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April 2, 2019 - 3:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Le Roy, notify, crime, accidents.

Shawn W. Cross, 48, of Le Roy, is identified as the man who suffered a severe head injury following an incident late Saturday afternoon in which he exited a moving vehicle on Lake Street in the Village of Le Roy. He remains in critical condition at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

The driver, Lorie A. Litolff, 57, of Craigie Street, Le Roy, is accused of leaving the scene of a serious injury accident, a felony.

She is also charged with DWI, failure to report an accident with injuries, driving without an ignition interlock device, and failure to submit to a breath test.

Litolff was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Several witnesses were interviewed and Le Roy police believe Litolff and the victim were engaged in a verbal argument prior to the man exiting the vehicle.

When he exited, according to witnesses, he lost his balance and fell, striking the pavement, which is the cause of at least some of Cross's injuries.

For previous coverage, click here.

For initial post, click here.

Our news partner WBTA contributed to this report.

April 2, 2019 - 3:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Oakfield, byron.

Richard White Jr., 37, of High Street, Brockport, is charged with: second-degree vehicular assault; aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree; operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or more; driving while intoxicated; operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs; driving while ability impaired by alcohol and drugs conbined; and following too closely. White was arrested April 1 at 6 p.m. and arraigned in Byron Town Court. His arrest follows an investigation into a crash that occured at 7:07 p.m. on Feb. 15 at 6385 N. Bergen Road, Byron. It is alleged that White drove while his license was suspended and got in a crash while he was intoxicated. His passenger sustained a serious physical injury. Following arraignment, he was released on his own recognizance and is due back in Byron Town Court at a later date. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Travis DeMuth, assisted by Deputy Michael Lute.

Ronnie J. Sumeriski, 37, of Batavia, was arrested on March 28 by Wyoming County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Chase on Route 98 in the Town of Orangeville following a traffic stop. He is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Sumeriski was stopped for allegedly having a tinted license plate cover and inadequate plate lamps, making the rear license plate barely visible. After a roadside investigation, Sumeriski was allegedly found in possession of a THC vape cartridge containing concentrated cannibis. Sumeriski is also charged with inadequate plate lamps and obstructed license plate. He was released with appearance tickets and is due in Town of Sheldon Court on May 6.

Vidal Chavez, 63, of Oakfield, was arrested on March 26 by Wyoming County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Chase on Route 20A in Sheldon following a traffic stop. Chavez was found to be operating a vehicle with a suspended registration due to insurance lapse, an unclassified misdemeanor. He was released with an appearance ticket returnable to Town of Sheldon Court on April 15.

April 2, 2019 - 3:04pm

An autism seminar to learn how to help people with autism will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, at Alexander Fire Department's Recreation Hall.

First responders attending will receive two hours of CME Credits.

Sandwiches and cookies will be available for sale.

The seminar is organized by Katie Green and Angelina Luker for the Girl Scouts' Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can achieve.

Advance registration is preferred, but not required.

To register, call Deb Green at (716) 474-3242.

The recreation hall is located at 10708 Alexander Road (Route 98), Attica.

For more information visit Lake Plains Community Care Network at www.lpccnems.org

April 2, 2019 - 9:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Libertarian Party, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Libertarian Committee announced today that it is seeking candidates to run for local office in 2019.

After earning ballot access and duly constituted party status in NYS in the 2018 gubernatorial election, the onerous task of securing independent ballot petition signatures is no longer a requirement. In fact, for 2019, NO petitioning will be required.

Interested candidates who receive the endorsement of the local Genesee County committee will be certified for the Libertarian line on the ballot this November.

The Genesee County Chapter of the Libertarian Party was established in 2013 and has since regularly run candidates for public office. We welcome inquiries from those who believe in a limited and nonintrusive government, the unwavering defense of personal liberties and fiscal responsibility.

Potential candidates and those seeking more information about getting involved with the GCLP are encouraged to contact Chairman Mark Potwora at 585.993.3358 or by email at g[email protected]

April 1, 2019 - 4:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, notify, batavia.

After a meticulous investigation inside the burned-out home at 109 Evans St., Batavia, fire investigators have determined the fire that claimed the life of John Sherman, Sr., 41, has been ruled accidental.

In a press release, City Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano said investigators concluded the fire started on a stove top in the kitchen.

Joining city fire investigators in the investigation was a Batavia PD detective and two investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

There were eight people in the residence Saturday morning when the fire broke out and spread quickly. Smoke detectors and closed doors helped save the lives of several occupants, Napolitano said, but Sherman was unable to escape from a room on the second floor.

After Sherman was rescued by firefighters, medics initiated CPR and he was transported by Mercy EMS to UMMC, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Sherman was born Aug. 8, 1977, to Jan Beach of Batavia. He was a graduate of Alfred State and Empire State College and worked at Pizza Hut in Batavia and was recognized locally for his culinary and sculpting skills. He was a member of City Church and volunteered at the Animal Shelter. For his full obituary, click here.

Multiple pets were rescued or managed to escape the fire but one dog did die inside the residence.

In City Fire's release, Napolitano reminded residents of the importance of working smoke detectors and sleeping with bedroom doors closed.

Saturday, Napolitano said, "A room that has a door closed is a safe haven," Napolitano said. "They were alerted by a smoke detector and they were able to safely exit the house. That is why it's so critical when you have young children or yourself in a home, you need to sleep with the door closed. It stops the fire from entering. It gives you a shelter so you can shelter in place, a safe haven, or whatever you want to call it. But it gives you an opportunity to escape."

April 1, 2019 - 3:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, byron.

Laura J. Reed, 27, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment. Reed was arrested at 10:22 p.m. on March 25 after a disturbance at 160 Bank St. She was processed and is due to be arraigned in Batavia City Court on April 2. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen, assisted by Officer Jamie Givens.

Valentin Brito III, 21, of Seven Springs Road, Batavia, is charged with trespass. It is alleged that after being issued a written trespass warning, Brito returned to College Village at 4:05 p.m. on March 31, in violation of the written warning. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Town of Batavia Court on April 8. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen, assisted by Deputy Joshua Brabon.

Andrew Michael Pridmore, 34, of Mechanic Street, Elba, is charged with: driving while intoxicated; operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or more; and speed not reasonable and prudent. On March 30, following a complaint of a property damage accident at 2:13 a.m. on Byron Road in the Town of Byron, Pridmore was arrested. He was issued appearance tickets for Town of Byron Court and is due there on April 15. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Brabon.

Tyler Michael Powers, 21, of Frederica Street, North Tonawanda, is charged with second-degree contempt. He was arrested after an investigation into an incident in the City of Batavia. He allegedly disobeyed a court mandate. Powers was arraigned in City of Batavia Court and jailed in lieu of $500 cash or $1,000 bond. He was due to return to court on March 29. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Lute.

Kevin Wayne Howard, 19, of Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree. Howard was arrested while being processed at the GC Jail on March 21 after he was allegedly found in possession of a dangerous drug upon entering the facility. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court on March 28 then jailed in lieu of $1,000 cash or bond. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Lute, assisted by Deputy  Matthew Burgett.

Joseph J. Kuzma, 39, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument. During a home visit at 10:32 a.m. on March 29 by GC Probation, Kuzma was allegedly found in possession of nine hypodermic instruments. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in jail in lieu of $2,500 cash bail. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Frank Klimjack.

Jacob J. Sponaugle, 20, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. At 10:40 a.m. on March 30, Sponaugle was arrested at his residence on Liberty Street in Batavia after a search by GC Probation. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on April 9 to answer the charge. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Post, assisted by Officer Kevin DeFelice.

April 1, 2019 - 3:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sexual assault, batavia, news, Restore Sexual Assault Services.


Hannah Kujawski, education and outreach coordinator for Restore Sexual Assault Services, places a small flag in the ground outside the County Courthouse at Main Street and Ellicott Street, Batavia.

Kujawski and two other people from Restore planted 720 flags in the grass, one each to represent the 720 victims of sexual assault daily in the United States.

Restore, which provides a number of programs to assist the victims of sexual assault, is a service of Planned Parenthood.

April 1, 2019 - 3:00pm

April 1, 2019 - 2:58pm

File photos from 2018 and press release:

It’s Off to the Races as the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation, prepares for its Derby Day Gala 2019, a fundraising event held in conjunction with the running of the 145th Kentucky Derby.

The event raises monies to support the mission of the Foundation, namely to assist families struggling with the diagnosis of pediatric cancers, support research efforts in the area of childhood cancers, and provide assistance to youth activities and programs.

Win, Place and Show your support for the Foundation’s annual fundraising event to be held at Terry Hills Golf Course & Banquet Facility in Batavia from 4 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 4th.

The Foundation, a 501(C) 3, was founded by Mark Napoleone and Laurie (Pero) in 2007 after the loss of their 8-year-old son to Burkitt’s Lymphoma, an aggressive form of blood cancer.

To date, the foundation has assisted 382 families with $378,000 worth of support during their child’s illness, contributed $75,000 to support research, gave $52,000 to assist youth organizations, donated $50,000 to building the new Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, and most recently pledged $25,000 to UMMC for a pediatric room.

 The evening features Kentucky Derby theme, food, drinks, live music, silent and live auctions, and a professional photo in your best Derby attire. There will be prizes for the best woman’s hat, Dapper Derby Award for the men and a best dressed couple’s award. Tickets are $75/each and Win, Place and Show sponsorships are available.

There are sponsorship opportunities and many ways for you to support this event -- auction donations (gift certificates, electronics, sports memorabilia, spa packages, and weekend getaways). Monetary donations are also accepted. All donations are tax deductible. Your assistance will make our Derby Day Gala 2019 a winning success and help us Lend a Hand for Hope.

For those who are interested in attending the gala, tickets can be purchased by calling 585-861-0550, or Venmo us @MNMF8. For more information, gallop onto our website: www.michaelshope.org.

April 1, 2019 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mr. Batavia, news, batavia, Batavia HS.


Terelle Spinks, winner of Mr. Batavia 2019, presents a check for $2,776.50 to Stacy Squire, a volunteer with Volunteers for Animals, Spinks's charity for the annual event at Batavia High School.

This year, the Mr. Batavia competition brought in $5,553, bringing the seven-year total of funds raised for local charities to $25,743.

The event is student organized and run.


Sam Rigerman, first runner-up, presents a check for $1,388.25 to Jaylene Smith-Kilner, Habitat for Humanity.


Griffin DellaPenna, second runner up, presents a check for $1,388.25 to Laurie Napoleon, for the Michael Napoleon Memorial Foundation.

April 1, 2019 - 2:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, sports, BHS, A1 Winter Guard, NECGC.
Submitted photo and press release:
Batavia High School's A1 Winter Guard placed first at North East Color Guard Circuit Championships on Saturday, March 30th in Gate-Chili High School gymnasium. It is the local New York State Winter Guard Competitive Circuit.
The Batavia ensemble performed beautifully and gave the audience and judges a lasting memory.
Senior Mary Murphy performed her final show on Saturday. It was a bittersweet performance for her knowing she had the best performance of the season and with a win at championships.
Special recognition must go to our coaches, Bridget Hogan and Gena Rainforth, for the hours of time given to our Batavia Winter Guard members.
Our program succeeds due to a strong parent group and students who are extremely passionate to the sport of the arts.
April 1, 2019 - 2:11pm

Public health column from the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments:

The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health Departments are encouraging county residents to “Think Health.” Taking time to think about your health and taking positive health steps will lead to healthier outcomes. Learning something new every day is one way to “Think Health”...

The first week of April is National Public Health Week (NPHW), a week set aside showing us how we can choose healthier living.

National Public Health Week started in April of 1995 by the American Public Health Association (APHA) with a focus on Public Health prevention topics. This year's theme is, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For Health.”

The topics for each day are:

  • Monday, April 1st -- Healthy Communities: People's health, longevity and well-being are connected to their communities. Americans face many issues in their community such as being exposed to air pollution, lead, and even unsafe places to walk. Working with transportation planners to create safe walking and biking paths and organizing clinics for vaccines such as flu shots are all steps that can be taken to benefit people in the community and prevent preventable deaths. By making health a priority in policymaking we can help make a difference in communities.
  • Tuesday, April 2nd -- Violence Prevention: Violence is a significant public health problem in the United States, whether it is gun-related, rape, domestic abuse, suicide, or even child abuse. As public health professionals, it is part of our job to prevent acts of violence. This can be done through urging policy makers to inforce stricter gun laws, working with local colleges to help victims of sexual violence, and enforcing home visits to prevent child maltreatment. It is important to advocate community-driven solutions that target the source of where the violence is coming from that do not punish the community as a whole.
  • Wednesday, April 3rd -- Rural Health: Americans who live in rural communities have an increased risk of death from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease. There has also been a higher rate of suicide and opioid overdoses shown in rural communities. To improve rural community’s health it is important that we focus on social determinants that negatively impact health. By offering telemedicine, increasing job training opportunities and helping children achieve success academically; we can help improve the health of those living in rural populations.
  • Thursday, April 4th -- Technology and Public Health: Technology can be a powerful public health tool. It can be used to help educate and advocate communities, can help practitioners swap their best practices, can be used for GIS mapping, and can even be used as a text line to find out information about certain health topics. It is important that public health funding levels continue to be supported to allow workers to have access to the latest technology.
  • Friday, April 5th -- Climate Change: Climate change is seen as one of the greatest threats to public health. It can lead to natural disasters, impact food security, water and air quality, and even increase the risk of vector-borne diseases. Climate change is a real issue that has already begun to occur. Supporting policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carpooling, and steering toward renewable, clean energies instead of fossil fuels can help make a difference in climate change and our health.
  • Saturday and Sunday, April 6th & 7th -- Global Health: America's health and the world's health are fundamentally connected. Consider that during the H1N1 flu pandemic, the virus quickly traveled around the world and a global effort was required to track its movements and eventually contain the disease. Across the world, communities still struggle with preventable and often-neglected diseases.The World Health Organization's (WHO) top 10 threats to global health include: pandemic flu, cholera, violent conflict, malaria, malnutrition and natural disasters.

Public Health covers a wide variety of topic areas. According to the WHO, public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. It is important to remember that most of public health is prevention!

“As you can see, public health isn’t just about being physically healthy,” said Paul Pettit, Genesee and Orleans County Public Health director, “it includes the health of the whole body and mind, as well ascommunity resiliency, and the safety of the environment we live, work and play in.

"The Health Departments’are moving into the role of Chief Health Strategists, we want to embrace and encourage our communities to work with us to create new and innovative ways to improve health, so please reach out.”

The benefits of prevention are undeniable. For example, public health is credited with adding 25 years to life expectancy of people in the United States.

“Promoting public health in community development, local businesses and through community events will help us move toward being the healthiest counties in New York State,” said Dr. Gregory Collins, commissioner of Wyoming County Public Health.

What can you do throughout the year to encourage better health in your home, neighborhood, work place and county?

For information about this article or health department services contact, Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

April 1, 2019 - 2:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, steve hawley, state budget.

A view of the Assembly Chamber at 1 a.m. this morning as the Legislature still has five budget bills to pass.

Submitted photo and statement by Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

“As usual, the state budget was passed in the middle of the night, rushed through the Legislature with little time for public input or discussion and ridden with contentious policy proposals that should be debated separate from a spending plan.

“I am concerned that the Gov. can now close up to three state prisons within 90 days and state leaders are content with ending bail for some felonies, putting the public at risk and sending the message that those who have broken the law should be given more and more leeway.

“While we did secure funding for key bridge repair and infrastructure projects I am concerned at the growing disparity between Upstate and Downstate infrastructure spending with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) consuming billions of tax dollars per year with little oversight or accountability.

“I have been a champion of easing the burden on local governments for years and tonight our conference offered a budget amendment to fully restore Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding – this was shamelessly defeated by the Assembly Majority. Gov. Cuomo has drastically changed the AIM formula, forcing counties to fend for themselves instead of offering state help to bolster local services.

“I am pleased to see our direct-care professionals receive funding for retention and salary increases but more needs to be done to protect those who protect our most vulnerable New Yorkers. Our conference has advocated for a living wage for these dedicated men and women for years and will continue championing their cause until a true living wage is achieved.

“As session continues I will keep banging the drum for tax relief, an end to mandated Albany spending passed down to homeowners, reforming our charitable gaming laws and fighting the pro-criminal, anti-Second Amendment policies pushed by Gov. Cuomo.”

April 1, 2019 - 1:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael ranzenhofer, news.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) voted against the newly enacted 2019-2020 New York State Budget. Senator Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:

“The new fiscal plan makes New York State even more expensive. The new budget raises taxes by $1.4 billion this year and another $4.6 billion next year. It imposes new taxes on almost everything and anything, including internet purchases, shopping bags, prescription drugs, rental cars, real estate transactions and energy bills. All of these taxes will make it more expensive to live, work and retire in our state.

“The new plan also fails to invest in Western New York’s highways, roads and bridges. In fact, it cuts tens of millions of dollars in state funding for infrastructure improvements. Now, local highway crews will have even fewer resources to repair our crumbling roads and bridges.

“Simply put, this is a bad budget for hardworking Western New Yorkers. Under this misguided budget, New York State will continue to experience the steepest population loss in the United States. This irresponsible plan will exacerbate Upstate’s economic challenges and force even more Upstate residents to leave for more affordable states.”

April 1, 2019 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Western OTB, business.

Press release:

Today, leaders from Batavia Downs/Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) thanked leaders in Albany for allowing 15 local counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo to receive additional revenue to help hold the line on property taxes, fund first responders and public libraries.

Prior to this change in the tax code, Batavia Downs was losing critically needed revenue because we paid the highest tax rate of any Upstate New York gaming facility. With the 2-percent increase approved in the State Budget, localities will see a significant increase effective immediately.

“The passage of this tax fairness legislation is critical for our continued success,” said Henry F. Wojtaszek, president/CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming WROTB.  “We are proud to have a wonderful partnership with Governor Cuomo and our local elected leaders -- especially Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Tim Kennedy.

"Our representatives in Albany understand the important economic impact Batavia Downs Gaming has in Western New York and we are so thankful to them for their hard work on getting this legislation passed today. Thanks to their efforts, we are looking forward to increasing our financial contributions to our community, which will be seen and felt across Western New York.”

April 1, 2019 - 1:16pm
posted by David Reilly in news, batavia, history, nostalgia.

If you grew up in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s, or to put it another way, if you're old, the term “communist” had a very negative connotation and the color red was probably not your favorite. To be called a “commie” or a “red” was an unpatriotic insult to most people during that time.

Following World War II, the Soviet Union and China, both communist countries with their respective leaders Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong became political enemies of the United States. When the USSR obtained nuclear weapons and China supported North Korea against South Korea and the United States in the Korean War in the early 1950s, it was the beginning of the so called “Cold War.”

The world was in fear that nuclear war would break out and the spread of propaganda by both sides became rampant. Spying increased dramatically to try to gain an advantage. The ideologies of Democracy vs. Communism were in a power struggle for world domination.

So, what did all this mean to a kid in Batavia growing up in this era? As you were trying to navigate through your kid life of going to school and watching the news in between the "The Howdy Doody Show" and "I Love Lucy" on your black and white TV, how did the Cold War affect you?

Bomb Drills at School Were Routine

In school (I went to St. Mary's Elementary), one thing I remember vividly is having bomb drills. In the event of nuclear attack, we practiced getting under our desks and putting our heads down.

Later on in life this jokingly became known as the “kiss your butt goodbye” drill. Also, I recall getting together as a school and praying for the new Pope when Pius XII died in 1958 and for the defeat of “godless communism.”

On TV, we went through the news cycle of the Korean War, the arrest, trial, and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for selling nuclear secrets to the Russians, and the Congressional hearings concerning Senator Joseph McCarthy and his investigations of Americans he suspected of being communists.

There was the “blackballing” of actors, producers, writers and artists suspected of having communist leanings, the forceful Soviet put down of an uprising against the communist government in Hungary in 1956, and Secretary of the Communist Party and Premier Nikita Khruschev's strident denunciation of “American imperialism” at the United Nations General Assembly in 1960.

So how we were affected by all this was that I think almost every kid in Batavia would have considered themselves anti-communist. That's how our parents felt, that's how our teachers felt and that's how our government felt.

In 1959 and 1960 the communist scare came closer to the United States with Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba. Originally acclaimed for his overthrow of the longtime Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, it soon became clear that Castro was aligning his government with the Soviet Union and that Cuba would be a communist regime only 90 miles from Florida.

Looking Askance at 'Beatnik' Types

Furthering Americans' dislike of the cigar-chomping Castro was his wearing of military fatigues and sporting a bushy beard; 1950's Americans, including the kids, tended to be pretty conservative and looked skeptically on any “beatnik” looking type of people.

So, with all this anti-communism coursing through our American school kid brains, my friend Charlie and I decided to make a political statement.

Looking back on it now, we were probably more highly motivated by trying to get some attention rather than any sincere “down-with-the-commies” convictions.

Charlie and I (I'm pretty sure he went along with it just to humor me) went to work in my basement on North Spruce Street constructing an effigy of Fidel Castro. I can't remember exactly what we used to build it, but I'm positive an old fur “ear-flapper' hat was cut up and glued on the face for the beard. My mom helped, but she was mostly amused at the project. Kids will be kids was probably how she viewed it.

(Actually, adults during that era were known to put up effigies of Castro, too, as this link from 1961 shows.)

Old-school Truly Fake News

The most important aspect of our plan was to find a credible place to “hang” Fidel where the media (i.e. the local newspaper) would be alerted to it. We hoped they would send a photographer and a reporter and, even though we had to remain unknown, once the “Big News” was revealed we would be famous in our own minds.

We could picture the photo of Fidel's faux body hanging from a pole with an attached “Down with Castro” sign in the middle of the paper's front page. Under it would be a headline like: “Batavia Patriots Stand Up to Commie Castro” -- fellow Batavians would see our brazen display and we would be the talk of the town for our anti-communist bravery.

Since I lived on North Spruce Street and we were about 12 years old with no way to transport “Fidel,” we picked the nearest public place with a flagpole -- John Kennedy School on Vine Street.

Of course in lieu of how things turned out with President Kennedy and the Cuban Missle Crisis of a couple years later, in October of 1962, the symbolism would have been extra sweet.

But, as all good Batavians know, the school was named for a former superitendant not the president.

At any rate, Charlie's dad was a car dealer and he “borrowed” some of those colorful triangular flags which used to be hung on poles around the car lots to help draw attention. Carrying these, fake Fidel, and our sign, we headed down North Street in the dark (probably about 8 p.m.) toward the back entrance to the school at the end of Elm Street.

In those days, North Street ended at North Spruce, so there was little traffic at that hour. Nonetheless, about halfway there, we heard a car coming. Thinking on our feet (literally) we carried Fidel between us much the same way many of us later helped our inebriated college friends back to the dorm after a night of drinking.

Holding our breath we tried to appear normal until the car went past and then let out a sigh of relief like somehow we were on a secret mission to Cuba itself.

Hoisting Fidel and Scurrying Away

The school flagpole was on the south side of the building by the empty parking lot. We quickly looped the rope around the effigy with sign attached and tied on the multicolored flags. We hoisted it to the top of the pole and stood back briefly to admire our patriotic handiwork.

Then we scurried away through the darkness like commandos returning to base, or in reality to probably go do our homework.

Our plan was to return on our bikes the next morning like we were just casually riding by. We hoped that there would be all sorts of commotion going on and that we would pretend to be as shocked but pleased as everyone else to see the heinous dictator swinging in the breeze.

Our pro-American hearts must have been thumping as we approached the school in the sunny morning. We turned onto the gravel path and emerged onto the school grounds to see “Fidel” and the flags on the pole and … nothing.

No photographers, no reporters, no police cars, nothing. Cars of school staff were parked in the lot and there was a custodian nearby cutting some grass. 

Completely taken aback, we sat on our bikes and stared. Didn't anyone see “Fidel”? Maybe that was it. Perhaps we needed to stir things up.

We pedaled over to the flagpole and began pointing and talking in exaggerated voices.

No One Pays Attention

“Wow! Look at that! It's a dummy of Fidel Castro up there! That's really something! Who could have done that?” 

The custodian kept mowing, cars kept driving by on Vine Street, a couple people left the school, got in their cars and drove away. No one paid “Fidel” a single bit of attention.

We were crushed, or at least I was. All that patriotic work and surreptitious sneaking around in the dark and no one even cared. Plus, it was too embarrassing to even tell anyone about. I'm not sure what I told my mom, but in retrospect she probably knew how it was going to turn out anyway.

The saddest (or funniest depending on how you look at it) part of the whole episode was that on our way home, Charlie said he'd really like to get those flags back so he wouldn't get in trouble with his father. 

That evening we rode back to John Kennedy and the effigy and the flags were gone from the pole. Nearby was a dumpster and we looked in to see “Fidel” forlornly staring up at us, albeit from one eye as the other has apparently been knocked loose.

Charlie retrieved his flags and as we rode away we made a pact to keep the fiasco between ourselves. Communism and Fidel Castro unfortunately would continue to plague the good old U. S. of A. for many years to come, despite our heroic attempts to raise the ire of the apparently apathetic citizens of Batavia.

April 1, 2019 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in gas prices, news.

Press release from AAA:

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.69, up 6 cents from last week. One year ago, the price was $2.66. The New York State average is $2.73 – up 3 cents from last week. A year ago, the NYS average was $2.77. AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) reports the following averages:

  • Batavia -- $2.65 (up 1 cent since last week)
  • Buffalo -- $2.61 (up 2 cents since last week)
  • Ithaca -- $2.71 (no change since last week)
  • Rochester -- $2.69 (up 1 cent since last week)
  • Rome -- $2.70 (up 1 cent since last week)
  • Syracuse -- $2.67 (no change since last week)
  • Watertown -- $2.73 (up 2 cents since last week)

Decreasing gasoline stocks and peak refinery maintenance season have helped to push pump prices higher as the spring driving season moves into full swing. In its latest weekly petroleum status report, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released new data that shows total domestic stocks of gasoline are down.

EIA’s data revealed that refineries across the nation are operating at lower capacity. The lower rate means that as refineries continue to switch operations to make increased levels of summer blend gasoline, gas prices will likely continue to increase as gasoline production stabilizes to meet demand.  

March 31, 2019 - 8:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, sports.

Update: March 31, 10 p.m. -- Unofficial standings and projected prize list of the 13th annual Genesee Region USBC Association Tournament can be found on the Genesee Region USBC website -- www.bowlgr.com.

The tournament concluded today at Oak Orchard Bowl (Team event) and Medina Lanes (Doubles & Singles).


Andrew Fowler of Batavia flirted with an 800 series in the Mancuso Realty/No Finer Diner doubles league at Mancuso Bowling Center on Monday night to lead the list of high rollers for the week ending March 31.

The 28-year-old left-hander rolled 252-277-266 for a sparkling 795 series.

On Thursday night, Rich Wagner completed a remarkable season in the Toyota of Batavia league, registering yet another 700 series to finish with a Genesee Region USBC-record 246.7 average.

For more high scores in league play around the Genesee Region, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

Mike Pettinella's next Pin Points column is scheduled to appear this Thursday.




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