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January 10, 2016 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

The region could be hit by as much as six inches of lake effect snow Monday, according to the National Weather Service, which just issued a winter weather advisory for noon Monday through 1 a.m., Tuesday.

Western Genesee County is specifically mentioned as an area that could be hardest hit.

At least three inches of heavy, wet snow is expected.

Winds will be out of the west at 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. Visibility will be as little as a half a mile at times.

Meanwhile, heavy winds have moved in and temperatures could drop rapidly this evening, leading to the potential for black ice on roadways. The weather service advises caution if you must travel.

January 10, 2016 - 3:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in East Pembroke Fire, east pembroke, fire services.

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East Pembroke Fire Chief Don Newton is pictured with William Torres, who was honored as Firefighter of the Year by the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department at the department's annual awards dinner Saturday night.

Besides his tireless devotion to fire services and his many contributions to the department, Torres was honored as one of the top responders of 2015. He responded to 243 calls.

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Ken Marble received the Fire Service Person of the Year award. The award can go to either a firefighter or member of the community. Co-winner this year, as voted by the members, was Ed Arnold Scrap Processors.

Marble also received certificates for going on 109 calls during the year and completing 54 hours of training.

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Assemblyman Steve Hawley presented three long-serving members with certificates. From left are Dan Vania, 30 years of service, Robert Lang, 60 years of service, Hawley, and Don Newton Sr., 45 years of service.

Newton thanks the following local businesses for their support: Fenton's Produce , Ron & Newts , Holiday Ice , Kohorst Custom ome's , Ed Arnold Scrap Processors , Kohorst Trucking and Del-Mar Farms.

The department was called out 343 times in 2015. Members who made at least 25 percent of the calls and Monday night training combined for each quarter received a gift card, shirt and jacket.

The top responders, all making at least 100 calls, were: Kenny Marble, Andy Martin, Steve Smelski, Julie Waldron, James Gayton, Paul Kirch, Chris Bennett, Don Newton Sr, Don Newton Jr, Willie Torres, Matt Florian and Ryan Worthington.

January 9, 2016 - 3:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire service, volunteer firefighters, corfu, Darien.

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Dale A. Breitwieser, 60, who gave 42 years to volunteer fire services, including stints as chief in Darien and Corfu, was lain to rest today. He was honored with a funeral procession from the Darien Fire Hall through the Village of Corfu and past the Corfu Fire Hall. Town of Batavia fire and Alden fire provided ladder trucks to hang a giant U.S. Flag over Route 33.

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January 9, 2016 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Batavia HS, batavia, Notre Dame.

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You can always count on a Dave Pero-coached Notre Dame team to provide opponents with a test, and that's what the Batavia Lady Blue Devils got Friday night in the finale of the Batavia Rotary Club Tournament at Genesee Community College, just when, perhaps, they needed it the most.

The contest was their first without Maddy McCulley, who had her high school career cut short with a knee injury Wednesday one game removed from scoring her 1,000th career point.

The team will carry on without McCulley, but the question that needed to be answered is would her teammates would pick up the slack?

They did.

Four players finished in double figures in scoring and Batavia beat Notre Dame 60-44.

The score may look lopsided, but the game wasn't. Notre Dame fought every minute, battling through Batavia's relentless press, finding ways to the basket at times, but also surrendering a few too many possessions.

The Irish finished the first half only five down and pulled within a point of the lead early in the third quarter. 

"When something like happens, what happened with Maddy, again my condolences, I feel terrible about it," Pero said. "I feel terrible about what happened to her, but they stepped up. The injury set her down, but the team, you could see it, they stepped up. Good teams do that and they're a good team."

Freshman Ryann Stefaniak scored 16, Tiara Filbert and Sam Cecere each had 13, and Taylor Stefaniak hit for 12.

It's the first time the Stefaniak sisters were both in double figures for the game, and that bodes well for the rest of the Lady Devils' season.

"We talked about in practice yesterday," Hein said. "I said 'Look, we're still a good basketball team; obviously, we're not the same team. We have to find a new identity as far as who is going to be doing some of those other things. Bottom line is, Maddy takes about 20 shots in a game. We can't all just look at Tiera and now expect her to shoot 40 of them.' "

Newly minted starter Elyse Snow will take up some of the slack, and Cecere will get a few more looks, but Taylor and Ryann need to add from 10 to 12 shots per game between them, Hein said.

"I turned to the two Stefaniak girls and said, 'Listen, it's really on you two,' " Hein said.

Taylor said she and Ryann are ready and she's proud of how they pulled through Friday.

"I feel like we both stepped up really well tonight," Taylor said. "(Ryann) stepped up her game a lot tonight, which we've needed her to do the whole season, but it helped a lot tonight. I think she did great."

Ryann was all over the court, tipping passes on defense, joining in double teams on ballhandlers, finding open lanes on offense and crashing the glass on rebounds, getting a couple of key putback baskets.

"Ryann is skinny as a rail," Hein said. "In most cases, I  think she's got a turtle shell on her back; she seems so slow at certain points and times. But on the offensive end, she's always kind of in the right spot. She's slashing, rebound here, rebound there. It was exciting to watch."

Filbert, the tournament's MVP, is still the leader of the team, and the shooter defenses will work hardest to stop, as Notre Dame did Friday, but Filbert is unruffled by the change in circumstances.

"I'm going to keep playing my game," Filbert said. "We all came in level-headed. We knew we had a goal we wanted to accomplish and we were able to do that. Losing Maddy is going to be a big adjustment because she helped us out tremendously on and off the court. But I know she's going to be there on the sideline and we know we have the players who are going to step up and help us out."

For Notre Dame, Becca Krenzer scored 15, Margaret Sutherland, 10, and Calli McCulley, eight.

Before the game, during introductions, Calli presented her cousin Maddy with a bouquet of flowers.

Pero said he was very proud of how his girls played, especially Sutherland, who is starting to come into her own as a scorer and floor leader, and considered the game a great learning lesson for the team, which won't see any opponents with Batavia's talent or depth in the rest of the GR or Class D.

"It was a good experience," Pero said. "We're not going to see teams this good where we're going."

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To purchase prints, click here.

January 8, 2016 - 11:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

Funeral Services for Michael R. Houseknecht, a successful local businessman and devoted father, will be at 10 a.m., Tuesday, at St. Joseph’s Church, 303 E. Main St., Batavia.

The 38-year-old Houseknecht passed away unexpectedly early Thursday morning.

He leaves behind his wife of 15 years, Jennifer Anne Thornton Houseknecht, and the daughters he cherished, Meghan Elizabeth and Ella Grace.

Most recently, Houseknecht opened the House O' Laundry on West Main Street in Batavia. He also owned Statewide Machinery. He formerly owned Loose Ends Vending.

A 1995 graduate of Batavia High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in business from SUNY Brockport in 1999.

He is also survived by his mother Sheila Mitchell, of Batavia, and his father and stepmother Ralph (Buddy) Houseknecht Jr. and Katy Gorton Houseknecht, of Perry, as well as his paternal grandparents, Ralph and Agnes Houseknecht Sr., of Stafford.

Friends may call on Monday from 2 to 8 p.m. at the H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home, 403 E. Main St., Batavia.

For his full obituary, click here.

Photo: File photo from the opening in November of House O' Laundry. Micheal Houseknecht with daughter Ella.

January 8, 2016 - 10:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

A one-car accident, car into a tree with a possible fire under the car, is reported in the area of 215 Bloomingdale Road, Alabama.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 10:57 p.m.: It's not believed there are any injuries.

UPDATE 10:59 p.m.: A first responder reports flames showing.

UPDATE 11:13 p.m.: A chief on scene reports the car is now fully involved.

UPDATE 11:18 p.m.: Bloomingdale is closed at Tesnow and at Wright roads.

UPDATE, Saturday morning: The Sheriff's Office has released a statement about the accident, which is under investigation. Craig M. Meyer, 30, of Cherry Street, Batavia, was reportedly driving a 1999 Ford SUV when the vehicle left the roadway, drove through a field and then collided with several trees in the yard of 218 Bloomingdale Road. Meyer was removed from the vehicle by several witnesses as the vehicle began burning. He was transported to ECMC by Mercy EMS.

January 8, 2016 - 2:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, schools, education.

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Parents and other community members were invited to the library of Batavia High School last night to learn about how the City School District has been implementing technology in the classroom.

District officials shared how technology is being used and how they would like to improve the use of technology with the help of money from the Smart School Bond Act. The district is applying for $2.1 million in state grant money to upgrade the district's technology infrastructure and purchase technology equipment. 

It's an increase in attention on technology that the district has been preparing to implement for a couple of years, Superintendent Chris Dailey said.

One goal is to provide each high school student and eventually, students at the lower grades, with smart devices that connect to the Internet at school. Part of the money from the state will be used to improve the wi-fi infrastructure to support that level of always-on connectivity. 

"Go on any college campus right now, walk into a classroom or lecture hall, there's no pen and paper anymore," Daily said. "It's all utilizing a device. When you're going into most industries now, people are using these kinds of things. We're trying to put those kinds of devices into the hands of our students at a younger age so they're natives to it versus visiting the technology."

Whether a student comes out of high school bound for college or going straight into a career, the future belongs to those with the technology skills needed to compete in the digital age.

"This doesn't replace the instruction that's going on," Daily said. "We want to prepare students for the world that we don't know will exist in a couple of years, with jobs that are evolving as we speak at things like the STAMP project, or you look at what's going on in the incubators in the Rochester and Buffalo area with new businesses evolving all the time at the unviersities. We want to put our kids at an advantage so that when they come out they can walk into those jobs with some skills that other kinds may not have in our region."

Top photo: Mason Battaglia shows off a 3D printer. One of the things he was able to do with the printer was solve a problem for the marching band. The drummers needed glow-in-the-dark mallets, so Mason used the 3D printer to make them.

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January 8, 2016 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.
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     Jason Armstrong

A Batavia man has been indicted by a Genesee County Grand Jury on a count of criminal sexual act in the first degree.

Jason A. Armstrong Sr., is accused of anally raping a woman at a residence on South Main Street, Batavia, sometime between Nov. 6 and 10.

Armstrong was also indicted on counts of assault in the second degree for allegedly causing physical injury.

He's also indicted on a count of third-degree assault for allegedly causing physical injury to another person on or about Dec. 5 while at the same address as the alleged rape.

On or about Dec. 22, Armstrong allegedly tried to strangle another person, leading to a charge of second-degree strangulation. That incident also led to a charge of assault, 2nd.

January 8, 2016 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sheriff, election.
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      William Sheron

Press release:

Undersheriff William A. Sheron Jr., will seek the Republican Party endorsement for the 2016 election for Genesee County Sheriff.

Undersheriff Sheron, 57, has over 38 years of experience with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; serving as second in command for the past 20 years. He began his career in June 1977 as an emergency service dispatcher and was subsequently promoted through the ranks of Deputy Sheriff-Jail, Deputy Sheriff - Road Patrol, Sergeant, Investigator and Chief Deputy-Road Patrol. In January 1996 he was appointed Undersheriff.  

Undersheriff Sheron is a graduate of the New York State Commission of Corrections Training Academy, Erie County Central Police Services Basic Police Officer Training Academy, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Police Supervision Course, United States Drug Enforcement Agency Drug Interdiction Course, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Hostage Negotiations, the F.B. I. National Academy in Quantico, Va., and the F.B.I. National Academy Executive Development Program.

Undersheriff Sheron is credited with the formation of the Genesee County Local Drug Task Force in 1989, which began as a one-man unit and developed into a county-wide collaborative Task Force with the City of Batavia and Le Roy Police Departments. He served as a Field Training Officer, Hostage Negotiator and a member of the department’s Crash Management Team.

Over his career, Sheron has received departmental recognition awards including Officer of the Year in 1982, Meritorious Service in 2000 and 2009, and Commendation Awards in 1986, 1988, 1989, 1994 and 1996.

As Undersheriff, his responsibilities include: the oversight of the operations of the Sheriff’s Office, along with the administration of grants and governmental programs; oversight of the department’s training, development and adherence to departmental standards; investigation of allegations against departmental members; recruitment and selection of personnel; and responsibility of the operations of Genesee Justice and the Justice for Children Advocacy Center.

Undersheriff Sheron served as the 2006 president of the F.B.I. National Academy Associates New York State /Eastern Canada Chapter; has held several positions on its board of directors and currently serves as the Chapter’s secretary treasurer. Sheron is an active member of the Genesee County Traffic Safety Board, Genesee County Stop DWI Advisory Board, the Mental Health Association of Genesee/Orleans County Board of Directors, Genesee County Republican Committee, Genesee County Women’s Republican Committee, City of Batavia Republican Committee and Batavia Kiwanis Club. He previously served as the vice president of GCASA Board of Directors.

Undersheriff Sheron is a lifelong resident of Batavia. He attended St. Mary’s Grade School, Notre Dame High School and is a graduate of Genesee Community College with a degree in Criminal Justice. He and his wife, Shari, are parents to a blended family of five children and six grandchildren.

“If endorsed and elected Sheriff, I pledge to continue my life’s work of protecting the safety and security of the residents of Genesee County and the men and women of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office,” said William Sheron, Undersheriff.

January 8, 2016 - 11:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, bergen, corfu.
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   Justine McWethy

Justine D. McWethy, 28, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with grand larceny, 2nd. McWethy is accused of stealing $80,000 from a business at 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia. McWethy was arrested on a warrant after being found to be a passenger in a car stopped by a Batavia PD patrol. The alleged theft was reported Nov. 11. McWethy was also arrested by Deputy Joseph Corona on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a petit larceny charge. On that arrest, she was jailed on $500 bail or $1,000 bond. On the grand larceny charge, she was jailed without bail.

Alfred A. Panepinto, 59, of Ellicott Avenue, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and failure to stop for stop sign. Panepinto was stopped at 10:48 p.m. Jan. 2 on Ellicott Avenue by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Lonnie J. Ford III, 44, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to pay a fine stemming from a loitering charge. He was jailed on $125 bail.

Coretta M. Pitts, 47, of Williams Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Pitts allegedly entered a residence in violation of a complete stay away order. She was jailed on $1,000 bail. 

Vincent Allen Sanfratello, 49, of Gibson Street, Bergen, was arrested on a bench warrant for alleged failure to pay a fine. Sanfratello was jailed without bail.

Joshua David Schultz, 32, of Maple Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and insufficient tail lamps. Schultz was stopped on Drake Street, Oakfield, at 5:48 p.m. Tuesday by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Jonathan Patrick Little, 25, of Boyce Road, Corfu, is charged with petit larceny. Little is accused of stealing from Kmart on Wednesday.

January 8, 2016 - 10:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, batavia.

A driver was cited for alleged failure to yield Thursday following an afternoon accident on Route 63 at Galloway Road that sent three people to UMMC with minor injuries.

Lisa Marie Wilson, 25, of Springville, who was among those reportedly injured, was cited for allegedly making a right turn from Galloway to Route 63 with another car approaching that had the right of way.

The accident was reported 2:47 p.m. and Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS responded.

Also injured were Michele A. Fox, 48, and Brandi L. Baker, 24, both passengers in Wilson's 2013 Hyundai sedan. 

The other driver, Truman W. Johnson, 63, of Medina, wasn't injured.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Eric Meyer.

January 7, 2016 - 5:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, pembroke, corfu, scott doll.
   File Photo: Scott Doll

A single DNA sample obtained at the scene where Joseph Benaquist was found murdered Feb. 19, 2009 does not match the DNA profile of the victim and may not match that of the man convicted by a jury for his murder, Scott F. Doll, according to a recent report produced by the Monroe County Crime Laboratory.

The laboratory, in compliance with a court order issued by Judge Robert C. Noonan in April, examined about two dozen blood samples from the crime scene and determined that the left boot of Benaquist had two possible blood stains. One of the DNA profiles, the lab found, clearly matches the DNA profile of Benaquist, but the other is insufficient to match either Benaquist or Doll.

Appeals attorney Timothy Murphy, in a Dec. 16 letter to Doll at the Elmira Correctional Facility, characterized this finding as promising news. He said the report indicates a third person's DNA was found at the scene.

There is no information available on who the DNA sample might match. Neither Benaquist nor Doll are ruled out as a possible match.

The report reads:

The minor component of the DNA profile is insufficient to support an inclusion or exclusion and is therefore not suitable for comparison. No further conclusions can be reached regarding the minor component mixture.

The lab-tested bloodstains are from the roadway near Benaquist's home at 683 Knapp Road, Pembroke, from the driveway at the residence, from both of Benaquist's boots, from a shirt, a sock and a jacket.

Only the left boot contains a DNA profile that can't be matched to any known person.

The lab report is part of a set of documents provided to The Batavian by Andrew Doll, brother of Scott Doll.

The documents also contain a letter from Monroe County Medical Examiner Caroline Dignan stating that contrary to testimony from Monroe County Deputy Medical Examiner Scott LaPoint in the trial of Doll, no fingernail clippings were collected during the autopsy of Benaquist.

LaPoint testified that such clippings were always collected in a murder investigation and that procedure was followed in this case.

This new evidence, along with additional information, has Andrew Doll feeling even more skeptical about his brother's murder conviction. These include: the unexpected lack of fingernail clippings; his belief that the driveway at 683 Knapp Road was washed down within 24 hours of the murder being discovered; and that a murder weapon has never been recovered.

He's never felt, he said, that his brother has the temperament to become so angry and so out of control that he would bludgeon to death one of his very best friends. There is simply no reason Scott Doll would have killed the 66-year-old Benaquist, Andrew Doll said.

"I just feel there is more to this than what's on the surface," Andrew Doll said. "There seems to be a lot of loose ends that need to be looked at. For the sake of both families, I'm hopeful we can get to some kind of conclusion."

Andrew said his brother asked that the evidence be shared with local media because he wants people to know he's not a murderer.

Scott Doll has maintained his innocence from the beginning and leveraged his life savings along with family money to hire a nationally known attorney from Buffalo, Paul Cambria, to mount his defense at trial. Since his conviction in June 2010, Doll has pursued a couple of appeals. His murder conviction was upheld by the NYS Supreme Court in July 2012.

Last year, Murphy filed a new appeal seeking a reexamination of the DNA evidence used in the case.

Two days ago, Murphy scheduled an interview about the new development in the case for this morning. But then Murphy said he decided he could not comment on the case at this time.

We don't know, therefore, what will happen next with the case, what strategy Murphy will pursue to press forward with an appeal, or if that's even in the cards.

So far we've been unable to reach ADA Will Zickl, who is handling the Doll appeal for the District Attorney's Office.

Doll was sentenced to 15-years-to-life in state prison, the minimum sentence available to Judge Robert C. Noonan on Doll's murder conviction. The way Andrew Doll sees it, he said, the minimum available sentence suggests strongly that even Noonan, who sat through the entire trial and heard all of the evidence, doesn't believe Scott Doll committed the murder.

Noonan stated during the sentencing that he thought Doll deserved a shot at parole before he was too old or would likely die in prison.

Scott Doll became a suspect when he was found by Deputy James Diehl wandering on Lake Street in Pembroke in blood-soaked overalls. During the course of the early part of the investigation, Doll made statements about the situation, including an assertion that the blood was from a deer he had butchered. The blood turned out to be that of the murder victim. For hours, Doll was in police custody but would not discuss where the blood came from or disclose the location of a person who might need medical attention. While in custody, he made statements that were later used against him at trial.

Andrew Doll acknowledged none of that made his brother look good.

"My brother did things that didn’t seem right and weren't right, and to this day, he doesn’t know what he did and why," Andrew Doll said.

January 7, 2016 - 1:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Batavia HS, batavia, Notre Dame.

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Norte Dame beat Attica 45-30 and Batavia topped Cal-Mum 50-31 to set the stage for a rematch of last year's exciting final in the annual Batavia Rotary Club Tournament at Genesee Community College.

Perhaps the big news of the night was an injury to Batavia's Madison McCulley (#42), a key part of the Lady Devils' talented starting five. McCulley was honored before the game for just achieving her 1,000th career point. Shortly before the end of the third period, she fell to the floor coming off a layup crying in pain. She was carried to the locker room and came out later with her knee wrapped in an ice pack. She had a medical exam today, but those exam results are not yet available.

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To purchase prints of photos, click here.

January 7, 2016 - 9:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Gary Maha, Sheriff's Office.
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     Gary Maha

Genesee County Sheriff Gary T. Maha announced this morning that he will not seek reelection for another term.

Maha intends to finish his current term, which expires Dec. 31, and is expected to retire, ending a 27-year run as Genesee County's top cop.

That is the longest tenure for a sheriff in county history, and Maha is currently the longest-serving sheriff in the state.

Maha started his career with the Sheriff's Office in 1967 and moved up through the ranks until his appointment as sheriff in 1988 by then Gov. Mario Cuomo.

 

 

 

January 6, 2016 - 11:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Notre Dame, oakfield-alabama, sports, football.

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Batavia's Dom Mogavero has been named first team in Class B to New York's All-State football team as a linebacker.

Fellow Blue Devil Greg Mruczek was named to the second team at QB. Ryan Hogan made second team as an offensive end. 

In Class D, honorable mentions went to Allen Chatt, Oakfield-Alabama, at defensive back and C.J. Suozzi, Notre Dame, at punter.

January 6, 2016 - 10:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, Shoot for a Cure, basketball, sports.

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Press release:

In 2012, The Pembroke Girls Basketball Team decided to use their passion for playing basketball as a platform from which to host a fundraiser for breast cancer research at Roswell Park in support of a community member. As a result, the girls and their coaches organized an annual event, naming it "Shooting For A Cure!" through which they raised over $30,000 in contributions for Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in past four seasons.

On Tuesday, the team played to the buzzer in their fifth annual Shooting For A Cure! game and raised $10,287.16, making their total RPCI donation over $40,000 since the event’s inception. During an emotional halftime ceremony, the team honored 18 cancer survivors, personifying their dedication to this cause.

Coach Ron Funke and his Pembroke Girls Basketball Team will present the full proceeds of their latest fundraiser to RPCI officials in the hospital lobby this Friday at 2:30 p.m. It’s a post-game tradition that Funke acknowledges has great meaning to the program.

“These girls are the driving force behind this fundraiser," Funke said. "What started many years ago in support of my wife’s diagnosis has continued to grow each season. The girls on this team are incredibly compassionate individuals.

"A few weeks ago they volunteered at the Carly’s Club Christmas party and rang bells for the Salvation Army. This group is truly special. Yet I have to say that the most meaningful part of Shooting For A Cure! is always visiting Roswell to donate what’s been raised.

"The girls once again put on their pink jerseys and travel to Roswell to present a check to hospital officials. Being there at the hospital, surrounded by people who are actually fighting their own battle against cancer never fails to inspire the girls. It’s a tangible reminder of how their efforts off the court are saving lives.”

More than a dozen alumni players from the previous Shooting For A Cure! events were in attendance last night, helping to run raffles and contests as well as cheering on the current team. Alumni Cora Erb (Class of 2013) hasn’t missed a game since its commencement.

“Playing in the first two Shooting For A Cure! games meant so much to me, not only because it’s for a great cause, but also because I lost someone very close to my heart from cancer," Cora said. "When I stepped on that court I played my heart out knowing in some way that I made my father proud.

"I come back every year to show my continued support for these girls and this cause. I know what it’s like to lose someone from cancer and I know I would want their support, just as they have mine.”

Dannielle DellaPenta (Class of 2014), a three-time game alumna, was also in attendance last night.

“The annual Shooting For A Cure! game means a lot to me," Dannielle said. "It brings our community together in support of others, focusing on the bigger picture in life. There is a sense of togetherness in our community.

"It’s about honoring those who have won their fight, supporting those who are still battling and memorializing those who we’ve lost. This event is simply beautiful and I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to still be a part of something so amazing.

"You never know if, when or who may be affected by cancer. Seeing so many people come together brings teams, families and communities together. When people come together like this they accomplish great things.”

The hallways surrounding the gymnasium were lined with balloons, decorations, photos and raffle tables. The basket raffle had more than 80 basket items to choose from, including donated items from various merchants and community members. There were three different raffles to choose from, highlighted by an Autographed Jack Eichel jersey, PlayStation 4 gaming system and diamond ring.

In addition to the raffles, the cafeteria was serving up slices of pizza from local area pizzerias, Original Pizza Logs, Perry’s Ice Cream and a variety of beverages donated by Coca-Cola Bottling Company. The cafeteria was uniquely set up and renamed “Mr. Brown’s Snack Shack” for the evening paying homage to its perennial coordinator, Arron Brown.

The list of WNY companies, vendors and individuals who donated to Shooting For A Cure! numbers more than 90, including 26 Shirts, Batavia’s Original, Big Pauly’s Pizza, Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Sasbres, Carly’s Club, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Darien Lake Theme Park, Insty-Prints, Kendall’s Impressive Marks, LaPaloma Pizzeria, Mac Tools, Manitoba Corporation, Minute Print, NFL Films, Original Pizza Logs, Party City, Perry’s Ice Cream, Petals to Please, Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More, Target, Tim Horton’s, Tony’s Pizza, Yancey’s Fancy, and YMCA of Batavia.

Additionally, online donations are still being accepted at the team’s online fundraising page: (https://www.crowdrise.com/shooting4acure).

RPCI officially sanctioned the fifth annual Shooting For A Cure! game as an official Team Cure fundraiser and as a valuable example of the way that young people today can make a difference.

“It’s inspirational to have a group of teens who are so passionate about raising critically-needed funds for cancer research at Roswell Park," said Julia Harvey, Team Cure coordinator. "These girls continue to demonstrate an incredible amount of compassion.

"To think in one evening that this group of young women, with the support of Coach Ron Funke, Mike and Jen Wilson as well as their entire community, were able to raise over $10,000 is remarkable!

"This small community has a big heart! They continue to amaze us every year with this event. To think that this small school district has raised over $40,000 in five seasons is extraordinary!”

Submitted photos.

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January 6, 2016 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, brandon c. dodd.

   Brandon Dodd
   2010 photo

When Brandon C. Dodd, who thought he might get a term of probation on a burglary conviction, was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Robert C. Noonan in September, 2010, Dodd mumbled something about pedophiles as he was leaving the courtroom.

Noonan called him back to the defense table and asked him to repeat his statement.

"I hope you continue to let all the pedophiles walk the street and save all of the probation for those people," Dodd said.

Noonan informed Dodd that his on-the-record statement would be something a parole board would likely consider someday in reviewing his status for release from prison.

Dodd was released on parole in August.

Today, he's also back in jail, accused of attacking a woman in an apartment on Lake Street in Le Roy.

Three days ago, police in Le Roy said a 29-year-old parolee had been stabbed and found him wounded on Lake Street.

They've now identified Dodd as the stabbing victim.

It's alleged that Dodd was in an apartment on Lake Street with an acquaintance when an argument ensued. Dodd allegedly grabbed both a metal pot and a vase and started swinging them at the woman. He then allegedly threw her on a bed and held her there. Somehow, the woman grabbed a knife and stabbed him.

The disturbance was heard by a neighbor, who called 9-1-1.

Upon arrival, police reportedly found Dodd hiding under a bed. He was taken into custody on a violation of probation charge and transported to a hospital for treatment of his stab wound and then turned over to the NYS Department of Parole.

Dodd allegedly removed an ankle bracelet he was required to wear and has been charged with criminal mischief, 4th, for damaging that state property. He was charged with petit larceny for allegedly disposing of the bracelet.

He's also charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, for using the pot and vase as weapons while being previously convicted of a crime, criminal mischief, 4th, for allegedly damaging the woman's mobile phone and unlawful imprisonment, 2nd.

He is being held in the Genesee County Jail without bail on the violation of probation charge. 

January 6, 2016 - 5:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, welfare fraud, DSS.

A 25-year-old Le Roy resident who admitted to cheating the system out of $10,437 in public assistance and food stamps was sentenced in County Court today to five years probation. 

Jessica Horton was also ordered to pay back the money obtained under false pretenses.

Horton was accused in August of filing documents with the Department of Social Services claiming that her two children were living with her when they were not.

She entered a guilty plea Oct. 29 to one count of offering a false instrument for filing in satisfaction of the counts she was originally arrested on, which included seven counts of offering a false Instrument for filing, 1st, and one count of grand larceny, 3rd.

As a term of the plea deal, Horton is permanently disqualified from receiving financial aid through the Temporary Assistance or SNAP programs.

To report suspected welfare fraud, call DSS's Fraud Investigation Unit at (585) 344-2580, ext. 6417 or 6416. All calls are confidential.

January 6, 2016 - 1:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, Alabama, business.

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After the questions, concerns, challenges and outright objections to 1366 Technologies coming to the Town of Alabama to build silicon wafers to capture the energy of the sun, resident Dave Dunn said, "I think we've all forgot one thing here tonight: Thank you for coming here."

That statement drew a round of applause from most of the 75 or so people who attended the public hearing Tuesday night on proposed tax incentives to help Bedford, Mass.-based 1366 Technologies build its $700 million facility on 105 acres of the planned high-tech park known as STAMP (Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park).

There were only a handful of speakers during the hearing, and only a couple more who raised objections during a follow-up question and answer period, including one man who stormed out during an impassioned speech by Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, on the need for economic development to help keep our children in Western New York.

The state is planning on spending more than $5 million on land acquisition and infrastructure to make STAMP possible, and 1366 could receive another $56 million in incentives from New York along with tax abatements of more than $35 million through GCEDC.

It is those local incentives that the GCEDC Board will be asked to approve in an upcoming vote and last night's public hearing was required in advance of it.

Mark Masse, VP of business development for GCEDC, opened the hearing with an overview of the financing and financial impact of the proposed 1366 project.

The venture is expected to lead to 1,000 jobs at the plant within a few years, with another 1,593 jobs generated by companies that will provide services and support to the new company, and some 2,600 jobs created by local economic growth.

That's more than 6,500 local jobs within 10 years, Masse said.

Entry-level jobs will start at $16 an hour, with production jobs going up to $24 an hour based on duties and experience.

The 1366 payroll is expected to reach nearly $40 million. The indirect payroll could exceed $60 million and induced jobs would add another $30.3 million in payroll, for an anticipated increase in local payroll of $130 million. (CORRECTION: In my notes, I left off some zeros. The payroll numbers have been updated to correct that mistake.)

To help finance the project, GCEDC is proposing a PILOT -- payment in lieu of taxes. That's a break on the property tax. There would be property tax due on the current assessed value of the 105-acre parcel, but there would be no new taxes on the increase in assessed value over the first two years of the project. The taxes would then gradually increase over the next eight years. 

There are also proposed tax abatements on the sales tax on construction materials as well as relief from the mortgage tax.

Masse then turned the floor over to Brian Eller, chief operations officer for 1366, who shared some of his company's plans and an overview of what 1366 will manufacture.

Eller explained that 1366, working with scientists at MIT, have developed a whole new manufacturing process for silicon wafers -- the main component of solar panels, that the company believes will be cheaper to manufacture and produce less waste than the process used by every other company in the world.

Silicon is the second most plentiful mineral on Earth and is usually extracted from sand. For solar wafers, manufacturers receive ingots of silicon that are typically cut and ground into square objects. 

That's an extremely wasteful production process, according to a video Eller played for the audience. Much of the silicon is wasted, as well as the blades and diamond-tipped twine used to cut the wafers.

The process developed at MIT involves melting the silicon and rolling out flat wafers, much like modern glass manufacturing.

The process is a third faster and a third cheaper than current techniques, and no silicon goes to waste, and it uses less energy.

The goal of 1366 is to use its technology to produce wafers that eventually make solar power as cheap to consume as coal energy.

What 1366 isn't doing is making entire solar panels. They are only making the wafers, and they aren't making solar panels.

Elon Musk's Solar City plant, going up in Buffalo, will make rooftop panels, but 1366 isn't producing wafers for rooftop panels, so there isn't currently an opportunity for the two companies to work together directly. The wafers produced by 1366 are intended for industrial solar energy farms, which currently makes up 70 percent of the worldwide solar energy market.

One speaker during the public hearing expressed concern that 1366 would get all of these tax breaks, build this big building, and then pull out like Pepsi did with the Quaker Muller Dairy plant.

There are, however, some significant differences between the Quaker Muller operation and 1366's plans. Pepsi and Muller entered a market that we now know was saturated in an industry that is so competitive that profit margins are always squeezed. There was no chance for Muller's imitation Greek yogurt to achieve a dominant market position.

In his best-selling business book, "Zero to One," venture capitalist Peter Thiel says new businesses should be built around innovations that are a 10-times improvement over anything currently in the market. Thiel also advises startups to aim for only a segment of a market and achieve dominance in that segment before growing. Pepsi and Muller appear to have violated both of those guidelines by entering a market that already had dominant manufacturers, such as Chobani, Dannon and Fage, and aiming for a share of the entire market, not just a segment where it might have a chance to dominate. 

Eller thinks that 1366's lower cost, less wasteful process is that 10-times improvement Thiel recommends (though he hadn't yet read Thiel's book when asked about it) and that 1366 is going after a segment of the market where it can achieve dominance.

Only a portion, less than $100 million, of $700 million required to build the 1366 Technologies plant to full capacity is coming from public investment. There is also a $150 million loan guarantee backed by the Department of Energy. When the project was announced at Genesee Community College in October, company CEO Frank van Mierlo indicated he was investing his own money in the project. The company has reportedly raised $70 million in venture capital from investors such as Hanwha Chemical, a major user of silicon wafers, as well as from Ventizz Capital Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. The company has not discussed any other efforts to raise additional capital or the timing of capital needs. They would not need the entire $700 million in the bank to start construction.

Construction is expected to start in May or June.

The first jobs should be filled in the fall or early winter of this year, with hiring continuing through the middle part of 2017 and then more jobs added as production capacity is increased.

Eller will move to here from Bedford to join the ranks of the locally employed, along with as many as five current 1366 managers and executives, though the company will remain headquartered in Bedford. That's also where the company will continue research and development operations.

There was a bit of discussion between Eller, Masse and meeting attendees about workforce development and who will get hired at the new plant. 

Lorna Klotzbach had several objections to the proposal, among them were questions about whether there were really sufficient potential employees in the region. She also shared with some other speakers a concern that STAMP was converting farmland and wildlife refuge into industrial land.

Al Files, who would later get up in a huff and storm out during Hyde's speech, said he thought it made a lot more sense to build where there's already big buildings and infrastructure.

"In my opinion, I think it's stupid," Files said. "We're wasting all of this property when it could be built in Rochester, Buffalo or Batavia."

Eller said 1366 was attracted to STAMP, out of 300 locations considered, for two primary reasons. First is cheap and clean hydroelectric power, and then there is the regional workforce. Eller said the company hired a consultant who studied a number of variables for several possible plant locations and STAMP scored the highest for workforce potential.

Creating local jobs and reversing two generations of economic decline is what STAMP is all about, Hyde said.

"At the end of the day, what drove us to work so hard to attract a company like 1366 to our community and our region is creating jobs for our kids so they can either stay here or come back home," Hyde said. "All the rest of these questions are good and relevant, but if we take a little look at the big picture, we’ve all been losing tax base and these guys are going to start that trend of turning that around. 

"We can’t guarantee that companies are going to be successful, but even with the situation in Batavia, where Muller Quaker was, we built that ag park, two companies came in and spent over $200 million there. The market didn’t work. They entered the market late. They ended up having to shut down and that’s a disappointment, but the beauty is, one of the best dairy companies in the nation is coming in because that ag park is there and they're filling it back up and probably hiring more people than Muller ever would have. The investment model that we’ve used over the last decade is working. It’s creating good jobs for our people and our community. It’s creating tax base.

"I just wanted to paint a little bit of the bigger picture," Hyde added a few sentences later. "We’re absolutely fortunate to have a company like 1366 be willing to come here and start to build that high-tech, entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will mean a lot of jobs for our kids. … I’ll tell you right now if we get a thousand jobs from this company over the next decade, and that turns around to be about four thousand jobs all over this area, you’re going to see an economic boom around here that we haven’t seen in 50 years."

At which point, Files interjected, "This is an agricultural area. This is not a manufacturing area."

Hyde said projects like 1366 will take the pressure off of ag to support the entire local economy, and that the land the plant will use is less than 3 percent of the available acreage in Genesee County, and it's the least productive land in the county.

"We looked at all of that," Hyde said.

But Files was no longer in the room to hear it.

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I couldn't find online the video Eller showed, but in looking for it, I found this interesting video.

January 6, 2016 - 11:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, 2nd Amendment.

Press release:

“President Obama’s Executive Action to increase background checks and toughen licensing requirements for firearms sales is misguided, ignores the democratic process and is the wrong approach for many areas of the country, including Western New York. While I agree that gun safety is a salient concern, rushing through new requirements and stipulations is contrary to our country’s principles of democracy and populous support.

“It is a poor reflection on our state’s leadership that Gov. Cuomo has praised Obama for abusing Presidential Powers. Gov. Cuomo has a lackluster record on properly vetting important issues as we saw with the SAFE-Act and minimum wage. No executive should be abusing his authority as a way to sidestep a legislature that, in large part, does not support these initiatives.

“President Obama’s actions place a heavy financial and social burden on law-abiding firearm owners in exchange for pursuit of his ideological agenda. Western New York is filled with legal firearm owners who love to hunt, target shoot and buy, sell and trade firearms. Furthermore, rural citizens use firearms for home protection, especially in places where police are many miles away. The founding of our nation and the 2nd Amendment are inextricably linked and should never be suppressed in exchange for one man’s political pursuits.”

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