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March 10, 2016 - 5:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire, IAFF Local 896.

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A group of city firefighters will climb 38 floors, 800 steps, in Buffalo on March 12 to help raise funds for the American Lung Association.

The effort is part of the Fight for Air Climb and takes place at the HSBC Tower.

Firefighers have an increased risk for lung disease, including lung cancer, from the exposure to gases, chemicals and smoke in the line of duty. Funds will be used for research, education and patient programs to assist firefighters.

The Fight for Air Climb has so far raised $114,000 and Batavia Local 896 has raised $1,372.

To donate, visit fightforairclimb.org and enter Batavia L896 in search.

Pictured are Jerry Yoder, Adam Palumbo, Christine Marinaccio and Zack Gowanlock.

March 10, 2016 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.
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    Jason Armstrong

The attorney for a Batavia man accused of rape is troubled by the wide range of potential dates for the alleged attack and would like District Attorney Lawrence Friedman to try and get the woman making the accusation to try and come closer to an exact date.

Establishing a more accurate date would enable attorney Clark Zimmermann to determine if his client has alibis for the time of the alleged rape.

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.

Zimmermann said it was good that the indictment was able to specify the alleged attack happened between 8 and 9 p.m. on whichever day it occurred, but Nov. 6 to Nov. 10 is rather wide range to accept without more effort to narrow it down.

"I would think an adult as the complainant is, would be able to further specify or narrow the time frame," Zimmermann told Judge Michael F. Pietruszka. "Right now we have five possible days between 8 and 9 that this event could have occurred."

Friedman said he is certainly willing to cooperate in working with the alleged victim in narrowing the time frame down, but given the fact that the complaint wasn't made until the end of December, the amount of time that had passed before she was interviewed, made it difficult for her to recall the exact date.

"While I would like to provide a precise date or more precise date, I'm simply unable to do that at this time," Friedman said.

Zimmermann said he would expect the woman would have some ability to use work records or other life records to help her recall and narrow the time frame. He said the woman was working some jobs off the books in November and perhaps knowing when and where she worked would help. He indicated he uncovered some of that information through is own investigations and offered to provide that information to Friedman.

Friedman said he would accept the information and attempt to use it to help the woman come up with a more precise time frame.

Armstrong was indicted by a grand jury on counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree and 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, on South Main Street, as the alleged rape.

Zimmermann said he was still gathering evidence that might assist Armstrong in establishing alibis in both cases, including recorded phone messages left by one of the alleged victims.

Friedman objected that he had not yet received the evidence, despite filing a motion to receive it, and Zimmermann said that given the fact no trial date has been established yet, he still had time to gather the details and provide them in a timely manner.

"I certainly don't intend to sandbag him and I hope he doesn't do the same to me," Zimmermann said. "I think I've provided ample notice and if he disagrees, that's why we have you, Judge."

The case was set for another appearance on March 25, giving both sides more time to prepare their cases. At that time, if no plea deal is reached, Pietruszka will establish a plea cutoff date before setting a trial date.

March 10, 2016 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, news.

There is a natural gas leak reported at Le Roy Junior/Senior High School.

Le Roy fire is on scene. Stafford, Bergen and Pavilion dispatched mutual aid.

About 20 minutes ago, Le Roy fire was dispatched to the school for a pull station alarm.

UPDATE 10:41 a.m.: Town of Batavia fire requested to fill in at Le Roy's fire hall. Pavilion, which was standing by, now called to the school, located at 9300 South Street Road, Le Roy.

March 9, 2016 - 9:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, news.

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An ambulance has been dispatched to Bank Street and Alva Place for the male victim of a stabbing.

Police are on scene. 

No further information available at this time.

UPDATE 9:55 p.m.: The stabbing victim was approached by two males at the 7-11 store parking lot on East Main Street and "asked to purchase something" but police would not specify what that was. When the victim pulled out some money, he was stabbed in the shoulder and the money was taken. The suspects fled north on Elm Street, but that is not a certainty; the victim is not from the area. The suspects are described as a light-skinned male and a dark-skinned male, both wearing hoodies, one of which was dark and one of which was gray, but the victim could not specify which person wore what color. The victim attemped to drive to the hospital, but ended up at Bank Street and Alva Place, where he found a police officer and flagged him down.

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March 9, 2016 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, schools, education, batavia, news.

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Students from eight area high schools were at Genesee Community College today to show off their sales and marketing skills in a virtual trade fair sponsored by the Accelerated College Enrollment (ACE) program.

The students applied skills they learned in their classrooms to try and convince others to buy their products using virtual credit cards. Students were required to interact with potential buyers by making pitches, showing off catalogs and demonstrating their products. The transactions were recorded and receipts deposited in virtual bank accounts. Students are judged on sales skills and sales results. The top three businesses were to receive awards.

Particpating schools were Batavia, Dansville, Elba, Le Roy (two teams), Livonia, Notre Dame and there was a team from Wyoming County.

Also coming up are the annual Tech Wars, which is March 17, starting at 9:30 a.m.

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March 9, 2016 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Oakfield.

Jason E. Hammond, 34, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, speed not reasonable and moving from lane unsafely. Hammond was arrested following a single-vehicle accident at 2:24 a.m. Sunday on Liberty Street, Batavia. Hammond's vehicle hit a utility pole and flipped over. The accident was investigated by Officer Felicia DeGroot. Hammond was ordered held without bail. (Previous coverage).

Victoria M. Fleck, 22, of Wood Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment and criminal obstruction of breathing. Fleck was arrested following a reported domestic incident at 11:45 p.m., Sunday. Fleck was held on $750 bail.

Timothy J. Becker, 51, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment. Becker was allegedly involved in a domestic incident at 11:30 p.m., Saturday.

Matthew Joseph Engert, 24, of Geddes Street, Holley, is charged with aggravated harassment. 2nd. Engert was arrested on a warrant stemming from a criminal complaint reported at 11:22 p.m., Nov. 2. No further details released. Engert was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Donald Robert Rock, 58, of Judge Road, Oakfield, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right and driving left of pavement markings. Rock was stopped at 11:29 p.m. Friday on Kelsey Road, Batavia, by Deputy Ryan DeLong.

Jason William Penny, 31, of Maple Lane, Susquehanna, Pa., is charged with petit larceny. Penny is accused of shoplifting at Target.

March 8, 2016 - 6:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, arts, entertainment, theater, news.

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The Alexander High School Drama Club presents "Big Fish: A Musical" this weekend.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m., Sunday.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and students, pre-sale, and $10 for adults and $7 for seniors and students at the door. Children 5 and under can attend for free.

Photos are from yesterday's rehearsal.

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March 8, 2016 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in YMCA, UMMC, batavia, business, news.

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Last fall, the folks at the YMCA were looking at remodeling their aging facility on East Main Street. Time has taken its toll and what started out as a project that might need a few hundred thousand dollars soon ballooned into a $3 million estimate.

At that price, Executive Director Rob Walker said, maybe it was time for the Y to look for a partner. 

YMCAs in other communities found ready partners in local hospitals, so Walker, in his job for a little over a year, called Dan Ireland, CEO of United Memorial Medical Center, also in his job for a little over a year, and asked for a meeting.

It was a meeting of the minds.

Ireland was already thinking it would make a lot of sense for the hospital to partner in the Y. The missions align and the two nonprofit organizations share property lines.

The logical conclusion, build a new building that would meet the needs of both the Y and UMMC.  

The hospital owns property on three sides of the way, including the location of Cary Hall and the vacant lot (formerly the Elks Lodge) next to it. It would make a lot of sense, Walker and Ireland surmised, to build something new on that land and take the current Y building down.

A task force was formed, chaired by Mark Schoell, the retired CEO of UMMC, and including people such as City Manager Jason Molino, County Manager Jay Gsell, economic development coordinator Julie Pacatte and business leaders such as John Riter, of Merrill Lynch.

The planning process took another step forward today with a community forum, consisting of about 80 invited community leaders from throughout Genesee County, at City Church's Generation Center on Center Street.

Walker is quick to point out that the Y and UMMC are in the very early stages of the process, just pre-planning, but he and Ireland are pretty clearly enthusiastic about the idea.

"The level of cooperation and spirit of collaboration between the Y and the hospital has been fun, enjoyable and something that is going to be transformative," Walker said.

It's a great opportunity improve the level of health and well-being services for the people of Genesee County, Ireland said.

"Cary Hall is aging and needs work," Ireland said. "The Y is aged and needs work. We have a tremendous plot of land with parking and those buildings; we could really do a lot if we collectively come out with the right thing. The benefit to the hospital is new space so we can offer greater service.

This morning's forum was facilitated by Mary Ellen and Rick Peterson, both from the national YMCA office.  

The 80 or so participants were assigned groups of five or six people with a facilitator who helped guide the discussion and wrote group thoughts and ideas on white sheets of paper. The groups were asked to take about 12 minutes on each of five questions, such as what challenges the community faces, how those challenges can best be met, what can be done locally to help families, and how can personal well-being issues be addressed.

All of those sheets of paper -- dozens and dozens of them -- were gathered up after the meeting and the task force will now review them and use them to produce a report by May or June on how the Y and UMMC can best meet community needs and what should go into a joint facility to meet those needs.

"We can't just take the Y in Rochester or the Y in Buffalo and take a cookie cutter and drop it in Batavia," Walker said. "All the stuff that is in this room right now, on the walls, this is what we're going to take and make spaces to meet those needs. We don't know what it's going to look like, but it's going to be pretty."

Walker said the task force will also be able to draw on needs assessments completed by other area agencies over the past few years, such as the Office for the Aging, Health Department, school district and United Way.

The applause line of the morning came from one gentleman sitting at the back of the room who pointed out the participants were all white, and mostly close in age. He suggested there needs to be some needs assessments from a group with greater diversity and representing a broader range of community members.

Both Walker and Ireland said the gentleman's comment was right on target and that there were people invited who could bring greater diversity, but they didn't show, so there will be some follow up with them.  

"We recognize the need to strengthen the task force so there is an equal representation," Ireland said.

Walker was clearly energized by the morning's discussion and believes if all of these plans come together into a real project, it will transform Downtown, transform Batavia and, in fact, all of Genesee County.

"Today was pretty inspirational for me," Walker said. "The minds, the passion here for Batavia; it's a proud community. We have tremendous potential to make this projection transformational and make Batavia a destination city."

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March 8, 2016 - 3:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chamber Awards, chamber of commerce, business.

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Saturday, the Genesee County Chamber of Comemrce held its annual awards banquet at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia.

Pictured are award recipients, back row: Jay Gsell, Tracy Miller, Pete Zeliff, Matt Ryan, Jeff Post, John Post and Rob Walker; front row: Pamela McCarthy, Loretta Miller, Susie Boyce, Meg Ryan and Shelley Falitico.

Photo courtesy the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
Photo by Mark Gutman/
Daily News.

For coverage of the award winners:

March 8, 2016 - 12:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in trees. oak street, National Grid, batavia.

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Contractors for National Grid are busy this week along Oak Street removing trees that have become increasingly misshapen over the years by trimming meant to keep utility lines clear of obstructions. The trees will be replaced by species that aren't expected to interfer with the utility lines.

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March 8, 2016 - 11:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron.

David Michael O'Connor, 55, of Byron, has been charged with attempted aggravated murder of a police officer, the Sheriff's Office has announced.

O'Connor is accused of firing a single round from a .22-caiber rifle from the window of his apartment at the Byron Hotel at Deputy Andrew Hale yesterday, 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.

Nobody was struck by the projectile and there were no injuries.

Hale was supported at the scene by Deputy Joseph Corona, who spotted a person in a second-floor window of hotel building.

O'Connor was taken into custody without incident.

He was initially charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree criminal mischief and held on $25,000 bail.

With the new charge, O'Connor is now being held in the Genesee County Jail on no bail.

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

March 7, 2016 - 9:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron.

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With his life on the line this afternoon, Deputy Andrew Hale had to hope for the best after a single gunshot rang out in Byron and shattered two windows in his patrol vehicle.

He needed to assess the situation, and to do that, he had to get out of his car. He had to get out without knowing where the shot came from, and no immediate idea of where or how he should take cover.

It was a perilous moment.

"Where do I hide?" Hale said during a press conference at the Sheriff's Office less than four hours after the incident at the Arrow Mart in Byron. "Where do I go? That's not stuff they can teach you at the academy. That's something you've just got to roll the dice and hopefully, you get lucky."

Fortunately, Hale said, he had immediate backup.

Deputy Joseph Corona was at the side of his patrol vehicle just a few hundred feet away when he saw Hale exit his SUV.

"I did observe Deputy Hale exit his vehicle with kind of a stunned look on his face on what possibly may have happened," Corona said. "I saw him look around to the side of his vehicle at which time when he looked at the side of his vehicle, I watched the exterior glass fall out of his vehicle onto the parking lot of the Arrow Mart, at which point I saw him going to radio for assistance. At that point, I'd already placed my vehicle in drive. I went to go offer support and offer a cover for Deputy Hale, so I put my patrol vehicle in front of him and his vehicle. I didn't know what situation was going on but he said 'possible gunshot'; so in my mind, I utilized our vehicles, I utilized our training, I made sure Deputy Hale was OK."

Hale said, "It was good when somebody showed up at the scene and you know you've got a friend."

Corona noticed an open window on the second floor of the Byron Hotel and a man moving in and out of the window. Corona thought it was likely that's where the shot came from and tried to yell commands to the man by the window.

"He did not obey my instructions," Corona said. "Whether he didn't hear me or wasn't paying attention to me, I didn't know at that point. "`

The Arrow Mart was busy and there were civilians all around the intersection of Route 262 and Route 237. Corona and Hale shouted instructions for people to take cover and leave the area.

Backup arrived from the Sheriff's Office and State Police.

Hale, Corona, Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble and Undersheriff William Sheron entered the hotel and went to the second floor.

David Michael O'Connor, 55, of Room 3, Byron Hotel, Byron, was taken into custody and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, a Class D felony, and third-degree criminal mischief, a Class E felony. Additional charges may be filed. He was jailed on $25,000 bail.

Hale and Corona were at the intersection running a traffic detail, watching for drivers without seatbelts. Corona would mark the spot and Hale would initiate the traffic stop.

At noon today, Hale stopped a vehicle in the parking lot of the Arrow Mart and wound through the routine -- speaking with the driver, who admitted to driving without a seatbelt, gathering his license, registration and insurance information and then returning to his patrol vehicle to check the data on his computer.

Once in the SUV, Hale heard "a pop" and the glass of his patrol vehicle's rear, passenger seat, windows shattered.

"At that point, you really don't know what's going on and you're trying to figure out, first, 'Was that a shot?' and second, 'Where did it come from?' " Hale said. "We were both sitting out in the open. It's a residential neighborhood and there are people 360 degrees around you and you don't know what window or what person. You don't know anything except that you potentially had gunfire."

The no-seatbelt driver got out his car.

Hale admitted, yeah, of course, it crossed his mind that the driver was the attacker. A person getting out of a vehicle is a big red flag for a cop, Hale said, but the driver immediately put his hands up and asked Hale if he was OK.

"Somebody who just shot at you doesn't throw up his hands in the air and ask if you're OK," Hale said. "Once I was kind of assured he wasn't a threat, my eyes went elsewhere."

The driver did not receive a citation.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman wouldn't speculate on what additional  charges O'Connor might face, but yes, there is an attempted murder of a police officer to consider.

O'Connor was allegedly found in possession of a .22 bolt-action, single-shot rifle. Maha said that when he entered Room #3, after the scene had been secured, he observed a box of shells on the bed. A casing was still in the rifle, but the slug has not yet been recovered.

Maha said only a single shot was fired.

Nobody was hurt.

There is no known motive at this time. O'Connor does have a local DWI arrest on his record from 2003 but had never had prior contact with Hale.

O'Connor "made certain admissions," Maha said, but wouldn't say what O'Connor said or characterize their nature.

Maha said there were indications O'Connor was under some recent stress and that he may have been a little intoxicated, though not noticeably intoxicated.

The job of law enforcement seems to have gotten more dangerous in recent years, Maha said.

"People seem to be more aggressive," Maha said. "I think it's a sign of the times, whether drug abuse, or alcohol abuse or stress, a lot of people out there with mental health issues."

Hale noted that so much of the work of law enforcement can be routine and it's easy to get complacent, but that's the last thing you want to do these days. So much has changed. 

"You try and remind yourself, and incidents like this do remind us that we do have to be vigilant out there," Hale said. "We have to pay attention. A simple stop for a seatbelt and look what it turned into. It's not that easy sometimes. You've got to see and keep yourself sharp and do your job.

"As the Sheriff stated," Hale added, "policing has changed now and the traffic stop has become, as a stated earlier, a 360. It's no longer just in front of you. You have to be more aware of the hostility toward police officers. You know, people walking down the street, you never know. I guess that's just part of the job now."

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March 7, 2016 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron.

A deputy making a traffic stop was reportedly fired upon early this afternoon at the Arrow Mart in Byron.

Deputy Andrew Hale and Deputy Joseph Corona were conducting a traffic detail when Hale initiated a traffic stop, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

After speaking with the driver, Hale was returning to his vehicle when he heard a pop and the rear window of his patrol vehicle shattered.

He radioed for backup and Corona noticed that an upper floor window of the Byron Hotel was open.  

Once backup arrived, Hale, Corona and Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble entered the building and located a man inside.

The suspect "made some admissions" and is currently in custody, Maha said.

No one was injured in the incident.

The Sheriff's Office is planning a press conference for 4 p.m.

March 7, 2016 - 10:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, byron, Bethany.

Justin T. Calmes, 37, of Watson Street, Batavia, is charged with trespass and illegal disposal of items. Calmes allegedly dumped items into a dumpster at North Spruce Apartments when he did not have permission to use the dumpster.

Andrei P. Sliker, 25, of Silver Road, Bethany, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Sliker was taken into custody at 9:31 p.m. Thursday by Batavia PD and transported to City Court, where the matter was resolved.

James R. Kosiorek, 23, no permanent residence, was arrested on a warrant out of City Court by Rochester PD. Kosiorek was turned over to Batavia, was arraigned in City Court, and released.

Jessie M. Cramer, 30, of South Jackson Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. Cramer was located on Jackson Street during an investigation into an unrelated matter. He was released on $500 police bail.

Kimberly M. Volk, 27, of Montclair Avenue, is charged with criminal using drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Volk was contacted by police in front of Dollar General after a report of a verbal argument. She was allegedly found in possession of two glass crack pipes.

Shane Eric Ashton, 46, of Walkers Corners Road, Byron, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right and moving unsafely from lane. Ashton was stopped at 2:34 a.m. Sunday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

Triton Adam Drock, 21, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with failure to register change of address within 10 days. Drock was arrested on a warrant  of Town of Batavia Court. 

March 6, 2016 - 2:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, batavia, news.

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A vehicle reportedly flipped over at Liberty and East Main streets in the City of Batavia, unknown injuries. City firefighters and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 2:50 a.m.: No injuries. Three people in the vehicle. A male said he was the driver and police were conducting a field sobriety test when we left the scene.

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