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May 3, 2016 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Le Roy, news.

There was no forward movement in the murder case of Kyle Johnson today because the psychiatrist preparing a report on Johnson was unable to review a DVD provided by the defense on his computer.

Public Defender Jerry Ader expected the psychiatric exam report by today that might shed light on whether Johnson suffers from a mental defect or impairment.

The 53-year-old Johnson is accused of killing Norman D. "Don" Ball, of setting his own house on fire, and of attempting to kill a police officer and firefighter on Selden Road, Le Roy, on Dec. 1.

In order to assist the psychiatrist in viewing the DVD, Ader's office provided him today with a computer capable of playing the DVD.

Ader hopes the report will be available within a week and so a court appearance for Johnson was set for 11:30 a.m., May 10.

At some point after the report is available, there will be a hearing on several issues related to the case. Whether that includes a hearing on Johnson's mental state will be determined by Ader, but District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said at a prior court appearance that he expects Ader will seek a hearing on several evidentiary issues, including a photo lineup used with a witness, oral statements made in connection with the case, a video interview, and numerous statements made to corrections officers in the Genesee County Jail.

In other court cases today:

  • The case of Jason A. Armstrong Sr., accused of rape, was adjourned until Thursday. Today was the scheduled plea cut-off date for Armstrong, but Judge Michael Pietruszka agreed to continue the case two more days following a private conference with the attorneys.  Armstrong has been offered a plea bargain that would require him to plead guilty to assault, 2nd, and receive a five-year prison sentence followed by five years on parole.
  • Sara A. Howard, who previously entered a guilty plea to grand larceny, was scheduled to be sentenced today, but she didn't show up for court. Pietruszka read a letter from GCASA indicating that Howard has allegedly failed to comply with GCASA's instructions. He issued a warrant for her arrest. Howard was arrested earlier this year for stealing a Sony PlayStation valued at $300 after gaining entry to a family member's home on Jan. 8. Howard and an alleged accomplice also gained entry to another family's home and stole a .50-caliber CVA muzzleloader and a 12-gauge Mossberg Maverick valued at $700. Prior to her guilty plea locally, Howard allegedly committed a crime in Wyoming County but wasn't arrested until later. Howard's arrest was announced April 8. She faces multiple drug sales charges in Wyoming County.
May 3, 2016 - 10:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Batavia HS, batavia, news.

Tiara Filbert, who led Batavia's Lady Blue Devils to the team's first Section V title has been recognized by the NYS Sportswriters Association as one of New York's best high school basketball players.

Filbert has been named to the All-State First Team.

The sportswriters select 14 teams plus honorable mentions in Class A and no other player from Section V made any of the top six teams. In all, six players from Section V Class A were honored.

In Class C, Pembroke's Aralyse Johnson received honorable mention. In Class D, Elba's Alex Reigle made fifth team.

May 3, 2016 - 8:26am

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider an expansion project for Alpina Foods, Inc., at its May 5 board meeting.

Alpina Foods, Inc., is planning to construct a 3,200-square-foot addition to its existing facility in Batavia to accommodate space for a new bottle-filling machine and packaging equipment for a new drinkable yogurt product.

The company’s investment will total more than $1.1 million in the drinkable yogurt line, resulting in the retention of 23 current full-time employees.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the first floor, across from Genesee Community College.

May 2, 2016 - 11:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.


A man was spotting lying down on Ellicott Street at Swan Street by a passerby and he wasn't wearing any clothes.

Police, along with City fire and Mercy EMS, responded.

When police arrived, he was standing, talking to a truck driver, but he said nothing to police.

"At this point, we don't even know his name," said Sgt. Chris Camp.

There isn't enough information available to police at this point to say why he was in the roadway naked at 11:15 at night or how he got there.

He was transported to UMMC for evaluation.

May 2, 2016 - 3:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Richmond Memorial Library, batavia, news.

Richmond Memorial Library's budget vote and trustee election takes place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3rd. Voting takes place in the library's Gallery Room. Any registered voter residing in the Batavia City School District is eligible to vote.

The library is located at 19 Ross St. in the City of Batavia.

May 2, 2016 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

A hit-and-run accident is reported in the area of 232 Liberty St.

No injuries are reported.

The caller reports he was parked in his driveway when a black pickup truck driven by a female struck his vehicle.

He provided dispatchers with a partial plate.

The pickup is described as black in color, unknown direction of travel.

Police are responding.

May 2, 2016 - 2:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, batavia, alexander.

Kyle Robert Ratulowski (pictured right), 20, of Batavia, was arrested on April 27 and charged with second-degree burglary, a Class C felony. Troopers received a call of a burglary on Clinton Street in the Town of Batavia on that date. The investigation revealed that a fire safe was taken valued at $200 and that Ratulowski was a possible suspect. Ratulowski was located at a address in the City of Batavia. Ratulowski was arrested and transported to SP Batavia for processing. He was arraigned in the Town of Batavia Court and put in Genesee County Jail for $25,000 bail.

Kyle Robert Ratulowski, 20, of West Main Street Road, Batavia, was arrested at 9:45 p.m. on April 29 for allegedly being in possession of stolen electronics. He was charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 5th, and issued an appearance ticket for Town of Batavia Court on May 10. The goods were reported stolen at 2 p.m. on April 20 from a location of Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia. At the same time and date of this arrest, Ratulowski was also charged with petit larceny of tools and personal items and for fourth-degree criminal mischief for allegedly damaging a vehicle. These charges stem from an incident at 10 p.m. on April 12 on Park Road in Batavia wherein items were stolen from an unlocked vehicle and the interior of the vehicle was damaged. He is to appear in Town of Batavia Court, also on May 10, to answer these charges. Both cases were handled by Sheriff's Deputy Eric Meyer.

Nicholas Benjamin Wall, 25, of Dodgeson Road, Alexander, is charged with reckless endangerment of property. He was charged following a large explosion on April 15. He allegedly shot a large amount of tannerite at 3465 Dodgeson Road, Alexander, which cause an explosion and shook houses throughout the county.

Rochelle V. Tomlin, 40, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a minor and obligation of a parent or guardian. She was arrested at 2 p.m. on April 24 after allegedly allowing her 14-year-old son to violate the city's curfew. At the time the youth was in violation of the curfew, he was "out committing acts that would be considered crimes if performed by an adult," according to the police report. Tomlin is to be in City Court at 1 p.m. on May 10. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Flanagan, assisted by Officer Eric Foels.

Todd A. Reynolds, 45, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment and obstructing governmental administration. He was arrested at 10:23 p.m. on May 1 following a domestic incident on West Main Street. He allegedly was kicking the victim during an altercation. He did not cooperate with police upon their arrival and became combative with them. He was put in jail, with bail (unspecified), and was to appear in City Court this afternoon. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen, assisted by Officer Christopher Camp.

Michael E. Weichman, 21, of Bank Street, Batavia, and Alysha E. Weichman and Tyler L. Warner were arrested at 4 p.m. on April 28 and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and fifth-degree conspiracy for allegedly stealing $1,376.97 worth of groceries from Tops Market in Batavia. They were issued appearance tickets and are to be in City Court on May 10. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Jason Davis.

Jared Paul Schmidt, 20, of Silver Springs, is charged with disorderly conduct and open container of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle. He was arrested at 1:35 p.m. on April 23 after he was allegedly observed hitting/striking his vehicle, which was parked roadside on Ellicott Street, and obstructing vehicular traffic. He was allegedly found to have an open bottle of beer in the center console of his vehicle. He was ordered to be in City Court on May 3. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Darryle Streeter.

Patricia A. Poole, 26, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with violation of conditional discharge. She was located on Liberty Street at 4:05 p.m. on April 30 and arrested on a bench warrant issued for a disorderly conduct charge from November 2009. She was released and ordered to appear in Batavia City Court this afternoon. During the handling of this case, responding officers discovered that Poole had an active warrant from 2012. She was subsequently arrested and jailed in lieu of $500 bail. She is also to appear in City Court this afternoon on the 2012 warrant case. The cases were handled by Batavia Police Officer Felicia DeGroot and Officer Peter Flanagan.

James N. DiFalco, 19, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property. He was arrested after allegedly being found in possession of stolen game system and selling it to a game store for cash on April 20. He is to return to Batavia City Court on May 10. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jamie Givens.

James R. Sweet, 54, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with conducting an open burn. At 5:50 p.m. on April 28, Sweet was allegedly found to be burning debris in his yard on Walnut Street in violation of the city's municipal code. He is to appear in City Court on May 10. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Latiqua S. Jackson, 22, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. She was arrested April 25 after allegedly stealing a Sony PlayStation 3 from a residence on Tracy Avenue on April 18. She is to be in City Court on May 3. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins.

Marquita Shanee Davis, 28, of Old Meadow Lane, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. She was arrested at 3:25 p.m. on May 1 as a result of a shoplifting complaint. It is alleged that she stole $73.57 worth of merchandise from a location on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia. She was released with an appearance ticket for Town of Batavia Court at a later date. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Richard Schildwaster.

Chante Dominique Davis, 30, of Old Meadow Lane, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. She was arrested at 3:25 p.m. on May 1 as a result of a shoplifting complaint. It is alleged that she stole $73.57 worth of merchandise from a location on Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia. She was released with an appearance ticket for Town of Batavia Court at a later date. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Richard Schildwaster.

A 17-year-old from Pavilion is charged with petit larceny. The suspect was arrested April 30 in connection with a shoplifting incident wherein several articles of clothing were stolen from a local store. The youth was issued an appearance ticket for May 9 in Town of Batavia Court. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Michael Lute, assisted by Deputy Richard Schildwaster.

Pierre A. Triplett Jr., 20, no permanent address, is charged with petit larceny. He was arrested following an investigation of shoplifting at Tops Market in Batavia at 10:46 a.m. on April 28. He is to be in City Court on May 3. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Kevin DeFelice, assisted by Officer Marc Lawrence.

Brad L. Ohlson, 39, of Union Street, Batavia, was arrested on April 25 on a bench warrant issued out of Batavia City Court after his alleged failure to comply with the conditions of his release under supervision. He was held on bail and was to appear in City Court April 25. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Mariah R. Hagen, 20, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. She was arrested on the charge following a traffic stop at 9:24 p.m. on April 21 on State Street, Batavia. She is due in City Court on May 4. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Thad Mart, assisted by Officer Christopher Camp.

May 2, 2016 - 2:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire, news.


Peter Yasses, 81, a 23-year veteran of the Batavia City Fire Department, was lain to rest today and his funeral procession was escorted from the J. Leonard McAndrew Funeral Home on Bogue Avenue to St. Joe's Cemetery by Ladder 15. Yasses passed away Wednesday. For his full obituary, click here.

May 2, 2016 - 10:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Fired Up, crafts.


Another old thing that's new again is ceramics.

Decades ago, buying clay figurines and painting them according to your own craft or whimsy was quite the thing, but then the hobby kind of faded away.

It's starting to make a comeback, which is one reason Shirley Nigro-Hill decided to open a ceramics shop on Ellicott Street in Batavia.

Nigro-Hill taught ceramics in the 1970s before establishing a reputation in dolls, but when her daughter moved back here from Florida and couldn't find what she needed to continue her ceramics crafting, they decided to open up the shop in a building she owns on Ellicott.

They already had the kilns and slips, which puts them in a unique position for most ceramic shops these days -- they pour and fire most of what they sell.

"I guess that's unusual for the day, but I'm back from the old school," Nigro-Hill said.

The type of ceramics is called "Bisque wear."  

The shop, Fired Up - Ready to Paint Ceramics, opened last week.

Customers can purchase a figurine and paint it in the shop with acrylic paint and it will be dry and ready to take home by that evening, or they can take it home and paint it at home.

Nigro-Hill said the shop also offers classes for both adults and children and also offers group events.

Fired Up, at 216 Ellicott St., is open noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.






April 30, 2016 - 9:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

City PD is looking for a gray or silver SUV, possibly a Chevrolet Tahoe or Suburban, involved in a hit and run accident.

The female victim, who may be pregnant, exited the vehicle and said the driver tried to hit her multiple times. 

The driver is described as a light-skinned male.

The victim was transported by Mercy EMS to UMMC for evaluation.

The incident occurred in the area of 15 Highland Park.

April 30, 2016 - 4:30pm

Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with current specials and sales. Follow The Hidden Door. Follow Pollyanna & Dot. Two chic stores in one, 202 E. Main St. in Downtown Batavia.

April 30, 2016 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.


Roger Saile, 90, the lone occupant of a residence at 8056 Oak Orchard Road, died as a result of a fire in his house this morning.

The fire was reported by a truck driver passing by the residence at about 5:25 a.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by State Police, Town of Batavia fire and Genesee County Emergency Services.

Firefighters from the town arrived on scene quickly after the fire was reported.

"We had a quick arrival and an initial attack of two engines, a ladder and a rescue," said Assistant Chief Dan Coffey. "We were able to get in their and get a good initial attack and search going."

Saile was deceased when he was found inside the residence.

After the fire was out, during what firefighters call "overhaul," one volunteer firefighter was under a ceiling when it collapsed. The firefighter was not seriously injured and was transported to UMMC for evaluation.

Crews were on scene from Town of Batavia, Elba, Oakfield, Stafford and the City of Batavia.

A neighbor described Saile as "a good man."

Michelle Gerold said sons Christian and Daniel would visit with him, and when he passed by their house he would toot his horn and wave and they often ran into him at one of his favorite restaurants, Sport of Kings. 

He was always full of stories about his life.

"We would hear about the old days when we would see him out at a restaurant," she said. "He was overall such a nice man. We're so sad. His stories of his house, his stories of his life and how it used to be when he was growing up on a farm; he would tell us about his old vehicles. His stories just made us know he was a good person, a good individual. I loved him, my sons loved him, my husband loved him. It just breaks our hearts that he's gone now."













April 30, 2016 - 5:34am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, batavia.

A working fire is reported at 8056 Oak Orchard Road at an apartment building. Unknown if the structure is occupied, "it's possibly occupied." Town of Batavia Fire Department is responding along with Alexander's Fast team.

UPDATE 5:35 a.m.: "This is an occupied structure." Fire police are called to assist with traffic control at Route 98 and the Thruway. "Flames are through the roof."

UPDATE 5:38 a.m.: A Mercy unit is responding. Stafford fire is asked to report to the Town of Batavia Station #2 and East Pembroke to Station #1.

UPDATE 5:42 a.m.: Elba Fire Police are called to control traffic at Route 98 and West Saile Drive.

UPDATE 5:54 a.m.: An Elba engine is called to the scene.

UPDATE 5:57 a.m.: Mercy medic #3 is the second ambulance into the scene.

UPDATE 5:59 a.m.: The natural gas line has been shut off to the residence. The rescue unit with a cascade system is called in from Elba instead of an engine.

UPDATE 6 a.m.: The city's fast team is also working to extinguish the fire. The city's third platoon is called to fire headquarters.

UPDATE 6:02 a.m.: National Grid is called to the scene.

UPDATE 6:07 a.m.: Byron is requested to have one engine stand by in Elba Fire Hall.

UPDATE 6:05 a.m.: Elba Fire Police are also to control traffic at Route 98 and Park Road, and Route 63 and Veterans Memorial Drive.

UPDATE 6:25 a.m.: The fire scene is north of the Thruway, just north of Call Parkway. Le Roy is asked to stand by in Stafford's fire hall.

UPDATE 6:39 a.m.: Town command reports fire is under control; overhauling structure now. Power to the structure has been turned off.

UPDATE 6:41 a.m.: Instead of Le Roy, Bethany is asked to fill in at Stafford's fire hall.

UPDATE 7:15 a.m.: The Salvation Army is called to the scene.

UPDATE 7:22 a.m.: A third Mercy rig is called to come in non-emergency mode. Salvation Army has an ETA of about 45 minutes. An ambulance just arrived at UMMC with a patient who sustained a head injury at the fire scene.

UPDATE 7:32 a.m.: One person died in this fire. Some family notifications have been made. A code enforcement officer from Town of Batavia is called to the scene. 

UPDATE 8:54 a.m.: Route 98 has been reopened.

UPDATE 10:10 a.m.: State Police have confirmed that Roger Saile, 90, the lone resident of the house, died as a result of the fire.

April 29, 2016 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Oakfield, news.

A diesel fuel spill has been located along Route 63 that stretches across both sides of Batavia Oakfield Townline Road.

Oakfield fire is on scene and a Town of Batavia chief is responding.

The Oakfield chief is asking that traffic in the area be slowed by fire police because of the spill.

April 29, 2016 - 4:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Vinyl Record Revival, business, batavia, downtown, news.


The sale of vinyl records has reached its highest level in 28 years and Batavia resident Richard Mistretta is betting that trend continues.

His own research and experience tells him vinyl, once considered a relic of history, has achieved its own kind of staying power.

"Last year, I first had a thought of opening a brick and mortar store," Mistretta said. "I wasn't sure what I'd be selling, but I started selling online and I noticed albums were selling well. I was selling a lot of vinyl, so with my online business, I switched over to exclusively selling vinyl and the sales numbers continued to go up."

Tomorrow he opens Vinyl Record Revival at 220 E. Main St., Batavia.

He's spent the past couple of weeks building bins for records, CDs, reel-to-reel, and he even has a couple of boxes of 8-track tapes, but vinyl is clearly where the action is. It attracts collectors of all ages these days.

"The big age group right now is young people, teenagers are getting into it," Mistretta said. "I've been hearing about it from a lot of people. They find it fascinating. They find it is something interesting to collect, and, also, the sound is different. That's the big thing, but, also, it's tangible. You can hold it, you can look at it, the artwork; it's easy to read. When something is digital, you don't get all that."

Clearly, vinyl records can't beat digital, especially in the age of cloud storage and streaming services, for convenience, but beside of the tactile and aesthetic appeal, most connoisseurs tip in favor of vinyl for the superior audio performance of analog, which doesn't suffer from the loss of dynamic range found in compressed sound files.

It might be surprising, but as Mistretta noted, when teenagers take an interest in The Beatles, they seek out vinyl, some becoming die-hard collectors.

That works out well for Mistretta, who is a lifelong fan of The Beatles and is stocking a full range of Beatles records, books and memorabilia. 

But the Beatles aren't the only hot seller from previous generations. There's also The Who, Queen, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, and, Mistretta noted, even before he died, he couldn't keep Prince in stock. When he put Prince records up for sale online, they would often be gone within hours.

Record stores in WNY are now few and far between, so he's hoping to draw clientele from throughout the GLOW region as well as Rochester and Buffalo. One of his goals is to get to know his customers, know what they're looking for and work with his wholesalers to find it for them.

Mistretta is 60 and recently retired after 20 years at the University of Rochester. He lived in Rochester when he met his wife, Michelle, and fell in love with her and fell in love with her hometown, Batavia. He's lived here for three years.

When he decided vinyl would be the speciality of his retail store, he started buying boxes and boxes of records, including one large collection from a seller in Pennsylvania. He said he's found some real gems among these big collections.

"The poor UPS drivers," he said. "Those poor delivery people probably have sore backs from carrying in boxes."

He's found the type of customers range from young to old, from those looking for just specific artists, to those who buy everything in a genre and those who are more interested in album covers or just exploring.

He has set up several listening stations in the store so customers can sample before they buy.

Right now, the store is strictly used records, tapes and CDs, but with most top current recording artists releasing their albums on vinyl again, he is hoping to find the right distributor so he can carry new inventory as well.

He also sees a need to supply area audiophiles with turntables, receivers and speakers.

"Manufacturers are starting to get back into making a nice receiver, making a nice phonograph and the big speakers, because everything did switch over to something that was more portable," Mistretta said.

Store hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. He's not settled yet on what his Saturday hours will be, but he will be closed Sundays and Mondays.










April 29, 2016 - 3:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ladder 15, batavia, City Fire, news.


City firefighters got a first look at their new ladder truck today as it stopped by the fire hall on its trip to Hamburg, where it will receive final setup before being ready to go into service.

After that setup and training for fire crews, it will go into service, about a month from now.

The truck is a dealer's demo built in early 2015 and cost the city $912,000.





April 29, 2016 - 2:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in criminal justice awards, Batavia Kiwanis Club, batavia, news.


Sheriff Gary Maha was honored for his 49 years in local law enforcement at the annual Criminal Justice Awards dinners sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Batavia and held at Batavia Country Club.

For details on the awards, click here.


Batavia Police Officer James M. DeFreze, nominated by the YWCA (Director Jeanne Walton, who is also this year's president of the Kiwanis, in the background) for his work with victims of domestic violence.


State Police investigators Ronald Wilson and Michael Sims were honored for their work on a four-county burglary investigation. Also pictured, in the middle, Lt. Martin McKee, who presented the award.


Chaplain Allen A. Werk, was honored for his countless hours of volunteer service to local law enforcement and the families he is sometimes called on to serve through the Sheriff's Office.


Sarah Palermo received an Exceptional Service Award from GCASA for her volunteer work on the DWI Victims' Impact Panel.


David Saleh was honored for his years of volunteer coaching with mock trial teams.


The keynote speech was delivered by Thomas A. Belein, chairman of the NYS Commission of Corrections.


Attorney Ben Bonarigo, president of the Genesee County Bar Association, was emcee.


The Pembroke Mock Trial Team, which won this year's competition.

April 29, 2016 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in criminal justice awards, batavia kiwanis, batavia, news.

Press release:

Kiwanis Club President Jeanne Walton and Genesee County Bar Association Benjamin Bonarigo, Sr. announced the awards during an annual dinner held at Batavia Country Club on Thursday, April 28, 2016.  The speaker at the dinner was Hon. Thomas A. Belein, Chairman of the New York State Commission of Correction.


Kiwanis Criminal Justice Award

The Kiwanis Club of Batavia Criminal Justice Award is presented to a member or members of the community, law enforcement, or a criminal justice agency serving the citizens of Genesee County whose exceptional career achievements and conscientiousness to citizenship have demonstrated a spirit of selfless public service or demonstrated an act of exceptional valor or heroism.


Sheriff Gary T. Maha, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Gary T. Maha has been a member of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office for over 49 years.  He started his law enforcement career as a dispatcher for the New York State Police in 1966 and became a Deputy Sheriff in 1967.  He was promoted to a Senior Investigator on July 16, 1969, and then promoted to Chief Deputy on June 4, 1977.  In 1988, he became Sheriff of Genesee County and has been ever since.  Sheriff Maha is very disciplined, beyond reproach, has served well as the commander in chief of a quasi-military organization, has adapted well to five decades of technological and other advancements in law enforcement and has been actively involved in his community as a member of the Kiwanis Club, serving as the Club President, a member of the Board of Directors and a pancake maker at the annual Pancake Days, along with many other projects.  He has earned the respect of his employees, the other professionals he works with in the Criminal justice System, his colleagues throughout NYS and the citizens of Genesee County.  Sheriff Maha was nominated for this award by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.


Police Officer James M. DeFreze, City of Batavia Police Department
Police Officer James M. DeFreze has been a member of the City of Batavia Police Department since 2010.  He serves as a Field Training Officer and Crisis negotiator while remaining very active with all of the department’s community events.  This past December, Officer DeFreze spearheaded and helped organize the department’s first ever Shop-with-a-Cop Event in conjunction with Wal-Mart of Batavia.  The event was a huge success and reached every school district in the county.  Officer DeFreze has gone above and beyond routine assistance to
not only respond to victims of domestic violence but to make them comfortable and secure with the way in which he treats them.  Officer DeFreze has demonstrated a depth of knowledge and understanding of the very dynamics of domestic violence.  This has enabled him to appropriately respond to each victim’s fragile emotions with amazing sensitivity, tact and patience.  His concern for domestic violence victims is unsurpassed.  Police Officer DeFreze was nominated for this award by Justina Garner, YWCA Program Manager for Domestic Violence, and Holly Baxter, YWCA Program Manager – Care & Crisis Helpline. 


Investigators Ronald W. Wilson and Michael D. Sims, New York State Police

In August of 2015, the State Police BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigations) adopted a burglary investigation in the Town of Darien.  Throughout the following weeks, additional burglaries were reported to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office as well as the New York State Police.  Investigators Wilson and Sims worked diligently on all of the complaints in an effort to connect them and identify the perpetrators through evidence, interviews, and the sharing of intelligence with their counterparts at the Sheriff’s Office.  Similar daytime residential burglaries were occurring in Erie and Niagara Counties.  Wilson and Sims met with representatives of the agencies involved and together they formulated a plan to monitor and eventually arrest the suspects.  In October, four suspects were arrested and charged with more than 30 residential burglaries spanning four counties in Western New York.  Two of the defendants were additionally charged for their confession to an armed robbery that occurred earlier in the year.  Investigators Ronald W. Wilson and Michael D. Sims were nominated for this award by Major Steven A. Nigrelli, Troop Commander, Troop A.

Chaplain Allen A. Werk, Genesee County Sheriff’s Offic

Charles L. Mancuso Mock Trial Award

The “Charles L. Mancuso Award” was presented to the members of the Pembroke High School Mock Trial Team as winners of the 2016 GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties) District Competition in the New York State Bar Association High School Mock Trial Tournament.  The award reads “Dedicated to the Memory of an Outstanding Attorney-Citizen”, Mr. Mancuso, a Batavia lawyer, served as coordinator of the local competition until his untimely death nine years ago.  The Pembroke High School team members honored at the dinner include:  Alison Reiner, Kilian Lewis, Matthew Reeb, Sophia Zwolinski, Samuel Lang, Kassandra Sanner, Seth Librock, Tyler Wood, Johnathon Doud, Bethany Zwolinski, Eli Fox and Coach Paul L. Schuler, Jr.  Coordinator of the local Mock Trial Program, Kristie DeFreze, and Genesee County Bar Association President Benjamin Bonarigo, Sr. presented the award.


Genesee County Bar Association SPECIAL PRESENTATION

David Saleh

Attorney Mary Ann Wiater made a special presentation to David Saleh on behalf of the Genesee County Bar Association.  Mr. Saleh has been a mock trial coach at Pembroke since the high school first started to compete.  The success of a high school team many times is determined by attorney coaches who dedicate valuable time, spending innumerable evening hours and countless weekends to assist the team of students.  The students of Pembroke high school are very fortunate to have had the dedication from David who is one of the finest advocates in the legal profession.  He coached his children when they attended high school, and even though his children have long since graduated, David continues to coach.  David believes in the Mock Trial program and in the value it provides to the students of Pembroke.  Because of David, Pembroke has never been without an attorney coach, and under his tutelage, Pembroke has made it to the regional competition twice. 

Genesee/Orleans Council on Substance Abuse (GCASA) Award

Exceptional Service Award – Sarah Palermo

Sheila Harding, Prevention Educator/VIP Coordinator for GCASA, presented the Exceptional Service Award to Sarah Palermo.  Sarah attends almost every monthly DWI/Victim Impact Panel as a member where she shares her experiences and personal story of her daughter being a victim of a drunk driving crash.  Sarah not only speaks on the Genesee County Panel but on other surrounding county panels.  She demonstrates respect and genuine kindness towards GCASA staff and the offenders who attend the panel.  Sarah is always willing to volunteer her time to speak for the panel, and speakers like her are the true reason why our DWI/Victim Impact Panel makes an impact in our community.  

April 29, 2016 - 1:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, schools, education, batavia.


Officials from throughout Genesee County were at Genesee Community College yesterday afternoon to join in a celebration of the college's continued growth -- groundbreaking for the Student Success Center and Event Center.

The Student Success Center will provide a sleek new entrance to the Campus and the Event Center will be the area’s largest indoor event arena with 25,000 square feet of open multipurpose floor space.

One man was instrumental in envisioning the expense and is being memorialized in the Event Center.

GCC’s President Jim Sunser unveiled the Event Center's official title, in honor of a man he was proud to call his friend, Richard C. Call.  

"The Board of Trustees has also given me the great privilege of announcing that at the boards May meeting the Trustees' intent to dedicate the Event Center to Dick Call and forever inscribe his name above the doors to this wonderful new building that's helping to create our future. The Richard C. Call Arena will be a tribute to the remarkable legacy of a man that has given so much to our college and community. And as we look ahead to the future the Richard C. Call Arena will symbolize the strength of our community and the power that we all have to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

Craig Yunker, chairman for the GCC Foundation "Creating Our Future Together" Campaign, tied the entire endeavor together with a childhood memory of GCC’s foundation.  

“Fifty years ago I was 15; I remember my parents talking about this at the dinner table and going out and joining some other people in trying to get this referendum passed, and some of those people are here tonight.”

The celebration was as much about the community’s collaboration as it was about the facilities themselves. The college was asked to match $5 million of State funds and with many generous donations by local supporters it surpassed that amount raising $5.4 million.

Work on both facilities is expected to be complete sometime around July of 2017.

Our news partner, WBTA contributed to this story.



GCC President Jim Sunser.


Retired, longtime GCC President Stuart Steiner in the middle, then Craig Yunker and GC Legislature Chairman Ray Cianfrini.


Diane D. Torcello, chair of the College's Board of Trustees.


Eunice A. Lewin, SUNY trustee.


Craig Yunker, chair of the GCC Foundation's Creating Our Future Together Campaign.


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