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November 23, 2015 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.

Three men accused of assaulting another person April 29 on Holland Avenue entered guilty pleas in County Court this morning, though they did not admit to the actual crime.

Under an Alford plea, the defendants pled guilty because they believe a jury would likely convict them based on available evidence, but did not admit to the facts leading to the charge. 

The young men, Terrance M. SchrammTerrence D. Johnson, and Leonard A. Johnson III entered guilty pleas to second-degree assault under terms that would cap their sentences of six months in jail and five years probation, a term known as "shock probation," which is intended to give defendants a taste of confinement and monitored terms of behavior following release.

The victim in the case suffered an orbital fracture and lost of range of motion in one shoulder, said District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.

Witnesses said they saw four or five young men beating and kicking the victim.

The victim identified the defendants as three of the people who attacked him, but the other possible attackers have not been identified.

Previously: Grand Jury: Three men indicted for first-degree gang assault

November 23, 2015 - 8:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thruway, accident, pembroke.

A car has gone off the roadway and into the trees on the westbound side of the Thruway, in the area of mile marker 400.5.

Unknown injuries.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments along with Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 8:59 a.m.: The driver has called dispatch and said she is not hurt.

November 22, 2015 - 9:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, batavia.


Stacy Bolles, wife of Officer Eric Bolles, shared this picture of a group of wives of Batavia police officers showing their support of their husbands' work.

"We want everyone to know that we stand behind our husbands and support them in their duty to protect and serve, even though sometimes it means sacrificing our time with them," Stacy said. "Families of police miss having them at the holidays so they can protect other families. We share a sisterhood being police wives and we all care for and support each other."

November 22, 2015 - 9:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foxprowl-Con, Foxprowl, batavia.


The first Foxprowl-Con at the Clarion Hotel was packed with energy and some interesting characters Saturday.

The event continues today. For more information, visit














November 22, 2015 - 8:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, Wonderland of Trees, batavia.


Photos from Friday's opening of the Wonderland of Trees for 2015 at the Holland Land Office Museum.










November 21, 2015 - 8:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, batavia.

A two-car accident is reported at West Main and Thomas Avenue, Batavia.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

There are believed to be minor injuries.

UPDATE 9:01 p.m.: City PD on scene, reporting no injuries.

November 21, 2015 - 8:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, batavia.


A driver was trapped in his car after it went off the road in the area of 9186 Alexander Road, Batavia, just before 3 p.m.

Town of Batavia firefighters worked for an hour to extricate the driver, who was both trapped in the vehicle and trapped by limbs from a tree. He suffered only bumps and bruises and was transported to UMMC. 

The vehicle struck a mailbox and a blue spruce tree.

Info and photo provided by Mike Pullinzi.

November 21, 2015 - 3:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford.

A green SUV is on its side in the front yard of a residence at 7862 Byron Road, Stafford. 

Nobody is in or around the vehicle, according to a deputy who was on scene soon after the accident was reported. 

The vehicle is registered to a 26-year-old Batavia resident. 

Stafford fire responding. 

November 20, 2015 - 4:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Operation Warm, IAFF Local 896, City Fire, batavia, Jackson School.


City of Batavia firefighters, members of IAFF Local 896, made their annual trip to Jackson School this afternoon to hand out winter coats to students who needed them.

The children received brand new, 100-percent American-made winter coats. The donations are part of a national effort sponsored by the not-for-profit Operation Warm.



November 20, 2015 - 4:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Foxprowl, Foxprowl-Con, conventions, Clarion, batavia, business.


The Clarion Hotel in Batavia will be filled this weekend with superheroes, space aliens, monsters and robots, all gathering to partake in Foxprowl-Con, the first local comic and collectables convention.

Bill Hume, owner of Foxprowl Collectables on Ellicott Street, is the lead organizer of the event, which he said could draw from 2,000 to 4,000 guests from all over the region.

The convention will feature more than 100 vendors and several celebrities from the world of comics and sci-fi/horror entertainment, including Mark Dodson, from Star Wars and Gremlins, Kevin Duhaney and Jeff Parazzo, from Power Rangers, Adam Minarovich from the Walking Dead, Steve Cardenas, from Power Rangers, and Tyler Green and Rashaad Santiago, from FaceOff, among others.

These photos are from this afternoon while vendors were setting up. The convention opens this evening and continues Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit





November 20, 2015 - 11:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Dunkin' Donuts, batavia, business, Redfield Parkway, land use.

It took the city's Zoning Board of Appeals more than 45 minutes Thursday to make motions, collect seconds and tally votes on five variances that clear the way for a new Dunkin' Donuts franchise on West Main Street, across from Redfield Parkway.

After a presentation by the project's engineer Kip Finley and comments from members of the public, all Redfield Parkway residents opposed to the project, it came time for the ZBA board to vote on the variance requests for parking, driveways, building placement and height.

Minutes would pass before a motion would be made, then a long pause before a second, and when the question was called, the votes came slow.

All of the variances were approved, but as Chairman Jeff Gillard confirmed later, the board wasn't really thrilled to be the final hurdle the developers need to clear to be able to proceed with the project.

"You can't go by emotion," Gillard said. "You've got to follow the law."

With no legal reason not to approve the variance requests, the board didn't have much recourse, even if they are sympathetic with the concerns of Redfield Parkway residents over potential traffic congestion in the area.

The traffic issues are not part of the ZBA's legal authority to consider.

On the fifth and final variance, allowing a 14-foot wide driveway to access the property from West Main, Board Member Emma Kate Morrill-Mahoney struggled with her vote. She's expressed concern that the angle still wouldn't prevent cars from trying to use it as an exit. The zoning code calls for a 20-foot wide driveway, but that width would probably make it even more likely that patrons would use it for an exit, causing traffic issues. So if Morrill-Mahoney voted no, causing disapproval of the variance on a tie vote, the driveway would have to be 20-foot. When she realized her vote would potentially only make matters worse, she decided to vote yes.  

The Redfield Parkway residents who spoke uniformly raised concerns about traffic congestion.

"What does Dunkin’ Donuts have against the better neighborhoods in Batavia?" asked Donald Fryling. "First they build at the end of Ellicott Avenue, now they want to build at Redfield. What’s next, a donut shop on Naramore Drive?"

A Dunkin' Donuts at this location, between Barrett's Marine & Sporting Supplies and Five Star Bank, was first proposed a year ago and that proposal was rejected by city planners. Finley met with city staff and fashioned a new proposal to address the concerns of the city and the residents. The building will be Cape Cod style in design to better match the homes in the area; it's frontage will align with Barrett's to be a little more urban and less suburban sprawl in feel; and the driveways will be narrower to better channel traffic in the directions that least hinder the flow of traffic.

All of these changes necessitated approvals for variances from the ZBA, and since they were good faith efforts by the developer to address concerns, the ZBA couldn't just arbitrarily reject them. 

Among the questions raised through the planning process is why Dunkin' Donuts in this location? Why not another location?

Franchisee Mike Mikolajczyk said it's simple, this location makes the most business sense.

"It's absolutely the best location we could have in the city," Mikolajczyk said.

There have been marketing studies and traffic flow studies and all of the data singles out this location as the best one currently available among all other options.

"It's a great intersection, a great area, that's why everybody wants to be there and that's why it's busy, and that's where Dunkin' goes, a busy area," Mikolajczyk said.

Finley said the next step in the process is completing the architectural drawings and completing the purchase of the property.  The earliest the new shop could be open is prior to Christmas 2016.

Since a donut shop isn't a destination type of business, but a business that captures existing traffic, it's important to be where the traffic is, Mikolajczyk explained, and since it's not a destination, it won't add to traffic congestion, as some neighbors fear.

"I've visited with people in the neighborhood and they all have my phone number," Mikolajczyk said. "I don't' want to be a bad neighbor. I don't want to have people hate me before I even get in there, so I'm doing my best to be a good neighor and be a good businessman and asset to the neighborhood."

One reason the location is important to Mikolajczyk is that his current location -- on the corner of Ellicott Avenue and West Main -- does a great job of capturing eastbound traffic. It doesn't capture a lot of westbound traffic, and the new location will do that, he said.

Asked why this location instead of something on East Main, and Mikolajczyk kind of smiled. That may be coming, too, he said.

November 20, 2015 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson School, schools, education, Wonderland of Trees, hlom.


Photo by Nicole Tamfer; info submitted by Diane Bonarigo.

Jackson Primary School students and staff decorate Jackson's Community Caring Tree for The Wonderland of Trees at HLOM. Jackson students created ornaments in Art class of many different people and organizations that help the school each year. Some of the ornaments included, firemen, police officers, volunteer readers, military personnel, bus drivers, dentists, Cornell Cooperative Extension reps,  and JAHA.

The students were reminded through this project how much the Batavia Community cares about the children. (First picture) Brock Bigsby, Nolan Wright, Connor Malone Wesley Fisher, Carleigh Miller, Ryan Bigsby, Lauren Nelson,  and Reese Koukides, Mrs. Bonarigo, Mr. Sloan, Mr. Calandra, Mrs. Mundell, Mrs. Koukides, Mrs. Nelson, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Tamfer, Mrs. Bigsby, Mrs. Torrey.

The Wonderland of Trees opens tonight with a gala starting at 7 o'clock.

November 19, 2015 - 10:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.
mug_donniearmstrong_nov2015.jpg mug_l_fletcher_nov2015.jpg
   Donnie Armstrong     Laura Fletcher

Two people were arraigned on drug dealing charges in County Court on Wednesday, following their arrests on warrants the night before.

Information on the investigation leading to their arrests has not yet been released.

Charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and two counts of criminal possession of a narcotic drug with intent to sell, both Class B felonies, is Donnie Armstrong, 43, of East Main Street, Batavia. Armstrong is being held on $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond.

Also charged is Laura L. Fletcher, 41, of Holley Street, Lockport. She is charged with criminal sale of a narcotic drug and criminal possession of a narcotic drug with intent to sell. Her bail is $10,000 bash or $20,000 bond.

It's unknown at this time if the cases are related.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: The arrests of Donnie Armstrong and Laura L. Fletcher were made after the conclusion of an investigation into the sale of "crack" cocaine in and around the City of Batavia, according to a press release this afternoon from the Sheriff's Office. The investigation was done by the Genesee County Local Drug Enforcement Task Force -- comprised of officers from the Sheriff's Office, Batavia Police NET and Le Roy Village PD. The task force was also assisted in the investigation by state Parole and the DA's Office.

November 19, 2015 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Law Street, chestnut street, batavia, infrastructure.

Press release:

Law/Chestnut Street between South Jackson and Walnut streets in the City of Batavia will be closed to “local traffic only” during the day today due to a water line repair. It is not expected that water service will be interrupted or affected.

November 19, 2015 - 6:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in budget.

County government is moving toward passage of a budget for 2016 that holds the line on the tax rate for local propety owners.

Wednesday, the Ways and Means Committee recommended approval of a $27,199,344 spending plan that keeps the tax rate $9.86 per thousand of assessed value for 2016, the same as 2015.

With increases in assessed value throughout the county, that rate will still provide the county with an overall growth in the tax levy by $323,051.

County Manager Jay Gsell said the county was able to trim off three cents from the original 2016 proposed rate by keeping the belts tight on government appropriations.

"We basically said to all the departments and agencies of county government, particularly the outside agencies, 'No increase in funding requests, and to the county departments, we want you to hold the line as much as possible,' " Gsell said.

It helps, Gsell said, that the state has capped how much it demands from the county for the local share of Medicaid funding. In each of the past two years, the county hasn't been asked to pay more than $9.3 million. In the past, that number would go up 8 percent or more each year, Gsell said.

The budget includes a full year of anticipated deficit spending to keep the county nursing home operating, though the Legislature anticipates the county will be out of the nursing home business before the close of 2016. There is a purchase offer in place with a private company that will take over operations and ownership of the property.

The spending plan includes appropriating about $2 million from the county's fund balance (or general fund cash reserves). That's a smaller draw on the fund balance than previous years. Primarily, spending fund reserves is a way of smoothing the county's cash flow throughout the year. It helps maintain the nursing home and covers beginning-of-the-year shortfalls while the county waits for property tax payments to roll in. In the previous years of fund-balance spending, the county has still finished the year in the black and at the end of 2014 the reserves stood at $10.5 million.

The budget process has gone well, said Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Legislature, because the legislators, on the whole, want to be responsible about how they handle taxpayers' money.

"I think it's fair to say the mindset of most all of the legislators is pretty fiscally conservative and we're very conscious of the fact that we're elected by the public and we want to make sure the public is getting the best bang for the buck," Cianfrini said.

It was a priority to hold the line on the tax rate, Cianfrini said.

"Nobody likes to raise taxes unless it's necessary and the first thing we always look for in the budget process is 'Are we able to hold the rate down?' " Cianfrini said. "Last year we had a reduction of 16 cents per thousand, so I think going into this year's budget our mindset was we would prefer not to raise taxes."

Holding the line meant asking department heads to keep down spending, not hire more staff, postpone some projects or equipment purchases. Even so, Cianfrini said, county residents will still get a responsive, functioning county government.

"I personally feel this budget meets all the needs of the smooth operation of the county government," Cianfrini said. "Now, if we talk to the department heads, I'm sure the department heads would love to have more personnel, certainly. Talk to the Sheriff, talk to other people in different departments, would they like more? Yeah, absolutely they'd like more, but it comes with a cost. They all seem to be willing to work within the budget we presented."

November 18, 2015 - 9:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Bethany.

A 25-year-old Bethany man who was charged in January with reckless assault of a child and later accepted a plea deal was sentenced in County Court on Tuesday to one-and-a-third to four years in prison.

Anthony Dibble entered his guilty plea six weeks ago to attempted assault on a child in the second degree.

Dibble was accused of causing a brain injury to a 2-year-old female.

The child was said to be recovering from her injuries at the time of Dibble's initial arrest, said ADA Will Zickl at the time.

Dibble is the child's biological father, Zickl said; however, the child lives with her mother, who is not a Genesee County resident.

The parents are not married, Zickl said.

By mutual agreement, the toddler was staying with Dibble on an overnight visit in August of 2014.

November 18, 2015 - 7:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Dunkin' Donuts, batavia, business, land use.

The process of getting approval for a new Dunkin' Donut's has served to make for a better plan, project engineer Kip Finley told city planners during Tuesday's meetings, where planners eventually approved or recommended approval of a series of plans and variances allowing the project to go forward. 

The proposed Dunkin will be slipped in between Barrett's Batavia Marine and Five Star Bank on West Main Street, with the cooperation and blessing of those two property owners. The three properties will share driveways in and out of the location, helping traffic flow and thereby addressing one of the recurring objections to construction of the franchise store.

Finley, working on behalf of Dunkin' Donuts and franchisee Mike Mikolajczyk, who owns the current Dunkin' in the city, at West Main and Ellicott Avenue, has been hauling elevation drawings before city and county planners since September 2014, and until Tuesday's votes hadn't received much in the way of nods of approval.

The new design fits into the current environment better, Finley said.  The building will be a little more residential looking and the frontage will align with Barrett's, making it more of an urban approach to aligning storefronts.

Even so, there are still residents from nearby Redfield Parkway who object to the proposed location.

"Regardless of how good the aesthetics of the building, none of the design changes will improve its location," said Nan Zorn, a Redfield resident.

The planning committee approved the site plan review and recommend to the Zoning Board of Appeals that it approve variances for the frontage, the driveways and parking.

By code, the size of the building would require 80 parking spaces, which board members agreed was a bit much.

The Burger King on West Main has 80 spaces and Finley pointed out that is way more than the drive-thru restaurant needs.

"If you go there, the front third are used, and the rest you could play basketball on," Finley said.
"There are weeds growing. It doesn't get used."

Finley's work is not done. Dunkin's new location doesn't get built if the city's ZBA doesn't approve the variances.

November 18, 2015 - 9:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oliver's Candies, batavia, business, code enforcement.

Jeremy Liles said he will continue to push for a rules change in the City of Batavia on commercial signs that prohibit electronic signs from regularly changing their messages.

Earlier this year, Liles installed a new sign on his business, Oliver's Candies, at Main and Oak with an electronic message board.

Under the current city ordinance, he can only change the message on the board once every 24 hours. He would like to change it hourly, especially this time of year when he might have four or five different promotions going to attract holiday business.

Tuesday night the city's planning board unanimously rejected his request for a variance to allow the message to change at least hourly.

Duane Preston, chairman of the board, said his vote was based on the fact there is no precedent in the city for allowing an exemption.

Liles argued that signs at Salvation Army and Batavia High School change more often than every 24 hours, but Preston said the city's code enforcement officers report that no permission has been granted for such changes where the city has jurisdiction. He doesn't have jurisdiction over the school property, he said.

Liles said the inconsistency bothers him.

He vowed to continue the fight after the vote, including bringing it up during the city's comprehensive plan update.

One apparent argument against frequently changing signs is that it creates a traffic hazard. Liles said he doesn't buy that argument. Distracted driving from mobile phones is a bigger problem than business signs, he said.

"There were two accidents in front of Oliver's this morning and that had nothing to do with my sign," he said.

November 18, 2015 - 9:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, arts, entertainment, Talent Show, batavia.


Cameron Bontrager performs "Sweet Child of Mine" during the 2015 Batavia HS talent show Tuesday night in the school's auditorium.


Tzyonah Scheffield-Reese performs "Photograph."


Madison Hoerbelt and Eryn Dunn perform "For Good."


Ross Chua and Chelsea Jensen perform "I'm Yours."


Hannah Bluhm performs "Dear Future Husband."




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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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