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September events at Genesee County Park & Forest and DeWitt, preregister

By Billie Owens

There are several adventures offered next month at Genesee County Park & Forest and DeWitt Recreation Area. These September recreational opportunities include: a Full Moon Hike; Orienteering with the Rochester Orienteering Club; Geocaching at DeWitt; and Learning About Wild Turkeys.

Here are the details:

Orienteering at the Genesee County Park & Forest with Rochester Orienteering Club

Come explore the active and adventurous sport of Orienteering at the Genesee County Park & Forest with Rochester Orienteering Club from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14th. Beginner class and basic training takes place from 9 to 10 a.m. Orienteering start is open 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. All courses close at 1:30 pm.

Learn how to find your way without batteries or a cell phone signal – by using a map and compass. All material provided no experience necessary.

Orienteering is a family friendly sport for people of all ages and ability levels. Perfect for individuals and families who love the outdoors. Please preregister online here; or by calling 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leaving your name, phone number, and number of participants.

Harvest Moon Night Hike at the Genesee County Park & Forest

Come join us on a night hike through a moonlit forest with our Harvest Moon Night Hike at the Genesee County Park & Forest from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14th.

Look and listen for nocturnal animals that can’t be seen or heard during the day! Hear tales of the full moon that comes at the beginning of fall, and learn the origins of its name.

Cost is $5/person, $10/family. Preregistration required, call 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leave your name, phone number, and number of participants to reserve your spot.

Geocaching at DeWitt Recreation Area

Get out and try a high-tech scavenger hunt with our Geocaching at DeWitt Recreation Area program from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21st.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt game that can be played anytime and anywhere. Create a personal alias or team name to let others know you were here. Sign up as a group or by yourself. No prior geocaching experience is necessary, a lesson and GPS unit is provided.

Dress for the weather and be ready for adventure! Meet at Pavilion 3 at DeWitt Recreation Area.

Cost is $5/person, $10/family. Preregistration is required. Call 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leave your name, phone number, and number of participants to register.

Wild Turkeys at the Genesee County Park & Forest

Did you know that wild turkeys can swim? Or that they can fly 55 miles per hour? Join the National Wild Turkey Federation and Women in the Outdoors for Wild Turkeys at the Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Nature Center from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28th to learn more cool facts and find out how turkeys survive in the wild.

Then head out to the forest and fields to practice turkey calls and see where they can live! This program is FREE! Recommended for ages 8 and up. Preregistration required. Reserve your spot by calling 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leaving your name, phone number, and number of participants.

For more information visit the park & forest website here, or contact the park office at 585-344-8508.

Genesee County Park and Forest is located at 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany.

DeWitt Recreation Area is located at 115 Cedar St. in the City of Batavia.

Guided kayak tour of DeWitt Pond is Saturday, must preregister

By Billie Owens

Kayaking at the pond at DeWitt Recreation Area, which was cancelled last month due to the heat wave, will be offered this Saturday.

Preregistration is required on or before Thursday Aug. 8th, call 585-344-1122.

A maximum of 20 participants will be allowed.

Seize the day with a guided kayak tour of DeWitt Pond! Explore the pond by water and discover a new world.

  • Session 1 takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Session 2 takes place from 1 to 3 p.m.

Meet at the boat launch at DeWitt Recreation Area. No experience needed, a beginner kayaking lesson is provided! Rent a kayak or bring your own. Kayak rentals with life vests are provided by Adventures in Fitness Inc. Solo kayak rentals are available for ages 12 and up, tandem kayak rentals are available for kids under 12 and must be piloted by an adult.

Guided tour fee is $20/person without rental or $25/person with kayak rental per session. Fee for children under 12 is $12 per session. Maximum 20 participants per session.

For more information visit the website here, or contact Kayla Edmunds or (585) 344-1122.

Wednesday Wanders

By Judy Spring

Discover what’s happening at Genesee County Park & Forest. We’ll walk on a variety of trails, see what flora and fauna are about, and enjoy being outdoors. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Wednesdays in September 10am -11:30am (Adult Program)

Cost: $5/person/walk or $16 for all 4 walks (paid at first walk)

Pre-Registration Required. Genesee County Park & Forest 11095 Bethany Center Rd., E. Bethany

For More Information and To Register, Call #585-344-1122

Event Date and Time

Wednesday Wanders

By Judy Spring

Discover what’s happening at Genesee County Park & Forest. We’ll walk on a variety of trails, see what flora and fauna are about, and enjoy being outdoors. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather.

Wednesdays in September 10am -11:30am (Adult Program)

Cost: $5/person/walk or $16 for all 4 walks (paid at first walk)

Pre-Registration Required.

Genesee County Park & Forest 11095 Bethany Center Rd., E. Bethany

For More Information and To Register, Call #585-344-1122.

Event Date and Time

GCC trail plan for Batavia wins Spirit Award in business plan competition

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The "Spirit Award" in the Social Entrepreneurship / Nonprofit category was awarded to five Genesee Community College students after they presented their "Batavia Loop Trail and Bordering Business Development" plan to a team of judges at the fifth annual New York Business Plan Competition in Albany last Friday, April 25, 2014. The annual competition invites students from colleges around the state to submit innovative ideas designed to address a currently unmet need in one of six categories.

The GCC students presenting the Batavia Loop Trail (BLT) included Tara Beckens of Clifton Springs, Danielle Cannella, Richard DelPlato, and Maryssa Peirick, all from Batavia, and Adrienne Payne, of Byron. As members of GCC's CEO or Earth Clubs, they envision developing an 11-mile loop trail that skirts around the edge of the City and Town of Batavia connecting a wide array of businesses and regional resources -- from ice cream shops and restaurants to Batavia's treasure trove of city and county parks.The BLT maximizes the idyllic views of Tonawanda Creek and would provide safer walking and bicycling pathways to GCC, College Village, as well as Batavia High School and Genesee Valley Educational Partnership/BOCES on State Street.

The project builds upon the growing international interest and economy of bicycling tourism, and also on Batavia's proximity to NYS Thruway providing a huge tourist market. BLT also links into the new Ellicott Trail, which was recently awarded $1.5 million through NYSDOT Transportation Enhancement Fund. Students researched state and federal funding resources and were delighted to learn that BLT potentially meets many of the criteria for funds from the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), Consolidated Funding Application (CFA), NYSERDA's Cleaner Greener Communities, and Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

Lastly, and most importantly to the students – the long-term vision poses excellent hands-on learning opportunities not only for GCC students but for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP/BOCES). Next year, students hope to present a plan to GCC's Board of Trustees sharing their idea of creating a small on-campus business, the Recreational Rental Center, giving both students and the general public the opportunity to rent bicycles for the trail and potentially other equipment such as tennis rackets or soccer balls. The new micro-business will provide future GCC students enrolled in Business Administration, Accounting, Sport Management, Travel & Tourism, Web Design, Digital Arts and Physical Education with excellent co-op, internship and work study opportunities. Equally dynamic is providing GVEP/BOCES students enrolled in Conservation, Welding and Automotive Technology programs the chance to help develop and maintain the trail.

The students say the BLT is a "transformative idea that extends out 11 years," but they divided the overall plan into five phases with the most easily implemented segments of the trail opening in 2018. Before heading off to Albany, they shared the BLT idea with local key officials, including New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and City of Batavia Manager Jason Molino, and were delighted the concept was unanimously well received.

"When Jason Molino called the project a 'home run' and pointed out how it would enhance Batavia's quality of life, the students were smiling from ear to ear," said Donna Rae Sutherland, GCC's staff advisor for the project. "While they will probably no longer be GCC students when the project becomes a reality, they are excited to pass the torch along to their peers. And, they hope they will be able to use the trail in the future with their own children years down the road -- or perhaps I should say path!"

The New York Business Program Competition is hosted by the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), University at Albany's School of Business and Syracuse University. It has become the premier collegiate contest encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship throughout New York's colleges and universities in the following 10 regional economic zones: Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Western New York, Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island.

Dedicated volunteers and cooperation among riders make snowmobile recreation possible in Genesee County

By Howard B. Owens

Out on a trail in Oakfield, a first-time snowmobiler with a camera decided to stop, letting his guide continue ahead for a bit, and looked back at the path just taken and see if the area might be photogenic.

It wasn't.

When the rookie turned back to put his hands on the handlebars, his palm accidentally hit the engine's kill switch.

He had no idea how to restart this machine.

No worries really. The rider knew his guide, Jim Elmore, would turn around before long and see the rookie was no longer trailing. Elmore is past-president of Genesee County Sno-Packers Snowmobile Club and the current president of NYSSA (New York State Snowmobilers Association).

Perhaps the guide had a bit of fear that the rookie had done something horrid with Jane Chaddock's sled, like zoom it off the trail into a ditch, and he would return.

About this time, a young rider on a neon green and black snowmobile happened along the trail and offered assistance.

And that's sort of how it goes in the snowmobile community in Genesee County -- a cooperative spirit, riders helping riders.

It takes a dedicated group of volunteers to maintain the 175 miles of snowmobile trails in the county, and Sno-Packers (along with Sleds of Stafford) are the organizations that ensure the work gets done.

If not, as volunteer groomer Greg Rich said, "It would be pretty rough out here. There would probably be no snowmobilers."

The Sno-Packers own three machines for grooming the trails. Each costs more than $200,000, and the grooming drags cost another $12,000 each, plus the club spends from $25,000 to $30,000 a year on operations and maintenance.

Ten to 12 volunteers operate the groomers. A couple, such as Rich, spend more than 10 hours a day out on trails, keeping the snow smooth and packed so riding is not only possible, but safer.

The club also maintains trail signs that provide directions and GPS coordinates to riders so they don't get lost and have some idea of where they are in an emergency.

Snowmobile clubs also provide a safety and riding classes, not to mention social events.

It's a monumental effort and involves an interesting bit of cooperation between private non-profit groups and state agencies.

In fact, Elmore noted that while citizens often complain about state government, snowmobile groups, and certainly Sno-Packers often find government agencies to be cooperative allies.

As an example, Emore pointed to a trail that connects Alexander and Bethany. It's an old railroad bed owned by the Department of Environmental Conservation. After years of wondering why it wasn't a snowmobile trail, the Sno-Packers reached out to the DEC and inquired about turning it into a trail. The DEC's response? "We thought you'd never ask."

Much of the funding for trail maintenance comes from license fees for snowmobiles collected by the state (unlicensed snowmobiles, and there are some, then, are the bane of good trail maintenance). 

The state pays Genesee Sno-Packers to maintain 150 miles of trail. The club pays for the extra 25 miles out of its own dues.

A ride on one of these trails reveals a side of Genesee County that you're never going to see from a state highway or county road. The vistas and views are completely different and reveal even greater variety of our area's beauty.

In fact, if your concept of snowmobiles is that of a bunch of speed demons racing around the countryside, that's hardly the truth at all. Snowmobilers are photography buffs (Chaddock, for example, always packs a camera and is known among club members for her eye-catching photography), birders and nature lovers.

On the trail, you come across a variety of wildlife and that's part of the fun of the ride.

Doug Kelly brings innovation and a passion for the outdoors to job at Darien Lakes State Park

By Howard B. Owens

NOTE: Earlier this year, the Chamber of Commerce published its annual Genesee County Tourism magazine and for the second year in a row, The Batavian participated in the publication by producing photos and stories. Today, for our Sunday reading, we're publishing four of our stories. For more on why Genesee County is a great place to live and to visit, click here for

Doug Kelly gets to do things every day he really enjoys: Helping to maintain a diverse and interesting ecosystem and providing people with a place to play and relax.

"This park is a kind of joy for me," said Kelly, who is manager for Darien Lakes State Park. "I enjoy being able to work outdoors and have interaction with people who have come to be in the outdoors. I can teach them a little and give them something to enjoy."

Kelly overseas a more than 1,800 acres of woodlands and meadows with thousands of plant and animals species, a 12-acre recreational lake (boating, swimming and fishing), and 158 campsites.

In his four-year tenure as park manager he's introduced weekly music concerts and disk golf as well as overseen various conservation measures, including partnering with a local group to reclaim several acres of former farmland into meadows.

The park is traversed by more than 18 miles of trails, both for hiking and snowmobiling, and the picturesque-in-places Eleven Mile Creek.

"The amount of open space is really one of the park's strengths," Kelly said. "There are a variety of paths for activities and all of it is open for recreation, hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hunting. That's a real plus for the park. You're able to camp here, hike here, swim here. That's the benefit of the park."

Kelly, who is married with two school-age children, lives in his hometown of Perry, in Wyoming County, just south of Genesee County. He started his parks career as a teenager at Darien Lakes, working as a recreation assistant.

As he completed his bachelor's in technology of wildlife management at SUNY Catskills, he moved his way up in park management. After a stint with the Delaware parks system, he moved back to New York and managed Beaver Island on Grand Island.

When the chance came to return to Darien Lakes, he couldn't let the opportunity pass by.

"The biodiversity of the park is special," Kelly said. "The land can vary so much, from older forest -- stands of trees that have been here before the park was formed -- to meadows we are helping to restore and maintain, and the shrub in between. That kind of layout gives the park a great number of different communities and habitats."

One of Kelly's biggest innovations at the park has been disk golf. The year-old course is bringing in amateur and pro golfers alike from throughout Western New York. Expert golfers find that the new course, which winds through an old apple orchard and wooded hills, presents a fun challenge.

Though Kelly doesn't play the sport himself, he learned how successful a course could be at Beaver Island.

"To see people that come in, a new group of people that never would have come if we didn't have this activity here, is really exciting," Kelly said.

He believes the challenging course will grow in popularity as more disk golfers learn about it.

All-in-all, Kelly said he will continue to work to find ways to improve the park and make it more attractive to the people of Western New York.

"Once in a while I hear, 'wow, I never knew this park was here,' " Kelly said. "If we can reach out and grab people who wouldn't normally come to the park and then they see what we have and come back year after year, that is really good."

Facebook page for 'inclusive park' launched

By Howard B. Owens

Plans to upgrade Kiwanis Park, on West Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia, to become an "inclusive park" (one that accommodates children and adults with disabilities) continue to move forward.

Local community members have been meeting recently, planning the process and starting the fundraising.

One of the first steps is the creation of a Facebook page in support of the project. Go like it.

Previously: Town of Batavia looking at upgrading Kiwanis Park to accommodate children with disabilities

New boat launch may help revive the Tonawanda as a recreational asset for Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

This summer, the Town of Batavia will build a small boat launch -- for canoes and kayaks -- behind Kiwanis Park, giving visitors and local residents a way to easily access the Tonawanda Creek between the city and East Pembroke.

There was a time -- in the early 20th Century -- when the Tonawanda in Batavia was more favored by local residents seeking recreation.

Officials with the town and the Soil and Water Conservation District hope the boat launch is just one more piece in place toward transforming the small river into a recreational asset again.

"We definitely want to encourage recreational use," said George Squires, conservation district manager. "Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, taking a look at nature -- there's a whole lot of things going on along the creek that people probably won't see if they aren't paddling along the creek somewhere."

The boat launch is being paid for with a $6,000 grant secured by the conversation district.

The town is supplying the design and engineering work.

Tom Lichtenthal, assistant town engineer and highway superintendent, said it will take two months to complete the permits.

Squires said he's hoping for a July 4th opening.

The launch will be constructed along an inlet stream that runs between Kiwanis Park and the former location of the Batavia Motel (acquired by the Town of Batavia).

Lichtenthal explained that there will be a path from the parking lot down to the water and a stone launch for the boats.

Only small boats will be allowed to use the launch. If the boat needs to be hauled by a trailer, it's too big.

While it's not part of the plan, Lichtenthal said he dreams of the day there might be funding to create a walking path -- or paving for bikes, too -- from River Street in the city to East Pembroke.

Some time in the middle part of the 20th Century, the creek apparently lost some of its appeal for recreational use.

Squires suspects property owners who adjoin the publicly owned waterway and creek banks restricted access.

Or it could have been the dredging of the creek, making its banks steeper and therefore harder to access.

Lictenthal -- and Squires says it was a problem -- suspects foul water from the previous wastewater plant kept people away.

Twenty years ago, the city -- with cooperation from the town -- installed a lagoon-style wastewater plant, meaning the water from the sewer plant is much, much cleaner by the time it's piped to the creek.

"We can point to a definite improvement in the creek," Squires said. "The water quality wasn't as good before the city upgraded the sewage system and that deterred some people from thinking of doing things on the creek. Now, the creek is in pretty good shape."

The access, Lichtenthal explained, will help return a "natural element" to the creek and hopefully be inviting enough for people to make good use of the launch.

The new boat launch will give people access to the creek from the dam behind the courthouse (if people want to paddle upstream and then drift back to the launch), down to the falls in East Pembroke (and people will need to paddle upstream to get back to the launch).

At some point, town officials would like to provide a second launch downstream in East Pembroke so boaters can travel downstream and not worry about getting back to the launch upstream.

There's also a launch behind Kibbe Park in the city -- that Lichtenthal said is hard to access and use -- but because of the falls behind the courthouse, it won't be possible for boaters to start in the city and end at the town's new launch.

Photo from the book "Batavia," by Barbara Ann Toal. In 1910, two brothers built three boats capable of carrying recreational passengers on the Tonawanda Creek. The Bluebelle, above, was destroyed in a flood in 1922.

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Batavia Sports Park has room to grow

By Howard B. Owens

When loyal Batavian Bea McManis visited Hornell for a horseshoe tournament she was impressed with what she found -- a city-sponsored, championship-caliber facility that brought in people from all over the state to stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants.

In a comment on The Batavian, she also noted Hornell annually closes down Main Street for a basketball tournament.

"In my opinion, Batavia is shortsighted when it comes to utilizing its best asset," Bea wrote. "We are located in a perfect spot to make the city a mecca for recreational events such as Hornell had over the weekend."

Ted Hawley shares the vision.

A couple of years ago he approached Craig Yunker, owner of Batavia Turf, about letting him organize soccer tournaments on the grass he grows.

After ironing out some details with the Town of Batavia, Hawley and Yunker opened the Batavia Sports Park off Bank Street Road.

The Town of Batavia chipped in $41,000 to lease the land from Yunker and provide an entrance and gravel parking lot.

"We already know just on that first tournament, the pay back," said Town of Batavia Board Member John Gerace. "We don't know dollars yet but we'll be looking at some numbers on what the pay back is to the town and Genesee County and the city."

This spring, Hawley attracted two significant soccer events to the new sports park -- an Olympic team camp and an Empire United Soccer Academy event.

But Hawley's vision doesn't stop with soccer -- he sees no reason that the facility can't become a major stopping off point for tournaments, camps and clinics for lacrosse, baseball and softball and any other sport.

He would like to see expanded facilities and more fields.

"In my wildest dreams, this could really be a great product between Rochester and Buffalo," Hawley said.

And Yunker is certainly open to expansion. He pointed to a cornfield and said, "we could put another three soccer fields there and another three in the next field over."

"There's 74 acres here," Yunker added.

Nobody's yet talking about the dollars and cents to make it happen, but the town board visited the facility Wednesday to see what some of the immediate issues are, which include some sort of shelter for players and parents (protection during storms), expanded parking and a second access point to Bank Street Road, so there would be only one way in, and one way out for drivers.

Even as board members Hawley and Yunker expressed pleasure and awe at all of the families making use of the facility on Wednesday, Yunkers noted that the future of the Sports Park isn't a done deal.

"The town hasn’t committed past this year. I haven’t committed past this year," Yunker said. "This is sort of a see-how-it-develops and see-if-the-community-supports-it and see-if-it-makes-sense."

Tonawanda Creek Watershed Committee

By Elizabeth Bentley-Huber

Do you have concerns with the Tonawanda Creek and it's watershed area? Then join our diverse group as we begin to address these concerns with a goal of drafting a long-range plan for the watershed. All are welcome to attend! Meeting starts at 6:30 pm thru 8:30 pm on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at the Pembroke Community Hall located at 116 E. Main St. (Rt# 33) in Corfu, NY 14036

Event Date and Time

Assemblyman Hawley Invites All to Attend Free Boater Safety Course

By Steve Hawley







Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia), in conjunction with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Parks and Marine Unit and New York State Parks Police, is hosting a free Boater Safety Course for the public.  The course will be held on Saturday, June 20 at Hamlin State Park.


“We are fortunate to live in one of the best tourist destinations in the Northeast.  This summer, I encourage everyone to rediscover their own backyard and am inviting all boaters to join me at this free and informative event,” said Hawley.


New York State law requires that all boaters pass an 8-hour boating safety course if:


§         You operate a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski, and are at least 14 years of age;

§         You wish to operate a motorboat (other than a personal watercraft) and you are at least 10-years-old and less than 18-years-old;


Steve Hawley’s free Boating Safety Course is an officially-recognized 8-hour safety course, as required by law.  Subjects covered include: proper equipment, the rules of the water, buoys, safe operation, accidents and special activities.  Although the course is free, there will be a $10 fee for processing a permanent boating safety certificate with the New York State Department of Parks.  Anyone caught boating without a safety certificate may face fines and or imprisonment.

Details of the course include:


Assemblyman Steve Hawley’s Boating Safety Course

Hosted in conjunction with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department


Saturday, June 20, 2009

8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Participants should bring a bagged lunch


Hamlin State Park, Shelter 1

1 Camp Road

Hamlin, NY 14464


RSVP by calling Assemblyman Hawley’s office at 585-598-5780





Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show and Sale

By christine daly

The Arts Council for Wyoming County presents the 33rd Annual Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show and Sale on Columbus Day Weekend, featuring handcrafts of 300+ artisans from all over the US. Enjoy the peak fall foliage at Letchworth State Park along with the best in pottery, paintings, quilts and fiber arts, handcrafted jewelry, photography, furniture, decorative painting, dried floral pieces and more. Food vendors and live entertainment. Handicap parking available. Curbside pickup of heavy purchases. Free with park admission. Shuttle bus service is also available from American Outfitters, Rte. 39, Perry.

Oct. 11,12 &13 from 10 am to 5 pm at the Highbanks Recreation Area of Letchworth State Park.

Info: or call (585) 237-3517

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