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December 22, 2015 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

Press release:

City Manager Jason Molino today announced the immediate appointment of Capt. Dan Herberger to the position of Interim Fire Chief.

“Captain Herberger is well respected at all levels within our fire department and also in the local emergency services community,” Molino said. “I am grateful that Dan has accepted this important transitional responsibility and look forward to working with him.”

Capt. Herberger has served as a member of the City of Batavia Fire Department since 2002 and was appointed to his current position of Fourth Platoon Captain in September 2013.

“I am honored and humbled to serve the people of the City of Batavia in this capacity,” Herberger said. “I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated men and women of this department and appreciate the expressions of support and confidence as we move forward through this transition.”

Capt. Herberger will serve as Interim Chief until a permanent Chief is appointed, which Molino estimates will be sometime mid-Spring. 

The Batavian broke the news of Jim Maxwell's sudden retirement on Saturday.

December 22, 2015 - 2:16pm

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Driving around this time of year you can always find some wonderful displays of Christmas lights and figurines. Since the inception in 2011, Dean Brooks pictured above (family dog "Princess," daughter Mickayla, wife Jennifer and son Spencer) have made this a family activity that has grown over time.

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The display at his home at starts getting assembled right after Thanksgiving and usually takes about a week or so depending on weather and family schedules.

"I first started with about 3,000 bulbs, a couple figurines but it has grown to over 7,000 lights and we have been transitioning to a LED display only," Dean said. "The LED lights are brighter, more brilliant of a color, more energy efficient and I can differentiate between those and the incandescent lights.

"The possibilities are huge because the LEDs can be changed to multiple colors."

A new item this year is “talking Rudolph” in the front of the house. The show runs on over an hour then loops back to the beginning through a computer-generated software program and FM transmitter that you can tune into 91.7 when you are in front of his home that the lights and music are synced to.

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The plan next year is to expand the megatron tree to have words flashing across it plus much more. The viewing schedule can be found at his Web site http://www.brooksfamilylights.com/

The family's address is 5671 E. Main Street Road, Batavia

Also a Facebook page here: Brooks Family Lights

December 22, 2015 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.

A 62-year-old Batavia woman who served on a grand jury in a murder case has been charged with unlawful grand jury disclosure, a Class E felony.

She is accused of disclosing to an acquaintance the decision of the grand jury to indict a person in a homicide case before the indictment was officially filed and became a matter of public record.

Janice L. Mortellaro, of Buell Street, was on a grand jury that was seated Dec. 8.

The Sheriff's Office, which handled the arrest of Mortellaro, is not disclosing which case she allegedly shared information about.

The District Attorney's Office is currently handling two homicide cases, the Dec. 1 death of Norman D. "Don" Bell in Le Roy and the discovery of a dead infant in a home on Liberty Street in August.

In the death of Bell, a neighbor, Kyle G. Johnson was arraigned on a second-degree murder indictment Dec. 15. In the case of the infant's death, the baby's mother, Christina M. Colantonio, was originally arrested on a murder charge, but she was released from jail after an autopsy could not prove a live birth. A second autopsy was ordered and no indictment has been announced in that case. It's uncertain if that case has even been presented to a grand jury at this point.

Mortellaro was arraigned in City Court and issued an appearance ticket for 9 a.m., Jan. 5, to answer to the charge.

December 21, 2015 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, elba, pembroke.

A 17-year-old resident of Porter Avenue, North Tonawanda, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of alcohol by a person under age 21 and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. The youth is accused of being the driver of a vehicle that struck a building in Elba. The youth allegedly fled the scene of the accident on foot and was located a short time later by a deputy. The incident, reported at 11:04 p.m., Friday, was investigated by Deputy Joseph Corona along with Deputy Howard Carlson and Sgt. Eric Seppala.

Jacklyn M. Ganzhorn, 28, of Central Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Ganzhorn allegedly failed to appear in City Court on a charge of unlicensed operation, 3rd. After posting $500 bail, Ganzhorn was turned over to Attica PD on a warrant.

Earle D. Webb, 29, of Joseph Avenue, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and aggravated harassment, 2nd. Webb was arrrested by Batavia police as the result of an alleged incident reported at 11:42 a.m., Friday. 

Jordan J. Hardy, 26, of Sunset Parkway, Oakfield, is charged with two counts of sex offender failure to report change of, or changes to, Internet accounts. Hardy allegedly failed to report to Batavia two changes to his Internet accounts within 10 days of the change. He has a prior conviction and was arrested Oct. 26 on the same charge. He was jailed without bail.

Robert W. Blankenberg Jr., 31, of Union Street, Batavia. Blankenberg was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, charge. He was jailed on $500 bail.

Johnny L. Shannon, 57, of Creek Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and driving while ability impaired by drugs. Shannon was arrested following complaint of erratic operation at 7:47 a.m. Dec. 12 on East Main Street, Batavia, and an investigation by officers Kevin DeFelice and Sgt. Dan Coffey.

Justin Gabriel Sepi, 28, of Columbia Avenue, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Sepi was charged following a traffic stop at 10:25 p.m. Saturday on West Main Street, Batavia, by Deputy Ryan DeLong.

Dylan James Perry, 24, of Kingsbury Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Perry was allegedly found in possession of metal knuckles and marijuana during roadside contact with law enforcement at 2:31 a.m. Friday on Main Road, Pembroke. He was arrested by Deputy Joseph Corona and jailed without bail.

December 21, 2015 - 1:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, Christmas, arts, entertainment, batavia.

December 21, 2015 - 1:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Troop A, batavia, NYSP, State Police.

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Press release:

Major Steven A. Nigrelli is the new Troop A commander. He is a 25-year-veteran of the New York State Police, starting his career in 1990, serving as a uniform Trooper in Troop D in Central New York until he was assigned to the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) in 1994.

Nigrelli was assigned to CNET in both Western and Central New York (CNET). Nigrelli worked undercover for more than five years in the State Police’s CNET. Nigrelli then was promoted to sergeant and investigator in 1999, and was assigned to Troop A Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).

In 2003 while in Troop A, he received his promotion to lieutenant and was assigned to supervise Troop A's BCI.

In March of 2007, Nigrelli was promoted to captain, accepting an assignment as the Troop A Zone III Commander at SP Jamestown. In 2008, he was reassigned as the Troop A Zone II Commander at SP Clarence. As a Zone Commander, Nigrelli was responsible for overseeing all Uniform operations in his zone.

In 2012, Nigrelli was promoted to BCI Captain for Troop A at Troop A Headquarters in Batavia.

Throughout his career, Captain Nigrelli has had the opportunity to work on several high-profile cases, including numerous homicides, Ralph “Bucky” Phillips manhunt, Bike Path Rapist/Killer Task Force, and he served as the scene commander for the investigation of the crash of Continental Flight #3407.

As the Troop A Commander, Nigrelli will oversee the State Police operations in the eight counties of Western New York. Under his command will be more than 400 civilian and sworn personnel.

Major Nigrelli has been committed to community service and volunteerism throughout his State Police career. He has dedicated his time and energy to volunteering for Special Olympics and currently sits as both the New York State Torch Run director and International Executive Council Board of Directors for Special Olympics. These organizations are dedicated to raising both funds and awareness for Special Olympics, which is comprised of children and adults with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Prior to joining the State Police, Major Nigrelli briefly served as member of the Buffalo Housing Police and earned a bachelor's degree from Buffalo State College.

December 20, 2015 - 1:31am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, batavia.

A house fire is reported at 5 Thomas Ave. 

City firefighters are responding.

UPDATE 1:49 a.m.: No smoke or flames showing, although there was a fire at this apartment building, which has been evacuated. Firefighters are dismantling a portion of the front porch looking for any extention.

UPDATE 2:05 a.m.: There were flames showing when firefighters arrived on scene. Ten residents were evacuated by firefighters, including an infant who was carried from an apartment by a firefighter. Some of the residents were taken in by neighbors, others were still outside watching. The cause is under investigation. It will be up to a city building inspector to determine whether the residents can return to their apartments tonight.

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December 19, 2015 - 6:00pm


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December 19, 2015 - 2:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in walmart, batavia, Shop with a Cop, law enforcement.

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Deputy Debbie Snyder helps Isabell Alwardt shop for Christmas presents at Walmart during the Batavia's store first "Shop with a Cop" charity event. The Walmart Foundation provided $4,000 to the store so 40 children in the community could receive $100 each to buy Christmas presents for friends, family or themselves. The Alwardt family donated half of what they received to another family in the community.

Store Manager Shallenberger said he learned about other stores doing "Shop with a Cop" last year and started working on bringing the event to Batavia. He intends for it to become an annual event.

"I think our community needs to see how involved the police department really is in the community and the City of Batavia can see how involved Walmart in the community and that we’re able to this for the community, that we’re not just a retailer we can meet these special needs," Shallenberger said.

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Gabriel Winn shops for a present with Deputy Ryan DeLong and Deputy Brad Mazur while, Joe Loconte, looks on.

The deputies, police officers and troopers who participated in the event -- there were enough uniformed officers from all of the departments so each child could shop with a cop -- were off duty and volunteering their time.

Members of City Church's youth group volunteered to wrap presents after checkout.

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December 19, 2015 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia.

A vehicle fire is reported in the rear lot of Batavia Downs.

Flames are showing.

Town of Batavia Fire dispatched.

December 19, 2015 - 12:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, Falleti Ice Arena, batavia, sports.

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Prior to the start of the David M. McCarthy Memorial Hockey Tournament at the Falleti Ice Arena, Assemblyman Steve Hawley donated a U.S. flag and a state flag to the arena to hang next to the scoreboard. The U.S. flag replaces the one that has hung in the area for years and has become worn with age.

Pictured are arena managers Alan Fitzsimmons and Adam Reach, Batavia players Bryce Polito and Riley Kusmicrski, Hawley, and players Bryce D'Alba and Jack Kasmarek.

December 19, 2015 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

Members of the City of Batavia Fire Department were surprised to learn Friday that their fire chief, James Maxwell, retired with no apparent notice.

Contacted by phone this morning, Maxwell said he wasn't in a position to comment on his retirement, but did confirm it was not announced prior to the decision.

City Manager Jason Molino confirmed last night that Maxwell retired. We have not yet been able to reach him this morning for further comment.

We've spoken with several members of the fire department and all were surprised by Maxwell's departure and said they've been told nothing further about Maxwell leaving the department. One member said they were told to refer questions to Molino.

UPDATE 10:51 a.m.: Jim Maxwell asked to include the following statement: "I enjoyed my time with the department and the opportunity to work with the professional men and women of the organiztion. I wish them all the best in the future."

We're expecting to speak with Molino later. He said he has a statement.

Also, we've learned there was a civil service posting for the position Dec. 2. 

UPDATE 3:29 p.m.: Jason Molino and I have been unable to connect by phone today. He e-mailed over this statement: "The City thanks Chief Maxwell for his years of service to the community. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."

UPDATE 3:32 p.m.: A person familiar with the civil service process says the exam was not posted Dec. 2. That was the last filing date for the exam. If a job opening had been posted, the reader suggests, City fire personnel would not be surprised by the retirement.

December 18, 2015 - 11:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.
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     Adam Tabelski

A former mayor of Medina, who moved to Batavia about a year ago, has been tabbed by the City GOP to take over a vacant seat on the Batavia City Council.

If confirmed by the council, Adam Tabelski will fill the council-at-large seat vacated by John Deleo, who was elected last month to the County Legislature.

Tabelski's LinkedIn profile says he is currently employed at WENDEL Companies in Williamsville as an account manager.

He was communications director for Sen. George Maziarz from 2002 to 2014. He also served in the Army National Guard for six years.

Tabelski was mayor in Medina from April 2008 to Sept. 2011. He has a master's degree from SUNY Albany in History and a bachelor's degree from SUNY Geneseo.

When a seat is vacated on the council, the political party of the departing council member selects the nominee to replace that member. The council must confirm the nominee, but usually goes along with the party's selection.

The vote will be held at the council's organizational meeting Jan. 4.

Sources told WBTA, The Batavian's news partner, that four people sought support to fill the vacant position.

December 18, 2015 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in IAFF Local 896, batavia.

Press release:

City of Batavia Firefighters Local 896 for Operation Warm would like to thank everyone for their continued support over the last three years. This year Batavia City firefighters were able to distribute 108 brand-new, 100-percent American-made winter coats to children in Batavia. This campaign would not have been possible without the support from our community. This year we partnered with local business Ken Barrett Chevrolet and it was a huge success.  We can't thank them enough for their support and donation of more than $2,000 to provide the gift of warmth. Special thanks also goes out to Michelle's Catering & Bakery Co. Since 2013 we've distributed over 225 brand-new coats and look forward to continuing our fundraising efforts for many years to come.

December 17, 2015 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.

Jade Dewey Repass, 20, of Irving Parkway, Oakfield, is charged with inhalation of certain toxic vapors. Repass was arrested following a complaint of two people unconscious in a vehicle in the parking lot of Walmart. Also charged was Jesse Sumner Repass, 29, of Pine Street, Oakfield. The duo are accused of inhaling fumes from a pressurized can of dust cleaner while sitting in the vehicle, causing a condition of intoxication. Jade Repass was released on his own recognizance. Jesse Repass was jailed on $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond.

Guadalupe Lopez-Perez, 53, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession, 2nd. In the course of a domestic incident investigation at 12:35 a.m., Dec. 13, at a residence on South Main Street by Officer Jason Davis, Lopez-Perez was allegedly found in possession of a forged Social Security card and a forged resident alien card. These cards enabled him to obtain employment in the United States using a Social Security number. Lopez-Perez was jailed without bail.

Dennis Ray Lloyd Jr., 34, of Porter Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, assault, 3rd, endangering the welfare of a child, harassment, 2nd, criminal mischief, 4th, and criminal obstruction of breathing. Lloyd was allegedly involved in a verbal and physical domestic incident with the mother of his child and a friend of the mother's at 5:59 a.m., Dec. 14. The child was not physically harmed. Lloyd was jailed without bail.

Tyler J. Henderson, 27, of Franklin Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. Henderson is accused of failure to appear on charges of menacing, 3rd, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment of property. The reported date of the original incident is Jan. 1 at 9 Jackson St., Batavia.

Donna M. Kroft, 62, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Kroft is accused of stealing $40.13 worth of merchandise from Dollar General.

Magnum Marie Kibler, 19, of Randall Road, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and no seatbelt. Kibler was stopped at 12:33 a.m. Dec. 13 on Clinton Street by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Jeffrey James Cervone, 47, of Skye Road, Basom, was arrested on a warrant. Cervone allegedly failed to appear for a court date. He was arrested upon his release from the Erie County Jail, where he was held on an unrelated matter. He was jailed locally on $1,000 bail.

A 17-year-old resident of Batavia (name withheld by Batavia PD) is charged with assault, 3rd. The youth and a juvenile companion are accused of attacking another person, causing physical injury.

Ian K. Leblanc-Chatt, 30, of Hart Street, Batavia is charged with petit larceny. Leblanc-Chatt is accused of stealing a 12-pack of AA batteries valued at $12.79 from Tops at 1:10 a.m. Dec. 12.

December 17, 2015 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Red Kettle Campaign, batavia.

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Frank Panepento serenaded shoppers with Christmas carols on his trumpet at Tops Market on Wednesday evening while volunteering with the Salvation Army for the Red Kettle Campaign.

Joining Panepento was Pauli Miano.

Below is a picture from last week that I forgot to post of local Girl Scouts and Webelos during their evening of volunteer bell ringing and Christmas carol singing.

Red Kettle volunteers are still needed. To volunteer, contact Major Robert Kurtz at (585) 861-0676 or [email protected].

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