law requires that the County Legislature designate an annual thirty-day time period within which a land owner may submit a request for inclusion of property within a certified agricultural district. 

This annual time occurs in Genesee County from Jan. 26 to Feb. 24 and is exclusively designed to incorporate property that is predominantly viable agricultural land – defined by Genesee County as lands that are composed of at least 51% prime farmland soils and/or are contiguous to the main farm operation.

Applications for the inclusion of land are available at the Genesee County Department of Planning in County Building No. 2 (3837 W Main Street Rd, Batavia) or can be downloaded or printed by visiting the website:

The application must be completed and signed by the landowner and returned to the Genesee County Department of Planning by 5 p.m. on Feb. 24. Due to the language of the NYS Agricultural and Markets Law, no applications can be accepted before Jan. 26.

PLEASE NOTE: Requesting enrollment of property during this thirty-day time period is not a guarantee that your property will be added to an existing Agricultural District, and it will not automatically qualify your property for a reduced agricultural property tax assessment. For information on obtaining a reduced agricultural property tax assessment, you must contact your local assessor. Please remember, that the Taxable Status Date is March 1.

GO ART! offers February break creative arts camp

By Press Release

Press Release:

GO ART! is hosting a Creative Arts Camp during February Break (Feb. 19 - 23). This camp is tailored to students in grades K-6. 

Grade school students will create and maintain positive connections while enjoying hands-on exploration of various disciplines including culinary arts, visual arts, performing arts, and literary arts. 

Participants will build upon problem-solving and critical thinking skills while increasing their knowledge about different mediums and forms of art in a safe, inclusive, and structured environment. 

In the past, we have done visual arts projects while learning about famous artists and art movements, created puppets and put on plays, played in the musical garden, learned about different styles of dance, as well as various arts and crafts projects.

Please drop off your camper between 8:45 and 9 a.m. and pick them up between 2:45 and 3 p.m. GO ART! will provide snacks and water but don’t forget to send your camper with lunch. Registration is required to attend Creative Arts Camp and spots are limited., call (585) 343-9313 or email Jodi at

When The Beatles invaded in 1964, Marshall's News Store gave local kids the skinny on the Fab Four

By Anne Marie Starowitz
Marshall's News Store
Marshall's News Store on Jackson Street, Batavia.
Photo courtesy the Genesee County History Department.

Sixty years ago, The Beatles invaded America, beginning on Feb. 9, 1964, with an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, followed by a concert in Washington, D.C., a second appearance on Ed Sullivan, and then several other concerts in the U.S.

For young Batavians who wanted to hear more or know more about the Fab Four, there were two choices: Roxy's Music Store, where they could buy records, and Marshall's News Store, where they could buy magazines.

the beatles magazine 1965

Walking down Main Street, you would stop at Roxy’s, buy the latest 45 single, and then move on to Marshall’s News Store. 

As 14-year-olds, my best friend Cathy and I made the pilgrimage to our two favorite stores once a week. What we took for granted were the smiles that would greet us at the two stores.  

Years ago, I had the privilege of talking to Art Marshall, the last Marshall to own the store, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. I asked Art about his fondest memories. He didn’t hesitate; he said the customers and people he worked with at the store.  

In 1999, when the store was sold, The Batavia Daily News did an article titled "Last Edition; Batavia Newsstand closes after a Century." Many people were interviewed, and you knew the news store was more than just a place for buying a newspaper. It was an institution where people came to connect with their friends. 

Art told me the news store was the first business in Batavia to sell lottery tickets. That reminded me of my first and last ticket I bought at his store many years ago.   Everyone wanted to buy a lottery ticket. As I was trying to remember the dates and ages of my family members, one by one, I realized I was holding up the line. When I left Marshalls and the unhappy line of ticket buyers was out the door, I knew that would be my last lottery ticket.

the beatles 45 she loves you

There are many memories from Marshall’s News Store, from young boys who pedaled newspapers early to the store becoming a favorite place to buy the Sunday paper after church.   I look back and smile, remembering Rosie and Art’s welcoming faces as we entered the store.

It all began in 1898; Arthur H. Marshall purchased the news store on 67 Main Street from Orville L. Howard. In 1901, he was joined by Hugh H. Telfair and moved the newsroom to the rear portion of the Farmer’s Bank. By 1921, Art Marshall dropped his partner and moved to 11 Jackson St., staying there for many years. He shared a building with Ebling Electric. In 1974, the store moved into the Daily News building and was operated by Marshall’s grandson, Arthur Marshall Jr., who owned the store until 1994, when it was sold.

A name synonymous with the news store is Rosie Tumminello. He began working at the news store as a paperboy in 1936 when he was eight. At 12, he was hired by Art Marshall to work inside the store. He remained with the store for 52 years and eventually became the store manager. He was the heart of Marshall’s News Store.

 In writing articles for many years, I have always been filled with beautiful memories and saddened by the loss of Main Street. Gone are the days when you could walk down Main and Jackson streets and buy anything from produce, clothing, a washing machine, a meal, and last but not least, a newspaper and lottery ticket. Thank you, Marshall News Store, for the memories and for reminding us of the Good Ole Days.

Information for this article was made available from the Genesee County History Department files. 

the beatles ed sullivian public domain photo
Ringo, George, John and Paul -- The Beatles -- in 1964 with Ed Sullivan.
Photo: Public domain, courtesy Wikicommons. 

YWCA of Genesee County seeks nominations for 2024 Women of Inspiration Awards

By Press Release

Press Release:

The YWCA of Genesee County is pleased to announce the 2024 Women of Inspiration Awards on April 28 from 12:30 - 3 p.m. The event will be held at Batavia Downs, 8315 Park Road, Batavia.

Our Keynote Speaker will be, a multi-award-winning anchor and investigative reporter, Deanna Dewberry. In March 2017, Deanna joined the News10NBC team. Deanna is a strong advocate for women and a four-time cancer survivor. 

She is actively involved in community activities that enrich the lives of cancer survivors and women and promote social justice. Her commitment to advocating for her community has been evident throughout her career including stops in Dallas, Indianapolis, Little Rock, and Lubbock. 

That advocacy has earned her 12 regional Emmy Awards which included being named the region’s top consumer reporter. “We are so excited to have Deanna join us this year and help us honor some of Genesee County’s most incredible women”,
said Jamie Rada, YWCA Executive Director.

Nominations for the prestigious Women of Inspiration Awards are now open. Do you know an inspiring woman? A woman who makes her community a better place to live by going above and beyond for others? A woman who perseveres in the face of challenges and serves as a role model for women and girls? If so please consider nominating her for this years women of inspiration award.

For more information on nominating a deserving woman, event details, and registration, please visit

For Questions, Please Contact the YWCA of Genesee County Office at 585-343-5808.

City of Batavia Fire Department announces ISO rating of 3

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department has received its updated Insurance Services Office Public Protection Classification (PPC).

ISO works to classify all fire departments and fire districts on a scale of 1 to 10 with Class 1 being the best. Those classifications are used by insurance companies to help determine rates. The better the classification, the better the insurance rate. 

ISO’s Public Protection Classification Program (PPC) plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. In fact, most U.S. insurers – including the largest ones – use PPC information as part of their decision-making when deciding what business to write, coverages to offer, or prices to charge for personal or commercial property insurance.

ISO's PPC program evaluates communities according to a uniform set of criteria, incorporating nationally recognized standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Water Works Association. A community's PPC grade depends on:

  • Needed Fire Flows, which are representative building locations used to determine the theoretical amount of water necessary for fire suppression purposes.
  • Emergency Communications, including emergency reporting, telecommunicators, and dispatching systems.
  • Fire Department, including equipment, staffing, training, geographic distribution of fire companies, operational considerations, and community risk reduction.
  • Water Supply, including inspection and flow testing of hydrants, alternative water supply operations, and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires up to 3,500 gpm.

The City of Batavia Fire Department received a PPC of 3, which is considered highly protected. Out of 38,195 departments or districts evaluated, only 6,328 have a PPC of 3 or better.

This rating is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of the members on the CBFD. Special thanks to Captains Morris, Herberger, and Call for the effort put forth in collecting and providing the required documentation to receive this rating.

Batavia Rotary Club announces the grand prize drawing for major fundraiser

By Press Release
Taking it to the bank … Former Batavian Ned Chatt receives a check for $50,000 as the grand prize winner of the Batavia Rotary Club’s major fundraiser. 
Pictured(from left to right): Club President Susie Ott, Mr. Chatt, Event Co-Chair Laurie Mastin, and Ed Leising from the Club’s Foundation Board. Submitted photo.

Press Release:

The major fundraiser for the Batavia Rotary Club concluded with the grand prize drawing, but the real winners are the many local organizations that receive support from Rotary all year long.

"This is the major fundraiser that allows our club to make so many contributions to the community, such as $18,000 in college scholarships to area students each year," said President Susie Ott. 

Rotary is also contributing $250,000 toward the Healthy Living Campus under construction on Main Street, a joint project for the YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center.

Most recently, Rotary has offered a $150,000 matching pledge for the renovation of the local hospital's Intensive Care Unit, Mrs. Ott said.

Rotary's motto is Service Above Self, she explained. Rotarians actively engage in projects to improve the local community. 

"Fundraisers like this Corvette event are critical for helping us help others," said Lisa Ormsbee, who co-chairs the event with Laurie Mastin. 

Once again, the grand prize winner receives the choice of a Corvette or $50,000. The winning ticket that was drawn last week belongs to former Batavia resident Ned Chatt.

In addition to the grand prize, there are 10 additional prizes of $500 each, Mrs. Mastin explained.

Those winners are:

  • Christie Komarek
  • David Nelson
  • Howard Cohen
  • Patrick Kennedy
  • Parker Moeder
  • Kristen Shirtz
  • Vincent Pellegrino
  • James Main
  • Brett Rhinehart
  • Zachary Fuller

The drawing was live on Facebook.

Turnbull owners donate HVAC/R equipment to GCC

By Press Release
Submitted photo of the Triton Mechanical team, courtesy of Genesee Community College.

Press Release:

The Business and Employee Skills Training (BEST) Center at Genesee Community College is offering courses in HVAC/R and CNC starting this month. The renovation of two classrooms into HVAC/R and CNC laboratories has included the purchase of new equipment from grant funding. The CNC equipment purchases were made possible by an award of $400,000 from the Heckscher Foundation for Children Grant and additional SUNY support.

Developing new programs would not be possible without support from industry partners. GCC's Advanced Manufacturing Committee has been instrumental in guiding the skills, equipment, and curriculum needed for training and industry-recognized credentials", said Jennifer Wakefield, executive director of workforce development of The BEST Center.

A major supporter of the HVAC/R Program is Triton Mechanical. Triton Mechanical is a premier commercial refrigeration and HVAC service provider. 

"We respect our industry, our customers, our competitors, the environment, and above all, our employees. We are guided and governed by our core values of innovation, integrity, respect, and sustainability," said Jake Koch, president of Triton Mechanical.

Jake Koch's family has been involved in the heating and cooling business for decades. 

"I've been in the industry ever since I was a kid. I'm the fifth generation in my family to be involved in the industry. My great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather ran an ice delivery business; they were salesmen. My dad and my uncle ran a refrigeration company, and my family has been involved in it for a while," Koch said."

Koch, a resident of Hilton, has owned Triton Mechanical in Monroe County with his father Jeff, and friend Kevin O'Connell for more than six years. 

In 2023, Triton Mechanical purchased Turnbull Heating and Cooling in Batavia. The company originated organically, and the team - which also includes mom Wendy - has worked to make it a successful heating, ventilation, and air conditioning operation.

O'Connell has an extensive background in commercial refrigeration and HVAC. He began as a commercial service technician and has experience as a service manager, operations manager, and project manager. He is a certificated member of RSES (Refrigeration Service Engineers Society) and holds several NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certifications. Kevin oversees the technical training, compliance, and safety of the company.

"We are grateful for the generosity of Triton Mechanical for their commitment and investment in GCC's HVAC/R Program.," said Craig Lamb, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, "GCC's new vision and commitment to the applied technologies and skilled trades for the GLOW region will allow opportunity for a variety of students. Recent high school graduates, incumbent workers, and individuals who want a career change can find several opportunities at The BEST Center at Genesee Community College."

The first series of HVAC/R courses are scheduled from March 3 - March 20 on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Batavia Main Campus. CNC FANUC Certification courses have several classes scheduled in February and March. For more information, contact Christa Palmer, coordinator of technical programs at The BEST Center at or call (585) 345-6868 to register.

The BEST Center at GCC is the recognized regional leader in developing the skilled workforce that powers local economic growth. The Center serves individual employees as well as businesses large and small with seminars, workshops and trainings designed to improve the performance of people and processes.

A 'torn up' downtown Batavia to bring new police station, appearance to Bank Street

By Joanne Beck
bank street construction batavia
Bank Street's water project is Phase I of a three-phase strategy to spruce up and revamp the area with updated infrastructure, a new police station and streetscape appearance. Work is to be completed over 18 months into late 2025. 
File Photo by Howard Owens.

If you thought downtown Batavia was at all hampered by some traffic cones and a driving lane shutdown these past several weeks, that was just the appetizer for an ambitious entree of construction projects at Batavia City Centre beginning this April, and a corner city parking lot a few months later, city management says.

A water project along Bank Street from Main Street to Washington Avenue has caused the shutdown of one lane and slowed traffic for several weeks now, as Phase I of a three-phase project in that section of the downtown area. Phase II will be the new police station and a groundbreaking in the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street is expected to begin early this summer.

The police station, which will eventually move the department out of its 10 Main St. headquarters at Brisbane Mansion next to the county jail, will begin its journey of construction across from the Jerome Center in late spring, or early summer, Public Works Director Brett Frank said.

A third phase will complete the work in 2025 with a streetscape to more narrowly confine Bank Street, Frank said during Monday’s business meeting.

“So the Bank Street water project, first off … we've got four service connections to put in there. And then in springtime, final pavement will be done. So that'll take care of that water main project. So we're actually going to do this project in three phases. It's gonna be about a month of kind of being torn up. So we started with the water line in the spring, early summer, we're looking to break ground in a new police station. So we'll do that," Frank said. "And then as that kind of comes to close to being done, we're also entering into a Bank Street traffic calming and streetscape enhancement project. Right now we're at about 50 percent as far as designs are concerned, so that will take place on the back end of the police station. 

"So that'll kind of be what culminates, wraps everything, kind of ties it all together. Right now, tentatively, we're looking at 2025, next summer, as to actually the following summer, as to when we get into construction for that project," he said. "That will be a typical project where we’ll go to bid. It is a federal project like the Richmond Harvester project where it's at 80 percent federally reimbursed, and the remaining 20 percent will be paid for using funding. So it'll be the source of revenue for that.”

The Bank Street water project received a $334,000 grant for the total $418,000 project cost, and the city received a $2.5 million USDA grant to put towards the $15.5 million police station expense. A $944,934 grant will offset the total $1,113,920 cost of the Bank Streetscape project, which is the only one of those three still in the design phase. 

City Council members push back at budget criticism, defend decisions

By Joanne Beck
Rob Houseknecht
City of Batavia resident Rob Houseknecht questions and critiques the proposed 2024-25 budget during Monday's City Council business meeting at City Hall. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

One thing that city resident Rob Houseknecht — who has raised several issues regarding the proposed 2025 budget  — cannot complain about is that his criticism was not heard Monday evening at City Hall.

Houseknecht took to the podium for the several minutes that he was allowed, and questioned city police staffing, the proposed two-cent tax rate increase, an implied safety level on city streets, and what he and apparently others felt was a bloated budget.

“You probably know that we had a meeting at the Holland Land Office on Saturday, a number of city residents showed up, and, a lot of comments were there that not everybody's happy with what you guys are doing here,” he said during City Council’s business meeting. “I'm not in favor of any tax increase, I don't care whether it's small or not. We're getting hit around from every branch of government, federal state, county city. Why, and we keep putting more people on. They want to hire more officers, like to the tune of five, for 80-something-thousand a year. If I remember correctly, the city manager said city streets are safe: you can walk Main Street at any time of day or night, you can walk the side streets, you can walk on the south side of the street, you can walk all over it.

“Well, I'm wondering if the city manager’s actually walked at night. I have, and I felt very uncomfortable. Just walking down the main street in the summertime, not a good feeling for me. And so my point is, if the streets are so safe, why do we need five more officers?” he said.  “I don't know. I just don't see it. Like I said, every time you hire somebody, it is affecting our tax base. I would think that you guys would work hard for the city residents to not have tax increases and keep things as cheap for people as you can.”

Houseknecht questioned the need for an extra position to handle freedom of information requests at the police station, and the five additional patrol officers — a recommendation that came from a state criminal justice study and is not in this proposed budget — and suggested using the grant writer to perform some of those police clerical duties. 

He was surprised to learn that the city population has grown by more than the 100 people he initially thought. Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said that the total has grown by more than 1,000, though the total population in the city’s budget materials cites a growth of 135, for a total of 15,600 according to the April 2020 census.  

The point was that the city’s budget is providing services for a larger number of citizens, and Houseknecht then wanted to know if council members have looked at “who these people are and what they do?” Are these additional residents “people that are holding jobs here in the city of Batavia,” he said.

“Are they people that are here for our handouts of welfare and things like this, and where are they going? Isn’t that an important factor?” he said. “It is to me. There is just so much here that I could talk for probably all night … I just don’t support the tax increase, and I think you should take a look at the budget and trim it down. See where you can double up people, see where you can make things work without hiring more people.”

He also mentioned that he saw a Batavia City Police car in Akron and wondered what it was doing there. That vehicle belongs to a school resource officer who lives in Akron and drives it to work in Batavia and back home, where he parks it, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. The city school district pays for SRO salaries, and the police department budget provides for the vehicles, which are part of the contract, she said. 

The topic of city vehicles being taken home by department heads also came up, and Tabelski said there are 13 instances of people taking vehicles home, and not all of them are outside of the city as claimed. They are part of contractual negotiations and include the K-9 vehicle, Bureau of Maintenance, public works, water and wastewater superintendents, snow and emergency management positions, fire, police, and department heads, and detectives.

Jankowski said that the city is also considering the purchase of used vehicles when possible to reduce the expense. Council recently discussed the possibility with Public Works Director Brett Frank during a budget session.

“That’s what we’re looking into,” Frank said. “We budgeted for replacement of three vehicles that are new replacements. But if we can find something through that program, we absolutely have no problem with that.”

As for city streets being safe, Tabelski clarified that she wants all city streets to be a safe place for residents to walk at any time, and that is what the police department is aiming for with its Neighborhood Enforcement Team, surveillance cameras, and other ramped up law enforcement strategies. Here is what she was quoted as saying in a Jan. 23 article on The Batavian from a Jan. 22 budget session:

“I think it's always good to think about our mission, why we're here for the residents of our city, what we want the city to be. I want the city to be a safe place, a family-friendly place where I'm comfortable walking down the streets with my kids, any hour, night and day.”

Councilman Paul Viele pointed out that Tabelski “did a great job” with the budget, and that people want to complain even though they also “want a police officer when they need it, and they want the fire department when they need it.”

“But people should really be bitching about school taxes because that’s a joke,” Viele said. “The city’s taxes count little, the school’s huge. So I think our manager did a great job, and no one complains about the school taxes, and that’s the worst one.”

Fellow councilman Rich Richmond said that he and Councilman Bob Bialkowski both sat on the city’s Audit Committee and learned about all of the ins and outs of city finances, such as how water treatment plant chemicals increased close to 112 percent, he said. The city’s grant writer, a position that gets “bashed” for being indulgent spending, pays for itself by obtaining grants for projects, he said. 

He then posed the dubious question: what do you want to cut? Should we cut at the fire department, the sewage treatment plant, the water department, any and all of them?

“Those cuts are fine and good until you need that. Well, let's talk about vehicles, for example, some have a problem with certain people in management, the fire chief, the police chief, taking the vehicle home. If there's an emergency in the city, should they drive in, in their own car, and park it someplace to respond to a hostage situation or a bad fire?” he said. “I’ll say it again, I was on the audit committee. And my colleague, Bob Bialkowski was on the audit committee. Nothing was brought up, everything was fine. As a matter of fact, we both praised the city workers for coming up with the bare-bones budget. And I applaud all the people in this city for the hard work that they're doing.”

Council set a budget public hearing for 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at City Hall. The budget remains at about $37 million with a tax levy of $6.7 million and a two-cent increase per $1,000 property assessment. That would mean a $2 increase per year on a home assessed at $100,000 and a proposed tax rate of $8.96 per $1,000 property assessment. There is also an increase of 19 cents per 1,000 gallons of water, plus water meter and capital improvement increases, for an estimated total of $47.20 more per year for a household of four people. 

Rich Richmond
City Councilman-at-Large Rich Richmond
Photo by Joanne Beck
Paul Viele
City Councilman, Ward 1, Paul Viele
Photo by Joanne Beck
John Roach
John Roach has become a fixture of City Council meetings, often attending and occasionally speaking up to share his concerns and ask questions. During council's business meeting Monday evening, Roach did both.  “Nobody wants to pay a penny more in taxes. And nobody wants to pay taxes whatsoever. We all want stuff but nobody wants to pay for it. And I don't want to pay for anything, but I want something. So I have realized the budget is as lean as it's going to get," the city resident said.  "Two council members have said they're going to vote against the budget. I would ask that maybe during the response time, that they tell us what they would cut to get the tax rate flat. I have yet to hear, you know, like a half a parking lot, which isn't going to affect the budget. What will you cut, or recommend, between now and next week, that would reduce it to flat."He was referring to members Bob Bialkowski and Tammy Schmidt, both of whom have said they do not want a tax increase. Bialkowski proposed slicing half of the cost of a parking lot project to remove $110,000 -- the increase of the tax levy -- however, that parking lot money is coming from reserves and would therefore not affect the bottom line of the budget and levy, Tabelski said at that time.
Photo By Joanne Beck

Long Train Runnin, Proven Desire win big at Batavia Downs

By Tim Bojarski
Photo of Long Train Runnin courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.

The fourth and final leg of the Western New York Trasckmaster Series for pacers was held at Batavia Downs on Monday afternoon (Feb. 12) and after the dust had settled, both Long Train Runnin and Proven Desire will enter the Trackmaster 79 division finals unbeaten.  

In his $9,000 division, Long Train Runnin (Dave McNeight III) led the field off the gate but yielded the top to Dogfight (Kevin Cummings) at the 27.4 quarter. However that change was short-lived as McNeight sent the Train back down the tracks immediately to regain the lead. Now firmly back in control, Long Train Runnin backed off the half to 58 and met no opposition in doing so. With the group still in single file, the leader marched to three-quarters in 1:26.4 with only a mild bid from Huntsville Place (Kyle Swift) at that station. Long Train Runnin rounded the last bend and paced into the lane with a 1-½ length lead while the pocket-sitting Dogfight tried to make up ground. But Long Train Runnin made it to the station first and on time in 1:55.3.

It was the fourth straight win for Long Train Runnin ($3.40) who is owned by Paige Usiak and William Emmons. Jim Clouser Jr. trains the winner.

Clouser and Emmons are also the connections of Proven Desire, who won his $9,000 division and extended his winning streak to three.

John Cummings Jr. flew to the front with Proven Desire and opened up a two-length advantage in 28.2. While P L Notorious (Kevin Cummings) tracked from second, Proven Desire took his gapped advantage to the half in 58 and three-quarters in 1:27. As they entered the last turn, Cummings threw the lines at the leader and Proven Desire took off. He opened up 1-½ lengths at the top of the stretch and extended that lead to two as he cruised to the line in 1:55.4.

Proven Desire returned $3.20.

Clouser and Emmons also won with Lanas Desire (1:56.1, $2.50) in another $9,000 division giving that connection a hat trick for the second week in a row as they advanced all three of their horses to the final.

The 10-year-old pacer Sir Pugsley hit a career milestone in the 12th race after going gate to wire in 1:56.2. It was the 40th career win for the son of American Ideal and Q and A who has now bankrolled $453,798 as a result of his success. Taylor Fritz both owns and trains Sir Pugsley.

Driver Dave McNeight III scored a natural hat trick in races seven, eight and nine and his win total was matched by Kevin Cummings, who was also victorious in three races on Monday. Trainer Sam Smith matched Jim Clouser Jr.’s three win total as well, to finish as co-conditioning leader for the afternoon.

The WNY Trackmaster Series pacing finals will be held next Monday afternoon (Feb. 19) at 3 p.m. The TM79 division will have a $20,000 final and two consolations worth $10,500 and $9,000. The TM75 division will have a $17,000 final and two consolations worth $8,500 and $7,500. And the TM71 group features a $14,000 final and two consolations worth $7,500 and $6,500. The top eight money earners in each group make the final and the second consolation must realize seven entries to be a go.

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Feb. 15) at 3 p.m. and that card will feature the fourth and final round of the Western New York Trackmaster Series for trotters. Also there will be a $2,273 carryover in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta in the 13th race.

Free full past performance programs for every live card of racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website ( under the “Live Racing” tab and all the racing action can be viewed as it happens for free at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page.

Photo of Proven Desire courtesy of Wendy J. Lowery.


HLOM presents 'Spirits and Suspects, a Roaring 20’s Murder Mystery'

By Press Release

Press Release:

Join the Holland Land Office Museum for another Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. The event will be on Saturday, March 23rd from 6-8 pm at the Batavia Country Club, located at 7909 Byron Rd. in Batavia. Enjoy a great meal from The Lodge at the Country Club and a wonderful show by WNY Improv. 

The mystery is "Spirits and Suspects, a Roaring 20’s Murder Mystery." Prohibition may be in full swing but for the Kingpin of Genesee County, the booze business is booming! What could possibly go wrong? Put your glad rags on and join the fun as mobsters, molls, and even a medium, face the eclipse... 

Tickets are $75 per person. There is a choice of three entrée options including stuffed chicken with beef, crab-stuffed fish, or pasta primavera. Please make your choice when you purchase your ticket. Your ticket includes your meal and dessert. A cash bar will be available. Links to buy tickets online are available at the museum’s website

Hawley visits Jackson Primary students for his annual Valentines for Veterans program

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Assemblyman Steve Hawley with students at Jackson Primary.

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) hosted his annual Valentines for Veterans program. Hawley teamed up with Jackson Primary and Robert Morris School to deliver over 150 handmade valentines from students to the residents at The New York State Veterans Home at Batavia. 

During this time, Hawley spoke to students about the importance of veterans and their service to our nation. Hawley hopes this event will raise awareness of veterans' issues and show the community’s appreciation for their service and sacrifice for our country.

“As a veteran myself, I understand the sacrifices our veterans have made to keep our country free,” said Hawley. “This is why every year I put on our Valentines for Veterans program to get our community involved in supporting our veterans. I’m thankful to the faculty and students at Jackson Primary and Robert Morris School for partnering with us this year and I hope to continue to put this event on for years to come.”

HLOM History: the Flying Allens -- Batavia’s family of daredevils

By Ryan Duffy
Flying Allens of Batavia

Edwin Allen and his family were known across the United States as the “Flying Allens” and became some of the foremost aerial balloon daredevils throughout the first half of the 20th century. The Allens made their home in Batavia and always came back to Genesee County no matter how far-flung their escapades took them. 

Four generations of the Allen family rode in balloons dating all the way back to the Civil War. 

While Edwin Allen was the patriarch of the most prolific branch of the “Flying Allens,” the first balloonist was his grandfather, James, who was a balloon observer for the Union Army. All three of his sons became aerial exhibitionists in and around Dansville. Comfort Allen, Edwin’s father, made jumps with his older son Warren, also known as “Speck,” or alone. 

Ed and his twin brother Edgar, Red, continued the family tradition beginning when they were only 11 years old. They would ride up in a hot air balloon and then glide down on a parachute while holding onto a crossbar. Their first jump occurred in Lockport. Red’s career would last until 1924, when his balloon burst 200 feet up, and he was injured in the subsequent crash. Ed would continue a solo career until his children were old enough to join the family business. 

Ed Allen moved to Batavia in 1926, living on Vernon Avenue, to begin working for the P.W. Minor Shoe Company, and he married Louise Cromwell in 1934. 

In 1937 he was promoted to foreman, but he retired from the factory the next year to open a service station at 614 East Main St., which he ran until 1950. 

All five of the Allen children would join their father in his ballooning spectacles. Eddie Jr. began jumping at 18, followed by Gloria and Florence. The two eldest daughters were billed as “the World’s Youngest Jumpers” once their careers took off. They marveled at crowds in their white and black outfits as they glided down on their white parachutes.  

They took their act to another level by being shot from a cannon suspended under the basket of a balloon. The Allens traveled to fairs and carnivals all around the country, though always coming back home to make appearances. Their testing ground was located behind their service station on East Main Street. However, things changed in 1949 when New York State outlawed the performances, forcing “The Flying Allens” to work out of state. 

Captain Eddie, as he became known, continued to jump from his balloon until 1965, when he broke his leg during a jump at the age of 70. In 1977, he told reporters that he had made 3,253 jumps in his lifetime. 

Captain Eddie still attended balloon rallies regularly and was honored by several regional groups throughout the 1970s but was always proud of being from Batavia. 

In 1979 and 1980, The Festival Genesee hosted balloonists from across the United States to honor Edwin Allen for his lifetime of achievements.  

The death-defying stunts of the Allen family did not come without their price, as many of the family members suffered serious injuries or worse while performing their feats. Three of the Allen children, Gloria, Joseph, and Arlene, suffered severe injuries and died as a result of accidents involving the performances. Gloria died in 1939 after a very hard landing caused a severe brain injury. Arlene was killed after parachuting into power lines in 1946. Edwin’s nephew, Warren Jr., also was killed during a jump in 1946 when he fell 75 feet from his basket. 

Edwin Allen survived his thrilling career and passed away at his home in 1984. 

Flying Allens of Batavia
Flying Allens of Batavia
Flying Allens of Batavia

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