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November 10, 2008 - 12:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Daily News.

Batavia's CIty Manager Jason Molino told the Daily News that the city's public works union has dropped its grievance with the city. That union had taken issue with the city's "use of volunteer's in the place of public works employees." Beck writes:

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed the grievance after the 2007 Summer in the City festival. The group claimed it lost out on overtime work during the summer event.

I can't imagine city taxpayers would ever take the side of the union in this dispute. If the city can save $3,000—the figure cited by Beck—by getting more volunteers to clean up at the festival, why wouldn't they?

As Business Improvement District Manager Don Burkel said: "Our motive has always been that if we can save the city money, then we'll do that. It's a volunteer group. We're doing volunteer things." The BID runs the Summer in the City event.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

November 10, 2008 - 12:00pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports.

While starting to prepare myself for the basketball season, I stumbled upon a pretty cool post on  www.familyoldphotos.com featuring this photo of the 1925-1926 boys basketball team at Batavia High School.

The lettermen on the team were captain John Luther, Klein McCurdy, Albert Morehouse, Elbert Martin, Roy Wickens, Donald Sutherland and manager Charles Hodgson. There are also three unnamed players in the photo.

I looked around and tried to find a record, but statistics from those days don't tend to make it to the Internet.

It would be cool get get more information on this team, if anybody knows that history.

November 10, 2008 - 11:52am
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports.


Batavia product Missy Thurston is looking to help the Keuka women's basketball team this season as a returning player for the Storm.

Thurston was a star point guard for the Blue Devils and is entering her junior season with Keuka.

She scored 5.9 points per game last season and led the team with 66 steals, while dishing out 33 assists.

Here is a full preview of the Kueka women's basketball team, which went 14-10 last season.

November 8, 2008 - 7:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, hockey.

Katie Stack, of Batavia, a sophomore at RIT, had a key assist last night as the Tigers beat Neumann College 6-1.

Klassen struck again at 5:17 of the second on a short-handed breakaway. The Tigers were down two, and Katie Stack (Batavia, NY) poked the puck free at center ice. She and Klassen broke in two-on-one. Stack flicked a pass over to Klassen who tipped the puck home for her second tally of the night.

November 8, 2008 - 7:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bill kauffman.

After 18 months of living in Batavia, local blogger Martin Szinger is getting settled into life in his new home town.

I was born and raised the Town of Tonawanda, a first-ring suburb of Buffalo. As an adult, I moved out to the "country" in Genesee County, Town of Batavia. Always Buffalo-facing, I never gave much thought to the City of Batavia, five miles to the east, other than it being the shopping destination of choice for most of life's daily needs. I came to understand that most of Genesee County is more likely to be Rochester-facing - we got the 585 area code with them, bland pollsters operating from a half a world away assume we watch the Rochester TV stations, and so on. But I never gave much consideration to the idea that any significant number of people could be Batavia-facing.

Great way of putting it: That you can live in Batavia and not look to Buffalo or to Rochester, but actually be Batavia-facing.

It's probably no surprise that Martin getting knee deep in appreciation for Batavia coincides with his reading Bill Kauffman's book.

Slowly, I've become more interested in the history of the place. I've just finished reading Bill Kauffman's Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, in which the author's classic experience of the Native Son returning to his small hometown is set in the very same Batavia. It's his vehicle for bemoaning so much of what's been lost in Small Town America and also celebrating the good in What Remains There, but it's also very much about Batavia. Literate (probably to a fault) and witty (to compensate), Kauffman produces a veritable parade of references that shed light on Batavia so as to almost move it from the Real to the Mythic. You can feel the love, and it's contagious.

And we're gratified to know that Martin reads The Batavian and that he is considering taking our advice to subscribe to the home town newspaper. We also encourage him to make a habit of WBTA.

You can enrich your life when you turn to your own home town and make it not just a place where you watch TV and sleep at night, but where you actually live.

November 7, 2008 - 4:09pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, Daily News, pontillos.

 In Friday's edition of The Daily News, Sam Pontillo gave reporter Joanne Beck his side of the story, and it is kind of confusing.

The Batavian broke the story about Pontillo's restaurant owing about $112,000 in back taxes on Wednesday after a story in the paper about it being closed for renovations.

Pontillo told Beck that he does not own the Batavia branch, but does own the Le Roy one. He says that the Batavia restaurant is still in his mother's name and the estate is being settled, blaming his brother John for the financial situation.

John claims that Sam and another brother, Paul, are at fault for the situation. It sounds pretty messy.

Sam Pontillo also says the Batavia restaurant will reopen in a few weeks with renovations that "won't be an obvious change that patrons will notice".

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

November 5, 2008 - 4:22pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, restaurants, business, finance, Pontillo's.

Monday morning, Pontillo's restaurant in Batavia closed up shop temporarily for renovations. "It's all good," owner Sam Pontillo told Daily News reporter Joanne Beck. In that article, which appeared in the Tuesday edition of the Daily, Beck wrote that Pontillo "expects to re-open ... within a couple of weeks."

One has to wonder if that's really the case. Owing to an anonymous tip, The Batavian has learned that "Pontillo's Pizzeria" in Batavia owes more than $112,000 in unpaid taxes to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. In an attempt to collect those funds, the state department has issued six tax warrants to "Pontillo's Batavia Pizzeria Inc." totalling $58,379. Another roughly $53,000 in unpaid taxes were the subject of warrants issued to other "trade" names of Pontillo's.

Finance Department Spokesperson Susan Burns:

"Generally, the tax department tries to work with the taxpayer and work on some sort of negotiated settlement in order to satisfy those warrants. Generally we like to see everything come to a positive outcome, and that's generally what happens in these situations. Sometimes, is there a time when a business is seized? Yes, that happens also."

No seizure of property has yet been made by the state, however, Burns said. Pontillo's is not faced with any deadline when the taxes must be paid. Burns stressed that the department does its best to negotiate a settlement before it comes to legal seizures.

In a records search at the Office of the Genesee County Clerk, The Batavian turned up six tax warrants issued to Pontillo's Batavia Pizzeria Inc. Two of those were for withholding tax, three for sales tax and one for corporate tax, explained Burns. They were issued between March 28 and October 17, of this year. All are still outstanding.

In addition to these, we discovered another tax warrant issued to "Sam's Tomato Pies Inc." and "Pontillo's Pizza" in the amount of $36,117.80. Another warrant in the amount of $17,585.03 was issued to "Pontillo's Pizzeria." Burns explained that "Pontillo's Batavia Pizzeria Inc." has been trading under the name "Sam's Tomato Pies Inc." for about a year or so now. Pontillo's Pizzeria is the sort of general rubric that comprises the Batavia Pizzeria Inc. and Sam's Tomato Pies. That entity is responsible for all of the owed taxes listed under all three "trade" names, which amounts to more than $112,000.

A warrant was also issued to Pontillo's Batavia Pizzeria Inc. by the New York State Department of Labor in the amount of $1,640.92. The Workers' Compensation Board of the State of New York has also filed a judgment in the amount of $1,250, in addition to a civil suit filed with the state's Supreme Court.

Whether this is related to the recent closure of Pontillo's, we cannot say. The Batavian tried to contact Sam Pontillo earlier today. We left a message at the Pontillo's restaurant in Le Roy at 3:30pm. We also tried a telephone number listed for John Pontillo in the Batavia phone book, but that was disconnected.

November 4, 2008 - 8:15pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, football, sports, Notre Dame, dundee.

 I love video.

Jim Nigro did a great job of covering the Notre Dame/Dundee game for us this past weekend and he described a controversial no-call that allowed Dundee to score its first touchdown of the game.

Dundee won the sectional finals contest 22-14 in overtime and what appeared to be an offensive pass interference call wound up costing the Fighting Irish, big time.

Here is some video I was given today (not the best quality, but does the job) that shows the play in question. It does appear that Dundee WR Dustyn Thompson did push off and the call was not made. What do you think?


November 4, 2008 - 7:58pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, politics, genesee county, video, election, Republican, Democrat.

Earlier today, we stopped by the Genesee County Democratic and Republican headquarters in Batavia to see how the campaigns were doing as we come down the stretch. It couldn't have worked out better, as we ran into everybody's favorite Democrat Dan Jones and everybody's favorite Republican Jay Grasso.

Here's what they had to say about how hard they're working and why their side will win tonight. Who sounds more convincing?

November 4, 2008 - 5:10pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, election, vote.

While these elections haven't really captured my attention, I always like to know what is going on around town. I went out to visit a few polling stations in the city (Holland Land Office, Robert Morris, YMCA) and for an early afternoon while most people are still at work, there was a decent turnout.

I talked with a lot of people about the importance of doing their duty as Americans and making that vote. Many of the people were very passionate about that.

Some of the volunteers I spoke with said that the early morning saw a ton of Batavians out voting and they expect it to be swamped after people get out of work.

November 4, 2008 - 4:56pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, fire department, fire.

 As I was out checking out some polling spots in Batavia, I happened to notice some fire trucks on Union St.

I stopped to see what was going on and it wasn't anything too serious, but somebody lost their lawnmower.

Apparently some dry leaves got caught up in the mower and started the blaze.


November 4, 2008 - 10:09am

If you had to pick a race statewide that could determine what party has the majority in the New York State Senate, look no further than the 61st Senate District. Democratic candidate Joe Mesi is taking on Republican Mike Ranzenhofer in a very close and hotly contested race.

Tonight, Mesi held a gathering in Batavia. At left it was I encountered when I pulled up to park for the event. What I didn't get on camera was the half-dozen Ranzenhofer supporters that decided they would stand in front of the event's venue - Main Street Cafe - holding Ranzenhofer signs. Apparently they decided that since the Democrats had been doing it for awhile in front of their headquarters, they would do it on the eve of the election.

But inside the event was a great atmosphere. At its peak, the event had 40-50 people. There were people of all ages in attendance for pizza, mingling with Mesi and a nice enjoyable evening before Election Day.

Mesi also addressed the crowd. You can hear the bulk of his remarks in this video:  

I remember first meeting Joe Mesi. That was nearly seven months ago. You could tell then that he was still learning. He was educating himself about the important issues and told the story that led to his candidacy. His brother lost his job at American Axle and that motivated Mesi to run for office.

Since my interview with Mesi, he has evolved into quite a candidate. His Plan for Change is pure genius. I say that because he put his platform into an easy-to-read booklet that was available at his campaign headquarters and handed out tonight at the gathering. Candidates usually use basic talking points on the stump or ramble on about what their policy positions are. Instead of doing that, Mesi decided to put his plans and his positions on paper for the world to see. That way, if there are any questions about where he stands, you can refer to the booklet.

So why should the people of the 61st Senate District elect Joe Mesi their state senator? Mesi is genuine. He truly cares about Western New York. This is where he built his life. This is where he became a heavyweight boxer. This is where he became a local star. And this is where he wants to stay, raise his own family and better the region that has given so much to him. He will be a great state senator for Erie and Genesee counties and he will represent them well.

November 1, 2008 - 6:38pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in batavia, sports, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame proved to be the sternest test of the year for the Dundee Scotsmen, and who knows what might have been if not for a controversial non-call which resulted in the game’s first score.  In the end, the Fighting Irish gave undefeated Dundee all they could handle before coming up short in overtime. 

  Hard hitting was the order of the day. For most of the first half, Dundee and Notre Dame jockeyed for field position by trading punts. With 5:56 to go in the second quarter, Dundee quarterback Justin Schenk fired a long pass downfield. Dustyn Thompson, the intended receiver, shoved the Notre Dame defensive back with both hands, knocking him off balance. With the defender out of the picture, Thompson caught the ball uncontested and raced to the end zone. No flag was thrown, the point after was good and the half ended 7 - 0.

            In the third quarter Notre Dame’s Justin Shenk (not to be confused with Dundee’s Justin Schenk) blocked a punt and Cam McDonald recovered. The opportunity was squandered by a combination of timely defense and penalties. 

 At the 4:19 mark of the quarter Mike Raplee caught a quick strike from Justin Schenk and turned it into a 51 yard touchdown. After the PAT the Scotsmen led 14 - 0 and at this point Notre Dame began playing inspired defense. At 11:56 Kevin Schildwaster scored on a five yard run. Point after made it 14 – 7. The Scotsmen were stopped yet again by the Fighting Irish and Bochicchio drove his team toward the goal line. This time it was Mike Pratt carrying the ball into the end zone at the 4:10 mark.

 With time running out Dundee moved the ball to the Notre Dame ten but time ran out. Steven Webb scored on the third play of overtime and the Scotsmen went for two. The conversion was good and Dundee was up 22 – 14.

On their final possession, the Fighting Irish made it close, but an illegal procedure penalty nullified a completion inside the five and the resulting first down.        

 Offensively for Notre Dame Mark Schildwaster carried seventeen times for 60 yards. Mike Pratt carried thirteen times, also for 60 yards. Nick Bochicchio was 7 of 12 passing for 46 yards.

 For Dundee Steven Webb carried 14 times for 94 yards and quarterback Dustin Thompson was 7 of 14 passing for 140 yards, 2 Td’s and an interception.

Defensively for Notre Dame, Kevin Francis had 7.5 tackles, 1.5 for a loss and 3 assists. Craig Houseknecht amassed 6.5 tackles and 7 assists. Cam McDonald added 6 tackles and 6 assists.  


November 1, 2008 - 11:16am
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Notre Dame.

 Today is the big day.

Notre Dame is playing Dundee at PAETEC Park at Noon in the Class D finals while Le Roy plays Letchworth and Oakfield-Alabama and Pembroke do battle in Class C semifinal action at Aquinas High School.

Keep checking in to The Batavian today for results, photos and video from these games.

October 30, 2008 - 9:52pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, Attica, football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Notre Dame.

This is a huge weekend for area high school football as five teams are still alive. The Batavian will have coverage at every game featured this weekend.

All of the previews are done, and all have video. Check them out.


Letchworth vs. Le Roy  

Dundee vs. Notre Dame

Attica vs. Bath

Pembroke vs. Oakfield-Alabama



October 30, 2008 - 7:43pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, football, sports, Notre Dame, dundee.

 Notre Dame (6-2) vs. Dundee (8-0)

Noon, Saturday, at PAETEC Park

The Notre Dame football team has been on a roll, cruising through the opening two rounds of the playoffs by a combined score of 111-6.

The Fighting Irish blasted DeSales 55-6 in the first round and then thrashed Perry 56-0 last week. Everything is clicking.

The defense has only allowed a total of 142 yards rushing in two games and the Yellowjackets only had one serious chance to score in the semifinals.

Craig Houseknecht, Rick Lair and the rest of the defense is playing near-perfect football; and they are going to have to keep that up to avenge last year's 18-13 loss in the semifinals at the hands of Dundee.

The Scotsmen have put 385 points on the scoreboard this season and have crushed some teams, even giving Red Jacket an 89-6 beat-down in Week 5.

The offense is led by junior running back Steve Webb, who earned Offensive Player of the Week in a 53-14 win over Marcus Whitman, when he rushed for 190 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Dundee will throw the ball a little and does have a few other options, but Webb is the go-to guy.

Notre Dame's offense has turned from good to great in recent weeks and will also face a stiff challenge because the Scotsmen have only given up 45 points this season. Marcus Whitman is the only team to score over 10 points in a game this season against them and Dundee is coming off a 49-0 blowout of Geneseo.

The Fighting Irish have a ton of team speed and last week it was Mike Pratt to take advantage of the East Rochester turf, picking up 109 yards with three touchdowns. He is now at 615 yards on the season.

Kevin Schildwaster is a speedster in the backfield and has 675 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The passing game will most likely be needed because of Dundee's stout defense, and Notre Dame has had little difficulties with that.

Nick Bochicchio threw two more touchdown passes last week, even though there was little need to throw the football. His top target is always going to be Kevin Francis.

Francis had a nice punt return last week but is the biggest threat on the turf. It is only a matter of time before he gets some space on a kick return, punt return or short reception and he's going to make a big play. There aren't many players as fast as Francis playing football in the smaller schools in Section 5.

Neither team lacks experience as Dundee has a bunch of players that return after going to the sectional finals last season and Notre Dame has plenty of talent that were sophomores on the 2006 sectional championship squad.

Dundee is sixth in the state in Class D and the Fighting Irish debut at No. 15 this week.


October 29, 2008 - 10:05pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, baseball, muckdogs, sports.

Four former Batavia Muckdogs just earned World Series rings.

The Philadelphia Phillies just beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 to win the World Series 4 games to 1, claiming the first team title in 28 years.

Philadelphia used to be the parent club of the Muckdogs before St. Louis took over two years ago and some players on the team got their professional baseball start in Batavia.

First baseman Ryan Howard hit six homers in Batavia, playing 48 games in 2001. Second baseman Chase Utley batted .307 while playing 40 games in 2000.

Starting pitcher J.A. Happ went 1-2 in 11 starts for Batavia in 2004 and reliever Ryan Madson had a 5-5 record in 15 starts in 1999.

October 28, 2008 - 8:50pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, Le Roy, sports, byron, volleyball.

 The Genesee Region League is typically very strong in volleyball, with Byron-Bergen, Notre Dame and Attica as top squads almost every year.

Those teams, a couple of others in the GR as well as Le Roy and Batavia are all kicking off the playoffs on Wednesday.

Byron-Bergen is 19-1, has won six consecutive sectional championships and will get the top seed in Class C, hosting No. 8 Marion in the first round at 6:30 p.m. 

Le Roy earned the top seed in Class CC with a 9-7 record and will host No 8 Sodus at 5 p.m.

Pembroke is a seventh seed and will be playing Mynderse at Victor at 5.

Batavia is a fourth seed and hosting No. 5 Aquinas at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Class BB with No. 4 Attica will host No. 5 Waterloo at 7 in Class B.

Notre Dame is a third seed - earning a bye - in Class D and is hosting either Houghton or Romulus at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Alexander was a ninth seed in Class DD and was at Perry Tuesday night, but got knocked out in the first round, 20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 26-16.

Chelsea Turcer had seven kills and seven aces for Alexander.

October 28, 2008 - 8:17pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, Attica, football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Notre Dame, Alabama.

 I'll be visiting the five teams that are still playing in the Section 5 playoffs this week, doing video previews as well as my written ones. They will all be on The Batavian on Thursday to help fans get ready for the games.

Notre Dame will be playing Dundee on Saturday at  noon at PAETEC Park in the Class D finals.

Le Roy will play Letchworth at 1 p.m. with Pembroke vs. Oakfield-Alabama to follow at Aquinas in the Class C semifinals on Saturday.

Then Attica will play Bath at 6 p.m. Sunday at PAETEC in a Class B semifinal game.

I attended two practices today and will visit the other three teams on Wednesday and Thursday. You will get the most in-depth previews for local teams as we go deeper into the playoffs here at The Batavian.

I will also be covering games this weekend as well as doing a radio preview and guest appearance during the game on WVIN for the Attica/Bath game on Sunday. You will be able to hear the broadcast locally at www.localsportsedge.com

WBTA will also be broadcasting local games this weekend. The Notre Dame/Dundee game can be heard on 1490 AM or at www.wbta1490.com, and then at the conclusion of that game, Le Roy/Letchworth will be picked up. WBTA will stay on the air to cover the Oakfield-Alabama/Pembroke contest.

You will be able to see video highlights, a game story and photos of each game as soon as possible on The Batavian as well.


October 28, 2008 - 4:52pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Buffalo.

Ah, the grand premier! Gina Pero remembers it well. She was four years old and already inspired by the spirit of dance. So inspired, in fact, that she danced right into the stage curtains. When her mother saw her little girl get caught there in the drapery, she thought for sure that was the end of that.

Instead, it was just the beginning. Curtains aside, Gina fell in love with the stage.

"I was a shy child," she says. "But not on the stage. It was that distance, being high up, that space between the stage and the audience, that fine line. I loved the lights. As soon as the lights hit me, I used to get that feeling like no other, like I was supposed to be on stage."

Dance turned out to be the one thing Gina Pero cherished almost as much as her family.

"Growing up in Batavia was great because my entire family lives there," says Gina. "We're a very close family."

Literally close. Gina told me how she used to walk to her "Nana and Papa's" house, just down the street, where she would fill up on homemade Italian meals—her favorite. That's probably the hardest thing about living in New York City now, she admits: being away from everyone back home.

But for the next month and a half she won't be too far.

On November 13, Gina will take the stage as a Radio City Rockette at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will run nearly every day from then until November 30—sometimes up to four times in a day. (Follow the link above for ticket and showtime info.)

"For me to be a Rockette, I feel strong, I feel that I am a strong woman," she says. "I love the womanhood that is happening with the girls."

Rehearsal is strenuous, says Gina. All of the girls rehearse for at least six hours a day, not counting the time they spend before rehearsals warming up or the time after in the ice baths, cooling down, or, after all of that, the time most girls put in, still practicing, working late with the athletic directors, the choreographers, the stage managers.

"We have everything in the palm of our hands," she says.

Life as a Rockette may have been "one of the most amazing experiences" of Gina's life thus far, she admits, but it hasn't been the only one. Receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance education from the University of Buffalo in 2002 was a fine moment. Dancing with magician Jason Byrne in Japan wasn't too bad either. Nor was going larger-than-life as a billboard model for the show "Air Play" at the Tropicana Resort in Las Vegas... to name a few. Let's not forget, either, that Gina was a heck of a cheerleader at Notre Dame, where she also landed herself in the national honor society.

These days, Gina's especially proud of a program she started in New York City called Inside Out. She explains it as "a program to help artists find their inner voice and stay positive." The idea is to "keep artists from giving up and help them find out who they are and to appreciate what they have."

For the folks back home who haven't yet been down to the Big Apple, Gina's got a helpful tip: "Know your train."

"It's fast paced here," she says. "We drive everywhere in Batavia, but in New York you walk or take the train. There's a lot more variety of things to do, as far as anything for anybody. Anyone can go there and find work and find fun and find a place to live."

Talking to Gina, who seems to have done more than most folks do in a lifetime, you get the sense that she has only just begun.

"I want to continue doing everything," she says. "I want to perform forever. There's no feeling like the feeling on stage. I'm really looking forward to opening night at Shea's. It's going to be an amazing experience for me and my family."

(Photos courtesy of Radio City Entertainment)

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