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March 19, 2017 - 4:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, east pembroke, news.

A tractor-trailer and car collided on the eastbound Thruway by mile marker 396.9. All occupants are believed to be out of the vehicles. East Pembroke Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

March 19, 2017 - 3:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents, news.

A two-vehicle collision with possible injuries is reported at Route 98 and the Thruway entrance. There was air-bag deployment. Town of Batavia fire and Mercy medics are responding. Law enforcement is on scene.

UPDATE 4:06 p.m.: Town assignment back in service.

March 19, 2017 - 12:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, Stafford, news.

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported in the area of 6150 Clinton Street Road. It's between Caswell Road and Route 237. Stafford Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics. Responders are told to use caution upon approach because a utility pole "may be involved."

UPDATE: Two flatbed tows are called. National Grid is responding to repair a damaged pole. Sheriff's deputies are on scene. The Crash Management Team is called in. A patient(s) was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital University of Rochester Medical Center. The Stafford fire assignment is back in service.

March 19, 2017 - 7:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Town of Batavia Fire, fire services, batavia, news.

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Joe Hinz was named Firefighter of the Year for the Town of Batavia Volunteer Fire Department and Steve Coburn received the President's Award during the department's annual awards and installation dinner at Terry Hills last night.

Officers installed for 2017:

Line officers: Daniel J. Coffey -- chief, Chad R. Higgins -- deputy chief, Robert H. Tripp -- first assistant chief, Paul R. Dibble -- second assistant chief, Andrew Z. Mullen -- captain, David J. Tran -- lieutenant, Paul G. Barrett -- Safety Officer.

Corporate Officers: Michael D. Jones -- president, Nathan L. Fix -- vice president, Steven C. Coburn -- secretary, Donald F. Koziol -- treasurer, and directors are Paul G. Barrett, Gary D. Diegelman, Daniel P. Jacques, Robert J. Mullen and Timothy J. Yaeger.

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Steve Coburn and Joe Hinz with department officers.

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Some of the top responders making at least 100 calls in 2016.

March 18, 2017 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pavilion central school, Pavilion, sprots, badminton.

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Pavilion High School hosted its annual badminton tournament today. A total of 26 teams, mostly Pavilion students, participated.

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Below, submitted photos of the winners.

The finals were between Austin Van San and Brandon Lynk and Christian Valento and Joe Even. Christian and Joe won.

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March 18, 2017 - 3:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, education, City Schools, schools, batavia, news.

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Last night was the last official student art show for Deb Meier, an art teacher at Batavia High School for 31 years. She's pictured in the back row on the left, with some of the city schools students who won awards Friday night in the opening art show at Richmond Memorial Library for Student Art Month.

Meier said she will continue volunteer work with student artists because she thinks it's so beneficial to the kids.

"Art gives enjoyment to life," Meier said. "It gives meaning. The arts, even though we only celebrate it once a month a year with Youth Art Month, it's essential to our beings. We are no longer living in caves. We’re living in houses that are designed by architects, wearing clothes that are designed by fashion designers."

Art is all around us, she agreed.

"Yes, we just need to learn to see it."

What she's enjoyed most about teaching art she said is seeing the students blossom. 

"Seeing the realization, seeing the light bulb go off when they realize they’ve got it, they did something right, they took something and explored a new media or new idea in expression," she said.

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March 18, 2017 - 9:40am

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Photos from St. Patrick's Day celebrations at Center Street and O'Lacy's Irish Pub yesterday.

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March 18, 2017 - 9:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisment.

Reminders of how the new Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. This is its own registration system, separate from the main registration for The Batavian.
  • Once registered you must be logged in.
  • You click on the orange button, if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
March 18, 2017 - 7:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

A tractor is reportedly on fire at the Thruway interchange at Park Road and Oak Street, Batavia.

City fire responding.

UPDATE 7:47 a.m.: City fire on location. No fire at that location. 

March 18, 2017 - 5:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Bethany, news.

A building at 9778 Creek Road, Bethany, is charged with smoke, but no fire seen.

Bethany fire along with Town of Batavia and Alexander dispatched.

The location is Baskin Livestock.

UPDATE 5:57 a.m.: Town of Batavia can go back in service. Alexander to continue. Owner reported blown-out motor on a furnace. 

UPDATE 6:28 a.m.: Bethany assignment back in service. 

March 17, 2017 - 5:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, batavia, news.

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James “Beef” Soggs, who coached youth sports pretty much year around -- football, basketball, baseball -- for two decades passed away yesterday at age 54.

He will be missed.

"He was always upbeat and very positive," said Buddy Brasky, who coached with him and against him in baseball, and worked with him as one of the coaches in his youth basketball program. "He never looked at anything in a negative way, which is why the kids loved him. He had a special way of making the kids feel good about themselves. He made them feel like a million dollars. Kids loved playing for him."

Dave Hall, who coached Little League with Soggs for 18 years, said he's never known a coach more dedicated to the kids. He said they talked daily, sometimes three or four times a day, about baseball or particular young athletes. Soggs always had the best interest of the kids at heart.

He got down to their level and communicated with them in a way they got, Hall said.

"He just had a way with the kids," Hall said. "He knew what to say. He knew when to put his foot down. He knew when to put an arm around a kid and give him a hug and show them a little love.

To meet Beef was to make a new friend. He always had a smile and a positive word.

"He was just a good-hearted guy," Brasky said. "You won't find anybody who has a bad thing to say about him. He just made you feel good when you were around him."

Rick Mancuso said the thing he admired about Soggs was he was into youth sports for all the right reasons.

"Beef was in it for the kids and you can't always say that about every coach these days," Mancuso said. "He always did the right things in the right way."

He said Soggs contributions to the community went beyond sports and went beyond Batavia.

"He did a lot for the community and for a lot of different people and the kids are better for it," he said.

Hall said he will miss his good friend. He already does. But he also said the community will miss him.  

Soggs, he said, had plans to coach in the minors this year so he could coach his grandson.

"He was looking forward to that," Hall said. "That's the sad part. He will miss that opportunity."

March 17, 2017 - 1:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Le Roy, news.

A washer fire with smoke showing is reported in the mobile home park on Lake Street Road in Le Roy. Le Roy Fire Department is responding with mutual aid from Bergen and Pavilion to 8769 Lake Street Road, Lot #12.

UPDATE 1:31 p.m.: A first responder on scene reports a light haze inside the structure.

UPDATE 2:11 p.m.: The Le Roy assignment is returning to service.

March 17, 2017 - 12:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Centre, JC Penney.

The JCPenney store in Batavia apparently has been spared from the ax that will come down on 138 of the company's stores across the United States.

The major retailer today announced that it will close three stores in New York State -- Dunkirk-Fredonia Plaza, Dunkirk; Westfield Sunrise, Massapequa; Palisades Center, West Nyack -- probably in the second quarter of the year which ends in July for J.C. Penney Co., but will continue to operate the store located in the City Centre Mall.

With its remaining 876 stores, "Penney's" will still have at least one location in 49 states and Puerto Rico. It has no stores in Hawaii. The chain's original store in Kemmerer, Wyo., at 722 J.C. Penney Drive isn't on the list and will remain open. 

The states with the biggest number of closings were Texas (nine), Minnesota (eight), Michigan (seven), Illinois (seven), Pennsylvania (six), North Carolina (five), Wisconsin (four) and Oklahoma (four).

March 17, 2017 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Meals on Wheels.

UPDATE:  Some information just came to my attention that I didn't know about at the time I wrote this story, and apparently, Chris Collins didn't know about either.  The budget proposal doesn't directly cut Meals on Wheels at all.  It cuts a community block grant program that is used for a lot of things, and a tiny portion of that money sometimes goes to Meals on Wheels.  There are also other federal funding sources for Meals on Wheels. See this article from Reason Magazine.

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During an appearance on CNN last night, Rep. Chris Collins vowed to support Meals on Wheels through the congressional budget process.

"It's a wonderful program," Collins said. "I would never even vote to cut $1 from that program."

Though she didn't directly hear Collins on TV last night, that's good news to Ruth Spink, director for Office of the Aging, which administers Meals on Wheels in Genesee County. She said the program has many benefits for the residents who participate, their families and the volunteers who help deliver meals.

A budget proposal put forward by President Donald Trump would cut all federal support for Meals on Wheels.

Spink said at the spur of the moment when we called this morning say how much of the funding for the local program comes from the federal government, but that the program is subsidized by federal and state money along with a county match, which makes up 90 percent of the funding for the program. Elderly participants who receive meals also have the option to pay for the meals, though that is not a requirement.

Spink said in the county, about 90 meals are delivered per day and another 30 are served at a community meal hosted at various locations.

The benefits of the program go beyond meal delivery, Spink said. The daily visits by volunteers can also serve to check on the welfare of elderly people, giving peace of mind to them and their family members, as well as give many of these people who are shut-ins a bit of social time with another person, and it allows older people to stay in their homes longer, which saves taxpayers money.

"Perhaps Trump doesn't understand that the more in-home service we can provide the longer we keep them out of residential care, which is significantly more costly than home delivered meals," Spink said.

There is a group of about 25 people who volunteer to deliver and serve meals, and groups such as the Kiwanis Club of Batavia provide more volunteers on a rotating basis.

Collins told Van Jones on CNN last night that his mother-in-law received Meals on Wheels before she died and that when he was county administrator in Erie County; he oversaw the program there and visited the community centers that ran the program, so he knows how important and valuable it is, he said.

Spink said she understands there is a whole budget process Congress must go through before the fate of Meals on Wheels is decided and support from Collins is great, but people need to speak out, she said.

"It's only a proposed budget, so we don't want people to panic, but we do want people to let their representatives know how important this program is to them," Spink said.

On the show, Collins said he also supported immigration reform that would make it easier for farmers to hire and retain immigrant labor and that he believes immigrants who came here without documentation but have been productive and stayed out of legal trouble otherwise should be allowed to stay in the country legally. He was addressing a young lady who is part of the Dream Act Program and Collins told her he welcomed her to our country and wished her a long and successful life in the United States. He said he didn't believe any undocumented workers who hadn't committed criminal acts once in the United States were being deported.

He reiterated his support for an NIH program he helped sponsor to help deal with the opioid epidemic, but when pressed by Van Jones on the issue, which Trump campaigned on, Collins said many of the issues around opioid addiction are really state-level issues.

Renee Sutton, of Canandaigua, one of his constituents, pressed Collins on why he hasn't held, and has refused to hold, a town hall meeting. Collins said he never held one while county executive in Erie County and hadn't held one before this became an explosive issue this year. He said he doesn't believe in them because they are not a productive way to hold meaningful conversations with constituents. He said he meets with constituents all the time and values small group discussions, such as those he regularly has with farmers and medical professionals. He said any constituent can request a meeting with him and he will meet with them.

March 17, 2017 - 10:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Alabama, news.

A 40-year-old Batavia resident is facing multiple tax fraud, grand larceny and forgery charges following a joint investigation by the State Police and the Department of Taxation and Finance.

A former caregiver who bilked two elderly patients out of more than $308,000 from 2006 to 2011 and eventually pled guilty to four felonies, was sentenced to prison and is now free, but she's finding it difficult to pay restitution.

Heidi L. Schollard was ordered to pay $500 a month when she was sentenced to the maximum possible term in August 2012, which was concurrent sentences of two-and-a-third to seven years on three of the felony convictions and one-and-a-third to four years on the fourth.

She pled guilty to three counts of grand larceny, 3rd, which are Class D felonies, and a single count of grand larceny, 4th, a Class E felony.

She was released from prison Feb. 13 and was ordered to make her first $500 payment within 30 days of her release. She has so far failed to make any payment.

Public Defender Jerry Ader, representing Schollard in County Court yesterday, said Schollard only recently secured employment but will still find it difficult to make $500-a-month payments.

Apparently, while still in prison, Schollard petitioned the court for a modified restitution order, but that request was never acted on.

Whether the court can take action against Schollard was the point being argued in court yesterday and the reason for the hearing.

Ader's position was that based on statute since Schollard received the maximum possible prison sentence for her conviction, the County Court cannot impose new sanctions on her if she fails to meet the restitution requirements.  

Without the ability to impose new penalties, the court's only option, Ader said, is to make restitution a civil matter. The victims would need to seek restitution through civil, not criminal, courts. 

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman argued that since Schollard's sentence was concurrent and not consecutive, she didn't receive the maximum possible sentence under the law so therefore Judge Charles Zambito can take punitive action against Schollard if she fails to meet restitution demands.

Zambito said he wasn't going to rule on the issue from the bench and ordered both attorneys to file briefs in support of their positions laying out the legal arguments and case law to support their assertions.

The issue was scheduled for a further hearing at 1:30 p.m., April 10.

March 17, 2017 - 9:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, news, planning.

Press release:

The Comprehensive Plan Update will help guide future zoning and development decisions in Byron. What would you like to see for the future of Byron? Please complete a survey and return to the Byron Town Clerk (P.O. Box 9, 7028 Byron Holley Road, Byron, NY 14422) by March 31.

Survey forms are available at the Byron Town Hall, Byron Hotel & Trailhouse, Fullerino’s Pizzeria, Gillett’s Hardware or Gillam-Grant Center. The survey is also available online. You can link to the survey on the Town of Byron website:  http://www.byronny.com/  or go directly to the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ByronCommunitySurvey

Please only complete one survey (online or on paper). Thank you for your participation.

March 16, 2017 - 8:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Bethany.

A car has struck a pole in the area of 10655 Molasses Hill Road, Bethany.

A line is arcing.

There are no injuries.

The road is being shut down.

Bethany fire is responding.

UPDATE 9:53 p.m.: Road being reopened. Assignment back in service.

March 16, 2017 - 8:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, GO ART!, news.

The proposed federal spending plan released today by the Trump Administration cuts funding for the arts, which, as the Washington Post points out, will hit small rural communities, such as Batavia, the hardest.

The $148 million National Endowment for the Arts Budget -- 0.004 percent of the overall federal budget -- is funneled down the local level by the New York State Council on the Arts.

If cut, that funding will mean the elimination of grants for local arts groups, said Jennifer Gray, executive director of GO ART! She said there are 25 organizations and individuals in Genesee and Orleans counties who depend on those grants to provide arts events, about 70 a year, along with classes and programs that are enjoyed by more than 20,000 people throughout the two counties.

"If those programs are defunded, those programs will not happen," Gray said.

Early today, Rep. Chris Collins issued a press release expressing a couple of reservations about the Trump budget, particularly as it pertains to agriculture and the National Institute of Health, but did not address any other budget cuts, including eliminating the NEA. Twice today we emailed members of Collins staff requesting a comment on the topic from the Congressman and did not receive any response.

Elimination of arts programs could have far-reaching effects locally, including on education and business.

Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, said he understands the balancing act the president must go through to arrive at a budget he believes is best for the country, but it's also true businesses are looking for communities where they might set up shop certainly take into consideration lifestyle issues for employees, which includes access to arts and entertainment opportunities.

Companies want to know that potential employees will want to move into a community that offers the lifestyle choices and amenities that attract top talent.

The arts, Hyde said, also play a key role in educating the future workforce.

"The arts help kids engage and it draws on those necessary critical thinking and creative thinking skills," Hyde said.

Gray also noted the potentially dire economic impacts of cutting arts funding.

"Our region will continue to become a cultural wasteland, which in turn drives away potential residents, potential property tax income, potential industry, the list goes on," Gray said. "We will be an area that supports methadone clinics before it supports the arts. Our children will have the options to get drug treatment over participating and thriving in the arts. The arts change lives, change regions, (it) lifts up the economy and drives tourism. Who wants to live in a region devoid of all that?"

Eliminating the NEA has been long been the goal of many social conservatives who not only say the NEA is wasteful spending, but that it also promotes artistic expression social conservatives find objectionable.

While the NEA is only a tiny portion of overall federal spending, the funds it disperses is also only about 1 percent of all the money spent on the arts in the United States. In smaller communities, though, where just as a matter of smaller populations, there are fewer people to support the arts and fewer rich patrons, the federal spending has a greater impact.

Gray doesn't know if defunding NEA will lead to the eventual demise of GO ART!, but even if it doesn't, she said, it will have a profound impact on the local arts community.

"Like all of Trump's policy's so far," Gray said, "it will devastate those people and organizations that need it the most. Poverty-stricken areas and low-income regions will further fall into the abyss of both cultural void and economic destitution."

DISCLOSURE: Howard Owens is on the board of directors of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra, which in the past has received grants from GO ART! that help fill budget gaps for the orchestra.

March 16, 2017 - 7:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

The eight county Democratic chairs of New York’s 27th Congressional District wish to make it clear that Rep. Chris Collins’ decision to appear on CNN with Van Jones on Thursday evening in a televised town hall is an insult to the voters of this district.

While constituents have been gathering outside his offices on a weekly basis in good weather and bad to ask for a town hall, Mr. Collins has repeatedly insisted he has no intention of holding such a meeting, even calling town halls “useless.” But when invited to appear on a cable television program with a studio audience in New York City that will not represent his constituents, Rep. Collins jumped at the chance.

So he may find out what the concerns are of a New York City audience, but he’s still avoiding people in his own district. That is unacceptable, and that’s why we will support a vigorous campaign to replace Chris Collins in 2018 with someone who will actually represent New York’s 27th District.

  • Jeremy Zellner, Erie County Democratic chair
  • Jamie Romeo, Monroe County Democratic chair
  • Nick Forster, Niagara County Democratic chair
  • Jeanne Crane, Orleans County Democratic chair
  • Michael Plitt, Genesee County Democratic chair
  • Cynthia Appleton, Wyoming County Democratic chair
  • Judith Hunter, Livingston County Democratic chair
  • John Hurley, Ontario County Democratic chair

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