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May 16, 2016 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education.

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Press release:

Horrifying. Terrible. Stressful. Horrible.

Emotions ran high as Cady Glor spoke to Byron-Bergen juniors and seniors on May 10 to share the long-lasting effects of how a drunk driver changed her life.

Glor was smitten with Chris Blake, her high school sweetheart and boyfriend of eight years. In 2014, Blake was a passenger in a vehicle and his friend behind the wheel was intoxicated. An accident occurred which put Blake into the hospital with a broken neck.

“I remember the moment my mom called me to tell me that Chris was in the hospital,” said Glor. “It was like what you see in a movie. I fell on the floor. I was screaming and crying.”

“Seeing someone lying in a hospital bed with a breathing machine, someone who was so strong, is just devastating,” added Glor. “I still see it in my nightmares today.”

Blake spent months in the hospital but was confined to a wheelchair, was a quadriplegic, and had a tracheostomy tube to help him breathe. His body deteriorated from the strong physique he once had.

Talks of Blake going home began to happen as the summer ended and Blake knew that he wanted to share his story with schools, and help students understand the impact their decisions could have. Unfortunately, Blake ended up passing away in Aug. 22, 2014, after an infection entered his blood. Glor has since taken on the task of carrying out his wish and speaking to schools.

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School Principal Patrick McGee invited Cady in to speak to students because he knew that her message would resonate with students.

“Cady is such a courageous woman,” McGee said. “She told a story that is unfortunately all too familiar in our society and did it in a way that hit home with our students. There were very few dry eyes in our auditorium.”

Glor told the students that while she doesn’t know any of them, she cares about all of them. She encouraged the students to not drive drunk, to not get into a car with someone who is drunk, and to call someone for a ride no matter what the time or circumstance.

“Knowing that his death was preventable makes it a thousand times worse,” Glor said. “He chose to get into the car with a drunk driver and he paid the ultimate price.”

May 16, 2016 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, trees, crabapples, news, nature, outdoors.

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The crabapple trees in Alexander are once again in bloom. We wrote last year about the fascinating history of Alexander's crabapple trees.

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May 15, 2016 - 5:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, sports, lacrosse.

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Press release:

For the first time in the program's history, the Genesee Community College Men's Lacrosse Team captured the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship after defeating Onondaga CC 13-12 in overtime on Sunday afternoon.

The fourth-seeded Cougars snapped a seven-year streak in which OCC won the title, becoming just the third different team to be crowned national champions since 2006.

Genesee trailed 1-0 early in the first but tied it at the 11:37 mark when Pat Van Bortle scored off of an assist from Alex Henry. Jacob Bomberry followed with his first of three goals in the game just 20 seconds later and gave GCC a 2-1 lead.

OCC, the No. 2 seed, ended the opening quarter with three straight goals and took a 6-2 lead five minutes into the second to build what would be its largest lead of the afternoon.

Genesee capitalized on a man-up opportunity and ended its scoreless stretch when Van Bortle recorded his second goal with 9:14 to play in the half. Davis Prince cut the deficit to two with an unassisted goal at 6:24 and just over a minute later the Cougars were within one after Jonah Mohawk found the back of the net to make it 6-5.

The Lazers went into the half scoring back-to-back goals, including one with just six seconds left, and led 8-5 at the break.

Another man-up goal for GCC started the scoring in the second half when Van Bortle set Up Sherman Williams for his first of the game halfway through the third to cut the OCC lead down to two. The Lazers responded less than a minute later to extend their lead back to three before Williams struck again on a man-up opportunity to make it a 9-7 game.

Both teams exchanged goals to end the third as Bomberry got his second of the game for GCC and he scored again early in the fourth to get the Cougars to within one at 10-9. Williams then scored back-to-back goals at 11:24 and 10:40 and GCC held its first lead since the first quarter at 11-10.

OCC got the equalizer even strength and then scored a man-up goal with just over six minutes to play to regain the lead at 12-11. But Van Bortle wasn't done and tied it at 12 with 3:43 left in regulation and after a scoreless duration of the fourth, the game went into overtime.

Both teams held a possession early in the extra session but could not cash in, until with just 1:14 left in overtime, Van Bortle found an opportunity in front of the OCC net and scored his fourth goal of the afternoon to send GCC to its first national title.

Van Bortle, named the tournament's offensive MVP, finished with six points in the game adding a pair of assists to his four goals. Williams also tallied four goals and Bomberry finished with six points, scoring three goals and assisting on three.

Darin Eakins was named the tournament' defensive MVP and made 14 saves in net. Reed Hnidy led the GCC defense with six ground balls and caused five turnovers and Kyle Dalrymple and Mike Caternolo each collected four ground balls. Caternolo was also 10 for 27 on face-offs.

Genesee's national championship season ends with a 15-4 overall record. It is the College's second national title in school history and first since 1971 (bowling).

May 15, 2016 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Le Roy, news.

A porch fire is reported at 62 W. Main St., Le Roy.

A chief reports smoke showing.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance dispatched, along with Bergen's ladder truck.

UPDATE 4:35 p.m.: This turned out to be a mulch fire.

May 14, 2016 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, genesee mental health association, news.

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The Mental Health Association hosted a mental health and wellness fair at Blue Pearl Yoga in the former Masonic Temple on East Main Street, Batavia, today. Besides a seminar on bellying dancing, the event included a drumming circle, yoga, Reiki share, paper flower making, adult coloring and essential oils.

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May 14, 2016 - 4:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in appraisal fair, GO ART, news, arts, Antiques.

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Modeled after Antiques Roadshow, GO ART! hosted its second annual appraisal fair today at Seymore Place. Area residents were able to bring in the rare, the antique and the unique to have experts give their best estimate of the piece's value and quality.

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May 14, 2016 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County 4-H, batavia, news, agriculture.

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The 4-H Swine Club once again served up delicious helpings of pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw and salt potatoes for their annual fundraiser at the fairgrounds.

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May 14, 2016 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Agriculture Society, news, batavia.

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The Genesee County Agriculture Society hosted its annual spring Vendor Blender at the Fairgrounds today.

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May 14, 2016 - 4:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ferrellgas, batavia, business, charity.

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Ferrellgas hosted a $5 fill up today along with a chance auction on several items, including a BBQ grill, with proceeds benefiting the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation.

May 14, 2016 - 3:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in master gardeners, Cornell Cooperative Extension, batavia, news.

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Jane Grehlinger gives a talk on container gardening this afternoon at Cornell Cooperative Extension during the Genesee County Master Gardeners' Spring Gala.

The event included a plant sale and chance auction.

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May 14, 2016 - 3:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake theme park, Color Me Rad, 5K, sports, Darien, news.

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Darien Lake hosted its fourth annual Color Me Rad 5K fun run today, with proceeds this year benefiting substance abuse and rehabilitation programs.

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May 13, 2016 - 9:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

A tree fire is reported in the area of 621 E. Main St., Batavia.

City fire is dispatched.

May 12, 2016 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, schools, education, news, Batavia Kiwanis Club, Milestones.

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The Kiwanis Club of Batavia today honored a dozen students from Notre Dame High School today for academic and artistic achievement.

Receiving awards were: Ethan Osborne, Vocal Performance; James Farmer, Instrumental Performance; and Bryan Moscicki, who received the Citizenship Award.

The top academics in the senior class are Luca Charles Zambito, John William Sutherland, Emily J. Sherman, Jessica Lynn Bukowski, Nichol Marie Salvador, Emily Elizabeth Fischer, Joseph Thomas Bergman, Stephanie Lynn Pingrey, Cindy Sophia Skalny and Bryan Alexander Moscicki.

Several parents of the students also attended today's lunch.

Students from Batavia High School will be honored next Thursday.

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May 12, 2016 - 10:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, fire, news.

Le Roy fire is called to a report of a utility pole fire on Lake Street Road at Selden Road.

A chief on scene reports the pole is on fire.

UPDATE 10:22 a.m.: Fire is out.

May 12, 2016 - 7:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, bergen, news.

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A multi-vehicle accident with possible entrapment is reported at Clinton Street Road and West Bergen Road, Bergen.

Mercy Flight out of Buffalo is on in-air standby.

Bergen fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE(S) 7:35 a.m. (By Billie): Mercy Flight is called to the scene. Serious injuries reported. One person is entrapped. Churchville fire is called for extrication.

UPDATE 7:50 a.m.: Mercy Flight has a five-minute ETA. There is heavy entrapment of a 40-year-old male. "Another 20 minutes of cutting metal" will be required, according to Bergen command, in order to extricate the victim. Eastbound traffic at Old State and West Bergen roads will be shut down by Byron Fire Police.

UPDATE 7:58 a.m.: Mercy Flight has landed.

UPDATE 8:19 a.m.: The patient has been extricated. The patient was conscious and alert when law enforcement arrived on scene.

UPDATE 8:32 a.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne with the extricated patient; the hospital destination is unknown.

UPDATE 9:01 a.m.: According to Sheriff's Sgt. James Meier, a fence company's flatbed truck was eastbound on Clinton Street Road when it came behind a car about to turn left onto West Bergen Road. The truck went around the car, directly into the path of a westbound sedan, which it struck head on. The fence truck driver may have been following the car attempting to turn left too closely and then misjudged the distance of the oncoming sedan when he swerved around the turning vehicle to avoid rear-ending it. A witness said a third vehicle, which like the turning car, did not collide with anything, also went around the fence truck and then drove away from the scene just prior to the collision. Whether that factored into the crash remains is unclear. The accident is under investigation. Meier said he was unsure how many occupants were in the fence truck. But another source at the scene said there were two males, both sign-offs. The 40-year-old driver of the sedan has a severely injured ankle. It is probable, but not certain, that he was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital.

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May 11, 2016 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emergency Response Team, batavia, Batavia PD, news.

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It was the Emergency Response Team's turn to train in the house on Ganson Avenue that is scheduled for demolition in a few weeks. The space gave the team a chance to practice on techniques such as clearing a residence room-by-room looking for a potentially hostile subject.

Previously: Photos: City fire rescue training on Ganson Avenue

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May 10, 2016 - 11:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Vibrant Batavia, batavia, news.

A plan to fund Vibrant Batavia for two more years at a cost of $97,000 was narrowly rejected by the City Council on Monday night, but that doesn't mean Vibrant Batavia is dead, or that the city can't look at other neighborhood programs to replace it, said Council President Eugene Jankowski.

"Vibrant Batavia got off to a bad start," said Jankowski, who voted against moving the two-year plan to the council's next business meeting. "It got a stigma, labeled, if you will, as coffee parties and ice cream socials when really it wasn't that, but unfortunately, you only have one chance to make a first impression."

Paul Viele, Kathy Briggs, Al McGinnis and Rose Mary Christian joined Jankowski in voting against the plan.

The plan would have committed $48,500 for 2016-17 and another $48,500 for the following year.

The funds would have come from money already committed in the budget for Vibrant Batavia ($25,000), another $24,000 from last year's unused appropriation, $33,000 from the sale of a foreclosed home on Walnut Street and $15,000 from a community development block grant.

Christian argued that the city has a lot of other needs and the funds would be better spent on parks, sidewalks or police gear.

Both Christian and McGinnis questioned whether Vibrant Batavia really accomplished anything its first three years of existence. 

McGinnis said that recent community action to oppose the closure of Park Road and stop a fast food restaurant on West Main Street were citizen, grassroots initiatives and didn't need Vibrant Batavia to get going. That's the American way, he said, not government-funded programs for neighborhood improvement.

"As long as we allow Vibrant Batavia to exist, it becomes a fixture and continues to grow," McGinnis said. "It becomes a mandate and it needs to stop now."

One of the accomplishments placed by some on Vibrant Batavia's resume is improvements to the Summit Street neighborhood over the past year to 18 months.

Christian said there is no way Vibrant Batavia deserves credit for that change. That was the result, she said, of citizens working with the police and code enforcement officer.

"You can't tell me that Vibrant Batavia did this," Christian said.

A short time later, Councilwoman Patti Pacino said exactly that. She said she was at the neighborhood meetings with Summit Street residents right from the beginning, and so was LeAnna DiRisio, then director of Vibrant Batavia. Pacino said Vibrant Batavia was involved every step of the way.

"The residents called LeAnna and said, 'can you help?' " Pacino said. "A couple got together and said, 'we don't have any experience and power.' She was at all of those meetings."

Pacino also rejected the notion that all Vibrant Batavia did was spend money on pizza parties.

"All this money supposedly spent on pizza and ice cream, it didn't come from the city," Pacino said. "Most of it was donated and not taken out of this money."

Pat Burk and Marty Macdonald, both Vibrant Batavia volunteers from the beginning, spoke in support of continued funding.

"People need to know that they can depend on their elected officials and their city officers to ensure that there is pride throughout the community," Burk said.

Macdonald said Vibrant Batavia existed primarily because it was backed by people willing to support it with donations and thousands of hours of volunteer work, but it still needs city backing to continue.

"There are people who believe in our community and the movement taking place," Macdonald said. "They see a vibrant Batavia rising up and they need City Council leaders who are not taking people where they want to go, but where they need to go."

When Vibrant Batavia was first conceived more than three years ago, it was the result of a study of a group of consultants who said the city needed to do more to address deteriorating neighborhoods, because decreasing home values can spiral out of control if neighborhood issues are not addressed. 

The original plan was for Vibrant Batavia to be established as a five-year project, but every year since, some council members have forced it to fight for its existence, annually calling into question whether the city should be involved in backing the initiative.

City Manager Jason Molino's plan was intended to get it through the final two years of that five-year plan and then see where to take it from there.

Last year, the council reached a compromise for one more year of funding but made it contingent on Vibrant Batavia finding another $15,000 in funding not from a city source.

Molino argued that the auction of the house on Walnut for $33,000 met the criteria. That is money being reinvested back into neighborhoods, he said.  Originally, the city wanted to donate the house to RochesterWorks!, and much like Habitat for Humanity, allow RochesterWorks! to finish the rehabilitation on it and then sell it to fund Vibrant Batavia. This clearly would have met the funding goal,  Molino said, but legal barriers prevented that plan from moving forward, so the city auctioned off the house itself.

McGinnis argued that Vibrant Batavia had failed to meet its financial obligation.

"Using the home sale money is not going to fly," McGinnis said. "It's short and simple: you failed to meet your goal and you're finished. You don't have the money, game over."

After the meeting, picking up on prior statements by Molino that Vibrant Batavia is really a committee of the city appointed by the council, just like any other committee, and other city committees aren't expected to raise their own funding, Jankowski said perhaps Vibrant Batavia should have raised an objection a year ago to the self-funding requirement.

"They should have addressed it much sooner," Jankowski said. "People kind of felt like it was a scam."

Jankowski said he's favored all along a one-year plan for Vibrant Batavia, that such a request might have a better chance of getting through the council. A one-year plan, he said, he would be more likely to support than a $96,000 two-year plan.

But he also questioned both some of the specifics of the plan rejected by the council and even whether there is that great of a need for a group like Vibrant Batavia.

One of the specific tasks of the two-year plan was to select two neighborhoods for a "curbside appeal" program where a consultant would produce artist renderings for more than 200 homes showing residents how with a little work they could improve the appearance of their houses.

"Do we really need artists renditions of people's homes?" Jankowski said. "Will people really spend money to get a nice picture of 'this is what your house could look like,' and you're like, 'I don't have $10,000 to do that kind of landscaping.' "

On the other hand, there's no reason for the city not to go back to the drawing board on neighborhood improvement efforts, whether that's called Vibrant Batavia or something else, Jankowski said.

He favors what he's seen work during his own 35-year police career. Years ago, Pat Corona (now retired) started a neighborhood policing program that had police officers knocking on residents' doors when local crimes were reported, not just to seek witnesses and warn of break-ins, but to make connections.

That evolved, he said, into the local drug task force, and instead of instant feedback, months-long investigations fell behind a necessary cloak of secrecy and people no longer had direct knowledge that problems in neighborhoods were actually being addressed.

Maybe the $33,000 from the sale of Walnut Street should be spent on sending a couple of police officers to community policing school, Jankowski said.

On the other hand, things in Batavia really aren't as bad as some people sometimes make it out to be. He remembers a floating crap game on Ellicott Street, and parking lots filled with beer-swilling men and kids drag racing on Main Street. 

"I'm not seeing that kind of activity that I saw in the beginning of my career," Jankowski said. "I mean, things were really bad. There were shootings. There were murders. Now they are fewer and farther between."

May 10, 2016 - 10:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, crime, State Street.

A garbage truck operated by Genesee ARC stopped on State Street and a person ran out of a residence with a bag of garbage and threw it in the truck and ran back into his or her house.

The resident is not a Genesee ARC customer.

Batavia PD is responding.

May 10, 2016 - 9:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

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Press release:

On April 21, uniformed members of the City of Batavia Police Department along with members from the Genesee County Local Drug Task Force (comprised of members from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, Le Roy Police Department and City of Batavia Police Department), Genesee County Probation officers and uniformed members of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office conducted a N.E.T. (Neighborhood Enforcement Team) detail in the City of Batavia.

The detail focused on quality-of-life issues, drug enforcement, warrant checks and probation checks in targeted neighborhoods. The following arrests were made;

  • Ashli Zajaczkowski, 25, of Walnut Street, Batavia, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana;
  • Mariah Hagen, 20, of Pratt Road, Batavia, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana;
  • Thomas Hill, 26, of Fayette Street, Brockport, was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd degree (Class B felony), criminally using drug paraphrenalia 2nd degree (Class A misdemeanor) and unlawful possession of marijuana;
  • David Riley Jr., 33, of Eugene Street, Batavia, was arrested on an indictment warrant charging two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance 3rd degree (Class B felony) and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd degree (Class B felony);
  • Lance Mercado, 25, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on an indictment warrant charging two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance 5th degree (Class D felony) and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 5th degree (Class D felony);
  • James Mitchell, 37, of Jackson Street, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant out of the City of Batavia Court for failure to pay fine;
  • Liin-Noshujuan Gard, 25, of Batavia, was arrested on a Livingston County warrant.

All subjects are to appear in City Court/County Court for further proceedings at various dates and times.

Photo: By Howard Owens, taken the night of April 21 on Jackson Street.

May 10, 2016 - 9:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, Batavia PD.

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Police Officer Chad Richards wasn't available two weeks ago when the City Council presented its annual awards, so last night he received his Employee of the Year award from Council President Eugene Jankowski.

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