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

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

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

Bergen fire and Mercy EMS responding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously: Photos: City fire rescue training on Ganson Avenue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The resident is not a Genesee ARC customer.

Batavia PD is responding.

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

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Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 9, 2016 - 9:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

Two days ago, we told you about a riding mower that was reportedly stolen from a residence on Naramore Drive in Batavia.

The tractor is home safe and sound.

Liz Johnson said the mower appeared next to their shed today as mysteriously as it disappeared. No note, no knock on the door to explain things or to apologize for an apparent mix up.

She spoke with police and the theory is the removal of the mower was a case of mistaken address by a repair shop that was scheduled for maintenance. After the tractor was posted on The Batavian as stolen, the repair shop realized its mistake and quietly returned the mower.

Johnson said she's at least glad there is a happy ending to the story.

May 9, 2016 - 5:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
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     Jason Armstrong

A Batavia man who was originally charged with rape for his attack on a woman on South Main Street, Batavia, has chosen a plea deal over the uncertainty of a trial, entering a guilty plea this morning in Genesee County Court to one count of assault in the second degree.

The plea comes with an agreed upon sentence of five years in state prison for Jason Armstrong Sr.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said after the plea that deals like this often benefit both the prosecution and the defense. For the prosecution, jury trials can be unpredictable, no matter how certain you are of the case against the defendant. For the defendant, the plea means a shorter jail term than would be the likely result if found guilty at trial of all charges.

"We can never predict what the outcome of a jury trial is going to be and both sides believe they receive some benefit from this," Friedman said.

Armstrong remains free on $100,000 or $200,000 bond.

Sentencing is set for 9:45 a.m., July 6.

Armstrong was indicted in January and accused of anally raping a woman at a residence on South Main Street, Batavia, sometime between Nov. 6 and 10.

Armstrong was also indicted on counts of assault in the second degree for allegedly causing physical injury.

He's also indicted on a count of third-degree assault for allegedly causing physical injury to another person on or about Dec. 5 while at the same address as the alleged rape.

On or about Dec. 22, Armstrong allegedly tried to strangle another person, leading to a charge of second-degree strangulation. That incident also led to a charge of assault, 2nd.

The plea satisfies all criminal charges against him.

News partner WBTA contributed to this story.

May 9, 2016 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in forget-me-nots, flowers, batavia, outdoors, news.

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It's been six years since we visited the garden of Dennis Wood on West Main Street, Batavia, but the forget-me-nots seem especially impressive this year.

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May 9, 2016 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, outdoors, batavia, Batavia HS.

This video is from Christopher Weicher at Batavia High School. He said each year the same mallard duck returns to the school to lay her eggs in the courtyard, where's sheltered from predators. The problem arises after the ducklings hatch and have no way on their own to get out of the courtyard for food and water, so staff gently nudges the family toward the doors and the great outdoors.

Saturday, Amy Scott sent in these pictures of city firefighters saving ducklings from a storm drain.

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May 8, 2016 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in michael napoleone foundation, derby day, terry hills, batavia, news.

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The Michael Napoleone Foundation hosted its annual Derby Day Fundraiser at Terry Hills yesterday.

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To purchase prints, click here.

May 8, 2016 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

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The Johnsons, residents of Naramore Drive, Batavia, have reported to police the theft of their riding mower that looks like this one, a John Deere D100.

The mower was taken off its trailer and removed from a storage shed.

Those who have information to share should contact Batavia PD.

May 8, 2016 - 11:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, Batavia Rotary Club, Notre Dame.

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These photos are from game two of yesterday's Rotary Club Baseball Tournament, between Notre Dame and Attica.

Batavia beat Oakfield-Alabama in the first game, 6-2, then Attica beat ND 5-3.

Trevor Sherwood threw a no-hitter in the nightcap to give Batavia the championship with a 12-1 win over Attica.

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May 8, 2016 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake theme park, business, Darien.

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Yesterday was the first day of another new season of fun at Darien Lake Theme Park.

While we didn't get out to Darien for photos until the afternoon, after the clouds arrived, the morning blue skies helped encourage a great first-day attendance, park officials said.

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May 8, 2016 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke, thruway.

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A motor-vehicle accident with multiple minor injuries is reported at the tollbooth for the Thruway in Pembroke.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments responding.

Two Mercy EMS units responding.

UPDATE 10:43 a.m.: Law enforcement required at the scene to deal with an irate male.

UPDATE 11:11 a.m.: Units back in service. A 10-year-old transported with neck and back pain.

Reader-submitted photo.

May 6, 2016 - 3:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

A 21-year-old Batavia man was ordered held on $50,000 bail today during his arraignment on charges stemming from an alleged robbery in January, just eight days before he was scheduled to be sentenced on an assault conviction.

The timing of the crime and the fact he was not yet identified as the suspect means that if he's convicted on the 12-count Grand Jury indictment, he can't be sentenced as a second felony offender, nor does the robbery constitute a violation of probation since he wasn't on probation yet.

Terrence D. Johnson is facing a possible violation charge, but not because of the alleged robbery.

Johnson was indicted on one count of robbery and 11 counts of grand larceny, 4th.  

Each of the eleven grand larceny counts stems from each of the credit or debit cards carried by the victim.

The robbery occurred in the area of 2 School St., Downtown Batavia.

Beyond the usual not-guilty plea, Johnson's attorney, Public Defender Jerry Ader, said there is some question as to whether Johnson was even in the area of School Street at the time the robbery was reported.

After court, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, in answer to a question, said there is physical evidence linking Johnson to the crime.

Before the hearing, members of Johnson's family reached out to local media and said they would like to talk about Johnson, saying, "this is not who he really is," but after the hearing, Ader said he advised them not to grant interviews.

In November, Johnson entered a guilty plea to a gang assault charge for being part of a three-person assault on a person on Holland Avenue over the summer and was sentenced in January to six months in jail and five years probation.

The timing of the conviction, the second alleged crime without him being identified as a suspect, followed by his sentencing, means the original sentence stands and he can't be sentenced as a second felony offender. If he were considered a second felony offender, then the minimum range of a possible prison term would be longer. Either way, the maximum possible sentence is 25 years.

A violation of probation charge has not been brought against Johnson yet, but he allegedly left the county and violated curfew while on probation.

May 6, 2016 - 9:56am

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a final resolution for an application for assistance from Alpina Foods, Inc., at its May 5 board meeting.

Alpina Foods, Inc., will add 3,200 square feet to its existing facility in the Town of Batavia to accommodate space for a bottle-filling machine and packaging equipment for a new drinkable yogurt product.

The facility’s expansion will result in the creation of four new jobs and the retention of 23 current full-time employees. Based on the success of the product line and other growth opportunities there is the potential for the creation of additional new jobs at Alpina.

The company was approved for a sales tax exemption of $15,405 and a property tax exemption of $62,903. The project’s planned capital investment will total an estimated $1.1 million.

“It is exciting to see Alpina adding a new yogurt product to the marketplace that is being made right here in Genesee County,” said Christopher Suozzi, vice president of Business Development at the GCEDC.

“The Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park is an important community asset and continued investment and expansion there will only help us market the site to other food processing and food manufacturing companies.”

May 6, 2016 - 8:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, STAMP, business, Alabama.

Press release:

Silicon wafer manufacturer 1366 Technologies (“1366”) today announced it has received a $10 million investment from the Hanwha Investment Corp., one of Korea’s leading private equity/venture capital firms with more than $500 million under management. The funds will be used toward the construction of 1366’s first large-scale commercial factory, scheduled to be online in 2017.

“Our Direct Wafer™ technology represents one of the most significant manufacturing innovations in solar, with the potential to propel the industry forward and deliver dramatic cost advantages,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. “We are thrilled that Hanwha Investment Corporation, with its deep expertise in and understanding of the manufacturing industry, has invested.

"It is a tremendous validation of our commercialization plans, and a clear signal that we’re poised to disrupt the $10 billion and growing silicon solar wafer market.”

“Hanwha Investment Corporation actively seeks out companies with groundbreaking technologies that transform industries. In just a short period of time, 1366 has moved from proof of concept to commercial-ready technology, achieving technical milestones steadily and rapidly. We believe the 1366 team is well positioned for commercial success,” said Woojae Hahn, president and CEO, Hanwha Investment Corporation.

1366’s Direct Wafer technology is a transformative manufacturing process that offers significant advantages over traditional cast-and-saw wafer production technologies. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

CLARIFICATION: We were asked to clarify a prior report that said the Hannah company that is purchasing solar wafers and the Hannah company making the investments in 1366 are the same company. While related, they are not the same company and operate independently.

May 6, 2016 - 8:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, animals, pets.

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    Jeffrey Johnson

A 28-year-old Oakfield resident, Jeffrey Johnson, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 3rd, in connection with the alleged theft earlier this week of a van from a residence on Ellicott Street, Batavia.

The incredible part of the story is that the owner's dog, Duke, was in the Toyota Sienna, and after the vehicle was recovered in Rochester, Duke was returned to Betty and John O'Brien.

"Our fear was something happened to the dog, because Duke is a very gentle dog," Betty Carlet Cleare, a reporter with our news partner 13WHAM. "He could have sold him, he could have beaten him, and he could have done any number of things to him. The gods were with us this week."

Duke is apparently so gentle that he did not make a sound when the van was taken.

"He didn't say a peep," Betty said, "which we're thankful of, because that's why I think he survived."

May 5, 2016 - 3:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia, news.

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City firefighters were at a house on Ganson Avenue this afternoon for training. The house is scheduled for demolition in a couple of weeks, but before it comes down, City crews will use it for numerous training drills.

Today's scenario was dealing with a first-floor fire at a time (such as the middle of the night) when there might be people upstairs sleeping. While one crew attacks the fire, another enters through a second-story window and searches for anybody who might be trapped, injured or just sleeping and unaware of the fire.

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