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December 6, 2022 - 11:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, news, veterans, NYS Veterans Home.

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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 [email protected].

Submitted photo.

 

November 21, 2022 - 7:45pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, wreaths across america, pembroke, veterans, notify.

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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.

Video Sponsor
November 12, 2022 - 8:04pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in Western New York National Cemetery, veterans, news.

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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.

November 11, 2022 - 9:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Bethany, batavia, Upton Monument, VA Hospital, news.

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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.

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Dan Burling, middle.

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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.

 

November 10, 2022 - 5:55pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, City Schools, Veterans Day, notify, Batavia HS, veterans.

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Several local veterans were honored Thursday morning during a Veterans Day ceremony at Batavia High School. Band Director Jane Haggett, whose father Robert was amongst the recipients, handed out tokens of appreciation for their service.

They were:

U.S. Army

  • Robert Haggett
  • William Hughes
  • Thomas Steffinella
  • Rich Favaloro

U.S. Air Force

  • Dennis Mahoney
  • Matt Lutey

U.S. Marines

  • Colin Dailey, husband of BHS social worker Lindsay
  • John Dwyer
  • Vincent Pontillo
  • John Gombos

U.S. Navy

  • Tom Cecere
  • Harold McJury
  • Rocco Pellegrino

The district also gave a proud shout-out to members of its own school community.

“The BHS community is very fortunate to have three veterans on staff. We thank them for their service to our country and for keeping everyone safe," BHS Principal Paul Kesler said. "We would like to call the three gentlemen up to the front of the auditorium to receive a small token of our appreciation."

  • Mr. Greg Ciszak, BHS School Counselor: served his country for 12 years in the 152nd Engineer Company as a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard. He was a horizontal construction engineer. His unit was activated for numerous state emergencies including snow storms, floods, and the September 11th World Trade Center disaster.
  • Christopher Gorton, a Special Education teacher: joined the Army in 1984 and was in active duty from 1984 to 1989. During a portion of his active duty, Mr. Gorton was stationed in Western Germany. He continued to be on inactive duty from 1989 to 1992. Mr. Gorton was twice awarded the Army Achievement Medal and earned a good conduct medal. His unit received its second presidential unit citation award while he was stationed in West Germany. To this day, Mr. Gorton still carries a Challenge coin from President Reagan, the Commander in Chief, that was given out to the unit.
  • BHS Earth Science teacher Christopher Weicher: served in the United States Marine Corps from 1987 to 1991. Mr. Weicher completed two combat deployments during Operation Just Cause in Panama and the Gulf War 1. While serving his country, he received two combat action ribbons, a Presidential Unit Citation, and a Meritorious Unit Citation while serving with the 6th Marine Regiment.

The event included readings from students about what Veterans Day means to them. Adrien Fytros said that veterans are often defined as those who have been in the workforce for an extensive period of time, and those who have served in the military. 

"Those that have served in any branch of the military are easily the least selfish people in our community and should be treated as such. They are those who would put themselves through intense, rough, and enduring training for years to ensure that we can carry on a worry-free life, explore our interests, and pursue our own careers and dreams we’ve sought out," he said. "Veterans Day as a whole is to honor and give a spotlight to these brave and compassionate people that allow us to do everything we’ve desired to do. 

"Veterans Day is a day to honor those who put their family, community, and most of all, their country and its residents before themselves."

Photo: BHS Band Director Jane Haggett hands out tokens of appreciation the district's thanks to veterans during a Veterans Day assembly Thursday at the State Street school in Batavia. Photos by Joanne Beck.

November 6, 2022 - 10:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, batavia, news.

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Al Kurek (top photo) has a goal: To open a museum honoring veterans, the men and women from the GLOW region who served and sacrificed in the name of freedom.

He and fellow volunteers have already started collecting items to display, and some of those items have been set up for the public to view at 85 Main St., Batavia (the former Next Level Fitness location). 

"You have to know where we were in our history to know where we're going in the country," Kurek said. "You have to have personal knowledge of the sacrifices our veterans made, just to keep peace in the world. keep us safe."

The display features uniforms worn by the men and women from the GLOW region who served.  The donations were solicited through the Veteran's Services Office.  On Friday, about 20 volunteers helped install the display at the vacant gym.  The displays are on display through the windows (there's no entry).

The uniforms will be on display until Nov. 15.

Veterans Day is Friday, Nov. 11.

Photos by Howard Owens

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October 26, 2022 - 12:25pm
posted by Press Release in veterans, Old Courthouse, news.

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Press release:

In advance of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, the Old Courthouse will be illuminated green from Nov. 6 through Nov. 12 as part of Operation Green Light, a nationwide initiative to support veterans and raise awareness about the challenges faced by many veterans.

Operation Green Light also focuses on sharing resources that are available at the county, state, and federal levels to assist veterans and their families. This collaborative effort was developed by the NYS Association of Counties and the NYS County Veteran Service Officers’ Association in 2021 and was adopted this year by the National Association of Counties and the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers.

Locally, the Genesee County Legislature is set to adopt a memorializing resolution in support of Operation Green Light. We want to make sure our veterans and their families know that their service matters, that we are grateful for their sacrifices, and that it is now our turn to make sure they are served by their county government and our community.

In addition to lighting the Old Courthouse green in honor of all those who have served, residents and businesses are encouraged to demonstrate their support by changing an entryway light bulb to a green bulb. By shining a green light, we let veterans know that they are seen, appreciated, and supported. While this event is focused around the week of Veterans Day (November 6th -12th), participants are encouraged to continue shining the light year-round. Participants are encouraged to share photos and messages on social media using #OperationGreenLight. 

Submitted photo.

September 4, 2022 - 8:02pm

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The American Warrior Festival organization hosted a music night at Eli Fish Brewing Company to show appreciation for those currently serving in the military and for veterans of all eras. 

Performers included Joel Russlett (top photo), Billy Lambert, Travis Mackie, Rich Hancy, Josh Ketchum, and Monica Hall (bottom photo).

Photos by Howard Owens

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May 31, 2022 - 6:09pm

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Press release:

Representatives from Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel and the Ricky Palermo foundation today donated over 3,300 tickets to the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency for the upcoming concerts at Batavia Downs.

The first concert, featuring Bruce in the USA, the World’s #1 Tribute to Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, will take place on Friday, June 10th.  100% of the proceeds from ticket sales, chair rental and raffles that day will go to the Ricky Palmero Foundation for Spinal Cord Research.  The fifth Rockin’ the Downs concert series, presented by Pepsi, will start the following week on Friday, June 17th.

“We are happy to extend these complimentary tickets to our local veterans, “said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs and a retired member of the US Navy.  “We thank all the men and women of the Armed Forces for all that they have done and continue to do for our great nation.”

“Our Ricky Palermo Foundation has worked with many veterans and veteran agencies throughout the years,” said Ricky Palermo, President and CEO of the Ricky Palermo Foundation.  “Just like Batavia Downs has done in years past, we too wanted to extend complimentary tickets to our concert for area Veterans to thank them for their service.”

“We are grateful to receive tickets for all 11 concerts, said William Joyce, Director of the Veterans Service Agency of Genesee County.  “Our area Veterans love going to the concerts and we are pleased to be able to extend this opportunity to them once again.”

Tickets can be purchased to all Batavia Downs Events including the Ricky Palmero Charity Concert at BataviaConcerts.com

About Batavia Downs/WROTB
Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 10 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated over $232 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of participating municipalities.

About The Ricky Palermo Foundation
When we first started our foundation, we started small, hosting a cut-a-thon and selling T-shirts that raised a total of five thousand dollars for The Miami Project. In 1996, with the help of my family and close friends, we started The Ricky Palermo Spinal Injury Golf Tournament. Our first year we set a goal to raise five thousand dollars. By the end of the day we had raised eleven thousand, exceeding our goal by over fifty percent. Fast forward to today, our tournament is one of the largest in Western New York with 200 plus golfers, raffles, fun, and even a helicopter golf ball drop. Our foundation has grown into more than just raising awareness and money. We have annual comedy shows, soccer, basketball and lacrosse clinics, and dinners with both live and silent auctions. In 25 years, we have donated $1.7 million to our community and to research at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

About the Veterans Service Agency of Genesee County
The Veterans Service Agency of Genesee County Provides services for veterans and their families.   We assist with filing claims and obtaining psychological, employment, and financial counseling.  We also offer assistance in military review of discharges and in obtaining New York State benefits.  Services are free to veterans, spouses, widows, and children of veterans.

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May 30, 2022 - 12:26am
posted by Press Release in Memorial Day, veterans, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, pack 6069, troop 6069, news.

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Press release:

Cub Scouts from Pack 6069 and Boy Scout Troop 6069 placed flags in front of the headstones of veterans at the Batavia Historical Cemetery on Thursday, May 26th.   The Troop has been working with the cemetery's historical society several years on this project.  It is a pleasure for the Scouts to provide this service to their community.  Pack 6069 Committee Chairman Brown made sure to take the Cub Scouts to the grave site of Samuel Wood who is buried there.   Sam Wood is the name sake of Iroquois Trail Council's Cub Scout Resident Camp located in Pike, NY.  Sam Wood was the first Eagle Scout recorded in Genesee County.  Boy Scout Troop 6069 is chartered through the 1st Presbyterian Church in Batavia, and Cub Scout Pack 6069 meets at Jackson Primary School.

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May 17, 2022 - 5:03pm
Video Sponsor

The intersection of Route 77 and Indian Falls Road is deemed safe in that it meets or exceeds all state and national design standards, according to a draft report released this week by the Office of Veterans Affairs.

The latest report is based on data and a study by an independent engineering firm, Larson Design Group.

The location is outside the Western New York National Cemetery, which opened a year-and-a-half ago and where two veterans (Christopher Rowell and Arnold Herdendorf, both of Lockport) were killed in a motor vehicle accident in September of 2021.

Glenn Elliott presented the report at a meeting hosted Monday in Corfu by Rep. Chris Jacobs. Elliott is the environmental director in the office of facility planning, construction and facility management at the VA.

"The draft study concludes that the intersection meets NYSDOT standards for sight distances and the US Federal Highways Administration Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices," Elliott said. "This is the standard used by roadway managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public streets, highways, bikeways and private roads open to the public."

He also said, "It finds that the sight distance is at the State Route 77 in Indian Falls Road intersection for greater than design criteria. Concluding sight distances do not propose a safety issue for traffic turning off Indian Falls Road. It concludes neither an all-way stop nor a traffic signal are required for the applicable criteria of METCB. It finds the expected crash frequency not significantly higher than the predicted crash frequency. Therefore safety performance is consistent with what is expected at this intersection. Since November 2020, when the cemetery opened, the crash frequency incident rate did not increase."

And, "The study finds that the expected crash frequency is not significantly higher than predicted crash frequency. Therefore, the safety and performance of the intersection is consistent with what is expected for this type of intersection."

However, because of the interest within the veterans' community in the safety of the intersection, the report reviews seven potential changes to the intersection.

  • Eliminate the existing departure passing zones at the Indian Falls Road intersection.
  • Install a flashing intersection control beacon or alternatively install side-mounted flashing warning devices along Route 77 intersection warning and involves road stops.
  • Install rumble strips on the shoulder and centerline on State Route 77.
  • Eliminate the existing departure and passing zone mentioned earlier.
  • Installed larger right and left stop signs with reflected posts on Indian Falls Road, including placards for cross traffic does not stop at stop pavement markings on Indian Falls Road.
  • Install larger intersection signs on State Route 77.
  • Install a roundabout at the intersection of route 77 and Indian Falls Road.  

None of the possible changes are explicitly recommended though flashing beacons, signage and pavement markings, and a roundabout all score the best when mathematically weighted for effectiveness in reducing accidents.  Roundabouts reduce accidents by 60 percent and fatal accidents by 99 percent.

One suggestion by the study explicitly deemed ineffective is reducing the speed limit approaching the cemetery.

Jacobs said he organized the meeting in order to give community members a chance to review the report and make their own comments about it and potential changes to the intersection. 

"It is clear that more needs to be done to make this intersection safer for our veterans and our families who come to pay respects to our fallen heroes," Jacobs said. "I am committed to working with the veteran community to ensure meaningful changes are made."

For more details and for comments from among those who attended, watch the video above.

May 4, 2022 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Liberty Square, veterans, ptsd clinic, VA Hospital, batavia, news, notify.

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Eagle Star housing is "in the business of saving lives," Dennis Mahoney told the dignitaries and residents gathered Tuesday morning for the Liberty Square ribbon-cutting ceremony in Batavia.

Mahoney, a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and traumatic brain injury, said he isn't sure he would have made it without the assistance of Eagle Star.

His path to Liberty Square started with getting admitted to the PTSD program at the VA in Batavia.

"Getting there was a journey that took me decades," Mahoney said. "I was a great Marine but a horrible civilian. I didn't make the transition too well, but I also said the country didn't treat us too good coming home. That's been turned around greatly. Now I'm proud to be a veteran, proud to have served my country and served as well."

Mahoney's rocky journey after the war included a few encounters with law enforcement, he said.

"I was a mess when I came home," he said. "I'm not gonna use that as an excuse. Not all veterans did that. But I got myself together. And I wanted to make a life for myself. And I found that very difficult. I went from a hotel in Upstate New York with the intention of taking my life."

That attempt got him to a veterans hospital in Montrose, then transferred to Bath, and then Batavia.

Treatment in Batavia, he said, "literally saved my life."

But that wasn't the end of the journey.

"I had no idea what I was going to do," Mahoney said. "After I got out of treatment, I was totally lost. Eagle Star housing had something waiting for me (in Pembroke) where I could ground myself and look for a place to live. That was very difficult. I had no history. I had no way of marketing myself. My only talents were what I learned in the Marine Corps, so not very marketable."

Eagle Star's house in Pembroke is meant to be temporary assistance, but Mahoney held on until Liberty Square became available.

Now Mahoney has safety and security and he's also found a purpose in life.  He attends City Church, where he volunteers to help people with disabilities get to church and helps with food distribution.

He is grateful he found Batavia, he said.

"It's a great community. I found a life here. I've found things that I was able to do and I can give back to the community."

He credits Eagle Star and Liberty Square with rounding out a long and difficult journey to a better life.

"So many veterans with PTSD aren't making it every day," he said. "This facility, if we could replicate this all over the country, we would help veterans stay alive, not only prosper and find employment, but find a home that's affordable."

See also: Liberty Square apartments a 'much-needed' addition to Batavia

Photo by Howard Owens

May 4, 2022 - 6:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Liberty Square, veterans, eagle star, batavia, news, notify.

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The ribbon is cut, but Liberty Square, 554 East Main St., Batavia,  has been serving as a residence for as many as 28 veterans since December, and for Zach Fuller, executive director of Eagle Star Housing, that is "mission accomplished."

"Our mission is getting veterans back on their feet back into the community and interacting with the community," Fuller said.

Liberty Square is a collaborative project between Home Leasing, LLC, based in Rochester, and Eagle Star, with financial assistance from the State of New York through Homes and Community Renewal.

"We started the program for transitional 60-day programs, but we knew that if the veteran didn't have anywhere really to go from a transitional housing situation they would face difficulty and not have support services," Fuller said. "Working with New York State and the governor's office and HCR, where they came out with a program a few years ago with a housing-first model that allows us to get our veterans into safe housing. From here we're able to provide support services for them 24/7. We provide them with apartment furniture, any type of toiletries, and day-to-day needs they have. We're here to help them. We're trying to do everything we can to keep them on their progress path back to stability and back into civilian life."

The complex cost $12 million and includes 39 additional one-bedroom apartments, and eight two-bedrooms targeting people with a household income of 60 percent of the area's median income.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski said the complex is a welcome addition to Batavia.

"Every study that the City and the County has done since 2010 has identified housing as one of our main needs," Jankowski said. "I realized what projects of this magnitude require. It's a lot of work by a lot of people. I was talking to Zach earlier and he said when this project started, his son was a newborn. And now he's five years old. So it goes to show you how long and how much perseverance it takes to get a project like this off the ground."

That perseverance is paying off, he said, because "for our veterans and those who qualify, these apartments are going to be a much-needed addition to the city. They're going to provide a safe and comfortable space to call home."

Photos by Howard Owens

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Zach Fuller.

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A plaque in the rec room will honor Bill Mosman, the late owner of Mosman Paint, which stood on one of the properties now occupied by Liberty Square for more than six decades. Mosman served in the Navy during World War II.

March 24, 2022 - 8:33pm

Press release:

This Tuesday, March 29 is “National Vietnam War Veterans Day”, it recognizes veterans who served in the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War.

Botts-Fiorito Post #576, American Legion will again this year, be recognizing those who served by conducting a brief, but a meaningful ceremony at the Post, 53 West Main St. on Tuesday, March 29 at 5 p.m. sharp.

ALL are encouraged to attend and participate-acknowledging this significant event.

There will be refreshments served at the Post immediately following the ceremony.

February 15, 2022 - 3:30pm
posted by Press Release in 4H, veterans, news.

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Press release:

The Genesee County 4-H Program participated in a Valentines for Veterans community service project this winter.  The 4-H Fur & Feather Club, 4-H Sheep Club and individual 4-H members created over 250 handmade Valentine's cards for the Batavia VA. 

The Valentines for Veterans project was led by Genesee County Master Gardener Volunteer Pamela Moore in collaboration with Churchville’s Post #954 Legion Family.  Over 2,000 Valentines were collected throughout Genesee, Monroe, and Livingston Counties for the project.  The Valentines were delivered to Cindy Baker of the Center for Development and Civic Engagement at the Batavia VA for hospitalized veterans and veterans in the in-residence PTSD programs. 

4-H is a nationwide youth program that connects youth age 5-18 to a variety of hands-on learning opportunities.  For more information about joining the Genesee County 4-H Program, please contact the 4-H Office at [email protected] or (585) 343-3040 ext. 131.  Enrollment forms are also available on our website at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/4-h-youth-development/how-to-join-4-h

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February 11, 2022 - 11:18am

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Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today delivered nearly 100 valentines handcrafted by students from Jackson Primary School to residents of the New York State Veterans Home in Batavia. Hawley, having served as a member of the military himself, as well as on the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has for many years facilitated the delivery of these valentines. The occasion provides local students an opportunity to express their gratitude to veterans of the area for what they’ve done to protect America and its freedoms.

“This event is always one of my favorite ones to coordinate throughout the year because of how heartwarming it is to read the appreciation our students have for those who’ve served in our military,” said Hawley. “The patriotic messages written by the children have brought a smile to my face and the faces of hundreds of veterans every time we’ve delivered them. I’m always heartened to see the respect and gratitude young people have held toward our veterans each and every year.”

December 15, 2021 - 6:51am
posted by Press Release in veterans.
Event Date and Time: 
December 18, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

The WNY National Cemetery and the WNY National Cemetery Memorial Council are pleased to announce that they will be participating in the annual National Wreaths Across America Day.

Family members and others will be laying a wreath on the graves of veterans and spouses. The event is open to the public. We suggest you plan to arrive by 11:30 AM.

Speakers:                  David Bellavia, Medal of Honor Recipient

                                    Chris Jacobs, US Congressman

                                    Stephen Hawley, NYS Assemblyman

December 14, 2021 - 4:24pm
posted by Press Release in Batavia Downs, news, batavia, veterans.

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Press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming Vice President Scott Kiedrowski, along with General Manager of Gaming, Sean Schiano, Group Sales Manager Mary Bucceri and Director / General Manager of Live Racing, Todd Haight, presented representatives from the Rochester Veterans Court Mentors (RVCM) with a check for $710 to help support their efforts of assisting Veterans with within the court system.

On December 5th a Kris Kringle Craft and Vendor show was held at Batavia Downs and a portion of proceeds from the booth reservation fees were collected in support of the RVCM.  The organizer of the show, Ted Hanes, always chooses a group to benefit from the events he puts on.  The RVCM usually has a fundraising event held during the racing meet inside the Clubhouse but did not this year due to COVID.

“We are appreciative to Ted Hanes and to Mary Bucceri from Batavia Downs for thinking of us, “said Ray Melens, Lead Mentor for the Monroe County Veterans.  “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.”

About Batavia Downs/WROTB
Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 11 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated over $232 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of participating municipalities.

About Veterans Treatment Court
The Veterans Treatment Court program is available to eligible Veterans with non-violent criminal charges who have either substance abuse or mental health diagnosis. The goal of VTC is to treat the underlying issues that are at the root of the criminal behavior. With intensive case management, the Veteran is given all the tools they need to return to being a productive member of society. This group of Veterans is further supported by the opportunity to attend a variety of peer groups on a voluntary basis while they are in treatment and after their discharge.

Photo by Howard Owens.  Pictured: General Manager of Gaming, Sean Schiano, Group Sales Manager Mary Bucceri, Ray Melens, Lead Mentor for the Monroe County Veterans, Vice President Scott Kiedrowski and Director / General Manager of Live Racing, Todd Haight

November 26, 2021 - 12:00am

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Several years of volunteer time, energy and collaboration will come together next month for a wreath-laying ceremony at Western New York National Cemetery in Corfu.

The cemetery was officially opened in December 2020, and now for the first time, it will play host to a Wreaths Across America ceremony featuring Keynote Speaker and Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia, the laying of wreaths for at least 700 fallen soldiers, and an Honor Guard, Public Affairs Chairman Patrick Welch said.

“This is the first year, and we feel we’re doing fairly well,” he said to The Batavian on behalf of the cemetery’s council. “We’re at 530 wreaths purchased … from everywhere in Western New York. We’re looking to sell around another 200 by the close of business on Monday.”

Yes, the clock is ticking to buy a wreath for a veteran’s grave. The deadline for orders is Monday, Nov. 29. People have the option to lay the wreath themselves during the event or someone else will take care of it. This link ensures that wreaths purchased are designated for Western New York: www.wreathsacrossAmerica.org/NY0368P

The Western New York National Cemetery Council, classified as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit,  will receive $5 from each wreath purchased. Proceeds will go toward necessary items not provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration due to a lack of resources or legal restrictions, Welch said.

He gave two examples of such necessary purchases. The VA provided a construction trailer to house Honor Guardsmen in between funeral services. Only thing was that it was empty, so the Council had to buy furniture, a refrigerator and/or coffee pot so the Honor Guard could keep warm and relax for a while before heading out again. Another need was for some type of vehicle to transport the guardsmen — who are typically 60 to 80 years old — around the cemetery to designated gravesites.

“So we had to go out and raise money to get golf carts so that we can transport the honor guard around the cemetery through the services,” Welch said. “Those are just a couple of examples.”

Wreaths are $15 apiece. If more wreaths are purchased than needed, the credit will go toward a purchase for next year’s ceremony and burials, he said. The ceremony is open to the public, and Welch recommends that visitors show up early, as seating is limited. Visitors may want to bring a lawn chair to ensure seating for the event.

There is to be a multi-phase development of the cemetery, which will include a columbarium to house cremations on-site. That project and other additions are set to begin in 2022, said Welch, a retired U.S. Marine from Amherst. Although he has been working on this effort for several years, it isn't about him, he said. 

“It’s about the cemetery and those that served this country,” he said. 

Wreaths Across America started as a simple gesture of thanks, organizers said in a news release. The effort has grown into a national movement of dedicated volunteers and communities coming together to "not only remember the nation’s fallen and honor their service but to teach the next generation about the sacrifices made for us to live freely," it stated. This year, there will be more than 2,500 participating locations placing wreaths on National Wreaths Across America Day – Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 – with more than two million volunteers coming together.

“We are forever grateful for the thousands of supporters who dedicate their time and effort to fulfilling our mission on a local level,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “These individuals and their communities know the value of remembering the fallen, honoring those who currently serve, and teaching the next generation about the sacrifices made for our freedom every day, and without their continued support, Wreaths Across America would not exist.”  

In May 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration purchased 132-acres in Corfu for $625,000, and acquired two additional parcels of land in 2018. Western New York National Cemetery is a 269-acre Department of Veteran Affairs national cemetery located at 1254 Indian Falls Rd. and Route 77, Corfu.

The council sought permission to include an Avenue of Flags and was granted permission as only one of three cemeteries to have one. The flags hold special significance as having been draped over veterans' caskets and donated for this purpose. 

According to the WNY cemetery website, it serves the needs of more than 98,000 veterans, spouses, and eligible children within a 75-mile radius of Batavia. For more information about the cemetery, go to:  https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/WesternNewYork.asp#hi

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Top photo: The Avenue of Flags, Honor Guard and entrance at Western New York National Cemetery in Corfu. Photos submitted by Patrick Welch

November 24, 2021 - 10:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, pembroke, news.

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Specialist Four Clarence "C. Jay" Hall, a graduate of Pembroke HS, was mortally wounded in Vietnam on Oct. 7, 1969, while allowing his comrades to achieve cover while under heavy fire.

As a result, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

He was honored in another way on Tuesday when Assemblyman Stephen Hawley and State Senator Ed Rath unveiled a marker commemorating a portion of Route 77 through Pembroke as SP4 C. Jay Hall Memorial Highway.

“The story of ‘C. Jay’ Hall’s sacrifice and bravery in the face of danger encapsulates the selfless spirit of our service members and is one that should be remembered for generations,” said Hawley. “Seeing the sign honoring his sacrifice unveiled today was a proud moment after working for so long to make it a reality, so I want to thank all of the local and state legislative partners I’ve worked with in the last year who helped make it happen for their dedication to getting this bill passed, as well as our local veteran organizations, who were of tremendous assistance in advocating for its creation.”

Rath also praised Hall's service and sacrifice in Vietnam.

"Ronald Reagan said, 'we're forever indebted to those who gave their lives so that we can be free,'" Rath said. "Our debt to C. Jay Hall can never be prepared but our gratitude and respect must last forever and endure the test of time.  Naming and dedicating this roadway will remind all who pas here as free citizens,  the sacrifice that Specialist 4 Clarence Jay Hall paid to guarantee our freedom."

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Matthew Moscato, advisor to the Pembroke Veterans Outreach Club, with student Megan Stiles, who came up with the idea of honoring Hall and brought the idea to the Club and did much of the research that brought the project forward to the Legislature and other local leaders.

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