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February 3, 2011 - 6:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos.

A murder of crows -- that's what you call a group of them, not a flock -- were hanging out on Summit Street early this evening.

With their constant caw-caw-caw they were making quite a ruckus -- like something out of Hitchcock's "The Birds." 

At one point, they seemed to have every branch in this tree covered.

February 3, 2011 - 6:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A three-car accident has been reported at East Main and Cedar streets.

It is believed to be property-damage only at this point.

February 3, 2011 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

A driver who was pulling out of the Arby's drive-thru exit on West Main Street apparently had her van roll in front of a westbound tractor-trailer.

The truck spun the van around, onto the sidewalk and into the front of an office building.

It's unknown at this point if the driver was unable to stop on ice or if she failed to yield the right-of-way.

The trucker drove on to the Tops Market parking lot where he reportedly felt it was safer to stop than on West Main Street.

Batavia Police and Fire responded along with Mercy EMS.

UPDATE: The driver of the van was Patricia A. Tomaszewski, 74, of Dodgeson Road, Alexander. Sgt. John Peck said Tomaszewski allegedly failed to yield the right-of-way and was issued a citation. He said her van struck the right rear axle of the trailer. The truck driver was John L. Kinnaird, 58, of Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. Kinnaird was cited for allegedly driving on a suspended license.

February 3, 2011 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Bethany.

While at the accident scene this afternoon, I noticed some people looking at something in the sky behind me. I turned around and it was a C-130 circling the area. One of the Mercy Flight pilots told me the C-130 pilots -- wherever they're from -- routinely make practice runs in the area.

February 3, 2011 - 3:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

UPDATED Feb. 4, 12:37 a.m.

Crews from Bethany and Stafford volunteer fire departments worked for more than an hour and 15 minutes to extricate an accident victim from his car on East Bethany-Le Roy Townline Road this afternoon.

The victim, Jordan Paul Fleming, 22, of East Bethany-Le Roy Townline Road, East Bethany, appears to have suffered leg injuries, according to Bethany's 2nd Assistant Chief John Szymkowiak. 

Fleming was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital.

The 1996 Mercedes sedan passed through a slushy part of the roadway, slid off the pavement and struck a tree on the front driver's side, according to the accident investigation report. The force of the impact collapsed the front of the car, including steering wheel and column onto the driver's legs.

The car essentially had to be dismantled into order to extricate Fleming.

One veteran firefighter described the extrication as the toughest he's ever been involved in.

Szymkowiak requested mutual aid from Stafford to help with the extrication.

(Initial Report)

More pictures after the jump:

February 3, 2011 - 12:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown.

It's an annual complaint from downtown merchants -- piles of snow that mound up between roadside parking and the sidewalk on Main Street. The snow, merchants say, discourages foot traffic into their stores.

This morning, one merchant made an effort to open a little walk way through the snow after a loader closed it with a pile of ice. The merchant said he couldn't even budge the ice block that fell onto the sidewalk.

City Manager Jason Molino said it's cost prohibitive to remove the mounds after every snowstorm, but the city does schedule a time for removal as resources permit.

Molino said there was a full city crew on last night plowing and salting, so the city is down to about half staff for today.

"Everything will be removed," Molino said, "but it depends on when we have the manpower."

Because of the heavy traffic on Main Street and the equipment needed for the removal, it can only be done at night, Molino said.

February 3, 2011 - 12:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

Vic Marchese, owner of Main St. Pizza Company, was excited to get an e-mail today of a Sri Lanka resident wearing one of his T-shirts in the country once known as Ceylon. He said a friend sent the Sri Lankan the T-shirt and arranged for the picture.

February 3, 2011 - 11:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy.

Jorge Alberto Rojas Cazares, 16, of Gully Road, Le Roy, is charged with illegal entry. Cazares came to the attention of the Sheriff's Office while Deputy Joseph Graff investigated the complaint of a person receiving unwanted text messages. The youth was turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Mark H. Poole, 44, of 104 Oak St., Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment, 2nd. Poole is accused of being in a physical altercation with a person under 17 years old. Poole was jailed on $750 bail.

February 3, 2011 - 2:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Stafford.

 

A barn is reportedly fully engulfed in flames at 6476 Randall Road, Stafford.

The structure is about 50 feet from a house.

Stafford fire along with several other companies responding.

UPDATE 3:31 a.m.: It was more of a small outer structure than a barn. Stafford Fire responded quickly and had the fire knocked down shortly after arriving on scene. The Sheriff's Office will likely release more details in a few hours.

UPDATE: The homeowner is Douglas Frew. He believes a wood stove, which he last stoked at 9:30 p.m., caused the fire. The fire completely destroyed the detached garage. Vehicles parked next to the structure suffered minor heat damage. Frew's barking dog woke him and alerted him to the fire.


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February 2, 2011 - 10:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, alexander.

An 17-year-old Alexander girl was seriously injured in a two-car accident on Wortendyke Road, Alexander, at 4:20 p.m.

Cassandra R. Koepp was transported by ground ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Justin Neureuter, 22, of Corfu, who was not injured, was cited for alleged failure to keep right, no seatbelt and aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd.

Neureuter was reportedly driving northbound on Wortendyke when his car crossed the center line and was struck by a car driven by Deborah D. Buckenmeyer, 54, of Attica.

Buckenmeyer was not injured.

Koepp was a passenger in Neureuter's vehicle. Alexander firefighters needed to extricate her from the car.

Alexander fire crews were on scene until 9 p.m. providing traffic control during the investigation.

First responders reported icy road conditions in the area.

(Initial Report)

February 2, 2011 - 4:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ways and Means Committee, Highway Department.

The county is keeping it local with the purchase of snow and ice control devices under terms of a resolution passed by the Ways and Meetings Committee this afternoon.

Companies in Oakfield and Corfu were awarded the bids.

The highway department will use state grant money to purchase an 11-foot stainless steel hopper spreader at a cost of $9,500 from Viking-Cives, 2917 Judge Road, Oakfield.

The second purchase is two 8-foot stainless steel hopper spreaders at a cost of $5,575 each from Unicorn Specialties, 2141 Main Road, Corfu.

Bids were received from six vendors for the road salt spreaders.

February 2, 2011 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

It's not the major storm once predicted, but Batavia is getting hit by a stiff wind and moderate snowfall.

February 2, 2011 - 2:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Ellicott Street.

 

Somebody has built a large snow fort on Ellicott Street, in the city, in front of St. Joe's Cemetery. It looks like the developer used one of the city's blue recycling buckets to pack snow in and then piled the blocks on top of each other.

February 2, 2011 - 2:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Three residents of the West End Trailer Park are accused of beating another resident with a metal baseball bat causing injuries serious enough to send the victim to the hospital.

The three suspects turned themselves in Jan. 22 and were each charged with assault, 2nd.

The alleged beating occurred Dec. 16 at the trailer park, 4016 W. Main St. Road, Batavia.

Charged were Anthony J. Loverdi, 41, Paul A. Loverdi, 42 and Steven L. Maltese, 41.

Anthony Loverdi and Maltese were jailed on $2,000 bail and bail was set at $10,000 for Paul Loverdi.

As many as five individuals, and possibly more, were involved in the altercation, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The victim suffered facial and back injuries.

The investigation was conducted by Deputy Brad Mazur with assistance from Investigator Timothy Weis, Deputy Tim Wescott, Deputy Cory Mower and Deputy Chris Parker.

February 2, 2011 - 12:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, byron, byron-bergen, Robert Morris School.

Two Genesee County schools are among 10 finalists to receive $50,000 grants from Pepsi Co. following a competition among thousands of grant proposal submitted to the soft drink company.

Supporters of the projects were asked to express that support through online voting and text messages in the national competition.

"We couldn't have done it without the team effort of the entire community," said Robert Morris Principal Diane Bonarigo.

Robert Morris applied for a grant to fund construction of a new playground.

The Byron-Bergen Elementary School Playground Committee also finished in the top 10.

Next, Bonarigo said, Pepsi will review the grant applications again and make sure all of the paperwork is in order. She said she expects official confirmation of the grant in a couple of weeks.

"We are very excited to be finalists," said Bonarigo. "The students are excited."

She thanked the whole community for their support and the local media for promoting the competition.

February 2, 2011 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather.

The anticipated storm didn't deliver as much snow as expected, but still enough that Batavia residents were out this morning clearing three or four inches of heavy snow from their driveways and walks.

Above, Bob Terry clears snow from his driveway on Osterhout Avenue.

February 2, 2011 - 6:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

A storm that had been expected to dump as much as a foot of snow on the region has apparently weakened.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has downgraded the previous storm warning and issued an advisory in effect until 6 p.m.

The storm is now expected to bring about two to four inches of snow mixed with sleet.

Slick driving conditions are expected.

Winds will remain strong at 15 to 25 mph.

For a list of school closings from WBTA, click here.

UMMC has cancelled all cardiac rehab classes.

UPDATE: From UMMC: "United Memorial's Cardiac Rehab Center will open at 10 a.m. today. All services at United Memorial and our affiliated sites, including Urgent Care in Le Roy are open today."

February 1, 2011 - 8:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC, Holiday Inn Express.

If Steve Hyde said it once, he said it at least a half-dozen times Tuesday during a public hearing on providing tax incentives for a proposed Holiday Inn Express in Batavia: The Genesee County Economic Development Center wants the input of other hotel owners on the potential economic impact of the proposed project.

"We are most interested in your views on what’s going on in the marketplace so we can share that with the board and they can give it thoughtful consideration," said Hyde, CEO of the GCEDC, near the end of a sometimes slightly contentious public hearing.

About a dozen local hotel operators attended the 4 p.m. meeting.

Typicall at such hearings, members of the public speak, officials listen with little or no response and the meeting ends. But Hyde repeatedly engaged speakers, either with questions or by challenging them to deliver more facts.

"If you have additional facts from validated sources that can justify your position, you should present that to us," Hyde said. "We hear you loud and clear but we need you  to provide us with verified facts."

The meeting opened with Mark Masse, VP of operations for GCEDC, presenting an overview of the proposed project and the proposed tax incentives the GCEDC can help deliver.

The developer is Michael Patel and an investment group, Chase Hotel Group, which operates in four states and eight markets. Previously, Patel owned and developed Comfort Inn in Batavia and he currently owns Hampton Inn in Batavia.

The proposed hotel would have 80 rooms and cost $3.5 million to develop.

When completed, the hotel will employ 19 full-time equivalent staff members.

Under the tax abatement proposal, Patel and Chase Hotel Group would receive $112,000 in sales tax exemption, a mortgage tax exemption of $37,500 and a property tax abatement over 10 years of $400,136.

These are taxes, according to Masse, that won't be generated if the project isn't built. 

There will be no tax reduction -- meaning no abatement of existing taxes -- for existing tax liabilities on the property.

If the project is built, it should generate more than $800,000 in sales tax over 10 years and $38,700 over 10 years in fire district fees.

The total economic benefit to the community over 10 years is estimated at more than $8.5 million.

Local hotel owners took issue with these numbers saying the figures don't account for lost business, not to mention the potential closure, of existing hotels.

"You say after the Hampton Inn opened there was an occupancy increase," said Chan Patel, owner of the Clarion Inn on Park Road (formerly the Holiday Inn). "I can prove to you that over the next two years, my occupancy went down by 10 percent."

The operators who spoke said they've all seen occupancy rates drop as new hotels have come into the market and they don't see how a market with a 48-percent occupancy rate in market with 1,000 rooms will benefit by adding 80 more rooms.

Jayesh Patel, owner of Travel Lodge, Batavia, argued, as did other hotel owners, that more rooms will mean that all of the hotels will wind up charging lower rates. The Holiday Inn Express, he said, with the benefit of tax breaks, would then have an advantage over established hotel owners who are paying all of their taxes.

"If the developer has faith in the market then they should spend money out of their own pockets rather than out of taxpayer pockets," Jayesh Patel said.

Rashi Dev, owner of the Comfort Inn, said if Michael Patel believes there is such a need for more hotel rooms in Batavia, why is he charging rates at his other property, the Hampton Inn, that are as low or lower than similarly priced hotels in the area.

"The Hampton Inn should have rates $5 or $10 (per night) higher than us," Dev said. "If he's so confident in the market, why does he need to decrease his rate?"

There were no GCEDC board members present at the meeting. GCEDC staff will present the feedback from the public hearing to the board prior to the board voting on the proposal at its March 3 meeting.

Hyde said any factual information hotel owners can provide at least two weeks prior to the March 3 meeting will also be presented to the board and that hotel owners will be given a chance to speak at the March 3 meeting.

Today, Town of Batavia also announced a public hearing on the project with the town's planning board at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 15.

Top photo: Steve Hyde; inset, Chan Patel; bottom, Mark Masse opening the meeting.

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