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May 3, 2013 - 5:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire.

City firefighters are responding to a reported barbeque grill on fire in the back yard at 52 Ellicott Ave.

UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: The problem was a wire that shorted out on a gas grill. Fire is out. City fire is back in quarters.

May 3, 2013 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, cars.

There never was a Bushville Fire Department, so there was certainly never a Bushville Fire Chief, but this Ford Fairlane 500 sure looks like the real deal.

Jay Nichols, owner of two used car dealerships in Batavia -- on Route 5 near Wortendyke and next to Jerry Arena's on Lewiston Road -- acquired this car about three weeks ago from a friend.

It's for sale, but Nichols doesn't really want to sell it, so, he said, the price would have to be right.

There's an old Motorola radio on the dash and the dome light works.

"It's a period car, a parade car, a show car," Nichols said. "It's a cruise-the-town-at-night car."

May 3, 2013 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Robert Morris School.

Press release:

Imagination Station Child Care & Preschool will be opening its third location in Batavia on June 3. The newest center will be located at the Robert Morris Elementary School, in the heart of Batavia. The center is centrally located and easy to access from Main Street or Route 98 (Oak Street).    

This family owned and operated child care center opened in Alden, where owners Erik and Kelly Kronbeck reside and are a part of the community. Since opening the Alden location in January, 2011, they have opened a second location in Le Roy, and are excited to be adding a third location to service the needs within the surrounding communities.  

Imagination Station contributes its success to their high standards.

Owner and operator Kelly Kronbeck said “Our program encompasses everything that we wanted as parents, a safe and nurturing environment, one that’s high quality and is professionally run. Of course the teacher in me also wanted one that was academically based and stimulating for our children.” 

Prior to opening her first center, Kelly Kronbeck worked for one of the leading child care centers in Buffalo and taught second grade in Glens Falls, which is where her passion for teaching and importance of early childhood education blossomed.                   

Imagination Station provides care for families with children 6 weeks to 12-years-old. Full-time, part-time, and flexible schedules are welcomed, along with public assistance. 

Imagination Station is offering its new families the first week free when they enroll for the Batavia center prior to June 3rd! Tours are offered daily during operating hours and in the evenings by appointment at one of their other locations. Visit for more information or call 585-768-8025 to set up a tour today!

May 3, 2013 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, City Schools.

The Batavia City School District is doing everything it can to hold down costs, but federal and state mandates make that more difficult every year, Superintendent Chris Dailey told members of the Batavia Kiwanis Club during their weekly lunch Thursday at Genesee ARC's Community Center.

Besides the long-standing mandates out of Albany, the new national education initiative called Common Core is adding new expenses for the district, Dailey said.

Even so, the district spends $18,207 per pupil annually compared to $20,410 per pupil on a statewide average.

"We're trying everything we can to keep it as lean as possible and keep it as far away from the students as possible," Dailey said.

Over the past three years, the district has cut 26 teacher positions, three administrative positions, three custodial positions and 10 clerical/teacher aide positions.

Voters in the district will be asked to approve a new budget May 21 that increases the district's share of the property tax levy by 2 percent.

Under terms of the state's property tax cap law, the district could have taken the levy up 5.5 percent.

The district is proposing $41,981,241 in spending, which is an increase over last year of 4.7 percent.

A homeowner with an $80,000 piece of property would be asked to pay $36.87 more in taxes annually under the proposed budget plan.

Non-mandated spending that is protected with the proposed budget is kindergarten (the state does not mandate kindergarten and in fact some school districts are eliminating the program), art classes, music in K-5, school plays, athletics, extracurricular clubs and advanced placement courses.

The district also does not see the need right now to increase class sizes.

Last year's school consolidation helped the district save money and keep the tax increase to a minimum, Dailey said.

There are school districts nearby that aren't faring as well, Daily said, and City Schools officials anticipate that in two or three years, some of those districts will become insolvent and the Batavia district will be asked to take on those students, which is part of the reason the district has maintained ownership of the Robert Morris property. The district may need the classroom space if required to absorb students from another district.

As part of the ballot later this month, the district is asking voters to approve a $3.8 million capital investment project that makes ADA-compliant upgrades to Van Detta Stadium and undertakes a number of maintenance and upgrade projects at the high school, Jackson School, John Kennedy School and Robert Morris.

There is also $1.5 million set aside for restoration work at the Richmond Memorial Library, including a new roof.

"We've done everything possible to try and save that roof," Dailey said "There's bubble gum up there holding it together if you really want look. We really need to replace that roof. The library is a gem for the community and it needs to be taken care of and it needs to be done the right way."

Last year, voters shot down a capital investment project that included upgrades to Van Detta that some found excessive.

This time around, the district is merely seeking to improve the handicapped accessibility of the stands and bathrooms.

The district is also looking to fund upgrades at the girls softball field, where conditions recently prompted a lawsuit by a pair of district parents.

Polls will be open May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at John Kennedy School, 166 Vine St., Batavia, and Batavia High School, 260 State St., Batavia.

A public presentation on the budget will be made by Dailey at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, in the high school's library.

May 3, 2013 - 2:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Local investigators are hopeful that the man responsible for two smash-and-grab burglaries at convenience stores the night of April 25 is in custody.

James Trala, 26, of Buffalo, has not been charged locally yet, but Investigator Kris Kautz, Sheriff's Office, and Detective Pat Corona, Batavia PD, think Trala might be their man.

Trala was arrested by Amherst PD for alleged drunken driving. He was stopped at 1:30 a.m., only a short time after a glass break alarm was set off at a convenience store in Amherst.

Officers recognized the description of Trala's vehicle and put the pieces together that he might be connected to their own smash-and-grab burglary.

Trala has been charged in Erie County with felony DWI, burglary, 3rd, grand larceny, 4th, criminal mischief, 3rd, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, as well as a host of misdemeanors and citations.

Kautz and Corona are still putting their cases together for possible charges in Genesee County, but they suspect he is the person who broke through glass doors at the West Main Mini-Mart, 3845 W. Main Street Road, and at Raceway Mini-Mart, 629 E. Main St., Batavia.

The perpetrator fled off with a cash register and cartons of cigarettes.

Trala has prior arrests in Batavia and is thought to be familiar with the area.

May 3, 2013 - 2:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Announcements, business, UMMC.

Press release:

United Memorial Medical Center held a dinner on May 2, 2013 at Bohn’s restaurant to recognize volunteer service within the organization. Their gifts of time were spent filing records in Human Resources, assisting visitors, comforting family members waiting for a loved one in surgery, stuffing envelopes in the Foundation, helping patients on Hope Haven, serving coffee at the refreshment kiosks at the Hospital and at the Jerome Center, and helping someone choose just the right item in the gift shop.

Their dedication and compassion assists United Memorial in caring for patients and visitors every day. Volunteers are part of our team and part of our UMMC family. We depend on them and turn to them when we need a helping hand with a daily task or need their input on a large project.

Each year, United Memorial and our auxiliaries, the UMMC League and St. Jerome Guild, Inc. honor volunteers who have reached milestones in the cumulative number of hours they have volunteered. This year Guild members Priscilla Dirisio, Jean Havens and Rosemarie Monachino received pins commemorating 100 hours of service. Debbie Pellegrino, Marge Rimmer, Judy Thrasher, and Fran Wigton were honored for 1,000 hours; Betty Luperino received her 2,000 hour pin; and Mary Grace Demarse was honored for 3,000 hours.

Dorothy Baker, the 2011 Genesee County Health and Humanitarian honoree, received her 20,000 hour pin; the equivalent of more than 10 years of full time employment. Dorothy volunteers at the Jerome Center Gift Shop and Refreshment Kiosk and organizes the annual poinsettia and spring flower sales.

League members who were honored include Kathy Hoerbelt and Norma Meyers for 300 hours; Lil Irrera and Carol Smith for 500 hours; Anne Barone and Tim Weatherbee received pins for 700 hours; Doris Lindebauer reached the 1,000 hour milestone; Kay Benton the 1,500 hour; and Linda Pembroke, 3,500.

Augustine Fleming, has volunteered at United Memorial’s Hope Haven unit for over 7,000 hours. Her dedicated volunteer hours to patients recovering from addiction would equal nearly four years of full time employment.

Last year, 79 individuals volunteered 14,689 hours to United Memorial; over 20 months of time compressed into one year.   United Memorial measures the time they have donated since their true gifts of compassion, empathy and care they each bring to the lives of our patients, visitors and colleagues is immeasurable.

May 3, 2013 - 2:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

Longtime local restaurant owner Mike Bohn, 70, died Wednesday following a brief illness.

Bohn operated Bohn's on Clinton Street since 1985.

Calling hours will be Sunday from 2 until 7 p.m. at Bohm, Smith Calarco Funeral Home in Batavia. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church.

May 3, 2013 - 2:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Francis Smith, whom Judge Robert C. Noonan characterized a "one-man crime spree in our community," is going to prison for a decade.

Smith, 19, was caught in the act of burglarizing a home on Washington Avenue in the city on New Year's Day. He immediately became a suspect in a series of other burglaries in the South Main Street area and eventually entered a guilty plea to two counts of attempted burglary, 2nd.

He was facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. Noonan gave Smith two consecutuve five-year terms.

May 3, 2013 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

As it turned out, the only thing in the box was perfume being returned to QVC, but being left out in the open as it was, local law enforcement didn't want to take any chances.

The box was placed under a mailbox behind M&T Bank and City Slicker's in the Court Street Plaza.

The suspicious package was reported to Batavia PD at 8:30 a.m.

The State Police Bomb Squad was called and a robot was deployed to cut the box open and take a look inside.

The area was cordoned off for more than an hour during the operation.

"In this day and age you can never be too careful of anything that looks out of the ordinary," Officer Eric Hill said. "Most people would return those to the post office if it didn't fit in the mailbox, so that's why we were initially suspicious of the package."

May 3, 2013 - 9:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Batavia PD is on scene behind City Slicker's investigating a suspicious package.

Photo provided by a reader.

May 2, 2013 - 6:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Batavia Towne Center, COR Development.

All five members of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board present for today's meeting voted yes on $1.8 million in tax breaks for COR Development to help the Syracuse-based company bring national retailers, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, to Batavia.

Legislator Shelly Stein, who sits on the GCEDC board, praised COR for all it's done for local schools and the community by generating new tax revenue.

While she said she agrees with much of what speakers said at Tuesday's public hearing on the proposed abatements, particularly about the current state of affairs in New York, she considered the proposed development a "great win for the county, the town and the city." 

New York's high tax rates, she said, makes such incentives necessary.

"I thank you for bringing this project forward," she said to COR VP Joseph B. Gerardi. "That 18 million of investment, and not asking for that PILOT to restart at zero and start at 40 percent, makes a lot of sense for us."

Board Member Jim Vincent said that clearly the public doesn't understand what GCEDC does.

"The public comments signify that we've still got a way to go to convince the populace of Genesee County about what we do and why we do it," Vincent said. "I appreciate projects like this coming forward because in my opinion just the sales-tax factor alone adds an annuity to reduce the tax burden on every business, farm and family that resides in Genesee County."

No other board members spoke.

After the vote, GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde thanked the board for approving the project.

"Just to remind everybody that inside the resolution, the predominate finding was that this was a unique facility project to meet the retail restrictions under the law," Hyde said. "This is the only 36-acre major shopping center inside this entire county. As the law states, this is the opportunity to bring more, varied shopping offerings and services to the community and without this particular project, as the law states, the availability of these broader services and offerings would not be readily accessible to the residents of the community.

"Hence, that was really the underlying basis of the retail restriction and the request for the board to consider, because at the end of the day, we're trying to attract large-scale, tech-driven manufacturing here. ... The last thing you want to do is have a large, empty building while we're showing our community."

John L. Rizzo and Mary Ann E. Wiater were not present at today's meeting.

Voting yes were Stein, Vincent, Charlie Cook, Wolcott T. Hinchey and John F. Andrews.

COR estimates that the four possible tenants -- which COR has previously confirmed includes Dick's Sporting Goods -- will generate more than $16 million in annual gross sales and the four tenants will likely invest $11 million to get their stores open.

After the meeting, walking down the hall, we tried to ask Gerardi why $1.7 million in tax breaks are necessary when the revenue estimates and total capital investment indicates there is market demand for the project. He said questions needed to be directed tomorrow to the company's CEO, Steve Aiello, and made a sharp left turn into the men's room.

Aiello has not previously returned calls nor answered e-mails from The Batavian.

May 2, 2013 - 8:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

No citations were issued to either the driver or pedestrian involved in an accident Monday morning at Main and Oak streets.

Batavia PD investigators determined neither people were at fault because a third vehicle blocked the views of both the driver and the pedestrian.

Amber M. Richmond, of 20 Washington Ave., Batavia, suffered a broken leg in the accident.

The driver is identified as Mallory P. Frew, of 322 E. Main St., Attica.

The State Police assisted in the investigation.

Investigating officers were Chad Richards, Sgt. Eric Bolles, Thad Mart, Arick Perkins and Eric Hill.

May 2, 2013 - 7:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Daniel T. Gannon, 52, of 215 Liberty St., Batavia, and Deborah A. Monte, 48, of 210 Liberty St., Batavia, are both charged with disorderly conduct. Batavia PD responded to a report of two people fighting on Liberty Street at 11:30 p.m., Wednesday. After officers arrived, Gannon and Monte allegedly continued to threaten each other.

Terrell D. Bloom, 22, of West State Street, Albion, is charged with petit larceny. Bloom was arrested on a Town of Batavia warrant by Albion PD and handed over to the Sheriff's Office. He was arraigned and jailed on $500 bail.

Dakota M. Smith-Neal, 21, of 20 S. Main St., Batavia, is charged with arson, 5th. During an alleged domestic incident, Smith-Neal allegedly tore pages from a personal journal belonging to his girlfriend and set them on fire while in front of the residence. Smith-Neal was jailed on $1,000 bail.

May 1, 2013 - 4:06pm

Roger Parkhurst provided Rep. Chris Collins with a tour of the Alpina Foods plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park today.

Parkhurst, left, gave Collins, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, an overview of Alpina's history, the Greek yogurt market in the United States and the process Alpina uses to make yogurt locally.

The plant started production in October and Parkhurst said the operation has already grown to what it projected for its second year of business. There are 55 permanent employees with Alpina locally, and to help meet production demands, the plant uses up to 100 temporary employees at times.

There are already plans on the drawing board to expand the plant.

May 1, 2013 - 3:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Goodwill Industries.

Goodwill Industries opened its first thrift store in Genesee County this morning, and the store was immediately a big hit with long lines of bargain hunters at the cash registers.

The location is 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, in the Valu Plaza.

"We hope to further our mission in the Genesee County community by adding more variety to the retail landscape," said Lisa Churakos (pictured), director of donated goods/retail. "Goodwill has quality, affordable selections for every shopper."

The store is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

The new store also serves as a donation center.

May 1, 2013 - 1:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Batavia Towne Center.

Syracuse-based COR Development is planning four retail spaces for the south end of Batavia Towne Center, VP Joseph B. Gerardi said at a public hearing Tuesday night, and to fill those spaces, COR needs more than $1 million in tax abatements.

Filling those spaces is "better for all the tenants in the center," Gerardi said.

"It would provide a diverse shopping experience so tenants can help attract other tenants to the shopping center," Gerardi said.

Without the tax incentives, the four potential companies -- which Gerardi said could generate $1 million in local sales tax revenue -- may not come to Batavia.

Even though the four businesses would generate $16 million in gross sales, going by Gerardi's sales tax estimate, Batavia isn't an attractive enough market without the tax breaks.

And even though the four potential businesses would spend, on top of the $7 million COR would invest in the project, $11 million before the first cash register recorded the first sale, Batavia is too marginal a market to attract these retailers, Gerardi said.

Gerardi (top photo) refused to talk with reporters to clarify these points following the public hearing.

COR's plan is to convert the former Lowe's location from 138,000 square feet of retail space into 170,000 square feet of retail space.

In previous media reports, COR CEO Steven F. Aiello has said COR doesn't need to lease out the Lowe's space because Lowe's is obligated to another 15 years of rental payments, but Gerardi argued Tuesday that the proposed expansion is critical to Batavia Towne Center's viability.

"The dark store is not, in our opinion, a good reflection on the center and it's not a good reflection on the community," Gerardi said.

The one retailer COR has confirmed as a potential tenant is Dick's Sporting Goods.

In 2012, according to the company's annual report, Dick's generated $5.8 billion in annual sales and achieved a net profit of $291 million, or an average of $405,000 in net profit for each of its 518 locations. On average, gross sales of $11.2 million per store.

Two of Dick's locations are in shopping centers in Webster and Clay developed by COR without the kind of tax breaks COR is seeking in Genesee County.

A group of about a half dozen local Libertarians spoke at the public hearing, arguing that tax breaks for COR would benefit national chains at the expense of existing competitors.

"I believe your intentions are good, but I find fault in your logic," Jim Rosenbeck said (second inset photo). "The reality is you can't give money to one business without disadvantaging its competitors. You are picking winners and losers and that is simply wrong."

Current state law prohibits tax incentives to develop retail outlets, unless the local IDA -- in this case Genesee County Economic Development Center -- can find that the retail center will attract tourists (defined in the law as people who travel from outside the IDA's jurisdiction) and the stores will fill a need not yet met by existing retail.

Gerardi said Batavia Towne Center does attract shoppers from outside Genesee County and the stores in the center do offer goods and services not previously available in Batavia.

Phill Ricci (top inset photo) took issue with the idea that Batavia Towne Center could be considered a tourist destination.

"Hotels are not filling to the rafters because we have a Target," Ricci said. "Little Jimmy doesn't dream about seeing his favorite animi characters in the halls of Bed Bath & Beyond. To attempt to justify it as a tourist destination is hollow at best and laughable at worst."

COR initially received a promise of $4.6 million in tax abatements to build Batavia Towne Center with the promise of creating 297 full-time equivalent jobs. Gerardi said the development peaked in at 277 FTEs before Lowe's closed.

Rosenbeck said it was as if GCEDC helped COR build a new house and now COR wants more money to remodel it.

Gerardi said the four new stores would create 100 FTE jobs.

Elba resident Fred Read said that's just what they are -- FTEs, not real full-time jobs, but jobs with low pay and few benefits.

"They're not the kind of jobs that are going to keep young people here," Read said.

None of the speakers supported COR receiving another round of tax incentives for the project.

A letter from local business owner Jerry Arena was read into the record. Arena, who owns Jerry Arena's Pizza and Ten Cent Millionaire Tavern, said he opposes tax incentives for national retailers.

"Independent small businesses in Batavia are an endangered species and offer much more quality of life and stability to a community that many of us will ever realize," Arena wrote.

The GCEDC board will vote on the proposed tax incentive package for COR at its regular meeting Thursday. The public portion of the meeting is expected to begin at 4:40 p.m.. The board meets at the Med-Tech Center on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, Batavia.

April 30, 2013 - 10:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, BARNS.

Barn on Pearl Street Road, Batavia.

April 30, 2013 - 9:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, high school sports, softball.

Kimberly Walsh tossed a complete game shutout Tuesday against Gates Chili leading Batavia's girls softball team to a 7-0 victory.

Walsh also had three hits and RBI to help contribute to the win.

Breanna Hurlbut and Kayleigh Tourt each had three hits and collecting two hits each were Taylor Stefaniak, Elizabeth Myers and Hannah Bowen.

Myers and Teiona Kemp each scored two runs.

April 30, 2013 - 9:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, high school sports, tennis.

From Batavia HS tennis coach John Kirkwood:

  • 1st singles: Nate Palmer was defeated by Matt Renzi   1-6   5-7.
  • 2nd singles: Jeff Redband was defeated by Venkatesh Ramkumar 4-6   2-6
  • 3rd singles: Caleb Jackson was defeated by Pat OBrien 0-6   0-6
  • 4th singles: Tim Moehlenkamp was defeated by Luke Weglarz 5-7   6-2   0-6
  • First doubles:  Samir Jain and Ken McMaster were defeated by Travis Miller and Amit Neman 0-6   0-6
  • Second doubles: Tim Martin and Trey Filbert were defeated by Niels Rasmussen and Andrew Palmiere 1-6   1-6
  • Third doubles: Avery Midla and Jon McMaster were defeated by Jon Harper and Rishaan Sharwa 2-6    1-6

Mendon is the class of section V this year. They are 8-0. Batavia drops to 3-2 in league and 1-1 in our division.

Despite what looks like a lopsided match, we played well in all positions. Playing Mendon and the other top section V teams will help us later this month in key sectional matches against class B schools.

Batavia travels to Harley Allendale Columbia tomorrow to play
Harley, HFL, Aquinas in the Class BB/B individual qualifier. The top 4 singles players and top 4 doubles teams will qualify to compete on May 11, 2013 at Pal Mac.

April 30, 2013 - 9:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy.

Joshua Joseph Gerber, 19, of Milliner Street, Rochester, is charged with driving while impaired by drugs, unlawful possession of marijuana and failure to yield right of way at stop sign. Gerber was charged following a two-car injury accident at 12:32 p.m., Sunday, at the intersection of Randall Road and Keeney Road, Le Roy. (Initial Report)

Nefetiria L. Turner, 30, of 3 Pringle Ave., Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Laqueasha M. Taylor, 19, of 3 Pringle Ave., Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Turner and Taylor were allegedly involved in a fight near the intersection of Pringle Avenue and Central Avenue at 6 p.m., Friday.


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