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January 22, 2011 - 2:26pm

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Local author Thomas Talbot, whose new novel "The Craft" is based on the disappearance of William Morgan, was at Present Tense today signing copies of his book.

January 22, 2011 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

Scratch Bakery, 24 Main St. Le Roy, NY: A real bakery right in Genesee County. Scones, cookies, cakes, breads, rolls and more. Call ahead, 297-2441, for availability or special orders. We have $10 gift certificates for $5.

The Daily Grind, 85 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: For Batavia's finest coffee, smoothies, as well as fast and convenient breakfasts and lunches, stop into The Daily Grind. We have a $10 gift card for $5.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Stafford Trading Post, 6173 Main Road, Stafford, NY: Lunch or dinner, Stafford Trading Post offers a variety of fresh, homemade meals, as well as snacks and drinks. Now in a new, expanded location. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Clor's Meat Market, 4169 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: For the best, most flavorful, juiciest chicken or hamburger in town, hands down, stop by Clor's. Oh, and the steaks are great, too. And the sausage. Clor's also serves lunch and dinners from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Kravings, Valu Plaza, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Kraving's offers soups, salads and sandwiches, fresh and flavorful; Monday through Saturday. We have $10 gift certificates for $5.

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Exercise your soul as well as your body in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. We have a gift certificate for three weeks of yoga, 3 classes, a $30 value, for $15.

Alli's Cones & Dogs, 7063 Lewiston Road, Oakfield, NY: Full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu; new all-you-can-eat salad bar; ice cream served year-round; eat-in or take-out. We have $20 gift certificates for $10.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

January 22, 2011 - 12:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

mug_lendle_tucker.jpgA Batavia man is facing 42 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument after members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force searched his residence on Spencer Court and allegedly found forged U.S. currency with a face value of $940.

Taken into custody and jailed with no bail is Lendle R. Tucker, 28.

Also seized on Friday were Tucker's computer and printers.

He was also allegedly found in possession of marijuana, and so charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana.

The arrest of Lendle reportedly follows an investigation by the task force into the production and possession of forged U.S currency.

Lendle was allegedly found in possession of forged currency in various denominations.

The investigation is continuing and further arrests are possible.

Assisting in the investigation were Le Roy Police, Batavia Police, the District Attorney's Office and Orleans County Major Crimes Task Force.

January 22, 2011 - 12:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime.

mugs_lucien_marks.jpgA Bergen man has been arrested by the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force and accused of possessing $1,000 in drugs and nearly $1,000 in cash.

Lucien J. Marks, 31, of South Lake Road, was taken into custody following the execution of a search warrant at his residence.

He was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana

Investigators say they found more than a half ounce of cocaine, a quantity of pills, marijuana and $924 in cash.

The task force is comprised of members of the Sheriff's Office, Batavia Police and Le Roy Police.

The execution of the warrant was the culmination of a month-long investigation.

Marks was jailed on $25,000 bail.

January 22, 2011 - 12:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield.

A Batavia man was arrested in Oakfield on Jan. 14 after allegedly being found in possession of a shotgun with its serial numbers removed.

A Sheriff's Office press release accuses Jeffery T. Peyman, 21, of Ellicott Street, of possessing a shotgun with its serial numbers obscured with the intent of concealing the gun's identity.

Peyman was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd. He was located on Pearl Street Road in Oakfield allegedly in possession of the shotgun.

The arrest was made by the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Peyman was arraigned and jailed on $5,000 bail.

January 21, 2011 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, alexander, Darien.

A chimney fire has been reported at 2225 Bennett Road, Alexander.

The location is just east of Simmons Road.

Darien Fire, all equipment, with one tanker from Alexander and one from Corfu, requested to the scene.

Mercy EMS also dispatched.

UPDATE 4:34 p.m.: Chief on scene says, "no smoke showing."

UPDATE 4:37 p.m.: Fire appears out. A thermal camera is requested.
View Larger Map

January 21, 2011 - 3:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

At the request of The Batavian, the Genesee County Economic Development Center sent over a one-page summary of a compensation survey completed in 2008.

The survey gathered compensation information from 26 IDAs from across the United States, comparing budget, staffing and executive compensation.

Handwritten notes on the summary indicate GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde earned a base salary of $134,550 and the average salary of the 26 agencies was $148,000, with his total compensation set at $171,600 compared to an average of $166,600.

Download (PDF).

Previously:

January 21, 2011 - 3:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford.

A one-car rollover accident has been reported at Griswold Road and Route 33, Stafford.

One person is trapped in the car, but is not believed to be injured.

Stafford Fire is responding.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: Driver is out of the car and reportedly suffered minor cuts on his or her hand.

January 21, 2011 - 11:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A pre-trial hearing, called a felony hearing, was postponed today for Patrick Donahue, the 21-year-old Batavia man accused of rape in the first degree.

Donahue made bail, removing the legal requirement to have the felony hearing within a few days of his arrest.

The hearing is the first chance his attorney gets at challenging the evidence against him.

Donahue is accused of raping a 30-year-old woman at a residence on Walnut Street on Jan. 10.

January 21, 2011 - 8:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's, a great place for pizza, wings, subs -- eat in, take out or delivery. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

O'Lacy's Irish Pub, 5 School St. Batavia, NY: In Irish pubs, it doesn't get more authentic than O'Lacy's. Be sure to try the homemade chips. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Red Osier, Route 5, Stafford, NY: Truly, one of the landmark restaurants of the area. Red Osier features prime rib carved table side. We have $25 gift certificates for $12.50.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

South Beach, 59 Main St., Batavia, NY: Try the new lunch buffet. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50 (must be used by Feb. 28, 2011).

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: When you're looking for an authentic Mexican meal, Margarita's is the place to go. The food and atmosphere are perfect and the service is always outstanding. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Batavia Downs Grandstand Bar & Grille, 8315 Park Road, Batavia, NY: A full menu, salad bar and drinks in one of the region's most popular entertainment venues. We have $25 gift certificates for $12.50. (Must be new or current Players Club member to redeem.)

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

January 20, 2011 - 6:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Lorie Longhany, senior center.

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Above, Lorie Longhany with Dr. Maidul Kahn and the opening tonight of the "Young at Art" show at the Senior Center. Kahn is one of Longhany's newer students. He's holding one of his paintings. It's of Centennial Park in the fall.

Other artists on display are Marie Washburn, Kathy Roblee, Carol La Valley, Longhany, the late David Rice, Sue Morgan, Farrel Ann Burdick, Joan Scherff, Rosemary Christian, Pat Fletcher and Elisa Di Pietro.

Below, Christian talks with visitor's about another artist's work. 

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January 20, 2011 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

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A motor-vehicle accident with injuries has been reported at the intersection of Ellicott and Liberty streets, City of Batavia.

UPDATE: The accident was actually about 100 yards west of Liberty on Ellicott. One person was hurt, but the injuries are apparently minor. It appears that one car rear-ended another.

January 20, 2011 - 4:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

A state report critical of compensation practices of the Genesee Economic Development Center is neither fair nor accurate, county and agency officials are saying today.

"We've done nothing wrong," said Jim Vincent, vice chairman of the GCEDC board of directors. "Nobody likes to be criticized, but we stand by what we've done. We are being criticized for our success."

The Authorities Budget Office report strongly condemns how more than $344,000 in bonuses have been awarded to GCEDC staff since 2005 and also expresses concerns about the $153,000 annual base salary paid to Director Steve Hyde. (Read: Previous Story)

Vincent said everything the GCEDC has done was cleared by an attorney and performed in accordance with state law.

"This is a difference of opinion," Vincent said. "They (the ABO) thinks we did it the wrong way. We think we did it the right way. We truly feel we have a dynamic organization.

"We've done everything legally, properly and transparently, and we continue to produce results."

While referring most questions to Vincent, the director said everything about compensation is a board decision and Vincent should speak for the board. Hyde was also critical of the ABO report.

"The report is using only half-truths in a lot of ways and disregarded a lot of the facts and information we provided them," Hyde said. "But that's the regulatory environment we live in."

Hyde said the ABO disregarded performance models provided by GCEDC and a compensation survey that showed his salary was right in line with 26 other similar IDA's across the nation.

The GCEDC claims it has generated $409 million in capital improvements for Genesee County businesses (full list, PDF).

In a memo released by the GCEDC late this afternoon, GCEDC attorney Robert J. Ryan said the ADO's report is wrong in stating the board didn't have the authority to set compensation as it sees fit and issue bonuses according to its own guidelines.

Ryan:

... the ABO Report concludes that the Agency does not have the legal authority to pay incentives or additional compensation. This is the opinion of the ABO and not based in law. The General Municipal Law explicitly provides the Agency the ability to establish and pay compensation out of Agency funds. We are unaware of and the ABO has not provided any legal authority that would prohibit the Agency’s compensation package being based upon salary and a performance incentive.

ABO Director David Kidera said his agency was really trying to get across two points in its report:

  • First, that the GCEDC is really dealing in public funds, "even if they don't see it that way," and the kind of profit-sharing plan the board has been using isn't appropriate or legal.
  • Second, that while the GCEDC board says it has followed procedure and been transparent in its compensation practices, the board can't really produce any documentation to support its claims.

Because the bonus payments were not appropriate, Kidera said, the report recommends that the payments be "recovered."

That means, he said today, the board should ask employees to return the $344,000 in bonus payments they've received since 2005.

He implied he realizes that isn't necessarily a realistic expectation.

"I think we're required to say that because these bonuses were paid inappropriately, that because in the absence of any proper procedures for paying bonuses -- and these are taxpayer funds -- the board should seek to rectify that," Kidera said.

"Is that going to happen? I don't know. I realize we're talking about employees here and this might not happen in the private sector, but we would be remiss in our responsibilities if we just said, 'it's wrong,' and then let it go."

Kidera acknowledged that the ABO has no real authority to enforce its recommendations. It's up to the GCEDC board, he said, whether to implement its recommendations, or up to the legislature to replace the board if it doesn't like the board's response to the recommendations.

Otherwise the only thing the ABO can do is issue a follow-up report on the board and county's response to the initial report.

He did say a copy of the report was sent to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman with the idea that the DA's office could investigate any potential legal wrongdoing.

Friedman said that he's received the report but that it's really too soon to say if any sort of legal proceedings would follow.

Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature, said it is not the legislature's role to act in an oversight capacity of the GCEDC. She said the procedures put in place creating IDAs, put the IDAs at arm's-length from county legislatures. The legislature doesn't approve the budget or operations of the GCEDC. 

While GCEDC board members are appointed by the Genesee County Legislature, the time for dealing with issues related to any appointee are when it's time to renew a term or make new appointments.

The county just finished a budget process that required sacrifice from several departments and nearly led to the elimination of the county's nationally recognized, pioneering restorative justice program, Genesee Justice. In order to save the program, the agency's director, Ed Minardo, volunteered to resign.

Hancock said the county's share of funding for GCEDC was cut by 15 percent, reducing it to about $266,000, and Hancock said that is money well spent.

"It has been demonstrated that the magnification of each dollar we put into GCEDC, because of their success in attracting business, we've found that contribution has come back to us many times over," Hancock said.

Legislator Hollis Upson, who is also a member of the GCEDC board of directors, also defended the agency as an important engine of economic growth in Genesee County.

"Arguably, Steve Hyde brings something of value to Genesee County," Upson said. "The compensation and bonuses came strictly from performance and results. (Staff) compensation came out of generated income"

Pointing to a previous post on The Batavian listing the salaries of the top 25 public officials in Genesee County, Upson noted 20 of the top 25 were education executives.

"The superintendents and officials at BOCES work a lot fewer hours, I would suggest, and they don't generate income," Upson said. "We are helping them (school officials) by generating a tax base.

"So while the perception would be that (Hyde makes a lot more money than other officials in the county), someone who would look at it from only that standpoint, well there's a lot more to it."

January 20, 2011 - 11:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, alexander, Darien, Ron Wendt.

Ronald J. Wendt, convicted last year in the drinking-and-driving death of an 18-year-old Dansville girl, appeared in County Court today to have his sentence on two of his charges corrected.

On two charges of assault, 2nd, Wendt was given two-and-a-half to seven years as an "indeterminant" sentence, meaning he could serve any portion of that range and be eligible for parole. 

Since his initial sentence, however, authorities realized that on charges of assault, 2nd, a defendant cannot receive an indeterminate sentence.

Today, Judge Robert C. Noonan sentenced Wendt to a two-and-a-half years determinant sentence on those charges.

The change doesn't effect Wendt's sentence on other charges and since the sentencing on all 11 counts were concurrent, Wendt could still be eligible for parole in little more than a year (he served more than a year in jail while awaiting trial prior to his conviction).

For previous sentencing coverage, click here.

Also in court this morning, Patricia Hardesty, accused of shooting her husband in the knee during a domestic dispute in August, entered not guilty pleas to three felony charges, including assault, 1st, and assault, 2nd. Hardesty is out of jail and under the supervision of Genesee Justice. Her husband requested that no order of protection be placed in the case, so none was issued. The couple continues to reside together in their County Line Road home.

January 20, 2011 - 11:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

Jody B. Gillett, 50, of Pine Hollow Drive, Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .18 or greater. Gillett was arrested after allegedly being observed by Le Roy Police Officer John Duyssen driving at an excessive speed and spinning the car around in the Tops Market parking lot.

January 19, 2011 - 11:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC.

The Genesee County Economic Development Center should recover more than $344,000 in bonus payments to employees made from 2005 through 2009, according to a report issued Wednesday by New York Authorities Budget Office.

The ABO is responsible for fiscal oversight of certain local agencies, including industrial development agencies.

In a scathing report (pdf), ABO officials say that GCEDC made bonus payments that do not comply either with state law or guidelines.

In the case of one bonus payment, the report recommends the matter be referred to a local law enforcement agency for further review.

"GCIDA (aka, GCEDC) officials justified its bonus practices as proper and comparable to bonus incentive plans in use by private industry," the report reads. "GCIDA officials continue to show a lack of understanding that the GCIDA is a public entity and not a private industry."

The report is also critical of the $153,000 annual salary for Executive Directory Steve Hyde. Hyde's base salary is the highest in the state for any IDA, the report states, and significantly higher than any IDA director in Western New York, and higher by far than any other public employee in Genesee County.

In 2009, GCEDC paid out $91,000 in bonuses, with $60,000 going to Hyde.

The report is critical of how the board of directors arrived at its bonus structure, not using an individual's performance goals set at the beginning of a calendar year, but instead basing bonuses on available funds at the end of the year and whether overall group goals were met.

The report says that criteria violates a state comptroller's advisory opinion issued more than 10 years ago, though the state law governing IDA's does not specifically address bonus compensation.

According to the report, up until 2010, an informal subcommittee of the GCEDC board would meet and determine the bonus amount and structure for the agency's employees. Generally, the decision would be made in December with bonuses paid at the beginning of January. But in January 2007, more than $54,000 in bonus payments were disbursed even though the bonuses were not approved by the board until a month later.

While officials told ABO investigators that bonuses were paid based on agency performance, the report states that in 2008 the GCEDC did not meet its job creation goals, yet $91,000 in bonus payments were approved; and, for 2005, $55,000 in bonus payments were approved, even though GCEDC met neither goals for job creation nor capital investment.

For 2008 a $500 bonus was paid to a consultant even though there was no provision in the $60,000 contract for a bonus.

"Although we make no judgment as to whether such an expenditure of public funds is legal," the report reads, "we are referring this to local law enforcement officials for further review."

The report recommends that the $500 be recovered from the consultant. The consultant is not named in the report.

The report notes that Hyde's salary has increased from $82,950 in 2004 to $153,000  in 2009. In comparison, the IDA director in Orleans County earned $58,000 in 2009 and the Erie County director received $133,911. Among other Genesee County public employees, the District Attorney has the highest salary after Hyde at $118,187.

The report reads:

The GCIDA justified its practices, both in regard to bonus payments and salary structure, by referring to private industry standards and principals, and pointing out that GCIDA has its own private revenue source, and that payments are made with private funds. We are disheartened by this attitude and perspective.

The GCIDA relies extensively on Genesee County for financial support. For the five-year period 2004 through 2009, the GCIDA received more than $1.3 million in operating funds from Genesee County, almost 20 percent of its total operating revenues. Salary and compensation are part of the GCIDA's operating budget. So, directly or indirectly, the taxpayers of Genesee County contribute to the cost of supporting the GCIDA.

According to the GCEDC's 2011 program budget, anticipated revenue is $1.5 million with $266,217 coming from Genesee County. The remaining revenue is comprised of fees, grants -- including $475,000 from National Grid and $750,000 from the Town of Pembroke (over three years) -- and other unspecified sources.

The budget statement says that through August 2010, GCEDC supported 16 economic development projects, generated commitments for 50 new jobs over the next three years and $18.5 million in capital investment.

Among its ongoing projects: Gateway II, Buffalo East Technology Park, Med & Tech Park, Apple Tree Acres, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and WNY Stamp.

January 19, 2011 - 9:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Elections, Board of Elections.

Genesee County's six village's could face a substantial expense if they want to use the Board of Election's modern voting machines, Election Commissioner Richard Siebert told the Ways and Means Committee this afternoon.

The exact cost per village hasn't been determined yet, but it starts with more than 56 cents per ballot to feed into the machines and includes staff support and security.

Only certified staff can supervise the machines in order to ensure there is no tampering, Siebert said.

While school districts can continue to use the old lever machines through the 2012 elections, villages and fire districts are prohibited from allowing voters to pull on the old levers from now on.

The Board of Elections will bring forward a resolution to the Legislature to declare the lever machines surplus property, at which point they can be donated to school districts, if they want them.

For villages and fire districts, they have two choices: shoulder the costs of using the new election computers or use paper ballots.

Legislator Bob Bausch said that Bergen will use paper ballots for its next election.

January 19, 2011 - 8:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

A proposal to license home improvement contractors who do work in the City of Batavia is being put on hold while further research is done into how the proposed law should be implemented.

The matter has been referred to City Attorney George Van Nest.

City Manager Jason Molino told the City Council about the change in direction during the budget review meeting at City Hall tonight.

While Councilman Bob Bialkowski spoke out against the proposal and Councilwoman Rosemary Christian said she's received a lot of calls on the matter, Council Bill Cox said given the trouble he had with a contractor last year, he leans toward support the proposal.

The proposal was included in the 2011/12 budget. The plan was to impose a $125 annual license fee for contractors doing a variety of home improvement projects, from painting to driveway paving and several other types of improvements.

Christian said there was a lot of confusion about the proposal, such as some people calling her expressing concern that the kid who mows lawns during the summer would have to pay the city $125 per year.

Molino said it's those kinds of definitions that the city attorney will clear up in the research and review process.

There's no timeline for when the proposal might be brought back to the council for consideration.

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