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May 19, 2019 - 8:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNY Tech Academy, byron-bergen, news, schools, education.

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National Grid was recognized Friday by the WNY Tech Academy at Byron-Bergen High School, as the business of the year for the company's support of the program, particularly for the $25,000 National Grid had already donated to the student's greenhouse project. On Friday, executive Ken Kuwaja and Paul Gister delivered another $50,000.

The student-conceived project involves building a greenhouse and starting a business to grow greens and farm tilapia in a hydroponic environment.

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Kelly Yates, pictured with Principal Thomas Schulte, was named Mentor of the Year.

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Students named Professional of the Year: Samantha Lucki, Petyon Penders, and Evan Harter.

May 18, 2019 - 3:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Pavilion, pembroke, news, DIGIES.

Lyla Bynum from Le Roy Central School District is the First Place winner in The DIGIES' PreK-3 Audio category with her submission "Cats and Kittens."

Submitted photo and press release:

LE ROY -- The DIGIES is an annual digital media conference and festival run by the School Library Service, a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. 

This year’s festival awards event was held on May 16 at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester.

The mission of The DIGIES is to strengthen the digital media continuum between Pre-K-12 schools, higher education and professional institutions. The DIGIES recognizes student potential in an annual festival format and draws student entries from throughout the region and the Upstate New York area.

Emilee Williamson and Andrea Fetterly, Library technologies’ specialists; and Brian Mayer, game librarian, coordinate this conference. Mayer noted how this year’s festival drew a variety of entries.

“We had another wonderful year with strong submissions from both the Genesee Valley Region and beyond," Mayer said. "Submissions continue to come in from both school and public libraries, with students not only sharing curricular projects but personal work as well."

Below is a listing of all the event categories, age groupings, award winners and their school districts.

Congratulations to these imaginative students!

AUDIO

PreK-3

1st Place – Lyla Bynum -- "Cats and Kittens" – Le Roy Central School

Grades 4-6

1st Place – Ben Knapp -- "The Pink Fluffy Unicorn’s Problem" – Le Roy Central School

2nd Place – Sophie Beikirch -- "The New Old Book" – Livonia Central School

3rd Place – Matthew Parry -- "Nintendo Designer" – Livonia Central School

Grades 7-9

1st Place – Mina Stevens – "O’er Th’ Loch" – Pittsford Central School

2nd Place – Trey Prevost, Kailyn Tresco, Amara Condidorio, Lola Forte, Hailey-Jay Michel, Alli Privatera, Angela Allen, Adele Feeley, Ashley Michel – "Las Excusas"  – Le Roy Central School

3rd Place – Evie Babcock – "Quien Soy Yo" – Le Roy Central School

Grades 10-12

1st Place – Peyton Martin – "Lost At Sea" – Mount Morris Central School

2nd Place – Leslie Arneth, Katie Carmichael, Kassidy Steffenilla "ASMR: An Episode of Knightly Knews" – Le Roy Central School

3rd Place – Hailey Grasso, Alexis Pfendler – "Real Feminism Podcast" – Le Roy Central School

GRAPHIC ARTS

PreK-3

1st Place – Reese Koukides – "Reflection of Fire" – Le Roy Central School

2nd Place – Sean Kantorowicz – "Altered Photos" – Livonia Central School

3rd Place – Broton Folts – "Best Part of Me" – Livonia Central School

Grades 4-6

1st Place – Kayden Sweet – "Egyptian Pyramid" – Livonia Central School

2nd Place – Paolo Quintana – "Altered Photos" – Livonia Central School

3rd Place – Seaenna Ford – "The Chipmunk" – Livonia Central School

Grades 7-9

1st Place – Victoria Feng – "Platonic Sculpture" – Rush-Henrietta Central School

2nd Place – Nhu Tran – "Giraffe" – Rush-Henrietta Central School

3rd Place – Mackenzie Pustulka – "Virtual Gallery" – Rush-Henrietta Central School

3rd Place – Kaylen Petramalo – "Credo Stellae" (latin) (Believe in Stars) – Rush-Henrietta Central School

Grades 10-12

1st Place – Nathan Coy – "Layne Staley" – Pavilion Central School

2nd Place – Jayde Wilkin-Smith – "Grandparent’s View in Germany" – Livonia Central School

2nd Place – Ella Sexton – "The Water View" – Livonia Central School

3rd Place – Allana Knopp – "Teepee" – Holley Central School

INTERACTIVE MEDIA

PreK-3

1st Place – Cora Weaver, Bailey Caton, Kylie Wilson, Leah Cashin – "It’s Time for a Change" – Le Roy Central School

2nd Place – Peyton Bennett – "Crossing the Delaware" – Livonia Central School

Grades 4-6

1st Place – Lily Sharp, Hannah White, Leah Whittel – "Jack and the Hairy Beanstalk" – Livonia Central School

2nd  Place – Nadja Emmendorfer – "Greece" – Le Roy Central School

3rd Place – Matthew Covert, Andrew Greene, Fernando Cacho – "Space: Our Galaxy, Universe and Beyond!" – Le Roy Central School

Grades 10-12

1st Place – Casey Wurtz – "College Photo" – Pembroke Central School

2nd Place – Faith DesRoches – "An Exploration of New Social Landscape" – Pembroke Central School

3rd Place – Evan McCoy, Sam Heck – "Rent-a-Pet" – Livonia Central School

VIDEO

PreK-3

1st Place – Pedro Segatto, Wyatt Sattora, Rivers Thomas, Mason Patterson, Ceci Prince, Mackenzie Partridge, Sainelys Diaz, Scott Ho, Jagger Lee, Mason Bowick, Trenton Konzel, Finley Weingaertner, Sandy Godinez – "Composite Shapes in Spring" – Geneseo Central School

2nd Place – Chloe Richardson, Dylan Bogdon, Justin Ferguson, Kylee Wonsey, Noah Johnso – "Blooper Reel" – Livonia Central School

3rd Place – Jane Fischer – "Fun with Animations!" – Livonia Central School

Grades 4-6

1st Place – Helio Quintana, Carson Beardsley – "A Quick Trip" – Livonia Central School

2nd Place – Leila Haines, Leona Savino, Anna Reilly, Lucas Savino – "Ridiculous Ocean" – Victor-Farmington Public Library

3rd Place – Taila Cavalcante-Bezerra, Isabella Hennessy, Chloe Meys – "Viruses Going Around" – Livonia Central School

Grades 7-9

1st Place – Mina Stevens – "The Monster in My Closet" – Pittsford Central School

2nd Place – Amy Eck – "Clearly" – Le Roy Central School

3rd Place – Jack Tonzi, Jake Marcello, Nate Yauchzee – "Bohemian Immigrant" – Le Roy Central School

Grades 10-12

1st Place – Jacob French – "Dominos" – Geneseo Central School

2nd Place – Alexis Verrall – "What You Don’t Know About ME" – Tonawanda Central School

3rd Place – Marquise Bennett – "Ageism" – Pittsford Central School

About the School Library System

It is a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, based in Le Roy. The Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State.

May 18, 2019 - 2:37pm

An invitation from Bob Bialkowski, Batavia City councilman at large:

This is an invitation to all members of the community to participate in this year’s Batavia Memorial Day parade on Memorial Day Monday May 27th.

The City of Batavia is sponsoring the parade and we are looking forward to another great turnout.

The parade will kick off at 9:45 a.m from the Eastown Plaza on East Main Street and end at the Alva Place parking lot downtown. People can then attend the Veterans Memorial Service at the Memorial site across the street at the Jerome Center.

Any veterans wishing to participate in the parade can just show up at 9:15. Veterans needing a ride in the parade please contact me.

Any groups wishing to participate please let us know as all are welcome. Please keep the theme of respect to all our veteran and first responders.

Let’s show our support to our veterans and first responders! Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy our annual parade.

Thank you,

Bob Bialkowski

585 409-3624

May 18, 2019 - 1:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, news, batavia.

A one-vehicile accident with minor injuries is reported at Route 63 and Batavia Stafford Townloine Road. Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 2 p.m.: A second ambulance is called to the scene and a first responder reports there are three patients.

UPDATE 2:06 p.m.: The second ambulance is cancelled; two patients are sign-offs.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: One person was transported to UMMC.

May 18, 2019 - 12:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, batavia, scanner.

A caller reporters that two men are lying in the grass near Blondie's Sip 'n' Dip on East Main Street Road, Batavia, and they were hitting themselves.

Now they've stopped and are just lying in the grass.

A deputy has been dispatched.

May 18, 2019 - 1:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

One thing Rep. Chris Collins told The Batavian before the 2018 campaign season is that the one thing he appreciated about The Batavian is that we may ask him tough questions but we always reported his views accurately.

Then after he was indicted on insider trading charges he refused to talk to us. That was baffling given his previous praise of our reporting. On Friday, we asked him about his decision to avoid almost all media coverage in 2018. He said that was a campaign strategy but that things would be different if he runs in 2020.

We should trust him on that promise, he said.

"I am not hiding from anyone," Collins said. "I'm talking to you today. Am I not answering every question you're asking? For two months I was running a very difficult election with a strategy to win and my strategy was correct."

Once it was clear in 2018  that Collins was cutting off access to The BatavianThe Batavian publicly announced that it wouldn't run his campaign press releases unless and until he agreed to an interview.

The response?

Crickets.

"For those two months you weren't part of my strategy," Collins said. "And I won or I wouldn't be here talking with you today."

Now, we're supposed to trust Collins.

Collins was indicted by the Federal prosecutors on a bevy of charges related to an alleged insider trading conspiracy on Aug. 9 and refused that day to take any questions from The Batavian and refused subsequent requests for interviews. The charges stemmed from his alleged tip to his son Cameron that a critical drug trial by a company he had pumped, Innate Therapeutics, had failed.

The target of Collins' ire, he said, however, wasn't The Batavian. It was the Buffalo News.

"I am out and about talking to you today and I've said I always will," Collins said. "Last year was a unique year with the Buffalo News being my primary opponent with a lot of fake news, a lot of biased news; a lot of distorted news. So I did make a decision, I wanted to win the election and I won the election and now I'm talking to you today. I'll talk to you wherever I am."

Pressed for examples of "fake news" from the Buffalo News, Collins said almost everything the paper reported about his relationship with Innate Therapeutics was inaccurate; that his work on the 21st Centuries Cure Act was falsely reported; that his attempts to get drugs to market quicker were misrepresented, as well as his attempts to get more dollars diverted to cancer research.

"They reported that was all to benefit a company I was invested in," Collins said. "It was absurd. They reported that Tom Price and I got special pricing on a stock, which was also totally not true, and was so reported by the Office of Congressional Ethics. They reported these things time and again. I don't want to get into a litany but primarily if you read a Buffalo News story, the bias just pours out."

He said the Buffalo News has been reporting about him inaccurately for 12 years, going back to his stint as Erie County Chief Executive.

The one representative The Batavian knew to reach out to directly to seek comment from about Buffalo News reporting on Chris Collins was political reporter Jerry Zremski who said in an email, "We stand by our stories."

Collins supports Donald Trump. Donald Trump has admitted that he has redefined the phrase "fake news" to mean any news report he doesn't like, no matter if it is true. Collins said that is not how Trump uses the term. However, none of this was reassuring to The Batavian that in 2020 he will be any more accessible than he was in 2018.

So, this exchange:

The Batavian: "Can I get a promise that as long as I always report you accurately, I can get an interview with you in the future?"

Chris Collins: "Yes."

So, we'll see if that is "fake news."

See also: Chris Collins says that if he runs he will beat any primary or general election challenger

May 17, 2019 - 11:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

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It doesn't matter who runs against him, if Rep. Chris Collins is a candidate in the NY-27 race in 2020, he will win, he said today following a ribbon cutting at Fresenius Kidney Care on Veterans Memorial Drive.

He will win in a primary. He will win in a general election.

He will win, he said, because he has more money. He will win because the folks of the 27th District will believe he's done a good job for them. He will win because he supports President Donald Trump.

"My accomplishments and my effectiveness speak for themselves," Collins said. "And if somebody wants to pretend otherwise, he'll have to better explain that."

Collins is unperturbed by the close call he suffered in 2018 beating challenger Nate McMurray by less than 2,000 votes, nor is he ruffled about his criminal indictment on alleged insider trading charges, nor an ongoing Congressional ethics investigation. 

"If I do decide to run, I'm confident I will win a primary if there is a primary," Collins said. "I'm also confident in a presidential year with my past support of President Trump, which is well known, with my seven, then eight, years of service in the community, I'm confident I would be reelected.

"While the last election was closer than I might have wanted it to be, that was a terrible year for Republicans. It was not a presidential year and I had an opponent who did not fully disclose where he stood on the issues. Next year, any Democrat that's running is going to have to run with the Democrat platform and the Democrat platform will be socialism replacing a free market."

Today, news reports said that state Senator Chris Jacobs plans to run a primary campaign against Collins if he decides to run and Sen. Rob Ortt told The Batavian in an exclusive interview that if he runs, he will also mount a primary challenge to Collins if Collins runs.

Collins said today that he remains undecided on whether to seek reelection.

"I have not made up my mind," Collins said. "I've said it would be later this year when my legal situation is better known, so I'm not saying yes and I'm not saying no. We'll make that decision later this year."

On potential opponents, Collins concentrated his fire on the one seemingly for-certain candidate, Chris Jacobs.

"If there's anyone who doesn't fit the profile it would be Chris Jacobs," Collins said. "You know, he is, I think, the second most liberal Republican in the state Senate. He's a Never Trumper, he is pro-abortion, and I would say that his resume does not suit New York 27."

Besides Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia both told The Batavian today that they are considering runs for the NY-27.

Collins said he isn't afraid of a primary fight, and the more the merrier.

"If you're gonna be in a primary you want it to be 10 people if you're the incumbent," Collins said. "So again, that's not going to make my decision for me. I'm confident I would win a primary if I decide to run and they decide to run against me in a primary, much like happened in 2012. I have confidence that my résumé, of what I've accomplished for this district."

In Jacobs' campaign announcement -- reportedly, since he didn't include all media in the NY-27 (apparently, Genesee County doesn't matter) -- Jacobs said Collins has been ineffective. Collins, of course, disagrees.

"Interesting that he brought that up the same day that Jane Corwin was confirmed as the new chairperson of the International Joint Water Commission," Collins said.

Collins also took credit for the appointments from Michigan and Nevada, the Army Corps of Engineers' approval of a project at Athol Springs, the appointment of a new U.S. Marshall, and he also mentioned his new legislation to help dairy farmers with immigration labor.

"That's all within the past week," Collins said.

In GOP circles, there is some speculation that Collins won't get the GOP endorsement in 2020 even if he decides to run. Again, Collins isn't worried.

"I would hope to get it," Collins said. "But if you recall in 2012 I didn't and I won the primary pretty handily."

Collins also suggested he will outspend any potential opponent. His latest fundraising reports have shown pretty dismal reports, however. He said that's by design. He didn't directly address whether he would self-fund his campaign, but he suggested he will do better at fundraising from this point forward.

"I have not attempted to raise funds the last four months," Collins said. "I know coming in, off of all the bad publicity that I faced, the Buffalo News and otherwise, we decided we'd sit tight for four months and see how things kind of played themselves out and it's been a very positive reaction in Washington, so we are now going to start doing fundraising."

In the last election, he barely beat challenger Nate McMurray. He is facing legal and ethics proceedings in federal court. Some Republicans think he should step aside to protect the district. The Collins retort: He barely beat McMurray because McMurray wasn't honest about who he really is. 

Collins suggested that McMurray is really a closet socialist because he's a Democrat.  

We pointed out the lengthy profile published by The Batavian on May 17, 2018:

Profile: Nate McMurray, Democratic capitalist, bucking the trend of his party

"He doesn't tell the truth," Collins said. "He can say anything he wants. Think back to Kathy Hochul and everything she stood for until she became lieutenant governor and then the true Kathy Hochul showed up."

The Democrats, he said, lie and distort about who they really are.

"You know they pander they lie they distort," Collins said. "But ultimately people realize I'm a conservative Republican. I am pro-life. I've served or eight years. With Trump, I'm the first member to support Trump. I was at the White House two days ago.

"I'm as effective as I've ever been or more so if you look at what we've accomplished the last week. So I'll run on my record and challenge anyone else to at least be honest with the public on where they stand."

See also: Chris Collins promises to speak to The Batavian if he runs for reelection

May 17, 2019 - 5:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GO ART!, news, arts, entertainment, batavia.

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Janet Root opened her art show of fabric art Thursday night at GO ART! called "Innovations." The show runs through July 6 in the main gallery.

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During the show openings, Thursday, Valerie Antonetty and Katie Elia served as guest bartenders with their tips benefitting GO ART!

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A mixed-media show by Lydia Zwierzyanski and Megan Peters (not available for photos) also opened Thursday.

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In the bar, there is now a member's art show on display, including work by David Burke (top painting).

May 17, 2019 - 5:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, artists, John Hodgins, notify.

Photo of John Hodgins in February 2005 with an en plein air painting of his, courtesy of his daughter Joyce Dwyer.

Beloved local artist, Batavia businessman and former county legislator John Jay Hodgins died this morning. He was 87.

Born in Basom on Dec. 12, 1931 to Ora and Velma Hodgins, he grew up to become a printer, sign painter and entrepreneur who founded Batavia Press, Hodgins Printing, Hodgins Engraving, papersigns.com, and John’s Studio.

Hodgins also served his community -- eight years on the Batavia City Council and eight years on the Genesee County Legislature. He was a former member of the Oakfield Lions Club, a director at the Richmond Memorial Library, and a director of the Genesee County Baseball Club.

A longtime member of Batavia Society of Artists, he had been its treasurer and president, and had many shows of his work locally. He taught local students to paint and draw, and held art workshops in Maine and Florida. He authored and published four books, hiked most of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, ran four marathons, and was a big fan of the Batavia Muckdogs baseball team.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years Mary T. (Paul) Hodgins, six children, 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

As a young man, Hodgins supported his family by delivering milk and baked goods, then he went to work in the printing business, starting as a compositor.

He worked at the Orleans Republican-American, Medina Daily Journal and the Buffalo Evening News before launching his own small printing operation from his barn in Basom in 1957. An initial investment of $500 bought a hand-operated letterpress, a few cabinets of lead type and a manual paper cutter.

The nascent business was moved to Batavia in 1961 and husband and wife worked side by side to grow it. Batavia Press, located at 30 Seaver Place, thrived and in 1971 an offer was made to buy it and the Hodgins accepted the offer. They subsequently started Hodgins Printing and sold only by mail order to out-of-town customers.

But within a year, the new owners of the Batavia Press failed and Hodgins Printing returned to serving the business community in Genesee County. In 1983, son Robert Hodgins started Hodgins Engraving, a printing die-making service for printers nationwide.

To meet the need for a local commercial printer serving Western New York, Batavia Press was reestablished. The family's second and third generation now manages the operations of: Hodgins Printing Co. and John's Studio -- in the Harvester Center -- and Batavia Press and Hodgins Engraving on West Main Street. There is also an online company, papersigns.com

John Hodgins retired in 1985.

Beyond his success as an ambitious businessman, John was a lifelong lover of all things art. He produced a prodigious amount of distinctive, unique and colorful creations.

His interest in drawing was first piqued in elementary school when his fifth-grade teacher asked him to draw a knight on a horse.

When John moved to Batavia, he became acquainted with the masterful Roy Mason, a nature-loving watercolorist known for his sporting and wildlife landscapes. Years later, he spent three summers in Maine under the tutelage of famed watercolorist Edgar A. Whitney, best known for his coastline art.

In the mid-1980s, John and fellow Batavia artist Don Grieger started painting en plein air, French for outdoors painting. The practice was not widely popular as it is today. In a kind of spoof of a Canadian group of plein air painters in the early 20th century called "The Group of Seven," the duo called themselves "The Group of Two."

Inevitably, more artists came along and thus "The All Weather Gang" was born. They still get together some Saturday mornings for breakfast at a local diner before heading out to paint scenic vistas, usually in Genesee, Wyoming or Livingston counties, irrespective of the clime. Among their favorites places to paint are creeks: the Tonawanda, the Little Tonawanda, and Oatka.

"You get the feel of the place more when you're outdoors," Grieger said, "rather than painting from a photograph."

Just as he was mentored by quality artists, Hodgins was a mentor to young people.

Among those who learned a thing or two from him is Mark Fanara, who took drawing and painting lessons from Hodgins as a second-grader. Fanara won awards for his art in high school and while studying at SUNY Brockport, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He has been a tattooist since 2005 and opened High Voltage Tattoo in Batavia in 2006.

Another mentee is Batavia native Bill Mancuso, assistant professor of Art and chair of the Department of Art and Design at Ohio Northern University. He curated an exhibit last fall about the All Weather Gang at ONU's Elzay Gallery and wrote a book for the exhibit about the All Weather Gang and its members past and present.

Mancuso is working on a biography/retrospective about John Hodgins.

"I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today without John Hodgins and Don Grieger," Mancuso said. "John was generous. He lived a big, full life. ... John painted ordinary things and made them extraordinary -- Gardner's Barn, the Pok-A-Dot. He saw beauty in everyday things, the way they really are; not like scary museum Art with a capital A."

His appreciation for the unpretentiousness of small-town life was writ large.

Asked about his inspirations for artwork, Hodgins once said he tried to be original and do something different, regardless of the medium he chose. He could be inspired by something as mundane as sneakers, as common as milkweed, and as mythical as flying pigs. He put his special imprimatur on them all.

For John Hodgins full obituary, click here

(Below is a file photo of John Hodgins' "News Stand" which The Batavian acquired in December of 2009.)

May 17, 2019 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in SkyScreamer, darien lake, news, darien lake theme park.

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We will have a video about Darien Lake's new ride, SkyScreamer later today or tomorrow but here is a picture from this morning.

May 17, 2019 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rob Ortt, chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

 

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If Rep. Chris Collins, dogged by ethics and criminal investigations, decides to run for reelection in 2020, he could face a primary challenge from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Rob Ortt, who visited Reyncrest Farms in Corfu this morning.

"I'm going to make my decision based on my own discussions with my wife, discussions with my family and friends and people I trust, and will do what I think is best for the district," Ortt said. "Obviously, I've got to make the decision that that's right for Rob Ortt, where I think I can serve best to be a voice on issues that matter to me whether it's in the State Senate or in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"So, you know, we'll make that determination on our own timeline. Obviously, probably sooner rather than later, but we're going to make that decision of on our own timeline apart from whatever other people may do."

Other people, of course, includes Collins, who told The Batavian three weeks ago that he has yet to decide whether he would run for reelection.

Collins is facing a Federal court trial on charges stemming from an alleged insider trading conspiracy. Collins, along with co-defendants Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky, is accused of securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to FBI agents.

Besides the criminal case, a House of Representatives Ethics Committee is also looking into his conduct involving his holdings in Innate Therapeutics.

Other people mounting a primary challenge would also include State Sen. Chris Jacobs, who reportedly announced his intention this morning to run against Collins, and Batavia-resident Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Reached by text message this afternoon, Hawley said he is indeed considering challenging Collins, depending on the situation with Collins.

"I'm strongly considering it," Hawley said.

Another Batavia resident, combat veteran David Bellavia is also considered a potential candidate. Bellavia has yet to respond to a text message asking him about his intentions for 2020.

Ortt, himself also a combat veteran, said his decision will come entirely independent of what Collins decides to do.

"He's got to do what he thinks is right," Ortt said. "Again just like me, he will do what he thinks is right for himself, for his family and given his situation, but he also has a responsibility to do what's right for the district.

"If he does not think he can serve this district in an effective way, then I think the right thing would be at some point to make a determination to step aside and let someone else come in."

Collins narrowly beat Nate McMurray in the 2018 election and McMurray seems to be a likely Democratic contender in 2020. We asked Ortt, given a potentially strong Democratic candidate and the legal and ethical issues facing Collins, if Collins should step aside and Ortt said he would never suggest to Collins, or any other potential candidate, that he not run.

"This is America," Ortt said. "There will be a lot of people I imagine that might jump into this race. If (Collins) thinks he can make an effective argument of why he should be retained as the congressman, I would welcome that as much if I was in the race as anything.

"I'm not going to say one person should run or should not run because ultimately the people of the 27th District, particularly Republican voters in a primary, they're going to make that determination about who they think can effectively, not only defend the president's agenda or defend the agenda that's important to this district, but also represent them in a way that they think they'd be proud of."

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: We heard back from David Bellavia. He is considering a run for Congress in the 27th. "Not afraid of primaries," Bellavia said in a text message. "Especially ones involving Rep. Collins and Senator Jacobs."

UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: Statement from Nate McMurray on the possibility of a primary challenge to Collins:

"It's understandable that some would see an opportunity in Collins' legal predicament, but let's not pretend that Collins was an effective leader prior to that. Our grassroots network has been fighting for the people of the 27th Congressional District well before his indictment last August and never stopped.

"I think it's unfortunate that anyone would evaluate running in this district based on personal political gain, or in order to keep it in Republican hands. Hyper-partisanship is the last thing the people of Western New York need right now and the voters here confirmed that last November by reelecting Collins by a mere .37%. The district went purple and people crossed party lines. It shows that business-as-usual will no longer fly. We will continue to prepare for whatever comes next, and look for opportunities to bring people together."

May 17, 2019 - 7:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia kiwanis, schools, education, news.

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On Thursday, the Kiwanis Club of Batavia held its annual luncheon recognizing the Top 10 academic students of Batavia High School.

Top Photo: Ryann Stefaniak (first row, left), Madison Dedman, Pierce Corbelli, Kristen Gloskowski, Emily Caccamise (back row, left), Lyndsay Debo, Brianna Bromley, Karissa Kesler, Tracy Lin, Julia Spiotta. Spiotta is top in her class.

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The annual music awards went to Eryn Dunn for Outstanding Service in Chorus, Zak Jantzi for Outstanding Service in Orchestra, and Elise Hoerbelt for Outstanding Service in Band.

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Karissa Kesler and Emily Boldt received Citizenship Awards. Besides the plaques, Kesler and Boldt received $1,000 each.

Below, a submitted photo from last week of the Top 10 students from Notre Dame High School.

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Mary Vandenbosch (first row, left), Hannah Gualtieri, Faith Falkowski, Meghan Stella, Elizabeth Fuentes, Gemma Bochicchio (back row, left), Daniel Bergman, Samuel Bowman, Bella March, and Mary Warner.

May 16, 2019 - 5:42pm

Photo of Tate Fonda with her parents, Tina and Dwayne Fonda Sr.

Submitted photo and press release:

BATAVIA -- Tate Fonda, a sophomore at Batavia High School, will be a Delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Mass., June 23-25.

The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields.

The purpose of this event is to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists, to stay true to their dream and, after the event, to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal.

Tate's nomination letter was signed by Dr. Mario Capecchi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and the Science Director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists. Tate will represent Batavia High School based on her academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine.

During the three-day Congress, Tate will join students from across the country and hear Nobel laureates and National Medal of Science winners talk about leading medical research; be given advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school; witness stories told by patients who are living medical miracles; be inspired by fellow teen medical science prodigies; and learn about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology.

“This is a crucial time in America when we need more doctors and medical scientists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” said Richard Rossi, founder, National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists. “Focused, bright and determined students like Tate Fonda are our future and she deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give her.”

The Academy offers free services and programs to students who want to be physicians or go into medical science. Some of the services and programs the Academy offers are: online social networks through which future doctors and medical scientists can communicate; opportunities for students to be guided and mentored by physicians and medical students; and communications for parents and students on college acceptance and finances, skills acquisition, internships, career guidance, and much more.

The National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists was founded on the belief that we must identify prospective medical talent at the earliest possible age and help these students acquire the necessary experience and skills to take them to the doorstep of this vital career.

Based in Washington, D.C., and with offices in Boston, the Academy was chartered as a nonpartisan, taxpaying institution to help address the need for more physicians and medical scientists by working to identify, encourage and mentor students who wish to devote their lives to the service of humanity in these careers.

For more information visit www.FutureDocs.com or call 617-307-7425.

May 16, 2019 - 5:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia.
roberttaftmug2019.jpg
      Robert Taft

A 45-year-old resident of State Street in Batavia has been arrested, accused of selling crack cocaine to an agent of the Local Drug Task Force.

Robert O. Taft is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

Taft is accused of selling crack to an agent on two separate occasions.

He was arraigned on the charges by Judge Charles Zambito and ordered held without bail.

Task Force members were assisted by Batavia PD, Sheriff's deputies, and the District Attorney's Office.

May 16, 2019 - 3:41pm

Le Roy Village Mayor Greg Rogers, Poppy Girl 2019 Celeste Vescovi, and Le Roy Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau.

Submitted photo and press release:

The Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post #576 has selected the 2019 Poppy Girl, who will be featured in the upcoming Memorial Day Parade in Le Roy on Monday, May 27.

Little Miss Celeste Vescovi will reign as this year's Poppy Girl. She is a kindergartener at Wolcott Street School in Le Roy.

Celeste is the daughter of Sara and John Vescovi and granddaughter of Barb and John Vescovi and Christa Coulon. Also she is the great-granddaughter of the late Don Vescovi (Clarky), past commander and adjutant of Botts-Fiorito Post 576.

Celeste enjoys dance, bowling and singing, especially karaoke; also reading is a favorite pastime.

You can meet Celeste in Le Roy on Memorial Day -- at the American Legion Post, and distributing traditional red crepe paper poppies at Tops Market (128 W. Main St.).

The symbolic flower is given out by the American Legion Auxiliary to raise money and to commemorate the sacrifice of so may men and women who have died fighting for their country. (To learn more about the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program, click here.)

Le Roy's Memorial Day Parade will be held on May 27th, starting at the American Legion (53 W. Main St.) at 10:30 a.m., and ceremonies will follow at 11 o'clock in Trigon Park.

For previous coverage on 2019 Memorial Day plans in Le Roy, click here.

May 16, 2019 - 2:56pm

The Batavia Blue Devils Youth Football Camp will be held on Monday and Tuesday, July 15-16, behind Batavia High School, located at 260 State St. in the City of Batavia.

Time is 9 to 11:30 a.m. both days.

Cost is $45. Cash or check (payable to: Blue Devils Touchdown Club).

It is for students entering grades one through eight in the fall.

Hosted by Head Coach Brennan Briggs and the BHS Football staff.

Bring shorts, T-shirt, cleats and water bottle.

Mail payment and the following information to Brennan Briggs, 103 Oak St., Batavia  NY 14020 OR  to: Batavia Middle School, 96 Ross St., Batavia NY 14020, ATTEN: Brennan Briggs.

  • Name of Camper
  • Camper is entering Grade ___
  • Emergency Contact Name and Phone Number
  • T-shirt Size: ADULT ___ or YOUTH ___

Register by July 5 to guarantee correct T-shirt size.

The camp will feature relay races, flag football games at the end of each day; current BHS football players, as well as alumni will speak and work with campers; T-shirts distributed and pizza after Tuesday's camp.

Here's the breakdown of what will be taught for each position; all drills will be modified for age groups:

  • Quarterbacks -- Hand placement, 3-step, 5-step, footwork drills, throwing mechanics, and ball-handling drills;
  • Wide Receivers -- Stance, start, footwork drills, hand drills, route running;
  • Running Backs -- Stance, start, footwork drills, run blocking, pass blocking;
  • Offensive Line -- Stance, start, run-blocking drills, pass-blocking drills;
  • Linebackers -- Stance, start, footwork drills, tackling-form drills, run stopping, pass defending;
  • Defensive Backs -- Stance, start, footwork drills, man coverage, zone coverage, pass defending;
  • Defensive Line -- Stance, start, 1 v. 1 drills, speed and quickness off the ball.

The Batavia Blue Devils are the 2018 Far West Champions and 2018 State Finalists.​ They have been Section V Champions four out of the last five seasons.

May 16, 2019 - 2:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, agriculture, chris collins, business, dairy.

Press release:

On Wednesday, Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) introduced legislation that would provide a short-term, one-time fix, to help the nonseasonal agriculture workforce.

"The Helping Labor Personnel (HELP) Farms Act" provides a solution for farmers across the nation, especially in the dairy industry, while Congress and the Department of Labor continue to modernize the H-2A program and allow visas be granted on an annual basis instead of seasonally.

“Under current law, the H-2A visa program does not help our struggling dairy farms, who live in constant fear of losing their workforce,” Congressman Collins said. “This legislation provides a temporary solution while Congress and the Department of Labor work together to find a bipartisan solution.”

This legislation requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State and Secretary of Labor, to collect applications for temporary work authorization for nonseasonal agriculture workers. This nonseasonal agriculture workforce must be sponsored by a United States employer who he/she has worked with for at least two years.

Upon approval of the application, the alien worker will be granted work authorization for two years along with his/her spouse and children. Additionally, protections are included for the sponsoring employer to ensure there are no consequences for employing an alien workforce due to an outdated and flawed H-2A visa program.

“There is not a single person representing dairy that does not understand we have a true crisis with the current system we have in place,” Collins added.

An alien worker who currently works in a nonseasonal agriculture occupation may be permitted to apply to this temporary work authorization program so long as they have not been convicted on felony charges of rape, kidnapping violent assault, sexual assault, or suspected of terrorism.

Alien workers who are currently being detained may also be given the opportunity to apply for this program.

A copy of the bill can be found here.

May 16, 2019 - 2:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in Durin Rogers, batavia city court judge, news.

Photo, from left: Legislator Gary Maha, candidate and part-time Batavia City Court Judge Durin Rogers, and Sheriff William Sheron.

Submitted photo and press release:

Durin Rogers, currently a part-time judge for Batavia City Court, has received the endorsements of Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron and former Sheriff and current County Legislator Gary Maha for the full-time City Court judge position that is up for election this year.

In his endorsement letter, Sheriff Sheron said Rogers’ dedication and professionalism were key factors in his decision.

“He [Rogers] is a true professional who is extremely dedicated to his family and our community,” Sheron said. “(He) is readily available all hours of the day and night, including weekends and holidays to fulfill his responsibilities as City Court Judge. He carries out his duties in a fair, impartial, unbiased and ethical manner.”

In closing, Sheron wrote: “[I] have the highest regard for Durin B. Rogers and can assure you he will continue to be an outstanding Batavia City Court Judge. Please join me in supporting Durin B. Rogers for City of Batavia City Court Judge,”

Legislator Maha cited Rogers’ dedication and compassion in his endorsement, noting that Rogers works closely with those involved in the criminal justice system as part-time City Court Judge.

“He is a very dedicated person who acts fairly, objectively and with compassion when adjudicating cases that come before him,” Maha said. “Durin has the experience and temperament to make an excellent full-time City Court judge. I fully endorse his candidacy.”

Rogers has served as the part-time Batavia City Court Judge for more than four years, having been appointed unanimously by Batavia City Council in 2015 and has been a practicing lawyer in Batavia and Genesee County for nearly 25 years.

During his past four years on the bench, Rogers has handled thousands of cases within the court's jurisdiction including civil, criminal, small claims, housing code violations and even matters in the drug court, mental health court and veterans court.

“I am humbled and honored to receive the support of such fine public officials as Bill Sheron and Gary Maha,” Rogers said. “I believe these endorsements will carry tremendous weight with our local community and I am grateful to Sheriff Sheron and Legislator Maha for their kind words.

“I am committed to living up to the standard these endorsements set for the future and if elected as City Court judge, I promise to do my very best to live up to the standards that people like Sheriff Sheron, Legislator Maha and the rest of this great community will expect of me as City Court judge.”

Rogers lives with his wife, Paula, and their four children in the City of Batavia. His family has been longtime residents of the City and are proud to call Batavia their home.

Rogers is committed to the community and has volunteered his time to assist youth sports, mock trial, United Way, GCBA and many other civic boards.

He is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Law; he received his Juris Doctor legal degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland.

May 16, 2019 - 9:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Job Bureau, jobs, news, notify.

img_5084teresavanson.jpg

There is a skills mismatch between what local employers need and what the available workforce has to offer, said Teresa Van Son, director of the Job Development Bureau in Genesee County, yesterday following her department review with the Ways and Means Committee.

During the meeting, Van Son said a recent job fair was poorly attended by job seekers.

The county's unemployment rate is historically low -- that may not be a surprise but there are still at least 1,300 people listed as unemployed (using the most recent unemployment statistics). Von Son said she believes there are still people with the ability to work who are not looking for work because there aren't jobs available for them. Meanwhile, there are more than 1,000 job openings in Genesee County listed with the Job Bureau.

To address that, Von Son wants to promote more the job-training opportunities available through the bureau.

"One thing we would like to work on is providing people with additional opportunities for training so people in those early skill level jobs can move up and fill some higher level positions and then you've got more room for the emerging workforce," Van Son said.

County-level data for prime-age workers who aren't working or looking for work is hard to come by, but nationally the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate in that cohort has returned nearly to 2009 levels after hitting a nadir in 2014. The percentage of prime-age workers, people 25-54, in the labor force (they have jobs or are seeking jobs) was 82.2 percent in April compared to 82.8 percent in April 2009 and 80.8 percent in April 2014.

Recently, Von Son said, there has been an increase in agriculture job openings. There are also jobs available in manufacturing.

There are not many people using job bureau services who have recently been out of the workforce and are returning now, Von Son said. In fact, she can think of only two such clients recently.

"Some folks I think just need opportunities to get training," Von Son said.

May 15, 2019 - 5:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, GC Park & Forest, outdoors, wildlife.

Press release:

Explore and enjoy the outdoors this Saturday, May 18th, at the Genesee County Park & Forest!

Morning Guided Dog Walk

Bring your best friend and join us for a guided dog walk through the Genesee County Park & Forest onSaturday May 18th, Saturday June 8th and Saturday July 13th from 10 to 11 a.m.!

This guided walk is great for socialization and healthy exercise! Meet at the Interpretive Nature Center. Dogs must be on a leash at all times. Current license or proof of up-to-date rabies vaccination is required.

Aggressive dogs will not be allowed to participate. Cost is $5/dog. Preregistration is required! Call (585) 344-1122 to register!

Afternoon Pond Discovery

Dive into some wild creature encounters with Pond Discovery from 1 to 3 p.m. Be prepared to get muddy and wet!

You will be using a net and sharing a bucket of water to catch animals, and then identify and learn about them from a Naturalist Guide. Meet us at the Interpretive Nature Center at Genesee County Park & Forest. All equipment is provided, just bring yourself and a camera!

Cost is $5/person, $10/family, call 585-344-1122 to register!

Evening Full Moon Owl Prowl

Explore the secret world of owls on a full moon night with our Full Moon Owl Prowl Hike from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Listen for the sounds of nocturnal wildlife and learn about owls! Hear full moon folklore and visit owl habitats.

Anything can happen on an Owl Prowl! Meet us at the Interpretive Nature Center at Genesee County Park & Forest.

Cost is $5/person, $10/family, preregistration is required! Call 585-344-1122 to reserve your spot!

Preregistration is required for all programs. To register call (585) 344-1122.

For more information visit our website here, or email Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or phone (585) 344-1122.

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