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August 17, 2022 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alexander, news, notify.
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Prince Wilson Raul Cruz

A Genesee County Grand Jury has indicted two men of murder for the death of two dairy farm workers in Alexander in March.

Raul Cruz, 18, of Warsaw, and Prince Wilson, 23, of Albion, are both charged with murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, arson in the second degree, and petit larceny.

They both face a minimum prison sentence of 15 to 40 years in prison if convicted.

They are accused of killing Elibander "Ivan" Morales and Marcelino Gomez Hernandez at 10216 Alexander Road, Alexander on March 11.

Morales was 30 and Hernandez, 29.  Both were born in Mexico and had been employed in the U.S. for an unspecified amount of time.

Deputies responded to the dairy farm at 9:59 p.m., March 11, when dispatchers received a report of a disturbance in a bunk house. A short time after deputies responded, smoke was seen coming from the bunkhouse and Alexander Fire was dispatched. The fire was quickly extinguished. 

Deputies found two victims dead inside the bunkhouse.

 Cruz and Wilson are accused of killing Morales and Hernandez, of setting the fire, and of stilling cash, a suitcase, a laptop, and other personal property.

Previously:

August 17, 2022 - 2:19pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, power outage, batavia, notify.

Apparently Batavia is the only area in Genesee County with a reported power outage that occurred at 1:47 p.m. Wednesday, according to National Grid. The outage has affected 2,455 customers, including those on the city's north side, and specific reasons for the outage were not available from National Grid staff at 2:14 p.m.

National Grid has estimated that the outage is expected to be restored by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

August 17, 2022 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Terrance Leon Dandridge, II, 26, of Brisco Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with falsely reporting an incident.  Dandridge was arrested following an investigation into an incident at 4:38 p.m., Aug. 6, on Route 98 in Elba. Deputies investigated a claim by Dandridge that he had been kidnapped from his residence in Buffalo and driven to Elba and left tied up in his vehicle before he was able to escape and was discovered in the roadway.  Dandridge suffered no apparent injury but was transported to an area hospital for evaluation. Dandridge is accused of making up his claims of being kidnapped and tied up.  He was issued an appearance ticket.

Eric Peter Doleman, 52, of Kilian Road, Pembroke, is charged with petit larceny. Doleman is accused of shoplifting at Price Shopper on Lewiston Road, Batavia, at 2:45 p.m., Aug. 3. Doleman allegedly placed an item of merchandise in his pants prior to walking out of the store without paying for the item. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Geovanny Lopez, 33, no address provided, is charged with felony DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, circumventing an interlock device, and speeding.  Lopez was stopped at 12:32 a.m., Aug. 4 on I-490 in Le Roy by Deputy Jeremiah Gechell.  Lopez was released on an appearance ticket.

Thomas Patrick Moynihan, 47, of Alexander Road, Alexander, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Moynihan is accused of using text messages, Facebook Messenger, and voice mail to contact a person he was barred from contacting by court order on July 16. Moynihan was arraigned Bethany Town Court on Aug. 7 and ordered held in the Genesee County Jail on $2,500 bail, or $5,000 bond, or $10,000 partially secured bond.

Adam Mark Kopper, 35, of Slusser Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Kopper is accused of stealing $737 from his employer, an unnamed retail store on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, between July 13 and July 16. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Christine Marie Caplis, 42, of Clinton Street Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Caplis was arrested on a warrant after being observed on a bicycle in the City of Batavaia at 8:34 p.m., Aug 13. At the time of her arrest she was allegedly found in possession of a narcotic. She was arraigned in City Court and ordered to appear again on Aug. 18.

Robert Drewry, 56, of Sycamore Street, Buffalo, is charged with petit larceny. Drewry is accused of stealing money from a vehicle on Harloff Road, Batavia, at 6 p.m., June 8.

Anthony S. Brooks, 32, of Batavia, is charged with burglary 2nd, unlawful imprisonment 2nd, and criminal mischief 4th. Brooks was arrested after a report of a disturbane on Highland Park at 6;10 p.m., July 31. He was jailed on $5,000 bail, $10,000 bond, or $20,000 partially secured bond.

Brian M. Clark, 45, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Clark is accused of stealing alcohol from his employer and consuming iit while at work at 4 a.m., July 23, on Ellicott Street.. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Leonard E. Aguayo, 35, of Rochester, is charged with criminal trespass 2nd.  Aguay0 is accused of opening a window of a residence on Ellicott Street at 3 a.m., July 28, and throwing an object at a person inside. He was arraigned in City Court and released on his own recognizance. 

Katherine J. Briggs, 43, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 1st. Briggs is accused of contacting a person in violation of a court order. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Karrie A. Morrow, 39, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Morrow was arrested on Aug. 5 on a warrant related to an incident reported at 12:30 p.m., July 12 at a location on West Main Street, Batavia. Morrow was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision. No further details released.

Dustyn W. Wilcox, 37, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Wilcox is accused of threatening a neighbor during a dispute reported at 7:07 p.m., Aug. 10, at a location on Wood Street, Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Gregory W. Houseknecht, 31, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd and menacing 3rd. Houseknecht is accused of threatening to harm people and menacing them during an argument reported at 5:09 p.m., Aug. 8, at a location on Oak Street, Batavia. He was arraigned in City Court and ordered to return to court on Aug. 18. Houseknecht was arrested again at 12:30 a.m., on Aug. 9, on East Avenue, and charged with criminal contempt 2nd for allegedly violating an order of protection stemming from the earlier incident. He was arraigned in City Court and ordered held on bail.

Timmy J. Frazier, 65, of Tonawanda, is charged with trespass. Frazier was allegedly at a business on East Main Street, Batavia, at 11:48 a.m., Aug. 8, and refusing to leave. When police arrived on scene, he was again advised to leave the property and refused to do so.  He was arrested. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Benjamin A. Boyce, 41 of Batavia, is charged with dog running at large. Boyce is accused of failing to maintain control of his dog and letting it run loose in a neighbor's yard at 4:34 p.m., Aug. 3. He was ordered to appear in City Court on Aug. 23.

Jason H. Freeman, 40, of Batavia, is charged with obstruction of governmental administration. Freeman is accused of failure to appear in court on the charge, which stems from an incident reported at 5:56 p.m., May 22. Freeman was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.

August 17, 2022 - 9:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Eli Fish Brewing Company, batavia, notify.

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Zac Condidorio presented a project to expand the offerings, seating and view at Eli Fish Brewing Company during Tuesday’s city Planning and Development meeting.

There would be a wood frame deck, two levels, a patio furnace, brand new canopy to replace the old one, catenary lighting and a brick veneer, said Condidorio of Whitney East Inc. in Rochester. There was only one question neither he nor any committee members knew: was the building on the National Register of Historic Places?

Gray had originally proposed a more elaborate — and costly — “rock cage enclosure as a bench, with some wooden seating” that turned out to be too expensive, Condidorio said.

“He’s eliminated that thought process,” the contractor said. “To make the barrier between the public and the brewery is to have movable planter boxes, and basically, you can move them so that the city can maintain the space in the wintertime.”

There would also be a gate system for people to enter and exit between Jackson Square and the brewery at 109 Main St., Batavia.

Committee Chairman Duane Preston asked about the fire pit that is in the blueprint. That’s “not in my contract,” Condidorio said, “I don’t know what Matt is doing with that.”

Gray, operating under AGRV Properties, Inc. applied for the permit and approval for the approximately $140,000 addition to be built onto the back of Eli Fish and facing Jackson Square. He has also applied for a $20,000 grant from Batavia Development Corp. from its Revolving Loan Fund monies.

BDC’s board and City Council approved the request. Aid from grant funding will allow the applicant to replace the rear, exterior stairs and doors and assist in the cost of adding a large two-level patio attached to the rear of the building.

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Condidorio’s building permit application is to construct a wood frame deck with steel frame wall mounted canopy and permanently installed patio furniture with a barrier at the rear of the property. The canopy will be clear roofing material so that the canopy stands out with the decking. There will be some ground level seating, which extends out to the property line, he said, pointing to the enlarged blueprint he displayed for committee members.

Modern catenary lighting, he said, which forms a curve with lights hanging freely from a wire, rope, or chain from two points that are not in the same vertical line, will be featured. Lighting is to flow downward, with no uplighting mapped into the project, he said, emphasizing that it’s to be an industrial style vibe.

Since there are apartments in and around the square, a committee member asked about disturbing neighbors and hours of operation. Condidorio believed Eli was open to 11 p.m., he said, and reviewed the lighting again. According to the company’s online hours, they go to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. on other days.

Gray, who was not able to make the meeting, was relieved to receive a thumbs-up on the project, except for the historic register question. Turns out he knew the answer.

“Yes it is. It was added to the registry in 2018,” Gray said. “We are excited to be able to move forward with Eli's beer garden in Jackson Square. It is a project that's three years in the making, and (he and partners are happy) to finally get to this point in the project. It will seat up to 60 guests on two levels, half which will be covered.”

Condidorio was anxious and ready to begin work on the patio as soon as possible, he said. Eli Fish should be ready before the next Jackson Square concert series, Gray said. 

“We are expecting a May 2023 grand opening on the space,” Gray said.

The Batavian left messages with Preston and Code Enforcement Officer Douglas Randall regarding if and how being on the National Register will alter any of the construction plans or process.

To view the project, click here.

Top photo: Contractor Zac Condidorio shows one of the blueprints of the Eli Fish patio project; the rear space at present to be converted. Photos by Joanne Beck.

August 16, 2022 - 9:57pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Le Roy, jam at the ridge, notify.

Attention all chili aficionados: cooks and tasters are invited to participate in the first-ever Smoke-off and Chili Cook-off Saturday at Jam at the Ridge.

Campers at the Le Roy site are organizing the contest, and anyone from the public can join the culinary fun by showing up with your own equipment and ingredients, and cook. Said to be first documented in an 1828 journal, according to allrecipes.com, chili varies from sweet to hot peppers, beans or no beans, rice, pasta, meat or vegetarian style, and assorted types of tomato sauce.

Organizers plan to begin offering samples around 2 p.m. for $1 donation, and judging is set for 4 p.m.

Besides the satisfaction of being named as the best chili chef in the area, participants will also help to raise funds — all proceeds, including the $20 entry fee, are going — for American Legion and local veterans.

There will also be raffle and silent auctions, with sports memorabilia and tickets to local sporting events as some of the items.

It’s free to enter the park and event for spectators, and $20 for anyone outside of the camp who wants to participate in the cook-off. Bring your own coolers and chairs, or visit the full bar and restaurant on site at 8101 Conlon Road, Le Roy. The Jam’s renaissance event will also be happening this weekend.

For more information about events, go to jamattheridge.com or call  (585) 768-4883.

 

August 16, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, music, batavia, elba, notify.

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DSP Jazz Trio is offering two opportunities to enjoy the last weeks of summer with some "laid back, easy listenin' jazz favorites" in Genesee County.

The trio is Derek Reiss, trumpet and flugelhorn, Skip Taylor on an electronic drum set, and Pete Mark, trombone and vocals. They will be playing from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at TF Brown's, 214 East Main St., Batavia, and beginning at 6 p.m. Aug. 25 in Elba Village Park on Route 98, Elba.

The group will also jazz things up from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Bent's Harvest Restaurant, Medina.
 

August 15, 2022 - 4:52pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, arts, Batavia Society of Artists, notify.

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Batavia Society of Artists will be hosting its Member's Summer Art Show, kicking it off with an opening reception this week at Go-Art/Seymour Place, 201 East Main St., Batavia. The free reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, and light refreshments will be served.

Fifteen artists and 39 paintings will be on display, and there will be a People's Choice Award in lieu of a traditional judge for the exhibit. Spectators will have an opportunity to cast their vote, and the winning artist will receive a $75 prize during the reception. 

"So please come out and vote for your favorite painting," organizers say.

A cash bar will be available at Tavern 2.0.1.

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Submitted photos of Batavia Society of Artists' works.

August 15, 2022 - 3:19pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Youngstown Yacht Club, IC37 racing boat.

charlie_kegler_1_-_copy_1.jpgAlthough he has “aged out” of his junior sailor role, Batavian Charlie Kegler Jr. made enough of an impression upon Team Zing owner Bob Hesse to earn a regular spot on the crew for the upcoming Canada’s Cup sailboat racing competition.

Last winter and this spring, Kegler (photo at right) handled the “floater” position for Team Zing, which represented the Youngstown Yacht Club at the IC37 Winter Series Lauderdale Cup race in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Kegler, who is entering his senior year at Batavia High School, figured that he wouldn’t be able to continue with that crew for this season’s races because he turned 17 in June – making him too old for the lone junior sailor post.

As fate would have it, however, one of the team members announced he would not be able to make the trip this year and stepped aside. Kegler threw his hat into the ring and, due to having gained experience in multiple areas on the boat, he was selected to fill the vacancy.

In his new “runner” role, Kegler will be called upon to trim the runners used on running backstays of offshore boats to adjust mast bend for different wind conditions.

The 26th Canada’s Cup will pit defending champion Royal Canadian Yacht Club, out of Toronto, against the Youngstown crew on Sept. 1-5 in Toronto.

“It feels great and I count it a privilege to be back with Team Zing after sailing last year in Canada's Cup and over the winter in Fort Lauderdale with all of them,” said Kegler, whose father, Charles, is vice commodore of the yard at YYC. “I am excited to be in my new crew position adjusting the running backstays.

“We have learned much more about the boat and proved we can win against excellent competition in the IC37 Class. We’re very confident going into this event.”

Kegler has fared well in other competition this summer, placing first in a Can-Am Regatta race on a J-111 class sailboat called Moneypenny, owned and skippered by Doug Clarke. He is part of the bow team on Moneypenny, manning the mast position.

Team Moneypenny is anticipating traveling to Cleveland later in September to race in the J-111 North American Championship and to Key West, Fla., in January for the Southernmost Regatta.

He also competed in the Junior Can-Am Regatta at YYC and in the 420 North American championship at the Buffalo Canoe Club, located at Crystal Beach, Ontario. The majority of the 420 fleet are collegiate sailors, many from climates that allow for year-round racing and practicing.

Previously: Batavia High student finds smooth sailing as junior member of Youngstown Yacht Club racing crew

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Submitted photo: Charlie Kegler, in blue life vest, and his teammate maneuver their sailboat in waters off shore of the Youngstown Yacht Club.

August 15, 2022 - 2:14pm

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In an ongoing effort to meet people right where they’re at, the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse staff is offering an “open access” first step to substance use disorder recovery.

“We’re pleased to announce that men and women seeking detoxification are able to come to our Detox Center (attached to the Atwater Community Residence at 424 East Main St.) without appointment from Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. to begin their path to wellness,” said Allison Parry-Gurak, GCASA’s director of Residential Services.

Upon arrival at the recently-opened Detox Center, which provides 16 beds for short-term (usually three to seven days) detoxification treatment and services, the person in need will be screened by a medical professional and, if appropriate, will be assigned to a bed the same day, Parry-Gurak advised.

The facility enlists the services of medial and technical staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week and counseling services 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Our Detox Center employees are specially trained and certified to assist people who require these short-term services – those showing mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms and suffering from mild, moderate or severe substance use disorder stemming from alcohol, opioid or benzodiazepine addiction.”

Parry-Gurak said the Detox Center – along with GCASA’s supportive living residences – have beds available.

“We encourage people not to try and detox at home,” she said. “Here, we will provide the care and treatment they need – meeting with a counselor every day, participating in individual and group therapy sessions and supported by peer advocates – before guiding them to medically-assisted treatment.”

The Detox Center is, in many cases, the initial phase in the road to recovery provided by GCASA.

After detoxification, patients can transition to the Atwater Community Residence, a 17-bed facility for men and women that provides counseling and treatment services for up to a six-month stay.

“The criteria (for admission) is a bit different,” Parry-Gurak said. “People have to have at least 10 days since their last (substance) use, but it is open to those struggling to an expanded area of substance use disorder.

GCASA’s supportive living program features 24 beds in Genesee and Orleans counties.

Parry-Gurak said supportive living works well for adults who have been in recovery for some time and are ready for independent care.

“It’s apartment-style living, with openings for men and women,” she said, adding that appointments are required for entry into Atwater and the supportive living homes (by calling 585-813-6508).

As far as the Detox Center’s benefits, she said having the facility in Batavia makes it much easier for Genesee area residents to get immediate help.

“In the past, we would have to send people to Erie County Medical Center, Strong Memorial (in Rochester) to Warsaw (Wyoming County Community Hospital),” she said. “With our center now open and having all insurance approvals in place, we’re providing that immediate care for those still actively using.”

For more information about the Detox Center, call 585-815-1860.

Submitted photo: The Detox Center at GCASA, which opened in March, is attached to the rear of the Atwater Community Residence on East Main Street.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

August 14, 2022 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Le Roy, notify.

A 66-year-old man from Warsaw died yesterday as the result of injuries sustained in a crash on Route 19 in Le Roy at 1:20 p.m.

Following the accident, Duane R. Hamill was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to State Police, Hamill was driving a 1994 Ford F-15o pickup truck southbound on Route 19 when the truck swerved into the oncoming lane and struck a 2015 Chevrolet Trax.  The pickup truck exited the roadway and overturned, ejecting Hamill.  

The name of the other driver was not released by State Police. That person was transported to Strong with non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the NYSP Collision Reconstruction Unit and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

August 14, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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People were still speaking around 6 p.m. under the big tent in front of Cornerstone Church Saturday, as the parking lot looked much more like a mowed hay field than it had the last two days.

Law enforcement officers stood outside of the fenced property and vendors, including a Center Street Smokehouse food truck, departed the event. A lone Genesee County Sheriff’s vehicle sat parked farther down on Bank Street Road, just before the overpass.

For all of the worry and concern expressed beforehand about violence, there apparently was none. As for rhetoric and questionable claims regarding political and health matters, that’s up to one’s own opinion.

Signs stating no guns, no knives were an anomaly not often seen at church-hosted events. The ReAwaken tour seemed well-organized, and determined to stop anyone with a weapon from entering with security checking bags and each person upon entering the event.

Overflow visitors were provided space inside the church to view speakers on a large screen, while most — including special VIPs — found a seat under the big white tent in front of the church.

Days leading up to Friday’s debut of the tour offered whispers of trouble via out-of-town protestors planning a showdown. That never happened, and, in fact, not one protestor paid a visit to the site on Friday, and there were no reports — or sightings by The Batavian — of any on Saturday.

For an event this size, it was obvious that people had the protocol down — except for the schedule being askew — with a clear sound system, visuals on a screen behind speakers, and bios for everyone. Vendors sold many related, and political, items featuring Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and others. Mario Fratto’s campaign signs were equally prominent, and a tractor-trailer on Saile Drive got a facelift with a Trump 2024 billboard-sized ad facing the road.

It wasn’t so clear what Stone’s message was, given his bemoaning of his ordeal and how he had become homeless, penniless, and without a voice due to a judge’s gag order for him not to talk during his trial. Stone, who was convicted of seven felony charges, including lying under oath to a congressional committee and threatening a witness whose testimony would have exposed those lies, was later pardoned by the former president.

"We lost our home, my car, our savings, our insurance. But most importantly, I lost my ability to speak. I was not entitled to speak for 18 months, on any subject. I had to sit by and watch "CNN," and "MSNBC" and others call me a Russian traitor, called me, a Russian intelligence asset, lie repeatedly about connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign,” Stone said. “And then I made a fateful decision. I was depressed. I was angry. I was scared for my wife. I was demoralized. And it was then that I decided to redeem myself in the blood of Jesus … At that moment, it was like cement blocks were being lifted from my shoulders.”

“Not a month goes by in which the combination of my legal fees, just our basic living expenses, and we do not live a lavish lifestyle, and my wife's uninsured expenses, are not greater than the amount of money I make every month,” he said.

Not so fast. Several news reports, including “Orlando Weekly,”Sun Sentinel,” and “The Daily Mail,” state that Stone moved out of his $1.6 million Florida home and rented it out for $9,500 a month, and purchased a smaller, two-bedroom apartment for $525,000. In July, he and his wife, Nydia reached an agreement with the government to be held responsible for more than $2 million in unpaid income taxes, penalties, and interest, subject to potential additional interest as well as subtractions for previously processed payments or credits. It also proposes a judgment against Roger Stone alone for about $453,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest.

Stone  -- who has become as famous for his back tattoo of Richard Nixon as for his self-proclaimed reputation as a 'dirty trickster' -- talked about how he worked for “two of the greatest Americans in the 20th Century, he said: Richard Nixon and Bob Dole. But they don’t match the former president, he said.

“They were very, very tough guys, but neither one of them was tougher than Donald Trump,” Stone said. “Because of his toughness, he was a great president, and it’s just because of his toughness that he will be a great president again.”

Within some banter with tour host Clay Clark, Stone was asked how much his legal costs were. Are they $1,500? Clark asked. Nope. Those expenses are $35,000 a month, Stone said. After he spoke, there was an opportunity for folks to see him, buy his book and get it autographed, and make a donation, should they feel the urge to do so.

Top Photo: Roger Stone gives the famous victory sign -- a Nixon favorite -- as he ends his talk this weekend at the ReAwaken America Tour in Batavia. Photo by Howard Owens.

August 13, 2022 - 9:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, emergency management, news, notify.

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There is a crisis brewing in fire and EMS coverage in Genesee County, but it's invisible to most area residents, according to a report released this week by the Office of Emergency Management.

The report was prepared by Municipal Resources, a consulting firm hired to review the state of fire and EMS services locally and recommend changes.

"The challenges that are facing the fire and EMS services in Genesee County are very real; there is a crisis that is slowly building, and has been for a considerable period," the report states. "The reason that many stakeholders, municipal leaders, and the general public do not see 'evidence' is the long tradition in both the fire and EMS services of 'getting the job done.'

"Looking ahead," according to the report, "the implications of not taking action will be quite simple: service levels will continue to diminish, some companies and EMS agencies may fold under financial pressures or because they are just not viable responders any longer, and fewer and fewer most likely aging volunteer members will be trying to respond to an increasing number of requests for service."

The 278-page report contains 95 recommendations to improve services and ensure the long-term viability of fire and EMS services in the county.

The report was presented to local media for the first time on Wednesday night at the Fire Training Center on Bank Street Road in Batavia by members of a task force formed two years ago.  The members, which included volunteer firefighters, elected officials, and Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator, set a goal of finding actionable recommendations on how to improve things and not just produce another study.

The goal is not a countywide fire service
The purpose of the report as some have assumed, said task force chairman Eric Weis (president of the Bergen Fire Department), is to push through a replacement of the current volunteer fire department system with a paid, countywide fire department.

He noted the report contains this statement: "It should be clearly understood by all stakeholders that the focus of this report is to augment and not supplant existing fire and EMS resources. Therefore, recommendations are focused on better utilization of existing organizations and resources while maintaining, supporting, and strengthening existing organizations."

Weis put the same sentiment in his own words.

"The volunteers are the backbone of the emergency services in the county," Weis said. "This is not intended to, again, take away from that. It's intended to enhance it. And I also want to say that, yes, there are issues, but, you know, the members of the volunteer departments in this county put forth a hell of a lot of effort every day. I think the needs are being met."

The biggest challenge for fire departments and EMS companies in Genesee County is the nationwide decline in volunteerism.  Genesee County is not unique.  People are much less likely to volunteer for anything, let alone service as demanding as firefighting or emergency medical assistance.

The report states:

The only reason why the challenges the system is facing both today and looking to the future are not more evident is because of the passion and dedication of the members of the county’s fire and EMS organizations who continue to answer the calls for service. But the number of active volunteers is declining in the county as they are everywhere, and many of those who remain are aging. 

 

The crisis of volunteerism
The report anonymously quotes a volunteer chief, "Volunteerism is being killed by social changes and increasing training standards for liability reasons. With fire call volumes being low and EMS requests high, we are at the point of high-risk low frequency events being a large concern. People don’t want to put in the time to train to fight one or two fires annually."

Long gone are the days when a young person could volunteer for the local fire department, be handed a helmet and coat, and start showing up at fire scenes. Now volunteer firefighters must go through hours and hours of training just to get started, and dozens of hours more every year to advance their skills.

And "volunteer" means they don't get paid for any of that time, either training or responding to incidents.

"I think most people in the community have no idea the amount of hours that they (volunteers) commit to this job," said Yaeger (first inset photo). "They are many hours away from home, away from family, away from work, to get this job done. 

"I think many citizens probably assume that volunteers are compensated to some extent," Yaeger said later. "And other than food and refreshments at a training or after an event, there is no compensation."

Among the 95 recommendations offered by Municipal Resources is finding some way to make some sort of compensation possible, be it monetary, health insurance, or gift cards to local businesses. But that isn't possible currently because state law prohibits any compensation to volunteer firefighters.

County Legislator Gordon Dibble, who served on the task force, said he and his fellow elected officials are ready to try and tackle that problem, which means going to the state Legislature to change the law statewide or working with Assemblyman Steve Hawley on a change in the law allowing Genesee County to become the first county to compensate volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.

"I don't think we've (the Legislature) talked about that," Dibble said. "We haven't come to that, but I could agree with you that might be a way to go. It might help our situation. It starts somewhere and sometimes it starts with a small tiny county government that moves it up through the state."

Compensation needs to be an option
New York needs to catch up with other parts of the country, Yaeger said, when it comes to compensating volunteer firefighters.  In other parts of the country, volunteers aren't paid wages as much as they are provided pay on a per diem basis.

"They're being paid a stipend," Yaeger said. "They're being paid to be on-call. They're being paid to go to training. They're not making what a career firefighter is making, because they're just being paid or compensated when they're performing a duty for the community. That's something else that we need to pursue. And that needs to happen sooner than later because it's just inevitable."

One option to make volunteer firefighting less of time management challenge is to give volunteers on-call schedules so they know when its their turn to respond to any calls that come in and are prepared to respond.

"I did get some feedback from a friend of mine in the department who said with his job, it's tough for him to come on a whim on a call at certain times of day," said Weis (second inset photo). "He's working constantly. But if he had a set day, where he knew that he was on duty, his eyes opened up to that. That is something that would make being a volunteer more efficient."

The EMS crisis
The report also highlights the challenges facing ambulance providers, whether the all-volunteer services provided by departments such as Byron, Bergen, Alexander, and Bethany, or the paid-personnel services, what Yaeger refers to as "commercial," such as Le Roy Ambulance and Mercy EMS.

Currently, the mixture of volunteer and commercial EMS services are keeping response times in most of the county under four minutes for basic life support calls and eight minutes for advanced life support.

These are critical numbers when the calls are for cardiac arrest (less than two percent of EMS calls) or stroke.

The report states:

Heart attack and stroke victims require rapid intervention and care, and transport to a medical facility. The longer the time duration without care, the less likely the patient is to fully recover. Numerous studies have shown that irreversible brain damage can occur if the brain is deprived of oxygen for more than four minutes. In addition, the potential for successful resuscitation during cardiac arrest decreases exponentially, 7 to 10%, with each passing minute that cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or cardiac defibrillation and ALS intervention is delayed. Few attempts at resuscitation after 10 minutes are successful. 

Keeping EMS services staffed is both a challenge for volunteer departments and Mercy EMS and Le Roy Ambulance.  The training hours to qualify as a crew member can be up to 150 hours and the duty is hard and often puts EMTs in harm's way. 

Mercy EMS recently went through a staffing crisis that required assistance from services from outside the county and the turnover in personnel is frequent, with employees either finding the work isn't for them or using their training and experience as a stepping stone into a career as a paid firefighter.

"The environments that they're working in are not the best environments," Yaeger said. "People don't need to know what some of those environments are but it's a dangerous job. They're exposed to a lot of things that they probably shouldn't be exposed to."

In New York, as in most of the country, ambulances are not considered an essential service, like police and fire services.  Municipalities are not required to provide EMS coverage.  The report suggests that needs to change.

Among the consultants' recommendations, as one option, is the creation of a countywide EMS service.

This model would have the county assume all EMS response and transport responsibilities for EMS. The county would have to hire full-time personnel and purchase all equipment and vehicles to staff four units. These units would need to be housed in strategic locations across the county to meet response time benchmarks county wide. While this concept is relatively new in New York state, several counties have either implemented this type of service or, are exploring the concept. 

Countywide cooperation
While the report doesn't call for a countywide fire service, there are recommendations for standardizing operations.  That means establishing compatible Standard Operating Procedures across all departments so that when departments are working together, they're all using the same tactics and methods.

"Everyone in the fire service knows that we're already responding regionally," Yaeger said. "So how do we formalize that to make sure that everybody is on the same sheet of music? How do we make sure that the funding sources are there and available for all those resources to come in so we're not duplicating resources, we're not duplicating equipment?"

Getting everyone on the same sheet of music could eventually lead to a countywide department, but that won't happen any time soon, Yaeger said.

"Thirty years from now, 20 years from now, could there be a county-wide fire service? I won't be here to see it. Not in this position. But sure, it could happen," Yaeger said. "It takes time to see if it's even necessary. It may not be necessary. We may find that there are ways to work together and make our system better without forming a countywide service."

Going forward
With 95 recommendations, there is a lot for all the stakeholders to consider what priorities should be tackled first.  That process will involve everyone at all of the departments as volunteers read the report and come back with recommendations.

Task force members say that so far, the report has been received favorably, but they know that there will be those who resist change of any kind.

"(Somebody) coined the phrase that 'firefighters say the two things they hate the most are the way things are, and change,'" Yaeger said.

Weis said he hopes to see each department provide the task force with five, 10, or maybe 15 priorities from the 95 recommendations. The task force will use that feedback to come up with 10 to 15 action items to tackle first.

"We really want feedback first from the departments," Weis said. "Before we kind of settle on the 10, or maybe 15, before we settle on those, we want the feedback from departments. We don't feel we want to just dictate the solution."

PDF Downloads:

Top photo: Six members of the task force, from left,  Eric Weis, president, Bergen Fire, Mike Heale, chief, Elba, Bob Mruzak, fire chief, Bergen, Tim Yaeger, Genesee County Emergency Management Coordinator, Gordon Dibble, Genesee County legislator,  Donna Hynes, supervisor, Town of Elba. Not present and not pictured, Legislator Greg Torrey and Pavilion Supervisor Robert LaPoint.

Photos by Howard Owens

August 13, 2022 - 8:43pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, ReAwaken America Tour, notify.

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It was a dog that brought Sharon Opdyke to a deeper faith in God and healers, she says.

Quite literally, in fact. Opdyke was visiting from Maryland, and she shared her story with The Batavian while getting a snack during the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church.

It was in May at a Tour in South Carolina. Opdyke was watching a friend’s dog and they were in the water at a beach while baptisms were going on nearby. She thinks perhaps a girl was having a spiritual awakening, and the dog sensed the commotion. The dog nearly dragged Opdyke to the water where the girl was, and comforted her with gentle nudges.

"I have never in my life seen anything like this. The dog pulled me up from the water up to where this girl was and the girl had collapsed. I don't know if (the healer) cast the demon from her. Something happened. The girl lost consciousness. And she collapsed actually into my friend's arms. She held her by the head,” Opdyke said. “And (Tour speaker) Julie Green didn't let go of this young girl and was just praying over her, and the dog, through the crowd of people, at least 300 people, made its way up to this young girl … And the dog curled right up beside the young lady.”

Witnessing what she believes was a healing was “so amazing” and something Opdyke has never experienced before, she said. She was baptized there, and her passion for God — and all that the ReAwaken America movement stands for — have increased from that point on. She also attended the tour event at Virginia Beach, and in Batavia on Friday.

“And a lot of it was General Flynn. He was our inspiration,” she said, speaking also for her husband. “And then we knew some of the other speakers that were going to be there, including Kash Patel. I think Eric, Eric Trump was there. And a lot of the pastors and then some of the prophets like Amanda Grace, Pastor Dave Scarlet, Julie Green was there ... and then I also wanted to get baptized on the beach. And that was just fantastic.

“So I ended up meeting someone on the beach in South Carolina, and she lives near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so not too far from where we are. And I actually work at a dog shelter, and they're an animal shelter. So we kind of coordinated because of that, because she also needs a dog sitter. She's not far from us. So her and I agreed to go to Virginia Beach. And we actually only went to Virginia Beach for the beach ceremony. We did not go to hear the speakers. That was phenomenal.”

She rattled off many speakers by name and some of what they spoke about at her first event in South Carolina. Many of them were also featured at the Batavia event. They shared personal and professional stories and even included some humor, she said. (David) Nino Rodriguez had everybody in hysterics, she said, “because you have to sometimes just laugh at the people that are still asleep about what’s going on in the world.”

The Batavian asked her what she meant by that.

“Just everything, the amount of evil I mean, the amount of evil that's been going on … we've been poisoned our whole life. Everything's been a lie. You know, and a lot of people are just waking up to it. Why are some people more awake than others and some people now kind of coming out of their coma that they've been in for years,” she said. “But, you know (pointing toward the sky) that's sunshine, and I mean that, you know, we’ve got to focus on the light. It's been dark all these years, everything's, we're, moving into a beautiful world. But we have to get through the ugliness. We still have a bit of ugliness and we need to wake people up.”

She cautioned about what she has learned: you can’t merely tell people. You have to show them what’s going on, she said. They have to “see this amount of evil.”

“People who think that Biden is really the president. Come on. Yeah, this is a sham. That's a joke,” she said. “Like I said, I had never seen anyone healed in my life. And when I saw that, that kind of led me even more to watch people like (author/teacher/prophetic speaker) Robin Bullock. And just some of the other prophets. I mean, I've always watched (Tour speaker) Amanda Grace.

“You know, if you're gonna sit back and just hide in your house, well, you know, there's casualties of war, and they're the casualties of war. We're at war,” she said. “It's just amazing the amount of people that (the tour is) bringing together who are like-minded.”

Born into a Republican family, she doesn’t really believe in party politics, she said. She is highly involved in her community, is a chief Republican judge, works with her local police and fire departments, and all the while sensing that something was wrong, she said. The primaries were “a joke,” and people can’t vote as easily anymore, she believes, including her local precinct not being set up properly for people with disabilities.

The name of the tour was accurately coined, she said, because that’s what is gradually happening.

“I think we're waking up America, we are waking up,” she said. “We are the majority, you know, so when people say, as they continue to see the circus that's going on in D.C., things are only gonna get worse, but they have to get worse to wake folks up.”

Photo: Sharon Opdyke of Maryland, who drove with a friend to Batavia for the ReAwaken tour, displays the T-shirt she bought for her husband. Photo by Joanne Beck.

August 13, 2022 - 4:25pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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It got loud Friday evening when Twisted Sister filled the tent — with its iconic “We’re Not Gonna Take it Anymore” — as an intro to the leader of the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church.

Not quite a packed house by the evening, the audience rose to its feet clapping and singing along as Michael Flynn took to the stage.

A few minutes later, the music died down and Flynn reiterated its meaning.

“When something happens to you, you say you’re not gonna take it anymore,” said Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was later pardoned by the former president. “Here's what I want people to understand about these types of events, and what we do here on this ReAwaken America tour is to really get into the communities and go to places where people would, you know, we’re going out to California a couple of times we went to Oregon, we're going to go back out to the West Coast, up into the Washington State, Idaho area … we're here because we want people to know that we're not giving up on you, right, we're not giving up on this region.”

Applause and standing ovations were sprinkled into his speech. Most attendees had been there all day and planned to return for a full day of speakers on Saturday as well. Flynn said that there were to be baptisms a bit later, and that was going to be “a powerful thing.”

“I know the way that our country is segmented right now,” he said. “There's so much going on. But what we have to understand is that those of us guys like me, or people like me, we're going to come in, and we're going to touch you. And we're going to remind you, we're going to teach you, and we're going to say things to you. But it's really up to you. Those of you that were here this morning heard me say we don't have all the answers. I do not have all the answers and we're gonna make mistakes as we go along this path. And is this an awakening in the biblical sense? Is this a spiritual awakening? You bet it is.”

“I mean, there's a spiritual war and there is a political war. And they are going on, they're going on in this country right now. You know, God didn't choose America, God chose Israel. America chose God,” he said.

He encouraged folks to reawaken themselves and figure out “what it is that we want as Americans.” He knows what he wants.

“I want freedom. I want my safety. I want my security. I want to be left alone. I want to be able to do the things that I want to be able to do," he said. "I served this country for nearly three and a half decades. I've absolutely seen the worst in corruption, the worst. I've seen the worst of humanity, absolute worst of humanity. I have witnessed the sacrifice of young men, principally young men, but young men and women. Great, great sacrifice.”

He spoke of how those young men and women sign on the dotted line to join the military, wanting to do something with their lives. What most of them — not even their parents — know, he said, is that they are signing up to give their “very life to this country.” And he encouraged audience members to do their part as well.

“You have to decide what it is that you are going to do. And you’ve got to decide to do something,” he said. “What we're trying to do is, we're trying to convince you to decide that your life is going to take a different path. That's what we're trying to get you to do. We have 3,000 people in here today. All I want is one person to make the decision, 'I'm going to go and I'm going to crash through life.' I've got my toes over the edge of this stage right now. Purposely. And the message is, this is where our nation is; we are at the edge … I want your attitude to change. That's part of what we're trying to do here. Change about what you believe, how you believe, or how strong is your faith; maybe that's the attitude adjustment that you have.”

He capped off his 15-minute talk by circling back to the baptisms and instructing to “put Jesus Christ first in your life.”

“I hope this event will be life-changing for you,” he said.

Michael Flynn speaks during the tour at Cornerstone Church Friday evening in Batavia.  Photo by Howard Owens.

August 12, 2022 - 11:45pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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When first asked about why he was hosting the ReAwaken America Tour, Pastor Paul Doyle put it simply that protests about the event’s presence in Batavia was being overblown and that he wanted to host it at Cornerstone Church.

“I think it’s a patriotic, Godly event with reputable people that love the Lord,” Doyle said previously to The Batavian. “This isn’t just a secular event. These are Godly men and women … there’s going to be prayer, repentance, and because of that, the baptisms.”

Baptisms were, in fact, on the event schedule for Friday and again on Saturday evening. When he was bombarded with reporters’ questions after deciding to host the Tour, Doyle maintained then that “we’re gonna talk about Jesus Christ,” and didn’t feel there was any legal issue with a nonprofit church hosting a political event.

During his talk on Friday, the pastor’s voice gradually escalated to one of unbreakable conviction that he will charge ahead at full speed along with other pastors of the same mindset. Does talking about COVID, and vaccinations, critical race theory and other hot button topics make it political talk? Many colleagues aren’t bothered by going there, he said, and neither is he.

“I don't worry about offending Democrats for not worrying about talking about the issues that the church has to talk about. The Bible says in Psalms 119, it says 'the instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.' That tells me if you want revival, you’ve got to pull up the instructions of the Lord again. They're good and the laws of God are good,” he said to a crowd that had thinned out from earlier in the day. “The Psalmist said, 'Lord, I love your laws because they're good.' And we have generations coming up that haven't even heard them before. Because the church is too afraid. We've been too intimidated. Even the Attorney General of New York is trying to bully us for not being quiet. And I'm just not gonna have any of that right now. I’m going to talk about whatever I want from the pulpit.”

He introduced his wife Lee, who is from Mississippi, and said that they were like the North and South coming together. He compared that to what is happening right now in the country.

“And there was a new battle. It's not a battle of North and South. It's a battle of good and evil. And I'm just so thankful that there's people that are standing up and wanting to have a voice once again in our country,” he said.

Doyle emphasized that he and his church have reached out to all races, and want the African-American community to stop following the narrative that they’re victims. 

“They’ve been victims too long,” he said.

He’d also like to reach the LGBTQ community, encouraging listeners to ask themselves “what things have I been conditioned to think?” and wants people to rethink attending churches “where the blind are leading the blind.”

“I’m not interested in a mega church,” he said. “I’m interested in a mega movement."

When he first became aware of Mario Marillo, a motivational speaker who puts on large tent meetings across the country, Doyle admired Marillo for an event in Bakersfield, Calif. right in the center of a primarily Democratic state during pandemic shutdowns. He asked other church leaders if they were interested in a revival featuring Marillo, and the larger ones were not, claiming he was too political.

“He was preaching a message not only about the gospel, but he was calling out leftist agenda policies of (California Governor) Gavin Newsom that have made people miserable with, so he was preaching right in a blue state and a blue city, probably with blue constituents,” Doyle said. He was not afraid. And they came running to the altar. I mean, hundreds of them. And I saw healings.”

Fact Check: In the 2020 presidential election, 53.88 percent of the voters in Kern County (Bakersfield) cast ballots for Donald Trump. Kevin McCarthy, Trump supporter and House Minority Leader, won re-election in Bakersfield with 64 percent of the vote.  Bakersfield is red, like all of the San Joaquin Valley, not blue.

God told Marillo to bring his show to Batavia, and Cornerstone hosted him last fall. They expected 400 to 500 people at best, and instead had 4,000 to 5,000, Doyle said.

“I’m sure you know, we were praying for a revival. I told the Lord, ‘Lord, I don't care where people come from, I don't care what they've done. I don't care what color they are. We’ve gotta see hungry people that are hungry for you.’ I just believe he's answered the prayer,” Doyle said. “And so he came out here, and he had those meetings. And it just ignited a fire in me personally. And it made me start preaching much more boldly from the pulpit.”

As for things that are “too political” Doyle said that it dawned on him that meant “things that are affecting people in our churches.”

“But since when did it leave the church and go to the political arena, we’ve got to pick it out of the political realm, and put it back in the church,” he said. “So that's what we've been doing. I don't know how many news outlets have interviewed me … And they want to know what I think about stuff. And I noticed they asked all these really loaded questions, or, how do you feel about a church hosting a political event, you know, you’re a 501 (C)3. And I said, ‘You think I'm doing this because of money? You think that intimidates me? I'm like, I'm gonna do it. We've got to have a move of God in this country.”


Further Reading: Opinion: Cornerstone Church is not risking its tax-exempt status by hosting the ReAwaken America Tour


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Top photo: Pastors Paul and his wife Lee Doyle on stage Friday during the first day of the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia. Photos by Howard Owens.

August 12, 2022 - 6:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

On August 12th at 4:14 PM, Batavia Police responded to the area of Elm Street and East Main Street for a reported shooting. Upon arrival, BPD officers located two victims in the area. Both victims were treated by the City of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS. MercyEMS transported one victim to UMMC with non-life threatening injuries and one victim was treated on the scene. BPD is actively investigating the incident at this time, however has determined that there is not an ongoing threat to the safety of the public or residents in the area.

Anyone with information in regards to the incident is asked to contact Detective Ivison at (585) 345-6350, or contact BPD through the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

August 12, 2022 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, news, notify.

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Christian Nationalism is a threat to freedom and the American way of life, a group of pastors told a small gathering in a parking lot behind the First Baptist Church in Batavia this morning, while across town about 3,000 people were gathered at Cornerstone Church for the ReAwaken America Tour.

Among the speakers at First Presbyterian was Rev. Nathan Empsall, an Episcopal minister and director of Faithful America, an online organization that Empsall said puts its faith in action for social justice and love.

"Christian Nationalism, is defined by researchers and academics as a cultural framework and a political ideology, a political world worldview, not a religion," Empsall said. "Christian Nationalism, is the merging of the national American identity with a religious identity, making them one in the same, saying you aren't a real true American unless you're a conservative Christian. The hallmark phrase of Christian Nationalism is that America is a Christian nation. That's not true, of course. We are a pluralistic nation."

Empsall said Christian Nationalism is a threat to freedom in America.

"The goal of Christian Nationalism is not to follow Jesus," Empsall said. "The goal of Christian Nationalism is to seize power, political power, at any cost, no matter who you have to hurt along the way. No matter how many rights you have to take away from other groups, no matter how many elections you may have to try and overturn despite the will of the voters. It's typical of authoritarian movements in this regard."

He tied many of the speakers at the Tour event to the Jan. 6 insurrection, when Donald Trump supporters stormed the capital to try and overturn the presidential election results. 

He suggested that while the ReAwaken America Tour may not be explicitly violent, it does builds the framework for future political violence.

"When we talk about the threat of violence, we're not saying ReAwaken America is a bar and at the end it's gonna have a drunken brawl in the parking lot," he said. "You might not see violence today. What we are worried about is another January 6 happening, but perhaps not in the nation's Capitol, perhaps in every town or local state capitals when elections don't go the Christian nationalist way next time.

"When you raise the stakes as high as they come and demonize your opponents in God's name, you don't have to tell people to commit violence," he added. "They connect the dots."

That said, he is ready to embrace Mike Flynn and Roger Stone, he said, two Trump allies and former advisors speaking at the Tour event, as brothers in Christ.

"Now look, if Mike Flynn and Roger Stone, and the pastors who are with them today, tell me that they are Christians, I believe them," Empsall said. "I don't know their relationship with God. I don't know their heart. I do not doubt them. But I do know that their actions and their words are not Christian actions. They are not Christian words.

"So this morning," he added, "as we hear all the lies from Qanon 2.0 about public health and about democracy -- we ask them to know the truth for the truth shall set you free. We say to Clay Clark and Mike Flynn, 'brothers, don't bear false witness. Come home like the prodigal son.' We follow the Prince of Peace. We love our neighbors. We don't call them Team Satan because they don't share our politics or because they share a different approach to our faith or to faith itself."

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Rev. Roula Alkhouri, the pastor of Batavia First Presbyterian Church, hosted the event.

"Our hearts are broken," she said. "Because of the damage this tour, this ReAwaken America Tour, has already caused around our country, using the cover of religion to sow division and hate. I have experienced this kind of hate personally since I started speaking up and saying that we shouldn't have this here, this kind of language and this kind of hate-inciting event. I've received a lot of hate for this."

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August 12, 2022 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, news, batavia, notify.

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Pastor Mark Burns prayed for New York's attorney general, Letitia James, and her family, during his appearance at the ReAwaken America Tour at Cornerstone Church in Batavia on Friday.

James earlier this week reportedly sent a letter to Pastor Paul Doyle, telling him that she was concerned the event could lead to racial violence.

Burns, an evangelist and failed congressional candidate who has reportedly appeared on a right-wing TV show and said parents and teachers of LGTBQ children should be executed, told the mostly white audience that all patriots, regardless of race, were welcome into the movement.

As of early this afternoon, no protestors had been seen on Bank Street Road.  The lone deputy parked in a driveway in the area said he had not seen any protestors.  There was no other additional local law enforcement at the location during the times The Batavian was at the church or in the area.  People at the event have generally been friendly, from what we've observed, toward members of the media. The staff has been friendly and helpful though the event seems disorganized at times and speakers have not appeared on schedule.  There is a significant contingent of private security at the event and signs at the entrance noting that guns and knives are prohibited.

The Batavian will provide additional coverage of events related to the tour, both at the church and away from it, throughout the weekend.

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Gene Ho, President Donald Trump's campaign photographer, sharing stories about working with Trump.

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August 12, 2022 - 3:18pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, notify.

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Clifford and Cecilia Miller were anxious to attend the ReAwaken America Tour this morning, arriving around 5:30 a.m. at Cornerstone Church in the town of Batavia.

They made the nearly three-hour trek from Chemung County to partake in the two-day event with two others who rode with them. By 11:45 a.m., they knew the trip was well worth it, they said. The couple watched a convoy of vehicles displaying U.S. flags, sat under the large white tent listening to speakers that included Michael Flynn, and embraced fellow attendees, Cecilia said.

“Just being together here with like-minded people, meaning believers in Christ, and believing in the restoration of our country,” she said. “I’ve always been brought up in the church in one shape or form, so it gave me a foundation of the Lord. And then as I grew, I was like, there’s got to be more than this, God, you know. And so now I'm completely born again, as they say, and I'm into his word. To me, his word is our guide, that we should stand by and go by, and when we've gotten away from that, we need to bring it back.”

The Millers learned of Cornerstone when they came to see Mario Marillo speak during tent meetings last October at the Bank Street Road church. They kept in touch and then found out about the tour coming this week.

Aptly dressed in a red, white and blue ReAwaken T-shirt and Trump baseball cap on Clifford, and a John 3:16 cap for his wife, the couple was looking forward to the remainder of the day and all day tomorrow. They booked a hotel in Batavia, where other attendees were also staying, they said. Visitors came from  out of state, including New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, and out of the country from Canada.

The Millers weren't alone in the patriotic apparel, as many of the 3,000-plus crowd sported all things red, white and blue, from dresses, scarves, and hats to vests, shirts, sneakers, and even a little something for their canine companions.

The original line-up of speakers changed at some point, and Flynn had spoken before his scheduled time. He is also scheduled to speak this evening, and The Batavian plans to cover that. Earlier guests included Gene Ho, the former president’s campaign photographer; Dr. Jana Schmidt, who was not on the original schedule; Kash Patel, former chief of staff to the acting U.S. secretary of defense under former President Trump; and Dr. Bryan Ardis, an entrepreneur, chiropractor, acupuncturist and nutritionist.

Much of the discourse was about COVID-19 protocols and vaccines, with claims about the vaccine’s safety; claims of how the government and "fake news media" kept certain political happenings from being investigated (Hillary Clinton, “Russiagate”) and therefore didn’t make “the Left” more accountable for its actions; and claims of how the former president took action that would have prevented the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Fact Check: According to the official timeline of Jan. 6 and several other news outlet investigations, Trump did not authorize National Guard troops until hours after the insurrection began.

Fact Check: The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines teach the immune system to recognize and fight the coronavirus, greatly reducing the likelihood of severe disease if a person is infected. There is no evidence the vaccines impair immunity, according to SciCheck’s COVID-19 Vaccination Project.

Primary evidence that was used by a well-known Fox News anchor regarding the vaccines harming the immune system “is a much-criticized Food and Chemical Toxicology paper written by several individuals known for being opposed to vaccination or for spreading health misinformation."

“Lead author Stephanie Seneff is a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has falsely claimed that vaccines cause autism and has pushed a theory linking the herbicide glyphosate to COVID-19, among other unfounded scientific views. Senior author Dr. Peter McCullough is an internist who has repeatedly spread misinformation about COVID-19 treatments and the vaccines. Another author, Greg Nigh, practices naturopathy, a form of alternative medicine that has often embraced pseudoscientific methods,” SciCheck states. 

“When the paper was first published in April, numerous critics condemned it, with some calling for it to be retracted. (That effort was denied. Notably, the paper appeared in the journal after the editor-in-chief put a call out for papers “on potential toxic effects of COVID-19 vaccines.”)

“The paper, which does not present any original research, is a review coupled with an analysis of data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, the United States’ early warning system to detect possible safety problems with vaccines. VAERS reports can be submitted by anyone, are not vetted for accuracy, nor do they mean that a reported symptom was necessarily caused by the vaccine; the data have often been mined to incorrectly claim vaccines are dangerous” it states. SciCheck is a branch of the nonpartisan FactCheck.org. Click here for article 

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Schmidt reviewed several natural remedies that can keep one’s immune system healthy and prevent illness, such as taking in sunshine, cayenne pepper, honey and cooked mushrooms, plus turning to prayer and community, all of which have been touted in health-related newspaper, magazine, online, and television reports.

She also discouraged wifi exposure, stating that cell phones kept in men’s pockets decreases sperm count by 75 percent — provoking a long  “oooooh” from the audience — that dirt is more beneficial as an anti-depressant than Prozac, and those COVID vaccines should be avoided. (See Fact Check above.)

“Does it make any sense at all to (take in the ingredients from the vaccine), as bad these shots are, and we know they’re bad,” she said, suggesting instead to use near infrared therapy. “Remember that these shots are evil.”

Fact Check: According to Health University of  Utah Research published in the journal "Environment International," analyzed data from 10 previous studies suggested that sperm’s mobility, or its ability to move normally toward an egg to fertilize it, appears to fall by an average of 8 percent when a man is exposed to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.

Fact Check: Red light therapy is a treatment that may help skin, muscle tissue, and other parts of your body heal, according to WebMD.com. It exposes you to low levels of red or near-infrared light. Infrared light is a type of energy your eyes can’t see, but your body can feel as heat. Red light is similar to infrared, but you can see it.

Fact Check: According to an article in “Forbes” magazine, “further research on gardening found it improved life satisfaction and mood. Digging in the dirt really does lift your spirits. The digging stirs up microbes in the soil. Inhaling these microbes can stimulate serotonin production, which can make you feel relaxed and happier.” “The Atlantic” also states that “M. vaccae, a living creature that resides in your backyard compost pile, acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body, functioning like antidepressant pills to boost your mood.”

Patel teased that he would share later about the most recent incident involving an FBI raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. He claimed that Trump had authorized the National Guard to be on standby before the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that during a phone call that Patel was on, Pelosi was more concerned about when food service would be restored than about the violence at the Capitol. No evidence was found online to substantiate or refute that claim.

As for Flynn’s charges before being pardoned by the former president, Patel called them “bogus” and claimed “we actually found documentation” proving his innocence.

“And that man is still standing with us today because he believe in the fate of this country,” Patel said.

Fact Check: NPR.org (National Public Radio) states that "Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about conversations he had had with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States as he and the rest of President-elect Donald Trump's camp waited in the wings early in 2017."

"My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions," Flynn said in late 2017 at the time of his plea, according to the news site.

Patel joked that he could keep speaking, but had to get out to his booth to sell more books. Several vendors were strewn about outside and many more inside of the church, selling ReAwaken, Trump and related items of clothing, jewelry, keepsakes, books and more.

“This isn’t a Trump rally, but it’s close,” he said, with large screens in the background displaying logos and information related to each speaker.

The Millers were glad to have heard the information.

“We were learning so much deeper stuff,” Clifford said. “So that’s good for us, because we don’t really watch local news. We just don’t know what’s happening. I can’t believe what they say.”

They watch Flashpoint and Newsmax a few times a week, they said. Warm and affable, the couple spoke more about the Christian element than particular subject matters. Clifford was nearly 51 before he became a Christian he said, after spending much time “off in my own world.”

“I was seeking something different, and Jesus was my answer,” he said. “And, I'm telling you, I would have changed nothing else for it. God has brought me (to salvation).”

As smoke billowed out of nearby grills, people continued to mill around, shopping for memorabilia, catching a quick bite out in the sunshine or sitting under the tent as new speakers took to the stage every 15 minutes. As of noon, there were no protestors or visible threats of violence on site, and a counter-event was set for 11:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

The schedule runs to 7:15 p.m., when baptisms are to take place, and resumes again at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

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Clifford and Cecilia Miller of Corning traveled to the ReAwaken America Tour to be with like-minded Christians, they said, and believe that people need to get back to God; Jana Schmidt talks about natural remedies during Friday's event at Cornerstone Church; Visitors snap a photo with a traveling bus named after its owner, attorney Scott McKay, whose biography defines him as "the patriot street fighter."  Signs were placed at event entrances to provide directions and a reminder that "no guns, no knives" were allowed in. Photos by Joanne Beck.

August 12, 2022 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in ReAwaken America Tour, batavia, cornerstone church, news, notify.

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The ReAwaken America Tour has arrived in Batavia.

Among the opening events this morning was a truckers' convoy on Bank Street Road past Cornerstone Church, where the event is being held.

Pastor Paul Doyle, who agreed to host the event after it was canceled at a venue in Rochester, has denied that the tour promotes political extremism.  Critics say event speakers peddle conspiracy theories and racism and that the rhetoric can lead to violence, such as the racially-motivated mass murder at a supermarket in Buffalo in May.

Today's speakers include retired General Michael Flynn, pardoned by President Donald Trump after being convicted of lying to the FBI during investigations into his dealings with foreign nations.  Flynn is scheduled to speak in the morning on "Why now is the time to act without fear and hesitation to save this God-given republic."

Other speakers include Kash Patel on "what is actually going on in America," Doctor Bryan Ardis, on COVID-19 protocols involving remdesivir and midazolam, Christie Hutcherson on why we must protect our borders, Julia Flynn, on a "practical plan to save America," Lance Wallnau, on God's "chaos code," Mel K on the "great reset," Dr. Rashid Buttar on the "COVID-19 chaos," Jim Meehan on fighting back against "medical corruption."

Eric Trump is speaking in the afternoon on "why the Trump family has committed their time, talent and treasure to help save America."

In the early evening, Roger Stone, also pardoned by Trump after his conviction on charges of obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering, will speak about how Jesus can save America.

As things were getting underway this morning, a number of vendors were already in place offering books, t-shirts, hats, jewelry, paintings, and other wares to the attendees (photos below).

The Batavian will have coverage throughout the weekend of the event at Cornerstone as well as counter-events at other locations in Batavia.

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The stage in the main event tent ready for guests and speakers.

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