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July 14, 2015 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

fullsizerender_0.jpgPress release:

City Manager Jason Molino today announced his appointment of Matthew Worth as the director of Public Works for the City of Batavia. Matt has worked for the City for more than 28 years, his most recent post as the superintendent of Water and Wastewater.

As a lifelong Pembroke and Indian Falls Road resident, Matt has held several roles throughout his tenure with the City of Batavia. He started with the City in 1987 as an engineering technician where he was then promoted to deputy superintendent of Water and Wastewater in 1999. Matt took over the superintendent of Water and Wastewater role in 2002.

During his time with the City, Matt has been an intricate part of the public works team, participating in almost every aspect of the public works operations from street reconstruction, water and sewer plant upgrades, to capital infrastructure planning.

Pier Cipollone, 4th Ward councilmember who participated in the interview process, said, “I think it’s great to have someone from within the department move up and take on the responsibilities of running the department. Matt brings a wealth of knowledge to the job and I know I speak for Council in saying we applaud his appointment to the position of director of DPW and we look forward to our continued relationship.”

City Manager Jason Molino added, “Over the years Matt has proven himself as a steadfast leader. He has served this community for over 28 years and comes into his new role with a depth of knowledge. Having worked side by side with Matt over the past decade, his passion to serve the community and residents has never been stronger. I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”

Matt lives with his wife Joan, and they have two grown children: Adam (25) and Kathryn (22).

Matt holds a Grade-D Distribution System Operator License issued by the NY State Department of Health.

Matt’s first day as the director of Public Works is July 14. His annual salary is $88,705.

City Manager Jason Molino encourages all Batavia residents to celebrate this appointment and welcome Matt to his new position. 

July 14, 2015 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, bergen.

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Press release:

Executives from Frontier Communications and IBM recently joined local officials and members of the business community at the D&R Depot Restaurant in Le Roy to celebrate being named a quarter finalist in America’s Best Communities (ABC) prize competition.

The team of Le Roy and Bergen is one of 50 communities in the competition, which is a $10 million initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities across the United States. The Le Roy and Bergen team has been awarded $50,000 to date to develop a comprehensive strategy to start the process of developing a plan to accelerate the revival of the local economies and improve the quality of life in their communities.

Sponsored by Frontier Communications, the ABC prize competition could net a Grand Prize of $3 million for the communities to advance their strategic economic development revitalization plan.

“The collaborative efforts of the community and business leaders of Le Roy and Bergen give reason to celebrate the recognition as one of America’s Best Communities,” said Robert Smith, Frontier Area general manager -- Rochester West. “The team has a great vision on economic development and nurturing the cultural identity of their towns, two key outcomes desired of this contest.”

Le Roy and Bergen have been awarded $35,000 from the ABC prize competition to date and $15,000 from American Express and IBM, which are serving as financial sponsor and active mentor, respectively, as the team pursues the next round of funding.

The Town of Le Roy, under the leadership of Supervisor Stephen R. Barbeau, has committed up to $15,000 to ensure the communities can compete in the semifinal round. Other sponsors and potential funding partners include local governments and businesses. A consultant also will be hired in July to finalize the community revitalization plan.

"This is a perfect example of communities working together for collective betterment. Our Upstate communities serve as a positive example for the rest of the state: coordination, cooperation, ingenuity and efficiencies of scale,” said New York State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.

Only 15 communities will be selected to advance to the semifinal round. Each community will present to a panel of judges about why they deserve $100,000 to advance their plan. Three Grand Prize winners will receive up to $3 million.

 “Our communities demonstrate resiliency and survival,” said Rochelle Stein, Genesee County legislator. “Constant change and adaptation are hallmarks of our ability to survive and thrive. We have the benefit of youth investing in our family generational businesses, entrepreneurs advancing, and a passion to work towards a brighter future for our entire community. This contest will bring about positive energy for Le Roy and Bergen.  I am pleased to work with such high-caliber partners.”

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC), an affiliate of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), is the entity administering the grant dollars and overseeing the selection of the consultant.

July 13, 2015 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Millennials, population, batavia, business, redevelopment, downtown.

The U.S. Census Bureau put out a press release and the national media ate it up: There are now more people living in the United States who are classified as Millennials than there are Baby Boomers.

The Democrat & Chronicle got into the act by pointing out Millennials now outpace Baby Boomers in Monroe County.

There’s been no similar coverage in Erie County, but Buffalo has enjoyed a reputation for the past couple of years as one of the major cities young adults are helping to revitalize.

So where does that leave Genesee County?

Not on par, it seems.

While nationally, there are 83.1 million Millennials, comprising a quarter of the U.S. population, and the number of Baby Boomers has slipped to 75.4 million, the post-war cohort still rules the roost in the Batavia Micropolitan Area.

According to the Census Bureau Web site, there are 15,422 Baby Boomers locally compared to 14,670 Millennials.

Is Genesee County’s lagging Millennial population a trend that's important?

Absolutely, say those with the jobs related to the area’s development and growth.

“You definitely want to have Millennials in a community,” said Felipe Oltramari, the county planning director. “The next generation will create the jobs and opportunities for future generations to be here. As they become players with purchasing power, we want to make sure they are living here and they’re bringing more buying power and creating more jobs and running our community. From an economic development perspective, and social perspective, you want people here from all sorts of generations.”

The window of opportunity to anchor a small town with Millennials may be closing shortly, according to William Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

And it’s a critically important issue for the future of small cities.

“Most people settle down by age 35, and usually don’t move from one metro area to another after that,” Fuller wrote in an article for Governing.com. “And the demographic group behind the Millennials is a lot smaller. Just like Baby Boomers, the preferences of the Millennials will drive our society for two generations. They’re making location decisions based on their idea of quality of life. And they’re going to make all those decisions in the next few years -- by the time they’re 35.”

The good news, according to Fuller, is even if time is short, the goal is obtainable for small cities.

“Even Millennials … want to live near their families and near where they grew up, meaning that if you can create interesting places, they’re likelier to stay,” Fuller wrote. “And you don’t need the endless hip urban fabric of New York or D.C. to compete. You just need a few great neighborhoods for people to live and work in. For most cities, that’s an achievable goal.”

Interesting places, amenities, activities, culture and the opportunity to interact socially, these are the things planners say Batavia needs to retain and attract Millennials.

“I try to drive this point every time I speak,” Oltramari said. “This generation moves first and then finds a job. If you look, there are jobs here and available, but they want to be where their peers are.”

So how do we create an environment where Millennials want to live?

A key word: density.

According to research by Nielsen:

“Sixty-two percent indicate they prefer to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers, where they can be close to shops, restaurants and offices. They are currently living in these urban areas at a higher rate than any other generation, and 40 percent say they would like to live in an urban area in the future. As a result, for the first time since the 1920s growth in U.S. cities outpaces growth outside of them.”

Tim Tielman, a Buffalo preservationist and development consultant, observed at a Landmark Society talk in 2013 that Batavia is hampering its ability create the kind of economic core that attracts Millennials and like-minded residents with its over-abundance of downtown parking.

"One of the biggest issues every city faces is dead zones," Tielman said. "Batavia has dead zones up and down its streets. Dead zones are devoid of commercial activity. You chain too many dead zones together and you destroy your local community."

When you build your commercial district around the car, the district loses its appeal to pedestrians, and when people walk and interact, commercial activity soars, the feeling of community is pervasive, and social and civic capital grows.

"It isn't cars that make a place a commercial success," Tielman said. "It's a success (based) on how well the human animal can get about certain places. It's what appeals and what stimulates them to walk."

More and more, City Manager Jason Molino said, he’s hearing people talk about walkability. Increasingly, it’s what all communities are after, and something — along with the companion concept bikeability — that Batavia is lacking.

“People want quality-of-life amenities,” Molino said. “People will commute a little bit if you don’t have the jobs in this area if they have the amenities.”

Molino got an immersive experience in the kind of lifestyle amenities that help bring vitality to an urban area. On a vacation day, he and his family visited a couple of the shopping districts in Buffalo and then stopped for dinner at Larkin Square. It was Food Truck Tuesday (video).

Larkin Square, part of what is now known as Larkinville, an area once known as the Larkin District, which is considered Buffalo’s first commercial district, was a rundown industrial warehouse neighborhood. Spurred by a $2 million public-private investment in 2009, the Larkin Building and surrounding cityscape was redeveloped and revitalized. It’s become a hot spot in Buffalo for retail, food and entertainment activity. Tielman was a consultant on the project.

“Two things were obvious to me,” Molino said. “You had people coming to the square right after work, Millennials coming right after work, but you also had the senior population and families — people interested in this kind of quality-of-life amenity with vendors, live music, a pavilion and seating area, and a grass area, and 20 food trucks, all reasonably priced.”

There’s an interesting intersection these days between what Millennials want and Empty-nesters want, Molino noted. They want to get away from the demands of suburban home ownership and the lack of a closely knit community fabric and they seek out walkable neighborhoods with plenty of retail, dining and entertainment options.

That’s what he saw throughout his vacation day with his family in Buffalo.

Steve Hyde’s spent some time recently in Larkinville as well and came away with the same observations.

“It’s a fabulous, vibrant place,” said Hyde, who is the president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC).

Hyde has been spending more time recently working with the City of Batavia to help secure funding and support for the city’s Batavia Opportunity Area, also known at the Brownfield Opportunity Area, or BOA.

The BOA plan is focused specifically on redevelopment of properties that are stalled in the revitalization pipeline in the Downtown area, such as the Della Penna property on Ellicott Street. Moving these projects forward would help advance further Downtown revitalization.

A look around town at all the underused and often dilapidated space might make revitalization feel like a daunting task, and though time is short to attract Millennials, Julie Pacatte, the economic development coordinator for the Batavia Development Corp., isn't feeling any pressure, at least in the sense that revitalization needs to occur before Millennials age out of relocating.

"I think we're fortunate that by the time people reach 35, they tend to move back here with their families," Pacatte said. "They want that smaller-town environment, where they know who's who and they like that feeling of community. We're fortunate it in that way, so no, I don't feel the pressure. I do think we have an opportunity to attract younger people sooner into our community and we're excited about that opportunity. I don't feel the pressure of it, but I certainly want to see something happen in a shorter time frame, in the next five years, in terms of turning some of these sites around."

Since the trend in cities across the country is toward density and mixed use, with greater demand for apartments in downtown areas, Batavia has backed several initiatives to convert underused or unoccupied space in Downtown into apartments, and Pacatte has been right in the middle of it.

She said the new apartments Downtown have certainly proven attractive to Millennials.

Molino agreed.

“All of our marketing studies show there is a demand for this kind of housing in Batavia,” Molino said. “People want to come to our area. It’s a core, central area.”

Part of the plan for Downtown is also creating more office space. Businesses that are founded by Millennials or that hire Millennials need space to relocate and grow, Pacatte said.

"A priority for us is drawing more people Downtown to live, work and shop," Pacatte said. "Millennials are the right target market for our Downtown plan."

While Hyde’s job is to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in Genesee County, Molino’s focus is a little broader. He wants to see Batavia become a better place to live.

He believes Batavia is ideally suited to be a less-expensive alternative to Buffalo and Rochester for Millennials and Empty-nesters, even when they work in the larger neighboring counties.

“With mobility being what it is these days, if you draw a half-hour circle around Rochester and Buffalo, they’re going to intersect in Batavia,” Molino said. “If people at that half-hour distance as a reasonable community, where can they find those amenities? That’s going to be what sells communities to Millennials and Empty-nesters.”

Hyde said what has already been accomplished in Batavia is attracting Millennials. He knows because his daughter, who works in Rochester, and a roommate, who works in Buffalo, rented one of those Downtown apartments.

“They love it,” Hyde said. “Everything is in walking distance. There are restaurants and bars and things for them to do. We need more of that Downtown.”

A place for Millennials to land in Batavia will increase the impact of STAMP (Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park) if the GCEDC is successful in attracting the kind of high tech, nano tech, advanced materials, solar and bio-manufacturing the park is designed to accommodate. The companies that set up shop in STAMP are going to hire a lot of Millennials who will make good wages and want a lifestyle that is social and active.

Hyde believes Batavia needs to be ready for them, or miss the opportunity to secure future growth.

“We can be a bigger center of economic opportunity,” Hyde said. “We can create a hip, smaller center city with lots of lifestyle choices.”

The BOA is tuned to provide just that kind of boost.

"The opportunity is in front of us," Pacatte said. "We have to make our Downtown more attractive and through these BOA sites, we will really be able to transform the Downtown experience."

July 13, 2015 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake performing arts center, Darien, crime.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office during the Def Leppard/Styx concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Sunday:

Renno J. Rushton, 23, of Chili Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal mischie, 4th, criminal trespass, 3rd, harassment, 2nd, and disorderly conduct after allegedly refusing to leave Darien Lake property after being told to leave several times. Rushton allegedly attempted to grab a security officer, created a disturbance in the park parking lot, and also damaged a wall inside the security office. Rushton was arraigned in Darien Court and jailed on $500 bail.

Erika L. Schmid, 23, of Chili Avenue, Rochester, is charged with disorderly conduct and harassment, 2nd, after allegedly creating a disturbance in the parking lot and pushing a security officer.

Krystie M. Martinez, 30, of Geneva Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of marijuana.

Jason J. Tombari, 37, of Oak Orchard Road, Medina, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of marijuana.

Kevin G. Bent, 31, of Carol Place, The Bronx, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly entering the park property after being escorted from the property and told not to return.

July 12, 2015 - 11:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake performing arts center, Darien, crime.

The following people were arrested while at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center during the Toby Keith concert on Saturday.  

Nicholas D. Winkley, 20, of Windspear Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with false personation after allegedly providing a false date of birth.

Nathan D. Cammarano, 25, of Broadway Road, Lancaster, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly entering the concert venue after being told he was not allowed inside.

James T. Deluca, 22, of Broadway Road, Lancaster, is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue several times after being ejected and told not to return.

Tyler J. Goodenough, 21, of West Filbert Street, East Rochester, is charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly causing a disturbance while being ejected from the concert.

Alexander J. Rajla, 21, of Bobrich Drive, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly possessing marijuana.

July 12, 2015 - 10:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, elba pig roast.

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July 12, 2015 - 10:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Oakfield.

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A one-car rollover accident is reported at 3768 Drake Street Road, Oakfield.

A person is trapped in the vehicle.

Oakfield fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 10:08 p.m.: Town of Batavia Fire's Rescue 20 requested to the scene. Fire Police requested to set up road blocks. Mercy Flight on ground standby.

UPDATE 10:10 p.m.: Mercy Flight requested to the scene.

UPDATE 11:12 p.m.: Mercy Flight landed, but wasn't needed. The driver was extricated and appeared to have no or only minor injuries. She was transported to UMMC. The car appeared to have been westbound and crossed the road and into a ditch, pitching it end over end.

July 12, 2015 - 9:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander.

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It was a rockin' good time at the Alexander Tractor Pull on Saturday night, including a performance by the band Red Creek. The show marked the 40th anniversary of Fran Norton, a drummer and Alexander resident, playing with the band, perhaps the longest run by a musician with a single band in Genesee County. 

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July 12, 2015 - 8:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford.

A motorcycle is reportedly in a ditch on Transit Road near Sweetland Road, Stafford.

Unknown injuries.

Stafford fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 8:14 p.m.: A first responder reports no motorcycle in a ditch. The dispatcher says the caller was not familiar with the area and was guesstimating the location. The first responder is asked to check the area.

UPDATE 8:16 p.m.: The caller plotted to a location north of Route 5, so a responder is asked to check that area.

UPDATE 8:21 p.m.: Several responders in multiple locations. No accident located so far.

UPDATE 8:29 p.m.: Stafford assignment back in service. 

July 9, 2015 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Flakka, crime, batavia, synthetic drugs.

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While incidents involving apparent synthetic-drug use in Genesee County have dropped dramatically since the closure of the 420 Emporium, on Ellicott Street, in July 2012, the use of drugs created in clandestine overseas labs to mimic more common street narcotics is still an issue locally, according to officials.

A federal agent revealed in a press briefing in Buffalo today that there are "a couple" of ongoing investigations in Genesee County into the sale and distribution of Flakka (aka Alpha-PVP).

"The investigations involve Genesee County people," said Special Agent Brad Brechler, with Homland Security, but he offered no further details.

Brechler and Special Agent Frank Zabawa conducted a briefing for a few members of WNY media in Buffalo today to discuss what they're seeing in the region regarding synthetic drugs and how federal authorities are responding.

The issue is much bigger in Buffalo and Niagara County than it is in Batavia, a point seemingly underscored by Brechler when pointing out that the first arrest in WNY for the sale and transportation of Alpha-PVP was in Genesee County in January 2013, but in that case the two suspects were from the Steuben and Niagara counties, not Batavia, and there was no suspicion in that case of the drugs being sold locally. Batavia was just a convenient meeting place for dealer and distributor, Brechler said.

Greg Walker, head of the Local Drug Task Force, said in a separate interview today that the task force has not been involved in the current federal investigation into the local sale of Alpha PVP, but he said there have been recent indications of synthetic drugs in and around Batavia, such as deputies coming across subjects with medical conditions that suggested chemical injection of some type or subjects behaving strangely.

It's not been common or widespread by any means, Walker said.

Flakka is described in media reports as a potent hallucinogen that officials consider addictive and dangerous.

The primary country of origin appears to be China, the agents said, and that's a trade the Chinese government is doing little to stem.

"The Chinese say one of their main industries is researching chemicals for the world," Brechler said. "Until a drug is illegal in their country, they're not interested in doing anything about it."

The drug is easily obtainable over the Internet. Often, the Chinese drug manufacturers will provide U.S. dealers with Web sites, and when federal authorities seize a drug-trade Web site, the Chinese companies will have a new Web site with a new domain name set up for the same dealer in a matter of days.

Online ordering, however, does not necessarily translate into widespread sales to users.

Most online sales go to distributors.  

Users tend to be cautious about getting purchases traced back to them and most distributors require a minimum order of 25 grams, Brechler said. 

That would cost from $300 to $350, a steep price for an addict.

Those 25 grams have tremendous street value, however. A gram typically sells for $80 to $120, making 25 grams worth at least $2,000.

"The drug is so addictive, you will see people hosting house parties and just giving it away," Brechler said.

Dealers also convince their buyers that it takes a special connection in China to get the drugs.

"Some users don't realize how easy it is to get," Brechler said.

Flakka is now a controlled substance, but that doesn't make it any easier to detect when it's coming into the country. The favored port of entry is the JFK Airport because JFK deals with the highest volume of overseas mail. It's easier to slip a package through just because of the massive amount of mail officials must sort through.

Drug-sniffing dogs won't detect it and the package sizes tend to be small.

As part of an investigation, agents purchased a supply of synthetic drugs from a Chinese company and it arrived with four large pills inside. Three pills were benign chemicals and one contained the drugs, but agents e-mailed the distributor to ask which pill was their order.

"Your drugs are in the blue pill," was the reply.

"The Chinese are open about it in their e-mails," Brechler said. "Some of the more sophisticated dealers in the U.S. use coded communications, but they don't always use code and talk about it openly because of the gray area legally of drug analogs."

Synthetic drugs are illegal either because they've been identified as controlled substances, or their chemical make up is clearly intended to mimic a controlled substance. Those are known as analogs and are governed by another set of laws.

Because synthetic drugs are changing constantly and are easy to distribute and hard to detect, one of the most important responses to the drug isn't enforcement, the agents said, it's education.

Homeland Security provides bar owners, schools and concert venues information on how to recognize a possible overdose on a synthetic drug and how to provide immediate treatment until medical professionals arrive.

There was no indication from the agents when and if arrests will be made in connection with the local investigations.

Top Photo: the agents hold recently seized drugs. Bottom photo, an agent demonstrates a device that can detect synthetic drugs. It uses a laser that can detect the chemical makeup of a substance inside a bag so the agents do not need to open the bag and risk their health and safety. The device can only identify a substance already in the federal database of chemical compounds that are controlled substances or analogs, otherwise, the device reports an "inconclusive" test.

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July 9, 2015 - 7:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thruway, batavia, accident.

A two-car accident is reported on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 397.5.

That's by the Pembroke Service Area.

One vehicle is reportedly on fire.

East Pembroke fire and Mercy medics dispatched.

UPDATE 7:58 a.m.: Minor injuries reported.

July 8, 2015 - 4:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in brownfield opportunity area, batavia, downtown, business.

Press release: 

Less than a century ago, Batavia’s downtown was bustling with industry, where innovators relocated from New York City to mass produce farm implements to World War II incendiary bombs. These factories employed thousands of workers and took advantage of easy transportation, the railroad and nearby markets. But, the bygone era left a wake of deteriorating buildings, vacant lots and ground contaminants within City limits, a.k.a brownfield sites. Today, City leadership proclaims robust performance-based tax incentives available for the taking to return these underutilized or abandoned locations into vibrant mixed-use places.

In April, the New York Department of State (DOS) officially designated Batavia’s central corridor a Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) listing five strategic redevelopment sites. On a parallel track, the City’s local development corporation encouraged Councilmembers to adopt real property tax exemptions and they chased other tax credits to motivate real estate investment. Bold incentives are now in place.

“We could stand by and let these properties continue to decay the neighborhood or do something about it,” City Manager Jason Molino said.

Do something about it, they have. The City has worked to increase its bond rating to A1, turned a multimillion dollar deficit into a balanced budget with capital reserves and secured more than $5,000,000 in grants to improve existing industrial areas, upgrade infrastructure and study the longtime stagnant community.

A Community Improvement Plan was released in 2012 emphasizing an upgrade in housing stock followed by local adoption of real property tax exemptions that offer 12-year tax-bill discounts for converting non-residential buildings into mixed-use spaces. Shortly after, a sizeable $265,000 New York State Department of State BOA grant enabled local activists to grease the skids even further.

“It took four years but, the grant allowed us to hire a consulting team and organize a local Steering Committee to define market opportunities, investigate the ground and write a plan to move our central business corridor into the 21st century,” Molino said. “We know our small city can offer the conveniences and experiences of a larger city, but at an affordable price.”

The challenge was to determine if the real estate community would invest in the area. Now, the market reports and community confidence suggest they will.

The expert-led and community-inspired BOA plan was formally adopted by City Council in June 2014 and handed off to the City’s local development corporation to implement. The Batavia Development Corporation (BDC) immediately retained Harris Beach PLLC, a known deal-maker in the State to guide the efforts.

“It’s funny how the BOA designation appears like a badge of honor,” said Julie Pacatte, BDC coordinator. "It reads like a proclamation from DOS. In truth, it’s bittersweet. Sad we have these blighted areas but happy it sanctions bonus tax credits rewarding investment.”

Gaining access to that tax credit program is a whole different process, according to Pacatte.

The BDC Board authorized cash reserves to extend environmental investigation and to hire Harris Beach and LaBella Associates to prepare the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) application. DEC serves as the gatekeeper to request access to the State tax credit program.

“It is a 643-page document enumerating data with compelling narrative to justify access to the program,” Pacatte said. “The BDC Board is clearly determined to advance the BOA plan.”

Unfortunately, their ambitious goal to go to market last year was stalled by expanded data collection, typical land assembly delays and uncertainty with the BCP as it under-went reform during the State’s budget process. Nevertheless, advocates still believe Batavia remains milestones ahead of other communities.

“The BDC’s approach is aggressive and recommended,” said Bob Murray, partner, Harris Beach PLLC. “To enter the BCP prior to marketing the property assures a preferred developer significant refundable NYS tax credits potentially worth up to 64 percent of total costs incurred for remediation, site preparation and new capital expended on that parcel. Not many communities are as proactive and committed.”

The BDC has released its first request for proposals addressing “Ellicott Station” a four-acre downtown redevelopment area that has confirmed acceptance to the BCP. The proposals are due next month, by Aug. 12.

“It was a no-brainer to spend the time and money necessary to line up these credits,” said Ray Chaya, BDC Board president. “No longer do we need to stand by to wait for investors, we are bringing the ROI to them.” 

For more information, visit the BDC Web site.

July 8, 2015 - 12:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today criticized Gov. Cuomo’s moratorium of roadwork done by private contractors during the Independence Day weekend. The governor announced in a press release last week that private contractors working on state roads and highways would have to cease work and remove equipment not behind a permanent barrier starting July 3 at 6 a.m. until July 5 at 10 p.m.

“I certainly understand the need to make last weekend’s travels as convenient as possible for motorists but it is unfair and burdensome to small businesses to ban them from making a profit for three days,” Hawley said. “This added a large cost to local businesses by denying a potential three days of work and mandating that equipment be moved without reimbursement from the state. Gov. Cuomo should not be penalizing the private sector for a bad traffic experience he had during a holiday weekend several years ago.

"This is another example of how Downstate issues are projected throughout the state and inconvenience those in Western New York who are only marginally affected. If we are truly open for business, we should keep our actions consistent with our words and stop burdening small businesses trying to survive.”

July 7, 2015 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for the northern half of Genesee County, including Pembroke, Batavia and Le Roy, starting immediately.

The National Weather Service has spotted a storm on doppler radar moving into the area that is capable of producing 60 mph winds. It's moving northeast at 55 mph.

July 7, 2015 - 4:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in quilting, art, folk art, Bethany.

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A local quilter is getting some posthumous recognition in a place far from home -- Guayaquil, Ecuador.

The daughter of Toni Fietz, a Bethany native, is the U.S. Consul General posted in Guayaquil. Tricia Fietz arranged for the show as part of a celebration sponsored by the Embassy for U.S.'s 239th birthday.

The show is being held through July 24 at Museum of Modern Art and Anthropology (Museo Antropologico y de Arte Contemporanea) and an opening reception was attended by U.S. Ambassador Adam Namm.

The exhibition features eight large quilts, seven wall-hangings, a quilted tablecloth and a work-in-progress on a quilting frame to illustrate the process.

Toni Fietz, who passed away in July 2012, became an avid quilter after a visit to the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford, where she saw quilting being demonstrated. She was a member of the (Holland Land Office) Museum Quilt Guild and the Log Cabin Quilt Guild.

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July 7, 2015 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, GGLDC, business, GCC.

Press release:

The ECMC Foundation provided grants totaling $219,424 to area organizations that help advance the quality of workforce and educational programs and services in Genesee County and the GLOW region (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties). ECMC Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles with a mission to provide investments aimed at facilitating improvements that affect educational outcomes, especially among underserved populations.

The recipients include Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, Western New York Tech Academy, Genesee Community College (GCC) and the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC). The Foundation pledged dollars to assist these organizations to help underprivileged residents in the GLOW region in obtaining better access to workforce development training and college programming.

“These grants will not only improve the quality of our region’s many educational programs and services, but also provide both high school students and adults with the critical tools and training they need to be successful in the workforce,” said  Tom Felton, president and chairman of the GGLDC. “We look forward to working with the ECMC Foundation in disbursing the funding to these very worthy organizations.”

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, which received $100,000 of the grant, will use the funds to improve training programs for high school and adult students pursuing careers in-demand manufacturing fields, as well as purchase new machinery for its training facilities. The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership is one of 38 cooperative school districts in New York State that provides shared educational programs and services to its component school districts, including the Batavia City School District.

“The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership is honored to be included as a recipient of the ECMC Foundation grant,” said Kevin MacDonald, district superintendent of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. “This grant aims to provide adult and high school students with new opportunities to gain employable skills.

"The scope of this grant is vast. This program will be open to high school students who attend any of the 22 component school districts served by the Partnership, as well as any student enrolled in the Partnership Adult Education Program. Our goal is to help highly skilled workers meet the emerging needs of industry within our region.”

Chuck DiPasquale, director of Programs, Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, said: “This grant will be utilized to make improvements to the machining and welding programs at both Genesee Valley Educational Partnership’s career and technical education centers. High school and adult students will have the opportunity to be trained on the latest and most up-to-date equipment and technology. Upon completion of the program, students will be highly qualified and ready to meet industry standards.

Western New York Tech Academy, an early college high school supporting grades 9-14, was awarded $61,710. The Academy will use the funds to enhance training programs for its at-risk students through the purchase of new workplace equipment and furniture for its classrooms.

“It’s our mission to create learning environments that support a cultural shift away from the traditional classroom and toward today’s workplace,” said Tom Schulte, principal, Western New York Tech Academy. “This can only happen if the physical space supports it, and it’s through the generosity of the ECMC Foundation that will allow us make this shift a reality.”

Genesee Community College (GCC), the recipient of a $44,390 grant, will purchase new equipment to support lab and "hands-on" learning activities in its food-processing educational programs.

"GCC's newest degree, Food Processing Technology AAS, gives residents in our rural community an opportunity to secure well-paying jobs -- such as production and quality control supervisors and safety and storage technicians," said Rafael Alicea-Maldonado, Ph.D., GCC's dean of Math, Science and Career Education.

"These are excellent careers in the burgeoning food-tech industry which are also 100-percent made in America. Funds from the ECMC Foundation will help us purchase the state-of-the-art equipment necessary for this new program including refractometers, salt, moisture and lacticheck analyzers and ebulliometers."

Lastly, the GGLDC will receive $13,324 to facilitate the coordination of the various activities of the grant recipients, including overseeing reporting requirements as stipulated in the agreement with the ECMC Foundation to monitor and track progress of each initiative.

July 7, 2015 - 1:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Basom, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Alabama.

There's nothing in the circumstances surrounding the death of a 54-year-old Cheektowaga resident, whose body was found in a car at a location on Bloomingdale Road, July 4, to suggest foul play, said Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster, Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Pending the results of a toxicology from the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, which will likely take months to complete, investigators suspect the death of Jennifer L. Pinsof was a suicide, Brewster said.

There is evidence to suggest she took a quantity of prescription pills that caused her death. It's possible, said Brewster, her two dogs died from ingesting the same medication.

Pinsof was seen in a surveillance video parking her car at a business on Bloomingdale Road about 1:30 p.m., July 3, and reaching into the back seat and grabbing something, Brewster said. The Sheriff's Office received a call about her being in the car, unresponsive, about 6 p.m., July 4. The car had not moved during that time.

At the time of her death, Brewster said, police in Cheektowaga were looking for her to question her about a fire at her residence July 3.

Because available evidence points to a possible suicide, completing the toxicology will be a lower priority for the crime lab in Rochester, Brewster said, which is one reason it will take so long to get back results.

The investigation remains pending while authorities await those results.

July 7, 2015 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, corfu.

A Rochester-area man who authorities have identified as a member of the Hell's Angels and whose criminal activity gives him ties to Genesee County entered a guilty plea in Federal District Court yesterday to being an accessory after the fact to an assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering.

Timothy M. Stone, 35, of Gates, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

Stone first made news locally as part of a five-man operation caught by deputies allegedly stealing scrap metal from Ed Arnold Scrap Processors in Corfu.

He is identified by authorities as an associate of James Henry McAuley Jr. (aka "Mitch"), reputedly a Hell's Angels leader. McAuley was reportedly married to Donna L. Boon (aka Donna L. McAuley). Boon, of Batavia, was originally identified as a suspect in a meth ring headed by Donald G. Vanelli, reportedly a one-time president of the Road Agents Motorcycle Club. Vanelli is currently in federal prison as a result of his arrest in a joint FBI and Local Drug Task Force investigation into the meth trade in and around Batavia in July 2009.

Stone's guilty plea stems from his participation in an assault at Spenders Bar, in Rochester, on May 31, 2006. A patron was assaulted with a baseball bat. Federal authorities say Stone was aware that Spenders had video surveillance equipment and that the assault was recorded and stored on a computer. In the early morning hours of June 2, 20016, Stone forcibly removed the hard drive and took it from the bar. He later destroyed the hard drive and baseball bat in order to hinder the police investigation. 

In all, 10 members of the Hell's Angels were indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for WNY. Members and associates were charged with a variety of crimes, including drug trafficking, racketeering and accessory offenses. To date, two other defendants – Richard E. Riedman and Paul Griffin – have been convicted of narcotics conspiracy charges. McAuley, Robert W. Moran Jr., and Gina Tata have charges pending stemming from the alleged assault at Spenders Bar.

Prosecution of the scrap metal heist was handled by federal authorities and the defendants were convicted.

July 7, 2015 - 8:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.

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