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October 11, 2012 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee ARC.

Press release:

Genesee ARC saluted local business partners during a luncheon Thursday, celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The event is an opportunity to thank local businesses for believing in the abilities of the ARC workforce, both in the community and through Work Center subcontracts.

The theme of this year’s NDEAM awareness campaign is "Building an Inclusive Workforce" and focuses on recruiting, hiring and retaining employees with disabilities. Scott Jones, Genesee ARC director of Vocational Services, thanked business partners and asked them to share their ARC experience with colleagues in the business community.

“We can help place, train and work alongside an individual to help them succeed at a job placement,” Jones said. “Our success rate is phenomenal and we have a team of enthusiastic workers, with a variety of skills."

One individual on the ARC workforce was singled out for recognition at the luncheon. Roxy Kio of Batavia is one of 59 Joslin Outstanding Performers recognized through NYSID’s annual people-centered awards program.

NYSID (New York State Industries for the Disabled) is a not-for-profit business which administers Preferred Source contracts for goods and services in support of state and local government procurement budgets, to achieve its mission of “Turning business opportunities into JOBS for New Yorkers with disabilities.”

Roxy joined the Genesee ARC workforce in February 2011. She learned about different types of contract work jobs and was initially trained on piecework tasks. She quickly mastered her new work skills and was open-minded to learning more about training and new assignments.

In March of last year, she began working with the janitorial crew and due to her thoroughness and attention to detail, she worked at 100-percent productivity rate. Over the summer, Roxy joined the Culinary Arts team at the Genesee ARC Community Center and has been assisting daily with the Meals on Wheels contract.

As a ‘Joslin Outstanding Performer’ Roxy received a certificate of achievement and cash award in a presentation by Assemblyman Steve Hawley. She will also be featured in NYSID’s annual yearbook.

Genesee ARC works with about 60 local business partners through individual employee placements, the trash & recycling center, work center and community contracts.

Businesses who want to learn about the benefits of building an inclusive workforce may contact Scott Jones at 343-1123 or [email protected].

Submitted photo: Scott Jones, ARC, Roxy Kio, award recipient, Margie Werder, NYSID, Donna Saskowski, ARC executive director, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

October 11, 2012 - 1:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Pavilion.

A Rochester man accused of robbing the Five Star Bank branch in Pavilion on April 16 has been formally charged with the crime.

Jonathan Alexander Mills, 25, was arraigned in Genesee County Court on Wednesday. He is charged with robbery, 3rd, and grand larceny, 4th.

While bail was set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond, Mills is currently being held in the Columbia County Jail on similar charges. He is scheduled to reappear in Genesee County for further court proceedings Dec. 11.

October 11, 2012 - 1:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield.

Press release:

Please be advised the Genesee County Highway Department will be replacing a culvert on North Pearl Street in the Village of Oakfield.

Pavement cutting will be performed on Friday with a temporary road closure during this time. The road will remain open over the weekend, however, the road will be closed on Monday, Oct. 15, to allow for the culvert replacement and relocation of storm drains to occur.

The project is anticipated to take less than two weeks to complete.

October 11, 2012 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, business, Leadership Genesee.

Press release:

Leadership Genesee, a community leadership program uniting a diverse group of people from business, government, and non-profit organizations to study local issues is seeking applicants for its 2013 class.

Our community needs succession planning for leadership, not just elected, appointed or paid employment leadership, but the kind that receives no ‘paycheck’.  Community volunteers who work tirelessly for organizations that improve the health of the human condition must understand the issues facing the community in order to be effective.  Leadership Genesee provides the education and training for leaders as it explores the community and encourages the leader within.

Each year, Leadership Genesee selects 25 individuals to participate in a unique form of adult citizenship education.  The year-long curriculum is designed to raise awareness of the needs and challenges that affect Genesee County and enhance individual leadership skills through practice with a focus on civic responsibility and community stewardship.  Through group activities, tours and presentations by key community leaders, Leadership Genesee is developing leadership for our community, with our community and in our community.  Annual tuition is $1,950.

For an application or information, call Peggy Marone, Leadership Genesee director at 343-3040 x 118 or visit our web site at www.leadershipgenesee.shutterfly.com.  Leadership Genesee is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension which provides equal program and employment opportunities.

October 11, 2012 - 10:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Police are being dispatched to the area of Park Road to look for a silver SUV that reportedly struck a dog on Richmond Avenue.

The caller who reported the incident is "quite upset" according to a dispatcher.

There is no further description available on the suspect vehicle.

New York law requires drivers to stop after hitting a dog or cat.

October 11, 2012 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Pavilion, Stafford.

James G. Cox II, 27, of 46 Holland Ave., Lancaster, is charged with petit larceny, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle and permitting unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Cox was identified as a suspect of a heist of a 12-pack of beer from Tops Market at 11:29 p.m., Wednesday. His vehicle was located on School Street and Officer Frank Klimjack initiated a traffic stop.

Jamie A. Showler, 16, of 19 Manhattan Ave, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and unlicensed operation. Showler was allegedly driving the vehicle (see Cox, above) seen leaving the scene of an alleged beer theft from Tops Market.

Justin Clayton Losh, 22, of River Road, Pavilion, is charged with petit larceny and criminal tampering, 3rd. Losh was located in Target on Wednesday and identified as a suspect in the theft of the beverage Red Bull on Oct. 6. Besides allegedly stealing the Red Bull, Losh is accused of tampering with the security device on a Dyson vacuum.

Rena P. Argento, 53, of Chili, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Argento was stopped by State Police on Caswell Road, Stafford, at 2:36 a.m., Tuesday.

October 11, 2012 - 9:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Committee has announced the 2012 Annual Award Dinner will be held on Saturday, April 13 at the Clarion Hotel, Park Road, Batavia. This is the county’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism.

The chamber has streamlined its nomination forms to make submissions less cumbersome and time consuming. Please note that a brief write-up will qualify your nominee for consideration. Nominations are now being accepted for: Business of the Year; Entrepreneurial Business of the Year; Agricultural Business of the Year; Innovative Enterprise of the Year; Special Service Recognition; and Geneseean of the Year. Business nominees must be a chamber member (If unsure of your nominee, call the chamber to verify). 

Nomination forms are available at the chamber of commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia. and can also be downloaded from the chamber Web site at www.geneseeny.com.

If you would like more information, feel free to call Kelly J. Bermingham, director of Membership & Special Events, at the chamber office, 343-7440, ext. 26.

October 10, 2012 - 8:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Robert Alexander.

In May, Village of Corfu trustees met in closed session and discussed whether the village court really needed both a full-time and part-time clerk.

A portion of that closed session conversion was leaked to Justice Robert Alexander.

At Monday's meeting where the full-time clerk, Pamela Yasses, raised a formal complaint about alleged harassment by Alexander, Trustee Ralph Peterson was accused of being the source of that leak.

At the meeting, Peterson flatly denied it, but a May 24 memo from Alexander to the village trustees suggests Peterson was the source of the information.

From Alexander's memo:

I was amazed when Trustee Peterson informed me this morning that Trustee Graham reported to the Board that the Village Court Clerk Pam Yasses told him that she didn't need the Part Time Court Clerk, (Tom Ingram) and that she can and is handling all the court business without in the him (sic) in her 40-hour-work week. The court clerk does not have the legal right to speak for the Court or evaluate and or comment on the duties or her performance of the court duties to the Board of Trustee members.

Al Graham said today the only place Peterson would have heard about his conversation with Yasses was in the executive session, held the night before Alexander's memo was issued.

Here's the conversation from Monday's meeting:

Peterson: My question is, what do we do?

Attorney Mark Boylan: What do you not do. What you do not do is get on the phone after the meeting and call the judge and tell him what just happened, first of all.

Peterson: I’m asking a question, the question I’m asking is related to this particular situation and the action of the board to pursue this.

Boylan: I’m concerned about action with individuals, too.

Peterson: Well, OK fine, but ...

Boylan: If you’re not acting in concert, in other words, as a board, you're acting individually against the board's wishes ...

Peterson: Are you accusing me of something?

Boylan: Well, I don’t know how this last issue with executive session could have gotten to the judge so quickly. I don’t have any information, but I’m just wondering.

Yasses: Let me say on the record, Rosie, I’m going to call you out because it was you.

Peterson: Well, I asked, that's right.

Yasses: You lied to my face and then you tried to tell me you didn’t tell Judge Alexander something. You did.

Peterson: Where did I lie?

Yasses: You came to me and then we had that meeting ...

Peterson: Whoa, whoa, whoa ... where was the lie.

Yasses: You breached executive session and then he came to me and told me.

Peterson: No I did not.

Yasses: It's the only way ...

Peterson: I did not.

Yasses: Rosie, ...

Peterson: I did not. I did not tell him. I don't know how he found out, but I did not tell him.

Boylan: What I'm telling you is if anybody, if anybody acts against the agreement of the board, you are subjecting this board to potential litigtion.

Tonight, Peterson said he did talk with Alexander, but only after consulting with a staff member at the New York Conference of Mayors who said the board met in a session that should not have been closed to the public.

Under New York law, elected bodies can -- but are not required to -- go into closed session to discuss personnel matters. Peterson said he was told that since the board was discussing a staff position and not the person who held the position, there was nothing confidential about the conversation. The conversation should have taken place in an open meeting.

In his May 24 letter, Alexander accused the board of conducting an illegal executive session and said he, or any village resident, had the option of pursuing litigation to overturn any decision in an illegal executive session.

Graham said the issue came up in May because he went into the court clerk's office prior to a trustee meeting and happened to ask if the part-time position was really necessary.

Yasses, he said, shared with him her thoughts on the matter. He conveyed those thoughts to the rest of the board, which voted to eliminate the position.

At the time, Graham said, the part-time clerk was apparently working on a project for Alexander and Yasses was handling all of the court's business during her 40-hour work week.

The issue has apparently become a sore point for Alexander (who hasn't responded to our request for a statement or interview) because Yasses said he's raised several times with her his belief that she should have no communication with trustees about court business, even though Yasses is employed by the village.

Because Yasses is an employee of the village, according to Boylan, it's perfectly acceptable for trustees to communicate with her and for her to respond to questions about her duties, responsibilities and how they're are discharged.

In emails obtained by The Batavian as part of a larger FOIL request this summer, after this May meeting, Alexander begins a long argument with Mayor Todd Skeet about the re-appointment of Yasses as his clerk.

In a May 31 email, he suggests that the board of trustees didn't follow proper legal procedure in her re-appointment and that he needed a meeting with Skeet. He concludes: "I would like to fulfill the last year of my 24 years as Village Justice with an experienced clerk. I am therefore asking that you confer with me and re-appoint my court clerk."

Alexander maintains in several emails that he has not been properly consulted, as required by state law, on the re-appointment of Yasses.

According to Graham, the trustees feel Alexander gave his consent to her re-appointment in the May 31 email and in a voice mail he left for Skeet.

The board has taken the position that Yasses is an employee of the board and cannot be dismissed by Alexander.

October 10, 2012 - 2:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCC, Town of Batavia Fire Department.

It's Fire Prevention Week, and as it does annually, the Town of Batavia Fire Department, is visiting local pre-schools and schools to educate children about who firefighters are, what they do, and the role children can play in helping to prevent fires. Above, Nate Fix and Russel Borden with a child from Genesee Community College's daycare center.

October 10, 2012 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Darien, Darien Lakes State Park, Harlow Lake.

This morning, I was out of the house early with the specific intention of driving to Darien Lakes State Park to get a picture of the sunrise over Harlow Lake. It's sort of been on my list of local pictures to get for a couple of years.

Below, another picture from Darien Lakes, and a landscape taken on Walker Road in Darien.

October 10, 2012 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Six years ago, the City of Batavia laid out an ambitious checklist of projects and assigned teams of officials and citizens to figure out how to accomplish each task.

Though communication about the Community Action Team's work has been sparse, City Manager Jason Molino said Monday, there has been quite a bit of progress.

For example, a "keep downtown looking great" campaign was started, a municipal power authority was formed, and a confidential hotline for housing complaints was established.

There's still much to do -- some of it audaciously ambitious (such establishing a wind farm to generate electricity for the city -- and some of it mundane (such as create a city staff technology team).

"While a lot of communities are slowing down because of economic challenges, you've been able to achieve a lot during that time frame," Molino said.

There are projects -- even the wind farm -- that could be grant-funded in the future, and part of that process will flow from a $226,000 Brownfield Grant the city has already received.

It will allow the city to study, plan and apply for funds for such things as converting city buildings to geothermal heat and creating residential revitalization districts.

Other possible projects that could move forward under the Brownfield Grant are a boat launch (originally at Kibbe Park, but possibly behind the courthouse), extension of park and walk trails, installion of small electric turbines on the Tonawanda Creek and pursuit of a Tonawanda Creek Park plan.

October 10, 2012 - 9:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

The 28-year-old business sign for Settler's Restaurant was destroyed early this morning by an alleged drunken driver.

Martin F. Jones, 41, of 120 Jackson St., Batavia, allegedly hit the sign at 1:56 a.m.

After Jones reportedly hit the sign, witness reportedly found Jones apparently passed out over the wheel of his car. They pounded on the window of the vehicle and Jones reportedly woke up, put his car in reverse, and pulled out onto West Main Street.

He then allegedly drove to the Hess station at West Main and Oak streets where he allegedly ran into a parked vehicle.

Police say Jones then abandoned the vehicle and left on foot.

He was located a short time later by Deputy Frank Bordonaro and taken into custody.

Jones was charged with felony DWI, refusal to take breath test, two counts of leaving the scene of a property damage accident, unsafe backing, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, avoiding an intersection, speed not reasonable and prudent and driving on the sidewalk.

He also had two active arrest warrants for allegedly falsely reporting an incident and disorderly conduct.

Batavia PD reports that Jones had "several" previous DWI convictions and was driving on a revoked license as a result.

Following arraignment in city court, Jones was jailed without bail.

The case was investigated by Lt. Greg Steele, Sgt. Dan Coffey, Officer Eric Bolles and Officer Marc Lawrence.

Settler's co-owner John Spyropoulos said the sign, which has already been removed from the property, is damaged beyond repair and will need to be replaced.

October 9, 2012 - 8:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, pembroke.

More than a half dozen media outlets turned up in Corfu today for the Pembroke Town Court appearance of Alicia Guastaferro -- the reality TV celebrity who is charged with prostitution and possession of drugs.

As is typical for an arraignment at this stage of the legal process, Guastaferro, 20, of Williamsville, entered a not guilty plea to criminal Impersonation, criminal possession of a controlled substance and prostitution.

Attorney Dan Killelea said prior to his client's next court appearance Dec. 11, he will meet with Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl and discuss the case. That discussion will help determine what happens next.

At age 16, Guastaferro appeared in the reality TV series "Wife Swap," a series on the Lifetime Network that involves unhappy spouses switching families for a week.

She was arrested Aug. 29 with Rochester attorney James Doyle, 54, who is accused of DWI, refusing a breath test, providing alcohol to a person under age 21 and patronizing a prostitute.

October 9, 2012 - 3:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Church burglar John A. Cabrera is facing a maximum possible sentence of 21 years in prison after admitting to three felonies in Genesee County Court this afternoon.

John Anthony Cabrera Jr., 22, entered guilty pleas to Class D felony counts of burglary and escape. Each of the three convictions carry a possible sentence of two-and-a-third to seven years, and each sentence could be served consecutively.

Sentencing for Cabrera was set for 9:15 a.m., Dec. 4.

The plea is in satisfaction of multiple charges against Cabrera, who was captured July 24 after breaking into St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 31 Washington Ave., Batavia.

There may be additional charges against Cabrera, but this plea covers those charges as well. In order for any victims to recover restitution, Cabrera must be charged of those suspected crimes before he is sentenced on this plea.

So far, there are claims of restitution from St. Paul's and Genesee County totally nearly a $1,000 and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said there willl be additional claims filed prior to Dec. 4.

In order for the plea deal to stand, Cabrera cannot dispute any restitution claims.

There was a spate of church burglaries in early summer prior to Cabrera's arrest, including at St. Mary's, Ascension West, First Baptist and St. James.

After he was arrested, Cabrera managed to escape from the Genesee County Jail, though he was captured before he could actually get out of the building.

For previous coverage, click here.

October 9, 2012 - 1:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, alexander.

It's another beautiful fall day in Genesee County. This morning I left the house just before sunrise to see what pictures I might be able to make. I drove to Creek Road and circled back on Cookson Road.

Above, the pond at Baskin Livestock on Creek Road at sunrise.

Cookson Road

Cookson Road

Back on Creek Road

October 9, 2012 - 1:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A Tonawanda business was evacuated early this morning after an employee found what he thought was an explosive device in the work space of Paul Kaiser.

Kaiser, 26, of 12335 Bullis Road, East Aurora, was charged in Le Roy yesterday with criminal possession of a weapon after a homemade hand grenade was allegedly found in the trunk of his car.

At 8:30 a.m., a co-worker at Anderson Equipment Company reported finding what appeared to be an explosive device in Kaiser's area of the building.

It turned out to be a novelty item and posed no threat, according to WIVB.

The Erie County Bomb Squad searched the building and found no evidence of weapons or explosive devices concealed there.

According to WIVB, authorities do not believe Kaiser planted the novelty item with the intent to scare people. He faces no new charges in Erie County related to this incident.

October 9, 2012 - 12:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion.

A Pavilion resident was uninjured early this morning after falling asleep and crashing his car on Route 246 in the Town of Covington.

Christopher Barbis, 26, was, however, cited by the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office for alleged failure to keep right.

Barbis was southbound on Route 237 at 2:23 a.m. when he reportedly fell asleep at the wheel.

His car had substantial front-end damage after striking a National Grid utility pole.

Pavilion Fire Department responded to the scene.

No other vehicles were involved.

October 9, 2012 - 10:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Robert Alexander.

Some time within the next couple of days, Corfu Justice Robert Alexander will receive a letter from the Village of Corfu Board of Trustees reprimanding him for allegedly harassing and intimidating his court clerk.

Pamela Yasses, who has clerked for Alexander since September 2011, lodged a formal complaint with the trustees at the board's regular meeting Monday night.

The complaint has its roots in how Yasses came to be court clerk in the first place: as a replacement for Brandi Watts, the daughter of Alexander, who was dismissed from her job after it was determined she couldn't work for her father as a clerk.

During this same period of time, a state audit of court records found the court is potentially missing as much as $30,000 in funds received as fines or bail money.

The Judicial Review Commission is reportedly investigating the matter.

Alexander has not responded to an email request for a comment on the complaint filed by Yasses.

According to the account given by Yasses on Monday, shortly after being hired by the trustees, she was asked by Alexander, who is her direct supervisor, to conduct an internal audit of court financial records.

At the same time, Alexander sent a letter to all village residents saying the accusations of financial irregularities could easily be refuted, but "I refuse to lower myself to such tactics, and even much worse by doing so in the news media."

Instead, Alexander announced that he ordered Yasses and then part-time clerk Tom Ingram to conduct an "objective investigation and document the truth."

He promised to release the results no matter what the outcome.

Yasses said Monday night that the internal audit was completed in March and she found evidence of missing funds that "paralleled" the state's findings.

A substantial amount of money is missing, she said, and new evidence continues to emerge of possible misplaced funds the longer she's on the job.

Alexander never released the audit results to village residents as promised, according to the conversation during the meeting.

Instead, according to Yasses, he has tried numerous times to contrive ways to force her out of her job.

"His treatment and attitude towards me has shifted, becoming intimidating, and quite frankly unacceptable," Yasses said. "The continual threat of forcing my resignation or possibly firing me is not something that should be tolerated. I do believe what I am experiencing is classified as harassment."

As a personnel matter, Yasses could have requested her case be heard in closed session, but she said she preferred to address the matter publicly.

While Alexander supervises the clerk's position, the clerk is an employee of the Village of Corfu and only the trustees have the power to terminate her employment, according to village attorney Mark Boylan.

While Alexander has allegedly ordered Yasses on numerous occasions to not communicate with trustees, Boylan said the judge doesn't have the authority to prohibit the clerk from talking to the elected officials who pay her wages.

Though Yasses said Alexander has allegedly harassed her since she completed the internal audit, things apparently came to a head about a month ago after Yasses agreed to do a favor for a Corfu police officer by mailing out a traffic ticket to a citizen.

While it's unclear whether Yasses used an envelope with with a Village of Corfu Court return address, Alexander has accused her of using such an envelope.

Yasses read from an email she said she received from Alexander about the matter:

I'm contemplating what action I am taking about the gross violation of the issue with Officer Retzlaff's ticket. The powers that are in charge are researching whether you committed a violation of the law or just a gross violation of ethical issues in the matter. Hopefully, we'll have the reply by this week or early next week and I will then decide what I am going to do as it applies to your removal from the clerk position, given a chance to resign, or other less drastic measures to see that you never do such an egregious violation.

Boylan told the trustees that the village is facing a potential lawsuit and needed to take action to protect Yasses from Alexander.

"There needs to be a letter, some sort of written admonishment from this board to the judge instructing him to cease and desist his activities," Boylan said. "He cannot continue to conduct himself in this manner. Clearly, this is harassment and clearly this board has an obligation to protect its employee, to safeguard her."

If Alexander fails to comply with the board's request, Boylan said the board could begin proceedings to remove Alexander from office. He said the procedure isn't easy and would take some time.

Out of concern that once Alexander finds out about the complaint lodged by Yasses, but before he receives the letter, he will harass Yasses further, the board agreed to give Yasses a week off with pay. However, upon discussion, it was determined certain court tasks must be completed this week, so she was instructed to only come into the office at times when other employees or trustees are present.

Trustee Art Ianni several times asked Yasses if she understood what she was taking on by bringing a complaint about an elected official to the board.

"This isn't a hot dog stand," Ianni said. "Just because you don't like the guy who puts the mustard on the roll doesn't mean we can get rid of him."

Regardless of how difficult it might be to remove Alexander from office, Mayor Todd Skeet said that as employers, the board needed to ensure employees were protected from a hostile work environment.

"One of the things I think I should say as mayor is that everyone of our employees should come to work happy and go home happy," Skeet said. "If I put myself in Pam's shoes, I'd be pretty unhappy."

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Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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