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November 8, 2013 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, St. Joe's, Baskin Livestock.

St. Joe's School in Batavia is organizing an assistance drive for the Baskin family following last night's massive fire at Baskin Livestock.

Electricity to the property was cut because of the fire and the school is primarily looking to make a food donation to the family, said Karen Green, principal of St. Joe's.

The daughter of Bill Baskin and Susan Blackburn attended St. Joe's.

“We are reaching out to the community to see if they can help  us in providing some food for the Baskin family," Green said. "They are without electricity, they have 100 50 employees, we would like to see if we can gather food together from area businesses and we will take them out to the Baskins around noon today.”

Green said volunteers from St. Joes would pick-up donations or donors could leave their contributions at St. Joe's at 2 Summit St. in Batavia. The school's phone number is (585) 343-6154.

Previously: Major fire causes severe damage to one of Genesee County's largest ag businesses

November 8, 2013 - 3:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, Bethany, Baskin Livestock.

A lack of public water along Creek Road, Town of Bethany, hampered firefighting efforts at Baskin Livestock on Thursday night after a barn fire was reported just before 11 p.m.

Bethany, Town of Batavia, Alexander and Pavilion fire departments all responded quickly after their fire tones sounded, but as the Baskin barn burned, most of the firefighters on scene could only watch while they waited for tankers to arrive and porta ponds to be erected.

Baskin is one of the largest ag-related employers in Genesee County, with more than 100 workers. The company specializes in converting waste baked goods into animal feed.

Owner Bill Baskin is popular in the local business community, beloved by his employees and was named 2011 Agriculture Business of the Year.

The fire appears to have started in a barn-like structure where trucks pull in to be loaded with feed.

The structure was completely destroyed.

While the fire spread into the adjoining production facility, it's unclear how much damage was done.

At one point during the fire fight, Baskin was pleading with fire chiefs to send in a hand-line crew through a doorway on the north side of the processing building.

"I know my building," he said. "You can save it if you send a crew in here."

It took some minutes, but crews were sent into the building through that door. The fire was pretty much stopped at that point.

Paul Kennedy, a former Dansville firefighter, was among the first people to see and report the fire. He and a friend had been out hunting when they saw the smoke.

"The heater between the two big buildings was on fire," Kennedy said. "It wasn't much at first, but it turned into something quick with the wind."

Minutes after Kennedy arrived on scene Baskin arrived, and Kennedy helped him pull trucks away from the building and close the doors on the back of the building.

Bethany Assistant Chief John Szymkowiak said a lack of water definitely played a role in making the fire harder to fight and contain.

"This fire had a big head start on us," Szymkowiak said.

This is the second major fire at Baskin Livestock in just about five years. In 2008, Baskin suffered a serious fire, but did rebuild.

Fire companies from five counties -- Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe -- responded to the fire or provided fill-in support at local fire halls. All but three departments in Genesee County -- Alabama, Pemborke and Indian Falls -- responded to the fire scene.

Ladder trucks for the town and City of Batavia along with Le Roy helped fight the fire.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

UPDATE Friday 9:07 a.m.: Bethany Fire is dispatched to Baskin Livestock for a cyclone fire.

UPDATE 10:29 a.m.: The fire was put out about 20 minutes ago but they are still working on dousing some hot spots.

UPDATE 11:33 a.m.: Mutual aid is called from Town of Batavia Fire Department to assist Bethany in fighting a sawdust fire in the rafters of a structure.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m.: A tanker from Attica is called to respond.

UPDATE 11:52 a.m.: A tanker from Stafford is requested.

UPDATE 12 p.m.: Aid from Alexander is requested.

(Initial Report)

Bill Baskin pleading with firefighters to use a hand-line crew on the north side of the building.

Baskin, far right, and an employee showing a chief the situation inside a doorway on the northside of the building.

Perhaps one of the largest porta pond operations ever assembled for a fire in Genesee County.

November 8, 2013 - 12:07am
posted by Billie Owens in fire.

A tractor-trailer hauling livestock is reportedly on fire on the westbound Thruway. It's near mile marker 380.5 and was initially reported as a brake fire, but now the rear end of the vehicle is said to be fully involved.

November 7, 2013 - 11:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire, Bethany.

A fully involved structure fire is reported at 9778 Creek Road in Bethany. Bethany and Town of Batavia fire departments are responding. It is near Putnam Road.

UPDATE 11:07 p.m.: Mutual aid is called from Byron, Alexander, Pavilion, Stafford, the City Fast Team, and others.

UPDATE 11:30 p.m.: Calls are out for East Pembroke, Le Roy, and Elba.

UPDATE 11:34 p.m.: A tanker from York is called to the scene and an engine from there to the Bethany hall, along with the same equipment from Caledonia. National Grid is notified about power lines at the site and there's a 15-20 minute ETA.

UPDATE 11:45 p.m.: The lack of public water is hampering the firefighting efforts at Baskin Farms and the main structure(s) on the property are in peril. South Byron is also on scene and National Grid has arrived.

UPDATE 12:24 a.m.: Oakfield is at Town of Batavia Fire Hall filling in. National Grid has cut all power to the grounds. A tanker out of Gainsville, Wyoming County, is called to the scene.

UPDATE 12:27 a.m.: The mandate -- more tankers, more water, more tankers, more water.

UPDATE 12:34 a.m.: Mutual aid from Perry Center is requested to fill in at Pavilion's fire hall.

UPDATE 12:36 a.m.: Equipment from Perry Barre is called to stand by in Elba.

UPDATE 12:38 a.m: Equipment from Clarendon is requested to fill in in Byron.

UPDATE 1:45 a.m. (by Howard): The fire is largely knocked down. A firefighter reports that there are no flames showing at this time. There's still lots of smoke. It's hard to say at this point how much of the main feed processing facility was saved.

UPDATE 2:12 a.m.: Bethany command reports the fire is out. Overhaul starting. Tankers will start breaking down.

UPDATE 2:26 a.m.: South Byron, the first company to be released from the scene.

November 7, 2013 - 8:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime.

Local law enforcement is on the scout for a white Jeep Cherokee that was seen leaving the scene of a barn fire in Livingston County.

The Jeep was last seen west on Walker Road, heading west into Genesee County.

The barn fire is now out, but no word on the extent of the damage.

The fire was reported within the past 30 minutes.

Law enforcement officials in Livingston County want to question the person or people in the vehicle in connection with a possible arson at the location of the barn fire.

November 7, 2013 - 7:48pm
posted by Nick Sabato in football, sports, high school sports, Le Roy.

#4 Le Roy Oatkan Knights (8-1) vs. #3 Wayland-Cohocton Eagles (8-1)

Class C Championship, 5 p.m. Friday at Sahlen's Stadium

Le Roy will play for a Section V record 15th football championship when they take on Wayland-Cohocton on Friday night.

Currently the Oatkan Knights are tied with rival Caledonia-Mumford (who lost in the finals last week) and Clyde-Savannah, who won their 14th title last week, for the most championships in Section V.

It would be fitting for Le Roy to break the record, with this being Head Coach Brian Moran’s 25th season at the helm. Moran has led the Knights to 13 of their championships, but has not brought home a trophy since 2008.

The fourth-seeded Knights made it to the Class C finals a season ago, before losing to Hornell 21-7.

This season, they will face third-seeded Wayland-Cohocton in a battle of Livingston County schools.

Le Roy has garnered a lot of recognition for their passing game this season, but it has been the running game that has carried them during their sectional run, reminding fans of classic Knights football.

After carrying Le Roy a season ago, running back Peter Privitera got off to a slow start this season, in part due to an ankle injury. However, in the last two weeks Privitera has carried the ball 48 times for 245 yards and three touchdowns.

The senior has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the last two games after failing to eclipse that mark in three of the last four games of the regular season, including a 28-yard performance in a Week 7 loss to Cal-Mum.

“Peter is just getting to 100 percent,” Moran said. “He had ankle surgery and that’s not easy to come back from, but what impresses me most about Peter is that the four or five yards he gets are tough four or five yards. That’s what Le Roy football is all about, getting tough yards when you need it.”

Last week, Coach Moran relied heavily on his senior in the second half, and when Le Roy fell behind 14-13 late in the fourth quarter, it was Privitera who reeled off a 45-yard touchdown run to put the Knights ahead for good.

The Knights will be dealt with a tough task in stopping another tough running back on the other side of the field.

Wayland-Cohocton is led by Section V Class Player of the Year Devon Harris.

The junior running back has put up some impressive numbers this season, rushing for 1,531 yards and 29 touchdowns. Harris has also returned three kickoffs for touchdowns on the year and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

The Eagles also have a balanced attack, as quarterback C.J. Ellis has had an outstanding senior season.

Ellis has completed 75-percent of his passes this season for 1,023 yards, 13 touchdowns and only one interception.

Way-Co comes into this Class C title tilt outscoring opponents 88-14 in two sectional games.

Final Note: While this game will showcase two of the top running backs in Class C, it could be the passing game that decides the game.

Wayland-Cohocton’s duo of Ellis and Darren Becker was the fourth-best combination in Livingston County play, but Le Roy has their own superb tandem.

Ryan McQuillen has racked up 12 touchdowns on 25 receptions this season, and has caught a touchdown in each of the last five games.

Quarterback Mike McMullen has also tossed 25 touchdown passes this season and has thrown three or more in four games this season.

November 7, 2013 - 3:12pm
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November 7, 2013 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, preservation.

The view of Batavia a space alien might get, as revealed by an image from Google Maps, tells pretty much the whole story of the community's economic struggles, Tim Tielman told members of the Genesee County Landmark Society last night at their annual meeting.

Right in the center of the city, Tielman said, is this big mass of gray. It's a dead zone, he said. It isn't built for the human animal. It's built for cars. That's no way to design a city.

It hasn't always been that way, of course. Tielman displayed a parcel map of Batavia at the end of the 19th Century. Downtown was filled with structures -- brick commercial buildings and hundreds of houses.

That's a city, he said, designed for human scale and one that is culturally and economically vibrant.

Tielman has worked tirelessly as a preservationist in Buffalo for decades. His list of accomplishments is impressive. Larkin Square, Canalside, the Lafayette Hotel, the Ellicott District, the H.H. Richardson Towers and the Webb Building, among other "saves" and restoration projects.

His work has been recognized in a John Paget documentary, “Buffalo: America’s Best-Designed City.”

The same kind of revitalization going on in Buffalo now could be Batavia's future, Tielman said.

If it's going to happen, it will be up to the preservationists, the people who understand human scale.

"One of the biggest issues every city faces is dead zones," Tielman said. "Batavia has dead zones up and down its streets. Dead zones are devoid of commercial activity. You chain too many dead zones together and you destroy your local community."

When you build your commercial district around the car, the district losses its appeal to pedestrians, and it's people walking and interacting that creates commercial activity and a sense of community.

"It isn't cars that make a place a commercial success," Tielman said. "It's a success (based) on how well the human animal can get about certain places. It's what appeals and what stimulates them to walk."

Batavia used to be that kind of city. From Harvester on the east to the Old Courthouse on the west, the old maps reveal, it was a walkable city.

Tielman used a Google Maps view to show Batavia today. Our picture above is from the county's GIS map. Below is a county aerial photo of the city from 1934 (a period, Tielman said, when Batavia was at its peak culturally and economically -- the 1920s through 1930s). Tielman used a turn of the century parcel map.

There's no reason, Tielman said, Batavia can't become that kind of city again.

He recommended the approach being used with Canalside now -- start small. That's how Joseph Ellicott started.

Canalside is the terminus of the Erie Canel at Lake Erie. Early development was small businesses in tents and small buildings. The larger, commercial brick structures came later. Tielman's suggestion is to start the commercial activity at an affordable pace, and it will grow.

He suggested the Genesse County Economic Development Center has it's economic development priorities backwards. The $1.7 million in tax breaks given to COR Development to lure large national chains to Batavia could have been used more productively to help start 50 small businesses downtown.

He called small businesses the "farm system" for greater economic growth. Communities that lose their ability to encourage and attract entrepreneurs stop growing.

There was a time when each small community was unique and the competitive advantage each had was that you had to be from the city to know how to get around the city and prosper in the city, then urban planners started coddling the national chains, creating a sameness in each community so the chains would be comfortable opening businesses there. That's helped destroy the small businesses that used to make cities and towns vital.

Tielman helped lead the successful fight against Bass Pro building at Canalside.

Rather than trying to attract national chains, Tielman suggested, planners and economic development agencies should be creating environments were local small business owners can thrive.

"Retail is important in a city," Tielman said. "It's not a primary economic activity, but it's important to bring people out, to have people in the streets, people who bump into each other and make it lively. Dense cities, dense streets, create economic activity."

When people visit a city, they want to see other people, smiling people, he said.

"If they see glum people on the streets, or worse, no people on the streets, but just tumbleweeds rolling down Main Street, they're not going to want to come back," Tielman said. "They're not going to want to move there. They're not going to want to move or start a business there."

And these days, Tielman noted, people don't even need to visit your city to form an impression. They can use Google Maps and Street View.

Tielman used the Google Street View image below to illustrate his point.

Tourists, prosective residents, and most importantly, site selectors for semiconductor companies, are going to look at a picture like this and conclude Batavia isn't a very attractive place to be. There's no signs of life. There's no economic vibrancy.

Handing out tax breaks to bring in a Dick's Sporting Goods doesn't fix this problem.

Tielman pulled up this Google Maps view of Batavia again and noted the one area of Old Batavia still left, the block between Jackson Street and Center Street, south of Main Street. It's the only part of Downtown that is still densely built.

"This is the kernel from which you can hit the reset button on Batavia," he said. "You can start here and work backwards toward that which you once had."


November 7, 2013 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Pavilion.

Winston A. Lockhart, 18, of 3 Lewis Place, Batavia, is charged with littering. Batavia PD officers Frank Klimjack and Darryl Streeter allegedly observed Lockhart toss a lit cigarette onto the parkway on Lewis Place. The officers reportedly asked Lockhart to pick up the cigarette and dispose of it properly. After he refused, the officers arrested Lockhart for an alleged violation of the Batavia Municipal Code.

Miguel Angel Dejesus, 66, of Perry Road, Pavilion, is charged with forcible touching. Dejesus is accused of forcibly touching the genital area of a woman. He was jailed on $2,000 bail.

Alexander Colon-Colon, 19, of Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with sexual misconduct. Colon-Colon is accused of having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old female. Under state law, a 15-year-old is unable to consent to sexual conduct.

Philip C. DeGraff, 45, of 81 Walker Road, Perry, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd. DeGraff allegedly threatened to kill another person. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Sharon E. Herdtner, 51, of 25 North St., upper, Batavia, is charged with disobeying a court mandate. Herdtner allegedly refused to appear for the Grand Jury after being served a subpoena at Batavia PD headquarters on Oct. 28.

November 6, 2013 - 5:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen.

For 42 years members of two churches in Bergen have come together for Easter services on a hill in town.

When it was private property, there was never an issue with the annual service. Now, however, as of this year, the property is owned by the county.

Legislator Ray Cianfrini said today he is worried that somebody could sue the county over allowing a religious service on the property, or some "fringe group" (lack of a better term, he said) might demand equal access to a county park and say a precedent has been set.

"While I support the church and this service, I think there are some legal issues that will have ramifications," Cianfrini said.

County Attorney Chuck Zambito said, yes, it's possible allowing the service could lead to somebody filing a lawsuit.

"I don't think there is anything wrong by allowing them to hold the service," Zambito said. "You may get challenged and you may loose. You may have to abide by whatever happens."

The legal concern prompted Cianfrini to vote no on a resolution before the Ways and Means Committee to authorize the churches to hold the services.

The county acquired the property for one of its new emergency communication towers associated with the construction of the new 9-1-1 system.

Bob Bausch, who represents Bergen, sought approval of continuing access to the property for the Easter service.

The churches conducting the service are the First Presbyterian Church of Bergen and the United Methodist Church of Bergen.

"It's an hour service or less once a year and it's very, very meaningful to them," Bausch said.

The church leaders claim, Zambito said, that the person who owned the property 42 years ago placed a covenant on the parcel to ensure the churches would always be allowed to hold services there.

Zambito said he can find no such covenant filed with the deed and there's been no recording of any such contract.

On the other hand, the previous property owner -- Time Warner -- and the current surrounding property owner -- the Monroe County Water Authority -- have always allowed the services.

In fact, the water authority provides the churches with a key to its locked gate at the base of the hill and service-goers now have a paved road up the hill that's normally to service the Time Warner's communication tower.

Legislator Ed Dejanerio said he is concerned about any liability the county might have from the use, so legislators added a requirement to the resolution that the churches purchase appropriate insurance for the event.

The committee passed the resolution approving the services 3-1. 

November 6, 2013 - 5:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, U.S. Gypsum.

Crews apparently from U.S. Gypsum have been working recently at the corner of Hutton Road and Judge Road in Oakfield.

The location is adjacent a site of a large depression that appeared in the roadway a year ago.

Crews appear to have dug four shafts into the ground and are pouring cement down the shafts.

The supervisor on site couldn't speak about the project and referred The Batavian to a company supervisor. That person has yet to return our phone call.

It's never been officially confirmed, the location is rumored to be an abandoned U.S. Gypsum mind shaft.

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.: Jim Perry, plant manager called. A few weeks ago, the company drilled some holes to take a look in the old mine that is at that location. They are no filling the holes and putting in grout to "shore things up," Perry said. The company is working with the DOT and DEC on the project. Asked if their exploratory drilling found any issues he said, "there were no surprises."

November 6, 2013 - 5:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Stafford.

A possible barn fire is reported on Prentice Road near Route 237. A passerby told dispatch is looked like an abandoned barn on fire. Stafford Fire Department is responding.

UPDATE 5:07 p.m.: A chief near the scene says it looks like a rubbish fire off the roadway.

UPDATE 5:09 p.m.: The chief confirms it's a big pile of debris on fire; no one appears to be attending it.

UPDATE 6:07 p.m.: The fire is out. Stafford is back in service.

November 6, 2013 - 2:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Vibrant Batavia.

Press release:

Vibrant Batavia and the Batavia Ramparts Squirt Travel Hockey Team will be assisting residents in a fall clean-up on November 10th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We will cover the following streets: parts of Bank Street, parts of North Street, Tracy Avenue and parts of Hart Street.

The clean-up will consist of: leaf raking, debris clean up and removal of pumpkins, corn stalks and hay bales. Trucks will be provided by volunteers to transport the pumpkins, corn stalks and hay bales to the waste Center that day. For residents interested in removal of these items that are unable to participate, please leave them by the street so we know you wish for us to take them. Volunteers should bring their own rake, gloves and, of course, dress appropriately for the weather.

Invitations were distributed to these residents to inform them of the clean-up effort. Terri Clingerman, a Bank Street resident, helped go door to door on Monday. Clingerman said “this is a great way to get people out of their houses and make it a collaborative effort to do a neighborhood clean-up, while getting the chance to meet neighbors." We will also promote this event through our Facebook page to remind residents of the event.      

Bob and Char Grimm, residents of 59 Tracy Ave., will be hosting a lunch for all of the volunteers and residents from the streets included in the clean-up. Lunch will be held at noon and will be provided by Vibrant Batavia. We welcome all that wish to come out and meet with your neighbors.

Grimm said, “I am happy to host along with volunteering my time for a street-wide clean up. ... this is a great opportunity for our youth to take part in a community service effort, as it teaches them how to work together as a team."

The intent of this clean-up is to open the lines of communication between these specific neighborhoods and work toward getting these residents interested in working on future activities. 

Vibrant Batavia is a community network organized to celebrate the past, build on the present and to create a more vibrant future. The volunteers work side-by-side with the City of Batavia, NeighborWorks® Rochester and the business community to strategically improve the City's neighborhoods and to promote a livable community of choice. 

For more information about Vibrant Batavia or NeighborWorks contact Leanna Di Risio at [email protected] or by phone at (585) 738-7388.

November 6, 2013 - 11:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Alabama, Charles Schumer, STAMP.

Press release:

Today, in a letter to the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pitched Upstate New York as the international center for the growing semiconductor- and chip-fabrication industry. Schumer touted several Upstate locales and specifically pointed to the newest potential mega-site (1,250 acres) for chip fab, the Genesee County Science, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).

Schumer highlighted the development of Upstate New York’s nanotech sites, underlining the many advantages offered by the Luther Forest Tech Campus, the Marcy Nanotech campus, and now the Genesee County STAMP site. Schumer, who recently hosted the SIA at a Capitol Hill briefing with newly elected senators, urged the 18 semiconductor industry CEOs who comprise the SIA Board to consider Upstate New York sites, including STAMP, when establishing their next semiconductor manufacturing and research facility, citing advantages like access to affordable power, and world-class research universities and proximity to a large qualified workforce.

“The STAMP site will join existing hubs like the Luther Forest Tech Campus and Marcy Nanotech campus, and will become the second semiconductor mega-site in New York State, bolstering the state’s reputation as the preeminent destination for high-tech semiconductor research, design, and development,” Schumer said.

His letter to industry leaders was released in advance of the 2013 Annual Semiconductor Industry Association Dinner, to be held on November 7th in San Jose, California, when representatives from STAMP will make a presentation to the Board of Directors to outline the advantages of the site. Representatives of other New York centers, including Marcy and Luther Forest will also be present.

Schumer continued, “Thanks to decades of joint public-private investments in infrastructure and education, and a talented workforce, Upstate New York is the number-one place to establish semiconductor manufacturing in the nation. The promise of the Genesee County STAMP site only adds to New York’s reputation as fertile ground for high-tech and, specifically, semiconductor manufacturing. Simply put: the high-tech manufacturing sector has the potential to remake Western New York and the entire Upstate economy, delivering a new generation of middle-class jobs. It has already begun in the Capitol District, is spreading to Utica, and is poised to take-off in Western New York, too.

"Upstate New York’s proximity to transportation and energy networks, its access to the creativity and large workforces of major metropolitan cities, and its world-class technology and engineering universities are exactly what the semiconductor industry needs to ensure national and global success – and I made that known to the CEOs of the leading companies.”

In his letter, Schumer highlighted the unique advantages various Upstate New York State sites, including Genesee County’s STAMP site, provide to the semiconductor industry. The industry has benefited from the State’s advanced transportation networks, industrial infrastructure, and utilities at its other leading semiconductor sites. Schumer explained that the STAMP site would continue with this trend, offering close access to Interstate-90, high-capacity electric transmission lines, a large-scale high-pressure gas line, and the New York Power Authority’s hydropower low-cost electricity zone.

These assets ensure that the semiconductor factory would receive robust utility capacity, redundancy, and reliability at competitive prices, in some cases at a 75-80 percent market discount. The STAMP site is also situated between the Rochester and Buffalo metropolitan areas, which contain international airports, active customs stations, and a 2.1 million workforce population.

Last year, Schumer successfully advocated on behalf of STAMP by calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide necessary wetlands permit assurances so that STAMP’s developers could advance the site’s development and begin marketing the site to prospective tenants. Schumer has also taken a lead advocacy role for the semiconductor industry in the 113th Congress, which has led to the passage of major immigration reform legislation and a long-term reauthorization of the federal helium reserve, a critical lifeline for semiconductor manufacturers.

The growth of the semiconductor industry in Upstate New York has also been encouraged by the region’s strong research and educational base. The State is home to some of the world’s leading technology and engineering universities, including the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester, and Cornell University — all of which are spearheading efforts in research, commercialization, workforce development, and collaboration in the high-tech and semiconductor fields.

Schumer called on the SIA companies to consider the advantages offered by the New York’s high-tech resources, and mega-sites like STAMP primed for development, when choosing the location of their next chip fab. Schumer noted that the long-term development of the STAMP site would bring long-lasting, stable jobs to New York and make the region a hub of high-tech manufacturing.

November 6, 2013 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, corfu, Robert Alexander, Brandi Watts.

It's likely the taxpayers of Corfu may never know just how much money went missing from the Village Court during the years that Judge Robert Alexander sat on the bench and his daughter, Brandi Watts, was his court clerk.

Watts has already reimbursed the village $10,128 as part of her agreement to plead guilty last week to a single count of tampering with government records, a Class D felony.

A report issued yesterday by the NYS Judicial Review Commission says its investigation found more than $14,000 went undeposited in the court's bank acount from Jan. 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010.

That's one of the problems with the case, said Special Prosecutor Donald O'Geen -- nobody can agree how much money is missing. The comptroller came up with a different figure and Pam Yasses, the current court clerk, did her own audit and came up with a completely different figure.

At the heart of the judicial commission's review, as it was with the comptroller's original audit, is that the bookkeeping was apparently just plain sloppy during Alexander's administration of the court.

For example, there's more than $51,000 in funds received by the court during the period reviewed by the commission that aren't properly recorded. The commission said there is simply no record of where the money came from.

In 39 out of 50 cash deposits during the time period, the court records and bank documents don't reconcile.

Watts allegedly failed to issue receipts for payments on fines in 379 traffic ticket cases during the review period.

O'Geen said the easiest part of the case to prove against Watts, and what eventually led to her guilty plea, was the paper trail indicating the Watts would charge people paying a traffic ticket by check more than the fine imposed by Alexander. O'Geen said he believes Watts was using that higher charge to back fill for funds she was taking from cash fine payments.

The possibility of more missing money from the same time period isn't likely to lead to new charges against either Alexander nor Watts, O'Geen said. In the case of Watts, it would constitute double jeopardy to charge her for essentially the same crime twice, and for Alexander, there's no indication he ever actually took any money himself.

Alexander is legally liable for any missing funds in the court during his time in office. However, it would be up to the Village of Corfu to decide what it could prove is missing beyond the $10,128 already paid back and any potential higher amount believed missing.

"One of the biggest problems with this case," O'Geen said, "is the records are simply in disarray."

The judicial commission's report also complains that Alexander was reducing the fine amount on traffic tickets and waiving surcharges so that the state wasn't getting its share of the revenue.

More than 2,300 traffic tickets during the review period should have resulted in fines being remitted to the state, but did not, the report states.

O'Geen noted that in just about every jurisdiction in the state, judges routinely reduce traffic violations to a parking ticket with a fine that goes entirely to the local jurisdiction.

To fix that, the state recently added a surcharge to parking tickets, O'Geen said.

The commission also criticized Alexander for hiring his daughter without proper judicial commission approval.

During our conversation, O'Geen also referenced a comptroller's audit in October of the court in the Town of Alexander that found the court failed to maintain good accounting records, with nearly 1,900 traffic tickets still pending that should have been resolved.

The local municipal justice system is broken, O'Geen said.

"They're (Corfu) are not unique and that's part of the problem," O'Geen said. "There's a larger conversation to have that the system is bigger than part-time judges and part-time clerks can handle."

In calling for Alexander's removal from the bench -- Alexander resigned from his remaining court position in Pembroke last week -- the commission used harsh language to criticize the former justice.

The commission said Alexander "failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary by failing to maintain high standards of conduct," that he "failed to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety," that he "failed to respect and comply with the law and failed to act in a manner that protects public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."

November 6, 2013 - 1:36am
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in batavia, politics, city council, Elections.

It was a clean sweep for the GOP in Batavia's race to fill three at-large seats on the City Council in a year when the party was facing a new challenge from local Libertarians for the first time.

Eugene Jankowski Jr., Brooks Hawley and John Deleo easily secured four-year terms on the council.

Libertarians Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead finished eighth and ninth in the crowded field.

Hawley, the lone incumbent among the winners, got 1,179 votes, according to the still unofficial tally.

"We visited almost every street and home in Batavia,” Hawley said. “People saw how dedicated we are and they believe we will use that dedication in City Council as well.”

Hard work was part of the GOP strategy this year, said city Chair Matt Landers, who acknowledged the Libertarian presence on the ballot and the fact the new local party was out working hard helped motivate the Republicans.

“They were working very hard and they are an upstart group with a passionate base and we definitely took them seriously,” Landers said.

Rosenbeck received 358 votes and Whitehead 243 votes. 

The low vote totals didn't discourage party Chairman Phil Ricci at all, who told the party members at their election headquarters at Larry's Steakhouse that Rosenbeck would become the committee chairman of the party's new city committee.

“We started with a small group of concerned, like-minded citizens, set with the task of creating an alternative to the existing political parties,” Ricci said. “That little ragtag group grew into a solid core group of committed individuals who felt strongly enough about our core principles, and even stronger about the lack of real choice, to give it a go.”

Jankowski, a former Batavia PD lieutenant, said after a hard-fought campaign, he's ready to get to work, serving his community in a new capacity.

"We work well together, people respect us and they want us to be their leaders in the community," said Jankowski, who received 1,269 votes.

Deleo, who garnered 1,309 votes, said the three winners will make a good team going forward, just as they did as campaign mates.

“We all have our own strengths and together it works for the best,” Deleo said.

Rosenbeck remained upbeat about the Libertarian effort.

“It has been a success and we wish the GOP well,” Rosenbeck said.

Rounding out the field were Diana Kisiel Kastenbaum, 586 votes, Thomas Clark, 552 votes, John Demske, 631 votes, and Rose Mary Christian, 406 votes.

Katenbaum, a Batavia native who moved away for many years and then returned to her hometown vowed to stay involved in her community.

 “I sit on a couple boards, Go-Art and Landmark Society, and I will continue working for the citizens of Batavia,” Kastenbaum said. “As a citizen I can be as active as I choose to be and I hope to be.”

For complete election results visit

Top Photo (by Howard Owens): Phil Ricci speaks to Libertarian Party members.

John Deleo, Joe Gerace and John Roach watch the election results get posted at the GOP headquarters for the night at City Slickers (photo by Howard Owens).

November 6, 2013 - 12:25am
posted by Paul Draper III in bands, music, entertainment, night life, Djs.


Friday November 8th 2013



Batavia Downs

8315 Park Rd  Batavia, NY 14020

Live Band: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Description: Screaming blues. This will be SRV's first time playing at the downs. Stop out early for autograph signing before the show.


Start Time: 9:00 p.m. - No Cover Charge



Billy Goats

345 W Main St  Batavia, NY 14020

Live Band: George Clinton & Paramount

Description: Who's got the funk, gotta have that funk. Who's got the funk, gotta get that funk. That's right, George Clinton's got that funk. Can you believe all the big stars playing Batavia lately?


Start Time: 10:00 p.m. - $3.00 Cover Charge



Center Street Smoke House

20 Center St  Batavia, NY 14020

Live Band: PD3 & The Howard O. Sqad

Description: Punk Rock/Polka/Smooth Jazz Fusion. Are you confused yet? Stop on out to the Smoke House for a mind melting experience.


Start Time: 9:00 p.m. - $1,500.37 Cover Charge



Larrys Steak House

60 Main St  Batavia, NY 14020

Live Band: 3 Blind Mice

Description: Nursery Rhymes from the 40's, 50's & 60's. The show starts early due the band members 8:00pm bed time. Stop out and BYOP (bring your own pillow)


Start Time: 4:00 p.m. - No Cover Charge



The Weekend Lineup is brought to you by:

The Genesee County Musicians Group





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