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August 25, 2011 - 5:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

Le Roy police suspect somebody has been making "bottle bombs" and letting them explode in an area on the west side of the village.

An investigation began after complaints of gunshots or fireworks heard on the west side of the village.

"Bottle bombs," also known as "works bombs," can be exceptionally dangerous and the Le Roy Police Department is looking for information to help determine who is making them.

Officials also warn residents not to approach any sports drink or 2-liter pop bottles found laying on the ground.

Touching a fully charged bomb can cause it to detonate.

Bottle bombs are made of Drano and tinfoil mixed together in a plastic bottle that is then sealed. Pressure builds up inside the bottle until it explodes. The chemicals inside become a boiling liquid that can cause severe burns and other serious physical injuries.

The bombs are not hard to make and numerous videos of homemade bombs are posted on YouTube.

If a suspected bottle bomb is found, you should move away from it and call 9-1-1 immediately.

The Le Roy Police Department advises that anyone found making these explosives may face criminal charges.

To report information about the possible manufacture of bottle bombs, call 343-5000.

August 25, 2011 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York State Museum, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum selected the Batavia City Centre to display one of 30 exhibitions as part of a statewide remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The governor’s office said, “The exhibitions will give New Yorkers a place to remember the victims of September 11th and to honor the countless heroes who came from all corners of the state to help in clean-up and recovery efforts. The exhibitions will feature historical artifacts from the collections of the State Museum and National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Many of the artifacts being exhibited have never been seen by the public.”

The exhibit at the Batavia City Centre includes a Port Authority Police Car that was recovered from the World Trade Center site. The Port Authority Police Department was the first law enforcement agency to respond to the terrorist attacks.

State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said, “This exhibit reminds us of that tragic day and how we have been able to persevere and value the freedoms we have even more every day. I would encourage everyone to view the exhibit and remember the Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001."

"As the 10th anniversary of September 11th approaches, we should never forget the 3,000 lives lost in the attacks. The 9/11 Memorial Exhibition at Batavia City Hall is a fitting and appropriate tribute, not only to those lives lost but also to the many first responders from across the State who rushed to the World Trade Center to serve their county and fellow Americans," said State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer.

City Council President Marianne Clattenburg said, “The City of Batavia is honored to have been selected to host one of the 9/11 exhibits here at City Hall. I would like to invite every resident from Genesee County and beyond to view this important artifact, as we reflect on the 10-year anniversary of the events of September 11th."

The Batavia City Centre exhibit will be on display in the corridor near city hall now until the end of September. The City Centre hours are: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Although City Centre is closed on Sundays, it will be open on Sunday, September 11th for a remembrance ceremony. The details of the September 11th ceremony will be announced.

August 25, 2011 - 4:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, police.

Press release:

The Batavia Police Department dispatch office is experiencing a problem with one of the secondary nonemergency phone numbers. For police emergencies the public should call 9-1-1.

To reach police dispatch for nonemergencies, the public should call 345-6350. If a dispatcher does not answer the 345-6350 number the public can re-call 343-5000 to reach a Batavia Police dispatcher.

The administrative number for police headquarters remains the same 345-6444.

August 25, 2011 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake theme park.

Sgt. James Hackemer, who died July 8 after being ejected from the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake Theme Park, boarded the roller coaster wearing a Brown Fox racing hat.

As the ride crested a hill on the east side of the ride, Hackemer's hat flew off his head. Witnesses described Hackemer reaching for the hat just before he was ejected from the ride.

Witness statements were obtain by The Batavian along with a complete Sheriff's Office report on the death of Hackemer through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

They provide a few new details of the events surrounding Hackemer's death, including information that seems to contradict the official findings by the Department of Labor (DOL) that ride operators failed to comprehend ride rules and instructions.

Though there is still no explanation for why operators allowed Hackemer to board the Ride of Steel at about 4:30 p.m. that day.

The DOL report released Aug. 16 states:

After exhaustive review of all the documentation and interviews, it appears that the ride operator and ride attendent training materials met the requirements of the manufacturer; However, issues concerning the employees' comprehension of the training material and their ability to retain the associated requirements of their positions, specifically in reference to rider restrictions, became apparent.

Sheriff's Office investigators obtained written statements from all five Darien Lake employees associated with the ride at the time of the accident. The statements, written in each employee's own hand, demonstrate no inability to comprehend English.

Four of the employees are from Western New York and while a fifth is a Jamaican student in the United States on a student work visa, his statement doesn't demonstrate any inability to communicate in English.

Each employee was also required by Darien Lake management -- sometimes more than once in 2011 -- to sign statements indicating they had completed and comprehended required training.

According to a report prepared by lead investigator Sgt. Steve Mullen, the DOL's safety and health inspector -- Brian C. Kock, assigned to the industry inspection bureau -- informed him that all of the employees had taken and passed written exams on ride safety.

The training checklists shows the employees were trained in, among other things, height-checking procedures, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) loading and boarding procedures and standard operating procedure.

The training manual, as well as rules posted at the entrance and exit to the Ride of Steel, state explicitly that a person must have two legs to board the coaster.

The coaster has no shoulder harness, only a T-bar lap restraint and seat belts.

The DOL report said the restraints are designed to hold a patron in the ride not only at the lap, but also at the shin.

Hackemer, an Iraq War veteran, lost both of his legs, including one leg up to his hip, to a roadside bomb.

On July 8, Hackemer, along with his sisters, a nephew and his 4-year-old and 3-year-old children, checked into rooms at the Darien Lake Hotel two hours before Hackemer and nephew went to the theme park.

Upon entering the park, employees directed Hackemer to the guest information booth for ride safety instructions. Hackemer was offered a brochure on safety procedures at each ride, but claimed to already have a copy and refused it. He was then given instructions on how to board rides at the park.

Hackemer, wearing white shorts and a neon green T-shirt, and his 19-year-old nephew who was visiting from Maryland then proceeded directly to the Ride of Steel.

Three of the ride attendants write in their statements that they saw Hackemer board the ride -- being lifted into his seat by his nephew -- and noticed that he was missing both legs.

The statements give no indication that any of the operators thought any further about his handicap, discussed with him his ability to ride the roller coaster, sought out a supervisor's advice or otherwise took any steps to question whether Hackemer should be allowed on the ride or detain him in anyway.

The statements also indicate that the attendants knew nothing about Hackemer's situation, that he was a disabled Iraq War vet, at the time. He is described merely as a handicapped man seen getting on the ride.

Two attendants checked safety restraints for each of the riders in the cars. A third attendent checked an operation board that would display a red light if any of the T-bars were not locked in place. With all lights green, the two operators at two different control panels gave the all-clear signs and pressed their respective buttons to start the ride.

When the ride returned, passengers were screaming that a rider had fallen from one of the cars. All three operators on the boarding platform immediately noticed that Hackemer's seat was empty but that the restraints were still in place.

Witnesses on the ride all described seeing Hackemer's hat fly off his head and him reaching for it before seeing his body fly from his seat.

Hackemer's nephew described the ride coming to the crest of the hill and that he, the nephew, felt his own body lift out of the seat and then he saw his uncle fly from the car.

Evidence gathered at the scene indicate that Hackemer hit the front of the car and that Hackemer died instantly of blunt force trauma to his head.

An emergency medical response from the Darien Lake Fire Department and Mercy Flight was cancelled before law enforcement arrived on scene.

The veteran's dog tags were found on the ground near his body.

When the car pulled into the Ride of Steel boarding platform, one of the attendants said Hackemer's nephew was sitting in the front of the car not moving or saying anything.

Mullen did not request a written statement from the nephew because of his emotional and physical state. The nephew's statements contained in the report are from a verbal interview with him while he was at the theme park's medical station.

The ride attendants were an 18-year-old from Silver Lake, a 21-year-old from Lockport and a 23-year-old from Hamburg. 

The Jamaican exchange student, a 21-year-old living in Batavia for the summer,  was posted at the ride entrance and was in charge of ensuring riders were at least 54-inches tall. The Jamaican also saw Hackemer board the ride and noticed Hackemer was missing both legs.

Since Hackemer came in through the exit, which is point of entry for disabled patrons, there was apparently nobody in place to check his height. Hackemer was 47-inches tall on his left side and 39-inches tall on his right side.

The last employee to give a statement was a 24-year-old supervisor from Spencerport who arrived at the Ride of Steel just as Hackemer's car was arriving at the boarding platform. She did not witness Hackemer boarding the ride.

The Batavian is not releasing the names of the operators because there are no criminal charges anticipated. 

The Ride of Steel was closed for the season last week after an unrelated mechanical failure earlier this month.

August 24, 2011 - 9:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for Genesee County starting at 5 a.m., Thursday.

UPDATE 10:56 p.m.: The National Weather Service is now issuing a severe thunderstorm warning from NOW until midnight. Winds up to 60 mph are expected.

August 24, 2011 - 9:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, pembroke, indian falls.

A pickup has hit a pole near Akron Road on Route 77, Indian Falls, and power lines are reportedly down and arcing.

Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments dispatched.

Route 77 is being closed.

UPDATE 9:16 p.m.: It sounds like the driver ran down Phelps Road toward the trailer park.

UPDATE 9:30 p.m.:  A witness reports that somebody said there were two people in the vehicle and one of them is lying in the weeds. Because of the live wires, firefighters are unable to approach the vehicle. National Grid will be on scene soon to shut down power and responders can investigate.

UPDATE 9:38 a.m.: National Grid on scene. The immediate area of Indian Falls is about to lose all power.

UPDATE 9:40 p.m.: Power in the area has been cut. Emergency responders checking around the houses and in the tall weeds. A resident on Akron Road reported seeing a person with bare feet apparently fleeing the scene.

UPDATE 9:45 p.m.: As soon as National Grid moves the lines out of the road, Route 77 will be reopened.

UPDATE 9:48 p.m.: National Grid's website says power will be out until 11:30 p.m. State Department of Transportion requested to the scene. Chief reports, "We've got some pretty nasty holes down here."

UPDATE 9:51 p.m.: A DOT rep not expected on scene for at least an hour. He will check the roadway damage and determine whether repairs can wait until the morning.

UPDATE 10 p.m.; Indian Falls and Pembroke about to go back in service. No word on either subject reportedly in the vehicle.

UPDATE 10:03 p.m.: Mercy EMS put back in service.

August 24, 2011 - 7:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, education, elba.

Whoever first said "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" never met Morgan Harrington.

For Morgan, life is about butterflies.

The Elba 9-year-old has taken the lead in a family project to find and catalogue as many types of caterpillars at the Harrington Greenhouses as possible.

There are 72 different species of butterflies and moths in Genesee County, and the Harringtons would like to find all 72.

"Now that we started this, we find that when we go through the nursery, we find them everywhere," said Morgan's dad, Aaron. "We're going to learn what we can about each of them."

Morgan -- who is assisted by her  8-year-old sister Madison -- uses field books to identify each kind of caterpillar, butterfly and moth she comes across. She keeps a log of each discovery, from the date of the find up through each stage of life for the insect -- from larva to caterpillar to winged creature.

"I really like it because I started doing it after one of my pets died," Morgan said.

Her simple explanation belies her obvious enthusiasm for the project. She can teach you more about butterflies in 30 minutes than you could learn in a high school biology class. Morgan can talk intelligently about each stage in the life cycle and identify on sight a dozen or more species, including what they eat and where they live.

"We decided to do this because we didn't want our kids growing up not understanding how things work in life," said Aaron, who runs the greenhouse business with his wife, Danielle.

The business in its current incarnation is 25 years old and was started by his father, though there was a greenhouse business on the same North Byron Road location years before that.

The Harrington's raise a variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs, bushes and trees, as much as possible without pesticides (though with non-native species of insects, pesticides are about the only option), and the butterfly project has made Madison and Morgan more aware of the insect species around them.

"It's good for them to learn the different types of beneficial and non-beneficial types of animals," Aaron said.

Even some caterpillars -- such as the rose saw fly -- are far too destructive to host plants, Aaron noted, but of course, monarch butterflies are beautiful and help spread pollen.

The girls have found a couple dozen monarch caterpillars, a few of which are already curled up in cocoons. When the butterflies emerge, Morgan said, she will take them to a nearby milkweed patch and release them (monarchs eat milkweed because the plant's sap produces a toxin in the caterpillars that birds avoid).

All of the caterpillars live in a shared aquarium where they can munch on preferred clippings of milkweed, walnut or willow leaves.

The shared housing has led to another lesson -- one variety of caterpillar will eat its siblings if given a chance.

"I always say I don't want my kids growing up to think fish comes square and already breaded," Aaron said. "I want them to see an animal's life cycle from beginning to end learn about it."

August 24, 2011 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Ellicott Street, Molasses Hill Bulk Foods.

Shannon Harder moved her business earlier this month from Alexander to Batavia in search of a bigger customer base.

She figured her bulk-food store and deli would see an increase in business, but she never expected the kind of reception she's received.

"We've been very busy," Harder said. "It's exceed all of my expectations. I knew we would do better, but I never expected this response."

On just about any given afternoon, the parking lot of Molasses Hill Bulk Foods, 466 Ellicott St., is full.

The store carries a variety of spices, speciality flours and other baking ingredients along with a full-service deli counter.

And the deli will start serving homemade soups soon, Harder said.

Pictured with Harder is her 5-year-old daughter Teagan.

August 24, 2011 - 5:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Clinton Street Road.

A bicyclist hit by a semi-truck on Route 33 near Terry Hills earlier today may have been under the influence of drugs, according to a Sheriff's Office accident report.

Gregory Seppe, 53, of Prestige Crossing, Batavia, was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital by ground ambulance with an apparent head injury and in a semi-conscious state.

Witnesses told Deputy Chris Parker that Seppe appeared under the influence of drugs prior to the accident.

The truck driver, Brandan P. Smith, 27, of Munger Street, Bergen, said he saw the bike swerving into his westbound lane prior to his truck getting to Seppe's location. Then the bike returned to its own lane. Smith said he moved partially into the eastbound lane to try and avoid the bicyclist.

As the truck passed, Seppe apparently swerved into the westbound traffic lane again and was struck by the trailer on Smith's truck.

Seppe's son told Parker that Seppe had just left his residence and appeared to be highly impaired by drugs.

The son's neighbor told Parker that he saw Seppe fall down three times prior to leaving on the bike.

No citations were issued.

(Initial report)

August 23, 2011 - 6:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A Batavia woman who allegedly tried to prevent law enforcement officers from finding and arresting her boyfriend today was charged with obstructing governmental administration, 2nd.

Arrested and released on an appearance ticket was Landrea D. Ames, 39, of East Main Street, Batavia.

Her boyfriend was located and taken into custody on a warrant for an alleged parole violation.

Arrested was Darrell J. Holloway, 42, of East Main Street, Batavia.

Members the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force secured a warrant to search residence of Ames for Holloway.

Batavia PD and Sheriff's deputies assisted in the arrests.

Holloway most recently served time at the Mohawk Correction Facility for attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd. He had previous convictions, according to DOCs, for attempted burglary, 2nd, grand larceny, 4th, and burglary, 2nd.

August 23, 2011 - 6:09pm

The city and the Town of Batavia along with the GCEDC have come to terms on an agreement to provide sewer service to the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

The agreement calls for GCEDC to construct the new sewer system and for the city and town to own and maintain one pump station each.

The city won't be asked to pay for a dime of the construction, according to GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde, but will be responsible for the maintenance of its pump station.

"In the long term, the revenue from the sewer system will be very, very significant," Hyde said. "The revenue will be into the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually as we build out the ag park. The revenue will far outweigh the cost of maintaining the infrastructure."

The plan calls for two new pump stations, one within city limits serving the park and O-AT-KA Milk, and the other within the town boundaries and serving the ag park.

The Batavia City Council will be asked to approve the agreement, which must be in place before the groundbreaking for the new Alpina Products plant, at a special meeting Thursday.

The majority of the funding for construction of the pump stations and sewer lines will come from grants received by GCEDC for the ag park project. O-AT-KA Milk will also pay a portion of the construction costs. The exact costs and expense split has not yet been released.

The citys' pump station will be built near Cedar and Ellicott streets with a sewer line running north to Main Street.

The town's station will be built near Main Street Road within the ag park and connect with the main sewer line under Main Street.

O-AT-KA Milk is planning a significant expansion and needs the additional sewer capacity. Even now, according to a city memo, O-AT-KA's sewer outflow occasionally exceeds the capacity of the Ellicott Street gravity sewer line.

WBTA contributed to this report.

August 23, 2011 - 2:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, earthquake.

We've received reports from three readers who felt a small earthquake in Batavia.

It's possibly related to a 5.9 shaker that struck Virginia within the past 15 or 20 minutes.

August 23, 2011 - 11:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

A car attached to a motorhome on Route 77, Alabama, became unhitched, and it careened into a tree and then a house.

The accident is in the area of 7781 Alleghany Road.

There are no injuries reported.

Alabama Fire Department dispatched.

Photo submitted by Caitlyn Klotzbach


View Larger Map

August 23, 2011 - 10:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Police have yet to determine how a 17-month-old toddler fell from a second story window at 18 East Ave., Batavia, at around 7:47 p.m., Monday.

The toddler, who fell onto asphalt below the window, sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to a statement released by Batavia Chief of Police Randy Baker.

The child was transported by ground ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

The toddler was in a second-story room with a 4-year-old at the time of the fall. The mother, who was at the residence, was not in the room.

There were no witnesses to the fall.

(initial report)

August 22, 2011 - 11:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A toddler reportedly fell from the second-story window of a residence on East Avenue earlier this evening.

The condition of the child is not available at this time.

The child was taken by ground ambulance to UMMC.

The exact circumstances of the fall are not available at this time.

August 22, 2011 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Google.

If you've ever used Google Maps, then you probably know what "Street View" is.  For those who don't or haven't noticed Street View before, it's a service of Google Maps that allows you to "navigate" along a street on the map, seeing what buildings are on the street.  The theory, supposedly, is that if you ever travel to that street, you'll see better the landmarks and such to help you find what you're looking for.

Much of Batavia was already mapped by the Google "Street View Car" -- seen above -- but the car is apparently back in town today.

I spotted it on Court Street this morning (link for Street View example). Andy Pedro sent in this picture of the car Violet Lane.

August 22, 2011 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A security guard charged with protecting the assets of a Le Roy-based company has been charged with grand larceny in the third degree.

Tony Randall Smith, 52, of Clifton Street, Rochester, is accused of stealing material worth more than $3,000 from PCORE Electric, 135 Gilbert St., Le Roy.

Smith was released on his own recognizance following his arraignment in Le Roy Town Court.

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