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September 23, 2020 - 6:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, mall, batavia, downtown, video.
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Consultant Ed Flynn led a City Centre Feasibility Study open house last night, which was an opportunity for community members to weigh in on the future of the mall.

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September 23, 2020 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Jacobs, Nate McMurray, NY-27, video.
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We spoke with Rep. Chris Jacobs outside the new GOP headquarters at 214 Ellicott St., Batavia, on Saturday.

We asked him about his election opponent Nate McMurray trying to intimidate local reporters and Jacobs condemned such actions, so we asked if he would speak as forcefully against President Donald Trump praising violence against reporters and trying to intimidate reporters and Jacobs would only say that he would never engage in such behavior.  

We also fact checked a previous McMurray press release with Jacobs. In late July, McMurray attacked Jacobs for voting against renaming military bases that are named after former Confederate leaders. Jacobs said McMurray mischaracterized the bill and the vote.

Finally, we asked Jacobs if he supports withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He does.

September 23, 2020 - 4:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, video, 139th assembly district.
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After the GOP headquarters opening on Saturday, we spoke with Assemblyman Steve Hawley about his effort to win another term representing the 139th Assembly District.

September 23, 2020 - 10:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 139th assembly district, Mark Glogowski, video.
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Mark Glogowski, candidate for the 139th Assembly District, was in Le Roy on Saturday and we conducted this short interview with him.

September 21, 2020 - 3:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Duane Whitmer, NY-27, video.
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Duane Whitmer, candidate for the NY-27 election in November, made a campaign stop on Saturday at Sweet Betty's in Le Roy.

September 21, 2020 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GOP, politics, video.
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Local Republicans opened their campaign headquarters on Saturday at 214 Ellicott St., Batavia.

September 14, 2020 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools, education, schools, video.
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With new social distancing protocols in place, the Batavia City School District opened all four of its campuses today for the 2020-21 academic year.

September 12, 2020 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, video, batavia.
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A group of area residents gathered in front of City Hall carrying signs today protesting the lack of visitation with seniors in nursing homes.

September 11, 2020 - 12:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, business, batavia, video.
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The gaming floor at Batavia Downs reopened this week, along with Fortune's and the Backstretch Grill, and the Grandstands will be opening soon, after a six-month closure mandated by the State of New York in the battle against COVID-19.

Race fans, however, are still prohibited at this point from attending live harness racing.

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Update: Sept. 11, 3 p.m.

Even at a fourth of maximum capacity, Batavia Downs Gaming will be able to keep its employees on the job but, unfortunately, monetary distributions to the municipalities it serves will suffer.

That’s the perspective of Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. that oversee operations at the casino, harness race track and OTB parlors in 15 counties plus the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

A public benefit corporation, WROTB returns a portion of its profits to counties and the two metropolitan communities.

“You know, we've done the math, we've done some projections, and we certainly can pay our bills probably at 25 percent,” Wojtaszek said on Wednesday, the day the gaming facility was allowed to reopen – but only at a quarter of the maximum occupancy. “If we remain pretty steady, we can pay our bills. We can keep our employment levels pretty close to where we were before.”

Wojtaszek said “difficulty” comes into play when considering profit and return to municipalities – “which is obviously one of the big reasons why we exist.”

“We exist to make sure we create jobs and create an environment for people to have an entertainment venue, but also to return money to the municipality. So that's going to be a little tough. But I think for now, even at 25 percent, we can cover our costs.”

He said the business has to dig itself out of a “deep hole” caused by ongoing utility and building maintenance costs and unemployment insurance and by having to pay employees still on the job.

Despite the setbacks, Wojtaszek said he it is “very rewarding to see people come back so quickly.”

“We were having people call us all the time during the last six months," he said. "They were stopping at the front door. A lot of emails following our Facebook page. So, when we knew we had a pretty good following of people who want to come back here, we'd like to think we do deliver great customer service."

Batavia Downs has had to cancel its summer concert series due to the pandemic, but six of the eight bands have been rescheduled for next year, Wojtaszek said.

“And we’ve added two,” he said. “We have Queensrÿche signed up for sure. And then the eighth band will remain silent until I confirm it. But it's a great band. They'll be probably the best band we've ever had here.”

September 4, 2020 - 3:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in the batavian sessions, music, Eli Fish Brewing Company, video.
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Recorded at Eli Fish, Feb. 15, 2020

August 26, 2020 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in tai chi, DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, video.
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Nancy Wee's Tai Chi class at DeWitt Recreation Area. The classes are at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and Sunday. They are free and open to everybody. Masks and social distancing required.

August 24, 2020 - 10:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, civil war, history, batavia, video.
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Ten months ago, the Civil War-era cannons that have sat as sentinels outside the Holland Land Office Museum since at least 1905, were sent to Altoona, Pa., for restoration by Seed Artillery and today, they returned to Batavia looking almost certainly much like they did when they were shipped to Batavia in the 1860s.

August 22, 2020 - 2:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ed Rath, 61 Senate District, video.
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Ed Rath, candidate for the 61st State Senate District, up for election in November, visited Genesee County this week and met with local farmers to find out more about what issues they face in New York.

August 20, 2020 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Thomas Rocket Car, news, video, batavia.
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It's turned out to take more than four years but restoration work on the Thomas Rocket Car is nearly complete. To finish the restoration work, the volunteers handling the project -- with Dick McClurg of Old World Collision leading restoration -- need to raise another $4,000.

They're asking the community to pitch in. Here is a link to a GoFundMe page where you can make a contribution.

The Thomas Rocket Car was designed by former Batavia resident Charles D. Thomas. He and Norman Richardson, a talented welder and body man just out of high school, built the car in a rented garage near Main Street and Ellicott Avenue in 1938.

The design, and several innovations in the car, such as a rearview periscope and independent suspension, were dreamed up by Thomas while working on his 1935 thesis for the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Mich.

Once the car was built, Thomas tried to interest any one of the Big Three in Detroit to move the car into production. But whether the automakers felt threatened, or because of the prospect of the World War, or it would have been too expensive to retool, all three companies took a pass. One Detroit executive reportedly told Thomas that his car was 10 years ahead of its time.

Thomas went onto a successful career in Buffalo with the maker of the Playboy automobile, and he apparently kept the Thomas car and drove it for some time. He eventually sold it. Local car buffs searched for it a few years ago and found it stored in a barn in Lockport.

They bought the car and returned it to it's rightful home, Batavia, with the intention it become a display piece of history in the city.

August 15, 2020 - 7:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in the batavian sessions, elba, music, video.
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The Elba Betterment Committee hosted another night of live music in the Village Park, this time featuring What About Jane, an Albion-based band.

The next show is Thursday, featuring the Old Hippies.

August 15, 2020 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rabies Clinic, health department, video, pets.
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At one point Thursday, cars lined up for free rabies shots for their pets were backed up on Route 5 and a deputy was dispatched to assist with traffic control.

Sarah Balduf, environmental health director for Genesee County, said it was a larger than normal turnout for the rabies clinic and that cars started lining up at 2:30.

Staff members started processing paperwork and vaccinating pets as soon as they were set up, ahead of the 4 p.m. start time, which helped workers keep up with the stream of cars coming through the fairgrounds.

August 13, 2020 - 9:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in anti-slavery, Le Roy, history, video, Frederick Douglass.
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Anti-slavery sentiment ran strong in Le Roy in the 1830s and 1840s, with much of the activity centered around the First Presbyterian Church, where at least five significant anti-slavery meetings were held, culminating in December 1847 with a speech by famed abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglass.

Local history buffs have long believed Douglass once spoke in Le Roy, but the date was placed in 1838. That wouldn't be possible because Douglass was still a slave in Maryland in 1838. 

James Evinger, a Presbyterian minister in Rochester, noticed the discrepancy and that sparked his curiosity. He began digging. With the assistance of Lynne Belluscio, Le Roy historian, he started down a path where he uncovered secondary and primary sources for all of the notable anti-slavery activity in Le Roy, including the first important anti-slavery meeting in Le Roy in 1833 where Rev. Thomas James spoke.

James was an escaped slave and founder of the first Black church in Rochester. A few years later, while working as a pastor and abolitionist in Boston, James would find the recently escaped Douglass a capable speaker and mentor to the young man as a touring speaker in the cause of abolishing slavery.

The 1833 appearance of James also brought out the pro-slave racists who mobbed the church, throwing rocks at the windows, trying to drive James from the building. A Le Roy resident, Henry Brewster, sequestered James at his home. 

Thanks to the work of Evinger, the anti-slavery movement in Le Roy is now commemorated on a historical marker in front of the Presbyterian Church on Main Street.

You can read a complete account of Evinger's work and his findings in the latest edition of the Universalist Herald. Click here (pdf).

August 10, 2020 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, video, Stafford.
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First, there was a pickup truck accident with a car fire and just as Stafford fire had things under control at the first location on Clinton Street Road, an MVA with serious injuries was reported a quarter-mile away on Route 33 at the intersection with Horseshoe Lake Road.

It turned out there were no serious injuries in either accident.

But it was a hot, humid day for the volunteer firefighters, deputies, and medical personnel who responded to both incidents.

Previously: 

August 8, 2020 - 7:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in YMCA, summer camp, batavia, video.
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In the age of coronavirus, the YMCA has been carrying on with socially distanced summer camps. Kids are taught to use their "alligator arms" to ensure they're keeping their distance from other kids and there's ample sanitizer on hand.

This week, the kids competed in their Camper Cup, an Olympic-style event that culminated in a color run at the Notre Dame High School football field.

August 8, 2020 - 2:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Interpretive Center, Genesee County Park, news, video, education, nature.
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"Rudy" is an artiste. She has her own expressive way of coloring a canvas and today, area children got to help her make individual pieces of art for them to take home.

The art event was held outside the Interpretive Center at Genesee County Park & Forest.

The children also learned about 14-year-old Rudy and her fellow red-eared slider turtles, which hail from the Southern United States.

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