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January 30, 2015 - 5:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in elba, accidents.

A motor-vehicle accident, unknown injuries, is reported in the area of 4746 Barrville Road. Elba fire and Mercy medics are responding.

January 30, 2015 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, Elba Volunteer Fire Department.

The Elba Volunteer Fire Department got two dings in a recent comptroller's audit: The board of directors needs to be sure the treasurer's work is audited, and expenditures need to be properly approved and recorded.

There is no evidence of missing or misappropriated funds, though there are a few expenditures that aren't properly documented.

Although there's no evidence of missing money, the department's lax oversight, auditors said, could cause problems.

"The Board’s inadequate oversight and weak controls increase the risk that Department disbursements may not be for appropriate purposes and that all money due the Department may not be received and deposited," the audit report states.

There is a lack of supporting documents for expenditures, auditors said, for $40,566 in spending. There are no documents to show that the board approved these expenditures.

Receipts from the department's largest fundraiser, the Onion Festival, were not properly recorded in 2013, the report states, affecting the department's ability to properly track revenue.

The festival generated $87,210 in revenue, with $78,886 in expenses, for a profit of $8,324.

While raffle tickets printed and sold are properly tracked, the same can't be said, according to the report, of food and beverage tickets.

The treasurer wrote a check to cash for $7,500 before the last festival, so there would be cash on hand for miscellaneous expenses. While she had receipts for $3,250 of the money spent from that fund, the rest of the expenditures had no supporting documentation.

Some of the cash is recorded in the fund-raising report, but there is no documentation for the balance of $1,365.

"The Board’s failure to properly oversee fund-raising activities substantially increases the risk that fund-raising money could be lost or stolen without detection," the report states.

Robert Ziphel, acting president of the Elba Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors, responded to the audit and stated, "In response to our audit, we agree with your findings. We have implemented changes in 2014 and will continue to do so in the future as needed."

January 30, 2015 - 3:00pm
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but dental insurance isn’t what it used to be. First of all, count your blessings if you have it at all, because fewer people have it now than 25 years ago. Secondly, insurance premiums have skyrocketed and dental benefits have not. And it is COMPLICATED!!! There are so many plans and each one is different. I can guarantee that the front desk people and office manager at your dental office are working hard to understand your plan and to maximize your benefits. What treatment does this plan cover? What’s not covered? What are my yearly maximums? My deductible or co‐pay? What are those and why do I have them? Does my dental office participate with this plan? Why does my plan say 100% covered and yet I still got a bill? It’s complicated. There is a link to our website and the answer to these questions and more if you are interested. 
 
On the other hand, dental insurance isn’t supposed to cover every dental need we have but it can help. Treatment can sometimes be spaced even over years to help utilize your insurance or if you have no insurance at all. There are other ways to help finance dental treatment as well. 
 
I wish everyone had wonderful dental insurance that covered every procedure and did not cost an arm and a leg. That’s a dream, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t still have a dream mouth. Remember that prevention is the best medicine and if you’d like some more answers please click on the link to our Web site. Good luck! Call Dr. Russell Marchese Jr. 585-343-2711, like us on Facebook for updates and for more information, visit our Web site: www.drrussdds.com.

 

January 30, 2015 - 11:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.
Mark Maltese

The defense challenged the confessions of 44-year-old Mark Maltese to a series of robberies and a burglary in 2013; a jury yesterday found the Batavia resident guilty on all but one count on the indictment against him.

The jury went into deliberations shortly after noon Thursday, returned to the courtroom a couple of times to review video evidence and have transcripts read back, and then returned the verdict at about 4 p.m.

"Obviously, the key to the case is the defendant's confessions," said District Attorney Lawrence Friedman. "That's obviously the most powerful evidence we can have."

Maltese was found guilty of three counts of robbery, one count of third-degree burglary and second-degree criminal mischief and one count of grand larceny, 3rd.

A not guilty verdict was returned on one count of burglary.

The participation of Maltese in a burglary Nov. 27, 2013, of the Rent-A-Center in Batavia led to his arrest and helped investigators crack the case of three hotel robberies in Genesee County in the week prior to the burglary.

In confessions at the time of his arrest, Maltese told police he robbed the hotels because he needed money to buy crack cocaine. 

"I have been struggling with a major addiction to crack cocaine for about the past six or eight months," Maltese said. "This addiction has consumed me and the majority of my money goes to buy crack to feed by addiction. My crack use got way out of control and I didn't know how to stop or slow down with smoking it. I became desperate for money so that I could get more crack cocaine, so I turned to robbing places to get the money I needed for crack. Every bit of the proceeds from the three robberies went to buy crack for me to smoke. I was out of control with my addiction and didn't know where to turn."

Friedman said the defense challenged whether the confession was truly voluntary as well as some of the facts contained in the confession.

Maltese was also convicted of stealing a safe from a local residence, but he was not convicted of the burglary charge in that case.

Maltese faces up to 15 years in prison on each robbery count. Sentencing is set for March 4.

January 30, 2015 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, Sponsored Post, advertisement.

Our latest Flip Ad contest winner is Bud Prevost.

Bud was the 5th person to send in the correct secret code, which this time was William Morgan.

Bud wins $25.

NOTE: The contest ad is still up and will likely be up throughout the day, but we do have a winner.

January 30, 2015 - 11:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, STOP-DWI.

Press release:

The New York State Police will join local law enforcement agencies across the state in an effort to crack down on impaired driving during Super Bowl weekend. The STOP-DWI campaign will include increased patrols on the roadways and sobriety checkpoints to deter, identify and arrest impaired drivers.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the number of drinking and driving fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by impaired drivers. During the 2014 campaign, State Police made nearly 100 impaired driving arrests. The campaign will be promoted on variable message boards on highways across the state, including the New York State Thruway, and runs from noon through midnight on Super Bowl Sunday. The enforcement crackdown is funded by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

Troop A Troop Commander Major Michael Cerretto said “We want everyone to enjoy the Super Bowl game and parties, however we would also like to ask them to be responsible, have designated drivers or plans to get home safely. We will be out patrolling the roadways and highways ensuring that they are safe for everyone to use."

An impaired driving conviction carries a maximum fine of $10,000, up to seven years in prison and license revocation.

In 2012, there were 10,322 people killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in the United States — 31 percent of all crash fatalities in the nation.

January 30, 2015 - 9:53am
posted by Billie Owens in elba, accidents.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at Route 98 and Edgerton Road, Elba. One vehicle is blocking the roadway. Elba fire and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 10:17 a.m.: Two patients refused treatment. The Elba assignment is back in service.

January 29, 2015 - 6:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

Congressmen Chris Collins (NY-27) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) today issued the following statement after reintroducing the bipartisan Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulation (CIDER) Act. The Act, HR 600, would amend the section of the tax code that deals with wine and related beverages, 26 USC § 5041, to support the growing number of craft and entrepreneurial cider makers, and tailor IRS rules to reflect variations in craft ciders across the country.

“I am proud to introduce legislation that will support our nation’s apple growers and cider makers,” Congressman Collins said. “The CIDER Act will help spur growth in these industries by restructuring taxes to fairer rates that take into account the natural variations in the cider-making process. I thank Representative Blumenauer for joining me in this goal to reduce burdens on small businesses and simplify our tax code.”

“Cider making is sometimes closer to an art than a science,” Congressman Blumenauer said. “As the American apple and pear hard cider industry becomes more prominent on the world stage, and cider becomes a beverage choice for more Americans’ developing palettes, we need to ensure that cideries have every opportunity to expand and meet the needs of this growing market without an unfair tax burden.”

During the fermentation process, a variety of factors can lead to small changes in the composition of a cider’s alcohol content and carbonation. Because of the narrow way that hard cider is currently defined in the tax code, these small variations can lead to cider being taxed at a rate 15 times higher than what the statute clearly intended. The Collins-Blumenauer bill would update the tax definitions to greatly reduce the chance that improper taxation could occur. The bill would also broaden the definition to include both pear and apple ciders.

The changes proposed by congressmen Blumenauer and Collins will update the existing federal definition of cider to better reflect the industry and keep American cider competitive in the international marketplace. Production nationally has been robust, more than tripling from 9.4 million gallons in 2011 to 32 million gallons in 2013. Cider revenues in the U.S. have been just as impressive, tripling from $178 million in 2007 to $601 million in 2012.

January 29, 2015 - 6:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame's Dave Pero will be honored before tomorrow night's girls basketball game against Holley.

Several former players will be on hand to speak and share their thoughts on how Pero helped influence them and shape their lives.

If this sounds like a swan song event for the Fighting Irish coach, it just might be. Then again, maybe not.

Pero hasn't announced any retirement plans but his son, Dave Pero Jr., is thinking that once the season is over, the elder Pero just might call it a career.

"It's not guaranteed he's going to resign, but if I had to put a dollar on it, I would say it's his last year," Pero Jr. said.

Given that hunch, the assistant coach wanted to be sure his father got a proper send-off. The Friday game seems like the best time to do it with only two home games left on the schedule -- a weekday game, which former players who are in college wouldn't be able to attend, and then senior night, and on that night a farewell to the coach would take the spotlight away from the players.

Pero became head coach at the start of the 2002-03 season. His teams have notched eight five league titles, a state title (in 2013) and sectional titles in 2003, 2006 (the team lost the state title game that year), 2007 and 2013.

A logical choice of successor for Pero Sr., is Pero Jr., who said he's obviously interested in the job, but that's a decision for the Notre Dame Board, not to mention his wife, who he would ask to bless any such assignment.

UPDATE: More on Pero's record:  He is currently 234-51, and 101-12 at home. His teams have a postseason record of 34-11.  

January 29, 2015 - 1:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Town of Batavia Fire.

Demolition has begun on the old Town of Batavia rec hall (and onetime fire hall) on Lewiston Road. The fire department is planning a new, modern fire hall at the location, as well as a new Station #2 on Clinton Street Road.

January 29, 2015 - 9:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

Deputy Daniel M. VanValkenburg, of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office retired December 20, 2014, after 20 years of service. Deputy VanValkenburg started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on December 5, 1994, as a Correction Officer at the Jail.  He was appointed Deputy Sheriff-Road Patrol in 1998 and for the past two years, was assigned to the Court Security Detail. In addition to his normal duties, he also participated in community events on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office with the Safe Child ID Program. During his career, Deputy VanValkenburg has earned two Commendation Awards. 

Deputy John R. Duyssen, of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will retire effective at the end of his shift tomorrow, January 30, 2015, after 21 years of service. Deputy Duyssen started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on April 19, 1993. In addition to his normal duties, he was also a Crash Reconstructionist, Field Training Officer and also conducted farm safety training for the agricultural community. During his career, Deputy Duyssen earned several awards which included Officer of the Year in 1998, three Meritorius Awards, and four Commendations. 

“Deputies VanValkenburg and Duyssen have been valued employees with the Sheriff’s Office, and everyone here wishes them all the best in their future endeavors,” stated Sheriff Gary Maha.

January 29, 2015 - 9:10am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, nature, songbirds.

Thanks in large part to a constantly filled bird feeder, the Winter of 2015 has seen an abundance of feathered visitors in and around our yard. This cardinal waits on a snow-covered spruce bough between feeding forays.

The smaller birds, like this junco, begin to arrive at first light -- not at sunrise mind you -- but when the first hint of gray light begins to permeate the darkness.   

The blue jays arrive a bit later. After a pit stop in the apple tree to make sure the coast is clear, they will flit back and forth between the tree and the bird feeder....

as does this cardinal.

A trusting sort, the chickadee will occassionaly take seed from your hand.

Not so with the tufted titmouse....it flits about rapidly; It's been difficult to take its picture.

A blue jay in the "crow's nest" of the apple tree. The apple tree is the closest bit of cover to the bird feeder. There are small brambles and thickets just inside the small woods, but the apple tree is usually where all of our "guests" bide their time while waiting a turn at the bird feeder.

January 28, 2015 - 6:03pm

Millennials -- that generation born after 1980 but before the turn of the century -- came of age in a time of economic stagnation, fewer jobs, fewer chances for career advancement, lower pay.

Technology has ruled their lives.

They're getting married later in life, starting families later, and moving to smaller cities in droves.

Buffalo has attracted a 34-percent jump in recent college graduate residents, outpacing bigger cities such as Los Angeles.

All of these trends, and more, are attracting the attention of land use planners and informing a new way of looking at planning, said Felipe A. Oltramari, director of the the Genesee County Planning Department, during a presentation at City Hall this morning on the Millennial Generation.

There are 87 million people born in the Millennial decades, about 11 million more than were born during the Baby Boom years.

What they want out of life tends to be far different than Baby Boomers or even Gen-X.

To them, suburbs are dead.

A higher percentage of them than any previous generation have never had a driver's license. Often, they don't own cars.

They're more environmentally aware and socially connected through their digital devices.

The reason they're flocking to cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Portland and Houston is they're more interested in deciding what lifestyle they want before deciding what job they will take, Oltramari said.

Sixty-four percent settle in a city before they get their first job offer.

"It's going to be a difficult job market any place you go, so you might as well go to someplace where you want to live," Oltramari said.

So why not go to New York City instead of Buffalo?

Because it costs a lot more to live in NYC than Buffalo.

So why come to Batavia instead of Buffalo?

Because, Oltramari said, eventually, as Buffalo attracts more Millennials, the cost of living will rise. Adjacent small cities such as Batavia can offer some of the same advantages of bigger cities, but at an affordable price.

Besides, Millennials are the coming economic driver, so Batavia should be planning to be the kind of community they want now; otherwise, we get left behind.

The planning model for this new urbanism is called "form based."

From the 1920s until recently, all planning was built around zoning codes -- what developers cannot do, not what a community wanted.

Planning zones were radically segregated, not just separating, say, residential from industrial, but apartments from houses, offices from retail space, artisans from factories.

Mix-use was a product of the organic growth of American cities in the 19th Century, but planners tried to stamp it out in the 20th Century.

In the post-War years, as suburbs grew and highways were built to accommodate the booming auto industry, planners replaced dense city blocks with strip malls and paved over culturally diverse neighborhoods.

Batavia, with its white elephant of a mall and Urban Renewal conformity, is an example of a city that lost its soul to parking lots and drive-thru restaurants.

"What planners tried to do was try to make our cities more like suburbs, and what did we get? Very bad suburbs," Oltramari said.

Form-based codes allow cities to set a vision for what they want to be.  

"Conventional planning looks at use, not at form," said Derik Kane, a senior planner for the county, and himself of the Millennial Generation. "In looking at use, you eliminated things you might want, such as small artisans when you moved out the industry, things like that that make an economy and a community. With form-based codes, instead of eliminating things you don't want, you say what you do want."

For developers, new construction and renovation of existing structures becomes a more streamlined process.  

A community with form-based codes doesn't need to require a developer to go through the current lengthy and expensive environmental review process, Oltramari said, because a conforming proposal will already fit within those environmental requirements.

"We need to be moving at the speed of business," said Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for Genesee County Economic Development Center. "Developers don't want delays."

The City Council has already approved funding for a new master plan for Batavia and City Manager Jason Molino said form-based codes will certainly be part of the discussion as the process moves forward.

Urban Renewal did a lot of damage to Downtown Batavia, but there are still positive aspects that can be enhanced.

Kane pointed out that experts in new urbanism recommend you build on successes, rather than trying to fix problems.

For Batavia, that success would center around Jackson Square, especially Jackson Street.

Oltramari suggested borrowing a page from a small Massachusetts city and building over a portion of the parking lot on the west side of Jackson Street and putting up a row of single-story, small retail shops.

Millennials want walkable communities -- remember, they often don't have cars -- which means density, and more retail on Jackson would give them what they want.

County planning is planning on bringing in a walkability expert this summer to study Batavia, but online resources such as WalkScore.com already give Batavia low marks.

On a scale that counts 80 as pretty good, very little of Batavia scores higher than 70 (my house, three blocks south of Downtown Jackson Street, scores 67).  

Greater density and more options downtown would help improve those scores, which Millennials look at when deciding where to live.

One issue planners might wrestle with is Baby Boomers still have an auto-oriented mindset. They demand parking. They expect to park right in front of the store they wish to enter. Any proposal to eliminate parking downtown is going to meet resistance, even as data shows it's not necessary.

People will park and walk, or just walk from their residence, if it's an interesting walk, Oltramari said. 

"Nobody wants to park on the far edge of the Walmart parking and walk to the store, because it's not interesting," Oltramari said. "But if you measure it, they probably walk at least twice that distance once they get inside the store."

People will walk for blocks and blocks at Disneyland, he noted, and then come home and complain if they can't find a convenient parking place downtown.

For Millennials, if they're living and working in a neighborhood they like, parking simply isn't an issue.

"The good news is, we know how to build this way," Kane said. "We built this way for centuries.  Your villages, your main steets, are all walkable places."

Copies of the slides used in Oltramari's presentation along with related material can be found on the Web page for the county planning department.

January 28, 2015 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Stafford.

Carolina M. Frias, 34, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and criminal nuisance. Frias is accused of providing alcohol to four juveniles at her residence.

Kimberly A. Brodsky, 23, of Elm Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a traffic ticket. Brodsky turned herself in to Batavia PD. Brodsky's mother posted $250 bail.

Marene A. Donnelly, 29, of Oak Orchard East, Albion, was arrested on a warrant for allegedly parking after hours on city streets. She turned herself in to Batavia PD.

Kelly A. Kasper, 44, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Kasper is accused of causing pain to a child during a domestic incident. She was jailed on $3,000 bail.

Kurt Wayne Tripp, 58, of Bernd Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely and refusal to take breath test. Tripp was arrested following a report of a vehicle on fire in a field at 7:53 p.m. Monday on Buckley Road, Stafford. It's alleged that Tripp drove a 2006 Chevrolet pickup while intoxicated when it travelled off the west shoulder of the road and eventually caught fire.

January 28, 2015 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, byron, Pavilion, bergen.
Joshua Baltz

A pair of investigations by the Local Drug Task Force has led to the arrest of two men, one accused of selling a controlled substance, the other of selling marijuana.

Busted were Joshua L. Baltz, 38, of Wood Street, Batavia, and Mark A. Knickerbocker, 17, of Route 262 in Byron.

Baltz allegedly sold a quantity of suboxone to an undercover agent on three separate occasions, once in Pavilion and twice in the City. 

He is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, 4th, a Class C felony.

Knickerbocker is accused of selling marijuana to a person under age 18 while in the Town of Bergen in May.

He is charged with criminal sale of marijuana, 2nd, a Class D felony.

The task force was assisted by the District Attorney's Office, uniformed deputies and Batavia PD.

January 28, 2015 - 1:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, alexander.

The body of an 84-year-old Batavia man was found in a field off Cookson Road late this morning following a search by state troopers and Sheriff's deputies.

Alphonse Spiotta was last seen by a family member yesterday evening, a trooper said. His daughter reported him missing this morning.

At around 10 a.m., a county road maintenance worker reported finding a car off the roadway at 4312 Cookson Road, Alexander, that crashed into a tree. No one was around the vehicle, which was just around the curve where Dorman becomes Cookson. The worker told dispatch he first spotted the vehicle yesterday.

About 10 minutes later dispatch got a call from a woman who said her father was missing and that he was last seen yesterday.

A State Police helicopter was dispatched to the scene, but officers found the body shortly before it arrived. Sheriff's and State Police K-9s assisted in the search.

The man's body was found along a tree line next to the field some 300 yards south / southeast from where the car was found.

Alexander fire and Mercy EMS also responded to the scene.

January 28, 2015 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, high school sports, Batavia HS.

With an offense that distributed the points a bit, the Batavia Blue Devils beat Lackawanna on Tuesday night in a non-league game, 73-32.

As usual, Jeff Redband led the team in scoring, this time with 20 points.  Mmalachi Chenault had 13, Jarred Lasket, 9, Ryan Hogan, 8 and James Schrider, 8.

Redband added eight rebounds and three assists and had a blocked shot. 

Batavia was 46.4 percent from the field and 81.2 percent on free throws.

Batavia is now 10-2 on the season.

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