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April 13, 2021 - 10:31am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, assessment review board.


City Council Member John Canale relayed some “fatherly” advice Monday night to a pair of Batavia residents who came before the lawmaking body to express their aggravation after receiving notification of significant increases in their home assessments earlier in the day.

“My father gave me this advice years and years ago, and I’ve used it,” said Canale, addressing Wendy Walker of Otis Street and Karen Sherman of James Street – homeowners who spoke about their struggles during the public comments portion of Council’s Business Meeting at City Hall.

“I would definitely sign up for grievance day but don’t go in there and say I can’t afford this raise, please help me out. It’s not going to work,” Canale said. “You’ve got to do your homework. If you’re able to go online, you can access the Genesee County site, you can access houses in your neighborhood, you can access houses in other neighborhoods that are similar to your house and compare the assessed values of those houses to the assessed value of your house. Go in with the ammunition of why your house is being assessed higher than other people’s houses, if that’s the case.”

Canale said that a “booming” housing market is driving assessments up, mentioning that houses are going for $25,000 to $30,000 over the asking price “and people are coming in with cash.”

Walker said she came to the meeting to “protest and contest” the increase in the assessment of her house.

“I don’t know how that was made or why the increase to such a dramatic amount. The problem being is that we live on the Southside. I don’t know where this money is going that you’re going to be using because the Southside has not been improved,” she said.

Walker said there is a lot of crime in that area and “nothing has been cleaned up; nothing has been done.”

'What About My Justice?'

“The last time I checked, even in the pledge of allegiance, we say liberty and justice for all. What about my justice? Where are my taxes going? We pay the highest taxes in the nation, and there’s nothing to show for it. Not where I live, not on the Southside – no improvements. If I’m wrong, I surely would be willing to acknowledge my error in saying that, but I don’t believe it – I don’t.”

She said that her neighbors feel the same way and many people are moving out of New York for these reasons.

“And I think we should take that into consideration in the small, little town of Batavia,” she said. “I don’t understand this. If we’re getting all of this money from the government and I don’t know what that money is necessarily earmarked for – I don’t understand all of it – but it would seem we could help the little people in Batavia.”

Walker mentioned that her husband is disabled and on a fixed income, and his allowance barely goes up.

Sherman said she is a single mom who is providing for her daughter without any public assistance.

“You guys have raised my taxes every year since I bought my house. I get when you buy a house, it comes with a lot of maintenance and stuff, but every single year something has gone wrong – new roof, my windows have broken, gutters have come off,” she said.

She said her assessment went up $19,000 last year, and this year it is going up $30,000.

It's Getting Tougher and Tougher

“This is becoming very hard for me as a single parent and I do not get assistance,” she said. “I own my own business … I had to pick up two other little odds-and-ends jobs to make ends meet. Again, I just want to know why, where this is going and answers.”

In response, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said there was no reassessment last year.

“When you reassess a home, you assess it on value of comparable sales of like homes,” Tabelski offered. “And that’s all done through formulas and data. I don’t even see what reassessments are done in our community, just so everyone is aware. We do know that there were assessment letters that did go out this week.”

She, too, encouraged homeowners to call the assessment office for an informal review, adding that the assessor (Rhonda Saulsbury) will “gladly speak to you over the phone, on Zoom or through email to discuss the level of assessment and why.”

“And you can explain and challenge why that happened. If you don’t find that as a remedy, you can move to Grievance Day, which is the first Thursday after the fourth Tuesday in May (the 27th), and you could have assessment formally grieved in front of a board of your peers rather than the City of Batavia.”

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., also an Otis Street resident, said that he received his assessment letter just prior to the meeting and explained that reassessment is a regular process.

“They don’t just pick houses randomly. They use sections of the city and they try to rotate it around every so many years,” he said.

The discussion then shifted to Tabelski and Council Member Robert Bialkowski defending the city’s budget and tax rate.

Tabelski: City Taxes Less Than Others

“The city actually has the lowest percentage of taxes we pay,” said Tabelski, noting that taxes pay for police, fire, snowplowing, parks and recreation and other services. “The county is slightly higher and then the school district, so it’s an ‘all in’ rate."

Bialkowski said the city doesn’t raise taxes (it did raise the tax rate by 1.38 percent this year, however) and doesn’t determine the assessments, but sets a tax levy that is distributed among property owners.

At that point, Viele expressed his frustration over the school tax rate.

“What I really want to complain about is the school because the (Batavia City) school (District) is out of hand. They need to have their head examined.”

Bialkowski compared the taxing entities, mentioning that taxes levied by the school district were more than $19 million compared to the city’s $5.25 million.

Jankowski said in recent years the city did not increase the property tax rate.

Christian: People Are Hurting

Council Member Rose Mary Christian proceeded to sympathize with Sherman and Walker.

“It’s fine and dandy what everyone is saying but government is out of control,” she said. “We’re not doing anything to help these people. Here’s a single mother by herself, taking care of her daughter. There is a mother, a woman, a wife taking care of her husband. Some of you have two incomes coming in; that’s fine and dandy for you. But there’s people out here that are really hurting and they need help.”

Christian, too, said they should take their concerns to Grievance Day.

“There’s no doubt about it -- schools are out of control. I would like to go to the next school meeting and I want to know if any of you want to join me,” she added. “And as far as our budget goes and everything else, we’re down $400,000 … and when May comes you’re going to see that people are really hurting because they’re not going to be able to pay their taxes.”

Photo: Karen Sherman, right, makes a point about her home's assessment as Wendy Walker looks on at Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.


Information from the assessment letter:

If you disagree with your new Full Value Assessment:

  • Go to https://cityofbatavia.prosgar.com
  • Print an Informal Review Application
  • Email your completed Informal Review Application to: [email protected]
  • All Informal Review submissions must be received by April 23, 2021 for consideration
  • For questions or more information, please call 1-866-910-1776 no later than April 21, 2021.
April 13, 2021 - 9:04am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Ellicott Trail, Batavia City Council, town of batavia.

As the Batavia City Council voted Monday night to consider accepting five easements from the Town of Batavia toward the maintenance of Ellicott Trail, its members encouraged residents to take pride in the 9.7-mile recreational walking and bicycling path by picking up trash along the way.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said he was on the trail recently and noted that “the part from Jackson to Pearl Street is pretty rough.”

“It’s pretty washed out and there’s debris – there’s surgical masks laying on the side of the road,” he said. “Now, that’s the new thing. (With) COVID, everybody’s throwing their masks away; they’re falling out of their pockets and this waste is laying around on our streets now, and there are some on the trail itself.”

Jankowski said he realizes that it is spring and outside has that “look to it,” but wanted to know the city’s timetable for cleanup and suggested rounding up some volunteers to help out.

City Manager Rachel Tabelski said the process starts with accepting the transfer of the easements at 665 E. Main St., Batavia Gardens, Ellicott Station (two) and Elmwood Cemetery.

The city then would be responsible for maintaining these areas as they are located inside the city limits form Pearl Street Road to Cedar Street, but the county will maintain the DeWitt Recreation Area on Cedar Street.

During planning and construction of the trail, the town acquired various easements for real property in the city but, per a resolution to be formally voted on in two weeks, these parcels will be transferred back to the city.

Tabelski also reported that a volunteer group led by John Roche, owner of Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle on Center Street, is willing to help pick up trash along the trail, and that the city will schedule “ongoing maintenance” to coincide with the park schedule this spring and summer.

Officially opened last year, the 10-foot-wide trail consists of crushed stone along 4.9 miles of old railroad beds. When you add in sidewalks, bike lanes and bridges, the entire trail is 9.7 miles, with the eastern entrance on Seven Springs Road and the western entrance on Industrial Boulevard (off Pearl Street).

Council Member Robert Bialkowski said he was looking for the city’s annual cost to maintain the trail.

Tabelski said it would cost about $7,000 in materials every five years and that city Department of Public Works employees would take care of the maintenance.

Interim DPW Director Ray Tourt said “to figure on eight to 10 times per year for additional mowing.”

“As for materials, we’ll have to kind of figure it out – it is new,” he said. “The town’s idea is that we should be able to go five years without putting a new top on it – another layer of stone dust – but there are some washed out areas that they’ve committed to repair this year.”

Bialkowski then asked for an annual labor cost, to which Tourt replied, “About $4,000 annually, and we’re going to have a bump when we do that recap at around five years. And we’ve got about a week’s worth of work there, also.”

Council Member Paul Viele then asked about security on the trail, mentioning that college campuses have put up blue lights for illumination and for emergency situations.

“Do we have anything back there for these young girls walking the trail? There are a lot of idiots out there, you know, that could be hiding in the woods. I’m just concerned with safety – girls jogging, running, walking, whatever …” Viele said.

Jankowski said most people have a cell phone with them, the trail is “pretty open” and that he feels safe walking the trail because he has a view of 100 yards in each direction. He added that developers didn’t include the expense of having emergency lights, but Tabelski said Viele had a “valid point” as she has considered that as well.

Bialkowski then said he wanted to get back to his original point, calculating that the annual cost to the city for materials and labor would be about $5,500. He said that because the city’s DPW crew is already stretched, he urged residents to pick up trash when they see it and “to pitch in.”

Jankowski then brought up that he considered the trail’s crossing point on Cedar Street as dangerous.

“You can’t see that traffic from that location, and I know enough to cross down the road more. But if you follow the trail, it wants you to cross on the downslope, near the overpass where the train tracks are, and your blind spot is that left side,” he said.

He asked Tabelski to look into possibly moving it closer to the entrance of DeWitt Recreation Area. He said it was a “marking issue” and suggested moving it over about 30 feet to make it safer, especially for those riding bikes.

Calling it a “nine mile park,” Jankowski said the trail is very popular. He said he must have seen a couple hundred people along the trail recently.

Council Member John Canale then suggested an “adopt a highway” program where certain community groups commit to maintaining a section on an annual basis.

“We might somewhere down the road, may want to look at offering some various local groups, especially groups of young people, that might want to take on a project like that and say, ‘This is our portion of the trail that we’re going to adopt and every spring we’re going to go and do cleanup,’ ” he said.

April 12, 2021 - 11:19pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, batavia police department.

The Batavia City Council tonight asked City Manager Rachael Tabelski to look into getting a police report of a vehicle-pedestrian incident last Thursday afternoon involving a Batavia woman and her grandchildren.

Council Member Rose Mary Christian made that request on behalf of the board, calling it an “unfortunate” situation.

“I would ask that the individual involved be the one that we release information to,” said Tabelski, following Mary Ellen Wilber’s account of what happened to her sister and her three grandchildren at the intersection of Main and Ross streets.

Wilber, an Attica resident who grew up in the city, was speaking at Council's Business Meeting on behalf of her sister, Batavian Michelle Gaylord.

Gaylord was walking on the north side of Main Street with her 15- and 11-year-old grandsons and 11-month-old granddaughter, who was in a stroller. They were en route to Gaylord’s home on Fisher Park around 3:30 p.m. after spending time at the mammoth sale at Resurrection Parish.

According to Wilber, a woman driving an SUV on Ross Street, heading south, approached the intersection and made a right turn onto Main Street while Gaylord and the children were in the intersection. The vehicle struck the buggy, knocking the 71-year-old Gaylord to the ground.

“The reason I am here, correct me if I’m wrong … is when we took our road test and took our driver’s ed – please understand I am not trying to be facetious – as I recall that we all learned … we were told that drivers must have complete control of their vehicles at all times,” Wilber said. “It was the number one rule I was taught. And I took my course and I took driver’s ed, and ever since I’ve been driving for almost 50 years.

“We also were always told that pedestrians had the right of way, especially when they’re in the crosswalk. And we were always supposed to be cautious. My greatest fear was ever hitting a child. It scares the heck out of me, even now.”

Wilber went on to say that the Gaylord family waited for the light to turn red and began crossing Ross Street (which is marked at the intersection by a no right on red sign from Ross onto Main).

Showing a diagram that she had made as she spoke, Wilber said “a woman came to the stoplight, stopped for a second and proceeded to go through the light – striking my sister as she moved the – thank God it was an Eddie Bauer* -- stroller away because it had shock absorbers. She fell onto the road, the kids jumped back and the lady just, oh my goodness – she hit my sister.”

The driver, according to Wilber, asked Gaylord if she was OK and “proceeded to go on her merry way.”

She said people in two cars behind the driver in question saw the incident and called the police.

“My sister was so shaken, she was so worried about the kids; she waited on the side until her son, Joshua Gaylord, came to pick them up,” Wilber said. “Nevertheless, to say, the police in our City of Batavia chose not to ticket the woman who drove; chose not to believe my sister; chose not to believe the two witnesses; and chose not even to talk to the 11-year-old boy, who when he told his teacher at Robert Morris (actually the Middle School) today, confirmed – ‘Oh no, drivers are always supposed to be in control and you never, ever, ever hit a pedestrian and pedestrians always have the right of way.’ ”

Wilber said the boy has had nightmares over the incident.

She also said that the two witnesses called the police department and then Gaylord called and spoke to Officer (Sgt. Mitchell) Cowen “who said to her, there is no report, there were no damages, and you didn’t go to the hospital.”

“My sister, who has been a nurse and served this community for 35 years at the VA Hospital – helping veterans – and you all know me, I served the city on the City Charter Review Commission and as a Youth Board member for six years,” Wilber said.

She said that Sgt. Cowen told Gaylord, that “we know your sister (Wilber). She called to speak to Chief (Shawn) Heubusch; he’s not going to talk to her anyway.”

“You see, there’s a resentment from what happened to my brother (the late David Zanghi, who was forced out of his Liberty Street apartment in November 2019 as a result of a police standoff with the upstairs tenant),” Wilber said, adding that Police Chief Shawn Heubusch looked down upon Zanghi, who had obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Wilber said her niece, who is an attorney in Livingston County and the baby’s mother, has tried to get an incident report but was told that she would have to file a Freedom of Information Law form to get it.

“Her daughter was involved in this accident – couldn’t get a report. My sister can’t get any information. Ridiculous. You know the law; drivers have to be in control of their cars. Pedestrians have the right of way. This woman was not given a ticket,” Wilber said.

“My family can’t do anything about finding any information. What is wrong with the police department in the City of Batavia? And why do kids not respect the police? Here is clear evidence. I don’t know. You tell me what is going on in the City of Batavia?”

Contacted by telephone later tonight, Gaylord corroborated Wilber’s account.

“The lady said ‘I didn’t even see you.’ Here I am, lying flat on the ground,” Gaylord said.

Gaylord said she asked the grandsons to call their dad to pick them up because she couldn’t walk as she was banged up.

“Even the lady who witnessed it was shook up, but before I could say anything, the driver said that I was all right and took off,” Gaylord said.  “She never looked our way, and out of the clear blue sky, she pulled out and started to turn right. She hit the front of the stroller. I pulled back and got it out of the way a little – in the crosswalk – and when I did, I fell and hit my head on the curb. The baby’s so tiny, just 18 pounds. I screamed because I was so scared for these kids.”

Gaylord said she contacted police, who had already learned about the incident from witnesses. She said she is disappointed that the driver wasn’t ticketed for making an illegal right turn on a red light or for striking pedestrians in a crosswalk.

“I don’t want to sue or anything, but I can’t believe she didn’t get a ticket,” Gaylord said. “When I asked for an accident report, the police said it is an accident only if there is $1,000 damage. What, people don’t count anymore?”

Chief Heubusch said he had no comment.

After the meeting, Christian called it “unfortunate what Mary Ellen said, that the police didn’t respond to her.”

“I did ask Rachael if she would have the police respond to her (Wilber) because she certainly does deserve that and so does her sister, and thank God nobody was killed.”

*Eddie Bauer is a retail sporting goods maker in business since 1920.

April 12, 2021 - 5:17pm
posted by Press Release in city of batavia, news, carry-in carry-out trash policy.

Public Notice

To all residents and visitors:

The City of Batavia has implemented a “Carry-in -- Carry-out” trash policy in all city parks.

All park users are requested to remove any trash generated and take with them.

Please, help us keep our parks clean for everyone’s enjoyment.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

From the city Bureau of Maintenance.

April 12, 2021 - 4:49pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, news, coronavirus, notify.

Press release:

Genesee County reporting 45 new positive cases of COVID-19.

  • The new positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
    • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
    • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
  • The individuals are in their 19-20s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 80s. 
  • Thirty-one of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Five of the current positive individuals are hospitalized. 
  • Two of the new positive individuals are residents of the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing.

Orleans County reporting 19 new positive cases of COVID-19.  

  • The positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
    • Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
    • East Region (Kendall, Murray, Clarendon)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 70s.
  • One of the new positive individuals was on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Two of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
April 12, 2021 - 4:37pm

The electronics recycling event in the parking lot behind the parish hall* at Ascension Parish in Batavia has been so successful they are ending it early.

It got underway on Thursday April 8 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and planned to go for 13 days until April 20th.

This afternoon The Batavian received an email saying it would not continue into a second week because they received a lot of scrap electronics.

"We have done well," Terri King wrote.

So tomorrow Wednesday and Thursday of this week, April 14 and 15, will be the last opportunities to get rid of your old electrical stuff to benefit Camp Good Days & Special Times. It's an organization working to help improve the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Sunnking Recycling is handling the e-waste.

*Location is 17 Sumner St.

April 12, 2021 - 4:07pm
posted by Press Release in news, GCASA.

Press release:

Added to the list of programs offered by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse last September, the GCASA Reentry Program continues to provide support to men and women seeking to find their place in the community after being incarcerated.

“The main goal of this program is to help reduce or remove some of the barriers that are associated with reentry,” said Christopher Budzinack, program coordinator. “As a former offender myself, I know how difficult this can be and we just want make sure our clients have an opportunity to get all the support they need in order to be successful.”

Simply put, the GCASA Reentry Program provides case management and peer recovery services to those who have been in jail or prison by connecting them to the following necessities:

  • Substance use disorder treatment;
  • Mental health treatment;
  • Housing, food and clothing;
  • Employment and/or job training;
  • Childcare;
  • Transportation;
  • Medical care.

Eligible individuals are those who have a history of substance use, who were sentenced to jail or prison for a minimum of three months and who are returning to communities in Genesee County or Orleans County.

For more information about the GCASA Reentry Program, call (585) 813-6570 or send an email to [email protected].

April 12, 2021 - 12:30pm

Press release:

In 1991, a formal Congressional resolution acknowledged the vital role that telecommunicators play in emergency situations by proclaiming the second week in April as a week of annual recognition in their honor.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week is a time to thank these men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving the public.

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr., along with the Genesee County Legislature and all emergency first responders, recognize these public safety professionals for their continued dedication, professionalism, and commitment to public service.

The Genesee County Legislature will be issuing a proclamation at its Wednesday night meeting recognizing April 11 – 17 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week. The lights on the Old County Courthouse cupola will be changed to red, white and blue to acknowledge this week.

Emergency Services 9-1-1 Dispatchers are there 24/7, 365 days a year for first responders and the public in time of need. Many people do not think about these seemingly nameless, faceless individuals until they experience actual emergencies themselves. In many instances, Dispatchers make the difference between life and death.

Typically, more than 80,000 events are dispatched yearly in Genesee County, a daily average of 219, and more than 100,000 telephone calls are handled, which is an average of 273 calls per day.

The Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center (Public Safety Answering Point-PSAP) is comprised of 25 men and women who dispatch to five local police agencies/New York State Police; 19 fire departments/Emergency Management Service; three ambulance services; as well as 41 other local, county, regional, state, and federal agencies.

“Everyday citizens depend onthe skill, expertise and commitment of the 9-1-1 dispatchers," said Sheriff Sheron. "They are the first to take that phone call; the first to provide basic life support in a medical emergency; and also the first to dispatch needed fire, police or EMS responders for the call.

They are to be recognized and commended during this very special week. I would like to personally extend my sincere appreciation for their hard work and dedication. They are truly unsung heroes in our community."

April 12, 2021 - 12:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, byron.

Abdi Adan Abdi, 21, of Warner Street, Rochester, is charged with: criminal possession of a controlled substance; operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs -- first offense; and failure to keep right on a two-lance road. Abdi was arrested at 3:49 p.m. April 11 on Townline Road in Byron following a traffic stop. It is alleged that Abdi was operating the vehicle while impaired by drugs and that the defendant possessed crack cocaine. Abdi was released with appearance tickets and is due in Town of Byron Court on May 3. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush, assisted by Deputy Kyle Tower.

Erica Williams, 26, no address provided, is charged with second-degree harassment. She was arrested for allegedly slamming a person's head against a wooden fence post at 7:23 p.m. March 30 on Watson Street in Batavia. She was released with an appearance ticket to be in Batavia City Court on April 13.

Cassandra Elmore, 29, no address provided, is charged with second-degree harassment. It is alleged she scratched a person in the face at 11 a.m. on March 31 on Liberty Street in Batavia. She was released with an appearance ticket to be in Batavia City Court on April 13.

Nateeka Gibson, 31, no address provided, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. She was arrested after a disturbance on Tracy Avenue in Batavia at 5 p.m. April 2. It is alleged that she violated a a court order. Gibson was arraigned in Batavia City Court and released. She is due to return to court on April 15.

Shawn Twardowski, 38, no address provided, is charged with criminal mischief. He was arrested after allegedly damaging property at an apartment house on Oak Street in Batavia at 3:25 p.m. April 2. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on April 13.

Thomas James Leonard, 37, of Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. On April 9, the Genesee County Sheriff's Office received a complaint about shoplifting at Walmart. It is alleged that Leonard stole property valued at about $44 at 3:30 p.m. April 9. He was arrested and given an appearance ticket to be in Town of Batavia Court on June 15. The case was handled by Deputy Kyle Tower.

Christopher Weigman, 32, no address provided, is charged with petit larceny. He was arrested after an investigation revealed that he allegedly stole merchandise from a business on East Main Street in Batavia at 10:13 p.m. March 11. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on April 6.

April 12, 2021 - 8:22am
posted by Press Release in gas prices, news.

Press release from AAA:

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.86, down 1 cent from last week. One year ago, the price was $1.87. The New York State average is $2.89 – down a penny from last week. A year ago, the NYS average was $2.26.

AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) reports the following averages:

  • Batavia-- $2.84 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Buffalo -- $2.82 (no change since last week)
  • Ithaca --$2.87 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Rochester -- $2.87 (no change since last week)
  • Rome -- $2.93 (no change since last week)
  • Syracuse -- $2.85 (no change since last week)
  • Watertown -- $2.95 (no change since last week)

Vaccinations, warmer weather and Easter travel all contributed to an increase in demand for gasoline this past week. Due to the jump in demand, gasoline supplies tightened and reached their lowest level of the year.

Meanwhile, oil prices are down a bit this morning, which could help keep gas prices below $3 per gallon.

From GasBuddy:

"It has been a fairly tame last few weeks at the pump for most areas after a particularly active February and March when prices were screaming higher," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "After surging back then, we've seen the price increases fade, and while we haven't seen much of a decline, prices have been holding near their yearly highs.

"For now, it feels like the risk of seeing the national average climb to $3/gal has been delayed by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases both here and abroad, limiting the upside to gasoline demand.

"But should things begin to improve, especially as we get closer to the start of the summer, we still have potential to see summer gas prices at their highest levels in years. Make no mistake, gas prices this year will be tied to the hip of the COVID situation."

April 11, 2021 - 5:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, bergen.

A one-vehicle accident is reported in the area of 6369 W. Sweden Road, Bergen.

The initial call reported a person was trapped and Mercy Flight was put on ground standby.

A chief on scene reports the occupant is out of the vehicle and walking around and Mercy Flight can stand down.

Bergen fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

All units can respond nonemergency.

April 11, 2021 - 4:21pm
posted by Press Release in news, Congressman Chris Jacobs, Southern border tour.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) completed a southern border tour in Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas, with members of the Republican Study Committee.

“We knew the situation along our southern border was a growing national security and humanitarian crisis, but to see it firsthand and hear directly from law enforcement on the frontlines was shocking,” Jacobs said. “They are seeing a massive surge of migrants illegally entering our country, and with it there is a surge of drug smuggling, human and child trafficking, and criminal entry.

"The cartels are taking advantage of the Biden Administration’s weakened security measures at the border, making an estimated $11 million per week from human trafficking in this sector.”

Jacobs was joined by Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (IN-03), as well as members Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Lloyd Smucker (PA-11), Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Victoria Spartz (IN-05), Kevin Hern (OK-01), and Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL).

The representatives toured a detention facility in Eagle Pass, held a roundtable with local sheriffs, conducted a press conference to update media, toured Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, participated in a flyover tour of the southern border, and were briefed by Border Patrol leadership in Del Rio. 

“Law enforcement along the southern border is working tirelessly to protect our nation and aid children being tragically trafficked hundreds of miles across the border. It is clear to me they are doing so under increasingly strenuous and unmanageable circumstances,” Jacobs said.

“Local residents are becoming increasingly concerned for their communities. In the sector I toured they have seen a 340-percent increase in apprehensions from last year. Border Patrol has also confirmed that suspected terrorists have crossed the border.”

“The President and Vice President need to come down to this area to hear from the people who are impacted by their reckless policies that have led to this dangerous and heartbreaking situation,” Jacobs said. “Action needs to be taken now. Further delay and indecision will worsen the situation for immigrant children, border communities, and our nation.”

Earlier this week, it was announced that two Yemeni nationals on the FBI’s terrorism watchlist were apprehended at the southern border. In addition, yesterday, it was announced that there was a 100-percent increase in unaccompanied minors from February 2021 (9,400) to March 2021 (18,800) – this is also a record-setting number. It was also announced that March 2021 saw 172,000 migrant apprehensions at the southern border – a 15-year record high.

April 11, 2021 - 12:04pm
posted by Press Release in news, Oakfield, accidents, notify.

From the NYS Police:

On April 10 at 10:12 p.m., Troopers out of New York State Police Batavia responded to Lockport Road in the Town of Oakfield for an ATV collision.

Further investigation revealed that a 2014 Can Am Outlander was traveling northbound on Bliss Road and crossed Lockport Road. The ATV exited the intersection and struck a rock embankment, causing the ATV to overturn several times.

The operator, Thomas S. Butler, 43, of Oakfield, was ejected and deceased at the scene. The 55-year-old passenger was also ejected with non-life-threatening injuries. The 55-year-old was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center for treatment.

Neither operator nor passenger were wearing helmets. An autopsy is scheduled for the deceased.

This is still an active investigation.

Previously: ATV accident reported in Oakfield

April 11, 2021 - 11:53am
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, Moderna vaccination clinics.

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) have first-dose Moderna vaccination clinics with appointments available open for any New York State individuals who reside, work or study in the state.

Whichever COVID-19 vaccine available is the right vaccine to get now! All approved vaccines are effective and saves lives. We encourage anyone that is currently eligible to register for an upcoming clinic.

“We have clinics scheduled on Monday, April 12 at the Ridgeway Fire Hall, Route 104, Medina; on Wednesday, April 14th a clinic at the Athletic Center at Genesee Community College's Batavia Campus Center; and on Thursday, April 15th at Ridgeway Fire Hall,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health.

“These clinics are open to anyone who is 18 and older. We want to see all of these clinics filled up with those who can also commit to returning for the second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days later.”

Visit the vaccination webpage at https://bit.ly/GOHealthVaccine. Choose either the Genesee County-run Moderna or the Orleans County-run Moderna Clinic button to make your appointment. You may have to scroll down to the date you want depending on the location of the clinic.

When you register, it will also show which vaccine will be at the clinic during that day. Keep the link handy, as we will be announcing additional clinics in the weeks to come. The buttons are live when we have that particular vaccine available. If the clinic is full or we do not have vaccine, it will show "No Appointments Available."

Please share this information with family, friends, coworkers and social groups.

If you are interested in making an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccination, now is the time to do it locally!

April 10, 2021 - 10:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, accident, news.

A rollover ATV accident is reported in the area of 2835 Lockport Road, Oakfield.

Two people involved. One possible serious injury.

Oakfield fire and Mercy EMS dispatched. Dispatchers checking on the availability of Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 10:21 p.m.: Mercy Flight requested to the scene. Mercy Flight out of Buffalo on a ground standby. 

UPDATE 10:25 p.m.:  Elba Fire Police requested for traffic control, to shut down Lockport Road. 

UPDATE 10:31 p.m.: Mercy Flight has landed. 

UPDATE 10:44 p.m.: Mercy Flight in the air, en route to ECMC. 

UPDATE 12:10 a.m.: Oakfield is back in service. Elba can reopen Lockport Road.

April 10, 2021 - 11:11am

img_2608.jpgFamily, friends and the bowling community are coming together to support Tanya Harmon, of Batavia, who has been undergoing rigorous treatments and procedures after being diagnosed with Stage III cervical cancer last November.

Harmon, a longtime employee of Angelica Textile Services Inc., has been placed on disability by her doctors while receiving chemotherapy and radiation.

The mother of two teenage sons said she is optimistic despite the fatigue she is feeling as a side effect of the treatments.

“I am very tired, but the doctors said things look good thus far,” she said by telephone on Friday.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to talk for more than a couple minutes. Her boyfriend, Dan Campbell, took over from there.

“Back in November, we noticed that she was having problems,” he said. “They found a polyp or cyst or something like that on her cervix. We then had scans done and found out that she has what they call Stage III c2 cervical cancer.”

Campbell, a tractor-trailer driver for Batavia-based Lily Transportation, said the cancer has migrated to the lymph nodes in her stomach and that a tumor has formed in the area of one of her kidneys, causing further complications.

He went on to share that doctors have had to insert tubes and stents to ensure proper drainage of her bladder.

Treatments in Batavia and Rochester

Harmon, 41, had initial radiation and chemo at the Lipson Cancer Institute in Batavia, affiliated with United Memorial Medical Center, and now she is going to Rochester General Hospital twice a week for both internal and external radiation, Campbell said.

“Right now, this is her first week of internal radiation,” Campbell said. “Doctors have placed ovoid implants on the right and left side of her cervix and she has a sleeve inserted that goes into her uterus to do the internal radiation – the center, the left and the right ovoid sections.”

He said radiation at Lipson and Rochester General will continue five days a week at least for another week and a half.

Campbell said Harmon’s primary physician said “she has a good chance of beating this, and we’re staying positive, believing that she will beat this.”

He mentioned that she has insurance but there still are the co-pays and things insurance doesn’t cover.

“Every time she goes to Rochester, there’s another bill. Every time she goes to Batavia, five days a week, there’s another bill. It’s stressful for her, I know that,” he said.

Family Is By Harmon’s Side

Harmon’s family has helped to reduce that stress, providing emotional support and transportation.

“Devin, who is 16, just got his license and he’s been taking her to any appointments in Batavia, and we’re making arrangements for the ones in Rochester,” Campbell said.

She also is being cared for by her son, Skylar, 19; sisters, Janette and Jessica, and mother, Sheila Meyer.

And now, the couple’s friends from the bowling community are helping by organizing a three-person, no-tap benefit tournament at Mancuso Bowling Center on April 24.

Campbell’s coworker, Geoff Harloff, and supervisor, Ed Doody, have set up the event for April 24 with the proceeds through entry fees, basket raffles and other fundraisers to go toward her medical expenses.

“We’ve been friends for about three years,” said Doody, the general manager for Lily Transportation. “I met Dan through Geoff and we started hanging out – having cookouts, going to the casino, things like that. When Dan and Tanya began dating, she joined us and the whole group would go out together.”

Shirts from the Bills Mafia

Doody said Harloff brought up the idea of a benefit bowling tournament, and asked him to assist.

“I said, ‘Sure, whatever you need,’ ” Doody said.

Since then, Doody has solicited businesses and friends through phone calls, letters and social media and has received about three dozen prizes for the basket raffle.

“The response has been great. I was able to make contact through Facebook with Del Reid, founder of the Bills Mafia, and he was generous enough to give me four shirts to put in a basket. We’ve got a lot of nice stuff,” he said.

Doody said it’s all about “just trying to be good friends.”

“We all have bad moments and bad things in our lives, but this is one of the worst. So, we’re just trying to be good friends and step up to help with the financial burden,” he said. “One-hundred percent of anything we make from this is going back to them, and we’re just trying to lighten the load a bit so the focus can be on where it needs to be – getting better.”

Those wishing to donate are asked to call or text Doody at (585) 813-7700.

Tourney Spots Are Filling Fast

Harloff reports that 36 teams already have registered to bowl in the handicap tournament, which features a $750 first prize, based on the maximum number of 48 teams.

The entry fee is $90 per team. Squad times are at 2 and 4 p.m. One out of six teams will cash.

To enter, contact Harloff at (585) 409-6507 or Mark Brown at (716) 474-7960.

April 10, 2021 - 8:00am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in news, history, batavia, street names.

In 1802 Joseph Ellicott, the founder of Batavia, and first local agent and surveyor of the Holland Land Company, made his first map of the village.

He divided the area into lots and groups of lots that eventually became streets. Ellicott made lots on both sides of Main Street.

They were commonly called Holland Alleys because he laid them out while acting as agent and surveyor of the Holland Land Company, which owned the village's land.

Most of the city streets are laid out along Holland Alleys. From the west end of the village, on the north side of West Main Street to Jefferson Avenue, Ellicott numbered his lots consecutively with both odd and even numbers.

After Ellicott divided the village into lots and created the early roads, his next step would be to name the roads.  

The names may have changed, but Ellicott’s surveying skills can still be seen today.

What we know as East Main Street he named Genesee Street. West Main Street was Batavia Street. Court Street is Court Street today because Genesee County’s first courthouse was located on that street.

There was a Tonawanda Street in Batavia, which today we call South Main Street. Buffalo Street is now Pearl Street. Lyon Street was once known as Brewery Street because Eager’s Brewery was located on the south end of the street. Oak Orchard Street is the present Oak Street.

Bank Street was formerly called Dingle Alley because Cochrane Bell Foundry was located on that street. Vine Street was once known as Cummings Street. Harvester was once called Cemetery Street. The name changed to Harvester Avenue when the Harvester Johnston Company built its factory on that street.

South Swan Street from Ellicott Street to South Jackson Street was formerly called Grand Street. Maple Street was known as Hill Street. The hill where Dr. Ganson built his home today is called Ganson Avenue.

Ellicott Street was known as Big Tree Street not because there were big trees but because it ran to Big Tree, which today is called Geneseo.

The prominent people of Batavia lived along Main Street and on Jackson Street. Some streets are named after them. Streets such as Chandler Avenue, Seaver Place, Tracy Avenue, Redfield Parkway, Bank Street, Mix Place, Harvester Avenue, Wiard Street, Eleanor and Margaret Place, Trumbull Parkway, Pringle Avenue, to name just a few, have some history behind their names. 

Ebenezer Mix, an excellent mathematician, became known as one of the best civil engineers in New York State. The frontage of his home was on Main Street from Ellicott Avenue to Oak Street. Today it is called Mix Place. The home with modifications still stands on its original property. 

Evans Street was laid out in 1847 and was named after David Ellicott Evans, nephew of Joseph Ellicott.

Tracy Avenue was named after Phineas L. Tracy, a prominent lawyer. He was also a U.S. Representative from New York’s 29th District in 1827 and was a county judge.

Wiard Street is named after Thomas Wiard, a blacksmith and farmer, founder of the business Wiard Plow. His business was located on Swan Street.

Pringle Avenue was named after Judge Benjamin Pringle. 

Cone Street’s name came from Nathaniel K. Cone, the county judge who lived on South Jackson Street's north side. 

In 1875, Union School, the first high school, was built on School Alley just south of the Batavia Middle School. Today that alley is called Ross Street.

Jackson Street is one of the streets that has retained its original name. 

Chandler Avenue was named after Rear Admiral Ralph Chandler. He served in the Navy. He saw action during the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War.

Heman J. Redfield (1788-1877) served in the Army during the War of 1812; he was also a postmaster and a Genesee County district attorney. Redfield Parkway was named after him.  

Dean Richmond was a railroad magnate; he was a leader in the movement to consolidate seven railway corporations into the New York Central Railroad in 1853; he served as vice president and president of the New York Central. Richmond Avenue and the Richmond Memorial Library are named after the Richmond Family.

Seaver Place, which no longer exists, was named for William Seaver. He was the author of a book called "Historical Sketch of the Village of Batavia. You can read this book online. 

Trumbull Cary played many vital roles in the development of Batavia. He was an early postmaster and served in the War of 1812.

In 1815, Cary was very instrumental in establishing the St. James Episcopal Church. In 1829, he helped finance the creation of the first bank west of the Genesee River, the Bank of Genesee. Cary named Margaret Place and Eleanor Place after his wife, Margaret Eleanor. 

John Dellinger came to Batavia in 1855. He built and owned the Dellinger Block and Dellinger Opera House block. Dellinger Avenue is named after him. 

We live on Chestnut Street and we are surrounded by Walnut, Maple, Cherry and Elmwood streets.

If you want to learn local history, visit the Genesee County Holland Land Office Museum (HLOM). Information for this article came from the Genesee County History Department and our Batavia City Historian, Larry Barnes.

Photo by Anne Marie Starowitz.

April 9, 2021 - 5:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in charity, GoFundMe, batavia, news, Farmers Insurance Agency.

Jeff Houseknecht, whose 42 birthday is the 26th of this month, continues his battle with a terminal stage 4 cancer so rare fewer than 100 people on the planet are known to have it.

He lives on Garden Drive in Batavia, with his wife of almost 15 years, Carolyn, and their two children, 12-year-old Zachary and 10-year-old Lily.

Jeff has had health problems since he was 20, starting with epilepsy, but was able to soldier on because of his strong work ethic and upbeat attitude. Soon after the birth of his daughter, he was hit with multiple health problems, some of which went largely undiagnosed. These ranged from pneumonia and gastrointestinal problems to a spinal condition that caused his spine to slowly fuse together.

The physical problems steadily piled on.

He eventually was also diagnosed with Crohn's disease, which in turn brought on Parkinson's disease, according to his neurologist, and the resulting impediments to movement and speech that had to be overcome. He nearly recovered but some Parkinson's symptoms remain to be wrestled with.

To continue to be mobile and able to work, he was given twice-monthly shots of Humira, an immunosuppressant drug.

But in 2014, a softball-size lesion developed on his spine, which turned out to be MRSA -- methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus -- an infectious "super bug" that's difficult to treat and eradicate.

It found an opportunity in Jeff because of the Humira regime.

More such lesions would crop up and jeopardize his health further. A golf-ball-size lesion on his forehead appeared to respond to antibiotics at first, then one morning he woke up looking like he endured the bad end of brawl and doctors told him he might lose his right eye.

When Zachary was 6, he told his family his birthday wish was for daddy not to die. The child's heart-wrenching plea was a turning point, prompting Jeff to take time from his work to support his family and instead focus on his health so he could live and resume his responsibilities.

All the while, of course, there are bills and co-pays, plus travel and living expenses that mount as does the emotional toll.

Things were looking better last year before coronavirus struck. The Houseknechts opened Farmers Insurance Agency at 214 E. Main St. in Downtown Batavia and the ribbon cutting with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce was Feb. 20, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown came almost a month later. They are open now with the expected health and safety protocols in place, but like most small business owners will tell you, it's been a tough year.

And that's without the deep water the Houseknechts have had to slog through. 

But it hasn't been all bad.

"The outpouring of help and support has been probably one of the best things to come out of all this," Carolyn said this afternoon.

Sounding a little choked up, she added, "This community has helped us with housework, helped rake the yard ... we didn't expect to need this much help so soon, but we're very, very grateful for everyone's help."

Jeff said he grew up here and that's just the way people are raised -- they help their neighbors, they give to their community.

They hold basket raffles, meat auctions, 50/50s, chicken BBQs, donate farm produce, give away clothes, boots and mittens, and stock food pantries with goods, donate blood, recycle old electronics for a good cause, pray for you, enlist small armies to craft greeting cards -- you name it.

(We know firsthand they'll pull your vehicle out of a snowbank. (If you're a newcomer with California plates, your wintertime predicament may concurrently prompt the briefest faint smile, but then that could just be your imagination...))

If you'd like to help Jeff and Carolyn Houseknecht and their family monetarily, there's a GoFundMe, established by Carolyn on April 7. To date, $24,510 has been raised toward the $50,000 goal.

Read more at the GoFundMe partner site, CaringBridge.

And/or help the family out by providing them with prepared meals via Meal Train.

File photo of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Houseknechts' insurance agency in Batavia a year ago February.

April 9, 2021 - 5:15pm
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Genesee County reporting 15 new positive cases of COVID-19.

  • The new positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
    • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
    • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
  • The individuals are in their 19-20s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 90s. 
  • Eleven of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Five of the current positive individuals are hospitalized. 
  • Two of the new positive individuals are inmates at the Genesee County Jail. 
  • One of the new positive individuals is a resident of the New York State Veterans’ Home at Batavia.


Orleans County reporting eight new positive cases of COVID-19.  

  • The positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
    • Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 40s, 50s and 70s.
  • One of the new positive individuals was on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Eight of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • Two of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
  • One of the new positive individuals is an inmate at the Albion Correctional Facility.
  • One of yesterday’s positive individuals was determined not to be an Orleans County resident, therefore that individual was removed from our count and yesterday’s positive count was 16 new positives totaling 2,638.
April 9, 2021 - 4:52pm

erica_odonnell.jpgErica O’Donnell said she learned at an early age the importance of community participation and hopes to have the opportunity to impart her views as a member of the Batavia City Council.

“I’ve been involved on the sidelines in local politics for a long time. I grew up in the Town of Alabama and my grandfather, Joe Cassidy, was on the town board for a number of years,” O’Donnell said. “I spent time with him when I was very young -- stuffing envelopes and helping out with fundraisers and things like that – and kind of caught the bug that way.”

That was about 20 years or so ago, said O’Donnell, now a Batavia resident who has been the chair of the City of Batavia Democratic Party for the past three years.

She has completed the petitioning process and will be on the ballot in November seeking one of three open Councilperson-At-Large spots. She will be facing three Republican incumbents: Jeremy Karas, Robert Bialkowski and City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr.

The current makeup of City Council is 100-percent Republican, a fact not lost upon O’Donnell.

“I think it is time to get some diverse and fresh ideas, and I think I would bring that to Council,” she said, noting that she is all for supporting businesses and activities that will attract young families to buy homes and settle in Batavia.

She said she has been “very lucky” that her husband, Patrick, is able to commute to his job in Rochester because it is affordable to live in Batavia. The couple bought a home in the city’s Fifth Ward in 2012, and since then have had two children, Lila, 7, and Connor, soon to be 5.

“When we purchased the house, I said to a good friend, ‘You sent your kids to the school district here. You lived here your whole life. What do think about raising kids in the city?’ ” she recalled. “And she said the best advice I can give you is to get involved. Get to know your neighbors, go to meetings – get involved. That’s what I have been trying to do and encourage everyone to do.”

O’Donnell said she realizes that Genesee County and Batavia have an aging population, and would love to see millennials purchase some of the “beautiful historic houses being chopped up into apartments or just crumbling.”

“I think we could do more to attract young people,” she said.

Along those lines, she said she is happy the city received the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from New York State – “that is a huge success and I give a lot of credit to City Council and former City Manager Jason Molino for that,” she offered – but had hoped more of the funds were directed elsewhere.

“I would like to have seen more of that money put towards retail and things to attract people downtown,” she said. “The YMCA and Healthy Living Campus are going to be wonderful -- and both of my kids have benefitted from preschool at the Y -- but that was a big chunk of money that went to nonprofit groups. There are other things that would have been my favorites for that money.”

O’Donnell said she is in favor of an expansion of the city-owned ice arena on Evans Street, possibly including an indoor recreation facility nearby.

“I think the city should make some type of investment there,” she said. “Not necessarily take it over but give some support to encourage (the use of the facility).”

She pointed to the outdoor soccer fields off Bank Street Road as a prime example of a successful venture for youth that brings revenue into the city.

“If you drive by there during a soccer tournament, there are vehicles everywhere. If we put some sort of indoor sports facility in the city – maybe near the ice rink -- the businesses would no doubt benefit hugely from those types of tournaments and events. People come from all over and it’s packed,” she said.

Her thoughts on some other issues in the city:

Construction of a new police station

“It was actually when I started getting involved several years ago when they formed the police task force. At the time, that was such a huge deal and it was covered so heavily in the media. I understand that their first choice is no longer an option (Swan Street), so that certainly was my first choice. Obviously, I think it would be beneficial to have more police presence on the Southside. Alva Place, which is where they’re looking at now, was their second choice. I think that is the best thing to do – listen to the citizens – and go where it was recommended.”

COVID-19’s impact on city finances

“I’m concerned more about the ability to spend compared to the (Council’s) willingness to spend. So much of what we’re going to be able to do is going to depend upon aid from the state and aid from the federal government. COVID really through a wrench in everybody’s plans going forward, and who knows for how long – probably generations. We’re going to have to come up with some pretty creative solutions to be able to spend.”

Government meetings via Zoom, YouTube

“We’ve learned a lot in the past year as a society and I think there are some things that we can take away and keep, including the transparency that allows us to have those meetings streamed live or even a couple hours after the fact. It’s difficult to make it to all those meetings, whether it’s the legislature or board meetings. Also, there is so much going on with my kids at school that it’s nice to be able to watch the school board meetings to keep up with everything.”

The city manager hiring process

“While I think Rachael Tabelski is doing a good job and was the obvious choice for city manager. I am glad that we went through the whole process of interviewing. I think that is the correct and transparent way of hiring someone for a position such as that. But I’m glad that she ended up with the job, and am sure she will do a great job going forward.”

O’Donnell said going door to door to get signatures for her petition was a valuable experience and she’s looking ahead to meeting more people in the coming months.

She conceded that the past two years have been a bit hectic with “nonstop elections” but thought “that the best way to get other people involved was to lead by example and jump in myself.”

In closing, she shared that Joe Cassidy is still the chair of the Town of Alabama Democratic Committee and is her biggest supporter.

“He’s definitely a proud grandfather,” she said.

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