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Court of Appeals rules in Nolan's favor on statute of limitations issue in suit against WROTB

By Mike Pettinella

The U.S. Court of Appeals, Second District, on Monday overturned a statute of limitations ruling by a lower court and reinstated a lawsuit brought by Michael Nolan, a former Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. chief operating officer, against the public benefit company, its former board chair and its current president.

A panel of three judges ruled that Nolan, a longtime WROTB employee until his dismissal in December 2020, filed his Notice of Claim complaint

GC Office for the Aging holds public hearing on services, offers life-saving program

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee County Office for the Aging is thrilled to announce a unique event that combines a crucial public hearing with an informative life-saving program titled "You are the Help Until Help Arrives." This dual-purpose event will occur at our office at 2 Bank Street, Batavia, on Wednesday, October 4 starting at 2 p.m.

Public Hearing: Shaping the Future of Aging Services
The Public Hearing, which precedes the life-saving program, is a vital opportunity for the community to influence the future of aging services in Genesee County. Your input is needed as we prepare our next four-year plan for submission to the New York State Office for the Aging. The Genesee County OFA wants to understand what matters most to you regarding our services and what the community needs to support aging residents effectively.

Life-Saving Program: "You are the Help Until Help Arrives"
Following the Public Hearing, we invite all attendees to participate in the "You are the Help Until Help Arrives" program. Emergencies can happen quickly, and in such situations, immediate actions can make all the difference. In collaboration with Genesee Emergency Management and the Genesee and Orleans Health Departments, this program aims to equip the community with the knowledge and skills needed to save lives during critical moments.

Event Details:

Date: Wednesday, October 4

Time: 2 p.m.

Location: Genesee County Office for the Aging, 2 Bank Street, Batavia

Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 343-1611. Walk-ins are also welcome for both the Public Hearing and the program.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact Diana Fox at [email protected] or 585-344-2580 ext. 5935

GO Health offers lead mitigation program for property owners

By Press Release

Press Release:

Lead is a metal that is toxic to our bodies. Young children under 6 years old are most at risk for lead poisoning because their bodies are rapidly developing. A child with lead poisoning can experience learning difficulties, lower IQ, difficulty paying attention, organ damage, and anemia. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.

“Lead poisoning is preventable,” stated Gabrielle Lanich, Lead Program Coordinator of Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health). “It is important to stop children from coming in contact with lead hazards before poisoning occurs.” 

The Genesee County Health Department has expanded its Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Grant, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to include Livingston and Wyoming Counties. The grant now includes Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties.

The Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (HUD) Grant addresses lead-based paint hazards, as well as certain health concerns, in homes and apartments in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) Counties. In order to be eligible for these funds, homeowners and property owners must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Tenants or homeowners who are income eligible (limited funds for vacant units, call for more information)
  • The building was built prior to 1978 
  • At least one child under the age of 6 living in the home or visiting 8 or more hours a week, or a pregnant female
  • Lead-based paint hazards in the home
  • Current on tax and mortgage payments
  • Other requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis

Rental property owners are also required to match 10% of the total project costs. For example, a rental property owner would be required to pay $2,000 for a $20,000 project.

Rental properties must have 4 units or less. All recipients are required to maintain ownership of the residence for 5 years after the project is completed. Applications can be obtained by contacting our lead program staff or found on the GO Health website. 

Possible contracted work may include:

  • Painting
  • Window replacement
  • Entry door replacement
  • Porch repair or replacement
  • Bare soil treatment/landscaping
  • Other general repairs

All work is completed by pre-approved local contractors trained and EPA-certified in lead-safe work practices. If you would like to be added to our list of contractors, please contact the Genesee County Health Department.

Our GLOW Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) team collaborates with HUD to offer education on preventing lead poisoning and how to renovate safely. If you have any lead-related questions, contact the GLOW CLPPP team. 

For more information, help determining eligibility, or to be added to our list of contractors, contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555 or [email protected]. You can also visit for an application.

Ten people complete rescue tech basic refresher course

By Press Release

Press Release:

A four-hour Rescue Tech Basic – Refresher course was conducted for emergency response personnel at the Genesee County Fire Training Center in Batavia on September 18. Ten students participated in this course which reviewed rescue operations initially presented in the Rescue Tech Basic course. The class on September 18 focused on new equipment technology, low-angle rigging, and knot tying. 

The following response personnel successfully completed the course:


  • James E. Garrett
  • David A. Linneborn
  • Joseph E. Miano
  • James A. Reinhardt
  • Kevin C. Ross
  • Jamie D. Waff
  • Norman H. Waff
  • Ashley L. Warren


  • Ronald D. Tyx, Jr.


  • Shane D. Savage

Joining the fire/EMS service not only provides you the opportunity to make an invaluable contribution to your community but allows you to develop (free) professional skills, and form lifelong friendship and positive relationships. Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities in your community.

More than 1,000 students attend GLOW With Your Hands at fairgrounds

By Press Release
GLOW with your Hands 2023

Press release:

GLOW With Your Hands: Manufacturing hosted its largest turnout of students and vendors for the annual career exploration event. Over 1,100 students from 30 school districts across the GLOW region arrived at the Genesee County Fairgrounds to attend the day-long, hands-on program, including over 65 organizations from the advanced manufacturing, agriculture, food production, and skilled trades sectors. 

GLOW With Your Hands introduces students from school districts in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties to employers across the region who are ready to engage with the new generation of talented workers and leaders.

For Jack Frazier from Warsaw High School, these introductions included welding, electric linework, and operating a crane. 

“It is really cool that all of these businesses come out and interact with us for the whole day. We get to see equipment that is used day-to-day, I learned about so many careers and skills that I was not aware of before today,” Jack added. 

Exhibitors from advanced manufacturing, agriculture, food production, skilled trades, and education/training sectors attended the event to showcase accurate representations of their day-to-day duties performed within their specific industry and company. The event welcomes students preparing to enter the workforce after this school year and those who will be considering career paths in high school over the next five years. 

“As a result of the hard work and planning of local workforce advocates, event exhibitors and volunteers, and our sponsoring partners, students across the region are learning more about the good-paying and debt-free careers available to them immediately upon graduating from high school,” said GLOW With Your Hands Co-Founders Chris Suozzi and Jay Lazarony. “This gives them the awareness of what skills are needed and the ability they have to succeed across many industries.”

Led by Platinum Sponsors LandPro Equipment and National Grid, many businesses have participated in every GLOW With Your Hands since 2019, including manufacturers like Advanced Rubber Products and Liberty Pumps, food producers like Barilla and O-AT-KA Milk Products, construction businesses like LG Evans and Genesee Construction, and skilled trades organizations like Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 3 and North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.

Plastic card manufacturer Bristol ID Technologies of Lima attended the event for the first time. Their exhibit created personalized ID cards for participants throughout the day-long event while educating them on processes and opportunities available at their Livingston County location. 

“It’s incumbent that businesses go out and share what they need and what they can offer to the next generation of their workforce,” said Edward Schroeder, Bristol ID Technologies Operations Director. “GLOW With Your Hands allows us to demonstrate to students what a career at our company looks and feels like. It’s a great way to introduce our company to potential workers.”

After launching in 2019 with 800 students, GLOW With Your Hands has grown into the premier workforce development program in the region. Including GLOW With Your Hands: Healthcare, a hands-on medical careers program held annually in March, more than 1,600 students participated in the 2022-23 school year.

“Our annually increasing participation at GLOW With Your Hands is a credit to the full engagement of our schools and the students excited to gain a hands-on view of career opportunities that they may have never contemplated,” said GLOW With Your Hands Co-Chair Angela Grouse. “Many of these careers can be successfully launched with our region’s robust training programs and deliver family-sustaining wages and benefits along with rewarding lifestyles.”

For Haley from Pavilion High School, GLOW With Your Hands was an opportunity to embrace hands-on careers available in the community. 

“It is awesome to step out of our comfort zones, experience new careers, and embrace active, hands-on skills that are used outside of a desk job. It is a great way to discover jobs that are offered here in our community,” added Haley. 

For more information about GLOW With Your Hands and careers in the GLOW Region, please visit

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023
GLOW with your Hands 2023

Le Roy Central Schools reviewing $12.5 million capital project for facilities repairs, multipurpose sports field

By Howard B. Owens

The Le Roy Central School District is considering a $12.5 million capital improvement project that would provide upgrades to buildings and facilities in the school district and not result in additional taxes levied on properties in the district.

The superintendent shared details of the plan with district parents in a letter last week, and the Board of Education will hear details of the plan at tonight's (Tuesday) meeting at the Jr./Sr. High School.

Muckdogs owner eager to strengthen 'marriage' with city by long-term contract

By Joanne Beck
robbie nichols muckdogs
Batavia Muckdogs owner Robbie Nichols, his wife Nellie and General Manager Marc Witt sit in the audience during a City Council meeting as they wait for the city leaders to discuss an updated contract for Dwyer Stadium Monday evening at City Hall.
Photo by Joanne Beck

These past two years may have seemed like a honeymoon phase for Batavia Muckdogs owner Robbie Nichols and the City of Batavia, but he and his CAN-USA Sports team are ready to take it to the next level, he says.

“You know, we've had great success here in Batavia with the Muckdogs and all the different things that take place at the Dwyer Stadium. And we're willing to make a long commitment to the city. And I think the city's willing to make a long commitment to us,” Nichols said after getting the City Council’s nod of approval for a lease renewal Monday evening. “It's been a great marriage. And we've really enjoyed working with the city. And I think they enjoy working with us. So we're ready to make a long-term commitment.”

Nichols, aka CAN-USA Sports, took over the lease for Dwyer Stadium in January 2021 and operated for three seasons as part of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. 

Due to the success at the stadium — which features local favorite Batavia Muckdogs, live concerts, a dance team, high school baseball, festivals, and kid-friendly events, including the upcoming blow-out for Halloween, a trick-or-treat night — city leaders offered a longer contract this time around.

Beginning in April, there will be a rent payment of $7,500, which will increase to $10,000 in 2025. Then in 2026, the rent is to increase to $11,500, along with a capital payment of $5,000. Rent and a capital payment will gradually increase from there for a total rent of $17,758 and a capital payment of $9,900 on April 1, 2040.

Capital payments will be placed in a reserve fund for use on facility improvements, per agreement between the landlord and tenant for projects of more than $25,000. 

Part of the lease includes targeted capital improvement program projects, including painting and installing new flooring in the home and visiting team locker rooms; replacing home and visiting team locker room signage; installing new and upgrading sound equipment; repairing and or replacing outfield fencing; redesigning Dwyer Stadium landscaping and repairing or replacing home and visiting team bullpen areas.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski recommended that the council move a resolution forward for a vote to approve the updated lease agreement. Nichols has pledged “to make aesthetic improvements at the stadium and to pay rent in each of those years as listed in the contract and capital fees,” she said. The extension is in three terms of five years each.+

“I just want to say thank you for all you've done out there. I mean, I see signs all over the place, fireworks, Fourth of July, you're really doing a great job,” Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said. “Thank you very much. Are we in consensus?”

Council members gave an unofficial thumbs up, with the official vote to come during the next business meeting on Oct. 10. 

Nichols, his wife Nellie, and General Manager Marc Witt patiently sat through the entire meeting to get that good news since the agenda item was near the end. As per their usual, the Nichols and Witt were dressed in red and white Muckdogs gear, representing the team they have fully come to embrace as part of the Batavia community.

There have been many different events at the stadium, from various types of musical groups and entertainers to the latest annual Halloween fest, which last year drew a line of ghosts and goblins that wrapped around the corner. The Batavian had heard that the stadium might host a future Italian festival and asked Robbie if there was any truth to that.

“There's a rumor going around that we're looking at that. So we're always looking. We've always said it's the city's building, you know, the citizen’s building. Whatever we can do there that attracts more people, we’d love to do,” he said. “We definitely want more events and different events, and we're open to a lot of different things. We've already had a lot of different things there. The Halloween event has had huge success, and so whatever we can think of, we'll try it.”

Retiring detective honored for 'outstanding police work'

By Joanne Beck
Thad Mart retirement
Retiring Batavia City Police Detective Thaddeus "Thad" Mart receives a proclamation from City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. after 17 years of service during Monday's conference session at City Hall.

Photo by Joanne Beck

With several of his uniformed colleagues seated nearby, Batavia Police Detective Thaddeus “Thad” Mart was honored for his 17 years as a police officer, sergeant and lastly as a detective with the city department during the City Council’s conference session Monday evening.

Council President Eugene Jankowski read a proclamation listing the retiring Mart’s experience, which included serving as an operations specialist E-5 in the U.S. Navy and a border patrol agent at the U.S.-Mexican border.

He then began his local career in Batavia in August 2006 as a Batavia Police officer, distinguishing himself as a field training officer, general topics instructor, serving as a department liaison to the Veterans Treatment Court and as a crisis negotiator, the proclamation states. 

He was promoted to sergeant before becoming a detective in 2013, during which time he assisted in many high-profile investigations and became certified as a polygraph examiner. Mart has been part of investigations with everything from bank robbery and stabbings to burglaries, sex abuse by a teacher and murder.

Mart has been recognized for his “outstanding police work by multiple agencies citing his professionalism, attention to detail and steadfast approach,” Jankowski said, reading from the proclamation.

“He served his country, his community and the department with honor and dedication, and his approach to investigations was methodical and unrelenting. He demonstrated professionalism and courage, and he has been an outstanding trainer to many officers,” Jankowski said. “He has never sought out the spotlight but has worked tirelessly to keep the community safe by thoroughly investigating every crime and call for service he was assigned.”

So it was in a “true spirit of appreciation for 17 years of dedicated service” to the city,  that City Council drafted and presented the proclamation, Jankowski said, as a way to sincerely thank Mart for his unwavering service to the community and to wish him well in retirement. 

In turn, Mart was “proud and thankful” for having had the career and honor to serve the people of Batavia, he said, and the opportunity to “work with all these officers over the years.”

Batavia Silver Stars return with new caller, new space

By Julia Ferrini
silver star square dancers

While the Batavia Silver Stars square dancing club existed for a number of years with no issues, COVID-19 restrictions put a halt to that, and the club's activities in 2020. During the long hiatus, the club's caller passed away, and members also lost the space where they held their lessons.

Not only did it take them “months and months” to find a location to hold classes, but they also had to find a new caller, member Lucy Pietrzykowski says. Yet she and fellow Silver Star dancers Joyce and Mike McNutt were determined to put the club back together and onto the dance floor.

“Traditional square dancing or eastern square dancing is what most of us learned in elementary school,” Pietrzykowski said. “What we do here is modern or western square dancing. It’s smoother, everything is choreographed nicely, but it takes a little while to learn the calls.”

While learning the calls may take a little time, Pietrzykowski said the dancing is fun and “fits everything” — the mental, physical, and emotional needs of a dancer. 

Space opened up at the Veterans (VA) Medical Center, and the trio applied for use of the hall. They were mere steps away from reviving the Silver Stars.

To garner a caller, they then approached Gary Bubel, pronounced “Boo Bull,” who accepted.

“People could never pronounce my name, so a guy in one of my clubs, he was an artist, he made this big picture of Casper going ‘boo’ and the bull going ‘bull’.

“It’s part of my logo,” he said, pointing to his shirt, which is sporting Casper (the friendly ghost) riding a bull. “It was drawn up for me sometime in the early 70s when I used to travel around.”

With the venue and caller secured, the Batavia Silver Stars hosted their first get-together this month at the VA, 222 Richmond Ave., Building 4.

A little history
Square dancing originated around the 18th century and was popular at the court of Louis XV, according to Europeans then brought the popular dance to America, where it was a staple in American life up to the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, square dancing began to fade from everyday life. It wasn’t until after World War II that the American folk dance saw a revival. 

Dr. Lloyd (Pappy) Shaw (1890-1958), an educator for 35 years at Cheyenne Mountain School, Colorado Springs, Colorado, is credited with bringing about the broad revival of square dancing in America. During his tenure at the school - 1916-1951 - he was instrumental in bringing new school activities for the students. 

According to the Lloyd Shaw Foundation, the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers toured the United States from 1939 to 1951. Interest in the old dances ran high when onlookers saw Shaw's high-school exhibition team’s enthusiastic performances. Soon after, educators and recreation leaders from around the country took a series of summer classes taught by Shaw. Subsequently, square dancing was integrated in physical education classes in American schools.

Back at the Silver Bells
“Square dancing saved my father’s best friend,” dancer Grace Peck said. “He had a heart attack, and they said the only reason why he didn’t drop dead is because of all the exercise he got from square dancing.”

Peck has been dancing on and off since she was around 12 years old. Her parents got her and her siblings into a kids club where they were dancing. She says square dancing encourages camaraderie, “friendships are built.” Getting out and getting exercise is also a benefit, she says.

Inspired by her parents, Pietrzykowski says square dancing “came along at the right time.” After living in Rochester for a number of years, she made the decision to move back to Batavia.

“I needed to redo my life,” she said. “A lot has changed since I’ve been gone.”

As she settled in, she wanted to meet new people, and she found that square dancing with the club was a good way to reacquaint herself with her hometown. She has since been square dancing for about 13 years.

An intricate part of square dancing is the caller. Dancer Joyce Jewett says in the Western style, you learn the basic calls and move up from there to more advanced calling.

The purpose of the caller is to teach the dancer the calls. Practice calls come first. This is where dancers learn the steps of a particular call. Afterward, the singing calls are where it’s all put together, says Bubel.

Bubel has been calling for more than 50 years. He got involved in the art after his in-laws said to him and his wife, “We’re going dancing.”

“At first, I was like, ‘I don't know about that one,’” he said. “But I liked it right after the first time I went, and I’ve been calling ever since.”

During the late 60s and early 70s, dancers would tape the classes, he said. Afterward, they’d gather at his home to learn the taped lessons. Because he was the one who was usually telling everyone what they were doing and explaining the calls, his sister-in-law told him he should be a caller.

While there are calling schools, Bubel learned to call by reading books on the subject.

“You have to flow and move them around the floor and get them back home to their partner,” he said. “I create what choreography I want them to do, then I call it, and then resolve it, and get them back home.

“When I started calling, I had a teenage group; four seventh-grade boys and four eighth-grade girls that wanted to learn how to dance,” he said. “We started in Caledonia, and that group then brought in four more squares the next year and by the time I was done there, I had about eight or nine squares with them.”

“Squares” are created by the placement of the dancers. Each square consists of four pairs, which create the sides of their square. In modern Western square dancing, everybody works all the time, he says. Conversely, traditional square dancing is where the number one couple would lead out to number two and so on. 

Square dancing took off in 1972, but by 1976-77 it was losing its flavor with young people. Like all dances for young people, he said, it comes in as a rage, then plummets.

“We would love for the younger generation to get back involved in square dancing,” Pietrzykowski said. “At one point, there were teen clubs in the area.”

No matter one's age, the group encourages anyone to come in. If one doesn’t have a partner? No problem, nobody sits out, she said.

The basic calls are similar to what one may have learned in elementary school, circle left, circle right, do-si-do, those are the real basic calls, she says. While there may be around 60 calls, tonight, dancers will learn six to eight of them. 

“I’ve read studies that say when people learn new dances, they are keeping their brain active by learning new things,” Jewett said. “They are also less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease because dancing is not just physical. It’s mental as well. When you dance, you exercise your brain.”

Rhonda Huppe and a friend often go to bingo together. One evening, she says her friend mentions that she square dances and has been for 35 years.

“I was like, ‘I want to try it!’,” she said. “And here I am, for the past six years.”

Jan and Dave Bencic started square dancing sometime in the 90s. Although they danced when they were first married, they didn’t get back into it until their children were teenagers in high school. Outside of raising their children, Jan volunteered with her church and other organizations and Dave’s projects kept him busy around the home. 

“We weren’t doing anything together,” Jan said. “So we got back into square dancing.

“We’ve met friends here that we now play cards with every weekend.”

Batavia Silver Stars is one of 12 clubs that operate under the Rochester Federation of Square Dancing.

The Silver Stars has classes on Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. to learn the basics and from 8:30-9 p.m. for club-level dance.

Their focus is on teaching, Pietrzykowski said. In each class, there is generally an experienced dancer in each square. The “angels,” as the more advanced dancers are called, help the novice dancers learn the movements.

The first lesson is free for new dancers.

For more information about the club, visit the Batavia Silver Stars Facebook page.

Photos by Julia Ferrini.

silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers
silver star square dancers

Fire Prevention Week coloring contest deadline October 13

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department is sponsoring the 10th annual Fire Prevention Week Coloring Contest. This is a coloring contest open to students from grades Kindergarten- Fifth Grade. 

“Our hope is to get the children to discuss safety with their teachers, other students and parents/guardians,” organizers said.

Information has been distributed to City schools, but we wanted to include any home schooled children in the City of Batavia School district as well. Copies of the official coloring page and contest rules are available at City of Batavia Fire Department, 18 Evans St., or by contacting Lieutenant Bob Tedford at [email protected]. We encourage all eligible students to participate.

The 2023 Fire Prevention Week (October 8-14) theme is “Cooking Safety starts with You!” Additional information can be found at the Fire Prevention Week website

“We all have developed and practiced fire drills at work, at school; but how many of us have actually practiced or created a fire drill at home?”

Practicing Exit Drills in the Home (EDITH) is important for the entire family. Drawing a map of your home knowing two ways out of every room and having a meeting place outside where all family members can gather in case of an emergency are important steps that all families should practice.

Any posters wishing to be entered need to be at the Fire Station located at 18 Evans St. in Batavia no later than Wednesday, October 13, 2023 at 4 pm.
Judging of the posters will take place October 17-19. 

The winner of each group will receive a ride to school on a City Fire Engine, and be invited to a special awards luncheon with their family held at the fire station. Second and third place finishers in each group will also be invited to the fire station awards luncheon. The best of luck to all students!

City fire department to be testing hydrants Wednesday

By Press Release

Press Release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flow testing fire hydrants on Wednesday, from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This will affect the entire city. Homes and businesses nearby will be affected.

These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area.  As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored.  If you do experience a discoloration of your water, run cold water for about five minutes or until clear.

This annual testing is essential to maintain the communities class III Insurance Services Office (ISO) public protection classification, and to assure that fire hydrants are operating efficiently for fire protection purposes. Along with maintaining the fire rating, the test monitors the health of the city's water system, identifies weak areas in the system, and removes material that settle in the water lines.

Checking each hydrant improves fire department personnel knowledge of the hydrant locations. If you have any questions, or should notice a hydrant in need of repair, please contact the fire department at 585-345-6375.

Jeremy and Sandy Liles to co-chair GCC Encore celebration

By Press Release

Press Release:

Photo of Jeremy and Sandra Liles, the 2023 Encore co-chairs, courtesy of GCC.

The Genesee Community College Foundation will be celebrating its 31st season of Encore on Friday, December 15, with an elegant event of holiday music and fine dining. This annual gala fundraiser directly benefits the student scholarship program at Genesee Community College.

This year's co-chairs, Jeremy and Sandra Liles, are looking forward to presenting this year's Encore and celebrating the start of the holiday season. "We selected the theme "White Christmas" inspired by the 1954 classic film, which captures the essence of the holiday season and will feature a special holiday concert program choreographed by the Genesee Symphony Orchestra".

Jeremy Liles is a native of Genesee County, the owner of Oliver's Candies and Sweet Life Group, its parent organization, and has managed Oliver's Candies for over 20 years. Jeremy is actively involved in his local community and currently serves on the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has served on the Batavia Town Planning Board. Sandra is a New Hampshire native who moved to Genesee County in 2005. 

Sandra opened Sweet Life Country Store in Elba and has managed the operation for the past 5 years. She enjoys working with many different local product vendors and artisans to make their wares available to the public at this store, as well as partnering with other local businesses to benefit the community. Jeremy and Sandra reside in Batavia with Tahlia, the youngest of their three children.

"Both Sandra and I recognize the importance of education and supporting the Foundation Scholarship program at Genesee Community College. We are honored to be co-chairs of Encore 2023."

Proceeds from Encore support scholarships for students attending Genesee Community College. Sponsorship opportunities are critically important to the event. To become a 2023 Encore sponsor, purchase tickets, or for event information, please visit or contact the Foundation Office directly at (585) 345-6809 or [email protected].

Photo: Sunrise in Bergen

By Howard B. Owens
sunrise in Bergen

Brandan Smith shared this photo by his uncle Danny of sunrise in Bergen.

Adison Norton named Elba Onion Queen for 2023

By Howard B. Owens
elba onion queen 2023

Elba crowned its 2023 Onion Queen and her court on Saturday.

The Elba Onion Queen is Adison Norton. 

Her court:

  • 1st Runner Up is Emma Pangrazio 
  • 2nd Runner Up is Halie Scouten 
  • 3rd Runner Up is Madison Thompson

From the previous press release:

Adison Norton is the daughter of Chirs and Sarah Norton and has a younger brother and sister. She is involved in volleyball, basketball, and softball. Adison participates in Multicultural Club, Yearbook Club, Student Athletic Association, and Pageturners at school. She has been the Treasurer of her class since Freshman year. She has also participated in the 4H Dairy Club for nine years. Adison enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends. After graduation, Adison plans to attend a four-year school to study journalism and communications and pursue a career in sports journalism.

Previously: 2023 Elba Onion Queen candidates announced

Photos by Laura Luft.

elba onion queen 2023
elba onion queen 2023
elba onion queen 2023
elba onion queen 2023
elba onion queen 2023
elba onion queen 2023
elba onion queen 2023
elba onion queen 2023

Bringing a restorative strength to BHS, new principal wants it to be a place to serve kids' needs

By Joanne Beck
BHS principal
Jennifer Wesp, new Batavia HS principal.
Photo by Joanne Beck.

Restoration seems to be a common thread in Jennifer Wesp’s life, from her work in education to upcycling estate furniture and even giving rescued dogs a new lease on life as the Batavia City Schools administrator has sewn all of those passions together in her personal and professional endeavors.

She’s been easing her way in as the new high school principal, touring the community, meeting people, observing and absorbing her new environment and learning the values of Batavia, she said. While at the same time, she wants to understand the school climate, survey staff, and especially get to know the kids, she said.

“To meet the kids, that was my favorite part. So I'm trying to be very present. I hope that I give that sense of I'm approachable, that I'm warm, that I'm open. I'm trying to be everywhere and responsive,” Wesp said during an interview with The Batavian. “So I feel that kids have been very graceful and kind to me, but it's important to know who they are. So I'm doing things like looking through old yearbooks, trying to make the connections between that beautiful face I see in the hallway and their name, right, because they're not always ready to tell me their name. And I just want them to feel important and connected. So that's a lot of my messaging and the things that I've been doing, you know, one-on-one with them as well as large spaces like class meetings and things like that.”

That may not seem so officially restorative in nature, but Wesp is about getting to know people, “where their baseline is, what they’re really strong at,” which in turn allows her to work with them on “shaping a culture of a building.” After all, what does restorative mean? To be curative, therapeutic, antidotal, healthful and recuperative. 

“Because I know it’s a lot, but I think that the most important piece of my job is relationship building, actively listening to the values to be aligned, to make sure that the choices and decisions I’m making as the leader are the decisions that reflect what the community is expecting from the high school, and what the families and the students need from the high school,” she said.

Wesp has a strength in social-emotional learning, she said, which has been a key buzzphrase since COVID. 

So what does it mean for her to put a focus on social and emotional elements for kids in school?
“So I think everybody has most mental health needs that we need to attend to every person, right? And I don't know that sometimes our society actually helps us to prioritize that. And then I think after COVID, there were so many different feelings and experiences, and then life just kind of went back to normal, and the new normal doesn't feel the same. So in schools, I think what happened is kids just had a disruption. And there was also probably a lot of fear that was kind of just in their bodies, right? Even if they talked about it or didn't talk about it, because it was a very different experience.” She said. “So I think for schools, we talk about 21st Century skills all the time, which is really like what a kid needs when they leave us. And post-COVID, And not even just COVID, I am honestly just going to say the state of where we are, kids can't learn if their needs aren't being met. So what it looks like in schools now is helping our people who've been trained extensively in academics and trained extensively in those other pieces to also have the tools to meet the kids where they're at. So if they're coming in, and a lot of things are on their plate, they can't just sit down and perform academically.”

The education system has had to make room for some adjustments, she said, such as Mental Health Mondays once a month to take a pause and allow kids the opportunity to engage in some mental health support, social-emotional circles, and breaks from “that academic pressure and be able to build a culture that is connective in their space.”

“So I think it is a buzzword, but I think it's the smaller pieces that we intentionally build in that make the difference with our mental health,” she said.

Five or seven years ago, mental health issues seemed more obvious and visible, she said. Now it’s not always so visible.

“But if you check in with those kids and you have those systems where kids can still have a voice no matter who they are, if they’re the talker, that’s great, they’ll always give you their voice,” she said. “If they’re a quiet kid, what’s our mechanism in school to give them that ability to know that we care, we hear them?”

What do you think is the greatest need of this student population?
“I would say emotional regulation … if they're having a moment where they're frustrated, they're struggling to get to that baseline again. So they kind of use the wrong words; they choose the wrong actions,” she said. “And it's really because their emotions are all over the place. And they haven't learned those skills and those strategies to manage them appropriately.” 

How do you help them with that?
“Nowadays, we have all of that stuff that comes in their brains from social-emotional, I mean, from social media, you know, the different things that go on in society now. So I think schools have more of a charge recently to kind of dig into that, how do we teach the kids to manage those situations, because they happen more often,” she said. “And they're coming to school less prepared. And, you know, I don't want to say it's because families don't do their job. I think families try to do an excellent job and meet kids where they can. But I also think a lot of our families are working double, right, they are single families, and maybe they have all of these other pieces on their plates. So in order to meet those needs for their own children, they're battling a bunch of stuff. So I think we have to work in partnership with them.

“And I think we're taking more time to come to the table with kids to make them teachable moments as opposed to, you're just in trouble.”

Aside from all of her academic prowess, Wesp enjoys a good dose of estate sale shopping and working on resin paintings and upcycling furniture at her home in Gates. She also cares for her three rescues: Ringo, a Greater Swiss Mountain dog, a new Pyrenees Newfoundland mix, and Roxxi and Calliope, a pit bull.

She visits her daughter Jade in Chicago a couple of times a year and otherwise sees her here in Western New York and hosts her dad Walter for occasional visits in Batavia, where he lived for some time while living with his grandmother and attending John Kennedy Elementary. Wesp’s son Jacob passed away. 

“My son had mental health needs. So as a parent, I wanted to, you know, learn and grow,” she said. “And I wanted to understand, not only from the parent perspective, because I pursued things in that regard to learn my role as a parent, but I also wanted to understand the role of the professionals that he was going to bump into in his school systems, and things like that.”

Wesp pursued teaching, with 15 years working with special education and at-risk youth, and is now in her sixth year as an administrator. 

Batavia High School has revised its in-school suspension to offer an alternative to suspension option, and “we’re working to make that a bigger program,” she said.

“So you know, if they were in a fight, we didn't just want them to know they couldn't fight, we wanted them to understand what happens in the real world, like when you're at the mall, and you're mad, and you punch somebody in the face, right? So we have learning around that. Also, those student reflection pieces. So we're in the admin team, in the process of trying to figure out ways to make that a much more robust, restorative program,” she said. “So you're still in an in-school suspension. So you're not really not suspended. What you are that's different is you have teachable, learning pieces that are expected in terms of you living through your consequences. So it's not just you're in trouble. It's that, hey, this wasn't a great choice that you made. But really, this is impacting you. And here's the reasons and the learning we want you to have, so you don't do this again.”

As a first-generation college student who experienced “a lot of bumps in the road” on her own life journey, Wesp has a deep appreciation for education and a love of learning “that was instilled in me from school,” she said. 

“I was able to navigate and figure out as a young person that there were systems in place that could help to get me to college and to get me through college. So I think, in general, education has always been in my life for positives and negatives,” she said. “And it's the one-stop shop; everybody has to go to school, and everybody's got to be here for hours and hours and hours on end. So why not make it a place where kids get what they need.”

She hopes to see families during the next open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at the high school.

Injury reported in motorcycle accident in Darien

By Howard B. Owens

A motorcycle and car are involved in an accident at Route 238 and Darien Alexander Townline Road, Darien.

Darien Fire and Alexander ambulance responding.

An injury is reported and medics on scene are starting treatment.


Suspect with alleged 'ghost gun' arrested after fleeing from officers, putting schools on 'lockout'

By Howard B. Owens
Ezequiel Serrano

A 22-year-old Rochester man is accused of possessing an illegal "ghost gun" following an incident at West Main Street and Ellicott Avenue that precipitated a chase and foot pursuit by Batavia PD.

Taken into custody was Ezequiel Serrano.

Serrano is charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree (ghost gun), criminal Possession of a weapon in the second degree, criminal use of a firearm in the second degree, menacing in the second degree, unlawfully fleeing a police officer, along with multiple vehicle and traffic violations.

The incident at 12:14 p.m. on Thursday caused BOCES and Batavia High School to go into a "lockout" safety precaution.

It began with a report that a person outside Dunkin' Donuts had displayed a handgun in a way that was threatening to another person.  Upon arriving, officers learned the suspect and the victim were known to each other and that the suspect was still in the area.

When officers attempted to stop the suspect vehicle, the driver allegedly ignored officers' commands and fled. 

There was a vehicle pursuit on Batavia side streets until the driver abandoned the vehicle on a dead-end street and fled on foot.

With the assistance of K-9 Batu, the suspect was taken into custody several blocks away without further incident by members of the Batavia PD Detective Bureau. 

Assisting Batavia PD were Genesee County emergency dispatchers, the Sheriff's Office, and State Police.

The handgun was recovered. 

Serrano was arraigned in City Court, and held on $50,000 cash bail, $100,000 bond or $500,000 partially secured bond pending his next court appearance.

"The quick and efficient work of all officers involved ensured the safety of our community and led to the successful apprehension of a fleeing felon," said Chief Shawn Heubusch.

County officials optimistic about Ellicott Station while prospective tenants mull legal action

By Joanne Beck
ellicott station ground breaking may 2022
File photo of Ellicott Station groundbreaking with city, county and company officials in Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens

While a few prospective tenants of the stalled Ellicott Station strategize their next move, folks at Genesee County Economic Development Center apparently believe they are making headway.

A few of the tenants chosen for the Southside apartment complex are considering possible legal action against Savarino Companies for pulling out of the project that has left them dangling with hope that they might still have a new home come 2024. As one tenant said, it’s about “what Savarino did to all of us, ‘cause it’s not fair to us.”

Meanwhile, Steve Hyde, CEO of the county’s economic center, gave a brief yet vaguely optimistic statement this week that his agency has been working with Sam Savarino and the state Office of Housing and Community Renewal to get Ellicott Station back on track.

Hyde and his lead staff reviewed this past year’s activity during the county’s Ways and Means meeting. As noted in prior articles on The Batavian, City Manager Rachael Tabelski has said that developers have expressed interest in Ellicott Station, and Hyde provided further confirmation that talks are progressing.

“And, of course, our favorite project sits here, nearby. And you know, what I could say about Ellicott Station is I've been in the middle of discussions with the developer, general partner, the investors, and state housing. That's all in the sorting-out phase. But what I can say to you is it's likely we'll see a different general partner coming in at some point,” he said. “And I think what we'll end up with is a project that will be better than what we currently had or what was previously designed. 

"I think there's some additional willingness by the housing HCR to work with us and be a little more flexible. It may not be perfect, but we'll end up with a better situation than we had," he said. "I can’t say any more than that right now. But at least it's in the sorting out phase, and there's quite a bit of interest.”

As for GCEDC’s remaining portfolio, there were 75 projects that “committed $937 million of capital investment” versus the prior 76 projects at a $162 million investment, demonstrating what Mark Masse said was “just a much larger scale.”

After celebrating her 10th year on the Legislature, along with Marianne Clattenburg as EDC liaison, it’s been amazing to watch “the incredible investment that helps our local taxpayers,” Chair Shelley Stein said.

“By having these opportunities for the creation of these businesses, the careers, it enhances our entire foundation of our economy here and careers. Our schools benefit from it. Our communities benefit from the investment,” she said. “So some days are hard, some days are, you know, celebratory days. But this work is important to us here in Genesee County. Thank you.”

Some of those hard days have been dealing with and enduring the lag of that Ellicott Station project, which stopped in mid-August when Savarino announced the closing of his company due to a financial snag with a project at Alfred State College and a loss of more than $3 million. 

Since then, city and county, along with HCR officials, have said they are working on moving forward, potentially with a new developer and financial agreements and construction schedule.

Tenants that were chosen in May for the 55 apartments received word earlier this month that they might want to search out alternative housing options since there’s no guarantee about when Ellicott Station will be ready for occupancy.

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