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May 21, 2016 - 12:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

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Richard Frazier places a cross with a bear and flowers next to a tree outside 8157 State Street Road, Batavia, where two little boys died in a fire last night.

Frazier, who has a 4-year-old daughter himself, doesn't know the family but said he was heartbroken by the tragedy.

"As a parent, I could not imagine what it would be like if something like this happened to my child," Frazier said. "It's just insane to think that we just live life every day, taking life for granted and at any point, it can all be done."

Investigators were on scene last night until nearly 4 a.m. and then went home to get some much-needed rest and to be able to return in the daylight. They started arriving again about noon. It will likely be several hours before their work is complete. Until this phase of the investigation is done, we're not likely to hear more about the potential cause of the fire and other circumstances surrounding last night's events.

The names of the children or mother have not yet been officially released.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: Investigators have less than an hours work to do, but sources on scene say it is unlikely there will be any announcement today about the cause.  There is more work to do away from the scene and that could take a couple of days.  There should be a press release coming out this afternoon from the Sheriff's Office that will contain names.

UPDATE: Press release from the American Red Cross:

Volunteers from the American Red Cross responded to a fire on State Street Road in Batavia early Saturday morning, providing immediate emergency assistance for two adults and two children. Red Cross assistance typically includes vouchers for temporary housing, food and clothing as needed, and Disaster Mental Health volunteers are available to help with the emotional aspect of disaster. Those affected will meet with caseworkers in the coming days to work on a longer-term recovery plan.

Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers Suzanne Kowalcyk and James McMoil responded to the scene of this fire. The Red Cross would like to express its sympathies to everyone affected by this tragedy.

May 21, 2016 - 3:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

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Two young children died in a house fire at 8157 State Street Road, Batavia, late Friday night, at a time when their mother was not home.

It's unclear if any adults were in the apartment at the time of the fire, said Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster, Sheriff's Office, which is leading the investigation into the fire.

The cause has yet to be determined, but it started in the bottom apartment in the back of the residence.

The bodies of the children, both age 2, were found in that same location.

Brewster said he couldn't say for sure if the mother left the children with an adult to supervise them, or if she left them alone while she went to the store.

"I don't know and we're going to get to the bottom of that," Brewster said. "That's why we're going to talk with the mother."

The mother was in no condition to be interviewed tonight, Brewster said.

The fire was reported just before 10 p.m. when the upstairs resident returned home and spotted the fire. He called 9-1-1.

Town of Batavia arrived on scene quickly and fire chiefs were told there was a possibility of people trapped in the residence, so Deputy Chief Dan Coffey said he quickly sounded a second alarm.

The back of the house was fully involved at that point. The first firefighters on scene made entry and located the deceased children.

Asked if the evidence was pointing toward a fire deliberately set or accidental, Brewster said investigators are leaning toward accidental.

"That's why we have fire service here, to investigate that," Brewster said. "Right now, I'm not sure. It doesn't look like anything other than that -- accidental -- that's why they are here and that's what their job is. They will go through and make a thorough investigation."

About 10 minutes after firefighters arrived on the scene, two women ran up to the house and had to be restrained as they tried to enter it. Over the course of the next half hour, more people arrived who seemed to be friends or family members and there were women wailing and yelling. Troopers, deputies and Batavia PD officers did their best to assist them.

The two apartments were occupied by members of the same family, and members of that family also lived in a neighboring house. At one point, neighbors thought three children died in the fire, but that third child was in the neighboring house, according to landlord Joe Burke.

"It's my understanding that the mother went out to get milk for her little kids," Burke said.

Yellow tape was put around the scene at one point during the night and criminal investigators were called in once the fire was out and entry was safe for them.

But both Coffey and Brewster said the appearance of a criminal investigation doesn't necessarily mean a crime is suspected.

"It's a crime scene until proven otherwise," Coffey said, who besides being a volunteer firefighter is a Batavia police officer. "Obviously, we have two fatalities, so we're erring on the side of cause. We're treating it as a crime until proven different, but that's not indicative of any sort of information that we know at this point. It is how we would normally handle a call like this."

The location is the same as a reported hit-and-run accident April 1 in which resident Brian Ace suffered injuries and had to be taken by Mercy Flight to an area hospital. Ace declined to press charges in that case.

Investigators, at this point, don't seem to believe there is any connection between that incident and the fire.

There were no fatal fires in the Town of Batavia Fire District from 2008 until this year. This is the second fatal fire for Town volunteers in less than a month. On April 30, a fire at a residence on Oak Orchard Road claimed the life of Roger Saile, age 90.

"Obviously, it's been a tough stretch for us," Coffey said. "This one, obviously, is going to hurt. Just two weeks ago, three weeks ago, we also had that other one, so we're going ot make sure that we take care of our members, but it's going to be a difficult time for us."

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May 21, 2016 - 2:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

Police are looking for a vehicle, possibly a blue Honda, that fled the scene of a reported fight at 7-Eleven on East Main Street as soon as police arrived.

There may also be subjects who might have been involved walking on Elm Street.

The initial report was of five people fighting at the 7-Eleven.

May 20, 2016 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, law enforcement, pembroke, news.

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When GS-39 called in "out of service" at 3 p.m. today, the dispatcher thanked him for his 30 years of service to the people of Genesee County.

Sgt. Jim Meier said during an interview that morning that there is a bit of sadness that comes with drawing the curtain on his career in law enforcement. He's enjoyed the work and the people he worked with.

"I knew the day was coming sooner or later, but it's been 30 years and I feel like it was just yesterday when I started," Meier said. "I really do."

Meier began his career at the Sheriff's Office in 1986, working the jail for a year before moving into patrol work, after earning his degree in criminal justice from Genesee Community College.

He's a graduate of Pembroke High School.

"I don't know if there is anything specific (that inspired the career choice)," he said. "I looked at things I thought I was good at and went into criminal justice and I found it interesting and it just kind of progressed from there."

He never found the job particularly hard, he said.

"I mean, there are some things that we do, like when we're at the death of family members, it can be a bit taxing, but I never found anything difficult," he said. "It all came pretty naturally."

Asked for a key memory from 30 years with the Sherriff's Office, the first thing that came to mind was the passenger train derailment in Batavia in 1994.

"I think I was a week out of supervisor school and I can remember it like it was yesterday," Meier said. "It's amazing that nobody died in that derailment, but it was the most eerie thing in the world when you go to the scene and you don't know what to expect and all of the sudden you see the twisted metal all over the place. It was unbelievable."

There are a lot of young guys in local law enforcement now, and Meier encourages them to stick with it, even when the hours are long and the sacrifices pile up. It's worth it, he said.

"The advice I give all the young guys is this, when you start this job, you have to come in and do it with eyes wide open, meaning you're going to have to work midnights, you're going to have to work holidays, you're going to have to work weekends," Meier said. "You're going to have to sacrifice some things you may not want to sacrifice, but there's a lot of good things that you get from making those sacrifices."

May 20, 2016 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake theme park, Darien, business.

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Darien Lake Theme Park unveiled its newest water ride today, RipCurl Racer, a 24-second roaring slide through curling tubs before splashing down in the pool at the bottom of the ride.

The Neid Marcucci family of Batavia was officially the first riders of RipCurl.

The ride is part of a $1.5-million capital investment in the park and was previewed today for the season.

“Bringing in RipCurl Racer, the third new thrill ride to join the park’s lineup over the past year, is really exciting for us,” said Chris Thorpe, general manager at Darien Lake. “The continued growth and expansion at Darien Lake is a testament to our dedication to providing guests with the best entertainment value in the region.”

The growth of the state's largest seasonal employer is a continued benefit to the local economy, said GC Chamber of Commerce President Tom Turnbull.

“With the addition of RipCurl Racer, Darien Lake continues to invest in Genesee County and solidify its position as one of the top family entertainment destinations in Western New York and the entire Northeast,” Turnbull said. “Not only does Darien Lake provide a premier entertainment venue, but they also are the leading provider of seasonal jobs that are vital to our local economy.”

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May 20, 2016 - 3:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Basom, Alabama, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, news.

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Local law enforcement is looking for two people who entered the Smoke Rings Smokeshop on Shanks Road, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, shortly after 2:30 a.m. and attempted to rob it.

Employees fought back, and although the suspects managed to escape, leaving one employee with cuts on his head caused by the butt of the suspect's rifle, the melee helped produce some evidence investigators hope will lead to an arrest.

Including the face of a suspect exposed for the closed-circuit cameras in the store.

The suspects are described as a white female and white male. Both came in wearing camouflage-colored clothing, face masks and carrying guns, according to Sheriff's Investigator Kris Kautz.  

In the struggle, the white male also lost the red wig he was wearing. Kautz recovered both the mask and wig during his investigation at the scene.

An employee who was injured was transported to an area hospital and required stitches, but the injuries were not life threatening.

When the would-be robbers entered, they grabbed one employee and took him to a back room and tried to restrain him with plastic ties. He managed to escape. The perpetrators did not realize another employee was in the store, apparently. A struggle then ensued. The female suspect fled immediately, but the male fought and was subdued. He was restrained in a back room while awaiting the arrival of law enforcement but managed to escape through a back window.

It's believed he managed to go to a get-away vehicle, possibly a white or light-colored or small SUV, such as an Equinox or Trail Blazer. 

The would-be robbers left empty-handed.

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May 20, 2016 - 3:28pm

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It would probably be a stretch to say that S. Shade Zajac knew from an early age he wanted to be a symphony orchestra conductor. Like every young person, he explored lots of interests growing up.

But then, there was that time his grandfather gave him a baton and he took it to kindergarten for show and tell.

"My mom got a note from my teacher saying, 'We understand that Shade really likes his baton, but some of the other kids are not mature enough to handle sharp, pointing sticks. So, we would ask you kindly not to bring it in anymore,' " Zajac recalled with a chuckle.

Zajac's obvious passion for music, his love of leading an orchestra and his sheer talent are why, at 22, fresh from earning his Bachelor of Music in Music Performance from Nazareth College, Zajac is the new conductor of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

He was selected by the GSO Board of Directors after a season in which he and three other conductor candidates each took turns leading the orchestra for one performance. All four shows were well attended and well received, but it was Zajac who was selected to lead the orchestra as it enters its 70th year.

Not too many young conductors get the opportunity to lead a symphony orchestra right out of college and Zajac is thrilled by the opportunity.

"It's an unbelievable experience and an unbelievable opportunity," Zajac said. "There's no substitute for having living people in an ensemble for you to work with. And not just for you to experiment and fail and to grow, but to learn from them and to learn 'okay, what works? What doesn't work? There's a problem. We're not playing this. It's not gelling yet. Why? How can I fix that?' There's only so much you can do on your own, just looking at the music."

It was Zajac's professor at Nazareth, Nancy P. Strelau, who told him about the opening with the GSO, but she warned him not to get his hopes up. His resume would arrive amongst other candidates with doctorate degrees and decades of experience.

"She told me, 'It's going to be really good for you to go through this process. Let's take a look at your resume, and you know, you won't get asked for an interview,' " Zajac recalled.

Then he got an e-mail inviting him to an interview, and he thought that was great, but "they're not going to ask me to do a concert because I'm 21 years old."

In truth, Zajac said, throughout the process, with the search committee, the board, the orchestra, he never felt like his age was an issue.

"I didn't feel like they're not taking me seriously because I'm so young," Zajac said. "They're just looking at me as a musician."

He admits he was nervous at that first rehearsal. Even for conductors in their 40s, he said, orchestras can look at a new conductor like, "Ok, who is this guy?"

"There's always going to be people who don't think I know what they're talking about or 'what is this?' " Zajac said. "They think, 'I can do better than this jerk here.' And I never, through this whole process, I never felt that. I think I said at the concert that I could have been working with these people for 40 years. It just felt, you know, we could get time to work, we could have a laugh, and we could make music, which is what we're supposed to do."

Zajac grew up in Ovid surrounded by music.

His grandparents were musicians and one of his earliest memories is being at their house and hearing Ravel's "Bolero." He was captivated.

"Just about every string player in the world, and probably other orchestra musicians, hate it because it's 15 minutes of the same thing," Zajac said laughing. "I'm probably the only person who loves it."

His next musical stepping stone was Yanni.

"My grandmother had a VHS -- whatever those are -- of 'Yanni Live at the Acropolis,' " Zajac said. "Say what you will about the man and his music but it was very helpful. It taught me that if you're going to be a cool drummer you need to have a lot of drums," which Zajac laughs at now. "So I actually really first started kind of drumming, and I was banging on pots and pans to Yanni. It sounds cliche, but I'm told it's true, and I was given a toy drum set when I was 2 or 3."

His grandfather taught in the Ithaca College School of Music and at his grandparent's house were more than Yanni -- there was Beethoven and Bach, too.

His father was a rock musician, playing guitar in bands, so he also heard a lot of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Rush.

"So I had these two very different musical paths and all of which I enjoyed," Zajac said. "Very rarely do I find something I don't like. When I was, I think, 3, my grandfather took me to my first orchestra concert at Ithaca College, and I barely remember it. It was the Stravinsky 'Firebird Suite' and apparently I went home and I just was all about, 'Oh, the timpani was so loud. I love that cello thing.' And I kept talking about the cello and I really wanted to play it, I guess. I started taking lessons when I was 3 or 4."

There was no string program at his middle school, so Zajac started studying with professors in Ithaca, but that duel interest in classical and rock came up again in seventh grade when some other boys asked him to be the drummer in their rock band, and they played together for several years.

"It's amazing how everyone always would freak out," Zajac said. "They only knew me as a cellist, classical music. 'You like rock music? You like jazz?' Absolutely. And it helps me so much with classical music, especially because playing in the rock band was, in a weird way, my first form of chamber music."

Nazareth College was a natural pick for Shade, both because he wanted to study under Nancy Strelau and it's perhaps the only college in the nation that allows undergraduates to conduct. As a result, he's already conducted a few symphony and chamber performance, including the Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra, the Finger Lakes Summer Festival Orchestra and the Greater Rochester Women's Philharmonic. He's also participated in workshops, master classes and apprenticeships with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.

"All throughout high school, I had other interests," Zajac said. "I enjoy reading, and probably in another lifetime, I would fancy myself a writer, or a painter, but I have always known that somehow I wanted to do music for my life, whatever that meant. If that meant being a rock drummer and touring the world, or being an orchestral musician, or being a conductor. If any of those things happened, I would be happy.

"Conducting," he added, "what really drew me to conducting, I think is, for one, there's so much music in the world, that even if I listened to something new, if I just spent each day for the rest of my life listening to something new, I probably wouldn't begin to scratch everything that's out there. I didn't want to just limit myself to say, just the cello solo repertoire or the quartet repertoire because that is just a skin cell in a body of music that I'm sure is out there."

That vast body of music -- centuries of composers from all seven continents -- will give Zajac much to choose from as he begins to chart out each season of GSO's four performances. He must balance each performance to ensure the pieces work together, that there is the right mixture of audience-pleasing hits as well as new, challenging or unfamiliar works to help spark exploration and interest. That's important both for the audience and the orchestra members, who can grow even more bored than the audience if the same pieces are performed year-after-year.

He knows he's gotten into something special with the GSO, an orchestra that consistently performs at the highest levels and attracts talent from throughout the region, something rare for the few small community orchestras that still survive. He wants to cherish that and nurture it, providing pieces that both please and challenge orchestra members, but not take them further than they're able to go.

"Me and Professor Strelau sat down and said, 'Well, what's good for this orchestra?' And what I chose was a little risky to do. Capriccio Espagnol and Polovtsian Dances. They're meaty pieces. And, quite frankly, they played the hell out of them. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. I mean I can only do so much. The conductor is there to inspire and to guide, but they do all the hard work. I just wave my hands. You have to have good players, and then you have to pick a smart repertoire, an engaging repertoire. I think it's a great group."

So good, in fact, that Zajac went through, after the performance last fall, a spell of "post-concert depression." It's a real thing most conductor's experience, he said, because there is so much work and anticipation that go into preparing for a performance, and then just like that, it's over. It's done.

"You're on cloud nine for a little while if it went really well, and then the next day you go, 'Ugh. When do I get to do another one?' And I have not experienced such post-concert depression as after the concert in September. Not only because it was such a great experience, and I felt such a connection, and they played so well, and I thought, 'Even if I get this, I have to wait so long before I get to work with them again.'"

The ideas of what to perform in the coming seasons are already running through his head. Perhaps a whole show of orchestral pieces from movies.

"John Williams is obvious, but Bernard Herrmann is one of my favorite composers," Zajac said. "He did most of the Alfred Hitchcock movies. "Psycho' is obviously the one you think about, but "North By Northwest" and "Marnie" and "Vertigo," they have really stunning music."

He's also interested in exploring local composers.

"Dana Wilson, for example," he said. "I guess he just retired this year, actually, from Ithaca College. Very important composer, relatively local, in the area, and he wrote some really phenomenal stuff. One is called, "Shortcut Home." It's a three or four-minute overture that's vibrant. It's got some jazz influence in it and I think the orchestra would really like it, and it's exciting as a listener. Even for someone who's not into classical music, it's cool. There are trumpets with plungers."

Perhaps, someday, the GSO will even perform one of his own compositions. He wrote his first piece in seventh grade. But he isn't considering that any time, soon, he said. The performances should be about the music and the orchestra, and he's afraid that if he programs one of his own compositions, it will look like it's about him.

There's also a very good chance one of the professors from Nazareth, a world-renowned pianist, will perform Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1. The pianist was in Batavia for Zajac's performance with the GSO and was impressed with the orchestra. He said if Zajac got the job, he would perform.

At 22, with his first appointment as conductor for a symphony orchestra, it's hard not to think the GSO could be just a stepping stone for a young, passionate and talented musician, but Zajac said he doesn't look at it that way. He doesn't even like the term "stepping stone," he said. Maybe there will be opportunities down the road that are too good to pass up, but he said he's committed to helping the GSO grow and thrive, if not for the sake of the GSO, just for the sake of his own enjoyment of music.

"As long as I'm working with musicians who want to be working, and who are just as passionate as I am about what we're doing, I could be conducting the Berlin Philharmonic or I could be conducting the East Podunk Orchestra with five people in it," Zajac said. "My goals are just to make music every single day until I physically can't or die. I think it's very easy to set these goals, like, 'I want to be the new conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic or the Berlin Philharmonic,' and although they're really wonderful names, the name is not what's most important.

"I'm convinced that I can experience just as beautiful of an experience at the GSO or another orchestra."

DISCLOSURE: Howard Owens is a member of the Board of Directors for the Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

May 19, 2016 - 9:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama, news.

A car vs. tow truck accident is reported on Route 77 at Lewiston Road, Alabama.

Unknown injuries.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 9:57 p.m.: Emergency responders are told to stage in the area until law enforcement secures the scene. There is a possible disturbance in progress.

UPDATE 10:30 p.m.: Law enforcement on scene reports Alabama fire and Mercy EMS can go back in service.

May 19, 2016 - 9:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Developmental Disabilities, steve hawley, news.

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Joshua Derrick speaks Thursday evening during a forum at GCC on how best to protect the rights of people with disabilities and how better to assist them in the communities where they live.

The forum was hosted by Assemblyman Steve Hawley and is part of a series of nine forums around the state conducted by the Minority Task Force on Protecting the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities.

The forum focused on improving ways to support the rights of people with developmental disabilities, expansion of community-based care programs, the effectiveness of current transition plans for people in sheltered workshops and identifying whether the input and desires of people with disabilities are being appropriately considered.

"Information gathered at the forum will help us to better serve the needs and choices of people with developmental disabilities," Hawley said. "For many, the transition process to a more integrated work setting has resulted in frustrations and disappointing changes in services and care programs. New York must do a better job of assessing and meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities."

Also attending the form were Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch and Assemblyman Bill Nojay.

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May 19, 2016 - 9:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

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May 19, 2016 - 9:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, batavia kiwanis, news.

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Batavia High School's top academic seniors were honored today by the Batavia Kiwanis Club, and they were also congratulated by an unexpected guest at the meeting, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was in town for an event at Genesee Community College and stopped by the Kiwanis meeting after that event.

Hochul told the students that they've been fortunate to grow up in a community that has nurtured them and, unlike the era of her youth in WNY, provides more career opportunities at home. She encouraged them to get their college educations and then return home where they can not only better themselves and their families but their communities as well.

The top 10 students are Alexis Vasciannie, Ross Chua, Louis Leone, Sarah Wezel, Skylar Laesser, Noah Dobbertin, Andrea Gilebarto, Dharina Rathod, Samantha Cecere and Quinn Schrader.

Awards were also given out for vocal and instrumental achievement and citizenship.

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May 19, 2016 - 9:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, GCC, schools, education.

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Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul attended a joint meeting this morning of leaders from three area community colleges, Genesee, Monroe and Finger Lakes, and encouraged them to find ways to work together cooperatively to help better prepare students to enter the modern workforce.

"I want to up the game," Hochul said. "I want to take it to a different level, and I cannot do it without all of you representing faculty, administration and students to say, 'you know what, we're buying into this vision.' It's going to force us to look beyond our own boundaries, just as the REDCs (regional economic development councils) forced us to say what's good for the other counties, what's good for the region, as opposed to just what's good for my little place on Earth here. That will be transformative. That is a whole new way of approaching community colleges."

The region is growing, Hochul said, new businesses are starting and coming in and they need a workforce trained for today's jobs. She encouraged the colleges to work with employers to develop curriculum and certification programs to get students job-ready, and rather do it in a competitive way, do it in a cooperative way.

May 19, 2016 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, elba, news.
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     Scott Reed      Deborah Reed      Jonathan Reed

 

Three residents of a Log City Road home in Elba have been arrested by State Police following an investigation into a series of alleged sex crimes.

Three members of one family from Elba were arrested following a State Police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and rape.

A father, mother and adult son were all charged.

The probe in the alleged crimes by Troop A's Bureau of Criminal Investigation began after State Police received a complaint in March.

Scott A. Reed, 50, of Log City Road, is accused of sexual abuse against a minor over a 10-year span. He is charged with course of sexual conduct, 2nd.

His wife, Deborah S. Reed, 51, of Log City Road, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. She is accused of failure to provide adequate protection to other children in the home after learning of past abuse by Scott Reed.

Their son, Jonathan M. Reed, 22, is charged with several counts of second-degree rape, second-degree criminal sexual act and endangering the welfare of a child in the Town of Perry, and with second-degree rape, third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act in the Town of Lancaster.

Jonathan is accused of sexual contact with two teenage girls.

May 19, 2016 - 9:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, schools, education, news.

Amidst concerns that the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees tends to pass budgets before consulting with local legislators on how much the county can afford to contribute, the Public Services Committee yesterday tabled a resolution calling for a $50,000 increase in the county's share of college revenue.

The college is planning a $40.5 million budget for 2016/17, with the county's share totaling $2,586,374.

That's a $50,000 increase over this year's county share.

"It really bothers me that your board has set the budget, rather than come to us first and say, 'hey, look, how much can you afford to come in with," said Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Legislature and a member of the Public Service Committee. "It bother's me that the board has determined how much we're spending before we even had a chance to look at it."

The county share is mandated by state law, and it can't be reduced below the prior year's share. College President Jim Sunser said if the Legislature reduced the county share by even $1 from the prior year, the college, by law, would be forced to cut tuitions.

"We'd lose 20 percent of our revenue and we'd be out of business," Sunser said.

The college has until July 1 to present its final budget to the SUNY administrators, giving the county time to consider further what it might want to approve and find out if legally whether the county can apprrove the county share without an increase now, but add more to the pot later in the year when it adopts its own 2017 budget.

One issue, Sunser noted during his initial presentation, because it's come up before, is that the college and the county budget calendars are out of sync. The college operates on an academic year and the county operates on a calendar year.

Sunser suggested the county adopt a five-year plan, knowing in advance that the plan is to increase the county share by $50,000 each year, but that plan can be modified annually if circumstances for the county or the college drastically change.

He also suggested, but it didn't seem to get any uptake from legislators, that the county approve this year's budget with no increase but with a plan to increase the share by $75,000 each of the next two years and than $50,000 in each of the following two years, thereby averaging an annual increase of $50,000 over five years.

One concern committee Chairman Bob Bausch raised is that the county is looking at a mandated pay increase for the district attorney of $27,705. The county is fighting the mandate, but if it loses, the resulting property tax increase, if approved, would push the county to the state's 2 percent cap limit. There would be no room for an additional $50,000 share to the college.

May 18, 2016 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, photos.

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A tree and gravel road behind County Building #2, off West Main Street Road, Batavia.

May 18, 2016 - 12:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Interagency Council, batavia, news.

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Master Gardener Jane Grehlinger talks about container gardening during the annual joint meeting of the Genesee County Interagency Council at the ARC Community Center in Batavia.

The meeting focused on a "green thumb" theme and included the planting and growing of herbs along with a local chef discussing cooking with herbs.

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May 18, 2016 - 12:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, United Way, Day of Caring, news.

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Hundreds of Genesee County residents spread out throughout the community today to provide volunteer labor for organizations during United Way's annual Day of Caring.

Above, staff from Graham's manufacturing plant flowers for an elderly resident in Batavia. The flowers and mulch were donated by Pudgie's and the Home Depot.

We also have pictures of employees of Tompkins Financial at the Batavia Peace Garden, members of Kiwanis and Leadership Genesee 2011 at the Youth Center and the Community Garden, and the Lions Club at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle fixing bikes for Genesee ARC.

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Group photo by Kevin Carlson, owner of Carlson Studio.

May 18, 2016 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in town of batavia, batavia, planning, land use, business.

From the Town of Batavia Planning Board's meeting last night:

  • Jeff Price met with the board to discuss his plans for two or three off-road truck events at the Genesee County Fairgrounds this year. Called Flex Rock 4x4, Price organized two events last year and he said they went very well. The first event wasn't well publicized and the turnout was mostly local drivers and truck owners, but by the time the second event rolled around, word had gotten out and drivers came from as far away as North Carolina. He said neighboring residents attended the first event to see what it was about and he hasn't received any complaints. He said the fair board is happy with his events. He asked the planning board for a letter approving the events, which the board will provide.
  • Chris Moiser, owner of Area 51, presented his plans for the 2016 season and received board support. He is planning races June 4-5, July 2-3, July 30-31, Sept. 3-4 and Nov. 13, with an MX race Oct. 29-30 and the Dirty Girl Mud Run on July 16.
  • Dale Banfield presented plans for outdoor concerts at the Waggin Wheel restaurant on Park Road. He's planning on hosting a couple of concerts featuring country bands and '80s classic rock. The concerts will be in a fenced-in area with proceeds from food sales going to local volunteer fire departments. Ticket sales would cover the cost of the bands. He said he's already spoken with representatives fo Batavia Downs and COR Development about parking and traffic and he said both are willing to work with him. He said he plans to have the venue entrance behind the Waggin Wheel, along the property line with Batavia Towne Center. A special use permit is required and a public hearing was set for June 21, by which time the board expects Banfield to have more details worked out.
  • The board approved a site plan review for Alpina Foods, which is planning a 3,360-square-foot expansion. No representatives of Alpina attended the meeting.
May 18, 2016 - 7:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, elba, Oakfield, Alabama, schools, education, news.

Here are Tuesday's available election results:

Batavia City Schools:
The Budget - $44,366,439 (increase of $1,258,066 or 2.92%: $0.00 increase in tax levy)

  • Yes - 407  (85.86%)
  • No - 67  (14.14%)

Student Ex-Officio Board Member (non-voting) 

  • Yes -  436  (92.57%
  • No - 35  (7.43%)

Board of Education positions: three positions, with top two votes terms are full term from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2019 ,and the lowest vote is a partial term from May 17, 2016 to June 30, 2018 

  • Patrick Burk 385  (May 17, 2016 - June 30, 2018)
  • Peter Cecere - 427  (July 1, 2016  -June 30, 2019)
  • Karen Tomidy - 424   (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2019)

Elba Central Schools:

Proposition #1 - 2016/2017 Budget - $9,260,316  --   Passed  (129 Yes/38 No)

Proposition #2 - Purchase of one (1) 65 Passenger Bus   --  Passed  (130 Yes/39 No)

One Board of Education Seat, One Candidate: Michael Hare (142 Votes)

Oakfield-Alabama Central School District:

Proposition #1: Budget:  Yes:   293 / No:  44

Proposition #2: Buses:   Yes:  280 /  No:  52

Board Members:  

  • Jeff Hyde (Incumbent) 248
  • Matt Lamb, 170

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