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March 4, 2011 - 11:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield, Alabama.

Raymond Gandolfo, 38, of Massachusetts Street, Buffalo, is charged with three counts of identity theft, three counts of forgery, criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, and grand larceny, 4th. Gandolfo is accused of using a stolen credit card between 10:13 a.m. and 10:35 a.m., Sept. 25, to purchase merchandise at three separate stores on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia. The total value exceeded $1,000.Gandolfo was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and returned to the Erie County Holding Center without bail.

Francis N. Shiltz, 69, of Alleghany Road, Strykerville, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and unsafe backing. Shiltz was allegedly involved in a two-car property damage accident at 6:49 p.m., Thursday, at the Rez Smokeshop.

Arturo Vasquez-Armas, 41, of 2336 Judge Road, Oakfield, is charged with offering a false instrument for filing,1st, and criminal possession of a forged instrument, 3rd. Vasquez-Armas allegedly possessed a forged Social Security card while attempting to obtain a NYS non-driver ID at the Genesee County DMV office. Vasquez-Armas was jailed without bail.

Timothy Alan Duboy, 19, of Wethersfield Road, Warsaw, is charged with forcible touching. Duboy is accused of forcibly touching the intimate parts of another person. The alleged incident occurred at College Village on Jan. 25.

March 3, 2011 - 3:54pm
posted by Timothy Walton in batavia, sports, Brian Hillabush.

 

The local sports world and many members of the Genesee County community mourn today after hearing of the unexpected passing of popular sportswriter, Brian Hillabush.

Hillabush, who spent nearly a decade at Batavia Daily News and some time at The Batavian, was found dead in his home Wednesday evening. No cause of death has been determined.

"I'm very shocked to hear about Brian and we will all certainly miss him," says Batavia Daily News managing editor Mark Graczyk. "He did great job as sports writer here. He always cared about people that he covered and will be missed by the people in the community.

"Brian loved and lived for sports, with his favorite teams being Duke, Yankees, and the Colts," said his girlfriend Aline Alibe Santos. "He loved his nephews and his family and had future plans to get married."

Hillabush had been attending Genesee Community College and was majoring in travel and tourism. 

"He was an energetic, well-liked student. You could tell from his days at the paper that he was interested in learning about the facts and finding out as much as he could about topics he liked." says GCC instructor Amy Slusser. "He took interest in local geography and hometown destinations and wanted to promote Batavia as a tourism destination."

Hillabush was well known for spending hours each week at sporting events and had a strong following in high school sports.

"He was very good at his job," says Batavia hockey coach Paul Pedersen. "He went the extra mile to cover the high school sports and was very passionate about the ones in the area, being that he was a local kid himself.

"He would go every day, game to game, and that was his life. It was awesome and the articles showed the time he put into each one of them. (Our) team went to states in 2002-2003 and he followed us to all the games that were way out of town. Him and (Mark) Gutman were stapled to us. Not every reporter does that. It was nice and made the kids feel special."

"Brian was passionate about how he represented, reported and worked with the local sports," stated Notre Dame Football coach and longtime friend Rick Mancuso. "He loved the kids he interacted with and he loved what he did.

"His passion was what set him apart from other people. He really was an advocate for high school sports.He worked very hard in everything he did and had a vision for how high school reporting should be."

Brian's work was appreciated by many and he was one of the few reporters that went out of his way to cover cheerleading as well.

"The first person to always cover our acomplishments was Brian," says former Batavia cheerleading captain Jamie Turman. "As a cheerleader it wasn't often that you would be in the limelight, but Brian always made our winnings known to our community.

"He understood that even though we were cheerleaders, we were proud of what we had done and what we had acomplished. He was amazing in the sense that he made all althelets feel great about what they had done no matter how big or small. He even took the time to talk to us and to learn about cheerleading to try and put himself in our shoes."

Hillabush's vision for high school sports started with a focus on the Genesee Region but quickly expanded to all of Section V. He played a major role in the lauch of SectionVTalksback.com, which is an online high school sports forum that allows athletes from all over the section to interact and chat about their sports.

"He had a great vision in kicking off probably one of the most succesful high school sports sites that exists in SectionVTalksback. He really did a great job at what he did. He will be missed by many," added Mancuso.

Friends may call on Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. at H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home, 403 E. Main St., Batavia, where services will follow at 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the family. Burial will be in Grand View Cemetery, Batavia.

March 3, 2011 - 2:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

There were no injuries in a two-car accident at Main and Swan streets at approximately 1:50 p.m.

Batavia police and fire departments responded.

Traffic going eastbound was slowed for about 15 minutes.

March 3, 2011 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

In separate investigations, the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force announced the arrest of three Batavia residents allegedly involved in drugs.

Accused of dealing cocaine is Juan A. Roman, 33, of Walnut Street.

Roman allegedly sold a quantity of cocaine to an undercover agent.

An arrest was made Tuesday by task force members and Batavia police officers after Roman was seen walking on Main Street.

He is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

Following his arraignment before Judge Robert C. Noonan, Roman was jailed without bail.

Arrested on Monday were Nicholas A. Pleace, 24, of Pratt Road and Suzan M. Fincher, 51, of Pratt Road.

Pleace and Fincher are accused of growing 19 marijuana plants at their residence on Pratt Road. They were also allegedly found in possession of cocaine and oxycodone.

The were both charged with criminal possession of marijuana, 2nd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th.

The pair were released under the supervision of Genesee Justice following an arraignment in front of Justice Mike Cleveland, Town of Batavia Court.

March 2, 2011 - 10:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Brian Hillabush.

Brian HillabushBrian Hillabush, who spent nearly a decade at  Batavia Daily News building a reputation as a solid sportswriter who cared about the players he covered, was found dead at his home in Batavia this evening.

He was 33.

No cause of death has been determined, according to Sgt. John Peck of the Batavia Police Department.

The coroner referred the case to the Monroe County Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

There was no evidence of foul play nor anything suspecious about his death, Peck said.

Hillabush joined the staff of The Batavian in September 2008 and was sports editor until February 2009 when the original owner of The Batavian, GateHouse Media, ended its association with the site and laid off Hillabush.

Brian had been attending Genesee Community College.

In the past hour or so dozens of messages of condolence have appeared on the wall of Hilly's Facebook page.

March 2, 2011 - 5:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, amputee treatment center.

The Amputee Treatment Center in Batavia is holding a mural contest open to all Genesee County high school students. The theme is "Salute to All Veterans." The deadline for submission is June 1.

The winning artwork will be transferred onto the center's exterior west wall this summer.

Previously, that wall featured featured a two-story mural but now it's a blank slate awaiting a new mural. Imagine your artwork on display for the whole town to see!

The winner will also receive $250.

Submit artwork either by mail to the address below, or e-mail a scanned copy, with the subject line Mural Contest to:

lee.ann.patterson@hotmail.com

Amputee Treatment Center
8388 Lewiston Road
Batavia, NY  14020

Questions? E-mail Lee Ann Patterson at the above e-mail address or phone 343-4154.

March 2, 2011 - 12:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

All along the process, the city's 2011/12 budget had its detractors, from the 1.4-percent property tax increase to the $13 per household water and sewer rate increase and its creation of an economic development position.

But in the end, there were only two no votes among the nine Batavia City Council members as the budget passed muster Tuesday night.

"Batavia is in pretty good shape," said Councilman Frank Ferrando. "That took a lot of work the past three or four years. We've made cuts, we did away with the ambulance service, we did some things that weren't too easy and worked ourselves into a position from where I thought we could go bankrupt or 'where are we going to get the money?' to where we are today. This budget keeps that going. I think this is a sound budget."

Council members Sam Barone and Rose Mary Christian both voted "no."

The biggest objection raised by council members -- and by John Roach (top inset), the only citizen to speak to the budget -- was the creation of an economic development position.

The position will be funded by $10,000 from the city and money from the revolving loan grant fund.

"Nobody (from the GCEDC or BID) has come forward to say they want this position," said Councilwoman Kathy Briggs (bottom inset). "I question whether we can even use the revolving loan money. What did the original grant say about what percentage of the money can be used for administration? I think we need to put this on hold until some future time -- strike it out of the budget."

Councilman Bill Cox said at a time when the city's young people are moving elsewhere for jobs, and none of the critics of the plan have offered a better alternative for creating economic opportunity in the city, he supports creation of the position.

"We need take action," Cox said. "We need to take a step forward if we don’t take action on this we’re going to lose another year and we're going to go down even further. This is the only thing anybody has recommended that makes sense and is doable."

Councilman Bob Bialkowski raised concerns about increasing taxes at a time of economic distress. Bialkowski pointed to the situation in the Middle East and rising oil prices, rising grocery prices, and said -- along with the lack of cost-of-living adjustments for seniors on fixed incomes -- a tax increase is going to hit many people pretty hard.

Barone suggested there was still fat to be trimmed from the $22 million spending plan.

"I still think there are places we can cut," Barone said. "It's only 1.4 percent, but the economy is still in bad shape."

The tax hike amounts to about $70,000 in additional revenue for the city.

March 2, 2011 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield.

Stephanie Lynn Corke, 29, of Root Road, Albion, is charged with petit larceny. Corke is accused of taking possession of a dog owned by another person and making no effort to find the owner or return the dog.

Nicholas Aaron Doxey, 25, of Niagara Street, Lockport, is charged with petit larceny and endangering the welfare of a child. Doxey is accused of shoplifting from Target while in the presence of his child and family members under 17 years of age.

Joseph Thomas Bortel, 39, of Knowlesville Road, Oakfield, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, unlawful possession of marijuana and failure to keep right. Bortel was stopped at 4:49 p.m., Tuesday, in the area of 130 Bank St., Batavia, by Deputy Timothy Wescott.

March 1, 2011 - 11:40pm
posted by Brittany Baker in batavia, land use, Gardner Estates.

After a heated meeting got confrontational, the Town of Batavia Planning Board agreed to table consideration of a proposed housing development until the next meeting on March 15. At issue, is whether to reopen the environmental review for "Gardner Estates."

Board members already approved the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), declaring the development would not negatively impact the surrounding area.

But, after a few discrepancies and minor changes to the project arose, Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski invited the applicant, Frank Andolino, president of Nathanial Development, to come to the meeting to clarify a few points.

Instead, Andolino sent his attorney, James Bonsignore, of Fix Spindelman Brovitz & Goldman.

"I'm very disappointed," said Jasinski to Bonsignore as he sat down before the board.

"Not disappointed that you're here, but that he (Andolino) isn't."

It was clear throughout the meeting that most board members had an uneasy sense about the proposed Gardner Estates project. The newest proposal from the applicant is to build single-family homes off Clinton Street Road. Previous proposals included plans for apartments and/or duplex housing.

Board members basically told Bonsignore that they felt a little swindled when it came to two issues. (A) Planning for a cul-de-sac versus a road to connect with Clinton Street Road, and (B) the developer's funding sources.

Board members want to see what the state Department of Transportation has to say about the road options, so Tuesday evening focused on funding.

Most members of the board agree that they have asked many times in the past if the developer planned to use conventional or public funds. The latter would only be granted if low-income housing were part of the plans, hence their concern about the source of funding.

At past meetings, they were led to believe that public funds would not be used to finance the project.

"Whether or not this project is publicly funded has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not this application meets the zoning requirements for the division of land," Bonsignore said.

He acknowledged the question had been asked repeatedly but would not characterize the answers given. He claimed that at all times the question was "improper," and answers were "for informational purposes only."

A board member pointed out that they weren't called "improper" at the time and the replies indicated the project would use conventional funding.

Bonsignore told them "You can't reopen SEQR because you having second thoughts or you're regretting the determination...We said we intend to pursue conventional funding but we absolutely did not exclude the possibility of public funding.

"We never misrepresented anything. This is not a trial, and if this is how we are going to be questioned I am going to leave."

One board member cited two problems he had with public funds being used to build Gardner Estates. Chiefly, there's already an overload of public housing in the area. Secondly, the funds should not be "wasted" on building public housing in a community that already has plenty of it.

When the board agreed to table the issue, polite apologies were exchanged but there seemed to be a lingering distrust of the mysterious developer (who no one on the board has ever met or spoken with) and his intentions.

Board Member Lou Paganello said he has repeatedly tried to get information about the company and has come up with nothing but a Web site.

"I wasn't given any information about the company at all -- not just for the financing but for the reputable company that supposedly it is," Paganello said. "When you're talking about a project that concerns a town, you would think that you could come up with some information or a call or a letter and nothing happened. Nothing at all."

March 1, 2011 - 11:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, tax auction.

One of the bidders who won a residence in the city's tax lien auction appeared at Monday's city council meeting and accused the city of violating the terms of the purchase contract.

Daniel Lang's father is actually listed as the winning bidder on 20 Franklin St., but Lang said he was planning to pay for the house and move in with his family.

However, he said, the city failed to honor its purchase contract with him by not closing the deal within 30 days of the Jan. 29 auction.

"We want to pull out of the contract and have our $10,000 deposit refunded," Lang said. "The contract is no longer valid."

City Attorney George Van Nest demurred.

It would be inaccurate, Van Nest said, to say the contract was no longer valid or that the 30 day period had been violated because the purchase cannot be approved until the council has a chance to meet and review the purchase.

"This is the next opportunity for the council to act on real property sales," Van Nest said. "To the extent that the council does move forward, the purchase can be finalized."

The winning bid was $36,000.

As Van Nest spoke, Lang and his father were nearly coming out of their chairs wanting to speak again, but under meeting rules, their time to speak was over.

The contract reads:

TERMS OF THE AUCTION: The property is sold subject to confirmation and approval by the City Council of the City of Batavia within thirty days (30) days hereof.

After a closed session to discuss the real estate transaction, the council voted to approve the sale.

After the meeting Lang, who moved back to Batavia recently from South Carolina, said he and his wife, along with their children, have been living with his parents.  With the sale now approved, he said he doesn't know what he's going to do, whether to insist the contract was voided by the lack of action for 30 days, or just accept the approved sale.

He said he and his wife just want to get into their own house as soon as possible.

"We just want to get back to being a normal family again," Lang said.

In all, the council approved the auction purchase of four properties, including 507 Ellicott St., which was won by a company owned by Jeremy Yasses.

Council members Sam Barone and Bob Bialkowski objected to the sale of the property to Yasses, but a motion by Bialkowski to consider the property separately from the other purchases was defeated on a 7-2 vote.

Diana Page was approved to purchase 308 Washington Ave. for $1,800 as well as 48 Riverview Parkway for $100. Tom Englerth was approved for purchase of 21 South Lyon St.

In the city report on past landowner code violations, Englerth was allegedly cited for putting on a roof without a permit. He did eventually get a permit, according to the report.

That alleged violation came on 9 Willow Ave., the same property Englerth was able to purchase after a bid from local landlord Michael Pullinzi was rejected last year by the council for allegedly having too many code violations on his existing properties.

March 1, 2011 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, tax auction.

Jeremy Yasses has plans to make 507 Ellicott St. beautiful again, but first he needs the Batavia City Council to approve his purchase of the property.

In the city's annual tax lien auction, Yasses bid on the property and won it for $5,000 under the corporate name Trine Properties, Inc.

But last year the council set a precedent by denying Michael Pullinzi the ability to buy 9 Willow St.,saying Pullinzi was a landlord with too many alleged code violations against his properties.

Once again, council members are receiving a memo from city staff on the number and types of alleged violations against this year's auction winners, and Yasses tops the list with 11 alleged violations.

All of the violations have been corrected, according to the report.

The violations are on properties Yasses or his wife own and are rental properties.

Today, Yasses noted that it was Trine Properties, Inc. that bought 507 Ellicott St., not Jeremy Yasses. Yasses said he's just an officer in the company and there are investors that back Trine.

Trine does not want to buy the Ellicott Street residence in order to turn it into a rental. The intention, Yasses said, is to rehabilitate it and sell it.

To help make his case, Yasses sent a letter to the city -- included in the council agenda package -- outlining his plans for the property and including before and after pictures of properties his company has previously rehabilitated.

Yasses says he wants to get out of the rental business -- if only he could sell his current properties -- and just deal in rehab projects.

He has been involved in rehabilitating about a dozen properties in Genesee and Orleans counties over the past two years. He's just about to sell a place in Alabama that after rehab has increased in assessed value by $20,000.

"I want to make the house beautiful and improve the neighborhood," Yasses said. "I think that's what the council is after. It would be a positive for the city."

Previously:

February 28, 2011 - 8:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

WHAM13's Sean Carroll picked up the story The Batavian broke last week on a former area resident who is in a Wisconsin jail accused of assuming the identity of an attorney. Carroll also learned that Lyon's next court date has been pushed back to March 11.

February 28, 2011 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

Chris Charvella can start attending Genesee County Legislature meetings again.

Town of Batavia Justice Mike Cleveland today adjusted the order of protection barring him from showing up at the place of business of Legislator Jay Grasso.

Grasso has accused Charvella of harassing him for leaving a message on his home phone that said, "Thanks for reading my blog."

Charvella is charged with harassment, 2nd. Under the statute, he is accused of making a phone call with no legitimate purpose.

Along with attorney E. Robert Fussell, Charvella, a Democratic committee member, appeared in Town of Batavia Court today for a status hearing.

Fussell indicated he is preparing motions to challenge the constitutionality of the charge, but the only request today was to change the order of protection issued in Town of Le Roy Court when Charvella was first arrested. The order prohibits Charvella from having any contact with Grasso.

"It's certainly has been my practice to attend meetings of the legislature," said Charvella, who ran for a seat on the county board in 2009. "That's a practice I would like to continue."

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini object to the change in the order, saying that Charvella was offered a plea deal that would have altered the court order and given Charvella a conditional discharge of the case.* Since Charvella turned down that offer and the case may go to trial, Cianfrini said, Charvella should be kept away in all circumstances from Grasso, since Grasso is both the alleged vicitm and a potential witness in any trial.

(UPDATE: Cianfrini called to clarify: Charvella was offered an adjournament in contemplation of dismissal, meaning the case would be dismissed with no record (all court records would be sealed) if Charvella stayed out of trouble for six months).

Grasso, a Republican, is Le Roy's elected representative on the legislature.

Outside of court, Fussell wouldn't confirm that he and his client intend to take the case to trial. He would only say, "I'm preparing motions." He said the motions would be based on constitutional issues.

During the hearing today, Fussell gave some indication of what those arguments will be, telling Cleveland, "If a politician doesn't like what a constituent has to say, it would be very, very chilling (to block meeting attendance). He (Charvella) should be allowed to attend these things."

Those motions must be filed by April 15 and Charvella's next court appearance was set for 4:30 p.m., May 23.

For previous coverage of the Chris Charvella and Jay Grasso case, click here.

February 27, 2011 - 4:17pm
posted by Brittany Baker in batavia, business, downtown, Masonic Temple.

The sturdy red brick building at the corner of Center and Main streets was built by Batavia's Masons in 1908 and has been their home ever since.

That will change this summer.

Members of Batavia Lodge No. 475 of Free and Accepted Masons have made the difficult decision to leave their finely crafted and ornate temple to merge with the Olive Branch Lodge in Le Roy.

Jim Rosenbeck, master of the 151-year-old lodge, explained that since the Batavia Masons' lease expires this year, they are working on a merger with Le Roy to hopefully, "...get greater strength in numbers and get a higher profile for Masonry by merging and doing collaborative things."

In the process the lodge -- formed on April 9, 1859 -- will be dissolved.

The move is necessary because it's not financially viable for the 50-member lodge to pay rent. The lodge has occupied the building rent free for at least 15 years.

Rosenbeck said he wished nothing but the best for the Masonic Temple building and hoped that owner David Howe could find the right tenant to take care of it in the future.

Howe, who also owns Charles Men's Shop, acquired the building 15 years ago.

He gave The Batavian a tour of it earlier this week.

I was most impressed with the look of the "Lodge Room." Walking through the double doors and into the great hall, a view of throne-like chairs at the opposite side gave an almost humbling feeling. History seems to ooze out of the cracks of the walls in that place.

Theater seats line the sides of the great hall and a balcony that once held a pipe organ overlooks the room. The carpet is a fittingly ornate pattern and one of the earliest of "dimmers" can be found hulking underneath the light switches. When the giant crank is turned, the lights soften to a haunting glow.

"I love the history of this building and anything historic -- anything that is bigger than life," Howe said during our tour.

From the beginning, the Masons rented the first floor of the building to retail businesses and the second floor has always contained rented office space -- mostly used by attorneys until a few years ago.

The third and fourth floors have been shared by the Masons and Blue Pearl Yoga.

What happens next, Howe isn't quite sure.

He guessed that a theater group could work well, and apartments are possible, but improvements will be needed with either scenario.

At the time Howe acquired the building, the roof was in bad shape and a portion of the southeast corner of the building collapsed down to the basement. That's all been fixed, but other repairs are yet to be made.

As for the Masons, making tough choices to ensure their survival certainly isn't a new thing. The Le Roy Masons sold their lodge to make way for a Walgreens a few years ago, and after months of searching, decided to make 12 Bank St. in the village their new gathering place.

Historically, the Masons have found ways to keep their society thriving despite hardships. Former Holland Land Office Museum Director Patrick Weissand tells an interesting tale of William Morgan -- who learned the Masons' secrets but wasn't allowed to remain part of the lodge because he had a tendency to "shoot off his mouth" after drinking too much.

Although no one can prove exactly what happened to Morgan -- historians do know he was kidnapped and silenced after threatening to publish a book about the rituals of the freemasons. Weissand tells the riveting tale in a three-part video series here.

Although the Masons may have been a secretive society with an alleged political agenda in the past, Rosenbeck says that isn't what being a Mason is about.

"Basically, we are a benevolent organization that makes good men better," he said. "One of our goals is to provide services to the community that we're in and it's been sort of an issue with us lately because we have so few active members to do anything meaningful."

A good portion of the Batavia lodge treasury will be donated to local charitable groups, once the lodge disbands, Rosenbeck said. The rest will go to the Le Roy lodge, probably to help with construction of a kitchen there.

Rosenbeck says they do their best to donate to worthy causes. He pointed out that in order to be a Mason, one criteria is the belief in a Supreme Being.

"It's unique that the brotherhood of Masonry doesn't discriminate between religions. Christianity, Catholics, Muslims and Jewish beliefs and a few others can become Masons.

Rosenbeck said he regrets having to leave "the glorious old building" but it was a choice made out of necessity.

"Our decision to merge and join Le Roy has nothing to do with our feelings towards David Howe or the lodge building. We are going to really miss the beautiful place but this is something we need to do for our survival."

The permanent fixtures of the building -- such as distinctive door handles and the carved wood of the temple -- stay with the building. But the Batavia lodge owns all of the furniture -- such as the palace-like chairs in the temple and the two couches in the hallway -- and those will be taken to Le Roy. 

Photos by Howard Owens. Top, interior of the Masonic Temple. First inset, Jim Rosenbeck and his son Mike Rosenbeck. Mike is the last member of Lodge No. 475 to complete his Third Degree and sign the charter. Other insets, details from inside the building. Postcards provided by Dave Howe.

February 26, 2011 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre, Genesee Cancer Assistance.

The City Centre was packed with Zumba dancers this afternoon as part of a "Party of Hope" to raise money for Genesee Cancer Assistance.

Zumba is a fusion of Latin beats, international music and fitness dance moves.

Dancers donated money to participate.

February 25, 2011 - 7:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Vine Street.

For the second time in less than 13 months, the Ricigliano family is looking for a place to live and trying to figure how how to replace all of their belongings.

On Wednesday night, they were burned out of their apartment at 20 Vine St., Batavia.

The suspected cause and origin of the fire has yet to be released by the Batavia Fire Department.

A year ago, Nick and Melissa were living 132 State St., where a woman died after reportedly starting a fire by smoking too close to her oxygen tank.

"My son’s birthday is Feb. 7," Melissa Ricigliano said. "Last year, two days after his birthday, he lost everything. This year, two weeks after his birthday, he loses everything."

Both Melissa and Nick work (at Sunny's restaurant and McDonald's), but after spending the past year replacing all of their belongings, money is tight and they can't afford the expense of a new rental.

After the State Street fire, they knew they needed to get renters' insurance and started the process but hadn't yet signed the paperwork.

Meanwhile, they lost all of their clothes, a new couch, TV and Xbox.

"It took almost a whole year to buy all of our stuff back and now it’s all gone again," Melissa said.

Melissa said she's been disappointed in the response she's gotten from the American Red Cross. On Wednesday, Ricigliano was given $300 and told to come back the next day.

The next day, the woman she talked to said, "What are you doing here?" The woman said there was no more assistance available. When Melissa said, "I'm homeless and we need food," she was told she should have used the $300 for food.

The $300, Melissa said, went for two sets of clothes for each member of the family, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Judy Nagel at the Genesee Region Red Cross said the available money for fire victims is tightly regulated by the national headquarters. Each victim, she said, is given a debit card and a form that says, "spend X amount on clothing and X amount on food."

"It's all put into a computer and there's a formula based on policies set by headquarters," Nagel said. "The computer creates the debit card. We're not able to do more than that. We don't have any control over the amount (of assistance)."

Nick and Melissa are currently staying with friends. Their children, Dominic, 6, and Martha, 3, are with family in Chili. Melissa also said the people at John Kennedy School and New Hope Church have been trying to help, as well as several others in the community.

Her sister is working on organizing a fundraiser at a town fire hall, but no date has been set yet.

Melissa said she has a message for any potential landlords: "You might want to put out there that I am a good tenant and I don’t have a curse.”

February 25, 2011 - 11:38am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents.

A serious accident involving a tractor-trailer and another vehicle on the Thruway is reported. There are believed to be multiple injuries.

The location is eastbound at mile marker 387.3. It's nearest to the Byron Road Bridge.

Town of Batavia Fire Department is called to respond along with Mercy EMS.

UPDATE 11:47 a.m.: Oakfield Fire is requested to standby in the Town of Batavia's hall.

February 25, 2011 - 7:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Osterhout Avenue.

There is a report of smoke in the basement of a house at 210 Osterhout Ave., Batavia.

City fire dispatched.

UPDATE: Never heard any more on this and when I went by about 30 minutes after the initial call, the fire department had cleared.


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February 24, 2011 - 10:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Pavilion.

A 16-year-old resident of Sparks Road, Pavilion, is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of shoplifting from Kmart on Tuesday.

A 17-year-old resident of Wyoming Road, Wyoming, is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of shoplifting from Kmart on Tuesday.

A 17-year-old resident of Black Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. K-9 "Pharoah," handled by Deputy Brian Thompson, alerted on a car parked in the East Park Street area of Pavilion. After an interview with the driver, Thompson allegedly found a small quantity of suspected marijuana and three pipes with suspected marijuana residue.

February 24, 2011 - 10:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

The cause of a rollover accident on Clinton Street Road yesterday evening remains under investigation.

The driver was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy Flight with non-life threatening injuries.

No citations have been issued.

Jody B. Gillette, 50, of Pine Hollow Drive, Batavia, was driving a 1993 Chrysler sedan east on Route 33 when he lost control of his car for an unknown reason. The car left the roadway, struck a sewer pipe and overturned coming to rest on its roof.

Town of Batavia fire, State Troopers, Sheriff's deputies and Mercy EMS responded to the 6:32 p.m. accident near Terry Hills.

The accident is being investigated by Deputy Cory Mower.

(Initial Report)

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