Genesee revises policy to require county employees to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status

By mikepett
Dec 3, 2021, 9:31am

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers, in response to a record number of new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, has revised the masking policy for county employees.

Effective yesterday, all county employees are required to wear masks while in county buildings, regardless of their vaccination status. Previously, the requirement was that county employees had to show that they were vaccinated in order to not have to wear an approved face covering.

“We can point to three key reasons why this change has been made,” Landers said last night. “First, Genesee County set a new record for positive cases in one day yesterday (Wednesday) with 82; next we are seeing that 35 percent of the positive cases are vaccine breakthrough cases (those who previously were vaccinated) and, although not confirmed, there is suspected spread of the virus from county employees.”

Landers said he is approaching further policy changes “in steps,” adding that the next step would be to require masking of members of the public in county facilities.

However, he said there would be “no step where we would impose anything on private entities, such as businesses. That would be left up to the state.”

He said he is leaving it up to department heads when it comes to specific buildings.

“At the Office for the Aging (on Bank Street), masks are required for both staff and the public,” he said, noting a higher risk among elderly residents.

Landers did say that once people are seated and kept apart by at least six feet, they can remove their masks.

The county employs about 500 people at various locations.

Batavia PD releases statement regarding social media threats of violence at high school

By Press Release
Dec 2, 2021, 10:40pm

Press release:

Earlier today the City of Batavia Police Department was made aware of threats being spread on social media involving students from the Batavia City High School. Officers have been investigating, and continue to investigate this matter with assistance from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in order to determine the credibility of the threats circulating.

Out of an over-abundance of caution, the District, in consultation with the Police Department, has made the decision to close all buildings within the Batavia City School District tomorrow, Friday, December 3.

"The Department is taking this matter seriously, and will devote the resources needed to ensure the safety and security of the students in the Batavia City School District.", stated Chief Shawn Heubusch, "We remind parents to continue to monitor their child's social media presence and report anything that is suspicious."

We ask that parents and students report any information relative to the threats going around by contacting the City of Batavia Police Department at 585-345-6350 or submit a tip on the Department's CrimeWatch page (www.bataviapolice.org). Further, we discourage the public from continuing to share any posts as it can create unnecessary fear within our community.  

Previously: City Schools to close Friday due to threats of violence on social media

City Schools to close Friday due to threats of violence on social media

By Press Release
Dec 2, 2021, 9:10pm

Press release:

Over the last few hours, it’s been brought to the attention of the Batavia City School District (BCSD) administration that reports of threats of violence at buildings in the district are circulating on social media.

BCSD is currently working closely with the Batavia Police Department, and out of an abundance of caution, BCSD has decided to close all buildings in the district tomorrow, Friday, December 3, while the Batavia Police Department continues its investigation into whether these threats are credible.

All after-school activities are also canceled for Friday, December 3.

BCSD will continue to update students, families, and staff as relevant information on the investigation becomes available. The safety of BCSD students and staff is the top priority, and the district is taking these allegations against our community very seriously. 

If any student or family has any information regarding the threats, we ask that you please contact the Batavia Police Department at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370. 

UPDATE: News release from the Richmond Memorial Library.

Along with the Batavia City School District, the Richmond Memorial Library will be closed on Friday, December 3 to deal with an emergency situation. 

WROTB board promotes Batavian to director of security

By mikepett
Dec 2, 2021, 5:11pm

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Dan Wood is a classic example of someone who has moved up the ladder to reach a position that, 14 years ago, he never would have imagined that he would be filling.

Wood, an Attica native who has lived in Batavia for the past 23 years, today was promoted to director of security at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road. He will replace Joe Vacanti, who is moving into a part-time assistant director role.

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. directors announced the appointment at their board meeting. Wood (photo at right) will assume the director post on Jan. 1.

“In my 14 years here, I never thought that I'd be in the position that I am now,” Wood said. “And I started out as just a part-time guy out on the track. Here I am all these years later and in a month, I will be the director of security.”

Wood said that he has the training and experience to handle the responsibilities, which include supervision of 47 employees – 13 full time, 17 part time and 17 substitutes. Another 12 people are hired as seasonal security officers assigned to the harness horse racing track.

The number of security guards currently is down about 20 from normal, he said.

“I have worked at the federal jail in Batavia (detention facility) for 10 years as well, so between both jobs, I have much experience. Plus, I have my Criminal Justice degree. So, I think it’s a good fit and I’m really excited.”

WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek said he’s confident that there will be a smooth transition.

“Dan has been part of the senior leadership there for a while and the board felt comfortable naming him to the top spot, and we look forward to him taking over,” Wojtaszek said.

Beyond keeping the peace and managing loss prevention, Wood said his certified security personnel are trained to contribute to the facility’s positive atmosphere.

“One of the biggest things that we want our people to do is greet people when they come in with a smile, and greet people and thank them when they leave,” he said.

Wood, 44, has two daughters, Clara, 16, and Nora, 14.

Pavilion native celebrates being a centenarian plus

By jfbeck_99_272012
Dec 2, 2021, 4:49pm

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After attending a one-room schoolhouse, teaching for 27 years, and maintaining lifelong connections with her former kindergarteners, Louise Lynch accomplished perhaps her biggest feat yet.

Lynch, a lifelong resident of Pavilion, celebrated her 104th birthday Nov. 8. 

She was born in 1917 on the Connor homestead on Route 20 in Pavilion, which later became known as Texaco Town. The only daughter of six children, she was the second youngest born to Daniel and Katherine Lacy Connor.

Neither Louise (born Margaret Louise) and her husband George Edward Lynch used their first given names and went by their middle names instead. They married in 1940 at the site of Louise’s baptism and longtime allegiance: St. Mary’s Church in Pavilion, and Louise remained at the Connor Homestead, where she was born, for 70 years. Her father had nicknamed the place Broadway Heights for its prestige of being at the area’s highest elevation on U.S. Route 20, her son Michael Lynch says. 

The homestead farm has remained in the family since 1841. One of Louise’s claims to fame was at age 95, when she was diagnosed as legally blind yet she still mowed her large lawn riding her John Deere tractor. That drew many "horn toots" and friendly waves from former students as they drove past, her son said in a letter to The Batavian.

Her teaching career path began in 1938 after receiving her teaching degree from Genesee Normal School, followed by completing her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education at Geneseo State College. She attained “Permanent Certification” as an elementary teacher and went on to work at Pavilion Central School as a kindergarten teacher for all but one of 27 years. Louise retired in 1973 and continued to find joy when speaking to former kindergarten students and hearing them share fond remembrances from decades past. 

No surprise to anyone who knew her, Louise loved children, especially the “little ones,” though she also related well to older ones and chaperoned at least four senior high trips to New York City and Washington, D.C., her son said. Pavilion Central School Alumni Association named her Alumnus of the Year in 2008, and she was a lifetime member of the New York State Teachers Association. 

After retiring, Louise and husband Ed wintered in Florida and Arkansas, where both were employed at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs. She also worked part-time as a pari-mutuel clerk at Finger Lakes Race Track, where her husband Ed was the Pari-MutuelManager.  

Louise is an avid sports fan and supporter of the Buffalo Bills, and has been a loyal member of Notre Dame University’s “Subway Alumni.” A constant fixture at Pavilion Central basketball games in the 1940s and 50s, she could be heard "cheering above all others," Michael said. She lost her husband of 56 years in 1996 and has a son, Michael, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She has happily resided at South Street Senior Care in Le Roy the last three years.

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Photos of Louise Lynch and her celebratory signs submitted by her family.

Workforce Development Board honors participants while GCEDC announces new jobs program

By Howard Owens
Dec 2, 2021, 3:55pm

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Aaron Barnum was among several honorees Thursday morning at Terry Hills by the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming Workforce Development Board for their achievements in workforce development.

For Barnum, he was honored as a participant who found success working for GO Art! and Genesee Orleans Arc, which eventually led to a permanent job at Arc.

Other awards in Genesee County was Business of the Year to GCEDC for the agency's efforts in workforce development and Shannon Yauchzee for program participation.  There were also awards to individuals, businesses, and agencies in the other three counties.

Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for GCEDC, also spoke with The Batavian about GCEDC's workforce development efforts, which include apprenticeship programs, job shadows, and the annual GLOW With Your Hands event at the Genesee County Fairgrounds.

He also announced a new program set to begin in June called Cornell in High School.  GCEDC is seeking 40 students to participate, initially at Batavia HS and BOCES but other schools may be included to help achieve the goal of 40 participants.  Cornell will provide training, paid for by GCEDC at a cost of $500 per student, in dairy science and sanitation. The goal is to prepare career-minded students with knowledge and skills they can use to get work right after graduation in the county's food processing facilities. 

Each student who successfully completes the program will receive a certificate from Cornell

"That's kind of the things we're trying to do ... come up with new ideas that are meeting the needs of our employers, especially the big employers," Suozzi said.

Batavian Rich Wagner shares USBC national high series award for his 899 on Feb. 11 at Mancuso's

By mikepett
Dec 2, 2021, 3:52pm

ARLINGTON, Texas – Lifelong Batavian Rich Wagner will share the men's National High Series Award for the 2019-20 season by virtue of the 899 series he recorded on Feb. 11 of this year in the Toyota of Batavia 5-Man League at Mancuso Bowling Center.

The United States Bowling Congress issued a press release today to announce award winners in the various categories.

Wagner, a 38-year-old left-hander, and Brent Bowers of Bel Aire, Kansas, each posted 899 series last season.

Bowers, 33, rolled his on Oct. 6, 2020 in the Bud Light Invite League at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kan. His games were 299-300-300 and his series is a state record.

Wagner registered 35 consecutive strikes on lanes 23-24 before leaving the 6-pin on his final delivery.

All national leaders will receive an award from the USBC.

In other categories:

Charles Easton of Sylvania, Ohio, has earned the men’s USBC National High Average Award for a second consecutive season after putting together a near-record effort during the 2020-2021 season.

Easton, 30, posted the second-highest average in USBC history in the Toledo New Bath/Sparks Concrete league at Jug’s Bowling Center in Toledo, Ohio, finishing with a 259.56 average for 75 games.

Jeff Carter of Springfield, Illinois, holds the record with a 261.7 average during the 2000-2001 season.

Easton earned the award during the 2019-2020 season after averaging 256.5 in the Oakie Schroyer III Memorial league, also held at Jug’s Bowling Center. His performance during the 2019-2020 season ranked fourth on the all-time list at the time.

Easton averaged 251.48 for 93 games last season in the Oakie Schroyer/Generations Pro Shop league.

Team USA member Jordan Richard of Maumee, Ohio, was the women’s high average winner for the 2020-2021 season, also competing at Jug’s Bowling Center. The two-time Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour champion averaged 242.02 for 69 games in the Florian Insurance Classic league.

Richard, 25, recently helped Team USA win the gold medal in team competition at the International Bowling Federation Super World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Junior Team USA member Spencer Robarge of Springfield, Missouri, and Cassidy Potter of the Rochester suburb of Webster, have earned USBC National High Average Awards in the Youth Male and Youth Female divisions, respectively.

Robarge, 19, recorded a 250.67 average for 78 games in the Junior/Majors league at Springfield’s Sunshine Lanes.

Robarge, the 2015 U12 Junior Gold Championships winner, made headlines earlier in 2021 after advancing to the stepladder finals at the USBC Masters in April, finishing in third place.

Potter, 18, earned her award by averaging 222.06 for 78 games in the Fairview Fri Juniors league at AMF Fairview Lanes in Fairport.

The women’s USBC National High Series Award will go to Brandi Kordelewski of Belleville, Illinois, after she set the women’s state record in Illinois with an 868 series on Nov. 18, 2020.

Kordelewski, 31, was competing in the Wednesday Night Ball league at Belleville’s Bel-Air Bowl when she rolled games of 290, 279 and 299

Jacob Hartman of Camanche, Iowa, and Mikayla Blair of Springfield, Ohio, will take home the Youth Male and Youth Female USBC National High Series Awards, respectively, for the 2020-2021 season.

Hartman, 18, rolled games of 289, 279 and 299 for an 867 series on March 6, 2021, in the Jr. Elite league at Camanche’s Imperial Lanes.

Blair, 18, put together games of 300, 267 and 257 for an 824 set on March 28, 2021, during the Spring 21 Youth/Adult Scholarship Travel league at Bowl 10 in Fairborn, Ohio.

File photo: Rich Wagner, center, receiving his award from the Genesee Region USBC in May for his 899 series. At left is Tommy Kress of Hilton, guest speaker at the association banquet, and at right is Wagner's wife, Jennifer. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Police continuing to seek whereabouts of Devon Wright

By Howard Owens
Dec 2, 2021, 3:36pm
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Devon Wright

Devon Wright remains a fugitive, according to Chief Shawn Heubusch, Batavia.

Wright, who entered a guilty plea to multiple charges during a trial on Nov. 16, is wanted on two warrants.

The public's assistance is being sought in locating Wright.

Wright is accused of shoving two females on Nov. 27 while at a location on Central Avenue and of tampering with the property of one of the women by throwing it all over the residence.

He is also wanted for violating his terms of release following his guilty plea on counts of attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd, assault 3rd, attempted assault 1st, and criminal sexual act 4th.

The plea came during a rare two-defendant trial.  A jury would eventually find Wright's co-defendant, Jacob Sponaugle guilty of attempted murder, along with other changes, in connection with a shooting outside the Days Inn in Batavia in July 2020.

Anyone with information on Wright's whereabouts is asked to contact the Batavia Police Department at 585-345-6350, the confidential tip line at 585-345-6370.

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