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January 16, 2020 - 10:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, music, arts, entertainment, news.

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Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for their fourth annual Rockin’ the Downs concert series, which takes place outside on the racetrack, with eight Friday dates, starting in June and running into August.

Kicking off the series on Friday, June 19th is Vince Neil, the Legendary Voice of Mötley Crüe.  An accomplished businessman and heartfelt philanthropist, his unmistakable voice leads some of the greatest rock songs of a generation including “Wild Side”, “Shout at the Devil,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart

My Heart,” “Same Ol’ Situation,” and many others.

Next up, on Friday, June 26th, is former Journey frontman, Steve Augeri. Steve returns after playing one of the most enjoyable concerts from last year’s series.  The lead vocalist for the rock group from 1998-2006, Steve headlined an eight-year tenure that included three albums and will perform hits such as Don’t Stop Believin’, Separate Ways, Wheel in the Sky, Faithfully, and Anyway you Want it.

After a 1 week hiatus for the Fourth of July Holiday, the concert series returns on Friday, July 10th with Southern Rock legends Molly Hatchet.  Originating in Jacksonville in 1978, the band has gone on to release 14 studio albums.   They’ll be performing hits such as Flirtin’ with Disaster, Dreams I’ll Never See and Whiskey Man among others.

Rocking the stage on Friday, July 17th is Heavy Metal Rockers Skid Row. After forming in New Jersey in 1986, the band has performed all over the world with hard guitars and a unique songwriting style.  They’ll be performing their hits; In a Darkened Room, We Are the Damned, Youth Gone Wild and 18 and Life and many more.

Jonny Lang performs on Friday, July 24th.  Hailing from Fargo, North Dakota, the blues, gospel, and rock singer has had five albums chart in the Billboard 200.  The Grammy Award-winning artist will perform hits such as Still Rainin’, Bring Me Back Home, Breakin’ Me and Lie to Me.

Friday, July 31st will see Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles, perform at the Downs.  As a renowned former lead guitarist of The Eagles, one of the most popular and influential rock groups of our time, Don has helped write and perform many iconic classics.  His 2008 memoir was a New York Times bestseller.  Don will perform solo and Eagles’ hits during his set including Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride), Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane, the Long Run, and Tequila Sunrise.

America’s top Pink Floyd Show, The Machine hits the stage on Friday, August 7th.   Over 30 years they have extended the legacy of Pink Floyd while creating another legacy all their own. Over the years, The Machine has touched the hearts and souls of many with their stellar musicianship, dramatic lighting, and video performances.  Two other tribute rock acts celebrating the Music of The Who and Queen will also grace the stage that evening for what will be a memorable musical journey back in time.

Closing out the series on Friday, August 14th is American Alternative Rock Band, Puddle of Mudd.  The post-grunge band from Kansas City, Missouri has sold over 7 million albums.  One of the most well-attended concerts of 2018’s summer concert series, Puddle of Mudd concert-goers will be sure to hear hits such as She Hates Me, Blurry and Control. 

Tickets for all eight concerts will be available at www.BataviaConcerts.com beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 17th.   Individual pre-sale tickets to each concert will remain at $10 for General Admission while VIP tickets will again be $25.  Concert goers will be able to purchase tickets in the Premium Section directly in front of the stage.  Premium tickets are $50 and will be very limited for each concert.  General Admission tickets are $15 if purchased on the day of the concert. Tickets can also be purchased at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel at the “Lucky Treasures” Gift Shop located in the lobby.  At noon on Thursday, January 16th, Special VIP packages for the Don Felder Concert only will be available on BataviaConcerts.com

Concert goers will once again have the option of purchasing a “Season Pass”, which includes admission to all eight concerts at a discounted rate.  The season pass for 2020 is $60.00 for General Admission and $150.00 for VIP.

New this year will be a chair rental option for lawn seats.  While patrons are allowed to bring their own chairs, there will be 500 chairs available for rental for $5 each.  A portion of proceeds for chair rental will benefit Western New York Make a Wish.  Staff from Make a Wish will also be selling drink koozies.

“It’s incredible to think we are in our 4th year of the concert series,” said Henry Wojtaszek, CEO/President of Batavia Downs Gaming. “We’re excited to continue to bring musical icons to Batavia Downs and provide great entertainment at an affordable price.  We’re looking forward to partnering again with Western New York Make A Wish to help raise funds to help them transform lives.  We hope to see the community come together again this summer.”

Hotel room/ticket packages will be available for each concert.  The purchase of a hotel room on the night of a concert using the code includes two VIP tickets to the show while supplies last.  Each concert ticket is also redeemable once at Player’s Club in the three days following the concert for $10 Free Play to be used on one of Batavia Downs Gaming’s 800+ gaming machines. Concerts are held Rain or Shine.  Additional information may be found at www.BataviaDownsGaming.com.

Photo: Henry Wojtaszek at today's press conference. Photo by Howard Owens

January 16, 2020 - 9:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news.

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Genesee County could get as much as six inches of snow from a storm that is passing through the northeast this weekend, according to a forecast by Accuweather.

The storm is expected to hit Western New York after 7 a.m., Saturday.

January 16, 2020 - 9:50pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in news, crime, batavia, notify.
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Malik Ayala

After a closed-door meeting with Public Defender Jerry Ader and District Attorney Larry Friedman, Judge Charles Zambito emerged from Chambers announcing that 27-year-old Malik Ayala was accepted into a Judicial Diversion Program that could last seven months or more.

While in the seven-month program, he will also be under the supervision of the Probation Department. Since Ayala entered drug treatment programs in Niagara County and in Genesee County this past fall, he as kept out of trouble and has been clean of drugs and alcohol and has avoided sentencing.

Ayala has already accepted a plea deal and has pleaded guilty to a felony burglary charge.

He was picked up on Nov. 15, 2018, in connection with a string of burglaries in Genesee County after Investigator Chris Parker with the Sheriff’s Office identified a vehicle that was wanted in connection with the burglaries.

The vehicle was being operated by TeeSean T. Ayala, 20, Malik’s brother.

After the vehicle turned into a driveway at 317 Washington Ave., a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol was thrown from the vehicle. The Sheriff’s Office says TeeSean Ayala was in possession of a stolen handgun that had a defaced serial number in the vehicle during the traffic stop.

TeeSean Ayala, 20, of Batavia, was sentenced in Genesee County Court to five years in prison and five years post-release supervision in the incident. TeeSean pleaded guilty to one count of criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, which satisfies seven other residential burglary charges dating back to 2015.

Today, Malik Ayala told Judge Zambito that he was thankful to Horizon and the Court for allowing him to attend the treatment centers.

“I was a knucklehead," he said. "I was on drugs but now I am clean, living out of town and my mind is focused. I want to say I’m sorry to the community for my past.”

Judge Zambito warned Ayala that if he doesn’t toe the line he will go to prison.

“This is just the first step,” Zambito said. “I will be monitoring you in the diversion program and on probation, I can sentence you to seven years if you mess up.”

Malik Ayala was convicted on a burglary charge in 2010 after violating his probation. He served a state prison term after being sentenced to 1-4 years.

Friedman disagreed with the idea of the diversion program.

“Based on his history, he went to prison for burglary and graduated to residential burglary, I feel state prison is appropriate,” Friedman said.

Ader told the court that his client is eligible for the program and he has kept up with his treatments and there are no new crimes that have been committed.

“Mr. Ayala knows if he messes up he could face seven years in prison and I think that speaks volumes,” Ader said.

Temporary orders of protection were extended until January 16, 2021.

Judge Zambito wished Ayala luck as he left the courtroom.

The sentencing was adjourned to August 11 at 9 a.m., but the sentencing date could get pushed back again depending on what the diversion program advises at the end of seven months.

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January 16, 2020 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, news, notify.

Richard Siebert, chairman of the Genesee County Republican Party, has straightforward opinions about how he will go about deciding who to back for the GOP nod in the NY-27 special election on April 29.

Finding somebody who can self-fund is not a top priority.

He won't want to back a candidate who might turn around and primary the GOP-endorsed candidate in June.

He was all-in for Steve Hawley until Hawley this afternoon withdrew his name from consideration.

"Steve Hawley is my man," Siebert said last night. "Unless Steve tells me he's no longer interested, I'm backing Steve."

Well, Steve is no longer interested, and that leaves six or seven other potential candidates, including three -- Sen. Rob Ortt, Sen. Chris Jacobs, and Darien resident Beth Parlato -- who have been campaigning the past several months as if they expect a primary rather than a special election. 

It's expected that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will call for a special election next month and set the date for April 28, the same day there will be a New York primary for the Democratic presidential primary.

The special election is necessary because Chris Collins, who will be sentenced tomorrow on his insider trading conviction, resigned in September.

In special elections, the chairs of the counties for the political parties select a candidate to represent the party.  

Siebert said he expects the process will go much as it did in 2018, after Collins was arrested by the FBI, and initially said he didn't plan to run for re-election. 

When it looked like there would be a special election previously, the eight-county chairs met at least twice, interviewed candidates and deliberated their choices. Before a decision was reached, Collins changed his mind about not running and vowed that he would clear his name.

The process gives county chairs weight votes, which in the past has meant that Erie County and Niagara County chairs essentially picked the candidate and everybody else fell in line. 

Erie County has favored candidates who can self-fund their campaigns.  Siebert said he's not in favor of taking that same approach again.

"I have to be candid," Siebert said. "I speak the way I feel. Several of the last candidates we've had -- Jane Corwin, Chris Lee, and Chris Collins -- have self-funded. Our track record with that is not very good so I'm not looking for a self-funded candidate. They're out there but obviously, we know some are wealthy and some are not. That's not my criteria. I'm not looking at 'who can afford it.' I'm not looking for somebody who can afford to win. I'm looking for somebody who is qualified to win."

Considering that Ortt, Jacobs, and Parlato have all been raising funds, gathering endorsements, and sending out press releases, it might appear that any of them might still run in a June primary even if they don't get the GOP endorsement for the April special election.

Siebert said he expects an expression of party loyalty before the special election endorsement is issued.

"The first thing I always ask any candidate, and I'm not secret about this, is 'will you support the candidate that we nominate?' Siebert said. "I need to hear them say, number one, they're not going to primary the nominee regardless. In my count, I have a strong and deep feeling about this, that if you're not part of our system (I'm not going to back you).  I don't like primaries.  That is my personal feeling and I would have a hard time supporting anybody who would primary the nominee."

We've attempted to get a comment from Ortt, Jacobs, and Parlato and have yet to receive a response. (Ortt did respond just before publication but his response was ambiguous. We're holding it for a possible follow up story.)

"Everybody hs the opportunity to run, whoever doesn't get it, can run in the primary," Siebert said. "That's your choice and it's there. That's the way it is. I respect that. But as chairman, I don't like primaries. I like to be unified. Now, that's their right. That's their constitutional right but that's the way I feel so that is how we've done things in Genesee County."

With the special election being held on the same day as the Democratic presidential primary, some political observers speculate that if there is high Democratic turnout, it might favor the Democratic candidate in the NY-27 -- most likely, Nate McMurray, who narrowly lost in 2018 to Chris Collins.. Siebert isn't buying it.  He doesn't think the chairs need to find a moderate Republican who will distance him or herself from President Donald Trump.

"This is a Trump county right here," Siebert said. "He got 72 percent of the vote in the last election. Anyone who is going to run for an office in my county who is not a Trump supporter, well, they're not going to do well. It is what it is. He did get 72 percent of the vote. This is a very conservative county. We support the Second Amendment. I can tell you, if you're not a Trump supporter in my county, you're not going to do well."

Siebert, who is also the Republican elections commissioner, and Lorie Longhany, Democratic commissioner, met with the Ways and Means Committee yesterday to get authorization to lease 10 new ballot readers at a cost of $19,000 a year. The new readers are easier to use and faster but the election equipment upgrade needs to be expedited because of the probable special election on the same day as a presidential primary. 

The funds for the machines in the first year will come from grant money already received by the county.  The multi-year lease will also put the county on a replacement schedule for ballot readers that will help the Elections Commission keep technology current and machines reliable.

As for who might represent the GOP in April, Siebert offered no predictions on who the chairs might support but he did say he's not happy the chairs have to make the selection.

"I don't like this whole process, to be honest with you, because we're in a situation now where eight Republican chairmen have to get together and tell our voting public who we want them to vote for, who's going to be on the ballot on April 28," Siebert said. "You get the feeling it is eight men in a room  -- there are women involved, too -- with you always being criticized for smoking cigars or whatever but it is the eight of us telling the public who's going to be the candidate. I don't like that at all. But the law is the law. We have no choice because of the election law that we have to do it this way."

January 16, 2020 - 4:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, accidents.

A car vs. pedestrian accident is reported in the city at East Main Street and Harvester Avenue. The pedestrian is down in the roadway. City PD just arrived on scene. City fire and Mercy medics responding.

UPDATE 5:08 p.m.: The pedestrian is being evaluated by medics. Both pedestrian and the pickup truck that struck the pedestrian had a green light. The pedestrian was walking in the crosswalk -- unknown at this time if northbound or southbound -- when the truck, which was making a left turn from northbound Harvester onto East Main Street -- struck the person.

January 16, 2020 - 4:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in history, GCC Historical Horizons Lecture Series, news.

Press release:

The Genesee Community College History Club is excited to announce the Spring 2020 Historical Horizons Lecture Series lineup full of live readings and events that will transport audiences to another place and time.

The entire community is invited to GCC's Batavia Campus on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. to hear Sharon and Don Burkel present "The Angel and the Warrior: The Story of Emily and General Upton."

The program focuses on the brief love story of Emily Norwood Martin and General Emory Upton between 1866 and 1870. General Upton, who is seen as the epitome of a military officer, will surprise the audience with his fervent devotion to a sheltered, religious young lady from Auburn.

Through the reading of their personal letters and sharing original photos, their tragic story will be told.

The presentation will be in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building and is free and open to the public.

The Historical Horizons Lecture series will continue with events scheduled on the first Wednesday of each month during the Spring 2020 Semester including:

  • Wednesday, April 1 at 1 p.m.: "The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution" presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eric Foner, Ph.D., of Columbia University. This lecture will be based on the book of the same title and will occur in GCC's Stuart Steiner Theatre. 
  • Wednesday, May 6 at 7 p.m.: GCC Assistant Professor of History Derek Maxfield will present on his book "Hellmira: The Union's Most Infamous POW Camp of the Civil War," which explores this notorious time period in the history of Elmira.
January 16, 2020 - 3:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in Bethany Transfer Station, news, Bethany Town Board.

Press release from the Bethany Town Board:

On Jan. 13 at a Town Board Meeting the Bethany Town Board voted unanimously to close the Transfer Station.

Due to the increased cost in trash pickup and the increase in recyclable hauling costs, along with the decline in use and revenues the Transfer Station will close at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.

The Bethany Town Clerk will be selling punch cards through Feb. 1 at $50 for a 10-punch card. 

All punch cards outstanding MUST be used by 2 p.m. on Saturday March 28, the final day of operation.

There will be no refunds for unused punch cards.

January 16, 2020 - 3:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “After much consideration with my friends and family, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for the open 27th Congressional seat in Congress at this time.

“Serving the residents of the 139th District in the State Assembly has been one of the highest honors of my life and our state faces a host of pressing challenges that cannot be ignored.

"Thus, my friends and neighbors deserve a full-time Assemblyman and someone who is laser-focused on meeting those challenges and moving our state forward.

“While it would be an extreme honor to serve as a member of the House of Representatives and serve with honesty and integrity as exemplified by our family’s close friend, former Congressman Barber B. Conable Jr., I am confident that whoever is chosen to run will exhibit these attributes.

“It is crucial for the fate of our state and our country that this Congressional seat remains in Republican hands and I am confident that whoever should be elected this April will do a tremendous job representing us in Washington."

January 16, 2020 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in trade, economics, agriculture, news.

Press release from the NYS Farm Bureau:

“The Senate’s passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement clears the final hurdle that stood in the way of progress for New York’s farmers.

"Nearly half of our state’s agricultural exports go to our North American neighbors, providing vital market opportunities that will remain open thanks to USMCA.

"The certainty that this agreement provides to farmers, plus the potential for expected growth for our dairy farms, are reasons to commend lawmakers for getting the job done in a strong bipartisan fashion.

"Combine this news with yesterday’s announcement of the phase one trade deal with China, and there is renewed hope that United States’ trade policy is headed in the right direction.”

January 16, 2020 - 12:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Scholastic Bowl, news, schools, education, pembroke.

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In Wednesday's Scholastic Bowl matches, Pembroke and Alden came out on top.

In the first match, Alden scored 240 points to 230 for Le Roy and 140 for Pavilion.

In the second match, Pembroke scored 260 points to 160 for Alexander and 110 for Akron.

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January 16, 2020 - 11:26am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.

Press release:

The quarterly meeting of the GOW Opioid Task Force is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the Quality Inn & Suites Hotel on Park Road in Batavia.

Residents of Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties wanting to gain or share information regarding the opioid crisis are invited to attend.

“The purpose of this meeting is to address the growing opioid crisis by sharing information across several sectors and to monitor the task force’s progress in our tri-county region,” said Christen Ferraro, project coordinator. “You do not need to be a member (of the task force) to attend.”

Ferraro said the meeting will feature more than 10 community resource tables from agencies across the region.

“Our work groups will share their highlights of 2019 and plans for the upcoming year,” she said. “The Law Enforcement Work Group will be giving a presentation on the new bail reform law -- going into more detail on what it means and how it might affect our area – and task force evaluators will discuss their role and share and their findings from last year.”

She said representatives of the Greater Rochester Health Foundation will talk about the grant that supports the task force and how to connect with the organization to apply for community health grants.

For more information about the GOW Task Force, go to www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

To attend the meeting, visit the Eventbrite link here to RSVP, or contact Ferraro at [email protected]

Disclosure: Written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 16, 2020 - 9:02am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news.

Pin Points

Scott Culp of Honeoye Falls captured his fourth Genesee Region USBC Scratch Memorial Tournament on Jan. 5 at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, which continues dominance of this event by bowlers from counties of the former Perry Bowling Association (the tournament's originator).

For more about Culp's victory and other bowling news from the area, click on the Pin Points logo above or the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

January 15, 2020 - 3:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, news, schools, education, batavia.

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Tech is increasingly part of the learning environment in City School classrooms and at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, two teachers -- Alexander Veltz, Social Studies (photo), and Andrew Kiebala, Math -- shared how they're using Chromebooks and Google classroom tools to aid in their instruction.

Their presentions came as part of the information technology review by Director of Technology Jeff McKinney.

Veltz shared how he can use Google tools to share assignments, worksheets, handouts, and ensure that not only are they available in the classroom, but students (and their guardians) have access to the material at home. The availability of the material is helping him meet the new demands for greater reading comprehension in state exams.

With the tools, students can answer questions and get immediate feedback on their responses. 

Another tool allows students to sort through documents, which is especially helpful for a project that requires them to write an essay based on pre-assigned material that they must study, find a common theme, and then organize in order to write the essay.

"There is a shift in New York State where it's less about retention and more about argumentation based on perspective and point of view," Veltz said. "Retention is a skill New York is moving away from."

Trustee Shawn Murphy, who teaches at Genesee Community College, asked if the use of the tools was taking away from classroom engagement. Veltz said not at all.

McKinney added, "We are not switching over to where kids just sit in front of a computer. That's not the intent at all."

Kiebala shared tools that students can use to study geometric properties. 

He also shared a program that allows students to work on quizzes that he guides from his own computer and see where they need help. He said the program allows students to ask questions and make observations that he can then share with the class. The process allows students who might normally be shy about raising their hands to contribute more readily to classroom learning.

"This is my favorite thing to do," Kiebala said. "It allows them to be independent and also allows me to have control, so it's the best of both worlds for a teacher."

Kiebala shared a study published by NPR that indicated most people in the work world don't spend a lot of time doing trigonometry or geometry but they do spend a lot of time working in Excel, so his statistics class is heavy into spreadsheets.

"I tell the class, 'this is what you're going to spend your time doing because this is what you're going to use,' " Kiebala said. "You don't have to do anything by hand anymore because you either have a calculator or a spreadsheet but you still need to know what the numbers mean."

January 15, 2020 - 2:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in bail reform, news, steve hawley.

Submitted photo and press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley joined law enforcement professionals, lawmakers and family members of crime victims at a press conference today in Albany held by Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay calling for a repeal of dangerous bail reform laws that are leading to serial criminals being released before trial. 

Joining lawmakers at the press conference today was Jennifer Payne, mother of Sarah Tombs who was shot and killed in April by her live-in boyfriend. The individual was released from custody last week under the new bail reform laws.

Also in attendance at the press conference was Sheila Harris, cousin of Maria “Rosie” Osai, a 35-year-old mother of three who was struck and killed by an unlicensed, hit-and-run driver in Rockland County on Christmas Eve. The driver was immediately released without bail pursuant to the new law.  

“Bail reform has already become a public safety epidemic with a new, dangerous criminal released back out onto the streets seemingly each day,” Hawley said. “New York City politicians who passed this law are directly responsible for tying our judges’ hands and restricting their ability to lock up career criminals with long rap sheets and that has dire consequences. I am calling on legislative leaders to join us in making much-needed changes to bail reform immediately before any more damage is done.”

January 15, 2020 - 12:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, education, schools.

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David Chua, Stephen Pribek and Ashley Elmore -- Certificate of Appreciation

Sarah Gahagan has nominated David Chua, Stephen Pribek and Ashley Elmore for a board award. Each of these individuals invested a large chunk of time mentoring and modeling the word "commitment" to the B Squad boys. They did what not everyone does....they SHOWED UP. Each week, two days a week for 20 weeks these volunteers modeled follow through and were able to showcase what "doing what you love" looks like.

Each of these volunteers had something special to offer, a love of running and showed just how important it is to continue doing what you love, even into adulthood when you are busy and "life" takes over. Chua was a soft spoken guiding force of optimism and motivation, whereas Pribek could always add a science lesson into our running and truly teach us something new every single practice. His humor was a favorite with the boys. And Elmore is a ray of light. She is positive, fun, and encouraged the boys to always be their best under any circumstance. She is a true leader who shines from the inside out.

This program is only able to be successful because of the volunteers. We need to ensure safety while running and the more adults we have, the safer we are and the more boys we can accept within this program.

Volunteering is something not many do these days and it is valuable and appreciated and for this they all deserve to be recognized.

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Carlos Colon -- Certificate of Appreciation

The English as a New Language faculty nominate Carlos Colon for a Board of Education award because of his dedication to our district and students. Anyone who knows Carlos would use words like friendly, easy going, helpful, and caring to describe him. Colon's official job title is maintenance staff, however he frequently uses his time to help others outside this requirement.

Most notably, Colon has helped countless times this year alone in translating needs, concerns, and important information between teachers or administration, and parents who speak only Spanish. He does this because he knows the parents and teachers struggle to understand each other using only a translation app, and he doesn't want something important to be misconstrued due to a technical error.

He has also been called upon when our Spanish-speaking students needed a familiar face and language to calm them down. He has talked kids down from metaphorical ledges more than once, and helped the students come to a more peaceful place so that teachers could have a conversation with students. One student even shadows him as he works, as an incentive for good behavior.

Other students also look up to Carlos, as a friend, mentor, and a person they can trust. Colon embodies the phrase “above and beyond,” all in the hopes of helping our students be successful and understood. For these reasons, we believe Colon is well deserving of recognition for his work by the Board of Education.

Nominated by the ENL Department Staff.

Jenna Mrzywka (pronounced Majifka), Trina Cox, Addison Marino, Chelsea Cummings, Courtney Turcer and Shawn Chrysler.

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Jim Jacobs -- Certificate of Appreciation

Jacobs recently came back out of retirement to fill in as Interim Director of Facilities. He stepped back in and it was as if he had never left. His knowledge and experience was instrumental in our schools opening smoothly and safely this year as the Capital Project created many changes to the District. Working closely with him, I saw first hand his continued dedication to make our schools the best they can be for our students and staff. It was a pleasure working with him again. Thank you, Jim!

Anonymous nomination.

Information and photos submitted by the school district.

January 15, 2020 - 11:45am
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, batavia, credit card fraud.

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department has been investigating several cases where credit card numbers have been used fraudulently at businesses in the City of Batavia.

The suspect will not have the physical credit card but will ask the clerk to type in the numbers manually. The transactions will be initially approved, allowing the suspect to obtain the items from the business, but will be declined approximately a month later.

Business insurance will typically not cover the transactions, which means the business is out of the money.

The best practice for businesses to help prevent this type of fraud is to ensure customers have the physical credit card with them and to ask for identification with every card transaction, making sure the names on both the ID and card match.

The cases are ongoing so further details cannot be released at this time.

Anyone with information in reference to the case may contact: Detective Sgt. Matthew Lutey at 585-345-6365; or the Batavia Police Department at 585-345-6350; the confidential tip line at 585-345-6370; or online here

January 15, 2020 - 11:30am

Runner-up Landon Kent, left, and winner Ryan Benstead, both Byron-Bergen seventh-graders. Photo courtesy of Terry Vick.

Submitted photos and press release:

Byron-Bergen Junior High School students participated in the National Geographic Society's Geography Bee on Thursday, Jan. 9.

Based on a written test taken in December, 21 of the students were asked to participate in the annual school-level Bee. All participants answered questions in the preliminary rounds, which were used to determine who would compete in the finals.

Congratulations to all the participants!

Seventh-graders included: Ryan Benstead, Jake Carlson, Eli Kupfer, Jackson Lundfelt, Martin MacConnell, Sam Hersom, Roman Smith, Anna McLaughlin, Jack Farner, Logan Fregoe and Landon Kent.

Eighth-graders included Carter Prinzi, Braedyn Chambry, Grayson Erion, Aurora Hiscutt, Jeff Borycki, Daniels Dawson, Gabe Vallese, Megan Zwerka-Snyder, Sawyer Zinter and Travis Shallenberger.

Students who qualified for the Final Round were Ryan Benstead, Eli Kupfer, Martin MacConnell, Sam Hersom, Landon Kent, Carter Prinzi, Daniels Dawson, Jackson Lundfelt, Roman Smith and Logan Fregoe.

The top two contestants went on to compete in the Championship Round.

After three questions, Ryan Benstead was declared the Geography Bee champion. He was given a medal from the National Geographic Society and awarded a $40 Amazon gift card. As the runner-up, Landon Kent received a $20 Amazon gift card.

Ryan will now complete a formal written test, which will be submitted to the National Geographic Society. If his score is among the highest from New York State, he will be asked to participate in the state-level bee.

The winner in each state competes in the National Geography Bee in Washington, D.C.

Below, Byron-Bergen Junior High School contestants at Thursday's Geography Bee. 

January 15, 2020 - 11:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news, ethics reform.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, a Democrat running in the Special Election in NY-27 to fill the vacancy left by the Chris Collins, and Ammar Campa-Najjar, Democrat running in CA-50 for Duncan Hunter’s former seat, have teamed up to call for ethics reform to prevent corrupt Congress members from retaining their Congressional pensions following their guilty pleas.

McMurray and Campa-Najjar ran against Collins and Hunter, respectively, in 2018 while they were under indictment and proclaiming their innocence. Both former Congress members have since resigned in disgrace after pleading guilty to their crimes. Collins will be sentenced for insider trading violations on Jan. 17th.

The candidates are pledging to sponsor legislation to require Congressional pensions to be forfeited if a member is found guilty of a felony. Additionally, they will sponsor legislation to require the repayment of personal loans to campaigns within two years of the election.

McMurray first called for pension forfeiture in an October letter to the judge overseeing Collins’ case after Collins pled guilty.

It was reported earlier this month that Collins, a multimillionaire, also paid himself back more than $140,000 for a personal loan he gave to his losing 1998 campaign.

“People across our country are fed up with politicians illegally using their positions for personal gain – here in Western New York and in California, we have been deeply betrayed by our Congress members who prioritized their personal wealth ahead of their constituents,” McMurray said.

“That’s why Ammar and I are committed to addressing corruption when elected. Specifically, we want to ensure no felon former Congressmember can profit off their crimes by retaining their pensions and prevent campaign accounts from turning into personal piggybanks. Americans deserve better.”

“Nate and I are standing together today to fight back against the corruption that has harmed our districts, and demanding that Washington hold members of Congress to the most basic standards of ethical behavior,” Campa-Najjar said.

“Regardless of your party, if you break the public’s trust, you should not be able to keep your pension. Corruption harms all of us and undermines faith in our government. We must do better.”

January 15, 2020 - 8:00am

Submitted photo and press release:

On Thursday, Jan. 16, The Roberts Chorale will perform its first solo concert of the New Year. The concert is free of charge and open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m.

It will take place at the First Presbyterian Church of Batavia, which is located at 300 E. Main St. Seating is by general admission; doors will open at 6:45. There will be a reception following the performance.

The Roberts Chorale is Roberts Wesleyan College’s premier vocal ensemble, devoted to the study and performance of high-quality choral music from diverse styles, musical eras, languages, and cultures.

Bonded by a passion for compelling musical performance and a desire for meaningful Christian fellowship, the Chorale is an ensemble of talented singer-artists who combine their gifts to cultivate excellence in choral singing.

For its 2019–2020 season, it is comprised of 41 students representing 18 academic majors at Roberts Wesleyan College, four home states, and three home countries.

The day after this concert, the Chorale departs on a performance tour of Florida, with concerts throughout the following week in Lakeland, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, and Marco Island.

In the past two years, the choir, directed by Adam Potter, Ph.D., has toured the East Coast and returned from France in May, performing to large and enthusiastic audiences in Paris and Normandy.

Each year, the Chorale’s musical programming and extra-musical activities are structured around a unifying theme. This year, the theme—and that of the tour—is perseverance.

In devotionals and other spiritual life activities incorporated into the ensemble, they are reflecting on James 1:12: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

The title of the Florida tour program is “Through the Storm … Lead Me to the Light.”

These words are borrowed from the central piece on the program, Thomas Dorsey’s “Precious Lord,” and the repertoire is structured around the storm, ead, and light themes.

The first set of the concert is called “The Rain Awakens” and features storm music that represents the elements of nature. During the second set, “Turn Darkness Into Light,” the storm fades away and the theme of light begins to emerge through. The Chorale returns to the stage for its third set: “Lead Me Home,” during which the music leads the audience not only to physical light but to the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. Finally, in the final set, “The Star of My Life Is Jesus,” the Chorale sings of the One who is the culmination of every piece that preceded it.

Although thematically unified, the program is stylistically eclectic, including music from Renaissance Mexico, Classic Austria, and also music guaranteed to delight audiences, including new music by American composers, a folk song arrangement, gospel music, spirituals, and even a choral arrangement of a contemporary Christian ballad from the 1970s.

Through Potter’s philosophy of “relentless positivity,” the choir has been able to bring the concert together with the goal of sharing their music and their faith with the Batavia community in preparation for expanding their reach while on tour in Florida the next week.

January 15, 2020 - 4:31am
posted by Billie Owens in news, Bethany, accidents.

A tractor-trailer and box truck collision is reported in Bethany at 6071 Ellicott Street Road. Minor injuries. The northbound land is completely blocked and  there is a lot of debris across both lanes of traffic; southbound is partially blocked.

The road will be shut down. The tractor-trailer will be require a heavy wrecker for removal; the box truck is towable.

The location is between East and Transit roads. Law enforcement is to respond non-emergency mode. Bethany and Stafford fire departments are called to the scene along with Mercy medics.

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