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June 3, 2014 - 7:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Batavia resident Dashawn Butler, suspected of discharging a firearm on State Street in September, was jailed Monday in lieu of $25,000 cash bail after being arraigned on a three-count Grand Jury indictment.

Butler entered a not guilty plea to counts of criminal use of a firearm, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and attempted assault, 1st, also a Class C violent felony.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman declined to discuss much about the case after Butler's appearance in County Court, citing concerns that pre-trial publicity could make it more difficult to select a jury, but he acknowledged that a rap video featuring Butler could possibly be used in future court proceedings.

The video is attributed to Mobb Bugatti and was produced by Rochester-based Triple R Muzik Group. The video, along with another one Butler is featured in called "Rollin'," and widespread Web marketing and publicity on social network and music sites indicate the aspiring rapper and TRMG are pursuing a music career for Butler.

The video could be taken in that context, or be seen as something more sinister.

During "Red Flags" Butler is seen waving a red bandana and rapping about "murder death kill kill" and disrespecting (using a different word) the law.

The professionally produced video appears to have been shot on State Street, Hutchins Place and Lewis Place. One scene shows a Batavia police car cruising down a street.

If Butler and his defense attorney Thomas Burns decide to make the people prove Butler's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the video could become relevant if Friedman decides to portray Butler as gang affiliated and that the shots-fired incident Sept. 27 on State Street was tied to possible gang activity.

Friedman declined to answer a question along those lines.

Asked if the video might tell us something about Butler that might be relevant to the case, Friedman said, "some people might feel that way."

There was some wrangling in court Monday over Butler's bail status.

Butler has been out of jail since a couple of days after his arrest in December because Friedman wasn't ready at the time to conduct a felony hearing in City Court.

Friedman argued Monday that Butler is facing three C violent felonies, has a prior felony conviction that could make him a second felony offender for sentencing purposes, and has a prior instance of failure to appear.

Burns countered that Butler has made his court appearances on time in this case, the prior failure to appear was many years ago in New York City and Burns doesn't believe Butler will qualify as a second felony offender.

There's also a speedy trial issue to look at in the case, Burns said. An arrest warrant was issued for Butler in October, but he wasn't arrested until December and only just now indicted.

Friedman said it took two months for Batavia PD to locate Butler. When he was arrested it was in the house of a person parole officers were looking for and Butler was hiding in a bathroom. Those circumstances negate the speedy trial issue, Friedman indicated.

Burns said Butler has lived in Batavia since 2001, moving here from NYC. He currently has a part-time job with a local food service business. He asked that if Noonan were going to set bail that it be something reasonable like $4,500.

Noonan set bail at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond, which was the bail amount set in City Court when Butler was arrested in December.

The attorneys will spend the next 45 days preparing motions in the case and Butler is due in court again at 9:30 a.m., Aug. 4.

Warning: The video below contains profanity. This clip is edited to show just a representative portion of the video.

June 2, 2014 - 9:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, golf, terry hills, Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Classic.

Jim Kelly wasn't at Terry Hills today for the 28th annual charity tournament that carries his name because he's weakened by chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer.

At the start of the tournament his brother Dan had his head shaved both to honor his brother and to raise money for the Kelly for Kids Foundation. He challenged all of the golfers -- donors, athletes and celebrities to follow his example and over the course of the day, many of them did. (Cutting his hair, above, Michelle Napierala).

The Hall of Fame quarterback may not have been at his event this year, but he was there in spirit. Blue "Kelly Tough" T-shirts were everywhere and friends, such as ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, spoke of Kelly's toughness and said that toughness is why he'll beat cancer and be back at Terry Hills next year to host his tournament. 

Former Bill and CBS Sports broadcaster Steve Tasker said much the same thing.

“We miss Jim being here,” he said, “but at the same token, it’s because of Jim’s presence and the quality of this event and what this event means – this is more than just a bunch of guys getting together for another event; this is like a reunion, not just a team reunion, but a family reunion for a lot of guys who’ve known each other for a couple of decades. The tournament’s been going on for 28 years and these guys are lifelong friends. The fact that Jim can’t be here today won’t change that.”

A fan gets her picture taken with the Bills 2014 #1 draft pick Sammy Watkins.

Former NBA star Gus Williams stops for a free brownie on the ninth hole, where a group of Batavia residents hang out every year to hand out treats to the stars and maybe get an autograph or picture.

Tasker talking with the media.

Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone with a group of Bills fans.

Berman talks with the media.

Actor Dan Baldwin, center, with his group on the first tee.

Tasker teeing off to start the tournament.

Mike Ziegler, a professional golfer and long-drive champion, would, for a donation, hit the drive for golfers on one of the back holes.

June 2, 2014 - 3:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, softball.

Press release from the Empire Justice Center:

The Empire Justice Center is pleased to announce that a settlement has been reached in the class-action suit Myers v. Batavia City School District. Three female softball players and their families filed the case in April 2013 seeking equal treatment to their male classmates in the provision of practice and competitive facilities and equipment. Among other things, the players alleged that the District’s policy of renting a professional minor league stadium for all boys’ varsity baseball home games, while providing the girls with substandard playing fields at the school, violated Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972.

“More than anything, I am so proud of these young women for having the courage to stand up for themselves,” said Kristin Small, attorney for Empire Justice Center. “They saw that the way they were being treated was unfair and decided to do something about it, knowing full well they might face backlash from their community and that they themselves might never see the benefit of their efforts.”

As part of the agreement, the District has agreed to build a brand new varsity softball facility with permanent dugouts, good drainage, outfield fencing, a permanent electronic scoreboard and other amenities. The improvements are projected to be completed in time for the 2015 softball season. The District has also committed to making significant improvements to the junior varsity and modified softball fields, and affirmed its commitment to ensuring that boys’ and girls’ sports receive equal benefits, even when that requires the District to compensate for donations made by third parties, such as booster clubs.

After hearing that the District had agreed to the settlement, plaintiffs Elizabeth and Rebecca Myers said, “We are proud and thankful that the Batavia City School District has recognized the importance of female athletics and the need for equal treatment. We look forward to a bright future for Batavia girls’ softball, as players will now be able to enjoy and be proud of the fields that they will be playing on. We would like to thank Empire Justice Center for helping us resolve these disparities.”

“We hope that other school districts will take note of this settlement and be reminded that the movement to achieve equality in athletics between boys and girls is far from over,” noted Jonathan Feldman, a senior attorney at Empire Justice Center. “Many districts face similar challenges leftover from an earlier time when equality in sports was not seen as important. We congratulate the Batavia City School District for stepping up to the plate and working with us to find a solution that will ensure fair and equal treatment of all student athletes, regardless of gender.”

June 2, 2014 - 2:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, crime, elba, Oakfield, Pavilion, Alabama, corfu.

Joshua Scott Bettilyon, 26, of Gorton Road, Alabama, was charged with two felonies and several violations stemming from an incident on May 30. He allegedly operated a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or more, which is a felony, and was also charged with DWI with a previous conviction of same within the last 10 years, another felony. In addition, he was cited for alleged ATV violations -- reckless driving, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, unregistered vehicle, unlawful operation on highway, inadequate brake lights, unsafe tires, no / improper lights, and uninsured vehicle. Bettilyon was arrested by Sheriff's deputies after a short vehicular pursuit. NYS Police assisted in this incident, which was investigated by deputy Joseph Corona, assisted by troopers Hanssel and Kosowski.

Donald E. Ford, 40, of Oak Street, Batavia, was arrested by Batavia PD on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and harassment, 2nd, in an incident on May 30 on Oak Street. He allegedly threatened to harm an individual while that individual was in the presence of three children. He was jailed and bail set at $2,500. The incident was investigated by Batavia PD officer Eric Hill, assisted by officer Frank Klimjack.

Edwin Leroy Stancliff Jr., 35, of Alleghany Road, Corfu, was arrested by Sheriff's deputies on May 30 and charged with two counts of menacing, 2nd, and criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. Stancliff allegedly displayed a 6-inch kitchen knife during a domestic dispute, threatening his girlfirend and an acquaintance. After his arraignment in Pembroke Town Court, he was jailed. The incident was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Lonnie Nati, assisted by deputy Christopher Parker.

Christopher Lynn Bayliss, 35, of Tower Road, Wyoming, was arrested June 1 following the investigation of a motor-vehicle accident on Attica Road in Alexander. He is charged with felony DWI, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, refusal to take breath test, unsafe backing of a vehicle and driving without a seat belt. He was jailed on $5,000 cash bail and is to return to Alexander Town Court on June 10.

Bryan H. Fetterly, 28, of Barrville Road, Elba, is charged with harassment in the second degree -- physical contact, and criminal mischief in the third degree -- damaging property of another person in excess of $250. It is alleged that on West Main Street in the City of Batavia on May 30 Fetterly and two other subjects were in a vehicle when an argument took place. Fetterly allegedly kicked one of the subjects several times before exiting the vehicle and then struck the vehicle, causing damage to that vehicle. He was arrested and released on an appearance ticket and is to be in Batavia City Court on June 3. The incident was investigated by Batavia PD officer Chad Richards.

Allen W. Gray, 34, of Oak Street, Batavia, was arrested and charged with harassment, 2nd, following an incident on South Main Street, Batavia, on May 29. Batavia PD officers went to investigate a disturbance complaint and it's alleged that Gray shoved two people following a verbal altercation. He was issued an electronically generated appearance ticket and released. He is scheduled to appear in Batavia City Court on June 3. The incident was investigated by Batavia PD officer Stephen Cronmiller, assisted by officer Christopher Camp.

Mamie M. Baugh, 36, of Dewey Avenue, Rochester, is charged with third-degree assault following an incident on May 25 on Bank Street in the City of Batavia. She was arrested after Batavia PD responded to a disturbance at that location. She was issued an appearance ticket for city court. The incident was investigated by Batavia PD officer Keven DeFelice, assisted by officer Nedim Catovic.

Joseph Bennett, 26, of West State Street, Albion, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny. He was transferred to Batavia Police by Albion Police on May 29 after being arrested on a warrant for violation of Genesee County probation. He was jailed in lieu of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bail bond and is due in Batavia City Court on June 6. The incident was investigated by Batavia PD officer Nedim Catovic.

Darrin Mitchell Brown, 24, of South Pearl Street, Oakfield, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. On June 1, he was arrested by a Sheriff's deputy for allegedly violating a court order of protection by threatening the protected person. Brown was issued at appearance ticket and is scheduled to be in Town of Oakfield Court on June 16 to answer to the charge. The incident was investigated by deputy Joseph Loftus.

Joey Aaron Evans, 23, of State Street, Batavia, was arrested by Batavia PD on May 29 on a bench warrant issued by Batavia City Court for allegedly failing to comply with drug court and petit larceny. He was jailed on $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bond. He is to appear in city court again on June 26.

Michael D. Snyder, 42, of Pringle Avenue, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. He was arrested following an incident on May 30 wherein he allegedly took a 30-pack of Budweiser beer from Top's Market without paying for it. Snyder fled eastbound on Route 5 and was apprehended near the Batavia Fire Department. He was released on an appearance ticket and is to appear in city court on June 3. The incident was investigated by Batavia PD officer Chad Richards, assisted by officer Richard Schauf.

John A. Snook, 26, of Gillette Road, Albion, is charged with petit larceny for allegedly stealing $51.95 in merchandise from Walmart on May 14. He was arrested by Genesee County Sheriff's deputies and is currently in Orleans County Jail and is scheduled to appear in Town of Batavia Court on June 16. The incident was investigated by deputy Joseph Loftis.

A 16-year-old student at Pavilion High School was arrested on May 30 and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. The student was allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance while at the high school. The student was issued an appearance ticket for Pavilion Town Court at a later date. The incident was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Chad Minuto.

June 2, 2014 - 8:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

The Army is investigating the death of 21-year-old Paratrooper Shaina Schmigel, who grew up in Batavia before moving to Medina.

Schmigel was found unresponsive during a jump at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

She enlisted in the Army four years ago after graduating from Medina High School in 2010. She was promoted to sergeant in January and recently committed to four more years with the Army, Krissi Gress, a friend of the family, told OrleansHub.

In a statement, Army officials said, “All of the Paratroopers in the brigade are deeply saddened by the loss of an extraordinary and much-respected member of our team,” said Lt. Col. Albert Paquin, commander of the 2nd BCT. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this time of great loss. Our chaplains and our health care professionals are available to help comfort and support all of her fellow Paratroopers affected by this tragedy.”

As a paratrooper in the Army, she deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn from July to November 2011.

Her awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Parachutist Badge.

The Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel in Batavia will be handling funeral arrangements.

Thank you to Tom Rivers of OrleansHub with coverage of this story.

June 1, 2014 - 7:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, crime.

The clerk at the Kwik Fill at the corner of Ellicott and Jackson streets reports that an elderly white male allegedly stole his prescription glasses. The suspect was last seen walking toward Save-A-Lot and law enforcement is responding. He is described as being 5'10'' with a skinny build, wearing a flannel shirt, suspenders, a cowboy hat and he has one eye.

UPDATE 7:29 p.m.: The glasses are aviator style and the theft is allegedly on the store's film, which an officer is reviewing.

UPDATE 7:33 p.m.: The suspect has been located and police are taking him to the Kwik Fill.

June 1, 2014 - 4:09pm
posted by Larry Barnes in batavia, history, Batavia Centennial.

Batavia officially became a city on January 1, 1915 after having been an incorporated village since 1823.  The transition involved a progression through several steps during 1914.  During 2014, I will be acknowledging each of these events 100 years after their occurrence.

On this date 100 years ago, June 9, 1914, Batavians went to the polls to vote in a referendum on the proposed charter that would make Batavia a city.  Earlier in the year, there had been two different proposals before the State legislature with one providing for a city government run by a city manager and five non-partisan councilmen elected at large.  That proposal failed to gain sufficient support from assemblymen and senators.  So, the proposal now before voters in Batavia was a second one which had passed the Assembly and Senate and had been signed by the Governor.  This second proposal featured a mayor, six city wards, and a council person from each ward, all with party affiliations.

Earlier in the year, a straw vote had been taken among Batavians on this second proposal, but many questions had been raised about the voting procedure.  While the second proposal seemed to have voter support at that time, there was enough doubt about the matter to warrant voting again.  Consequently, when the second proposal was passed by the Assembly and Senate, it had been amended to require a referendum on June 9th.  If voters failed to again support the proposal at that time, Batavia would not become a city despite approval by the State legislature.

And so, on June 9th, Batavians once more went to the polls.  The turnout was not very high, resulting in only a little more than half of the ballots normally cast in village elections. It was not clear what that might signify and it made some supporfters of the second proposal a little nervous.

As it turned out, no one needed to worry.  One-thousand and seven ballots were cast, with 795 yeas and 212 nays.  Thus, after several years of discussion and debate, Batavia was finally going to become a city.  All that remained was to elect the new government in upcoming December elections.  Who would be elected to serve?  In six months, I will let you know.

 

 

 

June 1, 2014 - 3:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire.

A small mulch fire is reported outside Tops Market in Batavia near Lewiston Road. City firefighters are responding.

June 1, 2014 - 2:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire.

A possible fire is reported at 6946 Ellicott Street Road in an apartment above the Heavenly Sweets Bakery & Deli. Pavilion Fire Department is responding along with mutual aid from Le Roy. The caller is a resident who came home and found the smell of something burning inside the building and a light haze.

UPDATE 2:28 p.m.: The first responder on scene reports nothing showing.

UPDATE 3 p.m.: This is now a working structure fire. Bethany and Stafford fire departments are called to the scene and Stafford is also requested to provide a fill-in engine and crew for the Pavilion Fire Hall.

UPDATE 3:06 p.m.: A Mercy medic unit is requested to come in non-emergency in case needed.

UPDATE 3:09 p.m.: The city's Fast Team is requested to respond.

UPDATE 3:14 p.m.: The city's first platoon is called to stand by in its headquarters.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: Heavy smoke is reported in the attic.

UPDATE 3:33 p.m.: Firefighters are informed that the attic runs the length of the entire building, which is quite large.

UPDATE 3:34 p.m.: The roof has been opened up but only light haze is coming out. Bergen is asked to fill in at Le Roy Fire Station.

UPDATE 3:41 p.m.: Confirmed that all occupants are out of the building.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: Calendonia fire is on scene to provide mutual aid.

UPDATE 3:58 p.m.: More smoke is filling the second floor. They are going to draw water from Hanson's crick.

UPDATE 4:01 p.m.: Although there are no flames visible, command is still concerned about the potential for combustion. The building's sprayed insulation is smoldering and causing much of the smoke, which makes it difficult for firefighters to see inside.

UPDATE 4:08 p.m.: York firefighters are on scene and establishing a draft site.

UPDATE 4:10 p.m.: A Sheriff's deputy is called to the scene to secure firearms.

UPDATE 4:44 p.m.: Town of Batavia's fill-in crew is requested to the scene. Heavy black smoke is pouring from the roof where they opened it up.

UPDATE 4:47 p.m.: All interior firefighters are told to get out. Now they're going to open up the side of the building.

UPDATE 4:52 p.m.: The color of the smoke spewing out the windows is changing color, reports a firefighter. South Byron fire is asked to stage in their quarters.

UPDATE 4:52 p.m.: Darien, East Pembroke and Elba firefighters are asked to man their ladder tanker trucks and stand by in their own quarters in case needed at the scene or anywhere in Genesee County.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Firefighters are ordered off the roof. Another Bethany crew is asked to stand by in their hall.

UPDATE 5:06 p.m.: Interior firefighters from Alexander are asked to stage in their quarters. Flames are said to be visible.

UPDATE 5:09 p.m.: National Grid has shut off power to the burning building and the one next to it.

UPDATE 5:14 p.m.: National Fuel reps are on scene and are asked to shut off the gas lines(s) to the buildings at the street.

UPDATE 5:17 p.m.: A second Mercy rig is asked to stand by at the fire scene.

UPDATE 5:33 p.m.: Some standby tankers are called in, plus another South Byron crew is told to report to their hall. All staging for fire crews is being moved to the front of the bank. Barre fire is asked to stand by in Barre's hall.

UPDATE 5:37: Town of Batavia's Rescue 20 and all available interior manpower called in.

UPDATE 7:23 p.m.: The second story is completely gutted and the building is a total loss. Heavy equipment is en route to raze the structure. A crew from Wyoming Correctional Facility is on scene to help with clean-up. A pet cat was rescued.

June 1, 2014 - 8:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame High School held its graduation service Saturday evening outside on the north side of the campus. Bishop Richard Malone spoke at the commencement ceremony.

To purchase prints, click here.

June 1, 2014 - 6:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

A transformer apparently blew somewhere in the area of Jackson Street.

National Grid has confirmed a power outage in the area, but was unable to provide any further information at this time.

It's unknown how many customers are without power.

UPDATE 7:32 a.m.: It was a small outage in the area of Jackson and Morton and power has been restored.

May 31, 2014 - 3:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia.

At least three people are sick from natural gas fumes inside the residence at 101 Ross St. City fire and Mercy medics are responding. The call to dispatch was made by National Fuel.

May 31, 2014 - 2:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, environment, O-AT-KA Milk Products.

O-AT-KA Milk Products was issued a notice of violation by the DEC on April 24 for chemicals and waste materials being spilled into a lagoon south of Ellicott Street.

The company is complying with all DEC demands and requirements for dealing with spills from its dairy processing plant at the corner of Cedar and Ellicott streets, said David Crisp, director of business development for O-AT-KA.

The spills were brought to the attention of the DEC by Attica resident John Volpe (pictured above), a Native American well known locally for his environmental work.

Volpe said he's concerned about the health and well being of the fish, turtles, frogs and other wildlife in the lagoon, which is part of a 110-acre wildlife refuge owned by Chapin Manufacturing. The creatures, Volpe said, are part of the chain of life.

"This is how we look at our own life," Volpe said. "These are our teachers. All of our relations means just that. They’re all of our relations. You don’t leave out a worm or an eagle or whatever. We’re supposed to watch it and we’re supposed to protect it. That’s one of our jobs as among the people who walk this earth. It should be everybody’s job."

Volpe shared documents he said show serious environmental damage to the lagoon, including photos of more than 100 dead fish and dissection photos taken of dead animals -- such as turtles, frogs and fish -- showing medical issues (Volpe emphasized several times that he and his helpers never killed any animals, but merely took for samples and evidence animals they found dead).

The DEC letter accuses O-AT-KA of violating its SPDES (State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit and three sections of environmental law.

The letter specifically accuses O-AT-KA of causing a drop in water quality standards for pH, solids and water color from spills on at least six separate occasions. The spills, according to the DEC, contained milk and/or cleaning solutions.

The letter also specifically cites a fish kill of various species April 15.

O-AT-KA was accused of discharging water that causes or contributes to conditions in violation of state code; discharging industrial waste in violation of state code; and discharging pollutants at a frequency or volume in excess of permitted standards.

The company was given until May 7 a turn over a document called "Best Management Practices" as well as a summary of response actions, investigations and corrective measures taken for each reported spill since August 2013. 

By yesterday, O-AT-KA was required to complete a facility review and submit a corrective action plan designed to prevent or minimize potential damage from future spills.

The DEC also required O-AT-KA to install a continuous recording pH meter.

Crisp said O-AT-KA has been fully compliant with the DEC's requirements, an assertion confirmed by Linda Vera, spokeswoman for the DEC in WNY. 

"O-AT-KA has taken a number of actions to mitigate and prevent additional discharges," Vera said.

Crisp said a DEC official was on hand one day recently when an alarm sounded from the new system indicating there was an increase in pH in the outflow line to the discharge pipe and the officials saw firsthand that plant workers responded immediately to correct the problem.

"It really comes down to how dedicated O-AT-KA is to the highest level of environmental protection," Crisp said. "That's why we're working with the DEC to assure O-AT-KA is in compliance with the SPDES permit."

There were two spills of milk, Vera said. One in August and another in October. She said steps were taken to prevent future spills and there have been no similar discharges since October.

"The remaining incidents were related to cleaning solution discharges," Vera said. "Action was taken after each incident to determine the source, and O-AT-KA added monitoring equipment and changed practices to mitigate the issue. During DEC's early May inspection, the probable source was identified. A deteriorated flooring in one of production areas allowed cleaning/disinfection solution to seep into a deteriorated pipe beneath floor. O-AT-KA is taking necessary actions to repair piping and floor."

It's still possible O-AT-KA could be fined for the spills, but the DEC has made no determination yet on further enforcement actions, Vera said.

One source we spoke to for this story suggested we look at the notice of violation delivered to O-AT-KA in context of how many DEC violation notices are handed out locally in a year, suggesting that there's nothing remarkable about a company getting a letter of violation.

According to the DEC's database of spills, there have been 76 incidents reported in the past 12 months in Genesee County. Eight of those have been tied to O-AT-KA, which more than any other source in the county. Only three of those spills -- where the size of the spill is known -- involve 100 gallons or more, and two of those involve O-AT-KA. Those are a spill of 125 gallons of milk product in August 2013 and 3,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide in January.

There were 48 incidents countywide reported in the prior 12 months, none involving O-AT-KA.

The series of spills has been a concern to Chapin, CEO Jim Campbell said, and company officials have met several times with O-AT-KA officials to review the measures taken to prevent future problems.

The 110-acre preserve includes nature trails available to employees and the area is teaming with wildlife, Campbell said. Andris Chapin, a family owner and chairman of the board, is keenly aware of environment issues, Campbell said, and once a year takes interested employees on a nature trail walk through the preserve. 

The company also has an environmental manager. He is Mark Volpe, who is also the plant manager and is John Volpe's brother.

Campbell said Chapin is confident O-AT-KA is responding appropriately. It's his understanding, he said, that O-AT-KA has spent more than $100,000 on preventative measures. He said O-AT-KA has recently brought in new executives with a good deal of technical experience in environmental issues.

"They've done a great job and have a great solution in place," Campbell said.

John and Mark Volpe started monitoring and measuring the Chapin's 110-acre habitat in 2008, acquiring and maintaining detailed records on the species and quality of life in the preserve.

It was through that process that John Volpe became increasingly concerned about spills from the O-AT-KA plant, which he said go back further than the August 2013 date covered by the DEC letter.

As he saw more and more environmental damage to the lagoon, he began raising concerns to the DEC, to the point, he believes, that some officials at the DEC started trying to avoid his phone calls.

In his workshop at his home in Attica, Volpe showed dozens of presentation boards displaying charts and tables documenting discharge dates, water temperatures, pH readings and photos of dissected animals and dead fish.

When Volpe found dead fish, he and his helpers photographed where each fish was found, collected them, brought them back to Attica, weighed and identified the species of each fish and photographed each one individually.

The dead fish included sunfish, bullhead and bass.

The DEC was slow to act on contamination issues at the lagoon, contends Volpe.

"Why didn’t the DEC do this and cite them sooner so maybe these fish would still be alive?" Volpe said. "This is not the first fish kill. We’ve had other fish kills."

Volpe's wife caught in a net one bass near death. It was blind, had lost all its slime and was emaciated. The Volpes have nursed it back to health. It's eating again and its eyes have cleared of the haze that covered the pupils. The fish has become more active in its tank.

The blindness and loss of slime is a result of a high pH in the water as well as sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide reaching the lagoon.

Volpe is also concerned about the water temperature in the lagoon, which he said was above 60 degrees in March (he takes the water temperature every day) and the turtles and frogs need the water below at least 50 degrees to hibernate.

There is also evidence of frogs "toxing out," Volpe said. The toxins in the water cause their legs to shoot straight out, become rigid and they can't jump. Eventually, they die.

Volpe was arrested in February and accused of illegal possession of protected turtles and birds of prey. 

The DEC had known for years and years about Volpe's conservation efforts involving wildlife, his friend and supporter Mike Bastine said during a meeting at Volpe's house. It was only after Volpe started making waves about O-AT-KA that the DEC decided to come down hard on Volpe.

"If you look at the implications from the spills that he has documented, that has a much greater impact on the environment than the violations they subjected him to," Bastine said. "Is the issue really about protecting the environment and the animals and the life around us? No, not really.

"They think if they can shut that part of his work down, he's going to go away and say, 'they beat me,' that he'll have to throw in the towel because he can't defend himself. They're hounding us saying we need a permit to hold a feather or care for turtles, but that's our responsibility and that's our custom. It's our job. It's our duty to step in an assist."

In her e-mail response to a series of questions, Vera did not respond to the accusation that Volpe has been targeted for enforcement because of his O-TA-KA complaints.

She said the DEC had been monitoring O-AT-KA independently of Volpe, but found his work helpful. 

"DEC's actions have been ongoing, and are not dependent on Mr. Volpe's findings," Vera said. "However, some of the discharges discovered by Mr. Volpe, have provided assistance in mitigating the discharges and investigating potential sources."

Volpe said he's also concerned because the lagoon sits over the Batavia's aquifer. All of the city's water is pumped from wells in the area. He thinks the contaminants could seep into the aquifer.

City Manager Jason Molino said that really isn't a concern. Even if any contaminants reached the aquifer, the city treats all of its water before it's distributed.

Molino's confident, he said, the DEC has things under control.

"We've spoken with O-AT-KA and the DEC," Molino said. "I think the DEC is aware of the situation and has responded to it and are in constant communication with O-AT-KA. Otherwise, it's outside our jurisdiction."

This photo is from Genesee County's GIS map. The photographs that comprise the map were taken in April 2013. The Chapin Lagoon is in the lower left. O-AT-KA's plant is in the upper right. There is a dirt road that Hanson Aggregates uses running from Ellicott Street. Beside it is a drainage ditch, which apparently is how runoff from O-AT-KA reaches the lagoon. We have no confirmation of what the milky white substance is in the lagoon, but there is no spill around that time period reported in the DEC database.

Sign by drainage pipe that runs under Ellicott Street to a stream that runs to the Chapin Lagoon.

One of the no trespassing signs marking the property line of Chapin's 110-acre wildlife refuge.

May 31, 2014 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, Richmond Memorial Library.

Children who came to the Richmond Memorial Library this morning had a chance to be entertained by and learn about improvisational acting.

Karen L. Eichler and Andrew M. Spragge, of Defiant Monkey Improv, told the children (and parents) about improv and performed skits. 

Above, Eichler, playing Billie Bob Horton, squirts a security guard for Billy Bob Thornton with a water pistol while trying to gain access to the actor's mansion. The scenario and scenes were suggested by the audience.

In the final skit, Eichler and Spragge were assisted by Jean Berry and Gina Bergman. Eichler and Spragge couldn't move their bodies on their own. Berry and Bergman had to manipulate their hands, arms, legs and heads appropriate to the dialogue, or at times initiating movements that drove the dialogue. In this scene Eichler is Spock and Spragge is Capt. Kirk and they've just encountered a one-eyed monster that apparently communicates through clicks.

May 31, 2014 - 12:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Road Closure.

Press release:

A water main repair is scheduled for Tuesday June 3 on Bank Street in the City of Batavia. This work will require Bank Street to be closed to traffic from Chandler Avenue to Ross Street until the repair is completed. The road will be closed at approximately 8:30 a.m.

The repair may cause temporary discolored water in the area or low pressure. Please check to make sure that water clarity has returned before doing any laundry or other activities which could be adversely affected.

May 30, 2014 - 3:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Batavia PD tracked down a suspected shoplifter from Tops a short time ago behind Falleti Ice Arena. The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, was found riding his bicycle with the alleged stolen merchandise -- a 30-pack of Budweiser -- strapped to the back.

May 30, 2014 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Three Christians from Genesee County were carrying signs in front of the Planned Parenthood facility on West Main Street, Batavia, this afternoon.

Chris Connelly said the trio felt led by the Lord to inform people about abortion and what they believe goes on at the facility. He said the group has been at the location every day since Friday and will continue as long as they feel God is calling them to the mission.

"We need to expose sin and call it for what it is," Connelly said. "We're out here to let people know, not condemning them. We're out there to let them know -- people who have had the procedure -- that like any other sin it can be forgiven. It can be washed by the blood of Christ, but they need to turn from that. They need to know there are other options."

He said what they're doing is about truth and love.

"We're commanded to love people," Connelly said. "There cannot be love without truth."

Mona Doyon (left in the picture) said anybody who needs help can come to them and be provided with help toward options other than abortion.

"For anybody who has had it, we don't want to cast stones," she said. "We're not here to judge anybody.  We just want to bring truth and maybe help them. We don't want anybody at all to think we're out here being angry, protesting, or anything. We just want to bring the truth."

Also pictured, Alexis Logsdon.

CLARIFICATION: Connelly says they were out last Friday and will be there on Fridays (not every day) for as long as they feel led to be present.

May 30, 2014 - 1:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Iraq War, funeral.

Iraq War veteran James Carney was laid to rest today with military honors, including a giant American flag hung across West Main Street Road by the ladder trucks from City of Batavia and Town of Batavia.

Carney died unexpectedly at age 27. He was being treated for PTSD but was said to be rebuilding his life in Boston at the time of his death.

Funeral arrangements by Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel (full obituary).

Previously: Family dealing with unexpected death of veteran who was overcoming post-war struggles

May 30, 2014 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, infrastructure, Center Street, School Street.

Center Street and School Street (between Center and Liberty) are closed today for repaving.

May 30, 2014 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Crickler Vending.

The Houseknechts are back in the vending business.  

John and Tom, who sold Loose Ends in 2008, after the family sold its Pepsi bottling company, has re-acquired their former business.

The new name is Crickler Vending. Crickler after the former Pepsi-Cola Batavia Bottling Corp., which was founded in 1890 as Crickler's.

"It looked like a good business opportunity and it's a business we're familiar with operating," Tom Houseknecht said.

The company has distribution centers in Rochester, Buffalo and Horseheads. Houseknecht said they consider their market areas Rochester, Buffalo and Elmira.

There are no plans to operate a distribution center Genesee County at this time, Houseknecht said.

The brothers re-acquired the business May 17 and immediately started re-branding their delivery trucks.

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