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August 5, 2011 - 11:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

Pavilion Fire Department is being dispatched to the area of 1168 Taylor Road, Town of Covington, for a one-car MVA with injuries.

State Police are on scene. Mercy EMS also dispatched.

UPDATE 11:29 p.m.: Minor injuries.

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August 5, 2011 - 11:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford.

People are reportedly crossing the roadway in the area of Fotch Road and Byron Road in golf carts with no headlights.

The caller states she "almost hit one."

A deputy is dispatched.

August 5, 2011 - 10:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

A dispatcher signed off tonight wishing Officer Kyle Slocum, Le Roy PD,  'Good luck on your retirement." He added, "We will miss you."

Slocum finishes his final shift at 3 a.m.

Best wishes, Officer Slocum. Thank you for your service.

August 5, 2011 - 10:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Batavia PD officers are responding to a reported disturbance on State Street.

Individuals are reportedly fighting in the front yard of a home.

Another caller on Lewis Place reports that his daughter was attacked in the area.

August 5, 2011 - 6:05pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in arts, music, schools, education, Parents.

The Batavia Music and Arts Advocacy Group (BMAA) held its premiere meeting Wednesday evening at the GoArt! building in Downtown Batavia. Cheri Kolb, seated, and Lauren Picarro-Hoerbelt formed this organization in response to the cuts that the Batavia City School District's arts and music programs have endured as a result of current economic woes. 

Kolb and Picarro-Hoerbelt both have children in the Batavia schools who are involved in music programs. They started this group out of: 1) concern for where they see the district going, and 2) a desire to maintain programs, teachers and the quality of arts/music activities for the kids.

Picarro-Hoerbelt said her hope is for this group to have a presence in both good times and bad.

"(We want) to help out in the bad times, and to remind everyone why these programs are important in the good times."

Kolb envisions BMAA as a "forum for parents (and others) to express their concerns and be a voice for their children."

Five parents were in attendance -- a scant turnout, but understandable, since it "fell in the middle of several vacations" (Kolb's words). A number of other people who were not able to attend the Wednesday meeting have expressed interest in joining.

The issue at hand

Over the past few years, art and music programs have taken some major hits, funding-wise. There has been particular concern about this at the elementary level, where art and music are not mandatory subjects.

For that reason, Kolb said, part of BMAA's mission is to "help create an understanding of how these subjects affect the ones that are mandated."

Part of the night's discussion centered around research showing that the more exposure kids get to these programs early on, the more they will contribute to brain development. Susan Dickenson, one of the parents at the meeting, noted that research has proven the beneficial effects of arts and music programs on reading, math and study skills.

Frank DeMare, another parent at the meeting, said part of the problem is that "it's all about test scores" in the education system right now.

"They want to get test scores up," he said, "and they think the way to solve the problem is to throw money at it. Well, if they're going to throw money at it, the place to throw it is music and the arts."

He noted that students from low income and minority populations are of special concern to the State Education Department in terms of test scores. Children from these populations could stand to gain a lot from the benefits of music programs, but don't have the money to purchase instruments. This is one area where additional funding resources could come in handy.

In spite of their zeal for the arts and music in the schools, Kolb and Picarro-Hoerbelt are not insensitive to taxpayers' concerns.

"People are worried about how their money is being spent," Kolb said. "But they need to know how (their decisions) affect the kids, who will be the next citizens of this community, and also to understand that trying to send a message by voting down budgets might not be the most productive message to this generation."

In the recent past, people have responded to this by arguing that it is the district employees who are "hurting the kids" by demanding unreasonable benefits, etc. Kolb addressed that concern.

"I think there was a time when New York State was in a period of prosperity," she said, "so they put into place a lot of benefits for teachers' unions. Now that the state is in greater economic need, they have had to accommodate the benefits that were in place before. But that's not the fault of the teachers."

She further noted that the teachers she knows "work an incredible amount of hours and contribute (a good amount of) their own money to purchase supplies they can't otherwise get because of budget cuts."

Teachers under pressure, students shortchanged

"The original spark (behind the idea of forming this group) stemmed from (the school board's discussions about) restructuring of the strings program," Kolb said. "That was our first public indicator that there was something going on, budget-wise, that could affect our kids."

Following this "original spark" was a major catalyst: A statement from one of the board members, quoted in The Daily News, about the need to look carefully at non-mandated programs in the wake of state budget cuts. At the elementary level, these include the arts and music.

"We knew they probably weren't going to be cut," Picarro-Hoerbelt said, "but they would be restructured to the point where the kids get less."

This "restructuring" has entailed staff cuts and increased workloads for remaining teachers. For example, the position of chorus instructor at Batavia High School has been eliminated, and the chorus teacher at Batavia Middle School must now pick up the slack by teaching grades six through 12.

Picarro-Hoerbelt's husband, Mark, who was also present at the meeting, has the exact same position (chorus teacher for grades six through 12) in Alexander, which is a smaller district with fewer students.

"I'm busy," he said. "I can't imagine what it's going to be like for him (the BMS chorus teacher)."

Meanwhile, recent retiree Cindy Baldwin's position as a districtwide strings instructor has also been eliminated. Students will now receive string lessons from staff at each of their respective elementary schools.

So at John Kennedy Elementary, for example, the music teacher is going to have to take on 55 string lessons per week. Keep in mind that this is in addition to his role as director of the school's vocal music programs and his regular classroom responsibilities.

Baldwin was also the music department chair for the district; that role will now be assumed by Jane Haggett. Haggett was hired as the high school band director several years ago and, since the band director position at Batavia Middle School was cut, has had to add grades seven and eight to her list as well.

DeMare expressed worry about the prospect of Haggett becoming department chair -- not because he doubts her capabilities, but because she is already overburdened with current responsibilities.

Fewer teachers available and more work for the teachers who remain in the district mean less time and energy to dedicate to the students.

"We're worried about our kids falling through the cracks," Picarro-Hoerbelt said.

Additionally, DeMare noted that the restructuring of programs leads to larger groups of students.

"Some kids get lost in big groups," he said. "They lose interest."

What about the cost?

Right now, the immediate goal of BMAA is to make sure nothing else gets cut. It's about maintaining programs rather than adding to them.

Kolb and Picarro-Hoerbelt stressed that parents and community members are going to have to assume responsibility and find creative ways to keep these programs going.

"There's a tendency to blame the state when things are so dire," Kolb said. "I think we're at a point where the state can't do any more. The districts have to take the initiative."

Dickenson presented the Royalton-Hartland School District in Niagara County (where she used to live) as proof that this can be done.

Royalton-Hartland has received media recognition for its sports programs in addition to having thriving arts/music programs.

"There's something for every student," Dickenson said. "(Royalton-Hartland) is a small district, just like we are. But they really make use of the resources they have available."

When she moved to Batavia, she found that there was "such a different mentality."

"There's almost an attitude in the community that, 'Oh, they're doing the best they can, so we'll leave it in their hands,'" Picarro-Hoerbelt said, "until things get really dire like this. Everyone has to step up."

Game plan

BMAA welcomes all community members with a passion for arts and a desire to see keep them kept alive and well in the schools. The only people who would not be accepted into the group are those who are currently teaching art and music in the Batavia schools, as this would create a conflict of interest.

People with various talents and skills are invited to join and to help out in whatever way they would like.

One way to help BMAA is to do research on various topics, such as:

  • what music/arts programs are in school districts comparable in size to Batavia and how they are maintained;
  • data and charts demonstrating the importance of music and the arts in relation to core subject areas and brain development;
  • rules of conduct at school board meetings;
  • and even something as simple as finding out which locations the school board will use for upcoming meetings and letting everybody else in the group know.

If you have a gift for public speaking, there is also room for people who would like to speak at board meetings or other events.

And that's another thing: BMAA is designed to foster a positive relationship with the school board, as opposed to the community vs. board mentality a lot of people seem to have.

"We are being reassured that they are looking at everything," Kolb said.

In other words, the board is examining options for making necessary cuts more equitable, keeping in mind that the arts and music have suffered disproportionately for a few years.

Other ideas

Another one of the key ideas presented at Wednesday's meeting was that of giving school arts and music programs more visibility in the wider community. Someone raised the question of how, for example, student art shows could be opened up so that it's not just the students and their parents who come, but also school board members, legislators, etc.

DeMare said that in many of the wealthier school districts, local businesses support arts and music programs. Batavia businesses already sponsor sports programs, and everyone agreed that this could be extended to the arts and music as well.

One of the most fundamental questions raised was this: "How can we get people out there to vote?"

A very small percentage of those eligible to vote in school board elections and budget votes actually vote. Picarro-Hoerbelt and Kolb feel it is important to encourage everyone to recognize their role in the lives of our community's children.

"Even if you no longer have a child in the district," Picarro-Hoerbelt said, "please come out and support the programs that meant a lot to your kids 20 years ago."

BMAA is drawing on information from the NAMM Foundation on how to effectively implement grassroots organizations in support of music in the schools. For more information, go to

For more information on BMAA or to get involved, e-mail [email protected]. The group's next meeting will be held at the GoArt! building, on the corner of Main and Bank streets, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

August 5, 2011 - 5:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, accidents.

A motorcycle accident with injuries is reported in Elba at Norton and Bridge roads. Elba Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 5:41 p.m.: The driver complained of right hip pain and was transported to a hospital via private vehicle. Elba fire and Mercy units back in service.

August 5, 2011 - 5:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents.

A tractor-trailer and car collision is reported at 700 Ellicott St. in the City of Batavia. No injuries are reported. City Fire Department is responding.

August 5, 2011 - 4:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, batavia bulldawgs, football, sports.

The Batavia Bulldawgs Youth Football Team is selling raffle tickets for a 2011 Johnny Pag Spyder motorcycle.

The tickets are $40 each and only 150 will be sold.

The drawing is scheduled for Aug. 28 during the seniors' game at John Kennedy School (approximately 2:45 p.m.)

Tickets may be purchased at IR Systems, 309-311 West Main St., or potential winners can call John Riegle at (716) 228-5787 or Ken Proefrock at 794-6034 for tickets.

Pictured above are Riegle, left, and Proefrock with the bike.

August 5, 2011 - 4:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, accidents.

A two-car accident is reported at Route 19 and Parmelee Road in Le Roy. The caller says one vehicle is smoking, both are leaking fluids. All occupants are out of the vehicles.

Le Roy Fire and Ambulance Service responding.

UPDATE 4:37 p.m.: Fire police will be needed to direct traffic. The accident is at the top of the hill at the intersection. The roadway is blocked. Traffic will be shut down at Selden Road. There are two patient sign-offs and no one will be transported. A standard and a flatbed tow are requested.

UPDATE 5:21 p.m.: The roadway was reopened a few moments ago.

August 5, 2011 - 1:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A fight is reportedly in progress at 40 Main St. in Le Roy. At least two police cars are en route.

UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: Three people were involved. Police have the situation under control.

August 5, 2011 - 1:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, Stafford, Grand Jury.

The Genesee County Grand Jury issued these indictments today:

Shonnon J. Jefferson is indicted on one count of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, a Class E felony. Jefferson was stopped on Feb. 3 on I-90 in the Town of Stafford while driving a 1995 Dodge and allegedly had a revoked or suspended driver's license. Further, Jefferson had in effect 10 or more suspensions imposed on at least 10 separate dates for failure to answer, appear or pay a fine. To wit, in the Town of Irondequoit, on July 29, 2009. And the City of Rochester on: March 16, March 20 in 2006; Jan. 24, Sept. 7 and Oct. 31 in 2007; March 13, May 19 and June 2 in 2008; Feb. 12, April 8 in 2009; and Jan. 19 this year.

Andrew L. Dailey is indicted on one count of DWI and one count of aggravated DWI for allegedly driving with BAC of .18. Both are Class E felonies. Dailey is accused of driving a 2010 Hyundai on Roanoke Road in the Town of Stafford on April 3 while intoxicated.

August 5, 2011 - 12:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, Pavilion, Milestones.

SUNY Canton recently recognized students who excelled academically during the Spring 2011 semester.

To receive President's List honors, full-time students must earn a semester grade-point average (GPA) of 3.75 or higher on a 4.0 scale. For Deans' List, full-time students must receive a GPA of 3.25. Part-Time Honors are awarded to students earning at least a 3.25 GPA on six to 11 credit hours.

Among the students who earned honors for academics were:

  • Tarry M. Fluker, of Oakfield, a Legal Studies major, made Part-Time Honors. Fluker is a 1988 graduate of Le Roy Central School.
  • Stacy E. Holley, of Bergen, a Criminal Investigation major, made President's List. Holley is a 2008 graduate of Byron Bergen Junior-Senior High School. This student also graduated from SUNY Canton in May.
  • Nathan J. Herman, of Pavilion, an Alternative and Renewable Energy Systems major, made Deans' List. Herman is a 2009 graduate of Pavilion Central School.
  • Quinton J. Jensen, of Pavilion, an Alternative and Renewable Energy Systems major, made Deans' List. Jensen is a 2009 graduate of Pavilion Central School.
  • Justin A. Richardson, of Pavilion, an Alternative and Renewable Energy Systems major, made President's List. Richardson is a 2009 graduate of Pavilion Central School.
August 5, 2011 - 12:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, veterans, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C – Batavia) recently announced that the American Legion Auxiliary #332 Batavia has contributed $1,000 to his annual Patriot Trip, a program that brings area veterans to Washington, D.C., for a tour of military monuments and memorials.

The crucial funding will be used to help provide a profound experience available to as many local veterans as possible.

“The contribution made by American Legion Auxiliary #332 will directly serve the veterans participating in this year’s Patriot Trip, and I cannot thank the people of this organization enough for their generosity and commitment to supporting Western New York’s veterans,” Hawley said.

“The Patriot Trip is an inspiring, moving experience for everyone involved, and donations such as the one presented by Auxiliary President Brenda Burg are vital in the effort to provide a trip that will have a lifelong impact on our proud veterans.

"Contributions go directly to enhancing this experience for our local veterans, and it is groups like Auxiliary #332 that make the Patriot Trip affordable for our patriots.”

Patriot Trip IV will include roundtrip private coach transportation from Western New York to Washington, D.C., and accommodations at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. The trip also includes tours of the World War II, Vietnam War, Korean War and FDR memorials, as well as Arlington Cemetery, the Marine Museum, the Udvar Hazy Aerospace Museum and the U.S. Capitol.

Most meals are included with the trip cost of approximately $300.

Individuals and organizations interested in making a contribution, as well as those looking for more information about trip details, pricing, or to sign up, please call Assemblyman Hawley’s district office at (585) 589-5780. Approximately 20 openings remain!

August 5, 2011 - 12:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, ILGR.

Press release:

Independent Living of Genesee Region (ILGR) is pleased to announce that Director James C. Moody has been selected to serve as the program coordinator / facilitator for “Step Up to Stop Falls in Genesee County.

Moody will coordinate activities of four workgroups (Exercise, Community Education, Home Assessments and Health Fairs) and manage partner accountability to carry out the project plan.

Local partners include the Genesee County Office for the Aging, University of Buffalo, Genesee Community College Nursing Program, Summit Physical Therapy – UMMC and Catholic Charities of Western New York. These partners are working with several other Genesee County agencies.

Moody will also work with the project's executive leader, Office for the Aging Director Pamela Whitmore, to develop long-term plans that involve all community residents.

Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits among adults 65 and older. Falls can result in lasting, serious issues, affecting mobility, independence and mental health.

Genesee County residents age 65 and older average more than 425 visits per year to the emergency department because of falls. Typically, 177 of those incidents result in a hospital stay. The annual cost for these services is more than 3 million dollars!

Step Up to Stop Falls in Genesee County is a prevention project funded by the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York to provide Genesee County elderly residents with information needed to help reduce the risk of falling and thus, reduce costs to the community.

Independent Living of Genesee Region (ILGR), part of the WNY Independent Living Inc., Family of Agencies, has primary offices at 113 Main St., Suite 5, Batavia. The agency provides individuals of the Genesee Region (Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties) with four core services: information and referral; peer counseling; independent living skills training and individual and community advocacy.

For more information about ILGR, to become involved in the Falls Prevention Project or to begin receiving services, please call 815-8501, ext. 400, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

August 5, 2011 - 12:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC.

O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Inc., is receiving $204,000 in tax abatements through the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GDEDC) for an expansion at its facility at 700 Ellicott St., Batavia.

O-AT-KA intends to build a two-story dairy processing facility for producing dairy-based beverages and "ultra-filtered" milk ingredients. The project summary reads, "The additional dairy batch blend capacity allows more dairy-based products to be manufactured at O-AT-KA for shipment both nationally as well as exports."

Both projects would use milk produced exclusively in New York. O-AT-KA is receiving sales-tax exemption on construction material of $204,000. The estimated 10-year return on investment into the local economy is $21.2 million.

Graham Corp., of 20 Florence Ave., Batavia, is receiving a tax abatement of $125,906, through the GCEDC for the addition of a 10,000-square-foot sandblasting and painting building. Graham is receiving an $89,088 property-tax exemption (PILOT) and a sales-tax exemption on building materials of $36,818. The estimated 10-year economic impact is $89.8 million

Marktec Products, Inc., has been approved by the GCEDC for $57,109 in tax abatements for relocation to the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. Marktec, owned by Bill Cox, will build a 5,002-square-foot building on two acres of land in the park. The company will receive a property-tax exemption (a 60 percent PILOT) of $32,739, a sales-tax exemption on building material of $18,800 and a mortgage-tax exemption of $5,570. The project is expected to retain four jobs and create two new jobs. The estimated return on investment over 10 years for the local economy is $2.45 million.

August 5, 2011 - 11:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke, corfu.

Thomas Michael Pillo, 40, of Alexander Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing and harassment, 2nd. Pillo is accused of choking and shoving a victim multiple times during a domestic dispute. The incident, at an address on Alexander Road, Batavia, was reported at 9 p.m., Wednesday.

Joseph Michael D'Amato, 19, of Sumner Road, Corfu, is charged with unlawful dealing with fireworks. D'Amato was arrested following a complaint at 12:05 a.m., Thursday, about fireworks in the Town of Pembroke. D'Amato allegedly set off fireworks "causing annoyance and alarm to several homeowners in the area."

Kateyln Christen Kubala, 22, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Kubala is accused of shoplifting at Walmart.

August 5, 2011 - 11:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jackson Street.

City crews were busy on Jackson Street this morning doing some road repair work.

August 5, 2011 - 12:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, pembroke, indian falls.

Like the headline reads, a tree in a cornfield on Phelps Road, Indian Falls.

August 5, 2011 - 12:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Alabama.

Every once in a while I'll drive down a road I've been down many times and spot something I've never seen before. Today, it as the First Universalist Cemetery on Maple Street Road in Alabama. The cemetery features a large, jagged stone with a wood sign in front of it listing all of the people believed to be buried in the cemetery. All of them appear to have died before the middle part of the 19th Century. Most of the grave markers are moved or broken.




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