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February 1, 2013 - 4:16pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in Oakfield Alabama schools, teacher returns.

Sgt. Bill Snyder is happy to be back teaching eighth-grade social studies at Oakfield Alabama Middle School.

Today is his first day back in the classroom after a two-and-a half year deployment overseas in Kuwait.

"A lot of older kids are shocked to see me in hallways," Snyder says. "The younger kids are wondering who I am."

Snyder, who is with the National Guard, came home to Oakfield on Christmas Eve.

"It was a great present for my wife and kids."

He says he is looking forward to bringing his experiences from Afghanistan and Kuwait into the classroom.

"As a teacher any new experiences you have with different cultures and people can be brought back home and relayed to the kids. It brings a little realism to my classroom." 

Sgt. Snyder has been with the Oakfield Alabama Central Schools since 2000. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and returned one year later to teach part of the 2009-2010 school year.

In 2010, he was sent to Kuwait on second deployment.

"Kuwait was less hostile than (during) my first deployment to Afghanistan in 2008. They are more supportive of U.S. troops now."

This morning, in an assembly organized by Joe Jankowski, a counselor with the district, Sgt. Snyder was presented with a shadow box containing a flag and certificate along with a photo of Snyder and his fellow soldiers while they were stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The items were a gift to the Oakfield Alabama School District in 2009. Snyder had sent the flag that was flown over his base, the certificate, and photo after the district sent so many school supplies, clothing, and food packages overseas to the Afghan people near Snyder's base.

"I sent the flag and the certificate to honor the school district and the kids for supporting the military. A community in the United States helping another community around the world."

"He dedicated and sacrificed his own life to secure our freedom for our country and this assembly was just a way to show a little respect for him and his service," Jankowski says. "He has a presence about him, the kids see him as a positive role model which is what we need today. We are glad to have him back."

 

February 1, 2013 - 3:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC, liberty pumps, bergen.

If Charlie Cook can do one thing as chairman of the board of the Genesee County Economic Development Center it is improve the public perception of the agency.

GCEDC claims 3,581 jobs creation commitments since 2003 spread over 349 economic development projects with a total capital investment of $835. In 2012, GCEDC was able to announce at least 300 new jobs at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and WNY STAMP’s regulatory approval promises thousands of more new jobs in the coming years, according to the agency.

Local residents should take pride in hosting an such aggressive, forward-thinking, job-creating industrial development agency, Cook believes.

Turning public opinion from one of skepticism over employee compensation into one of appreciation for its accomplishments won't be a quick or easy process, Cook said.

"Nobody questions the accomplishments of the EDC and how successful we've been over the past 10 years," Cook said. "It's just been huge, but it can be a short-lived success when you shoot yourself in the foot. Certainly this incentive compensation thing was a bad decision and that's been taken away, and that's good.

"I'm determined," he added, "to turn public perception into pride for what this agency does."

Like most entrepreneurs, Cook is an optimist. He's an engineer, so he is hardwired to solve problems. He's also one of Genesee County's most successful business leaders, so he knows what success looks like.

As a Genesee County native, born and raised in Bergen, Cook is a cheerleader for our region and its prosperity.

"The ultimate goal is to keep more of our graduates, our kids, in the area."

But it's not just job creation that motivates Cook to serve as a volunteer on the GCEDC board, it's about boosting the standard of living for us all.

"It's about the well being of our entire area, whether it's job creation or just an improved quality life, that's the real reason I'm on the board. Job creation is just one of the things that leads to that."

Cook has some experience in job growth.

Liberty Pumps was founded in 1965 by his uncle, Fred Cook. Charlie Cook took charge of the company in 1975 when it had only about a dozen employees. Today, Liberty Pumps employs 135 people in its 124,000-square-foot facility in Apple Tree Acres.

Gross annual revenue for Liberty Pumps is about $55 million.

Cook is proud that his company is one where people generally enjoy their work and share in the profits, when there are profits to share.

"We have a hard time here tolerating negative attitudes or an attitude that doesn’t lend itself to performance. It’s not so much me or the managers looking for it. It’s more the peers.

"If there’s somebody who is just not with the program, it’s best for us, obviously, but it’s also best for the employee to move on and go do something else. Fortunately, doesn’t happen too often, but when it does everybody ends up better for it. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a job you really don't like."

After high school, Cook moved to Missouri to study at Parks College of Aeronautical Technology of St. Louis University.

He went to work for McDonald Douglas at night.

"I had no money and I didn't want to take out a loan," he said.

After graduation, Cook moved to a day shift at McDonald Douglas, but was drafted into the Army a few months later.

He was trained as a radio teletype operator and of the 96 people in his school, 93 were sent to Vietnam. Cook was transferred to South Korea.

Cook served his 21 months and then returned to McDonald Douglas, but soon realized he preferred the lifestyle of rural Western New York, wanted to be near his family and didn't fit in with the corporate culture of a large company.

His uncle hired him as an engineer.

"The reality was, we only had seven employees in the company," Cook said. "We did everything. We would build pumps in the morning, in the afternoon, if I had a chance, I would do some design work or I'd go out on the road selling. We did whatever it took to get the job done."

New employees are much more specialized and it's easy to get pigeon-holed into a particular job, but it's still part of the company's culture to expose every employee to as many aspects of the business as possible.

It's also part of its culture to communicate what's going on with the company. The most important communication just might be about profits.

Cook has taken only one business course in his life, at Genesee Community College, and one of the memorable lessons the instructor tried to impart to the class was that a business owner takes all the risks, so the owner should reap all the rewards.

It's a philosophy he has never agreed with.

"I feel like the rewards should be shared with the people who got you there. Ever since the beginning, we've had a pretty aggressive and generous bonus program, profit sharing."

Innovation is also important to Liberty's success.

The sales and marketing departments are really good, he said, at listening to customers and coming up with new ideas, but Cook also subscribes to the notion -- shared by great entrepreneurs from Henry Ford through Steve Jobs -- that often customers doesn't know what they want until you show it to them.

"That's one of the secrets of our success -- coming up with products they just can't get from our competitors."

That's why Fred Cook's business caught on from the beginning.

Liberty was originally a spin-off of a Buffalo-based pump company and made only sump pumps.

But sales of sump pumps are vulnerable to weather conditions, so Fred needed to come up with a line of pumps that could be sold any time of year.

He designed a pump that was pre-installed in a basin and contractors liked it because it was easy to install.

Since then, Liberty Pumps has continued to refine products and expand its line of pumps -- sold to distributors who sell them to contractors.

As we toured the Liberty Pumps facility earlier this week, Charlie asked me not to take a picture of a pump casing because it hasn't been released on the market yet. He doesn't want to give competitors a sneak peek.

"Our competitors have always copied us and now it happens more frequently. Our challenge is to have the next generation already under way before that happens."

That innovative spirit is what makes Liberty Pumps a fun place to work, Cook said.

"It’s really dynamic and exciting. For a boring product like a pump, it’s amazing how interesting it can get if you really focus on innovation and things that aren’t out there currently."

In recent years, the growth of Liberty Pumps has been helped by the agency Cook now helps oversee -- GCEDC.

In 2000, the company moved from a 28,000-square-foot facility on Route 19 to a brand new building in a "shovel ready" business park built in Bergen by GCEDC.  Liberty received tax abatements to help with the move.

In 2008, the company expanded its Apple Tree Acres facility to its present 124,000-square-foot building, again receiving assistance from GCEDC.

In a comment on The Batavian last week, a reader questioned Cook's position as chairman of the board and a beneficiary of GCEDC benefits.

"I would like to invite him out here and show him how that money was invested," Cook said. "Is it sort of corporate welfare? It all depends on how a company uses that benefit. We reinvested that money. Would we have had the two build-outs without the investment, sure, but the fact is, we wouldn't have had the funding to put into product development to fill things up and do another one another eight years later."

Cook's term on the board ends in 2016, but before then, he anticipates more expansion for Liberty Pumps, and in that time he expects his company will again seek assistance from GCEDC.

By law, Cook will be unable to participate in any discussion, and he certainly won't be able to vote, on any proposal for GCEDC to help Liberty Pumps.

The same assistance Liberty Pumbs has received, Cook said, has helped dozens of other businesses in Genesee County.

The assistance helps level the playing field for company's like Liberty Pumps that are based in high-tax New York and must compete against companies based overseas or in lower-tax states.

If all GCEDC did was hand out tax breaks to businesses that promise jobs to the count, it might be controversial enough, but in January 2001, the Authorities Budget Office released a scathing report on bonuses paid to GCEDC employees, especially CEO Steve Hyde.

The public outcry has been at a near consistent high pitch since then and late last year, at the same time Cook was announced as the incoming chairman, the agency said the bonus program would be discontinued starting with the 2013 performance year.

Bonuses were still paid for 2012 because, Cook said at the time, the agency was contractually obligated to pay out bonuses earned by employees based on their performance during the year.

In all, for 2012, employees received $120,000 in bonuses.

In December, the board also announced a raise for Hyde from an annual $160,000 to $195,000. Hyde won't earn a bonus in 2012, but he will receive $10,000 in deferred compensation.

The other staff members, the board announced in December, would also receive raises. Those raises range from 8 to 12 percent.

Local residents continue to take issue with the compensation of employees because they question the announced job creation numbers of the EDC, but many people also object to the annual county government share paid to the agency each year.

For 2013, taxpayers will kick in $213,000 to help fund the agency's operations.

While Cook acknowledges the bonuses paid out previously were a mistake, he said the county's should continue partial funding for GCEDC.

"Looking at this last year, sure the EDC did extremely well and they did earn some money, but our commitments for reinvestment far exceed (that revenue)," Cook said. "I think it's appropriate that the county invest incrementally. There are going to be years where we don't have that kind of success and yet you want to maintain the caliber of staff that we have. I think there would be a danger, and it would be unfortunate, if we ask for substantially less from the county."

Cook acknowledged that all of the negative attention Steve Hyde seems to get over his compensation is a concern.  It's not come to the point yet, Cook said, that he feels the need to sit down and talk about it, but he understands that anybody can find their job less enjoyable if they face constant criticism from the public.

"How long can you really enjoy your occupation with the negative scrutiny? Certainly, scrutiny is not inappropriate for what he does. That's to be expected.  We're uncomfortable for the potential that he is uncomfortable to the point of being discouraged enough to the point of leaving."

Cook considers Hyde a bit of a superstar at what he does and wants to see him stick around.

"Without actually seeing all he does and knowing about his capabilities, it's difficult for people to understand that he would be hard to replace. It's not impossible. Anybody is replaceable, but even if you did, you would have to pay at least as much as what we're paying him to get that kind of talent. It's just a fact."

Over the next year or two, Cook hopes he can help refocus the public's attention on the agency's success and have people come to understand that Hyde and the rest of the staff are paid well because they do a really good job at creating employment and improving the quality of life in Genesee County.

"Any agency that can do what his agency has done and generate this many jobs in a rural county, especially in New York State, is pretty amazing," Cook said.

February 1, 2013 - 12:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements.

Vic's Pizza for Paws is going on today through midnight and on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. through midnight. A percentage of sales at the Main Street Pizza Company will go to the Genesee County Animal Shelter for spaying and neutering animals that are adopted.

The pizzeria is located at 206 E. Main St. in Downtown Batavia. Phone is 343-0007.

February 1, 2013 - 11:38am
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements.

St. Paul Lutheran School will hold its annual Benefit Auction on Saturday, Feb. 2. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the auctioneer begins at 4. It will be held in the school lunchroom (the church basement), located at 31 Washington Ave. in the City of Batavia.

The auction raises money to provide a Christian education for 3-year-old preschoolers through fifth-graders in our community. There's a fantastic selection of handmade items, crafts, theme baskets, gift certificates, vacation packages, novelties, and more.

A bake sale and concession stand will offer tasty supper options and homemade desserts. Bring your family and friends for a fun, night out – this is an event not to be missed!

To learn more about St. Paul Lutheran School, please view the school's Web site at www.stpaulbatavia.org/school

February 1, 2013 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in water, Bethany.

Town board members in Bethany need to hear from town residents on an important topic: Do you want public water?

Eric Wies, senior associate for Clark Patterson Lee, repeated that message several times last night at a public meeting in Bethany attended by nearly 100 residents.

The town board won't go forward with a public water project unless enough residents express interest because there's no point in going forward if property owners won't eventually sign a petition in support of creating a water district.

To that end, Wies (a water project consultant) said there are a number of factors property owners must consider, beginning with the fact their annual expected cost for public water could be as much as $1,600.

The final cost won't be determined until after the town board takes the next step toward setting up one or more water districts.

Wies explained in detail how water districts are formed and funded.

There is grant money available either from the state or federal government, but according to census data, the median household income in Bethany is $58,200.

That's much too high to even discuss the possibility of a state grant and a tad too high for a USDA Rural Development grant.

If there's sufficient interest from residents to take a closer look at public water, the town board will commission a third-party household income survey.

The responses will be kept confidential and the aggregate data shared with the town board.

If it shows that the actual median household income is less than $58,000, then the town would have a shot at a USDA grant.

Such a grant could lower the annual cost for residential water to $1,000 a year on average.

Bringing public water to Bethany involves creating one or more water districts.

Each water district would borrow the money necessary to connect to a water main from either the Monroe County Water Authority or the Town of Batavia's water supply and install water lines down each roadway in the district.

Part of the annual cost for each property owner is repayment of the loan, which will take 38 years to pay off.

"We're not spending our money. We're spending your money," said Supervisor Louis J. Gayton. "We don't want to spend your money if this is something you don't want."

The loan payoff follows the property, not the current property owner.

Some of the water cost for property owners, of course, is for the water itself. There will also be a charge, mandated by the county for new water districts, to help pay for the big water line that brings water from Monroe County to Genesee County. 

Bethany water customers will pay the surcharge -- 60 cents per 1,000 gallons of water -- whether the new district(s) goes with Monroe County water or Town of Batavia water.

Wies encouraged property owners to really examine the cost of their well water.  Well water costs include pumps (and pump replacements), electricity, replacing plumbing and fixtures regularly if the water is too hard, filtration, chlorination and water safety tests.

Some residents may find they're already spending as much as $1,600 a year on water, Wies said. They just don't realize it.

"This is a decision each of you will have to make yourselves," Wies said.

Public water will also mean fire hydrants in the town and more effective firefighting.

If residents decide to push forward with a water project, then Hyde and other residents (board members can't do it) will bring a petition around to each resident. The petition will have the property owner's name on it, the parcel number and the exact anticipated cost of water for the property owner.

If the owner signs the petition, it's like a yes vote. No signature, it's a no.

Property owners holding at least 50 percent of the assessed value of all property in the district must sign the petition, but as a practical matter, property owners with more than 70 or 80 percent of assessed value must support the formation of a water district.

At 50 percent, it's much easier for one owner who objects to block formation of the district.

If there's enough support for the district, then the town must appeal to the Comptroller's Office to approve the formation of the district. The Comptroller can veto the formation of the district where the annual cost of water exceeds $685.

The issue of public water reached this point largely because of the work of Carl Hyde, the champion for public water in Bethany.

At the end of the meeting, Hyde said he's done all he can do to get the issue to this point.

"Now it's up to you," he said. "This is your decision."

Top photo: Eric Wies. First inset, town attorney David DiMatteo. Third inset, Carl Hyde.

February 1, 2013 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, Sponsored Post, advertisement, The Batavian Club.

Naturally, I loved this e-mail I got from Mark Lewis, of the Mark Lewis State Farm Agency:

You really could charge for these (help wanted ads). I don't know another medium that delivers results locally like help wanted ads in The Batavian.

Yes, our help wanted ads work, and so do our "buy, sell and trade" ads. I know because Billie and I post ads ourselves and Mark isn't the first person to tell us about how well the ads work.

And they're free.

And it's my intention to keep it that way.

Our news is free, and I intend to keep it that way, too.

But that doesn't mean we don't need your assistance in helping The Batavian grow and become more sustainable.

We can't do all we could to provide you with the best news coverage possible without more help. We've pretty much grown as much as possible just with advertising.

Newspapers get by on advertising revenue and subscription revenue, but people don't want to pay for online news. Up until now that's left online news sites trying to survive on advertising alone.

I also personally believe that for a news outlet to be most effective it should reach the widest possible audience, and requiring somebody to buy a subscription (either for print or online) limits an audience for important public service news.

Rather than charge for a subscription, we're asking you to join The Batavian Club. Yes, we're asking you to pay some money to support The Batavian, but we're also giving you something of value back: Gift Certificates.

If I walked up to you on the street and said, "Here's $303 dollars, please give me $50," would you turn me down?

That's essentially the bargain here. We're asking you to support The Batavian for $50 a year (in our most popular membership tier) and giving you $303 in gift certificates to local businesses.

So help us help you, become a member of The Batavian Club.

Join before 5 p.m. today as an annual member (paying either on a recurring payment of $50 per year, or pay $60 for this year and we'll bill you again next year), and you'll receive a bonus gift from The Batavian: one of our gift certificates to a local restaurant worth either $20 or $25.

If you want to sign up for a monthly recurring payment of $5 per month through PayPal, join before noon today, and you'll also get a gift certificate. (Reminder, when you sign up for $5 per month, you're signing up for a one-year membership.)

Monthly Single Membership - $5 per month
Includes membership card and bumper sticker, package of gift certificates to local businesses.

 

Monthly Household Membership - $10 per month
Includes two membership cards and two bumper stickers, one package of gift certificates to local businesses.

 

Annual Single Membership - $50 per year
Includes membership card, bumper sticker, package of gift certificates to local businesses.

 

Annual Household Membership - $100 per year
Includes two membership cards and two bumper stickers, one package of gift certificates to local businesses.

 

Annual membership, one payment of $60
Includes membership card, bumper sticker, package of gift certificates to local businesses.

Annual household membership, one payment of $120
Includes two membership cards, bumper sticker, one package of gift certificates to local businesses.

 

February 1, 2013 - 8:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, byron, Darien, Pavilion.

Steven Edward Rheinheimer, 18, of Beachwood Place, Cheektowaga, is charged with burglary, 3rd, and petit larceny. Rheinheimer is accused of entering a building in Darien and stealing property some time during the month of December. Rheinheimer allegedly returned to that location at a later date in December and stole property from outside of that building. He was arraigned and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Elijah J. Dawson, 18, of 20 North Spruce St., Batavia, is charged with assault, 3rd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Dawson is accused of punching and knocking down another person while in the presence of a child. Dawson was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Troy D. Hubler, 42, of 7634 Byron Holley Road, Byron, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd, failure to appear and unlicensed operation, 2nd. Hubler turned himself in on two warrants. He allegedly violated an order of protection and failed to appear on the unlicensed operation count. Hubler was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Alex S. Dumbleton, 19, of 121 Liberty St., Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment, 2nd. Dumbleton is accused of punching a person under age 17 several times.

Derek F. McQueen, 25, of Akron, is charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child. McQueen was arrested by State Police in relation to an alleged incident reported at 1:04 p.m., Jan. 12. No further details were released. McQueen was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Bernard L. Evans, 42, Pavilion, is charged with criminal contempt and harassment, 2nd. Evans was arrested by State Police in connection with an alleged incident reported at 1:17 p.m., Sunday. No further details released. Evans was jailed on $2,500 bail.

February 1, 2013 - 7:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

Police have completed an investigation into a report of a shot being fired near a home on Keeney Road, Le Roy, on Jan. 11 and charged a resident of the street with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

Howard Clarence Schultz, 54, was also charged with two counts of illegal discharge of a weapon within 500 feet of a residence.

Deputies and state troopers responded the night of Jan. 11 after a Keeney Road resident reported a shot fired near his home and even thought a person with a gun had been on his porch.

Keeney Road was closed by officers and there were some tense moments as they observed a person in a house who they believed had a gun.

After several minutes the man came out and the situation was resolved without further incident.

Initially, Schultz was arrested on a warrant out of the Town of Greece.

Schultz reportedly has a prior felony conviction and is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The two counts stem from the alleged Jan. 11 incident and from an allegation that Schultz possessed a firearm while hunting Dec. 5.

Schultz was issued an appearance ticket and is ordered to appear in Town of Le Roy Court on Feb. 19 for arraignment.

The incident and investigation were handled by Deputy Frank Bordonaro, Deputy Howard Butler, Deputy Joseph Graff, Deputy Eric Seppala, Sgt. Ron Meides, Trooper Holly Hanssel and Trooper Mark Catanzaro, Trooper Ryan Dulkiewicz and Environmental Conservation Officer Rick Rauscher.

February 1, 2013 - 12:40am
posted by Andrew Crofts in basketball, GCC, sports.

Three Lady Cougars reached double-figures in scoring at Monroe Community College on Thursday night, but the Genesee Community College women's basketball team fell to the Lady Tribunes, 88-46.

Dashawna Jenifer scored a team-high 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for GCC. Paige Hennings and Nanase Akagami eached scored ten points.

Genesee's only lead came after a first possesion basket by Falesha Moultrie to put GCC in front 2-0. Monroe went on to outscore Genesee 45-15 in the first half and 43-31 in the second. The Lady Cougars committed 25 tournovers on the night.

Genesee falls to 1-17 on the season and 0-7 in Western New York Athletic Conference play. They will host Finger Lakes Community College on Tuesday night at 6pm.



Monroe Community College used a late run to put away Genesee Community College on Thursday night, turning a close game late into an 80-66 win.

The Cougars held the No. 5 Tribunes to 34% shooting in the first half, but trailed 31-30 at the break.

Genesee was within two at 61-59 with just under seven minutes left in the game before Monroe went on a 13-1 run to take control of the game.

Foul troubled plagued GCC, which saw three players foul out in the contest.

Vaughn Boler led the way for Genesee scoring 19 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. E.J. Blackwell added 14 points and five assists and Donte Meredith chipped in ten points.

Genesee out-rebounded Monroe 47-42 on the night but gave up 33 points on 23 turnovers.

The Cougars fall to 11-12 on the year and are now 2-5 in Western New York Athletic Conference play.

They will travel to Jamestown Community College-Olean on Saturday afternoon for a 1pm start.

January 31, 2013 - 6:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, Sponsored Post, advertisement, contests, Zebra Reach.

Here's your chance to win an iPad Mini from Zebra Reach and The Batavian.

If you haven't done so already, download the Zebra Reach app for your smartphone (iPhone here / Droid here), then visit five of the participating merchants listed below and earn a point.

The first 500 Zebra Reach users who earn points at five local, participating businesses will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE iPad Mini.

The drawing will be held March 15.

Don't have a smartphone? No problem. Visit any participating merchant and obtain a Zebra Reach card. Become a registered user and then use the card to earn points in the stores of participating merchants. Earn points in five businesses and you're automatically entered to win.

Here's the "no purchase necessary" option: Download this form and follow the instructions on the form.

What is Zebra Reach?

We're all familiar with loyalty cards -- buy five lunches, get the sixth free, buy nine books get the 10th free. A lot of businesses run these sort of programs, but they usually come with flimsy paper punch cards that either get lost or crammed in your wallet with a dozen other cards.

Zebra Reach makes loyalty reward programs digital and easier to use -- one app stores all of your purchase points for multiple participating businesses.

Here are the participating businesses and initial offers (and of course, we're looking for more businesses to participate):

Adam Miller, 8 Center St., Batavia
Model Club Rewards -- $5 off your next purchase. For every dollar spent earn 1 point. Earn 50 points, receive $5 your next purchase.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia
1 Free sandwich.
Buy any 5 sandwiches, get 6th free.

Charles Men's Shop, Inc.,  200 E. Main St., Batavia
1 Free tie.
Buy 3 shirts, get 1 free tie.

Dog Crazy Daycare, 1 Mill St., Batavia
Earn points toward a free doggy overnight stay.
For $25 spent, earn 1 point toward the doggy overnight. New clients receive 2 bonus points.

Fastec Automotive, 7184 W. Main Road, Le Roy
Free NYS inspection with an oil change and tire rotation.

Fisher Sports, 412 Main St., Batavia
10% off hockey equipment, For each visit you'll earn 5 points.
Earn 25 points -- you'll receive 10% off your next purchase of any hockey equipment purchase.

Glass Roots, 12 Center St., Batavia
1/2 off glass. Buy 2 pieces of glass, get 1/2 off the 3rd.

Lambert's Design Jewelers, 375 W. Main St., Batavia. One point for every $10 spent on purchases.
Earn 25 points and receive $10 off your next purchase.

Main St Pizza, 206 E. Main St., Batavia
Free small pizza with 1 topping.
Earn 15 points and redeem your free small pizza with 1 topping. Earn points with any purchase.

RW Vapors, 224 Ellicott St., Batavia
Buy 5 bottles of E-Liquid, get the 6th free.

Salsa & Curry, 15 Jackson St., Batavia
Buy 1 lunch, get the 2nd for 1/2 off.

Sweet Ecstasy Bakery, 6173 Main Road, Stafford
Free cookie, cupcake or muffin.
Purchase any 10 bakery items and receive a free cookie, cupcake or muffin.

Sweet Pea's Cupcakery & Cafe, 23 Jackson St., Batavia
Free cupcake. Buy 11 cupcakes, get the 12th free.

Terry Hills, 5122 Clinton St. Road, Batavia
Free lunch. Buy 5 lunches, get the 6th free.

The Detail Shop, 3875 W. Main St. Road, Batavia
Free deluxe wash. Buy 5 deluxe washes, Get the 6th deluxe wash free.

Valle Jewelers, 21 Jackson St., Batavia
Free Chamilia bead. Buy 3 Chamilia beads, get 1 free.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia
Buy 5 dinners, Get one free.

Spirits, 78 Lake St., Le Roy
Buy 10 lunches, get the 11th free.

T.F. Brown's, 214 East Main St., Batavia
1 free lunch. Buy 5 lunches, get the 6th free.

The Cutting Edge, 15 Bank St., Le Roy
Visit us twice for any service and receive $10 off any service on your third visit.

West Main Mini Mart, 3845 W. Main St. Road, Batavia
Buy 7 pizzas, get one free.

Local business owners: To sign up for Zebra Reach, contact Lisa Ace ([email protected] or (585) 250-4118). 

SHOPPING LOCAL HAS NEVER BEEN SO REWARDING!

January 31, 2013 - 5:22pm
posted by Jennifer Keys in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel.

There has been much discussion about the Wiss Hotel on the corner of Routes 19 & 5 in the Village of Le Roy for a few years, but lately the level of discussion has increased. As I did with the pool 2 years ago I would like to try to outline where we are at right now.

About 15-months ago the Village acquired the building known as the Wiss, including the two store fronts on Route 5 that lead up to the tattoo shop, Blood Money, Inc. We advertised it as make an offer and hoped to have the situation resolved (sell the building or demolish it) by one year after acquisition, November 2012. A few potential buyers have gone through it, but no offers were made.

As demolition appeared imminent in August 2012 a concerned group of local citizens put their money together to hire Rick Hauser, of In.Site :Architecture, an expert in the field of rehabilitation and revitalization, to go through the building to evaluate it and produce a feasibility study. He went through the building along with his associate, Mayor Rogers, Bob Fussell, representatives from the DPW, and me (Trustee Keys). Rick and his associate went through the entire building from the basement to and including on the roof. The first hand knowledge they acquired from going through the structure combined with some research conducted about surrounding properties allowed them to put together a feasibility study that first determined the building was worth saving, and second, that with about $1,000,000 in investment (in kind services, cash, and loans) it was likely to break even relatively quickly and turn a profit in a few years. Rick also made drawings of a restored Wiss, showing commercial establishments, and several gorgeous apartments, most 2 stories, taking up the second and third floors of the building. Because the report was favorable and people surfaced who said they would be willing to invest in the project – including Bryan Colton, a local owner of a company that restores buildings that suffer severe damage from fire and water and who will bring it back up to code - the group submitted an offer to purchase the Wiss on November 2, 2012. By this point the Village Board had been told that it would cost between $178,000 and $250,000 dollars to demolish the building, so the purchase offer was worth discussing and delayed decision.

The original offer included a $1 purchase price and request for a loan from the Village in the amount that would have been expended for demolition. There was a great deal of discussion around this and it was decided that tax payer money would not be loaned to anyone to do this. The group then came back with another offer 0n December 7 that excluded the loan from the Village and increased the amount to be raised by investors.

After the second offer was received Mayor Rogers put together a counter offer that was believed to be palatable to both the Village Board members and the group of people who wanted to purchase the building. At our January 9th Board meeting this offer died. By January 9th the Village Board had been presented with a written engineering report that was requested from Clark Patterson Lee after their engineer went through the building that in addition to outlining every detail that needs to be taken care of in order to stabilize the building, also stated that the building is “not in imminent danger of collapse” and stabilization with rehab is a legitimate option. Different interpretations of the report raised concerns over safety and by a vote of 3-2 it was decided that the Board should seek bids to demolish the building. In addition to the safety concerns, several board members wanted to see more action taken to make the LLC an officially recognized entity, and wanted $10,000 upon closing (rather than 1 year of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy).

As a result, before the January 23rd board meeting the group filed with the state and became a legally recognized LLC, Le Roy NY LLC, and submitted a new offer that set closing at on or before four months after acceptance of the offer, $10,000 upon closing, and no contingencies for anyone going on the roof prior to closing (which was part of previous discussions). The offer was submitted on January 23rd and discussed at the meeting, though no decisions were made as not everyone was present and we had not had time to review it in its entirety.  At the same meeting a local businessman verbally offered $125,000 cash for the empty lot after the Village demolishes the building. This has subsequently been put into writing.

What we have before us now is an offer from a group of people who have leapt over every hurdle placed in their way and who have been negotiating transparently in the open with us for several months and gives the Village extra money to potentially use for safety concerns in other areas of the business district versus an offer that was recently made that requires the Village to first expend money to remove the building and does not break even versus tear it down without a plan. By the way the demolition bills keep racking up-we must first pay for an asbestos survey before we can put it out to bid for demolition. When combined with the verbal estimates prior to the survey we are now looking at about $182,000-$254,000 to demolish and we do not have an answer yet about the need for asbestos abatement.

There has been a great deal of discussion since the original offer was made by the group of people in November. The arguments against selling and for demolition have included; it is an “eye sore”, it is ugly, the corner needs to be fixed, why this building, why now, it is a hazard, it has no historical value, we have too many apartments, there is not enough parking, young people do not like old buildings, there are other buildings worth saving, what will happen when the LLC does not succeed. The arguments for selling have included; every building is worth saving as long as it is sturdy (especially on Main Street), it is a better economic deal for the Village tax payers (to sell), there is a group of people who have stepped up and already used their own money to get this far, it is time to stop demolishing Main Street.

I think it is important that people know that the Village is not able to fix the corner for truck traffic. It is owned by the State and that the DOT has been taking money away from our area of the state, so there is no guarantee that it will be addressed if the building is gone. In addition, there may be another way to address the problem that has not yet been discussed. The rest of the arguments against are really all a matter of personal opinion. For example, many people who look at the building see its beauty and what they can do to tie it into Main Street, such as painting the wood and adding cornices to match Bill Kettle’s building on the other end of the block.

At this point the bottom line may not even be the need to save old buildings, but to do what makes the most business sense for our community. One scenario makes us, in effect, $192,000-$264,000 when you combine the $10,000 purchase fee along with keeping the demolition and asbestos survey fees, the other two cost us money without a clear plan as to what to do next. 

You are now up to date. I tried to stay brief. If you do not feel comfortable commenting/discussing in this open forum please feel free to email me privately at [email protected]. Thank you for taking the time to read this and discuss it. Your opinions are appreciated. As always, Howard Owens, thank you for hosting this blog.

 

January 31, 2013 - 4:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A lake effect snow watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for Friday evening through Saturday evening.

The primary area of snowfall is expected to be Northern Erie County and Genesee County.

Six or more inches of snow is expected. Visibility will be as low as a half mile at times.

Forecast confidence, the weather service said, is "medium."

"The exact placement of the heavier snow bands still uncertain," according to the announcement.

January 31, 2013 - 4:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Fairmont Avenue resident will serve a three-month intermittment jail sentence as a result of welfare fraud in 2011.

Lee Heckman, 35, of 5 Fairmont Ave., Batavia, was sentenced today in Town of Batavia Court by Judge Michael Cleveland.

He admitted in March to obtaining under false pretenses $2,176.13 in temporary assistance and food stamps through DSS from March 2011 through July 2011.

Hackman was working as a self-employed scrap recycler while drawing benefits and didn't disclose the income.

According to DSS officials, Hackman has already paid his restitution.

January 31, 2013 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama.

The trial date for an Alabama man indicted on 28 counts of sexual abuse has been moved back, giving his new attorney time to become familiar with the case.

Earl Francis Sprague , 42, of Church Street, Alabama, was also later indicted on counts of criminal solicitation, 2nd, for allegedly trying to hire somebody to murder a witness.

Last week, William Harper, of the Public Defender's Office, withdrew from the case, citing a conflict of interest. Harper is representing one of the criminal solicitation witnesses on an unrelated criminal matter.

Since the witness wouldn't agree to a new attorney, Sprague consented to the change of attorney.

He is now represented by Fred Rarick, who was assigned to the case today.

Attorney and client will appear in court Feb. 20 to update Noonan on Rarick's progress in becoming familiar with the case, at which time a trial date will be set.

In August, Sprague was indicted on 28 counts sexual abuse in the first degree against a child under age 11. He allegedly abused a child on 28 separate occasions from 1999 through 2009.

Sprague is currently being held in the Genesee County Jail.

January 31, 2013 - 3:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Bath salts may have played a role in the criminal conduct of a former Batavia resident who admitted in October to possessing forged checks and who was sentenced in Genesee County Court today.

Richard Lee Matson, 30, will serve a four-month intermittent jail sentence and five years on probation as a result of his guilty plea.

Matson could have been sentenced up to seven years in prison.

As part of his guilty plea, Matson stipulated to $4,500 in restitution for his victims, but Public Defender Gary Horton objected to the restitution today because there was much less requested in actual claims filed through Genesee Justice.

Judge Robert C. Noonan said Matson will need to come back at a later date for a restitution hearing, giving the District Attorney's Office more time to collect restitution claims.

Horton, in arguing for the probation sentence, told Noonan that at the time Matson was involved with the forged checks, he was also using bath salts.

"We all are fairly familiar with the affect bath salts can have on someone's life," Horton said.

Horton added that Matson is a valued employee by his employer.

January 31, 2013 - 1:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Stafford.

Russell P. Cessna, 25, of 18 Pleasant St., Le Roy, will spend somewhere near the next 15 years in state prison.

Cessna was sentenced in county court this morning for burglarizing more than a dozen homes in Genesee County.

As District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told Judge Robert C. Noonan, if Cessna received the maximum sentence under his plea agreement, he would spend less than a year in jail for each of his crimes.

Three of Cessna's victims told Noonan how Cessna's burglaries had changed their lives forever.

"I don't like that I don't trust people anymore," said one victim. "I don't like that I don't like seeing cars parked in front of my house because I don't know if somebody is looking at my house because they want to take something from me."

The victim suggested that when Cessna gets out of prison, he be required to do 2,080 hours of community service to reimburse the government for all the resources used to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate him.

Another victim said Cessna stole her wedding ring (custom designed by her husband, which she wasn't wearing during her pregnancy) and her graduation ring.

"He took away the two things that meant the most me and something that can't be replaced," she said.

Another victim also said he has become more distrustful and worried about people coming onto his property.

"You're going to have a lot of time in the next 1,800 to 5,400 days of your life," the victim said. "You'll be able to think about why you did what you did and why you didn't just get a job."

Noonan also received letters from friends and family who support Cessna, but there was also a letter Cessna wrote to a former girlfriend and obtained by the District Attorney's Office that Noonan characterized as "vile."

The letter was discussed extensively by Friedman and defense attorney Jerry Ader.

The letter was written shortly after Cessna's arrest at a time, Ader said, when Cessna was coming down from a severe heroin addiction. Cessna was unhappy with his former girlfriend for something she did that was unrelated to his criminal case.

Ader argued that the letter shouldn't be used as evidence of Cessna's character, yet he couldn't deny that it's a part of who his client is. But he's also a person with friends and family who support him, the attorney said.

"The letters do not paint my client in some rainbow," Ader said. "He is somebody who is troubled, who, while he may not admit it, has mental health issues, issues that run in his family and a drug problem that runs in his family. I'm not saying that excuses him. It explains him."

Local law enforcement caught up with Cessna July 31 as part of an undercover operation that located Cessna in the act of burglarizing a home on Summit Street, Batavia. He accepted a guilty plea to two counts of burglary, 2nd, on Jan. 16.

According to Friedman, Cessna cooperated with investigators from four different law enforcement agencies, admitting to a string of burglaries. Friedman said that cooperation did more to help Cessna himself than it helped law enforcement, because by admitting to the crimes, Cessna avoids possible separate prosecution later on new charges.

Cessna read a handwritten statement to Noonan.

"I wish I could take it all back, but it's too late now," Cessna said, adding later that he knows his actions were selfish. "I'm sorry. I hope they (his victims) can forgive me."

Noonan said Cessna's statement was "a reasonable response for somebody who has committed terrible acts against strangers."

But then there is that letter to Cessna's former girlfriend.

"The letter submitted that was written to a former girlfriend is one of the most vile things I've ever read as part ofa pre-sentence package," Noonan said. "Whether it represents who Mr. Cessna is or, as his attorney said, a part of Cessna, that this man would write such a very, very disturbing letter tells me a lot about the person I am about to sentence."

Cessna was also ordered to pay $32,107.15 in restitution.

January 31, 2013 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A man tried this week on a criminal contempt charge had to be restrained by deputies yesterday afternoon after a jury found him guilty.

Security measures were in place from the start of the trial of Jon Nelson Roblee, 37, of Linwood Road, Le Roy. He wore a weighted boot to inhibit his ability to flee and the defense table was angled toward the jury in such a way, with a skirt around it, that jurors would not be able to see any restraints that might have been placed on him (none where during the trial).

After he was pronounced guilty, Roblee became fixated on the two people who were the victims of his refusal to obey a court order, according to Deputy John Baiocco.

"He stood up and pointed and started yelling that it was a conspiracy to commit murder and took a step towards them," Baiocco said. "He had to be physically restrained."

Baiocco and Deputy Daniel Van Valkenburg grabbed Roblee, and with the assistance of Sgt. Bill Scott, Van Valkenburg cuffed Roblee. He was immediately returned to the Genesee County Jail.

Roblee was indicted on the criminal contempt, 1st, charge in June for calling a person protected by a court order and telling the victim, "I am going to get you and him, too, if it takes the rest of my life."

In October 2011, Roblee was arrested and charged with menacing, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. He was accused of throwing a coffee pot at a victim, cutting a victim's hand, and displaying two knives at a pair of victims and threatening to kill them.

Sentencing on yesterday's jury conviction is set for 1:30 p.m., March 19.

January 31, 2013 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business.

Press release:

The staff of Batavia Downs Casino and Thurman Thomas have released the name and logo of their new bar and restaurant to be built inside Batavia Downs Casino. After receiving hundreds of entries via a naming contest, run through Twitter, the name chosen by staff and Mr. Thomas is “34 Rush."

The logo of the new sports bar includes Thurman’s signature and the phrase “34 Rush” with a slightly pitched block font and the words sports bar underneath. Fans who wish to follow “34 Rush” may do so at facebook.com/34rush as well as twitter.com/34rush.

“We give thanks to the many fans that submitted names over the course of last week," said Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing for Batavia Downs Casino. “The name of the bar correlates to Mr. Thomas’ position and his number. The bar name is not one of a typical sports bar. It’s unique, just like Thurman.”

Batavia Downs Casino is in the process of reaching out to the Twitter commenters that helped contribute to the naming of the bar. Those persons will enjoy a dinner with Mr. Thomas as well as prizes from the casino.  The facility’s $28 million dollar expansion begins on Feb. 4 and will conclude some time in the fall.

January 31, 2013 - 9:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

The day started off with strong winds, a bit of snow and icy roads.

Crews were out early salting highways and law enforcement officers were dispatched to a few minor accidents, including a tractor-trailer that took out a power pole in the area of Texaco Town. Currently, some 61 National Grid customers in that area are without power.

There have also been reports of power and phone lines down in various parts of the county.

Winds are currently blowing at 25 mph with gusts up to 41 mph and strong winds are expected to continue for at least a couple more hours.

More light snow is possible.

Some snow is predicted for tonight with a light breeze.

There are currently two other power outages in Genesee County. One is in Elba and 21 customers are without power and in East Bethany, where 24 customers are without power.

In Pavilion, power should be restored by 11:30 a.m., in Elba by 10:30 a.m. In East Bethany, crews are assessing the situation.

Photo: Genesee ARC workers collect garbage in windy, 27-degree weather on Liberty Street.

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