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August 18, 2017 - 1:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county libertarian party, batavia, news.

Press release:

Today, Aug. 18, Batavia City Council Libertarian Candidates Lisa Whitehead, Mark Potwora and James Rosenbeck submitted ballot petitions totaling 378 signatures. That is more than double the requirement set by the Board of Elections. A total of 378 Batavians say "Change the Direction in This Election."

Thank You to those who signed, without your support this would not have been possible. Lisa, Mark and Jim will continue to visit with Batavians to hear your concerns and work with you to shape a financially responsible direction for the City of Batavia. Please learn more at www.facebook.com/Liberty4Batavia.

August 18, 2017 - 9:42am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, batavia, news.

City fire is responding to the County Courts Facility, at 1 W. Main St., which is evacuated, because a smoke alarm went off.

August 18, 2017 - 9:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

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A fire with flames showing is reported at 3 McKinley Ave., Batavia.

The fire is reportedly in the bathroom.

City fire responding.

UPDATE 9:24 p.m.: Fourth Platoon requested to headquarters.

UPDATE 9:34 a.m.: Command reports "the situation is under control; beginning overhaul."

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: City fire's response time was under two minutes and Chief Steve Napolitano said the city crew's fast, aggressive action saved the house. “The guys put a good knock on the fire and confined it to the room of origin," he said. A grandfather and two grandchildren were home at the time the fire was discovered. They safely evacuated before fire crews arrived. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

UPDATE: Photos by Frank Capuano.

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August 18, 2017 - 7:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, batavia.

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About 50 kids took part in the 2017 Batavia Jr. Blue Devils Summer Basketball Camp this week at John Kennedy School. The young players came to the camp from throughout the county.

Photo submitted by James Fazio.

August 18, 2017 - 12:35am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, muckdogs, baseball, batavia.
Thursday’s game between the Batavia Muckdogs and Mahoning Valley Scrappers was postponed due rain and unsafe field conditions. The game will be made up as part of a double-header on Monday, Aug. 28th.
 
The Muckdogs will play two seven-inning games, with the first game starting at 5:05 p.m. Gates will open at 4 p.m. Any person with tickets to the Aug.17 game can exchange their tickets for any other regular season game, subject to availability.
August 17, 2017 - 5:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

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A residence at 404 S. Jackson St., Batavia, that was destroyed in a fire March 8 is finally coming down.

A demolition crew started its work this afternoon.

One worker said there have been people coming by today and applauding their work.

The bank that took possession of the property is paying for the demolition.

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UPDATE: Photo by Steve Ognibene:

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August 17, 2017 - 1:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, Announcements, art, ILGR, disabled.

Press release:

The second ARTiculations Ability Exhibition -- a forum for artists with disabilities in Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties to display their work publicly -- will open at Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) in Batavia on Sept. 5th.

Titled “Faces and Places,” it features the work of two artists: Gary Appis, whose paintings depict rural landscapes and farm scenes; and Timothy Logston, whose detailed graphite portraits feature celebrities as well as the artist’s family members.

A product of a partnership between ILGR and the University Heights Arts Association (UHAA), the Exhibit will be on display through Dec. 3rd.

The opening reception is on Friday, Sept. 8th from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at ILGR’s office, 113 Main St., Suite 5, in Batavia.

Other artists with disabilities residing in the Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County areas are encouraged to submit their work to this juried competition, as there will be additional ARTiculations planned quarterly exhibits in the future.

For more than a year, ILGR has been “art partnering” for people with disabilities with the UHAA, a group of artists in North Buffalo with a commitment to community that places art in businesses and nonprofits through an established ARTpartnering program.

The organizers are pleased to note that the ARTiculations Ability Exhibitions has “mapped” into UHAA’s system by placing a plaque with a Quick Response (QR) code scatter bar graph that can bring up information about it when scanned by your smart phone.

For questions on the event, please call Emily Dale at (585) 815-8501, ext. 400.

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) is a member of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. family of agencies that offers an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

August 17, 2017 - 10:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

A potential plea deal for a man accused of taking a woman's mobile phone and punching a beagle was put on hold in County Court this morning after his attorney expressed reservations about his client's ability to comprehend the court proceedings.

Attorney Micheal Locicero said that based on a recent mental health evaluation and his own conversation with his client this morning, he's concerned that Shawn M. Twardowski is confused by the proposed plea deal.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl objected to a request for a detailed mental health examination.

"There didn't appear to be an issue when the defendant was seeking a judicial diversion," Zickl said. 

After a sidebar with the two attorneys, County Court Judge Charles Zambito said he would like more information from the counselors at the Mental Health Association who examined Twardowski.

Zambito did not grant what's known as a 730 exam, which is a mental health exam aimed at determining a defendant's mental fitness to proceed with a legal case. 

"I want more information, more specifics," Zambito said.

Twardowski, 34, was arrested Jan. 26 following an incident on Bank Street where Twardowski allegedly strangled and punched a beagle and stole a woman's mobile phone, then when police arrived, barricaded himself in a bedroom. He allegedly struggled with officers once they gained access to the room.

A follow-up hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Sept. 1.

August 16, 2017 - 5:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

A car and motorcycle accident is reported in the area of 668 East Main Street, Batavia.

The motorcyclist reportedly suffered an ankle injury.

The location is east of Cedar Street.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

August 16, 2017 - 1:21pm

Press release:

Tompkins Insurance Agencies and The Selective Insurance Group Foundation joined forces to support the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.

The Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation was established in 2007 in memory of Michael C. Napoleone, the 8-year-old son of Mark and Laurie Napoleone from Batavia, who died from Burkitts Lymphoma/Leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer.

During Michael's illness, the community rallied around the family to assist with food, gas, medical bills and other necessities. The not-for-profit foundation was created to give back to those who cared, to give forward to those in need, and to support research efforts in finding a cure for childhood cancer.

“The Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation is a special organization, and its commitment to supporting those in need in our community is inspiring,” said David S. Boyce, president and CEO, Tompkins Insurance Agencies. “We are privileged to show our support through this donation.” 

The $300 donation from Tompkins Insurance Agencies was matched by a $300 grant from The Selective Insurance Group Foundation. The Selective Insurance Group Foundation is a philanthropic affiliate of Selective Insurance Group, Inc.

“At Selective, Response is everything®… and this includes responding to the communities where we live and work to give back and help those in need. Together with Tompkins Insurance Agencies, we are proud to support the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation and its efforts to make a difference in the community,” said Chuck Musilli, senior vice president, Distribution Strategies, Selective.

August 16, 2017 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, batavia, baseball, sports.

Press release:

Due to a tremendous response from the community, the Muckdogs 2017 Youth Baseball Clinic to be held on Aug. 30th is completely filled up and registration is now closed. We will accept any mailed registration forms postmarked on or before Aug. 16th.

For those who did not sign up in time, please keep an eye out for the Muckdogs’ Youth Clinic in 2018.

August 16, 2017 - 11:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

A Niagara Falls man who walked into the Key Bank branch in Batavia in December wearing a Batman beanie and walked out with more than $10,000 in cash entered a guilty plea to robbery in the third degree yesterday.

Joel Zsebehazy, 33, an Iraq War vet who has a prior criminal record that includes bank robbery, will be sentenced Sept. 18.

Zsebehazy was arrested in April near Belle Rose, La., after being identified as Batavia's warrant suspect by authorities there.

August 15, 2017 - 3:00pm


Donald R. Carroll lived  by the mottto "Pay it Forward." During his lifetime, he raised thousands of dollars for children in need.

The quiet, shy orphan who grew up in Oakfield became a true guardian angel of the less fortunate in Genesee County. Despite preferring to achieve results rather than garner recognition, Donald received numerous awards and certificates for his humanitarian efforts.

The lives of hundreds of young people have been enriched because of the efforts and generosity of Donald R Carroll.

For this reason, Don's legacy lives on through the Donald R. Carroll Memorial 5K Run/Walk, which helps to raise money for his long-standing Toys for Kids toy drive, which helps families in need in our community during the holidays. 
 
Brian and Beth Kemp have continued the 5K and Toys for Kids Toy Drive for Don. Brian Kemp knows firsthand the impact of caring people like Don.

"Don helped me when I was young and I was able to go to summer camp and enjoy some things I would have never had an opportunity to otherwise," Kemp says.

Because of that and the need to continue to help those in need in our community, the Kemps continue where Don left off.

The Don Carroll 5K Memorial Run/Walk starts at 9 a.m. this Saturday, Aug. 19th, at Kibbe Park (105 Kibbe Ave., Batavia).

Runners and walkers are encouraged to come out and take part in this great event. All proceeds from the race go directly toward the Toys for Kids toy drive.

Last year's race was able to raise enough money to help more than 50 children in need in Genesee County.

The Kemps are hopeful this year's race will be another success.

"We have a lot of families living at the poverty level or below in our community," Beth Kemp said. "If we are able to provide a little light in someone's life, especially during the holiday season, then that's what we want to do.

"Don would've given someone his last few dollars, and he didn't have much. I hope to be half the human being he was."

Runners and walkers can pre-register online at DonCarrollRace.com or register the morning of event. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. Race starts promptly at 9. A $100 prize is awarded to the top male and female finisher, and additional prizes for the top three in all age categories.

August 15, 2017 - 2:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, batavia, news.

With a grant from the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services, Batavia PD will be able to outfit all officers with body cameras, Chief Shawn Heubusch told the City Council on Monday night.

In all, the $10,000 grant combined with funds already appropriated in the city budget will mean the department has a total of 32 body cameras.

"They're absolutely valuable," Heubusch said after the meeting. "I wouldn't be asking for 32 of them if I didn't think they were valuable. As far as from a prosecutorial standpoint, it collects evidence and firsthand accounts when this story is unfolding. So from that perspective, it helps in the prosecution aspect of a crime. When you're dealing with a victim or a suspect you have that person on film saying what they said, acting the way that they were acting at that point in time, and that could be introduced into evidence or it can be used to get a plea deal."

Twice the cameras have helped clear up accusations against officers by suspects, Heubusch said, so they've proven valuable in that respect as well.

"I think we see a lot more positive reaction (from officers) because they were very suspicious at first," Heubusch said. "They wanted to know, 'what are we getting ourselves into?' But the first time that they're dealing with the drunk alongside the road and they're able to go back and review that footage and see this is exactly what this person said, this is exactly how the person acted, and then present that in court, they see it's been very beneficial, or in the instance where somebody comes forward with a false claim against them."

Officers are supposed to activate the camera anytime they are responding to a "hot" call, Heubusch said. The camera should be on anytime there is an enforcement action.

Of course, Heubusch said, officers are human and in an active situation, turning on a body camera is not always the first thing that comes to mind.

"That's the first thing you forget to do is turn that on," Heubusch said. "In most cases that is the first thing you want to see, you want to see that turned on. So we understand there's a human element as well. So you know there is enough room within the policy to give the officers some individual leeway."

Officers also have the discretion to turn the camera off in situations where privacy is paramount, such as cases involving juveniles, especially as victims, confidential informants, or sensitive domestic calls, depending on the circumstances.

August 15, 2017 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in comprehensive plan, batavia, planning, news.

Nearly two years in the making, a draft of a new comprehensive plan for Batavia has been presented to the City Council and soon it will be up to council members to decide what kind of future they want for the city.

One that maintains the status quo or one that aims to improve the quality of life for residents and attract new businesses.

"I think you’ll find that, yes, some communities are losing population," City Manager Jason Molino said after the draft plan was presented to the council. "They're not growing at great rates, but I think you’ll see that the communities that are well planned, and have good comprehensive plans that are practical, you’re going to see those communities are growing. They’re growing exponentially. They’re growing a lot faster than those who don’t (have comprehensive plans). I would argue that good planning leads to smart choices and that leads to positive outcomes.

"If we want to be mediocre forever then maybe we don’t do the comprehensive plan," Molino added. "If we want to achieve more, we take a community-based approach to it and you make smart choices in the future to trigger growth in the future."

Consultant Rob Holzman made the initial presentation of the plan. He reviewed the history of the process, which began in October 2015 and included the formation of a steering committee, interviews, focus groups, surveys and two community open houses where community members were invited in to share their vision for the future of the City of Batavia.

"This plan sets up a strong foundation for moving forward and understand what some of the basic investments are that are necessary to attract a younger population as well as a senior population," Holzman said.

Among the findings of the research that underlies the plan is that Batavia is seeing a decline in home ownership and a startling rise in rental occupancy.

"These are two characteristics that are worth noting because they’re really a driving impetus behind why you want this comprehensive planning process," Holzman said. "It's to figure out what’s going on and how some of these trends might be reversed."

The city is also overstocked in industrially zoned property. Industrial is the second highest acreage in the city of 14 types of zoning in Batavia, at 682 acres but only 169 acres are actually being used for industrial activity.

The plan suggests, Holzman said, that the city can direct more industrial uses in the area of the Harvester Center and the Pearl Street industrial park, both with significant vacancies, and rezone an area such as the east end of East Main Street.

The 70 to 90 properties in that area, with the exception of a cement company, are all commercial and residential, Holzman noted.

"It is a key gateway coming into the city," Holzman said. "It sets a tone for what to expect and having industrially zoned properties there might not be the best use of that transportation corridor."

Among the other suggestions for the Batavia of the future is the development of a complete street policy, which would include bike paths, bike racks at public facilities, signs providing distance and direction for destinations (wayfinding signage), and bus shelters that are attractive and may contain public art.

"Bus shelters might sound like a basic thing, and it is a basic thing, but it’s a necessary component to add to the vitality of a place," Holzman said.

The plan also suggests developing a tree management plan, a plan for parks and recreation, a plan to celebrate the city's history and its public spaces.

The plan also calls for changing the city's zoning code from the more highly regulated current form to what's known as "form-based" code, which more loosely defines appropriate uses for sections of the city.

When it came time for the council and the public to weigh in, there were some objections.

Councilwoman Kathy Briggs (later joined by community member John Roach) suggested that any suggestion that the east end of East Main Street be rezoned be removed from the plan. He insisted that the council already voted 6-3 against changing the zoning, therefore, it shouldn't be brought up again.

Molino explained that at this stage, the comprehensive plan is a roadmap. Implementation of actual zoning changes would come up later. Further, he noted, the council's previous vote was just on two parcels in the 70- to 90-acre area under consideration.  

Roach suggested the proposal was just a backdoor way to bring in the tax-exempt, subsidized housing for disabled people proposed by DePaul earlier this year.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski objected to the idea of form-based code because, based on his research, he said, back before current zoning was created, something like form-based zoning was used and it only benefitted the well-heeled and politically connected.

Holzman tried to explain that form based means something entirely different today and that what the comprehensive plan proposes is really a mix of formed based structure and traditional zoning.

Councilman Adam Tabelski said he was concerned (a concern shared by other speakers) that the Tonawanda Creek is barely mentioned in the plan, even though it represents a potential resource for the city.

Molino said specific proposals for what might happen along the creek would fit into the city's strategic planning process, which he also spoke about and how it might change with a new comprehensive plan.

He provided the council with a document that he said would help officials and staff better prioritize projects, especially when new ideas come along.

"One thing when we began to develop this process, we realized that as new opportunities come along there has to be a very disciplined process to evaluate those," Molino said. "We have to decide whether it not happen, be put off, changed, or if more resources have to be put on the table to deal with them."

August 15, 2017 - 9:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

A trooper has been dispatched to the Thruway overpass on Route 98, Batavia, for two subjects who "lost their boat" and are now trying to recover it.

It's stuck in the guardrail.

The incident is hindering traffic.

August 15, 2017 - 7:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, batavia, news.

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Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins was recognized at the City Council meeting Monday night for his quick action the night of July 18 to render first aid to a stabbing victim on East Main Street.

Perkins found a victim with multiple stab wounds who was bleeding uncontrollably. Perkins applied a tourniquet to the victim's arm in an effort to stop the bleeding until EMS personnel arrived. 

For this life-saving effort, Perkins was recognized with a resolution of the City Council, a Batavia PD Life-Saver Award and an award from the University of Rochester Kessler Trauma Center.

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