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Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 9:05 am

Today's Poll: Should New York invest $900 million in parks?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls

Poughkeepsie Journal: NY outlines $900M for parks by 2020

Answer this question later today on the smartphone app Reacht for a chance to win a $5 gift certificate from Southside Deli. To download Reacht on your smartphone, click here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 7:23 am

Accident on Route 77, northbound traffic to shut down at Indian Falls Road

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Alabama

A motor-vehicle accident is blocking traffic on Route 77, south of Ledge Road. Alabama fire is responding and fire police are to shut down northbound traffic at Route 77 and Indian Falls Road.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Car crash at Cook and West Sweden roads, Bergen

post by Billie Owens in accidents, bergen

A two-car accident, unknown injuries, is reported at Cook and West Sweden roads in Bergen. It is blocking traffic. Bergen fire and Mercy medics are responding.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 4:20 pm

GCC president joins peers in calling for lawmakers to create SUNY investment fund

post by Billie Owens in education, GCC

Press release:

Leaders from State University of New York (SUNY) campuses in the Finger Lakes region today called on local elected officials to continue supporting public higher education by creating a new investment fund and extending NYSUNY 2020, including the successful rational tuition policy, in the 2015-16 New York State Budget.

At Monroe Community College today, five SUNY presidents, including Genesee Community College President James Sunser, Ed.D., were joined by students and faculty members to present a unified voice advocating for all 64 SUNY colleges and universities.

The key component of SUNY’s budget request is an investment fund that will enable SUNY to graduate 150,000 students annually by 2020 through the system-wide scale up of evidence-based programs known to support student success, including Finish in Four completion promises, applied learning, Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), and expanded advisement services.

“Community colleges have become key economic drivers within our local communities,” Sunser said. “The academic programs and workforce training we offer brings competitive salaries and wages to our graduates, and increased productivity and profitability to our business community.

"Community colleges produce a very positive net economic return to our communities, and without question, increased New York state investment in our 30 community colleges goes hand in hand with economic growth.”

SUNY continues to be a huge economic driver for the state, serving 3 million New Yorkers every year — including students, faculty, staff, and others — and an economic powerhouse that generates $21 billion annually for New York.

Since NYSUNY 2020 was first enacted, SUNY campuses have used additional revenue generated by rational tuition to grow and expand student services, including the hiring of 520 instructional staff, 270 of whom are full-time faculty, and the implementation of 100 new degree programs reflecting high-demand areas in New York’s workforce.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 3:55 pm

GC Soil & Water District taking orders for trees, flowers, shrubs, seeds, etc.

post by Billie Owens in GC Soil & Water District

The 2015 Tree & Shrub brochures and order forms are available from the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Categories include:

  • Coniferous tree seedlings;
  • Deciduous tree seedlings (new -- swamp white oak, black gum);
  • Wildlife shrubs (new -- winterberry, witch hazel, Midwest crabapple);
  • Flowers (new -- yarrow, aromatic aster, bee balm, zebra mallow, cross gentian, English lavender, wild columbine;
  • Grasses and sedges (new -- feather reed or diamond grass, red head fountain grass, banana boat sedge);
  • Variety packs = nut trees / edible (apricot, plum, butternut, pecan) / edible berries / wildlife shrub or windbreak pack;
  • NEW! Apple tree packages (only these must be ordered by March 15);
  • Planting, garden & habitat supplies (new -- Whiff Deer Deterrent, how-to guide book "Backyard Fruit Production"), bat houses, marking flags, tree shelters, etc.;
  • Wildflower seed packs;
  • Plus, tree seedling planters available for rent (day or half-day).

The GC Soil and Water Conservation District office is located at 29 Liberty St. in the City of Batavia. Phone is 343-2362.

E-mail:  <[email protected]>

Deadline is April 1 for all orders except apple tree packages (March 15). Orders placed after deadline may be filled until supplies last, but cannot be guaranteed. Quantities are limited. Distribution is mid-April and you will be notified of the pick-up date. Plants are sold for conservation purposes only. The district is not responsible for the success or failure of the plants.

Checks may be made out to:  Genesee Co. SWCD.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Local family joins statewide campaign calling for more funding for developmentally disabled

post by Billie Owens in ARC

Althea Penepent (right) with her daughter-in-law Jeanne and daughter Valerie. Mrs. Penepent is speaking out on the need for expanded services for people with developmental disabilities in New York State for her daughter and thousands of others on a waiting list for residential services.

Press release:

BYRON – Althea Penepent often wonders (and worries) what will become of her daughter Valerie after she’s gone. So, Althea has joined a growing number of families across New York State advocating for expanded services for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. The “Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever Campaign” calls current funding in the New York State Budget completely inadequate to meet the needs of these New Yorkers, many living at home with aging parents.

Valerie is the seventh and youngest child of Althea and Richard Penepent, born Feb. 2, 1977. Althea shares that her pregnancy and delivery with Valerie were the same as her first six children. She was blindsided when her doctor came into her hospital room after Valerie was born and coldly stated, “Women over 40 shouldn’t have a child because she’s mongoloid,” then turned on his heel and left. A nurse’s aide called Richard Penepent, plowing snow in the aftermath of the Blizzard of ’77, to come talk to his wife.

When Althea told Richard their baby girl had Down syndrome, he calmly and confidently said, “Althea, we’ll handle it.” Those words from her husband were all Althea needed to hear to reassure her that her new baby would have every opportunity to thrive and learn in a home filled with love.

Today, Richard Penepent, 88, has dementia and has been in the Le Roy Village Green Nursing Home for 13 months. In looking back on this last year, Althea reflects, “He doesn’t recognize very many people any more – but he always knows Valerie, no matter what, and calls her by name.”

Genesee ARC Medicaid Service coordinator Roxanne Monteleone has worked with the Penepent family for the last ten years.

“Valerie’s future weighs heavily on Althea. Valerie is on a waiting list for residential placement, but with no funding in the State Budget, every agency’s hands are tied,” Monteleone said. “It’s a very real concern for many families we serve."

Valerie has had an amazing 38 years, and she will proudly share her many accomplishments.

“I graduated from Batavia High School in 1998 and then began working at the workshop (ARC Sheltered Work Center), Valerie said. "I like to cook, dance, do laundry, crafts, go shopping and do jigsaw puzzles.”

According to her sister-in-law Jeanne Penepent, “Valerie loves to gives birthday cards and is always sharing little gifts for special occasions.”

The recent death of Althea’s sister and sister-in-law combined with her husband’s health and her own glaucoma has Althea even more concerned for Valerie’s future.

“She has come a long way,” Althea said.

Besides regular and special education schooling, the family paid for private math and reading classes for Valerie for 20 years in a program that originally began at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Valerie has been attending the Genesee ARC Sheltered Work Center day program since she turned 21. She has learned a lot of new skills and tackles every job with great pride. When asked her favorite job, her immediate response is, “cheese boxes,” a longtime Work Center contract for Yancey’s Fancy.

“What concerns me is where she will live, who will care for her after I’m gone,” Althea said, “Valerie is a blessing, but my other children have families and concerns of their own. I feel a residential placement is the best for Valerie’s future.”

According to the most recent data provided by Genesee ARC’s state association, NYSARC, Inc., 12,000 people in New York are on a waiting list for residential options, while 4,000 people are in critical need.

The last time there was any major residential development in New York State was in 1998 with the announcement of the NYS CARES (New York State Creating Alternatives in Residential Environments and Services) program by then Governor George Pataki. NYS CARES was pegged as a five-year plan to virtually eliminate the waiting list for out-of-home residential services for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

“While NYS CARES resulted in meeting the needs of thousands of New Yorkers, at the time, development has been at a standstill for years,” Genesee ARC Executive Director Donna Saskowski said. “New York needs to step up and provide the necessary funding, to help the thousands more families like the Penepents."

While facing so many life changes, Althea Penepent wondered aloud how different life might be if Governor Cuomo was in her shoes.

“If he had a handicapped child, maybe then he would understand,” the mother said. “Valerie votes --- 'people with disabilities have rights, too.' "

NYSARC statistics estimate nearly 200,000 people with developmental disabilities in New York State live with family caregivers; more than 50,000 live with family caregivers over 60 years of age.

Families across New York are urging their state legislators to advocate on their behalf to include funds in the upcoming budget to provide critical residential services, at last giving families peace of mind, knowing when they’re gone their child with a disability will be cared for.

A link to the Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever Action center is on the Genesee ARC Web site, www.geneseearc.org.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Site Selection Magazine recognizes Batavia for 11th straight year as top micropolitan area

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

Press release:

For the 11th consecutive year Site Selection Magazine has recognized Batavia/Genesee County as one of the Top Micropolitans in the United States. Among the criteria for receiving the recognition includes capital investment and job creation. Through the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), approximately $58.07 million in new capital investments were made in the county creating more than 140 new jobs in 2014.

“Throughout 2014, we continued to see tremendous growth in Genesee County as a result of our strategic business attraction and expansion efforts to generate capital investment and create more job opportunities,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “Further development of the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), among several other shovel-ready sites, will remain a top priority on our agenda as we move forward into 2015.”

In 2014 the GCEDC achieved 20 project “wins,” and celebrated the $20 million expansion of Yancey’s Fancy, one of Western New York’s most prominent food manufacturing companies. Yancey’s investment will result in a new 112,000-square-foot building at the Buffalo East Technology Park in Pembroke and will create 50 new jobs in the region. Other significant projects the GCEDC assisted with were the expansion of Liberty Pumps in Bergen and US Gypsum in Oakfield.

The ranking of Top Micropolitans is based on cities of 10,000 to 50,000 people which cover at least one county. To make the rankings, the projects must be at least $1 million in value, employ at least 50 people, or involve construction of at least 20,000 square feet. There are approximately 576 micropolitans in the United States according to Site Selection Magazine. Batavia was tied for fourth place in the national rankings.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center will unveil its 2014 annual report highlighting its project “wins” at the organization’s annual meeting on Friday, March 6th, at noon at Batavia Downs.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Winter weather advisory issued for Tuesday

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Centennial Park, weather

It's been a bit nasty out today, but at least it's not sub-zero.

There's more winter weather on the way, too.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has issued a winter weather advisory for noon Tuesday to 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The forecast is for a mix of snow and freezing rain and sleet. 

Snow accumulations of one to two inches and ice of a tenth of an inch.  

Visibilty will be less than a mile at times.

Caution when traveling is advised.

Top Photo: Ray Tortorice walks his Cub Cadet on Trumbull Parkway to clear snow from his walk and his neighbor's walk this afternoon. Bottom photo: a tree in Centennial Park.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Crash at Byron and Walkers Corners roads, Byron

post by Billie Owens in accidents, byron

A two-car accident, with one person complaining of a head injury, is reported at Byron and Walkers Corners roads. Byron, South Byron fire and Mercy medics are responding.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Law and Order: Le Roy man accused of wielding snow shovel following noise complaints

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy

Luis A. Castro Maldonado, 21, of 27 E. Main St., Le Roy, is charged with assault, 2nd. During the early morning hours, Sunday, Le Roy PD was dispatched on two separate occasions to an excessive noise complaint at 27 E. Main St., Le Roy. Later, police were dispatched to investigate an alleged assault. Castro Maldonado is accused of hitting a person in the face with a snow shovel. The alleged victim suffered cuts and was treated at the scene by Le Roy Ambulance. Castro Maldonado was arraigned and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Allysa L. Castro, 22, of 91 S. Main St., Perry, is charged with harassment, 2nd. During the incident reported above, Castro allegedly struck another person in the hand and then punched that person in the face.

Gerald L. Barber, 40, of 143 Jackson St., Batavia, is charged with DWI, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, refusal to take breath test, driver's view obstructed and side window/rear window not transparent. Barber was stopped by Le Roy PD on an alleged tinted window violation. He was jailed on $250 bail.

A 16-year-old resident of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of marijuana, 5th, unlawful possession of marijuana, endangering the welfare of a child, obstructing governmental administration and aggravated DWI/drugs with a child in the vehicle. Police responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle on Washington Avenue at 6 p.m., Thursday. When approached, all occupants attempted to flee. The driver was apprehended and found allegedly impaired by marijuana and in possession of marijuana. There was a 14-year-old youth allegedly in the vehicle. All of the other occupants have been identified. (Name of the youth withheld by Batavia PD).

A 16-year-old resident of Dellinger Avenue is charged with criminal possession of marijuana, 5th, and endangering the welfare of a child. The youth was allegedly involved in the incident above (name withheld by Batavia PD).

Rene N. Brochu, 31, of Lewiston Road, Oakfield, is charged with failure to appear. Brochu allegedly failed to appear on a traffic ticket issued Jan. 14. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Joshua E. Blue, 28, of McKinley Avenue, Batavia, is charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration. Batavia PD responded at 1:55 a.m. Sunday to a report of a large fight at 345 W. Main St., Batavia, and Blue allegedly tried to physically interfere with an officer making an arrest of another person. Blue was jailed on $1,500 bail.

Tabatha Holly Clark, 29, of Telephone Road, Le Roy, is charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol and drugs. Clark was arrested based on the return of a toxicology report just completed that stemmed from a police response at 12:30 a.m. Dec. 12 to a report of a woman sleeping in a running vehicle on Willow Street for two hours.

Alexandra R. Lasky, 24, of Seven Springs Road, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, charge. Lasky turned himself in to Batavia PD and posted $200 police bail.

Kirk D. Baker, 27, of Center Street, Batavia, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, reckless driving, no headlights and failure to keep right. Police received two complaints of a possible DWI at 7:59 p.m. Thursday. Baker's vehicle was stopped on Ellicott Street by officer Devon Pahuta. He was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Marquis D. Flowers, 22, of Frost Avenue, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge. He was held in jail pending his next court appearance.

Sarah M. Wilson, 30, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Wilson was arrested on a report received by police at 1:27 a.m. Feb. 5. No further details released.

Destiny N. Green, 18, of Walnut Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a trespass charge. Green was arrested at her residence. She posted $100 bail.

Richard Allen Townley, 38, of Francis Road, Bethany, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to stop at stop sign and no/inadequate directional signals. Townley was stopped at 1:23 a.m. Sunday on Francis Road, Bethany, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Chandler James Wingling, 18, of Ellicott Street, Pavilion, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Wingling was allegedly found in possession of marijuana during a traffic stop at 4:01 p.m. Feb. 20 on Route 77, Darien, by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

Jessica Lynn Hoff, 35, of Knapp Road, Akron, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, no front license plate, broken windshield and insufficient tail lamps. Hoff was stopped at 1:34 a.m. Thursday on Route 77, Darien, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Thomas Michael Kunes, 45, of Lewiston Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, unlawful possession of marijuana and no/inadequate headlights. Kunes was stopped at 7:27 p.m. Saturday on Lewiston Road, Batavia, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Jacob Wendell Cole, 30, of Wiscoy Road, Portageville, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes and driver's view obstructed. Cole was stopped at 1:27 p.m. Feb. 25 on Route 77, Pembroke, for alleged traffic violations by Deputy Patrick Reeves. Cole was allegedly found in possession of 1,400 untaxed cigarettes.

Jovenia Ann Corcoran, 52, of River Street, Hornell, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes and speeding (59 mph in 40 mph zone). Corcoran was stopped at 11:53 a.m. Wednesday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. Corcoran was allegedly found in possession of 3,400 untaxed cigarettes.

Thomas James Rose, 19, of Ford Road, Elba, is charged with grand larceny, 4th, and petit larceny. Rose is accused of stealing checks and a debit card.

Pamela B. Crespo, 19, of Newark, N.J., is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd. Crespo was arrested by State Police at College Village.

Michael J. Maniscalco, 27, of Greece, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Maniscalco was arrested by State Police in the Town of Le Roy.

Monday, March 2, 2015 at 8:54 am

Today's Poll: What color is the dress?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls

New York Times: The White and Gold (No, Blue and Black!) Dress That Melted the Internet

Answer this question later today on the smartphone app Reacht for a chance to win a $5 gift certificate from Southside Deli. To download Reacht on your smartphone, click here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Six years in and The Batavian is going strong

post by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, business, Sponsored Post, thebatavian

Six years ago, there were critics who gave us six months.

I heard it in Batavia and read it from pundits online.

When Billie and I assumed ownership of The Batavian, the site had three sponsors and hadn't yet cracked 2,400 visitors in a day. There were naysayers who thought we were foolish to sell our home in Pittsford and rent a tiny duplex on Maple Street and pretend we could be local online news publishers in Batavia.

That was March 1, 2009.

Today, thanks to the support of our readers, we have more than 140 sponsors and employ three people (including our editor for the Wyoming County Free Press).

Last week, we had 12,000 visitors to The Batavian every day. That's normal now, and on big news days we're well over 15,000 visitors and sometimes as high as 20,000.

In a county with a population of only 57,000 people, we get 120,000 visitors to the site per month, who visit the site 550,000 times per month. (Source for these numbers is our Google Analytics account, which tells us nearly 60 percent of that traffic comes from within Genesee County, with the bulk of the rest coming from the rest of Western New York (likely local residents checking us out while at work.)

Those might seem like staggering numbers, or perhaps not. There are sites online where those traffic numbers would be considered abysmal, so some context is needed.

We get context by comparing our traffic with the local news organization we consider our competitor, the Batavia Daily News.

The chart above comes from a site called Quantcast, which measures the traffic of both TheBatavian.com and TheDailyNewsOnline.com.

The top line is The Batavian, which covers only one county, and the bottom line is the Batavia Daily News, which counts as its market area three counties (Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans).

Billie and I are really proud of how people in Genesee County have embraced The Batavian as the go-to local news source. The spikes in the chart above especially illustrated how important we are to local readers when there is breaking news.

Quantcast says in the past 30 days, The Batavian has had 127,000 unique visitors (kind of like counting individual computers that visit the site) compared to 99,000 for the Batavia Daily News. We've had 663,081 visits (counts people visiting multiple times) compared to 422,000 for the Batavia Daily News.

Marketers use a term called Defined Market Area to measure audience for media companies, and Genesee County is divided between Buffalo and Rochester. Our traffic in the Buffalo DMA was 64,566 people and for Rochester, 23,785. For the Batavia Daily News, the numbers are 37,694 and 18,702.

While it's gratifying to compare ourselves to our competition and see we're on top, that's not the real point here. As I go around town, I get asked all the time, "How's The Batavian doing?" This is how we're doing.

More than our raw traffic numbers, those comparisons speak volumes about how The Batavian has been accepted and embraced by Genesee County residents.

It also puts our success in context on a larger stage. There are, at best, only a handful of online-only news sites in the United States that have achieved our level of success in readership and local business support. I don't even know of a newspaper in a comparable market that matches The Batavian's online success with its Web site.

Publications that cover media are full of pundits who pontificate on the failure of local news media and are self-assured that the Internet destroys the audience for local news. The numbers for The Batavian demonstrate, I think, how wrong those proclamations are. People do want local news, and if they get it in a style and format they like, they will flock to it.

Billie and I are grateful for your support. We're transplants from Southern California who have come to love Western New York and enjoy our life in Batavia. We're excited about our community's future and prospects for growth and intend to do all we can to be a supporter of an ever more vibrant and successful community.

Of course, we wouldn't be in business without the support of our sponsors, but there again, we need to thank our readers. You all have been most generous in supporting our sponsors. We continually get rave reviews from sponsors who are pleased with the results they get from their ads on The Batavian. Please continue to support the local and regional businesses who so graciously support The Batavian.

On the sponsorship front, we've promoted Lucie Ann Griffis to an expanded sales territory to include Genesee County, so if you have a local business and are ready to experience a great way to market your business, call Lucie at our office, (585) 250-4118.

Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Chimney sweep in Pembroke's 'Mary Poppins' meets challenge of deafness straight-ahead and chin up

post by laurie napoleone in Elisha Muir, Mary Poppins, musical, pembroke high school

Elisha Muir will be playing the key role of chimney sweep Bert in the classic musical "Mary Poppins" later this week at Pembroke School. Though Elisha is no stranger to the stage -- he has been in a number of Pembroke productions as well as Batavia Players -- this will be sort of a new experience for him.

Last summer he went suddenly and profoundly deaf, possibly due to a virus. He's since been on a remarkable journey -- diagnosis, surgery, learning, re-learning and preparing for his role.

He will be hearing with new ears, so to speak, made possible with surgical implants. The result is sure to delight the listening audience, starting Thursday night.

In early August last year, Elisha was working when he felt “off balance” and was diagnosed with vertigo. This dizziness progressed and with it he started to experience hearing loss -- first in the right ear, then in the left. In a few short weeks, just prior to the start of his senior year, Elisha was deaf.

He had been to a number of physicians and they are theorizing that a virus found its way into the cochlea, which led to a condition known as vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis.

“They think this is what happened but the doctors really don’t know," he said.

The start of the school year posed a challenge and Elisha had to change his course schedule and missed some class time due to numerous appointments and surgery. Elisha could have opted to be home tutored while going through this, but chose to continue in school making changes as necessary. Jody Benatovich, Elisha’s mother, credited Pembroke School in promptly assisting Elisha with necessary accommodations.

In October, only a month after the start of school and a day before his 18th birthday, Elisha underwent surgery and received bilateral cochlear implants. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that helps to create sound and makes it possible for the wearer to hear again. A microphone, worn behind the ear picks up the sound and sends a message to a speech processor, which is worn on the body. This then changes the sound into information that gets transmitted via the implant to the brain.

At first, Elisha said “that all sound came in at once…I had and continue to practice listening in different environments."

In November, Elisha auditioned for "Mary Poppins" despite his inability to hear himself sing.

“Singing without hearing, is like driving without your eyes," he said.

With the help of his music director, Dan Reisdorf, Elisha has been preparing to play the role of the loveable character Bert in the upcoming play. Residorf used special music education techniques (i.e. solfege, audiation) to assist Elisha when he had lost his hearing.  

The most amazing thing about Elisha is his attitude about this significant and swift change in his life.

“It is something that 'is', not something that has to be overcome," Elisha said, matter-of-factly. "It’s a different fork in the road.”

He continues to make progress and is making plans to study anthropology after graduation. He's looking at University of  Buffalo or Rochester Institute of Technology (National Institute for the Deaf). His mom said he has maintained a good attitude throughout this ordeal, which has been inspirational for both her and Elisha’s sister.

“Elisha’s ability to maintain his sense of humor and strong work ethic throughout his senior year has been impressive and admirable," Reisdorf said.

As Elisha takes the stage for the first time fitted with his cochlear implants, listening and feeling rhythmically for his cues, he will be joined by a talented cast.

The leading lady is Harmony Bordinaro, who has the title role of Mary Poppins. Harmony participated in the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) for Musical Theatre and was an alto in the NYSSMA All-State Chorus this past December. Her plan is to major in Musical Theater in Florida.

Matthew Kowalski, who plays Mr. George Banks, appeared in last year's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" as Jimmy Smith. Matthew plans to attend college for music composition.

Emilee Houseknecht, who impressed the audience last year as the lead character Millie Dillmount, returns as the wonderful Mrs. Winnifred Banks.

Jane and Michael Banks are being played by seventh-graders Brianna Warrant and Michael Pfenninger, newcomers who have stepped into their roles beautifully. Juniors Alison Reiner (Mrs. Brill) Greg Pelkey (Robertson Ay) and Quinn Audsley (Miss Andrew) bring new characters to life from the original book by P.L. Travers.

"Mary Poppins" runs March 5th, 6th and 7th at 7:30 p.m. with an added matinee at 2 p.m. on March 7. Tickets are $8 for students and senior citizens, and $10 for adults and can be purchased at www.pembrokemusicals.com.

Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Mother pouring herself into caring for her son who suffered serious injuries in Bethany accident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bethany, pembroke

There's no certainty for Brandon Danser and his family, except that doctors say he's past the point where he's likely to die from injuries he sustained Feb. 21 when the car he was riding in was hit by a semi-truck on Route 20 in Bethany.

Danser suffered traumatic injuries in the accident and remains in the intensive care unit at Strong Memorial Hospital.

He will need months, perhaps years, of neurological care. Perhaps, he will never fully recover.

Brandon's mother, Karin Meyer, has been living in Seattle with her husband, Dan Meyer, and their foster children.

Dan Meyer said this afternoon that his wife is holding up as well as can be expected, that she's pouring everything she has into caring for her son, and holds out hope for his recovery.

"It's an emotional roller coaster," Meyer said. "We have to deal with what might happen, and then this that happened and each new piece of news and each improvement is a step in the right direction. We're getting past the point where his life is in danger and that was the first relief after that initial shock. After that, each improvement is really a positive thing."

Brandon is showing improvement. He can answer short questions, though there are times he can't remember people. He spends more time out of bed and sitting in a recliner.

"He has shown good success picking up and tossing a Nerf ball, which is another major improvement," Meyer said. "He is not able to stand on his own but when supported on each side he has been able to take tentative steps and move across the room. He has good hand and arm motion and has been generous squeezing hands and giving out hugs."

The emotional roller coaster hasn't stopped since Karin received that early morning phone call Feb. 21 with the horrible news of the accident.

She got on the first flight East she could book and when she arrived at Strong and walked into Brandon's room, he was still completely unresponsive, Dan said.

"When she's away from Brandon, she gets a chance to release those emotions," Meyer said. "She gets time to recharge and even think about eating and sleeping for herself."

Meyer joined his wife in Rochester yesterday after making arrangements for their foster children in Seattle. He's here to provide the care for her she needs as she cares for her son, Meyer said.

It's a completely open question as to how long Karin will need to be in Rochester.

Doctors don't yet know when Brandon might be released from ICU. The most likely next step for Brandon is in-patient care at Unity Hospital's Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation Center in Rochester. When he's able to be flown to another location, he could be taken to the Mayo Clinic, or he could return with Karin and Dan to Seattle.

Any scenario will be difficult for the family.

Out of concern for her sister's well-being and the financial stress of her family, Marianne Bowen has set up a GoFundMe.com page, Help Brandon Heal, with an initial goal of raising $10,000, though Bowen thinks the family's financial needs will far exceed $10,000.

"My sister believes, she hopes he will be back but there is a lot of work ahead of him," Bowen said.

The accident is such a tragedy, Bowen said. It's still unclear what happened. The driver, Hannah Dibble, was the designated driver and wasn't drinking, according to information given to Bowen. Brandon was wearing a seat belt, but still ejected from the vehicle when it was struck.

The Sheriff's Office investigation is being supervised by Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster (Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble is the great uncle of Hannah Dibble, so he recused himself from the investigation), and Brewster said late this week there are still no conclusions to share. There have been no charges filed or citations issued.

In all, six people were in the little brown 1997 Geo Prism driven by Dibble when it crossed Route 20 on a dark, bitterly cold morning from northbound Molasses Hill Road.

Of the six, Brandon was seriously injured and 18-year-old Alyson D. Krzanak died of injuries sustained in the accident. Jamie Scherer, 21, of Pembroke, was seriously injured, but is now listed in satisfactory condition at Strong. Felicia Fazzio, 20, of Darien, was also hospitalized, but her condition is not available. Dibble was treated and released at ECMC and Gabrielle Uzarowski, 21, of Pembroke, was treated at the scene and released.

Last night, members of the Pembroke community held a vigil for Krzanak. Visit The Batavian's news partner, 13WHAM, for a report.

Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Photos: 2014 Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce held a gala at the Clarion Hotel last evening to honor its 2014 award winners.

(Pictured above L to R) 2nd row -- "Business of the Year" Applied Business Systems, Lisa Ormsbee, Connie DiSalvo, Jason DiSalvo, Steve Samis;  "Geneseean of the Year" Margaret "Peggy" Lamb; "Industry of the Year" Muller Quaker Dairy, Karen Banker, Kevin Williams. "Geneseean of the Year" William "Bill" Schutt.

(Pictured above L to R) 1st row -- "Innovative Community Contribution of the Year" Merrill Lynch, Steve Tufts, Joshua Dent, John Riter; "Agricultural Business of the Year" Corcoran Custom Services, Stacy Corcoran, Bill Corcoran. "Special Service Recognition of the Year" Genesee Cancer Assistance, Inc., Dr. Kevin Mudd.

To purchase and view pictures contact: https://www.facebook.com/SteveOgnibenePhotography

Steve Samis - Applied Busniess Systems

Kevin Williams - Muller Quaker Dairy

Bill & Stacy Corcoran - Corcoran Custom Services

Steve Tufts, John Riter, Joshua Dent - Merrill Lynch

Joe Gerace, Carol Grasso, Toni Funke, Paul Figlow, Dr. Kevin Mudd, Ellen Bachorski together pictured for Genesee Cancer Assistance

Jay Gsell with Margaret "Peggy" Lamb - Geneseean of the Year

William "Bill" Schutt - Geneseean of the Year

More pictures on Steve Ognibene Photography's Facebook page.

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