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Howard B. Owens's blog

November 2, 2017 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Bob Bialkowski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My #1 priority is to continue to represent the interest of the citizens of Batavia.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will work to build the infrastructure that is needed to revitalize all of the community, not just downtown. The best thing government can do for business is to not interfere but to simplify overcomplicated rules and regulations. Our new comprehensive plan should be a step in that direction.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? This is for the community to decide. As of this time I have had zero requests to cut any services.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have owned two corporations and have over 40 years of business experience. I retired as an Army officer with 30 years of service and have taken many leadership courses through the years. As an Army Master Aviator and a civilian Commercial pilot with over fifty years experience, I am accustomed to making vital decisions. I still serve as a Coast Guard Auxiliary “Aircraft Commander”.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and Government? 

1. His Finest Hours by Graham Stewart. (The War Speeches of Winston Churchill).  

2. Benedict Arnold’s Navy by James L Nelson. (The Rag Tag Fleet that won the American Revolution).

3. Hit the Target by Bill Yenne. (8 Men who let the Eighth Air Force to Victory over the Luftwaffe).

These books were all written about great men in history that accomplished huge deeds for their countries. These three books verify that government as a whole does very little for the people but the people themselves with great resolve can accomplish monumental achievements. In the case of Winston Churchill, one man that was a great Statesman rallied not only his own country but the United States to stand up against tyranny. It is unfortunate that today there are few if any Statesmen in the world. The people should remember that it is their government and it must always be held in check and accountable at all levels.

November 2, 2017 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Lisa Whitehead.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? Undoubtedly, it must be to move Batavia in a new direction.  For years, small business in the city has been struggling.  We have a couple of businesses coming into Batavia through tax abatement programs that are seen as our future.  We will need to see how they impact the city’s tax revenue and that won’t be for years down the road.  Too often you see businesses that move into an area because of a tax abatement incentive, leave when that incentive is gone.  Meanwhile, existing businesses that have been struggling for years will continue to struggle because they are not deemed worthy of the city’s financial help.  Having the taxpayers and existing businesses subsidize other businesses through tax abatement has to stop.  Further, it is critically important to identify and remove obstacles that small business owner’s face here in the city.  We need to reduce the number of regulations that prevent the growth and revitalization of our business district. 

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you [do] to accelerate the revitalization process? I don’t see “great” progress.  Receiving the DRI grant money may be viewed as a boon to the city but it won’t be used to get rid of the greatest eyesore in Batavia.  We need to get out of property ownership and this means the Mall.  To do this, we need a new manager.  This is nothing personal against our current manager.  However, under his guidance, our city’s comprehensive plan has us doubling down on this money pit—including the proposal of the second story for apartments.  Do we really think this is going to improve the “look” of the city?  We need a manager that will get us out of the Mall business - not reinvest taxpayer money year after year, into this failing structure. 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? No one ever likes to hear that services are going to be cut or eliminated, and I am not sure that we have to eliminate any, but it is clear that these services need to be closely managed.  One way to manage these is to look for creative ways to reduce expenditures.  Reduced spending by sharing services may be one way to slow growth in the city budget.  For example, department heads are currently performing the duties that would normally be the responsibility of the Assistant City Manager and in so doing, have demonstrated that the city does not necessarily need this position.  The City Charter may require this post but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the task of a single individual. 

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? My qualifications are many and varied.  Besides the fact that I have lived in the city for 20 years and regularly attend City Council meetings, I am also an active member of the Genesee County Libertarian Party, the DAR, and my local union chapter.  Over my lifetime, I have worked for both small and large businesses and in both public and private sectors.  I have experience managing people at the department level in private industry as well as experience working in committees.  I currently manage a budget as the elected treasurer of my union as well as manage a household budget.  All of these skills developed over the last 30+ years, and a degree in political science has prepared me for this opportunity to serve the people of Batavia.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? I like history, so my answer would be anything written around the time of the Revolutionary War.  Since learning in high school that a member of my family fought in the Revolution, I have been interested in the writings of that period.  In particular, I am interested in the philosophy behind documents like the Bill of Rights.  To me, this document represents the clearest attempt of any group of people to define individual freedom.  I respect that and feel it’s time that we get back to our roots and commit ourselves to protecting the rights enumerated by this historic and timeless document.  

November 2, 2017 - 10:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with William Fava.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My # 1 priority is to represent ALL the taxpayers in the City of Batavia to ensure that our City government is providing a high level of service in a “Customer Orientated” efficient and effective manner.  Whether it is a small problem or a big problem, all concerns from the taxpayers of the City need timely action and response.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? Yes…the City and Downtown representatives have initiated great steps in the revitalization process.  But we cannot become satisfied with where we are; we have to keep moving forward and invite more discussion with business and potential business owners.  The City needs a more aggressive and innovative approach to incorporate more business into the center of the City.  It would be great to not have any vacant storefronts, vacant property for development, or empty parcels in the mall.  We have to engage City, County, State, financial/banking institutions, and our Chamber of Commerce to provide a financial process to give potential owners a short period of financial assistance to provide a “startup” period.   The assistance could be in lower property rental cost for a period of time or assistance in purchasing a piece of land or building.  We have many people who wish they could start a business but have a problem in the initial start-up costs.  Historically, if a business can survive the first two or three years of their business plan, the percentage of continued success and growth will be on their side. The process is simple, we all need to work together to improve the core of downtown Batavia.  Many people have ideas for improvement.   Let’s listen and give them the opportunity to work together.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? The Assistant City Manager has announced her departure a few months back.  I would not replace.  I think the City should either employ two or three part-time experienced individuals with Public Administration backgrounds.   We are a City with many qualified citizens being retired; they just might want to be involved.  They could be tasked to work on special projects and backfill the City Manager with assistance. Another suggestion would be to open the position to local universities for an internship experience in Public Administration.  Either method would eliminate the position cost and provide extra hands for the busy City Manager.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I believe that with my educational background (BA degree in Finance/Business and a Masters degree in Health Administration/MHA), I have a solid background supporting my 40 years of business experience in Human Resources, Accounting, and Supervision.  My military experience has provided me many opportunities to successfully complete assigned missions and to lead subordinate personnel in peacetime or in a war zone.  In addition, I previously held a Batavia City at Large Councilman position from 1991 thru 1994.  With my experience from Business, Military, Education and previous experience as a past Councilman, I feel uniquely qualified for a position on City Council.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? The first book influencing my thinking is by Robert D. Putnam entitled BOWLING ALONE—THE COLLAPSE AND REVIVAL OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY.  The book explains the civic engagement decline in the United States in political, civic, religious, and connections in the workplace participation providing a suggestive path toward change and not forgetting our usage of technology and mass media in a modern society.  The next book is by W. Edwards Deming entitled OUT OF THE CRISIS.  The book explains the needed transformation of various business sectors in the United States to once again compete in the global business world through drastic “Quality and Productivity” improvements.  The transformation includes improvement in government operations and a warning about politicians concerned with the next election and not doing the right thing for the people they represent for the sake of a successful future election.  Finally, the book that had a large impact on my thinking was written by John F. Kennedy entitled PROFILES IN COURAGE.   Kennedy provided a collection of actions represented by people that disregarded negative consequences to their public and private lives to do the one thing that seemed right in itself.  The decision made was not always the most popular or demanded by a superior, but it was the right thing to do.  All these books have provided something to my thinking and personality in dealing with today’s society.  

November 2, 2017 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Jim Rosenbeck.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My first priority will be to observe and learn.  My next priority will be to replace the current City Manager.  This is not personal. It is strictly business.  If the city were a private business, the city manager would have already been replaced based on performance. The incumbent council members at large rate the manager’s performance highly and have lobbied to raise his salary. I disagree. Here are the facts; In 2005 the property tax levy in the city was 3.4 million dollars.  In 2017, that levy is 5.2 million dollars. This represents a 52% increase in the property tax levy on property owners.  During this time, we lost trash services and saw more vacant storefronts appear on Main Street.  Taxpayers spent untold dollars on mall litigation and assumed ownership of several parcels within the mall due to delinquent taxes.  We have failed to maintain that infrastructure and have no plan to exit the mall business.  Indeed the City’s agreement with the Mall merchants calls for doubling down on the taxpayer’s investment.  A new Comprehensive Plan (available on the City website) calls for adding a second story on the mall. Batavians are best served by council hiring a new city manager who better understands the needs of the community. 

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I question this premise.  There is an old saying.  It goes like this; “In God we trust. Everyone else should bring data.”  Where is the data? There has been great promise of progress…most of that is unrealized.  Economic Development programs have been a failure locally and statewide. The city now owns nine properties inside the Genesee Country Mall in addition to the concourse that we have failed to maintain.  We have embraced bad economic policies which shuffle taxpayer money from one hand to another in a zero-sum game.  The devil is in the details with this smoke and mirrors economics.  

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? l will start with this basic premise; People know how to spend their hard earned money better than government.  What are the basic functions of a city government? Better yet, what do the people who pay the bills want from city government?  I have been knocking on doors in the city since mid-July.  Not a single person has told me they want an electric car charging station.  The current leadership is out of touch with the people of Batavia.  They are too busy trying to remake Batavia into a city like Saratoga. Real people want our infrastructure maintained and public safety provided at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.  Given that government has proven over and over again that it doesn’t understand basic supply and demand economics, it should refrain from anymore shameless meddling.   Avoid unnecessary entanglements with Albany.  Reward efficiency and look for ways to share services.  Ask where we can utilize a volunteer component to help offset costs.  I am not on a mission to eliminate any services.  I am committed to delivering services more effectively and efficiently.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates?  One of my first economic lessons was as a paperboy delivering the Buffalo evening news.  There I learned that if a customer paid for the month in advance I couldn’t spend that money without consequences later on in the month. I had to learn to live within my means.  City government should similarly learn to live within it means. But it doesn’t.  it just keeps on returning to the customer and asking for more money.   I could roll out a simpler answer here citing a handful of college degrees and my career accomplishments.  But why pander to a handful of elitists who think that only a privileged few are qualified to represent the people?   I run for office as a friend of the common man and woman.   I am not beholden to any special interests or political parties. My promise is to exercise common sense and serve the interests of the people of Batavia. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government?  Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” has been a big influence on my economic thought.  I wish this book was required reading for those serving in public office.  Here is a quote from Hazlitt that summarizes the one lesson that public officials should humbly understand; 
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” -Henry Hazlitt

Hazlitt states this perfectly. Government fails to get the big picture. Our representatives often fail to understand that they can’t use the people’s money to do one thing without there be a corresponding disincentive for someone else. Let's elect leadership that gets the big picture.

November 2, 2017 - 10:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Adam Tabelski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority?  The #1 priority for next year is to address the expiring sales tax and water agreements with the County.  Sales tax sharing from the County is the City’s largest revenue source, even greater than property taxes.  A consensus must be reached because the City’s fate is central to the County’s fate.  We will also begin to implement Batavia’s new comprehensive plan, which lays out a number of objectives to move our City forward.   

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process?  Winning the $10,000,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a historic settlement with the Mall Merchants, substantial commitments of private investment (e.g. Eli Fish Brewing, Ellicott Station), new and growing small businesses, and a dynamic BID is all signs pointing to the fact that Batavia’s downtown is on the right track.  Day by day, we are making strides to reverse the physical and economic destruction caused by ‘urban renewal’ and create a true rejuvenation.  The immediate task for me and my colleagues on Council is to make sure the $10,000,000 prize is invested wisely in order to trigger additional private sector investment.  We also need to maintain our relationship with the Batavia Development Corporation, the GCEDC, and other partners who are poised to make economic development projects happen.  The recently created the Pathway to Prosperity is a great example of how we can creatively drive resources to make downtown more ‘development-ready.’ 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why?  Notwithstanding the uncertainty of the sales tax and water questions, the City is in a strong financial position.  I sense no widespread need or desire to put services on the chopping block.  Actually, what I hear most from residents is a desire for more services—more street and sidewalk repairs, more park improvements, more policing, more code enforcement, etc.  These are the things that contribute to our quality of life.  So we try to drive as many financial resources to these services as possible while avoiding overburdening taxpayers.  It’s a balance.  Still, I am always in favor of exploring new and efficient ways to deliver these services, particularly through leveraging new technologies and focusing on shared services with neighboring municipalities or the County.  The County, with the participation of the City and other municipalities, will be developing a shared services plan over the next year to further help identify and implement opportunities for more sharing of services.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates?  Life is the best teacher.  I have worked in the public sector, in the office of a state legislator, trying to help constituents and influence public policy.  I have served in local government, as a trustee and mayor (in Medina) and as a Councilman (in Batavia), finding common-sense ways to improve a community.  I now work in the private sector, helping to grow an established firm.  I have served in the military and learned lessons about teamwork, integrity, and sacrifice.  These experiences give me a broad frame of reference when considering issues before the City of Batavia. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government?  Walden by Henry David Thoreau; John Adams by David McCullough; Our Town by Thornton Wilder.

November 2, 2017 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Eugene Jankowski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My number one priority is to maintain fiscal responsibility with proper budgeting while providing essential services and continued support of Downtown development.  

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will work to ensure the Downtown Revitalization Grant is properly fulfilled to maximum effectiveness and continue the City Council mission. “Our mission is to create and sustain a vibrant, affordable, safe community where people choose to live and work and where, through a supportive environment, businesses continuously flourish.”

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? Each year during the budget process council members go through the draft budget line by line with Department heads and every expense must be justified.  This is an efficient process that in past years has identified areas of duplication that needed to be trimmed. Budgets the last 3 years have maintained essential services with healthy reserves, along with a reasonable amount of unassigned fund balance.  The City of Batavia has also received the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget presentation for the third consecutive year. This year we were able to use some of those reserve funds to purchase a new fire truck and avoid thousands of dollars in additional finance costs.  At this time I believe services are right where they need to be and I support continued fiscal responsibility.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I’ve patrolled the streets of Batavia as a police officer / Lieutenant/ Emergency Response Team (ERT) Commander for over 33 years. ERT required 100’s of hours of additional specialized training along with advanced decision-making skills and critical thinking under pressure.  I’m a college graduate and a graduate of the 198th session of the FBI National Academy. The FBI academy included advanced leadership and management courses. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? I haven’t read any books that have influenced my thinking on government or society. However “Lincoln on Leadership. Executive Strategies for tough times.” Has had an influence, as well as aided my leadership skill development. It has proved useful in my role as Council President and serving our community.

November 1, 2017 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, crime, news, notify.

corfuk9oct2017.jpg

Given the expense of buying and training police K9s, you wouldn't expect a small village like Corfu to have a K9 officer, let alone a handler with two dogs. In fact, just a couple of years ago, Corfu residents wondered if they would even keep their police force.

But a loss for one village is a gain for another.

Officer Anthony Bartucca, with 27 years experience in law enforcement and K9s "Rocco" and "King" by his side, became available to Corfu after the Village of Lyons dissolved and shut down its police department.

"We're very blessed that this situation came up," said Mayor Biggs Johnson. "It’s not a situation where we had to go out and purchase a K-9 or pay for the training. He’s already got certifications. We just have to maintain the training."

Rocco is an advanced drug-detection dog who can also perform tracking and trailing duties. King sniffs out explosives and weapons.

"Rocco will sniff out all drugs known to man, including pharmaceutical drugs, which you know is now more prevalent than street drugs," Bartucca said.

The K9 team joined the 14-officer police force five weeks ago; all are part time.

Rocco, 6 1/2 years old, is a Belgian Malinois and German shepard mix, and 2-year-old King is purebred German shepard.

Johnson thinks the team will have a region-wide impact, given Corfu's nexus at major traffic arteries -- Route 77 and Route 33. Johnson said he's concerned both about drugs and human trafficking passing through the area.

"I know we’re a small village, but because of where we are, where we’re located in close proximity to the Thruway, I think we can do quite a bit to help curb a lot of that activity," Johnson said.

Rocco was a big hit at Corfu's Halloween party last night. He was super friendly, eager to meet every person that came his way.

"He’s a big lovey until I tell him not to be," Bartucca said.

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The Village of Corfu PD has a new motto: "Serving with Honor, Integrity & Pride; Protecting with Courage." Officer Cameron Leight on the left.

November 1, 2017 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Halloween, corfu, news.

corfuhalloweenparty2017.jpg

The Corfu Fire Department and Village of Corfu hosted a community Halloween party in the warmth of the Fire Hall last night.

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November 1, 2017 - 10:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, mall, batavia.

I just stumbled on this video on YouTube --  "Hidden Vintage Mall: Batavia City Centre."

The show notes: A nice little find in the heart of Western NY, Enjoy!

The producer, Ace's Adventures, seems to take a keen interest in old malls.

He included a vintage Kmart commercial at the start, probably because of the connection with JCPenney.

November 1, 2017 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, news, batavia.

There will be local elections Nov. 7. 

The one contested race for County Legislature is in District 9 where retired Sheriff Gary Maha is challenging incumbent Ed DeJaneiro. We asked each candidate to answer five questions. Below are their verbatim responses.

Q&A with Ed DeJaneiro

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? To insist on maintaining the County Sharing of Sales Tax with the City of Batavia as agreed 16 years ago with the Water Agreement. Also if and when the County is faced with the decision to alter or build a County Jail that we explore all possible cost alternatives to include a joint jail facility with another county. State consolidation incentives may be available. We must continue to improve infrastructure roads and bridges and provide public water to county residents and businesses. We need to maintain a level property tax (stay under the 2% tax cap) and use proceeds from the sale of the nursing home if needed.

What can you do if elected to help improve the business climate
in Genesee County?
Continue to support GCEDC efforts and promote our shovel-ready industrial sites for business to move here and create jobs. Maintain a friendly governmental approach with businesses and take advantage of State and Federal incentives.

What services currently provided by the County should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? We need to aggressively investigate consolidation of services where ever possible and provide the current county services in a more efficient matter.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the Legislature over your opponent? I have served as a City Councilperson for 10 years, Legislator for 16 years. I have worked in private business for 38 years of which as a manager of a savings and loan for five years and as an account manager in the supply distribution industry for 33 years. I manage the accounts for over 100 small businesses in Western New York. I also have a graduate degree in Public Administration.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? Miracle at St. Anna, Rediscover Catholicism, The Seventh Step, My Shadow Ran Fast.

Q&A with Gary Maha:

If elected, what’s your # 1 priority? My # 1 priority is keeping taxes low and improving the quality of life in the City of Batavia and Genesee County. I would also like feedback from the residents of Wards 4 & 5 as what they perceive as priorities.

What can you do, if elected, to help improve the business climate in Genesee County? Improvement of the business climate in Genesee County must be a collaborative effort among all involved agencies, organizations, governments and the community. Including, but not limited to: Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), Batavia Business Improvement District (BID), Genesee County Legislature, Batavia City Council, County Manager, City Manager and members of the community. As a County Legislator, I would encourage such collaboration and/or facilitate such collaboration. Keeping property taxes under control is essential to improving the business climate in Genesee County and as Legislator; this would be my primary goal.

What services currently provided by the County should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? At this time I am not recommending any services currently provided by the County be cut or eliminated. If elected, I intend to meet with every department head to get an in-depth review of the programs and services offered and then formulate a position to determine greater efficiencies.  County departments and their programs and services need to be reviewed and evaluated annually for effectiveness and if they are cost-effective.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the Legislature over your opponent? I am in a unique position as a candidate for the County Legislature as I have served this community as their Sheriff for 29 years, overseeing a total of approximately 130 employees and an approximate 13 million dollar budget. I am familiar with County government and its operations. If elected to the County Legislature, my experience as a department head would be an asset to the residents of Wards 4 & 5 and the Genesee County Legislature. I have held leadership roles locally, in New York State and nationally. I was Past Chair of the Genesee County Traffic Safety Board; Past Chair of the Genesee County Criminal Justice Advisory Council; Past President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association; Past Chair of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association’s Executive Committee, Past Vice-chair of the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Criminal Justice Information Systems/Technology Committee, and Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Batavia. I am a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy, Quantico, VA where I received training in leadership, decision making, and management. I have also attended numerous courses and training seminars related to personnel management, homeland security, counterterrorism, incident command system, media relations, and law enforcement liability. This training and experience is an asset to my qualifications as a candidate for the Genesee County Legislature.

I am a lifelong resident of Genesee County and have been a resident of Vernon Avenue in the City of Batavia for almost 50 years. I have been an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Batavia for 29 years, serving the children of our community. I am a U.S. Army Veteran and have received numerous awards and accolades while serving as Sheriff of Genesee County. My wife, Susan, and I have raised our two daughters in Batavia and we care deeply for this community.

I serve as a member of Genesee Community College’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board and previously served as a member of Genesee Community College’s Housing and Ventures Committee. I also served as a member of the New York State Executive Committee on Counterterrorism, the New York State Local Law Enforcement Accreditation Council (Governor’s appointment), the New York State Interoperable & Emergency Communications Board (Governor’s appointment), and the National Sheriffs’ Association Homeland Security Committee. 

I feel my vast experience and training over the years makes me more qualified for the position of County Legislator than my opponent. I have served the people of Genesee County for my entire career and hope to continue that service as your County Legislator.

What one, two or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? I recently read the book entitled “The Swamp” by Eric Bolling which discusses corruption and cronyism in Washington, DC. It was stated that cronyism involving sex, bribery, blackmail and backroom deals contradict public policies and cost taxpayers millions and billions of dollars. Personally, this is very disturbing to me being a taxpayer and the fact that I taught ethics for several years to new Sheriffs at the New Sheriffs School sponsored by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association.

I have also read several books pertaining to corruption over the years within the NYPD and books pertaining to leadership including “Leadership Under Fire” by Brigadier General Nick Halley and “Vigilance” by former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

November 1, 2017 - 9:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia, news.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department is reminding everyone to change their clocks and change their smoke alarm batteries.

Daylight Savings Time ends this Saturday, Nov. 5th at 2 a.m.

“When you turn your clocks back one hour, it’s a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are working properly and to change the batteries,” said Chief Stefano Napolitano, City of Batavia fire chief.

“Plus with winter quickly approaching and most everyone turning their heating systems on, it also makes this an ideal time to make sure your heating system is working properly. This is a great opportunity to check your carbon monoxide detectors as well.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71 percent of smoke alarms which failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

Fire Prevention Officer for the City of Batavia Fire Department, Lieutenant Greg Ireland, knows how this simple but important task can be overlooked.

“As parents, we’ve got a lot on our minds -- jobs, busy schedules, mealtime; so it’s easy to let home fire safety slip from our radars. You never think a fire will strike your home, but it certainly could and it’s important to take as many proactive steps as we can to protect our families.”

The City of Batavia Fire Department would like to see every home in our community equipped with a working smoke detector. If you do not have a smoke detector or if you are unsure the batteries are working properly, members of the City of Batavia Fire Department will come to your home and ensure that you have a working smoke detector, absolutely free of charge.

Call (585) 345-6375 to set up an in-home appointment.

“The message is simple,” Chief Napolitano said. “Change your clock, change your batteries. Using that extra hour is a perfect time to do it.”

November 1, 2017 - 9:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in STOP-DWI, byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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Press release:

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School seventh-grader Zoey Shepard surpassed the competition and was named Grand Prize winner in Genesee County’s annual STOP-DWI Poster Contest. Her sister, eighth-grader Grace Shepard, took First Place in the category for grades 6-8, and classmate Kendall Phillips won Third Place honors in that same group.

All three designers will be recognized at the STOP-DWI Awards Luncheon on Nov. 28 at Terry Hills Restaurant and Banquet Facility in Batavia.

The contest is sponsored by the county’s STOP-DWI Advisory Board. This year’s theme was “You can hand over your keys or your life. Make the right choice.”

Zoey Shepard’s Grand-Prize-winning poster design will be applied to T-shirts and a prominent county billboard to help raise awareness for the dangers of drinking and driving.

When the competition was announced in September, Grace Shepard, a 2016 STOP-DWI contest winner, enthusiastically promoted it to the other girls. All three designed their entries on their own time, outside of class. Art teacher Sandy Auer worked with them, guiding their discussions about what makes a great design.

“They were very serious about creating good compositions with compelling imagery and readability,” Auer said. “All three have a passion for art that is awesome to see. I really enjoy teaching them.”

Photo: Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School’s STOP-DWI award-winners (l-r) Kendall Phillips, Grace Shepard and Zoey Shepard.

November 1, 2017 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the home page).
  • Once registered you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual purchaser must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.

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October 31, 2017 - 9:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

A week ago, a man walking to his car in a parking lot off of East Main Street, was either splashed or sprayed with some sort of fluid by three youths riding BMX-style bicycles.

Police are investigating but have little information to share at this time.

Police were dispatched to the parking lot the night of Oct. 24 to investigate a report that a man had been sprayed with gasoline.

At Monday night's City Council meeting, during public comments, Bill Blackshear, while talking about the city's need to address some youthful misbehavior and find ways to bring the community together, referenced the incident and said the victim suffered second-degree burns.

Det. Eric Hill, Batavia PD, couldn't confirm whether the man was injured or what sort of fluid might have been involved.

"We are having difficulties getting in touch with the victim," Hill said. "That is the information we are trying to find out also."

There is another video obtained by The Batavian related to the incident that shows the youths involved more clearly so its possible the police could have identified them, but Hill said he wouldn't discuss that aspect of the case since it is an ongoing investigation (the youths appear to be under 16 years of age, so since this case is likely to be referred to Family Court if there are charges, and since there have been no charges, The Batavian has chosen not to publish that video clip at this time).

Anybody with information that may assist in the investigation may call Batavia PD at (585) 345-6350 or the Confidential Tip Line at (585) 345-6370.

October 31, 2017 - 6:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Halloween, batavia, news.

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From Oliver's Candies

(Please Note: We're closing submissions for the day. This is it.)

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Jayden Burns, 10 months old 

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Hendrix the octopus, 1 year old

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Staff at New York School for the Blind

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Nick Grasso, Tompkins Insurance, as "Rocket Man."

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Wilmont Cancer Center

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Stan's Harley Davidson

October 31, 2017 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Premier Genesee Nursing Home, batavia, news.

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Premier Genesee Nursing Home held a birthday party today for two residents who turned 100 years old in October.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley was on hand for the birthday party for Mary Meleca, born Oct. 22, 1917, in Batavia, and Eleanore Bialkowski, born Oct. 1, 1917, in Poland.

Meleca grew up in Batavia, met her husband, Frank, on Main Street, where he was a local barber. He died young and she never remarried and they didn't have any kids. "No luck," she said. She likes sitting outside to enjoy the day as well as bingo and music. Her past hobby was cooking for her husband.

Bialkowski moved to the United States with her family when she was a child. She married Robert Bialkowski and they had two children, a son and a daughter. She's been married twice and widowed twice. She was raised Catholic and the church is still an important part of her daily life. 

After all the well wishes and a chorus of "Happy Birthday" led by Hawley, birthday cake was served.

October 31, 2017 - 6:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Players, Harvester 56, theater, arts, news.

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Batavia Players presents "Frankenstein: A New Musical" this weekend and next weekend at the Harverster 56 Theater in Batavia.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, and at 2 p.m. this Sunday only. Tickets are $15 per adult or $12 for students and seniors. 

The cast is Pat Burk, Richard Ferris, Cale Dehlinger, Erin Stamp, Liam Crawford, James Barcomb, Heather Ferris, Petyon Woeller, Derrick Crawford, Emily Crawford, Jocelyn Coburn, Norah Crawford, Steve Coburn, Kathryn Fitzpatrick, Kaylee Dehlinger, Jessie Pierce, Lucine Kauffman, Rose Bower, Isaiah Merrill, Samantha Rychlicki, A.T., and Gabriel Flanagan.

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October 31, 2017 - 1:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, veterans.

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Zach Fuller presented plans to members of the County Legislature on Monday for a 55-unit apartment complex on East Main Street, Batavia, hoping to sway the Legislature to officially support it which will keep the project moving forward.

Fuller said 18 of the units will be designated as transitional housing for formerly homeless veterans.

Fuller is with Eagle Star, which operates a home in East Pembroke to assist homeless veterans. The program is aimed at helping veterans re-establish stable lives, providing assistance in obtaining veterans benefits, counseling, life coaching, and a supportive atmosphere.

The complex at 552, 554, and 556 E. Main St., will provide housing to veterans who are ready to move out of the East Pembroke home, or the one Eagle Star operates in Spencerport. Eagle Star works with the Veterans Administration to identify eligible veterans.

"Many of our veterans don't know they're eligible for Social Security, veterans benefits, or some benefits are not fully activated," Fuller said. "We try to make sure they are accessing everything that they are supposed to be and allowed to access."

The veterans program, which will include an on-site guidance counselor, is funded through a state grant.

The rest of the 55 units in the four-story complex will be designated for people earning under the median income for Batavia.

Fuller said the location is ideal for the community of people it will serve because it is a walkable neighborhood with essential amenities, such as a grocery store, pharmacy and public transportation nearby.

Further funding applications will be submitted to NYSHCR in December.

The property is already zoned for this sort of facility and the project has been approved by the city's planning committee.

Fuller hopes to begin construction in the fall with apartments move-in ready in early 2020.

October 31, 2017 - 1:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, Alabama.

A possible house fire is reported at 1749 Judge Road, Alabama.

The homeowner reports a fire in the wall.

Alabama fire along with East Pembroke dispatched.

UPDATE 1:26 p.m.: All units can respond non-emergency. Alabama command believes the fire is knocked down.

October 31, 2017 - 1:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, byron, news, notify.

A 33-year-old man from Hilton accused of illegally possessing a semiautomatic .223-caliber rifle and large capacity magazine in violation of New York State law while in Byron in March entered a guilty plea this morning to a single felony count of criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd.

Under terms of the plea deal, if Charles S. Ganoung IV, avoids criminal legal trouble for the next year while on probation, his plea can be reduced to a misdemeanor, criminal possession of a weapon, 4th.

He would then serve two more years on probation.

Deputies arrested Ganoung March 25 while in the course of an unrelated investigation when Ganoung was found with rifle, which deputies said was unregistered and equipped with a telescoping stock, pistol grip, detachable high-capacity magazine, loaded with 28 live rounds, flash suppressor/muzzle break and a bayonet mount. 

The Army veteran admitted to the second count of the indictment, the one dealing with the large capacity magazine, in Genesee County Court this morning but made no other statements.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 24.

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Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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