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June 22, 2012 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy.

Alexander J. Kessler is indicted on counts of criminal sexual act, 1st, criminal sexual act, 3rd, sexual abuse, 1st, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful dealing with a child. Kessler is accused of providing a female age 17 or under with marijuana and alcohol, and then subjecting her to oral sexual contact without her consent and at a time she was unable to consent because she was physically helpless. The alleged conduct reportedly took place Feb. 25 and/or Feb. 26 in the Town of Le Roy.

Anthony J. Goulet is indicted on a count of assault, 2nd. Goulet is accused of injuring another person by hitting him with a beer bottle on June 15.

Thomas Hammerl is indicted on counts of falsifying business records and criminal purchase of a weapon. Hammerl is accused of attempting to purchase a J. Stevens single 12-gauge shotgun from Gary C. West of Sheard’s Antiques and Guns and falsely answering a question on a U.S. Department of Justice form ATF 4473 regarding his legal eligibility to purchase a gun. Hammerl is allegedly barred from owning firearms due to either a prior conviction or "some other disability which would render him ineligible to lawfully possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun in this state."

June 22, 2012 - 10:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Rocco A. Ballacchino, 53, of Red Jacket Parkway, Buffalo, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Ballacchino is accused of stealing $1,267 worth of flooring from the Home Depot in Batavia. Ballacchino was arraigned and held without bail.

A 17-year-old resident of River Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The youth was stopped on River Street at 9:25 p.m., Thursday, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

June 22, 2012 - 10:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul.

Press release:

Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) competed in the fourth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game against female members of the Capitol Hill Press Corps.

“This event is a great opportunity to have a little fun with my colleagues and some of the journalists who cover us,” Rep. Hochul said. “I was happy I got to play centerfield this year since that’s where I’m most comfortable — not too far to the right and not too far to the left. I’m sure the reporters all noticed my prowess in the center and how well I worked with my bipartisan teammates.”

The press team defeated the congressional team 13 to 10.

The proceeds from this year’s event are going to the Young Survival Coalition, a group dedicated to young women affected by breast cancer.

June 22, 2012 - 9:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, education.

GCC will delay some initiatives in order to squeeze its budget a little bit tighter, college President Jim Sunser told the Genesee County Legislature.

The college can forgo, at least for this year, an increase in the county's host share of funding.

"We will continue to be very diligent about how we allocate and expend dollars," Sunser said. "We will keep as much as we can toward student success first and foremost, but we’ll be OK."

In another of a series of lean budget years for Genesee County, GCC was facing a tough battle to convince legislators to increase funding by $50,000, from $1,937,374 to $1,987,374.

The county's share of GCC funding represents about 5 percent of the college's overall $37 million operating budget.

Two recent staff retirements will also help the college hold down expenses just a bit, Sunser said.

"We will manage how quickly we replace those positions," Sunser said. "Some of the staff temporarily filling in will fill in just a bit longer."

As part of the budget plan, GCC is planning a tuition increase of $75 per semester per full-time student.

June 22, 2012 - 8:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Liberty Street.

City fire and Mercy EMS have been dispatched to an address on Liberty Street where the residents report an unknown type chemical smell.

Two people are reportedly feeling ill.

Law enforcement was also dispatched.

UPDATE 8:24 a.m.: Complaint apparently unfounded. All units back in service.

June 21, 2012 - 9:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business, photos.

Officials with Western Regional OTB, Batavia Downs and invited guests were in Rochester today for a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the work done so far on the new marquee signs for Batavia Downs.

The work is being completed by Premier Sign Systems.

Ryan Hasenauer, director of marketing for Batavia Downs, provided the pictures.

June 21, 2012 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, kathy hochul.

Press release:

Today, Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) introduced the Vocational Employment and Technical Skills Act (VETS Act), which will make it easier for veterans to receive professional certification in skills they performed while members of the armed services.

“The VETS Act is a commonsense solution to a problem facing too many veterans -- difficulty getting a job when returning home. After talking to troops during my trip to Afghanistan and many conversations with local veterans, I remain concerned that one of the biggest fears our troops are dealing with is the prospect of unemployment after their tour of duty. This legislation will help veterans who have put their lives on the line protecting us overseas make the transition to civilian life using the technical skills learned in the military,” Rep. Hochul said.

To assist veterans transitioning to civilian life in finding employment, the VETS Act will eliminate unnecessary hurdles for veterans who have a high level of competence in many certifiable fields. The legislation requires states to alter their certification procedures to take veterans’ military training into account if they seek to become a surveyor, plumber, general construction equipment operator, HVAC repair person, carpenter, electrician, or an automotive/aviation engine repair person.

Earlier this month, Rep. Hochul held a roundtable discussion on the VETS Act to receive input on the legislation from members of Western New York’s veteran community. Additionally, the bill has been reviewed and approved by Rep. Hochul’s veterans advisory board.

Rep. Hochul is also a co-sponsor of other legislation to encourage the hiring of veterans, including the Hiring Heroes Act that modernizes and improves programs to assist our veterans with the transition from service member to civilian life. She voted in support of the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 – a bill that received bipartisan support – that provides assistance to older, unemployed veterans and provides active duty service members with transition and employment assistance.

In May, Rep. Hochul traveled to Afghanistan as part of a bipartisan Armed Services Committee oversight trip.

June 21, 2012 - 2:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Jacquetta Simmons.

The attorney for Jacquetta B. Simmons, the 26-year-old Batavia resident accused of assaulting a 70-year-old Walmart employee on Christmas Eve, is challenging the constitutionality of one of the laws used to charge his client.

Earl Key, a Buffalo attorney, filed a motion May 31 seeking dismisal of count two of the criminal indictment, which alleges assault in the second degree on a person 65 or older. Key's motion states that the relatively new law on which the count is based violates Simmons' rights under the 5th and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Key was scheduled to appear in Genesee County Court today to argue his motions but according to his assistant attorney, Ann Nichols, Key was too sick to appear and she asked that the case be continued until next week.

The continuance benefits Key's case, because according to court discussion between Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini and Judge Robert C. Noonan, Key did not notify the Attorney General's Office of his motion challenging the constitutionally of the law, as required by court procedure.

Noonan said if Key had appeared today, he likely would have dismissed the motion due to the insufficiency of notification of the AG's office.

Simmons is accused of hitting Grace Suozzi, who was working as a checker at Walmart on Christmas Eve, after the 70-year-old reportedly asked to see the contents of a bag being carried by Simmon's brother. An argument reportedly ensured and according to witness accounts, Simmons allegedly punched Suozzi, breaking bones in her face.

In April, Simmons was arraigned on one count of assault in the second degree and one count of assault in the second degree on a person age 65 or older, making her the first person in Western New York charged under the relatively new statute.

In his written motion, Key argues the statute is unconstitutional because:

  • There is no legitimate state interest in affording a higher level of protection to a class of citizen based solely on age;
  • The law requires the defendant have knowledge of the victim's age, and a defendant would have know way of knowing a victim's age at the time of the assault;
  • The statute is unfair and unreasonable because it elevates "an otherwise garden variety assault" from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony;
  • The law is "arbitrary and capricious" in affording a person age 65 and older protection not afforded a person age 64 or younger.

According to Cianfrini's written response, prior case law establishes that legislative acts are presumed to have a legitimate state interest unless clearly shown otherwise, which, she argues, Key did not do.

She wrote that the legislative intent is clearly spelled out in the bill's supporting documents and that the state lawmakers had concerns about protecting the elderly "who are particularly susceptible to crimes as a result of their age."

"Specifically," she wrote, "the legislative history reveals that the statute was enacted because 'seniors are generally more vulnerable to injury and less able to protect themselves from younger persons.' "

Cianfrini also countered Key's point on the defendant's intent and need to know the victim's age, saying the law clearly spells out that the victim only meet the age requirement, not that the defendant know the age of the victim.

Legislative history in fact says legislators expected that "there is no requirement that the prosecutor prove the defendant knew or had reason to know the victim's age."

Simmons is scheduled to reappear in court at 3:15 p.m., June 27, for a hearing on Key's motions, which also include standard pre-trial motions related to the sufficiency of the grand jury indictment and evidence.

June 21, 2012 - 2:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, public market, Ellicott Street, Center Street.

Abby Saville, working for The Enchanted Florist, holds sunflowers at the Downtown Public Market, located at the corner of Center and Eillicott streets, Batavia.

The Enchanted Florist is one of a few new businesses participating in the market this year.

The market runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Thursday from now through Sept. 27.

It features locally grown produce, handcrafted goods and, of course, flowers.

June 21, 2012 - 8:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, thruway.

A truck driver was injured in an overnight crash on the Thruway and transported by Mercy Flight to an area hospital.

The accident was reported at about 12:30 a.m., according to a dispatcher, about five miles east of Exit 48, which is in the East Pembroke Fire District. Town of Batavia also responded mutual aid. Both fire companies were back in service by 1:30 a.m.

The driver's name has not yet been released.

He was transporting a load of bananas.

The accident is being investigated by Troop T of the State Police.

June 21, 2012 - 7:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Oakfield.

A 62-year-old pedestrian suffered a minor injury after being struck by a car at 6:15 p.m., Wednesday, in the parking lot of Santino's Pizza. It's located at 2 Main St., Oakfield.

The driver, Angela N. Husted, 29, of Le Roy, said she did not see Franklin J. Ludwig, of Oakfield, as she backed out of a parking space.

Ludwig was transported by ground ambulance to UMMC.

No citations were issued.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Graff.

June 21, 2012 - 7:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sponsored Post, advertisement, contests, Shop Batavia.

Is there a local business you just love? Do you want to make sure other Genesee County residents know how great it is? Would you like a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to that business?

Go to Shop Batavia right now, find that business listing, leave a five-star review and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift certificate.

On June 25, we'll select one review in a random drawing. The person who wrote it will win a $100 gift certificate to the business.

June 20, 2012 - 11:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

According to David Bellavia, when it comes to fiscal policy, his GOP primary opponent in the NY-27 race, Chris Collins, isn't conservative enough.

His proof: Collins said President Barack Obama's multibillion dollar economic stimulus spending was good for Erie County.

Collins was county executive for Erie County in 2009 and his office put out a newsletter saying as much, Bellavia said in a press conference today at his new campaign headquarters on East Main Street, Batavia.

"I can't find one fiscal conservative who agrees that Obama's stimulus was a good thing," Bellavia said.

Bellavia said Collins loved the stimulus plan so much that he asked that a total of $1.9 billion be channeled to Erie County.

In an effort to fact check Bellavia's statement, a Google search turned up a press release from the City of Buffalo in which Collins and Mayor Bryon W. Brown say they want to see Erie County and Buffalo receive the stimulus funds.

Collins quote:

“At a time when county resources are scarce, a possible injection of federal dollars could have a tremendous impact on Erie County’s aging and neglected infrastructure. Funding for even a fraction of these projects would represent a significant investment in our community, the opportunity to hire thousands of local workers, and reduce our need for capital borrowing in the future.”

Bellavia also said Collins used $85,000 in stimulus money to balance the Erie County budget.

Ask for a response via email, Michael Kracker, spokesman for Collins, wrote:

Chris Collins balanced the budget in Erie County the old-fashioned way -- by reducing the size of government, vetoing hundreds of additional spending requests from liberal Democrats and making government more efficient. Mr. Collins was actually threatened with a lawsuit by Democratic politicians like Louise Slaughter and Kirsten Gillibrand for NOT spending the stimulus money. Mr. Bellavia has his facts wrong.

While still in office, Collins did an interview with Buffalo's Art Voice and explained that Buffalo was receiving $75,000 in stimulus money, available through the efforts of liberal Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer, to offset anticipated shortfalls, as a result of the recession, for Medicaid expenses.

The other ongoing dispute between Bellavia and Collins is over the conditions of any debate.

Numerous times, Bellavia has said he wants a chance to debate Collins on the issues, but he claims Collins keeps dodging a debate.

On Tuesday, there was a debate scheduled in Clarence that Bellavia did not attend because, he said, the whole format was set up to favor Collins. Bellavia says the scheduled moderator is an Erie County legislator who has received substantial financial support from Collins, and that Collins wouldn't allow a reporter from the Buffalo News on the panel. Bellavia also asserts that the Erie County GOP was handing out tickets to only 200 Collins supporters. In addition, Bellavia wanted the debate to be televised.

Bellavia said that the no-debate stance by Collins is a strategy to marginalize the Bellavia campaign since Bellavia doesn't have a personal fortune to spend, as Collins does, on campaign ads.

Here's the response from Kracker on behalf of Collins:

As for the debates, Mr. Bellavia once again demonstrates an aversion to the truth. In May, Mr. Bellavia enthusiastically agreed to the debate sponsored by the ECFRW -- in front of over 100 people. It was only afterwards that his campaign made up numerous stories to cover for his ducking of the issues and Mr. Collins. His claims are simply untrue -- pure and simple. Of the five candidates invited to participate -- including all three U.S. Senate candidates, Mr. Bellavia was the only one who took issue with the terms and refused to participate.

UPDATE Thursday, 7:31 a.m.: Here's a link to a Buffalo News article on what happened with $41 million of the stimulus funds. (Link provided by the Bellavia campaign.)

June 20, 2012 - 10:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Concert Band, music, entertainment.

Tonight, the Batavia Concert Band kicked off its series of free concerts at Centennial Park with a show of a collection of British melodies, marches and concert favorites conducted by Brad Meholick.

June 20, 2012 - 2:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Probation Department.

An already stretched-thin probation department will have a hard time meeting the demands of two laws currently being pushed in Albany, Julie Smith told the Genesee County Legislature on Tuesday.

Probation Director Smith said her department struggles now to keep up with its caseload, more often being reactive to problems with probationers rather than working with them to get their lives straightened out.

The department has lost six staff positions in the past few years.

The first proposed law would make misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies committed by 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds matters handled by a youth division of the court with supervision falling to probation.

The second law would put an alcohol monitoring "transdermal device" on the ankles of people convicted of DWI, with probation getting notified any time such a person drinks an adult beverage.

In 2010, Smith said, 74 young people were arrested for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

To handle the caseload, probation would need to add two more staff members at a cost of $150,000.

Smith believes the actual caseload today would be bigger than the 2010 number.

"Our juvenile caseload numbers now are higher than I've seen in five years," Smith said.

As for monitoring people convicted of DWI, Smith said her department does a good job of random checks of people at home and work to ensure they're not drinking and to ensure they're not driving cars without interlock devices, as required by Leandra's Law.

But New York lawmakers are looking at the fact that, on a statewide basis, only 30 percent of the convicted drunken drivers are getting the interlock devices. The rest are claiming they've somehow gotten rid of their cars, so they don't have to get the interlock device.

The transdermal device would take the question of who owns a car out of the equation, supposedly, but Smith said it doesn't really address directly the issue of people drinking and driving.

It would, however, increase the workload for probation officers who would have to respond to every alert the department receives of a person covered under the law who had a drink.

June 20, 2012 - 2:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, charity, IAFF Local 896, City Fire.

City firefighters will again volunteer their time this year to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the annual "Fill the Boot" fundraiser.

Last year, area residents donated more than $7,100 and firefighters this year hope to top $8,000 in donations, which is more than double the state average for fire departments that participate in the campaign.

The fundraiser begins at 9 a.m. and runs until about 1:30 p.m.

Off-duty firefighters will be positioned on Ellicott Street and Main Street in the area of Court Street holding boots to collect donations from passersby.

The campaign is organized by IAFF Local 896 and co-chaired by Local President Greg Ireland and firefighter Jeff Stevens.

Photo: Stevens, left, with firefighters Dan Herberger and Dave Adams.

June 20, 2012 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, corfu, Pembroke Intermediate School.

Students, faculty, staff and friends at Pembroke Intermediate School raised more than $10,000 this morning in a "Bald for Bucks" program for cancer research.

The young son of one of Pembroke's fourth-grade teachers, Jill Bojarski, has been diagnosed with cancer.

Funds will be donated to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Above, Joyce Saleman, the child's grandmother, has her head shaved by Darlene Curtis. Saleman became quite emotional when the amount of money raised was announced and she spoke to the children, thanking them for their generosity and caring.

June 20, 2012 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Local law enforcement officers believe they've ID'd the person in this photo, but he hasn't been taken into custody yet.

He is believed to be in the Batavia area right now, allegedly randomly hitting parking lots looking for unlocked vehicles. According to scanner chatter, he spends no more than five minutes in any one spot.

He is driving a dark blue Pontiac G5. It looks a lot like a Chevy Cobalt. The car has a small spoiler on the back.

The subject is wearing a knit ball cap with the cap curled. He is 6'2" and about 200 lbs. 

The number for Sheriff's dispatch is 585-343-5000.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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