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April 15, 2016 - 12:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, corfu, Darien, Oakfield, land use, planning, news.

County planners expected a detailed discussion last night about a proposed Arby's restaurant at 8364 Lewiston Road, Town of Batavia, but the applicant withdrew the application earlier in the day.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said he expects the proposal to come back to the planning board at a later date, perhaps as soon as the meeting next month.

There are a few variances needed for a 2,000-square-foot fast-food restaurant at the location, which is across from Kmart where a used car lot is now and next to Jerry Arena's Pizza.

The zoning code for the town requires a 40,000-square-foot lot for such an establishment, but the lot size at this location is only 29,664 square feet.

The builders are proposing parking spaces of 9x18 feet, instead of the required 10x20 feet.

The restaurant will also require three signs instead of the permitted two, with one being a bit larger than the sign ordinance allows.

The owner listed on planning documents is Bill Meland, with a business address of the current Arby's location on West Main Street in the City of Batavia.

In other matters brought to the board Thursday night:

  • The Chamber of Commerce received approval plans to remodel 8276 Park Road, Batavia, which will become the new headquarters for the chamber and the visitors' bureau once it's completed. The project includes a building addition, facade renovations, a new roof and a new accessible ramp.
  • Richard Mistretta is planning to open a record store at 220 E. Main St., Batavia, and received approval for his sign.
  • The Town of Batavia is planning to revise its zoning code to remove the requirement that certain properties in industrial parks be directly accessed from a state highway. The town has granted three variances in recent years and since there might be addition variance requests that would likely be granted, the town is seeking to remove the requirement altogether.
  • The Town of Alabama is extending its moratorium on commercial development for 12 months. This is the third extension sought by the town.
  • Daniel Miller and Padrna Kasthurirangan were approved for a windmill at 10021 Simonds Road, Corfu. The windmill will stand 121 feet tall.
  • The new Waggin (sic) Wheel Restaurant at 8282 Park Road, Batavia, was approved for outdoor cooking and a change to the commercial sign.
  • Suzanne Schultz received permission to hold craft classes at 57 Main St., Oakfield.

The county planning board is not the final word on application approvals. Their approvals are recommendations. Final decisions rest with the planning or zoning boards in each jurisdiction.

April 15, 2016 - 7:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Darien.

A two-car accident is reported at 2025 Attica Road, Darien.

An injury is reported.

The call was first dispatched as a non-injury accident, but the dispatcher later updated the call to say an injury was now reported.

Darien fire and Darien ambulance are dispatched.

UPDATE 7:33 a.m.: Darien is back in service.

April 14, 2016 - 10:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, thruway, pembroke, news.

A two-car accident is reported in the westbound lanes of the Thruway in the area of mile marker 400.4.

Unknown injuries.

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

UPDATE 10:50 p.m.: One vehicle off the road, a tractor trailer about a half mile ahead. Three individuals are out of the vehicle and standing.

UPDATE 10:54 p.m.: No injuries at the vehicle. The chief on scene is now going to check on the tractor-trailer.

UPDATE 10:59 p.m.: The vehicle is a van, with heavy damage. All three occupants are in an ambulance being evaluated.

UPDATE 11:28 p.m.: A chief apparently needed a trooper there because of "an escalating situation." A trooper is now on scene, from Troop T.

April 14, 2016 - 2:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.
mug_charles_scintadec2015.jpg mug_wetsell_james.jpg
     Charles Scinta      James Wetall

Judge Michael F. Pietruszka isn't convinced that 74-year-old Charles G. Scinta is addicted to painkillers and wants to see some evidence that he is before considering a possible probationary sentence that would include drug rehab on Scinta's drug-dealing charges.

"The report says he's been using opiates since he was 69, but it doesn't say they're illicit," Pietruszka said. "They could have been prescribed," adding later, "my point is, I don't know that this is a substance-abuse issue. This could easily be interrupted as being medical sanctioned."

Scinta's attorney, Lisa Kroemer, said she understood the judge's concern and asked for a two-week adjournment to get clarification from the drug-treatment program that produced the report on exactly what their findings were.

"I think that's in everyone's best interest," Pietruszka said.

Scinta, who was allowed to sit throughout the court proceedings because of a medical condition, was arrested in December with 43-year-old James J. Wetall, also of Le Roy. The two men were arrested as the result of an investigation into the sale of oxycodone and diazepam.

Scinta is accused of selling oxycodone to undercover agents on two separate occasions. He is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 5th, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th.

A potential plea deal could keep Scinta out of prison, but first, Pietruszka wants to understand Scinta's history with painkillers.

Earlier, Wetall was given a shot at rehabilitation in exchange for pleading guilty to his drug sale charges. If Wetall successfully completes a rehab program, he will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to the felony charges and plead guilty to misdemeanors, which will carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail or three years probation.

If Wetall doesn't make it through rehab successfully, he's facing a sentence of up to 18 years in prison.

April 14, 2016 - 1:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.
     Justine McWethy

A 28-year-old Batavia woman with multiple arrests on her record was hoping for another chance at drug rehabilitation when she appeared in County Court this morning on a grand larceny charge. Instead, Presiding Judge Michael F. Pietruszka thought a minimum of one year in prison would be a more appropriate sentence.

Justine D. McWethy had previously admitted to stealing more than $90,000 $9,000 from Joseph L. Mancuso, Inc., 56 Harvester Ave. while employed there in 2014.

The thefts, said her attorney Lisa Kroemer, were the result of her addictions and suggested to Piertruszka that a prison term wouldn't help her become a productive member of society.

"That's not going to clean up her addiction," Kroemer said. "In order for her to be able to use her talents, which as pointed out in the probation report -- she has a modicum of education and she is an intelligent girl, if she could get past the addiction, she would be able to lead a productive and law-abiding life."

District Attorney Lawerence Friedman argued that based on McWethy's history and the nature of the crime, in which she researched, planned and carried out a complex scheme to defraud her employer, made her less than a suitable candidate for probation and a rehab program.

He asked the maximum available sentence under the plea deal, which was one and a third to four years in state prison, be imposed.

With several members of her family in the gallery, McWethy tearfully apologized for her crime and said she's written several letters of apology, feeling guilty for what she did every day since her thefts were discovered. And while she said she understood why Friedman thought she should be punished, she would really like a chance to conquer her addiction.

"I feel like this is not the person I was meant to be," McWethy said.

Pietruszka said he was taking into account two violations of probation in the past 13 months before imposing a one- to three-year prison term, where, he noted, she can apply for drug treatment available to some state prisoners.

McWethy was also ordered to pay back the full amount in restitution, starting with Mancuso and then paying back the several banks that also lost money as part of the scheme.

CORRECTION: We originally published that the amount of restitution exceeded $90,000. This was a mistake. I misheard the amount in court. The correct amount is $9,136. I apologize for the mistake.

April 14, 2016 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, schools, education, stem.


Oakfield-Alabama Central School continues to innovate around the tech-education curriculum, and today students participated in a project to build a new 3D printer for the school.

The project was part of a class taught by Patti Buczek and Missy Lee.

Photos provided by the school district.



April 14, 2016 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Byron Fire Department, byron, fire services, news.


Chief Charles Durkee sent in these pictures from the Byron Fire Department's recent installation dinner.

Eddy Sharp received the award for most training hours and Robert Mruczek received Firefighter of the Year.

Durkee received a gift from the ladie's auxiliary -- a PIG axe. He said it is the first one in the county at a volunteer department.

Pictures courtesy Marie Bohn Studio.




April 13, 2016 - 6:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BARNS, Stafford, news.


After the accident in Stafford this evening, I grabbed a couple of barn shots.

The white barn, above, is on Randall Road. 

The "Will You Marry Me?" barn is on Route 237 near Morganville. I knocked on the door of the residence to try and get more information but nobody was home.


April 13, 2016 - 4:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pollyanna & Dot, The Hidden Door, batavia, business, news, downtown.


Batavia's newest retail store promises to offer local shoppers unique items for the home, as gifts or perhaps, something special for yourself.

The business, at 202 E. Main St. (Masonic Temple, next to Charles Men's Shop), is really two stores in one and the result of a cooperative agreement between Leanna DiRisio and Ashley Bateman.

The Hidden Door is DiRisio's business and offers rustic, old-timey items that will add tasteful flare to home decor, and Pollyanna & Dot is Bateman's business and offers primarily new dresses in vintage styles.

"We thought this would be a great start for a new business," DiRisio said. "It's kind of like an incubator and if maybe we both grow a little bigger we can go out on our own."

Bateman said Mary Valle (Valle's Jewelry) brought DiRisio and Batemen together and suggested they find a way to partner to pursue their shared dream of owning their own retail shops.

The two aspiring entrepreneurs met, but weren't initially sure it would work out, but as time went on and they thought about it more, the idea started to make more sense.

Both have young children and by working together they can coordinate times to keep the shop open and take care of their kids and other family needs. 

"For me, it's always been something that I've wanted to do and I just figured with the changes going on my life, that if I don't do it now, I would never do it," said DiRisio, who praised a six-week entrepreneur-training program set up by the Batavia Development Corp. at Genesee Community College for giving her the confidence to move forward.

Batemen also thought this was the time to act rather than wait.

"There's a renaissance here that's happening and if we don't do it now, somebody else will, so we wanted to get here first," Bateman said.

The grand opening celebration for Pollyanna & Dot and The Hidden Door is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday.







April 13, 2016 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mr. Batavia, Batavia HS, batavia, news.


Article by Zachary Lee, an aspiring journalist and contestant in Mr. Batavia.

It’s finally here: the Mr. Batavia contest will be held at 7 p.m. April 15th — be there.

Mr. Batavia this year will be the biggest we’ve ever had; the occupancy of the auditorium at Batavia High School is around 800 and we intend to fill that to the point the auditorium doors are bursting.

Mr. Batavia is a community charity event; each candidate selects a nonprofit organization to represent with the charity of the contest the top three winners receiving money raised. In Mr. Batavia there are five different categories, each scored by selected judges from throughout the community. They are lip sync, talent, questionnaire, swimsuit, and tux walk. The guys also do a group dance in the beginning to get the audience hyped up for the contest.

Last year’s Mr. Batavia was probably one of the best we’ve ever produced here at BHS. Whether it was Brandon Smart’s Micheal Jackson tribute or Dylan Beckman’s dramatic reading of "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj, these performances were borderline legendary. The 12 candidates up for Mr. Batavia 2016 believe that they can do even better.

Lisa Robinson, event director and student government advisor said, “Mr. Batavia is an event where we raise money for community nonprofits. Everywhere this event gets larger and we believe this year will be easily our largest we’ve had. ”       

Here are the candidates and the nonprofit organizations they represent in the order they’ll perform:

  • Tyler Hale – Michael Napoleon Foundation
  • Noah Dobbertin – 25 Neediest
  • Adonis Davis – All Babies Cherished
  • Zachary Lee – Anna’s Wish
  • Trevor Sherwood – Batavia VA
  • Alex Mott – Golisano’s Children Hospital
  • Michael Hughes – Habitat for Humanity
  • Alex Canty – Volunteers for Animals
  • Ross Chua – Organization for Autism Research
  • Jake Kasmarek – Genesee Cancer Assistance
  • Josh Kurtz – Salvation Army
  • Dwayne Fonda -- American Red Cross
April 13, 2016 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
      Laura Fletcher

A 42-year-old Batavia woman told Presiding County Court Judge Michael F. Pietruska that she's willing to risk the possibility of a 24-year prison term in exchange for one more shot at drug rehab.

Laura Fletcher, a mother of four with three still of school age, will need to stay on the straight and narrow for two years to avoid prison if she pleads guilty April 18 to a four-count grand jury indictment for allegedly dealing drugs.

She has two prior drug-dealing convictions.

"Looking at her history, that is quite a risk," Pietruska said.

Those two prior convictions are the reason, said ADA Will Zickl, that Fletcher shouldn't get another shot at drug treatment.

"There is a demonstratable objective history in this case that I think makes it a very poor argument to be made that she should be given a chance in this program," Zickl said.

In the indictment issued in November, Fletcher is accused of selling cocaine in May and June to agents of the Local Drug Task Force. She is charged with four Class B felonies, two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

She's been approved for the program by a panel in Erie County, along with a recommendation from a local counselor. 

Her attorney Lisa Kroemer argued that Fletcher is willing to assume a substantial risk, given her track record, that she's fully aware of the consequences of failure, and that she desperately wants to succeed in the program.

Fletcher could potential get a lighter prison term in a plea deal, instead of pleading guilty to all four counts of the indictment.

She tearfully told Pietruska she understood the risk, but was willing to take the chance for a new chance at a clean life.

Kroemer said Fletcher has had periods between arrests where she was able to maintain sobriety before succumbing to her addiction again.

The prior drug sales convictions were "simply to support her own addiction," Kroemer said. "It was not part of any profit-making scheme."

April 13, 2016 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, GCEDC, STAMP, news.

Press release:

Hanwha Q CELLS Co., Ltd., (“Hanwha Q CELLS”) (NASDAQ: HQCL) and 1366 Technologies, Inc., (“1366”) today announced that they have entered into a supply agreement in which 1366 will supply up to 700 MW of wafers using 1366’s proprietary Direct Wafer™ technology to Hanwha Q CELLS over a five-year period.

This deal follows a year-long strategic partnership and collaborative R&D efforts to commercialize 1366’s Direct Wafer™ technology with Hanwha Q CELLS’ Q.ANTUM cell technology. 1366 will supply the wafers from its planned U.S. manufacturing facility in New York State, scheduled to be online in 2017.

The agreement ensues months of intense technical collaboration between the two companies during which a series of performance records for the Direct Wafer™ technology were achieved. Hanwha Q CELLS and 1366 jointly reached a maximum efficiency of 19.1% using Direct Wafer™products in Hanwha Q CELLS’ Q.ANTUM cell, as independently verified by the Fraunhofer ISE.

“This agreement with one of the world’s most respected and innovative solar manufacturers is, no doubt, a significant milestone for our business. It further demonstrates the compelling capabilities of the Direct Wafer™ technology and the readiness of this innovation, and establishes its long-term bearing on the industry,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies. “We’ve found a strong partner, Hanwha Q CELLS, and we are extremely proud of the work we’ve accomplished together.”

“This agreement aligns with our continuing efforts to bring about world leading technologies that enable solar energy to be more competitive and more affordable,” commented Seong-woo Nam, CEO of Hanwha Q CELLS.  “We are pleased with the progress we have made together during the past year and excited about the potential of 1366’s Direct Wafer™ products with Hanwha’s cell and module technologies to deliver further cost reductions and LCOE competitiveness to standard multi-crystalline wafer-based modules.”

Provided that 1366 meets certain terms and conditions related to its wafer qualification and timing of delivery as agreed by both parties, Hanwha Q CELLS’s commitment to purchase up to 700 MW of wafers over a period of five years will commence.

1366’s Direct Wafer technology is a transformative manufacturing process that offers significant advantages over traditional cast-and-saw wafer production technologies. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

Hanwha Q CELLS' Q.ANTUM technology is based on PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) architecture and includes many additional technological features for maximum energy yield under real conditions. Q.ANTUM significantly enhances power output, low-light and temperature-behavior, while at the same time offering all of Hanwha Q CELLS' VDE certified quality standards like Anti-PID protection, Hot-spot protect, and Tra.Q laser marking.

Additional Note: Hanwha was part of a Series C funding round in 2010 that raised $20 million in venture capital to back 1366 Technologies. It was announced at that time that Hanwha planned to become a 1366 customer once production began. The latest available information online indicates that 1366 has raised more than $70 million from private investors.

April 13, 2016 - 11:41am

Press release:

Live Nation is looking to hire a few “rock stars” for this summer’s upcoming concert season at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. The concert venue is shaping up to have a busy concert schedule with performers like Bad Company & Joe Walsh, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, and Def Leppard scheduled to perform.

Seasonal job offerings will be available in key areas such as security, cleaning and parking attendants.  The open positions give music lovers seeking part-time work the chance to work in a fast-paced environment and enjoy great live music. 

Live Nation will be hosting four job fair sessions starting this Saturday, April 16th and Sunday, April 17th.  The job fair will be held backstage at Darien Lake in the catering pavilion and sessions will take place from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

For those interested in inquiring more about open seasonal positions, should visit

Applicants will need to bring either a driver’s license and Social Security card or a valid U.S. Passport to complete the application.

All applicants are subject to background checks.

April 12, 2016 - 5:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, news, Boonle.


A Le Roy resident has a fledgling tech startup he thinks has a chance to get big.

Billion dollar big,* he doesn't know, but he sees an opportunity and he's going for it. (*In the venture-capital investing world. a "unicorn" is a company with a billion-dollar valuation, and a "rocket ship" is a company that is growing fast.)

A couple of months ago, after much planning Antonio Calabrese launched Boonle, a site where aspiring graphic artists and other creative types can find entry-level projects and start building a resume. 

The concept is aimed at college students and new graduates, but anybody entering the workforce as a freelancer might find the site helpful, Calabrese said.

Small businesses without Madison-Avenue-type promotional budgets, as well as other startups, might also gravitate to the site for the chance to tap into some talent at little or no cost.

According to his research, the freelance market, also called the "gig economy" in today's digital parlance, is expected to become 40 percent of the nation's workforce in coming years. 

That's just a huge opportunity for a business like Boonle.

"I think we can harness a lot of that market because that's the newbie market, when things are starting out, and we plan on being that first stepping-stone for those entering the freelance market," Calabrese said. "I think we can own a big chunk of that."

So far, Calabrese, the company's sole owner and founder, has raised $100,000 in seed funding and is starting the search for another round of early-stage investors with a goal of raising from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

There's a lot of marketing needed to help get the word out about Boonle, especially on college campuses. He's hoping to complete a partnership deal soon with RIT, where he graduated from, and other colleges. He recently received applications from 25 students at universities around the nation willing to sign on as brand ambassadors to help sign up would-be freelancers. 

Calabrese came up with the idea for the business when he realized how hard it is for graduates who have yet to establish a professional portfolio to find work, and that there are a lot of smaller businesses that can't afford the rates experienced freelancers and agencies charge.

He acknowledges he's gotten a little criticism from those who think a site like Boonle lowers the fees digital designers and developers can charge, but he counters that the businesses that would pay more, and the designers who would charge more, aren't part of Boonle's target market.

"There is plenty of work to be done on projects that pay more," Calabrese said. "Those are the jobs that are still going to go to those with the skills to get higher-paying jobs."

Creative categories on the site range from logos and brochures to writing and photography and even music production. Basically, if you're a creator, you should be able to find a market for your work on Boonle.

"We're a platform to help people build a platform so they can eventually launch a career," Calabrese said.

Those looking for work set the price for the job, from free to something a bit more pricey, and then freelancers look at the job, decide if it's within their skill level, if the price is right for them at that stage, and then accept the assignment.

The potential employer has the option to reject the freelancer and the job goes back into the marketplace.

"The business can set the job for free if they don't have the budget for it, but the chances of it getting worked on go down if you set it for free," Calabrese said. 

If a business hires a particular freelancer, or several of them, they can present future projects to their pool of trusted freelancers, but the job goes out to the whole site if it isn't picked up within 48 hours.

On jobs that are paid, Boonle handles the transactions through PayPal, taking about a 30-percent cut, with a third of that covering PayPal's transaction fees.

In a future update, freelancers will be able to upgrade their accounts, once they've proven themselves, and get exclusive access to higher-paying jobs and avoid the fee being taken out for a small monthly subscription.

It's Calabrese's intention to keep his business based in Western New York. He's from Rochester with a lot of strong ties there, including ties to the tech-startup investing community, but he thinks as the business grows, wherever it's based in WNY, he won't have a hard time recruiting employees.

He said that while he was at RIT, a lot of students expressed an interest in staying in the area, even those not from here originally, but the kind of jobs they've been trained for are just in short supply in the area.

"When you're getting job offers from Google, Apple, LinkedIn and Facebook, who wants to stay in Rochester then?" he said. "But if there's a cool company here, and the cost of living is a lot less and we can still pay them somewhat competitive rates, then I think they would stay here."

April 12, 2016 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in community cats, batavia, news.

It took three days, but a couple of weeks ago a group of volunteers, coordinated by the city, trapped 42 cats in the McKinley Street area and had them spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear-tipped before releasing them back to the same location.

It was a big success, said Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante, for the city's fledgling effort to get a program up and running to deal with Batavia's community cat (commonly called feral cat) problem.

The City Council-approved effort was a bit bogged down because the city had been unable to find a volunteer to lead the all-volunteer committee to operate the program.

Recently, Ann Marie Brade, the county's animal control officer, volunteered to lead the group and has secured the permission of her employer, the Sheriff's Office, to take on the task.

There will be a meeting tomorrow of committee volunteers to organize the next steps.

The McKinley Street undertaking began with a phone call to city's animal control officer, James Sheflin, about a large colony of cats in the area.

That began a five-week effort to organize and coordinate the task.

"One of the keys to success for this was that this colony manager, which is what the industry calls them, if you will, really took responsibility for the cats," DiFante said. "That makes it a lot easier. Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of ease in attacking some of these colonies."

The animals were all treated at State Street Animal Hospital.

Because he also authorized income verification, the city was able to use available grant funds to pay for the veterinary care. 

"We were able to use that grant and we'd love to use that grant more, but that's not usually how it works," DiFante said.

April 12, 2016 - 9:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, outdoors, Le Roy, news.


Eric Almeter sent in this photo of a fox he spotted trotting through Le Roy at Route 19 and Union at about 8:30 this morning.




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