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Howard B. Owens's blog

November 9, 2008 - 9:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, help.

The following links are designed to help you better understand how things work on The Batavian.

 

February 7, 2016 - 9:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

A caller believes as many as eight people are trying to break into her residence on Dellinger Avenue.

She reports at least some of them having baseball bats.

Batavia PD just arrived on scene.

A deputy reports some sort of "commotion" on the Walnut Street bridge.

A suspect may have left in a gold van.

UPDATE 9:06 p.m.: Police are searching for a suspect.

UPDATE 9:08 p.m.: A second suspect is described as a Jamaican and wearing a red t-shirt.

February 7, 2016 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, Pavilion.

pavilionpanelfeb2016.jpg

A panel of legislators and an audience of school board members and administrators who gathered in Pavilion on Saturday morning all seemed to agree that cuts in state aid to schools, mandates, and a restrictive property tax cap are hurting school districts.

School districts are in financial dire straights and can't continue to tap into reserves to provide the same level of services to students and their families was the general message of the discussion.

"What we would like to see, because we know the property tax cap is so low, what we would like to see in the Senate Republican Caucus, is eliminate the GA (Gap Elimination Adjustment) fully this year and add to the Foundation Aid so that we can fund our schools," said Sen. Cathy Young, who represents Cattaraugus County and is chair of the State Senate's Finance Committee.

Gap Elimination Adjustments were a prime target during the panel discussion. The program is a product of 2010-11 fiscal year when state funds were tight and Foundation Aid was being cut. While the word "gap" might imply the program was meant to replace what was being lost in Foundation Aid, for most school districts in the state, the program just meant fewer dollars to fund programs.

For the region, GA has cost school districts more than $140 million over the past five years. For the current fiscal year, those school districts are underfunded, officials say, by $21,447,597.

Meanwhile, the complicated tax cap formula limits any increase in school district revenue to .12 percent.

David Little, executive director of NYS Rural Schools, said there are districts that a year ago didn't need a voter-approved tax cap override, but this year, with the exact same budget, will need to go to voters for approval.

Until 2010-11, school districts were kept on a level playing field across the state through Foundation Aid. It's a complex formula but accounts for publication, household income, district size and cost of living to arrive at the size of an annual grant to school districts to ensure they have enough operational revenue.

Over the past five years, as the figures above indicate, Foundation Aid has been slashed drastically, and GA hasn't closed the gap.

The issue of mandate relief was raised early in the discussion by Paul Alioto, superintendent in Dansville, and several of the panel members responded.

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer said he was on a task force that came up with a list of 51 mandates that could be targeted for elimination, but as soon as you start to dig into them one-by-one, you find each has their constituency, people who will fight tooth and nail to keep it alive.

One of his pet mandates to eliminate is one that requires a third audit of district financial records. It costs districts from $10,000 to $100,000 annually and in Ranzenhofer's view, it's unnecessary. He was able to get a bill through that exempted the state's smallest school districts, but subsequent attempts to exempt more districts have been stymied.

"We have to be able to get (a reform) through both houses," Ranzenhofer said. "It seems like common sense to me, but there is somebody in the Assembly majority who feels it is a good idea to have these audits."

Young said mandates around special needs students are particularly contentious. Many of the mandates could be shifted to a federal budget responsibility, but at the local level, people fear change. At the local level, it's often easy to see how mandated spending on even one special needs child might lead to the elimination of an advanced placement class, which creates local conflicts, but it's difficult to shift expense responsibility to the federal government.

David Little said New York's funding formula is backward compared to just about every other state in the Union. In New York, the state picks up only about 40 percent of the cost of education; in other states, the school district is on the hook for less than 40 percent and the state covers the rest of the expense.

And that's something that could be fixed easily, Little said, at least in theory, though the politics of it are much more tricky. The state mandates a pension program that is state run, but the school districts pay into the program. If the state covered pension expense, Little said, that 40/60 split would flip. It would lift a huge expense burden from school districts.

Assemblyman Bill Nojay took aim at standardized testing. He said children need a broad range of experience and the ability to think critically. The system, he said, is forcing children at a younger and younger age into silos -- "you're going to be a doctor, you're going to be an engineer ... "

He said he was in China recently and their standardized testing is even more rigorous, and people there complain about it.

"For what purpose?" Nojay said. "No matter how good the standards, we are teaching to the test, for lack of a better term, and the obsession with testing, in my judgment, and the Chinese experience, it's not good for child development. It is immensely counterproductive to the development of a society."

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said the drift in education is being driven by a progressive agenda that is hurting America in a lot of ways, and he spoke at length about increases in the minimum wage and problems with the healthcare system.

He shared a story about a call from a restaurant owner who employs 27 servers. An increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour will cost that restaurant owner an additional $105,000 a year.

The owner also recently had a waitress and cook who fell in love and she became pregnant. The waitress did have health insurance, so the owner set her up with an appointment with a health insurance navigator. he waitress reported back that the good news was, she was going to get health insurance. The bad news was that in order to qualify, she couldn't work more than two days a week, and the child's father, a full-time cook at the restaurant, couldn't work more than three days a week.

"We've lost our way in this state with hands out instead of hands on, actually working," Hawley said. "This is not the America we grew up in. It's not the free enterprise system we all prospered under, or tried to prosper under, and that movement over the last seven years across this state is going the wrong way and it's hurting education."

February 7, 2016 - 10:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy.

The call initially came in as heavy black smoke coming from a vent at a residence at 111 Myrtle St., Le Roy, indicating a possible structure fire.

A first responder reported smoke coming from a vent for a heater and another reported smoke in the residence.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance dispatched. Bergen fire initially dispatched, but now told to stand down.

February 5, 2016 - 4:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Joe's, batavia, crime.
mug_danielkuczka16.jpg
     Daniel Kuczka

A 73-year-old man faces criminal charges following an incident during student mass at St. Joe's this morning, after the man allegedly took a student by his arm who was in line for Holy Communion and led him through it and then back to his seat in a pew.

Police did not indicate what the man's motivation might have been or what statements he may have made while inside the church, but said the man has no prior relationship with the church nor the student involved in the incident.

Daniel S. Kuczka, 73, is charged with harassment, 2nd, and criminal trespass, 3rd.

According to police, Kuczka entered the church during a private Mass for students of St. Joe's and Notre Dame. He made "inappropriate" comments to staff and was asked to leave.

During Communion, Kuczka reportedly returned to the Mass and grabbed a juvenile who was in line, saying, "Come with me."

Police were called and when patrols arrived, Kuczka was taken into custody without incident.

Police say that investigators found there was no attempt by Kuczka to remove the student from the service.

February 5, 2016 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, batavia, business.

dandebwbta75.jpg

Submitted story:

WBTA Radio, Genesee County's only locally owned commercial radio station, marks its 75th year of broadcasting this Saturday.

The station went on the air at 7 a.m.,  Thursday, Feb 6, 1941. It has been licensed as WBTA since its inception.

The first voice on the air was that of the “genial” Jerry Flynn who opened the program, “Rise and Shine,” according to an article published in the Daily News. Flynn became better known later as a sports announcer. The station's studios and offices were located on the second floor of 90 Main St. in Batavia where they remained until 1957.

WBTA studios moved several times over the years. Its next location was 22 Seaver Place, now the JCPenney store's loading dock. For several years the station occupied the second floor and later the first floor of 413 Main St. at the corner of Harvester Avenue. The station moved to 113 Main St. in 2004 when it was purchased by its present owner, HPL Communications, Inc., owned by Daniel and Debrah Fischer.

As the studios and offices moved, the station's transmission and tower site has remained on Creek Road in the Town of Batavia. In the early years, an engineer was required to be at the transmission site whenever the station was on the air. Technical improvements in the late 1950s allowed the station to be remote controlled from the studio.

The station was originally owned by three Batavia residents: Joseph Ryan, of Union Street; Edward P. Atwitter, of East Main Street and Edmund R. Gamble, of Vernon Avenue. Gamble also served as the general manager.

After the outbreak of World War II, several members of the station's staff left for military service including Gamble.

The next local owner of WBTA was William F. Brown. Brown was best known for his regular editorials on local issues. He won 16 Best Editorial awards from the New York State Broadcasters Association.

Brown expanded the station's news coverage, which was apparent in the 1971 coverage of the Attica Prison Revolt.

In February 2004, the Fischers' formed HPL Communications, purchased WBTA and moved to Genesee County.

New digital studios were built and WBTA moved to its present location at the corner of Main and Center streets, which became the name of the station's morning talk show, “Main & Center.”

From 1977 to 2000, WBTA operated an FM station that was licensed to Attica, NY. The station was sold and became WLOF, which beams Catholic programming into the Buffalo area.

Under HPL, the station launched another FM station in 2014. It is licensed under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) translator rules and allows WBTA to broadcast in stereo at 100.1 Mhz. The station also streams 100 percent of its programming on the Internet at WBTAi.com and via mobile devices with custom apps for Android and iPhone systems.

“We are proud of WBTA's legacy of service to Batavia and Genesee County,” Fischer said. "As a licensee of a broadcast station, we pledge to the FCC to 'serve the public interest, convenience and necessity as a public trustee.' ”

WBTA is known in the industry as a “heritage” station, Fischer added, “our listeners have grown up with us.” Over the years we have reported individual milestones: births, anniversaries and obituaries. In times of war, the station has reported on service of local men and women in uniform.

The station has broadcast hundreds of local sporting events and have followed area high school teams to regional and state championships. WBTA has been the broadcast voice of Batavia's professional baseball team, the Muckdogs.

Through affiliations with national news organizations such as ABC Radio, WBTA has provided coverage of the most notable events of the 20th and 21st centuries including the Pearl Harbor attack, the assassinations of the 1960s, wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, the manned moon landing and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Radio broadcasting has certainly undergone significant changes over the past 75 years and will continue to change and evolve over the next 75 years,” Fischer said, “but I believe its basic commitment to serving the public interest will never change.”

Photo by Howard Owens. Pictured, Dan and Debbie Fischer.

February 5, 2016 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union, crime, batavia, business.

Press release:

Attention Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union Members: We have been made aware this morning, Friday, Feb. 5, that an automated call is being made to members and non-members saying that TVFCU needs their card information. This is a scam and you should hang up the phone immediately.

Please do not enter any information during these phone calls! TVFCU will never call and ask for your card number or any other private information. 

If you have given your card information during the phone call and you are a TVFCU member please call us at (585) 343-5627.  

If you are a non-TVFCU member please contact your own financial institution. 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: Officials at the Le Roy Federal Credit Union contacted us to report many of their members are reporting the same scam. "We've been getting many calls and walk-ins from members stating that they have been receiving these calls as well. We also advise to NEVER give out card/account numbers over the phone. If they have questions, they may call us at (585) 768-7207," says Kimberly Antinore, Member Services, Le Roy Federal Credit Union.

February 5, 2016 - 10:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

CIty fire and Mercy EMS are dispatched to Oak Street and North Lyon for a woman in labor reportedly delivering a baby.

UPDATE 10:07 a.m.: A police officer on scene reports the baby has been delivered.

UPDATE 10:15 a.m.: "ER go ahead." "In route with a mother and baby -- delivered in the field -- baby's fine, mom's fine. We'll see you in 10." "You're clear."

UPDATE 10:27a.m.: Batavia Police Officer Frank Klimjack said the baby's father made the delivery prior to his arrival on scene. They are all at UMMC now.

February 5, 2016 - 5:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

A tractor-trailer is reported in a ditch off Ellicott Street Road and Starr Road, Pavilion.

Unknown injuries.

Pavilion fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 5:25 a.m.: No injuries and no fuel leaks.

UPDATE 5:26 a.m.: Mercy EMS in service. A chief on scene reports, "tractor-trailer on its side."

UPDATE 5:43 a.m.: Pavilion is back in service. A wrecker requested to the scene. The trailer contains 24,000 pounds of food product.

February 4, 2016 - 8:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien.

A person reportedly became trapped between two railroad cars at the railroad crossing at Fargo Road, Darien.

The person is reportedly conscious and alert. It's unknown if he's still entrapped.

Darien fire, Darien ambulance and Mercy EMS responding.

A chief requests that dispatchers check on the availability of Mercy Flight.

Corfu to stand by in quarters.

UPDATE 8:35 p.m.: Deputy on scene reports an oncoming train from the other tracks. Responding units advised to use caution.

UPDATE 8:42 p.m.: The original call from CSX said the subject was trapped between the last and second-to-last car. When firefighters arrived at that location, there was no person at that location. Further conversation with CSX indicates the original information received from CSX was incorrect. The person was never trapped. The train jolted and he was knocked down. The subject may now be in the locomotive's engine compartment. All personnel are accounted for at the engine. The subject is not injured and does not need any medical attention.

February 4, 2016 - 1:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, pathway to prosperity, business, bdc, GCEDC.

A plan hatched by the City, the Batavia Development Corp. and the Genesee County Economic Development Center to redirect some money generated by economic development into brownfield area cleanup received the support Wednesday of the county's Ways and Means Committee.

The committee approval means the proposal will be voted on by the full County Legislature at its next meeting.

The plan, unique in the state, called Batavia Pathway to Prosperity, will create a fund from PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) payments that can be used for environmental clean up on properties within the city's brownfield opportunity area, a 366-acre designation covering the city's core.

A PILOT provides a business undertaking local economic development (creating jobs, increasing the tax base, adding to local economic growth) with a break in taxes for the increase in assessed value on the property being developed. Typically, if a business puts a new building on vacant land or adds onto an existing building, the assessed value of the property will increase, which means higher property taxes paid to the city (town or village), school district and county. A PILOT reduces those taxes in exchange for payments to the taxing jurisdictions. The payments could be in the range of 70 percent of what the increase in taxes would have been without the PILOT. The property owner still pays 100 percent of the taxes on the original assessed value. PILOTs typically run for 10 years on a graduated scale, with property taxes due increasing every two years over the life of the PILOT.

The new program would redirect half of the PILOT payments from projects in the city to an investment fund (a PIF) that would be available to property owners in the future who wish to redevelopment brownfield properties and need assistance with the environmental cleanup.

"This creates a fund that gives the BDC and the EDC working together and providing collective oversight the opportunity to look at broad range investment opportunities," said Steve Hyde, CEO of the GCEDC. "(The projects) still have to be for the public good, but (the property owner) can turn around and maybe do some creative financing type of things to really move some property and get them redeveloped and start to heal the poverty and blight down in our core."

Marianne Clattenberg, now a legislator but a former City Council president, said the city has needed something like this for a long time, but had other problems to solve first before something forward-looking could be brought to the table.

"We knew going in we could never do this by ourselves, that we needed partners and we needed to have everybody on board and engaged to bring the city back to where it needs to be," Clattenberg said. 

County Manager Jay Gsell said a program like this could spark a renaissance in the city.

"The need is unique and this is the kind of structural financing that gives the adroitness necessary to having this kind of money available," Gsell said.

The committee also approved a city plan to provide tax relief on so-called zombie properties. The program would provide a PILOT-like tax abatement on the increase in assessed value of a home that is currently vacant and has been vacant for some time that a person buys, renovates and then lives in. While the abatement isn't available to an investor who buys a zombie house, fixes it up and then rents it out, the abatement could be available to the next owner if that same investor fixes it up and then sells it to an owner-occupant. 

There are 50 to 60 such zombie properties in the city, not all of which can be saved, but some retain some value and could be renovated. The property must be single family, or converted to a single-family residence.

Hyde said the two programs together are the sort of thing that can spur economic development in the city's core and attract the Millennials who will be taking jobs at STAMP (Alabama's Science and Technology Manufacturing Park) to the city.

February 4, 2016 - 11:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, business, batavia.

Renovation work on the future home of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau could begin in early spring, said Chamber President Tom Turnbull.

The chamber completed the purchase of the property at 8276 Park Road, Batavia, on Friday.

A request for construction bids on the project should go out in the next couple of weeks.

The chamber anticipates spending $900,000 on the project, which involves totally renovating and reconfiguring the building into office and meeting space suitable to the needs of the chamber and tourism bureau.

The location was selected in a large part because of its proximity to the Batavia exit for the Thruway and the concentration of hotels in the area.

The chamber purchased the building for $275,000.

The cost will be reduced a bit because of significant donation to the project by U.S. Gypsum.

Ray Dunlevy, a Gypsum executive in Oakfield and a member of the Chamber's board, came forward and said Gypsum would donate all of the drywall for renovation.

Nearly every current wall will come down inside the building, and new walls will go up, so it's a significant contribution to the project.

Turnbull really doesn't know the exact value of the donation. He said maybe $4,000 to $6,000.

"Everyone I talk to, and I'm not a contractor, says, 'that's worth thousands of dollars,' " Turnbull said.

The project's architect, Ed Smart, has been in touch with the general manager for Gypsum in Oakfield, Jim Perry, and Turnbull said Perry's message to Smart was, "Just tell us what you need."

The drywall is manufactured in Aliquippa, Pa.

Turnbull said nobody asked Gypsum for a donation. Dunlevy spoke up at a meeting and made the offer.

"It shows what a good community partner they are, just stepping up," Turnbull said. "They volunteered it and it's wonderful. It's going to help the project quite a bit."

File photo.

February 4, 2016 - 9:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, batavia.

Jackie Ann Duepenngieser, 32, of Page Road, Perry, is charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, driving without an ignition interlock device, unregistered motor vehicle and unlicensed operator. Duepenngieser was stopped at 6:23 p.m. Wednesday on Griswold Circle, Le Roy, by Deputy Michael Lute. Duepenngieser was allegedly found in possession of a scheduled nartocitc that was not prescribed to her along with a quantity of cocaine and heroin. Duepenngieser was jailed on $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond.

James Russell Kosiorek, 23, of Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Kosiorek allegedly stole a DVD player from Kmart.

February 4, 2016 - 5:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, fire.

A caller reports that an oxygen tank may have exploded, burning a victim, in an apartment at Le Roy Meadows Apartments, 18 Genesee St., Le Roy.

The fire is reported to be out.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance responding.

UPDATE 5:39 a.m.: Bergen requested to stand by in quarters.

UPATE 5:46 a.m.: Code enforcement requested to the scene.

UPDATE 5:53 a.m.: Bergen can go back in service.

UPDATE 9:32 a.m.: Press release from Le Roy PD on the incident:

At Approximately 5:28 a.m., emergency services were called to the Le Roy Meadows Apartments B-11 Apt-C, Le Roy, for an explosion that occurred inside the apartment. It was determined that a small explosion occurred when the occupant attempted to light a cigarette while connected to a supplemental oxygen source. The Le Roy Police Officer on location advised there was no active fire but there was smoke inside the apartment. The 58-year-old occupant suffered burns to his face and possibly abdomen and was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester by Le Roy ambulance. There did not appear to be significant damage to the structure.

February 3, 2016 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in pathway to prosperity, batavia, GCEDC, business.

Press release:

Officials from the City of Batavia and the Batavia Development Corporation will make a presentation to the Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) at the agency’s Feb. 4 board meeting. The GCEDC Board of Directors is considering entering into an inter-municipal agreement to assist with the funding of new development projects in the City of Batavia.

The presentation will include an overview of the “Batavia Pathway to Prosperity” (B2P) program and its role in leveraging economic development activity through a PILOT increment financing (PIF) initiative; strategies for redeveloping the Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) sites; attracting new employers and jobs; increasing property values; and, exploring key market opportunities in the City of Batavia.

In addition to the presentation, the board will consider the acceptance of an application to set a public hearing for Darien Lake Theme Park Resort’s 2016 Tourism Destination Project. Darien Lake’s new project includes a six-flume waterslide and a new roller coaster train.

The total request for incentives for the Darien Lake project is $189,200 in sales tax exemptions for the construction and equipping of the new rides and enhancements. The total capital investment for both park projects is approximately $2.8 million.

The GCEDC board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Innovation Zone Conference Room at MedTech Centre -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, on the first floor, across from Genesee Community College.

February 3, 2016 - 8:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield.

A utility pole is reportedly broken and electric wires are hanging low over the roadway in the area 3212 Lockport Road, Oakfield.

A trooper reported the situation and said the wires are likely too low for a truck to pass under and the pole is about ready to fall into the roadway.

Oakfield fire is dispatched.

National Grid requested to the scene.

Lockport Road is being closed in both directions.

February 3, 2016 - 8:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Oakfield, Stafford.

Bruce K. Ames, 49, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with menacing, 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal solicitation and coercion, 1st. Ames was arrested as a result of an investigation into an incident reported at 3:05 a.m. Jan. 24 at 122 Bank St., Batavia. Police report, "A New York SAFE Act compliant rifle was found and held as a result of the investigation." Ames was ordered held without bail.

UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION: We've pulled the court documents on this case and spoke with police. While the original press release states Ames was arrested on a weapons charge and has this reference to the SAFE Act, the SAFE Act is entirely irrelevant to the case. The weapons charge comes from allegedly possessing a weapon with the intent to use it to cause death or injury. Ames allegedly threatened to fire his rifle through the floor of an apartment if his neighbor didn't come up, and kill him. That allegation is the basis of the solicitation, menacing and coercion charges. Ames reportedly possessed a Stag Arms 5.56-MM rifle, and though he claimed to have a 12-round magazine, there was no SAFE Act violation found.

Ryan M. Warner, 38, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Warner allegedly stole several boxes of Crest White Strips from the CVS on West Main Street. Warner was jailed on $2,000 bail or $4,000 bond.

Jacqueline Raj Garrett, 36, of Walnut Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to complete community service. Garrett was sentenced for aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. Garrett was jailed on $100,000 bail.

Hector L. Gomez, 19, of Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with obstructed view, criminal possession of marijuana, 4th, and two counts of criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd. During a traffic stop on Liberty Street, Batavia, officers reported detecting the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The stop was at 4:43 p.m. Thursday by Officer Chad Richards. Gomez allegedly had marijuana in several different containers in the vehicle.

Jerell J. Jones Sr., 27, of Watson Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd. Jones is accused of using a knife during an altercation at 1:15 a.m. Oct. 11 at a location on East Main Street, Batavia. Jones was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Lamar I. Randall, 30, of South Lyon Street, Batavia, is charged with false personation, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, driving without ignition interlock, unlicensed operator, failure to stop at stop sign. Randall was stopped at 1:47 a.m. Saturday on Garfield Avenue, Batavia, by Officer Matthew Wojtaszczyk. Randall was jailed on $1,500 bail.

Eric John Polle, 45, of Meadow Farms South, North Chili, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment, 2nd. Polle was allegedly involved in an incident where he physically harassed another male at a location on Maple Avenue, Oakfield, at 4:18 p.m. on Jan. 27. Children were allegedly present at the time. He was jailed on $500 bail or $1,000 bond.

Douglas James Hanley, 25, of Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to pay fine. Hanley was released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

February 3, 2016 - 7:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Liberty Street, batavia.

City fire is dispatched to a report of wires arcing on Liberty Street near Cherry Street, Batavia.

The power lines are attached to a house.

UPDATE 7:55 a.m.: City fire reports arcing prior to their arrival. "Everything is OK right now." National Grid requested to the scene.

UPDATE 8:05 a.m.: National Grid on scene. 

February 2, 2016 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in assistant city manager, batavia.

Two years ago, several members of the City Council, including Eugene Jankowski, expressed reservations about creating the position of assistant city manager.

Even after Gretchen DiFante was hired, some members tried to undo what had been done.

After a budget session Monday night where the council learned of an initiative DiFante has been deeply involved in that will save the city nearly $240,000, Jankowski said maybe this assistant city manager job wasn't such a bad idea after all.

"She's been multitasking on many different projects and now I'm starting to see some results on that," said Jankowski, now president of the council. "I'm thinking at this point, if that continues, that's going to be a good thing. More heads in the game kind of making these decisions is helping out, instead of Jason (Molino, city manager) trying to do all of this on his own."

What has gotten Jankowski's attention, along with the rest of the council, is a plan to switch the city's workers' compensation insurance to a self-funded pool instead of purchasing insurance.

Premiums and other related expenses keep going up. In 2011, workers comp cost the city $229,520. The projected 2016 expense, if the city kept with the current system, would exceed $700,000.

The self-funded plan will be an estimated $238,660 less than the state plan.

Several members of city staff, including Molino, have worked on the new program, but DiFante, who earns $75,000 a year, has taken the lead on research and organization and made the presentation during Monday's budget session.

Jankowski also noted that DiFante's efforts in the city's flood insurance program are also saving taxpayers money.

"I'm starting to see the assistant city manager is making a big difference in these areas," Jankowski said.

He cautioned, however, that it's the council's job to monitor how city management is doing and ensure things continue to move in a positive direction, and if that changes, take action to get the city back on track.

"The council needs to make sure things get directed and redirected so it doesn't cost taxpayers more money," Jankowski said.

Monday, the council heard reports from several department heads, including police and fire, on proposed spending for 2016-17 and nothing seemed to raise any red flags with council members. The meeting was controversy free. Jankowski said he doesn't anticipate that changing as the council works through the budget, because prior years have pretty much weeded out questionable expenses and the city is now on a sound financial footing.

The proposed spending from all funds for 2016-17 is $24,798,158. The general fund expenditure is proposed at $16,204,570. That's an annual increase of $499,806.

Under the proposed plan, the property tax would increase by 13 cents, putting the rate a $9.29 per thousand of assessed value. The tax levy would increase by $55,621, or 1.10 percent.

The city needs to take advantage of its own turnaround and the overall positive direction of the national economy, Jankowski said, and look to the future.

"Now is the time to build," Jankowski said. "The economy seems to be growing slowly across the country, so now we can start to slowly build on our end of it."

February 2, 2016 - 8:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, sports, Harlem Globetrotters.

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Press release:

The special student/teacher jazz quintet played the familiar theme song “Sweet Georgia Brown.” As Harlem Globetrotter Zeus McClurkin entered Byron-Bergen Elementary School’s packed gymnasium on Jan. 28, hundreds of excited students burst into ground-shaking applause. The basketball superstar surprised everyone, including the band members, by skillfully taking over the drums to bring the Globetrotters’ song to a show-stopping finale.

“In my two years with the Harlem Globetrotters, this is the very first time I’ve had 'Sweet Georgia Brown' played live,” said an impressed McClurkin. “I had to be part of it.”

It was the first of many surprises during the visit. McClurkin visited the school to talk about CHEER™ for Character, the Globetrotters’ character education program. The program targets young people and focuses on the character traits of cooperation, healthy mind and body, effort, enthusiasm and responsibility. It was a perfect tie-in to the Byron-Bergen Central School District’s own emphasis on character building.

McClurkin shared a little of the Harlem Globetrotters' 90-year history and his own personal story. Perseverance finally earned him a spot on his high school basketball team, after being passed over for years. He advised his youthful fans to never give up on their dreams. He shared that people often told him that he “smiled too much” and was “just too nice to succeed.” Not so, he told his audience. Now he works for an organization that is all about helping people and promoting good humor and character, and he travels around the world doing it.

Students were treated to a demonstration of classic Globetrotters' ball handling and slam dunks by McClurkin, who actually holds the Guinness World Record for most slam dunks in one minute (15!). He invited volunteers to try a few signature moves, and in the process, proved they are not easy by any means.

The Elementary School Student Council, the Byron-Bergen STEP Boosters, and teacher Ken Rogoyski arranged the Globetrotter's visit, with the support of the whole community. The band, directed by music teacher Bob Lancia, included students Angelique Heick and Corden Zimmerman, along with elementary school teacher Amber Taylor-Burns and high school teacher Kevin Bleiler. The Harlem Globetrotters will be performing at the Rochester Blue Cross Arena on Saturday, Feb. 6.

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