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June 6, 2012 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, top posts.
June 6, 2012 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, kathy hochul.

Statement from Rep. Kathy Hochul:

“I was pleased the United States Department of Agriculture has agreed with our request to declare all seven counties of the 26th District disaster areas following this spring’s devastating frost, freezes, and unseasonably warm temperatures that dealt a considerable blow to agriculture in the region. Farmers in these counties are now eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency to help them recover. Western New York is home to more than 3,000 locally owned farms and produces more than $700 million in goods every year, and I encourage farmers in my district to contact their local FSA offices for more information on the available assistance to keep their businesses viable.”

June 6, 2012 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford.

A motor vehicle accident with injuries has been reported at Route 33 and Prole Road, Town of Stafford.

Stafford Fire Department and Mercy EMS are responding.

UPDATE 4:07 p.m.: At least three injuries reported.

UPDATE 4:18 p.m.: No serious injuries reported, but at least one person needs to be extricated from a vehicle.

UPDATE 4:34 p.m.: At least two patients being transported to Strong.

June 6, 2012 - 12:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, alexander, corfu.

Stephen A. Lewis, 31, of Corfu, is charged with disorderly conduct. Lewis is accused of fighting and violent behavior. The alleged incident was reported at 5:59 p.m., Tuesday, at 8132 Buffalo Road, Bergen. Lewis was held without bail.

Robert Lee Ealey, 26, of Phelps Avenue, Rochester, was arrested on a county court bench warrant. Ealey was released from the Monroe County Jail and turned over to the Sheriff's Office. Ealey was jailed pending arraignment.

Cody L. Amrhein, 20, of Alexander, is charged with assault, 3rd, and menacing, 2nd. Amrhein was arrested by State Police stemming from an alleged incident at 9:02 p.m., Tuesday. Amrhein was released on his own recognizance. No further details were released.

Regarding yesterday's accident on Route 98, the drivers involved where Daniel J. Dragon, 26, of Albion, and Wanda A. Pangrazio, 47, of Albion. The State Police Web site lists no citations issued nor arrests made. The Trooper who handled the investigation is out of the office today, so no further details are available.

June 5, 2012 - 11:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Announcements, pembroke.

Press release:

The Laughing Buddha recently held a piercing benefit to benefit Austin Heineman, a Pembroke High School senior with a rare form of cancer. The drive raised $565 to go to Austin to help pay for medical bills. MTV reality star Johnny Bananas was in town to make an appearance and host the event, which lasted all night Friday and included him meeting everyone who stopped in, taking photos and signing autographs. Bananas also made an appearance at City Slicker's Bar & Grill afterward.

June 5, 2012 - 9:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Notre Dame, softball.

The Notre Dame Girls Softball Team won the Far West Regional Championship today after defeating Forestville Central High School, 7-2.

Carly Pike fanned 10 and surrendered only five hits.

The team is now 19-7 on the season.

Notre Dame now moves on to the state semi-finals.

Photo submitted by Scott Grefrath.

June 5, 2012 - 6:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Holy Family School.

A community drive to try and save Holy Family School in Le Roy has apparently come up short of its goal.

Today, officials released a letter to parents announcing the school's closure.

In November 2011, a plan to merge Holy Family with St. Joe's was announced, but community outcry led diocese officials to give local families a chance to raise enough money and enroll enough new students to keep the doors open.

The diocese agreed to keep Holy Family operational for the 2011-12 school year, giving parents an opportunity to keep the doors open.

The community had some early success in its efforts, but apparently could not meet the final goals.

Below is the letter sent to parents:

Dear Parents,

It is out of deep respect for each of you that we regrettably send this letter in order that you hear this announcement from us.

As you already know, we fell short of the benchmarks that were given to us by the Diocese. It is very important for everyone to understand that both benchmarks were joined together. The first benchmark set was the enrollment and that benchmark gave the dollar amount that was needed so that we could go forward without a deficit. With the present number we have registered for next year and the funds collected we would begin the year with a deficit in excess of $38,000.00. This does not take into account that so many families also request financial/tuition aid. Based on the amount of aid given last year and the amount of tuition money uncollected, our deficit would soar to $58,000.00.

Our School Board met last evening with Steve Timmel who is from the Diocese of Buffalo and a member of the Corporate Board of the School. He informed us that the Diocese could not approve a budget that not only had so great a deficit but also noted the fact that the school is also in debt this year to Our Lady of Mercy Parish for over $100,000.00. As a Corporate Board, they have to exercise fiduciary responsibility for the Diocese, the parishes, and the schools and this Board voted that in conscience they could not let us go forward with so great a deficit and so low an enrollment.

We have many more details to share with you and we both will be taking time to meet with all of you to explain how we go forward and transition – especially with the hope that your children continue in Catholic education at St. Joseph’s School in the Fall. We both pledge our cooperation and full help in seeing this happen. But for now, we wanted to immediately send a letter to you so that you heard this news from us and not the news media or another person.

We understand how very difficult this news is for everyone and we are most grateful to each and every one of you who have prayed and worked so hard to help the school, especially to those of you who contributed countless hours of your time and talent to attend meetings, promote the school, and seek donations.

We will be in touch with you during the weeks ahead concerning our transition program and the help that we will extend to all of our families.

Fr. Michael Rock, O. de M.
Canonical Pastor 

Kevin Robertson
Principal

UPDATE: A press release from the Diocese:

Despite a valiant effort by the local leadership and the surrounding community, Holy Family School in Le Roy will close at the end of the month.

The school was not able to meet benchmarks that were agreed on by the Diocese of Buffalo, the Holy Family Board of Trustees and local leadership last December. Responding to the community, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec agreed to give the community time to rally around the school in an effort to keep it open.

The local leadership established benchmarks. The school needed to register 120 K-8 students and raise $125,000 by the June 1 deadline. To date, 100 students are registered and $110,000 has been raised. The school is currently operating with a significant subsidy from the diocese as well as significant additional support from Our Lady of Mercy Parish.

“The Holy Family community exhibited resounding energy and commitment to keep the school open, viable and sustainable,” said Dr. Rosemary Henry, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the diocese, "but only enrolled 93 students for next year, falling short of the 120 K-8 benchmark. Such low enrollment and serious financial challenges may affect the educational environment for students, compromise the ability to meet payroll for teachers and impact the future viability of the school. We are all grateful for the energy, dedication and effort by the Le Roy community and for the leadership and ministry by Father Michael Rock, canonical administrator, and Kevin Robertson, principal.

“We are saddened to see this school close after many years of a rich tradition of excellence but we know that the legacy of the school will live on through its current students and alumni.”

Current PreK (4)-7 students enrolled at Holy Family School will receive a one-time $500 tuition credit from the diocese that can be applied to any Catholic elementary school in the Diocese of Buffalo for the 2012-13 school year.

In addition, funds have been set aside to operate a bus from LeRoy to St. Joseph School in Batavia, which will welcome Holy Family students.

Founded in 1889, Holy Family School has a current K-8 enrollment of 100 students. This marks a decline of 39 percent, or 63 students, in total enrollment since 2003. The school has 14 full- and part-time employees. The diocesan departments of Catholic Schools and Human Resources will work with faculty members to assist them with possible placement in other Catholic schools.

June 5, 2012 - 2:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Genesee ARC.

The Special Olympic torch was carried from Elba to Batavia today by a group of runners -- mostly members of the local law enforcement community -- with a stop at Woodward Field for a run around the track with Batavia fifth-graders.

The torch was carried from Genesee ARC's location in Elba to ARC's main facility on Walnut Street.

The fifth-graders were at Van Detta Stadium today to participate in a variety of track and field competitions, but mostly the event is about helping the Class 2019 get to know each other as they transfer from three different elementary schools into a single middle school.

The children also heard remarks by some Special Olympic athletes.

June 5, 2012 - 1:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, byron.

A young Batavia mother who was among the first people in the state charged under Leandra's Law for driving under the influence with children in the car will spend a year in jail for violating probation by allegedly driving drunk again.

Michelle T. Crawford, 26, of 7963 Batavia Stafford Townline Road, sobbed throughout the court proceedings this morning and asked Judge Robert C. Noonan for another chance at rehabilitation.

Besides the violation of probation conviction, Crawford is still facing charges that she drove drunk March 8 and was involved in a rollover accident in Byron. Crawford was seriously injured in the accident and had her jaw wired shut for a period of time as a result.

Crawford was on probation, having recently completed one alcohol treatment program, at the time of the accident. While she wasn't convicted under Leandra's Law on the prior case, which was heard in Erie County, Crawford was found guilty of driving under the influence and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

In court today, Crawford's attorney said his client has a serious drinking problem and needs treatment, not jail time.

"Jail isn't going to fix Ms. Crawford," Attorney Louis P. Violanti said. "I realize society may demand jail time, but without treatment, she's going to end up doing life on the installment plan, one year at a time, three years at a time, until one day she wakes up and she's in her 60s and her life is gone and her children are grown."

Violanti said Crawford was recently accepted to an in-patient program and that her rehabilitation would be a long-term process.

When Crawford spoke, she cried through all of her statement.

"If I don't get this under my thumb, I'm never going to have my family," Crawford said. "Please let me be able to do this. Please from the bottom of my heart. I'm a good person. I just made poor choices and I just want to go home to my family and the people that I love. And I want to prove that I can be successful in life and not be harmful to anybody else, including myself."

Noonan said if Crawford was appearing before him for just the first time he would be a lot more sympathetic to her plea to be with her children, but Crawford promised Noonan once before, he said, to follow the orders of the court and then apparently violated them.

"You're very lucky you didn't kill a family or somebody else in your alcoholic stupor," Noonan said. "Now you must face the consequences.

"We're all very interested in doing something that will get Michelle Crawford going in the right direction in life," Noonan added, "but right now you must be punished."

The year in jail -- Crawford has already served about three months -- is the maximum penalty under the sentencing guidelines for her misdemeanor convictions.

Crawford still faces a misdemeanor DWI charge and a felony count of aggravated unlicensed operation.

Noonan said he and the attorneys are trying to come up with a plan for Crawford on those charges that will satisfy justice and get her help.

June 5, 2012 - 9:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 67-year-old Batavia man has been charged with public lewdness after allegedly being caught masturbating in the infants section at Kmart.

Michael John Liptak, of Pratt Road, was also charged with criminal mischief, 4th.

The incident was reported to the Sheriff's Office at 5:49 p.m., Monday.

Liptak was issued an appearance ticket on the charges.

(Initial Report)

June 5, 2012 - 9:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Brian Wolff made the video above and posted it to PhotoBucket. It contains some photos of old Batavia I don't remember seeing before.

June 4, 2012 - 9:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, batavia city schools.

City Manager Jason Molino got a warm reception Monday from the board of Batavia city schools when he pitched the idea of extending a pair of tax exemptions for property owners who make improvements.

The city council has already passed the exemptions and now Molino is trying to get both the school board and the county legislature to follow suit.

Getting the exemptions extended to the other agencies would "help us do a better job of marketing the exemptions," Molino said. "It would make it a much more attractive incentive."

One exemption applies to commercial or residential property owners and has been on the books in Batavia for some time. It would provide a tax abatement on the increased assessment that might result from restoration or significant improvements to a property.

Putting on a new roof, for example, wouldn't qualify, but if a property owner who resided there, installed a new roof, put in new windows and made other repairs to a rundown property, it could qualify for tax abatement.

An addition to a property that drives up the assessed value would also qualify.

The second exemption applies to owners of commercial property who convert the property to mixed use and include residential.

For example, a three-story downtown building that remained retail on the first floor but was converted to residential on the second and third floors would qualify.

The exemptions work like a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) in commercial development where the property owner continues paying taxes at the same rate on the original assessed value of the property, bu gets a graduated break on the taxes related to the increase in assessed value over a period of years.

The program, according to Molino, is designed to foster improvements to local property and drive the city's strategic goal of bringing more residents into Downtown Batavia.

No board members spoke against supporting the proposal.

The district's attorney will need to draft resolutions in order for the school district to adopt the exemptions.

"Anything we can do to strengthen the housing stock in the City of Batavia, we should absolutely be doing," Trustee Steve Mountain said.

June 4, 2012 - 8:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, NY-26.

Alice Kryzan, an environmental attorney from Amherst who campaigned hard in 2008 in an attempt to become Genesee County's representative in Congress, died Saturday.

She was 63.

Kryzan lost a battle with cancer and according to friends, died peacefully at her home.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Kryzan lost in a three-way race with Jack Davis and Chris Lee in 2008. 

Kryzan's full obituary after the jump (click on the headline):

June 4, 2012 - 5:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, Thurway.

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) recently blasted the Thruway Authority Board for approving the first step toward a 45-percent toll hike on commercial trucks with three or more axles. Hawley pointed to a litany of ways in which the proposal would hurt businesses, consumers, taxpayers and the economy as a whole.

“There are so many things wrong with this toll hike, it’s difficult to decide what the worst part may be,” said Hawley. “This proposal will eliminate jobs for New Yorkers as trucking companies move out of the state and avoid doing business in New York entirely. The cost increase will be passed onto consumers as companies increase the price of their goods in order to recoup the lost capital. Trucks will be forced onto local roads in an attempt to avoid the tolls, causing the need for expensive repairs to local roadways like Route 63 that taxpayers will be forced to fund. In addition, driving hazards will increase by adding more large trucks to local traffic. The real question here is how could someone possibly think a 45-percent commercial toll hike is a good idea?”

Thruway Authority Chairman Howard Milstein called the 45-percent hike a “modest increase,” even though the proposal would increase a trip between Buffalo and New York City for applicable trucks to roughly $127.

“In Western New York, we know that a 45-percent spike in tolls is anything but a ‘modest increase,’ ” said Hawley. “While the Legislature works to reverse the irresponsible, job-killing taxes and fees that have plagued state government for years, unelected bureaucrats are working directly against our effort to reopen New York for business. This is completely unacceptable, and I urge Western New Yorkers to join me in making our voice heard against this irresponsible policy.”

The Thruway Authority is required to hold public hearings on the matter before implementing the toll hike. Details on the hearings have yet to be released. 

June 4, 2012 - 3:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield, alexander, Le Roy, Alabama.

Rodney L. McKenzie, 47, of Orangeville, is charged with two counts of menacing, including a count that alleges the use of a weapon. McKenzie was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 11:20 a.m., Sunday, in the Town of Alabama. No further details were release.

Paul H. Burch, 32, of Townline Road, Byron, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding. Burch was stopped by Le Roy Police Saturday in the Village of Le Roy.

Roger K. Rumble, 27, of Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, aggravated DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, refusal to take a breath test and speeding. Rumble was stopped by Le Roy Police Saturday in the Village of Le Roy.

Marche La'Shon Brown, 26, of Doran Street, Rochester, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and failure to keep right. Brown was stopped at 3:15 a.m. Sunday on Route 98, Batavia, by Deputy Matt Fleming.

Coretta Melissa Pitts, 44, of Swamp Road, Byron, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Pitts was allegedly at the residence of a person she was ordered not to contact.

Jeffery M. Johnson, 24, no permanent address, is charged with menacing, 3rd. He was arrested by State Police for an incident reported at 11:27 a.m. Sunday in Oakfield. Johnson was held in jail.

Jerod P. Norcross, 33, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief. Norcross was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 3:50 p.m., April 11, in Alexander.

Michael J. McCarthy, 24, of Pembroke, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 and inadequate plate lamp. McCarthy was stopped by State Police at 2:35 a.m. Saturday in the Town of Batavia.

June 4, 2012 - 12:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, michael ranzenhofer, NY-27, chris collins.

UPDATED at 1:08 p.m. with response from Sen. Ranzenhofer. UPDATED 2:15 p.m.: Response from Ranzenhofer clarified regarding cooperation with commission.

A former member of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer's staff who claims she was fired for backing the wrong congressional candidate has sent a formal complaint to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

The complaint alleges that Ranzenhofer violated Public Officers Law 73, 17(c) by requiring paid legislative staff to work on political campaigns.

Michelle McCulloch, a 45-year-old Attica resident and mother of four children, was on the state payroll as an aide to Ranzenhofer until April 30.

McCulloch said she was never given a reason Ranzenhofer terminated her employment, but she believes it was because she backs rural Republican David Bellavia while Ranzenhofer is closely allied with the Erie County GOP and that county's candidate, Chris Collins.

(Previously: While Ranzenhofer claims neutrality in congressional race, petitions for Collins seem to tell a different story)

Reached earlier today, Ranzenhofer said he had not yet seen the complaint and "I find it ironic that you've seen it before I did."

He said any response he would have at this point would be the same as May 11 when he denied asking staff to do anything out of the ordinary, but said he couldn't discuss McCulloch's dismissal since it's a personnel matter.

He said he might comment further after he's had a chance to read the complaint.

The ethics complaint, McCulloch said Sunday, isn't really about her firing, though.

"Honestly, I've been asked many times if I'm crazy for going forward with this and I am afraid of retribution," McCulloch said. "I happen to know a lot of people who are in the same situation I was in and everybody is afraid to speak up.

"Constituents are supposed to be able to believe in their elected officials," McCulloch added. "It's an honor to serve constituents and when elected officials don't behave in an ethical way, it needs to be brought to public light. I hope this will inspire others to come forward and stop what is going on."

McCulloch believes Ranzenhofer's alleged violation of the public officers law is "pretty black and white."

The law reads:

No state officer or employee shall, directly or indirectly, use his or her official authority to compel or induce any other state officer or employee to make or promise to make any political contribution, whether by gift of money, service or other thing of value.

According to her complaint, which was delivered Friday to the commission and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Ranzenhofer forced staff to deliver signed petitions for the Conservative Party line to the campaign of Collins.

Collins, a businessman and former Erie County executive, is running against Iraq War veteran and Batavia resident David Bellavia for the GOP nomination in the reconfigured NY-27.

McCulloch, a lifelong resident of Attica and longtime member of the Wyoming County GOP Committee, is supporting Bellavia for the nomination.

Wyoming County is outside of Ranzenhofer's senate district.

According to McCulloch's sworn statement, some time in late March, Jon McNulty, a field representative for Ranzenhofer and an ally of Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, informed Ranzenhofer staff members that the senator wanted each one to determine a time when they could commit to circulating petitions on behalf of the Collins campaign.

"We were to use either personal time or comp time to fulfill this obligation," said McCulloch, who added she felt no choice but to comply.

It was up to Ralph Mohr, an Erie County GOP Committee member, to determine the locations of the petition drive.

On or about April 1, Mohr arrived at Ranzenhofer's legislative office with a packet of prepared Conservative petitions and lists and maps of registered Conservative Party voters in the Town of Newstead, Village of Akron and a portion of the Town of Clarence.

Mohr allegedly told staff members that Ranzenhofer requested the petitions.

"At this time, I and another staff member indicated to Jon McNulty that we did not wish to pass petitions for Christopher Collins," McCulloch wrote. "Mr. McNulty told the staff this was a team effort and the senator expected cooperation from the full staff."

According to McCulloch, passing petitions for Collins wasn't a novel requirement. Staff was required, according to McCulloch, to volunteer for Collins during his failed bid to win reelection as Erie County executive.

The chief reason, according to sources, that taxpayer-paid legislative staff members often have notary certificates is so they can collect signatures on minor party lines. According McCulloch, McNulty directed staff members to ensure their notary qualifications were up to date.

On April 4, the Republicans in Wyoming County endorsed Bellavia, and McCulloch subsequently passed Republican petitions for Bellavia outside of Ranzenhofer's district.

On April 9, Bellavia asked McCulloch to be among the Wyoming County Republicans on his steering committee.

"I personally felt he was the best candidate in the race," McCulloch wrote.

On April 17, Bellavia announced the names of those on his steering commitee, which included McCulloch and another Ranzenhofer aide, former Genesee County Legislator Jerome Grasso.

Soon after the announcement hit the Web, the wrath of McNulty and Langworthy came down on McCulloch, according to her statement.

She described McNulty, who was in her office when he got a test message about the committee, as "visibly angered."

During the course of the day, McCulloch said, there were several conversations about Grasso and McCulloch supporting Bellavia and McNulty felt Ranzenhofer should "lay down the law" and demand that Grasso and McCulloch withdraw their support of Bellavia.

On that same day, Grasso and McCulloch met with Ranzenhofer's Chief of Staff Kathleen Donner. Donner, according to McCulloch, told the two staff members that she didn't think Ranzenhofer would have a problem with their participation in Bellavia's campaign. An hour later, she called McCulloch back into her office and said that at the direction of Ranzenhofer she was to discontinue her support of Bellavia.

At about 6 p.m., Ranzenhofer called McCulloch.

"He indicated he was very disappointed in my participation with the Bellavia Campaign Steering Committee," McCulloch wrote. "He stated his political consultant Mr. Hook had contacted him regarding this issue and that Mr. Hook was not happy, either. He also stated I was not to do anything political, at any time, without informing him. This included any actions I may take as a committeewoman with the Wyoming County Republican Committee."

McCulloch was an elected member of the committee.

On April 26, Bellavia contacted McCulloch and informed her he would be attending a fundraiser hosted by Wyoming County Republicans and asked if McCulloch and her husband could provide some introductions to local GOP members. She said she introduced Bellavia to no more than eight people.

The next day, believing she was following Ranzenhofer's instructions, she emailed the senator and informed him of her political activity.

On April 30, McCulloch was summoned to Donner's office. 

"She was visibly upset," McCulloch wrote. "She said this was the hardest thing she has had to do and then she informed me the senator was no longer in need of my services effective immediately."

It was a tough decision, McCulloch said in last night's interview, to go forward with the ethics complaint, but she's received a tremendous amount of support from fellow GLOW Republicans.

"When I did my own thing and in my own county, that’s when I was chastised, McCulloch said. "If they can do that to me, who else can they do it to, and who might be afraid to speak out?"

GLOW Republicans, McCulloch believes, are getting fed up with the Eric County GOP trying to dictate politics in rural communities, and she hopes that if her ethics complaint is upheld by the commission, it will send a message about the end of power politics locally.

"I went back to school in 2001 and graduated in 2006 because I believe we need a voice out here as much as any community, maybe more," McCulloch said. "We are good, hard-working people in Wyoming and Genesee counties. We shouldn't be beholden to Erie County."

The complaint against Ranzenhofer is the second big case sent to the new joint ethics commission, which was formed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo about six months ago.

The other case, a complaint against the second most powerful man in the Senate, Sen. Thomas Libous, has created some controversy for the commission because of an alleged leak about the status of the case.

The commission, charged with fostering a more transparent government,  operates in secret and leaks of its proceedings are criminal acts.

Ellen Biben, the commission's executive director, has the power to open a preliminary investigation on her own, but a full investigation requires the support of eight of the 12 commissioners, including at least one of the three Republican senators on the commission.

The commission has 45 days to decide whether to proceed.

If there is an investigation, McCulloch, Grasso, McNulty and other staff members would likely be asked to provide sworn testimony.

Ranzhenhofer can choose to be represented by an attorney. He said today that he would cooperate completely with the commission if there is an investigation.

The commission will not publicly disclose whether an investigation is taking place and only its findings would be made public. If the commission finds against Ranzenhofer, any potential sanctions are the purview of a legislative committee.

Ranzenhofer is facing a reelection challenge from Democrat Justin Rooney.

Meanwhile, according to sources, Ranzenhofer, who has publicly proclaimed neutrality in the race between Collins and Bellavia, appeared at two events that Collins also attend in Genesee County on Friday -- a fundraiser for Genesee Cancer Assistance at Batavia Downs and a Rotary Club function in Le Roy. Grasso typically is with Ranzenhofer at any appearance he makes in Genesee County. Grasso, who remains on the Bellavia steering committee, has not returned a call seeking comment and clarification.

Today, Ranzenhofer said any attempt to tie his appearance at these events with Collins was "one of the most ridiculous things I've heard."

"I'm an elected official," Ranzenhofer said. "I got invited to the cancer event by Joe Gerace and the event in Le Roy was at Grasso's Rotary Club. The events were on my schedule. I have no control over who else shows up at these events."

June 4, 2012 - 12:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Southside resident says a suspicious character came to his back door at 1:30 in the morning Saturday and claimed to be a detective investigating a report of a robbery at that address.

The resident, home alone watching TV, said the man was wearing a black hat, trench coat and carrying a cheap flashlight.

The resident called police and multiple units responded to the area but did not locate the suspect.

Det. Todd Crossett said the man did the right thing in calling 9-1-1.

"If we show up, we're going to be carrying identification and we don't wear hats," Crossett said. "We don't wear trench coats. When somebody shows up at your house at 1:30 in the morning, use extreme caution."

Crossett said when you get unexpected visitors in the middle of the night and you don't recognize them, can't see them, or don't see a car outside that your recognize, it's best not to open the door and to call emergency dispatch.

"Absolutely, give us a call," Crossett said. "We'll check it out. If it's a legitimate person who is trying to get ahold of you, well, then, OK, but absolutely give us a call."

The potential victim said the man told him, "I'm here to investigate a burglary. You need to let me in."

When the resident told the man he was calling 9-1-1, the man responded, "I am 9-1-1."

June 4, 2012 - 12:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Wichita, Kan., resident was convicted Friday in federal court of one count of enticing a teenage girl to send him sexually explicit photos of herself.

The teen was from Batavia and Det. Todd Crossett and Office Jay Andrews helped bring the man to justice.

"He was definitely a sexual predator," said Crossett, who, along with Andrews, was in Wichita last week to testify at the trial. "He had a past history of doing this sort of thing and he does it again soon after he gets out of prison. That indicates the kind of person he is."

The man, Shane M. McClelland, 26, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in federal prison, and perhaps a life sentence.

The 14-year-old girl from Batavia testified at the trial and identified McClelland as the man she had seen in Web cam pictures.

According to prosecutors, McClelland over the course of days, pressured and persuaded the girl to email him nude photos.

Crossett testified about the chain of evidence and his exchange of text messages with McClelland while posing as the 14-year-old girl.

The case, Crossett said, that in this day-and-age, sexual predators are always close by.

"This is an example of what can happen if kids and parents aren't careful," Crossett said.

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