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July 21, 2016 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron, news.

A plea offer is on the table for a 55-year-old Byron resident accused of firing a rifle at a Sheriff's deputy who was sitting in his patrol car March 7.

David O'Connor appeared in County Court today for a scheduled Huntley hearing, which is based on a defense motion to dismiss statements O'Connor may have made once he was in custody. But O'Connor's attorney, Thomas Burns, dropped the motion and O'Connor waived the hearing after being told of a plea offer from District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.

The specifics of the plea offer were not discussed in open court.

O'Connor has until Aug. 1 to decide whether to accept the offer.

He is charged with attempted aggravated murder of a police officer. He was initially charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree criminal mischief.

O'Connor is accused of firing a single round from a .22-caliber rifle from the window of his apartment at the Byron Hotel at Deputy Andrew Hale, blowing out the windows of Hale's patrol vehicle, while Hale was performing a traffic stop in the parking lot of the Byron Arrow Mart.

No one was struck by the projectile and there were no injuries.

Previously: Single gunshot in Byron highlights the dangers of modern law enforcement

July 21, 2016 - 4:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
       Bill Thomas

A Batavia man whose apparent domestic dispute ended after he allegedly threatened a police officer with a knife has chosen to take his case to trial rather than accept a plea agreement.

The agreement would have limited his prison term to three and a half years in exchange to a guilty plea to menacing a police officer.

Bill Thomas, 56, of State Street, was arrested in March after an early morning stand-off with the Emergency Response Team.

He was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

Thomas turned down the plea offer last week, but was back in Genesee County Court this afternoon because a police officer witness won't be available at the time of the original trial date. The new date for jury selection to start the trial is Oct. 11.

July 21, 2016 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, news.
      Eric Watson

A bail hearing in City Court today was continued to Aug. 4 for a man accused of having sexual contact with a mentality disabled family member because the suspect declined a bail evaluation interview with Genesee Justice.

Assistant Public Defender Lisa Kroemer explained to Judge Robert Balbick that her client, Eric Watson, declined the interview because he didn't understand the purpose or know anything about Genesee Justice.

Genesee Justice is a county agency that provides supervisory services on behalf of the court as well as assistance to crime victims.  One of the tasks of staff at Genesee Justice is complete a bail evaluation, which a judge can use to set an appropriate amount of bail for each defendant. The scoring system is intended to help judges determine the likelihood a defendant will make it to future court appearances.

Rather than set bail today for Watson, without that information, Balbick continued the case to the next available court date.

Watson is in custody and entered the courtroom dress in an orange jail uniform, moving slowing and balancing with a walker. As he approached the bench, Kroemer told him, "take your time, Mr. Watson."

Watson is accused of having sexual contact with a family member who was unable to consent due to mental incapacity to provide consent.

He is charged with second-degree rape, second-degree criminal sexual act, and second-degree incest.

July 21, 2016 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Le Roy Christian Community Project, lccp, news.

Statement from the board of directors for LCCP:

After 18 years of providing after-school programs in our community, the Le Roy Christian Community Project is sad to announce that as of September 2016, we will not reopen our After School Program, Teen Drop-In Center or Summer Day Camp.

The Le Roy Christian Community Project will continue to operate the Backpack Program and Grace’s Kitchen.

We are so grateful for the support that the community has shown us and for the families and children that we were blessed to work with throughout the years.

Thank you to Susan Wakefield and Jana Pritchett for 18 years of dedication to these programs. We are proud of our staff for providing quality after-school enrichment programs that have served this community for a very long time.

Thank you for your past support of our programs for the youth of our community and your ongoing support of our remaining programs.

July 21, 2016 - 10:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, infrastructure.

Water service has been shut off by the City of Batavia Water Department to businesses on Industrial Boulevard, Apollo Drive and Treadeasy Way.

Crews are repairing a water leak.

There is no ETA for when service will be restored.

July 21, 2016 - 10:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, Buffalo Federal Detention Facility.

A pair of kitchen personnel and a corrections officer at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia have been placed on leave after they were accused of feeding chicken picked from the garbage to Muslim detainees for their Ramadan meals.

The three workers are facing possible termination and the case has been referred to the Inspector General of Homeland Security.

In a statement, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, “The agency takes all allegations of employee misconduct very seriously and will respond appropriately based on the investigative findings.”

The investigation is ongoing and no conclusive findings have been released. The names of the employees have not been released.

Via our news partner WBTA.

July 20, 2016 - 3:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fitness, YMCA, news.


Today, the YMCA replaced all of its treadmills as part of a plan that rotates in new machines every year.

Since the treadmills tend to wear faster, its more cost effective to lease, rather than own, the treadmills, explained CEO Rob Walker.  

The Y will make approximately $100,000 in lease payments on the machines over the next three years.

July 20, 2016 - 3:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, history heroes, batavia, news, Batavia Cemetery.


The Holland Land Office Museum's annual summer program, History Heroes, is in its second day of the eight-day schedule and today the children participating walked from the museum to Ken's Charcoal Pits for lunch and then to the Batavia Cemetery.

According to Anne Marie Starowitz, the students learned about some of the famous people buried at the cemetery, including members of the Richmond family, Joesph Ellicott and Philemon Tracy, and also visited the William Morgan monument.







July 20, 2016 - 10:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in 4-H, Livestock Auction, Genesee County Fair, agriculture, news.

Photo (by Howard Owens): Tyler Jirovec with his Champion Market Steer.

Press release:

Thank you to everyone who supported 4-H at the 46th Annual Genesee County 4-H Market Animal Auction! On Thursday, July 14, market goats, lambs, steers and hogs which were raised and shown by local 4-H members were auctioned by William Kent, Inc., at the Genesee County Fair.

The Champion Market Goat was exhibited by Michael Ehrmentraut and purchased by HLW Acres of Attica. The Reserve Champion Market Goat was exhibited by Cody Ehrmentraut and purchased by Crossen’s Christmas Tree Farm of Basom.

The Champion Market Lamb was exhibited by Maisy Ross and purchased by Dave Reisdorf, Inc., of Batavia. The Reserve Champion Market Lamb was also exhibited by Maisy Ross and purchased by Ed Roggen of Basom.

The Champion Market Steer was exhibited by Tyler Jirovec and was purchased by Turnbull Heating and Air Conditioning of Batavia. The Reserve Champion Market Steer was exhibited by Becky Kron and purchased by Clyde’s Feed & Animal Center of Hamburg.

The Champion Market Hog was exhibited by Cole Carlson and was purchased by The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant of Stafford. The Reserve Champion Market Hog was exhibited by Caleb Carlson and was purchased by Dave Reisdorf, Inc., of Batavia.

The objective of the Genesee County 4-H Market Animal Program is for engaged 4-H youth to gain valuable life skills such as responsibility, goal setting, decision making, communication, record keeping and community service through learning the basic principles of research-based animal science/husbandry practices, quality assurance and marketing of their project through hands-on learning opportunities in a positive youth development environment.

Thank you to all bidders and buyers! The Genesee County 4-H Livestock Committee and 4-H club leaders would also like to extend a special thank you to William Kent and Family for 46 years of continued services and outstanding support of the 4-H Market Animal Program.

Previously: 4-H'ers display their hard work at Genesee County livestock auction

July 19, 2016 - 8:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Pavilion, news.

A car vs. tractor-trailer accident is reported at Route 63 and Route 20, but only minor injuries are reported. 

Pavilion fire and Mercy EMS responding.

July 19, 2016 - 5:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Diana Kastenbaum chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Tonight, Rep. Chris Collins will address the Republican National Convention and will “second” Donald Trump’s Republican Party nomination for President. Pinnacle Manufacturing CEO Diana Kastenbaum, Collins’s Democratic Party opponent for Congress, issued the following statement:

“At the RNC Convention tonight, Rep. Chris Collins, the first Congressman to endorse Donald Trump, will address millions of Americans with more empty political rhetoric. I can guarantee that Collins won’t speak about his vote to underfund Veterans Affairs by $1.4 billion or his pledge to have a 100% pro-life voting record. I’m offended that Collins does not support our Vets, and I’m equally offended that Collins has not stood up to Trump for his outlandish remarks against women made over the course of the Republican Party Primary. We can do better.”

July 19, 2016 - 1:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.


Head Coach Brennan Briggs submitted this photo of youths who participated in a two-day football camp at Batavia High School.

July 19, 2016 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in solar farms, land use, solar energy, agriculture, news.

Local municipalities with farmland should consider whether they want to address the issue of a zoning code for solar farms, Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari told members of the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board at last night's meeting.

There are a couple of companies who have approached local landowners, Oltramari said, and if towns in the area want solar farms within their borders, they need to address it with a zoning code change and then decide how to regulate the farms.

Towns that do nothing, that currently have no permitted use for solar farms, will be deciding by default not to allow solar farms in those jurisdictions, Oltramari said.

If a land use isn't expressly mentioned in the local zoning code than it is completely prohibited.

Only the Town of Batavia has created provisions for solar farms, and it's a pretty bare-bones code at this point, Oltramari said.

The Town of Batavia took the action after SunEdison approached a local landowner about building a solar farm. An attorney representing SunEdison attended a couple of town meetings, but there's been no apparent progress with SunEdison since then and currently SunEdison is going through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Since then, no other town has moved forward with solar farm zoning, but the Town of Oakfield is considering a solar farm on its land adjacent to its wastewater treatment plan and the Town of Alabama is considering a solar farm for the retired quarry in the town. 

"I think that’s a perfect use for that, too," Oltramari said.

The Town of Batavia is also looking into a solar farm on its former landfill.

The big issue for agricultural land, however, is that a solar farm would take the land out of crop production.

Agriculture average typically leases for about $60 a year and solar companies will pay $1,500 per acre per year for 20 years.

"This has alarmed farmers that rely on rented land for their operations," Oltramari said.

Companies looking to set up solar farms are typically looking for 20-acre parcels and they must be within two miles of a power substation.

Donn Branton, chairman of the Farmland Protection Board, thinks landowners should look carefully at any deal offered by a solar company.

"The frosting sounds pretty good, but the cake batter seems to get pretty messy," Branton said. 

There's a two-year planning process and the company decides what part of your farm it wants, he said, and then during construction they decide where the roads go.

"They pretty much have the run of your farm," he said. 

And taking the land out of production could cause it to be reclassified as commercial property rather than farmland, increasing the property tax rate. 

'It's something you want to investigate thoroughly with a legal service," Branton said. "$1,500 sounds great, but then you've got all the stipulations that go with it."

Oltramari recommended that towns -- and potentially landowners -- address issues such as preserving topsoil and herbicide use (in the event the land ever reverts to food production).

Zoning could also be used to limit the location and size of solar farms, buffer zones and visual screening.

Typically, in this area, solar companies are looking for 20-acre farms that produce two to four megawatts of energy.

One megawatt of solar energy could power 165 homes.

An energy generation facility (solar or wind) that produces more than 25 megawatts is exempt from local zoning laws, but such a farm in Western New York would need 125 to 200 acres of land, so Oltramari doesn't foresee such a farm coming to Genesee County.

July 18, 2016 - 7:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in indian falls, pembroke, news.


A reader submitted this photo of four young men taking a break while diving at Indian Falls, as one looks at the memorial marker for Bradley Augustin, the 22-year-old Buffalo resident who drowned at the same location last week.

July 16, 2016 - 10:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Creekside Inn, Le Roy, news, business.


Over the winter, restoration work on the Creekside Inn resumed. The building was covered in protective plastic on the east side for much of the winter and when the plastic came off and the scaffolding came down, it revealed three levels of patios and decks and restored masonry.

Owner Bill Farmer expects work to be completed to have a restaurant and bar open by December.

Today he hosted a small gathering of invited guests to see the progress of the work.

Farmer gave me permission to take pictures of the decks, patio and interior. Sadly and unfortunately, as I was rushing out the door this evening to get to the fairgrounds for the tractor pulls, I hastily reformated the SD card in my camera, forgetting I had not yet transferred the pictures to my hard disk. Disk recovery didn't work and they're all lost.

All I can tell you is, Bill is doing a first-class job. This place, when it's done, will be stunning. The views will be beautiful. A couple of times this morning when he gave me a private tour, I was amazed by the work he's done on the place.

Farmer doesn't want to talk publicly about his plans at this point, but the revived Creekside Inn should be a great addition to Le Roy and Genesee County.

July 16, 2016 - 10:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Statue of Liberty, Le Roy, news.


The replica of the Statue of Liberty in Le Roy has been restored and is now back in place.

July 16, 2016 - 10:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oatka Festival, parade, Le Roy, news.


It was a perfect day for a parade in Le Roy and the annual Oatka Festival Parade went off without a hitch.

One of the highlights of the parade was the performance by the Preston Scout House Band, of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, which closed out the parade (top photo and bottom three photos, with more in the slide show).














Don't let these memories get away: To purchase prints, click here.

July 15, 2016 - 11:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pokemon Go, Oakfield, crime, news.

A 26-year-old woman who lives on Garibaldi Avenue in Oakfield is charged with petit theft after allegedly stealing a bicycle so she could ride it and get around faster to play Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go is the new mobile app game that has exploded in popularity in the past week that calls on players -- called trainers -- to travel around, usually by walking, and capturing, fictional creatures called "Pokemon" that appear on your smartphone screen at various physical locations.

Brandi-Lyn Heidenreich allegedly stole the bike from a 13-year-old after he parked it momentarily behind a business on Main Street in Oakfield to visit his mother who was at work.

The suspect was located because the bike was later found at her house and she was found walking in the area.

The bike was returned to the 13-year-old and his mother. 

Heidenreich is due in Oakfield Town Court on Aug. 8 to answer the charge. The case was handled by Sheriff's Deputy Robert Henning, assisted by Deputy Christopher Parker.




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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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