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March 3, 2011 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident.

A two-car accident with injuries has been reported at the intersection of Dublin and Jericho roads, Bergen.

Bergen fire and ambulance dispatched.

UPDATE 5:41 p.m.: Sounds like very minor injuries.

March 3, 2011 - 2:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu.

The dispatch center was just informed that because of unspecified technical problems, National Grid is planning to cut power to the entire Village of Corfu at 4:30 p.m.

The outage will effect businesses, residence and street lights.

The person informing dispatch said, "unless the problem gets worse and they need to cut power sooner."

He requested traffic control for Main and Route 77 during the outage.

UPDATE 4:28 p.m.: No power outage will be necessary to fix the electrical problem this afternoon, according to National Grid.

The transformers can be switched out, replacing the broken one, without power loss.

March 3, 2011 - 2:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

There were no injuries in a two-car accident at Main and Swan streets at approximately 1:50 p.m.

Batavia police and fire departments responded.

Traffic going eastbound was slowed for about 15 minutes.

March 3, 2011 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) today called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to rescind inequitable cuts to education funding that unfairly burden Western New York’s children. In a letter to the governor, Assemblyman Hawley detailed the ways that the budget proposal favors downstate students at the expense of those Upstate.

“There should be no barrier when it comes to the education of our children,” said Hawley. “Upstate pupils are slated to receive substantially deeper cuts per pupil than those Downstate; an average of $800 more. I am sure you would agree that each and every child in New York State should receive an equal education.”

Full text of Hawley's letter after the jump:

March 3, 2011 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama.

Law enforcement units are in the area of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation searching for a black Sonoma pickup that may be driven by an alleged cigarette thief.

The driver is suspected of grabbing several cartons of cigarettes from a shop on the reservation and fleeing.

UPDATE 12:12 p.m.: A possible suspect stopped on Galloway Road.

March 3, 2011 - 11:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Pavilion.

A pair of brothers from Pavilion are being accused of dealing cocaine and were arraigned in Pavilion Town Court on Tuesday following their arrest by Deputy Brian Thompson.

Cocaine, marijuana and fireworks were allegedly found in their Ellicott Road home.

The brothers are David James Chauncey (top, right), 21, and Steven Michael Chauncey (bottom, left), 20.

Both were charged with criminal possession of a narcotic with intent to sell and criminal possession of marijuana, 4th, as well as unlawful dealing with fireworks.

Following their arraignment they were released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

March 3, 2011 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

In separate investigations, the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force announced the arrest of three Batavia residents allegedly involved in drugs.

Accused of dealing cocaine is Juan A. Roman, 33, of Walnut Street.

Roman allegedly sold a quantity of cocaine to an undercover agent.

An arrest was made Tuesday by task force members and Batavia police officers after Roman was seen walking on Main Street.

He is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

Following his arraignment before Judge Robert C. Noonan, Roman was jailed without bail.

Arrested on Monday were Nicholas A. Pleace, 24, of Pratt Road and Suzan M. Fincher, 51, of Pratt Road.

Pleace and Fincher are accused of growing 19 marijuana plants at their residence on Pratt Road. They were also allegedly found in possession of cocaine and oxycodone.

The were both charged with criminal possession of marijuana, 2nd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th.

The pair were released under the supervision of Genesee Justice following an arraignment in front of Justice Mike Cleveland, Town of Batavia Court.

March 3, 2011 - 7:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, byron.

Yesterday a reader said she was hoping I would take some more pictures of the countryside of Genesee County again soon, and with a nice sky and a little time late yesterday afternoon, what more encouragement did I need?

I started out along Caswell Road near South Byron (the two pictures below) and then headed out to this cemetery (above) along Batavia-Byron Road, which I spied some time ago as a potentially good place for a sunset picture.

March 2, 2011 - 10:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, Brian Hillabush.

Brian HillabushBrian Hillabush, who spent nearly a decade at  Batavia Daily News building a reputation as a solid sportswriter who cared about the players he covered, was found dead at his home in Batavia this evening.

He was 33.

No cause of death has been determined, according to Sgt. John Peck of the Batavia Police Department.

The coroner referred the case to the Monroe County Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

There was no evidence of foul play nor anything suspecious about his death, Peck said.

Hillabush joined the staff of The Batavian in September 2008 and was sports editor until February 2009 when the original owner of The Batavian, GateHouse Media, ended its association with the site and laid off Hillabush.

Brian had been attending Genesee Community College.

In the past hour or so dozens of messages of condolence have appeared on the wall of Hilly's Facebook page.

March 2, 2011 - 12:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

All along the process, the city's 2011/12 budget had its detractors, from the 1.4-percent property tax increase to the $13 per household water and sewer rate increase and its creation of an economic development position.

But in the end, there were only two no votes among the nine Batavia City Council members as the budget passed muster Tuesday night.

"Batavia is in pretty good shape," said Councilman Frank Ferrando. "That took a lot of work the past three or four years. We've made cuts, we did away with the ambulance service, we did some things that weren't too easy and worked ourselves into a position from where I thought we could go bankrupt or 'where are we going to get the money?' to where we are today. This budget keeps that going. I think this is a sound budget."

Council members Sam Barone and Rose Mary Christian both voted "no."

The biggest objection raised by council members -- and by John Roach (top inset), the only citizen to speak to the budget -- was the creation of an economic development position.

The position will be funded by $10,000 from the city and money from the revolving loan grant fund.

"Nobody (from the GCEDC or BID) has come forward to say they want this position," said Councilwoman Kathy Briggs (bottom inset). "I question whether we can even use the revolving loan money. What did the original grant say about what percentage of the money can be used for administration? I think we need to put this on hold until some future time -- strike it out of the budget."

Councilman Bill Cox said at a time when the city's young people are moving elsewhere for jobs, and none of the critics of the plan have offered a better alternative for creating economic opportunity in the city, he supports creation of the position.

"We need take action," Cox said. "We need to take a step forward if we don’t take action on this we’re going to lose another year and we're going to go down even further. This is the only thing anybody has recommended that makes sense and is doable."

Councilman Bob Bialkowski raised concerns about increasing taxes at a time of economic distress. Bialkowski pointed to the situation in the Middle East and rising oil prices, rising grocery prices, and said -- along with the lack of cost-of-living adjustments for seniors on fixed incomes -- a tax increase is going to hit many people pretty hard.

Barone suggested there was still fat to be trimmed from the $22 million spending plan.

"I still think there are places we can cut," Barone said. "It's only 1.4 percent, but the economy is still in bad shape."

The tax hike amounts to about $70,000 in additional revenue for the city.

March 2, 2011 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield.

Stephanie Lynn Corke, 29, of Root Road, Albion, is charged with petit larceny. Corke is accused of taking possession of a dog owned by another person and making no effort to find the owner or return the dog.

Nicholas Aaron Doxey, 25, of Niagara Street, Lockport, is charged with petit larceny and endangering the welfare of a child. Doxey is accused of shoplifting from Target while in the presence of his child and family members under 17 years of age.

Joseph Thomas Bortel, 39, of Knowlesville Road, Oakfield, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, unlawful possession of marijuana and failure to keep right. Bortel was stopped at 4:49 p.m., Tuesday, in the area of 130 Bank St., Batavia, by Deputy Timothy Wescott.

March 1, 2011 - 11:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, tax auction.

One of the bidders who won a residence in the city's tax lien auction appeared at Monday's city council meeting and accused the city of violating the terms of the purchase contract.

Daniel Lang's father is actually listed as the winning bidder on 20 Franklin St., but Lang said he was planning to pay for the house and move in with his family.

However, he said, the city failed to honor its purchase contract with him by not closing the deal within 30 days of the Jan. 29 auction.

"We want to pull out of the contract and have our $10,000 deposit refunded," Lang said. "The contract is no longer valid."

City Attorney George Van Nest demurred.

It would be inaccurate, Van Nest said, to say the contract was no longer valid or that the 30 day period had been violated because the purchase cannot be approved until the council has a chance to meet and review the purchase.

"This is the next opportunity for the council to act on real property sales," Van Nest said. "To the extent that the council does move forward, the purchase can be finalized."

The winning bid was $36,000.

As Van Nest spoke, Lang and his father were nearly coming out of their chairs wanting to speak again, but under meeting rules, their time to speak was over.

The contract reads:

TERMS OF THE AUCTION: The property is sold subject to confirmation and approval by the City Council of the City of Batavia within thirty days (30) days hereof.

After a closed session to discuss the real estate transaction, the council voted to approve the sale.

After the meeting Lang, who moved back to Batavia recently from South Carolina, said he and his wife, along with their children, have been living with his parents.  With the sale now approved, he said he doesn't know what he's going to do, whether to insist the contract was voided by the lack of action for 30 days, or just accept the approved sale.

He said he and his wife just want to get into their own house as soon as possible.

"We just want to get back to being a normal family again," Lang said.

In all, the council approved the auction purchase of four properties, including 507 Ellicott St., which was won by a company owned by Jeremy Yasses.

Council members Sam Barone and Bob Bialkowski objected to the sale of the property to Yasses, but a motion by Bialkowski to consider the property separately from the other purchases was defeated on a 7-2 vote.

Diana Page was approved to purchase 308 Washington Ave. for $1,800 as well as 48 Riverview Parkway for $100. Tom Englerth was approved for purchase of 21 South Lyon St.

In the city report on past landowner code violations, Englerth was allegedly cited for putting on a roof without a permit. He did eventually get a permit, according to the report.

That alleged violation came on 9 Willow Ave., the same property Englerth was able to purchase after a bid from local landlord Michael Pullinzi was rejected last year by the council for allegedly having too many code violations on his existing properties.

March 1, 2011 - 10:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

Press release from GCEDC:

For the seventh year running, Genesee County has been named one of the nation's Top 10 Micropolitans by Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup edition.

A micropolitan area is defined as a city with a population of 50,000 or less that serves as the seat of a region or county. There are currently 576 micropolitan areas in USA and Puerto Rico.

The Batavia Micropolitan and Genesee County were first recognized in 2004 and ranked 7th in the nation. In 2005, the Batavia Micropolitan was named the third fastest growing micropolitan in the nation and the No. 1 location in the Northeast. Batavia made the list again in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2010, the Batavia Micropolitan was tied for ninth in the nation.

"Despite the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the GCEDC was able to participate in 23 projects and again earned honors as a Top Micropolitan." said CEO Steve Hyde. "It's an accomplishment we are proud of and that will continue to bring our region national exposure and recognition.

"The Fastest Growing Micropolitan Award helped us increase our project volume. It is an honor that we share with the entire community, including our local and regional partners and elected officials."

March 1, 2011 - 10:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, elba, pembroke.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to cap the annual salaries of school district superintendents and if his proposal goes through, one Genesee County superintendent could see a nearly $90,000 cut in pay.

Under the cap plan, all of the other county superintendents are earning less than what Gov. Cuomo's plan says they could earn.

Currently, the highest paid school superintendent in the county is Pembroke's Gary Mix. He earns $232,307 per year.

For a school district the size of Pembroke's, according to Cuomo, Mix's pay should be capped at $145,000.

WBTA's Geoff Redick spoke with Mix.

"I understand that the governor is politically ambitious," says Mix. "He's picked a group of people -- the 700 superintendents in New York -- that in many communities, particularly in small communities, they can often be among the more highly compensated people in the community."

Mix says he grew up the oldest of eight children. His father was a postal worker who also took many odd jobs to support his large family.

So, "I understand the feelings about other people's compensation and benefits," says Mix. "(But) education is crucial, it's important. I hope we truly value it."

On the other end of the spectrum, Elba's Jerome Piwko might want to ask for a raise. He's making only $81,120. While Elba's student population is a rather small 494, Cuomo's plan says Piwko could have his pay capped at $135,000. 

That puts Piwko's pay nearly $55,000 under Cuomo's proposed pay scale. That's the largest disparity between Cuomo's cap proposal and what a current Genesee county superintendent is earning.

For the rest of Geoff's story, click here.

March 1, 2011 - 3:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, tax auction.

Twelve foreclosed properties, assessed at more than $637,000 total, will be auctioned off Saturday as Genesee County attempts to recover unpaid taxes on them.

In all, the county would need to yield at least $102,830 from the auction to recover all of the unpaid taxes.

The properties include six single-family residences and range in lot size from .12  up to nearly 20 acres.

Here's a complete list of available properties:

  • 7016 Macumber Road, Alabama, mobile home, .46 acres; Assessed, $48,200; Taxes owed, $3,778.70.
  • 10 Edgewood Drive, Batavia, single-family residence, .61 acres (and neighboring parcel); Assessed, $185,000; Taxes owed,$33,938.61.
  • Pearl Street Road, Batavia, vacant lot, .28 acres; Assessed $1,300; Taxes owed $694.41.
  • 7521 Mechanic St., Byron, single-family residence, .53 acres; Assessed $30,000; Taxes owed, $5,508.57.
  • 11036 South St. Road, Pavilion, single-family residence and out buildings, .06 acres; Assessed $56,800; Taxes owed $1,150.60.
  • 8562 Lake Road, Pembroke, residence with small improvements; Assessed $20,000; Taxes owed $2,019.39.
  • Alleghany Road, corner of Cohocton, Pembroke, 10 acres, rural vacant lot; Assessed $6,300; Taxes owed $994.97.
  • 6128 Sweetland Road, Stafford, 19.77 acres with buildings;  Assessed $37,300; Taxes owed $8,101.81.
  • 103 Lake St., Le Roy, single-family residence, 2.3 acres; Assessed $72,400; Taxes owed $12,820.58.
  • 21 Lake St., Le Roy, single-family residence, 5.6 acres; Assessed $88,900; Taxes owed $14,343.02.
  • 5 Pleasant Ave., two-family residence, .12 acres; Assessed $31,000; Taxes owed $11,124.13.
  • 34 N. Pearl St., Oakfield, single-family residence, .15 acres; Assessed $60,300; Taxes owed $8,358.20.

The auction begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 5, at Bontrager's Auction Center, 8975 Wortendyke Road in the Town of Batavia.

March 1, 2011 - 12:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

We've heard from several residents of Le Roy and parents that Wolcott Street Elementary School has been evacuated.

We do know some time ago, the Le Roy Fire Department was asked to assemble at its fire hall for an "incident."

We don't know if the two items are related.

Attempts to reach the Le Roy Police or school district officials have been unsuccessful.

We have no further information at this time.

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: "The situation is resolved. Units are released." That's the scene as it stands. After receiving a threat in the form of a written note, the school was evacuated, according to district employee Brian Fuller. State police arrived and other emergency responders and nothing was found after a thorough search. A canine was used in the process.

UPDATE 1:27 p.m.: The children are being escorted back into their classrooms.

UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: The school principal declined to comment.

UPDATE 1:52 p.m.: Fuller said at around noon graffiti was found in a bathroom claiming a bomb was in the building. The 630 students were evacuated and parents were notified via an automated districtwide phone call. The bomb-sniffing canine found nothing and now the students have resumed what's left of their school day.

March 1, 2011 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, tax auction.

Jeremy Yasses has plans to make 507 Ellicott St. beautiful again, but first he needs the Batavia City Council to approve his purchase of the property.

In the city's annual tax lien auction, Yasses bid on the property and won it for $5,000 under the corporate name Trine Properties, Inc.

But last year the council set a precedent by denying Michael Pullinzi the ability to buy 9 Willow St.,saying Pullinzi was a landlord with too many alleged code violations against his properties.

Once again, council members are receiving a memo from city staff on the number and types of alleged violations against this year's auction winners, and Yasses tops the list with 11 alleged violations.

All of the violations have been corrected, according to the report.

The violations are on properties Yasses or his wife own and are rental properties.

Today, Yasses noted that it was Trine Properties, Inc. that bought 507 Ellicott St., not Jeremy Yasses. Yasses said he's just an officer in the company and there are investors that back Trine.

Trine does not want to buy the Ellicott Street residence in order to turn it into a rental. The intention, Yasses said, is to rehabilitate it and sell it.

To help make his case, Yasses sent a letter to the city -- included in the council agenda package -- outlining his plans for the property and including before and after pictures of properties his company has previously rehabilitated.

Yasses says he wants to get out of the rental business -- if only he could sell his current properties -- and just deal in rehab projects.

He has been involved in rehabilitating about a dozen properties in Genesee and Orleans counties over the past two years. He's just about to sell a place in Alabama that after rehab has increased in assessed value by $20,000.

"I want to make the house beautiful and improve the neighborhood," Yasses said. "I think that's what the council is after. It would be a positive for the city."

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