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Howard B. Owens's blog

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 11:03 pm

P.W. Minor reportedly tells employees the business is closing

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor

Executives at P.W. Minor, a locally founded, 147-year-old business, reportedly told employees today that the firm is closing July 31 and the workers will be out of their jobs.

Employees posted about the announcement on Facebook and The Batavian contacted two employees directly. One wouldn't comment, the other confirmed the announcement.

The shoe-manufacturing company was founded in 1867 by two Civil War veterans who originally called their company Minor Brothers Boots and Shoes.

The Batavian e-mailed P.W. Minor's CEO Wally Hinchey at about 6 p.m. seeking comment and has not received a response.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Group of Le Roy residents upset with sale of old town dump to company for recycling facility

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy

A year ago, Town of Le Roy officials took a look at 118 acres of land on its books and decided the town really had no short-term nor long-term use for it, so they decided to put it up for sale.

That decision came under fire from about five local residents at the town board's Thursday meeting.

The parcel is being sold to Zoladz Construction Co. for $95,000. Zoladz plans to open a facility to recycle municipal green waste and concrete from reconstruction projects.

Neighboring landowners are concerned about the noise, the dust and the possible pollution.

"We don't dispute your right to sell it," Thomas Ryan said. "It's who you sold it to."

Supervisor Steve Barbeau spoke at length about the history of the property and the decision to sell it. He said the sale was advertised in the Le Roy PennySaver and the Genesee Valley PennySaver and he wrote about it in his column for the Le Roy PennySaver.

In the end, only two potential buyers came forward: One offering about $40,000 and Zoladz.

The lower bid came from an outdoor club that would have used the property for hunting. 

Town Attorney Reid Whiting said the town tried to convince the club to increase its bid, but the club leadership said that just wasn't possible.

The board didn't act on Zoladz's offer right away. Instead, Barbeau took the issue to the Le Roy Business Council for advice and feedback.

Members there, he said, supported accepting the higher bid from the commercial business, getting the property back on the tax roles.

The board held another public meeting about the issue and then decided to accept Zoladz's purchase offer.

It's still not a done deal, Barbeau said, and even once the property is conveyed to Zoladz, the company must still seek DEC permits and get zoning approval.

While the property is in an industrial zone, the list of permitted uses in Le Roy's industrial zone doesn't include green waste and concrete recycling. The company will need a variance for such an operation, which must be approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Town Board.

The parcel is located off Neid Road, just north of Gulf Road, in an area dominated by Hanson and Dolomite quarries. It's near the Lehigh Railroad derailment site, which Barbeau noted the town got an unrequested reminder about a couple of years ago.

Tom Dintruff and other neighbors raised concerns about possible pollution at the site.

At one time, the site was a quarry, then in the 1940s, it became a town dump. In 1979, a fire shut it down.

The fire burned for 10 days with various fire departments dumping water on it to try and control it, Dintruff said.

Dintruff said one local business owner advised against even trying to put the fire out, especially with water.

"You don't know what's in there," Dintruff said the man told town officials. "He wasn't saying it's a mystery. He was saying he knew what was in there."

The land has been unused and unoccupied since.

Ryan, Charlie Miller and Keith Maxwell raised concerns about truck traffic and noise.

Ryan said when he bought his land, it was with the belief that the old town dump would never be used again because of the environmental issues.

"I wouldn't have bought my place if I'd known there would be trucks running up and down my front yard," he said.

The roadway into the dump is just 55 feet from the front of his house.

He added, "Neid Road is already starting to crumble. There are no shoulders. I don't think it's set up for industrial traffic."

There was no resolution to the issue for the local residents last night and no promises were made by the board regarding future actions.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 11:50 am

Video: Jankowski wins four awards at state pistol championship

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, lt. eugene jankowski

Eugene Jankowski, former lieutenant with Batavia PD and current City Council member, recently took home four awards from the 2014 NY State IDPA International Defensive Pistol Championships at Pine City Sportsman's Club near Elmira.

Jankowski finished:

  • 1st Place Law Enforcement
  • 1st Place Senior
  • 2nd Place Stock Service Pistol Master class
  • 2nd Place Overall
Friday, June 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

Notre Dame rallies for baseball team as it heads off to play for a state championship

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

Notre Dame High School held a rally this morning in support of its baseball team before the team left for Binghamton and a shot at a state championship.

Tomorrow, in a final four match, the Fighting Irish play Smithtown Christian High School. The winner will play either Hancock or Heuvelton Central. The Batavian will bring you full coverage or ND's run at the title. This is only the second time in the school's history that the baseball team has played for a state championship.

Photos submitted by Joseph Scanlan.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 12:01 am

Le Roy residents debate town board over Frost Ridge lawsuit

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge Campground, Le Roy

The Town of Le Roy Board had no choice but to pursue a lawsuit against one of its own local businesses, attorney Reid Whiting said Thursday night during a discussion with town residents of the Frost Ridge legal proceedings.

About 25 Frost Ridge supporters turned out to the board meeting and spoke up during a conversation that lasted at least 90 minutes.

There were no speakers supporting the board's lawsuit.

Frost Ridge is being sued by both the town and two neighboring residents over its very existence as a campground and its ability to hold outdoor music concerts.

The neighbors, David and Marny Cleere and Scott and Betsy Collins, have been pushing the town to enforce its zoning ordinance in regards to Frost Ridge, Whiting said. The two couples made it clear, Whiting said, the town would be sued if it failed to enforce its ordinances.

Such a failure, Whiting said, would embolden others to violate the zoning code and give the town little recourse for enforcement.

"If we ignored the violations, we would be found in dereliction of our duty and we would not be able to defend ourselves in other matters," Whiting said.

Later in the meeting, he said, "We did not act lightly. We did not act recklessly. We did not act without thought. We have a statutory duty to enforce the laws of Le Roy. If we do not, we are at risk. If we're at risk, you're all at risk."

The town board decided to sue Frost Ridge rather than defend its own Zoning Board of Appeals, which determined in 1978 and again 2013 that Frost Ridge was an existing, nonconforming use and permissible under the town's law.

Supervisor Steve Barbeau (second photo) said the ZBA overstepped its authority by making those determinations.

"The issue of whether something is grandfathered in or not grandfathered in is not their decision," Barbeau said. "If in the 1960s a record of music was played over the PA system so now that translates into Molly Hatchett coming in for a concert, if you believe that's the case, that's not something within the purview of the ZBA to rule on."

Both Whiting and Barbeau made the point that the town board was not criticizing the ZBA or arguing with the ZBA. The town did not sue the ZBA. Cleere/Collins sued the ZBA.

Whiting leaned heavily in more than one statement that the town's position obviously had merit because Judge Robert C. Noonan issued a temporary injunction against amplified music and alcohol sales at Frost Ridge.

"Judge Noonan takes precedent over anything the town board does," Whiting said.

When Eilleen Sherman Dries (top photo) said a code enforcement officer, who trained the town's current officer, told her Frost Ridge was a pre-existing nonconforming use, Whiting snapped, "The only thing that matters is what Noonan says."

At the hearing prior to Noonan's ruling, the ZBA was not represented. Whiting told Noonan during the hearing that the ZBA had been served notice that it was a defendant in the Cleere/Collins suit but chose not to be represented. That turned out not to be an accurate statement. Chairwoman Debbie Jackett has since said the board stands behind its determination that Frost Ridge is not violating existing town code.

The ZBA will be represented by its own attorney, paid for by the town, at further court proceedings.

Late in the meeting, Whiting said the town is just a secondary player in the legal proceedings, even though Noonan denied the Cleere/Collins side its own request for an injunction, granting just the town's request for an injunction.

If the other sides in the case were able to come to an agreement, Whiting said, he would not interfere with the agreement, but bring it back to the town board for consideration.

Coming to an agreement was the major request of just about every resident who spoke during the meeting.

"This is revenue we had and now it's going to Caledonia instead of Genesee County," said Lucie Ann Griffis (Disclosure, Griffis is a part-time sales rep for The Batavian). "This is revenue that not only the town needs, but the whole area needs. It's a shame the town board couldn't jump aboard on this and instead of saying what we can't do, saying what we can do.

"It's a shame what's being said about use, about the town not being friendly to business. I'm a lifer here. This is a travesty that we're losing this revenue based on the complaints of just a couple of people."

Carl (who refused to provide his last name) also complained about lost business.

"The town board should be out trying to promote the town and promote business and not take away a business because of some violation of code, because one or two complaints, and shut something down," Carl said. "The board should try and do some something to help them."

A couple sitting behind Carl said they were from Rochester and camp regularly at Frost Ridge, and have camped there since before the current ownership. They both said Le Roy has started to gain a bad reputation in Rochester because of situations like this.

Jennifer Keys also spoke in favor of finding some compromise that could save Frost Ridge.

"We cannot deny that Frost Ridge is a great source of revenue for our community," Keys said. "I would like to see it worked out so that the revenue stays here rather than going to Caledonia or Batavia."

Barbeau said the town has already tried to reach a compromise with Frost Ridge owners Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell, but at the 11th hour, the owners hired an attorney who withdrew their application for a special use permit for the campground.

"Once they conformed to that, then they could seek out a variance for concerts," Barbeau said. "There was no guarantee at all. It would have gone through the ZBA, then the planning board and then a public hearing and then the town board."

Keys responded, "I don't want to speak for the owners, but since they're not here, it's my understanding that county planning told them you can't do that, that their application (for a special use permit) wasn't valid because they didn't need it. They felt threatened and things blew up and here we are now. I would still hope something could be worked out."

Greg and David are out of town and not available for clarification, but The Batavian has previously spoke to sources who said Greg and David were advised by their attorney at the time that the special use permit was a trap. The issuance of a permit would negate prior rulings by the ZBA and end concerts at the Ridge.

Barbeau said he did try to find a compromise for Frost Ridge last summer and that he convinced Cleere/Collins to hold off on a suit during the 2013 concert season because shutting things down with contracts signed and deposits paid would have been economically devastating for Greg and David.

"I do bristle and I will continue to bristle when people say we didn't try as a town board to do anything to work things out," Barbeau said.

Barbeau said if Frost Ridge had continued with its application, he was confident it would have been approved by the board unanimously and then he was going to propose a town-wide zoning change that would have permitted concerts on any property three times a year -- Memorial Day, the Oatka Festival and July 4.

Frost Ridge hosts concerts at least nine times a year.

"They were gambling (when they withdrew their application) and they gambled wrong," Whiting said.

A man named Steve (who also refused to give his last name), made one last plea for resolution favorable to the town near the end of the discussion.

"This is a no-win situation," Steve said. "If you win the lawsuit, you lose all that revenue from all those people who come to Frost Ridge. "If you lose the lawsuit, you're going to owe the campground all that money, all the while costing me and the other residents a lot of money. You need to get in a room with everybody and work it out."

One audience member kept asking how the supporters could go about getting an item on the agenda at a future board meeting about the board reconsidering its position, and the answer was, there's a public comments section on every agenda.

"I want to know when we can ask you to represent the majority of the people in Le Roy instead of just two people," she said.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Collins says FDA's proposed new cheese rules stink

post by Howard B. Owens in business, chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today is blasting a proposal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that will significantly hurt the local cheese industry. The FDA is contemplating banning cheese makers from the centuries-old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards. This process is commonplace among artisan cheese makers operating across New York’s 27th Congressional District.

“This is just the latest example of a federal government hell-bent on regulating everything it can get its hands on,” Congressman Collins said. “The process of aging cheese on wood boards is older than the federal government itself. Once again, the bureaucrats in Washington who are totally out of touch with the real world are arbitrarily introducing new rules and regulations that will hurt local economies, cost people their jobs, and stall business growth.”

Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the cheese made by Yancey's Fancy in Pembroke, NY, (Genesee County) is aged on wooden boards. The company recently announced a major expansion aimed at increasing production of the very cheeses aged through the process targeted by the FDA. The company currently employs 120 people.

“The proposal that FDA has made to ban the use of wood for curing cheese will negatively impact our plans to grow the natural side of our specialty cheese business,” said Brian Bailey, VP of Operations for Yancey's Fancy. “My understanding is that the rule was going forward without any discussion with the cheese industry, and apparently without any consideration to the impact that such a ruling would have.

"There is a far greater tonnage of cheese imported into the United States that is cured on wood than what is made in the United States, yet I haven’t heard of any ruling to address that issue either. There is plenty of science that supports wood as a safe material for curing cheese but I’ve seen no evidence to date that science has been considered...Producing safe, quality food is as much our mission and goal as it is FDA’s. Our existence depends on it.”

Congressman Collins is sending a letter to the FDA encouraging them to abandon this proposal immediately. A significant amount of cheese imported from abroad is aged on wood boards and currently not subject to FDA’s scrutiny of this particular aging process. In reacting to the proposal, American cheese makers said the FDA was not acting on sound science or law.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm

City announces hiring of assistant city manager

post by Howard B. Owens in

Press release:

City Manager Jason Molino today announced his appointment of Gretchen DiFante as assistant city manager for the City of Batavia. DiFante was selected following a national search that resulted in 60 applicants.

As a 16-year resident of the City of Batavia, DiFante has held senior executive roles in Western New York businesses including: director of Efficient Customer Support for Rich Products Corp., in Buffalo; executive vice president at P.W. Minor, in Batavia; and as executive director of Agape Counseling Associates, in Rochester. She also maintains a consulting business, StandOUT Results, in which she has worked with chief executive level clients to facilitate the development of data-based strategic plans and design and provide leadership training for senior and mid-level managers and supervisors in approximately 23 different industries.

DiFante has served in several local leadership positions and is a current member of the Board of Education for the Batavia City School District. She is also a veteran with the Air Force Reserves, graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Genesee, past board member of the Genesee YMCA, Rochester Area Triathletes, and currently serves as an advisory board member to the Citizens Against Teen Suicide (CATS) group in Rochester.  

Pier Cipollone, 4th Ward council member who participated in the interview process, said, “I believe Gretchen has the management and leadership qualities that will allow her to assimilate into her new role easily. She has a familiarity with city staff and along with her abilities as a skilled facilitator should enable her to become productive almost immediately. I believe she will be a great asset to the City.”

City Manager Jason Molino added, “Gretchen has unique leadership skills that enable her to easily gain trust at every level within an organization while also being able to quickly understand and strategically assess the operations in multiple industries.”

She has provided periodic consulting to the City of Batavia over the past four years and was instrumental in helping to develop, expand and evaluate the City’s strategic plan that was recently awarded the Strategic leadership & Governance Program Excellence Award from the International City/County Management Association.

“As a resident and business owner, Gretchen has built very successful relationships with many businesses and organizations not only in Batavia and Genesee County, but throughout Western and Upstate New York,” Molino said. “When Gretchen’s leadership skills and experience were combined with her great sense of passion and enthusiasm to serve this community, she quickly became the obvious choice to join our management team. I am looking forward to working with her in achieving the City’s vision.”

Gretchen lives with her husband, David, a sargeant in the Rochester Police Department, and they have five children: Lauren (21), stationed with the Air Force at Nellis AFB in Nevada; John (20), a student at Genesee Community College; Nina (17), a graduating senior at Batavia High School; Elena (13) and Ava (9) who are in seventh and third grade at Batavia Middle School and John Kennedy, respectively.

They are members of Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia where Gretchen periodically volunteers time to conduct job search and interviewing workshops for newly graduated college students and adults seeking employment.

DiFante holds a BA in Communications from Auburn University and a MS in Management from Keuka College.

She will begin transitioning to the position in early July and will be full time by the first week of September at an annual salary of $75,950.

City Manager Jason Molino encourages all Batavia residents to celebrate this appointment and welcome DiFante to her new position.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Assembly passes yogurt bill

post by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, Mike Ranzenhofer

Statement from Senator Micheal Ranzenhofer:

The New York State Assembly has passed legislation, S.6695, to designating yogurt as the official snack for the State of New York.
State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has issued the following statement:
“I commend the New York State Assembly for passing my legislation to name yogurt the official snack of New York State although fourth-graders at Byron-Bergen Elementary School deserve all of the credit. From initially suggesting the idea to traveling to the State Capitol this morning, these students deserve high marks for their efforts to get this legislation passed by both houses of the State Legislature. I am hopeful that the bill will be signed into law when it is delivered to the Governor’s desk.”
Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Photos: Black bear on Lake Road, Pembroke

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, bears, pembroke

David Thuerck submitted these photos of a black bear he spotted on Lake Road, Pembroke.


Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 11:39 am

Photos: 2014 Batavia Muckdogs tuning up for new season

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, muckdogs, sports

New Muckdogs -- and some returning -- have been arriving in Batavia this week and starting workouts with their new teammates.

The first home game of the season is at 7 p.m., Saturday, at Dwyer.

Manager Angel Espada, in his second season in Batavia, said the staff will have some good young arms and pitching should be a team strength during the 2014 campaign.

"At this level the most important thing is you help them develop," Espada said. "Pitching and defense (are) going to dictate, at any level, but especially at this level.

"I think our pitching should be solid," he added.

Leading the staff, at least out of the gate, will be Gabriel Castellanos, Jorgan Cavanerio, Jose Adames.

Position players to watch include Aaron Blanton, Kevin Grove and Ryan Aper.

The Muckdogs are an affiliate of the Miami Marlins.

Yesterday's workout was cut short by a cloudburst.

For the full season schedule, click here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 9:38 am

Car hits pole in front of Burger King, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident

A car vs. pole accident in reported in the area of 230 W. Main St., Batavia.

That's in the area of the Burger King.

A person reports a possible neck injury.

There are also fluid leaks.

Batavia PD is on scene.

Batavia fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 9:48 a.m.: A second ambulance is requested to the scene.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m.: Engine 11 is back in service.

The driver of a tractor-trailer carrying steel beams said he was eastbound on West Main when he noticed the driver of the sedan pulling out of the Burger King parking lot. He said he could see the driver looking right, but he never looked left. The truck driver saw that the car driver was going to pull out into traffic without stopping. The truck driver was able to pull over into the inside lane. Even with the evasive maneuver, the car still caught the rear tire of the truck, spinning it into the utility pole. The truck driver thinks the accident would have been much worse if he hadn't moved over.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:45 am

County Legislature recognizes June as Dairy Month

post by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, county legislature, dairy queen

In honor of Dairy Month, the Genesee County Legislature presented Dairy Princess Kayla Wormuth with a proclamation recognizing the contribution dairy makes to the local economy and the nutrition of people. Legislator Shelly Stein, right, presented the resolution. Also participating were dairy ambassadors Becca Slattery and Mary Sweeney, and Georgia Luft, dairy maid.


Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:34 am

Butterfly bench dedicated at Batavia Peace Garden

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Peace Garden

Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden dedicated a new bench -- a bench with the wings of a butterfly -- Wednesday afternoon.

The steel was laser cut by Oxbo International, of Byron, and the welding was completed by Barone's Welding, of Batavia. Paint was supplied by Mosman's and the Melody Barbeau Family, of Florida. The painting was completed by Old World Collision.

Pictured above, front row, Carol Grasso, Bernada Scoins, Barb Toal, Rob Barone and Steve Merritt (Oxbo).

Barb Toal making a dedication speech.

The bench from behind.

Carol Grasso's new puppy liked the bench.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:02 am

Community honors, family mourns, an 'American Soldier'

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Medina

Sgt. Shaina Schmigel was remembered Wednesday with tears and tenderness and lauded for her honor, duty and service to her country.

Hundreds of people in Genesee County turned out to pay tribute to the 21-year-old Army paratrooper who died while serving her country.

Schmigel was from Batavia and attended high school in Medina and her life and news of her death touched people from throughout Western New York.

Her funeral was at Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel on West Main Street Road. Following the service, her flag-draped casket was loaded into a hearse by a military honor guard. The hearse was escorted to the cemetery in Corfu by the Patriot Guard Riders and Hogs for Heroes Foundation.

Along the route, residents, construction workers, firefighters and schoolchildren lined the roadway, waving flags, carrying signs and snapping salutes as a show of respect to Schmigel and her service to the nation.

A friend said family members were touched by the tribute.

Schmigel died on May 30 in a nighttime training accident at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“You are so brave, so courageous,” her brother Matthew Scroger, of Lackawanna, wrote in a letter read by Navy Chaplain Rev. David Glassmire during the service at Tomaszewski's. “Your beautiful spirit, love and energy will forever take care of us.”

“For some people it’s just a paycheck, but it was never a paycheck just to her,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Kuznia who worked in the same unit with Schmigel for two and a half years. Kuznia added, “She was outstanding. She loved being a paratrooper and a soldier.”

Schmigel loved NASCAR and country music. As part of the service, two country songs were played, Toby Keith's “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”

“Thank you for being so brave and serving our country,” her 16-year-old sister Sheniqua Samol, of Medina, shared in a letter read by the chaplain. “What will I do without you? I will survive, but I will never be the same.”

Portions of this story provided courtesy Tom Rivers, OrleansHub.

Top Photo, Shaina's mother, Karie Schmigel, with the flag that draped her daughter's coffin, following the service in Corfu.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 12:06 am

Vietnam Moving Wall arrives in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, pembroke, veterans

The Vietnam Moving Wall returned to Genesee County today and was transported in with an honor escort from Batavia to Pembroke this morning.

The wall will be on display as part of the Cost of Freedom Tribute sponsored by Oakfield-Alabama Legion Post #626 at Pembroke Town Park through Sunday.

For a schedule of events, click here.

These four photos were taken in Oakfield this morning.

We have more photos and coverage coming.

Mel Osborn placed flags in front of his residence in Oakfield in anticipation of the escort passing through the village.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

Law and Order: Maple Street resident arrested after alleged domestic incident

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, crime, Oakfield

Eric Marc Chiddy, 36, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with assault, 3rd, criminal obstruction of breathing, unlawful possession of marijuana and obstructing governmental administration, 2nd. Chiddy was arrested following an investigation into an alleged domestic incident on Maple Street. He was jailed on $2,500.

Travis C. Bauer, 25, of Water Street, Oakfield, is charged with DWI and unlawful possession of marijuana. Batavia PD responded to a complaint at 11:43 p.m. Friday of a sick or intoxicated driver on West Main Street. After an investigation by officers Peter Flanagan and Chad Richards, Bauer was charged.

Timothy Blase Antinora, 23, of Swamp Road, Brockport, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Antinora was stopped for alleged traffic violations at 4:09 p.m. Monday on North Lake Road, Bergen, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm

City firefighters announce annual 'Fill the Boot' campaign for June 20

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire, Fill the Boot

The annual "Fill the Boot" campaign comes to Batavia again Friday, June 20.

Off-duty City firefighters, members of IAFF Local 896, will position themselves on Ellicott, Court and Main and collect spare changes and donations from passing drivers.

This years cochairs for the event are Jeff Stevens, left, and Greg Ireland.

City firefighters have been participating in the fundraising event for MDA for 20 years.

Last year, they helped raised $8,500, which was a new record in donations locally.

Money collected benefits the children who are diagnosed with any of the more than 40 neuromuscular diseases that fall under the MDA umbrella, including ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Donations cover everything from wheelchairs to braces, physical therapy sessions to summer camps for those afflicted.

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