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January 25, 2023 - 10:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, Deanna King, Nate McMurray, batavia.

A U.S. Magistrate on Wednesday upheld a motion by David Bellavia to remove him as a codefendant in a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife alleging a conspiracy to effect a false arrest by officials in Orleans County in January 2021.

In his ruling, Magistrate Jeremiah J. McCarthy states that Nathan McMurray, the attorney for Deanna King, failed to make the case in his complaint filed with the court that King's arrest in the Town of Ridgeway lacked probable cause.

McCarthy said the complaint lacked the facts necessary to substantiate an arrest without probable cause.

The written opinion is a recommendation by McCarthy to the presiding federal judge, John L. Sinatra, who will issue a final ruling. 

King, according to documents filed in Federal Court, was arrested in January 2021 while she and Bellavia were in the midst of a contested divorce.  The case was eventually sealed by a justice in the Town of Ridgeway, and the final disposition of the case has not been publicly disclosed.

Bellavia, a former Batavia resident, was bestowed the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump in 2019.  King is a Batavia resident and a broadcast personality in Rochester.

McMurray unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times, seeking a seat that would have included Genesee County. He is currently an attorney associated with Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, based in New York City. He has represented George Maziarz in a lawsuit against Batavia Downs that was eventually dropped. He is also the attorney of record in a lawsuit against the Town of Irondequoit that was recently dismissed. He's reportedly also threatened the Veterans Administration with a lawsuit related to the Route 77 intersection next to the WNY National Cemetery in Pembroke.

In the initial claim written by McMurray on King's behalf, Bellavia is accused of threatening to have King arrested as part of an ongoing communication during their divorce proceedings.  Bellavia was, according to the suit, upset with King because of social media posts.  It alleges that Bellavia "followed through" on his threat by contacting a friend and political ally who works for the major crimes unit of the District Attorney's Office to effect King's arrest.

King claims that Corey Black called her at her home in January 2021 and informed her there was a warrant for her arrest. 

There is no publicly available information on the warrant and which court might have issued it, though the case was handled by the Town of Ridgeway Court. 

In Divorce Court, King and Bellavia were apparently instructed to communicate only about the children using a parenting app called AppClose.

The initial complaint filed by McMurray states:

On January 8. 2021, he (Bellavia) texts, “You are going to get in trouble.” Ms. King never called him, other than her having her son call him after repeated attempts to obtain health insurance information via the parenting application had failed. Accordingly, Ms. King explained on December 31, 2021, “I haven’t called you or had any non-children contact related with you, nor do I have a desire to call you. I only wanted the health insurance information you wouldn’t give.” 

None of the assertions made in the complaint, McCarthy ruled, rise to the level of proof that King was wrongfully arrested and that her civil rights were therefore violated.

"Although King repeatedly alleges that she was arrested and prosecuted without probable cause, she does so only in (a) conclusory fashion," McCarthy wrote. 

Meaning, the magistrate believes McMurray, or King, is concluding that there was no probable cause but doesn't provide sufficient facts to substantiate the claim.

McMurray, via text message, said he disagrees with the magistrate's opinion.

"The court ordered Ms. King to communicate with Mr. Bellavia on a parenting app about the children, which she did," McMurray stated. "Mr. Bellavia, however, continued to harass and threaten her on the app, which is all documented. There was no probable cause to arrest Ms. King, an issue that the court has not ruled on as of yesterday."

McCarthy heard oral arguments in the case on Tuesday and, in his written ruling, was critical of McMurray's presentation and "failure to identify the factual and legal elements of the specific criminal charge against King because the criminal complaint was sealed."

It's unclear from court documents if McMurray or King sought to have her case unsealed, at least for the purpose of providing those documents to McCarthy.  McCarthy indicates the documents were not available to the court and were apparently not reviewed by McMurray.

"How, then, could he allege in good faith that probable cause was lacking?" McCarthy wrote. "By signing the Complaint and proposed Amended Complaint, he certified that 'to the best of [his] knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances.”

In making the filing, McCarthy states, McMurray also asserted that  “the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”

McMurray, via text message, said he plans to object to the ruling.

"To explain what was actually decided, the judge did not yet resolve whether it was appropriate for an investigator for a district attorney (in a distant county) working in a major felony drug crimes unit — who was not a police officer and just happened to be the friend of the defendant, Mr. Bellavia — arrested a mom because she asked for a health insurance card for her kids. But we will proceed with our efforts to get answers."

Regarding McMurray's assertion of a "distant county," one of the assertions of King's complaint is that authorities in Orleans County did not have jurisdiction in the matter because neither Bellavia nor King lived in Orleans County at the time of the criminal complaint against King.

Bellavia declined to comment on the matter, but a close associate of Bellavia's said that Bellavia has lived in Orleans County consistently since 2015.

Bellavia's attorneys, Donald W. O'Brien, Jr., and William F. Savino, declined to comment for this story.

According to a prior filing by the attorneys, many of the allegations made in King's complaint raise allegations made during the divorce proceeding and should have been kept confidential.  They also sought to seal a memorandum delivered to the court by McMurray that made new allegations that, the attorneys said, were subject to seal as part of the divorce proceedings. Earlier this month, McCarthy declined to redact and seal those portions of King's complaint. The attorneys have the option to reapply for sealing that portion of the suit.

Orleans County, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, the Orleans County District Attorney's Office, Corey Black, and "Deputy John Doe" are all named codefendants in the lawsuit, and the complaint against those defendants has not been dismissed.  None of those codefendants have filed answers with the court, and McCarthy issued an indefinite stay of their requirement to respond pending further proceedings in the case.

January 25, 2023 - 10:01pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, entertainment, Batavia Players, city centre.

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Think of a tiny hamlet up north, not quite reaching Canada, filled with regular town folk but with no governing rules because nobody ever got around to officially organizing. It’s filled with geese, and moose, snow-sprinkled deer, and scenery so photogenic you’d swear it’s Maine.

But as you will soon learn, it’s Almost, Maine, Batavia Players’ next show to debut this weekend.

“The whole premise of the show is that it takes place over 10 minutes. And the place that's called Almost Maine is based on an actual place. So it's nine different vignettes that take place in the same town with nine different couples. It's kind of a cool premise, like a snapshot in a small town, to me is kind of like a cool premise,” Director Patrick Burk said. “So it goes from everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. There's extremely funny parts, there’s extremely dramatic parts, there's challenging parts, there's social redemption parts. It's really a great, great play.”

The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday on the concourse stage inside Batavia City Centre.

What better way to spend a cold winter night than to learn about the intermingling of those nine couples, introduced to the audience through each separate scene? Though the entire production is 90 minutes, each scene reenacts the same 10-minute point in time from varying perspectives, which fascinated Burk when he first encountered the show.

It makes a spectator wonder, ‘why didn’t he know that so-and-so did that?’ a question that is answered when one realizes that the scene is happening at the same exact time as every other scene, Burk said.

“There's connections between the scenes because, obviously, like in any tiny town, everybody knows everybody else. So there's references to the other scenes. And there's a lot of names that switch back and forth with the scenes, with the couples talking about different issues. It's a beautiful, beautiful play, it really is. But it's kind of a strange way to be looking at things because you're trying to figure out, well, why didn't she know that?” he said. “And it's because it happens at the same time, so she wouldn't know. It's not like one scene follows another scene. It all happens at the same time. So it's a very strange premise, but it's beautifully done. And I think the cast does a phenomenal job of that.”

Part of the beauty is that people fall in — and out of — love, hearts get broken, love happens in the strangest of ways, and residents of Almost, Maine -- cue the dramatic music -- “will never be the same,” according to the show’s description.

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The set is rather basic since it is based outdoors, with a bench, chairs and a table, and costumes of winter apparel. There are 19 characters and 16 actors — some have two characters each — and Burk has been impressed with how actors embraced their roles so fully to unfold completely within each 10-minute segment.

“It is very, very popular in high schools. I think the characters are amazing,” he said. “I kind of looked at it as a fairy tale. Could this be true?”

He was equally impressed with how well actors collaborated with one another, given they were from several counties, including Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, and Niagara.

That, coupled with the ability to perfect the role and be familiar with those of others in case of illness and absenteeism, has worked out well, he said.

“We just came off of our Christmas show, with a cast of 40 people, we were really pushing the envelope, and then coming back with this — and we’ve only been rehearsing for three and a half to four weeks,” he said. “I really do hope people come and see it. It's a tremendous show. And it's absolutely beautiful. I know, I say that frequently when we do things, but it really is a beautiful show. It really has a huge appeal, I think to a wide array of people. And I think people will see things, and the characters, of family and friends and themselves, and people that they know.

"And I just think it's extremely well written, and our actors in this particular show, the 16 of them are absolutely amazing. I can't say enough about it,” he said.

Almost, Maine was developed at the Cape Cod Theater Project in 2002 and received its world premiere at Portland Stage Company, where it broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim. It opened Off Broadway in the winter of 2005/2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre and was subsequently published by Dramatists Play Service. Almost, Maine has been produced by more than 5,000 theater companies in the United States, making it one of the most frequently produced plays of the past decade.

Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. To purchase, go to showtix4u.com.

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Photos during rehearsal include actors Shaun Coburn, Jacquie Morrison, Justin Chortie, Brianna Jones, Maia Zerillo, Seth Coburn, Richard Ferris, Sophie Houseman, Stephen VanValkenburg, and Kristen Gelia. Photos by Howard Owens.

January 25, 2023 - 4:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sports, basketball, Alexander.

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The Alexander Trojans fell to 5-10 in Boys Basketball on Tuesday with a loss to Wheatland-Chili, 60-48.

Dylan Pohl scored 16 points for the Trojans. Trent Woods scored 13 and Paul Schmitt scored eight.

Also in Boys Basketball on Tuesday:

  • Notre Dame beat C.G. Finney, 74-68
  • Oakfield-Alabama beat Rochester Prep, 61-53
  • Pavilion beat Lyndonville, 67-50
  • Pembroke beat Cheektowaga 76-75

In Girls Basketball:

  • Elba beat Pavilion, 50-39.  Sydney Reilly scored 16 points for the Lancers. She had six assists and six steals. Maddie Hall scored 12 points. Mariah Ognibene had 13 rebounds to go with four points scored and two steals. For Pavilion, Lauren Kingsley scored 18 points and had 20 rebounds. Karlee Zinkievich scored eight points and had five assists. Kylie Conway scored eight points.
  • Byron-Bergen lost to Gananda, 48-38.
  • Le Roy beat Batavia, 45-40. Corina Dunn scored 17 points and had seven rebounds for Le Roy. Abby Allen scored 15 points. Lindsey Steffenilla had 10 rebounds.

To view or purchase photos, click here. Photos by Steve Ognibene

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January 25, 2023 - 2:55pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, jim owen, batavia.

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Friends of Jim Owen are asking that attendees of this Saturday's funeral who work at a school or had Jim as a teacher at school to please wear your school apparel or colors to the service. 

"That is what Jim is all about, he's being buried in the jacket from his obituary picture," friend Michael Marsh said.

The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Northgate Free Methodist Church, 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia.

For those that can't attend, the service will be livestreamed and available for viewing online

January 25, 2023 - 2:20pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, weather, cancellations.

Cancellations for Wednesday, Jan. 25 are below. This list will be updated as we receive submissions. Send cancellations to [email protected].

  • Alabama Fire has canceled bingo due to the weather.
  • All after school and evening activities at Batavia City School District have been canceled for Wednesday.
  • The BHS Opening Reception at GO ART! has been canceled this evening. It has been rescheduled for Feb. 15.  
  • Due to the deteriorating weather conditions, Elba Central School is canceling all afterschool and evening activities for Wednesday.
  • Northgate FMC Wednesday Night 7 p.m. Men's Group has been canceled.
January 24, 2023 - 7:10pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Leticia James, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia.

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In covering a lawsuit filed by organizers of the Batavia-based ReAwaken America Tour against Attorney General Letitia James, The Batavian reached out to James for comment Monday and did not hear back before the story was published.

We wanted to know why she felt it necessary to involve herself — a state official — with a religious/political event; what she was hoping to accomplish by issuing the warning; and how she intends to defend her stance given that the event did not include any visible threats of violence as predicted.

An AG office spokesperson said that "As the top law enforcement officer in the state, it is our job to remind any organization or individual about the laws in our state, especially those that protect New Yorkers against racially motivated violence or harassment.”

“The letter from our office served as a basic reminder of those very laws and to suggest otherwise is incorrect,” the spokesperson said.

The office also included a copy of the letter, which The Batavian already had, and included portions in its published story. The full letter can be read below, and outlines the attorney general’s concerns and the foundation upon which organizers Pastor Paul Doyle and Clay Clark, in collaboration with their attorney, used to file the lawsuit against James for defamation, libel and impinging their First Amendment rights, to boil down the lengthy scope of litigation material.

To sum it up, event organizers sued the attorney general, alleging defamation and a violation of their civil rights. She, in turn, is standing by her letter, suggesting it is her right as the state's “top law enforcement official” to send such letters to private citizens. 

Here is the letter in full, dated August 3, 2022, sent to General Michael Flynn and Clay Clark, care of Cornerstone Church in Batavia:

General Michael Flynn and Clay Clark:

As New York’s top law enforcement officer, I have significant concerns that the ReAwaken America Tour’s upcoming event at the Cornerstone Church in Batavia, New York on August 12 and 13 could spur extremist or racially motivated violence.

These concerns center around the event’s proposed dates, which coincide with the five-year anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and past extremist statements made by yourselves and the other featured speakers on the tour.

I am especially concerned about featured speakers’ regular allusions to white nationalist ideals connected to the “Great Replacement Theory,” a conspiracy theory that warns of white genocide and efforts to replace native born Americans with immigrants. The theory is frequently linked to violent actions, including the racially motivated mass shooting that killed 10 people at a Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo.

 Especially in light of this racist mass shooting, and other recent episodes of racially motivated violence in New York and throughout the country, the Office of the Attorney General is concerned that such rhetoric could contribute to violent or unlawful conduct at the ReAwaken America Tour’s upcoming event.

The Office of the Attorney General writes to remind you that New York law prohibits racially motivated violence, harassment, or interference with another person in the exercise of their civil rights.

New York Civil Rights Law § 79-n empowers the Office of the Attorney General to investigate acts of violence, intimidation, threats, or harassment directed at people based on a belief or perception regarding an individual’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation. In addition to actual damages, any person who violates this statute can be held liable for $5,000 in penalties for each violation.

Additionally, New York Civil Rights Law § 40-c prohibits discriminating against another person in the exercise of their civil rights — including their right to peacefully protest — based on similar protected characteristics.

Finally, New York Executive Law § 63(12) empowers the Office of the Attorney General to take action against any business engaged in significant fraud or illegality — including the violation of New York’s civil rights laws.

The Office of the Attorney General has a duty to protect New Yorkers from extremist and racially motivated violence. We stand ready to investigate any violation of the laws above and, if necessary, to enforce them to the fullest extent available.

You are therefore instructed to take all necessary steps to ensure that the event complies fully with the requirements of New York’s civil rights laws and all other applicable state and federal statutes.

Your cooperation in ensuring a peaceful and law-abiding event will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

LETITIA JAMES

New York State Attorney General

CC: Cornerstone Church

Photo of NYS Attorney General Letitia James from her website.

January 24, 2023 - 7:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, grand jury, pembroke, batavia, news, bergen, Le Roy.

Christopher R. Scinta is indicted on counts of manslaughter in the second degree, a Class C felony, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, a Class C felony, reckless driving, a Class A misdemeanor, criminal mischief in the fourth degree, a Class A misdemeanor, two counts of obstructing governmental administration, a Class A misdemeanor, obstructing emergency medical personal, a Class misdemeanor, and speeding, a violation. Scinta is accused of causing the death of Jasmyne Rubel at the roundabout in the City of Batavia on Nov. 4. He is accused of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident without notifying police of the accident. He is accused of driving a 2006 Kawasaki in a reckless manner. He's accused of intentionally damaging window blinds in interview room #2 at the Batavia Police Department. He is accused of attempting to interfere with a government official's lawful duty. He is accused of interfering with the medical treatment of Jasmyne Rubel by a qualified first responder. 

Cindy L. Bush is indicted on a felony count of DWI and of aggravated unlicensed operation. Bush is accused of driving drunk on April 24 in the City of Batavia on Ross Street in a 2004 Chevrolet. The indictment alleges a prior conviction within the past 10 years for DWI in February 2015 in the City of Batavia.

David J. Leroy is indicted on a count of criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, a Class D felony. Leroy is accused of knowingly possessing a switchblade knife in the Town of Pembroke on July 25.

Geovanny Lopez is indicated a felony count of DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony, and circumventing an interlock device, a Class A misdemeanor. Lopez is accused of driving a 2009 Ford on the I-490 on Aug. 4 in the Town of Le Roy. The indictment alleges that Lopez was convicted of DWI with the past 10 years, on Dec. 12, 2016, in Yonkers.

Shannon L. Marvin is indicted on a count of grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class E felony. Marvin is accused of stealing a Discover card belonging to another person in the Town of Bergen during the month of October in 2021.

January 24, 2023 - 6:12pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia PD, Genesee Cancer Assistance, news.

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Press release:

The Batavia Police Department has closed out the Movember / Don’t Shave December campaigns for 2022. The department was able to raise $1,560 for Genesee Cancer Assistance. Department members would like to thank the community for their support and donations.

The Movember Worldwide Campaign started in 2003 in Australia and has since grown. Movember was created to bring awareness to Men’s Health, specifically, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.

Submitted photo.

January 24, 2023 - 6:05pm
posted by Legal Notices in pembroke, legal notices, news.

PUBLIC NOTICE:

At a Special Meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Pembroke, held at the Town Hall in said Town of Pembroke, County of Genesee, State of New York on the 18th day of January, 2023.

PRESENT:

Thomas Schneider, Supervisor
Kathleen Manne, Councilperson
Edward Arnold, Jr., Councilman

In the Matter of ORDER CALLING PUBLIC HEARING

The Establishment of Water District #5 (Pratt Rd) in the Town of Pembroke, Genesee County, New York under Town Law Article 12-A.

Click the headline for more ... 

January 24, 2023 - 5:59pm

Press Release:

The Town of Stafford Republican Committee is seeking registered party members that are interested in receiving party endorsement for political office. The following offices will be elected on Nov. 7, 2023, in the general election.   All elected offices are four-year terms.

  • County Legislature for the Town of Stafford and Town of Batavia
  • Town of Stafford Supervisor
  • Town of Stafford Council, two vacancies
  • Town of Stafford Judge, two vacancies
  • Town of Stafford Republican committee, two vacancies for District One

Those interested in these positions should contact Stafford Republican Committee Chairwoman Mary Alice Panek, 6361 Thwing Road, LeRoy, NY, 14482, or email [email protected] with a resume and letter of interest.  Please send information before Feb. 10, 2023.

January 24, 2023 - 5:58pm
posted by Legal Notices in pembroke, legal notices, news.

PUBLIC NOTICE:

At a Special Meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Pembroke, held at the Town Hall in said Town of Pembroke, County of Genesee, State of New York on the 18th day of January, 2023.

PRESENT:

Thomas Schneider, Supervisor
Kathleen Manne, Councilperson
Edward Arnold, Jr., Councilman

In the Matter of ORDER CALLING PUBLIC HEARING
The Establishment of Water District #4  in the Town of Pembroke, Genesee County, New York under Town Law Article 12-A.

Click the headline for more ...

January 24, 2023 - 5:52pm
posted by Press Release in Save-A-Lot, Catholic Charities, batavia, news.

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Press release:

The Batavia Save-A-Lot recently conducted a holiday food drive in support of local Catholic Charities’ clients needing emergency assistance.

Catholic Charities is planning a parish pop-up event at one of the local churches in the near future to distribute the 72 bags of groceries generously donated by Save-A-Lot to help those in need in Genesee County.

Submitted photos. Pictured are Kelly Grimaldi, district director for Catholic Charities in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, and Save-A-Lot employees Cheryl and Skarlette, and Kayla, store manager, with the donated groceries.

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January 24, 2023 - 5:48pm
posted by Press Release in Alabama, Elections, news.

Press release:

The Town of Alabama Republican Committee is looking or qualified candidates to run in this fall elections. The following positions are open for the fall 2023 elections:

  • Town Supervisor
  • Town Clerk
  • Town Justice – 2 positions up for election
  • Town Council – 2 positions up for election
  • Town Highway Superintendent

Please submit your letter of intent no later than Fe. 10 to:

Earl LaGrou
7420 Macomber Rd.
Oakfield, NY 14125

Letters may also be submitted via email to [email protected]. If candidates need more information, they may call Earl LaGrou, (716) 912- 8195.

January 24, 2023 - 4:59pm
posted by Press Release in polar plunge, Batavia PD, batavia, news, John Kennedy.

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Press release:

The City of Batavia Police Department has accepted the challenge to support Special Olympics New York by participating in the Polar Plunge located at John Kennedy Intermediate on Feb. 10, and has set a goal to raise at least $1,000!

Children and adults with intellectual differences that participate in Special Olympics New York pledge an oath, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt". Today, the oath has never been truer, and Special Olympics New York athletes need our help!

How can you help? Please take a moment to visit our personal fundraising page and make a donation to help us reach our fundraising goal!

Your donation will help Special Olympics New York continue to provide year-round sports training, athletic competition and healthy living programs. Giving every athlete to experience physical fitness, learn to be courageous, experience joy and meet new friends with Special Olympics New York athletes.

Thank you for considering a donation to this fundraiser! We will continue to update our progress to reaching our fundraising goal and we appreciate the support!

Be on the lookout for our School Resource Officers, Officer Borchert and Officer Stevens on February 10th participating in this event!

If you wish to donate or register yourself to join our team and participate (Batavia Blue Devils), you can click this link. http://events.nyso.org/goto/BataviaPoliceDepartment

Thank you for your support!

January 24, 2023 - 4:53pm
posted by Press Release in Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation, news.

Press release:

The board of directors of the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the re-opening of their Community Youth Grant for the Winter 2023 Cycle.  This grant will be awarded to charitable organizations whose primary mission is to facilitate youth activities for children up to age 18. It supports one of three mission priorities established by the foundation--”to assist youth organizations and youth athletics.”  The Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation Community Youth Grants will be awarded based on the schedule below.

Winter 2023 Funding Cycle:

  • Application Form Available on Feb. 1 (Online Only)
  • Applications are due: Feb. 22
  • Award notices will be sent to applicants: March 22

On Feb. 1, the online grant application will be available at:  https://michaelshope.org/grants. There are no geographic limitations for recipients, but preference may be given to the Western New York region. Requests for event or program advertising will be directed to the appropriate grant cycle  Organizations may receive one grant annually, and there are two grant cycles per year (Winter and Summer/Fall).  Typical grant awards range from $250 - $1,500, depending on the number of applicants and funds available for each cycle. 

The Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation, Inc., established in 2007, is in memory of Michael C. Napoleone, the eight-year-old son of Mark and Laurie Napoleone from Batavia, who died from Burkitts Lymphoma/Leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer. During Michael's illness, the community rallied around the family to assist with food, gas, medical bills and other necessities. The not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization was created to give back to those who cared, to give forward to those in need, and to support research efforts in finding a cure for childhood cancer.  For more information to support the foundation, please visit  www.michaelshope.org.

January 24, 2023 - 4:47pm
posted by Press Release in byron, news.

Press release:

The Town of Byron Republican committee is seeking registered party members that are interested in becoming selected as endorsed Republican candidates for the following offices in Nov. 7 General Election:

  • Town Supervisor
  • Town Highway Superintendent
  • Town Councilman – 2 positions
  • Member of Republican Committee

Those interested, send s letter of interest by Feb. 9 to Jim Northup. Email: [email protected] or call Jim Northup, committee chairman (585) 409-4327 or Steve Hohn, vice chairman, (585) 703-5528

 

January 24, 2023 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for Wednesday, starting at 7 a.m. and lasting until 10 p.m.

The National Weather Service anticipates mixed precipitation, changing to mainly light rain by Wednesday evening. 

Total snow accumulation could be 2 to 4 inches.

Wind gusts of 30 mph expected.

Travelers are advised of potentially slippery road conditions.

 

 

January 24, 2023 - 2:51pm
posted by Tim Bojarski in harness racing, Sports, Batavia Downs.

Press release:

On Monday (Jan. 23), Batavia Downs began a four-week Pop-Up Racing Series for Western New York-based Trackmaster pacers and trotters with preliminary leg classes going for between $6,000 and $9,000 each (depending on class). Monday saw 10 series races go postward and these events provided some very competitive racing.

The best pacing effort of the day was turned in by Sportskeeper (Jim Morrill Jr.) who went gate to wire in the $9,000 Trackmaster 78 class.

Morrill left from post five with Sportskeeper and grabbed the lead before the :27.4 quarter. Then once he settled on the point, the pair dominated the field. Operating with a gapped advantage, Sportskeeper went :56.2 to the half and 1:25.1 to three-quarters with only Pet Sur-rock (Kyle Cummings) staying remotely close. When he turned for home, Sportskeeper was clear, under a line drive from Morrill and willingly paced away to a 2-1/2 length decision in 1:55.2.

It was the second straight win for Sportskeeper ($3.70) at Batavia and the purse pushed his lifetime earnings over the $600,000 mark, as he now boasts $603,847 in bank. The classy 11-year-old gelded son of Sportswriter-Keeper Flying is owned by Mike Torcello and trained by Sammy Smith.

The top trot came in the $9,000 Trackmaster 77 leg where Sanchez Rocks (Kyle Cummings) made a move past the half pay off with an impressive victory.

Pilgrim Caviar (Shawn Gray) led early and tripped the timer in a quick :28.4 before heading into turn two. But at the same time, Good Boy (Ray Fisher Jr.) brushed and crushed to the front and completed the first circuit in :59.4. It was at that point that Sanchez Rocks vacated the pylons from fourth and started trotting up a storm. Sanchez Rocks drew even with Good Boy on the backside, cleared at three-quarters and then extended his lead with every stride from there. By the top of the stretch, he was long gone and trotted home under no urging at all to win by 2-3/4 lengths in 2:00.2.

Sanchez Rocks ($5.80) is owned by Marie Houghtaling and trained by Ron Houghtaling.

The finals for the Pop-Up series races will be held on Monday (Feb. 20) and offer purses ranging from $12,000 to $18,000. Consolation races will also be offered and will go for $7,000 to $10,000 each. Spots in both will be secured by the top money earners in each Trackmaster category.

Jim Morrill Jr. and Keith Kash Jr. both had driving hat tricks on Monday, while trainers Joe Skowyra and Andy Torre scored two wins apiece.

Morrill is now only four wins away from 8,000 career victories, a number he should hit within the next week at Batavia. 

There will be two carryovers and a guaranteed pool when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Thursday (Jan. 26) at 3 p.m. First, there is a $4,741 carryover in the Pick-5 (which starts in race one), and Batavia Downs has announced that pool will have a $10,000 guarantee through the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. Complete program pages for those five races will be available on the USTA’s website under the “Handicapping” tab. Then later in the card there is a growing carryover of $1,322 in the Jackpot Super Hi-5 pentafecta, which will be available in the 11th race.

Free full card past performance forms for the entire card of live racing at Batavia can always be downloaded at the Downs’ website (bataviadownsgaming.com) under the “Live Racing'' tab and all the racing action can be viewed as it happens at the Batavia Downs Live Facebook page. 

January 24, 2023 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, budget, tax cap, batavia.

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City Council has a choice for this year’s budget: vote to override the state-mandated tax cap or prepare to tighten the belt for significant cuts and make ends meet.

That may sound like an ultimatum, but it’s how this year’s 2023-24 budget is panning out so far, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says. She gave a budget presentation to council during Monday’s conference session at City Hall.

Healthcare, inflation, diesel fuel, employee salary and retirement costs are all on the rise, and the tax cap allows a levy increase of $154,000 when what’s needed is $450,000, Tabelski said.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski faced the elephant in the room and asked what happens if the group votes not to override the tax cap, “we raise property taxes?” Or make cuts, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said.

Yes, more likely it would be the latter, Tabelski said: “That would mean significant cuts,” she said to The Batavian after the meeting.

“The tax cap is an arbitrary formula given by the state. You know, the only thought this year was that we can raise this revenue and continue the level of services that have expanded slightly in the last year or so. We have a full-time parking and recycling officer, a full-time ordinance officer, another firefighter that was contractually obligated through a contract signed before I was here,” she said. “To cover those costs, plus health care's up $457,000, retirement costs are up $300,000 … I would say this is this year's request, that the city would do everything in its power to maintain under the tax cap in the future.”

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That means that, hopefully, this won’t be a recurring ask, she said. City Council would have to approve the measure by at least a 60 percent yes vote.

Can department heads dig deeper and reduce their budget requests?
“This is the bare bones budget. We've already gone through that process of every department, and they present to me, obviously, what they'd like to see in the budget, and then we cut that back significantly to get to this point,” she said. “This is to maintain the level of employees we have at fair wages and to make sure we can pay social security and health care for those employees. Those are the main drivers, plus the inflationary prices of gas, electric, diesel, fuel, and supplies and materials. So they've already done their value engineering, as we call it. But again, council has budget work sessions that go right through, line by line, each expense and discuss it. And there certainly could be changes that come from that.”

Council members will be going through the budget during the next several weeks to ask questions, make suggestions, and see where other cuts might be made. The one area where Tabelski does not recommend taking from is the unassigned fund balance. That fund is best used as a savings account for future use.

She shared that the fund has grown a bit from an overdue payment from Seneca Power Partners, which had been in arrears with its taxes.

“I will say that we had a payment from Seneca Power of penalties and interest on the tax payments. So my hope is that will really help our unassigned fund balance when we get to the end of the audit year in August,” she said. “But when I do the budget, I don't know that number. I have no way to project what that number is until we get into the audit after the budget books close.”

Other parts of the budget include an extra $275,000 “to reserve funds to prepare to bond for the police facility,” she said.

“So right now, we're putting money into reserves, like our savings, so that we're able to bond when the time comes with the hopes of not having to raise property taxes, and being able to do it within those reserve funds we're putting away right now,” she said. “Kind of like when your car payment rolls off, and you put it into your savings account, and then you lease or buy a new car. You can then use that money in your savings account to pay that new car payment.”

Despite the ominous term of "override the tax cap," the actual tax rate would remain the same, Tabelski said. That would be $8.94 per $1,000 assessed value. She is proposing to raise the water rate by 30 cents. 

Council members will be discussing the budget this month and into February before a public hearing on Feb. 27.

Top Photo: City Manager Rachael Tabelski gives an overview of the past year and 2023-24 budget during City Council's conference session Monday at City Hall; shown with department heads nearby, who have already submitted their "bare bones" budgets for consideration. Photos by Howard Owens.

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