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Pavilion Fire receives donation from staff of Batavia Middle School

By Staff Writer
pavilion fire department

The Pavilion Fire Department accepted a donation on Friday made possible through the generosity of the Batavia Middle School’s dress-down days. 

Rebecca Matteson, the mother of a patient treated by the department in May 2021, made the donation to the department. 

Jeffrey DeMare was involved in an automobile accident involving one box truck and two semis at the curve on Route 63 and Peoria Road. Thanks to quick actions taken by a good Samaritan and a State trooper from Wyoming County, who both applied a tourniquet and with the Pavilion Fire Department providing Basic Life Support, Jeffrey was able to make a full recovery after multiple surgeries. 

Ken Weaver, president of the Pavilion Fire Department, accepted the check. Jeffrey is standing to the right of Rebecca. Also in the photo are firefighters who responded to the call.

Submitted photos and information.

pavilion fire department

Pavilion teen gives back, shows her love of animals to Purple Pony

By Joanne Beck
Shelley Fallitico. Carson Tyler, Dan Kilker
Purple Pony board member and volunteer Shelley Falitico, left, Carson Tyler with her donation, and Board President Dan Kilker with Paint at the farm in Le Roy.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Pavilion teen Carson Tyler has been a longtime animal lover. With three dogs at home and a penchant for trail-riding horses with her mom, when she came into a little money, her decision about what to do with it was an easy one.

She opted to donate a check of $1,000, which she won as Gatorade’s Best Player of the Year for her volleyball prowess, to Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship in Le Roy.

“I grew up super fortunate being able to travel all over to play volleyball and being able to give back to kids who are less fortunate. It was just something I wanted to do only because I grew up so blessed and had been able to do so many things,” the 18-year-old said Tuesday while presenting her donation to board members at the Purple Pony farm. “So I was doing some research about it, and it popped up. And I was like, oh, this is right. And I knew that this was the place I wanted to give to. I knew that they are able to help kids with disabilities ride horses -- not even kids, but young adults, too. And so once I learned that, I was like, yes, it just clicked, this is just the place. I just kind of knew this is where I wanted to give the money to.”

While board members gratefully accepted the donation, Carson will continue her plans to attend Ball State University and study sports administration. She hopes to “get back here at some point” and see the horse program again, she said.

Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship, which turns 20 this year, works with children ages 4 through adult with disabilities and provides “physical, cognitive, emotional and social benefits” by pairing each participant with a well trained horse and volunteer to teach various aspects of horsemanship, trust, and commands while also building inner strength, confidence and growth.

Shelley Falitico has been volunteering for six years. She said she came to Purple Pony with career experience from working with kids and adults with special needs. She signed on after seeing firsthand how a half-ton animal gently connected with William, a young boy with autism who had significant communication issues: he didn’t talk.

William’s parents brought him to every session, and Fallitico worked with him and his speech pathologist, who programmed different commands into a speech box. When William was on the horse, he could work the box to give commands, such as whoa and walk on.

“And I saw how much confidence and ability, that he was in control of something he so thoroughly enjoyed. And the horse was beautifully trained. And it got to the point where I would be holding the lead rope, but it got to the point where I could back away a few steps, and William would be sitting up there in that saddle, so proud. And he would push the button, and it would say — his speech path person put in there ‘walk on’ — and the horse would hear walk on, and the horse would walk. And there’d be William sitting in the saddle holding his reins, so happy and proud of himself," she said. "And I think the biggest point, and I get mushy on this one, was when we did a show at the end of the lessons. His parents were there. His grandparents were there. And they were all sitting on the side. And William was in the center of the arena with the horse by himself, and I stood back. And he did the whole show by himself. And his parents started to cry. And it was because it was such a huge accomplishment for him to be able to, he had barriers in his life, take such a step to be so independent.

"And it was so meaningful. And you could just see in his face how much he loved what he was doing," she said. "And I saw the magic. And I said this has to just keep going and keep continuing.”

Falitico felt that she was a good match for the organization, since there were people with equine expertise, and she was bringing in a background from having worked at Arc of Genesee Orleans for people with developmental disabilities. 

“So they’ve actually brought me in to be a trainer to train the other volunteers. Some kids who had some significant behavioral or communication issues, they have me come and work with them and get them adapted around the horse,” she said. “And we see nothing but success because there is magic around those big, beautiful animals.”

She recently joined the board of directors and wants to see the nonprofit keep thriving to serve the 30 to 35 participants each year, she said. There are five therapy horses at the Purple Pony farm at 8321 Lake Street Road. It is 100 percent run on grants, donations and foundation funds, Falitico said, and is also supported by trained volunteers and not a paid staff.

It adheres to a strict protocol in terms of very well-trained horses that can handle strangers and surprises and follow the commands as expected, she said, and is certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, a leading agency of professional equine-assisted services committed to supporting members and stakeholders with rigorous standards, credentialing and education, according to PATHI's website.

When Carson won her scholarship and was in the process of choosing a benefactor, Falitico was only too happy to share about Purple Pony. A high school senior at St. Mary’s in Lancaster, Carson “just fell in love with the whole concept,” Falitico said, wanting to see the farm, horses and the kids in action receiving their lessons.

“So we were totally excited that she picked us,” Falitico said. 

It seems as though others in the community have followed suit: Vic Blood of Le Roy has donated $1,600 to the cause, and the Michael Napoleone Foundation recently informed the organization that it was chosen for a monetary award from them as well.

All donations go to the site's operations and expenses, such as saddles for the horses. Two nine-week courses are offered to participants, and there is a waiting list for the popular programs. The first session is set to begin April 23. Applications for volunteers and participants are encouraged and may be found on the website.  

The biannual Treasure Sale, Purple Pony’s largest fundraiser of the year, will be filling the horse arena with goodies from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 10 and 11. Donations are also welcome at the barn after July 1. For more details, go to the website or to Purple Pony's social media site HERE.  

Bubba, Butter, and Cookie at Purple Pony
Bubba, left, Butter and Cookie enjoy a warm sunny afternoon Tuesday at the Purple Pony farm in Le Roy.
Photo by Joanne Beck
Bubba, Butter and Shelley Fallitico
Purple Pony volunteer Shelley Falitico says hello to Bubba and Butter at the farm in Le Roy. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Accident reported on Route 63 at Starr Road, Pavilion

By Howard B. Owens

Two ambulances are requested to Ellicott Street Road and Starr Road, Pavilion, for an accident involving a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle.

One person reportedly unable to get out of a vehicle.

Mercy Flight was on standby but is canceled.

Pavilion Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Stafford Fire quested to shutdown traffic at Route 20 and Route 63 and Le Roy Fire requested to shutdown traffic at Route 19 and Route 63.

Traffic is blocked in both directions on Route 63 by the accident.

UPDATE 5:31 p.m.: One person extricated.

UPDATE 7:17 p.m.: Route 63 reopened.

UPDATE: According to Pavilion Chief Jason Everett, two people were injured. He said it appeared a semi-truck was westbound on Route 63 in the slow lane. When it came time to merge, a pickup truck was in the passing lane, and the semi-driver apparently did not see the pickup truck and moved into the passing lane. The pickup was forced into the lane of oncoming traffic and hit an SUV. The pickup then swerved, bounced off the semi-truck, and punctured a saddle tank. After the collision, the pickup continued down a 20-foot embankment. The SUV driver was extricated and was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy EMS. The two people in the pickup truck declined treatment at the scene and were transported to UMMC by private vehicle.  The saddle tanks leaked approximately 50 liters of diesel fuel. Genesee County's Hazmat team assisted with cleanup.  Route 63 was closed for approximately three hours.

Pavilion schools host 'Eclipse Learning Night' for community

By Pavilion Journalism Class
pavilion eclipse event

By Darrell Upright and the PCS Introduction Journalism Class

Tuesday night, Pavilion Central School hosted its first-ever full-district community event, “Eclipse Learning Night,” in preparation for the  April 8 total solar eclipse. 

Hosted nearly two weeks before the celestial occurrence, 400 students and their families mobbed the Middle-High school’s gymnasium, auditorium, and library and visited participating classrooms that sponsored eclipse-related activities.  All told, more than 600 people attended the event, held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. 

Planned by the science department staff and an ad hoc committee that started preparations in October, the event was a success for the school. 

“This exceeded expectations for attendance and involvement,” said Mr. Brian Mullin, English 12 teacher. 

Among the activities visited by students on Tuesday night were two presentations by Dr. Aaron Steinhauer, professor of Astronomy at SUNY Geneseo; the Star Lab, a portable planetarium in the school’s auditorium; readings by PCS staff of Colleen Onuffer’s “Genny Sees the Eclipse” (illustrated by Andy Reddout); the Middle-High School Book Fair; Trivia Night; concessions from Papa Roni’s and Yummie’s Ice Cream from Warsaw – who sold a special flavor created for the event, Gopher Galaxy;  and teacher-and-student-created presentations and displays to inform the public about the eclipse featuring work from students in grades Kindergarten to 12.

Students and family members also received eclipse glasses at the event. 

“We’re doing this prior to the eclipse for the community,” said Dr. Amanda Cook, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, who planned the event with the Science Department and committee members. “From a safety standpoint, there was a concern that the public may not be familiar with” some of the dangers associated with a full solar eclipse: severe injury to the retina if viewers don’t use filtered glasses. 

“We want to share the significance of a very rare event,” she added. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.” 

Many of the students’ projects capitalized on the eclipse's importance.

According to “GeneSEE the Eclipse,” the Genesee County web page ( informing residents about it, the last full solar eclipse visible in our area was in 1925, and the next will take place in 2144.

Attendees were enthused by the event.  “I like science personally, so I like it so far.  It’s great for us (in the PCS district) because we don’t have to go anywhere” to learn about the eclipse, said 10th grader Jackson True while doing the PCS English Department’s “blackout poetry” exercise, one of numerous activities planned by school staff. 

According to the “GeneSEE the Eclipse” web page, the Monday, April 8th event will darken the sky in Genesee County, which is directly in the “path of totality.” People will experience 3 minutes and 42 seconds of full eclipse beginning at 3:19 p.m. and a partial eclipse for nearly two and a half hours. 

Photos by Darrell Upright

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Introduction to Journalism class at Pavilion Central Schools is taught by Michael Iten and is, as far as we know, the only Intro to Journalism class in Genesee County.

pavilion eclipse event
pavilion eclipse event
pavilion eclipse event
pavilion eclipse event
pavilion eclipse event

Pavilion Fire honors volunteers, installs officers at annual dinner

By Howard B. Owens
Codey O'Neill, Jason Everett, Bryen Murrock, and Firefighter of the Year, Ken Weaver.
Photos by Howard Owens.

Members of the Pavilion Volunteer Fire Department honored their own on Saturday at the fire hall with an awards and installation dinner.

Ken Weaver was named Firefighter of the Year. Dave Clor received the EMS Person of the Year award. Paul Daugherty received the President's Award.

Tom Garlock, Jason Everett, Chris Holley, and Don Roblee Jr. received a special EMS award for their effort to deliver a baby during a snowstorm in January. The baby was named Cinderella.

Matt Jacobs received the Lifetime Member Award.

Jerry Fitzsimmons was honored as a 50-year member for 2022, and Don Roblee and Ken Weaver were honored for 50 years in 2023.

The 2024 officers:

  • Jason Everett, chief
  • Bryen Murrock, 1st asst. chief
  • Codey O'Neill, 2nd asst. chief
  • Chris Holley, captain
  • Kelly Murrock, captain
  • Jason True, lieutenant
  • Dewey Murrock, lieutenant
  • Ken Weaver, fire police captain
  • Dave Clor, safety officer
Codey O'Neill, Jason Everett, Bryen Murrock, and Dave Clor.
Photos by Howard Owens.
Chris Holley, Don Roblee Jr., Tom Garlock, and Jason Everett.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Paul Daugherty and Ken Weaver.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Jerry Fitzsimmons
Photo by Howard Owens.
Doug Wright, Ken Weaver, Don Roblee, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens

University at Albany announces fall 2023 dean's list

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Dean's List at the University at Albany recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of full-time undergraduate students.

To qualify for the Dean's List, students must earn a grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 or higher in their first semester of study and a GPA of 3.50 or higher in subsequent semesters.

The following students have been named to the Fall 2023 Dean's List:

  • Tania Cortes Gutierrez of Pavilion
  • Carlos Melgarejo of Oakfield 
  • Danica Porter of Basom 
  • Lauren Reimer of Batavia
  • Ashley Schiefer of Batavia
  • Alexandra Zanghi of East Pembroke 

Law and Order: Batavia woman charged with DWI, resisting arrest following property damage accident

By Howard B. Owens

Felicia R. Sherrell, 43, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving while ability impaired by drugs and alcohol, failure to keep right, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, harassment 2nd, and resisting arrest. Sherrell was arrested in connection with a motor vehicle accident reported on Dec. 17. According to police, Sherrell's vehicle struck a sign on West Main Street at Oak Street, Batavia, and then left the scene. Once located, Sherrell allegedly resisted arrest and struck an officer. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Isaiah J. Munroe, 33, of Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd, unlawful imprisonment 2nd, and criminal mischief 4th. Munroe is accused of being in a fight with another person on Walnut Street, Batavia, on Feb 4. He is accused of restraining a person and preventing the person from calling for help. He was arraigned and released.

Michael R. Ostrander, 59, of Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd. Ostrander is accused of hitting another person, causing injury, during an incident on Feb. 9 on Mill Street. Ostrander was arraigned and released.

Leona J. Polk, 44, of Le Roy, is charged with harassment 2nd. Polk is accused of striking a nurse in the emergency room at UMMC on Feb. 12. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Rebecca R. Fugate, 33, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Fugate is accused of striking a person on Feb. 12 while on a bus in Batavia. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Kristen R Aquino, 40, no community listed, is charged with DWI. Aquino was stopped on Feb. 3 on Liberty Street by a Batavia patrol officer. She was issued an appearance ticket.

David J. Sokolowski, 54, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Sokolowski was allegedly found in possession of narcotics on Feb. 6 in the city of Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Jaylinn M O'Neil, 33, of Le Roy, was arrested on Feb. 7 on a warrant issued by City Court. O'Neil was initially charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle 3rd on Nov. 8. She is accused of failure to appear in court as ordered. She was arraigned in City Court and released pending her next court appearance.

Peter Hubbard, 43, of Lovering Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with DWI, DWAI (combined influence of drugs and alcohol), driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, driving left of pavement markings.  Hubbard was charged following an investigation by deputies Zachary Hoy and Nicholas Chamoun at 5:40 p.m. on Dec. 16 on Ellicott Street Road, Pavilion.  He was arrested on Feb. 17. Hubbard was released on an appearance ticket.

A 13-year-old was arrested by State Police on Feb. 15 and charged with burglary 3rd. The alleged burglary was reported on Dec. 29 at 5:17 p.m. in the Town of Elba. No further information released.

Jacqueline M. Kotas, 49, of Alden, is charged with DWI. Kotas was stopped by State Police at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 in the Town of Darien. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Rachael Herold named to fall 2023 dean's list at SUNY Delhi

By Press Release

Press Release:

SUNY Delhi is proud to recognize Rachael Herold of Pavilion, for being named to the Dean's List for the Fall 2023 semester. Herold is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Nursing.

The Dean's List is a recognition of academic achievement for students who are enrolled in six or more credits and earn at least a 3.5 grade-point average for the semester.

SUNY Cortland announces its fall 2023 dean's list

By Press Release

Press Release:

More than 2,800 students earned recognition for academic excellence on the SUNY Cortland Dean's List for the Fall 2023 semester. 

The Dean's List is the highest ranking for undergraduate students in their respective academic areas of the university. Students must earn a minimum 3.3 grade point average for the semester to make the list.

Among those honored were:

  • Gaige Armbrewster of Batavia - Physical Education K-12
  • Ethan Beswick of Le Roy - Healthcare Management
  • Jocelyn Coburn of Batavia - Musical Theatre BFA
  • Emma Efing of Le Roy - Adoles Educ-Social Studies
  • Olivia Halpin of Batavia - Inclusive Childhood Education
  • Kaylie Kratz of Batavia - Inclusive Early Childhood Education
  • Allie Schwerthoffer of Batavia - Healthcare Management
  • Karlee Zinkievich of Pavilion - Physical Education K-12

SUNY GCC announces their fall 2023 president's list

By Press Release

Press Release:

198 students from Genesee Community College were named to the President's List. Students honored on the President's List have maintained full-time enrollment and earned a quality point index of 3.75 (roughly equivalent to an A) or better.

  • Phyllissa Mitzel of Alexander
  • Julia Lennon of Alexander
  • Kristian Natalizia of Alexander
  • Christian Haller of Alexander
  • Brendan Burgess of Batavia 
  • Rachel Gelabale of Batavia 
  • Alexandra Christopher of Batavia
  • Ryan Bowen of Batavia
  • Alexander Hunt of Batavia
  • Michelle Witherow of Batavia
  • Elizabeth Clark of Batavia 
  • Danielle Clark of Batavia
  • Allison Dent of Batavia
  • Christian DeSantis of Batavia 
  • Aden Chua of Batavia
  • Paul Daniszewski of Batavia
  • Duane Kross of Batavia
  • Ashley Hightower of Batavia 
  • Clara Wood of Batavia
  • Amanda Audelo of Batavia
  • Stacie Stein of Batavia 
  • Joseph Perl of Batavia 
  • Hailey Smith of Batavia
  • Blake Pahuta of Corfu 
  • Alec Skeet of Corfu 
  • Isabella Wheeler of Darien Center
  • Julia Yax of Darien Center 
  • Michael Miller of East Bethany 
  • Kyra Rhodes of Oakfield 
  • Heidi Burdick of Oakfield
  • Tyhler Wood of Oakfield
  • Kenneth Kline of Oakfield
  • Athena Mitchell of Oakfield 
  • Erica Scott of Stafford
  • Joan-Marie Gabalski of Byron 
  • Sean Whiting of Le Roy 
  • Mia Hampton of Le Roy 
  • Maverick Blachowicz of Le Roy 
  • Makayla Grant of Le Roy 
  • Willard Prevost of Le Roy 
  • Morgan Beverly of Le Roy 
  • Shaun Graham of Le Roy
  • Bryn Luckey of Le Roy 
  • Matthew Bolton of Le Roy 
  • Ian Kepple of Le Roy 
  • Colton Dziekan of Pavilion 
  • Dylan Wiedrich of Pavilion 
  • Lauren Russell of Pavilion
  • Alaina Rowe of Pavilion

Pavilion junior chosen as candidate for Empire Girls State

By Press Release
Tristan Harding, Aubrey Puccio, Sammy Privatera, Grace Slocum
Alternates Tristan Harding, Aubrey Puccio, and Sammy Privatera, and selected candidate Grace Slocum.
Submitted Photo

Press Release:

The American Legion Auxiliary Unit #576 of Le Roy has selected a candidate and three alternates for this year's Empire Girls State the week of June 30 at SUNY Brockport. Grace Slocum has been selected to attend as a candidate. 

As part of the premier ALA program, citizens of the New York Girls State will study local, county, and state government processes during this five-day nonpartisan political learning experience. Grace is a high school junior and honor student from Pavilion Central School District. She is a participant in several clubs and organizations, earning third place in the Literature category at the 2024 Interscholastic Competition in English (ICE). Grace is also a two-season scholar athlete and remains in high academic standing. In addition to Girls’ State, Grace will be attending the Pavilion Close-Up trip to Washington, D.C. in March 2024.

Aubrey Puccio, alternate, is a junior at LeRoy Jr/Sr High school. She is involved in almost all music programs at the school including the musical, chorus and Knights and Gals.

Tristan Harding, alternate, is a junior at Pavilion. She is influenced greatly by her family and has been part of Scouts BSA for years, with the goal of becoming an Eagle scout some day. She also participated in the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) this past summer. Outside of Scouting, she spends her time participating in Volleyball and Figure Skating, Performance Guild, SADD, Page Turners, Ski Club, and Trap Club, where she had the opportunity to compete at the State level.

Sammy Privatera, alternate, is a junior at Le Roy. She comes from a family that has been very active in this program. Her brother went to Boys State in 2016 and her sister to Girls State in 2021. Sammy loves all things having to do with music and has participated in Band, Chorus, Jazz Band, Knights n’ Gals, Marching Band, Musical, and other activities. Along with that she is a highly active member of the National Honor Society and loves making a positive impact on her community.

ALA Girls State attendees, known as “citizens,” receive special instruction in parliamentary procedure and organize themselves into two mock political parties. The young women then campaign, hold rallies, debate, and vote to elect city, county, and state officials. Once elected to office, delegates are sworn in and perform their prescribed duties. Attendees not elected to office are given appointments and visit
the offices of those elected to share their viewpoints as citizens.

Every spring, approximately 25,000 young women across the country are selected to attend ALA Girls State programs in their respective states. Two outstanding citizens from each of the 50 ALA Girls State programs are then chosen to represent their state as “senators” at ALA Girls Nation held in Washington, D.C. in July.

School safety expert in Pavilion gives advice: space and separation, survive, make sure kids live well

By Howard B. Owens
Don Shomette pavilion central school
Don Shomette, public safety expert, speaking in the auditorium on Thursday at Pavilion High School.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Since it was a small turnout in the Pavilion High School Auditorium on Thursday evening, Don Shomette, a school safety consultant, decided to have a conversation instead of his planned presentation.

He took questions and offered answers.

Those answers included three rules for staying safe if you find yourself in public during a safety crisis, such as an active shooter: act fast, get space and separation, and survive.

Don Shomette
Don Shomette

"Run, Hide, and fight -- I like it because nobody created it," Shomette said. "It wasn't as if someone sat down and said, 'You know what I'm going to do? I'm gonna go ahead and create a strategy that people can use to make themselves safer. That's not what they did. What happened was we watched a million people react to violence, and we said, 'Oh, everybody does one of three things. They run, hide or fight, or they do a combination of it. What I love about it is all of us will naturally do it."

Shomette is a former Marine, combat veteran, and former school resource officer with more than 30 years of security experience.  He has consulted with police departments, municipalities, and school districts nationally.  He provided the district with a vulnerability assessment based on personal visits inventorying all aspects of the campuses, as well as staff development training and Thursday's community meeting.

The low turnout for his talk on Thursday -- less than a dozen people -- was actually a good sign, Shomette said.  It is a sign there isn't a lot of anxiety about potential violence within the district and that there hasn't been a tragic or troublesome event in the area recently.

Advice for responding to violent acts
As for his advice, if you're in the proximity of violence, acting quickly can help save your life, and the thing you are most likely to think about first is getting away from the violence, Shomette said.

"If you're in a room and you hear what sounds like fireworks or firecrackers, chances are it means that the violence is far away from you, or it's not extremely close to you," Shomette said. "In that case, I would run to the door, close the door, lock the door and get out of the way. I'd stay in the room. Chances are, that might be the best thing to do. Okay, why stay in the room? If you can close and lock a classroom door, you have about a 99 percent chance that no threat will enter the classroom. That is, statistically speaking, what school attackers do is they tend not to destroy doors; they try the handle, and then they move on. So if you're in a classroom and you hear what sounds like firecrackers, my advice to you is if you can get to the door and close and lock it, stay there."

That's creating space - you're putting a physical object between you and the attacker.

If you're in the hallway, he said, you need to create distance. That means running.

"I will say that the vast majority of people who go outside tend to survive," Shomette said.

He cautioned, though, that you want to be sure you're running away from the violence and not toward it. 

Prioritizing survival is fighting, Shomette said. You're fighting to survive.

"You have to adopt the mindset right now that you're going to do anything you had to do to survive," he said.

He told the story of two people at a mass shooting who crawled into a hole in the wall that officials couldn't believe one person could fit in, let alone two.

When it comes to fighting back, that is a matter of assessing your situation and understanding what you've trained or practiced to do.  Some people are better equipped based on size alone or the equipment they care to provide physical resistance to an attacker.  He drew attention to, for example, School Resource Officer Trevor Sherwood, who was in attendance and is a large man, a trained peace officer who, if on campus, is probably properly equipped to fight back.

"Typically, we think of fighting as going physical," Shomette said. "If you can go physical, go physical. Trevor, stand up. I want you to look at Trevor. Trevor should go physical, don't you agree? Thanks, Trevor. I mean, I would bring Trevor with me and put him in a glass cage and just break it and say, Trevor, take care of it. If I told Trevor not to fight or as a last resort fight, it would be crazy because Trevor is trained; it's his natural, probably, proclivity. It's what he's going to be leaning towards."

But not everybody is well suited to taking on an attacker. Most people aren't, in fact. That's where space and distance comes into play, which Shomette said is also fighting because it's about surviving.

"The deal is 99 percent of people do not first think of physically fighting," Shomette said. "They tend to be 1 percent of people who physically fight. So don't be discouraged by this. Everybody fights in a crisis. If you run, you're fighting. If you hide, you're fighting. If you survive, you're fighting.”

Protecting yourself
Since students can't carry pepper spray, one young woman asked about carrying hair spray as a defensive weapon. 

That's fine if you're practiced in how you would deploy so that you're ready to react in a tense, life-threatening situation, Shomette said, but space and distance may still be your better option if it is an option.

"I would not, however, bank on the idea that I'm going to do something brand new that I've never done before," Shomette said.

When Shomette was a young police officer, he was provided with pepper spray and not a lot of training or practice time on using it.  He was pretty horrible with it as a defensive tool at first, he admitted.  One time he accidentally sprayed his partner in the face with it.

"That was the worst feeling in the world, seeing that red go on his face," Shomette said. "I felt very comfortable using it."

He eventually became proficient, but it took time.

He recalled a mass shooting in a bar, where dozens of adult customers were standing around with beer bottles in their hands.

"How many grown-ups threw a bottle at the attacker? None of them," Shomette said. "None of them, and you would think that they would do it. But the deal is when a crisis happens -- here's this part that it's hard to describe, and it's kind of painful to say, but during an extremely violent act, it is unlike anything you've ever experienced. You can you can feel it. You'll feel the vibrations. You can feel things hitting you. You smell things. In extreme violence, you can smell things that you never thought about. 

"I look at photos of some things that have happened that I've been involved in, and I still remember what that smelled like. I remembered the smell that was there in extreme violence. I don't know if it's from the room or from the weapons being discharged, but I can remember tasting metal. I look at some photos, and I taste metal. I guess my point is that stay away from extreme violence and get away from it. It is shocking. It is incredibly unnerving. You tend to fall back on the things that you feel most comfortable doing."

Mental health
Shomette started his discussion by sharing his views on the primary cause of mass violence -- mental illness, and the fact that mental health is what society needs to address and what parents need to see as a primary need of their own children.

"There are lots of people who believe what's happening is because of lots of reasons," Shomette said. "I won't go into all the reasons, but they are heavy, big-time debates.  ... This is me. My thoughts. The number one problem, or the number one driver for me, about why we have school attacks is because of mental health, hands down. Why do I say this? I just don't say it because I believe it. I study school attackers. I put on classes for police officers that are five days in a row, eight hours a day. All we do is talk about school attackers, who they are, and what they do. 

"I'm not trying to be insensitive, but after every school attack, the newspaper could read, 'We have learned nothing new.' We've learned nothing new for the last 10 years. We have known everything about school attackers, there is nothing new. Every time, it's shocking, but there's nothing new. The mental health aspect is, without a doubt  -- I think every school attacker suffers from mental health illness because they've had a break with reality and they believe it's okay to take a life. Would you agree that that's totally unhealthy? So I think by the act itself, whether they were diagnosed mentally ill or not, it doesn't matter, in the act of murdering an innocent person, you have proven that you are mentally ill."

Parents, he said, watch your kids and make sure they overcome the barriers they encounter in life and enjoy life.

"Are you ready? I have eight kids," Shomette said. "I am super vigilant, hyper-vigilant. I look at all my kids, and I think about these things on a very personal level. If you live life well, I think you tend not to choose violence. I worry that people who don't live life well long enough, they go down. We make the mistake of just going out there and saying they're mentally ill, but they're really not mentally ill. 

“They say that whatever you practice, you become good at whatever it is you practice,” he said. “So, if you have kids, my advice is to do everything you can to help them live well. If kids can live well, I think we'll get rid of most of our issues and problems."

Pavilion Central School seeks nominees for Alumni Hall of Fame by March 8

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Pavilion Alumni Hall of Fame Committee urges community input and support to nominate outstanding PCS graduates who have achieved distinction in their lives and chosen field after high school through significant contributions to their career, community or through personal achievements. 

Inductees for the Annual Hall of Fame Assembly are selected by the PCS Alumni Hall of Fame Selection Committee, a voluntary group comprised of PCS alumni, current and retired faculty members, community residents, and district administrators. Since launching in 2014, the PCS Hall of Fame has honored over two dozen exemplary alumni who inspire current and future Pavilion students to strive for excellence. 

“The Hall of Fame Assembly is a chance for all of our students to see the many possibilities of life after PCS,” says Pavilion Superintendent Mary Kate Hoffman. “What I love about the ceremony is that our students see alumni from all walks of life. They hear stories of people who have made great achievements in life and who have made important contributions to their community. But they are not hearing just from alumni who excelled in academics while in school. Many of our speakers have shared that they maybe didn’t have the best grades…but they still went on to great things.”

“Being inducted into the PCS Hall of Fame was a tremendous honor for me,” says Ken Weaver, Deputy Director with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and PCS Alumni Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Honoree, “What made the induction especially meaningful was the opportunity to connect with young people and discuss their goals and aspirations. One of the highlights of the experience was hearing a student express appreciation for my speech. Knowing that my words resonated with someone and might have inspired them is a heartwarming reminder of the impact shared experiences and wisdom can have on the next generation.”

Several laureates like Diane Davis Torcello, President of the WNY Tompkins Community Bank, have continued their support of the PCS Alumni Hall of Fame by joining the Selection Committee and recognizing more impactful graduates.
“I joined the Hall of Fame Committee because I believe in the mission of what the group is trying to achieve. Honoring leaders from all different professions and backgrounds is important to deliver the message to the current students of PCS – they can accomplish anything if they work hard,” says Torcello, “attending a small school is not a disadvantage – rather an advantage.” 

Nominations are currently being accepted and can be found on the PCS Hall of Fame website ( and printed applications are available at the following Pavilion businesses and organizations: Kemp-Rudgers Service Station, the Pavilion Public Library, The Lost Sock, Jazzy Creations, Blessings Café, Dorothy B. Bunce Elementary School, and Pavilion Junior/Senior High School main office. 

All nominations must be submitted by March 8 and the PCS Alumni Hall of Fame Assembly will be held on May 31, 2024, at the Pavilion Junior/Senior High School Auditorium.

Nazareth University announces students on the dean's list for fall 2023

By Press Release

Press Release:

Nazareth University proudly announces the students named to the Dean's List for fall 2023.

A student's grade point average must be at least 3.5 or above, and they must complete 12 credit hours of graded work that semester to be included on the dean's list at Nazareth.

  • Hannah Wies of Bergen
  • Matthew Smith of Batavia
  • Maveric McKenzie of Pavilion
  • Chad Ohlson of Oakfield
  • Katherine Spiotta of Batavia

Law and Order: Batavia man accused of strangulation and assault

By Howard B. Owens
brandon marsh
Brandon March

Brandon J. March, 39, of Batavia, is charged with strangulation 2nd, assault 3rd, and menacing 3rd. March was arrested on Dec. 28 following an investigation into an incident on South Lyon Street. March is accused of kicking a person while threatening to kill that person. March was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.

Donald G. Vanelli, 60, of Oakfield, is charged with burglary 3rd, criminal mischief 4th, conspiracy 5th, and petit larceny. Vanelli was arrested on Jan. 4 on a warrant stemming from an investigation into a break-in at a business on Mill Street. At least two suspects stole property from the business, according to police. Vanelli was arraigned and released under supervision.

donald vanelli
Donald Vanelli

Tanisha N. Gibson, 38, of Batavia, is charged with assault 2nd, criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Gibson was arrested on Jan. 8 following an investigation into an incident on Dec. 2 on Bank Street. Gibson is accused of spraying pepper spray in the face of another person. Gibson was arraigned and released.

Tanisha Gibson
Tanisha Gibson

Johnathan M. Falk, 25, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and conspiracy 6th. Falk is accused of cooperating with another person to steal property on Jan. 5 from 7-Eleven on East Main Street. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Samuel J. Hernandez, 21, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Hernandez is accused of shoplifting from West Main Wine and Spirits on Jan. 5. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Jaliyla S. Shelton, 18, of Rochester, is charged with two counts of grand larceny 4th. She is accused of stealing two cars in Batavia. She was arrested on Nov. 2 and issued an appearance ticket.  She is accused of failure to appear on those charges and was arrested on a warrant on Jan. 10. She was arraigned and released.

Crystal L. Dacey, 29, of Attica, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th and petit larceny. Dacey is accused of stealing property and prescription pills from another person on Jan. 10. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Timothy D. Cobb, 19, of Buffalo, is charged with unlawful fleeing a police officer 3rd. Cobb is accused of fleeing from a police officer following an incident at Speedway at Oak and Main on Jan. 3. The pursuit was terminated, but Cobb was apprehended a short time later. He was issued an appearance ticket and multiple traffic tickets.

James R. Briggs, 48, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Briggs is accused of stealing merchandise from Family Dollar on East Main Street on Jan. 4. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Joshua W. Bombard, 18, of Pavilion, is charged with assault 3rd and criminal mischief 4th. Bombard was arrested after police officers responded to a report of a fight at a location on Ellicott Street on Dec. 27. Bombard is accused of injuring another person and damaging that person's property. He was arraigned and released.

Jennifer M. Beswick, 41, of Batavia, is charged with DWAI/Drugs and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Beswick was arrested on Dec. 27 by Batavia PD following an investigation into a traffic accident that occurred on July 29. Beswick was issued an appearance ticket.

Jason C. Mann, 47, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 4th. Mann is accused of damaging another person's property during a fight in the parking lot at 587 East Main St., Batavia, on Dec. 24. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Martin J. Rodgers, 39, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 4th. Rogers is accused of damaging a window at a residence on Oak Street on Dec. 19 during an argument. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Naquan J. Shepherd, 24, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Shepherd allegedly hit another person during an argument on Hutchins Street, Batavia, on Dec. 20. Shepherd was issued an appearance ticket.

Ronald J. Murray, 29, of Batavia, was arrested on a warrant on Dec. 26. The warrant stems from an incident on Aug. 11. Murray is accused of possessing narcotics. He was arraigned and released. 

Henry C. Roberts, 19, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Roberts is accused of shoplifting from Tops on Dec. 29. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Levy Spikes, Jr., 50, of Batavia, is charged with DWI. Spikes was charged following a traffic stop by a Batavia PD patrol on Dec. 24 on Lewiston Road. He was issued traffic tickets.

Malik Isiah Ayala, 32, no permanent address, is charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Ayala is accused of stealing a pair of Nike sneakers from Dick's Sporting Goods at 4:22 p.m. Jan. 13. When taken into custody, he was allegedly found in possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Mark E. Green, 42, of Hermitage Road, Warsaw, is charged with harassment 2nd. Green is accused of hitting another person at a residence on Briarwood Terrace, Batavia, at 5:50 p.m. on Jan. 14. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Scott David Murray, 38, no residence provided, is charged with assault 3rd and criminal obstruction of breathing.  Murray was arrested on Jan. 2 in connection with an incident reported on Dec. 30 at a location in Darien. Murray is accused of striking another person in the face multiple times and applying pressure to the neck of that person multiple times.  He was held for arraignment.

Joseph M. Andrews, 47, of East Crestwood Court, Lockport, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, open container, and speed not reasonable and prudent. Andrews is accused of driving off the roadway at 9:03 p.m. on Jan. 13 on Lewiston Road, Oakfield, while intoxicated. The incident was investigated by deputies Mason Schultz and Zachary Hoy.

Maxim James Reynolds, no age provided, of Lakes Road, Hamlin, is charged with DWI and false personation. Reynolds was stopped at 2:33 p.m. on Jan. 14 on Reed Road, Bergen, by Deputy Nicholas Chamoun. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Matthew Sheffield named to SNHU dean's list

By Press Release

Press Release:

Matthew Sheffield of Pavilion has been named to Southern New Hampshire University's Fall 2023 Dean's List. The fall terms run from September to December.

Full-time undergraduate students who have earned a minimum grade-point average of 3.500 to 3.699 for the reporting term are named to the Dean's List. Full-time status is achieved by earning 12 credits over each 16-week term or paired 8-week terms grouped in fall, winter/spring, and summer.

Woman chasing man near Texaco Town

By Howard B. Owens

A man has reportedly exited a GMC SUV at Ellicott Street Road and Telephone Road, Pavilion, and is being chased by a female.

The male is described as mid-30s, white, blond, wearing a snowmobile coat and orange shirt.

Law enforcement is dispatched.

Pavilion schools seeking bids from firms to assist with next series of renovations and upgrades

By Howard B. Owens

Pavilion Central School District is in the early phase of planning its next significant building and renovation project.

It's seeking bids from architectural/engineering firms to help it map out updates and upgrades at its two main school buildings, D.B. Bunce Elementary School and Pavilion Junior-Senior High School, which totals 275,800 square feet of education space.

The estimated budget for the project is between $20 million and $24 million.

The project is expected to include at least:

  • Replacement of boiler plants in both buildings;
  • Renovation of media centers in both buildings;
  • Expansion and renovation of one wing of the junior-senior high;
  • An upgrade to the fire alarm and security system at the junior-senior high;
  • An upgrade to theatrical lighting, sound, and projection in the auditorium; and,
  • The replacement of playgrounds.

The selected firm will perform design and construction-related services, including architectural, and engineering for all elements of construction.

The district expects to hire the firm with the winning bid in January with board review and voter approval requested in the fall.  Planning documents will begin the regulatory planning process in the summer of 2025. If all that goes as planned, construction will begin in the summer of 2025, with completion in the winter of 2026.

Bids are due by 3 p.m. on Jan. 10.

The Request for Proposal, which is a document for companies being asked to bid on a project, does not contain financial data beyond the broad cost estimate. The financial plan for paying for the project will be developed by district staff and approved by the board before a public vote on the proposal. Typically, these projects are paid for primarily through state aid.

To read the complete RFP, click here.

Law and Order: Pair accused of leading officers on chase face drug and weapons charges

By Howard B. Owens

Tanner Bernard Wiley, 35, of Bennington Hills, Conn., is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle 3rd, obstructing governmental administration. Kimberly Ann Brodsky, 32, of Elm Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, and criminal possession of a weapon 3rd. When officers attempted to stop a vehicle reportedly driven by Wiley at 1:09 a.m. on Dec. 7, Wiley allegedly fled from the traffic stop, leading to a pursuit of the vehicle from the City of Batavia into the Town of Pembroke, where Wiley allegedly attempted to flee on foot. Wiley and Brodsky were held pending arraignment.

Robert Alva Wright, 64, of Brooklyn Street, Warsaw, Rick William Reed, 42, of Maiden Lane, North Java, and Jesse James Schmidt, are each charged with assault 2nd. The three men are accused of participating in an assault at 11:11 p.m. on Sept. 8 at 2630 Attica Road, Alexander, the location of the Hillside Tavern.  All three men were arraigned on Dec. 4 and released on their own recognizance. The incident was investigated by deputies Erik Andre and Kevin McCarthy.

Talia F. Joubert, 21, of Le Roy, is charged with DWAI Drugs, speeding, and two counts of harassment 2nd.  Joubert was arrested on Dec. 5 in connection with a traffic stop conducted by a Batavia patrol officer on Dec. 5 at an undisclosed time and location. Joubert is accused of striking two police officers while at the police station. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Brian C. Johnson, 26, of Cheektowaga, is charged with harassment 2nd, criminal mischief 4th, and obstruction of governmental administration 2nd. Johnson allegedly engaged in a physical altercation with staff at UMMC while being treated in ER. He allegedly tried to flee police when officers attempted to take him into custody. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Wayne D. Potter, 40, of Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing and harassment 2nd. He was arrested on Dec. 2 after an investigation by Batavia PD into an incident reported on Nov. 4 at an undisclosed time and undisclosed location where Potter allegedly fought with another person. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Cornelius Welch, 44, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th and criminal use of drug paraphernalia 2nd. Welch was allegedly found in possession of narcotics during a traffic stop by Batavia PD while Welch was riding his bicycle at an undisclosed location and at an undisclosed time. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Lisa Ann Centi, undisclosed age, undisclosed residential street, of Chili, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, criminal possession of a weapon 4th, false personation, insufficient signal, aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd.  Centi was arrested following a traffic stop by Deputy Jeremiah Gechell at 9:58 p.m. on Dec. 1 on Forest Edge Drive, Batavia. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Kenniva Sharee Imoni Couser, 23, of Finch Street, Rochester, and Rickia Leshay Bryant, 25, of Clifford Avenue, Rochester, are charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and Bryant is charged with petit larceny. Couser and Bryant are accused of parking in a fire lane on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, at 2:51 p.m. on Dec. 6. There were reportedly children in the vehicle when the exterior temperature was 30 degrees.  The information related to the petit larceny charge was not released. Both were issued an appearance ticket. "Rickia Leshay Bryant" seems to be a name or a phrase.

Stacy Ramon Moss, 34, of Bates Road, Medina, is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 5th, aggravated unlicensed operation 2nd, seeding, and driving without a license. Moss was charged following a traffic stop by Deputy Stephen Smith at 2:03 a.m. on Dec. 4 on Lewiston Road, Batavia. Moss was processed at the Genesee County Jail, issued tickets, and released.

Taylor Marie Goodenow, 21, of Route 5, Le Roy, is charged with burglary 2nd, menacing 3rd, and conspiracy 4th. Riley Lucas Semaj Robinson, 19, of Route 5, Le Roy, is charged with burglary 2nd, criminal mischief 4th, criminal mischief 3rd, and criminal possession of a weapon 4th. Goodenow and Robinson are accused of entering an apartment in Pavilion by force at 3:43 a.m. on Dec. 3, menacing the occupants and causing property damage.

Matthew Ryan Bankes, 36, of Mayflower Street, Rochester, is charged with DWI and speeding. Bankes was stopped at 2:52 a.m. on Dec. 10 on Clinton Street Road, Bergen, by Deputy Ryan Mullen.  Bankes was issued an appearance ticket.

Sasha O. Wilson, 37, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Wilson was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 4:15 p.m. on Dec. 11 in the Town of Batavia. Wilson was issued an appearance ticket. Troopers did not release further information.

Jeanie L. Graham, 38, of Rochester, is charged with bail jumping 3rd. Graham was arrested by State Police on Dec. 11 and ordered held on cash bail. Troopers did not release further information.

Warsaw beats Pavilion in tournament game

By Howard B. Owens
pavilion basketball

Pavilion dropped the afternoon consolation game in the 31st Annual Warsaw Kiwanis Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday, losing to Warsaw, 82-54.

Case Cummins scored 19 points for the Golden Gophers. Landan Stoddard scored 10 points.

Photos by  Jennifer DiQuattro.

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pavilion basketball
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