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August 20, 2015 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, Deer, DEC.

Deer are causing damage in Batavia and residents say the problem is as bad as they can ever remember it, but that doesn't mean a solution will be easy to find.

DEC Biologist Art Kirsch led a two-hour meeting on the issue Wednesday night, but offered no clear answers and said it could take years for Batavia to thin its deer herd to a less destructive level.

City Manager Jason Molino agreed.

"We've got the right folks at the state level to help us," Molino said. "We've just got to get the right folks in the community to participate and try to come up with a solution. Unfortunately, the solution isn't a cookie-cutter solution and I don't think the time frame is either. I don't think what anyone can predict what type of obstacles we might receive in the process."

Several residents told of the problems they face, including Gus Galliford.

"We're concerned about the deer just ravaging our property," Galliford said. "They're coming in numbers we've never seen before. I built my house 25 years ago and lived in the neighborhood all that time, but after this past spring, they're just destroying the whole thing."

The deer have cost his family thousands and thousands of dollars, Galliford said.

Kirsch said an overpopulation of deer are a problem on at least three levels: ecological damage, car accidents and transmission of disease.

His best suggestions for now: fencing, repellents, and fertility control.

Molino suggested the city may need to set up a committee to study the issue and recommend a solution.

Reporting for story provided by The Batavian's news partner, WBTA AM/FM.

August 20, 2015 - 5:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, BOCES, Le Roy, Pavilion, education.

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Press release: 

Sarah Noble-Moag’s roots are deeply immersed in the business of agriculture. Her family tree spans across generations of farmers and thousands of acres of land. Although she is deeply immersed in her family business called Noblehurst Farms, she truly knows the value of giving back to the community.

Noble-Moag was recently honored with the Genesee Valley School Board Association’s Albert Hawk Award. This award is presented annually to a current or former school board member for outstanding contributions to public education and children in his or her own community.

Noble-Moag is modest about her accomplishments but the list of her contributions is long and noteworthy.

“I come from a family of educators. Becoming a board member was a natural extension of the stewardship that my family has supported for generations,” she said.

Noble-Moag serves on a number of local, regional and state boards including the Agricultural Affiliates Board of Directors, and the New York State Agricultural Society. In 2014, she was appointed to the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation Board of Directors.

She served for 11 years on the Pavilion School Board and held positions as trustee, vice president and president of the board of education. Her efforts for continued improvement resulted in the district being honored as a “Reward School” by New York state in 2007 and again in 2014. Noble-Moag was instrumental in the development of a new career and technical education program offered by the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and Genesee Community College.

The Agri-Business Academy gives high school seniors the opportunity to explore careers in the agricultural field as they earn college credit. During her time as trustee, the Pavilion School Board was faced with difficult decisions especially when the district faced drastic budget cuts due to the Gap Elimination Adjustment. But some of her best moments were when she was able to witness students’ successes.

“After a capital improvement project was completed, I was at school for an event," Noble-Moag said. "I looked up and saw students on stage in the new auditorium. As I glanced around, I saw the."

Making those complicated decisions during challenging times can be difficult, said Ken Ellison, superintendent of Pavilion Central Schools. According to Ellison, Noble-Moag always kept the students’ best interests as the top priority.

He said: “During her board tenure, Sarah’s leadership contributed in so many powerful ways. Sarah was a valued partner during the merger/annexation study with Wyoming CS. A merger process can be an emotionally charged event and very divisive in the school communities involved.

"Sarah brought wisdom and perspective to a very challenging process. Sarah also served on the PCS Board during one of the most challenging fiscal periods ever faced by our school. At one point our Gap Elimination Adjustment was $1.6 million dollars. Sarah was a vital partner in developing strategies, and in some cases sacrifices, to keep the district on firm financial footing."

Education has always been a valued priority in her family hence the reason for her dedication to the Pavilion Central School District. Many generations of both the Noble and Moag families have graced the halls and walked the graduation stage at Pavilion Central. Noble-Moag’s mother was a home economics teacher and her mother-in-law worked in the library.

But what resounds deeply with Noble-Moag are words from her grandmother’s senior thesis from Cortland written in 1926.

“Just now there is fraud in business, humbug in politics, back biting, slander and deceit in social intercourse. Do you want your children to repair to such practices as a standard of conduct? We must give them an education, which will lift them infinitely above the moral and intellectual level of life outside the school, today. We must teach them to aspire to be all they can.” -- Written by Rella Smith in 1926.

“These words resonate with me; my grandmother was a wise woman. It’s vital that we provide our children with the best education possible," Noble-Moag said. “By becoming involved with their school districts, parents can make a difference and have a voice in making decisions for their children and students."

Noble-Moag is a graduate of Cornell University. She resides in Pavilion with her husband, Timothy Moag. They are the parents of three grown children, Griffin, Rella (named for Noble-Moag’s grandmother) and Austin.

August 20, 2015 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, food processing, business, batavia, GCEDC.

Press release:

Genesee County has once again been recognized as one of the fastest growing “food processing employment leaders” by "Business Facilities," a national site selection publication.

Business Facilities provides annual rankings of metro and global areas in various categories, including food processing and job growth, among others. Genesee County ranked at number seven in a list of top 10 mid-sized metro areas for food-processing growth, making this year the fifth time in 10 years that Genesee County has earned national ranking in this category.

The agricultural, food and beverage sectors in Genesee County employ approximately 1,500 people. The region’s employment numbers continue to increase as economic development focused on agri-business remains a top priority of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors.

“The growth of the food processing sector in our region reflects the positive economic climate here which has been significantly enhanced through the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, the first agri-business site of its kind in New York State,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “We are very pleased to be once again recognized by 'Business Facilities' as a leader in food processing employment and plan to continue expanding our efforts in this critically important economic sector.” 

The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park encompasses 211 shovel ready, pre-permitted acres strategically located between Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region in Batavia, NY. 

The site provides access to a short and main line rail access to move products, and large capacity municipal sewer and water. Through the support of National Grid and National Fuel the site has an enhanced utility infrastructure.

Alpina Foods, LLC, a leading dairy producing company in Colombia and South America, opened its first specialty yogurt manufacturing plant at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in 2013. In 2013, PepsiCo, in a joint venture with German dairy company Theo Müller, opened a $206-million yogurt manufacturing facility, Muller Quaker Dairy.

Other key food processing and related companies in Genesee County include O-AT-KA Milk Products and Bonduelle USA, Inc.

For more information about the ranking in Business Facilities, please visit  http://businessfacilities.com/2015/07/metro-and-global-rankings/.

August 20, 2015 - 3:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in calendar.
August 20, 2015 - 10:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake performing arts center, Darien, business.

A sold-out Chris Brown show at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center kept emergency responders busy for hours last night, but other than making for a long, tiring night, it wasn't that bad, said Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble, Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

There were no serious fights and there are no reports of serious injuries, and while there were 16 arrests at the show, they were mostly for run-of-the-mill offenses, from trespassing to unlawful possession of marijuana.

"Generally, it was a very pleasant crowd," Dibble said. "They were polite, for the most part, even when caught in traffic coming in, they mostly had a good attitude. Some of these people coming in waited a long time and for the most part they were very nice. They just wanted to get to the show like everybody else."

The traffic tie-ups were not unexpected, Dibble said. The traffic jams around the park were typical of a sold-out concert on a weekday night, when everybody gets off work and heads to the show instead of coming in over the course of the day, like on a Saturday or Sunday.

Traffic started to back up shortly after 5 p.m. and traffic jams slowed down concertgoers coming in from all directions. Three or four minor traffic accidents caused some blocked lanes and tollbooth workers at times had a hard time keeping up, causing traffic to back up on the Thruway.

"So many of the roads were built when that place was a swimming hole, a hot dog stand and a couple of lifeguards," Dibble said. "Those are the same roads then as they are today."

Dibble is aware there are still people who advocate for a return of private parking around the venue, but that's not the answer Dibble said. Those lots, he said, create more problems than they alleviate.

"I'm under the opinion after my many, many years out there that congestion on Sumner makes it worse," Dibble said. "You have masses of people walking on Sumner and mixing pedestrians and traffic isn't good. This is much safer. And then you had people pulling into private lots dickering with the people taking the money and backing up traffic. There's no way I want to go back. Darien Lake has the space available to handle the parking."

There's been talk for years about how to open up more entrances and exits to the lots, but there's no easy answer, Dibble said.

Colby Road isn't the answer because of the configuration of the roadway.

"Exiting, that would be good, but the topography of that road, the hills and blind spots, make that difficult and very dangerous," Dibble said.

Dibble noted that Cherry Hill Campground continues to accept concert parking and that doesn't really help matters.

"They get them in there and then abandon them there and that's a problem for us when it's time to leave," Dibble said.

Early in the evening, local emergency responders were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of medical calls, mostly for alcohol-related illnesses. That was a combination of the alcohol and the heat, Dibble said.

The county needed backup units from Erie and Orleans counties and patients were transported to multiple hospitals so no one hospital became overwhelmed.

Live Nation had two doctors in the venue, as is now standard practice for sold-out shows.

"There are a lot of things they're able to take care of right on property instead of transporting them," Dibble said.

Dibble didn't have a count yet on how many citations were issued for underage drinking, but they were numerous.

"Each band has its own personality and its own following and this particular band attracted a the type that was younger and there was a lot of underage drinking," Dibble said.

The early-evening enforcement of ABC violations helps cut down on problems later in the night, Dibble said.

"For the number of people there, it was really a good night, actually," Dibble said.

August 20, 2015 - 9:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy youth football, sports, Home Depot.

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Employees of Home Depot engaged in a community project yesterday in Le Roy, replacing the roof, painting and making other repairs to the storage shed used by Le Roy Youth Football at Bunnell Park. TeamDepot is funded by the Home Depot Foundation and is dedicated to using Home Depot resources to help local communities.

Pictured are Chris Hodges (top photo), Eva Hamers and Zach Fay.

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August 20, 2015 - 9:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake, darien lake performing arts center, crime.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department during the Chris Brown concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.

Matthew J. Norton, 22, of South Main Street, Evan Mills, is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly punching a security officer in the face. Norton was arraigned in Darien Court and jailed in lieu of $750 bail.

Ashley Ginter, 27, of East Main Street, Alleghany, is charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly causing a disturbance in the parking lot. Ginter was arraigned in Darien Court and jailed in lieu of $500 bail.

A 16-year-old of Kline Road, Niagara Falls, is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly punching another patron in the face.

Curtis W. Brock, 19, of Hedgewood Drive, Williamsville, is charged with trespass after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Katie A. Hamilton, 21, of Marvel Lead Drive, Greece, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Brett M. Dechent, 23, of Hamburg Turnpike, Lackawana, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Joshua B. Reed, 22, of Church Street, Medina, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly reentered the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Haley L. Filippone, 19, of Salt Road, Clarence, is charged with trespass, criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly reentering the concert venue twice after being ejected and told not to return. Filippone allegedly provided another subjects identification on the initial trespass. Additional charges are pending.

Christopher F. Weber, 18, of Ransom Road, Lancaster, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

A 16-year-old of Chili Avenue, Rochester, was arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of marijuana.

Ronald J. Minni, 23, of Wheeldon Drive, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of marijuana.

Justin M. Ferraraccio, 19, of Chestnut Ridge, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of codeine and methylphenidate and marijuana.

Lisa R. Occhipinti, 20, of Balla Drive, North Tonawanda, arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of marijuana.

Sydney C. Pontzer, 18, of Shaffer Avenue, Ridgeway, Pa., arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of marijuana.

A 17-year-old of Francine Drive, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of marijuana.

Mark A. Donahue, 36, of Townline Road, Sanborn, is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly punching another subject in the face with a closed fist.

August 19, 2015 - 9:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Burning Man, Emerald Models, Bethany, art.

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Donna Rae Sutherland sent in these photos of what she describes as a sculpture built off Transit Road, south of Route 63, Bethany, that will be transported tomorrow to Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

Burning Man, established in 1986, is a month-long festival of art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.

The location of the sculpture is Emerald Models, which we've written about before.

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August 19, 2015 - 7:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in SunEdison, SolarCity, solar engery, NY-Sun, batavia, land use, agriculture.

Members of the Town of Batavia Planning Board responded coolly to a proposed solar farm off of Bank Street Road at its monthly meeting Tuesday night.

Buffalo-based attorney Gregory P. Scholand, representing SunEdison, outlined the company's plan for 15 acres that are currently cultivated for peas.

The farm would produce two megawatts of electricity, which is enough energy for about 20 300 homes. (CORRECTION)

Scholand told board members he had to be honest -- the solar farm won't create jobs and any increase in assessed value, which means more tax revenue, will be delayed by state-backed incentives for solar installations.

"In other words," said Board Member Lou Paganello, "the only people who will benefit are the landowner, National Grid and SunEdison."

Paganello was one of the most vocal members of the board expressing concerns about the proposal, but he also said he was intrigued by it and doesn't want to just kill the idea without learning more.

He also suggested the town needs to develop a plan for dealing with solar farms since this is unlikely to be the last proposal the town is asked to consider.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to push New York toward a stronger solar future. He's committed $1 billion to NY-Sun with the goal of eventually generating three gigawatts of electricity from sunlight across the state. That would be the equivalent of taking 23,000 cars off the road. According to the project's Web site, that much installed capacity will make the solar industry self-sufficient in New York and subsidies will no longer be needed.

The initiative is the reason SolarCity, a company owned primarily by technology multi-billionaire Elon Musk, is building a manufacturing plant in Buffalo that is expected to create 1,460 jobs. 

Solar is coming on strong nationally, both because of the investments of Musk -- a hard-charging entrepreneur who made his initial fortune with two Internet startups, including PayPal, and who is also responsible for the all-electric Tesla luxury sports car and the Space X program -- and because China flooded the market a couple of years ago with inexpensive solar panels.

That, and greater efficiencies in installation and substantial tax breaks and government subsidies have helped reduce costs for power companies, businesses and homeowners.

It doesn't matter, though, to local planning boards that are being asked to back projects that potentially divert productive land to massive complexes of metal and glass.

In Genesee County, of course, that other productive use is farming, the kind of farming that produces grains, vegetables and milk. How much soil does the local area want to convert to solar panels?

"You open the door for one farm to do this then everyone is going to want to do it," said Board Member Jonathan Long.

Board members seemed unanimous in sharing this concern.

The proposition, put forward by Scholand, that solar farms help reduce an area's carbon footprint, was countered by Long.

"Peas are already taking a lot of carbon out of the air," he said.

The town needs a plan for dealing with solar and Scholand agreed. He said SunEdison fully supports local jurisdictions developing local ordinances to govern solar installations. 

SunEdison hasn't made a formal application yet, but when it does, the Planning Board will be asked to become the lead agency for the environmental review process.

Chairwoman Kathy Jasinski expressed some doubt about the board's willingness to take on that role when its members still know too little about solar energy, the impacts of such farms, how they might affect neighboring property owners and what the benefits might be for local residents. The board needs a quick education in these subjects, Jasinski suggested.

If the Town of Batavia was to reject the proposal, it would be the second time this year that a local government body turned down a solar farm in the county.

In January, SolarCity approached the County about building a solar farm next to County Building #2, but concerns about the viability of SolarCity, whether the subsidies that would help the county save $500,000 and what might eventually become of the infrastructure, led the Ways and Means Committee to reject the proposal.

Meanwhile, solar companies have started pitching subsidized solar installations to local residents. One company had a booth at Summer in the City.

August 19, 2015 - 1:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, SCOPE.

Press release:

“On behalf of the Shooter’s Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) and Second Amendment rights activists statewide, I am proud to announce that the New York State Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Cuomo and state officials have illegally withheld records relating to a Freedom of Information Request (FOIL) into illegal seizures during a gun rally in Albany last April. During the rally, state troopers unlawfully seized replica guns from several participants under orders from the executive branch.

“This is a positive step in ensuring that our Constitutional rights are not completely compromised by Gov. Cuomo’s illegal tactics. The SAFE Act was passed under the cover of darkness without any public input or vetting process and remains one of the worst pieces of legislation I have ever seen during my time in the Assembly. I will continue to fight for repeal of this illegal law and support gun owners in my district and statewide.”

August 19, 2015 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, football, le roy hs, sports.

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This truism is too apropos not to use: There are changes afoot in Le Roy.

The departure of legendary Head Coach Brian Moran after 26 years at the helm is well documented. This year, longtime assistant Brian Herdlein takes over the program. Gone also is Anthony Paladino, after 30 years. The new defensive coordinator is Peter Greene, who served for eight years as an assistant with the JV squad. And despite 16 returning seniors, Le Roy is turning to new talent at skilled positions, including QB, where junior Josh Laurie takes over for Mike McMullen.

The big surprise, though, comes with blue fingernail polish and a ponytail. Mary Purdy will become the school's first girl to play varsity football.

Purdy decided to forego soccer this year and so she was encouraged by football staff and players to try out for kicker.

"We're not trying ot make history," Herdlein said. "It was a situation where she was playing a different sport before. She didn't want to do that this year and she approached us about playing football and kicking for us. We had her come out. We had her kicking some footballs. The first day I show up, I see her kicking 35-yard field goals no problem. So of course, for me, I think that's a weapon, so to me I don't look at her differently than anything. She comes out, she does everything everyone one else is doing on the field. She'll go through the drills with us and then she'll do her kicking."

Purdy would also like to downplay any talk of her blazing a new trail. She's more focused on helping her team win and having fun playing football.

"I was hoping no one would draw so much attention to it," Purdy said. "I'm just happy to present my skill set wherever it's needed, but I guess it's kind of cool to be the first female to come through the area and play football."

Mostly, Herdlein is preaching continuity. He's not concentrating on the changes, just on the same values that has made Oatkan Knight football successful for decades: hard work, discipline and preparation.

"For me, it's just a title change," Herdlein said. "The rest of the staff has been here a long time. They know what they're doing. The kids know all of us. It's not that big of a change."

Herdlein will continue as offensive coordinator, a role he held in recent years under Moran, so the schemes won't change much.

"I'm not reinventing the wheel," Herdlein said. "They've been very successful here, so it's not like I'm the person who is going to come in and say, 'you haven't done it right before.' "

Laurie does bring a different skill set to the offense than McMullen. Herdlein described him as more mobile, so look for him to scramble more, run more.

"He's a kid who's very mature," Herdlein said. "He plays a lot of travel baseball on an elite team, so he's had that pressure situation before. He's ready to take the job."

Offensive linemen Ben Carmichael and Dave Englerth say they like what they see so far out of their new coach and their teammates.

"I'm very excited," Carmichael said. "I think we have a good team. I think we have a lot of new guys coming up who have a lot of talent. Our line especially is stacked and I think we're going to do very well this year."

Herdlein has put an additional emphasis on conditioning, which Englerth said will payoff for the team.

"I think we can make it to sectionals," Englerth said. "I think we have the ability."

With only 29 players, Herdlein said conditioning is critical for his team.

"We need to make sure the guys we have can last for four quarters of a football game," Herdlein said.

Among the players he looking to provide leadership are Nick Egling and Ryan Boyce.

Egling moves into the fullback position and Boyce, the son of a former Knight's QB, David Boyce, will be a receiver, free safety and long snapper.

"Nick will definitely be a force for us this year," Herdlein said. "We're going to be giving him the ball a lot. And Ryan has been around since he was a small boy. He knows the program. He is definitely going to step into a leadership role."

A year of changes, yes, but the expectations remain the same: Work hard, be tough, play to win.

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August 19, 2015 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Joe's, schools, education.

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Press release:

St. Joseph School (SJS) has been working toward financial self-sustainability for several years. Tuition, fundraising and other income sources can no longer be the sole funding source for Catholic schools. Due to the current economic climate, the need for long-term and strategic budget forecasting is imperative.

Lauren Humphrey, Advancement coordinator at St. Joseph School, is proud to announce that the St. Joseph School of Batavia Endowment Fund has been established and that it has been given a fantastic kick-off with two anonymous donations totaling $105,000! These wonderful donors have left a permanent mark on the school and have created a long-lasting legacy that will benefit St. Joseph School’s students for years to come.

At SJS, a team of committed volunteers, staff members, and board members have worked tirelessly to establish enhanced and relevant financial and operational plans. The All Apostles Society (AAS), an annual giving recognition program, was put into place several years ago. AAS membership continues to grow; however, the need for something with even greater effect was necessary. About three years ago the team began looking into long-term strategies, including an endowment.

Because a permanent endowment is an invested pool of money that provides a reliable source of income in perpetuity, the organization now has the ability to rely on annual distributions from the endowment for its charitable work. The endowment will also relieve some of the pressure on smaller fundraising projects and events while creating economic stability for the future.

Bryan Winters, SJS parent, board member and Advancement Committee chairperson, weighs in on what this means for our school: “The creation of the SJS endowment is our most important step in designing a self-sustaining financial model for the school. Over the long-term, this will create a steady flow of income for the school without being quite so dependent on local parishes or the diocese. The immediate impact will actually be beneficial for our donors.

"We will now have the ability to provide more complex and deferred gift arrangements such as charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and other life income types of agreements. Until now, many of our most generous donors have never considered gifting assets from various securities such as, IRAs, 401(k) plans, pensions, stocks, bonds, even old life insurance policies.

"The SJS endowment is going to have a tremendous positive impact for our community. As SJS continues to grow both the endowment and our annual giving society, the All Apostles Society, our financial outlook is the best it has ever been. Most importantly, current and future students of SJS will reap the benefits of this strategic project.”

Principal, Karen Green notes that, “The ability to find financially prudent ways to support the operation of the school is becoming more and more challenging every year. In combination with our annual giving society (The All Apostles Society), this endowment will provide school leadership with the ability to offset the annual expenses of the school and move closer to our goal of complete self-sustainability.”

Photo:

Top row: Rick Suchan, executive director of Development, Diocese of Buffalo; Marcia Huber, Resurrection Parrish business manager; Lynne Houseknecht, St. Joseph School Advisory Committee president; Roger Bohn, Resurrection Parrish Council president; Seana Logsdon, St. Joseph School Advisory Council vice president; Robert Zickl, St. Joseph School Advisory Council secretary; Bryan Winters, St. Joseph School Advisory Council member, SJS parent, Advancement Committee member.

Bottom row: Norman Argulsky, Resurrection Parrish trustee and St. Joseph School Advisory Council member; Fr. Ivan Trujillo, pastor of Resurrection Parrish; Karen Green, principal, St. Joseph School; John Dwyer, Resurrection Parrish trustee.

August 19, 2015 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, corfu, Darien, bergen.

Gerald John Wiesmore, 47, of Herkimer Road, Darien, is charged with insurance fraud, 3rd, attempted grand larceny, 3rd, and falsely reporting an incident. Wiesmore allegedly reported his 2009 Ford F-150 as stolen and then attempted to file an insurance claim well in excess of $3,000.

Kayla Wethington, 26, of Batavia, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Wethington allegedly stole more than $1,000 from a family member’s purse at a residence in the Town of Bethany.

Ryan A. Ballard, 23, of Dundee, is charged with DWI, speeding, failing to keep right and improper turn. Ballard was stopped on Harper Road, Darien, by State Police. Ballard allegedly failed the standardized field sobriety test.

Matthew S. Martin, 31, of Canandaigua, is charged with DWI, failure to keep right and excessive window tint. He was stopped on Colby Road, Darien, by State Police. Martin allegedly had a BAC of 0.08. 

Joseph A. Andrese, 28, of Rochester, is charged with DWI, speeding, moved from lane unsafely and driver-no seatbelt. Andrese was stopped on State Route 77,  Corfu, by State Police. Andrese allegedly failed a standardized field sobriety test. He was allegedly found to have a BAC of .15.

Jorge Cortes, 25, with no permanent address, is charged with assault, 3rd, strangulation, 2nd, intimidating a witness, 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon, 4th (non-citizen), and criminal mischief, 4th (preventing emergency assistance). Cortes is allegedly an undocumented person from Oaxaca, Mexico. He is accused of being involved in a domestic incident. He was jailed without bail.

Alex J. Ianita, 21, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful imprisonment, assault, 3rd, petit larceny and robbery, 2nd. Ianita was allegedly involved in a domestic incident. He was jailed without bail.

Jimpce J. Etienne, 39, of Warren Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI and open container. Etienne was stopped at 4:16 p.m. Saturday on Jackson Street by Officer Marc Lawrence.

A 17-year-old resident of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with resisting arrest. The youth was taken into custody on three separate City Court warrants. He was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol vehicle. He allegedly attempted to break free from police, pushing past them. He was subdued and transported to police headquarters where he allegedly caused an ongoing disturbance, kicking walls, doors and other furnishings in the holding room.

Johnnie M Waston, 32, of Dodge Street, Batavia, is charged with attempted assault, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Waston is accused of grabbing a youth by the legs causing the youth to fall to the ground. The mother of the youth confronted Waston and Waston allegedly threw a glass bottle at her, hitting her with it.

Jacy William Lennon, 39, of Empire Boulevard, Rochester, is charged with issuing a bad check. Lennon was arrested on a warrant and posted $500 bail.

A 16-year-old resident of Vine Street is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of stealing food from Dollar General.

John A. Thomas, 50, of State Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to abide by release conditions. 

Kimberly A. Brodsky, 23, of Bank Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a petit larceny charge.

A 17-year-old resident of South Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of stealing a drink from Dollar General (name withheld by Batavia PD).

Willie A. Saab Jr., 41, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with menacing, 2nd, harassment, 2nd, criminal mischief, 4th, and endangering the welfare of a child. Saab was arrested on a warrant. He was also arrested on charges stemming from an alleged domestic incident on Prune Street on Aug. 11. He was jailed without bail.

Matthew D. Derrick, 30, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st. Derrick allegedly violated a stay away order of protection. He reportedly has a prior criminal contempt conviction in the past five years, making the new charge a felony. He was jailed without bail.

Chad Daniel Crawford, 37, of McKenzie Street, Bergen, is charged with assault, 3rd. Crawford was allegedly involved in a domestic incident. Crawford allegedly grabbed another person and pushed the person's head into a sink.

August 19, 2015 - 5:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A flash flood watch has been issued for the area for Thursday and Thursday night with a storm system moving in capable of dropping copious amounts of rain.

The weather service calls it an unusually strong storm that will produce numerous showers and thunderstorms. Torrential downpours are possible resulting in significant localized rainfalls.

A slow-moving cold front within a subtropical airmass is crossing Western New York tomorrow, creating the conditions for downpours throughout the area.

Excessive runoff from the rain could flood small streams and creeks and pour drainage in areas could cause flooding. The weather service advises people to get to higher ground should there be prolonged heavy rain in areas with flooding potential.

August 18, 2015 - 10:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

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Four Batavia PD patrols responded to the Columbia and East Avenue area of the city for report of a disturbance involving multiple individuals around 10 p.m.

There was a search for a subject, who was found and detained in the back of a patrol car, but subsequently let go after the person identified as the victim declined to pursue a criminal complaint.

Also, a witness provided a suspect description that differed from the alleged victim, said Sgt. Chris Camp.

Camp said there may be a history, though unconfirmed at this time, of the "victim" and the other individuals involved and an alleged petit larceny of property from a front porch.

A witness told The Batavian there were racial slurs thrown about and there may have been a verbal confrontation that precipitated the larger melee. 

Camp said there were no injuries as a result of the conflict.

Officers were clearing the scene at 10:45 p.m.

August 18, 2015 - 9:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke.

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Pembroke and Indian Falls firefighters are on scene of a motor-vehicle accident at 678 Main Road, between South Lake Road and Back Street.

Minor injuries reported.

Mercy EMS is responding.

A passenger with minor injuries was reportedly entrapped, but a firefighter there said all occupants are out of the SUV.

UPDATE: Reader submitted photos.

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August 18, 2015 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Le Roy Fire, crime.
    Dennis Snow

In most embezzlement cases, said Judge Robert C. Noonan during the sentencing of Dennis Snow, the victim is "out for blood."

That wasn't the case with Snow, who was accused of stealing at least $16,000 from the Le Roy Fire Department. In this case, some members of the department sent in letters asking for some degree of leniency with Snow, even those who thought Snow should spend some time in jail.

Even Det. John Condidorio, whom Noonan characterized as "strong willed," wrote a letter in support of Snow.

However, an element of sentencing, said Noonan, is that a sentence should not "cause the public to lose confidence in the justice system."

"People ask why a woman can steal a scarf from Walmart and go to jail but a person who steals tens of thousands of dollars doesn't," Noonan said.

Those in the judicial system understand all the factors that go into sentencing an individual, but that doesn't satisfy the public's confusion over the disparity.

For that reason, Noonan sentenced Snow to a 30-day intermittent jail term. From 6 p.m. on Fridays until 6 p.m. on Sundays, Snow will serve time in the Genesee County Jail. His sentence starts this Friday.

Snow's attorney, Clark Zimmerman, tried to argue that any jail time could jeopardize Snow's job, which occasionally requires travel and weekend work.

"I don't think anybody wants that to happen given the amount of restitution required," Zimmerman said.

He also noted that Snow's wife has significant health issues.

At one time, Snow was accused of stealing $60,000 from the fire department, a figure first uncovered by the state's Office of Comptroller. The firefighters' benevolence association had an independent audit completed and arrived at a figure unpaid of just over $16,000.  

Snow was apparently taking money and returning some of it over a period of time. Zimmerman said he always made sure the department had enough money to cover critical expenses. He didn't disclose what Snow was doing with the money. He said his client had already reimbursed the department at least $8,000, but as a term of the plea deal, Snow could not dispute the restitution claim.

Upon completion of his jail term, Snow will be on probation for five years.

When asked to speak, Snow sobbed throughout his short statement to Noonan.

"I want to apologize in public to the Le Roy Fire Department and all the members, past and present, whose trust I violated," Snow said.

He apologized to his family for embrassing them and to the community that he said he has loved for 30 years.

August 18, 2015 - 5:47pm

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Crista Boldt

Pop quiz: You're a code enforcement officer and your job is to measure a fence to see if it is less than six feet high and therefore conforms to the local building code. Do you measure from the side of the fence of the property owner who built the fence, or do you measure from the other side?

In Stafford, Code Enforcement Officer Lester Mullen measured from the non-owner side. That was his solution to a question that apparently has no correct answer under existing town law, but has unleashed a protracted legal battle that has consumed at least $10,000 of taxpayer money and caused James Pontillo to shell out nearly $10,000 in attorneys fees.

The two adjoining properties are different grades, accounting for a variance in fence height from one side to the other.

The issue of the fence has morphed into a soap opera of sorts and still has no resolution; though, it was hashed out at great length at a public hearing before the zoning board of appeals on Monday night.

Peter J. Sorgi, the attorney for Pontillo, explained it this way: His client decided to build a fence two years ago between his property, the ancient and former Odd Fellows Hall on Stafford's historic four corners at Main Road and Morganville Road, and the property to the west, where Tom Englerth erected a steel-roofed building that is currently leased by the Stafford Trading Post and a hair salon.

The feud between Pontillo and Englerth is well documented. It's genesis seems to be Pontillo's successful bid to buy the property at 6177 Main Road in 2010 for $40,700. His purchase of the building was applauded by members of the Stafford Historical Society and Pontillo promised to clean it up, restore it and return it to a useful commercial and residential property. There was concern at the time that Englerth wanted to move or raze the building and open a gas station at the location.

Over the years, there have been numerous police calls to the location as Pontillo and Englerth have scrapped over access to Englerth's property for high lifts for roof workers, snow removal, garbage dumping and property lines.

The fence issue wound up in court, and a Stafford judge ordered the fence removed. On appeal, Robert C. Noonan, in his capacity as Superior Court judge, upheld the ruling that the fence was out of compliance with local ordinance -- supporting Mullen's measurements -- but reversed the lower court's order that the fence be removed.

Pontillo was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, but the fence still stands and Pontillo is seeking an area variance for an eight-foot-tall fence, though he unofficially contends the fence, measured on his side of the property line, is only six feet tall.

The meeting Monday night can only be described as contentious, with Pontillo already seeming to have scored some demerits with Crista Boldt, chairwoman of the ZBA, for blaming the town at last week's County Planning Board meeting for his application lacking surveys, plans and photos. Pontillo claimed to have provided those items to the town and was surprised the town hadn't passed along those exhibits.

"I don't want untrue things getting said when you go to other boards," Boldt said. "It reflects poorly on the town."

Sorgi explained Pontillo's remarks to the county as a misunderstanding. The Town of Stafford doesn't require those exhibits, but the county board wanted to review those details. Pontillo, he said, had at one time or another provided the town with all of those materials, but not part of this specific application, because the town didn't require those items be attached to the application.

Sorgi then provided a brief history lesson on the local planning process, which only began in New York about 100 years ago.

There are court cases that outline the role of a zoning board, he said, which is to act as a safety valve to help interpret zoning ordinances. It's role in considering a variance was to balance the benefits to the property owner against the health, safety and welfare of the local community.

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James Pontillo

He provided, from NYS code, the five criteria the board must consider and explained how all five criteria weigh in favor of his client.

The benefits Pontillo seeks, Sorgi said, is to hide what he described as an unsightly mess next door, from exposed dumpsters to an unkempt back lawn and junk strewn about (when we look at the property after the meeting, the lawn had been cut within the past two weeks and there were only a few loose items in the yard).

Town Attorney Kevin Earl said a six-foot fence accomplishes the same goal, but Sorgi said not if Pontillo does as planned and builds a back deck on the property, which will be used for dining and drinking.

The fence also prevents snow from being piled up against the old building and makes use of the westside fire escape safer.

The board must consider, Sorgi said, whether the change hurts the character of the neighborhood or is a detriment to nearby properties. He said the fence does no harm and with the 80-foot flower box Pontillo has installed, actually enhances the neighborhood.

The board must consider whether the applicant has a feasible alternative, and Sorgi said there is none.

The request for a variance must be substantial, according to state law, and since a court has ruled the fence is too high, the variance is necessary to achieve Pontillo's desired benefits.

The board must consider whether the variance, if granted, will adversely impact the physical or environmental conditions of the neighborhood.

The answer, Sorgi, said is no.

Finally, the board must consider whether the need for the variance is the result of an issue self-created by the applicant. It wasn't, Sorgi said, because the town doesn't require any sort of permit for a six-foot-high fence and since his client thought, by his own measurements, he was building a six-foot-high fence, there was no official method to confirm with the town that the fence was within the required height. The town didn't object to the fence, Sorgi said, until it was nearly completed.

The only speakers at the public hearing, five altogether and all local residents, each supported Pontillo's variance request.

During the course of the presentation, there were tense moments.

Sorgi took issue with Mullen declining to speak on the record, in front of the press and public, about his position on the variance request. Mullen specifically cited the presence of news media as his reason for not speaking.

When Sorgi left out "physical" to go with "environmental" on the criteria for the board to consider, Boldt called him on it.

Sorgi raised the issue of a fence on the other side of Englerth's property, built by Englerth, that exceeds the six-foot height limit, but Englerth is apparently not facing the same level of scrutiny over that fence, Sorgi said, as his client.

Pontillo accused Englerth of trying to fudge the property line before his fence was built by moving a surveyor's stake at the back of the property by as much as six feet. That dispute led to an accusation of trespassing by Englerth and one of the multiple visits by troopers to mitigate tensions over the past couple of years.

Sorgi tossed a couple of barbs Attorney Earl's way, expressing disdain that Earl threatened to have Pontillo arrested if he didn't take the fence down. Earl argued that isn't exactly what he said, that he merely mentioned that a consequence of failure to abide by zoning law could result in a jail sentence, which he has sought before in other jurisdictions, where he has also served as a municipal attorney, for similar violations. It's not an abnormal response to zoning violations by municipal attorneys.

Sorgi also peppered Earl, whom he accused of chasing billable hours, with questions about why he was even at the meeting: Was he there as a private citizen or as the town's attorney? Earl said Town Supervisor Robert Clement asked him to be there, and Sorgi said that Clement, under state law, didn't have the authority to ask Earl to represent the town board at the meeting, that it took a vote of the board for such an action.

As a result of the meeting, both attorneys are now on record on two key points:

  • Earl said "nobody is trying to get the fence taken down." The town officially has no position on how the ZBA should vote on the variance request.
  • Sorgi said his client is willing to stipulate for the sake of the variance application that the fence is eight feet tall.

In the midst of this rancor, Sorgi reminded the ZBA that its job was to weigh the evidence without consideration for personalities or past history.

"This isn't about James Pontillo or whether you like him or whether you like this neighbor more than that neighbor," Sorgi said. "This is about whether the request benefits the applicant without doing harm to the health, safety and welfare of the community. That's it. Whether you like somebody isn't the question. It's a simple test."

The ZBA is scheduled to vote on the application for a variance at its September meeting.

Previously:

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Attorney Peter Sorgi

August 18, 2015 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, sports, football.

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There's a fine line between arrogance and cockiness. Confidence can breed complacency. Desire can succumb to expectations that lead to a catacomb of missed opportunities. A season can unravel in the difference between resolve, determination and grit versus just showing up and settling for an "I tried" shrug and a "pass the Gatorade." 

It's that difference Batavia Blue Devils Head Coach Brennan Briggs must negotiate as he heads into the 2015 season leading a team that a year ago, by all accounts, shouldn't have won a sectional title but did, and now is stocked with talented, seasoned seniors who are talking about a repeat on the first day of practice.

"That's going to be biggest battle I'm going to be fighting this season is telling these guys the 2015 football team hasn't won a single game yet together," Briggs said. "Last year, yes, we won a championship, but we were fortunate. We had 24 kids. We stayed healthy. We had zero injuries. We caught quite a few breaks and we made some big plays when we needed to. Nothing is guaranteed. It's very, very difficult to win a back-to-back championship, so honestly I don't like that they're talking about championships or anything like that."

The Blue Devils start pre-season camp with 31 players, and 18 of them are seniors. Some of them are stars if not solid contributors. Greg Mruczek is back at QB. He'll be joined offensively by Trevor Sherwood, Malachi Chenault, Adonis Davis, Anthony Gallo, Dominick Mogavero and Noah Dobbertin.

The depth and versatility is noticeable to the players and they can't help but talk of a repeat.

"We're ready to step back up," Mogavero said. "I feel like the whole team is ready to step up its game."

Gallo agrees.

"We're definitely after another championship," Gallo said. "I feel like we're all ready for it. I feel like that's everybody's goal. We want to win and we just want to get back where we were last year."

Briggs wants to see his players focus on getting better every day. Every day, they play against a faceless opponent on their own internal clock and only they know the score, but the outcome of those matches will determine what happens on Friday nights.

While Briggs wants to tap down the championship talk, he also gets that he's dealing with a group of confident kids, and it was confidence that carried this team from a tough opening loss in 2014 against Livonia through big wins to close out the season and bring Batavia its first sectional title in football since 1991.

Briggs calls it "swag," a characteristic the coach talked about as the wins began to pile up last season.

"I do appreciate that they do have a little bit of swag to them, I guess you could call it that, and it is good, because as we found out last year, we were in some tight games toward the end and that kind of pushed us though," Briggs said. "They had confidence that they could get the job done. I think with all of their off-season work and the commitment they've put into the program, and the buy-in, that does help with every single game, day-in-and-day-out, to know that we have what it takes to win a championship, but saying it and feeling it is a little bit different than going out and doing it."

At the end of Monday's workout, Briggs had a straightforward message for his team: "You have a target on your backs."

If the 2014 team was one that came into the season just hunting for a few extra wins, it's now the team to beat for every local gridiron warrior in helmets and pads.

"Nobody is going to give you anything - nobody," Briggs said. "Nobody is going to say, 'Ah, we're playing Batavia, we're going to back down.' Everybody who plays us is going to want to beat us because it might make their season. That might be it. On their calendars, there might be a star, 'We've got a shot to prove something. We've got a shot to beat Batavia. They think they're on top right now. We're going to go out and show everybody else that we're better than them.' "

But the players do think they're better, maybe not yet better than University Prep, better than Wilson, better than Penn Yan and better than Geneva, but they believe they're better than last year, and that's the team that marched through that championship season with a lot of swag.

"Really, I expect to win another championship," Wilson said. 

His job, as he sees it, is to help keep his teammates focused on that goal and fired up for every minute of every practice, because that's what wins games.

"The seniors want to make it happen again, so there's a lot of pressure to do it again," Davis said.

There's peer pressure, then there are community expectations, something Mruczek acknowledges. 

"This community has a lot of expectations," Mruczek said. "With me being the senior quarter people think I need to step up as a leader and I've been trying to do that more; lead this team in the right direction to win another championship. My goal is to put in another solid season, do my 1/11th on the offensive side of the ball and lead this team to another championship."

Briggs thinks Mruczek is ready for the challenge. He isn't a player, the coach said, who worries about his own stats. He gets ready for each game, each play, and knows what his role his.

"He knows how to keep a level head on his shoulders," Briggs said. "I've never questioned his competitive edge or how hard he works, so I'm not too worried about anything like that. He knows what his job is -- go out there and manage the game and be a leader, and hopefully make some big plays when he needs to."

If all eyes are on him as the senior QB, Mruczek is fine with that role, he said.

"I like the pressure," Mruczek said. "I'm confident in this team. We've got a lot of guys with a lot of confidence. I don't really feel any pressure right now. I'm out here having fun my senior year."

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August 18, 2015 - 6:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia's List, The Batavian, Sponsored Post, advertisement.

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