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Photos: Clear Spring Friday evening in Oakfield

By Howard B. Owens
lamb farm oakfield

To help a friend with a project, I needed to head out to Oakfield to take some landscape photos, and Friday evening seemed like perfect weather for such an excursion.

Photos by Howard Owens

Lamb farm oakfield
oakfield barn
oakfield deer

Batavia's last champion boxer, Tim Edgerton, dies at age 62

By Howard B. Owens
tim edgerton boxing golden gloves
File photo from 2013. By Howard Owens.

Timothy Freeman Edgerton, whose distinguished life as a citizen of Genesee County included winning a Golden Gloves championship in 1977 in Texas, died at age 62 at home in Oakfield on May 7.

He is the last known boxer with roots in Batavia to have won a championship.

His obituary was released today.

Edgerton was born Aug. 6, 1960 in Batavia. He graduated from Byron-Bergen and attended GCC for a year. He then transferred to Sam Houston State University in Texas, where he majored in Criminal Justice.

As a youth, Edgerton was captivated by boxing stories of his uncle Norman, who once battled for a Golden Gloves title and lost. In 1976, he took boxing lessons in Rochester. He was unable to get on a Golden Gloves card in Buffalo -- for some reason, the only names drawn were all Buffalo residents, so he hung up his gloves for a little bit.

He moved to Houston, and while there, he decided to try again to compete for a Golden Glove title.  While signing up, he was recruited by a boxing team, Cut and Shoot, Texas.

They were a few boxers short for the team, Edgerton told The Batavian in 2013 in an exclusive interview. They could provide people to work his corner. That way, Ederton got help, and if he scores any points, the Cut and Shoot team gets the points.

That sounded like a fair deal, Edgerton said.

"Of course, they had no idea what my skill level was," Ederton said. "They just went into it blind, kind of like I went with them blind."

From The Batavian's 2013 story

Then this man from Cut and Shoot, Texas, had another proposal for the 174-pound fighter.

"The guy says, 'What would you think about fighting as a heavyweight?' and I said, 'Are you kidding me?' "

Edgerton would be giving up at least 25 pounds to every fighter he faced.

"You'll be giving up a lot of weight, but you're quick, you're fast," the man said. "Jab and move, stay away from them, try to score some points. Your chances are better as a heavyweight. I know some of the kids in the lightweight division. They're really good. I don't know you, but that's the best I can offer."

Edgerton and Lettie talked it over. The man, whom Edgerton still didn't know from a fence post, seemed to know what he was talking about.

After winning the preliminary bouts, Edgerton was facing a man 45 pounds heavier in the finals.

"He had had to go 220, maybe 225 pounds," Edgerton said. "He was bigger. He was taller. And I won. I don't know how. Maybe out of fear. But I was able to take it to him pretty good.

"It did work out where he was bigger and stronger, but he was slower," Edgerton added. "I could outmaneuver his punches, you know, duck. A couple of times, he swung, and I could just literally feel the air rush overhead. If he ever hit me, I would have been gone. They would have been carrying me out."

The fight went all three rounds, and for a moment, Edgerton thought he could score a knockout.

"In the third round, I almost had enough to put him down," Edgerton said. "He was stumbling back into the ropes, but I didn't have enough.

"In my corner, they yelled out, 'stick and move, stick and move, you got the fight won, just stick and move,' so that's what I did," Edgerton added. "I got on the bicycle, and started sticking, moving, moving, sticking. He couldn't catch me. He was tired. I was in better shape, thank God, and I ended up winning."

With the victory, Edgerton won his Golden Gloves title, and as a heavyweight. Those points also put the team from Cut and Shoot, Texas, over the top for a team championship.

That was Edgerton's last fight. He finished with a career record of 19-6.

Edgerton married Lettie, whom he met in Texas. 

He wanted to return home, but couldn't land a crime-fighting job in Genesee County. He went to work for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, living in Detroit for a while.

Eventually, the job brought him back to Batavia

In 1993, he developed Operation Child Intercept, which has been adopted nationwide, to combat the illicit transportation of missing and abducted children across the international borders into the U.S.

Edgerton served on the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District board for 15 years and was an advocate for student rights, improved school nutrition, and diversity and inclusion. He also served as President and a key member of the Elementary Community School Organization (ECSO), where he helped bring skating parties, winter carnivals, public speakers, and countless other special events to the students and larger community each year.

tim edgerton golden gloves
File photo from 2013. By Howard Owens.

Four local students set to graduate from SUNY Potsdam

By Press Release

Press Release:

The State University of New York at Potsdam will recognize the Class of 2023 during the College's 203 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 20. During Commencement, SUNY Potsdam honors students who have either earned their degree or are eligible to graduate during that calendar year.

Local graduates include:

  • Harmony Parker of Pavilion, who is set to graduate magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeological Studies
  • Erin Parnapy of Byron, who is set to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre
  • Paola Perez Matos of Oakfield, who is set to graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice Studies
  • Megan Privatera of Leroy, who is set to graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education

Two people seriously injured in motorcycle accident in Oakfield

By Howard B. Owens
accident in oakfield

Two people were seriously injured when a motorcycle they were on left the roadway on Lewiston Road in Oakfield and struck a retaining wall in a yard.

Contrary to an earlier report, no vehicle was involved.

Sgt. Matt Wikowski, State Police, said at this stage of the investigation it's not clear why the driver lost control over the motorcycle.

The driver and a female passenger were both ejected from the bike. The driver was transported to ECMC by ground ambulance and the female was flown to ECMC by Mercy Flight.

Oakfield Fire and Mercy EMS assisted at the scene.

Previously: Two people reportedly injured in accident involving motorcycle in Oakfield

Photos and information by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.

accident in oakfield
accident in oakfield

Two people reportedly injured in accident involving motorcycle in Oakfield

By Howard B. Owens

Two people are reportedly injured after a collision between a car and a motorcycle at Lewiston Road and Maltby Road, Oakfield.

Oakfield Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 3:19 p.m.: Mercy Flight is on standby.

UPDATE 3:21 p.m.: Elba Fire requested to the scene to set up landing zone for Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 3:35 p.m.: Mercy Flight is on scene. A second helicopter is requested to the scene with a 21-minute ETA.

Law and Order: Batavia man accused of fleeing from police, possessing narcotics to sell

By Howard B. Owens

Jason W. Whitehead, 25, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, possession of a narcotic with the intent to sell, harassment 2nd, resisting arrest and use of drug paraphernalia 2nd. Batavia patrol officers located Whitehead, who had an active warrant for his arrest, walking on Bank Street on April 16. Whitehead allegedly fled on foot when officers attempted to arrest him. A private citizen assisted Officer John Gombos and Sgt. Christopher Lindsay in stopping Whitehead. The officer took Whitehead into custody. Whitehead was allegedly found to be in possession of a quantity of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Whitehead was arraigned in  City Court and remanded to the Genesee County Jail on no bail.

Cassandra F. Smith, 37, of Manhattan Ave.,  Batavia, is charged with two counts of petit larceny. Smith is accused of stealing various items from a yard on Manhattan Avenue on April 8. Smith was released on an appearance ticket.  On April 12, she was charged with criminal trespass 2nd. She is accused of entering and remaining unlawfully in an apartment on Washington Avenue, where she left a note for a resident to find when the person came home. She was arraigned in Centralized Arraignment Court and released. She was charged with criminal mischief 4th on April 12. She is accused of spray-painting an apartment door, doorbell camera, and van in the driveway of a residence on Washington Avenue.  She was arraigned in Centralized Arraignment Court, and her release status is unknown.

Joseph C. Jeffords, 32, of Chestnut Street, Batavia, was arrested on two bench warrants issued by City Court. Jeffords is accused of failure to appear on two prior appearance tickets, one for alleged unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on Jan. 23, and the second for alleged criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th on Feb. 6. He was arraigned in Centralized Arraignment Court, and his release status is unknown. Jeffords was also arrested on April 9 and charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd. Jeffords was allegedly in possession of various narcotic drugs upon being arrested on multiple warrants.  Jeffords was arraigned in  City Court and custody remanded to the Genesee County Jail in lieu of bail.  

Salvatore Dellapenna, 54, of Vine Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief. Dellapenna is accused of damaging a neighbor's front door by kicking it in on April 8. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Patricia M. Anderson, 38, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny, operating a motor vehicle while the registration is suspended, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle third. Anderson is accused of filling a shopping cart with $139 in merchandise and leaving the business on East Main Street, Batavia, without paying. During the investigation, it was allegedly found that Anderson operated a motor vehicle with a suspended registration while her license was suspended. Anderson was released with an appearance ticket.

Modesto O. Cardenas, 29, of Pearl Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment in the second degree.  Cardenas was arrested by Officer John Gombos following an investigation into a disturbance on April 1. He was arraigned in Centralized Arraignment Court, and his release status is unknown.

Linda L. Snyder, 40, of Creek Road, Batavia, was arrested for bench warrants issued by City Court and charged with bail jumping in the third degree. On April 5, Officer Peter Post arrested Snyder on bench warrants issued by  City Court for harassment, criminal mischief, and animal cruelty charges.  Additionally, Snyder was charged with bail jumping 3rd because she failed to appear in court as directed after being released on her own recognizance from a criminal proceeding.  Snyder was arraigned in City Court and custody remanded to the Genesee County Jail in lieu of $1,000 cash bail. 

Josia G. Culver, 18, of Tracy Avenue, Batavia, is charged with two counts of burglary 3rd, two counts of criminal mischief 4th and petit larceny. Culver is accused of breaking into a local restaurant on Ellicott Street on April 14. He is accused of breaking into another restaurant in the mall on April 16 and stealing money from the register. His release status is unknown.

Lori A. Wittkopp, 61, of Spencer Court, Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .18% or greater. On April 14, Officer John Gombos stopped Wittkopp following a complaint that Wittkopp was driving while intoxicated. Wittkopp was issued appearance tickets.

Kendra Q. Thomas, 35, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd and endangering the welfare of a child. Thomas is accused of a physical altercation with a juvenile on April 15.  Thomas was issued an appearance ticket.

Luis J. Santiago Arroyo, 34, of Buell Street,  Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal contempt 1st. Arroyo is accused of being involved in a physical incident during a custody exchange on April 23. Arroyo is accused of striking another person, unprovoked, who was covered by an order of protection while she was holding a child.  Police say a Ring camera captured video of the incident. Arroyo was held in the Genesee County Jail pending arraignment. Release status unknown.

Aaron T. Hendershot, 26, of Ellsworth Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd and aggravated family offense. Hendershot allegedly violated an order of protection on April 20 by calling, messaging, and writing letters to the protected party.  He was additionally charged with aggravated family offense as he has been convicted of a specified offense within the immediately preceding 5 years, Feb. 6, 2023.  Hendershot was arraigned in City Court and custody remanded to the Genesee County Jail without bail. 

Alisha A. Soule, 26, of Route 237, Le Roy, is charged with harassment 2nd and criminal mischief 4th. Police responded to a reported disturbance on April 26. Soule is accused of kicking in a door to gain entry to a house and then striking one person while attempting to get to another person. Soule was arraigned in City Court and released.

Pamela L. Dickinson, 60, of Roosevelt Avenue, Batavia, is charged with DWI, failure to comply, speeding, and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. At about 6:30 a.m. on April 24, Officer Joseph Weglarski reported observing a vehicle speeding on Pearl Street. The driver allegedly failed to stop until being blocked by patrols at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Bank Street in Batavia. Dickinson was released on traffic tickets.

Shelby L. Fryer, 27, of Prune Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal impersonation.  Officer John Gombos stopped a vehicle reportedly driven by Fryer on April 22. She allegedly gave a false name to the officer in an attempt to avoid an arrest on a warrant. She was arrest on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. She was arraigned. Her release status is unknown.

Haley M. Larnder, 23, of North Street, Batavia, was arrested on a  City Court arrest warrant. Officer Andrew Mruczek located Larnder on April 21 and took her into custody on a warrant. Larnder was originally arrested on March 19 on a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th and issued an appearance ticket. Larnder was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Jacqulyn A. Dueppengieser, 39, on Page Road, Perry, is charged with petit larceny. Dueppengieser is accused of stealing from a business on East Main Street on April 20. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Natasha J. Durney, 29, of Hutchins Place, Batavia, is charged with nine counts of harboring an unlicensed dog. On April 21, Officer Stephen Quider responded to a report on Hutchins Street of dogs fighting on Hutchins Place. During the fight, a person was reportedly bitten. Durney is accused of owning nine unlicensed dogs.  Durney was issued an appearance ticket.

Jessica Hernandez, 35, of Summit Street, Batavia, was arrested as a fugitive from justice. Police officers executed an arrest warrant on April 22 after being contacted by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office in Florida. The police department was informed that Volusia County had a warrant for Hernandez on the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Hernandez was processed, arraigned in Centralized Arraignment Part Court and held at the Genesee County Jail to await extradition to Volusia County, Florida. 

David A. Kendall, 50, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Kendall is accused of violating a stay-away order of protection on April 23. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Adam M. Zastrocky, 38, of Myrtle Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, failure to stop at stop sign, driving left of pavement markings in no passing zone, and refusal to take breath test. Zastrocky was arrested by Sgt. Jason Saile following an investigation into a motor vehicle accident reported at 10 p.m. on April 20 on Cockram Road, Byron.

Joseph Earnest Marr, 44, of Nesbitt Road, Batavia, is charged with grand larceny 4th.  Marr is accused of stealing a phone while at Batavia Downs. He was processed at the Genesee County Jail and released.

Nathan Paul Crawford, 27, of Federal Drive, Batavia, is charged with two counts of petit larceny. Crawford is accused of shoplifting from 48 Deli Express at 5:04 p.m. on April 15. He was issued an appearance ticket. He is also accused of shoplifting from Kohls at 11:05 a.m. on April 19. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Heather Nicole Derooy, 33, of Keith Terrace, Chili, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd, and improper plates. Derooy was stopped at 8:26 p.m. on April 8 on Clinton Street Road, Bergen, by Deputy Nicholas Chamoun and Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush. She was allegedly found in possession of methamphetamine. Derooy was released on an appearance ticket.

Robert E. Sacher, 53, of Kibbe Avenue, Batavia, is charged with DWI. Sacher was stopped at 3:11 p.m. on April 13 on Veterans Memorial Drive by Deputy Jonathan Dimming. Sacher was issued traffic tickets and released.

Jeenathan Rodeny Williams, 63, of Hazelwood Terrace, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd, unlicensed driver, side wings/side windows non-transparent, and plates covered by glass or plastic. Williams was stopped at 6:56 p.m. on April 25 on Byron Elba Road, Byron, by Deputy Zachary Hoy and issued an appearance ticket.

Scott Aaron Muntz, 25, of Maltby Road, Oakfield, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and speeding. Muntz was stopped at 12:15 a.m. on April 16 on Knowlesville Road, Alabama, by Deputy Jonathan Dimming.  He was issued traffic tickets.

Madison McKenzie, 18, of Creek Road, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. McKenzie is accused of giving a letter to a child under age 17 that contained sexual content. McKenzie was arraigned and released.

Michelle Dawn Grover, 38, of Olean Road, South Wales, is charged with petit larceny. Grover is accused of shoplifting from Dollar General in Pavilion at 10 a.m. on March 5. Grover was issued an appearance ticket.

Village of Oakfield asked to allow residents to own up to six egg-laying hens

By Howard B. Owens

Samantha Ilacqua loves fresh eggs and wants to have them available for her children -- like her mother had since she was in first grade -- and since Oakfield is a rural community, she believes that village residents should be allowed to own up to six egg-laying hens.

On Monday, she presented a petition signed by more than 40 other village residents asking the village trustees to change the zoning ordinance to allow hen-raising in the village.

"I feel like we should be able to have them in this rural community," Ilacqua said. "It's a right-to-farm community, and we should be able to have chickens in our own back yards, as long as they're fenced in cages and only six hens."

Here is a portion of the speech she gave to the village trustees at a previous board meeting:

Changing this law benefits both families as well as the Village of Oakfield.  The Village of Oakfield can create income from allowing hens in the Village by charging for permits.

Families should be able to know where their food came from, as well as be able to raise their own food especially in these economic times.  In January an eighteen count of eggs was $8.42.  

Chickens are great for pest control in gardens (they eat ticks), as well as waste reduction as they can eat food that would normally end up in a landfill. 

I know this topic has come up previously, and I could talk to you about statistics and proof of successful ownership in larger villages, but I think I would rather talk about why I am coming to you tonight.

I grew up in Bergen, New York.  In 1999, My first-grade class hatched chickens, and my parents decided to build a coop. We took home those chicks that hatched.  My parents have had chickens ever since.  A Cambridge study even shows the nutritional value of fresh eggs versus commercial is consistently higher.  

When my husband and I moved into our current residence, it wasn’t long before we decided we wanted chickens of our own.  There really is nothing like raising the food that you eat, knowing where it came from and teaching your children the life lessons and responsibilities that come from owning pets.  I was shocked to find out that in the Village of Oakfield, I was not allowed to have chickens at all, but if I lived in the City of Batavia, I would be allowed six hens.  

I can not think of a better time than now to allow village residents the right to grow their own food.  Eggs are a staple in homes.  I personally believe the wording of, “farm animals” is broad.  If you have ever been around chickens, they are quiet, about the same decibels as humans having a conversation.  There is a huge difference between having a goat or cow in your backyard versus having a few chickens.

I am not sure why the board has denied previous requests of allowing chickens in the village.  I have heard that one possible concern is that foxes could make their way into the village looking for the chickens.  Research suggests that well-designed coops could mitigate that risk.  I believe that education on the front end would avoid issues later on, such as a Hen agreement to be signed at the time of receiving a permit or even licensing the chicken coop by maintaining a building/zoning permit versus licensing the hens.  Additionally, this could potentially generate some decent income for the village.  Hunters obtain licenses and permit to hunt.  Fishers obtain licenses to fish.  Residents could obtain a permit to keep six hens.  

Mayor Dave Boyle said the trustees will discuss the proposal at its May meeting and perhaps vote on it that night.

Photo by Howard Owens.

Village of Oakfield resident honored for 50 years of dedicated community service

By Howard B. Owens

Over the past 50 years, Ron D'Alba never did it for recognition.  He didn't hang Christmas lights or help start the Oakfield Betterment Committee or the Labor Daze celebration, coach Little League or serve on the village board or the zoning board of appeals to get attention.

He didn't do any of that so that someday the community might thank him, but that's exactly what took place at the Village of Oakfield Board of Trustees meeting on Monday.

As D'Alba's term on the ZBA draws to a close, the village recognized his five decades of community service.

"The village board would like to recognize and applaud Ron D'Alba for 50 years of dedication and passion to our community," Board Chairwoman Judy Boyle said. "He loves the village, and over the years, he has shown his commitment by volunteering in many capacities. Ron has lived in Oakfield his entire life raising two sons and settling on Bennett Avenue. Preserving the character of Oakfield has always been a concern of his. It has been a major reason he has continued to volunteer and help keep the village a great place to raise a family."

Ron's son Scott is a current board member, and he listed many of his father's achievements over the years.

  • He was a Little League coach and manager from 1972 to 1984.
  • He was a founding member of the sports boosters.
  • He helped raise funds for the first lights on the OAS football field.
  • He was a member of the Youth Recognition Commission from 1975 to 1983.
  • He and his wife Sue were founding members of the Oakfield Betterment Committee.
  • He installed Christmas lights on Main Street in the village.
  • He Helped organize the first Labor Daze celebration.
  • He helped raise funds to build the Gazebo in Triangle Park.
  • He served as an interim member of the village Board of Trustees in 1988 and 1989.
  • And from 2012 until this year, he served on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

"He was born and raised in the Village of Oakfield," Scott said. "He's always loved this community and shown that love, by the way he supported our local school sports teams and in volunteering and finding ways to make this village a nicer place to live and raise a family."

He added at the end of his speech, "We are all here tonight to acknowledge and thank him for his time and service. I've been fortunate enough to witness all this firsthand along with my brother Joel, and couldn't be prouder to call him Dad. Dad, you have instilled this love for community in Joel (Scott's brother) and me. You've always been a true role model, and we thank you for that."

The ceremony highlighting Ron D'Alba was a surprise for him, and he was quite honored for the recognition, he said.

"It means the world to me," he said. "I've been doing this forever because I love the community.  I never expected to get anything. It's beautiful."

Photos by Howard Owens. Top photo, as a gag gift, Mayor David Boyle presents Ron D'Alba with an old village Christmas banner.

Ron D'Alba.

Mayor Dave Boyle reads a proclamation honoring Ron D'Alba on his 50 years of community service.

Haxton library Trustees ask community to vote to make the facility a school district library

By Joanne Beck

Haxton Memorial Library, which offers a list of programs that has grown over the years, has also been dealing with a budget that has been shrinking in comparison, library trustees say.

The Oakfield staple established in 1963 is in danger of ceasing operations without an influx of more revenue, Board of Trustees President Carol D’Alba said after a recent public presentation about the situation.

“We really won’t be able to keep our doors open for very much longer,” she said to The Batavian. “The main reason is that minimum wage is going up, and the need for current materials. We have been scraping by. As a school district library, our tax base will be the same, it represents the geographical area of the village and town of Oakfield. The school will be the tax collector.”

The board presented its proposal last week to make Haxton a school district library, which doesn’t change anything other than which entity collects the taxes, D’Alba said. Oakfield-Alabama Central won’t run the library in any way, she said.

Library taxes are expected to go up two cents per $1,000 assessed value, from 55 cents to 57 cents per $1,000, or from $55 to $57 a year for a home assessed at $100,000. The total proposed budget is $158,790, and taxpayers will have an opportunity to vote for that, the proposition to establish a school district library, and the school budget on May 16.

This tax rate has decreased considerably, as residents used to pay 85 cents per $1,000 from 2018 to 2020, she said.

“It’s our independent budget. We do our own reports,” D’Alba said. “A school district library will function the same, and the public will have more control.”

She emphasized that the state has been encouraging library boards to move in this direction to secure their revenue sources, and it has been sorely needed at Haxton library.

"It's important that people know that the New York State Board of Regents continues, for the last decade, urging libraries to try to stabilize funding. And one way to do that is to redistrict, from Municipal Library to School District Public Library," she said. "We had a nearly 30 percent reduction in funding from the town during COVID. And that money was never restored."

Town funding dropped by more than $22,500 from 2020 to 2021, and then by more than $4,600 more from 2021 to 2022, and remains flat for this year. 

"So that's the main reason, is that the funding was never restored. And so we really won't be able to keep our doors open for very much longer. If we don't make this move, we might have a few years under us with our savings account. But we're using, you know, we're tapping that savings now, our reserves," she said. "So, that's the main reason, but the minimum wage is going up, and, obviously, in order for the library to stay current, we need the current materials. We've been really suffering, scraping by for the last few years. And so that's why we need to make this move now."

Oakfield is catching up to others in Genesee County who have already become school district libraries, including Corfu, Pavilion, Le Roy, and Batavia.

“Everyone is looking to do this now,” D’Alba said. “We’re all looking to make this switch.”

Some 50 people attended the presentation last Tuesday evening, and some spoke on behalf of the importance of Haxton and how much their families enjoy the programs there, D’Alba said.  Those programs include story time for preschool, summer reading, baby story time, music, dance and art activities, book club, craft night for adults and children, technology help, special one-time adult, family and youth sessions throughout the year, plus various computer, Internet, material and workspace services.

“There was just so much love in that room,” she said. “People did not know all of the programs the library offers; there’s a lot going on here, and we want to do more outreach that we haven’t been able to do without more funding.”

The board has had to do some belt-tightening, according to 2021 data, spending $7,313 on materials (books, DVDs, periodicals, computer software and upgrades), compared to Corfu’s $13,898, and Byron-Bergen’s $24,793. Program expenses have been another disparity, going from Corfu’s $2,058 to Haxton’s $689.

The presentation led to the board’s final decision that, “after consideration over the past few years, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution to transition from a Municipal Library to a School District Public Library that would be funded solely by a voter-approved budget.”

Again, what is a school district public library?

  • The school district collects tax money for the library and turns it over to the library board.
  • The school district would have no involvement in the library’s operations.
  • Libraries can secure funding through a district-wide public vote on a budget.
  • If approved, the library would revise the Charter to be a school district public library, and trustees would be elected.
  • The coverage area is the service area that serves the entire school district. This means that the service area would include patrons in the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District.
  • This establishes secure and reliable funding for the library building, utilities, materials, personnel, programs and Nioga services.

The proposed budget of $158,790 includes a part-time library manager and two part-time clerks; 10 additional hours of operation, going from 25 to 35 hours as mandated by the state; the ability to purchase more materials and to offer expanded programming, and keep up with new technological programs and equipment (computers and software); and library utilities and maintenance.

For more information about Haxton library, go HERE.

Top Photo (submitted) is the kick-off of a summer reading program at Haxton, and, above, an art exhibit with guest artist Anthony Terrell, by Joanne Beck, as two of the many programs offered at the Oakfield library.

Smoke and flames showing at residence on Lockport Road, Oakfield

By Howard B. Owens

A house fire is reported at 3134 Lockport Road, Oakfield.

Smoke and flames showing.

Oakfield Fire with mutual aid from Elba Fire responding.

UPDATE 3:56 p.m.: Town of Batavia's Ladder 22 requested to the scene.

UPDATE 4:33 p.m. by  Joanne Beck: A quick response from Oakfield fire helped contain the small fire to the exterior of the house. The origin of the fire may have been a chimney. Response came from Oakfield and Elba fire departments. Both are clearing the scene, and Batavia ladder 22 was canceled before it arrived on scene.

Photo by Howard Owens.

Annual dinner in Alexander celebrates agriculture, recognizes conservation farm of the year

By Howard B. Owens

The annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner -- this year, as in the past, held at the Alexander Fire Hall -- is as much a chance for farmers and community leaders to mingle and enjoy a good meal as it is the time to honor the Soil and Water Conservation District's conservation farm of the year.

This year, the award went to Naas Farms, a 700-acre grain and vegetable farm owned and operated by Bruce and Jessica Naas in Oakfield.

"We are really honored here in Genesee County to have such a diverse, vital, robust agricultural economy in our county, and to be able to honor one of our own this evening is always just a wonderful honor for the Legislature," said Shelley Stein, co-owner of Stein Farms in Le Roy and chair of the Genesee County Legislature while presenting Bruce and Jessica Naas with a proclamation passed by the Legislature recognizing the farm's conservation efforts.

From a previous press release announcing the award:

The farm has adopted many best management practices over the years to improve its land and the environment. The farm grows crops with limited tillage or no-till equipment. Cover crops are planted after the harvest of the commodity crop to improve soil health and reduce soil erosion. The farm sells cover crop seed and occasionally lends equipment to their neighbors to promote soil health beyond their acreage. The farm recently constructed an agri-chemical storage and mixing facility to reduce the environmental risk of storing and mixing fertilizers and herbicides. The farm has also created a pollinator habitat to promote the populations of our native bees and insects.

Top photo: County Legislator and farmer Christian Yunker, Soil and Water Director Jared Elliott, Jessica Naas, Bruce, Naas, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, County Legislator Chair and farmer Shelley Stein, and State Sen. George Borello.

Photos by Howard Owens

Rep. Claudia Tenney (on right in photo above), whose NY-24 District has included Genesee County since January, took the opportunity of the ag dinner to make her first public appearance locally.

She encouraged everybody to attend a roundtable discussion at 10 a.m. on April 4 in the Old Courthouse in Batavia do discuss the upcoming renewal of the Farm Bill.

"This is the number one agricultural district in New York and the entire Northeast," Tenney said. "It's also the number one dairy district, so that's also important as well. I just wanted to encourage you all to attend on April 4. We're going to be hosting our first forum on the new farm bill that's coming up for a vote this year. We'd love to have your participation. We're going to be doing them throughout the district. So as many people as we can get there that would be great."

It's important for the district's voices to be heard on the new Farm Bill because, she indicated, people tend to forget how important agriculture is to New York.

"We have a lot of really important initiatives coming up this year," Tenney said. "I'm hoping that we can get some things that we need in the Farm Bill. They tend to forget us tend to focus more on the ethanol producers out in Iowa and some of the cotton producers."

Tenney encouraged people to visit her website and sign up for her newsletter,

"We have a newsletter that comes out every Friday, and I explain every vote that I take in the house in detail," Tenney said. "I don't just put how I voted. I tell you why. It's my attempt to try to make us understand what's going on in Washington to decode it to ensure that we're self-governing."

State Sen. George Borrello also presented a proclamation to Bruce and Jessica Naas. 

"As the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and also a small business person myself, there are no greater, more resilient people than farmers, and to recognize someone who has risen to the top, there isn't a greater achievement," Borrello said. 

Borrello promised to keep fighting for farmers.

"You know, the biggest threat to agriculture in New York State? It's not climate change," Borrello said. "It's not even the price of commodities or even the labor. The biggest threat to New York State agriculture is bad policy out of Albany. That's the biggest threat to agriculture. And we are going to continue to push back at the people in New York City who don't know where their food comes from, who are trying to tell us how we should feed them. And that's gonna become a bigger problem for them as we move forward. We're making progress. And I promise you, your state will continue to be one of the best states, if not the best state, to farm in as we continue to make progress."

Assemblyman Steve Hawley also congratulated the owners of Naas Farms as well as talk about his efforts to hold back what he called "the electrification of New York."

"We're fighting very, very hard against the electrification plan out of touch folks from New York City," Hawley said.

He praised both Tenney and Borrello for their efforts to represent the new parts -- including Genesee County -- of their redrawn districts and said he admires them both.

Under the leadership of Chef Tracy Burgio, left, culinary students with BOCES prepared the buffet dinner using many locally sourced ingredients. 

Dave's Ice Cream in Batavia donated 400 dishes of ice cream.

Car off the road, unknown injuries, on Lewiston Road, Oakfield

By Howard B. Owens

A one-vehicle accident is reported in the area of 6817 Lewiston Road, Oakfield.

A car went off the road, and the caller reports the car is off in a field "quite a ways."

Unknown injuries.

Oakfield Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 11:44 p.m.: A first responder reports heavy damage.

UPDATE 11:46 p.m.: "Everybody's out of the vehicle," a first responder reports.

UPDATE 11:54 p.m.: No need for Mercy Flight. Two more basic life support ambulances requested to the scene.

UPDATE 12:15 a.m.: Three patients transported to ECMC.

Haxton Library offers weekly storytime program for preschoolers

By Press Release

Press Release:

Preschoolers from 2 to 5 years of age are invited to a morning of activities, stories, rhymes, songs, and a craft each week at the Haxton Memorial Library, 3 North Pearl Street in Oakfield. Preschool Storytime takes place Monday mornings at 10:30 a.m. in the Children’s Room.

The Haxton Library’s talented Mrs. J. fills Storytime with fun for preschoolers with each program centered around a theme like holidays, animals, colors, pets, seasons, or special events. The colorful Children’s Room at the library is the perfect setting, and it invites the children to explore the other activities and materials available at the library. 

In addition to Preschool Storytime, the Haxton Memorial Library also has Baby Storytime that is held on Saturdays at 10 a.m. Babies from 0 to 24 months are invited to share rhymes, songs and simple board books, followed by playtime. While Baby Storytime is designed for infants and toddlers, older children are always welcome to attend as well.

“Our Storytime programs are great favorites because they engage the children with activities and songs,” says Kim Gibson, Director at the Haxton Library. “We love to have our preschoolers and their families explore and enjoy the materials, books and programs that we offer at the Haxton.”

For more information about Preschool Storytime, Baby Storytime, or any of the programs at the Haxton Memorial Library, please call 585-948-9900.

The Haxton Memorial Library located at 3 North Pearl St., Oakfield, provides residents with a variety of programs, events and materials that are listed on the library’s website.

GC Legislature honors a dispatcher, a friend; fundraiser to help family

By Joanne Beck

As the community was still mourning the loss of Genesee County Sheriff's dispatcher Andrew Merkel, Legislature Chairwoman Rochelle Stein read some words in his memory during the Legislature meeting Wednesday evening.

Emergency Services Dispatcher Andrew K. Merkel unexpectedly passed away at the age of 38 on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

He served the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office since October 1, 2011. In addition to his regular duties as an Emergency Services Dispatcher, he was a Communications Training Officer and a board member of the Genesee County Sheriffs Employee Association.

Andy, as he was more popularly known, was also a former employee of Mercy EMS from 2009 to 2015 as an EMT, an Oakfield baseball coach and mentor and a longstanding member of the Alabama Fire Department.

Outside of serving his community, he spent his time operating Wings Cupped Retriever Services, his dog training company, which specialized in obedience, retriever and gun dog training. He also enjoyed duck hunting and the outdoors.

"On top of all that, he was a family man and a great friend," Stein said. "He loved spending time with his wife and three young children, and talking about their escapades. He contributed valuable guidance and tremendous support over many years to anyone who crossed his path."

A GoFundMe has been organized by members of the Genesee County Sheriffs Association. All money raised will be given directly to Andrew Merkel's family, Stein said.

For more information, go to for the Merkel Family Donation Fund. Or feel free to donate by mail to GCSEA, PO Box 46, Batavia, NY, 14021.

Video Sponsor .pane-node-body img {background: none !important; border: 0 !important; margin: 0 !important; padding: unset !important; padding-left: 1px !important }  

Video: Andy Merkel featured in a video about the Retriever Hunting Challenge.

Top photo: By Howard Owens. Andy Merkel at Little League opening day in Oakfield in 2017. Inset photo, submitted. 

Law and Order: Man accused of pointing rifle at juveniles

By Howard B. Owens

Douglas M. Ashworth, 48, of Vine Street, Batavia, is charged with menacing. Ashworth is accused of pointing a rifle at two youths on Oct. 9 on Vine Street in Batavia and placing the individuals in reasonable fear of injury or death. He was arrested on Feb. 28 and issued an appearance ticket.

John J. Saddler, 35, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with burglary 2nd, aggravated criminal contempt, grand larceny 4th, and petit larceny. Saddler is accused of entering the home of a person projected by a court order and stealing property, including an NYS benefits card and then using the card at a local business. He was arraigned in City Court and jailed until his next court appearance.

Sarah A. Malone, 40, of Graham Street, Batavia, is charged with theft of services and criminal impersonation 2nd. Malone is accused of dining at a restaurant in the City of Batavia on Feb. 21 and leaving without paying for her meal. Once located, Malone allegedly provided officers with a fake name and date of birth. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Ariel N. Pontillo, 32, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with DWAI drugs and failure to keep right. Pontillo was stopped by Officer Joseph Weglarski at Main and Court streets in the City of Batavia on Feb. 25.

Michael E. Wilson, 29, of East Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI and insufficient tail lamps. Wilson was stopped at 2:32 a.m. on Feb. 26 on East Main Street in Batavia by Officer Joseph Wglarski. Wilson was issued an appearance ticket.

Rebecca R. Fugate, 22, of Woodrow Road, Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Fugate is accused of striking another resident of a residential care home in Batavia on Feb. 24. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Heather L. Armstrong, 46, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Armstrong was arrested on Feb. 28 following a report of a disturbance at a business in Batavia. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Brittany L. Hollaert, 26, of St Paul Street, Rochester, is charged with failure to appear. Hollaert is accused of failing to appear in court as ordered on charges of grand larceny 3rd, petit larceny, and criminal trespass charges. She was released on her own recognizance and admitted into a drug treatment facility. Her case will be transferred to SAFE Court.

Grant J. Fremstad, 22, of Ekern Street, Westby, Wis., is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, improper lane usage, and open container. Fremstad was stopped at 2:23 a.m. on March 5 on East Main Street by Officer Joseph Weglarski. Fremstad was released on an appearance ticket.

Demerio J Watts, 38, of Eggert Road, Buffalo, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right, and failure to signal. Watts was stopped at 1:18 a.m. on Ellicott Street in Batavia by Officer John Gombos. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Phillip D. Byford, 32, of Brockport Spencerport Road, Sweden, was arrested on City Court bench warrants. The first warrant for an alleged petit larceny on Jan. 24, 2020. He was issued an appearance ticket and allegedly failed to appear in court. The second warrant was for an alleged petit larceny also reported on Jan. 24, 2020. He is accused of failure to appear on an appearance ticket. The third warrant is for a charge of criminal trespass 2nd at a location on East Main Street, Batavia. He was issued an appearance ticket and allegedly failed to appear.  He was arraigned in City Court and ordered to appear at a later date.

Myia N. Sobus, 19, of South Pearl Street, Oakfield, and Timothy J Alis, 18, of Park Road, Batavia, are charged with petit larceny. Sobus and Alis are accused of filling a shopping cart at an undisclosed store (UPDATE: Through court records, The Batavian confirmed the location was Tops) in Batavia with $897 in merchandise and leaving the store without paying for the items. They were released on appearance tickets.

Shawn M. Sloan, 38) of Porter Avenue, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and criminal trespass 2nd. Sloan is accused of entering an apartment on Bank Street, Batavia, on March 3, and stealing a kitchen utensil. Sloan was released on an appearance ticket.

Shannon B. Harder, 38, of Bowen Road, Attica, is charged with DWI, unsafe turn, speed in zone, and failure to keep right. Harder was stopped on Center Street, Batavia, on March 8, by Officer Sam Freeman. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Brian Eric Dagar, 37, of Oak Orchard Road, Elba, is charged with petit larceny. Dager is accused of shoplifting at Walmart in Batavia on Feb. 26. Dagar was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and released.

Evan Francis Maynard, 22, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Maynard is accused of shoplifting from Target in Batavia on March 2. He was processed at the Genesee County Jail and released.

Jeanna Marie Hattaway, 36, of Park Road, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th and aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd. Hattaway was allegedly found in possession of multiple controlled substances during a traffic stop conducted by Sgt. Kyle Krzemien at 3:38 a.m. on March 3 on Lewiston Road, Batavia. She was released on an appearance ticket.

LeeAnna Krull, 53, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with promoting prison contraband 1st and promoting prison contraband 2nd. Krull was allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance while inside the Genesee County Jail on March 1 at 4:07 p.m. She was arraigned in Centralized Arraignment Court and ordered held.

Beglervoic Denis Ikonic, 20, of East Ridge Road, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny. Ikonic is accused of shoplifting from DIck's Sporting Goods on March 5 at 4:30 p.m.  He was released.

Marie Tiffany Walter, 31, of Putnam Road, Bethany, is charged with petit larceny. Walter is accused of shoplifting from Walmart. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Zachary Austin Laird, 26, of Bethany Center Road, Bethany, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, and criminal mischief. Laird is accused of damaging property at a location on Bethany Center Road at 8:15 p.m. on March 1. He allegedly left the scene and drove back while intoxicated. He was arrested by Deputy Nicholas Chmoun and Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush and was held in the Genesee County Jail pending arraignment.

Jeffrey M. Schneider, 44, of Alexander, is charged with DWI. Schneider was stopped by State Police at 7:50 p.m. on March 11 in the Town of Alexander. He was released to a third party.  No further information released.

Photos: Friday's Sunrise

By Howard B. Owens

South Main Road, over the Tonawanda, Batavia. Photo by Chris Suozzi.

Oakfield. By Kristin Smith.

Univera equity award bolsters Warrior House 'Aging Strong Program'

By Joanne Beck

Anybody up for a little downward dog?

In their ongoing quest to provide programs for the community’s well-being, organizers of The GOOSE Community Center and Warrior House of WNY will now be offering a yoga series, thanks to a Univera health equity award, Susan Zeliff says.

The award from Univera Healthcare will support Warrior House of WNY and its Aging Strong Program to promote physical health among senior adults aged 55 and older in rural Genesee County. Based in Oakfield, Warrior House is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of veterans and families throughout Western New York through support services that promote social and emotional development for overall health and well-being, said Zeliff, Warrior House co-founder and treasurer.
“Aging Strong is a community-based fitness and nutrition program that informs and empowers older adults to make healthy choices about eating, and safely increase their level of physical activity,” Zeliff said this weekend. “In our part of Genesee County, the need for this type of program is great, but existing resources were few. That is until Univera stepped in with underwriting support.”    
Warrior House of WNY is located at 33 South Main St., in The GOOSE Community Center, a name borrowed from the former site of the Yellow Goose and an acronym for the Warrior House motto: God is On Our Side Every day. 
Univera Healthcare is a nonprofit health plan that serves members across the eight counties of Western New York and invited nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations serving Western New York to apply for Health Equity Awards to help fund health and wellness programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities.

Health Equity categories included but were not limited to: Reducing health disparities in racial, ethnic, LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities, people living in rural or urban communities, or other groups that may be at higher health risk for medical issues and conditions (chronic or acute), behavioral health or mental health conditions, and negative outcomes from the above, including death or suicide.
“Working together with organizations such as Warrior House, we are confronting the crisis in health disparities, and addressing long-standing gaps in care and services in underserved communities,” Univera Healthcare President Art Wingerter said. 

Univera Healthcare invited organizations to apply for awards of up to $30,000 each to help fund programs to improve health equity in communities of color, especially within Black and Latino communities. These segments of the community continue to suffer from health care and social disadvantages due to racism and discrimination. Award categories include, but were not limited to, improving the community’s physical health and mental health, reducing social disparities in health care, and ensuring access to health care services. 

The funding from Univera Healthcare will support six nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations across Western New York, that were chosen after a comprehensive review process that included input from individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to assess each proposal. Grant recipients were selected based on clear, defined goals and measurable results for reducing health disparities and improving health equity.

Univera Healthcare presented the award to Warrior House on Feb. 2. The goal of the Aging Strong program is to promote physical health among senior adults 55 and older through a community-based fitness and nutrition program that informs and empowers older adults to make healthy choices about eating and safely increasing their physical activity levels, Zeliff said.

Secondary goals include cultivating supportive networks among older-aged community members, promoting health education and literacy through fitness and nutrition workshops, and awareness of available assistance from local health service providers and the Warrior House food pantry.

Funds will be used for program evaluation, materials, food, and for exercise instructor Denise Gliden. She will be hosting a chair yoga at 10 a.m. on Thursday mornings beginning March 16 and a Vinyasa-style yoga at 6 p.m. on Wednesday nights beginning March 22. 

“Our Univera Award will allow us to provide these classes for free. Our goal is always to provide low to no-cost programs. We never want costs to keep people from participating in our programs,” Zeliff said. “It is awards like this that help us make this possible. At this time, we are not putting a limit on the class size. We are hoping to benefit a lot of people with this program.”

For more information, go to Warrior House of WNY or Univera Healthcare.

Submitted photo of Michele Hrichan, Univera Healthcare Medicare Sales; Olivia Linke, Univera Healthcare Community Affairs Director; Susan Zeliff, Warrior House of WNY co-founder and Treasurer; Art Wingerter, Univera Healthcare president; and Kimberly Burr, Univera Healthcare Marketplace Enroller. 

Photos: Snopackers annual Bikini Rally

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee Snopackers held the group's annual Bikini Rally at its clubhouse in Oakfield on Saturday, raising $17,859 for the Pink Fund, to fight breast cancer.

More than a dozen young women, despite single-digit temperatures, participated.

Photos by Louis J Scafetta III, L3Photographs. For more photos, click here.

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