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January 8, 2016 - 10:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

A one-car accident, car into a tree with a possible fire under the car, is reported in the area of 215 Bloomingdale Road, Alabama.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 10:57 p.m.: It's not believed there are any injuries.

UPDATE 10:59 p.m.: A first responder reports flames showing.

UPDATE 11:13 p.m.: A chief on scene reports the car is now fully involved.

UPDATE 11:18 p.m.: Bloomingdale is closed at Tesnow and at Wright roads.

UPDATE, Saturday morning: The Sheriff's Office has released a statement about the accident, which is under investigation. Craig M. Meyer, 30, of Cherry Street, Batavia, was reportedly driving a 1999 Ford SUV when the vehicle left the roadway, drove through a field and then collided with several trees in the yard of 218 Bloomingdale Road. Meyer was removed from the vehicle by several witnesses as the vehicle began burning. He was transported to ECMC by Mercy EMS.

January 7, 2016 - 3:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, Alabama, pre-K, prekindergarten.

Press release:

Children who reside in the Oakfield-Alabama Central School District and who will be 4 years old by Dec. 1 are eligible to be registered for the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program for the 2016-2017 school year.

Registration packets have been mailed. If you do not receive a packet by Jan. 22, please call the elementary office at 585-948-5211, ext. 3211, or e-mail [email protected] to request one.

January 6, 2016 - 1:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business.

1366hearingjan52016.jpg

After the questions, concerns, challenges and outright objections to 1366 Technologies coming to the Town of Alabama to build silicon wafers to capture the energy of the sun, resident Dave Dunn said, "I think we've all forgot one thing here tonight: Thank you for coming here."

That statement drew a round of applause from most of the 75 or so people who attended the public hearing Tuesday night on proposed tax incentives to help Bedford, Mass.-based 1366 Technologies build its $700 million facility on 105 acres of the planned high-tech park known as STAMP (Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park).

There were only a handful of speakers during the hearing, and only a couple more who raised objections during a follow-up question and answer period, including one man who stormed out during an impassioned speech by Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, on the need for economic development to help keep our children in Western New York.

The state is planning on spending more than $5 million on land acquisition and infrastructure to make STAMP possible, and 1366 could receive another $56 million in incentives from New York along with tax abatements of more than $35 million through GCEDC.

It is those local incentives that the GCEDC Board will be asked to approve in an upcoming vote and last night's public hearing was required in advance of it.

Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC, opened the hearing with an overview of the financing and financial impact of the proposed 1366 project.

The venture is expected to lead to 1,000 jobs at the plant within a few years, with another 1,593 jobs generated by companies that will provide services and support to the new company, and some 2,600 jobs created by local economic growth.

That's more than 6,500 local jobs within 10 years, Masse said.

Entry-level jobs will start at $16 an hour, with production jobs going up to $24 an hour based on duties and experience.

The 1366 payroll is expected to reach nearly $40 million. The indirect payroll could exceed $60 million and induced jobs would add another $30.3 million in payroll, for an anticipated increase in local payroll of $130 million. (CORRECTION: In my notes, I left off some zeros. The payroll numbers have been updated to correct that mistake.)

To help finance the project, GCEDC is proposing a PILOT -- payment in lieu of taxes. That's a break on the property tax. There would be property tax due on the current assessed value of the 105-acre parcel, but there would be no new taxes on the increase in assessed value over the first two years of the project. The taxes would then gradually increase over the next eight years. 

There are also proposed tax abatements on the sales tax on construction materials as well as relief from the mortgage tax.

Masse then turned the floor over to Brian Eller, chief operations officer for 1366, who shared some of his company's plans and an overview of what 1366 will manufacture.

Eller explained that 1366, working with scientists at MIT, have developed a whole new manufacturing process for silicon wafers -- the main component of solar panels, that the company believes will be cheaper to manufacture and produce less waste than the process used by every other company in the world.

Silicon is the second most plentiful mineral on Earth and is usually extracted from sand. For solar wafers, manufacturers receive ingots of silicon that are typically cut and ground into square objects. 

That's an extremely wasteful production process, according to a video Eller played for the audience. Much of the silicon is wasted, as well as the blades and diamond-tipped twine used to cut the wafers.

The process developed at MIT involves melting the silicon and rolling out flat wafers, much like modern glass manufacturing.

The process is a third faster and a third cheaper than current techniques, and no silicon goes to waste, and it uses less energy.

The goal of 1366 is to use its technology to produce wafers that eventually make solar power as cheap to consume as coal energy.

What 1366 isn't doing is making entire solar panels. They are only making the wafers, and they aren't making solar panels.

Elon Musk's Solar City plant, going up in Buffalo, will make rooftop panels, but 1366 isn't producing wafers for rooftop panels, so there isn't currently an opportunity for the two companies to work together directly. The wafers produced by 1366 are intended for industrial solar energy farms, which currently makes up 70 percent of the worldwide solar energy market.

One speaker during the public hearing expressed concern that 1366 would get all of these tax breaks, build this big building, and then pull out like Pepsi did with the Quaker Muller Dairy plant.

There are, however, some significant differences between the Quaker Muller operation and 1366's plans. Pepsi and Muller entered a market that we now know was saturated in an industry that is so competitive that profit margins are always squeezed. There was no chance for Muller's imitation Greek yogurt to achieve a dominant market position.

In his best-selling business book, "Zero to One," venture capitalist Peter Thiel says new businesses should be built around innovations that are a 10-times improvement over anything currently in the market. Thiel also advises startups to aim for only a segment of a market and achieve dominance in that segment before growing. Pepsi and Muller appear to have violated both of those guidelines by entering a market that already had dominant manufacturers, such as Chobani, Dannon and Fage, and aiming for a share of the entire market, not just a segment where it might have a chance to dominate. 

Eller thinks that 1366's lower cost, less wasteful process is that 10-times improvement Thiel recommends (though he hadn't yet read Thiel's book when asked about it) and that 1366 is going after a segment of the market where it can achieve dominance.

Only a portion, less than $100 million, of $700 million required to build the 1366 Technologies plant to full capacity is coming from public investment. There is also a $150 million loan guarantee backed by the Department of Energy. When the project was announced at Genesee Community College in October, company CEO Frank van Mierlo indicated he was investing his own money in the project. The company has reportedly raised $70 million in venture capital from investors such as Hanwha Chemical, a major user of silicon wafers, as well as from Ventizz Capital Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. The company has not discussed any other efforts to raise additional capital or the timing of capital needs. They would not need the entire $700 million in the bank to start construction.

Construction is expected to start in May or June.

The first jobs should be filled in the fall or early winter of this year, with hiring continuing through the middle part of 2017 and then more jobs added as production capacity is increased.

Eller will move to here from Bedford to join the ranks of the locally employed, along with as many as five current 1366 managers and executives, though the company will remain headquartered in Bedford. That's also where the company will continue research and development operations.

There was a bit of discussion between Eller, Masse and meeting attendees about workforce development and who will get hired at the new plant. 

Lorna Klotzbach had several objections to the proposal, among them were questions about whether there were really sufficient potential employees in the region. She also shared with some other speakers a concern that STAMP was converting farmland and wildlife refuge into industrial land.

Al Files, who would later get up in a huff and storm out during Hyde's speech, said he thought it made a lot more sense to build where there's already big buildings and infrastructure.

"In my opinion, I think it's stupid," Files said. "We're wasting all of this property when it could be built in Rochester, Buffalo or Batavia."

Eller said 1366 was attracted to STAMP, out of 300 locations considered, for two primary reasons. First is cheap and clean hydroelectric power, and then there is the regional workforce. Eller said the company hired a consultant who studied a number of variables for several possible plant locations and STAMP scored the highest for workforce potential.

Creating local jobs and reversing two generations of economic decline is what STAMP is all about, Hyde said.

"At the end of the day, what drove us to work so hard to attract a company like 1366 to our community and our region is creating jobs for our kids so they can either stay here or come back home," Hyde said. "All the rest of these questions are good and relevant, but if we take a little look at the big picture, we’ve all been losing tax base and these guys are going to start that trend of turning that around. 

"We can’t guarantee that companies are going to be successful, but even with the situation in Batavia, where Muller Quaker was, we built that ag park, two companies came in and spent over $200 million there. The market didn’t work. They entered the market late. They ended up having to shut down and that’s a disappointment, but the beauty is, one of the best dairy companies in the nation is coming in because that ag park is there and they're filling it back up and probably hiring more people than Muller ever would have. The investment model that we’ve used over the last decade is working. It’s creating good jobs for our people and our community. It’s creating tax base.

"I just wanted to paint a little bit of the bigger picture," Hyde added a few sentences later. "We’re absolutely fortunate to have a company like 1366 be willing to come here and start to build that high-tech, entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will mean a lot of jobs for our kids. … I’ll tell you right now if we get a thousand jobs from this company over the next decade, and that turns around to be about four thousand jobs all over this area, you’re going to see an economic boom around here that we haven’t seen in 50 years."

At which point, Files interjected, "This is an agricultural area. This is not a manufacturing area."

Hyde said projects like 1366 will take the pressure off of ag to support the entire local economy, and that the land the plant will use is less than 3 percent of the available acreage in Genesee County, and it's the least productive land in the county.

"We looked at all of that," Hyde said.

But Files was no longer in the room to hear it.

1366hearingjan52016-2.jpg

I couldn't find online the video Eller showed, but in looking for it, I found this interesting video.

January 4, 2016 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

A one-car accident is reported in the area of 2224 Lewiston Road, Alabama.

A person reportedly suffered a back injury.

Alabama Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 11:03 a.m.: Alabama is back in service.

December 29, 2015 - 5:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business, GCEDC.

Here's a portion of a press release from Empire State Development about a series of grants recently approved.

Empire State Development today announced that its Board of Directors recently approved $101.1 million in economic development resources for 23 projects that are spurring growth and opportunity in every region of the state. The funding supports projects that are creating 634 new jobs and retaining 1,531 existing New York State jobs – many of which have already been created or retained. The approved assistance is leveraging more than $822 million in private investment and other public funding to support local businesses and projects that are strengthening local economies today, while building a strong foundation for future economic growth and job creation.

“The funding approved by the Board is supporting regionally significant projects that are fostering growth and creating new opportunities statewide,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “Whether it’s by aiding business expansion and retention, supporting local revitalization projects, or bolstering regional tourism, the funding approved today will boost economic activity from New York City to the Finger Lakes.”

...

Finger Lakes Region 
Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing (Finger Lakes Region - Genesee County) – $5,000,000
The Genesee County Industrial Development Agency, doing business as Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), will use a grant of up to $5,000,000 for the cost of land acquisition,  engineering, and soft costs related to infrastructure development for 1366 Technologies, Inc., the first tenant of the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Alabama, NY. 1366 Technologies is a solar energy company with an innovative approach to manufacturing the silicon wafers that are the building block of solar cells. The company chose the STAMP site out of 300 possible locations due to the site’s positive momentum and commitment to growing manufacturing interests. This project will be completed in August 2016 and aligns with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s plan in that it supports advanced technology and manufacturing and is identified as key to the region in the Industrial Development and Infrastructure category. 

December 24, 2015 - 1:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, Alabama.

(Submitted photos and info from Karen Reamer.)

The dynamic members of Girl Scout Troop 42182, from Oakfield and Alabama, sponsored a Toy Drive for the second year in a row on Saturday, Dec. 19th. The girls are Cadettes and are earning their Silver Award.  

The girls collected donations for gently used and new toys and clothing from the residents of Oakfield and made them available to anyone in need. They also invited Santa Claus and had crafts and cookies for the kids while their parents shopped.

A special thanks to the Oakfield Dollar General for donating new toys.

 
December 18, 2015 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

The drivers of both cars involved in an accident at Route 77 and Judge Road at 5:57 p.m., Thursday, were transported to ECMC with injuries, according to a Sheriff's Office accident report.

Both were conscious and alert at the time of transport, according to the report.

Tarah N. Mruczek, 29, of Ackerson Road, Basom, was westbound on Judge Road and James A. Hitt, 69, of Portage Road, Medina, was northbound on Route 77 when Mruczek allegedly failed to stop at the stop sign. 

Hitt's vehicle was knocked into a utility pole as a result of the collision.

If citations were issued, they are not listed on the report.

(Initial Report)

December 18, 2015 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) authorized a public hearing for 1366 Technologies, Inc., and approved a final resolution for an amendment to an original application for assistance from Manning Squires Hennig Co., Inc., at the agency’s Dec. 17 board meeting.

1366 Technologies, Inc., plans to build its first commercial Direct Wafer™ production plant at the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama.

The project includes the construction of a new 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that will grow to eventually create 1,000 full-time jobs and approximately another 5,000 construction and indirect and induced jobs. The total economic impact is preliminarily estimated to be in the range of $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

1366 Technologies, Inc., is seeking approval for approximately $34.7 million in sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions. The planned capital investment will total approximately $700 million.

“As the largest economic development project in the history of Genesee County, 1366 Technologies will undoubtedly be a game changer in establishing our region as a major high-tech manufacturing hub,” said GCEDC Chairman Paul Battaglia. “This project also will create hundreds of manufacturing jobs and indirect supply chain jobs not to mention hundreds of jobs throughout the construction process.”

The GCEDC board also approved amended incentives for Manning Squires Hennig Co., Inc., a well-known general contractor in Finger Lakes and Western New York regions. The company will expand its corporate offices and maintenance facilities in the Town of Batavia by up to 5,000 square feet, as well as renovate its existing shop and office space.

The project was approved for sales tax, mortgage tax and property tax exemptions totaling $215,529 in incentives. The project’s capital investment is approximately $2.2 million.

“We are pleased to see continued investments being made to improve the facilities of existing companies like Manning Squires Hennig in the Town of Batavia,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO, GCEDC. “We remain committed to help existing businesses in the County expand their operations in our ongoing efforts to enhance the business climate throughout the region.”

In other agency business, the board approved a 2-percent salary increase for all GCEDC staff for 2016, as well as an increase for the GCEDC office manager.

December 17, 2015 - 6:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

An accident has been reported at Judge Road and Route 77, Alabama.

Two vehicles are involved.

It's believed to be minor injuries.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 6:13 p.m.: A landing zone has been set up for Mercy Flight.

December 15, 2015 - 11:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wind farms, Alabama, zoning, business.

UPDATE 8:05 p.m.: This story has been corrected to include the right address of the property to be leased from landowner Sam Scarborough, and to reflect the proper per-foot incentive price for the proposed met tower.

A Houston-based energy company would like to figure out if there's enough wind blowing through Alabama to justify building windmills around farmland, so the company is proposing erecting a temporary, 311-foot meteorological tower.

While the town has zoning code that covers wind towers and communications towers, there's no code covering meteorological, or "met," towers.

The ambiguity has delayed a decision by the town board on whether to grant a variance, through what is known as an Incentive Zoning Application, for the tower.  

An incentive application involves the company paying an annual fee for the ability to vary from the zoning law.

In this case, EDP Renewables North America, operating as Alabama Ledge Wind Farm, LLC, already agreed to pay a $5-per-foot incentive to construct a tower that exceeds the allowable height.

Over five years, that payment comes to about $18,000.

Town officials think the tower, which will be on land leased from a local farmer, Sam Scarborough, on Gorton Road, should be at least 1,000 feet from Gorton Road.

The current proposed location is 668 feet from Gorton Road.

Using a calculation pulled from the communication tower provisions of the law for setback (the distance from the road), the town is proposing an additional incentive fee of $20 per foot.

That would drive up the five-year cost of incentives to nearly $50,000.

Jim Muscato, attorney for EDP, thinks that fee is unreasonable and excessive.

"The purpose of incentives on a project is to look at what incentives are necessary to allow the project to go forward and come up with a reasonable accommodation for the impacts associated with the project," Muscato said. "What we're talking about here is a met tower where the associated impacts are fairly modest."

While Muscato believes the 1,000-foot setback, as opposed to a setback that doubles the height of the tower, or 622 feet, is excessive, he said his company is willing to go along with that setback definition if the incentive fee is reasonable. He would like the board to propose a reasonable incentive fee.

Town Board Member Kevin Fisher suggested that $20 might be reasonable, but he doesn't have an enough information to know at this point. He doesn't know what the market price might be, and he doesn't know how much of an impact the tower might have on town residents. He hasn't heard from constituents enough to know.

"I don’t think it’s fair to us to say, 'You guys should accept it because you don't have met tower regulations or zoning laws,' " Fisher said. "We didn’t have any reason for any of this stuff until you walked in the door."

Ronald Gilbert, planning board chairman, was in the audience and he reminded the board that some years ago, EDP, operating then as Horizon Energy, proposed a wind farm in Alabama, which is how the current zoning code came to be written, and it was Horizon officials who said then no zoning code covering met towers was necessary because a met tower wouldn't be part of the wind farm.

Town Attorney Mark Boylan said the conversation made him a little uncomfortable because the town is looking at establishing a requirement for incentives based on two sections of zoning code that do not deal directly with met towers. That introduces an element of an arbitrary decision.

When he hears the other attorney, he said, using words such as arbitrary and reasonable and unreasonable and he's offering a compromise, then, Boylan, said he's concerned about the potential for litigation if the applicant finds the board's decision unacceptable.

Muscato said he doesn't mean to imply his client is contemplating litigation, but then added, "I think what a court is going to assess is that a $50,000 payment over five years of a permit is either not calculable or reasonable or whether it is considered arbitrary. Even if we can't get past the thousand feet or two times the height, we're willing to talk about a more reasonable calculation that would be reasonable for what an incentive payment for a setback would be."

The town board tabled the zoning incentive application so more research can be done and they can put more thought into the request. It will be taken up again at the January meeting.

Only two residents turned out for the public hearing portion of the meeting, David Bencic and Randy Chalmers.

Bencic delivered a page-and-a-half statement that raised questions and concerns about any future wind farm in the area. Many of his questions were answered in the course of his presentation.

Chalmers' statement was much shorter.

"I'm really kind of against them (wind turbines), if you want to know my opinion," Chalmers said. "That's all I've got to say."

December 11, 2015 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, STAMP, Alabama, Le Roy.

Five projects in Genesee County are receiving more than $2.1 million in state aid, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council announced.

The aid is part of $500 million awarded to the council by the Governor's Office.

From the announcement:

Buildout of major sites in Genesee County, including: $1,500,000 to the Town of Alabama to help build water infrastructure to serve the STAMP site; $920,000 total for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia and the Le Roy Food and Technology Park; $750,000 for the soon-to-be built Genesee Biogas facility at the Batavia Agri-Business Park; and $500,000 to revitalize the Newberry Building in Downtown Batavia.

From the announcement:

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) was named an Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) Best Plan Awardee for its new strategic plan, entitled “United for Success: Finger Lakes Forward.” This means the region will receive $500 million over five years, in addition to economic development funds announced through Round V of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council competition. In total, more than $2 billion in economic development resources was awarded statewide through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and REDC competition.

“We are proud that Governor Cuomo and New York State have singled out the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council as a ‘best plan awardee’ and that we will receive half a billion dollars to move the region forward,” stated Joel Seligman and Danny Wegman, co-chairs of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. “This is recognition that Governor Cuomo believes in the Finger Lakes and is giving our region the attention it deserves. With this infusion of funding in our pockets, we are united for success and ready to move our communities forward.”

The Finger Lakes Region’s URI plan consists of three industry clusters, or pillars, that will act as the core drivers of job and output growth: optics, photonics and imaging; agriculture and food production; and next generation manufacturing and technology. 

December 10, 2015 - 11:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Bethany, Alabama.

A teenage child sex abuser will spend three years in prison following his sentencing in County Court on Tuesday.

Storm U. Lang, 18, entered guilty pleas in July to two counts of sexual abuse, 1st, and a count of sexual abuse, 2nd.

Lang was sexually involved with three different victims on separate occasions when he was 17 years old. He was arrested for subjecting a 7-year-old to sexual contact in the Town of Alabama in October. In November, he also subjected a 12-year-old child to sexual contact in the Town of Alabama and a 5-year-old child to sexual contact in the Town of Bethany.

Lang will be on post-release supervision for 10 years once he's served his three years in state prison.

December 4, 2015 - 5:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, accident.

A person may have suffered a leg injury in a motor-vehicle accident in the area of 215 Bloomingdale Road, Alabama.

The car reportedly struck a tree.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

November 20, 2015 - 6:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, elba, Le Roy, Alabama, West Bergen.

Sarah Wilson, 31, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor following a joint investigation by the Genesee County Department of Social Services and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department. Wilson is charged with one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument, 2nd, one count of offering a false instrument for filing, 1st, both of which are felonies, one count of petit larceny. The investigation started after a Social Welfare Examiner at Genesee County Social Services noticed several inconsistencies in a medical statement Wilson had submitted to the department, which Wilson claimed had been completed by a local doctor. The investigation that followed revealed the medical statement allegedly had not been completed or signed by the doctor. Wilson was arrested by Sheriff's Investigator Joseph Graff and jailed on $1,000 bail. She is scheduled to reappear in Batavia Town Court at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Lee A. Baxter, 31, of Central Avenue, Batavia, is charged with obstructing governmental administration, 2nd, third-degree assault, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Baxter was arrested at 2:40 p.m. on Nov. 19 following a reported on a domestic incident which had allegedly become physical. Batavia police patrols arrived and allegedly observed a physical altercation between "Baxter and another female." Baxter was put in Genesee County Jail on $2,000 bail. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Chad Richards.

Cody A. Bush, 29, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, a Class C felony. It is alleged that he sold a quantity of suboxone, which is a controlled substance, in and around the City of Batavia and the Town of Elba  to an agent of the Genesee County Local Drug Enforcement Task Force. The DA's Office assisted in the investigation. The defendant was already in GC Jail on related charges when he was arrested Monday by Sheriff's deputies and arraigned in City Court on one count and then transferred to Elba Town Court where he was arraigned on the other count. He was taken back to jail.

Patrick Antonio Griffin, 46, of Saint Petersburg, Fla., is charged with: first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation; operation of a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or more, first offense; driving while intoxicated, first offense; unlawful possession of marijuana; operation of a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver; and having non-transparent window tint. Griffin was arrested at 1:09 p.m. on Nov. 14 on Ledge Road in Alabama. He was put in Genesee County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bail. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Corona.

William David Conner, 64, of Harris Road, Le Roy, was arrested at 6:31 p.m. on Nov. 14 on Linwood Road in Le Roy and charged with: driving while ability impaired by alcohol, drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle while on a public highway, failure to dim headlights, and having inadequate tail lamps. He is to reappear in Le Roy Town Court on Dec. 21. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Corona.

Michael William Godden, 38, of Edgemere Drive, Rochester, was arrested Nov. 18 at 11 p.m. after being stopped on Route 490 in West Bergen. He is charged with driving while intoxicated, first offense, refusal to take a breath test, and operating a motor vehicle without an inspection certificate. He was released under supervision of Genesee Justice. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Corona.

A 17-year-old male who resides in Batavia is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd, and fourth-degree criminal mischief. He was arrested Nov. 18 after allegedly breaking a window at his mother's residence and then proceeding to yell at her and call her names, in violation of an order of protection which had been issued on Oct. 29 and was valid until 10/29/16. He was jailed in lieu of $500 bail. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jamie Givens, assisted by Sgt. Dan Coffey.

Frank F. Sposato III, 21, of Irwin Place, Huntington, was arrested today at 1:49 p.m. and charged with speeding and second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation. He was arrested following a traffic stop at 20 W. Main St. in Batavia and put in jail in lieu of $250 bail. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Eric Foels.

Kevin R. Larsen, 38, of Hall Street, Batavia, was arrested on Nov. 16 on a bench warrant, which was issued following an incident that occurred on Nov. 5 on Swan Street. He was put in jail in lieu of $1,000 bail. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer James DeFreze, assisted by Officer Eric Hill.

November 4, 2015 - 5:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

A motorcyclist has reportedly suffered injuries after colliding with a deer in the area of 1424 Judge Road, Alabama.

Alabama fire is on scene and the rider is reportedly alert and conscious with a non-life-threatening injury.

Mercy EMS is also responding.

November 3, 2015 - 3:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, Alabama.

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported on Judge Road, just west of Macomber Road. Alabama Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 3:16 p.m.: Alabama fire is on scene but the location is actually east of Macomber Road, so Oakfield fire is called to respond.

October 29, 2015 - 2:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Alabama.

Live wires are down and sparking next to a structure at 13810 Sky Road on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. Alabama Fire Department is responding.

October 21, 2015 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, Alabama, business.

From Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center:

As we take a collective breath from this month’s exhilarating announcement about 1366 Technologies becoming the first tenant at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama, we can look back as a community and realize what a magnificent accomplishment this is for Genesee County.

Governor Cuomo’s announcement created a buzz unlike anything we have experienced in recent times; and why not – the first tenant at STAMP is the largest economic development project in the County’s history. It triggers the first phase of what we believe will be a transformative economic development game changer for the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions for generations to come.

The public and private sector support throughout the 10 years to bring STAMP from a concept to this first development has been building steadily. This support gained steam and momentum especially over the last 24 months when it became a crescendo after a coalition of local and state government officials, organized labor, regional business and economic development agencies, higher education and others helped secure $33 million in the state budget as part of the Fiscal 2014-2015 budget deliberations last year.

Like any effort of this magnitude, you need a solid foundation of support, or else the effort crumbles. The foundation for STAMP was built at the local level and in particular the annual funding provided to the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) by Genesee County. This foundation was further enhanced and enabled through the longtime support of the Town of Alabama.

Last week the Governor and other state leaders as well as local and regional elected officials, regional economic development partners and others from the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan regions came to Batavia to celebrate this monumental achievement. I wanted to take this opportunity on behalf of the GCEDC Board and staff to thank the Town of Alabama for its steadfast support of our efforts to make STAMP a reality. 

From the town’s representatives in the state legislature, Senator Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Hawley, to Genesee County Legislative Chairman Ray Cianfrini to the members of the town board: Supervisor Dan Mangino, Deputy Supervisor Janet Sage, Council members Bill Cleveland, Pam LaGrou, Kevin Fisher and Planning Board Chair Ron Gilbert – thank you! The work of the town was further enhanced through the participation of town officials Sage, Fisher and Gilbert on their STAMP Committee.

It also should be noted that elected officials represent the interests of the constituents in the communities they represent. In this regard, the town has been extremely forthcoming in sharing information about STAMP to residents. These meetings also have provided town residents a forum to provide their feedback and comments. It is a process that we look forward to continue to work with the town on now and in the future as we move to implement our first project on the STAMP campus.

There is an old saying that local government is where the rubber meets the road. In this instance, local government in the Town of Alabama is where the silicon meets the solar wafer.

October 14, 2015 - 11:03am
posted by Billie Owens in accident, Alabama.

A head-on collision with entrapment is reported at Alleghany and Judge roads. Alabama fire and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 11:46 a.m.: One car failed to yield to another at the intersection, according to law enforcement. There was no entrapment and no injuries are reported. One car has heavy front end damage and the other is slightly damaged. Each vehicle had an older driver and passenger, and they were all sitting inside their vehicles when help arrived, awaiting the tow trucks.

October 8, 2015 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, GCEDC, STAMP, Alabama, business, GCC.

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Frank van Mierlo is clearly a man who believes he has a role to play in changing the world.

The phrase "change the world" did, in fact, pass over the lips of the solar energy entrepreneur once today while he addressed a room full of local and state dignitaries in Stuart Steiner Theater at Genesee Community College. Van Mierlo was there, joined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to unveil ambitious plans for a $700 million investment by his company to build a silicon wafer factory on 105 acres of Genesee County land that could employ 1,000 people as soon as 2017.

Even the name of his company, 1366 Technologies, is a homage to van Mierlo's far-reaching global ambitions. Sunlight falls on the planet at the rate of 1,366 Watts per square meter, hence 1366. The number is significant because at that rate, the sun sends us 130,000 terawatts of energy each year. We only need a fraction of that, 17 TW, to power civilization.

"We need to rapidly deploy solar," van Mierlo said in an interview after the announcement. "We need to grow this industry at 30 percent a year. If we do that and we keep growing at 30 percent a year, by 2030, we will produce enough solar energy to power the planet."

And at a price cheaper than coal.

The solar energy market has been growing by 30 percent a year for 30 years, with rapidly improving technology, and like the power of compound interest, the rate of advancement is seemingly -- seemingly -- accelerating.

The technology that powers 1366 was incubated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and van Mierlo describes it as a game changer. The company's process cuts silicon waste, reduces the expense of production by 50 percent and takes a third less energy to produce a wafer than current manufacturing techniques.

Ely Sachs, a former MIT professor, is a partner in 1366 and the engineer behind the process 1366 uses to create its wafers. Rather than make clumps of silicon that are carved and cut into wafers, as is common in manufacturing solar wafers now, the 1366 process is more like making sheets of glass, poured directly from molten silicon.

The goal of 1366, van Mierlo said, is to make solar more affordable than coal.

"When solar was first introduced in 1970s, the cost was $7 per kilowatt hour," van Mierlo said. "A kilowatt hour, a little bit of a wonky term, but if you take an old-fashioned 100-watt lightbulb, you leave it on for 10 hours, that's a kilowatt hour. At the time, $7 per kilowatt hour, was extremely expensive. Now, 40 years later, unsubsidized, the cost on a good installation, in a sunny area, the cost is down to 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Coal is currently about 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

The word unsubsidized is important. Solar may be one of the most heavily subsidized industries in America right now.

While states, including New York, offer tax credits for consumers and businesses to install solar panels, the federal government offers a 30-percent tax credit, but that's a tax credit set to expire next year and there is opposition in Washington to extending it. There is some concern that the solar industry has already grown "too big to fail" and ending the tax credit will cost more than 100,000 jobs nationally.

The political winds of the issue leave van Mierlo undaunted. Solar is simply an imperative society must pursue if we're going to change the world.

"A 30-percent growth rate only works when it's a team effort, so it's absolutely essential that everybody pitches in," van Mierlo said. "People like us have to pitch in. We have to come with the technology and the innovation. We have to deliver the cost reductions and we absolutely need broad support to keep growing fast enough. In the end, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you believe in it, you support it, the cost will come down and it will bring economic prosperity. If you say it's never going to work and you walk away from it, well, then it will become impossible to make progress and that also becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy."

Cuomo has bet big on solar, backing a $1 billion investment known as NY-Sun and WNY is now poised to become a hub of solar energy production. Earlier this year, Solar City began construction on a 1.2-million-square-foot solar panel factory in Buffalo with the promise of creating 1,400 jobs. A major investor in Solar City is Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who helped launch PayPal and used the fortune that company brought him to launch Space X and Tesla Motors. Officials with Solar City said just a week ago that the panels it will produce in Buffalo will be the world's most efficient, using its own proprietary technology.

Musk is well known in tech circles for dreaming of saving the world through technology. Like Musk, van Mierlo is leveraging prior business success to help fund his own plant-saving ambitions. Prior to cofounding 1366, he owned a robotics company, again based on technology developed at MIT, that he eventually sold.

"It's true that I have some economic freedom, and working on something that matters, that's just a fun thing to do," van Mierlo said. "Given a choice, you outta do something that is worthwhile. Energy is an interesting problem and one that needs solving and I think we're going to play a big part in the solution."

The new 1366 plant will take up only about 8 percent of the 12,500-acre WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park -- STAMP -- in Alabama, a project Genesee County Economic Development Center CEO Steve Hyde has been working on for more than a decade. Nearly every speaker today, including Cuomo, Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky, Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle praised Hyde's vision and tenacity in creating and sticking with STAMP, even as doubters and naysayers predicted it would never work.

"This is a game changer," Cuomo said. "A hundred-and-thirty-thousand-square-foot building. At the end of the day, as many as 1,000 jobs. Quality jobs. High-tech jobs. Well paying jobs feeding off an educated workforce being nurtured by some of the great educational institutions in this state. That is the future.

"And the way it happened is the way it should happen," he added. "The IDA worked with the county. The county worked with the region. Two regions collaborated. Western New York and the Finger Lakes, not competing, but actually collaborating and getting a world-class entrepreneur with a phenomenal product that not only can create jobs and make money but can also make this world a better world."

Van Mierlo said when the 1366 plant is fully operational, it will churn out enough wafers each year to generate three gigawatts of power. A nuclear power plant, by comparison, might generate a single gigawatt of power each year.

Increased production and distribution will help bring the cost of solar energy down, which is what van Mierlo said he is really after.

"When solar is 2 cents a kilowatt hour, we can pay for installations that are less than ideal, can pay for energy storage and you will end up with a clean solution that is actually affordable," van Mierlo said. "I'm a firm believer that it's actually possible here to have a solution that helps the economy, but it's not going to come easy.

"The important thing now: Manage the energy supply so that it doesn't threaten life on the planet and that we end up with a solution that doesn't compromise our economy either. We absolutely need investment. We need support. But we also need to bring the cost down so it helps the economy and not just a continuous investment plan."

With the first project scheduled to break ground in the spring, the state will now release some $33 million in grant money pledged to create the infrastructure -- roads, sewers, utilities -- necessary for STAMP to attract manufacturing businesses. While 1366 will benefit indirectly from this investment, the direct subsidies 1366 will receive are those frequently approved by the GCEDC board, from a reduction in taxes on the increased assessment of the property (and the increased assessment will be substantial in this case), to mortgage tax relief to sales tax abatement on materials. The total package will be worth $97 million over 10 years.

Those incentives certainly played a role in 1366's decision to come to Genesee County, van Mierlo said, but he was also attracted by the workforce the area's universities can provide, the central location between Rochester and Buffalo and, most importantly, the inexpensive, clean energy provided by Niagara Falls.

"Hydropower is a real attraction and will be one that is a real advantage to us," van Mierlo said. "It cuts the cost of making the wafer by a factor of three and it's clean. The use of hydropower means there is no C02 at all. Steve Hyde calls it 'clean to green,' and that's a phrase that has really come to life."

Now that 1366 is coming to STAMP and boosters have a real project to talk about with site selectors and potential tenants, it's going to get easier to attract the next business into the park, both Hyde and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise said.

Those who make decisions about where to construct high-tech facilities are going to become believers in STAMP now, Peterson said.

"People are going to say, 'wow, holy cow, this is real,' " Peterson said. "This a mega site, 1,250 acres. You don't have very many of those with power and water to them in the world, so we're on the world stage right now and this is only going to make us more competitive. Genesee County is right in the middle of Buffalo and Rochester. This is going to be the place to be."

Peterson said computer models run by GRE indicate the 1366 plant, with an economic multiplier effect, will generate more than $4.3 billion in spending regionally over the next five years.

Like the governor, Hyde called the 1366 announcement a "game changer."

"This is a new day," Hyde said. "We have technology companies to the left in Buffalo, to the right in Rochester, and now they're right here right now. Where else would you rather be today? We have opportunities through investments and technology and terrific companies like 1366 Technologies that are going to be here for years and create thousands of high-paying jobs for our kids."

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Steve Hyde flanked by Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Gensee County Legislature, and Mark Peterson, CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise.

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Members of Genesee County SCOPE were set up on East Saile Drive, across the road from the County Airport, prior to the governor's arrival in Batavia, to protest the SAFE Act. There were also picketers on Bank Street Road, on R. Stephen Hawley Drive and just outside the GCC entrance.

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