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October 6, 2011 - 5:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien.

Three people were charged today in connection with an alleged altercation following the Blink 182 Concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Aug. 11.

The three individuals are accused of getting into an altercation in the parking lot while guests were leaving the venue.

The three individuals allegedly damaged the pickup truck of a man from Lancaster.

Arrested and released on appearance tickets were Timothy Patrick Donnelly, 22, of Ridgecrest Road, Rochester, Marie Dana Smith, 18, and Lorraine Deanna Smith, 20, both of Crossroads Lane, Rochester.

Donnelly was charged with criminal mischief, 3rd. Marie Smith was charged with criminal mischief, 3rd, and harassment, 2nd. She allegedly had physical contact with the Lancaster man during the altercation.

Lorraine Smith was charged with criminal mischief, 3rd.

Investigator William Ferrando handled the case.

October 6, 2011 - 4:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce, Tompkins Insurance.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce has for some time been concerned with rising medical insurance premium costs and the impact they have on the small business community. In order to better serve members that provide employee benefits, the chamber is pleased to announce that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Tompkins Insurance Agencies to provide health insurance programs for its members.

Tompkins Insurance will now be the health insurance provider for the chamber, a move that will immediately reduce health insurance costs for most members by eliminating service fees. This partnership also adds flexibility in making premium payments, as well as offering a wider variety of policies from which to choose.

“Tompkins Insurance is honored to have been chosen by the chamber to help it provide its valued members with quality, cost-effective benefits for their employees, especially in these unsettled economic times,” said David Boyce, president and CEO of Tompkins Insurance.

The licensed professionals at Tompkins Insurance will work with the chamber to identify different options in health insurance and other employee benefit programs. The goal will be to customize programs to meet the varied needs of members’ businesses in the most economical way.

“This arrangement is being put in place to address the issue of continually rising health insurance premiums in challenging economic times. The chamber is confident this partnership will help control costs and offer savings opportunities, flexibility and more options to our members,” said chamber President Lynn Freeman.

Jeff Boshart, board chair of the chamber said, “We feel this alliance with Tompkins Insurance is especially significant in that it not only provides our members with top-notch insurance programs and services, but that they will be provided to chamber members, by a chamber member.”

October 6, 2011 - 10:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Batavia is a city with a lot going for it, where the pluses more than cancel out the negatives, but to talk with local residents and business owners, you would never know it, according to a trio of consultants who spent time recently studying every aspect of life in Batavia.

The consultants, Charles Buki, with czb LLC, Kennedy Lawson Smith (pictured above), with Clue Group, and David Boehlke, made several visits to Batavia, spending time interviewing people, hanging out in coffee shops and restaurants (sometimes just listening to the chatter a table or booth over), walking residential neighborhoods and visiting local businesses, as well as gathering and studying all available data on the city.

Their conclusion, presented at a meeting Wednesday evening at city hall: There's too much negative talk about Batavia, and the negative attitudes hold down home values and discourage business development.

"The overarching message is this is a wonderful community, " Buki said. "Rarely do we get a chance to be in such a welcoming place, such a beautiful place. This is the kind of community we grew up in, almost everywhere we looked, there are strengths and opportunities."

But, Buki, Smith and Boehlke all said they were taken aback by the amount of negative talk about Batavia.

"Destructive language and sentiment dominates discussions," said Buki (bottom inset). "Public as well as private institutions present Batavia poorly."

Even signs at the city entrance and public parks present a negative image, the consultants said, telling visitors "this is not a fun place," suggesting there are problems in the city that they should worry about.

"Batavia has a habit of seeing the glass as half-empty and half-empty and half-empty until it is dry," said Boehlke (top inset).

Among the positives for the city are more than 200 homes of historic value, several successful locally owned businesses, nice parks, recreational opportunities, a history of volunteerism, affordable housing and a central location between Buffalo and Rochester.

While local residents complain about declining neighborhoods, the city is actually dominated by a core group of good, caring homeowners, Boehlke said. 

While there is an overabundance of single-family homes that have been converted to two-, three- and four-unit complexes -- 25 percent of the housing stock -- there are fewer than 40 troubled properties in the city. Yet most of the chatter the consultants heard about neighborhoods is that there is widespread decline.

The negative attitudes about neighborhoods and housing are hurting real estate values. Homes are undervalued by as much as 20 percent (compared to similar homes in the Town of Batavia) said Boehlke, with a majority of owners and renters paying less for rent and mortgages than they can actually afford.

The perceived lack of real estate value discourages some property owners from making needed investments in their property, which can cause actual declines in value.

"This is not a city with a true housing problem," said Boehlke. "It’s a city with a tremendous opportunity."

Residents and city leaders have a habit of thinking "if only we had more enforcement" all of our problems will be solved, the consultants said. But arresting people on more misdemeanor crimes or (having) stronger code enforcement isn't going to fix much, they said.

The city needs to develop a strategic plan for community improvement and economic development, and downtown is at the core of it.

And one of the biggest problems downtown is what urban renewal wrought -- the mall, which both sucks the life out of downtown and is probably is what feeds a lot of the negative attitudes about Batavia.

Smith spoke about the history of downtown declines across the country, which is a product of interstate highways, the G.I. bill and suburbanization, changes in tax law (rewarding mall developers) and the rise of mega chains such as Walmart.

In some ways, Batavia is not unique, and urban renewal was a reaction to these changes in society, but the destruction of the north side of Main Street didn't just reduce the economic strength of downtown by 50 percent. It reduced it by 80 percent.

Vibrant downtowns need street-facing retail businesses on both sides of the street to thrive, Smith said.

Her suggestion: Deconstruct the mall so that there are more street-facing businesses and a mixture of retail, office and residential space.

There are ways to get it done, she said, if the community makes it a priority.

"We have heard everybody's pain and everybody's feelings," Smith said. "It's something you're going to have to grapple with over the next five to 10 years if you're ever going to fix downtown Batavia."

October 6, 2011 - 8:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A pair of Shortsville residents were arrested Wednesday for allegedly shoplifting from Kmart and Walmart.

After being apprehended at Kmart, they were allegedly found in possession of tools designed to defeat security tags at Kmart.

Charged with petit larceny and possession of burglary tools were Elizabeth Anne Smith, 26, and Daniel Gordon Vandewalle, 32.

The couple was stopped by loss prevention officers at Kmart and were found to have items allegedly hidden under clothing and in a purse.

When deputies searched the couple's car, deputies reportedly found items allegedly stolen from Walmart.

The case was investigated by Deputy Chris Parker, Deputy James Diehl, Trooper Daniel Hollands and Trooper Brian Pritchett.

October 6, 2011 - 8:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A driver is accused of running a red light at the intersection of Seven Springs Road and Clinton Street Road at 5:07 p.m., Wednesday, causing a two-car accident that sent three people to the hospital.

Cited for allegedly failure to stop for the red light was Jonathan C. Pestillo, 17, of Seven Springs Road, Batavia. Pestillo was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital minor injuries.

The other driver, Bonnie M. Behage, 70, of Ellenton, Fla., and her passenger, Jenna M. Aradine, 22, were also transported to Strong with minor injuries.

Pestillo was driving a 2005 Chevy SUV and Behage was driving a 2010 Hyundai SUV.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

(Initial Report)

October 6, 2011 - 8:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in advertising, Sponsored Post, contests.

Week 4's winner was Chris Chase. Chase was selected from among the random drawing of 13 people who picked either Mike Nugent of Cincinnati or John Kasey of New Orleans from among the 10 possible choices as the NFL kicker with the most points in week 4. Nugent and Kasey both had 11 points in their games. Chase wins one small antipasta salad, one small cheese pizza with one topping, fried dough and two liters of soda. 

NOTE: Winners have a week after selection to claim their prizes.

October 5, 2011 - 11:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, mandate relief.

At a time when protests against a broken system are spreading across the land, Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature, is taking a stand of her own.

At Wednesday's Ways and Means Committee meeting, Hancock voted no on a resolution that the legislature must surely pass or face consequences from the Albany bureaucracy.

Resolution 11 authorizes the country treasurer to transfer funds from various budget lines -- including sales tax money set aside to help deal with the county's aging and crumbling infrastructure -- to pay for a state mandated increase in payments to healthcare providers for pre-kindergarten and early intervention programs for children covered by Medicaid.

The increase in fees is retroactive over the past four years.

"We certainly don’t have the money to go back four years, in other budgets, and come up with the money," Hancock said.

Vexing Hancock more is the fact that for these same types of social service programs, the state is eight, nine and even 10 months behind in reimbursing the county for Medicaid services -- a debt that now exceeds $1.7 million.

"Because of this, we have a shortage of cash and an inability to pay," Hancock said. "Now, we must go into the 1-percent sales tax, which is supposed to be for things like roads and bridges, so of course, I feel righteous indignation. It isn’t anger. I feel that this is unjust in every possible way."

Ways and Means Chairman Hollis Upson said every member of the legislature feels the same way, but most will vote for the resolution at the next legislature meeting because if the resolution isn't passed, the state will just take the money from the county.

The total cost to the county of the increase exceeds $305,000.

Legislator Ray Cianfrini, who isn't on the Ways and Means Committee but was at the meeting, said he intends to vote against the resolution next Thursday.

"I’m as fed up as you are Mary Pat," Cianfrini said. "I'm voting no. I don’t care what the ramifications are."

Hancock said that if she thought the resolution wouldn't pass, she would vote yes, but since she expects the majority of legislators do what they must as mandated by the state, she wants to cast that symbolic no vote next Thursday.

"We’re not the only county being effected in this way, so I’m going to raise my hand and get as much attention on this as I can," Hancock said.

October 5, 2011 - 4:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, downtown, Jackson Street.

The sign may say "Road Closed," but businesses on Jackson Street remain open.

Jackson Street closed at 7 a.m. today, but should reopen at 7 p.m., and then close again tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for road repairs.

On the same schedule are Grandview Terrace and River Street.

October 5, 2011 - 3:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Schools.

Press release:

The Batavia Board of Education will have a vacancy as of November 1, 2011, and is looking to fill that seat with an interested District resident. The vacancy is a result of the resignation of Andrew Pedro, whose term was due to expire at the end of this school year (June 30, 2012).

To fill the vacancy in the interim, the Board is asking Batavia City School District residents who would be interested in completing Mr. Pedro’s term (November 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012) to send a letter of interest, including their qualifications, by October 14, 2011, 4 p.m., to Scott Rozanski, BCSD Board Clerk, 39 Washington Avenue, Batavia, NY 14020.

Citing changes in his job responsibilities, Mr. Pedro felt he would be unable to fulfill the duties of a Board member to the degree that is needed to be effective and fair to the community that voted for him - particularly in these challenging economic times. He submitted his resignation at the Board meeting on October 3.

October 5, 2011 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.

There is a possible electrical fire in a storage shed at 9 Osterhout Ave.

City fire's Engine 12 and Ladder 15 responding.

UPDATE 12:55 p.m.: City fire units back in service.


View Larger Map

October 5, 2011 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, greens of le roy.

A bit of cold and rain didn't prevent residents of the Greens of Le Roy from enjoying their annual fall festival on Sunday -- they just moved the event indoors.

From Kim Pasquale: "Many vendors brought their fall harvest along with some arts and craft vendors. The residents of The Greens truly enjoyed this special event."

Pictured above are resident Paul Emerling and his daughter Donna Mellander providing musical entertainment.

October 5, 2011 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Press release:

The City of Batavia recently engaged the consulting services of CZB, a nationally recognized planning firm. CZB is assisting with the development of a Community Improvement Plan to assist the city with neighborhood and economic development revitalization efforts.

Over the summer CZB met with various stakeholders throughout the community such as volunteers, property owners, property managers, Realtors and business owners in order to better understand the challenges and demands facing Batavia. The information shared during the meetings was helpful in developing valuable strategies for promoting neighborhood revitalization, business sustainability, growth and entrepreneurship and community development.

CZB will be conducting a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 in the Board Room in City Hall to share and present a preliminary report on the housing market, downtown and Main Street, neighborhoods and possible future actions.

The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for the public to give feedback and ask questions. Feedback is crucial to the research and development of community / economic development strategies for the city.

October 5, 2011 - 11:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, mandate relief.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C – Batavia) wrote to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging action on mandate relief. The assemblyman said that the state Senate and Assembly must be convened as soon as possible to address this issue that is crushing local governments and school districts.

“As representatives of New York state, we are all shirking our duties by our inaction regarding the financial position we have put local governments in by not instituting true mandate relief,” said Hawley in his letter to the governor. “I am asking you to reconvene both houses of the Legislature immediately to begin the arduous task of reducing the burden on local governments and taxpayers.”

October 5, 2011 - 11:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, alexander, Darien, Le Roy.

Jon Nelson Roblee, 36, of Linwood Road, Le Roy, is charged with menacing, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. Roblee is accused of throwing a coffee pot at a victim, cutting the victim's hand, and displaying two knives at victims and threatening to kill them. Roblee was jailed on $2,000 bail.

Trevor M. Rich, 30, of 7142 Randall Road, Le Roy, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, and aggravated harassment, 2nd. Rich is accused of sending threatening text messages to a female he was ordered not to contact. Rich was jailed without bail.

Steven Thomas Schum, 52, of Alleghany Road, Darien, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to signal and moved from lane unsafely. Schum was stopped at 2:25 a.m., Oct. 1, on Darien Alexander Townline Road, Alexander, by Deputy Jason Saile.

Charie Marie Oddo, 50, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Oddo is accused of stealing clothing items from Kmart.

Robert Edward Greene, 30, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt. Greene is accused of violating an order of protection by placing a phone call to a protected person.

October 5, 2011 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing fire hydrants at about 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, in the areas of: Apollo and Treadeasy drives; Brooklyn, Roosevelt and Dewey avenues; and Industrial, River and Pearl streets.

Homes and businesses nearby may be affected. These flows may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored.

October 4, 2011 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture.

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Representatives Kathy Hochul (NY-26) and Richard Hanna (NY-24) introduced a bill to help Northeast dairy farms hire legal workers, which would allow for more production of local food rather than imported food, and keep farms in business to support Upstate’s overall economy.

Hochul and Hanna introduced H.R. 3024, the Access to Agricultural Labor Act of 2011, to help farmers secure a reliable and legal workforce.

* The bill would allow foreign dairy workers to temporarily come to the United States to perform agricultural labor and services under the H-2A visa program.

* Under the program, dairy workers would be able to work in the United States for extendable periods of three years.

The H-2A program allows foreign workers to enter the U.S. for seasonal or temporary agriculture work. The program was instituted to meet a need for temporary agricultural labor without adding permanent residents to the population. Currently, dairy workers are unable to participate in the H-2A program because dairy is a year-round industry, but the need for more labor is real and urgent in Upstate New York.

During the past 15 years in the Northeast, farmers have reported difficulties hiring native-born local workers. Even during the recession, farm businesses have still been unable to hire and retain local workers.

“The viability of the dairy farm industry is critical to the long-term sustainability of Western New York’s economy,” Congresswoman Hochul said.  “We need to do all we can to support these family farmers, which is why it is unfair to exclude dairy farmers from the H-2A visa program.

"They face many of the same labor shortage issues that other sectors of the agriculture community face, which is why Rep. Hanna and I are working to ensure they have the same resources available to get their jobs done.”

“Ever since I came into office, I’ve heard from our dairy farmers about the labor crisis facing their industry.  If we want to continue to have a safe and reliable food supply produced in Upstate New York, then this program will be incredibly helpful for dairy farmers,” Congressman Hanna said.

“Allowing dairy farmers access to legal and stable workforce through the H-2A visa program will keep our farms running, and it means agriculture-related businesses will continue to bolster our economy.”

Dean E. Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, said this issue has been a high priority for several years and the three-year renewable visa would serve the dairy industry well.

“The dairy industry is the largest sector of farming in New York and is very important to the underlying agricultural services that are available throughout the state for all types of farming,” Norton said. “However, because dairy requires a year-round workforce, it has not been eligible for the H-2A program. While H-2A has many problems and inadequacies that will make it difficult to use, it is the only legal way for farmers to secure foreign labor at this time when local labor is not available.”

Among the benefits this bill will bring to Upstate New York farm business:

* It will allow for more jobs to be created and maintained;

* More food will continue to be produced locally rather than imported;

* Upstate farms will continue to be working farms and not vacant   farmland;

* Farms have a ripple effect on the economy and benefit many businesses and industries around them.

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

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