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Milestones include engagement, wedding and birth announcements as well as job promotions, military service and similar personal accomplishments of you and your family that you wish to share with the community.

November 1, 2019 - 3:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in Milestones, batavia.

Kutztown University has awarded 137 President's Academic Honors Scholarships for the 2019-2020 academic year, including one to Margaret R. Cecere, of Batavia.

President's Academic Honors Scholarships are awarded to high school seniors who have a 3.25 cumulative weighted high school GPA and a 1270 total on the SAT or 27 composite on the ACT.

The student will receive $1,000 per year for four years as long as the student participates in the Honors program and completes a minimum of 30 credits per year.

KU's Honors program requires students to complete a minimum of 21 credits of honors coursework, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25, complete 30 hours of community service by graduation, complete living and learning events, attend one Work in Progress Sessions (WIPS) and complete a capstone or senior honors thesis project

About Kutztown University of Pennsylvania 

Founded in 1866, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is a proud member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education located on 289 acres nestled in the beautiful East Penn Valley in Berks County, between Reading and Allentown, Pennsylvania. KU is just two hours from New York City; 90 minutes from Philadelphia. 

As the region's center for excellence in academics, culture and public engagement, KU's programs and reputation for quality offer students the opportunity to discover lifelong avenues of learning and discovery.

KU students select from more than 100 areas of study within four colleges in a diverse liberal arts academic environment. To complement their studies, KU's NCAA Division II athletics program with 21 varsity sports joins the more than 160 student clubs and organizations providing students with a variety of activities for learning and discovery.

October 25, 2019 - 2:39pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The 37th annual Health and Humanitarian Award of Genesee County will be presented to Tom and Lynn Houseknecht (photo above), of Batavia, at noon on Friday, Dec. 6 at a luncheon at Terry Hills Restaurant.

The award presented by The Jerome Foundation recognizes volunteer men and women of Genesee County who have helped promote emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of the area’s residents.

Nominations reflected “ordinary people who reach far beyond themselves to the lives of those in need, bringing hope, care, and friendship, and helping build a stronger, healthier community.”

In naming the Houseknechts for this year’s award, The Jerome Foundation will recognize more than 25 years of volunteer service and community involvement by the Houseknechts. They have been supporters of multiple charitable causes in our community including: ARC of Genesee Orleans, UMMC (and previous Genesee Memorial Hospital), Notre Dame High School, St. Joseph School, YMCA, CASA, Batavia Rotary Club, and Resurrection Parish among others.

Shelley Falitico, ARC director of Development and Community relations, nominated the couple, saying “Tom and Lynn have always been involved in volunteering in our community, whether working behind the scenes, or being out front leading Capital Campaigns.

"As the co-chairs of our agency’s capital campaign, their dedication and compassion for the people we serve is evident. Individuals with disabilities and their families served at the ARC of Genesee and Orleans have received love, support, education and acceptance from Tom and Lynn.

"Their approachable demeanor is admired and respected. Tom and Lynn Houseknecht have helped build a stronger, healthier community and provided friendship and care to those in need."

The Houseknechts were also nominated by Dan Ireland, president of United Memorial Medical Center.

Ireland said “Tom and Lynn have been an integral part of shaping healthcare in our community for many years. Lynn has championed many supportive events through her involvement with United Memorial Hospital League, serving in many impactful roles. Tom has served over 15 years as a board member on the United Memorial Board as well as the last five years on the Rochester Regional Health Board and has been a key liaison between the Boards through the merger process.

"One of the most notable things about Tom and Lynn is that they are always looking out for what is best for healthcare in our community.”

CASA, a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization that advocates for the best interest of abused and neglected children in Genesee County is one of many charities the Houseknechts have been involved with. In support of their nomination, CASA Board Chair Barb Hale writes “I am truly impressed with all that Tom and Lynn have been able to accomplish as true community leaders. They are able to recognize vulnerable populations in need of help and take the initiative to provide leadership to establish and perpetuate this very help. They are inspirational role models. They show us all how to make positive things happen.”

Karen Green, principal of St. Joseph’s School noted, “Tom and Lynn are outstanding members of our local community, always giving back and striving to make things better. They never hesitate to lend a hand wherever it is needed and always do so with a positive and caring attitude.”

And community member Amanda Malloy said, “Lynn has made selfless contributions to myself and my family in our time of need by restoring our faith in humanity. She understands that sometimes a person may need support and friendship in order to overcome a difficult time. Lynn has been a support for me and my family but most importantly, she has given us hope.”

Family friend Kerry Landfried also nominated the Houseknechts and wrote, “Tom and Lynn Houseknecht are compassionate, always acting in the spirit of helping others. With enthusiasm, they have welcomed so many community members in their home to work on capital campaigns or committees. I believe Tom and Lynn Houseknecht have largely helped all of us lead a better, healthier life.”

The cost to attend the Dec. 6 luncheon at Terry Hills honoring the Houseknechts is $25 per person.

The event is open to the public and reservations can be made by sending a check to: The Jerome Foundation, P.O. Box 249, Batavia, NY 14021.

Seating will be limited so early reservations are encouraged.

October 23, 2019 - 12:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, GCC, Robert Boyce, Peter Call, NYCCT, Milestones, Le Roy, batavia.

Submitted photos and press release:

As tireless advocates, effective trustees, passionate leaders and highly effective facilitators and visionaries, Genesee Community College is delighted to announce that former trustees Robert L. Boyce, of Le Roy, and Peter R. Call, of Batavia, were recently honored by New York Community College Trustees.

The NYCCT is a voluntary nonprofit consortium of community college trustees that strengthens the effectiveness of NY community college trustees for development and implementation of public policy that impacts community colleges.

Boyce (inset photo below right), who served the College for more than 18 years, received the NYCCT Benefactor Vision for Tomorrow Award, and Call, received the Marvin A. Rapp Distinguished Trustee Service Award after seven years of dedicated service. Both former trustees were recognized at NYCCT's fall conference in September. 

Boyce's long commitment to GCC has been impressive since he joined the Foundation Board of Directors in 2005, serving as president, vice president and chairing numerous committees including the Finance, Fund Development, Risk Management committees, and also several annual campaigns.

Once appointed by the Genesee County Legislator as a GCC Trustee in 2014, he actively participated in the Policy, Nominating and Personnel subcommittees and also the critical 2018-2023 Strategic Planning Steering Team that developed the mission-centered, "Framing Our Future" Strategic Plan that guides every aspect of the College.

As a Foundation board member and College trustee, Boyce oversaw the development of quality student housing programs, innovative new safety initiatives, the construction of two new residence halls and the renovation of several others. Under his tutelage, he also supported critical capital improvements on campus such as the Roz Steiner Art Gallery (2011), and the Student Success Center and Richard C. Call Arena (2017). 

The Benefactor Vision of Tomorrow Award is given based on level of involvement, how the involvement has improved the quality of education and/or services at the community college, and the benefactor's vision and motivation for being involved. 

Boyce's other civic leadership commitments include the United Memorial Medical Center, the Le Roy Emergency Ambulance Service and Le Roy International Rotary Club where he is also a Paul Harris Fellow. Boyce served in the Army and graduated with a Business degree from the University of Buffalo.

Call's extraordinary support has also significantly enhanced the College since his first day as a GCC trustee in 2012. He served two terms as secretary to the Board and one term as vice chair, and he was the liaison to the College's Foundation. Call (lower inset photo right) also chaired the Finance Committee, leading the institution through a period of declining enrollment with clear fiscal responsibility and helping foster a positive relationship with Genesee County, GCC's local sponsor.

He has long been an advocate for two-year postsecondary education especially in relation to the local economy and workforce. 

In addition, Call's leadership and life-long career and expertise in agribusiness helped create GCC's Food Processing Technology, AAS degree, as well as enhancements to the College's Veterinary Technology and Criminal Justice programs.

During his tenure, GCC also achieved its largest capital campaign ever, raising more than $5.2 million to build the new Student Success Center and Richard C. Call Arena, fittingly named after Peter's father who had the creative vision and secured the leading gift for a building that would recognize the local agricultural community. 

Beyond his work on GCC's Board of Trustees, Call is director of Farm Credit East and serves on the boards of Seneca Foods, Farm Fresh First and United Memorial Medical Center. He was recently elected to the Cornell University Board of Trustees.

The Marvin A. Rapp Award was established in 1986 to recognize longstanding and exemplary trustee service providing significant leadership on boards, participating in state and national activities benefiting community colleges, and demonstrating a commitment to innovation in community college programs.

Rapp was a Finger Lakes Community College trustee and an educator by profession. As a staunch advocate of community colleges, he assisted in the establishment of 13 of the 30 community colleges in New York State. 

"We cannot thank Mr. Boyce or Mr. Call enough for their devotion to Genesee Community College," GCC President James M. Sunser, Ed.D., said. "They are stellar examples community members who continuously foster good citizenship and value the impact that the College has had on the community for the past 50-plus years."

October 15, 2019 - 5:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Milestones.

Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general, announces the recent reenlistment of members of the State National Guard in recognition of their continuing commitment to serve community, state and nation as part of the Army National Guard.

Sergeant Douglas Vagg, from Le Roy, reenlisted to continue service with the 152nd Engineer Support Company.

"It's great to see Soldiers staying in the Army and continuing to serve their State and Nation in the New York Army National Guard," Shields said. "The most important Army asset we have is the individual Soldier. The dedication, skills, and leadership traits they bring to our community and their employers are invaluable."

"By choosing to stay in the Army National Guard they directly contribute to our nation's security and to the governor's ability to respond to disasters, all while building a bright future for their family through the Guard's retirement, education, and health insurance programs," Shields said. 

For more information about the New York Army National Guard, visit www.dmna.ny.gov or www.1800goguard.com.

The New York National Guard (New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs) is the state's executive agency responsible to the Governor for managing New York's Military Forces, which consists of nearly 20,000 members of the New York Army National Guard, the New York Air National Guard, the New York Naval Militia and the New York Guard.

October 3, 2019 - 4:25pm

From the NYS Magistrates Association:

The New York State Magistrates Association and its statewide membership has proudly presented a certificate to commend and recognize the service, dedication and accomplishments of their esteemed colleague and fellow justice, Honorable Gary Barry Graber in appreciation of 40 dedicated years of service in the Town of Darien.

The Certificate of Appreciation is presented with the sincere congratulations and best wishes of the association on Sept. 15, 2019.


Honorable Michael A. Petucci, president

New York State Magistrates Association

(Editor's note: The end of 2019 marks the 40th year that Graber has served as Justice in Darien Town Court. Graber is a member of Leadership Genesee Class of 2005.)

October 2, 2019 - 2:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in GC 4-H, Milestones, achievement night.

Above photo: Leadership County Medal Award recipients, from left: Eva Rhoads, Brooke Frega, Teagan Mathes, Clare Mathes, (not pictured: Caroline Pelton).

Submitted photos and press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program celebrated the completion of the 4-H Program Year with its annual 4-H Achievement Night on Thursday, Sept. 26th. More than a hundred 4-H members and their families attended the event at the Genesee County Fairgrounds.  

Congratulations to all of the 4-H members and volunteers who received an award.

Highlights include:

  • Achievement County Medal: Ian Keberle, Maia Zerillo;
  • Community Service County Medal: Eva Rhoads;
  • Leadership County Medal: Brooke Frega, Clare Mathes, Teagan Mathes, Caroline Pelton, Eva Rhoads;
  • Outstanding First Year Member Award: Thomas Keele, Levi Miller, Riley Smith, Ellie Tanner;
  • Club Secretary of the Year: Alexandria Tarbell – ACES Club;
  • Club President of the Year: Karly Smith – Boots & Bling Club;
  • 4-H Spirit Award: Justin Deleo, Emma Haacke, Tyler Jirovec, Thomas Keele, Evan Winspear;
  • Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award: Maggie Winspear;
  • 4-H Member of the Year: Becky Kron;
  • 10 Year Volunteer Milestone Award: Melissa George, Tom Nesbitt, Hermann Weber;
  • 20 Year Volunteer Milestone Award: Dwight Kauppi;
  • 30 Year Volunteer Milestone Award: Kathy Winspear;
  • Outstanding Volunteer Awards: Debra Baris, Joy Brewer, Julie Ehrmentraut, Melissa George, Todd Hofheins, Amanda Hofheins, Denise Hull, Sue Johnson, Julie Keller, Jamey Pagels, Katie Rhoads, Lindsey Thurber, Kathy Winspear, Lauren Zuber.

Now is a great time to enroll in the Genesee County 4-H Program! New youth members and adult volunteers are always welcome to join.

For more information, please contact the 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040, ext. 131. 

Below: Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award recipient Maggie Winspear.

Bottom photo: Outstanding Volunteer Award recipients, from left: Joy Brewer, Katie Rhoads, Melissa George, Denise Hull, Lauren Zuber, Jamey Pagels, Todd Hofheins, Kathy Winspear.

September 30, 2019 - 3:09pm

Photo: Rob Kaercher at the National Association for College Admissions Counselors at their annual conference in Louisville, Ky.

Submitted photo and press release:

LOUISVILLE, KY. -- On Saturday, Sept. 28, Byron-Bergen College and Career counselor Rob Kaercher accepted the Rising Star Award from the National Association for College Admissions Counselors at their annual conference in Louisville, Ky.

This national award “honors individuals and programs that exemplify excellence and dedication to serving the needs of students in the transition from high school to college."

Kaercher’s position has many aspects from exposing students to a variety of job experiences to helping them complete their college applications.

“I try to help them find a career path that matches their interests,” he said. "I have college and career assessment tools to help with this, but talking to the individual students, reflecting on what brings their interests and what they enjoy in their classes, is the best way. Each student is different. It’s all about personalized attention.”

When asked why Byron-Bergen stood out in the nationwide competition, Kaercher said, “It’s visionary for a small, rural school to have a College and Career counselor. This position is much more prevalent at private schools, public charter schools, and in some suburban and urban schools that have created a college-going culture.

"Byron-Bergen is somewhat unique in that my colleagues in the Counseling Department can focus on the social and emotional development of our students and I can focus on helping with the transition out of high school.

"I hope that we continue to see more rural schools, and schools in general, see the importance of developing a College and Career Center to enhance the school counseling department.”

Another difference between Byron-Bergen and larger districts is the variety of career paths students are interested in.

“This award highlights the transition of students from high school to college, but every year I help students transition to four-year colleges, two-year colleges, military careers, and many students enter directly into the workforce," Kaercher said. "Each of these students is valuable and I hope that I can help them leave high school ready to fulfill their goals.”

“We are extremely lucky to have Rob on our team,” said Byron-Bergen High School Principal Pat McGee. “It’s not enough just to have a College and Career Center. It needs to be in the hands of a dedicated professional counselor with the knowledge, connections, and passion for helping students map out their futures. This is a well-deserved honor.”

“I couldn’t do my job without the flexibility and enthusiasm of our amazing faculty and staff,” Kaercher said. “They meet with students, join field trips, write letters of recommendation – their support allows me to connect the dots.”

In addition to the national award, Kaercher received the Rising Star Award from the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling in August.

I think this is one of the best jobs in the world because I really enjoy working with the students, staff, and faculty,” Kaercher said. “These students have dreams and goals. They are curious and want to explore. That really keeps my job fun and interesting.”

September 25, 2019 - 1:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Milestones, linwood, Le Roy, bergen, Oakfield, batavia.

Canisius College embarked on its 150th year of educational excellence by welcoming 660 new students to campus (560 first-year students; 100 transfer students) for the 2019-20 academic year.

The incoming class represents 224 high schools from 25 states and five countries. The following local students are enrolled at Canisius College:

  • Zachary Brown, of Linwood 
  • Griffin Della Penna, of Batavia 
  • David Doan, of Batavia 
  • Harrison Dodson, of Bergen 
  • Calvin Herrick, of Le Roy
  • Ava Horgan, of Le Roy 
  • Trevor Maier, of Oakfield 
  • Bella March, of Batavia 
  • Spencer Misiti, of Batavia 
  • Mary Warner, of Le Roy

Consistently ranked among the top regional institutions in the Northeast, Canisius is a master's-level, comprehensive university offering undergraduate, graduate and professional programs that are distinguished by close student-faculty collaboration and experiential learning opportunities that transform the mind and spirit.

The premier private university in Western New York, Canisius is one of 27 Jesuit, Catholic colleges in the nation.

September 23, 2019 - 11:09am

Submitted photo and press release:

The Batavia City School District Foundation lnc.'s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the most recent recipient of the BCSD Foundation Apple Award.

On Sept. 8, the BMS counselors recognized Maureen Notaro (in photo, second from left) with the BCSD Foundation Apple Award.

She worked tirelessly to support students, families, staff and the counselors at Batavia Middle School.

Notaro’s presence at BMS over the last 18 years made a significant impact on our school culture and lives of our students.

Her time and dedication are evident, from building community partnerships through PBIS initiatives, to leading the district-wide Trauma, Illness and Grief Team, to supporting students’ social and emotional needs and building relationships with her staff, families and community stakeholders.

Her impact is very apparent by the number of students that come back to visit her year after year.

Notaro was an integral and fearless leader of the BMS counseling team. She calmly and ably assisted them in crisis situations and always collaborated with them to make the best decisions for students. Notaro is an administrator to the whole student; "she has been the heart of our school," counselors said.

She is greatly missed at the middle school, where she served as assistant principal. But the Jackson Primary School community is fortunate to have her as their leader in her new role as interim principal. Those who have worked with her are beyond confident that she will succeed in her new position.

On behalf of the middle school counselors, we wish Mrs. Notaro the best of luck!

The BCSD Foundation Apple award is given by a member of the school and/or local community to a Batavia City School District employee or volunteer. In the opinion of those giving the honor of this distinction, the awardee has gone above and beyond in their role and is being recognized by one or more people for these accomplishments.

Local artist, Mark Jensen, will be making each individual resin apple -- none will be exactly the same.

If you are interested in giving a Foundation Apple award, please submit your nomination form and $75 (payable to the BCSD Foundation Inc. 260 State St., Batavia NY 14020 att: Allison Chua). Nomination forms may be found on our webpage (at www.bataviacsd.org under Quick Links).

Community members with questions are asked to email us at: [email protected]

September 19, 2019 - 11:45am

From the NYS Magistrates Association:

Town of Darien Judge Gary A. Graber attended the 110th annual Conference and certified Advanced Training Program of the New York State Magistrates Association in Lake Placid Sept. 15-18.

There were many presentations made over the four-day event, including one by Darien's Judge Graber.

More than 225 judges statewide participated. The event combines the association's annual meeting and conference with advanced training courses required for all towns and villages in the Unified Court System.

The purpose of the association is the maintenance and support of the local judiciary through education and coordination with NYS agencies regarding laws and matters affecting local courts -- "The Courts Closest to the People."

It also works closely with the Office of Court Administration to assure training that enhances the professional development of the judges and ensure it is relevant to the practical situations encountered in local courts.

September 18, 2019 - 7:10am

LE ROY -- Botts-Fiorito Post #576, American Legion, Le Roy, announced with great pride and pleasure Bruno DeFazio as its selection for the 2019 “LeRoyan of the Year Award."

DeFazio has been a resident of Le Roy since his marriage to is wife Elizabeth (Lee) Costa, 46 years ago. They have two daughters, Christina (Tim) Carvel and Stacy (Jason) Wentworth, and six grandchildren, Brayden, Nolan, Matthew, Addison, Tyler and Dominic.

DeFazio is a graduate of Notre Dame High School and has a Associate of Applied Science degree from Genesee Community College.

He has been active with many school programs, including PTA and the Le Roy Sports Boosters. He was one the of the first coaches for the Le Roy Youth Soccer and also coached Le Roy Youth Football and Le Roy Little League. He has always been a strong supporter of Le Roy Athletics, supporting his daughters during their involvement, and still continuing to cheer on the local teams.

He has been a member and served on the board of the Le Roy Jaycees, Knights of Columbus Edward Powers Council 2936, the Le Roy Historical Society (currently oversees all the building maintenance ), and Le Roy Christian Community Project. He was also on the Oatka Festival Committee for several years.

He is an active member of the Our Lady of Mercy Parish.

DeFazio also serves his community by being elected as a councilman for Town of Le Roy and at one time was its deputy supervisor. He also serves as a member of the Genesee County Parks and Water Commission.

To honor him, the 51th annual LeRoyan of the Year Award Dinner will be held on Oct. 26. Social hour is at 6 p.m. with dinner served at 6:45 p.m., at the American Legion at 53 W. Main St, Le Roy. Tickets are available at the American Legion or at Mickel’s Nickels, 80 Lake St., Le Roy. Cost is $25 per ticket.

Information and photo submitted by Joan Fernaays.

September 13, 2019 - 12:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in Genesee County Department of Health, Milestones.

Congratulations to this week's 2019 New York State Department of Health honorees (Sept. 8-14).

Genesee & Orleans County Health Department's Fiscal and Administrative Officers:

  • Scott Senf -- Administrative Officer (Genesee County) and Kimberly Castricone -- Administrative Officer (Orleans County).
  • They will be featured on the New York State Department of Health's Public Health Works! website through Sept. 19th.

Find the link here.

Photo from the NYS Department of Health website.

September 12, 2019 - 5:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in RPEA, Milestones, genesee county legislature.

Submitted photo and information from the Retired Public Employees Association:

Gordon Dibble of the Genesee County Legislature commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA) this week.

Dibble presented a 50th Anniversary Proclamation to Genesee Valley Chapter Chair Jan Beutner (photo, middle) and Chapter Member Susette Langston (at right).

RPEA is celebrating 50 years as the only organization in New York State whose sole purpose is to advocate on behalf of state and local government retirees and their beneficiaries.

August 28, 2019 - 6:00pm

Press release and submitted photo:

Byron-Bergen School Board President Debra List is the 2019 recipient of the Albert W. Hawk Distinguished School Board Service Award.

The Genesee Valley School Boards Association presents this award annually to a current or former school board member who, in the judgment of the Distinguished Service Award Committee, should be recognized for outstanding contributions to public education and children in his or her own community.

The award is named for Albert W. Hawk, a longtime advocate for rural schools and member of both the Dansville Board of Education and the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership Board of Education. Hawk also chaired many state and national School Board committees.

List is the first Byron-Bergen Board Member to receive this award.

She has served on the Byron-Bergen Central School District’s Board of Education for more than two decades. She is committed to the promotion of rural school districts by advocating with local and state legislators, attending Rural Schools Advocator events, and serving as President of the Genesee Valley School Board Association.

“In my time as superintendent of this district, I have been inspired by Mrs. List’s unwavering commitment to this community,” said Byron-Bergen Superintendent Mickey Edwards.

“Whether it is packing the stands at a sporting event or packing the auditorium at the spring musical, the school district is a cornerstone of stability in this community and in the middle of it all, is Debi.”

List will be honored at a banquet to be held Friday, Sept. 27, at the Glen Iris Inn in Letchworth State Park.

August 27, 2019 - 5:18pm

Submitted photos and press release:

INDIANAPOLIS -- The American Legion 2019 National Concert Band Contest was held Saturday (Aug. 24) in Indianapolis, Ind., top honors went to the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas.

Bands from around the country competed in 2019, the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.

Of the 80 members in the Tonawanda-based band, 60 competed in Indianapolis, including one man from Batavia -- Philip Briatico. He is the founder and conductor of the Genesee Valley Wind Ensemble and he plays baratone saxophone in the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas.

The band had the top score -- 95.8.

Other top bands were: Second Place -- Joliet American Legion Band from Joliet, Ill., with 93.5 points; Third Place -- Oconomowoc American Legion Band from Oconomowoc, Wis., with 88.5 points; Fourth Place -- Kansas City American Legion Band from Kansas City, Mo., with 88.3 points; and Fifth Place -- American Legion Post #377 Band from Kenner, La., with 82.3 points.

Selections performed by the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas were:

TITLE                                                                                      COMPOSER

Esprit de Corps----------------------------------------------------------Robert Jager

The Gallant 7th March--------------------------------------------------John Philip Sousa

Ballet Sacra--------------------------------------------------------------David R. Holsinger

After an intense week of preparation, the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas performed in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Their 30-minute performance drew cheers, a rousing applause and a standing ovation from the audience.

The Band performed under Music Director Michael Shaw.

Now in its 90th year, the Band is celebrating its 22nd National Championship.

About the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas

It was formed in 1929 by World War I veterans and Post #264 members. The band (currently 80 members at full strength) draws its membership from a broad cross-section of Western New Yorkers. The members have diverse occupations and backgrounds including management, engineering, business, medicine, government, sales, and industry.

A large number are instrumental music educators, or graduates or students of university music programs. Membership is open to all musicians based upon placement evaluation and section vacancies. None of the musicians are compensated.

The Band has and always will stand ready to aid in any worthwhile community function and to uphold the great tradition of the American Legion.

Top photo, American Legion 2019 National Concert Band Contest First Place Award was presented by the American Legion National Commander, Brett Reistad, shown in the middle, and given to Conductor Michael Shaw, far left. American Legion Band of the Tonawandas President David Abrahamian is pictured right.

August 27, 2019 - 3:14pm

Submitted photo and information from Student Transportation of America:

ALEXANDER -- Bus driver Vikki Boyce Czechowicz, who works for Alexander-based Student Transportation of America, received the Heroism Award recently from the NYS Education Department.

She is at left in the photo above with her manager Tonya Phillips.

The Herosim Award is one of several honors Czechowicz has received since rescuing 17 children from a school bus that became engulfed in flames after its engine caught fire May 28 in Sheldon, Wyoming County.

According to the bus company, which provides transportation for Genesee County schools, Czechowicz, who lives in Wyoming County, was proceeding through her morning route for the Attica Central School District on Maxon Road in Sheldon when she noticed smoke coming from under her dash.

She radioed dispatch that she was evacuating the 17 students (K-12) who were on the bus. She was on her way to pick up two more students when the mishap occurred.

After the children had exited the bus, which she attributed to their prepardedness and ability to listen and obey instructions, Czechowicz went back inside to check for sleeping students. As she came to the front of the bus, she saw the flames coming from the engine area and within minutes the school bus was fully engulfed in flames and the front tires exploded. No one was injured.

“It was due to this driver’s quick thinking and school bus safety training that all the students were safely evacuated,” said Paul Overbaugh, director of Pupil Transportation, NYS Education Department.

August 27, 2019 - 1:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in Milestones, GC 4-H, horses, hippology, NYS Fair.

Genesee County 4-H Hippology Contest Participants for 2019 -- Eva Rhoads, left, and Alexandria Tarbell.

Submitted photo and press release:

Congratulations to the Genesee County 4-H members who competed in the 4-H Hippology Contest at the New York State Fair.

Hippology is a contest that tests the participant’s equine knowledge through a variety of stations and written questions.

4-H members from across New York State competed in the contest on Sunday, Aug. 25th

The Genesee County 4-H Team placed fifth in the contest. In individual results, Eva Rhoads placed 11th and Alexandria Tarbell placed 15th

Congratulations to all of the 4-H’ers competing at the New York State Fair!

For more information on the Genesee County 4-H Program, please contact the 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040, ext. 131.

August 24, 2019 - 2:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, HYS Fair, equestrians, horses, Milestones.

Photo and information from reader Judy Anderson:

SYRACUSE -- Miranda Gallo, 13, of Le Roy, and her horse Trouble Skip N Town won the American Quarter Horse Association Level 1 Youth Champion Reserve Award at the New York State Fair.

Miranda and Trouble Skip N Town competed in Halter, Showmanship, Western Pleasure and Western Horsemanship.

They are under the guidance of trainer Jeff Steer (in photo above with Miranda) at The Homestead in Ionia. The Homestead Team brought home many other championship awards this past week from the AQHA Show at the fair.

The young equestrian has just returned home from showing her horse. She is the daughter of Jason and Amanda Gallo in Le Roy.

"It's well deserving," said her grandmother Judy Anderson this afternoon. "It's hard work, that's for sure. She's very dedicated to her horse."

August 22, 2019 - 1:44pm

Submitted photo: Mary Tuttle celebrates her 95th birthday at a luncheon at Fortune's restaurant at Batavia Downs.

When Frances Ford was preparing to celebrate her 100th birthday several years ago, her wish was to have lunch at Fortune’s at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel.

Her celebration started a tradition which the Office for the Aging continues today.

Each summer for the past four or five years, one or more members of the Senior Center’s Quilters have celebrated a milestone birthday at Fortune’s.

Because Ford was going to be 100, Barbara Matarazzo, receptionist at the Senior Center, arranged for her to be transported to lunch in a Mustang convertible. This was repeated for her 101st.

“Unfortunately, Frances never saw 102,” Matarazzo said. “After that, we began celebrating the birthdays of seniors who were 90-plus. That included Mary Tuttle and Madeline Harding. We planned to celebrate Madeline’s 91st birthday in July, but she passed away just a few weeks before her birthday.”

The latest lunch celebrated the 95th birthday of Mary Tuttle. Harding’s family also attended the luncheon and her name was included on the birthday cake, with a sign made by Mary Bucceri, group sales manager at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel. 

“I know in spirit, Madeline was part of the celebration,” Bucceri said. 

Batavia Downs' Fortune's has always been the Quilters and the birthday celebrities first choice in where they wanted to go and celebrate, Matarazzo said. 

“I can honestly say that working with Batavia Downs has been a privilege, especially with Mary Bucceri, who is always my contact person,” Matarazzo said. “Between Mary and the Batavia Downs staff, they make the birthday celebrations a memory for all of us.”

“I think the most important part of my job is knowing I’ve made someone’s day extra special,” Bucceri said. “When I hosted Frances Ford’s 100th birthday in 2016, I learned so much about her lifestyle that day, it was totally amazing.”

August 10, 2019 - 11:53am
posted by Billie Owens in alexander, Milestones, AHS Class of 1955.

Photo and information submitted by Paul Judkins, of Bonita Springs, Fla., formerly from Alexander.

The Alexander Central School Class of 1955 celebrated its 64th reunion on Aug. 7th, in a luncheon held at the Terry Hills restaurant in Batavia.

In attendance were nine of the known 18 surviving members of the class, along with three spouses of deceased members of the class. These were Wayne Keller, husband of the late Sharon Werner Keller; Marcia Brown, wife of the late Harold Brown; and Peggy Kelsey, wife of the late Bob Kelsey.

Pictured, in front: Carol Hirsch Janes, Annette Roth Lund, Joanne Gerould Hyde and Joyce Pestlin Sciarrino. Back row: Jerry George, Carl (Golanski) Gerard, Dean Wright and Paul Judkins. Attended reunion but not pictured: Bernice Greiner Wight.

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