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September 23, 2016 - 10:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, fire services, news.

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September 23, 2016 - 8:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, Darien, darien lake performing arts center, crime, news.

The following arrests were made by the Sheriff's Office during the Jason Aldean concert at Darien Lake on Thursday:

Ashley M. Riber, 23, of Walnut Street, Perry, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

Sydney A. Wilson, 18, of Eastham Court, Webster, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

Steven M. Campbell Jr., 29, of Walnut Street, Perry, is charged with trespass for allegedly entering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

September 22, 2016 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

A single-car accident is reported on Clinton Street Road across from College View Drive, across from the entrance of Terry Hills.

One male occupant is injured.

Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

September 22, 2016 - 5:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Thurway, batavia, news, accident.

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A motorcyclist reportedly fell off of his bike in the westbound lane of the Thruway in the area of mile marker 394.9.

East Pembroke fire and Mercy EMS responding.

Mercy Flight out of Batavia on ground standby.

UPDATE 5:13 p.m.: Town of Batavia fire requested to the scene for a possible landing zone.

UPDATE 5:22 p.m.: Fire police are going to shut the westbound Thruway down to accommodate Mercy Flight #7, which is called to the scene. Mercy medics are called also.

UPDATE 6:02 p.m.: Town of Batavia is back in service. Two patients are being transported by Mercy EMS to UMMC.

September 22, 2016 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dogs, animals, volunteers for animals, pets, crime, batavia, news.

Lily has been granted clemency, at least for now.

Public Defender Jerry Ader, attorney David Fitch, representing the city, and City Court Judge Durin Rogers held meetings over the past two days and came to an agreement that will spare Lily her life, potentially, while the conviction of Duty Caswell for harboring a vicious dog will stand.

As part of the agreement, Ader withdraws his motion challenging Caswell's conviction and will file a new motion to vacate the sentence. That should happen in about two weeks.

In the meantime, Fitch must find a dog behavioral specialist who can certify that Lily is redeemable.

Rogers issued an order in May to have Lily put down as a vicious dog because of an incident on Hutchins Place on March 7 where she bit a 13-year-old boy.

She didn't help her case when she bit the Sheriff's K-9 deputy.

But folks at the Animal Shelter believe Lily is worth saving and rallied to her cause. They secured space for her with the Kramer Foundation, which specializes in rehabilitating dogs declared vicious and slated for euthanasia. 

Previous: Lily's fate hangs in the balance as City Court judge set to hear appeal tomorrow

September 22, 2016 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, music, entertainment, news, Austin Moody.

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Austin Moody, billed as an up-and-coming country singer/songwriter from Nashville, so up-and-coming, his first CD won't be out until the end of the year, played GCC for a couple hundred appreciative country fans.

Moody said he's played Upstate before and likes coming up here. It reminds him of home. There are real country fans here, he said. 

"And I mean, real country fans," he said. "Not bro-country fans. Not, 'I'm hot. You're hot. We're in a pickup truck,' country fans, but real country fans."

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September 22, 2016 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Elections, genesee county, news.

The county will be prepared, Dick Siebert, the Republican election commissioner, for a historic turnout on presidential election day, Nov. 8, Siebert told members of the County Ways and Means Committee at Wednesday meeting.

Where an off-year, local election might garner a 20- to 24-percent turnout, Siebert is ordering enough computer-readable ballots to handle an 80-percent turnout.

"One thing we don’t want to do is run out of ballots on a presidential election," Siebert said.

In his role as an election commissioner and as chair of the county's GOP committee, Siebert said he is seeing a lot of interest in this election.

"We’ve had a lot of activity," Siebert said. "We had a strong turnout in the primary. We had a 40-percent turnout on the Republic line in the primary. There’s been a lot of interest, both for Trump and for Hillary in our county. We normally experience anywhere around 70 to 72 percent in a presidential year. I think this year we will exceed that."

The fact that both the Republican and Democratic primaries were strongly contested until late in the season, helped drive interest in this year's presidential election, Siebert said.

Plus both top-party candidates are polarizing.

"This campaign has been going on forever," Siebert said. "Everybody has been following it. It seems like it’s never ending. Trump has his supporters. He has his people who love him. He has his people who hate him. Same thing with Hillary. There are people who love her and there are people who hate her. There’s just a lot of extra interest this time."

As GOP chair, he said he's getting a lot of requests for Trump lawn signs. He just got a batch of 300 in and half of them are already gone.

He said the Democrats will soon get Clinton signs in and Siebert expects strong demand for those signs as well.

"This will be our busiest election in my 13 years as a commissioner," Siebert said. "We had strong turnouts before, but there just seems to be so much more vocal interest locally, at least in Genesee County."

Even so, the election staff is ready, he said, though it will be a long day.

"We’re well staffed," Siebert said. "We’ve got great crews out there. We add on people where we can, but we suspect that our workers will be busy right from six o’clock straight through until nine o’clock at night. Unfortunately, some of them won’t even get a break."

The biggest problem he expects on election day is people turning out who never registered to vote.

"We’ll get complaints that 'I can’t exercise my Constitutional rights because I can’t vote,' " Siebert said. "Well, they can’t vote because they didn’t register, even though they think they did, but they didn’t it. It makes it a very touchy year."

The deadline to register for the general election is Oct. 14.

September 22, 2016 - 7:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wny stamp, Alabama, business, news, 1366 Technologies.

A groundbreaking ceremony should take place in Alabama sometime next month for the WNY Science, Technology & Advanced Manufacturing Park -- the STAMP project -- complete with state government dignitaries, said Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, during a meeting Wednesday of the County's Ways and Means Committee.

It will signal the start of development of STAMP, a planned high-tech industrial center that Hyde first proposed more than a decade ago.

Initial development will be building the infrastructure to support the site's first tenant and serve to attract additional tenants with the dream of eventually creating 10,000 jobs at the industrial park.

The first tenant is 1366 Technologies. With headquarters in the Boston area, 1366 will use a revolutionary manufacturing process to create silicon wafers for solar panels. 

Once the infrastructure work -- roads, sewer, water, electrical -- starts, 1366 will begin the design process for its facility.

Hyde expects there will be a second groundbreaking especially for 1366 sometime in the spring and the plant will be completed by the end of 2017.

Legislature John Deleo asked Hyde to explain why local residents shouldn't be worried about the prospects of 1366 when Solar City, part of the Buffalo Billions project, seems to be struggling.

Solar City and 1366 are completely unrelated projects and the two companies are pursuing very different business models, Hyde told Deleo.

Solar City is building a very large factory to manufacture residential and commercial solar panels that the company will sell itself to a domestic market.

Whereas, 1366 is only making solar wafers and its product will be a component in solar panels built by others for large industrial solar operations in overseas markets.

So far, 1366 has about $100 million in private investment capital, overseas strategic partners and its initial customers.

At full capacity, 1366 is expected to employ about 1,000 people.

For prior 1366 Technologies coverage, click here.

September 22, 2016 - 7:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

A semi-truck is reportedly on fire in the parking lot of Cargill on Wortendyke Road, Batavia.

East Pembroke fire is responding.

UPDATE 7:15 a.m.: It's an electrical issue. It keeps reigniting. They're going to have to cut cables, says a deputy on scene.

UPDATE 7:22 a.m.: Fire is out.

September 22, 2016 - 6:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Made in America store, Batavia Downs, business, batavia.

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A big crowd on was on hand, including Nashville recording artist Ricky Lee, for the ribbon cutting of the Made in America Store at Batavia Downs on Wednesday.

Founder of the Made in America Store, Mark Andol, said that the idea began to develop quickly after the key players converged in July of this year.

"I'll tell you Ricky Lee, a sponsor of us, ambassador of Made in America Store for six years actually, you know, me and Mike Nolan (Batavia Downs executive) and Rick had been talking about different things, and Thurman Thomas is kind of an ambassador. Tie in Rick with the music and one thing led to another. I mentioned to Mike 'why don't you put a store in here?' he said 'I would if I had a store' and one thing led to another and here we are today.”

For more coverage of the opening, visit WBTAi.com.

Photo and information from our news partner, WBTA.

September 22, 2016 - 6:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

UPDATE: We've made a couple of upgrades to the Deal of the Day program.

  • If registered and logged in below, you will see a line for Member Services followed by a link for "My Account."
  • Click on the "My Account" link and you will see how you're registered with your name and address. You can now edit your contact information as well as change your password. Click the "make changes" button to make changes.
  • On this page, you can also see a list of all the available Deal of the Day offers with the date of your last purchase, if any, and the date you are eligible to purchase the same item again (see if you can "catch 'em all").

Reminders of how the new Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. This is its own registration system, separate from the main registration for The Batavian.
  • Once registered you must be logged in.
  • You click on the orange button, if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
September 21, 2016 - 6:28pm

The former Muller Quaker Dairy plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park is a big, gorgeous (if you're into such things), state-of-the-art dairy processing facility and Dairy Farmers of America officials think it has great potential. But they just don't know what to do with it yet.

DFA has yet to submit planning documents to the Town of Batavia and at the County's Ways and Means Committee. Today, Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said there are ongoing negotiations about the future of the plant, but he can't discuss them.

Hyde did say there are businesses interested in acquiring the plant outright and DFA is in negotiations with potential partners, but nothing is settled to date.

"They are fully committed to bringing milk into the plant and sending out dairy products," Hyde said.

There will be jobs in that plant again, Hyde said. It's just a matter of when and what business model either DFA or some other suitor decides to pursue.

Negotiations are ongoing.

DFA acquired the plant, which cost $206 million to build, for $60 million in January.

PepsiCo and Germany-based Muller Dairy formed a joint venture, Muller Quaker Dairy, to create tasty yogurt products designed to capture a portion of the growing Greek yogurt market, though the yogurt produced by the plant wasn't exactly Greek yogurt.

Whether through lack of marketing (either enough of it or the right message), lack of good distribution or lack of consumer interest, the product never caught on (though there was, according to sources, $100 million in first-year sales); the joint venture was dissolved and the plant closed in December 2015, costing about 200 people their jobs.

There are, we are told, still three former Muller employees on site, keeping the plant maintained so that when somebody does decide to do something with it, everything is in working order.

How much money Muller lost on the joint venture isn't known, because Muller isn't a publicly traded company. PepsiCo is, and the company took a $78 million impairment charge in 2015. An impairment charge is a somewhat complex accounting term that can mean a write-off on a loss of fair market value.

With gross sales of more than $66 billion annually and a net profit of nearly $10 billion, the write-down warranted nothing more than a footnote in PepsiCo's 2015 annual report.

The Wave Project, as it was initially known, did receive some subsidies along the way to assist in construction and starting production, but Muller Quaker never qualified for all of the subsidies it signed up for.

The PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes), mortgage tax abatement and sales tax abatement on construction totaled about $11 million, but Muller Quaker never benefited from most of that tax relief. Since the PILOT is spread out over a 10-year span, as a reduction in property tax on the increase in assessed value, with the size of the abatement declining over time, Muller Quaker doesn't benefit for any of the PILOT relief from 2015 onward. The new owners, DFA, or other, could benefit from the PILOT until it expires (or is replaced by a new agreement as part of a new business being established).

From Empire State Development, Muller Quaker was promised $4.5 million in tax credits tied to job creation. As a result of creating 446 jobs in 2013 and 2014 (the number is combined for the two years -- one job in one year warrants credits for that year, and the same job, still in place, counts in the second year, and so on), Muller Quaker received $556,446 in tax credits, not the $4.5 million originally offered.

The company was offered, and received, $995,000 from New York State Homes and Community Renewal.  The grant was based on meeting specific investment and job-creation goals. 

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) also made a commitment for nearly $2 million to offset the cost of installing energy-efficient equipment and HVAV measures that would lower costs at the plant. Only $1.2 million had been awarded prior to the plant closing.

The New York Power Authority awarded a 1.3-megawatt grant of power under the ReCharge NY program and the plant used the full allotment of the grant.

September 21, 2016 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

UPDATE: We've made a couple of upgrades to the Deal of the Day program.

  • If registered and logged in below, you will see a line for Member Services followed by a link for "My Account."
  • Click on the "My Account" link and you will see how you're registered with your name and address. You can now edit your contact information as well as change your password. Click the "make changes" button to make changes.
  • On this page, you can also see a list of all the available Deal of the Day offers with the date of your last purchase, if any, and the date you are eligible to purchase the same item again (see if you can "catch 'em all").

Reminders of how the new Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. This is its own registration system, separate from the main registration for The Batavian.
  • Once registered you must be logged in.
  • You click on the orange button, if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
September 21, 2016 - 3:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pets, animals, crime, batavia, news.

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Lily, who likes to chase bubbles, has her life on the line.

In May, Judge Durin Rogers declared Lily a vicious dog and ordered her destroyed within 30 days.

Lily has had a stay of execution, so to speak, as volunteers and others have taken up Lily's cause, and the cause of her previous owner, Duty Caswell, to try and save her life.

Caswell has already surrendered ownership of Lily, and the Kramer Foundation, which specializes in rehabilitating dogs deemed vicious, has written to Rogers and confirmed an interest in obtaining Lily.

Lily's fate may rest on a hearing in City Court tomorrow (Thursday) on an appeal of Caswell's conviction of harboring a vicious dog.

The appeal was written by Public Defender Jerry Ader who stepped in after Caswell's conviction.

Ader's appeal rests on two primary points:

  • Caswell was not represented by counsel. He was not granted assigned counsel and did not hire his own attorney.
  • Caswell was convicted under Batavia's Municipal Law. A case in 2010 overturned a similar conviction because that local law, in Nassau County, was deemed void by conflicting with state law. Under state law, Lily would not be considered a candidate for euthanasia. 

Lily was taken into Animal Control custody on March 7 after she bit a 13-year-old boy on Hutchins Place while keeping a frightened woman pinned down as she screamed and Lily circled her.

At Caswell's hearing, the prosecution called three witnesses and Caswell produced no witnesses or testimony on his behalf. Rogers issued his decision after a short recess.

At some point, K-9 Deputy Chris Erion was called in to evaluate Lily. Lily bit him.

Erion confirmed he was bitten (his duty pants have a small tear, but he wasn't hurt) and said that Lily, with her current behavior, wouldn't be a good candidate as a family dog or a police dog. 

Volunteers with Volunteers for Animals believe that with proper training and socialization, she is redeemable. She is high energy and can't be trusted unsupervised, but they said she's fine when given a job to do, such as chase bubbles.

"Having a young, high-strung dog is difficult for anybody," said one volunteer. "Give her something to do and she's fine."

Another person at the shelter said, "With proper exercise and mental stimulation she is fine."

Erion, among others, said it was later learned that Lily may have given birth to a puppy prior to the March 7 incident, and her puppy was taken away from her. That would typically cause behavioral issues, both folks at the shelter and Erion said.

The hearing is tomorrow at 1:15 p.m.

File photo from March 7. The gentleman with Lily is a friend of Caswell's.

September 21, 2016 - 1:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant, batavia, news.

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It's taken 26 years for sludge to build up to about a three-foot depth in one of the processing ponds at the Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant, but that buildup has reduced the pond's capacity by about 50 percent, so it's time to have it removed.

A removal project is now underway that costs about $1.3 million and is being conducted by contractors who specialize in sludge removal.

The process involves pumping the water-logged sludge out of the pond, screening it for large objects -- shoes, bottles, rocks -- and then sending it through one of two centrifuges, which use gravitational force and a polymer to separate the sludge from the water. The water is pumped back into the pond and the sludge is sent up a conveyor belt and dumped into a truck before it is hauled to a landfill.

Initially, the original estimate for the project was eight weeks, but a second centrifuge was added and now the contractor is processing a truckful of sludge every 90 minutes, to fill at least eight trucks a day, reducing the project timeframe to about four weeks.

Jim Ficarella, superintendent of water & wastewater for the City of Batavia, provided a tour of the project yesterday.

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The water that has been squeezed from the sludge just before being piped back to the pond.

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There will be about 2,100 dry tons of sludge removed from the pond.

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One of the two centrifuges being used.

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The pipelines that draw sludge from the pond and return water to the pond.

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The screening process for removing large items that have inadvertently fallen into the pond.

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The pond with sludge that has floated to the surface and been pushed by the wind to the eastern shoreline.

Ficarella said they know they won't get 100 percent of the sludge out of the pond, but they'll get most of it.

This pond is the second stage of the process. By this point, the wastewater has been at the plant for about three months. The whole process, which includes passing the wastewater through several ponds and a series of wetlands ponds, takes about a year. The clean water is pumped into Tonawanda Creek. 

See our previous story: Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of city's hidden treasures

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The plant remains a birder's paradise, with birders traveling, literally, from all over the world, to visit the plant.

September 21, 2016 - 12:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, news, Stafford, trees.

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Driving back from Bergen this morning, I saw a beautiful clear blue sky and one of my favorite trees on Route 33, Stafford.

September 21, 2016 - 8:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, accidents, bergen.

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An accident with injuries and possible entrapment is reported on South Lake Road (Route 19) and Maple Avenue, Bergen.

Bergen fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE(S) (By Billie) 8:44 a.m.: Mercy Flight in Batavia is on ground standby. Two vehicles and three people involved. One male in a truck is unresponsive, hunched over the wheel, and having difficulty breathing. He is the most seriously injured. Another male has facial cuts and abrasions. Another subject has no apparent injuries.

UPDATE 8:51 a.m.: Le Roy fire rescue is called to provide mutual aid to Bergen. Mercy Flight is summoned along with additional fire police. The landing zone will be the church parking lot across from just south of the accident site.

UPDATE 8:58 a.m.: Route 19 is to be shut down "completely."

UPDATE 9:02 a.m.: Mercy Flight has an ETA of less than a minute.

UPDATE 9:23 a.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne and headed to Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 9:40 a.m.: A pickup truck was eastbound on Maple Avenue when the driver apparently blew through a stop sign and was T-boned by a small plumbing company van traveling on Route 19. Both vehicles left the roadway as a result of the collision and the pickup truck struck a large tree in the front yard of a residence. A car occupied by a doctor, a nurse and possibly a combat medic happened to be driving by in the immediate aftermath. The car stopped and the occupants provided emergency medical aid until first responders arrived. The pickup truck driver was deemed in serious condition at the time he was airlifted to Strong. A first responder said if he makes it, he'll have the medical assistance provided by the passersby largely to thank for it. The driver and passenger in the plumbing van were taken to Strong by ground ambulance with minor injuries; in fact, the driver was walking around at the scene.

UPDATE 9:57 a.m.: One lane is open on Route 19 and fire police are alternating the traffic flow.

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September 20, 2016 - 7:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, news, batavia, Mane Attraction.

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Mary-Clare Stokes gets a strike of blue hair weaved into her own as part of Spirit Week at Genesee Community College and to honor the college's 50th anniversary.  Kassandra Bowen, of The Mane Attraction Salon & Spa, is performing the weave. Staff from Mane Attraction were in the Student Union this afternoon to provide the weaves to any students who wanted them. It was all Stokes' idea.

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September 20, 2016 - 4:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in aquifer, batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, news.

All summer, we've watched the water level drop at the lakes off Cedar Street, including DeWitt Recreation Area, where a land bridge that probably hasn't been seen since the 1970s re-emerged as WNY has suffered through a rare drought.

Yesterday, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens told county legislators that the level has been dropping about a third of a foot every two weeks, but this afternoon we learned that trend may be reversing.

Jim Ficarella, superintendent of water & wastewater for the City of Batavia, said he took a new measurement of the aquifer this morning and found it has risen more than a third since his previous measurement.

The aquifer not only supplies some of the city's water, it also replenishes the lakes.

The aquifer level and the lake levels have dropped pretty much in unison, Ficarella said, but there may be a lag in replenishing the lakes as the aquifer comes back.

Of course, it will take more rain, and in the winter, more snow, for the levels to recover to pre-drought levels.

Meanwhile, the city and county have an ample water supply from the Monroe County Water Authority.

September 20, 2016 - 11:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

A caller reports a fight just breaking up on Highland Park, Batavia.

Eight to nine people were reportedly involved.

There is a report of a possible injury.

Police are responding.

One person who ran from the scene has been identified by a witness.

UPDATE 11:18 a.m.: Police transmissions have gone encrypted.

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