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May 22, 2016 - 1:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Habitat for Humanity, batavia, news.

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It was a long journey for James and Jessica Maskell and their two young children, Bailey and Sophie, to finally get to the day where they could move into their new home on Pearl Street.

The journey started long before the Maskells even knew they would get a home through Habitat for Humanity, when City Manager Jason Molino guided Habitat's Jessica Maguire-Tomidy and P.J. Riner through the house and Riner argued against Habitat taking on the project. 

The house was such a mess, but according to Riner's account, Molino pressed the issue and Maguire-Tomidy agreed they should give it a try.

"The city is instrumental in its vision in developing these homes and these neighborhoods," Riner said. "Jason has brought that vision to fruition here in this home. He walked us through and I said, 'no.' I think it was the first time I ever said no to a house. This house looked terrible, but after we got started on this house, we found there was much here to be saved."

He said the house has a great floor plan, had a solid structure and turned out to be worth saving.

"I actually like doing these rehabs more than the new builds," he said. "These houses have more character and more space."

The long journey included hundreds of hours of volunteer labor from people throughout the community and students from RIT and thousands of dollars in donated material from area businesses.

"We after week, they show up when it's raining, it's snowing, it's cold, it's hot and they do the hard and very important work of building the actual house," Maguire-Tomidy said.

James Maskell said he and his wife were so grateful to all the volunteers and the donors that made their new home possible.  

"We really didn't expect this to happen," Maskell said. "When we first signed up, we thought, why not give it a chance, and now, here we are."

Like all new Habitat homeowners, James and Jessica also pitched in on the rehab effort as their down payment on their mortgage.

"When we hand over a project like this that's complete, we feel like we've made a difference not only the in lives of the family but in the community we live in, Maguire-Tomidy said.

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May 22, 2016 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

Somebody vandalized and stole items from a growing community memorial at 8157 State Street Road, Batavia, the site of Friday's fire that claimed the lives of 2-year-old twins Michael J. Gard and Micah G. Gard.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the crime and are asking for the public's assistance in identifying the perpetrator.

Stolen were a decorative fire extinguisher, a teddy bear and a white cross, approximately two feet high.

The cross and teddy bear were placed there Saturday by Richard Frazier, who said the cross had been a temporary marker on his grandmother's grave and the teddy bear had belonged to his grandmother.

Other memorial items were located strewn along the shoulder of State Street Road, indicating the person or persons responsible for the theft departed on foot south, toward the City of Batavia.

There was a memorial service at the site last night and the theft was discovered this morning.

Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff's Office at (585) 343-5000.

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.: The Sheriff's Office released the following statement:

The family reports that the cross and teddy bear have been returned to the memorial. They were taken by another family member to add some additional decoration and were not, in fact, stolen. The affected family is satisfied with these circumstances and consider the matter resolved, and is grateful for the assistance of the public in this matter.

Previously:

May 22, 2016 - 10:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, thruway, news.

A brush fire reported along the Thruway in the area of mile marker 390, on the eastbound side.

Dispatchers say they've received numerous calls with size estimates ranging from two feet by two feet up to 20 feet wide.

East Pembroke fire is responding.

UPDATE 10:17 a.m.: A retired trooper who lives in the area has told dispatchers that the only thing he is seeing is a large tractor kicking up dust.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m.: A chief on scene says there was a small fire, but it's out. Somebody put it out with a fire extinguisher.

May 21, 2016 - 11:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports.

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Notre Dame beat Honeoye 3-2 yesterday at Dwyer Stadium to advance to the semifinals of the Class D1 Section V playoff.

The Fighting Irish will play Lyndonville on Tuesday at GCC at 4:30 p.m.

Also, Friday, Oakfield beat Keshegua, 6-2, and will play Geneseo at 7 p.m., Tuesday, at Dwyer Stadium in a Class C2 playoff.

Alexander beat Williamson 7-5 will play Avon at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, at Dwyer in the Class C1 semifinal.

Batavia beat Geneva, 3-2.

Le Roy lost to Holley, 4-3 and Pembroke lost to Avon, 11-5.

In girls softball, Batavia plays Aquinas at 5 p.m., Tuesday, in Brockport. Le Roy plays Wayland-Cohocton at 4 p.m., Monday, in Canandaigua. Oakfield-Alabama plays Geneseo at 5 p.m., Monday, at GCC. 

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May 21, 2016 - 10:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama, news.

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The man and woman accused of attempted robbery at the Smoke Rings Smokeshop early Friday morning were arrested today in Johnstown based on a tipster who saw a picture of the male suspect online.

They were arraigned in Alabama Town Court this evening, each on one count of attempted robbery in the second degree, and both were ordered held without bail pending court appearances at 2 p.m., Thursday, June 2.

Charged were Jeremy J. Reynolds, 34, of Johnstown, and Mitsydawn Souza, 26, of St. Johnsville.

Sitting in court awaiting their arraignment before Justice John Tauscher, Reynolds and Souza discussed the case and Souza made several statements about her own personal situation.

They spoke openly, even after Tauscher advised them that everything they said in the courtroom was being digitally recorded by an audio recorder and a video recorder and that their statements could be used as evidence against them.

Souza cried during the entire conversation and made declarations to a deputy about how she couldn't read the court documents, that she had learning disabilities and mental and physical health problems. Reynolds read portions of the documents to her.

She cried several times that she had never been arrested before, that she had never been in any kind of trouble.

"I've never even stolen a candy bar before," she said. "Now I'm in so much trouble."

When Reynolds read the part of the charge that said they demanded nothing, she said, "I didn't demand anything," and he said, "I didn't demand anything either."

She said, "you told me you just wanted to scare a friend," and he said he didn't tell her that, but that he intended to get shot.

When he was arraigned, he interrupted Tauscher several times, trying Tauscher's patience. Once he said he needed a court-appointed attorney, Tauscher said the arraignment was over, and Reynolds said he wanted to proceed with the arraignment. Tauscher said once he asked for an attorney, the arraignment was over.

Reynolds wanted to know if he could get bail, but Tauscher said that because Reynolds allegedly has two prior felony convictions, he couldn't grant bail in any amount even if the D.A. wasn't requesting Reynolds be held without bail.

Reynolds walked into court carrying his crutches and with his left leg in a cast. He was apparently injured in the scuffle at the smoke shop.

Both Reynolds and Souza were provided with witness statements of the two smoke shop employees who were working when they reportedly entered the store.

As Reynold's read the statement, he told Souza that one statement didn't say the same thing as a statement he claimed to have read earlier. He said he had seen another statement and the person making the statement, "said I had blond hair and blue eyes."

He asked Tauscher if he could get a copy of that statement and Tauscher told him that was an issue to take up with his attorney.

The two store employees, one a Batavia resident and the other an Alabama resident, provided deputies with mostly similar statements about the events that started at 2:42 a.m., Friday.

Two people, both wearing camouflage entered the store, with the man carrying a rifle that may have looked like an M-16, and the woman carrying a pistol. They pointed the guns at one clerk (the other was in a back room) and yelled, "freeze mother (bleep)" (the same term of endearment Reynolds directed at a photographer this evening outside the courthouse).

The couple pushed the first clerk into a back room and tied his hands with zip ties. Then the second clerk came up behind the male suspect and grabbed him and a fight ensued. The red wig he was wearing fell off and the gun he was carrying dropped to the ground, at which point both clerks realized the gun was a fake.

The woman ran from the store, and the clerk with his hands tied, tried to chase her, and during the chase managed to free himself.

The woman got away and he returned to find the male suspect hitting the other clerk in the head with the butt end of the fake M-16. He put the suspect in a choke hold, then when he was indicating he couldn't breathe, the other clerk told him to let him go.

They wrestled him into a chair.

He jumped up and ran into a window. One account says the window broke, the other says he bounced off it. After getting him back in the chair, the suspect again bolted for the window. This time, he made it partially out the window and the two men held him dangling by his legs. The suspect, they said, produced a knife and tried to cut them, so they let him go.

One of the clerks tried to chase the suspect, but he ran into the woods and got away.

When Reynolds and Sousa were discussing the statements, Sousa said investigators had shown her a video of the alleged attempted robbery, but Reynolds said he hadn't seen the video.

"It shows that I did it," she said.

May 21, 2016 - 9:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A vehicle has reportedly struck a building at 6946 Weatherwax Road, Elba.

A propane tank is leaking.

No injuries are reported. 

Elba fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

May 21, 2016 - 5:25pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in baseball, sports, Batavia HS, batavia, steve ognibene's blog.

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The top seed in Class A2, the Batavia Blue Devils, bested 8 seed Geneva Panthers at Dwyer Stadium for the section V quarterfinal matchup Friday afternoon. 

Greg Mruczek pitched the first couple innings. Geneva made some key hits and took control early after two innings leading 2-1.

Trevor Sherwood pitched the next three innings as the game remained the same. Senior Alex Canty hit a triple in the third inning to get within scoring range. Geneva held strong and Batavia could not get a break.

Batavia pitcher Alex Jones came in the last two innings to hold off Geneva from scoring. The score was set at 2-1 score until the bottom of the seventh inning, senior Steven Stefaniak got a base hit to lead off  senior Tyler Hale, who was up next and hit a triple to bring Stefaniak in for Batavia to tie the game 2-2.

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Geneva was in trouble with one out, took a timeout to plan their strategy with two heavy hitters, Senior Alex Canty and Junior Jerry Reinhart up next.  Geneva intentionally walked them both Alex to 2nd base, Jerry to 1st, bases loaded.

Batavia called timeout, Tyler’s twin brother Senior Jake Hale was at the plate. 

"I have been playing baseball my whole life and told my brother to get the ball to the left side and knew he would come through," Tyler said.  "It may not have been a hard hit ball but it got in play and scored the run."

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Jake Hale hit a grounder to the left of home plate, dug in the dirt bounced in the air. Tyler made a run to home plate, the pitcher came in grabbed the ball, bobbled it, lost his grip and went in the air. He slid into home plate and Batavia won 3-2.

Jake Hales thoughts before taking the plate: "I went up there just to play baseball, waiting for my pitch to hit and swung and missed at one, took one that was low in the dirt. I found the one but barely got a piece of it and then ended up bringing Tyler in. I ran to first as fast as I could hoping I would not get out, but then when I heard the cheers I knew my brother made the run and we won the game, then excitement took over."

Batavia plays 4 seed Wayne at Hilton High School, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

For more photos go to: Steve Ognibene Photography

May 21, 2016 - 4:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news, State Street Road.

An autopsy conducted this morning on the twin 2-year-olds who died last night in a fire at 8157 State Street Road, Batavia, indicate the boys died of smoke inhalation.

The Sheriff's Office also announced investigators believe the children were home alone at the time.

Last night witnesses, including the landlord, said the mother is believed to have left the house to go to the store for milk.

The boys are identified as Michael J. Gard and Micah G. Gard. The name of the mother has not been released.

The fire was reported at 9:59 p.m. when a resident of the upstairs apartment returned home and saw smoke and flames coming from the rear of the structure.

The boys were in a first-floor bedroom at the back of the house.

The Sheriff's Office said deputies were the first on scene but were unable to enter the structure because of heat and flames.

Firefighters arrived soon afternoon, knocked back the fire quickly, and located the boys, who were already deceased. 

The cause of the fire has not been determined and the investigation is ongoing.

The investigation is being conducted by the Office of Emergency Management, Town of Batavia Fire Department and the Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office reports that more information will be released as it becomes available.

Previously:

May 21, 2016 - 3:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve, hawley, farmworkers rights, agriculture, business, news.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) joined Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R,C) and a coalition of lawmakers speaking out against the governor’s decision to not fight a lawsuit relating to the unionization of farmers. The governor’s decision to not defend the complaint, filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union in the State Supreme Court, effectively endorses unionization of farmworkers in New York State, a policy that those in the agriculture community say is not wanted or necessary. In fact, due to the individual climate and environmental concerns of each state affecting their growing season, the federal government specifically excluded farmworkers from the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

“As the former owner of our family-owned farm, former Genesee County Farm Bureau President and having served on the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee since I was elected in 2006, I can attest to the daily struggles of our farm community. The governor’s decision to support unionized farm labor, coupled with a $15 an hour minimum wage, will be absolutely devastating to Western New York’s agriculture industry,” Hawley said.

“For decades our communities have been crushed by the state’s economic policies and the unionization of farmers will only push our family farms closer to the brink,” said Nojay. “Throughout his tenure Gov. Cuomo has demonstrated a total lack of respect for Upstate’s economy by repeatedly pushing policies, from GMO labeling to the $15 minimum wage, that have had a disastrous effect on our family farms and agricultural communities. The efforts by these wealthy labor unions will not only kill businesses and family farms but continue the exodus of Upstate families to less economically oppressed regions of the country. Agriculture is the foundation of our state’s entire economy and we must give our farming families and communities the attention and support they deserve.”

“Here in Western New York, farmers work extremely hard to develop positive and long-lasting relationships with their farm hands and seasonal workers. Unionization would only add another level of bureaucracy to a system that is not broken, and further complicate the ability of our state’s small family farms to succeed,” said Assemblywoman and Minority Leader Pro Tempore Jane Corwin (R,I,C-Clarence).

Assemblyman Marc Butler (R,C-Newport) said, “Leave it to New York City politicians to get it all wrong about agriculture and family farmers. Gov. Cuomo and others like him have done much to vilify the family farmer. Not only have he and the Assembly Majority increased the minimum wage and operating costs for these important rural job providers, now the governor is joining special interest groups that are trying to force family farms into unionized shops. I will work diligently to block any efforts from the governor or anyone else who tries to impose a New York City progressive agenda on our upstate family farmers.”

Assemblyman and Chairman of the Assembly Minority Conference Clifford W. Crouch (R-Bainbridge), a former dairy farmer, said, “To say that this would be devastating to our farming industry would be an understatement. Over the years it has become very clear that advocates of unionizing farm workers, who predominantly have downstate interests, neither understand the relationship farmers have with their employees nor the negative repercussions this would have on our small family farmers. I have visited and spoke to many farm employees across the state – from Buffalo to the North Country, to the Southern Tier and Long Island.

"In those travels and to date, not one employee or farmer I have spoken to has expressed the need or desire for what is offered by unionizing their employees. With already tremendous expenses - including grain, feed, seed, equipment, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, property taxes, energy expenses, and transportation – compounded with the recent minimum wage increase, how are family farmers expected to survive?

"Unionized farm employees may make sense for states like California that have a year-round growing season, but not in New York. Let’s call it what it is: a money grab by organized labor and their political counterparts in state government to gain an extra 35,000-40,000 new members paying union dues. The government should not be telling family farmers how to operate, especially when its policies will lead to closures of those farms. When there are no farms left, what will be the cost of food and where will it come from?”

“Gov. Cuomo’s next chapter in his war on upstate seems to be financially crippling our family-owned farms. Farmers have just recently begun learning how to absorb a $12.50 minimum wage hike upstate and a cut to agriculture local assistance that New York City politicians slammed down their throats, and now they want to force union mandates on them,” said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Troy).

May 21, 2016 - 3:25pm

Press release:

Oakfield resident and Childhood Cancer Hero, Brady Williams and his family, have been selected as Lemonade Days Hero Reps!

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation selected 36 families across the country as ambassadors for their national fundraiser in June. Each family symbolically represents the 36 children diagnosed with cancer daily in the United States. 

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a nonprofit dedicated to finding cures for all kids with cancer, has selected 36 families across the country to take a “stand” against childhood cancer as Lemonade Day Hero Reps during Alex’s Lemonade Days, June 10-12.

The 36 Lemonade Days Hero Reps symbolically represent the 36 children diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States. Each family has been personally impacted by childhood cancer and will spread awareness about the ongoing childhood cancer fight by sharing their personal journeys.

These 36 families show that childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group; socioeconomic class; or geographic region. As a part of their Lemonade Days Hero Family duties, the families will each hold a lemonade stand during Alex’s Lemonade Days, spread awareness of their initiatives to their communities and enlist community members to host their own stands.

Meet the Williams Family

“Brady is the best brother in the world,” says his brother, Eli.

Brady Williams, diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2009, is one in a set of triplets: Cara and Eli, ages 9. They also have a younger sister, Allison, age 7. The Williams family wants others to know that the impact of childhood cancer does not end when treatment ends. But Brady is optimistic saying, “Someday I will help make the world a better place!”

Alex’s Lemonade Days commemorates 8-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott’s challenge to help her raise $1 million for childhood cancer cures, one cup of lemonade at a time. With help from volunteers across the country, Alex reached her million dollar goal before losing her life to cancer in August 2004.

“Just like the Williams Family, our family knows firsthand just how personal the fight against childhood cancer is,” said Liz Scott, co-executive director of ALSF and Alex’s mom. “Our daughter would be honored to know that these 36 families will continue her legacy by literally taking a stand against childhood cancer and inspiring those in their community to come together toward finding cures.”

Now every year, volunteers are invited to host lemonade stands over the course of these three days in June to continue Alex’s mission and bring renewed attention to the fight against childhood cancer. Since 2004, more than 22,000 Lemonade Days stands have been held nationally, raising over $12 million. This year, the Foundation hopes to reach the 25,000th Lemonade Days stand.

Participants are encouraged to show support through social media utilizing #LemonadeDays on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more.

For more information on Alex’s Lemonade Days and to sign up to host a lemonade stand visit AlexsLemonadeDays.org.

May 21, 2016 - 3:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, batavia, Stafford.

Madalyn Ryan Muntz, 30, of Central Avenue, Batavia, is charged with making a punishable false written statement. The defendant was charged following an investigation in the Town of Stafford at 9:47 a.m. on May 10 wherein she allegedly provided the GC Sheriff's Office with a false statement regarding a larceny she claimed had occurred. She was issued an appearance ticket returnable to Stafford Town Court on June 9. The investigation was conducted by Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Parker, Deputy Chad Cummings, and Investigator Bradley Mazur.

Terry Michael Roth, 41, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Roth was arrested at 7:26 p.m. on May 18 following a report of shoplifting in progress at a store on Veterans Memorial Drive. Roth was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Batavia Court on May 23. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong, assisted by a NYS Trooper.

A 17-year-old from Oakfield was arrested following an investigation into a larceny at Walmart which occurred at 7:42 p.m. on May 7. The youth was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Batavia Court on May 23. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong.

May 21, 2016 - 2:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy Grove, James Gomborone, Le Roy Rotary, Le Roy, news.

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A Friday evening fundraiser organized by the Le Roy Rotary Club was also the opening of a new events center at Mercy Grove, the former priests home on a large estate at 7758 E. Main Road.

Owner James Gomborone has been renovating the facility for months and was finally ready to give it a first public showing for the Rotary event.

Mercy Grove will be a location for upscale weddings, community events, corporate retreats, retirement parties and rehearsal dinners, said manager Barbie Gozelski.

By next year, renovations on the second floor should be completed, and those rooms will be guest rooms and serve as a possible setting for a bed and breakfast.  Cabins on the 53-acre property will serve, when renovated, as bridal suites or guest rooms. 

The facility is just across the road from the Le Roy Country Club, which Gomborone also owns.

"Graze to Raise" was hosted by Le Roy Rotary as a fundraiser for the R.E.A. Milne Scholarship Fund.

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May 21, 2016 - 2:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, business.

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Turning onto Simonds Road in Darien yesterday, I saw big flag waving from a building that said, "OPEN," and a smaller sign that said "old tractor parts for sale."  

That looked interesting. It had never caught my eye before, so thinking it was a new business, stopped.

Turns out, Ron and Margie Rupp are now in their third year of business. Only the flag is new.

And it's not just old tractor parts they sell. They can get new and old parts for every make and model of tractor as well as all other farm equipment.

"It doesn't matter if it's green, blue or yellow," Ron said.

Ron Rupp said he represents five different parts dealers.

"If it's available, we can get it," he said.

He started the business in part to keep him busy in retirement, but over the last year or so, it has really started to pick up, he said.

Besides selling parts out of a trailer on their property, or ordering whatever a customer needs, they also travel around to tractor and steam shows. That keeps them busy during the summer months.

May 21, 2016 - 12:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

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Richard Frazier places a cross with a bear and flowers next to a tree outside 8157 State Street Road, Batavia, where two little boys died in a fire last night.

Frazier, who has a 4-year-old daughter himself, doesn't know the family but said he was heartbroken by the tragedy.

"As a parent, I could not imagine what it would be like if something like this happened to my child," Frazier said. "It's just insane to think that we just live life every day, taking life for granted and at any point, it can all be done."

Investigators were on scene last night until nearly 4 a.m. and then went home to get some much-needed rest and to be able to return in the daylight. They started arriving again about noon. It will likely be several hours before their work is complete. Until this phase of the investigation is done, we're not likely to hear more about the potential cause of the fire and other circumstances surrounding last night's events.

The names of the children or mother have not yet been officially released.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: Investigators have less than an hours work to do, but sources on scene say it is unlikely there will be any announcement today about the cause.  There is more work to do away from the scene and that could take a couple of days.  There should be a press release coming out this afternoon from the Sheriff's Office that will contain names.

UPDATE: Press release from the American Red Cross:

Volunteers from the American Red Cross responded to a fire on State Street Road in Batavia early Saturday morning, providing immediate emergency assistance for two adults and two children. Red Cross assistance typically includes vouchers for temporary housing, food and clothing as needed, and Disaster Mental Health volunteers are available to help with the emotional aspect of disaster. Those affected will meet with caseworkers in the coming days to work on a longer-term recovery plan.

Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers Suzanne Kowalcyk and James McMoil responded to the scene of this fire. The Red Cross would like to express its sympathies to everyone affected by this tragedy.

May 21, 2016 - 3:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

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Two young children died in a house fire at 8157 State Street Road, Batavia, late Friday night, at a time when their mother was not home.

It's unclear if any adults were in the apartment at the time of the fire, said Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster, Sheriff's Office, which is leading the investigation into the fire.

The cause has yet to be determined, but it started in the bottom apartment in the back of the residence.

The bodies of the children, both age 2, were found in that same location.

Brewster said he couldn't say for sure if the mother left the children with an adult to supervise them, or if she left them alone while she went to the store.

"I don't know and we're going to get to the bottom of that," Brewster said. "That's why we're going to talk with the mother."

The mother was in no condition to be interviewed tonight, Brewster said.

The fire was reported just before 10 p.m. when the upstairs resident returned home and spotted the fire. He called 9-1-1.

Town of Batavia arrived on scene quickly and fire chiefs were told there was a possibility of people trapped in the residence, so Deputy Chief Dan Coffey said he quickly sounded a second alarm.

The back of the house was fully involved at that point. The first firefighters on scene made entry and located the deceased children.

Asked if the evidence was pointing toward a fire deliberately set or accidental, Brewster said investigators are leaning toward accidental.

"That's why we have fire service here, to investigate that," Brewster said. "Right now, I'm not sure. It doesn't look like anything other than that -- accidental -- that's why they are here and that's what their job is. They will go through and make a thorough investigation."

About 10 minutes after firefighters arrived on the scene, two women ran up to the house and had to be restrained as they tried to enter it. Over the course of the next half hour, more people arrived who seemed to be friends or family members and there were women wailing and yelling. Troopers, deputies and Batavia PD officers did their best to assist them.

The two apartments were occupied by members of the same family, and members of that family also lived in a neighboring house. At one point, neighbors thought three children died in the fire, but that third child was in the neighboring house, according to landlord Joe Burke.

"It's my understanding that the mother went out to get milk for her little kids," Burke said.

Yellow tape was put around the scene at one point during the night and criminal investigators were called in once the fire was out and entry was safe for them.

But both Coffey and Brewster said the appearance of a criminal investigation doesn't necessarily mean a crime is suspected.

"It's a crime scene until proven otherwise," Coffey said, who besides being a volunteer firefighter is a Batavia police officer. "Obviously, we have two fatalities, so we're erring on the side of cause. We're treating it as a crime until proven different, but that's not indicative of any sort of information that we know at this point. It is how we would normally handle a call like this."

The location is the same as a reported hit-and-run accident April 1 in which resident Brian Ace suffered injuries and had to be taken by Mercy Flight to an area hospital. Ace declined to press charges in that case.

Investigators, at this point, don't seem to believe there is any connection between that incident and the fire.

There were no fatal fires in the Town of Batavia Fire District from 2008 until this year. This is the second fatal fire for Town volunteers in less than a month. On April 30, a fire at a residence on Oak Orchard Road claimed the life of Roger Saile, age 90.

"Obviously, it's been a tough stretch for us," Coffey said. "This one, obviously, is going to hurt. Just two weeks ago, three weeks ago, we also had that other one, so we're going ot make sure that we take care of our members, but it's going to be a difficult time for us."

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May 21, 2016 - 2:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

Police are looking for a vehicle, possibly a blue Honda, that fled the scene of a reported fight at 7-Eleven on East Main Street as soon as police arrived.

There may also be subjects who might have been involved walking on Elm Street.

The initial report was of five people fighting at the 7-Eleven.

May 20, 2016 - 10:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in fie, batavia, Oakfield, elba, Stafford, news.

A working house fire is reported at 8157 State Street Road. Town of Batavia, Stafford, Elba, Oakfield and Alexander volunteer fire departments are responding to the scene.

UPDATE 10:49 p.m.: Personnel from the NYSP, Batavia PD and GC Sheriff's Office are on scene, too.

UPDATE: Confirmed fatal fire.

UPDATE 12 a.m.: Town Code enforcement and a Water Department rep called to the scene.

UPDATE 1:30 a.m (by Howard): I've just returned from the scene. Two children, approximate ages 2 and 3, died in the fire. The mother was reportedly out of the house at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. We'll have a full report in a separate post later.

May 20, 2016 - 6:30pm

Call Lynn Bezon at Reliant Real Estate today at 585-344-4663. Click here to view the listing for 18 Ellicott Place. Click here to view the listing for 32 Buell Street.

May 20, 2016 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, law enforcement, pembroke, news.

meierretiremay2016.jpg

When GS-39 called in "out of service" at 3 p.m. today, the dispatcher thanked him for his 30 years of service to the people of Genesee County.

Sgt. Jim Meier said during an interview that morning that there is a bit of sadness that comes with drawing the curtain on his career in law enforcement. He's enjoyed the work and the people he worked with.

"I knew the day was coming sooner or later, but it's been 30 years and I feel like it was just yesterday when I started," Meier said. "I really do."

Meier began his career at the Sheriff's Office in 1986, working the jail for a year before moving into patrol work, after earning his degree in criminal justice from Genesee Community College.

He's a graduate of Pembroke High School.

"I don't know if there is anything specific (that inspired the career choice)," he said. "I looked at things I thought I was good at and went into criminal justice and I found it interesting and it just kind of progressed from there."

He never found the job particularly hard, he said.

"I mean, there are some things that we do, like when we're at the death of family members, it can be a bit taxing, but I never found anything difficult," he said. "It all came pretty naturally."

Asked for a key memory from 30 years with the Sherriff's Office, the first thing that came to mind was the passenger train derailment in Batavia in 1994.

"I think I was a week out of supervisor school and I can remember it like it was yesterday," Meier said. "It's amazing that nobody died in that derailment, but it was the most eerie thing in the world when you go to the scene and you don't know what to expect and all of the sudden you see the twisted metal all over the place. It was unbelievable."

There are a lot of young guys in local law enforcement now, and Meier encourages them to stick with it, even when the hours are long and the sacrifices pile up. It's worth it, he said.

"The advice I give all the young guys is this, when you start this job, you have to come in and do it with eyes wide open, meaning you're going to have to work midnights, you're going to have to work holidays, you're going to have to work weekends," Meier said. "You're going to have to sacrifice some things you may not want to sacrifice, but there's a lot of good things that you get from making those sacrifices."

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The Batavian is seeking freelance journalists to help with local news coverage. Qualifications: At least one college-level course in news gathering and reporting. Some prior published news coverage. Demonstrated ability to gather and report information people will want to read. The ability to write a news report for publication within hours of completion of reporting, if not faster. We specifically need reporters who can handle hard news and meeting coverage.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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