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Photos: Opening of Downtown Farmers Market for 2023

By Howard B. Owens
opening downtown batavia farmers market
Four-year-old Levi Maerten enjoys an apple at Friday's opening of the Downtown Farmers Market in Batavia.  The Famers Market is located next to the former J.C. Penney building of of Alva Place.  The market runs each week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Photos by Howard Owens.
opening downtown batavia farmers market
opening downtown batavia farmers market
opening downtown batavia farmers market
opening downtown batavia farmers market
opening downtown batavia farmers market

Photos: Car from Joe Gibbs Racing on display at Cedar Street Sales and Rentals

By Howard B. Owens
Joe Gibb race car

A car that is part of the Joe Gibbs Race Team visited Cedar Street Sales and Rental today.  Race team sponsors include DeWalt and Cub Cadet, brands carried by Cedar Street.

The team has won five Cup Series titles since 2000 and is based in Huntersville, N.C.

Pictured are Cedar Street's Guy Clark, center, Ethan Carter, from Club Cadet, and Morris Abernathy, representing Joe Gibbs Racing.

The car will be at Cedar Street on Saturday from 10 a.m to 3 p.m.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Joe Gibb race car
Joe Gibb race car
Joe Gibb race car

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.

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

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.

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."

Baby Boomers' memories of Batavia

By Anne Marie Starowitz
Richmond Memorial Library

I use the Richmond Memorial Library daily, tutoring different students. I told one student about Mary Richmond and how she was responsible for financing this beautiful building in memory of her son Dean Richmond Jr.   

Baby boomers grew up walking or driving by the Dean Richmond mansion as part of our daily scenery. Yet, all I seem to notice now is what is gone—most of all, our Main Street. 

Richmond Mansion

I can't forget cruising down Main Street in the 60s. You would drive from the Big N, Eastown Plaza, to the Red Barn or the old Tops Market, now Harbor Freight. Back then, most cars had bench seats, and if you were with your boyfriend, you sat in the center, showing you had a boyfriend, or if you had bucket seats, you would sit on a pillow on the console. In my early teens, the memories were always from spending time outdoors. It was from swimming in the New Pool or, if you were adventurous, the Sandwash, now known as DeWiitt Park, dancing on the tarmac of the tennis courts at MacArthur and Kibbe Park, or winter skating on the frozen tennis courts.

One of my favorite memories was watching St. Joseph's Drum Corps marching down Main Street or watching one of their competitions at Woodward Field. Of course, it also helped if you had a crush on a corps member. Then, on a quiet evening, you could hear them practicing at the Sylvania parking lot.   

st. joe's
st. joe's

Everyone knew who you were, so if you decided to do something you didn't want your parents to see, you soon realized they knew it by the time you got home. We walked to any place we wanted to go. When we were young, we belonged to the neighborhood park and participated in the annual summer craft fair parade. 

You could drink when you were 18, so you would try to get a drink when you were 17. I only know that because my brother took me to our favorite bar on Ellicott Street, Louie's.  

We had house parties. My 18th  birthday was very memorable; my class and the faculty of Notre Dame were invited. Thanks, Mom and Dad! 

Our favorite places to stop after school or on a Saturday afternoon were   Critics and Kustus soda fountains. You would sit at a booth in Critics, drinking your cherry Coke, eating French fries, and putting quarters in a personal jukebox. Then, on a Friday night, you would all meet at Pontillo's for a pizza and hang out with your friends.


The churches were packed for Sunday Mass or Sunday services. Everyone seemed to belong to a church. In the Catholic Church, females had to wear a hat at Mass, and if you didn't have a hat, you used a bobby pin and clipped a tissue to the top of your head. Stores were closed on Sunday. I found not eating pepperoni on our pizza challenging on a Friday night. No meat was allowed on any Fridays.

Our high school dances at Notre Dame ended with a prayer at 11 p.m. with the lights on in the gymnasium. At 11, my dad was waiting outside to take me home. I made sure the eye makeup was off before he saw me

I recently turned 73, and I find solace in remembering old Batavia and the fun we had that did not connect us to a cell phone. 

I don't think I will ever stop remembering my good old days. They just make me smile and make me grateful I grew up in a time with a large family, a station wagon, going under a bridge and blaring the car horn, or punching your brother when you see a Punch Bug Volkswagen Beetles,  and visiting the popcorn and peanut man at his stand on Main Street only to name a few.

As I type this, I sit in the former Ebling Electric store, now The Coffee Press.

This business owner knew the value of saving our old buildings and creating a new place for friends to gather and create their memories.

From diagnosis to research to hope: removing the mask of 'fine'

By Joanne Beck
Peter Mittiga, Sue Gagne, Cheryl Netter
Peter Mittiga, deputy director of Genesee County Mental Health, Sue Gagne, and Cheryl Netter, talk about mental health issues from their personal and professional perspectives for a series of articles related to Mental Health Awareness. 

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles for May’s Mental Health Awareness focus. Despite it being the last day of the month, no topic as important as mental health can be hemmed into such a short time span anyway, as Genesee County Mental Health Director Lynda Battaglia says. Besides, this kicks off June’s “Rebuild Your Life Month,” which will continue with additional articles.

Little did anyone know that Cheryl Netter suffered from bipolar disorder throughout her life. And how could they? Netter herself didn’t know until she received an official diagnosis in her 20s.

“Finally, when I was diagnosed with something that I could explore, and educate myself on and find out, I was relieved. So many people will tell you otherwise, maybe, but I was totally relieved because I knew in talking with my gynecologist and my doctors through the course of the years, I knew there was something more going on inside me. I couldn't voice it, I couldn't put it into words, I couldn't express it per se,” she said. “I used to write a lot. And everything that I wrote about it was dark, death, all of that. And, you know, that's why I look back. And my mom was a big support to me. Not in the beginning. She didn't understand it either. But she started trying to educate herself. And in finally talking, she listened finally, and that's when she started the shift over to when she started sharing with me about her journey. Her mother had a nervous breakdown, my grandmother, back when my mom was growing up. And then my mother, when I was little, I remember her going through an episode, where she was taken away, and hospitalized as a ‘nervous breakdown,’ you know, back then that's what they called them, they didn't have all these diagnoses. And so it was a genetic thing.”

Throughout school and later in her working life, the mask she wore on the outside and the roles she played belied her very low self-esteem and depression. Netter was always the lead in school plays, worked in retail, gravitated toward leadership roles, got married, had two daughters, and from all appearances, she looked “fine.”

She suffered from deep depression, had been hospitalized four times and put on lithium. Abusive relationships and substance abuse -- a path that kept her sinking lower and lower -- all led Netter to the eventual thought that everyone around her would be better off “without me,” she said.

At one of her lowest points, Netter tried to end her life.

“I was in a coma for three days,” she said during an interview with The Batavian. “There is hope out there. I’m living proof of it. There are people out there, you just have to find them.”

Oftentimes, when one is struggling with depression and feelings of hopelessness, isolation is the easier thing to do, she said. But taking that first step will lead to the next one. Her lifeline has been faith in her higher power, God.

“And I know, without a doubt, it's only by his grace, I'm here. I can honestly say that because I have had the opportunity to impact others. With what I've come through. I've never been afraid to talk about it. I've never been afraid to tell people my story. I've never had a fear of people looking at me like 'oh, geez,' I just have never had that fear because I know where my story comes from,” she said. “It's been a journey. And it will be lifelong.

“I do hope coaching. I can’t walk for them, but I can walk with them,” Netter said. “But I can support you with that empathy piece, I think.”

Netter is a hope coach through City Church. A hope coach is a believer in Christ who is devoted to helping others to achieve their fullest potential and who will encourage one to have hope in oneself and God by faith. A hope coach is not a counselor or therapist.

For more information about this program, call 585-343-6895.

Peter Mittiga, deputy director of Genesee County Mental Heath, said that therapist numbers are bouncing back from COVID days, and that has opened up more availability for appointments at the mental health facility on East Main Street in Batavia.

“So I'm really excited about this, and I think it'd be great for the community just knowing, we have walk-in hours every day. Yes, you can be seen right away. But then, currently, you might have to book out two or three weeks for your next appointment,” he said. “But once we are fully staffed, then get right in and start therapy right away, which is great. “Or if somebody is doing very well, they might say, hey, can I see you monthly just to check in, and that's fine, too. 

"And then also individuals that have been in therapy for a while they feel like they don't really need the therapy, if they want to get through with medication. They can be enrolled in our medication management program," he said. "So we have a nurse who will check in with them periodically, but they primarily just come here and they see a doctor and stay on medications for three months. And those are much shorter appointments. So it's not a 45-minute therapy appointment, it's just a really quick check-in with the nurse to see if things are okay. And if that individual ever wants to go back into therapy, we link them up.”

Local Resources
For more information about mental health services in Genesee County, call 585-344-1421 or go to Mental Health Services

For services at the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties, call 585-343-2611, or go to MHA    

For more information from the Rochester-based National Alliance on Mental Illness, go HERE

In a mental health crisis, call or text 988 for resources.

Atticus the Cat missing around Hull Park and Ross Street in Batavia

By Staff Writer
missing cat
Atticus has gone missing from his home in the Hull Park, Ross Street neighborhood of Batavia.  He was last seen wearing a collar with a tag of his owner's name, Shannon Little, and Little's phone number on it.  Little can also be reached at  Little is offering a $300 reward for the safe return of Atticus.
Submitted photo.

ILGR & UHAA announce new series of exhibitions of artists with disabilities in the Genesee Region

By Press Release

Press Release:

The ARTiculations Ability Exhibition -- a forum for artists with disabilities in Genesee, Wyoming, and Orleans counties to display their work publicly -- will open at Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) in their office at 319 West Main Street in the Crickler Executive Business Center in Batavia on Thursday, June 1. Titled “Back of Beyond,” it features the work of Gina Schelemanow, who uses ink, wash, tape, and markers.

A self-described “non-binary neurodivergent goofball that lives in Genesee County, they (the preferred pronoun) are passionate about social justice, community building, and being a silly goose. They started printmaking and painting last year, after a rough mental health spell. Their art is meant to bring joy and oddness to all who enjoy it.”

A reception with light refreshments will be held for the artist at the ILGR office from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 8.  A product of a partnership between ILGR and the University Heights Arts Association (UHAA), the Exhibit will be on display through August 31.

Other artists with disabilities residing in the Genesee, Orleans & Wyoming County areas are encouraged to submit their work to this juried competition, as there will be additional ARTiculations planned quarterly exhibits in the future.

For questions on the event, please call Catherine DeMare at 585-815-8501, ext. 400.

Second motorcycle operator accused of running over accident victim following collision

By Howard B. Owens
accident in batavia
Photo of motorcycle driven by Gregory Vigiano on Friday following an accident on West Main Street in Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens

After further investigation, a third involved driver in an accident on West Main Street, Batavia, on Friday has been arrested.

Mark Flaming, 33, of Batavia, is charged with two counts of tampering with evidence, one count of leaving the scene of a serious personal injury accident, unregistered motorcycle, uninsured motorcycle, improper plates and operating without a proper license.

According to police, a motorcycle driven by Gregory Vigiano, 34, of Batavia, was struck by a minivan driven by Rebecca Santiago, 34, of Stafford, following an alleged illegal left turn.

The investigation by Officer Sam Freeman reportedly found that Flaming, on another motorcycle, ran over Vigiano while Vigiano was down in the roadway.

Flaming is accused of then fleeing the scene. He allegedly later attempted to alter the appearance of his motorcycle to avoid detection following the collision.

Vigiano sustained serious injuries and was transported by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital.  He is listed in satisfactory condition at Strong.

Flaming was issued traffic and appearance tickets.

Santiago was issued tickets on Friday for alleged illegal left turn and operating with a suspended driver's license.

Eden Cafe presents First Friday Art Show of local talent

By Press Release

Press Release:

Eden Cafe & Bakeshop is thrilled to announce its inaugural First Friday Art Show, a monthly event showcasing the works of talented local artists. The art show will kick off from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

In celebration of Pride month, our first month's exhibit will feature the incredible artwork of students from Glow Out, a prominent local program that provides education and awareness of and around the LGBTQ+ community.

Eden Café & Bakeshop is excited to collaborate with Glow Out, an organization renowned for nurturing and empowering individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. The artwork displayed will reflect the unique perspectives and experiences of these talented students, making for a thought-provoking and visually stunning display.

Starting with this inaugural event, Eden Café & Bakeshop will continue to feature new artists each month, ensuring a diverse and ever-changing selection of artwork. The First Friday Art Show will provide a platform for artists to showcase their talent and connect with art enthusiasts and potential buyers.

Artists interested in participating in future exhibitions are encouraged to submit their artwork for consideration. Submissions should include high-quality pictures of their art, a brief artist statement, the mediums and dimensions used, and the price for sale. Interested artists can email their submissions to Judy Hysek and Marcia Bohn at or visit for more information.

"We are excited to launch our First Friday Art Show, providing a creative space for local artists to shine," said Judy Hysek, owner of Eden Café & Bakeshop. "Through this initiative, we hope to foster a sense of community, celebrate diversity, and support the incredible talent that resides within our city. We invite art enthusiasts, community members, and everyone passionate about the arts to join us for an evening of artistic exploration, inspiration, and connection." 

The First Friday Art Show at Eden Café & Bakeshop promises to be an enriching experience for all attendees. Art lovers, supporters of local talent, and members of the community are encouraged to mark their calendars and join the reception on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., featuring light hors d'oeuvres at Eden Café & Bakeshop located at 242 Ellicott St., Batavia.

The artwork will be available for purchase throughout the month, allowing patrons to bring home a unique piece of local art. 

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