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Tenney votes for legislation to intended to help veterans and military families

By Press Release

Press Release:

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) today voted in favor of H.R. 8580, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2025, to fund essential military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This legislation passed the House by a vote of 209-197.

"Ensuring our nation's servicemembers and veterans have access to top-tier benefits, facilities, and care while strengthening our national security is essential to our country's prosperity," said Congresswoman Tenney. "H.R. 8580 guarantees that servicemembers, veterans, and their families are supported and receive the benefits they are owed for their service and sacrifice. The bill provides a vital investment in U.S. military infrastructure by improving Department of Defense facilities and enhancing the lives of military families through much-needed funding for family housing and child development centers. Additionally, this bill takes steps to uphold pro-life principles, protect our veterans’ Second Amendment rights, and crack down on the Biden administration’s “woke” policies. By passing this bill through regular order, House Republicans reaffirm our commitment to uphold Congress's power of the purse and curb the wasteful spending of the Biden Administration while supporting our military. Voting in favor of this bill today reaffirms my commitment to our veterans and active-duty military by ensuring their housing, health care programs, and benefits are fully funded while bolstering our national security."

Key Provisions in the FY25 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Bill:

  • Provides $337.4 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fully fund veterans’ health care, benefits and VA programs
  • Includes $2 billion for Military Family Housing
  • Supplies $75 million above the enacted level for child development centers
  • Issues $1.1 billion for investments in the Indo-Pacific region to improve the United States strategic posture in the region
  • Prohibits funding to promote or advance critical race theory and the Biden Administration’s DEI agenda
  • Bans taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions
  • Protects Veterans’ Second Amendment rights by prohibiting the VA from reporting a veteran to NICS for using a fiduciary to apply for a lawful purchase

Decorative Painters group presents hand-painted boxes to patients at VA Hospital

By Howard B. Owens
painters club va center gift boxes

On Wednesday, the Genesee Country Decorative Painters presented more than two dozen hand-painted decorative boxes for staff at the VA Hospital in Batavia to hand out to patients.

Helen Ronin said that every year, the group selects one or two community projects. This year, they decided to give back to the VA for its ongoing support of the group. The VA allows the group to meet regularly in the hospital's auditorium.

"We did this to present to the veterans because e of their service and what they've done for us," Ronin said. "And they let us meet here every time we need it."

The boxes contain a couple of useful items. Veterans might receive them on their birthdays or other special occasions or just because they need a "pick-me-up."

"They just need to know sometimes, if somebody is having a really hard time, that people do care," Ronin said.

The Decorative Painters are hobbyists who paint on objects.

"We paint pictures, wood, furniture, whatever. Whatever is in our way we get rid of it by painting on it," Ronin said with a laugh.

Cindy Baker, volunteer services specialist for the Batavia VA, said the VA is grateful for the donations.

"These are beautiful," she said. "They are gorgeous. I'm happy to be able to hand these to veterans and they will be very, very happy to receive these."

Photos by Howard Owens.

painters club va center gift boxes
painters club va center gift boxes
painters club va center gift boxes
painters club va center gift boxes
painters club va center gift boxes
painters club va center gift boxes

Batavia Downs provides 2,500 concert tickets for summer series to area veterans

By Press Release
veterans batavia downs tickets

Press release:

Officials from Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel presented 2,250 complimentary tickets to William Joyce, Director of the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency. The tickets included 250 Tickets from each of Batavia’s Rockin’ the Downs Summer Concerts.

“This marks the 6th year in a row that Batavia Downs supported our local Veterans with free tickets to our shows, “said Batavia Downs CEO and President Henry Wojtaszek.  “Giving back to our local Veterans for all they’ve done for our country is something we are proud of.”

Tickets for the concert series can be purchased at  Performances include:

  • June 21st       Smashmouth
  • June 28th      Barracuda (Heart Tribute)
  • July 5th          April Wine & Carl Dixon
  • July 12th        Clay Walker
  • July 19th        Peace Frog (Doors Tribute)
  • July 26th       Bacon Brothers
  • August 2nd   Rumours ATL & Practically Petty (Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty Tribute)
  • August 9th    38 Special
  • August 16th  Tommy DeCarlo/Jason Scheff and August Zadra (The Music of Boston, Chicago and Styx)


Hawley visits Jackson Primary students for his annual Valentines for Veterans program

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Assemblyman Steve Hawley with students at Jackson Primary.

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) hosted his annual Valentines for Veterans program. Hawley teamed up with Jackson Primary and Robert Morris School to deliver over 150 handmade valentines from students to the residents at The New York State Veterans Home at Batavia. 

During this time, Hawley spoke to students about the importance of veterans and their service to our nation. Hawley hopes this event will raise awareness of veterans' issues and show the community’s appreciation for their service and sacrifice for our country.

“As a veteran myself, I understand the sacrifices our veterans have made to keep our country free,” said Hawley. “This is why every year I put on our Valentines for Veterans program to get our community involved in supporting our veterans. I’m thankful to the faculty and students at Jackson Primary and Robert Morris School for partnering with us this year and I hope to continue to put this event on for years to come.”

Batavia Downs donates $7K to Veterans Court

By Howard B. Owens
batavia downs donation
Submitted photo

Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek presented representatives from the Rochester Veterans Treatment Court with a check for $7,000 to help support their efforts of assisting Veterans within the court system.

On Oct. 21, a Vets night dinner was held at Batavia Downs in conjunction with a night of live racing.  Proceeds from live and penny auctions were collected in support of the Rochester Veterans Treatment Court.

“We are appreciative to Sean Schiano from Batavia Downs for thinking of us, “said Ray Melens, Lead Mentor for the Monroe County Veterans Court.  “The funds are so important for us to continue our work as we look to assist Veterans who find themselves within the court system.  We strive to identify and treat the underlying issues facing many Veterans to help them get back on the right path.”

“Veterans have a special meaning for Batavia Downs, “said Wojtaszek.  “So many of our own employees volunteered their time, as well as donated many of the baskets for our Penny Auction.  One of our directors, Michael Horton, was the auctioneer for the live-action which helped raise additional funds.”

Veterans Services Officer inducted into Hall of Fame for his dedicated service to veterans

By Howard B. Owens
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
Command Sergeant Major William Joyce (U.S. Army, Retired) of Pembroke, and the Genesee County Veterans Services Officer, upon his induction into the New York Senate Veterans Hall of Fame on Friday at Botts Fiorito American Legion Post No. 576 in Le Roy.
Photo by Howard Owens.

It was obvious on Friday that Bill Joyce is a man surrounded by a family that loves him, and he loves his wife, daughters, and grandchildren.

But he also loves the veterans he serves.

"I can remember the Christmas parties and some of the fondest memories of my sparkly little dress with my sparkly little shoes," said his daughter Jacqueline Joyce. "Watching my dad's troops laugh and joke with him. And the random memory I have of him holding a newborn baby and sitting next to him and watching him look down in awe. It was in that moment I understood. This was his second family. That was what resonated with me. This is my dad's second family, his veterans."

Joyce served in the US Army on active and reserve duty for 40 years.  He is a retired New York State Police mechanic and quartermaster.  Since 2012, he has been Genesee County's Veterans Services Officer and, by all accounts, performing his duties above and beyond the call of duty.

Both because of his service to his community and to veterans, on Friday, United States Army Command Sergeant Major William Joyce (Ret.) of Pembroke was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame Friday by New York State Sen. George M. Borrello during a ceremony at the Botts Fiorito American Legion Post No. 576 in Le Roy.

Joyce's three daughters, Verna Cromwell, Jacqueline, and Amanda Werner, with their mother, Susan, and children in the audience, gave speeches at the ceremony honoring him as a father and a man committed to service.

"His transition to VSO only seemed like the next move for him to continue taking care of his boys, his soldiers and his veterans," said Jacqueline, who herself served in the military, the U.S. Air Force and is currently a member of the Air Force reserve. "As a VSO dad has helped countless veterans in any part of the world. In his time, as VSO, he has taken pride in making Memorial Day and Veterans Day more memorable. He takes pride in securing Batavia PD to block off traffic at the Upton Monument and having flags placed for the fallen when their names are read (at the War Memorial at (Jerome Center) improving the experience for the families observing. Most importantly for me, I get to spend half the day with my hero, laughing, joking, sweating, freezing, and getting soaked, similar to last Veterans Day, where my boots had to be disposed of because they were so soggy."

In his opening remarks, Borrello noted the sacrifices Joyce and his family made because of his commitment to serve his country.

After training at Fort Dix in 1972, Joyce entered an Army that was winding down involvement in Vietnam.  He was stationed as a Specialist Fourth Class in Germany to guard the Eastern Border when Czechoslovakia was still communist and a Cold War threat to Western democracy.

"After his active tour ended in 1975, he returned home and began a 40-year civilian career with the New York State Police," Borello said. "He also resumed his military service by enlisting in the Army Reserve to continue defending his home and country. In the reserves. He rose through the ranks to become a Command Sergeant Major. He had several deployments overseas to Bosnia, to Iraq twice, and to Afghanistan. The deployments in the Middle East carried particular risks and often involved breaking down the doors of suspected terrorists and going into the mountains to find their training sites. These deployments were also long, 15 months or more, requiring them to be away from his wife and daughters for long stretches of time. He missed birthdays, holidays, school concerts, and much more."

As a soldier, Joyce has been awarded a Bronze Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, and two NATO medals, among many other honors from the U.S. Army.

Joyce's daughters recalled those deployments as times of concern and absence but also of love.

"In the late 90s, things started to get more serious," Cromwell recalled. "I can remember my parents listening to the conflict of Kosovo and Bosnia on the radio while we were getting ready for my school Christmas concert. It would only be a few months later that Dad would leave us to go to Bosnia for nine months -- the longest time he'd ever been away to my memory. I still have the letters he wrote and emails I printed. He may have been half a world away, but he was still very much a part of our everyday lives. This would continue to be the case for his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this time, it was daily phone calls before school and before bed."

Cromwell said her dad was never bothered by being the father of three daughters.

"Sure, I witnessed people asking him about wanting a son, but it's a core memory for me of him replying, 'There's nothing you can do with three boys that you can't do with three girls.' And he was right," Cromwell said. "There were many mornings driving to school listening to Army cadences. I still sing these from time to time and was absolutely thrilled on Christmas when my mom dubbed the cassettes on a CD for us. There's truly nothing like hiking through a state park and belting out, 'Don't let your dog tags dangle in the dirt.'"

Both Cromwell and Jacqueline recalled most fondly their father's assignment to Colorado Springs.  The weekends were filled with trips to Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods, the Great Sand Dunes, Denver, and other points of interest in the area.

But Joyce wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame just because he's a good family man.  He was inducted because of the tireless work he has done for veterans.

"It is his policy to never refuse help to a veteran no matter their circumstances or where they live," Borrello said. "In fact, he has assisted veterans from as far away as California, Texas, Germany and even the Philippines."

Joyce has a reputation in the veterans' community for getting things done that few other VSOs can accomplish.

"Among his many achievements are two cases where he was able to secure 100 percent disability ratings for terminally ill veterans in record time, one within 24 hours and another within 18 hours to make government work that fast. God bless you. That's amazing. Those veterans died with peace of mind knowing that their spouses would receive critically needed survivor benefits."

Kathleen Ryan, a retired VA social worker, said she regularly gets calls from veterans throughout the region looking for help dealing with the Veterans Administration. As a result, she still speaks to Bill Joyce at least once a week.

Ryan is the person who nominated Joyce for the Hall of Fame.

"He never says no," Ryan said. "I don't know, anybody, and I've been in the business for a long time -- I'm a veteran -- I don't know anybody who has worked as hard in the daily grind of veteran work. We're talking about the daily grind of things that come in the door. And Bill has never said no."

She recalled a recent example of Joyce's dedication to serving veterans. She got a phone call from the wife of a veteran who couldn't get the help he needed from another VSO, so Ryan called Joyce.

"I call in the county service officer, and he says, 'I don't do home visits,'" Ryan said. "I say, 'this guy who is going to die is Vietnam Vet One Bravo, which is an infantry unit. He's got his house set up, the living room was set up with a hospital bed. His wife is there, and this man is going to pass any moment. He can't get in the car and go to Livingston County. It was a Thursday. I called up Bill.  He says. 'I've got it. I'm going to Albany. I got to be in Albany on Friday, meet me -- because I live in Rochester -- meet me on the Thruway.' I said, 'Okay.' We met at the Cracker Barrel in the parking lot. I got the paperwork. I've got the medical. I got everything. It's a Friday, Bill took it Saturday ... and he did all the work. By Monday, this guy was 100 certified and he had never even been seen in the VA. Never. And his wife now has spousal benefits and has all the things that she needs. And this man was able to pass away knowing his wife was going to be taken care of."

Assemblyman Steve Hawley noted that Joyce has never traveled to Washington D.C. with other veterans on Hawley's annual Patriot Trip, which is a testament to Joyce's commitment to veterans.

"It's four days and three nights," Hawley said. "He really just doesn't want to travel any more. He's traveled around the world serving our country. But he wants to stay right here every single day, helping our veterans, and for that, I respect him."

County Manager Matt Landers, with his oversight over county finances, noted that some might object to Joyce helping veterans who are not residents of Genesee County.

"Some could argue because Mr. Bill Joyce is paid for with Genesee County resources, that were helping veterans from outside of the county," Landers. "That's not even a discussion that I could have with Mr. Joyce, because there is no border for veterans. So Mr. Bill Joyce attracts them from far and away, and we support his efforts to support any veteran that is in need, whether they come across our boundary or border or he goes to them to wherever they are."

Then turning to Joyce with a smile, said, "Just please, limit the number of countries you visit." 

Verna, Jacqueline, and Amanda, all expressed how proud they are of their father.

"I could think of no one more deserving of this recognition than my dad, from the love he has given his family and the dedication and care he has given to the community of veterans, he has shown," Verna said. "He can do many different roles and excelled greatly at them. He is the prime example of 'Army - Be All You Can Be' because he has been in every way possible."

Jacqueline said, "Dad held many titles -- son, brother, husband, father, friend and soldier, and, specifically to me, my hero."

Amanda said she's inherited a title from her father, "Bill Joyce's Daughter."

"I'm Bill's youngest daughter," Amanda said. "'Bill Joyce's Daughter' is an alternative name I've gone by my whole life, even more commonly than my actual name, because he's a person that everybody knows. No matter where I am, I'm recognized by that title at least once. That's a testimony of how many lives he's touched throughout his many phases of life.

She concluded, "This award presented to him today comes with no surprise to the many that know him. He's passionate about the work he does, always sees any given task through and gets the job done like no other. On any given day, but especially today, I continue to proudly carry the title of Bill Joyce's Daughter."

bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
Bill Joyce and State Sen. George Borrello.
Photo by Howard Owens.
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
The grandchildren of Bill Joyce leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
Photo by Howard Owens.
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
Photo by Howard Owens.
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
Kathleen Ryan, the person who nominated Bill Joyce for the Hall of Fame, speaking.
Photo by Howard Owens.
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein.
Photo by Howard Owens
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
County Manager Matt Landers.
Photo by Howard Owens.
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
Verna Cromwell speaking.
Photo by Howard Owens.
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame
Jacqueline Joyce
Photo by Howard Owens
bill joyce veterans service officer hall of fame

BHS to honor local veterans on Nov. 9

By Press Release

Press Release:

On Thursday, Nov. 9 the Batavia High School faculty, administration, and students are planning to celebrate and honor our Veterans in Genesee County. 

We would like to invite our Genesee County Veterans to attend our ceremony to honor and thank you for your service to our country.

All veterans are asked to arrive at 8 a.m. at Batavia High School. The ceremony will begin at 8:15 a.m. in the Batavia High School Auditorium. There will be performances from our High School Band, orchestra, and Chorus, a student representative speaker, and a keynote speaker. 

After the ceremony, we will be offering a reception for our veterans in the High School Library. 

If you are interested in attending the Veteran’s Day Ceremony, RSVP the following information:

  1. Name (Full Military Title)
  2. Years of service
  3. Military Branch

Please email or mail by Nov. 1.


Collin Murtaug
Batavia High School
260 State Street
Batavia, NY 14020

Email: or 

If you have a picture of you in uniform, please send it in with a reservation. We will return the picture on Nov. 9 at the end of the ceremony. We hope you can join us!

HLOM hosting open house to honor Genesee County Veterans

By Press Release

Press Release:

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., the Anna Ingalsbe Lovell NSDAR chapter and the Holland Land Office Museum (HLOM) are collaborating on a special event to honor our Genesee County veterans and Vietnam War-era veterans.

All veterans plus 1 guest will have their entrance fees waived and will receive a small goodie bag; Vietnam War-era veterans, who have not yet been acknowledged by the Vietnam 50 Commemorative Committee, will also receive the DAR Certificate and an eagle pin.

Any military personnel, with an honorable discharge, who served during the Vietnam War era is eligible for the Award Certificate and eagle pin. Please pre-register your name and service for your Certificate. If you are unable to attend, please let us know by November 30 so we can arrange another time & date. Robin Laney Ettinger, a member of the NSDAR chapter, has created a limited-time email address for inquires –

Remembrance ceremony captures importance of 9/11 at Batavia VA

By Joanne Beck
Flags in a shape of the Twin Towers NYC in rememberance of 9/11/01  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Flags representing the shape of the Twin Towers in NYC adorn the front lawn of the Batavia VA Medical Center, which served as the site for a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Monday.
 Photo by Steve Ognibene

While many people went about their usual routines Monday, there were events happening across the country, including in Genesee County, to acknowledge and memorialize the date of Sept. 11 that has become so sacred to Americans.

And veteran John McCune attended one such ceremony, believing it is something to appreciate.

“There's nothing more important and special than the ceremonies that should take place across the country for each and every school child coming up so that they can remember and absolutely understand the impact that it had on our nation,” McCune said while at the Batavia VA Medical Center flagpole during a 9/11 ceremony. “How we were all, as Americans, were drawn together based on the fact that it was a need, and they followed up with that need for those heroes that lost their lives in those buildings, attempting to save those from the building fires and eventually lost their lives by the buildings toppling down on them.”

McCune was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, having served eight years. He believes that participating in such events is a “must-do” every year, “especially for our younger generation that’s up and coming so that they too will know and have the knowledge of the events that took more than 3,000 lives in New York City.”

The driveway into the VA was lined with people for the ceremony, and the front lawn was adorned with U.S. flags to represent the shape of the Twin Towers. 

Lest anyone forget, from on Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists associated with al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist group, hijacked four commercial airplanes scheduled to fly from the East Coast to California.

In a coordinated attack that turned the planes into weapons, the terrorists intentionally flew two of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, a global business complex in New York City, causing the towers to collapse. They also flew a third plane into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va.

Passengers and crew members on the fourth plane launched a counterattack, forcing the hijacker pilot—who was flying the airplane toward Washington, D.C.—to crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, near the town of Shanksville.

The 9/11 attacks killed 2,977 people. This was the single largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil. The attacks caused the deaths of 441 first responders, the greatest loss of emergency responders on a single day in American history.

McCune commended state Senator George Borrello, who represents the 57th senate district, for also being at the ceremony, and for being “genuine” with his heartfelt remarks. 

The Batavia VA federal facility was first on his to-do list for the day, Borrello said. 

“It ties everything together — the sacrifices that had been made, literally for centuries by our military, with the attack on our nation, and the sacrifices that were made that day by people who just were going to work and not realizing that they were going to be part of what would be the war on terror,” he said. 

So for him, it just seemed like the ideal opportunity to remind everyone of that sacrifice, he said, while at the VA, where veterans who served their country reside and receive services and treatment. 

Those veterans, and Sept. 11, truly changed this nation, Borrello said.

“My fear is that our children are understanding that and understanding that the threat is still there, but the diligence is still required. And I have a lot of concerns about how the narrative has been twisted against our law enforcement,  first responders and military, that they are no longer the heroes, the ones that are on the watch, guarding us, but they have somehow been, it has been twisted to them being the enemy,” he said. “And that’s what I spoke about today, because I look at someone who might be 25 - 30 years old who may have no memory of 9/11, but is now being told that somehow the police are racist, and this and that, and all these other negative things that are said about law enforcement, when the fact is, that it didn’t matter: race, creed, color, we were united, that the politics stopped at the water’s edge, that we all bleed the same color. 

And that is what makes America great, is that diversity and the unity in that diversity.”

As a representative of the City of Batavia, Councilman-at-Large Bob Bialkowski praised the VA Medical Center, staffed by a “superb group of dedicated professionals and caring volunteers.” 

The U.S. Army Aviation Reserves veteran turned to that fateful day, when a “vile act of terror was a stain on the heart to all of us.”

“Our country is hated by half of the world because we are free people. Freedom is the enemy of evil. And the evil people of the world will always be plotting against us to enslave us to their will. We are Americans, and history shows that we're the greatest protectors of freedom in the world,” Bialkowski said. “Today, let us remember all those brave and heroic Americans who lost their lives on 9/11, 2001. Service members, police, firefighters, medical and ordinary citizens. All Americans, first and foremost.

“In closing, the entrance to the main entrance going up the stairs, there's a garden, and there's figurines representing each member of each armed force. They’re all standing there saluting. They're looking down at the grass, and I'll picture 3,000 people on the lawn, where each flag is, picture a person standing there,” he said. “So on the way out, please remember this. We will never forget, and must always remain vigilant and fight evil. We are all Americans.”

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

NYS Senator George Borrello  Photo by Steve Ognibene
NYS Senator George Borrello
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
NYS Senator Goerge Borrello address the veterans at the V.A. hospital, Batavia  Photo by Steve Ognibene
State Senator George Borrello addresses spectators and veterans during the 9/11 ceremony Monday at the VA Medical Center in Batavia.
 Photo by Steve Ognibene
City Councilman at large, Bob Bialkowski  Photo by Steve Ognibene
City Councilman-at-large Bob Bialkowski reminds folks to "remain vigilant and fight evil" during 9/11 ceremony Monday.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Photo by Steve Ognibene
NYS Senator George Borrello speaks to US Army Veteran John McCune at 9/11 rememberance service, VA hospital Batavia  Photo by Steve Ognibene
NYS Senator George Borrello speaks to U.S. Army veteran John McCune at 9/11 remembrance ceremony Monday at the VA Medical Center in Batavia.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Flags in shape of Twin towers placed on V.A. grounds this morning. Photo by Steve Ognibene
Flags representing the shape of the Twin Towers have been placed on the grounds of the VA Medical Center in Batavia.
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Lei Ti campers raise more than $9K to assist veterans

By Press Release
campers lei-ti recreation resort
Campers at Lei Ti Recreation Resort raised $9,283 for group serving veterans. From left are Sheila Hollwedel (Lei Ti owner), Val Rosehart, Gerald Sekuterski, Lauren Coe representing One Soldier at a Time,  Elizabeth Skokowski, and Joe Bellardo.
Submitted Photo

Press release: 

Campers at Lei Ti Campground in Bethany held their annual auction fundraiser on Sept. 2 in support of One Soldier at a Time, and on Saturday, presented a check for $9,283 to Lauren Coe.

Coe said One Soldier at a time runs three primary programs.  One provides gifts for wives and mothers of military members deployed overseas for Christmas, Valentine's and Mother's Day.  Another provides care packages for soldiers on deployment.  The third, which this donation benefits, assists veterans who are homeless, impoverished, in PTSD housing or in similar hardships with care products to take care of them from head to toe, from hair-care products to socks and shirts and ties, and for veterans who have passed, suits "so they can be buried with dignity." 


Hawley announces 2023 patriot trip to DC for local veterans, deadline extended

By Press Release
Submitted photo of Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) stands alongside local veterans in Washington, D.C. during last year’s Patriot Trip.

Press Release:

Earlier this summer, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) announced this year’s Patriot Trip to Washington, D.C., which will take place from September 21 - 24, where veterans and their families will get a tour of the nation’s capital and its numerous monuments and landmarks honoring those who served. 

This year’s trip will include stops at several notable locations in the D.C. area, including the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam War memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.

“I am incredibly excited to host this event for another year,” said Hawley. “This trip is a great opportunity to honor our local veterans. We owe a deep level of gratitude for all they have sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy in this nation, so being able to take them to our nation’s capital to see these historic landmarks every year is truly an honor.”

The deadline to register for this year's Patriot Trip has once again been extended. Our hotel host has informed us that because our trip is for local veterans, they are allowing us three additional weeks for sign-ups. Be sure to register by Tuesday, August 29 at 3 p.m. This trip is open to all military veterans and their families. 

The cost will be between $450-$500 per person and includes travel, accommodations, admissions, meals, and even some souvenirs. Those who are interested in participating in this event should contact Hawley’s office at 585-589-5780 or email for more details.

GC farmers market distributing checks to veterans on June 13 and July 11

By Press Release

Press Release:

On Tuesday, June 13, and Tuesday, July 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guy Sceusa from the NYS Department of Veterans Services will be at the Genesee Country Farmer's Market. Veterans will fill out a self-attestation verifying he or she is a veteran. Guy will be issuing checks to the Veterans. The market will be open that day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at Bank Street and Alva Place. 

Free concert tickets for shows at Batavia Downs made available to Genesee County veterans

By Press Release
William Joyce, Henry wojtaszek
William Joyce, veterans services officer for Genesee County, receives bundles of tickets from Batavia Downs President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek on Friday afternoon at Batavia Downs.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press Release:

Officials from Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel presented 2,000 complimentary tickets to William Joyce, Director of the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency.  250 Tickets from each of Batavia’s Summer Concert Series were included. 

“Batavia Downs has always supported our local Veterans," said Batavia Downs CEO and President Henry Wojtaszek.  “This is the fifth soncert series in a row that we’ve given tickets to the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency.  We happy to do anything we can to give back to our local Veterans for all they’ve done for our country.”

Tickets for the concert series can be purchased at  Performances include: 

  • June 23, Almost Queen (Queen Tribute)
  • June 30, Get the Led Out (Led Zeppelin Tribute)
  • July 7, Craig Morgan and Drake White
  • July 14, Skid Row
  • July 21, Marshall Tucker
  • July 28, GrassRoots with Peter Noone
  • Aug. 4, Don Felder
  • Aug. 11, Mike DelGuidice

Student art display included in Botts-Fiorito American Legion open house on Saturday

By Press Release


Press release:

The American Legion Auxiliary will be displaying artwork by Wolcott Street School 4th through 6th graders during the Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post #576 open house.

It will be the kick off to our Poppy Program and the center of the auxiliary's outreach to the public to see what the Legion has to offer.

The posters will be on display at the Legion from March 25 until Memorial Day.

The cost of freedom highlighted in Purple Heart ceremony at Pembroke High School

By Howard B. Owens


Sacrifice and service of the men and women who served in the U.S. military to protect this nation were highlighted in a Wednesday afternoon ceremony at Pembroke High School.

The event honored the Village of Corfu, Town of Pembroke, and Pembroke High School as Purple Heart Communities, and honors were bestowed by members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in recognition of Pembroke's commitment to honoring veterans and the U.S. military.

These awards are the Order's way to ensure the sacrifices service members made are not forgotten, said Ron Krul, representing the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

"When people see that Purple Heart plaque displayed (at the school), it unites students and adults of all races, religions, ages, genders, national origins, and nationalities as one united people to keep our American freedoms safe," Krul said.

In accepting the award for the Village of Corfu, Mayor Thomas Sargent recognized community members who have honored veterans in the community over the years, including Richard Beale, who organized the Memorial Day Parade; Vinnie Schollard, who ensured Main Street was lined with flags; and Mr. Spring, who distributed poppies in the community. 

"For them, and the rest of the veterans, I thank you, and I thank you for this honor," Sargent said.

Pembroke Town Supervisor Thomas Schneider recalled the Farewell Speech of President George Washington, whose likeness is on the medal, and who warned the people of the nation to avoid foreign entanglements. The Purple Heart, he said, is the high price we pay when we go to war.

"This type of recognition is important, so we recognize the sacrifices of all Purple Heart recipients and all people who served so that we understand the cost of the freedoms that we cherish so greatly in this nation," Schneider said. "I hope our leaders who vote to go into conflicts understand that cost on so many families and so many veterans and current active service members, because there is a true cost, and we can't forget that."

There are 13 former Pembroke students who have received the Purple Heart. They were each honored during the ceremony.

  • Charles Arnold, 1965,  Army, Vietnam
  • Merelle Austin, 1950,  Army,  Korea
  • Roger P. Bartholf, 1949,  Marines,  Korea
  • Lloyd Blood, 1942, Army/Air Force,  WWII
  • Roger Ditzel, 1943,  Army,  WWII
  • Jerry Dusel, 1964,  Army,  Vietnam
  • Clarence Hall, 1967,  Army,  Vietnam
  • Dennis Hoffman, 1940,  Marines,  WWII
  • Roger Kimmel, 1961,   Army,  Vietnam
  • Thomas Mattice, 1963,  Army,  Vietnam
  • Roy Schlagenhauf, 1931,  Army,  WWII
  • Wayne Snyder, 1967,  Army,  Vietnam
  • Werner C. Ziehm, 1946,  Army,  WWII

Closing remarks were delivered by Dr. John B. Long, who noted at the start of his speech, that he turned 96 two days prior.  He is a World War II veteran, a Purple Heart recipient who served in the European Theater as part of the Big Red One (The legendary 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army).

The full speech by Dr. John B. Long:

Today, I'd rather be right here because this is America at its very best.

I want to direct all of my remarks to the young people that are here this afternoon, because they are the ones that are going to lead America and carry the torch that we're leaving with the leadership for this great country. I need the young people to understand, I remember so very clearly -- I was 18 years old, in high school. One day I came home -- this was back in 1944 -- my mother handed me a little card. It was my draft notice letting me know I had been inducted in the United States Army.

Shortly after that, I was on my way down to Cape Wheeler, Georgia, for intensive infantry training.

Along the way, of course, a lot of things happened. Fortunately, for whatever reason. God spared my life as he did with some of the rest of us that are here on the stage today. But we need to understand something: We paid a huge price for the freedoms we have today. Four hundred thousand of my fellow soldiers never returned back home. The fact of the matter is, because of that, we have what we have here today in America.

My remarks to the young people here today is this: you have the greatest opportunity of your lifetime. This is America. It is the greatest country in the world. We want you to know that you can be everything that you are able to be. You have all these great opportunities in this country. You can be doctors. You can be lawyers. You can be electricians, whatever it is, because of the freedoms that you have today, because of the service of all of us from World War II, and the wonderful Purple Heart recipients over here.

I want you to understand that you have freedom of speech, you have the freedom to assemble, you have the freedom to worship as you please -- all of these great freedoms are because of what we accomplished and what happened in World War II.

I just want these young people to remember today, when you leave school today, take something home worthwhile with you. Remember, that you can be all you can be, you have the opportunity to do that, and we here today want you to do that because you need to carry out the torch of leadership for the greatest country in the world that God has ever been able to create. Thank you so much. God bless all of you, and above all, God bless America.

The event also included a moment of silence to honor Pembroke teacher Kevin Steffan, who passed away unexpectedly this week.

Photos by Howard Owens. Top photo, Mayor Tom Sargent delivering his remarks. Inset photo, Dr. John B. Long.


During the playing of the National Anthem.


Russell Ward and Ron Krul, Military Order of the Purple Heart.


Supervisor Thomas Schneider with the certificate for the Town of Pembroke presented by Ward and Krul.


The plaque presented to Pembroke HS to display at the school.


Zach Hartz and Sam Pfeiffer honor Charles Arnold, a Pembroke graduate who received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star while serving in Vietnam.


John Preisach, on the left, was friends with Purple Heart recipient Dennis Henry Hoffman, who graduated from Pembroke in 1940 and served with the U.S. Marines during WWII.  Before he died, he gave Preisach his Purple Heart, and Herzog donated it today to the Veterans Outreach Club and Pembroke High School.  Also pictured are Lily Senko, vice president of the Veterans Outreach Club, Amelia Geck, president, Arianna Hale, VP and secretary, Isla Czechowicz, treasurer. 

O-A cheerleaders looking to lift holiday spirits of veterans at NYS Vets Home

By Howard B. Owens


The Oakfield-Alabama Hornets Cheerleaders are collecting holiday decorations to donate to veterans staying at the New York State Veterans Home in Batavia.

They are accepting donations for any decor as well as holiday craft supplies so that veterans can decorate their rooms, doors, and bulletin boards for the holidays. 

The cheerleaders are also collecting holiday cards written to veterans.

There are donation boxes at the high school or contact cheerleading coach Kate Engle at

Submitted photo.


Add a wreath for a fallen veteran to your shopping list: deadline is Nov. 29

By Joanne Beck


As Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Giving Tuesday are all looming ahead for hungry shoppers, there’s also an initiative to honor local veterans worthy of your investment, Matthew Moscato says.

Wreaths Across America is a project to ensure that those veterans who have served and died are commemorated with a red-ribbon accented pine wreath during a yearly ceremony every December. This year that event is set for noon Dec. 17 at the Western New York National Cemetery, 1254 Indian Falls Road, Corfu.

And while Wreaths Across America is, as it implies, a national effort, Moscato’s Veterans Outreach Club at Pembroke Junior-Senior High School is selling the wreaths locally to also benefit the WNY National Cemetery Memorial Council, a non-profit entity that runs many of the events at the National Cemetery.

“We have 40 to 50 students, it’s the largest club at the school,” Moscato said to The Batavian. “We do a ton of stuff; our kids really wanted to promote this. The Memorial Council is in charge, and our kids play a role in helping with that. They’ve gone to the community collecting donations for the wreaths.”

They have so far collected enough for 450 wreaths, with a total need of about 1,300 this year, he said. Students volunteer to participate during the annual ceremony by helping visitors get around the large cemetery grounds, passing out wreaths and being on hand to assist with other duties. They also participate in a detail one week out of each year to take down, inspect and raise flags for the revered Avenue of Flags, he said.

“They’ve been very enthusiastic about it” he said. “They’re very integrally involved.”

For every $15 wreath sold, $5 goes to the Council to offset expenses related to the cemetery, such as maintaining U.S. flags for the Avenue of Flags and providing uniforms for the Honor Guard.

Moscato, a teacher at the school and this year’s Wreaths Across America coordinator, began the club a few years ago, and it has been growing in size and scope ever since. The group recently created a Wall of Honor for all Pembroke graduates who went into the military. An entire hallway has been dedicated for that project, and more than 230 plaques — made at the school — hang on the walls with those students’ names on them, he said.

“We held an opening ceremony that hundreds attended and many flew in from around the country to be there,” he said. “The Pembroke Veterans Outreach Club is a community service club that works to ‘honor our local veterans.’

“Our club is a pure community service club, we make no money from it,” he said. “We want to make sure there are 100 percent enough wreaths for the veterans. The kids are really excited. Being in the school district that the cemetery is in, it plays an important role … and the kids are definitely doing their part.”

Pembroke Veterans Outreach Club is selling wreaths for this event, with the goal of having a wreath placed on every headstone in the cemetery for the holiday season, Moscato said. He is also on the WNY National Cemetery Council. The Outreach Club plays a major role in hosting this public event, which includes a short ceremony with a couple of speakers, followed by community members laying wreaths on the headstones of graves.

“This is the same ceremony that takes place in Arlington,” he said. “I’m sure you have seen the iconic pictures of the wreaths on the graves there. This is the same ceremony right here in Western New York.”

Go HERE to sponsor one or more wreaths, or send cash or checks to: Veterans Outreach Club, Pembroke Jr-Sr High School, P.O. Box 308, Corfu, NY, 14036. If more wreaths are purchased than are needed this year, the money will go toward next year's gravestones and ceremony, Moscato said. Deadline for ordering is Nov. 29.

Submitted photos of Pembroke students helping out at the WNY National Cemetery during last year's ceremony.

Video: Last year's ceremony.

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Ceremony at National Cemetery honors veterans

By Virginia Kropf


A ceremony honoring veterans took place Thursday at the Western New York National Veterans Cemetery in Pembroke.

Bill Joyce, head of the Genesee County Veterans Council and president of the Western New York National Cemetery Memorial Council, arranged the ceremony, which took place on the 247th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Cemetery director James Metcalf said the observance was scheduled on Thursday to allow veterans to spend Veterans Day (Friday) with their families.

Metcalf opened the ceremony with a welcome to all veterans in attendance and a shout-out to Tun Tavern, the brewery in Philadelphia, which is regarded as the site where the U.S. Marine Corps held its first recruitment drive during the American Revolution.

Metcalf and Brenda Serena, a U.S. Army veteran and Erie County Officer in Charge, placed a wreath under the giant American flag.

“Today, we gather to honor our veterans' memorial service and sacrifice by placing this wreath in this National Shrine,” Metcalf said. “This day is your day and it’s an honor to spend it with you.”

He urged those in attendance to remember and recognize the service, sacrifices and selflessness of the nation’s veterans.

“These veterans raised their hands and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States,” Metcalf said. “By fighting our nation’s wars and defending us all during periods of peace between wars, veterans have protected our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy – the freedom to speak without fear, to vote as we see fit and to gather as we do today.

“We owe them all a debt of gratitude for the burdens they have borne,” he said. “And so, today, we recommit ourselves to upholding that promise and all the principles of democracy for which veterans have fought and bled to defend. That is our most sacred responsibility as Americans – today, on Veterans’ Day and every day.”

After Metcalf and Serena placed a giant wreath under the flag, an Honor Guard of members of the Medina American Legion and VFW presented a three-gun salute.

Metcalf said in the future, Veterans’ Day observances will be more formal when the construction of the cemetery is complete.

Joyce explained the WNY National Cemetery Memorial Council was formed to help the cemetery with projects, such as purchasing golf carts to get veterans to funeral services.

The men and women who secured freedom honored in Veterans Day ceremonies throughout county

By Howard B. Owens


Genesee County veterans gathered today at the locations and landmarks associated with the local men and women who served the nation in times of war and peace.

The ceremonies started at 9 a.m. at Genesee County Park, where former Assemblyman Dan Burling was the keynote speaker and he celebrated the freedom that the men and women who served helped secure.

"We just had an election yesterday," Burling said. "And though it may not appear to be everything that we want it to be, it was a free election. It was a free election that was guaranteed by the men and women who have served this country over the years, over many, many, many years and still served today."

Other ceremonies were held at the VA Hospital, the NY State Vets Home, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (Upton Monument), Trigon Park, the War Memorial at Jerome Center, and GCC.

"We're all brothers and sisters," Burling told the veterans in Bethany. "We all served together and anyone who puts the uniform on, who puts their hand on the Bible and swears that they will defend this nation is a friend of mine and a friend of everyone, so I want to thank you all, all my friends."

Photos from Genesee County Park, the VA Hospital, and the Upton Monument.  Photos by Howard Owens.


Dan Burling, middle.










Frank Panepento, a teacher at Batavia Middle School, Nathan Korzelius, middle school principal, and Danielle Bergman, assistant medical director of the VA Center.  Middle school students made wood blocks with a patriotic etching as a gift for veterans at the VA Center.


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