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September 20, 2011 - 5:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba.

A two-car, personal injury accident has been reported at the intersection of Lockport Road and Route 98.

Fire police are shutting down traffic on Route 98 and Old Route 98.

Elba Fire Department and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 5:35 p.m.: More EMTs requested to the scene.

September 20, 2011 - 4:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, crime, ronald smith.

Geoff Redick of WBTA is the source of this post.

Accused child molester Ronald Smith heard his alleged 7-year-old victim testify against him in Genesee County Court this morning. In a surpising move, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini called this primary witness first.

The child, who lives in the City of Batavia, told the jury that "Ronny" is the father of her 1-year-old sister and that the alleged molestation began last fall after he started coming over to the house to visit the baby.

According to the girl, Smith touched her "private parts" on three different occasions when she was left alone with him while her mother visited a neighbor across the street. Each time, she said she told him "to stop it." He told her not to tell anyone or else she'd be grounded.

Before she took the stand, Judge Robert Noonan asked if she knew the difference between a lie and the truth. She said she did and when prompted to explain the difference, she said "If you don't tell the truth, you go to jail."

Smith faces up to seven twenty-one years in prison if convicted at trial on all three sexual abuse counts he faces. The prosecution characterized him as someone who took advantage when the opportunity presented itself and did so purposely for his own sexual gratification.

Cianfrini told the jurors that they would hear Smith's previously recorded testimony, saying that he and the victim were alone at times between October 2010 and January and that he touched her inappropriately.

But Assistant Public Defender William Harper maintained that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that nothing has been proven in this case.

“If the people cannot dispel reasonable doubt, then they have failed in their burden, and you must find him not guilty," Harper said.

The alledged victim seemed confused when Public Defender Gary Horton asked on cross-examination if she was touched on her clothes or on her bare skin. She said that neither she nor Smith took her clothes off. Cianfrini brought up the point later, and the child revealed that Smith had “reached” inside her clothes.

"Are you nervous to be here today?” Cianfrini asked.

“Yes,” the girl replied.

"Is it difficult for you to answer these questions in front of the court?” Cianfrini asked.

Once again, she replied quietly, “Yes.”

The neighbor across the street was the only other witness called this morning. Her testimony confirmed that the girl’s mother had come over several times between October 2010 and January, leaving the 7-year-old alone at home with Smith.

In court today, Smith wore a white button-down and dress slacks. He paid close attention to the proceedings and took notes.

Proceedings are expected to wrap up late this afternoon, with summations and jury deliberation tomorrow.


Smith faces up to 7 years imprisonment on each charge of Sexual Abuse 1st. He faces three of those charges. Thus, he faces a maximum of 21 years in prison IF found guilty on all three counts.

My original information was remiss in not making that clear.

--Geoff Redick, WBTA News

September 20, 2011 - 12:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, roads.

When it comes to roads, there isn't much good news for the county, according to Tim Hens, highway superintendent.

There simply isn't money available for basic maintenance and with the cuts expected to the county budget, the county may not have the manpower this winter to operate snow plows.

The past several years, the towns have assisted the county as part of a shared services agreement, but the patience of town supervisors is wearing a little thin, Hens told the Public Services Committee on Monday.

"At the last meeting I got some blow back that enough is enough," Hens said.

County Manager Jay Gsell is asking all the departments in the county to cut spending by 5 percent.

For the highway department a five percent cut -- after years of trimming -- means layoffs, Hens said. That's all there is left to cut.

"Technically speaking, our staffing will be three people short of what we need to respond to a snow or ice event," Hens said.

Even if the county raises the property tax levy 2 percent, as allowed under a new state law, the increase won't even cover the anticipated rise in the county's retirement and medical expenses for 2012.

Without money to resurface roads as needed, the county has been sealing and patching cracks, Hens said, but many of the roads are well beyond these patchwork repairs.

"It's gotten to the point where even the public knows it's not the right treatment for the road," Hens said. "We get phone calls about it, but it's not like we don't know what we're doing. We have no option. There's no money and we're trying to stretch it as far as we can."

Among the cuts in the upcoming budget will be reduction painting pavement markings on county roads.

“That’s a service that people out on rural roads really depend on on a stormy night," Hens said. "That’s getting cut out."

This summer a bridge on Arnold Road in Elba had to be closed because one of the supports had completely rusted away. Funds from other bridge repairs had to be diverted to pay for the bridge to be replaced.

Several county-owned bridges now have weight limits on them that prevent fully loaded school buses from driving on them.

"Our snowplows really shouldn't be on them," Hens said.

It wasn't all bad news for the county that Hens delivered to the legislators, though.

Revenue is up about $100,000 at the county airport because of record fuel sales, and all the new hangars are leased and there's a waiting list for hangar space.

Also, a new online reservation system for county parks will make it easier for residents to book pavilions for parties and picnics.

The automated system will end the need for people to drive to the highway department facility on Cedar Street to make reservations and save about two hours per day of staff time to deal with reservations.

September 20, 2011 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, county legislature.

Underage drinkers who get caught and then ignore the ticket may soon find themselves losing their drivers' licenses.

A bill to put some teeth in underage drinking provisions got the support of the Public Service Committee of the Genesee County Legislature on Monday.

One of the biggest backers of the bill is Darien Town Justice Gary Graber, legislators noted. Graber sees hundreds of underage citations written every summer at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, but apparently few of the under-21 crowd cited ever make their scheduled court dates.

And there isn't much Graber, and other justices, can do about it, unless Assembly Bill A5722 passes.

The bill would also make it possible to suspend the driver's license of anybody given a citation for marijuana possession who doesn't appear in court.

On Monday, legislators passed a resolution urging Assembly and Senate approval of the bill.

September 19, 2011 - 5:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents.

A pedestrian has been struck by a car and is unconscious in front of 10 Seneca Ave. City police, fire and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 5:54 p.m.: One person is being transported to UMMC for injuries. City fire personnel returning, in service.

September 19, 2011 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, Pavilion, horse rescue.

After nearly two decades of caring for unwanted equines, Mike and Chris Dodge are finding it a bit harder to carry on. Since they started their efforts, initially in Ventura, Calif., they have so far saved 400 horses.

Now in declining health and grappling with a 40-percent drop in donations, the Dodge's are still doing what they can to keep their horse rescue in Pavilion going.

Sunday, they and a group of supporters and volunteers held an open house at the rescue on Dow Road. While there were many new faces, attendance was down from previous years, Mike Dodge said.

"Donations are down because of the economy, but it's that way with every non-profit," Dodge said. "Without those donations, though, we don't have the money to do what we have to with these guys."

There are 24 horses on the ranch and it costs $125 per month -- $3,000 a month total -- just to feed them. Plus there are medical bills and other expenses associated with operating the rescue.

The pasture out back hasn't been mowed for a while because the lawn mower broke.

Volunteers help, but many of them are students at SUNY Geneseo, so when school is out, there are fewer hands to clean stables and feed and water the horses.

Dodge noted that some of his volunteers have been kids who learned to ride at commercial stables and think they might to own their own horse. What they learn in volunteering, Dodge said, is that "90 percent of the care of a horse is on the ground."

Mike and Chris started horse rescue in Ventura County 18 years ago because they thought the humane society near their home didn't do a very good job.

Mike said they would put down a horse as dangerous if it kicked up its rear legs.

"That's just a horse having fun," Dodge said.

They stayed there for eight years before moving to Pavilion so Chris could be closer to her family.

In an era when many people who thought they could afford horses, now find they can't, as many as a 100,000 horses are sent to slaughter each year -- slaughtered in Mexico or Canada, because environmental regulations make it tough to run a commercial horse slaughter anywhere in the United States.

The Dodges have two horses on their way out for adoption, which is helping to make room for one horse that can no longer be cared for by its owners.

"This little girl has been riding him every day for four years, but they couldn't find a place to board him, so we're bringing him here," Dodge said. "She's a nice little girl."

While some horses do go out for adoption, so many of the animals brought to the rescue are hard to place because they're old (one horse at the rescue is 41 years old, which is like 123 to you or me), feeble (the white horse with spots pictured below is blind, but just about the friendliest horse you'll ever meet) or too ornery for hobby owners.

"Everybody wants a horse that's easy to handle," Dodge said.

Anybody who can care for the animal, handle the $125-per-month feed bill and provide it adequate pasture and shelter, is eligible to adopt a horse.

Every horse saved is another that can be saved, and that's what keeps Chris and Mike going.

"It’s strictly for the horses," Mike said. "They can’t speak for themselves. Just like dogs and cats, they need someone to speak for them, to be their voice."

The next closest rescue in New York is in Lima, where 12 horses are boarded; otherwise, there's no other horse rescue in Western New York.

Mike said he realizes with all of the horses that have been sent to slaughter over the years, 400 rescued is "just a drop in the bucket," but it's still worthwhile.

"It sure means a lot to that one horse."

Here's a video produced by somebody in Buffalo about the rescue:

For more information, visit the rescue's website.

September 19, 2011 - 11:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Pavilion.

Billy Joe Edward Murphy, 29, of Route 20, Pavilion, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 4th. At 9:21 p.m. Saturday, Sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a domestic disturbance. During the investigation, a long gun was located inside the residence. Allegedly, because of Murphy's criminal history, he is not legally permitted to possess firearms. Murphy was issued an appearance ticket on the weapon's charge and then booked into Genesee County Jail without bail on a warrant for an unrelated matter.

Tiffany Leigh Brown, 24, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th, and harassment, 2nd. Brown is accused of throwing a Thermos at another person. The Thermos reportedly ricocheted off the other person then struck and broke a glass bottle sitting on a shelf.

September 19, 2011 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Batavia PD issued 29 citations during a special traffic enforcement detail Thursday.

The checkpoint was set up on Oak Street near the Thruway entrance.

Among the citations issued were four to drivers of commercial vehicles.

The enforcement effort was funded by a "Selective Traffic Enforcement Program" grant issued through the governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

Earlier this summer, a traffic safety check at the same location yielded 35 citations.

September 19, 2011 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime.

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office is warning local residents about a possible phone scam that is masquerading as a law enforcement call.

At lease one person in Genesee County has received a phone call threatening arrest if the person did not pay back a Payday loan.

The caller told the mark that he would be given a couple of hours to make a credit card payment or a warrant would be issued.

The caller made several calls from a 215 area code number (Pennsylvania) and at least one call had a caller ID of 9-1-1.

After the deadline passed, the mark received a phone call with a caller ID of (585) 345-3000 (the Sheriff's Office) advising him to turn himself in.

The phone call did not originate from the Sheriff's Office.

When the Sheriff's Office tried to contact the supposed company behind the collection effort, investigators were not able to verify any claim to law enforcment status.

The address given by the company for its location is a department store in Philadelphia.

September 19, 2011 - 9:12am
posted by Rick Franclemont in pembroke, Darien, Kiwanis, corfu, Car Show, Fall Festival.

The Pembroke Corfu Darien Kiwanis Fall Festival and Car Cruise took place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 and held something for the whole family at Pembroke Town Park.

In addition to the great turn out of vehicles for the Car Cruise (more than 80 cars), there were vendors, non-profit groups, face-painting for the kids, pony rides, pumpkin patch carriage rides and a chicken barbecue by Krolick's.




More pictures from the event can be found here.

September 19, 2011 - 8:51am
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, town of batavia.

A three-car accident, believed to be with minor injuries, is reported in the eastbound lanes of the Thruway at mile marker 392. Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS are responding.

UPDATE 8:52 p.m.: Traffic is backed up. Mercy Flight out of Batavia is heading to the scene. A second Town of Batavia crew is called to set up a landing zone.

UPDATE 9:02 p.m.: All patients are out of the vehicles. A landing zone for Mercy Flight still needs to be established. They need to get traffic shut down first. Oakfield ambulance is also on scene.

UPDATE 9:05 a.m.: Mercy Flight has landed.

UPDATE 9:20 a.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne.

UPDATE 9:22 a.m.: Mercy Flight has one patient on board and is going to Erie County Medical Center. Two patients are being transported to Women's and Children's Hospital in Buffalo via Oakfield ambulance.

UPDATE 9:26 a.m.: Troopers are tied up at the accident scene. Some drivers are making illegal U-turns to get out of the traffic snarl, thereby creating a safety hazard. Several motorists have called dispatch complaining about this. The Thruway accident scene is nearest to Lewiston Road.

UPDATE 9:31 a.m.: Town of Batavia fire crews are back in service.

September 19, 2011 - 7:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Alabama.

A car and bus have reportedly collided in the area of 1534 Lewiston Road, Alabama.

Three people in the car are reportedly injured, but there are no reported injuries on the bus.

Alabama Fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 7:24 a.m.: Oakfield's ambulance on in-hall stand by for a possible response to the scene.

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September 18, 2011 - 8:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, city of batavia.

A controlled trash burn reported earlier this evening may have gotten out of control, according to a caller to dispatch. The location is in the area of 12 Trumbull Parkway in the City of Batavia.

City firefighters are responding.

Apparently, there was nothing of consequence found at the site of the reported controlled burn. City firefighters are back in service.

September 18, 2011 - 7:48pm

Saturday afternoon we were on our way to East Shelby when we spotted upwards of two dozen egrets wading the Upper Stafford Marsh on the Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. I regretted not having a camera along, but vowed to have one the next morning.

It was 9 a.m. today when we pulled into the overlook on Albion Road and, fortunately, the egrets were still there. There are 17 great egrets in the above photo, with several more outside of the lens angle.

I've not seen such a gathering of the large wading birds before, not even in South Florida. Whether they were stalking small fish, frogs or reptiles, I couldn't say but something to their liking must have been plentiful in the shallow marsh.  

Normally, great blue herons are the largest wading birds in the marsh. While the blue heron is nearly identical in size to the great egret, on this day it was certainly in the minority.

September 18, 2011 - 6:37pm
posted by Rick Franclemont in business, pembroke, Yancey's Fancy, Kutter's.

Saturday, Sept. 17, was Kutter's annual Customer Appreciation Day.

Kutter's Cheese Factory Store began operations in 1923, when Leo Kutter emigrated to the United States from Germany. The factory moved to Corfu, site of this weekend's festivities, in 1947.  

Visitors were offered samples of Yancey's Fancy's 19 varieties of cheeses, available in 29 flavors.

Brian and Heather Bailey and Christine Adamczak, who bought Kutter's from Tony and Richard Kutter in 2009, were on hand to offer visitors wine and cheese samples. Musical entertainment was provided by Finesse (a female barbershop quartet), and there was a factory tour to explain the cheese-making process.

The company is looking to expand its operations in the next two years, and if the attendance at the festivities on Saturday were any indication, Genesee County is more than ready for the expansion.

Heather and Brian Bailey with the Kutter's classic car.

"Hot Stuff" -- Yancey's Fancy's own buffalo.

Finesse, a women's barbershop quartet, featuring (from left to right): tenor Sharie Vlack (Elba), lead Peggy Watkins (Attica), baritone Beth Allen (Elba), and bass Carolyn Schultz (Oakfield).

The group is a subset of the Crossroads of Harmony Chorus, which will be holding a reunion on Oct. 17 at the Genesee County Nursing Home. For more information, contact Finesse at [email protected].

More pictures from the event can be found here.

September 18, 2011 - 5:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, child passenger safety.

This information was provided by firefighter/paramedic Chuck Hammon, who is coordinator of the Child Passenger Safety Program for the City of Batavia Fire Department.

Today is the beginning of National Child Passenger Safety Week. This education and awareness program is designed to protect local youth by increasing the safety of children riding around in our community.

The City of Batavia Fire Department began participating in the program this summer after being approached by the city police department, which has been involved with Child Passenger Safety for a few years.

Fire Chief Jim Maxwell thought it was a great idea and is familiar with the program since it is provided to residents by many fire departments in Monroe County, where he used to work.

Locally, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department and State Troopers also have programs but do not have the availability to provide daily inspection/instruction.

Three Firefighters (Mark Sacheli, Frank D’Angelo and Chuck Hammon) attended a National Child Passenger Safety Technician course offered in Geneseo. Upon completion of this course we restructured the program around the availability of firefighters/technicians and the two certified police officers: Dan Coffey and Thad Mart.

Detective Rich Schauf currently oversees the grant portion of the program and I have taken the position of program coordinator for the operational oversight. We hope to send four to eight more firefighters to the training course next spring to increase the size of the program.

So far this year, we have held two events. The first was a “soft” opening at National Night Out at Birchwood Village and the second event was a part of "Summer in the City."

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 1st, we will be holding our third car seat inspection event at the firehouse during the annual Open House.

The majority of our inspections/educational sessions are done by appointment at the firehouse. Since the fire department took the lead on the program, we have completed 31 inspections. We have issued/replaced 10 car seats, free of charge, to those parents.

Not every inspection results in a new car seat. This program is designed around educating parents and if the car seat supplied is recalled or defective, it is then replaced. We have a supply of car seats available at the firehouse but they are issued depending on supply and demand.

This program is funded by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. An annual grant is awarded to each agency participating in this program, which includes supplies and car seats. The overall cost of the program is free as the inspections/educational sessions are done by the on-duty technicians.

The city fire department is located at 18 Evans St. Program coordinator Hammon's office phone number is 345-6375.

September 18, 2011 - 4:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, genesee community school of music.

This information was submitted by Becky LeFevre.

A new music school is in full swing in Batavia, located at the Homestead Event Center (formerly the site of Roxy's Music) in the Genesee Country Mall. The Genesee Community School of Music is the result of collaboration between Winnicki Music Studio, Rose Caccamise of Roxy's Music, and local parents.

The school began its first session of classes at the end of August, offering general music for elementary students, chorus, and small group instrument lessons. The first six-week session culminates with a performance at the Batavia Nursing Home on Sept. 27.

The Genesee Community School of Music began primarily as a resource for homeschooled students and grew out of a need for quality and affordable music education. Budget cuts that effect public education have filtered down to the homeschooling community. Music opportunities -- such as instrument lessons -- that used to be available through public schools to students being educated at home have been largely eliminated.

Classes at the GCSM are lively and upbeat. Younger students learn about melody, pitch and rhythm through creative songs and games. Older students develop advanced skills through instrument lessons or in chorus, where they sing in parts and learn vocal technique and conducting.

The Genesee Community School of Music puts a huge emphasis on community.

"Every six weeks, the kids will perform in the community -- at the nursing home, the VA, etcetera, says Jodi Coburn, who has three students attending the music school. "We want them to not only learn about music and experience performing in front of a crowd, but to learn about the way music brings people together and to use music as a vehicle to interact with individuals that we wouldn't meet under everyday circumstances."

Just a month after it opened its doors, the GCSM is experiencing success.

"When you start up something like this, the concern is always (whether) you're going to be able to afford to keep the program running," said Becky LeFevre, whose kindergartener participates in the general music class. "We started this school through word of mouth, and just hoped and prayed that we'd end up with enough students to keep it running and to pay the instructors.

"So far, we've been blessed. This program is phenomenal, and I think people are realizing that and word is beginning to spread.

Word is spreading, not just about the GSCM, but about homeschooling in general. In recent years, the number of families who have chosen to educate their children at home is increasing. Yet the GSCM's long-term goal isn't just to serve the homeschooling community. As budget cuts continue to force music and the arts out of public schools, the GCSM hopes to fill the void.

In the future, they hope to begin a strings program, something many local schools are unable to offer. They also plan to schedule additional classes at times that will be convenient for students who attend traditional schools.

Teacher Diana Winnicki adds "Cooperative music education like this, that is valued in the community, ensures the continuation of the arts regardless of the economic condition of our state.

The second session of classes begins on Oct. 4, followed by a special five-week Christmas session with an emphasis on holiday music from around the world and the formation of a children's bell choir.

For questions about the GSCM, or if you are interested in teaching a course or registering for classes, contact Jodi at 813-4658 or [email protected].




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