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May 25, 2016 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in frostridge, Le Roy, news, business.

After the alleged name calling, a key issue in the latest legal filing from the attorney representing the Cleere and Collins families against Frost Ridge is the alleged violation of the state's open meeting law by Le Roy's Zoning Board of Appeals.

The plaintiffs allege:

  • Neighbors within 250 feet of the Frost Ridge property were not mailed notice of the Dec. 17 public hearing held by the ZBA on the interpretation of the zoning law and prior, non-conforming use at Frost Ridge;
  • That the ZBA did not deliberate its decision in public;
  • That no noticed public meetings were held between Dec. 17 and Feb. 17; 
  • That a decision was reached without the public present sometime between Dec. 17 and Feb. 17.

These complaints are mirrored by the filing for the Feb. 17 meeting where the ZBA announced its decision; the meeting wasn't even four minutes long.

James Wujcik represents the ZBA in these proceedings and he filed a memorandum of law in opposition to the plaintiffs' complaint.

He also submitted an affidavit by Debbi Jackett, chairwoman at the time of the ZBA, which has since been disbanded by the Town of Le Roy.

She states the hearing of Dec. 17, at the order of Judge Mark Grisanti, was held after a legal notice was published. She does not address the complaint, nor does Wujcik in his memorandum, whether notice was sent to neighbors by postal mail.  

A source familiar with the case told The Batavian today that notice was mailed.

Jackett argues that proper notice was clearly given because all of the interested parties were at the hearing.

"It is common sense that one's attendance at the public hearing acknowledges notice of that very hearing," Jackett wrote. "Any insinuation that plaintiffs could not be in attendance is another attempt to delay the ZBA from acting pursuant to the order of Judge Grisanti."

Jackett also accused the Town of Le Roy of trying to obstruct the ZBA from holding the hearing. She said the code enforcement officer was informed in October that the ZBA would no longer be able to conduct meetings at the Town Hall.

As for the hearing itself, Jackett said the ZBA board took a short break and then resumed its meeting in the regular board meeting room "regarding the merits of the case."

This was apparently considered a continuation of the prior noticed meeting, though it's not clear if any members of the public were invited into that meeting.

Mindy Zoghlin, attorney for the plaintiffs, clearly did not know about this meeting continuance based on the statements in her filing.

The Batavian's reporter at the meeting that night was Ray Coniglio and he said today that he wasn't informed that the meeting would be continuing in another room. He left the Town Hall and wrote a story published the next day that said the meeting concluded without any discussion by the ZBA and that no vote was taken that night. Nobody from the ZBA ever contacted The Batavian following this news report to inform us that this information was incorrect and ask for a correction.

Jackett further argues that the Town's ongoing obstruction of the ZBA, such as not filling vacant positions, contributed to any confusion about compliance with the open meeting law.

"Even if a skeptic held merit with any claim against the ZBA for violations of the Open Meetings Law, the behavior can be traced directly to the Town's illegal, obstructionist behavior with the ZBA," Jackett wrote. 

In his memo, Wujcik argues that it is certainly within the ZBA's right to continue its meeting upon closing the public hearing, but he doesn't address the fact that the meeting wasn't moved to another room without notification of the public in attendance.

"The ZBA correctly deliberated during its Dec. 17 meeting," Wujcik states, adding, "It should be duly noted the ZBA rendered its decision at an open public meeting on Feb. 17."

He also accused the Town of deliberating trying to disrupt ZBA proceedings and called on the court to find the Town of Le Roy in contempt of court, pursuit to the order of Grisanti.

It's unclear what will happen if Acting Superior Court Judge Emilio Colaiacovo rules in favor of the plaintiffs on the open meetings law issue. The ZBA that has been at the center of this issue for the past several years not longer exists. It was a ZBA comprised of representatives from the town and the village, and now the town and the village each have their own ZBA.

One last note about the open meeting law: The law also requires public bodies to notify all local media of its public meetings, and with the exception of the City, County and GCEDC, this practice is largely ignored by every other local public agency and government.

May 25, 2016 - 4:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, Milestones, Steve Hyde, GCEDC.

Press release:

Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), has been named chairman of the New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC). It is the state's largest economic development organization.

Hyde was elected to a two-year term during NYSEDC’s annual meeting in Cooperstown today (May 25). Hyde and the GCEDC have been members of the NYSEDC since 2004. 

The New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) is the state’s principal organization representing economic development professionals, businesses and colleges and universities for more than 40 years. NYSEDC promotes the economic development of the state and its communities and encourages sound practices in the conduct of local, regional and statewide development programs, as well as develops education programs that enhance the professional development skills of NYSEDC members.

“Steve Hyde has outstanding private and public sector experience and leadership and his record of success in Genesee County will serve NYSEDC well during his term as Chair,” said Brian McMahon, executive director of NYSEDC.      

As president and CEO of GCEDC, Hyde has played a critical role in generating more than $1 billion in new investment in Genesee County through the years, resulting in thousands of new jobs and unprecedented economic development growth.

One of the most notable economic development accomplishments to date is the 1,250-acre Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the town of Alabama, which is expected to generate thousands of jobs in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in October 2015 the first tenant at STAMP – 1366 Technologies, which plans to build a state-of-the art solar wafer manufacturing facility creating approximately 1,000 new jobs over the next few years. 

“I have been very fortunate to work with some great public and private sector organizations in Genesee County which has resulted in me having the opportunity to serve as Chairman of NYSEDC,” Hyde said. “This opportunity will allow me to collaborate closely with various economic development leaders across New York State to create a more favorable climate for business growth and the retention and creation of jobs and private sector investment.”

Hyde holds a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. in finance, sales and marketing from Rochester Institute of Technology. He resides in the City of Batavia with his wife, Joann.

May 25, 2016 - 3:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in hollywood, batavia, thurgood marshall, news.

The magic of Hollywood will transform Batavia into rural Oklahoma in the 1940s when an independent film company takes over the Old County Courthouse at Main and Ellicott streets next Wednesday.

County Manager Jay Gsell told our news partner WBTA that a crew of about 35 key people affiliated with the company working on a bio-pic about the late Supreme Court Juctice Thurgood Marshall visited the city last week to work on the logistics for filming a courtroom scene on the third floor.

They included location manager Michael Nickodem, the director, lighting crew and support staff. 

They also want to film by the front steps outside the courthouse and they scouted for a second site for some outdoor shots, settling on property on Oak Orchard Road in the Town of Batavia. Gsell said it's near the recent house fire, which claimed the life of 90-year-old Roger Saile.

"Something about that location resonated," he said. "So they're also trying to make arrangments (to film there) -- not a massive onslaught, but as background. Again, we're substituting for rural Olkahoma."

It takes an incredible amount of coordination to get everything just right, and to nail down all the details. Yet the finished product will likely result in less than five minutes of Batavia footage.

Plans call for shooting all day on June 1 at the Old Courthouse, then at property on Route 98 (Oak Orchard Road) on Thursday, June 2 or 3.

They are also filming at the old courthouse and other buildings in Downtown Buffalo.

For previous coverage on the film "Marshall," click here.

May 25, 2016 - 3:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Kyle Johnson, selden road, Le Roy, crime, news.

Statements attributed to Kyle Johnson after he was taken into custody the morning of Dec. 1, after he allegedly shot and killed a neighbor and set his own home ablaze, will be admissible in court, Acting Judge Michael F. Pietruszka ruled today.

The defense challenged whether the prosecution could use the statements at a possible trial and Pietruszka issued his ruling immediately after a hearing that featured testimony by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Hale completed a report Dec. 1 in which he says Johnson made a handful of statements when he was taken into custody, in the patrol car ride to the Sheriff's Office on Park Road and as they arrived in the interview room at the office.

Hale testified that he was on routine patrol duty when he was called to a house fire at 7324 Selden Road, Le Roy. He was in uniform in a marked patrol car.  He was aware of a shooting reported minutes before at a residence a short distance from the fire location.

He said he was also informed by dispatch that the residence was owned by Kyle Johnson, that Johnson had a mental health history and was known to own firearms.

He arrived on scene just as shots rang out, apparently directed at a Le Roy fire chief and at a Le Roy police officer.

As he ran down the road to check the status of Officer Ryan Young, now a Sheriff's deputy, and as he did, he encountered local residents standing outside their home. They asked what was going on and Hale told them to get inside, lock their doors and windows and stay there until told it was safe to come outside.

As he moved toward Young's position, Hale encountered Johnson, he said.

"Mr. Johnson stated to me that he wanted to be shot," Hale said. "After he realized I was not going to shoot him, he turned around and walked back toward his house."

Over the next couple of hours, Johnson would periodically approach Hale and ask him to shoot him.  

When emergency response teams arrived, this back-and-forth continued for a couple of more hours until Johnson finally surrendered.

Hale was summoned to search and cuff the suspect. When he was putting Johnson in his patrol vehicle, Johnson reportedly complained that the cuffs were too tight.

When Hale sat in the driver's seat, Johnson reportedly said, he "didn't appreciate being treated like an animal."

Hale said, "I told him I appreciate being shot at and having my friends shot at."

Johnson, Hale said, apologized.

On the ride back to the Sheriff's Office, Johnson reportedly said, "I didn't mean to hurt anybody."

Hale said he responded, "You did. It's traumatic for us as officers. You shouldn't have done that."

At the station, Hale offered Johnson a glass of water and asked if he needed anything.

Johnson's response, according to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, was that he felt bad for burning his house down and that he shouldn't have done that and he wanted to apologize.

In cross-examination, Public Defender Jerry Ader established that Hale did not read Johnson his Miranda warnings (you have the right not to speak, right to an attorney, etc.), that Hale did this though he knew Johnson had a mental health history, and that Hale asked a couple of questions of Johnson.

Those facts were the basis for Ader's motion to bar the statements from any possible trial.

Friedman countered that Johnson was not in custody at that point for the purpose of interrogation, and any questions asked by Hale were not an interrogation, such as asking if Johnson wanted water, that the statements were made voluntarily and should be admissible.

Johnson is charged with murder and burglary in the death of Norman D. "Don" Ball. He is accused of attempted murder for allegedly shooting at Young and Le Roy Fire Chief Tim Hogle.

Ader has received a report based on a psychological exam of Johnson and is apparently planning a defense around the results of that report, and while the report has been given to Friedman, a copy was not given to the court. Ader said he wasn't aware of any requirement that he provide the court with a copy.  Pietruszka was clearly miffed that he didn't have a copy of the report, especially since there will need to be a hearing on the topic after the DA's Office completes its own exam and gets its own report.

That hearing will be at 1:30 p.m., July 21.

May 25, 2016 - 2:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Vibrant Batavia, batavia, business, news.

A proposal by City Councilman Adam Tabelski to spend $92,000 in funds set aside for community development on community development failed to win much support from the rest of the City Council at its Monday conference meeting.

Tabelski proposed taking the money originally intended for Vibrant Batavia, which the council scuttled two weeks ago, on a recent joint city, county, school district and Genesee County Economic Development Center initiative called Pathway to Prosperity. 

BP2, as it's known, will take a portion of fees paid in PILOT programs (payment in lieu of taxes) by property owners with economic development projects and use it to help mitigate environment issues at brownfield properties in the city. The chicken-and-egg problem is BP2 has no money until the first new PILOT is approved, and the city's brownfield area properties need to clean up as projects come on line. 

Tabelski thought $92,000 might best be used to jump start some brownfield redevelopment.

Council members had other thoughts about what to do with the money, from building a spray park on the Southside, to payment toward the new police station, to just letting it sit in the general fund.

"We need to start thinking of the kids on the south side of the city," said Councilwoman Rosemary Christian. "We need something for the child. We're always thinking of things other than the children in our community. They're our future leaders who will up her someday making these decisions."

Tabelski countered that today's children will need tomorrow's jobs.

Some council members said they thought Tabelski's timing is off, that it was only a meeting ago that Vibrant Batavia was killed off and perhaps there should be more time taken before deciding what to do with the money.

"As for timing, the reason to bring this up now is that as time goes by, the default action is that nothing happens," Tabelski said. "I'm trying to address this in a timely manner."

Molino said a spray park on the Southside would likely cost more than $92,000, with planning, engineering, possible land acquisition and the purchase of equipment. Briggs and Christian promised to push for a spray park in the 2017 budget.

May 25, 2016 - 1:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Milestones, genesee county treasurer.

Press release:

Scott German, Genesee County treasurer, was named Finance Officer of the Year by the New York State County Treasurers and Finance Officers Association at the statewide County Finance School last week.

German has served as County Treasurer since 2004, prior to which he served as Deputy County Treasurer for 10 years. In October 2014 he was elected to be one of two NY state directors to NACCTFO ( National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers & Finance Officers).

Members of the County Treasurers and Finance Association are elected county treasurers or comptrollers and appointed county commissioners of finance and their deputies from throughout New York State.

He received the award in Syracuse, while attending County Finance School, a training and education event for county treasurers and finance officers from across New York State. The event was hosted by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), the Office of the State Comptroller, and the NYS County Treasurers and Finance Officers Association.

“I am honored to receive this award from my colleagues across the state,” German said. “It is my privilege to serve Genesee County as treasurer, a role I take very seriously.”

County treasurers and finance officials from all areas of the state attended County Finance School, presenting a unique opportunity for attendees to share best practices and solutions.

“On behalf of NYSAC, we applaud Treasurer German’s commitment to Genesee County and its residents. Our associations thrive most when we exchange the innovative ideas and effective solutions that are being deployed in counties across the state. It is only fitting that we take the time to honor those who are putting those solutions to work for their residents,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry.

The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving all 62 counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC's mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public. Visit www.NYSAC.org to learn more.     

May 25, 2016 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deer, animals, batavia, news.

The City Council agreed by consent Monday night to move forward with a recommendation to create a task force to study what to do to with the local deer population.

There are no specific recommendations now, but council members agreed it's an issue the city needs to take a closer look at.

"I took a walk out there last fall and there is a swath of damage as wide as a street through the woods and meandering through people's property taking care of all their landscaping," said Council President Eugene Jankowski. "There's a path of dead vegetation all the way out to the edge of the city."

City Manager Jason Molino is expected to present a plan for creating a task force and providing it with directions on the scope and timing of its work.

May 25, 2016 - 1:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, law enforcement, road safety.

Press release:

As motorists take to the roads this Memorial Day holiday, State Police are urging everyone to buckle up. Now through June 5th, law enforcement officials will be out in full force, taking part in the 2016 National Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization and cracking down on motorists who are not belted.

Law enforcement agencies across Western New York will join forces to provide increased seat belt enforcement. The campaign aims to send a zero-tolerance message to the public: driving or riding unbuckled will result in a ticket, no matter what state.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9,385 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2014 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. Statistically unbelted fatalities are more prevalent at night than during the daytime: 58 percent of those killed in 2014 during the overnight hours of 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. were unbelted at the time of the crash.

Thousands of Americans are alive today because a seat belt saved them during a crash. In 2014, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 12,802 lives. From 2010 to 2014, seat belts saved an estimated 63,000 lives. 

For more on the national Click It or Ticket mobilization, visit www.nhtsa.gov.

May 25, 2016 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, batavia, animal abuse.

Lisa Marie Muratore, 32, of Lake Avenue, Rochester, is charged with confinement of a companion animal in a vehicle in extreme temperature. She was charged for allegedly leaving her dog in a vehicle for 45 minutes while the outside temperature was 79 degrees. This was at 5:13 p.m. on Monday, May 23, at Batavia Downs Gaming, 8315 Park Road, Batavia. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

May 25, 2016 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, downtown, batavia, business, news.

After a City Council meeting where City Manager Jason Molino outlined his recommendations for city oversight of the Business Improvement District, the BID's Executive Director Laurie Oltramari told reporters that the BID is almost out of money because the city hasn't turned over the funds it is contractually obligated to release by May 1.

"Even though we're trying to be friendly, we feel like our funds are being held hostage," Oltramari said.

Reached later in the night, Molino said the only hold up with releasing the funds is a lack of a properly amended budget from BID that complies with the state's General Municipal Law.

"The city fully understands they need those funds to operate and will release those funds once the BID budget can be amended," Molino said. "Once compliance is achieved with the law and the budget is properly amended, then we will release those funds."

Oltramari said the BID can operate for about one more month with current reserves. If funds from the city aren't received by then, it would need to suspend operations until the money is released.

Earlier this year, Molino notified the BID that over the past several years the city's assessment of downtown properties to provide funding to the BID has not been in compliance with the law. Molino said he had previously brought this issue to the attention of the BID before Oltramari became director, and it was never addressed. This year, he's holding up the funds until the budget reflects the law's restrictions.

The law limits the BID assessment from exceeding 20 percent of the total levy for the properties in the district, plus an additional amount for repayment of bonds secured to pay for public improvements in the BID zone.  

There was a bond issued in 1999 for public improvements, such as new street lighting, and as those bonds have been paid off, the annual debt expense for the BID has decreased, but through all that time, the assessment hasn't been reduced to reflect the lower debt payments.

As a result, the BID has a capital improvement account with $216,000.

It would be logistically difficult to return those funds to downtown property owners since the amounts vary annually and many properties have changed hands over the years.

Molino is proposing that the $216,000 be held until the BID's next capital improvement project, which raises another point of contention for Oltramari.

Molino is proposing such a plan be developed with consultants and city officials. Oltramari said the BID should lead any effort to identify and plan for capital improvements using those funds since they were raised on behalf of the BID.

Since 2005, the BID has been receiving a flat $120,000 from the city for debt repayment and operational costs, which Oltramari admits she always found strange because it was always the same without any variance for a cost of living adjustments.

"We have gone above it (the GML limit) in order to continue operations because property values are so low in Batavia," Oltramari said.

Under the terms of the GML, the BID's budget for this year is being reduced to $55,000 for operations and $15,000 for debt service, which is the last debt payment from the 1999 bonds. 

That's a severe cut in operational expenses, Oltramari said. In addition to canceling Summer in the City, Oltramari doubts she will be able to keep her assistant on payroll and the BID is looking for new, lower-cost office space downtown.

The current office is on the second floor of the Masonic Temple building at Main and Center streets.

Molino's recommendations provided to the City Council last night include:

  • Ensuring the BID amends its budget to comply with the General Municipal Law;
  • Identify commingled funds that need to be separated from the BID account, which includes capital improvement funds, operational funds and money generated by BID events;
  • Ensure the City Council adopts the proper local laws each year for governance of the BID;
  • As part of the local law amendments, require that the BID's board of directors comply with the state's open meetings law and freedom of information law;
  • Require the BID to update its district plan in cooperation with residents, businesses within the BID and the city to ensure future budgets and excess capital funds are used in a manner that best represent the business and property owners needs to achieve the organizational mission.

Oltramari thinks there is some overreach by the city in these recommendations.

First, BID board meetings are open to the public, though they're not announced on the BID's Web site, Oltramari said, and approved budgets are available to the public.

The district plan is essentially a business plan and Oltramari contends that's entirely the purview of the BID's board.

"The role of the city is to figure out the assessment and what the BID gets and to assign people to our board, that's about it," Oltramari said. "From there, it is our money to spend, and if we spend it wrong, then it's up to the state comptroller say, 'slap on the hand to you.' "

May 25, 2016 - 12:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, GV Pride, basketball.

Submitted photo and press release:

On May 15, the Genesee Valley Pride eighth-grade Girls Basketball Team won the championship game at the North Country Rumble at the Boarder Shootout Tournament in Canton. The win qualified them to participate in the Girls National Championship at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., in July.

This is a significant accomplishment and honor to achieve such success at a young age. The team is looking to the community to help support their fundraising goal to head to this National Championship. 

​If you would like to donate or sponsor the team to assist with tournament fees and travel expenses please contact the team at [email protected]

Also, they will also host an event at T.F. Brown's located at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, from 7 to 10 p.m on Friday, June 10th. Cost is $25 per ticket or two for $40, and includes beer, wine, soda, hors d’oeuvres, 50/50 Raffle and DJ Frankie Gioia.
 
May 25, 2016 - 12:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, downtown batavia.

Batavia is competing with other municipalities for $10 million to revitalize Downtown.

"Bet on Batavia" -- a Downtown Revitalization Initiative Community Forum -- and the premiere of a community video will be the focus of panel at the Generation Center, 15 Center St., Batavia, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 6.

Come hear what it's all about from these panelists:

  • Jason Molino, city manager
  • Jay Gsell, county manager
  • Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corp. director
  • Steve Hyde, president/CEO of the GC Economic Development Center

City Councilman Adam Tabelski will serve a moderator.

All community residents are invited to come and learn about Batavia's efforts to win $10 million for downtown revitalization projects.

May 25, 2016 - 12:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in darien lake theme park, darien center, news.

This summer Darien Lake will host four special in-park concerts completely free with any daily admission, season pass, or hotel/camping package.

“Our free in-park concert series features the hottest up-and-coming stars that resonate with today’s families and even cross over with some of our favorite Disney TV shows,” said Darien Lake General Manager Chris Thorpe.

In-Park Concert Dates and Times:

Jacob Whitesides and Laura Marano, May 28th

Jacob started winning over the Youtube community with his cover videos and, soon after, his original songs. This summer (July-August), Jacob is heading out all over North America with AEG Live Presents R5 “Sometime Last Night” tour including prestigious venues like The Greek Theater in L.A. He has also recently partnered with BMG as the CEO of his own record label, Double U Records.

Currently, Marano stars as “Ally” in the lead of the Disney Channel international hit television series Austin and Ally. This multi-talented star has signed an exciting record deal with Big Machine Records, and is currently producing her first album due out next year; her first single will be released in the first quarter of 2016.

Rachel Platton, June 4th

Rachel would find her first big spark with “Fight Song,”  the life-changing inspirational song of 2015, topping iTunes and radio charts, and selling more than 2 million downloads in the U.S. Rachel’s major label debut, “Wildfire,” will be released January 1st, 2016. Rachel recently premiered the beautifully uplifting music video for her current single “Stand By You.”

Sabrina Carpenter, June 25th

Though she’s established a diehard international fan base by playing rebellious Maya Hart on the popular Disney Channel show “Girl Meets World,” she also recently released her debut album, “Eyes Wide Open” in April 2015. Her new single, “Smoke and Fire” is a dynamic, upbeat and introspective song that laments on a past relationship.

Shawn Hook and Daya, July 2nd

Shawn Hook's last album, 2012's 'Cosmonaut and the Girl,' yielded three Top 20 hits, "Every Red Light," "So Close" and "Two Hearts Set On Fire." The accomplished singer-pianist has now finished working on his new album for Universal Music Canada, due June 2015.The first single, "Million Ways," is a mix of pop, disco, soul, R&B and electronica.

Daya [pronounced "dey-uh"] drives pop music down a different path. Her debut single "Hide Away," combines simplistic synth melodies, a power hook, and an emotionally charged vocal. "Hide Away" began to organically catch fire online, drawing acclaim from YouTuber Tyler Oakley and celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton and landing on Spotify's Artists To Watch 2015 Playlist. It set the foundation for her self-titled EP, 'Daya.'

About Darien Lake 

Darien Lake’s wide variety of entertainment has made it “destination fun” since 1964. Located 45 minutes from Niagara Falls between Buffalo and Rochester, today the park boasts more than 50 rides, including six world-class roller coasters; dozens of family-friendly rides and entertainment; the region’s largest water park complete with wave pool; and a 20,000-seat world-class performing arts center, operated by Live Nation.

The park is open May 7 to Sept. 25, and welcomes overnight guests in a wide range of accommodations – from a full-service hotel and modern cabins to rental RVs and campsites. For more information or to order season passes, visit www.DarienLake.com.

May 25, 2016 - 12:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in STOP-DWI, news, law enforcement, Le Roy, batavia, genesee county.

Press release:

Genesee County STOP-DWI Coordinator Matt Landers has announced that the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, City of Batavia Police Department and the Village of Le Roy Police Department will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving. The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on Friday, May 27th and will end on Tuesday, May 31st.

Memorial Day week is historically a deadly period for impaired driving. Memorial Day weekend is the traditional beginning of summer. In addition there will be thousands of parties and barbeques to celebrate graduations, proms, communions, confirmations and the fact that the better weather has arrived. This combination of factors equates to more people on the road in general and more people specifically driving impaired with 13 percent more fatalities than on a non-holiday weekend.

The New York State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies will collaborate across the state and will be out in force in this coordinated effort to reduce the number of alcohol related injuries and deaths during this period.

“Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season. Traffic will increase making it more important than ever to drive defensively. The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will have extra patrols out to help keep the roads safe for all travelers” said Undersheriff William Sheron. “The City of Batavia Police Department will be out aggressively enforcing DWI laws over the Memorial Day Week in an effort to ensure that all have a safe and happy holiday week. Make sure to have a plan to get home safely and ensure that all in your party do the same.”

The Memorial Day Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association with additional funding from the STOP-DWI Foundation with a grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. The Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign also targets 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend, Halloween and the national Holiday Season in December.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol and drug related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving.

May 25, 2016 - 12:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Peter Arrigenna, a longtime horseman who also serves as a trustee of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and as a director of the Horse Harness Breeders of New York State, has been named the new track superintendent at Batavia Downs.

Arrigenna will replace Ralph Horton, who has retired after working at the Downs for 14 years.

Besides running a successful stable that produced 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, Archangel (Credit Winner-Michelle’s Angel 1:50 $1,140,972), Arrigenna also runs his own construction company. And it’s the combined experience from both fields that has provided him the insight and knowledge to design, construct and maintain very fast race tracks.

Arrigenna has built many farm tracks from scratch, but he also resurfaced Buffalo Raceway in 2014 to the rave reviews of the horsemen and was hired this year as a consultant at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Although the meet doesn’t begin for another two months, Arrigenna’s duties will start immediately as his first order of business will be to rebuild the track.  

“We will be leveling and filling the existing track to the grade indicated from a survey done in 2009. It will entail filling the ditches where it washed out, banking the turns better and putting it back to the original grade,” Arrigenna said. “Once that is complete, we will be putting a new surface on top of that which should make it much better for the horses competing there.”  

This will be the first time the track at Batavia has been resurfaced since 2010 and the $125,000 project will see the turns banked up to 8 percent and over 5,000 tons of new material (a mixture of washed screenings and washed crushed stone) added to the surface.

The project is scheduled to begin on Monday (June 6) and be completed by Friday (July 1), well in advance of opening night of live racing, which is Monday (July 25).

“I look forward to starting at Batavia because it’s close to home and it’s a project I like to do,” said Arrigenna.

Todd Haight is the director/general manager of live racing at the Downs and he has high praise for Arrigenna’s abilities.

“We’re thrilled to have Peter as our track superintendent,” Haight said. “He knows what it takes to make a race track fair, but also safe, because he is a horseman as well as a contractor. His knowledge and experience will serve him well in his new position.”

“I would also like to thank Ralph Horton for his many years of service to the track and wish him the best in his retirement,” added Haight.

May 25, 2016 - 9:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ladder 15, City Fire, batavia, news.

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City firefighters were out at about 8:30 last night training with the new truck that will become Ladder 15 early next month and with all the lights on, it was a great chance to get some pictures of what it looks like at night.

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May 25, 2016 - 9:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, alexander.

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Jake Wozniaka struck out four over six innings, but errors proved costly for Alexander on Tuesday at Dwyer Stadium in the Section V Class C1 semi-final.

Avon scored two unearned runs to beat the Trojans, 2-1.

In other baseball action yesterday:

  • Batavia beat Wayne, 11-5. The Blue Devils play for the Section V championship Thursday at a location to be announced against Aquinas. 
  • Oakfield beat Geneseo, 11-3, and will play Bolivar Rickburg at a location to be announced Friday.
  • Notre Dame beat Lyndonville, 8-3, and will play Genesee Valley on Friday at a location to be announced.

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May 25, 2016 - 8:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, air quality, news.

The National Weather Service has issued an air quality alert for Genesee County starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until 11 p.m.

The index value for outdoor air quality is expected to exceed 100 for the pollutant ozone.

The higher the number of the air quality index, the greater the health concern.

When the index is high, the State Health Department recommends that individuals consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects. Those with preexisting respiratory problems, such as asthma or heart disease, and with such symptoms, should consult a personal physician.

The toll-free number for air quality reports is (800) 535-1345.

May 24, 2016 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Frostridge Campground, Le Roy, business, news, steve barbeau.

The fight over live music and other alleged zoning code violations at Frost Ridge Campground is far from over and court documents indicate the fight has recently involved some name calling and an accusation of anti-gay bias driving the attempts to shut down the park.

Attorneys for David and Marney Cleere and Scott and Betsy Collins, neighbors of Frost Ridge, have filed motions seeking a permanent ban on live, amplified music and long-term camping at the facility.

Their court papers alleged that a ZBA hearing in February that led to a finding in favor of David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell, owners of Frost Ridge, violated the state's opening meeting law and therefore the ZBA's decision should be voided.

The Luetticke-Archbell's position is that the meeting was given proper public notice, a position backed by sworn statements from the ZBA's then-chairwoman Debbie Jackett and answer filed by the ZBA's attorney, James M. Wujcik.

Any appearance of inconsistencies in the ZBA's actions, before being disbanded by the town board, is purely the result of the anti-gay bias, David Luetticke-Archbell claims in a sworn statement, of Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau.

It's a charge that Barbeau vehemently denies in his own sworn affidavit, but Luetticke-Archbell accuses Barbeau of calling his husband a "faggot" after a "contentious" Nov. 12 meeting. To support his charge of an anti-gay agenda, Luetticke-Archbell also points to several actions by Barbeau throughout the legal and civic process over the past couple of years, including a statement in a court filing approved by Barbeau that Frost Ridge is a "malignancy which cannot be allowed to metastasize."

"Mr. Barbeau, with the Town Board in tow, has unabashedly trampled on the due process rights my husband Greg and I would have been afforded but for our sexual orientation," Luetticke-Archbell wrote in his statement.

Barbeau said that Luetticke-Archbell didn't tell the whole story of the events of Nov. 12.  First, he denies using the word "faggot," but he also accused Greg of calling him a couple of choice names while following him into his office after the meeting, including a "piece of shit."

In his statement, Barbeau states he holds no bias against the owners of Frost Ridge.

"The Luetticke-Archbells have a place in the Town of Le Roy, one they have earned through their commercial and charitable efforts," Barbeau states. "The Town of Le Roy is merely trying to enforce its zoning ordinance so as to not render it irrelevant."

Barbeau said that the actions he and the town board have taken have been supported by a majority of town residents. The evidence is in the election results, he said, given that he and other incumbents handily won reelection despite opposition focused on the Frost Ridge issue.

David Luetticke-Archbell is equally convinced that Barbeau is driven by an anti-gay agenda.

Besides the slurs, Luetticke-Archbell says Barbeau's pattern of actions is further evidence of his anti-gay position.

He accused Barbeau, rather than code enforcement officer Jeff Steinbrenner, of drafting an e-mail denying Frost Ridge prior, non-conforming use status; of purposefully mucking up the application process on a couple of occasions; of usurping the independence of the Zoning Board of Appeals by filing court documents on its behalf without properly notifying the ZBA of the proceedings; of then wrongly admitting to adverse allegations of improper conduct by the ZBA; and, of illegally firing the previous ZBA attorney and then appointing an attorney who works in the same law office as the town attorney's son.

"Mr. Barbeau's motivations and actions here have always been and remain malicious," Luetticke-Archbell wrote in his statement. "His allegations, if considered at all, should be weighed accordingly."

Barbeau called Luetticke-Archbell's affidavit an ad hominem attack and asked that it be stricken from the record.

The attorney Barbeau appointed is James Wujcik, who continues to represent the ZBA and filed documents in the current court battle defending the ZBA against allegations leveled by the attorneys for the Cleeres and Collins.

As for the motion for injunction filed by Mindy L. Zoghlin, attorneys for Cleere and Collins, it's long (32 pages) and legal, and the responses from David Roach, attorney for Frost Ridge, are also detailed.

Whereas in the first round of lawsuits, it was Cleere and Collins along with the Town of Le Roy against Frost Ridge, Luetticke-Archbell and the ZBA, the new motion names the Town of Le Roy as a defendant.

The Town of Le Roy is accused of not upholding its own zoning laws.

It accuses Frost Ridge of violating town ordinances by allowing permanent RV camping, of violating the noise ordinance, of relying on a defective ZBA interpretation of the law, and of violating Judge Robert C. Noonan's preliminary injunction against amplified live music that he issued in September 2014 by allowing live amplified music before 4 p.m.

It accused the ZBA of violating the open meeting law after the case was remanded back to the ZBA for a determination on whether live, amplified music is a prior, non-conforming use. The suit accuses of the ZBA of not providing proper public notice and of not deliberating its decision in public. 

In his response, Roach denies all the substantial allegations.

Acting Superior Court Judge Emilio Colaiacovo is expected to make a ruling on the current set of motions at a later date.

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