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April 20, 2016 - 11:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in zombie properties, abandoned properties, batavia, news.

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Pat O'Brien was a little surprised, but not shocked to learn yesterday that the house on Ross Street that he moved into Monday was the subject of a $841,500 fine by Batavia City Court for a long string of alleged code violations.

Before O'Brien bought the home, the city determined the responsible party for the property was HSBC Bank. The bank was allegedly issued a summons to appear in court to answer to the code violation charges, but reportedly, no representative of HSBC ever appeared.

When defendants fail to appear in court as directed, judges have the discretion to find the party guilty and after another demand to appear in court, in the defendant's absence, the judge can issue a sentence.

That's what Justice Durin Rogers did Friday against HSBC and another entity responsible for a local property that has allegedly failed to appear on the matter.

That defendant is Kaja Holdings 2, LLC, held responsible for 21 Hutchins St., Batavia. Kaja was found guilty in absentia of 1,092 violations of the city's property maintenance code.

HSBC was found guilty of 3,336 violations.

Rob Sherman, corporate communications for HSBC, did not respond to a voicemail left yesterday requesting comment.

Kaja Holdings did not respond to a request for comment. 

City Manager Jason Molino said the judgments against HSBC and Kaja are part of the city's ongoing, aggressive efforts to deal with so-called "zombie" homes -- homes that have been left abandoned and vacant for extended periods of time following a foreclosure.

"We going to push aggressively with non-responsive individuals with an interest in properties in hopes of getting people's attention and start getting them to respond," Molino said.

Molino said the city was only notified on Monday that the Ross Street property had been transferred to the new owners.

"We're pleased with the outcome," Molino said. "It's exactly what we like to see."

Whether HSBC will still be on the hook for the $841,500 fine, Molino said he didn't know. That will be up to Justice Rogers to decide.

As for Pat O'Brien, he said he's thrilled with the house and happy to become a Batavia resident.

He took a job in Henrietta in the fall and found the house on the house listed for sale on the Fannie Mae Web site. He worked with local real estate agent Chuck Flynn to complete the purchase.

He's had a new gas line installed (it was cut off at the street), new electrical installed and the city turned the water on two days ago, making the house livable once again.

"Even though it looks a little bit bad on the outside, surprisingly, it's not that bad on the inside," O'Brien said. "Structurally it's really sound."

O'Brien said he liked Batavia because it's a small, quaint community that seems to have a lot going for it. Workers who have come over to his house have had good things to say about Batavia, he said, that it's a community on the rise.

And commuting to Henrietta, he said, is no big deal.

"Back in Jersey, I actually had a longer commute, so the commute between Batavia and Henrietta doesn't bother me," he said. "It's all Thruway. It's under 45 minutes, which I don't think is that bad."

Molino said O'Brien will be given time to get the house in good shape once again, which O'Brien said he intends to do.

"If you look at the house, it's actually not as bad as you think because the top third has all been aluminum sided and so I only have to repaint the lower two-thirds of the home, so like I said, I think by the end of the summer it should be a gem on the street," O'Brien said.

Our news partner WBTA AM/FM contributed to this story.

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21 Hutchins St., which is vacant and condemned.

April 20, 2016 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in unemployment, jobs, business.

The Genesee County unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in March, the lowest rate so far this year and lower than the 6.2 percent of March 2015.

The rate was 5.5 in February and 5.7 in January.

For the entire GLOW region, the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, down from 6.7 percent a year ago.

The state rate is 5.2 percent.

On the jobs side, there were 22,100 non-farm positions reported in Genesee County for March, compared to 22,000 a year ago. 

The state's labor force participation rate, which had been in steep decline starting in 2009 has shown consistent increases over the past three or four months and is now 63 percent. A decade ago, it hovered around 66 percent. 

The labor force participation rate measures all people age 16 and older who either hold jobs or are looking for jobs.

Genesee County's labor force is reported as 29,900. It was 29,500 in March 2015; 32,800 in 2008. The lowest point for March over the past decade was last year.

April 20, 2016 - 8:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Elections, genesee county, news.

Just as he did in all but one county in New York, Donald Trump was the big winner in Genesee County in Tuesday's primary election, while Hillary Clinton did not do as well against her remaining rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders.

Republicans preferred Trump by a wide margin locally, giving him 3,673 votes to 1,234 for John R. Kasich, and 974 for Ted Cruz.

The local Democrats mostly went with Sanders, giving him 1,539 votes, with 1,262 for Clinton. 

Clinton carried the state, however.

April 19, 2016 - 6:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, business, news.

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Bob Moore said he feels bittersweet about stepping away from the business he and his wife Noreen opened together 37 years ago, but he couldn't be happier with the new owners.

Tim Adams and Steve Foster become owners tomorrow afternoon of the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford.

Already business partners with Adams Welding and other business interests, Adams and Foster said not only did the restaurant business interest them, they couldn't stand the idea of an outside buyer taking over a local tradition.

"There's no place like it," said Adams, who was named Geneseean of the Year for 2013. "It would have been a shame to see it shut down or turned into a Chuck E. Cheese. That's what people have been saying, it could have become a Chuck E. Cheese, or somebody could have moved it to another location and we would have had another empty building here. It's a special place so it would have been a shame to have it lost."

Foster started working at the Red Osier 20 years ago, straight out of high school, first as a server and working his way up through the ranks as a bartender and in the kitchen before becoming manager 10 years ago.

"The Red Osier is just a special family," Foster said. "We're all family."

Adams and Foster will retain the restaurant's 70 employees.

Moore said he's not retiring, just stepping aside from owning and running his own restaurant. He will serve as a consultant to Adams and Foster as well as his son, who owns another branch of the Red Osier brand, based in Rochester. 

He's excited to see what Adams and Foster will bring to Red Osier.

"That's what we need, young guys, like we were 37 years ago," Moore said. "They're like my wife and I were, full of piss and vinegar."

There won't be substantial changes, but Foster said there is definitely a magic about the Red Osier to be recaptured and they hope to do that with some decor changes to start -- new uniforms, new white table clothes, a regional wine display, historic pictures of the restaurant are a start.

Moore approves. 

"These guys are full of ideas," Moore said. "I want to help them implement as much as I can. The place looks beautiful. Wow! What a facelift."

There were eight or nine other potential buyers who looked into the restaurant before Adams and Foster approached him, and he immediately thought they would be a perfect fit to take over his business.

Noreen agreed.

"We couldn't have done better," she said.

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Tim Adams ad Steve Foster with Bob and Noreen Moore and a commemorative key Tim and Steve made for them at their metal shop.

April 19, 2016 - 9:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in infrastructure, genesee county, Highway Department.

An increase in funding from the state and lower asphalt prices will help the county catch up on road repaving over the next five years, Highway Superintendent Tim Hens told the County Legislature's Public Service Committee Monday afternoon.

This year, the county will have slightly more than $2 million available for road and bridge projects, that's a 25-percent increase over last year.

The state is sending the county an additional $382,000 as part of a Pave NY program initiated this year and intended to increase funding to local governments for five years.

At the same time, the cost of asphalt has dropped by about 20 percent, Hens said.

"This will let us catch up over the next five years and get us where we ought to be," Hens said.

Maintenance has been deferred on many roads in recent years because of tight revenue and high asphalt prices.

That will help with the roads, but what about the bridges?

The county is responsible for 284 bridges (including culverts) and about 50 percent are deficient, Hens said.

The county needs about $15 million for bridge repair and maintenance, and while the state is starting a Bridge NY program, it won't meet all of the county's needs.

"Eventually, the county will probably have to bond some money or do something long term in the millions of dollars to catch up on those bridges," Hens said.

Many of the county's bridges are 65 to 70 years old.  

"They're running out of life and you take a bridge here or there on some of those rural roads and some of the detours get pretty long really quick," Hens said.

April 19, 2016 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, news.

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In the first quarter of 2016, the average population housed in the Genesee County Jail was 79, up from 60 in the first quarter of 2015.

The biggest impact on the county's budget with  an increased jail population, Sheriff Gary Maha said during his department review report to the County Legislature's Public Service Committee, is an increase in expenses for medication and medical care.

The majority of inmates have either substance abuse issues or mental health problems. This has been a growing trend in recent years.

The Sheriff's Office is also handling more female inmates, with an average of 18 this year compared to 11 last year.

Since the local jail can't house female inmates, they must be transported to and from jails in other counties in Western and Central New York willing to keep them. This is an added expense of the Sheriff's Office and takes deputies off of patrol.

Currently, staffing in the department is short five deputies. There are three new deputies going through the academy, but by the time the first one graduates, a current sergeant will retire and other retirements are anticipated this year.

The hiring and training process for a deputy, getting a deputy to the point where he or she can work a solo patrol, takes close to a year.

The department also lost a productive and dedicated deputy recently when Joseph Corona transferred to Monroe County. 

A legislature asked if that was because of better pay in Monroe County and Maha said that while the pay is better, and retirement benefits are better, Corona also had family and personal reasons for making the transfer and that a larger department offers greater opportunity for career advancement.

That said, Maha said, historically, the Sheriff's Office hasn't lost many deputies to other departments, so he doesn't anticipate this signaling a trend. 

The turnover is high in the Sheriff's Office because there just happens to be a lot of retirements hitting at the same time. Eventually, that should even out.

The emergency center call volume is up about 8.5 percent, but this largely reflects structural changes, not an increase in more calls for service.

Calls get logged when additional fire units are dispatched on calls, for example, and increasingly, multiple departments are being dispatched for calls in volunteer fire districts, so a call for service that was once counted as one logged dispatch is now logged as two.

The Sheriff's Office now also handles dispatch for State Police Troop A, which means more calls and traffic stops logged. 

Theresa Asmus-Roth, program coordinator for Genesee Justice, is anticipating a 15-percent increase in funding from a federal grant.

Bail evaluations have increased 22 percent over last year, with the cases being handled by one full-time staff member and one part-time, and they're managing to keep pace with the case load.

"We certainly appreciate having that second person," Asmus-Roth said. "(Bail evaluation) is quite an involved process."

The Child Advocacy Center handled 241 cases in 2015.

The Sheriff's Office is participating in Project Live Saver, which provides tracking bracelets to children who might wander off, and 14 disabled children wear the bracelets currently.

Earlier this week, a 79-year-old woman with dementia wandered off from her home, leading to a multi-patrol search for her, and Maha said potential grants might help expand the program to other people who might wander off.

April 18, 2016 - 8:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

A person out walking a dog heard a bang, like a door slamming, and then saw a white male dressed in black quickly leave a residence on Morton Avenue.

Batavia PD responded and the subject was located.

Officers were checking for unlocked vehicles and, if they found any, were asking residents to check and see if anything was missing.

The resident of the original complaint was not at home at the time and it's unknown if the subject dressed in black made entry.

April 18, 2016 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia GOP, batavia, Adam Tabelski.

Press release:

The City’s Republicans have given incumbent Councilman Adam Tabelski their unanimous endorsement for the council-at-large seat that’s up for election this fall. Tabelski was appointed by City Council to succeed John Deleo who was elected to the County Legislature last fall.

“Adam was selected to fill Mr. Deleo’s term because of his past experience in government and he’s already proven that was the right decision,” said Committee Chair David Saleh. “He’s has done a great job representing the City’s residents and the Committee is excited to support his election to finish John’s term.”

Tabelski, 36, is an account manager at Wendel Engineering, and served several years as trustee and mayor in the Village of Medina before moving to Batavia early last year.

Tabelski said he’s honored to receive the Republican Committee’s support and looks forward to the campaign this summer and fall. “I enjoy public service and look forward to my election so I can continue my efforts to enhance our neighborhoods and make Batavia a better place to live and work.”

April 17, 2016 - 9:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

Multiple law enforcement units, along with a helicopter and a K-9, are searching the Seven Springs Road area for a reported missing person.

We'll provide more information if it becomes available.

UPDATE 10:11 p.m.: The focus of the search, "a vulnerable adult female," has been located and is being returned home. "She is in good spirits and is refusing EMS," says a responder.

UPDATE 6:43 a.m.: The 76-year-old woman who was subject of the search lived on Haven Lane, according to the Sheriff's Office, which is where the search began at 8:15 p.m. The woman was locatec by a Batavia PD officer at 9:58 p.m. at an unspecified location and returned home safely. 

April 17, 2016 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

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More than 400 people turned out yesterday at Sacred Heart to help raise money to support Michael Tenebruso (above), who beat colon cancer four years ago and is now faced with stage IV lung cancer.

Tenebruso recently became a principal in the Buffalo school district and hasn't been in the job long enough to received extended paid leave, so friends are working to raise enough money to enable him to take time off work for treatments.

Yesterday's fundraiser included food, 130-basket chance auction and a live auction.

Those who wish to make a donation can send a check in Michael Tenebruso's name to Big Pauly's Pizza, 314 Ellicott St, Batavia, NY 14020.

Pictured below, Paul Bernardini, Michael Tenebruso and Jessica Radam. Bernardini and Radam helped organize the event.

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April 17, 2016 - 8:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, news.

Law enforcement is out with an individual at Boyce Road and Route 5, Pembroke, who became the subject of a multi-patrol search after reportedly making attempts to walk on the Thruway.

He was reportedly warned to stay off the Thruway, but was later seen on the Thruway again.

At one point during the search, a trooper reminded all responding units that there were no pending criminal charges, he was just an individual trying to get to New York City.

The individual is being transported to the Pembroke exit by a deputy, who will meet up with troopers from Troop T.

UPDATE 8:54 p.m.: The subject is now in custody of a Troop T trooper and is facing a possible criminal trespass charge.

April 16, 2016 - 3:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

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Batavia PD is investigating something, but we can't get any information. We spotted city firefighters atop the roof of the former Santy's Tires building and found Deputy Chris Erion with K-9 Destro doing a search, but Officer Kevin DeFelice said he couldn't release any information. He said there would be a press release later.

There were also patrol vehicles at Jackson Street and Highland Avenue.

State Troopers were handling a separate, unrelated case, at the same time on Liberty Street.

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April 16, 2016 - 2:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in PTSD, ptsd clinic, VA, veterans, batavia, news.

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Service dogs play a vital role in helping veterans deal with medical issues, including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But when the dogs stay with veterans at the PTSD clinic at the VA Center in Batavia, there hasn't been a place for them to relax, play and run, which service dogs need to do when they're not working.

Until recently, veterans who entered in-patient care at the clinic weren't allowed to bring their dogs, but now that they can; there needs to be facilities to accommodate the canines.

The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association heard about the problem and raised more than $1,400 (mostly from their own members, but the Rotary Club and Home Depot also contributed) to build a dog run behind the clinic.

Today, that fenced-in dog run was built, giving the service dogs a place of their own when they're not working.

The work was made possible through the cooperation of the CVMA, led by Frank Grillo, of Buffalo, and Brian Stiller, Medical Center director for the WNY Medical Healthcare System.

While there have been a lot of complaints nationally about the VA, Grillo noted the VA in WNY seems pretty responsive to veterans and he praised Stiller for his cooperation.

"You hear a lot of people talking a lot of bad stuff about the VA, but then you get a guy who is a veteran himself leading a portion of the VA, and it's kind of inspirational to see somebody who cares actually stepping up and helping us do what we need to do to help our fellow veterans," Grillo said.

Stiller said he could help because the current secretary of the VA has said principles should come before rules.

"We can pull this off by having somebody who has a can-do attitude and this group of veterans," Stiller said. "This is something that has happened real quick and it shows how the community can come together and do a simple, real good thing right on time. It speaks volumes for the commitment and caring that is going on."

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April 16, 2016 - 1:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in tax liens, batavia, news.

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Jeff Freeman was the high bidder this morning at an auction by the city of a house at 109 Walnut St.

Freeman agreed to pay $33,000, beating out three or four other bidders.

The purchase must be approved by the City Council before it is final.

Freeman said he plans to complete renovations on the house and then provide it as rental.

It is a single-family home and auctioneer Todd Jantzi, of Bontrager's, noted that the city sold the house once before at auction, in 2011. That buyer subsequently sold the property and the new buyer began renovations, and got very far along before abandoning the project for unknown reasons.

The house has been painted upstairs and down, has new carpeting and flooring throughout and a new kitchen, but lacks fixtures.

The city foreclosed on the property to satisfy unpaid taxes.

City staff has proposed using the auction money to fund Vibrant Batavia for another year, but that would require City Council approval first.

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April 16, 2016 - 7:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

About 50 people contacted the Sheriff's Office dispatch center around 9:36 p.m. to report a loud explosion that in some cases caused houses to rattle, and after an investigation, deputies believed they found the cause.

A group of people on Dodgeson Road reportedly mixed from 14 to 60 pounds of a legal compound called Tannerite.

Tannerite comes in two parts and when mixed properly, is used for small, explosive targets for shooting.

There were no injuries reported.

A group of people were found at the location of the explosion and interviewed. No arrests have been made, but the Sheriff's Office reports that the investigation is continuing. It is being conducted by Deputy Kevin McCarthy. Assisting at the scene was Trooper Chad Bea.

Dispatchers received calls from Fisher Road, Oakfield, Morganville Road, Stafford, Warner Road, Darien as well as from the Village of Le Roy, Alexander and the City of Batavia.

Previously: Callers report loud boom in Wortendyke area

April 15, 2016 - 10:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Symphony Orchestra, music, entertainment, elba, news.

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The Genesee Symphony Orchestra performs at 4 p.m., Sunday, at Elba Central School's auditorium. 

Bryan Eckenrode conducts "American Made," which features nine pieces by American composers, including two local composers, Gary Call Hanley and Ross Chua. Hanley lives in Nashville and his piece, "Plight of the Common Man," has been performed there. Chua is a Batavia High School student and this is the world premier of his work, "Spectacle in Flight."

Also on the program are "Short Overture to an Unwritten Opera" by Don Gillis, the "Paul Bunyan Suite" by William Bergsma, "Blues in 6/8" by Milton Weinstein, three dance episodes from "Rodeo" by Aaron Copland, "Variations on a Theme" by Handel, a piece by Maurice Whitney, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by John Williams and "West Side Story" by Leonard Bernstein. 

The Harry Potter piece will be performed with students from the GSO String Workshop.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online (click here).

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April 15, 2016 - 9:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Callers report hearing a big loud boom that caused houses to shake in the area of Pearl Street Road and Wortendyke Road, Batavia.

Law enforcement dispatched to investigate.

UPDATE 9:53 p.m.: A deputy is checking a residence on Pike Road where apparently there has been a prior complaint, but the residence is quiet. A trooper reports that he was told it sounded like it was further south than Pike Road.

UPDATE 9:56 p.m.: A deputy on Dodgson says, "you can actually smell it."  

UPDATE 9:57 p.m.: A witness has told the trooper he actually saw the explosion.

UPDATE 10:09 p.m.: A deputy tells dispatchers, "We're all set. We've got the individuals responsible." No details shared at this time.

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

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