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Le Roy

February 14, 2012 - 8:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Pavilion.

Michael A. Nicometo, 27, of 37 Lake St., Le Roy, is charged with four counts of criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument and one count of criminally using drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Nicometo was allegedly found in possession of the instruments after police and EMS responded to his residence for a report of an unresponsive male.

Cheri Monea Patterson, 19, of Cottage Street, Lockport, is charged with petit larceny. Patterson is accused of stealing $45.46 in merchandise from Kmart.

Ryan N. Bartholomew, 18, of Adams Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of petit larceny. Bartholomew is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

Rebecca Jean Viedeffer, 43, of Franklin Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and criminally possession of stolen property. Viedeffer is accused of stealing two official 2012 NYS trailer inspection stickers and possessing them in the Town of Pavilion.

February 13, 2012 - 9:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield, pembroke, Le Roy, bergen.

Barry R. Robinson, 29, of 16 Park Ave., Brockport, is charged with promoting prison contraband, 1st, unlawful possession of marijuana, DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to keep right, unsafe tires and unlawful possession of marijuana. Robinson was arrested at 1:54 a.m. Sunday on Clinton Street by Officers Darryl Streeter and Marc Lawrence following an accident in which Robinson apparently lost control of his vehicle and drove off the roadway. Robinson's driver's license allegedly had 19 prior suspensions. He was jailed on $2,000 bail. At 8:29 p.m., Sunday, while in the Genesee County Jail, Robinson was allegedly found in possession of six bags of marijuana in his sock and underwear. Investigators said the marijuana appeared to be packaged for sale. Robinson is scheduled to reappear in Batavia City Court at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday.

Paul Hipolito Colon, 29, of Marne Street, Rochester, is charged with possession of untaxed cigarettes and failure to stop at stop sign. Colon was stopped at 9:31 a.m. Friday on Akron Road, Pembroke, by Sgt. Brian Frieday for an alleged traffic violation. Colon was allegedly found in possession of 400 untaxed cigarettes.

Delmus M. Holton, 35, of Clinton Street, Rochester; Preston L. Lawrence, 38, of Afton Street Rochester; and, Ray M. Little, 49, of Langham Street, Rochester, are charged with trespass. At 10:56 a.m. Friday, a resident in Bergen reported seeing a suspicious vehicle in the area of 7427 Clinton St. Road, Bergen. The vehicle was located, parked off the road, across the street from Demo's Truck Parts. The three men allegedly entered the Demo's property without permission. (Initial report)

Jason M. Norton, 39, and Michelle T. Norton, 51, of 7198 Pekin Road, Oakfield, are charged with trespass (both), disorderly conduct (Jason only) and resisting arrest (Jason only). The husband and wife duo were arrested following an alleged incident at a West Main Street business.

A 17-year-old resident of Le Roy is charged with petit larceny, criminal possesion of stolen property, 5th, and burglary, 3rd. The youth was arrested Saturday morning after Le Roy PD received a report of a person going through several vehicles in the parking lot at 18 Genesee St., Le Roy. The youth was apprehended following a brief foot chase. Property was found at the scene and Le Roy PD is asking anybody who may have missing property to contact the police department. Le Roy PD did not release the name of the suspect.

Timothy James Ziminski, 19, of Walden Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 5th, and displaying forged inspection certificate. Ziminski was allegedly found to have a forged and stolen inspection sticker on his vehicle.

February 10, 2012 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Three well water samples gathered by Bob Bowcock while he was in Le Roy tested negative for TCE (trichloroethylene), Bowcock told The Batavian this evening.

The results are preliminary, but the lead researcher for environmentalist / lawyer Erin Brockovich said he's confident in the results.

The samples were taken from the wells of private residences, two to the south of the massive TCE spill in 1970 and one to the west.

That would indicate that the TCE (used for degreasing metal parts) plume from the Lehigh Valley train derailment, located four miles from Le Roy High School, has not migrated west and south as some people seem to have feared.

As for TCE being found in fill dirt used at the school, the NYS Department of Health report states that a "very low level of TCE" was found in groundwater at the dolomite quarry near the derailment site. Crushed stone was used for road construction and subsurface drainage at the school.

"Residual TCE that might be present in stone from the quarry would be reduced or eliminated through evaporation during stone crushing and handling operations," states the report.

Bowcock said that is likely true, but he awaits anticipated soil testing by Leader Profession Services for confirmation.

More troubling -- though unrelated to any neurological disorders -- said Bowcock was the discovery of MTBE in a water sample taken near the school.

Methyl tertiary butyl ether is a gasoline additive that has been illegal in New York since 2004.

Bowcock said it is a "carcinogen under investigation," explaining that toxicology takes 20 years to determine for certain that a chemical agent is cancer-causing.

"I've never seen any research to suggest it causes neurological disorders," Bowcock said.

He emphasized he doesn't believe presense of MTBE has anything to do with anything going on with the teens manifesting tics at the school.

There are reports, Bowcock said, that MTBE is used by fuel companies in fracking natural gas wells.

Bowcock's team has yet to determine if MTBE-laced gasoline used as a fracking liquid, rather than as gasoline, is also illegal in New York.

The amount in his sample was six milligrams per liter, Bowcock said, which is higher than recommended by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Bowcock said he isn't sure if there are wells in the area other than those on school property, but if there are, it's possible the MTBE came from another operation. Further research is needed, Bowcock said.

February 10, 2012 - 5:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

You can't catch conversion disorder from breathing the air in Le Roy, but that hasn't stopped parents in Rochester from keeping their kids at home this weekend rather than play basketball at Holy Family School.

"It's just disappointing," said Holy Family Coach Joan Fernaays. "These kids practice so hard. They work so hard and now they only get to play eight games of their 10-game season."

The teams are made up of children in third through sixth grades, with the fifth- and sixth-grade teams being all girls.

The teams from Rochester that canceled their games are associated with Catholic schools and are part of a Catholic school league.

"I realize it's not all of the parents (who are keeping their kids at home), but it's still disappointing," Fernaays said.

It doesn't take many parents pulling their kids from a game to mean there aren't  enough players.

The games would have been played at Holy Family School, not Le Roy High School, and as Fernaays points out, if the school wasn't safe, the state and district wouldn't allow students to go there every day.

"I feel it's just ignorance on the part of the parents," Fernaays said. "These are parents who don't want to dig and find out the correct information."

Bill Albert, who is acting as spokesman for the Le Roy Central School District, said there are no games canceled at the public school.

February 10, 2012 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy.

Jeanine Lynn Calice, 39, of Summit Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with three counts of burglary, 2nd. Calice is accused of entering a home on Creek Road on three separate occasions to steal items while the residents were on vacation. Calice allegedly entered the residence Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Jan. 2.

Brian T. Cole, 33, of Route 262, Elba, is charged with criminal mischief, 3rd. Cole is accused of damaging a vehicle while it was parked at Batavia Downs.

Daquan Jamar McGrew, 19, of Palnet Street, Rochester, is charged with trespass. McGrew was allegedly at College Village after being banned from the property.

Michael Thomas Martinez, 27, of Orient Street, Medina, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, criminal contempt, 2nd, aggravated unlicensed operation and speeding (51 mph in a 40 mph zone). Martinez was stopped at 1:58 a.m., Feb. 5, on Lewiston Road, Batavia, by Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello.

February 10, 2012 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Le Roy Ambulance.

Morale is high in the Le Roy Ambulance corps these days, according to Chuck Hammon, thanks to a $90,000 FEMA grant that has enabled the department to upgrade to the latest, most advanced mobile defibrillators available.

The high-tech defibrillators will help EMTs save lives, Hammon said.

"The Lifepack 15 came out two years ago," Hammon said. "We've been working with Lifepack 12s for 10 years. For a nonprofit like us, this never could have happened without a grant."

The units cost $33,000 each. FEMA provided a grant of $90,000 -- the only one of its kind awarded in the State of New York in 2011 -- and the ambulance service had to provide an 8-percent match.

The match came from selling the old units for $5,000 to a company that will refurbish them and resell them.

The manufacturer did a good job of listening to what EMTs needed to be changed about old units, Hammon said. The new ones have better bump guards, are easier to access and read controls, plus they have extra features and buttons that are less difficult to clean and sanitize.

The unit can not only grab an EKG -- that can be saved wirelessly to a smartphone, a laptop computer (along with other patient information) -- but  transmit it to the hospital, either for consultation with a doctor or to provide emergency room personnel advance information on a patient.

In fire situations, the unit can check firefighters or victims for carbon monoxide poisoning.

And in the case of a hazardous spill, it can be used to monitor people with possible exposure to dangerous chemicals.

"It's not all-inclusive," Hammon said. "It's not going to test everything, but it will test hemoglobin and test for nitrates in the blood."

He said the defibrillators are currently the most advanced in service in Genesee County.

February 9, 2012 - 8:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Sandra Tan, of the Buffalo News, has put together a great summary of the issues and facts in the situation in Le Roy. She did it in FAQ (frequently asked questions) format.

There are so many important points in the piece, rather than try to summarize parts, I recommend you just go and read the whole thing.

February 8, 2012 - 5:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Lehigh Valley Railroad Derailment Site.

Press release:

The EPA has reviewed the sample results for the contents of 80 out of about 240 drums of soil and rock material from the Lehigh Valley Railroad Derailment Superfund site.

The December 1970 derailment resulted in the release of liquid trichloroethene (TCE) and cyanide crystals. The material in the 80 drums was tested for these and other contaminants. This information is being used to determine whether the material is hazardous and what type of permitted facility the drums can be taken to for disposal.

In all cases, the results indicate that the materials in the drums are non-hazardous. TCE was detected in one drum, at a concentration of 0.2 parts per million (ppm), which is below health-based levels. There were no detectable levels of cyanide in any of the drums.

Analyses of the contents from the rest of the drums is ongoing and we will make results available. The drums will be taken to a permitted facility.

February 8, 2012 - 3:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Milestones.

Jesse Brennan, of Le Roy, has been admitted to Alfred State College for the Spring 2012 semester in the Computer Science program.

Alfred State is one of eight University Colleges of Technology within the State University of New York (SUNY) system. It offers educational opportunities in nearly 52 associates degree programs, 19 baccalaureate degree programs, and three certificate programs in the schools of Arts and Sciences, Business Management and Engineering Technology, and Applied Technology. The college is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

February 8, 2012 - 3:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Dr. Susan Swedo, you could say, wrote the book on PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder). She is currently chief of the Pediatrics & Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health. In 1998, Swedo wrote the first paper on PANDAS. Click here for her official biography.

In the course of working on the story of the Le Roy illness, we contacted NIMH about her possible opinion on the Le Roy cases and discovered -- something that should have been obvious -- she can't publicly discuss the cases. With that in mind, The Batavian sent her eight questions we thought might be relevant to readers, but did not specifically address any patients in Le Roy. Below are the questions and Dr. Swedo's answers.

1. Has there ever been a case of mass PANDAS previous to this situation in Le Roy?

Not to my knowledge. It would be unlikely, given that PANDAS requires both a genetic susceptibility to post-streptococcal autoimmunity and a particularly virulent strain of strep. There have been epidemics of rheumatic fever and Sydenham chorea (the neurologic variant of rheumatic fever). Sydenham chorea is the model disorder for PANDAS, so it is theoretically possible that such an outbreak could occur.

2. Before Le Roy, would the suggestion of a mass outbreak be something you would have considered likely or even possible?

If a mass outbreak of PANDAS occurred, it should follow the same rules as individual cases, in which boys outnumber girls by 3-4 cases to 1. So if you had 14 affected girls, you would expect to have at least 40 to 50 boys exhibiting symptoms at the same time.

3. A neurologist from Mayo Clinic posted a video on YouTube that said about 1 percent of children develop tics. Dr. Mechtler said getting PANDAS is as much of a long shot as winning the lottery. And then imagine 12 diverse people all selecting the same numbers and winning the same lottery -- that's how unlikely it is the Le Roy situation is PANDAS. Others have reported that PANDAS isn't rare at all (there was an article in Scientific America). Which is it, rare or not?

PANDAS is not rare, but it is not common either. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects about 1 in 100 students and PANDAS is not the most common cause of OCD (That cause is currently unknown.). Among grade-school aged children, PANDAS may be responsible for a larger percentage of cases because the ratio of boys to girls is 3:1 before age 10, and then it switches at puberty so that becomes more common in girls than boys. Comorbid symptoms also differ by age with younger children frequently having a triad of OCD / ADHD (Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and tic disorders, while adolescents and adults are more likely to have comorbid depression and/or anxiety disorders.

4. Is there anything about PANDAS that would make it more likely that mostly (all) girls would contract it?

See above. The opposite is true.

5. Is there evidence from previous cases of ties to environmental toxins?  What environmental causes might be tied to PANDAS, if any?

No environmental causes have been suggested.

6. What is the most common way PANDAS is contracted?

PANDAS is the result of an untreated strep infection. The strep bacteria “hides” from the immune system by putting molecules on its cell wall that look like the human host (molecular mimicry). These foreign molecules are eventually recognized as part of the infecting strep infection and the child’s immune system reacts to them, producing cross-reactive antibodies.

Cross-reactive antibodies are initially produced against a component of the strep bacteria but “misrecognize” a molecule in the child’s own body as foreign and “attack it." In the case of rheumatic fever, the antibodies recognize molecules in the heart and cause rheumatic heart disease, or in the joints and cause arthritis, or in the brain (particularly the basal ganglia) and cause Sydenham chorea. Some children with cross-reactive “anti-brain” antibodies don’t develop full-blown Sydenham chorea but develop PANDAS symptoms instead.

7. What about genetics might be related to a child getting PANDAS?

During the early 1900s, before antibiotic treatment was available for strep throat and scarlet fever, people would be quarantined for scarlet fever. Among the crowded tenements in NYC and Chicago, many people would get strep (scarlet fever or strep throat) but only one in 20 families would have a child who developed rheumatic fever. In those families, multiple children would often become affected with rheumatic fever and there are fascinating case reports of mothers with 10 of 11 children in the “Lying in” hospital (for rheumatic fever treatment) at the same time.

Those family histories are also present in PANDAS (increased susceptibility to rheumatic fever). In addition, the children have increased numbers of first-degree relatives with tics and/or OCD, suggesting that PANDAS may be due to a dual genetic vulnerability to post-streptococcal sequelae and OCD/tics.

8. The NIMH site says PANDAS can be contracted "to puberty," not "though puberty"? Is this a semantic difference or a significant difference? Is it known whether a child who has already reached puberty can contract PANDAS?

The PANDAS criteria were chosen to narrow the heterogeneity of OCD to a “studiable” cohort of patients. Puberty (or age 12 years) was chosen as the upper age limit because of immunologic evidence that about 98 percent of the population will have “immunity” to streptococcal infections by the age of 12 years. We know that cases can occur after puberty, (because outbreaks of rheumatic fever and Sydenham chorea used to be common among military recruits and college students living in crowded dorms). Thus, PANDAS was defined as a pre-pubertal disorder but can occur through and after puberty.

(Dr. Swedo says) Please note: PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) criteria use a less restrictive term of “pediatric onset,” which is variously defined as before age 18 years or age 21 years.

Some additional information (below) that may be of interest: (I apologize that it’s not already on the website. We’re hoping to get it up by the end of the week.)

What is the best treatment for PANDAS?

The best treatment for PANDAS is to treat the inciting infection if it's still present (with antibiotics if strep is the cause). If there is no evidence for a current infection, some physicians have reported success with a short course of antibiotics (presumably because there is an occult infection in the sinuses, nasopharynx or elsewhere). In severe cases, a single course of plasmapheresis or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has been shown to be helpful. Although I've learned of physicians having success with use of steroids for PANDAS, we did not test them because of reports of worsening of tic disorders on steroids. (And in our studies of Sydenham chorea, the steroids produced only a temporary reduction in symptom severity with rebound to pre-treatment levels or worse after the steroids were stopped.)

How are tics diagnosed?

Tics are a very specific movement disorder in which there is a "premonitory urge" (feeling that you need to move, almost like an itch that makes you scratch it) and therefore, they can be at least partially controlled by the ticquer. Tics increase in times of stress and decrease during rest for most people (but sometimes the opposite occurs). They tend to wax and wane in severity over the course of an hour, day and weeks. Some children also have flurries of tics where they'll occur frequently and then not at all for a few minutes or even several hours. The most important aspect of a tic is its partially involuntary nature, where patients can exert some control over the symptoms (except for minor tics like eye-blinking and throat-clearing, which can occur more automatically). In general, if the tics are immediately noticeable to others, they should be at least partially controllable by the person who has them.

Also, tic disorders (like childhood-onset OCD) are about three times as common in boys as girls, so if you had a "Tic Epidemic," one would expect to see 40 to 60 boys if 14 girls were affected.

How is PANDAS/PANS diagnosed?

The updated clinical criteria for PANDAS are as follows:

1) Presence of obsessive-compulsive disorder and/or tic disorder;

2) Unusually abrupt onset of symptoms ("overnight," "0 to 60 in one to two days," "possessed by the illness");

3) Prepubertal onset (NOTE: This criterion was an arbitrary one chosen because post-streptococcal reactions are rare after age 12, but could occur in individuals who do not have protective immunity.);

4) Association with other neuropsychiatric symptoms, including various combinations of the following (NOTE: All would start suddenly and in combination in a previously healthy child):

      a. Severe separation anxiety (can't leave parent's side, needs to sleep on floor next to their bed etc);

      b. Generalized anxiety which may progress to episodes of panic and "terror-stricken look";

      c. Motoric hyperactivity, abnormal movements and sense of restlessness;

      d. Sensory abnormalities, including hypersensitivity to light or sounds, distortions of visual perceptions and, occasionally, visual or auditory hallucinations;

      e. Concentration difficulties, loss of academic abilities, particularly in math and visuo-spatial skills;

      f. Urinary frequency and new onset of bed-wetting;

      g. Irritability (sometimes with aggression) and emotional lability. Abrupt onset of depression can also occur, with suicidal ideation;

      h. Developmental regression, including temper tantrums, "baby talk" and handwriting deterioration (also related to motor symptoms).

5) Association with streptococcal infection. At initial onset, the symptoms may have followed an (asymptomatic and therefore untreated) streptococcal infection by several months or longer, so you might not find the inciting strep infection. However, on subsequent recurrences, the worsening of the neuropsychiatric symptoms may be the first sign of an occult strep infection (and prompt treatment may reduce the OCD and other symptoms).

FOR PANS – Criterion #1 is limited to OCD only (no tic disorders as primary diagnosis) and the last criterion is eliminated because PANS stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome and does not include an etiologic component.

February 8, 2012 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Press release:

At the Dent Neurologic Institute, Drs. Jennifer McVige and Laszlo Mechtler have had the privilege to examine and treat 14 of the 19 patients from Le Roy, NY. The diagnosis of Mass Psychogenic Illness (MPI) was not made without considerable input from regional and national experts. We understand the difficulty some of our patients and family members may have with our diagnosis, it is reassuring to see that most of our patients are improving significantly over the last several months.

Although we have not evaluated all the patients affected, we have considered many other diagnoses, such as PANDAS and neuro-toxicity due to environmental factors. With the cooperation of the New York State Department of Health and nationally recognized PANDAS specialists, we have ruled out these diagnoses.

We also feel that the media exposure has raised the national awareness of a rare form of conversion disorder, such as MPI, which has not been fully accepted or understood by the public as well as the many in the medical community. At the same time our primary responsibility is to our patients, who unfortunately have not done well with the intense community and media scrutiny. We do respectfully request that the media remember that we are dealing with impressionable teenagers who have understandable fears and concerns.

Although it is not uncommon to have a difference of opinion by treating physicians, I would respectfully request that the patients be treated not through the mainstream media but by credible experts specializing in the field of movement disorder. In this regard, multiple international experts have made themselves available for further consultation. We have strongly encouraged that our patients take advantage of this unique opportunity.

The statement was signed by Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, medical director of Dent, and Dr. Jennifer McVige, pediatric neurologist.

February 8, 2012 - 1:46pm
posted by lucie griffis in Le Roy, Le Roy Politics.

Our community has been in an state of chaos through all the speculation and theories of the ongoing problems of girls with medical issues, fear of our school having environmental issues that contribute, lack of testing, and the Superfund site that had not been properly taken care of playing a role.   People have become upset by the lack of communication at many levels.  

Tonight the is a joint Village/ Town meeting of the boards at the Village Hall (corners of Rt. 5 & 19).  Tomorrow night at the Town Hall there will be a joint meeting at 6pm. 

There is a open communication part that questions may be asked.  If you have any questions or concerns please attend.  Remember we are electing two Village board members and a mayor in March.


February 7, 2012 - 8:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.


Letter to the Community

The Leader Professional Services Final Recommendations Review is posted below and available through this link. Since there still appears to be some misunderstanding regarding whether we are committed to conducting soil testing, I would like to clarify that we are committed to conducting soil testing. As Leader presented at the meeting on Saturday, we will be conducting both air and soil testing but are doing so sequentially for the following reasons:

·      Indoor air sampling is the most direct method of determining whether the vapor intrusion pathway is complete and whether building occupants face a long-term health risk. Indoor air data integrates all contributing factors from the subsurface, above the ground, and the building itself.

·      The students are spending most of their time in the building so this is a good place to start for identifying any immediate situation we need to address.

·      If there are any harmful substances under the school building slab (in the soil or groundwater), the most likely pathway to the students would be through vapor intrusion and then inhalation by the students.

·      The results of the air sampling can provide a clearer road map on where we need to conduct our soil testing first and specifically what we should be looking for. 

·      Our air sampling is not just general air quality testing. Leader is specifically looking into the compounds and other environmental indicators that are of an immediate concern to our community.  

The District is pleased to announce that we have received good news from local and state officials. They are working hard to secure funding for the costs incurred by the District for the testing to be conducted at the high school by Leader Professional Services. Other private entities have contacted us regarding possible additional financial assistance and we will be pursuing all such resources.

Finally, as you may be aware, Robert Bowcock sent a letter to me on February 6, 2012, and simultaneously sent the same letter to the media. Given this, I have no choice but to publically respond, as this matter must be put to rest so that we can proceed forward with review and sampling outlined by Leader Professional Services and return our focus to the education of our students. As Superintendent of Schools, it is my responsibility to protect and lead this District. In conjunction with our Board of Education, I make decisions as to appropriate action and response to numerous matters. We did just that here.

Understanding in December that despite the findings of the Department of Health and private medical professionals, we needed to provide further reassurance to parents about this situation, we had initial environmental testing conducted. After consultation with trusted advisers and a review of credentials and experience, we then retained Leader Professional Services to analyze the preliminary testing results and provide further recommendations.

All of this occurred prior to the time that we became aware of Ms. Brockovich’s interest in this situation through an interview she gave on the HLN network on Jan. 27 and prior to Mr. Bowcock appearing, without notification to us, but with a camera crew from HLN in tow, at the District on Saturday morning, Jan. 28. Their public entrance into Le Roy has not altered how the District has proceeded with this matter to date or how it will proceed moving forward.

As you can see from the thorough and thoughtful plan set forth by Leader Professional Services, we are working with an experienced, reputable company. As a District, we are not in need of Mr. Bowcock’s direct involvement, nor the involvement of others by whom we have been contacted, albeit their contact has not been made in such a public way. Certainly, as they deem appropriate, if those individuals or entities wish to provide us with relevant information they believe would assist our efforts, they may do so.

Just as with almost every decision we as a District make, I recognize that some have alternate views as to how we should proceed. All I can ask at this point is that people recognize that our decisions are made always with the best interests of our students and the school community at large as our primary focus and only after careful, reasoned thought.   

Kim M. Cox
Superintendent of Schools

Additionally, the district posted a PDF of Leader's report on their testing plan.

February 7, 2012 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

In previous reports. Dr. Laszlo Mechtler has said Dr. Susan Swedo has indicated she would issue a statement confirming the conversion disorder diagnosis for the Le Roy teens with tics.

We attempted to contact Dr. Swedo for such a statement and were referred to the press office for the National Institute of Mental Health, a government agency.

We just received the following statement from NIMH:

The information you have from Dr. Mechtler regarding Dr. Swedo is incorrect. Dr. Swedo has not evaluated any of the patients so therefore cannot confirm any diagnosis.

February 7, 2012 - 1:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

A girl from Le Roy who is friends with five of the other girls who developed tic symptoms is now being treated for conversion disorder by the Dent Neurological Institute, according to Dr. Laszlo Mechtler.

That makes 19 official cases, with 17 of them being Le Roy High School students.

"Her parents agree with our diagnosis," Mechtler said.

He said there are possibly other doctors seeing other patients who do not want to go on the record.

With the aggressive media coverage and "continued hysteria" around the situation, Mechtler said, it's possible new patients may be afflicted, at least until the situation quiets down.

Mechtler recommended that any parents who are concerned their children could be susceptible to conversion disorder, "take away the social media and segregate them from friends who may be afflicted."

February 6, 2012 - 11:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

It isn't surprising, according to Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, that a doctor from New Jersey who makes a living diagnosing PANDAS came to that conclusion today in the Le Roy illness case.

Dr. Rosario Trifiletti appeared on the Dr. Drew television show tonight and also released a statement saying that "five of eight girls show evidence of carriage of streptococcus pyogenes and seven of eight show evidence of infection with mycoplasma pneumonia."

"This is what everybody expected him to do," said Mechtler, who is part of the team at Dent Neurological Institute who diagnosed the girls with conversion disorder.

Mechtler added that Dent's physicians stand by their original diagnosis and added that other experts are ready to step forward -- including Dr. Susan Swedo, the first doctor to write about PANDAS -- to support the conversion disorder diagnosis.

"There are enough experts ready to basically dispute his allegations," Mechtler said.

In his statement tonight, Trifiletti expressly refuted the conversion disorder diagnosis.

On the Dr. Drew show, Drew Pinsky asked Trifiletti if he consulted with Mechtler, and Trifiletti said flatly, "no," and said there was no plan to consult with him.

In a tsk-tsk moment, Pinsky said it's bad for patients when "competing" doctors have differing opinions.

PANDAS is most often associated with what's called a "vaccine injury," when a child gets an infection from a vaccine. But Trifiletti made no mention of vaccines as a cause in either his appearance -- by phone -- on Dr. Drew, nor in his written statement.

"As with most illnesses, there is a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors here," Trifiletti said. "As with all illnesses, psychological factors likely play some role as well. All we have done here is provided evidence for exposure to two infectious agents as potential environmental factors."

Prior to Trifiletti's statement, Mechtler predicted that Trifiletti would tie the infections to a possible environmental cause, calling it "dangerous" for the community.

"That he is saying this is a PANDAS weakness, related somehow to an environmental toxin, is only going to tie it back to Erin Brockovich," Mechtler said. "This diagnosis is going to be huge for these guys."

There are two views of Brockovich, Mechtler said. One is that she wants to do good for the community and the other is that maybe she's more focused on a lawsuit and making a name for herself.

Or, maybe, he said, the truth is somewhere in between.

"I don’t know her and I won’t judge her," Mechtler said "I want to think the best of people and believe the perspective that she wants to help these people. But if they say it's PANDAS and TCE, there's going to be lawsuits."

Trifiletti said his diagnosis didn't answer all of the questions people have, such as why now, why in this town, why a particular child and not another, but that "infectious exposure is simply 'the straw that broke the camel’s back.' "

On Dr. Drew he said, "I think (streptococcus) is one of the main factors and the most easily reversed factor. I already started talking to families about a treatment based on this."

Trifiletti said he was recommending a regime of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents, and Mechtler said the prescriptions will work for the patients, if they believe in Trifiletti.

He compared the treatment to a placebo effect and a religious ceremony. Since conversion disorder is a psychogenic illness, if the patients are hyped into believing a treatment will work, it will work.

And if that's the outcome, that's a good thing, Mechtler said.

"At the end of the day, all I want is to see the patients get better," Mechtler said.

Beth Miller, the mother of one of the original 12 girls, told Pinsky that it was easier to accept the PANDAS diagnosis than conversion disorder because her daughter, she said, is a normal, healthy girl who doesn't have any stress in her life.

Drew asked Miller about a series of operations she has apparently had and whether that was stressful for her daughter, and Miller admitted, "I'm still sick."  Pinsky then turned his attention to another guest on the show.

The state DOH report said all of the original 12 girls had suffered significant stress in their lives, and Mechtler said over the weekend that the stress for some of the girls at some point in their lives is "everything you could imagine and worse."

Mass psychogenic illness refers to passing of one symptomatic behavior from one person to another. While not all 12 girls originally knew each other, there is a chain of connection among all of the patients diagnosed with conversion disorder.

After the jump (click the headline to read more) is the full statement from Trifiletti:

February 6, 2012 - 8:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, byron, Darien, Le Roy.

Angelo A. Cassidy, 35, of Lewis Place, Batavia, and 59-year-old Charles R. Gay, of Hemlock Ridge Road, Medina, are charged with petit larceny and conspiracy, 6th. Cassidy was reportedly employed by a business on Angling Road, Corfu, and allegedly falsified a weight ticket, allowing Gay to collect  money for scrap that was not actually part of his load. Cassidy and Gay are accused of making an arrangement regarding the money. The case was investigated by Deputy Chris Parker.

Carolyn M. Hooten, 29, of 12 Myrtle St., Le Roy, is charged with DWI and several traffic violations. Hooton was stopped late Friday evening on Myrtle Street by Le Roy Police.

Mathew Duncan Brew, 33, of Freeman Road, Byron, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and failure to yield right of way. Brew was arrested by Deputy Brad Mazur following a traffic accident at 9:24 p.m. Saturday at Route 262 and Bank Street Road.

Donovan Michael Zandi, 22, of Campbell Boulevard, Getzville, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Zandi's vehicle was reportedly found by Deputy Kevin McCarthy at 2:59 a.m., Jan. 26, on Countyline Road, Darien, with four-way flashers on.

Kara Ellen Wojkowski, 28, Hall Road, Holley, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Wojkowski is accused of stealing a motor vehicle on Oct. 25. She turned herself in at the Sheriff's Office on a warrant for her arrest. Following arraignment in Byron, she was jailed on $2,000 bail.

Kathryn L. Johnson, 24, of 20 Hutchins St., lower, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, criminally using drug paraphernalia, 2nd, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Johnson was arrested following a visit by County Probation to her home and jailed on $1,000 bail.

February 5, 2012 - 6:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Bob Bowcock, lead researcher for the Erin Brockovich team, said he feels like there are still too many unanswered questions for him to walk away from further investigation in Le Roy.

He's coming back, probably with Brockovich, the week of Feb. 20 to continue digging for information and possibly take part in a town hall meeting with Brockovich.

"I've got to finish what I started because there are basic questions that have gone unanswered," he said.

Bowcock said his biggest area of concern are the gas wells on school property. He hasn't been able to get basic information from the school district about the wells and the gas that's being used in the school.

"Is there mercury in the gas? I don't know," Bowcock said. "If there isn't, then case closed (regarding gas from the wells)."

He said one easy way to get the answer is to look at the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets), which he said are public record and should be kept in a binder at the school. So far, he said, the district hasn't been willing to share those sheets with him.

When a reporter asked Saturday about the sheets, Superintendent Kim Cox said the sheets would be posted on the district's website.

Cox also said gas from the wells isn't used in the high school. Rather, it is used at the other district buildings at Trigon Park and Wolcott Street.

Bowcock acknowledges the DOH report on the outbreak of tics among 16 students at the school included information on a search of published medical reports that found only one case of mercury-induced tics.

The main thing Bowcock said he wants to do is get answers to questions and provide the community with information.

"About 50 percent of what we do is point people in the right direction," Bowcock said. "About 25 percent is education and empowering people to ask the right questions."

As for looking for a reason to file a lawsuit, as some have speculated, Bowcock said, "That's just not what we do."

He also said during his entire career with Brockovich, they've never been involved in a lawsuit against a public entity.

"We go after polluters, and big ones," Bowcock said.

There are questions Bowcock would still like answered about the school, such as: Was fill dirt used? Is the school built on a swamp? (He hadn't seen The Batavian's report dispelling that myth.)

These questions could be answered easily by the school district if the district would just release the reports he believes are on file about construction of the school.

If fill was used, he said, there would be a report on the origin of the fill. There should be reports readily available on soil tests prior to construction of the school.

At Saturday's meeting, Mary Ellen Holvey, senior industrial hygienist for Leader Professional Services, said her team reviewed a Level 1 environmental report prepared prior to construction of the school.

That report is now available on the district website. The report confirms the school itself is not built on a swamp, but there were unregistered wetlands to the north and south of the site.

In 2000, when the report was prepared, no environmental waste was known to be within a one-mile radius of the site. And though there had been an oil spill at 9200 South St. Road, the DEC determined the spill was properly cleaned up.

The report found no preexisting environmental problems on the site.

Bowcock said he's still trying to gain permission to do testing at the school and said an assertion by Cox that Bill Albert, with the law firm Harris Beach, asked Bowcock for a sampling plan that he hasn't submitted was inaccurate.

Albert, he said, is supposed to get back to him on his request for "a seat at the table" with Leader on what testing should take place.

"We need to at least have conversation, or we're just shooting in the dark," Bowcock said.

He said one thing that has hampered his efforts is the media misreporting the purpose of this trip to Le Roy a week ago. He said he wasn't there to gather soil samples. He carried a spade just be able to move dirt, rocks and brush to make visual inspections. The purpose of the trip was to do a first reconnaissance on the topography and check sites of possible contamination that people recommended he check.

He took three water samples, he said, just because he had the kits with him and was given permission to take the samples, but that wasn't a primary part of his mission.

The Lehigh Valley Derailment Site is an example of the kind of site he was asked to check out, and though he doubts the site is connected to problems at the school, he wants to know more about it and more about the TCE plume created by the wreck.

He isn't convinced, he said, the plume is moving exactly as the EPA has described it. If he's right, there may be area residents who are on well water when they should be on municipal water.

"You've got the largest TCE spill in the federal system and they forgot about it," Bowcock said. "I realize they have 15,000 sites, so I could understand them losing a few, but not the big one."

While Bowcock isn't beating the drum for an environmental cause, he does want to ensure that all environmental causes have been ruled out.

He doesn't agree with Cox that an environmental cause wouldn't discriminate.

He noted that Brockovich is allergic to sulfur and has a reaction whenever they go onto sites with sulfur, but sulfur doesn't bother Bowcock.

While saying it is outside of his specialty to talk about medical conditions, he questioned Cox's expertise to make such a statement.

"Environmental things do discriminate and they discriminate based on our individual genetic makeup," Bowcock said.

And with that in mind, he said he wants to finish his work in Le Roy.

"I feel a responsibility to close it properly," Bowcock said. "If it takes six days, six weeks or six years, it is what it is."

More documents from the school district:

UPDATE, Monday, Feb. 6, 12:56 p.m.: Le Roy Superintendent Kim Cox emailed the following response to Bowcock's statements. These two paragraphs are from an email discussing other matters.

I also wanted to clarify some misinformation contained in your recent article. Mr. Bowcock has contacted the District only twice, once through Bill Albert with a voice mail after hours on Wednesday evening and Bill responded on Thursday. At that time, he was invited to submit his work plan for testing and told it would be passed on to Leader, our environmental consulting firm, to take under consideration. Mr. Bowcock told Mr. Albert that he would not submit a work plan.

The second contact by Mr. Bowcock was a letter sent to me through an email late Friday afternoon requesting permission to attend our community meeting on Saturday. I responded through an email that he was welcome to attend the meeting, and I also let him know that I understood he declined to submit a work plan but if was reconsidering to let us know.

He obviously chose not to attend our meeting and I have not heard from him since that time. To be clear, he has not made any additional requests for information from the District, so I am puzzled by comments that he made to you that the district has been unwilling to share the MSDS sheets with him.

As we stated in our community meeting when asked about the MSDS sheets, we said we would post them to our website. Because we are required to maintain MSDS sheets for 30 years, there are many documents. We are working as quickly as we can to sort through those documents to separate the ones related to the high school so people have the relevant information. These will be scanned and posted as soon as that process is completed. In addition, these documents are public record so anyone who chooses can request seeing all of the MSDS sheets.

UPDATE Monday, Feb. 6, 1:36 p.m.: Bob Bowcock released a letter he's written to Kim Cox (PDF). (Note: this actually arrived in my inbox before Cox sent the email referenced above, but I didn't notice it until after posting the above update.)

February 5, 2012 - 5:55pm

As promised I have been asking questions and seeking knowledge. I don’t have all questions answered yet, but here is what I do have:

For those of you who might be out of the area and do not know I am Trustee on the Village Board. I was elected in March 2010.

I have been a case manager in the adolescent mental health system at St. Joseph’s Villa of Rochester since August 2001. I don’t diagnose or treat. I work with kids and their families to unite their teams to plan to address identified underlying needs that are believed to be the cause of the behaviors we are seeing. I am also a parent representative on the Committee of Special Education (CSE) in Le Roy.

My role here is as a leader in the community to try to help alleviate the very real fears that people have and reunite my fractured community.

Was soil from the derailment site on Gulf Road used as fill for the school? No! The DEC expert I spoke to said that given there has only ever been about one inch of soil on top of the lime rock layer at said site, there is no way that there was ever enough to harvest and use elsewhere.

Was rock from the site used? It is important to note that TCE is air soluble. This means that once rock is crushed or broken any TCE it might contain immediately evaporates into the air. We do not KNOW for certain if any rock from the derailment site was used, BUT if it was it wasn’t contaminated because the TCE would have evaporated out of it.

Is there fracking liquid leaking out of the gas well? No. These wells are too old to have any fracking liquid left in them. There were dead trees at the site before the wells were put in. There may have been some liquid from the Medina salt layer that has leaked out at some point. This is basically salt water. Salt kills grass, trees, plant life, just like when our grass is killed by the salt thrown up by the snow plows onto it. I was at the meeting yesterday at school and want to remind everyone that the school’s wells are in compliance with all codes. They are of no concern to the DEC.

What was the liquid spill at well 6? It was largely salt water with a little gypsum. It’s possible there was some iron and sulfur in the form of sulfides. Iron can stain, as you probably know, but the rest would wash away with the first good rain. Similar brines that come out of wells like these is permitted to be used on roads for de-icing and is similar to in chemistry to rock salt.

Why aren’t they burning chemicals out of the gas before using it in the school? The gas harvested here is clean. It is under the Medina salt layer, which is impermeable to liquid. There is no way chemicals have leeched into it out of the ground.

On my last post Bill Elsasser commented-The marshy end of Bunnell Park, just west of the fence line, near where the pond is located, seems like an area of interest. Who was the excavating contractor? Wasn't an excavator "buried" in the muck somewhere around here and then retrieved? Must have made the newspaper at the time. Where was the fill for that retrieval pit sourced? Is the playground and sports area of the Park a potential "common denominator"? The "natural" area, just northwest of the playground and east of Summit Street, draws the runoff from the sports fields, any need to sample soil or water here? The response I received was that the fill came from a farm near the Le Roy-Pavilion line on Summit Street. The land was poor for farming and only suitable for pasture, so there is no need to worry about fertilizers and pesticides. Track equipment gets stuck on daily basis during construction, so that specific even should not be of concern either.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please feel free to email me at Thank you very much to everyone who responded last time both here and through email. Thank you, Howard Owens, for the fine work you have been doing here and providing us this forum.

February 5, 2012 - 12:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

The girls who are continuing treatment at Dent Neurologic Institute are getting better, according to Dr. Laszlo Mechtler.

The girls who have been influenced by media hype and discontinued treatment aren't doing as well, Mechtler said Saturday evening in an exclusive interview with The Batavian.

"The ones who are not appearing on TV are getting better," Mechtler said. "The ones who are on TV are getting worse or staying the same."

Of the original 12 girls who were part of the first group of patients suffering from tic symptoms at Le Roy High School, 10 sought treatment at Dent, two didn't, and some have broken off treatment, Mechtler said. Of the 18 patients that doctors are aware of, 14 have been to Dent.

But even for the girls continuing treatment, erroneous and sensational media reports are not helping them, he said.

The girls see reports about TCE and national personalities proclaim, "Oh, my God, we can save thousands of lives," and going so far as suggesting bodies being exhumed from cemetaries for investigation, and the girls take such reports to heart, Mechtler said.

"We had six or seven girls who were doing so much better, but after the media reports, in three weeks time, they're in my office crying, 'this chemical is in my head and I'm damaged for the rest of my life,' " Mechtler said.

When media reports haven't focused on environmental issues, the other issue to spring up has been PANDAS (aka, PANS), and Mechtler said PANDAS was ruled out as a cause of the tics for some very specific reasons.

First, and even though some physicians disagree, PANDAS is very rare.

Imagine your chance of winning the lottery, according to the analogy used by Mechtler. What are the odds? Now imagine you and 11 associates all independently picking the same numbers and winning the same drawing.

That's how unlikely it is that the original 12 girls suffered from PANDAS, according to Mechtler.

And that's all dependent on PANDAS even being a real disease, which not all medical officials agree on either, Mechtler said.

The other thing the media hasn't known when reporting on the subject, Mechtler said, is that Dr. Susan Swedo, who first described PANDAS in 1998, consulted with Dent on the Le Roy 12. She also concluded PANDAS wasn't the issue and has agreed with the conversion disorder diagnosis.

Mechtler said he's been told that Dr. Swedo will appear on a syndicated television show either Monday or Tuesday and confirm her support of the conversion disorder diagnosis.

From the beginning, Mechtler said, the media have failed to properly understand conversion disorder and have drawn on erronenous information about environmental and infectious causes to sensationalize the story.

That hasn't been good for his patients, he said.

"In conversion disorder, the worse thing you can do is interview these teenagers and reinforce the disorder and increase their stress," Mechtler said.

He explained that conversion disorder is far more common than people realize or the media has reported.

The media have also misreported -- and some people have misstated -- that conversion disorder is a diagnosis that can only be reached after all other possible causes have been eliminated, calling it a "diagnosis of exclusion."

He said a good neurolgist will recognize conversion disorder on the first consultation with a patient.

He used the example of hysterical blindness, which is a form of conversion disorder. If a patient claims blindness and the neurologist suspects conversion disorder, all a doctor needs to do is put his hand in front of the patient's eye and track the patient's involuntary eye movement. There's no need for environmental or infectious disease tests to arrive at the correct diagnosis.

It's the same with just about any diagnosis of conversion disorder. The initial exam will tell a physician a good deal about what is going on with a patient.

What's unusual in the Le Roy case is that so many people have come down with the same symptoms -- 16 students, plus one adult in Le Roy and one person in Greece.

In that regard, the Le Roy situation falls into the category of Mass Psycogenic Illness.

The illness began with an index case, a girl who already had Tourette Syndrome, but in October, after suffering a head injury, developed more pronounced tics.

One fact the media have repeatedly misreported, Mechtler said, is that the girls involved don't know each other.

The girls, along a chain of connections, are woven together, Mechtler said. One healthy girl spent the night with a girl who had tics and the next morning, developed tics, for example.

"The networking here among these girls is far more intensive and far more complex than the media is aware of," Mechtler said.

Bullying has also played a part in excerbating and spreading the disorder, Mechtler said.

"We have known some bullying is going on," Mechtler said. "This bullying has occured prior to symptons occuring and since that time, some of the bullying may have increased. Bullying is another form of stress inducer among young people."

When it comes to stress, Mechtler said, reporters who have focused on environmental issues and downplayed the role of stress in conversion disorder have no idea of the amont of stress the original 12 girls went through prior to developing symptons.

Mechtler said he can't discuss examples, but he said in every case, the life stressors uncovered for each of the girls have been incredible.

"In some cases, it's everything you could imagine and worse," Mectler said.

If anything good can come of the Le Roy case, Mechtler said, it's that it opened an opportunity to better understand conversion disorder, and the national media coverage has introduced many people to the illness.

"A lot more doctors and a lot more patients are going to be more comfortable with the diagnosis," Mechtler said. "A doctor can say, 'You've got conversion disorder like they had in Le Roy,' and the patient is going to be more accepting."

Because conversion disorder is an illness that not many people have known about, even though it is very common, Mechtler said, it's been a very difficult illness to tell patients about.

"How hard is it to tell a patient who is scared and upset, 'I've got good news. Your symptoms are all in your brain,' " Mechtler said. "It's difficult to tell a mother or father that it's all in their child's head. They have a hard time accepting it. It's like you can have a patient who comes in who has had headaches for three weeks and after I finish the examination I say 'It's all stress related' and the person looks at me and says, 'It's not a brain tumor? I don't believe it.' Some times people don't want to believe the good news that it can be treated."

Mechtler said doctors still don't know as much as they would like to about the disorder.

One benefit of the Le Roy case is that several of the patients have agreed to  specialized functional MRIs so that their brain scans can be compared to people without conversion disorder and perhaps neurologisist will learn how the brain changes in relation to the disorder.

"Maybe we can get more information out of this bad thing, and maybe something good can come of it," Mechtler said.

Two scientific papers Mechtler referenced during our conversation:




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