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November 18, 2011 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Area Jaycees, business.

Press release:

The Batavia Area Jaycees are a group of young adults which organize events to enhance the community and each other’s leadership skills. Their longest-running project has been the annual home show, which they are ending after 58 years.

In its place, they are excited to unveil a much more relevant show to the community in 2012, the Genesee Region Expo.

This new concept will combine the proven components of their old home show with a more extensive representation of businesses in the Genesee region. A wider cross-section of local vendors should attract a greater number of local consumers.

The first Genesee Region Expo or GRE will be held at the Batavia City Centre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 4. Admission for spectators will be free. There will be plenty of demonstrations, workshops, seminars and entertainment on the center stage all weekend long, plus a food court and raffle opportunities. Many businesses will also have items for sale.

There is space available for nearly 100 exhibitors. Interested vendors can call the Jaycee hotline at 585-343-5775 to request a vendor packet or go to This includes a price schedule which outlines early response and multiple-unit discounts.

The Jaycees are excited about offering this event to the community and look forward to breathing new life into something that has the potential to be of major importance for the Batavia area and Genesee region.

November 18, 2011 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, consolidation.

Press release:

A new website, specifically designed to help residents stay informed as the creation of the new city charter unfolds, is now live. The website ( has been launched by the task force, which includes an eight-person committee and the study consultant.

The city and town of Batavia applied for and received a grant from New York State's Local Government Efficiency (LGE) program. After receiving the grant, the city and town engaged the Center for Governmental Research (CGR), a Rochester-based consulting organization with significant experience in local government consolidation, to assist the task force.

Task force members representing the city are Chad Bachorski, Gail Stevens, Dan Jones and Laura Landers. Representatives for the town are Chad Zambito, Judith Cotton, Larry Reisdorf and Marcia Riley. There are two alternates for the task force: city resident Joe Gerace and town resident Alan Koch.

The task force has been charged by the town and city to develop a new city charter that would legally consolidate the two municipalities into one new City of Batavia. The task force is also working to generate a home rule bill that would allow the new city charter to be brought to the citizens of Batavia for public referendum. It is the intent of the governing bodies of city and town to place the new city charter before voters in November 2012.

“The committee is excited to have the website up and running so that we can easily share information with the community,” said Chad Zambito, task force chair. “This is an important project that could have long-term implications on the citizens of Batavia and we hope they take this opportunity to digest the information and make an informed decision.”

Key charter documents and task force reports will be posted to the website, with postings occurring throughout the process. Batavia residents wishing to submit comments and feedback directly to the task force can do so via the website. Residents can also sign up to receive email alerts when significant new information is added to the site.

“The website worked very well during the original Batavia consolidation study,” Zambito said, referring to the analysis conducted by CGR for the city and town in 2008 and 2009, which served as a precursor to the task force’s work. “The committee felt it would be an important communication tool as the process moves forward.”

November 18, 2011 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) is voicing his opposition to cuts in state funding to the least-wealthy school districts, the bulk of which are located in Western New York.

Recent analysis from The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) shows that per-pupil support for students in economically disadvantaged areas has been disproportionately reduced relative to more affluent districts in the last two years. The assemblyman recently issued a letter to school superintendents statewide seeking their input on how to best provide equitable education aid regardless of geographic location.

“We cannot allow Western New York’s students to suffer while out-of-touch politicians siphon crucial education funding downstate,” Hawley said. “Less-wealthy districts have a smaller tax base than affluent areas, which means they rely on state support more than anyone else.

"To see so many Western New York school districts bearing the brunt of the pain while the wealthiest areas keep raking in state support is both baffling and appalling. I will continue working with the governor and the legislature to make sure Western New York’s children get their fair share.”

AQE crafted a formula to calculate “community wealth ratios” based on personal income and property wealth. Nearly all of the schools in nearby counties fell into the “poor” or “poorest” categories. The report can be found at

November 18, 2011 - 11:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office was recently awarded a “Law Enforcement Agency Award” by the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) New York State, and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee for its efforts in deterring drunk diving.

During 2010, officers of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office made 202 DWI arrests, checked 60 establishments for sales to minors and charged more than 500 individuals with illegal possession of alcohol at Darien Lake. The Sheriff’s Office also conducted Sobriety Checkpoints and DWI Saturation Patrols throughout the year.

The Sheriff’s Office participates with community partners in the “Underage Drinking Task Force,” which consists of representatives from law enforcement, school administrations, the county manager’s office, and alcohol treatment and prevention organizations in an effort to address concerns with underage drinking. Not only does this task force educate those under the age of 21 but also the parents.

Also during 2010, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office instructed 337 students in the D.A.R.E. Program and taught them the ramifications of alcohol abuse.

The award was presented to Sheriff Gary T. Maha, center photo, Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble, left, and Genesee County STOP- DWI Coordinator Frank Ciaccia during an awards luncheon held in Schenectady on Nov. 15. Several individual officers from various law enforcement across the state were also recognized, along with two other law enforcement agencies.

November 18, 2011 - 11:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

The Batavia Muckdogs will open their 2012 season at Dwyer Stadium on June 18 versus the Auburn Doubledays.

For fireworks fans, the Muckdogs will be home on July 4.

Popular teams visiting this year are farm clubs for the Yankees (Staten Island), New York Mets (Brooklyn) and the Red Sox (Lowell).

The team will play 38 home games in 2012. Six will be on a Friday.

In addition to the 38 home games the Muckdogs will play at Dwyer Stadium next season, they will also host seven Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankee games in 2012. Those dates and times are as follows:

Friday, April 20, vs. Norfolk (Baltimore Orioles Affiliate) at 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, April 21, vs. Norfolk at 1:05 p.m.
Sunday, April 22, vs. Norfolk at 1:05 p.m.
Monday, April 23, vs. Norfolk at 12:05 p.m.
Saturday, May 5, vs. Pawtucket (Boston Red Sox Affiliate) at 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, May 6, vs. Pawtucket at 1:05 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12, vs. Louisville (Cincinnati Reds Affiliate) at 11:05 a.m.

Ticket packages for the Muckdogs and Yankees games, coupon books and season tickets for the 2012 season are all currently on sale. Holiday Packs are also on sale. For just $25, fans can purchase four undated general admission tickets, a T-shirt and a voucher for a 2012 program. They can be purchased by calling 343-5454, or in person at Dwyer Stadium from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

November 18, 2011 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council.

Announcement from the City of Batavia Republican Committee:

The City of Batavia Republican Committee is accepting applications from city residents interested in filling one of the two city council at-large positions that will be opening up at the beginning of the year.

Letters of interest and resumes can be dropped off or mailed to the attention of Joe Gerace at 16 Vine St., Batavia. Letters of interest are due by Monday, Nov. 28.

The City of Batavia Charter requires these positions to be filled by individuals currently registered with the Republican Party, as this was the party of the two outgoing at-large city council members.

November 18, 2011 - 8:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A Le Roy fire chief reports that all of the fire hydrants on Myrtle Street have been vandalized. 

The caps have been stolen.

The chief asks dispatch to contact Monroe County Water Authority. The hydrants will all need to be flushed and recapped.

UPDATE 8:45 a.m.: A Le Roy police officer on scene, making a criminal mischief report.

November 17, 2011 - 7:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, weather, accidents.

There have been several minor vehicle accidents on the Route 19 bridge over the Thruway in the past 20 or 30 minutes.

Law enforcement on scene has requested Le Roy fire police to respond and shut down Route 19 at Griswold Road and at North Road.

Fire crews will be able to roll over the bridge to get in position, but will need to proceed very, very slowly.

Road crews are being dispatched to the bridge to salt the road.

There are at least three, and probably more, accidents being handled by troopers.

Only minor injuries have been reported.

November 17, 2011 - 6:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Coffee Culture.

Brenda Richardson, manager of Batavia's Coffee Culture location thought an empty room in their building was going to waste, so she suggested turning it into an event center available to the community.

Her bosses apparently liked the idea because Thursday evening, Chamber President Lynn Freeman joined her for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new room.

The room is available for rental for parties, meetings and other group gatherings.

The spacious room is decorated with paintings by local artists. The paintings are also for sale.

Among the handouts for chamber members at the ribbon cutting was a flier advertising the availability of the Coffee Culture store to a franchisee. According to the flier, for an investment of about $295,000, you could become the owner of your own coffee house right in Downtown Batavia. SBA loans are available.

November 17, 2011 - 6:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, pembroke, indian falls.

A tractor-trailer vs. car accident is reported on the eastbound Thruway at mile marker 403.0. It's right on the county line. Mercy Flight is on standby. Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments, along with Mercy EMS, are dispatched. Unknown injuries.

UPDATE 6:06 p.m.: Dispatch spoke with the driver of the car who said injuries, if any, are minor. The car is in the median. The big rig is sitting sideways about a three-quarters of a mile east of the car, according to a responder.

UPDATE 6:12 p.m.: Mercy Flight is put back in service. A third vehicle is involved and it's on the shoulder of the roadway near the other car.

UPDATE 6:14 p.m.: A responder says it looks like five vehicles, plus the tractor-trailer, were involved in this accident. State Troopers are on scene.

UPDATE 6:22 p.m.: "We have medics up here, where are all the victims?" asks a responder. One person is boarded and collared, one is a sign off, and one other is inside a medic vehicle. Traffic is said to be backed up about three miles. They are going to try to corral the traffic into one lane so it can begin moving again.


November 17, 2011 - 5:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, Mike Ranzenhofer.

At the invitation of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, Sen. John Flanagan was in Genesee County on Thursday to meet with local education leaders to discuss school funding.

In a press briefing after the meeting at Genesee Community College, Ranzenhofer and Flanagan said the focus of the discussion was on the inequality of state aid among districts statewide.

"Our obligation is to find some plan that is equitable," said Flanagan, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. "I will tell you flat out that coming here, working with Senator Ranzenhofer regularly, even before coming here, you get a much clearer picture about the stark realities in this area."

The lack of equitable funding often means that Upstate and rural school districts are not able to offer some of the programs that help lead to admission into better colleges.

"There is a growing divide between the haves and have-nots," said Michael Glover, district superintendent for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. "We've actually watched our schools and the kids who attend them fall further and further behind."

Flanagan said one of the goals coming out of meetings such as today's is to craft a budget plan to present to the governor.

"Hopefully, we can get him on board early in the process," Flanagan said.

November 17, 2011 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Medics have been dispatched to the Genesee County Jail for the victim of an assault.

The victim is unconscious but breathing.

City of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy EMS on scene.

A deputy has also been dispatched to the jail.

November 17, 2011 - 3:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, corfu.

Her husband has forgiven her for shooting him in the knee and dozens of friends and family members sent letters of support to Judge Robert C. Noonan, but a 52-year-old Corfu resident will still spend three years in state prison.

The sentence is what Patricia Hardesty agreed to when she entered a guilty plea Sept. 22 to assault, 2nd, and it was the minimum sentence available to Noonan under the state's sentencing guidelines.

"This is kind of a sad case," Noonan said. "Everybody who has had any input to the court has said, 'please be merciful,' 'please don't send her to jail,' 'don't send her to prison,' 'send her to counseling or back to her family.' But I can't do any of that. I have no power to do any of that."

Hardesty shot her husband in the knee Aug. 1, 2010, during an argument at their home on County Line Road.

Typically in assault cases, Noonan is asked to sign an order protecting a victim for a period of time, but in this case, there was no request for such an order.

"It should have become clear to you before this event, and it should certainly be clear to you now, that you should never drink alcoholic beverages," Noonan said before Hardesty left the court room. "Whatever you do to stay away from alcoholic beverages, whether in prison or out of prison, that should be a very important thing for you to do."

November 17, 2011 - 12:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, contests, sponsored posts.

In Week 10 of the NFL season, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald caught seven passes for 147 yards. 

None of the entrants in our week 10 contest expected Fitzgerald to have such a good game.

So this week's winner was picked in a random drawing from all entrants in the contest.

The winner is Richard Suttell. Richard wins a double order of boneless wings and a small sub from Main St. Pizza Company. He has one week to claim his prize.

To enter this week's contest, click here.

November 16, 2011 - 11:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Corfu Fire Department, Corfu Fire District.

In a 3-0 vote Wednesday night, the Corfu Fire District Board of Trustees approved a resolution disciplining three people for alleged ethical violations and misappropriation of funds.

The vote came following a closed session in which the trustees met with members of an ethics review panel that looked into accusations that the district's treasurer, a former fire chief and a sitting trustee allegedly misused district credit cards and kept incomplete records.

The panel was appointed in September after a NYS comptroller's audit uncovered possible irregularities in the use and reporting of credit card transactions.

Based upon the findings of the ethics panel -- which reportedly uncovered possible further misappropriations not contained in the state's audit report -- the district's former treasurer, Shari Salim, was suspended from the district for two years; her brother, and former department chief Jeff Ammon, was suspended for one year, and their father, trustee Bob Ammon, was asked to resign from the district board.

The trio will also be asked to reimburse any funds due to the district, plus legal and accounting fees.

The district's recently retained attorney, Mark Boylan, of Le Roy, said after the meeting that the matter has also been turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office for a possible criminal investigation. 

The resolution passed by the board also appoints a CPA to do a thorough audit of the district's books.

While the ethics panel's report indicates there was allegedly repeated personal use of the district credit cards by Shari and Jeff, it's unclear how much of that personal use was reimbursed to the district.  

One charge by Bob Ammon came under scrutiny. In 2007, Ammon reportedly made a $359.51 purchase at Dick's Sporting Goods. While listed in the report as a not approved purchase, Ammon reportedly told the ethics panel that the purchase was agreed to and paid for by the fire department. The purchase, he reportedly told the panel, was for exercise equipment for the fire hall.

The report states that while payments were made on the credit cards with other than district funds, some of those payments were late resulting in late charges on the district's cards.

There are also authorized purchases on the cards, allegedly, for which there are no receipts and no proof that the purchases were actually made.

The total of non-approved charges from 2004 to 2007 (the period reviewed by the panel, since the comptroller's office had looked at more recent dates) exceed $2,600, according to the report. Again, a substantial amount of that money appears to have been repaid with non-district funds, but the panel could not determine the exact amount that was repaid.

The district board, while it includes volunteers for the department, is elected by Corfu residents. The board collects taxes and manages some of the revenue used to help fund the fire department. The fire district and fire department are separate entities.

Only three members of the district board participated in the closed session because Bob Ammon recused himself and a fifth member was unable to attend because of health issues.

November 16, 2011 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barber Conable, alexander.

In local politics, there's no bigger name than Barber Conable.

The longtime Genesee County resident started his career as an attorney in Batavia, and eventually became a 10-term congressman who went on to lead the World Bank.

Besides championing creation of 401(k) accounts, Conable also sponsored legislation that eventually made microbreweries possible (though that wasn't his intent -- he just thought one of his constituents should be able to brew his own beer).

Conable remains highly regarded for his integrity and intelligence.

The Post Office in Batavia is named after him as is the Conable Technology Center at Genesee Community College.

Then, there is the matter of his stately house in Alexander.

Conable and his wife, Charlotte, purchased the home in 1959 and raised their four children there. Until recently, Emily Conable lived in the house, but with her youngest son going off to college, Emily decided to move out of the 2,772-square-foot residence and put it up for sale.

The remaining household items of Barber and Charlotte are also being auctioned off at Bontrager's (a number of items are up for auction tonight (see pictures below)).

The listing went to Paul and Mary Ellen Hartwick, of Nothnagle, who lived for many years across Main Street in Alexander and were friends with Barber and Charlotte.

The Hartwick's took me on a tour of the house today and clearly cherished their memories of the Conables.

The house has four bedrooms and was built in 1830 by an Alexander attorney, A.B. Harrington. Harrington also built, for his son, the house across the street where the Hartwicks now live.

"If we could make our living selling historic homes, that's all we would do," Paul said.

The house, at 10532 N. Main St., sits on a five-acre, park-like lot that zigzags from Main Road to Route 20.

The house is listed for $199,900.

Chair given to Barber Conable by the Brookings Institute.

Barber Conable's collection of license plates

Barber Conable's Cornell University yearbook (Conable is in the first column, lower right).

A book by Henry Kissenger, former secretary of state, signed to Barber Conable by Kissenger.

November 16, 2011 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, chamber of commerce.

Members of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce gathered at Terry Hills this afternoon for the chamber's annual meeting and installation of officers.

Chamber President Lynn Freeman gave an update on chamber activities and spoke about the chamber's decision to partner with Tompkins Insurance to provide a new health insurance plan to members (key reasons -- the ability to offer monthly payments for members and eliminating a fee the chamber had to charge with the former plan).

JoAnne McInerney from Tompkins also spoke about the state of the health insurance industry and the trend away from co-pay plans to higher deductible plans.

November 16, 2011 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

A pair of top executives from the company behind a development in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia were on hand this morning to see the first of several tons of dirt get moved from one spot to another.

Even without a purchase agreement to buy the 81-acre parcel from GCEDC, the company is apparently eager to get this project under way immediately to meet a deadline for product production of early 2013.

The company wants site grading completed before the worst of winter hits.

While the executives did not want to be identified in publication, sources in the dairy industry have fingered PepsiCo as the company likely behind "Project Wave."

It makes sense.

According to a story in the Oct. 14 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Pepsi is embarking on a partnership with a yogurt company based in Germany in an effort to enter the fast-growing yogurt market in the United States.

This would be Pepsi's first foray into the U.S. dairy business, but fits an overall strategy laid out in the business press for Pepsi to grow market share in nutritional foods as the market for soft drinks declines.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based firm that has led Project Wave through the regulatory process and start of construction is Haskell Architects and Engineers. On its website, Haskell lists PepsiCo as among its clients.

While the executives at the construction site this morning asked that their names not be published, an internet search of one of the executive's names confirmed he is an employee of PepsiCo.

The executive made it clear, however, that Batavia is only one site among four under consideration and his employer hasn't made a final decision on which site it will construct its plant.

It is, however, the site that is being bulldozed. And the company seems eager, and has big plans, to enter the U.S. yogurt market by 2013.

According to Project Wave specs, the plant will eventually employ 600 people working three different shifts on 16 production lines.

Assuming it opens on schedule in 2013, the plant will initially employ 180 people working on three production lines.

Both executives praised GCEDC and the Town of Batavia for having this shovel ready site available.

"There are only three of our four sites in the northeast that would be ready this quickly for production," one executive said. "These shovel-ready projects are key to attracting big companies."

Mike Wheeler, the project's architect, was also on site this morning and reiterated the importance of having all of the regulatory approvals in place, along with the infrastructure necessary for the project to get started right away.

"My hats off to these guys," Wheeler said. "They put the community in the best possible position for this project."




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