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January 13, 2011 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

mug_marion_hartford.jpgA Vine Street resident is accused of defrauding an elderly woman of more than $58,000 from September 2009 to October 2010.

The case came to the attention of authorities after local bank employees became suspicious of $5,500 in checks the suspect was trying to cash.

Charged grand larceny, 2nd, is Myron W. Hartford, 41, of 154 Vine St., Batavia.

Hartford was jailed on $50,000 bail.

January 13, 2011 - 1:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, Scott German.

Press release from County Treasurer Scott German:

Genesee County Treasurer Scott D. German announced today that sales tax was up in Genesee County in 2010 compared to 2009. We are up $723,777 (before distribution) over last year, German said.

We still ended up underbudget, German said. In both 2009 and 2010, the county budgeted $12,500,000 for its share of the 3 percent of sales tax. In 2009, the county ended up short of the budgeted amount by $467,000 and we will end up about $197,000 underbudget for 2010.

For the 2011 budget, the county budgeted $12,200,000 for sales tax, a $300,000 reduction from the previous two years.

January 13, 2011 - 9:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, byron, Stafford, Alabama.

Adam Richard Kopp, 20, of Bushhill Road, Farmersville, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and petit larceny. Kopp is of stealing and then possessing a quantity of Lortab tablets. Kopp was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Dana Douglas Hagen, 31, of Batavia-Byron Townline Road, Byron, is charged with DWI, moving from lane unsafely and no seat belt. Hagen was allegedly involved in a personal injury accident at 11:08 p.m., Wednesday, in the area of 7812 Fotch Road, Stafford. Hagen's car reportedly struck a utility pole at that location.

Penny S. Hofert, 45, of 11 Porter Ave., Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Hofert is accused of shoplifting from Dollar General.

January 12, 2011 - 9:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, steve hawley, Elba Central School, Sam Lamont.

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Elba student Sam Lamont, who was picked to represent Genesee County as a student attending Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State Speech (writing about it here), received another honor from the New York Legislature today. Assemblyman Steve Hawley presented him with a flag that has flown over the state capitol in Albany.

January 12, 2011 - 6:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

mug_stephen_smith.jpgA Le Roy man is facing three felony charges after he allegedly lured a young acquaintance into performing sexual acts in front of a camera and then sharing those videos online. CORRECTION: Det. John Condidorio sent a note this morning saying there is no evidence that the video the suspect made was shared online.

He's also accused of downloading and sharing other sexual content involving other children through a file sharing service.

Stephen M. Smith, 21, of 41 Elm St., Le Roy, is charged with possessing a sexual performance by a child, promoting sexual performance of a child and use of a child in a sexual performance.

Smith allegedly lured a person under age 17, whom Det. John Condidorio describes as "an acquaintance" of Smith's who also lives in Le Roy, into performing a sexual act and then making the video available on the Internet through a file sharing service.

File sharing services allow person share music, video and pictures directly from his own hard drive with other people on the Internet using the same software.

Quite often such services are used to share pirated music and movies among users.

The first charge accuses Smith of possessing sexual material involving children under 16, the second accuses him of allowing such material to be shared online and the third involves luring the Le Roy minor into a sexual performance.

Condidorio said he doesn't believe any other local minors were involved in making videos with Smith.

Smith was arraigned by Justice Kermit Arrington of the Le Roy Town Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

No federal charges are pending and Condidorio said Smith has been cooperative throughout the investigation.

The investigation began in March when the New York State Police Computers Crime Unit notified the Le Roy Police Department that a person at 41 Elm St. in Le Roy allegedly possessed and was sharing sexual videos of underage children via the Internet.

A joint investigation was initiated and in July of 2010, the Le Roy Police executed a search warrant at the residence and secured computers and video cameras. These were later examined at the Western Regional Computer Forensics Lab in Buffalo and allegedly possessed sexual videos of underage children.

January 12, 2011 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Pavilion.

Mickey Harlan DeJesus, 22, of Perry Road, Pavilion, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. DeJesus is accused of contacting a female he was ordered not to contact. The protection order was issued by Town of Le Roy Court. DeJesus was jailed on $500 bail.

Brian Richard Gombos, 21, of Britt Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, speed not reasonable and moving from lane unsafely. Gombos was arrested following a traffic accident at 2:39 a.m. today in the area of 7104 Quinlan Road, Le Roy. Gombos's car reportedly struck a utility pole. There were no injuries in the accident.

Jeffrey Allan Mooney, 57, of Quaker Road, Albion, is charged with driving with ability impaired by drugs, no license plate lamp, insufficient tail lamps and leaving scene of a property damage accident. Mooney is accused of driving a car that struck gas pumps at Yellow Goose in Elba and then leaving the scene at 4:41 p.m., Jan. 6. Following a tip from a witness, Mooney's car was spotted on Route 98 in the Town of Batavia by Deputy Cory Mower.

January 12, 2011 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Lorie Longhany, Holy Family School.

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Kevin Robertson, principal at Holy Family School, Le Roy, submitted this item about Lorie Longhany's art classes at the school.

Since returning from Christmas break, there has been a lot of bustling activity in Mrs. Longhany's Art Room at Holy Family School.

Kindergarten has been learning about texture and tone, and have created portraits of cookie monster.

Others are exploring units on penguins with warm/cool projects -- with crayons for first grade, collages in second grade -- where glaciers and icebergs are incorporated in South Pole landscapes. Third-graders are currently working on papier-mache penguins from recycled juice bottles, a favorite of Holy Family students!

Fourth-graders are creating Native American symbols and shields, fifth-graders are designing a 3-D meal from salt clay. Meanwhile, sixth-graders are venturing back to Ancient Egypt and creating scareb amulets and gold scratch-art portraits of King Tut using hieroglyphics.

Seventh-graders are working on tempera painting in pop-art style using tinting techniques. Eighth-graders are exploring the gold-guilded work of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt with portrait scratch-art.

Visual Arts are an important experience at HFS where an emphasis is put on cross-curriculum as well as art fundamentals, which also include faith-based projects centered around the yearly Catholic calendar. Pictured above with art teacher Longhany are Holy Family's Artists of the Week.

January 12, 2011 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather.

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Overnight snow brough a few inches of accumulation and this morning Dan, a county worker, was out shoveling Ellicott Street sidewalks.

The snow, with an accumulation of one to three inches, is expected to continue until 5 p.m.

Temperatures are in the high teens.

January 11, 2011 - 8:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating two church burglaries in Bergen in which nothing was apparently stolen, but a good deal of damage was done to each building.

The burglaries may be tied to similar break-ins in Monroe County, according to Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster, and investigators will be meeting with Monroe County officials to discuss the cases.

The churches broken into were the First Presbyterian Church of Bergen, 35 S. Lake Road, and the Bergen United Methodist Church, 27 Lake Ave.

At the first address, one or more people forced open a rear basement window to gain entry to the church. Once inside, the suspect(s) went through several rooms and offices.  In some cases, forced entry was used to get access to rooms and desks. It does not appear anything was taken.

At the second address, forced entry was made through the church's back doors, with more force being used to get into other offices and the pastor's office.

The redacted police report does not list what may have been stolen at the Methodist church, but since the suspect(s) face a possible petit larceny charge, something must have been taken.

The reports list $800 in property losses at the Presbyterian church and $500 at the Methodist church.

The suspect(s), if caught, face two counts of burglary, 3rd, criminal mischief, 4th, along with one count of petit larceny.

January 11, 2011 - 8:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident.

A Bergen man was cited for alleged failure to stop and speed too fast for conditions following a non-injury traffic accident in the Town of Middlebury on Saturday.

Lonnie D. Godat, 46, was heading west on LaGrange Road, going down a grade, when he could not stop for a stop sign at an intersection, according to a State Police press release.

Godat's vehicle struck the driver's side door of a car on Saltvale Road driven by 16-year-old Dillon J. Gay of Warsaw.

Neither driver nor the six passengers were hurt in the crash.

January 11, 2011 - 7:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education.

Margeret Puzio, superintendent of Batavia City Schools is very worried about the coming year.

She's worried about possible cuts in state aide to schools and she's worried about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed property tax cap.

Puzio spoke with WBTA today.

"It will be interesting to see, in the governor's budget, how state aid will be affected," Puzio continues.

"Frozen state aid is probably our best-case scenario. And with all of our costs going up, frozen state aid means we'll need to make significant cuts. But if there are cuts to state aid...that would be disastrous for us."

In the face of those probable cuts, Cuomo is also proposing a 2-percent property tax cap. If that goes through, Puzio sees dark days ahead.

"The tax cap is a rather extreme solution to the problem," she says. "This year the expenditures on the retirement systems go up significantly. So it's going to be difficult to maintain our educational program, and stay within a 2-percent tax cap.

"It might be impossible. And I'm not given to saying that things are impossible - but it just might be impossible."

January 11, 2011 - 7:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Le Roy, Pontillo's.

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One of Batavia's landmark signs has been partially shut off the past few nights, and a new sign has gone up on the historic Pontillo's location. It reads "Batavia's Original."

Meanwhile, an ad in the Le Roy PennySaver this week announced that the Le Roy Pontillo's location will close its doors Thursday. All gift certificates for that location must be used by that date, the ad said.

The owners of the Batavia Pontillo's/Batavia's Original were served with a federal trademark infringement suit in September. There's no word on the status of that lawsuit.

In October, it was disclosed that the Le Roy location is allegedly delinquent in taxes, with $24,261 owed to the county, school district, village and town.  If not paid, the property could go up  for auction in March. UPDATE: County Treasurer Scott German says the property taxes were paid in December.

Sam Pontillo told WBTA that his parent's estate owned a majority share of the Le Roy location.

"I didn't want to be tied to there with the mortgage anymore," Pontillo said. "So, I think it's time for something new for me."

In November 2008, when the Batavia Pontillo's location closed, Sam Pontillo told the Batavia Daily News: "I do not own that one," Sam said, pointing west toward Batavia from the Le Roy Pontillo's. "I own this one."

The estate has been tied up in a protracted lawsuit.

January 11, 2011 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, photos.

redfedora01.jpg

The ladies of the Red Fedora Fanatics, who get together monthly for a social luncheon, met at the Fedora Diner on Ellicott Street Road today. All of the women are Genesee County residents. 

One member said, "without our drivers, many of us couldn't get here," and asked that I take a picture of their drivers, below.

redfedora02.jpg

January 11, 2011 - 6:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

Due to anticipated poor weather conditions, this evening's "Growing Gillam Grant" presentation has been postponed.

Additional presentations are scheduled for: 

  • 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25
  • 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10
  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 2

If you have any questions, or if you'd like to reserve a spot at one of the above presentations, please call Gillam Grant at 494-1621.

If The Batavian receive's notice of any other cancellations for tonight, we'll add them to this post, or readers can include cancellations in comments.

January 11, 2011 - 11:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

Home improvement and building contractors wishing to do business in the City of Batavia may soon have to pay an annual $125 license fee.

The new contractor licensing proposal is contained in the city's 2011/12 fiscal year budget.

It would cover electrical contractors, painting contractors, flooring contractors, insulation contractors, driveway sealers and subcontractors employed by other contractors who are not required to file for building permits.

The proposal says the proposed licensing law is an attempt to protect citizens from uninsured contractors and generate additional revenue.

The proposed law would require licensing and proof of insurance.

The fee is intended to be adequate for development, maintenance and enforcement of the licensing program.

Annual revenue is expected to be $25,000.

When formally presented with the proposal, the Batavia City Council will be asked to adopt a resolution covering three fees associated with the law -- a license fee, annual renewal fee and replacement fee.

No further details were contained in the budget report.

January 11, 2011 - 11:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien.

Darian Fire is being dispatched to 1431 Broadway Road to assist with an animal that is stuck between either railings or spindles (dispatch used both words).

There is no description of the type of animal that is stuck.

The situation might be inside an apartment.

UPDATE Noon: A fire chief apparently knocked on a door and got no response. Dispatch recontacted the original caller. The address is now corrected to 1341 Broadway, Apt. #4.

UPDATE 12:08 p.m.: Fire is asked to drive around to the rear of the building, to the pool area.

UPDATE 12:13 p.m.: There is no 1341 Broadway. Firefighters told, "it's the building next to the old BG's restaurant."

UPDATE 12:17 p.m.: "The dog is free." Darien Fire is back in service.


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January 11, 2011 - 11:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

As we reported previously, the proposed 2011/12 fiscal year budget for the City of Batavia contains a 1.59-percent increase in the property tax levy.

Below are some highlight's from City Manager Jason Molino's annual budget message, released yesterday:

  • In 2006, the city council embraced a "Road to Reconstruction" plan that outlined three steps to "slow the bleeding," "stop the bleeding," and "recovery." The plan combined cutting expenses, raising taxes, improving fiscal management and, finally, developing a plan for going forward.
  • At the time, the city had a lingering $2.2 million general fund deficit. The city responded by eliminating 35 staff positions and raising taxes by 19.5 percent in 2007 and 8.2 percent in 2008. Prior fund balance deficits were eliminated.
  • Inter-fund loans, taking money from one revenue bucket in the city budget and using it to fund other operations, were eliminated by 2010, improving the fiscal health of the city.
  • The undesignated fund balance -- cash reserves -- moved from a deficit of more than $2 million in 2006 to a positive balance of $206,216. That's still well below the NYS Comptroller's Office recommendation for the city of $700,000 to $1.4 million.
  • There were property-tax increases of 1.6 percent and 1.55 percent in 2009 and 2010.
  • In March 2010, the city council adopted a Water and Sewer Capital Infrastructure Plan to address the city's aging infrastructure. The plan lays out a 10-year road map for infrastructure replacement with no more than a 4-percent increase in water rates and no increase in sewer rates.
  • Consolidation of police dispatch with the county has achieved a $215,000 annual savings.
  • In 2008, the city fire department's ambulance service had created a $1,276,350 intra-fund loan to make up for revenue shortfalls in the service. There was no plan to payback the continued operational deficit, jeopardizing the health of the city's general fund. Elimination of the ambulance service has enabled the city to protect its general fund from further revenue drains.
  • In 2007, the city began to aggressively pursue grants and have so far garnered $4 million in state and federal grants, including (but not all): $1.5 million for the Masse-Gateway Project; $150,000 for sidewalks; $411,000 for Bank Street improvements; $260,000 for consolidating dispatch; and $400,000 for a housing rehabilitation program.
  • "We still have many objectives left to accomplish, such as fund balance and reserve fund growth," reads the report.
  • General fund appropriations for 2011/12 are expected to be $14.8 million, with an increase of the property tax to $10.51 per $1,000 of assessed value. Property tax, however, is only one-third of the city's revenue.
  • A state program, Aid to Municipalities, is expected to decrease by $75,000, following a previous decrease of $38,000.
  • $120,000 from the equipment reserve will be used to purchase a new dump truck/snow plow to replace a 26-year-old truck.
  • The major increase in expenses is to cover pensions. Since 2009, the city's retirement contribution has increased 49 percent, or $528,919.
  • The proposed budget includes continued contribution to reserve fund balances totalling $110,000 for equipment, employee benefit accrued liability, retirement, health care and facilities.
  • Workers compensation is going up 9 percent, or $18,000.
  • The city will buy a new detective's car for the police department at a cost of $20,000. There is also an anticipated $5,000 increase in overtime for community policing and a Neighborhood Enforcement Team, which is part of the new strategic plan.
  • The fire department budget is going down by $60,000, primarily because three firefighters have retired, with lower-wage new hires being brought aboard. The union has agreed to let one position remain vacant for a year. Overtime has decreased by $85,000.
  • Employees represented by AFSCME will receive no wage increase. CSEA employees receive a 1.5-percent increase and fire union employees receive a 2.5-percent increase. There is no wage increase for management employees. The city is also facing arbitration with the police union, which is four years in arrears on a new contract.
January 11, 2011 - 10:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

Since the city eliminated a community development director position, downtown retail vacancies have increased to 10 percent of the available space, double what it was in 2007.

At the same time, fewer businesses have applied for assistance through the city's revolving loan fund.

That data, along with responses from a citizen survey, indicate that the city isn't doing enough to spur economic growth. This is the driving force behind a proposal to create a new economic development coordinator position.

While the overall budget for the new position will be $90,000, only $10,000 of it will come from the city. The remainder will come from money currently in the revolving fund program and Micro-Enterprise Program fund.

Both of those programs could fund the new position for two or three years, according to a report prepared for city council, but it is expected that the coordinator will bring in additional grants to make the position self-sustaining.

"If it's not successful after two years, we'll find another approach," said City Manager Jason Molino.

The city is cutting $15,000 from its grant-writing/consulting budget and shifting $10,000 to the new position, for a budgetary savings of $5,000.

Molino said a big part of the new coordinator's job -- the position will have a salary range of $55,000 to $70,000 -- will be to spur small business growth.

The report says a lot of smaller projects, rather than one big project, is what's needed to drive economic growth, especially downtown, which the report says is key to Batavia's economic vitality.

Between 2003 and 2004, according to the report, the revolving loan fund provided $368,500 in loan assistance for 32 projects.

After the previous economic development position was eliminated, from 2008 to 2009, the program provided only $55,000 in assistance for three projects.

The earlier effort created or retained 111.5 jobs, while the job impact in 2008-2009 covered only 34 positions.

The report also notes that in the recent citizen survey, "economic development/job growth" was the number one service-area concern among residents, ahead of public safety. The survey also indicated that economic growth is also where the city is perceived to be having the smallest impact.

City council has yet to vote on the proposed new economic development coordinator position.

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