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Photos: Ducklings rescued on Raymond Avenue

By Howard B. Owens
ducklings rescued

City firefighters were called to Raymond Avenue this morning to rescue a family of ducklings that had fallen into a storm drain.

Photos by Frank Capuano.

ducklings rescued
ducklings rescued

Photos: motorists asked to Fill the boot for MDA

By Howard B. Owens
fill the boot

City firefighters, Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 896 members, are positioned at strategic locations in Downtown Batavia today (Friday) until 2 p.m. collecting donations for Muscular Dystrophy Association as part of their annual Fill the Boot campaign.

Photos by Frank Capuano

fill the boot
fill the boot
fill the boot
fill the boot
fill the boot

Law and Order: Batavia woman, 80, accused of trespassing, kicking police officers

By Howard B. Owens

Carolyn L Kurek, 80, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with trespass and harassment 2nd. Kurek is accused of refusing to leave a location on North Street.  After a lengthy negotiation with police, according to the report, the officers attempted to physically remove her, and she allegedly kicked and scratched the officers.  Kurek was issued an appearance ticket, transported to her apartment, and released.

Shane Kyle Logan, 50, of Meadville Road, Basom, is charged with criminal sexual act 3rd and incest 3rd.  Logan was charged following an investigation by Investigator Kevin Forsyth for an act alleged to have occurred on Aug. 30 in Basom. He was ordered held on $5,000 bail.

Teesean T. Ayala, 24, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with trespass, obstruction of governmental administration, and criminal impersonation. On May 21, at about 6:05 a.m., police officers were dispatched to Vine Street to investigate a report of a male walking onto driveways and checking car door handles. A possible suspect was identified who then fled from police on foot through backyards in the northeast section of the city. The suspect was eventually apprehended and identified as Teesean Ayala. He is scheduled to appear in City Court at a later date.

Richard A. Demmer, Jr., 30, no permanent address, is charged with petit larceny and falsifying business records. Demmer is accused of stealing property from a residence on Towne Place, Alabama, on May 24. He then allegedly falsified a bill of sale at Pawn King on Veterans Memorial Drive. Demmer was arraigned and was released on his own recognizance. The case was investigated by Deputy Jenna Ferrando and Investigator Erik Andre.

Madison Lee McKenzie, 19, of Creek Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd and endangering the welfare of a child.  McKenzie is accused of using Snapchat between May 28 and May 30 to send explicit messages and photos to a person under age 15 in violation of an order of protection.  McKenzie was arraigned and released pending her next court appearance.

Heather N. Holbrook, 38, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a narcotic with the intent to sell and criminal possession of a controlled substance 4th. Holbrook was a subject of a traffic stop by Officer Wesley Rissinger on May 17 at an unspecified location in the City of Batavia. At the time of the stop, the Sheriff's Office held an arrest warrant for Holbrook.  While being taken into custody, she was allegedly found in possession of a significant quantity of a narcotic. Holbrook was arraigned and released on her own recognizance. Also charged as a result of the traffic stop was Jeremy P. Holbrook, 40., of West Bergen Road, Bergen. He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th.  He was issued an appearance ticket.

Nathaniel L. Beglinger, 31, of Peaviner Road, Alexander, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, criminally using drug paraphernalia 2nd, and obstructed view.  Beglinger was the subject of a traffic stop on May 17 on East Main Street, Batavia. He was allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Rosemary R. Waters, 37, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Waters was allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance during a traffic stop on East Main Street, Batavia, on May 17. She was arraigned and ordered held on $1 cash bail.

Chantel C. Holmes, 23, of Walden Creek Drive, Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd and criminal mischief 4th. Holmes was reportedly involved in a disturbance on May 7 on Ellicott Street, Batavia.  She is accused of striking another person in the head with a shovel, which caused an injury. She is also accused of damaging property. Holmes was arraigned in City Court and released.

Donald F. Koziol, 55, of Franklin Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI and no/insufficient tail lamps. Koziol was stopped on May 14 on Ellicott Street by Officer Adam Tucker. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Ashley Davis, 34, of Walden Creek Drive, Batavia, is charged with DWI, unlicensed operator, and unsafe backing. Davis was arrested by Officer Andrew Mruczek on May 8 following an investigation into a report of a vehicle backing over a curb and striking another vehicle in a parking lot on North Street, Batavia. Davis was released on an appearance ticket.

A 17-year-old female resident of Ellicott Street,  Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. The youth is accused of striking another person while in an unspecified park in the City of Batavia on May 15. The youth was arraigned in City Court and released.

Kevin M. McCoy, 56, of East Main Stree, Batavia, is charged with trespass and harassment 2nd. McCoy was allegedly involved in a fight at a business on East Main Street, Batavia, on May 12. He was arraigned and released on his own recognizance.

Lakeisha A Gibson, 36, of Park Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Gibson is accused of failure to comply with a subpoena to appear at a trial. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Zakara R. Jackson, 19, of Trumbull Parkway,  Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Jackson was allegedly found in possession of a narcotic and drug paraphernalia when she was arrested on warrants on May 16. She was arraigned and released.

Jeanette L. Higgins, 47, of Ganson Avenue, Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Higgins is accused of throwing an acquaintance to the ground during an argument on May 15. ßhe was issued an appearance ticket.

Jaqulyn Ann Dueppengiesser, 39, is accused of stealing an item from Walmart on Veterans Memorial Drive at 4:25 p.m. on May 23.  Her release status is unknown.

Jared Evan Flaming, 36, of Genesee Street, Darien, is charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17 years old, criminal mischief, and harassment 3rd. Flaming is accused of damaging a mailbox on Gabbey Road, Pembroke, while walking at 8:15 p.m. on May 27. He is accused of screaming profanities at the time and threatening a caller in the presence of children. Flaming was held in the Genesee County Jail pending his arraignment.

Joshua Rashad Brown, 25, of Spalding Street, Elmira, is charged with criminal trespass 3rd and harassment 2nd.  Brown is accused of entering an enclosed area of Darien Lake Theme Park on May 29 without permission. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Isrrael Obregon, Jr., 42, of Tucker Road, Walnut Cover, N.C., is charged with DWI, aggravated unlicensed driver 1st, misuse of dealer plate, unlicensed driver, and driver view obstructed. Obregon was stopped on May 29 at 4:22 on Pearl Street Road, Batavia, by Deputy Zachary Hoy.  He was issued tickets and released.

Hunter M. Passage, 22, of Batavia, is charged with DWI. Passage was stopped by State Police on May 29 at 9:08 p.m. in the Town of Batavia. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Miguel A. Rendon Fuentes, 39, of Corfu, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Fuentes was stopped on May 29 at 12:06 a.m. by State Police, He was released on an appearance ticket.

Brian E. Daggar, 37, of Elba, is charged with DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd. Daggar was stopped by State Police in the Town of Batavia on May 27 at 12:41 a.m.  He was released on an appearance ticket.

Lavar V. McKnight, 45, of Rochester, is charged with petit larceny and criminal contempt 1st. McKnight was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported on May 25 at 9:20 at an unspecified location in the Town of Batavia.  He was ordered held.  No further information released by State Police.

Trinity N. Wright, 20, of Syracuse, is charged with conspiracy 5th, grand larceny 3rd, and criminal possession of stolen property 3rd. Alexis M. Stackhouse, 26, of Syracuse, is charged with conspiracy 5th, reckless endangerment 1st, grand larceny 3rd, and criminal possession of stolen property 3rd. Noemi Morales, 23, of Syracuse, is charged with conspiracy 5th, possession of burglar tools, grand larceny 3rd, and criminal possession of stolen property 3rd. Wright, Stackhouse and Morales were arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported on May 25 at 12:42 a.m. Both were ordered held in custody.  No further information was released by State Police.

Truck reportedly strikes tree on Pearl Street Road

By Howard B. Owens

A truck has reportedly struck a tree in th area of 3207 Pearl Street Eoad, Batavia. 

The initial report is the driver was entrapped. Law enforcement on scene says that’s not the case. The driver will need evaluation by a medic. 

East Pembroke Fire an an Engine from Town of Batavia along with Mercy EMS dispatched. 

From the margins into the mainstream: PRIDE Month kicks off with Thursday celebration

By Joanne Beck
Pride with Shelley Stein, group
Genesee County Legislative Chair Shelley Stein, center, presents a proclamation for PRIDE Month to Ayden Carlson, a junior at Batavia High School, during a flag-raising event to kick off the month Thursday at the War Memorial in Batavia. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Ayden Carlson admitted to being pretty excited Thursday, minutes before speeches, proclamations, brief history lessons and a flag-raising ceremony to kick off PRIDE Month.

Ayden, a soon-to-be senior at Batavia High School, is the game coordinator and a youth leader for the LGBTQ outreach agency GLOW OUT and the youth league ACT OUT, which is part of new summer initiatives funded by the state Office of Mental Health, led by Executive Director Sara Vacin.

“It’s the first year that this has happened. I’m also staying on for next year, so I will be doing the same thing next June. I’m very, very excited because I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through this program. And it’s nice to have a place where you feel like you belong, especially being in a marginalized community,” Ayden said. “It’s great to meet other people who are like you, so you don’t feel as alone. This means to me celebrating pride and how you don’t need to be scared of who you are. It’s just your identity. And no matter what month or what day, you deserve to feel it is okay."

Has that not always been the case?
“No, that definitely has not been the case. I have very much grown into my identity. There was a long time where I had a lot of internalized homophobia, where I was very scared of being my true self,” the 16-year-old said. “And thankfully, through this program, and Sara has been a huge motivator and a huge helper to me, I’ve been able to grow through a lot of those feelings.”

Ayden stood alongside Genesee County Legislature Chairwoman Shelley Stein as she read a proclamation about PRIDE Month and its now rightful place on the county books. It was one of two proclamations on the line-up for the day, also joined by one sent from state Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Stein began that “Whereas our nation was founded on the principle of equal rights for all people. But the fulfillment of this promise has been long coming for many Americans, and whereas some of the most inspiring moments in our history have arisen from the various civil rights movements that have brought one group after another from the margins into the mainstream of American society.”

“And whereas everyone should be able to live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, violence, hatred based on race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, and whereas LBGTQ Pride celebrations have taken place around the country every June to commemorate the beginning of the Stonewall riots, and whereas the month of June is celebrated as LBGTQ Pride Month nationally, and whereas the county of Genesee has a diverse LBGTQ community that includes people of all ethnicities, religions and professions,” Stein said. “And now, therefore, be it proclaimed that the Genesee County Legislature proclaims recognition of the month of June 2023 as Pride Month and urges all residents to respect and honor our diverse community and celebrate and build a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance, and be further in witness whereof we have here to set our hand and affixed the seal of the Genesee County Legislature this day, the first of June 2023.”

While everyone in the gathering of some 25 to 30 adults and children remained quiet during the reading, Ayden’s face spoke in a special way, with a sincere smile that captured the moment.

Ayden shared an opening message to honor veterans. Sadly, throughout much of history, “LGBTQ+ veterans had to hide their identities while serving in the military,” Ayden said.

“For many, this greatly complicated and added to the stresses of war. So, we wanted to start by saying thank you, and that we hope you know how grateful we are for your extraordinary service. If you would please join me in saying the pledge of allegiance, and while doing so, take a moment to give gratitude to these soldiers and their hidden loved ones who also sacrificed a lot.”

Pride with Ayden Carlson, Shelley Stein
Batavia High School junior Ayden Carlson looks on as Genesee County Legislative Chair Shelley Stein reads a proclamation for PRIDE Month Thursday at the War Memorial in Batavia. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Flag ceremony puts rainbow 'way up high' and signals that dreams do come true

By Joanne Beck
Pride LOVE 6/2023
Members of GLOW OUT and ACT OUT gather Thursday to kick off Pride Month at the War Memorial in Batavia. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Thursday marked the beginning of June and what promises to be a busy month for Pride activities, local organizers and members of GLOW OUT said during a gathering and flag-raising ceremony at the War Memorial at Jerome Center in Batavia.

Beyond being an event for participants to celebrate, it was also meant to educate, with snippets of history about Pride itself. Abby introduced the topic, admitting that “when I think about PRIDE Month, I imagine rainbows, fun, parades and parties.” However, Pride actually started as a riot outside of a bar called the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969,” Abby Merkley of Holley High School said. “Because homosexual acts were against the law at that time, gay, lesbian, and transgender patrons had few safe spaces even in New York City, but gay bars were considered by many beer patrons to be sanctuaries.”

That didn’t mean that gay bars were safe, she said, and if police suspected a bar was serving mainly queer patrons, they could raid it. That is what happened at the Stone Wall Inn in 1969. Many patrons and workers were arrested and assaulted by police. According to accounts of the event, a lesbian woman shouted out as she was being shoved into a police van, beckoning the crowd surrounding the bar to act. And that’s exactly what they did, Abby said.

Patrons began to fight back, and surprised police ended up barricaded in the bar until those angry protestors broke in and lit the place on fire.

Known as the Stonewall Uprising, riots continued for days. The first official gay pride parade began a year later on June 28, and just like in 1969, “we are still fighting to protect, support, and recognize our transgender brothers and sisters,” Abby said, and “there’s plenty of work to do in that area.”

Unlike 1969, “we have many more rights, and the future is looking way brighter for youth like me,” she said. “We thank our elders for all they fought for so that we could live more authentic lives today. And we thank our state and local legislators for creating laws and communities where we can live authentic, full lives.”

Pride flag 6/1/2023
Lilly Fiscus of Caledonia High School explains the rainbow flag during a Pride ceremony Thursday. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Lilly Fiscus of Caledonia High School explained the meaning of the rainbow flag. The rainbow symbol was created by Gilbert Baker, an American artist-designer and openly gay military veteran who was asked in 1977 to draft a unifying symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. Inspired by the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” he took that symbol to “help us dream of a time when LGBTQ are accepted and to show the diversity and vibrancy of this group,” Lilly said.

As for what the current GLOW OUT and ACT OUT groups do, they have social and educational events, back-to-school barbecues, basket raffles, pop-up pride events, exhibits about gender and garments, providing materials to clarify terms such as sexual orientation versus gender, working on anti-bullying efforts, networking with other schools, establishing drop-in centers and inviting youth ages 12 to 21 to join them.

Judith Newton at Pride
Judith Newton, sophomore at Batavia High School, shares her role as education leader for ACT OUT. Photo by Joanne Beck

Batavia High School sophomore Judith Newton is an ACT OUT education leader, and added that “we’ve been doing a lot of crafts lately, getting ready or Pride, which is cool because we have time to hang out with people like Sara, (volunteer Katelyn Zufall and President John Couri), and talk about what’s going on in our lives.”

“We even have debates on some of the issues happening in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s fun, and we’re so grateful we have it,” Judith said.

The group then gathered to hoist the Pride flag with the U.S. flag up the pole. Vacin reminded folks about some of the upcoming events, including the Pride Parade and festival that begin at 4 p.m. June 9 in Downtown Batavia. For more information, go to GLOW OUT

Pride gathering 6/2023
Photo by Joanne Beck.
Pride flag raising 6/2023
Photo by Joanne Beck.

Car reportedly flips over on Batavia Elba Townline Road

By Howard B. Owens

A vehicle has flipped over in the area of 5230 Batavia Elba Townline Road, Batavia.

Two occupants inside the vehicle. 

No word yet on injuries.

Town of Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 10:28 p.m.: A chief arriving on scene reports on vehicle on its side.

UPDATE 10:29 p.m.: Confirming two occupants. There are no injuries. Crews can respond non-emergency.



Vehicle strikes parked car on Harvester Avenue, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
accident photo
Reader-submitted photo.

A vehicle has struck a parked car in front of the Harvester Center, 56 Harvester Avenue.

One occupant, seems confused, according to a caller.

City Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Congresswoman Tenney votes in favor of Fiscal Responsibility Act

By Press Release

Press Release:

Claudia Tenney

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24)  voted in favor of H.R. 3746, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. This agreement reins in the Biden administration’s out-of-control spending, protects vital services for our nation’s seniors, veterans, and military personnel, defends small businesses and hardworking families from aggressive IRS overreach, and addresses our nation’s worker shortage. This legislation passed the House by a vote of 314-117.

"The Fiscal Responsibility Act is the single largest deficit reduction package in our nation’s history. It will deliver billions in immediate savings and takes concrete steps to reduce our spending and hold Joe Biden accountable. It is an important part of restoring fiscal responsibility and accountability in Washington,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. 

“This bill includes the largest recession of misappropriated funds ever, clawing back billions of dollars from wasteful Democrat programs and returning it to the American people. This bill also freezes non-defense discretionary spending for 2023 and limits future spending to 1% growth, the first time Congress has curbed and capped non-defense discretionary federal spending at this level. The bill also reclaims unspent COVID funds, eliminates funding for Joe Biden’s new army of IRS auditors, zeros out taxpayer funding to China through the Global Health Fund, and implements new work requirements for federal benefits to boost employment and enhance accountability.”

“Joe Biden’s excessive spending and irresponsible policies have put our nation on the brink of an unprecedented economic crisis. By implementing these spending cuts and achieving these important fiscal reforms, we are holding the White House and Senate Democrats accountable. There is much more work to be done, and this legislation marks the start of the process, not the end of it. House Republicans will continue to lead the way to limit out-of-control spending, save taxpayer dollars, reduce taxes, and grow our economy."

Specifically, the Fiscal Responsibility Act will:

  • Reduce annual non-defense discretionary spending below Fiscal Year 2023 levels, the first discretionary spending cut in 11 years. Importantly, the bill includes an immediate 11% cut on the woke and weaponized bureaucracy while increasing funds for national defense, veterans, and border security. This amounts to the largest cut in non-defense discretionary funding in history. It also caps the growth of non-defense discretionary federal spending at 1% annually for the next five years;
  • Implement the most significant reforms in two decades to SNAP and TANF to boost work requirements for these programs, save taxpayer money, stimulate economic growth, and lift Americans out of poverty;
  • Eliminate $400 million from the CDC's "Global Health Fund," which allocates taxpayer funds to China and other programs, making it the largest rescission package in history;
  • Establish the first-ever statutory Administrative Pay-Go, ensuring President Biden and all future presidents are finally responsible for the full cost of their executive actions;
  • Expedite and reduce costs for energy and infrastructure projects through the first substantial reform to NEPA since 1982;
  • Eliminate the funding for new IRS auditors in the total FY24 staffing request;
  • End the outrageous three-year COVID-19 halt to student loan payments, resulting in an estimated monthly savings of almost $5 billion for taxpayers;
  • Impose a funding cap of 99% for any Continuing Resolution (CR) to compel Congress to finally do its job and ensure a functional appropriations process that includes marking up and passing all required 12 appropriations bills;
  • Secure full funding for critical veterans programs and national defense priorities while safeguarding Social Security and Medicare; and
  • Reject all of President Biden's proposed $5 trillion in new tax increases, government mandates, and federal programs.

Read the full text of the bill here.

Farmers Market opens Downtown for the season on Friday

By Press Release
apples public market

Press Release:

The Genesee Country Farmers Market will be open for the season Friday. 

Located at the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place. The market runs each week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Currently, 25 vendors are participating, including food trucks. Each day varies with vendors. We encourage you to check the Genesee Country Farmers Market Facebook page each day to see an updated list of vendors for that day. 

Each week there will be a variety of guest vendors as well that will be posted on FB. We encourage you to check for weekly updates. If you are interested in a vendor spot, you can email us at or stop by the Market shed during operating hours for an application.

History by the Hearth celebrates black Batavians

By Press Release

Press Release:

Richmond Memorial Library will host its Spring program of History by the Hearth on Thursday, June 8 at 7 p.m. 

City Historian Larry Barnes will share his research as presented in a new monograph:  "Black Batavians: Who they are, their local history, and aspects of our larger culture that have especially shaped their experiences."

Deborah Wood, Special Collections Librarian at Richmond Memorial Library, will finish the evening with Within the Collective Memory: Why now? And a sneak peek at the exhibit Juneteenth: A Day of Celebration, on display June 15-21.

Richmond Memorial Library is located at 19 Ross Street in the City of Batavia. Find the library online at

Motorcycle accident reported in Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens

A motorcycle accident is reported on South Lake Road in Pembroke.

Mercy Flight has landed at the scene.

The patient is reported conscious and alert.

Pembroke and Indian Falls Fire is on scene.  Mercy EMS is on scene.

UPDATE 7:37 p.m.: Mercy Flight is about to take off.  Pembroke and Indian Falls assignments going back in service.

Photo: Batavia PD holds annual flag ceremony for deceased retired officers

By Howard B. Owens
batavia pd flag service
The men and women who retired from the Batavia Police Department and are buried in local cemeteries were honored on Wednesday with flags placed by their headstones. The police department held a short service in the afternoon to commemorate the service of the former police officers.
Photo by Howard Owens.

City of Batavia Fire Department warns of mulch fires

By Press Release

Press Release:

After numerous responses to mulch fires recently, the City of Batavia Fire Department reminds residents to use some caution and common sense when it comes to landscaping mulch. Each year during the spring and summer months, hundreds of mulch fires are reported across the nation. These fires start out small and undetected, but can eventually grow into a devastating fire, causing major damage to buildings, homes, and other structures.

Typically, mulch that is piled too deeply, more than a few inches, can build up heat and spontaneously catch fire. As the fire starts in the landscaping mulch, it quickly spreads into the shrubbery and then into the home or building. Other contributing factors include below-average rainfall, extremely dry conditions, warm weather, and abnormal winds.

Another, common cause of mulch fire is human carelessness through the discarding of smoking products. Cigarette and cigar smokers often discard lighted smoking materials, including matches, into the landscaped areas as they enter and/or exit a building. So, please take extra precautions when smoking around landscaping beds.

To help prevent a mulch fire, please follow these safety tips:

  • Become aware of this fire safety problem and use smoking materials responsibly. Use only
    approved receptacles for matches, cigarettes, and cigars.
  • Recognize that hot and dry spells allow mulch fires to start more readily.
  • Report any smoke or fire in a mulch bed via 9-1-1.
  • Maintain at least 18 inches of clearance between the edge of the mulch bed and combustible building materials, such as exterior vinyl siding and decks.
  • Keep mulch beds as moist as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact the fire department at 585-345-6375.

Notre Dame HS to host annual golf, tennis and bocce tournament June 11 at Terry Hills

By Press Release

Press Release:

Join us Sunday, June 11 for the 26th Annual Notre Dame Foundation Golf, Tennis, and Bocce Tournament. The event is hosted by Terry Hills Golf Course for Golf and Bocce and Batavia High School for tennis.

The event features:

  • Four-Person Golf Scramble
  • Bocce and Tennis Competition
  • Beverages served throughout the day
  • Cash Bar and Dinner following completion of the tournament

Registration for Golf begins at 11:30 a.m. Registration for Tennis and Bocce begins at Noon. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m - 12:30 p.m. (included with your registration).

This year the event is being held in honor of Bradley F. Rogers. Mr. Rogers was a devoted Notre Dame supporter, Notre Dame JV and Varsity Basketball coach as well as a Batavia High School track and golf coach.

He will be remembered as a respected educator with a passion for sports and an overwhelming love for his family.  We at Notre Dame take great pleasure in honoring him this year for the legacy he leaves behind.

Join us in supporting Notre Dame High School for a fun day of golf, tennis, bocce, prizes, food, and drinks. We hope to see you there!

Submitted photo from 2021

Batavia man quietly invites people to ask him about Islam

By Howard B. Owens
Batavia resident Muhammad Hamaz sits on a bench Wednesday on Main Street in Batavia waiting to share with anyone willing to stop and talk with him about his belief that Islam is a religion of peace.
Photo by Howard Owens

Muhammad Hamaz has never met another Muslim in Batavia. He worships with a community in Rochester when he can. He said he wanted people in Batavia to know more about Islam, so he sat on a bench Wednesday on Main Street, between the U.S. Post Office and Tim Horton's, holding a sign that read, "I'm A Muslim. Ask Me About Islam."

At the time a reporter spoke with him, nobody up to that point in the day had stopped to ask him about Islam, he said.

"I want to teach others about Islam to the best of my ability and let others know that it is not a violent religion and that it is a religion of peace," Hamaz said.

A soft-spoken man, Hamaz said he converted to Islam on Oct. 14.

"Islam interested me because I never really believed that Jesus was God," Hamaz said. "I never really believed in the Trinity. So when it came down to Islam, well, Jesus was just a very beloved prophet. I was like, 'That makes more sense to me.' I always want to worship just God, not Jesus, because Jesus is just a guy, and, well, a very beloved guy. I just fell in love with Islam as I learned about it."

If anybody did stop and talk with him, he said his message was simple for his fellow Batavia residents: Islam teaches peace.

"I just want people to know that Islam is not a dangerous religion," Hamaz said. "After 911, so many people think that Islam is a religion of terrorism. It's really not. It's about love and peace and submitting to the will of God. And I want people to know that I am out here because I want other people to know exactly what I said and that Islam is not violence."

Le Roy's annual art show displays the wide interests and talents of students

By Howard B. Owens
rylee burns le roy art
Rylee Burns, a senior at Le Roy High School, discusses her art during the school's annual art show on Wednesday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Rylee Burns started her art journey for fun when she was younger, and she intends to keep it that way.  Being an artist is not her career ambition.

After her graduation from Le Roy High School on June 24, she will head to SUNY Geneseo to major in chemistry.

"I really, really enjoy science, and I want to be a forensic scientist after college," Rylee said. "So, in thinking about starting that journey, I decided to start with chemistry."

She still may take an art class or two in college, she said, because she enjoys art, too.

It's not unusual for students, even ones as talented as Rylee, to follow career paths outside of art, said Ieon Koukides, a teacher Rylee said has inspired her to stretch herself artistically.

"Their interests are absolutely different from what they might be doing in the class, from science to music, to sports, or whatever it might be," said Koukides, who himself has interests outside of art -- he's also Le Roy's head baseball coach.  "So it's kind of nice that I get to have kids of all different interest levels, and what they go on to do is awesome to me because what I get to do is give them an avenue to appreciate art and hopefully produce some pretty neat stuff while they're in high school."

Rylee was among several seniors who prepared a wall of their paintings and drawings for Le Roy's annual art show on Wednesday, which also featured the work of underclass members.

As an artist, Rylee tends to be detail-oriented, preferring fine brush strokes.  As a sophomore, she painted a church door because she liked the detail of it, and in her junior year, Koukides encouraged her to find another church architecture theme, so she concentrated on a stained glass window.  To complete the cycle this year, she painted a church door key.

"I'm really fine with my brushes," Rylee said. "I used really tiny brushes for all three of these. I like things to go the way I want them to, so I felt really nice with these because I wanted the detail."

Koukides said he typically picks a project a student did in their sophomore year and encourages them each year to find a new approach to the same or similar subject.

"I knew she could excel at it because she's super confident in what she's doing," Koukides said. "Whether it's painting or colored pencil,  it's pretty easy to gear her towards that project and see her excel."

He said Rylee's confidence has "allowed her to soar on any project after she has learned the techniques."

The art show was moved to the auditorium stage this year (instead of the library) and the stage was filled with adults and students appreciating the works on display.  

Koukides said he's proud to see the school's art students get the recognition of an appreciative audience.

"I always say people get to see what I see every day," Koukides said. "That's what makes coming to work great for me every day. I know what's here, and I see it every day. But until we put it up like this and have everybody else view it, I don't think everybody truly appreciates what happens here in this small little community, and how talented the kids are."

Photos by Howard Owens.

rylee burns le roy art
rylee burns le roy art
rylee burns le roy art
rylee burns le roy art
le roy art
rylee burns le roy art
le roy art
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The City of Batavia is accepting applications for a Full-time Water Treatment Plant Operator/Trainee (Salary $23.65/hr.) This is a trainee position involving responsibility for learning the duties and routines in the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant.  The work is performed under the immediate supervision of a qualified operator. Does on-the-job training to become qualified as an operator of a water treatment plant. Does related work as required. Applicant must be a graduate of a senior high school or possess a New York State high school equivalency diploma. Please submit a completed Civil Service Application to Human Resources, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY 14020 or Background check, psychological assessment, physical and drug testing are required. Candidate must become a resident of Genesee County or any adjacent town to the County of Genesee within 6 months of the date of conclusion of the probationary period for the City of Batavia. EEO. Applications can be found at
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