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April 12, 2011 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history, hlom.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, there was a bell ringing at the Holland Land Office Museum this morning, at precisely 10.

The bell ringers were, from left, Elijah Monroe, Jeff Donahue, Shannon Guiste, Terry Lee and Ann Marie Starowitz.

April 12, 2011 - 12:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

The death of a 6-year-old boy from Le Roy over the weekend remains a mystery, according to Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster.

There's no reason to believe the boy was harmed in any way, Brewster said.  

Minutes before he was found unconscious and not breathing, his father had promised to take him down the road to see some horses and had told the boy to wait inside while he finished a chore.

An ambulance was dispatched to the father's house in the area of Route 33 and Old State Road at about 7:30 p.m., Friday. The boy was transported to UMMC while CPR was performed and Mercy Flight was dispatched, stopping along the way to pick up an emergency pediatric team at Women's and Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

An initial autopsy by the Monroe County Medical Examiner found no obvious cause of death, no signs of trauma, no broken bones, no bruises.

"None of the medical personnel suspected anything, and they're trained to spot even the slightest sign of child abuse," Brewster said. "If anyone along the line had seen anything, they would have called us right away"

The Sheriff's Office wasn't notified until after the boy's death at Women's and Children's Hospital at 11:30 a.m., Saturday.

The boy, Casey A. Timothy, is the son of Charlene Maciag Timothy and Kelly E. Timothy.

Brewster said the case reminds him of the death of another 6-year-old boy from Le Roy two years ago. In that case, Brewster said, the medical examiner eventually determined that the boy died of a rare brain condition that is genetic. In that case, too, the boy was outside playing and fine and found a short time later unconscious and not breathing.

Additional tests by the medical examiner's office will take at least two weeks.

There was some swelling to the boy's brain, Brewster said, but it was in no way consistent with shaken baby syndrome. 

(Initial Report)

April 12, 2011 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

There are a number of questions I have for the candidates in the NY-26 special election race, and I'm sure you do as well. Rather than sit back and wait for position statements, I thought I would just start asking questions.

I plan to ask about a question per week until election day.

Today's topic: Foreign policy, particularly as it relates to the use of the U.S. military abroad. Each of the candidates were given four days to formulate a reply. 

Below is the question (which was a bit longer than I imagine most will be). Because of the length, and the length of answers, the question and answers appear after the jump.

The answers are presented in the order received, Ian Murphy, Kathy Hochul and Jane Corwin. We got no response from the Jack Davis campaign.

April 12, 2011 - 9:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Upstate Medtech Center.

Early evening yesterday, the light was wonderful, the clouds fabulous and I had to go to a meeting at GCEDC. I would rather, honestly, preferred to have headed out into the county and hunted for pictures. On the other hand, I've always loved the view heading into the parking lot of the Upstate MedTech Center, especially with the gnarled old trees along the driveway. As I pulled in, I couldn't resist -- I stopped and snapped a few pictures to see what I could capture.

April 12, 2011 - 9:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

Amid all of the controversy surrounding the Genesee County Economic Development Center three months ago, Senior VP of Operation Mark Masse suggested an informational meeting where everything about how the GCEDC works and what it is working on could be explained to the public.

He booked a room that could seat 150 people and was worried it might not be enough space.

On Monday night GCEDC hosted its first public information meeting in a conference room at the Upstate MedTech Center.  

Twelve people showed up.  

None of the attendees were people who have publicly criticized GCEDC. No one asked pointed questions or raised any substantial concerns about how GCEDC operates.

Masse made a straightforward presentation about why GCEDC exists, what it is up against in New York, how tax abatements work and what projects are in the pipeline.

GCEDC exists because other jurisdictions are also competing for business development, and the competition isn't necessarily in states that have an image problem.

"Companies think New York is closed for business," said Masse. "When they think of New York, they think of taxes, regulations and unions."

The challenge for GCEDC is to break through that image and present Genesee County and Western New York's benefits, which includes median home prices of $85,000, about two million qualified workers, major universities nearby such as RIT, U of R and UB and attractive lifestyle amenities.

While GCEDC doesn't always win the location competition, once the case is made, the decision by the company to take a pass, if it does, usually comes down to factors out of GCEDC's control, Masse said, such as the business climate changing for the business (and expansion being put on hold) or change in leadership in the relocation team that changes the company's agenda.

Masse said part of his presentation was also designed to address the myth that GCEDC is giving away taxpayer money to companies. In truth, the tax breaks companies get is on taxes that would never be paid if the company didn't expand or relocate, Masse said.

In the example Masse gave, if a company does locate to a facility in Genesee County, local tax revenue actually increases at the same time the company saves a substantial amount of money.

The example: Acme Corp. will build a $15.5 million facility with a promise to create 50 new jobs in the first two years. It will purchase 10 acres of land and build a 30,000 square-foot factory. 

GCEDC will likely offer a sales tax exemption on manufacturing materials for construction of the factory, a mortgage tax exemption and a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) contract over the first 10 years of the increased assessment on the property.

The PILOT only covers the value of increased assessment. Property taxes remain the same on the original assessment (also, any fire district taxes cannot be abated, even on the increased assessment). 

So, if the new assessed value is $3.5 million, the company would still pay the $6,130 in taxes on the original assessed value, but in the first two years, pay no taxes on the increase in assessed value. 

In the third and fourth year, the company pays 20 percent of the new taxes, or $21,826 in each of the years.  

The amount of taxes graduates from there every two years.

By the 10th and final year of the PILOT, the company is paying 80 percent of the increased assessment, or $87,304.

If the company had been paying full assessed value each of those 10 years, it would have been paying $109,130 in taxes annually.

Over the course of the 10 years, at full value, it would have paid $1,091,300 in property taxes. Under the PILOT, the property taxes paid over 10 years are $436,520 on the increased assessed value, while paying $61,300 on the original value.

If the company hadn't built the project, the property would have generated only $61,300 in taxes instead of more than $500,000 in taxes.

At the same time, the company has saved more than $500,000 in taxes over the full assessed value rate.

Masse also shared GCEDC's financial results from 2010 (previously reported here).

He then explained the purpose and progress of each of GCEDC's major projects, which are Gateway I, Gateway II, Apple Tree Acres, Buffalo East Tech Park, WNY STAMP, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, Upstate MedTech Park and Oatka Hills I and II.

April 11, 2011 - 6:48pm

There are four to five more companies that are in either early stage or mid-stage study of the Gensee Valley Agri-Business Park, and Columbia-based Alpina Products decision to set up shop in Batavia is going to help the cause, said Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

"Any time you get your frist tenant in one of these shovel ready sites, it really helps create momentum, much like the rising tide lifts all sail boats," said Hyde. "So, this is something we're most excited about."

The financial details are not available for public release yet because Alpina is still completing paperwork and then the application for tax abatements and grants most be approved the by GCEDC board.  The package is expected to be presented at the board's May meeting.

The deal is contingent on approval of a set of incentives as well as some 900-feet of new roadway being completed to the 10-acre lot Alpina intends to buy.

The purchase price is $50,000 per acre, Hyde said.

"That's the sweet spot," said Hyde. "You spend that much between buying the land and putting in the infrastructure. It really is a cost recovery model."

In a meeting with the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, Hyde mentioned that a mid-level Department of Transportation staff member was holding up a grant for a rail line into the agri-business park, and Hyde said he is hopeful this announcement will help unfreeze those funds.

Some of the businesses might want to locate in the park need rail and won't consider the park "shovel ready" without a rail line in place.

Even though Alpina won't need rail in its early years in the park, Hyde is hopeful Aplina's signing will shift the conversation about the grant.

"Hopefully, it will enable a different conversation," Hyde said. "I'm hopeful it will show this site is real."

Hyde said the GCEDC had four meetings with either staff of Alpina or the company's site selection consultant and the final meeting occurred with the company's entire board of directors, who all flew from Columbia to Batavia to visit the area and hear why this was the right site for them.

The full court press included a meeting attended not just by GCEDC staff, but staff from Buffalo-Niagara Enterprise, Greater Rochester Enterprise, Cornell, RIT and Town of Batavia. Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy was on a speaker phone for key parts of the presentation and really tried to sell the executives on what a great area Western New York is, Hyde said.

GCEDC officials then gave the executives a tour of the county, showing off its amenities and areas of growth and revitalization, and then showed off some of the amenities of the region.  The tour concluded with a dinner at the Wine and Culinary Institute in Canandaigua.

Chefs there made a cheese cake in front of the dignitaries using an Alpina product for the topping.

But in the end, Hyde said, it's all really about the jobs.

"We're delighted that this came through because more than anything, it's going to create 50 jobs for 50 families," Hyde said. "And you know what, in this time, in this economy, every job our business community creates helps."

April 11, 2011 - 5:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, county legislature, Hollis Upson.

After 10 years on the Genesee County Legislature, Hollis Upson has announced that he will not seek re-election for a sixth term.

Upson said his decision to finish out this term and call it quits is just a matter of time. His business needs his attention and the legislature takes up a lot of time.

"We're very well represented and the current group works well together," Upson said. "We're well positioned for a good future."

Chad Bachorski, the GOP's Second Ward chairman, said local Republicans are soliciting possible candidates to replace Upson on the ballot in the November election. (Information on applying is at the bottom of this post.)

Part of Upson's tasks with the legislature include: representing the county on the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board; being a liaison to the county's planning board; and serving on the board for Holland Land Office Museum; as well as chairing the Ways and Means Committee and serving on the Public Service Committee.

When asked about what he is proudest during his time with the legislature, Upson said it would probably be the growth of the GCEDC from a sleepy little, reactive IDA to one that is more aggressive.

A more aggressive IDA has meant more public scrutiny, Upson admitted, but news such as the announcement that Alpina Products plans to open operations in Batavia's new Agri-Business Park is a good sign the GCEDC is on the right track.

"Alpina is exactly the result of the forethought we had four years ago when we decided to build an ag park," Upson said. "It's the ballpark that we thought, 'if we build it, they will come,' and they did. Steve Hyde was right."

To apply to run for the District 8 seat, e-mails or faxes must be received by April 16, in order to be contacted for an interview. Please e-mail or fax your resume, letter of intent and include at least three character references to the following:

Attn. Brooks Hawley
e-mail: [email protected]
Fax # 585-245-5347

April 11, 2011 - 4:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release:

ERIE COUNTY – Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, today called on Congress to reject Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and challenged her opponents – Republican, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis – to join her in rejecting the proposal. 

“There is no question that we must get our fiscal house in order by making substantial cuts to our budget. It’s time we start working towards reducing our national debt, but the House leadership’s plan to decimate Medicare cannot be the solution. Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), both of whom are coming to Western New York to fund raise for Jane Corwin, have lauded this proposal calling it, ‘The Path to Prosperity;’ noting that it ‘paves the way to a brighter future for all Americans.’ Well, if this budget were to be passed, I could only see a dismal future paved for millions of our seniors. Adding burdensome costs onto the backs of our elderly population cannot be the way we revive the financial health of this country. 

“Representative Ryan’s plan also makes across-the-board cuts in medical research, high-tech research, and education – making it more difficult for businesses to innovate, create jobs, and compete in the global market.  Instead of investing in America’s growing competitive edge, the Budget Committee Chairman wants to give tax breaks to corporations and the highest wage earners.

“Once elected, I will work to cut wasteful spending, without breaking the promises made to our seniors or making it more difficult for American families to hold onto their jobs.

“While neither Jane Corwin nor Jack Davis took a position on Congress’s budget compromise last week, I call on them to join me in letting the voters know how they would vote on this Draconian measure. The voters of the 26th District deserve to know the key differences between the candidates for this position.” 

April 11, 2011 - 12:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A recent effort by Batavia Police to target drivers talking on mobile phones or not wearing seat belts while driving netted 43 citations, according to Sgt. John Peck, who headed up the detail.

The detail was part of a statewide "Buckle Up New York" campaign and funded by a grant issued by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

Officers conducted the detail over March 30 and 31.

The campaign will continue into June with extra details in place May 23 to June 5.

April 11, 2011 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Bethany.

Jessica R. Johns, 32, of 122 Jackson St., Batavia, is charged with resisting arrest, DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation and uninspected motor vehicle. Johns was arrested by officers Frank Klimjack and Eric Hill, who responded to Elm Street following a report of a disturbance at 7 a.m., Sunday.  Officers reportedly deployed a Taser to help subdue Johns.

Jessie Marie Cramer, 25, of South Lyons Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Cramer is accused of shoplifting $153.53 in merchandise from Kmart.

Sath Paul Dhanda, 31, of Lake Street, Batavia, is charged with aggravated criminal contempt. Dhanda allegedly went to his mother's home in Bethany in violation of a court order. Dhanda was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Andrew Ziemba Perdock, 24, of Dowd Road, Filmore, is charged with petit larceny. Perdock is accused fo stealing a quantity of prescription medication from another person in Bethany.

Bryan E. Benson, 22, of 7 Chestnut St., Batavia, is charged with unnecessary noise. Benson was charged following a complaint of loud music coming from his residence at 1:27 a.m., Saturday.

Passiona C. McConnell, 33, of 23 Harvester Ave., Batavia, is charged with dog running at large. McConnell was cited Friday for allegedly allowing her dog to run at large. Officer Matt Flemming reports that she had previously been warned against such action.

Lesha Vetter, 18, of 3243 Royce Road, Varysburg, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Vetter is accused of sending unwanted text messages to a person in Batavia.

April 11, 2011 - 8:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

City Fire responded to a report of a power line arcing near the stoplight at 700 Ellicott St.

A power line is reported down at that location.

National Grid has been notified and is en route.

UPDATE: City fire went back in service about 8:15 a.m. after National Grid arrived on scene.

April 11, 2011 - 12:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, GCC, sports.

A team that has won at least 40 games in each of its last three seasons, swept Ithaca College at GCC on Saturday, giving the Cougars seven straight wins and an overall 10-5 record to start the spring.

Head Coach Skip Sherman said the program has been successful both at winning and helping players move onto higher levels.  

Three players over the past five years have been selected in the professional draft: Ryan Gugal (Phillies) of Batavia, Yimy Rodriguez (Dodgers) of Rochester and Chris Page (Reds) of Batavia. Page did not sign and is playing at Emery Riddle College in Florida.

Over the past five years, 32 GCC players have received baseball scholarships.

On the current roster, three players have already signed with four-year colleges, and more are expected to sign before the end of the season. John Polonius has signed a letter of intent to play at West Virginia next year and is expected to be drafted in June. Manny Hernandez has signed a letter of intent to play at Canisius College in Buffalo and John Broll has signed a letter of intent to play at Ashland University in Ohio.

"Keep an eye on Shaun Slemko who looks like he will have a great spring," Sherman said.

Three freshmen to watch, according to Sherman: Adam Grace, Tyler Koronas and Dan Sharpe. 

The team features six first-team all conference players: Pitcher Greg Rapp, Catcher Adam Grace, SS John Polonius, 2B Manny Hernandez, OF Jacob Featherstone, and DH John Broll.

The Cougars next game is at 1 p.m., Thursday, at Dwyer Stadium. For the full schedule, click here.

April 10, 2011 - 11:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, brooklyn sputore.

More than 1,200 spaghetti dinners were served today at St. Joe's in support of Brooklyn Sputore, who has had five surgeries to correct a rare medical condition, Vein of Galen Brain Malformation, and who faces more surgeries.

Her grandfather, Paul Sputore, said he's handling the medical bills for the family and so far they total more than $100,000. He said the family and more than 150 volunteers were hoping to raise from $15,000 to $20,000 today.

The community support for Brooklyn has been outstanding, Sputore said, including many anonymous donations delivered to his house.

"It's more than I ever could have imagined from the community," Sputore said. "Everybody has just been fantastic."

Local businesses and individuals donated more than 250 gift baskets for a Chinese auction at today's lunch/dinner.

Above, Brooklynn, 7, and Portia, 7, talk with Brooklyn's mom, Julie, while delivering a donation of $439.25 raised by local Girl Scouts yesterday.

More pictures after the jump:

April 10, 2011 - 10:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release from the Kathy Hochul campaign:

“Now that the regular season is officially over, I congratulate the Sabres on an amazing 40th season and look forward to watching them in the playoffs.  Since my opponents – Republican, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis – have refused to take a position on Congress’s budget compromise, I now call on them to immediately join me in rooting on the Sabres in their run for the Stanley Cup.”

April 10, 2011 - 9:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, chamber of commerce, Chamber Awards.

Joe Teresi, above, accepts his 2010 Geneseean of the Year award from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce during the its annual awards dinner Saturday at the Clarion Hotel.

Below, the articles we previously published about each of the award winners.

Ron Weiler, Sterling Tents, Business of the Year.

Robert Bennett, winner of Wolcott “Jay” Humphrey III Excellence in Community Leadership Award.

More pictures after the jump:

April 10, 2011 - 7:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, byron.

A caller reports that a controlled burn of a barn at 7521 Mechanic Street may be getting out of hand.

Byron and South Byron fire departments are dispatched.

UPDATE 7:11 p.m.: South Byron's response is cancelled. Byron fire back in service.


View Larger Map

April 10, 2011 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bergen Fire Department.

I got out to the Bergen Fire Department's open house a little later than I would have liked yesterday due to other coverage, but I was told there was a big turnout -- more than 300 people. I did get there in time to find Grace, a little unsure about the whole thing, checking out a firetruck for the first time.

April 10, 2011 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Oliver's Candies.

The Easter Bunny made his annual appearance at Oliver's Candies on West Main Street, Batavia, on Saturday. 

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