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February 23, 2018 - 6:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Agreeing with the prosecution that Shawn M. Twardowski, 35, formerly of Bank Street, Batavia, is a threat to society, Judge Charles Zambito sentenced him to two-and-a-half to five years in prison.

Zambito expressed the hope that while in prison, Twardowski will take advantage of programs available to him to help him with his mental health issues and substance abuse problems.

"Until you address those issues, you need to be removed from society," Zambito said.

A year ago, Twardowski was arrested for strangling and punching a beagle, attacking a woman at that location, stealing and attempting to disable her mobile phone and then, upon police arrival, barricading himself in a bedroom. 

He previously pled guilty to a burglary charge after first undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

Zambito expressed dismay that Twardowski thought it appropriate to attack the beagle and the woman merely because the woman allowed the dog to lick a bowl.

The judge said Twardowski's record goes back to 2005 and is filled with charges related to violence, resisting arrest and violating court orders.

His attorney, Michael Locicero, said he wasn't not making excuses for his client's behavior but offered up as mitigating circumstances for his behavior, years of untreated mental health issues, his substance abuse, and a recent diagnosis of Huntington's Disease.

Twardowski told Zambito he didn't wish to make a statement in court.

The sentence was the middle range between the minimum available to Zambito and the maximum possible sentence in the case.

February 23, 2018 - 3:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

If parents notice an increased police presence at Batavia City Schools, it's not in response to any specific threat, Superintendent Chris Dailey said today in a letter sent home with students after school.

"This is meant to be a positive and proactive step as our police department continues to look for ways to engage with our students in prevention and support," Dailey wrote.

The letter addresses heightened concern in the community about school safety after last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and reports of a student last week who officials believed made verbal threats at the BOCES campus.

The letter may be in response to numerous social media posts asking questions about more police officers on and around local campuses and unconfirmed rumors of threats made on social media specific to local schools.

"Our country is recovering from the tragedy in Parkland, Florida," Daily wrote. "It is only natural to have questions about the safety and security of our students and staff in BCSD.

"There are stories from time to time of students potentially threatening to do violent acts at our schools," Dailey continued. "We, along with the Batavia City Police Department, always look into any allegations of this sort and have found no credible threats against our district."

Dailey said the district is actively involved in emergency response and planning with local law enforcement.

The events in Florida, he said, provide an opportunity to review procedures and plans and make adjustments as necessary.

To read the full letter, click here.

February 22, 2018 - 11:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, Batavia Develoment Corp., batavia, news, notify.

During a budget workshop Wednesday night, the occasionally controversial Batavia Development Corp. received across the board support from members of the City Council.

Up for discussion was the $110,000 the city provides to the BDC to fund its operations, including paying the salary of Economic Development Coordinator Julie Pacatte.

Councilman Al McGinnis opened the discussion suggesting that while it might be OK to fund BDC this year, he would like the funding reviewed next year.

By the end of the meeting, however, McGinnis backed off that request because he learned funding for BDC comes from the video slot machine proceeds paid to the city by Batavia Downs.

"As long as it's the VLT money, that's fine," McGinnis said after the meeting.

He said he doesn't have a problem with the BDC and likes the work Pacatte and the board of directors are doing. He would just like to see a more detailed, nuanced regular report from the BDC on its projects.

At that point, Councilwoman Kathy Briggs jumped in and said the BDC regularly emails council members about its projects.

As for residents who are sometimes critical of the BDC, she thinks more of them are excited to see what's coming, and once the two in-progress breweries open up, that will help validate the work of the BDC in the eyes of a lot of people.

"Once they start seeing something, they’re going to get excited," Briggs said. "They’ve been hearing it for so long and they ask when, but when they start seeing a little progress, they’re going to get excited."

Both during the meeting and after, Councilman Paul Viele said the money the City is providing the BDC is money that is being well spent.

"For the $110,000 that we’re giving them, we’re getting a bang for our buck," Viele said. "You see what the result is. It’s great for the city. Whatever we can do to help them, let’s move forward."

During the meeting, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian questioned why BDC's budget was $125,000 last year. Interim City Manager Matt Worth explained that $15,000 was added to the budget because of some anticipated environmental remediation. It turned out that work wasn't necessary, the money wasn't spent and it was moved back into the general fund.

Worth also provided a short history of the BDC, which dates back a couple of decades. At one time, Ed Flynn, now a consultant working on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative for the state, worked for the city handling economic development. The BDC received federal funds to establish a revolving loan fund. After Flynn's position was eliminated, the BDC board and the loan fund remained but with nobody to administer it. That led to some problems with collections on the loans. A coordinator's position was created both to help with the administration of BDC functions, but also to pursue economic development opportunities.

Since then, during Pacatte's tenure: several new market-rate apartments have been added to the downtown residential stock; the Carr's Warehouse has been converted into a mixed-use complex; a developer has been secured for the former Della Penna property and the Santy's Tires property; and soon the J.J. Newberry building will become the Eli Fish Brewing Company with the FreshLab restaurant incubator as part of the project.

Councilman Adam Tabelski expressed concern that talk of defunding the BDC could hamper the BDC's relationship with developers and other development partners, creating uncertainty about the BDC's continued operation.

"It perplexes me that this matter is even coming up as a topic," Tabelski said.

Christian asked about the BDC's contribution to the city winning the region's Downtown Revitalization Inititiviative contest, with its $10 million prize for economic development, and Council President Eugene Jankowski said that Pacatte assisted in the application process plus the fact that the city has the BDC, as well as the Batavia Business Improvement District, gave the city more points to help in its winning score.

The budget workshop started off with a discussion about funding a part-time staff position at the youth bureau. In the past, the position was filled by a member of AmeriCorps but the Federal government has eliminated AmeriCorps.  

The County's Youth Bureau Director Jocelyn Sikorski, who operates the city's youth bureau program as part of a shared services agreement, said the job is critical to the operation of the youth bureau. 

After a discussion about the importance of the programs the youth bureau provides to give children in the city, especially children from poorer homes, constructive activities and meals, the council voted to fund the position.

"We pay now or we pay later," McGinnis said. "And if we pay later, we pay dearly."

The council also addressed the topic of a spray park on the south side of the city. On Christian's request, with council support, Worth said staff will work up a report on the cost of the smallest possible spray park in Farrall Park, just to give council members of an idea of what it might cost, not that the spray park will be located there or be a park like the one in the report.

In today's dollars, the Austin Park spray park would cost $500,000.

Tabelski said Albion is building a small spray park for a couple hundred thousand dollars.

The current spray park uses about six million gallons of water each summer. To picture that much water, he said, imagine filling and emptying the water tower over by the VA Center four times.

The city buys that water at a wholesale price.

February 21, 2018 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

JW Hardy III told Judge Charles Zambito today that the only reason he entered a guilty plea in the brutal and nearly fatal assault by a group of men against a lone victim on East Main Street in Batavia in July is that he thought it was the best way to minimize any potential prison term.

Zambito sentenced Hardy to 10 years in prison, the maximum sentence under terms of the plea deal.

"I took this plea to get home quickly to my family," Hardy said. "I'm sorry for what happened to the victim but I didn't do it. I'm innocent."

Zambito said there was a witness who identified Hardy, who didn't deny being at the scene, as one of the attackers. 

He then explained that even being an accomplice, if not an actual attacker, exposes Hardy to the same criminal liability as if he was sufficiently involved.

"I have to recognize the magnitude of your involvement in a brutal assault that almost killed a man," Zambito said.

District Attorney Lawrance Friedman offered a brief description of the scene first responders found when they arrived. The victim was bloody from multiple stab wounds, including one that severed and exposed his bicep. He noted that one of the responding police officers -- Arick Perkins -- received community recognition for his quick action in applying a tourniquet that saved the victim's life

"If not for his actions, this, of course, would be a murder case," Friedman said.

Because there were multiple people involved in the assault, Hardy was charged with, and admitted to, a gang assault felony.

Defense Attorney Marty Anderson said that Hardy is a good father to three children, ages 2, 3, and 4. He has been a good father, he said, even though he is the paternal father to only two of the three being raised by their mother.

He also noted that while Hardy had a prior gang assault charge, that was 15 years ago and the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. The other blemish on Hardy's criminal record is one that was granted youthful offender status.

Even though police believe multiple people joined Hardy in the attack on the victim, there has only been enough evidence so far to charge Hardy and Anthony Spencer, 26. Spencer's case is still pending and he appears ready to take his case to trial.

There were at least four people in the courtroom in support of Hardy, who was not in custody prior to his sentencing. As he was led away by deputies, Hardy, a big but soft-spoken man, waved to them and said, "I will be all right."

February 21, 2018 - 3:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in infrastructure, bridges, news, notify.

Genesee County is responsible for more than 380 bridges and culverts. But for each grant-writing periord, it is only allowed by the state to apply for funding from Bridge NY for repairs to and replacement of four bridges and six culverts.

At a recent meeting in Albany, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens asked a representative from the Department of Transportation if there was a workaround for that limitation.

The consultant's suggestion: Get each of the towns in the county to apply for grants for four bridges and six culverts. There is no reason, he said, the towns can't apply, but let the county administer the grants once they are received.

"That's potentially 26 bridges instead of two," Hens said. "I don’t know that we’re going to get that many, but I’m going to try to get as many applications in as I can. Even though they are theoretically awarded to the town, the county would still administer it and hire the consultant and manage the construction. Bridge NY projects are funded 100 percent so there’s no cost to us or the towns."

In the last round of Bridge NY grants, the county applied to fund four bridge replacements and on funds for only two -- one on Searls Road and another on Pratt Road.

Grant applications are due in April.

Hens said he has met with town superintendents in the county and they support the proposal. It will take the towns' cooperation to get the applications in on time.

Bridge NY grants are reimbursements. The bridges get built and paid for and then the state sends the money to the local jurisdiction that won the grant.

The county has about $17 million in proceeds from the sale of the Genesee County Nursing Home that legislators have promised to use on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. 

Since it is reimbursement based, we would spend the money first and we would get reimbursed for all of the funding," Hens said. "That would be another great use of our nursing home proceeds, just to manage cash flow for those projects."

Once the projects are done and the county is reimbursed, Hens said, that money could then be used for infrastructure projects that must be locally funded.

The county will be spending about $2.5 million of those proceeds this summer on three projects -- replacing the Stroh Road bridge in Alexander, replacing Colby Road in Darien, and on eight culvert replacement projects around the county.

In response to questions from members of the Public Service Committee on Tuesday, Hens said the Stroh Road bridge has been submitted four times for federal funding. Funding was granted twice, but then the bridge was knocked off the list.

Even though the bridge is critical to that part of Alexander, where there are nearby farms and a quarry, it's low traffic volume makes it a low priority for state and federal aid. The next chance to apply for federal aid is 2020 but the deterioration of the bridge has reached a critical stage, so Hens does not recommend waiting on an iffy prospect of getting a grant to cover its anticipated replacement cost of $1.5 million to $1.6 million.

Bid requests went out yesterday to contractors, Hens said.

February 21, 2018 - 3:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, news, notify.

Genesee County is exploring the possibility of entering into a contract with a consultant who will help the county save money on energy costs and reduce energy usage.

County Superintendent Tim Hens presented a proposal to enter into an agreement with Johnson Controls that would enable the county to fund many projects for system upgrades that need to take place anyway but in a manner that would make the projects cost neutral for the county.

Johnson Controls would finance over 20 years $3.9 million in projects in the county and the county would make annual payments on the financing through its annual cost savings.

Cost savings over the first three years are guaranteed. Hens said the county can purchase guarantees in subsequent years but the experience of other agencies that have entered into such agreements is that once the cost savings are proven, it doesn't make sense to spend money to save money.

It's been 10 years since the County went through a federally funded energy audit, so Johnson came in about six months ago and reviewed all of the county's facilities, bringing in consultants from all over the nation with expertise in various relevant fields.

Hens has received a summary of recommendations. Some of the projects are easy, such as switching out all of the fluorescent lights for LED lights or putting vending machines on timers. They get more complicated when getting into boilers, HVAC systems, electrical panels, and breakers or air handlers.

"They went over all over buildings with a really fine-tooth comb and found a lot of things we didn't even know we had," Hens said. 

Many of the projects would typically be part of the county's routine capital budget for facilities but under the possible agreement, instead of tapping the capital budget Johnson would finance those projects, freeing up that portion of the capital budget for other projects.

The financing rates from Johnson, Hens said, are competitive and would save the county from entering the bond market.

He cited the City of Batavia and Byron-Bergen Central Schools as examples of local agencies that have had a successful relationship with Johnson.

Yesterday, the Public Service Committee reacted favorably to the proposal -- there was no vote taken -- so Hens is expected to come back to the Legislature next month with a written proposal and a proposed contract for a possible vote to move forward.

February 21, 2018 - 12:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in County Jail, infrastructure, news, notify.

Even though it's likely Genesee County will have a new jail in five or six years, the current facility still needs maintenance and the latest expense is $71,487 for upgrades and modernization of the jail's 32-year-old elevator.

The elevator is needed for safe transport of inmates between floors of the three-story facility as well as getting meals up to the second and third floors.

"We have a preventative maintenance contract with these folks (Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp.) and they do do annual inspections per state standards and the last couple of years we've been fixing a lot of the little things," said County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens. "It's gotten to the point where they said we can't certify it anymore if you don't do the whole kaboodle."

Hens said the county became aware of the need for the upgrades about a year ago and $73,000 was set aside in this year's capital project budget for the elevator.

Former Sheriff Gary Maha, now a county legislator, said without the elevator, meal delivery to the upper floors would become much more difficult and tedious, carrying trays of food up the stairway. He also said moving inmates between floors is safer on the elevator than in the stairwell.

Of course, that is exactly what will need to happen during the period that the elevator is out of service for the upgrade.

The Public Service Committee unanimously approved at its Tuesday meeting moving the resolution in support of the project to the full Legislature for its consideration.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the committee approved moving forward with a resolution to award a $20,075 contract to TSG Security for upgrades and repairs to the fire alarm system at the County Courthouse. The current system is 25 years old and needs repairs. The county had set aside $28,000 for the project.

The committee also approved a resolution rejecting a $400,000 bid for stonework and other facade work on the former Sheriff's Office building, now Genesee Justice, on West Main Street. Originally, the county expected to spend $200,000 on the project, but with a strong economy, contractors are busy, driving up their bids, and there's more work than originally anticipated on the historic Medina sandstone building. This summer, Hens will prepare grant applications to seek financial assistance to cover the cost of the project.

February 20, 2018 - 11:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, BOCES, crime, notify, news.

A BOCES student is suspected of making threats of violence at the Batavia campus and he is currently undergoing a mental health evaluation in Buffalo.

The name of the student is not being released and he has not been charged, though Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said that if there is sufficient evidence for charges against the youth, he will be charged.

Brewster said local law enforcement takes these kinds of threats seriously and will act on them when they come to the attention of local officials.

"We're still trying to pin down what he said and to whom," Brewster said. "If anyone is going to make such threats about something they're going to do at a school, they are going to get arrested."

Superintendent Chris Daily confirmed he was made aware of the threats and notified local law enforcement.

"We look into any kind of threat and work with local law enforcement to make sure it is not credible, and if it is we act accordingly," Daily said. "We take any threat very seriously. The safety of our students is of utmost importance."

It's unclear if the student made verbal threats or if he had written anything down. Brewster said investigators are still looking into it. 

Daily said he was only aware of statements the student reportedly made at BOCES.

Brewster characterized the threats, based on information available so far, as vague threats to hurt students with no reference as to how he would do it.

The youth is somebody with prior criminal charges.

Batavia PD was notified of the alleged threats and has offered to assist in the investigation, Chief Shawn Heubusch said.

It's important, Brewster said, for parents, teachers, fellow students, and others who come in contact with somebody making threats against schools to notify authorities.

"Unfortunately, we live in a day and age when the rule is, if you see something, say something," Brewster said. "Police can't act on anything if they don't know about it."

February 20, 2018 - 9:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, Oakfield, bergen.

Raymond C. Cook, 47, of Clinton Street Road, Bergen, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Cook is accused of holding the arms of another person during a fight reported at 6:17 p.m. Thursday at a location on Center Street, Batavia. Also charged with second-degree harassment is 28-year-old Rae C. Cook, of Clinton Street Road, Bergen, who is accused of striking another person several times in the face and head. Lyndsay J. Wilcox, 33, of Center Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment, too. Wilcox is accused of hitting another person.

Ronald P. Dixon Jr., 39, of Pearl Street Road, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear in City Court. Dixon was remanded to jail.

Jason L. Johnson, 35, of Autumn Chapel Way, North Chili, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Johnson was allegedly found in possession of drug paraphernalia during a traffic stop by Officer Stephen Cronmiller at 10:08 p.m. Wednesday on Walnut Street, Batavia.

Cody A. Eaton, 28, of Otis Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of burglary, 2nd, two counts of petit larceny, and two counts of criminal contempt, 2nd. Eaton was arrested following a report of a domestic dispute at 11:31 a.m. Feb. 13 at a location on East Main Street, Batavia.

James John Bachorski, 49, of Weber Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with possession of a weapon on Genesee County property. Bachorski allegedly possessed a cutting instrument during a meeting at the Genesee County Probation Office, in violation of Genesee County municipal law.

Joseph Martin Blatchley, 40, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with falsifying business records, 1st. Blatchley is accused of removing and altering business records from a business on Oak Street while employed there.

Joseph Earnest Marr, 39, of Nesbitt Road, Attica, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Marr is accused of violating a stay away order of protection.

February 19, 2018 - 1:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ricky Palermo, Ricky Palermo Foundation, news, notify.

rickpalermofeb182018.jpg

For the first time in awhile, Ricky Palermo -- whose own charity has raised more than $720,000 for spinal injury research -- was the center of attention at a fundraiser on Sunday night at T.F. Brown's.

"People don’t realize what it’s like when you’re at a fundraiser and it’s directed at you," Palermo said. "It’s kind of a weird thing. We all want to help other people and we do but when it’s directed at you, it doesn’t seem real.

"I’m pretty damn lucky, as you can see. It’s not just my relatives, though we’re a huge crowd. It’s my relatives and friends from all parts of my life that makes it all fun."

There were more than 300 people at T.F. Brown's to make donations so Palermo can receive experimental treatment at the Miami Project that, if successful, could give him more mobility.

Palermo, who was a three-sport star athlete at Byron-Bergen High School in the 1970s, suffered a spinal injury in an automobile accident 37 years ago and became paralyzed from the chest down.

For 15 years, Palermo and family and friends, have used the Ricky Palermo Foundation -- with an annual golf tournament and other events -- to raise funds for spinal injury research. Now it's Palermo's turn to take advantage of some of the scientific advances led by the Miami Project.

"My goal in life — everybody thinks it is to walk again — but my goal in life is to be able to take care of myself," Palermo said. "What they’ve got going on, it’s no longer a whacky dream. It’s pretty much a possibility. That’s my goal. If I could recover enough to actually take care of myself, I would consider that — not a victory, but a big, big, big advance toward victory."

The Miami Project was cofounded in 1985 NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti after Buoniconti's son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game. A team of 250 doctors and researchers led by cofounder Dr. Barth A. Green have since made breakthrough discoveries in the field of spinal injury treatment. 

"A lot of people thought the book was closed (on spinal injury research), but it's not," Palermo said. "The Miami Project is getting people back up on their feet. Yes, their injuries are minute compared to mine, but (people with) slight injuries today are getting back up on their feet."

Wade Bianco, a good friend and a business partner with Ricky's brother, heard that Palermo had a chance for treatment at the Miami Project but that it would cost $10,000 plus he would need to bring two nurses with him. So Bianco got together with friends and family members at breakfast and said they should organize a fundraiser.

They all agreed. Bianco called Rick Mancuso at T.F. Brown's, who quickly agreed to host the fundraiser, donate the food and reduce the price of drinks at the bar.

Others donated items for auction, including four Yankee tickets, Sabre tickets, and Jim Kelly donated autographed footballs and a book.

It just so happened the fundraiser fell on Bianco's birthday.

"I can’t think of a better birthday present than to help somebody else, especially Ricky," Bianco said.

In all, the event brought in about $30,000.

Bianco said he was awed by the response and chalks it up to the special nature of the Batavia community.

"I’m from Long Island," Bianco said. "I moved here. I couldn’t believe what a great place this is. It’s just an awesome place to raise kids, to live -- my wife says 'don’t you want to go Florida?' I’ll go for two months. My friends are in Batavia. I really don’t want to go a long time. I’ll take February and March when I retire, but I don’t want to be gone. I want to hang out with my friends and my friends are in Batavia."

Palermo said he has long felt grateful to the local community for their support, their help, and for just being there for him. It all started 37 years ago when he was injured and has never stopped. He said he feels lucky, very lucky, to have so many great people around him.

"It’s an incredible feeling to know that when you go places that everybody there wants to do something for you," Palermo said. "It makes me feel good about our society. There are so many good people out there.

"They don’t get the credit. All you see is the bad stuff. All I can say is if people want to see what's positive in life, get involved with some of these people that support us. It’s incredible. It wakes you up in a good mood and it puts you to sleep in a good mood."

February 19, 2018 - 11:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, crime, elba, batavia, notify.

Laura Del Carmen Vazquez Coronado, 38, of North Byron Road, Elba, is charged with DWI, unsafe backing, moving from lane unsafely, driving on the shoulder. Vazquez Coronado was charged following a motor-vehicle accident reported at 7:06 a.m. Thursday on North Byron Road, Elba. The accident was investigated by Deputy James Stack.

Devon Robert Peters, 23, of Franklin Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, driving a vehicle without an inspection sticker, and failure to notify DMV of an address change. Peters was stopped at 9:26 a.m. Sunday on Route 33, Bergen, by Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

Joseph Earnest Marr, 39, of Nesbitt Road, Attica, and Jenna L. Josephite, 29, of Main Street Road, Batavia, are charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Marr and Josephite are accused of using cocaine while in the presence of a 1-year-old child before driving the child from Attica to Batavia while under the influence of drugs.

Douglas Brian Uberty, 45, of North Main Street, Warsaw, is charged with unlawful surveillance, 2nd. Uberty is accused of using a mobile phone to take pictures under the clothes of a person while at Walmart.

February 17, 2018 - 6:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, batavia, notify.

A garage fire is reported at 17 Porter Ave. City fire is responding. The location is between West Main Street and Washington Avenue.

UPDATE 6:23 p.m.: Fire is out. Mercy medics responding to a victim with burns on his arm(s).

UPDATE 7 p.m.: According to Lt. Greg Ireland, City fire, a small box was on fire in the garage and the resident had it 95 percent out when firefighters arrived. A fire investigation team from City fire is investigating the cause of the fire. The resident was transported to UMMC for treatment.

February 16, 2018 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Basom, news, notify.

In determining how to sentence 17-year-old Isaac Abrams of Basom, Judge Charles Zambito said there conflicting viewpoints to consider.

As a 17-year-old, in a couple of years under recent reforms in New York criminal law, Abrams would perhaps be considered a juvenile and wouldn't even appear in County Court and would be presumed to be not responsible for his actions. 

However, Abrams admitted to serious offenses that could have led to the loss of life and in just five short months has established a pattern of repeated offenses and disregard for authority.

Zambito said he's concerned about the direction Abrams seems to have chosen for his life recently.

In December, Abrams entered guilty pleas to making a terrorist threat, a Class D felony, and reckless endangerment in the first degree, also a Class D felony. The charges stem from incidents where he threatened to kill Sheriff's deputies during a confrontation on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation and appeared to try and run over pedestrians at a fast food restaurant in Batavia.

"I understand you have a child and that is important to you," Zambito said. "But if you continue on this path, you won't see your child again, if you even survive."

Zambito sentenced Abrams to one-and-a-third to four years in prison followed by parole until he's 21.

Abrams was granted youthful offender status, which will expunge his record once he's an adult if he stays out trouble. 

He said the sentence, he felt, balanced protecting the community, serving justice, and won't prevent Abrams from living life as a productive member of society once he's out of the criminal justice system.

First Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini argued against granting Abrams Y.O. status. She said he has engaged in increasingly violent acts, shown a disregard for authority and human life, and violated his release under supervision contract numerous times.

"He's a high risk to the community," Cianfrini said. "Look at his statements. He seriously minimizes his conduct. He said that he gave people something to talk about at dinner. This is not somebody expressing remorse."

Defense Attorney Vanessa Guite suggested that Zambito take into account his age and the fact that before this rash of incidents started, he had no criminal charges in his life.

"To a certain degree his actions are the result of immaturity and the role alcohol played in his conduct," Guite said. "His criminal history started only five months ago. There are many people with worse histories walking the streets right now."

She said from her viewpoint, the prosecution was trying to make Abrams out as the worst criminal in history, which she said she understood was the prosecution's job, and she suggested that Cianfrini overstated the weight Zambito should give to the RUS violations.

"Their recommendation is for substantial prison time for what amounts to using marijuana and staying out late," Guite said.

After Guite's remarks to Zambito, Abrams had his turn to make a statement on his behalf. After a whispered exchange with his attorney, Abrams said, "I'm sorry for my actions."

February 16, 2018 - 1:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

An Erie County construction worker will spend weekends in the Genesee County Jail for the next four months, starting tonight, for defrauding a Batavia resident on a contracting job.

Matthew B. Hardesty, 24, of Blasdell, was originally charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. He was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge after paying restitution to the victim, who hired him to construct a fence at his residence on Narramore Drive.

According to court proceedings this morning, Hardesty is facing a similar complaint in Buffalo.

Before sentencing, Hardesty apologized for his actions and said it was the result of being a young and inexperienced businessman; that he had taken on a contract that was too big and had a payout too far in advance, and rather than notify customers of his difficulties, he didn't respond to their complaints.

After becoming embroiled in financial difficulties, Hardesty gave up his contracting business and went to work for another construction contractor.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman rarely responds to the statements defendants make at their sentencing, but this morning he stood up and said he was going to make a rare response.

"He's a scam artist," Friedman said. "He's trying to con the court now."  

Friedman said Hardesty already got a substantial break on his potential sentence by being allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and didn't deserve any further consideration because he was clearly trying to scam people.

Judge Charles Zambito agreed. He said considering the length that his victim had to go to in order to get his money back indicates Hardesty was trying to evade paying back the money. It was only after he was facing potential jail time that he made restitution.

"The message needs to be clear to the public that you can't do this kind of thing here," Zambito said. "When you start a business, you take on a responsibility. You take on a burden. You can't take people's hard-earned money and just walk away with it."

February 16, 2018 - 1:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, Grand Jury, Attica, Le Roy, news, notify.

Leah R. Wimmer is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 17 at the Rite Aid store on Prospect Avenue in the Village of Attica, Genesee County, that she knowingly possessed stolen property -- a Visa debit card belonging to another person. In count two, she is accused of second-degree forgery, a Class D felony. It is alleged in count two that Wimmer falsely signed two debit/credit card receipts in the name of the victim, one for $186.95 and another for $105.95.

Beau T. Bressler is indicted for the crime of driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of drugs or of alcohol and any drug or drugs, as a Class D felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 29 in the Town of Le Roy that Bressler drove a 2006 Pontiac on West Main Street (Route 5) while his ability to do so was impaired by the combined influence of drugs or  of alcohol and any drug or drugs. In count two, the defendant is accused of circumvention of an interlock device, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count two that on Oct. 29, while subject to a court-ordered ignition interlock device, Bressler drove the Pontiac, which was not equipped with an ignition interlock device. In count three, he is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony, for driving while knowing or having reason to know that his driving privilege was suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by authorities. It is further alleged in count three that Bressler was operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a drug at the time.

February 15, 2018 - 6:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, alexander, batavia, news, notify.

atticaderail2018.jpg

Alexander volunteer firefighters along with the hazmat team for Genesee County Emergency Services and with the county's emergency management coordinators responded to a train derailment in the Town of Attica today.

The accident was in the area of Route 238 and reported at 4:05 p.m.

Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger said the accident was in a pretty inaccessible location in Wyoming County and because of that, an engine fire was being allowed to burn itself out. There was no hazmat concern other than the diesel fuel of the engine. The hazmat team set up booms to contain any potential fuel.

As a precaution, the City of Batavia was contacted to temporarily close the water intake from the Tonawanda Creek.

Eleven cars derailed along with two engines from the Norfolk Southern line.

Two crew members self-extricated and were transported to an area hospital. They suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Yaeger said.

Town of Batavia fire responded to Alexander's hall as a fill-in.

UPDATE 8:14 p.m. (By Billie): All Genesee County responders are clearing the scene. Federal, state and local officials involved at the scene will remain for now. Heavy equipment will be forthcoming to remove some train cars so that Route 238 and Main Road in Attica can be reopened. Train crossing sites should be reopened by 10 o'clock tonight. The diesel fuel is allowed to continue to burn.

UPDATE: Press release from the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office:

On Feb. 15,  at 4:03 p.m. hours, the Communications Division at the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call of a train derailment near the East Main Road intersection in the Town of Attica.

The Attica Fire Department responded to the scene. Attica Fire Chief Jay Myers reports, “two engines and approximately 10 railroad cars derailed of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The railroad cars were carrying new cars as cargo.” 

Chief Myers also stated there were two railroad personnel on the engine who were injured. They were taken to Erie County Medical Center. 

“The lead engine is on fire and in coordination with the Norfolk Southern, the engine will remain burning, primarily due to the difficult location of the derailment,” Myers said. 

Wyoming County Emergency Services Director Anthony Santoro is on scene, coordinating efforts from the federal, state, local and railroad resources.

Wyoming County Sheriff Gregory Rudolph says “an initial investigation was conducted and we are turning over our investigation to the Norfolk South Railroad Police and the Federal Railroad Administration and a cause has not yet been determined.” 

Director Santoro says, “the mutual-aid resources that responded and assisted were the: Alexander Fire Department, Varysburg Fire Department, Bennington Fire Department, Wyoming County Emergency Services and Hazmat Team, Genesee County Emergency Services and Hazmat Team, the New York State Police, the Attica Fire Department and Wyoming Correctional Facility.” 

Norfolk Southern personnel are on scene and making efforts to clear the Route 238 and East Main Road intersections with an estimated time of 10 p.m. The long-term cleanup of the damaged engines and railcars will be days.

Photos: Reader submitted photos.

atticaderail20181.jpg

February 15, 2018 - 1:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, music, arts, entertainment, news, notify.

bataviadownsfeb152018.jpg

Last summer's concert series is one of many reasons Batavia Downs has been able to grow revenue and remain competitive in a saturated gaming market, said Henry Wojtaszek, president of Western OTB, and Mike Nolan, CEO, today at a press conference announcing an eight-show lineup for this season.

"We offer a lot of different things," Nolan said. "We have our own little niche here."

Wojtaszek said the key is offering options for customers and when you get them in the door, treating them right.

"That includes entertainment, it includes better food, it includes a cigar lounge, and frankly, just provide the best customer service," Wojtaszek said. "We like to think that’s why we’re growing. That’s what we like to concentrate on. Our focus is on providing excellent customer service."

The eight shows announced for this summer:

  • Eddie Money, June 22
  • Grand Funk Railroad, June 29
  • Blue Oyster Cult, July 6
  • Rik Emmett of the Band Triumph along with Carl Dixon of Coney Hatch, July 13
  • Rumours, a Fleetwood Mac Tribute, July 20th
  • Puddle of Mudd, July 27
  • Three Dog Night, Aug. 3
  • Lee Ann Womack, Aug. 10.

Wojtaszek said the concert series went so well last year that Batavia Downs would like to add more shows, but one step at a time.

He also said Batavia Downs will be working with the City and the Town to accommodate larger crowds. Last year, attendance was about 4,000 and this year the casino would like to attract 5,000 to 6,000 fans to the shows.

The concentration on classic rock and country is a conscious effort to bring in shows more appealing to older music fans, Wojtaszek said.

"They are the patrons coming into Batavia Downs and we wanted to provide them with the entertainment they’re looking for at a reasonable cost," Wojtaszek said.

Tickets for the shows will be $10 each.

Batavia Downs is hosting several other events this year sure to bring people from throughout the region to Genesee County.

There will be professional wrestling Feb. 24, a Whiskyfest in June, a Mixed Martial Arts event during the summer, plus Batavia Downs is in the midst of a $4 million capital improvement project that includes opening a cigar lounge, expanding 34 Rush sports bar, Fortune's Restaurant, and the conference center.

"There’s a lot of demand to have things here and it’s amazing to see the response we get to the events we do have," Wojtaszek said. "It’s a perfect location, right between Buffalo and Rochester and we're even getting people here from as far as Syracuse."

February 15, 2018 - 10:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Thomas Jacob Wolcott, 33, no permanent address, Batavia, is charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, 3rd, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd. Wolcott is accused of taking and driving another person's vehicle without permission. Wolcott was also taken into custody on warrants from the State Police, Rochester PD, Ogden PD, and Gates PD. He was jailed on $1,500 bail.

Jeffrey D. Freeman, 37, of South Spruce Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Freeman was jailed on an unspecified amount of bail.

Julia B. Wescott, 35, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Wescott was stopped at 12:10 a.m. Saturday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Nicole K. Casey, 30, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Casey is accused of shoplifting from Tops at 3:57 p.m., Feb. 7.

Tonya M. Ficarella, 31, Lovers Lane Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Ficarella is accused of shoplifting from Tops at 11:50 a.m., Feb. 7.

Stephanie G. Pelkey, 23, of Masse Place, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment of property, and unlawful imprisonment, 2nd. Pelkey is accused of restricting the movement of another person inside a residence, throwing property outside of the residence, and resisting arrest in the presence of a child. Pelkey was ordered held on $1,500 bail.

Aaron M. Mucher, 30, of Lewiston Road, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Mucher is accused of making verbal threats against an employee at a local government office.

Joshua G. Bachorski, 35, of South Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 5th. Bachorski was arrested on a warrant. He is accused of taking stolen property to Pawn King in Batavia. He was arraigned and ordered held on bail.

February 14, 2018 - 7:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, notify.

The Batavia City Council is poised to pass a budget with few changes from the one proposed by former City Manager Jason Molino a month ago, one with a 3-percent tax rate decrease for local property owners.

The sale of the County Nursing Home, putting that property back on the tax roles, along with several years of conservative budgeting practices by Molino, have helped the city hold the line on spending.

"I think it's trim," said Council President Eugene Jankowski following the council's second budget workshop last night. "I think it's well laid out and it does show a 3-percent decrease, thankfully, because the nursing home is on the tax rolls now. We haven't jumped forward because we have that nursing home. We haven't suddenly gone off on wild spending. We've kept it as trim as we can keep it."

The current city property tax rate is $9.27 per thousand. The proposed tax rate is $8.99. The $120,000 the nursing home as private property this fiscal year will add $120,000 to the tax roll. About half of the tax rate decrease, 13 cents, can be attributed to the nursing home property passing into private ownership.

Molino's budget process, which won the city awards, has allowed Batavia to build healthy reserves and establish a sound financial base for the city.

The biggest dilemma facing Interim City Manager Matt Worth is how to come up with $4,500 to improve the softball and baseball fields in the city's parks.

Michael Jamil, who has spearheaded the return of slow-pitch softball leagues to Kibbe Park, came to the council last week and asked for improvements to the playing field. Council members responded favorably to the request and have instructed Worth to figure out how to purchase new baseball soil, the necessary equipment and provide the manpower to get the job done.

At last night's meeting, Worth said he thinks there is enough money left over from 2017 to cover the costs without revising the 2018 proposed budget.

Councilwoman Kathy Briggs suggested using funds left over from Vibrant Batavia, but that would actually require adjusting the 2018 budget.

"If there’s surplus money in a reserve account, it would be easier to use that money this year to start ordering that stuff than to take it out of the 2018 budget," Jankowski said.

The talk of parks sparked Councilwoman Rosemary Christian to pitch one of her perennial requests: A spray park on the Southside.

"We need some stuff on the Southside," Christian said.

"I understand that," Jankowski responded, "and the ball field is a start."

"What does that have to do with little kids having a spray park?" Christian shot back.

"From the people I talked to, they're not really happy about taking on more debt to create another park and pay a water bill," Jankowski said.

He argued that the spray park in Austin Park serves all of the city's needs and it wasn't difficult to reach for people living on the Southside.

"It’s more than just a drive down the road if you’re a single mom and it’s 85 degrees," Councilwoman Patti Pacino said.

Jankowski said that building the spray park in Austin Park 14 or 15 years ago was one of the reasons the city wound up more than $3 million in debt a decade ago. He said he doesn't think people want to see the city go down that path again.

"I don't see support for a spray park," Jankowski said. "I just don't see it."

Christian said that's because he only talks to people their age.

Councilman Adam Tabelski suggested that the discussion of a water park should be reserved for work on a new parks master plan. The council quickly seemed to adopt that consensus.

Councilman John Canale then asked Christian if she was going to, again, have any last minute amendments or objections to any raises in the budget.

Christian said her only concern is that she thinks city police officers don't make enough money.

"I really don’t think they get enough money," Christian said. "I figure their lives are in danger every day they leave. Our fire department, OK. I don’t have a problem with it this year. I have a problem with management in this beautiful comfortable building while these guys (motioning to Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano) here have to go out and freeze their asses off.

"They don’t know what is going to happen behind that door. They don't know what is happening down the road. They don’t know if they’re going to get shot, nothing, and I really don’t think they get enough money."

Canale pointed out that is really an issue for the collective bargaining process.

Jankowski said the feedback he's getting is city police officers are more concerned about the state of their deteriorating police station than they are about their pay.

"The main thing these guys want is a building," Jankowski said. "They’re not saying, 'I’m underpaid.' They’re saying 'we’re in a (horrible building) and this is a tool.' The building is their tool to do their jobs."

Christian said she is fine with the police getting a new headquarters.

Asked if she was going to vote for the budget, Christian, often a nay vote on budgets, said, "maybe."

"I've got my sidewalks," she said. "I’ve got my two roads to be resurfaced this year. I expect four next year."

The budget session included a report from Napolitano on his budget request, which represents an 11-percent decrease in spending.

The primary reason for the decrease, Napolitano said, is that the fire department is once again fully staffed and all members have completed training. That greatly reduces the amount of overtime paid out.

Council members took a keen interest in his request for a new leaf blower as part of the small-equipment budget request.

"The leaf blower is one small piece of safety equipment that has multiple functions at the fire station," Napolitano said. "What we do is we keep the apparatus floor clean, rather than using water in the wintertime to clean the apparatus floor. This helps really remove the fine-grained sand that comes in. You can broom the fire station floor down all you want but you can't really eliminate all the sand and debris (without a blower)."

The other key feature of the $3.6 million fire department budget is a request for five to seven new sets of turnout gear.

"We're on a replacement program for turnout gear," Napolitano said. "I'm looking to purchase between five and seven a year. Turnout gear has10-year NFPA scheduled life and rather than to purchase 36 sets all at one time at $3,000 dollars a set, I'm looking to stagger five to seven sets every year so this really isn't a large expense for the city."

As for the budget, the proposed tax rate will be the lowest its been since 2006, supporting a total expenditure of $24.3 million. That's a total spending increase of 1.9 percent, keeping the tax levy below that tax cap requirements.

The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget Feb. 26.

Meanwhile, the council continues to move ahead on the process of replacing Molino. Jankowski said eight or nine search firms have expressed interest in helping the council find a replacement. A committee is reviewing those applications and within the next week will interview what they consider the best two or three options. Jankowski said the goal is to have a recommendation for a search firm -- which will cost the city about $20,000 -- by the council meeting on Feb. 26.

February 14, 2018 - 12:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Stafford, news, notify.
mugfeeley2018.jpg
       Linda Feeley

Linda C. Feeley, 59, of Hulberton Road, Holley, is charged with third-degree grand larceny, first-degree identify theft, two counts of first-degree forgery, four counts of second-degree forgery, two counts of fourth-degree conspiracy, and four counts of fifth-degree conspiracy. Feeley is accused of participating in a fraudulent purchase of a vehicle at 4300 Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, March 28. Feeley, along with her boyfriend David Gurgir and with Eric Holliday, a car salesman, allegedly conspired to complete paperwork to facilitate the transfer of a vehicle under a forged identity, namely, Feeley's mother. Gurgir and Holliday were previously arrested as a result of the investigation by Investigator Christopher Parker and Detective John Condidorio. UPDATE: We've clarified the charges against Holliday. He is charged with four counts of conspiracy 5th and two felony counts of conspiracy 4th. Gurgir is charged with is charged with two counts of conspiracy, 4th, and four counts of conspiracy, 5th. The alleged conspiracy began at a local car dealership. Investigators say the final transaction took place in the parking lot of a department store.

Jay Markle, 60, of Batavia, is charged with DWI, and Darlene Martaus, 58, of Batavia is charged with DWI. Markle was stopped at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday for allegedly speeding on Route 33 in Bergen by State Police. He reportedly failed a field sobriety test. He was processed at the Batavia barracks where he was allegedly found to have a BAC of .12 percent. Maurtaus arrived at the barracks at 12:33 a.m. Wednesday to pick up Markle and a trooper detected the odor of alcohol. Martaus allegedly failed a field sobriety test. She was also charged with aggravated unlicensed operation; 1st, driving without an interlock device, and other vehicle and traffic violations. Her BAC was allegedly .12 percent. She was arraigned and jailed.

Brandon C. Morgan, 24, of Pittsford, Samantha R. Smallidge, 23, of Rochester, and Kyle Z. Morgan, 21, of Rochester, are charged with criminal possession of marijuana, more than 16 ounces. Morgan, Smallidge, and Morgan were arrested by State Police at 9:38 p.m. Tuesday in the Town of Stafford. No further details released.

Thomas J. Wolcott, 33, of Batavia, and Ashlee E. Corter, 32, of Kent, are charged with petit larceny. Wolcott and Corter are accused of shoplifting in the Village of Oakfield at 2:10 p.m. on Nov. 7. They were arrested by State Police on Tuesday. No further details released.

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