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June 20, 2018 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in immigration, chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

This afternoon, The Batavian contacted the office of Congressman Chris Collins and asked for a statement on the current controversy over reports of children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Statement from Rep. Chris Collins:

“Last night, House Republicans had a very productive meeting with President Trump. I am pleased to hear he signed an executive order and is supportive of also fixing this crisis legislatively by closing the loopholes in our immigration laws and significantly increasing our border security.

It is very sad to see children without their parents at our borders, and as a compassionate country we are taking action to keep families together while making sure we won’t be faced with a similar crisis in the future.”

June 20, 2018 - 2:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in district attorney, news, notify.

As technology changes, as society changes, the workload for individual assistant district attorneys in Genesee County continues to grow, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman told members of the County Legislature on Monday during the Public Service Committee meeting.

Friedman was joined by First Assistant DA Melissa Cianfrini to make the case for adding a new ADA position to their staff in 2019.

In 21 years as DA, Friedman said he's never asked for additional DA staff, but it's starting to become impossible for ADAs to juggle town courts, county court, case preparation, and specialty courts.

"Assistant district attorneys have been coming to me and saying there is too much going on and I acknowledge there is," Friedman said. "We’ve held off as long as we can but we need help."

On the technology front, evidence to review now includes police body-worn cameras, video surveillance -- not just from the city but from private homeowners and business owners, recorded inmate calls from the jail, and recorded stationhouse felony-case interviews.

That substantially increases the amount of time an ADA works on many cases.

"The thing is, it's time-consuming," Friedman said, speaking specifically about body-worn camera video. "We have to review all that video. When we’re lucky it can be a matter of minutes, but it’s not unusual to have literally hours of video because the police officers are doing their job and they’re running the cameras."

All the video related to a particular incident may include the hours that an officer is just working on his paperwork but every minute must be reviewed.

"The thing is, we can’t take the chance," Friedman said. "We’re turning this over to the defense. We need to know what’s on there. It’s a huge time drain."

Even the most seemingly mundane video minutes though can turn out to be valuable, Cianfrini said.

"We’ve saved statements because the police didn’t recognize, maybe, that was a statement that should have been noticed or it was a statement that was not made because of questioning, so reviewing body-worn cameras are fruitful and something that we can’t just skip doing," Cianfrini said.

Both Friedman and Cianfrini noted they are not complaining about new avenues for evidence, just noting how they change the nature of the job.

"All of these technological advances are positive things overall but they’re very time consuming," Friedman said.

The caseload for ADAs is also no longer limited to just town and county courts, what Friedman and Cianfrini referred to as justice courts. Many cases are now often referred to specialty courts, such as drug court, veterans court, mental health court, family court, and integrated domestic violence court.

Cases referred to those courts often last longer and involve more dedicated time.

For example, a specialty court case might include regular meetings with the ADA, defense, the judge, counselors, and others to discuss progress on each individual case and how the court should proceed that the defendant's next appearance. 

The time spent on specialty courts also means there are fewer ADAs available to cover a town court when another ADA is tied up on a felony trial in County Court.

"It's getting to point where don’t have enough bodies to cover the courts we have," Cianfrini said "If I’m trying a felony case, we have a hard time finding the bodies to cover form me in my other courts while I’m trying a felony case in County Court and vise versa for everybody in the office."

The way laws and crime both have changed also takes up more time for ADAs.

Take DWI for example -- stricter punishments, whether it's losing a license through a criminal proceeding for life or getting a five-year suspension through the DMV on a DWI conviction, encourage more defendants to take cases to trial rather than settle for a plea agreement.

“So we’re having a lot more DWI trials, across the board, misdemeanors and felonies," Cianfrini said.

Even shoplifting ain't what it used to be. Crime rings make shoplifting cases, usually at the big-box stores on Veterans Memorial Drive, are more complex and more time-consuming.

“It’s not just the shoplifters who go in and swipe a mascara or a T-shirt," Cianfrini said. "These are organized shoplifting rings that come in and take thousands of dollars at one time. They have complex teams that they use to try and avoid detection. I just had a trial plead out today where three people stole over $3,000 worth of merchandise. They stole 12 Sonic Care toothbrushes and a ton of Nike apparel because that has a high retail value in the pawnshops and in the black market."

There's also been a lot of turnover the past three years in both the Sheriff's Office and Batavia PD. Friedman stressed all the new officers are outstanding individuals but they still, like anybody in a new, complex job, have things to learn. That means more time working with officers in the field for ADAs, such as Cianfrini.

"I get more calls because they want to do the right thing," Cianfrini said. "Those calls now take longer. Calls that were under five minutes now take longer. Sometimes I have to get up and do research in the middle of the night make sure they're accurate in what they’re telling me and that I’m getting them the best advice because it’s their first time dealing with a situation."

One of Friedman's ADAs is retiring at the end of the summer, which means replacing an experienced attorney with a new attorney who will also take time to train. He's warned the candidates that being an ADA isn't just a 9-to-5, weekends-free type of job.

"We were just explaining to a job candidate on Saturday, during an interview, you are expected to be in the office or in court between regular business hours, 8:30 to 5," Friedman said. "Then you’re going to be in justice courts in the evening, and you’re on call 24-7. That’s what these jobs are.  Nobody in our office only works 37.5 hours a week. Not even close."

June 20, 2018 - 11:57am

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office during the Dead & Company Concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Tuesday:

Mark L. Olson, 48, of Kansas Street, San Diego, was arrested for sale of hazardous inhalants after allegedly selling balloons filled with nitrous oxide. Olson was arraigned in Darien Court and jailed in lieu of $250 bail.

Joshua A. Thompson, 23, of Jackson Street, Woodbury, N.J., was arrested for sale of hazardous inhalants after allegedly selling balloons filled with nitrous oxide. Thompson was arraigned in Darien Court and jailed in lieu of $250 bail.

Michael D. Kopyscianski, 33, of Woodycrest Avenue, Bronx, was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, after allegedly found to be in possession of heroin. Kopyscianski was arraigned in Darien Court and jailed in lieu of $1,000 bail.

Roger J. Furman, 54, of Shaker Hill Road, Enfield, was arrested for criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. Roger was arraigned in Darien Town Court and jailed in lieu of $250 bail.

Alicia M Trace-Stephenson, 42, of Concession 5, West Tiny Township, Ontario, Canada, arrested for criminal trespass,3rd, after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. Alicia was arraigned in Darien Town Court and jailed in lieu of $150 bail.

Charles A. Restivo, 46, of Otto Park Place, Lockport, arrested for trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Matthew T. Gillespy, 30, of Essex Street, New York City, arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly engaging in a fight in the parking lot.

June 20, 2018 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bdc, Batavia Development Corp., batavia, business, news, notify.

The Batavia Development Corp. Board of Directors agreed this morning to hire Rachael Tabelski as the new economic development director, replacing Julie Pacatte, who left a couple of months ago to pursue a new job opportunity.

Tabelski is a Batavia resident and has been marketing and communications director for the Genesee Economic Development Center for more than seven years.

Board President Pierluigi Cipollone, who served on the search committee, praised Tabelski as clearly the most qualified among a field of five candidates, that included two from Buffalo, one from Texas, and a native New Yorker from the Finger Lakes region who currently works in Massachusetts.

"She came to the interview very well prepared," Cipollone said. 

He said she had a spreadsheet of all BDC's projects, worked side-by-side with Pacatte on preparing the city's successful bid for the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative project, and clearly understands economic development.

The job offer to Tabelski, with a salary of $67,000 annually, which is $2,000 more than the BDC paid Pacatte, was approved unanimously.

"It's a no-brainer," said Board Member Steve Pies. "She is well versed in our projects and she is passionate about it.

The fact that Tabelski has been working with Pacatte on city projects as part of her job with GCEDC makes her a perfect fit for the job.

"There will be no hiccup," Valle said. "She is knowledgeable about everything. She has a great vision and goals, and she's fantastic."

Tabelski is married to City Council Member Adam Tabelski. Cipollone said the only conflict of interest will be for Adam Tabelski will be on votes related to his wife's compensation. He will need to recuse himself on those issues when they came before the council.

In the discussion, board members questioned whether the compensation was appropriate. Cipollone said that based on his research the salary range in similar-sized cities in the region is $70,000 to $90,000, so the BDC is on the low-end of the scale, he said.  

That prompted Steve Casey to ask if, notwithstanding her ties to the community, a low salary might encourage her to move on to another job sooner rather than later. Cipollone noted the BDC has limited funds to work with and anything paid in salary would mean less available for projects.

Rachael Tabelski will start her new job July 6.

June 18, 2018 - 1:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, Le Roy, batavia, Stafford, Oakfield, notify.

Jayson M. Connolly, 43, of Le Roy, has been charged with grand larceny, 4th, identity theft, 2nd, unlawful possession of personal identification, 3rd, and a parole violation. Connolly was arrested by State Police in Warsaw following an investigation into the theft and use of a stolen credit card. He allegedly completed three transactions at three different locations with a total value of $987. He was ordered held in the Wyoming County Jail and is scheduled for a felony hearing in Wyoming County tomorrow.

Jeffery Thomas Dutton, 27, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with trespass. Dutton is accused of trespassing on property on Macomber Road, Oakfield.

Mindy Lee Stanley, 39, of Lewiston Road, Batavia, is charged with: DWI; driving with a BAC of .08 or greater; aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd; DWAI combined influence of drugs and alcohol; and driving while ability impaired by drugs. Stanley was stopped at 7:23 p.m. Saturday on Lewiston Road, Batavia, by Deputy Mathew Clor.

Steven Michael Carpino, 56, of Thompson Trail Drive, Dexter, is charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, 3rd, and criminal mischief, 3rd. Carpino is accused of smashing another person's phone with a hammer during an argument at 9 p.m. Saturday on Conlon Road, Le Roy, and then taking that person's vehicle without permission.

Brett J. Beverly, 35, of Bergen, is charged with petit larceny. Beverly was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 2:20 p.m. June 12 in the Town of Batavia. No further details released.

Tajman A. Ball, 19, of Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Ball was stopped at 8:29 p.m. Wednesday at Route 33 and Route 237 by State Police.

Darik R. Orbaker, 26, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st. Orbaker was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 7:55 p.m. Wednesday in the Town of Batavia. He was ordered held in jail. No further details released.

June 17, 2018 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dairy farmers, agriculture, chris collins, NY-27, notify.

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Rep. Chris Collins and dairy farmer Dale Stein.

Americans should be encouraged to buy more milk, Rep. Chris Collins told a group of dairy farmers gathered at Stein Farms in Le Roy yesterday to hear about the congressman's plan to encourage the USDA to promote milk consumption, along with his thoughts on immigration and trade policy.

"Whether it's health or otherwise, just think 'drink milk' because right now our biggest issue in Western New York is a supply-and-demand issue," Collins said. "You know we had some of the yogurt plants shut down. We've all faced issues within the school lunch program and certainly, we'd love to be selling milk up into Canada. Their recent move on ultra-filtered milk and Class 6 milk just made it even worse."

Collins is among a dozen members of Congress who signed a letter to Agriculture Secretary George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III asking the USDA to implement a marketing program similar to the "Got Milk" campaign of the 1990s and 2000s.

“Years ago, messages that resonated with all Americans included ‘Got Milk?’ and ‘Drink Milk, Love Life,’ and we saw some of our favorite celebrities with milk mustaches,” Collins said in a press release the coincided with yesterday's event. “The fact is, this type of marketing works.

"In recent years, we’ve seen an overall decline in milk consumption, which has created tough economic times for our dairy farmers and we are hoping Secretary Perdue can provide some additional help.”

Whether the "Got Milk" campaign was successful is disputed by marketing experts. The campaign, created in 1993 at the behest of California Milk Processor Board, an agency created by the State of California to assist dairy farmers, reportedly increased milk consumption in California during its first year but that data was based on consumer surveys. 

In 1995, Milk Processor Education Program, a dairy-industry-funded nonprofit, licensed the "Got Milk" campaign and rolled it out nationally.

While consumer surveys indicated similar results as reported in California, actual milk consumption data gathered by the USDA tells a different story. Per-capita consumption of fluid milk has declined across the nation from 210 pounds in 1993 to 159 pounds in 2014, when the campaign was discontinued.

Dale Stein said he supports any effort to get more Americans buying more milk or that expands the market for milk.

"I'm hoping that we can increase consumer usage of dairy, and it is increasing, but increase it more so that it brings the supply closer to being in balance," Stein said. "It doesn't have to be in balance with demand. If gets closer, the price comes up."

At the beginning of the year, milk was selling at $14 per hundred pounds. That's not a sustainable price, Stein said. At that price, Stein Farms can't stay in business and pass the multigeneration farm onto the next generation. Right now, the price is $17. That is sustainable.

"If we can get the $17 milk we can do well here," Stein said. "I don't need $20 milk. I'm not asking for high milk prices, I just need the consumer to use a little more dairy and if everybody did that, that would make the difference."

It's not like Americans aren't buying more milk products, as Stein said. When accounting for all milk products, including the categories with the most growth -- cheese and butter (it used to be yogurt, but that has receded a bit) -- then Americans are consuming more milk. Through 2016, per-capita dairy product consumption increased from 613 pounds in 2006 to 646 pounds.

One reason for the current oversupply of milk, Stein said, is that a few years ago, for a few short months, milk did hit $20, and even $25. Dairy farmers across the country thought they struck gold and invested in increased production. Now they're stuck with that production.

Stein said he can't reduce production. Low prices means he has to increase it -- makeup on volume what is being lost per unit -- so he can meet his high fixed costs. He pointed to a couple of giant tractors that he bought used. 

"You're looking at $650,000 standing there," Stein said.

"I have to have cash flow," Stein added.  "If the price isn't there, the only thing I can do to is sell more milk. That means readjust what I'm feeding the cows to make more milk. We do a lot of cost cutting, too, but there's only so far we can cut costs. So you, as an individual farmer -- if everybody agreed to make a cut -- we could do it, but you can't get an agreement across the country."

Collins also said he is looking to help dairy farmers through the new five-year Farm Bill, which is expected to come up for a vote in the coming week.

The Market Protection Program, part of the previous Farm Bill, hasn't worked for dairy farmers, Collins acknowledged. 

"Most dairies have not signed onto the basic insurance program," Collins said. "On the crop side, the insurance program, the margin programs have worked. When we get into a supply and demand where there is oversupply, it just does not work. The formulas don't work. I've been told, and I think some folks here who have looked at it would say, the dairy margin program in the new farm bill will provide an option, an insurance option, that in a day like today could provide economic support on the downside."

Another long-standing problem for dairy farmers is labor and Collins said he understands that in order to address dairy's labor shortage, there needs to be immigration reform.

Collins is a member of a Republican group in the House called the Freedom Caucus. The members refused to vote on the Farm Bill unless they could get a bill on the floor dealing with immigrant labor. He also acknowledged that while the bill would fix many of the problems faced by dairy farmers, it also isn't likely to pass.

"We are putting up a compromise immigration bill," Collins said. "The bad news is, there's no dairy in it."

However, he said the Freedom Caucus has been promised a vote in July that would address the year-round visa issue that has made it so hard for dairy farmers to hire and retain qualified dairy employees.

"We've talked about the undocumented workers having a three-year visa that would be continued and renewable on a two-year basis," Collins said.

This is all good news, said Dale Stein after the event was over. He's grateful to Collins going to bat for dairy farmers. Even if the immigration bill expected to go to the floor for a vote next week doesn't pass, just getting the bill to the floor is an accomplishment after years of a congressional stalemate on immigration.

"What he has done has forced votes on immigration," Stein said. "He's working with other Republicans and working bipartisan with Democrats. Now he's forced votes on immigration so that we can maybe get immigration settled and fix for farmers and everybody else.

"It's been left in limbo for too long. Congressman Collins, working with others, including the Democrats, is pushing to get this settled. I support him 100 percent on that."

The issue making farmers across the nation nervous is the talk of trade wars.

In his remarks to local farmers yesterday, Collins didn't back down on the tough talk and praised Trump for taking on allies and rivals alike on trade policy.

"Trump rightfully has called out Trudeau in Canada for their long-standing, non-free-market protection of their (dairy industry)," Collins said. "We can't get any dairy into Canada where we were selling ultra-filtered milk. They shut down about a year ago, Class Six. Now they're dumping powdered milk around the world. I mean it's just awful. My comment to the press was, 'we caught Canada and we caught Trudeau cheating.' It's not fair trade; it's not free trade."

He said nobody can win a trade war with the United States.

"I'm not sure what Canada will ultimately do, but I think Trudeau should realize he doesn't win a trade war with the United States," Collins said. "China doesn't win a trade war with the United States. Europe does not win a trade war with the United States. Trump is the first president to stand up and say we've been in a trade war 20 years and we're losing.

He said China's plan to retaliate against Trump's planned 25-percent tariff won't work.

"The problem is we don't export that much to China," Collins said. "They're talking about putting tariffs on goods that don't even get sold in China. Well, have a nice day. It's simply rhetoric on their part."

Many of the tariffs China is planning, however, will hit agriculture directly.

U.S. dairy farmers exported $577 million in dairy products to China last year, up 49 percent from the year before. Though Collins said "we can't get any dairy into Canada," but in 2017, Canada imported $636 million in dairy from the United States. And while Trump and his trade representatives continue to threaten to pull out of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the largest international market for U.S. dairy is Mexico, which imported $1.3 billion in dairy from the United States, up 9 percent from the year before.

As a percentage of U.S. dairy production, the percentage of dairy going overseas has grown from 8 percent in 2010 to more than 14 percent today.

Soybeans, another important crop in Genesee County, is a product targeted for retaliation by China but rather than answer merely with tariffs, China is planning to buy from Brazil, which has the capacity to grow soybean production. Some U.S. trade experts fear the United States won't get that market back even if tariffs are lifted.

The USDA considers China a potentially huge market for U.S. farmers. Last year, China imported $26 billion in U.S. farm products. 

The ultra-filtered milk dispute with Canada is a fairly recent issue. The class of product, called Class Six, was created a couple of years ago, and it's not governed by NAFTA. The price of the product is set by global supply and demand and isn't regulated. This has depressed the price below what Canada considers acceptable for its highly regulated dairy market. It won't allow Class Six imports from the United States. Meanwhile, U.S. dairy farmers are looking to expand the market for its oversupply of milk.

After Collins finished his speech, Collins and the other visitors were invited to a table filled with WNY dairy products, including Perry's Ice Cream. After Shelly Stein finished filling bowls and cones for everyone, Collins talked with Dale and Shelly Stein and other farmers.

Shelly Stein brought up the trade issue. She said she's concerned about commodities being used in a trade war.

"That's us," she said.

At this point, The Batavian jumped in with some questions for Collins about trade.

We asked about his statement that the United States could win a trade war with China when it's a large market for dairy, soybeans, sorghum, beef, and other agriculture products.

We asked, "Is this really the right approach, to get into a trade war with trading partners that agriculture depends on?"

Collins said, "We've been in a trade war 20 years. This isn't new. We've been losing the trade war for 20 years. There's just never been a president to acknowledge it. It's been death by a thousand cuts. Look at the manufacturing that's not done here and here we have been in a war for 20 years. This isn't a new war. But Trump is addressing the war that we've been losing, battle after battle after battle. The rest of the world's been taking advantage of us, all but laughing at us behind our back, as they have taken advantage of us. Trump was elected to say, 'it's done.' They are going to attempt to flex their muscles. The retaliation tends to be on the ag side, unfortunately."

Later in his reply, he said, "Right now it's noisy and there are consequences and others are gonna flex their muscles in hopes of getting Trump to cave in and say, 'No, no, no, it's OK that you cheat.' He's saying, it's not OK that they cheat. But I will tell you, as I said, they depend on us at the end of the day, whether it's Europe, whether it's Mexico, whether it's China, or whether it's Canada, if they don't trade with the U.S., they suffer. We can make any products made in China. We have huge deficits there. We may pay a little more. You know, whether it's your dinnerware or your underwear, you may pay a little more if it's made here."

Trump often Tweets about the state of the economy, how well it is doing. Low unemployment, rising wages, and if you look over the past 20 years, the Gross Domestic Product has increased every year except for 2008 and 2009. In the past 20 years, U.S. goods and services exports have grown from $500 billion to $1.4 trillion.

So if the economy is doing well and growing, we asked Collins for evidence that we're losing a trade war.

"Well, we're losing the trade war because we're not making the products here," Collins said. "We have 6.3 million people that are unemployed that don't have the skills to be a software engineer or a welder or a machinist. The assembly line jobs have disappeared."

(NOTE: Some economists blame manufacturing job loss on automation. A Federal Reserve report says 800,000 jobs were lost to China but were replaced by jobs in other sectors, primarily service, construction, wholesale and retail.)

Collins said, "There's a whole lot of folks who have given up even looking for work." He added, "Our labor participation in the adult workforce is at an all time low."

(NOTE: The Trump Administration says workforce participation has grown during his term.)

For our next question, we pointed out the iPhone recording the conversation includes inputs from U.S. companies, including the glass face, which is made in New York. Some economists estimate a trade war will cost 400,000 Americans their jobs because they make things used in products manufactured overseas or rely on inputs, such as steel, that Trump plans to tax.

The Batavian asked, "We depend greatly on trade with China. China, rightly or wrongly, is part of the WTO (World Trade Organization). Isn't using the rules that have been created a better approach to deal with these trade issues than starting trade wars?"

"No, not when they pay $3 an hour (for labor) in China," Collins said. "If they're paying $3 an hour, we'll never get our manufacturing jobs back. And what you just said is some of the raw materials are made here. Why don't we make the whole phone here?"

Adam Smith and David Ricardo addressed that question 200 years ago. Countries benefit by trade because each can specialize and therefore create the best possible products at the lowest possible costs, raising everybody's standard of living. Ricardo called it "comparative advantage."

That's a little more detail than we provided Collins (we just mentioned Smith and Ricardo in broad terms), but Collins responded, "There's some 40 percent of the world's population, 2.8 billion people, living in China and living in India. We've got 320 million, and they're paying $2 and $3 an hour. If we're going to make something in the United States, we've got to deal with that unfair, untenable differential."

We pointed out, Chinese wages, as happens in all developing countries, have been rising, creating a bigger middle class, creating a bigger market for U.S. products, particularly farm products.

"Yeah, they go from $3 to $4, from $4 to $5," Collins said. "We still lose that piece of it. We've got to level the playing field or there is no future for our children and grandchildren and we need inflation."

At which point, Collins began to discuss why we need inflation to help retire the national debt.

"Inflation is something we desperately need in this country," Collins said. "The $20 trillion of debt against a $20 trillion economy that our children and grandchildren and the 10th generation that is with us here (referring to the Stein family) deserve better. What they deserve is paying off this $20 trillion of debt in cheaper dollars, which means inflation.

"We need 4 percent per-year inflation for the next 18 years. Compound it annually so that the $20 trillion of debt is the equivalent of $10 trillion. In 18 years, and as our economy grows and doubles in 18 years from $20 trillion to $40 trillion, our debt can actually go from $20 trillion to $30 trillion. So we have a green light of 75-percent debt to GDP. We have to have inflation at 4 percent a year or our kids don't have a future."

So we asked, "So you're arguing for a hidden tax on consumers instead of reducing spending?"

"We can't ever reduce spending to cut our debt," Collins said. "Anyone who thinks so is living in la-la land. We have to grow our way to success. We have to grow our economy and inflation is part of it.

"Anyone who thinks that with our deficits today that we can pay down our $20 trillion of debt is in la-la land," Collins added. "It can never happen. We have to grow to success, grow for our kids to have a future.

"Part of that growth is inflation, and what you saw under eight years of Obama with a fake economy of no inflation, the $20 trillion of debt is truly troubling. It's $20 trillion and it's growing and without inflation, our kids are going to be living in cardboard boxes under the bridge."

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June 16, 2018 - 3:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia, notify.

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A one-vehicle rollover accident with possibly one person ejected and unconscious is reported in the eastbound lane of the Thruway in the area of mile marker 387.9.

Serious injuries are reported.

Mercy Flight is on a ground standby.

Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

The location is next to the Genesee Community College Batavia Campus.

UPDATE(S) 3:31 (By Billie): A vehicle is on its roof, off the roadway. A second and third ambulance are dispatched.

UPDATE 3:34 p.m.: "Be advised traffic is backed up to west of Bank Street."

UPDATE 4:06 p.m.: Mercy Flight was cancelled. At least two of the ambulances transported patients to Strong Memorial Hospital. The accident site is about a quarter mile west of GCC.

June 15, 2018 - 12:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, notify, news, fire, Maple Street.

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Press release:

On Friday, June 15, at or about 12:42 a.m., the Batavia Police Department and City of Batavia Fire Department responded to the report of an active house fire at 35 Maple St.

A female located on scene believed her children were still in the residence. Officers from the Batavia Police Department and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office attempted to make entry into the residence but were unsuccessful. City of Batavia Fire Fighters made entry and attempted to locate the children.

By approximately 12:56 a.m. all children from the residence were located safely and accounted for at a neighbor’s residence. The Genesee County Department of Social Services was contacted to aid with the children.

During the fire investigation it was learned that the fire stemmed from a domestic incident between the female that lived in the lower apartment and her boyfriend. The male, identified as Plush Dozier (DOB: 11/21/1995), had become upset with his girlfriend and an argument ensued.

Dozier set her and the apartment on fire. During the initial stages of the incident all of the children were able to leave the apartment. The female was transported to an area hospital, where she is listed in stable condition. We will not be releasing the female’s name or location for the safety of her and her family.

Dozier was located at the scene and taken into custody without incident. Dozier was arrested for two Class A felonies: arson in the first degree (PL 150.20-01), and attempted murder in the second degree (PL 125.25-01).

Dozier was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in Genesee County Jail without bail. Dozier is scheduled to appear in Genesee County Court at a later date.

During the course of the active house fire, and subsequent investigation a City of Batavia police officer, and a City of Batavia firefighter were both injured. The officer and the firefighter were treated and released from UMMC with non-life-threatening injuries.

Previously:

June 15, 2018 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, crime, news, notify, batavia.

An arrest has been made in connection with a fire reported at about 12:30 a.m. at 35 Maple St. that endangered the life of a woman sleeping in an apartment on the first floor, The Batavian has learned.

Batavia PD will put out a press release with more details shortly.

In the initial call for the fire, it was reported that two children were inside the residence while the frantic mother was outside when police arrived. The children were later located at a neighbor's house.

In all, four children lived in the apartment and all four were accounted for by 1 a.m.

The woman was transported to UMMC for a medical evaluation. There's no further word at this time on her condition.

The suspect was reportedly arraigned in City Court this morning and ordered held without bail.

DEVELOPING ... 

June 14, 2018 - 5:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff William Sheron, Sheriff's Office, sro, schools, news, notify.

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Sheriff William Sheron today introduced the three deputies who will become the new School Resource Officers in Pembroke, Pavilion and Alexander school districts.

Those district's past budgets in May commitment to pay for the SRO positions on their school campuses in 2018-19.

Deputy Patrick Reeves, a 21-year veteran of the force, is the new SRO in Pembroke. He's pictured above with Sheron, Pembroke Superintendent Matthew Calderon, and in the back row, Legislator Gordon Dibble and Legislator Shelly Stein.

Reeves is a lifelong Pembroke resident who has children in the district and is a youth sports coach.

"I think this is just the next step for me," Reeves said, "make that connection with the kids, keep them focused, get them to the end of their goals, get a good career, and while I’m in school, try to help every kid that you possibly can."

He said he hopes he can be a positive influence on some of the students he deals with over the course of the school year.

"Most kids need some guidance, and if I can connect with one or two who might need it, that’s my fuel," Reeves said. "I win and the district wins."

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Deputy Cory Mower, also a 21-year veteran of the department, is the new SRO in Pavilion.

Mower said he wanted to work with the Pavilion district because throughout much of his career on road patrol he's covered the southeast part of the county. He knows a lot of the students and their families already.

He also worked six years in the jail and came into contact with a lot of young people and believes that experience has given him some insight on how to help teenagers today.

"Now with the schools opening up (these positions), I just think it’s a natural progression where I can use my experience to help some kids, maybe keep some kids out of trouble, maybe help them before they get addicted to drugs or make the wrong choice, the wrong move," Mower said.

Above photo: Sheron, Mower, Pavilion Superintendent Ken Ellison, Stein, and Legislator Gregg Torrey.

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Deputy Eric Meyer, who attended Alexander Central Schools all the way through high school and still lives in Alexander has been assigned to his home school district. He is the new SRO in Alexander.

"I like the idea of keeping the children safe in my own district, in my own community," Meyer said. "I also live in the community so I thought it would be a great opportunity for me and for the school to be a positive role model for these kids."

He's already visited the elementary school and many of the students recognized him, said Meyer, who joined the Sheriff's Office three years ago.

"I already see the kids looking up to me and giving me high-fives and a hand clap," Meyer said.

Above photo: Sheron, Stein, Meyer, Alexander Superintendent Catherine Huber, Torrey.

Below, a press release from the Sheriff's Office:

Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. announces the newest School Resource Officer assignments in three local school districts.

Pembroke Central School District has chosen Deputy Patrick J. Reeves as its School Resource Officer. He graduated from Pembroke in 1992 and is a 22-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Reeves will start in this position on Sept. 1.

Alexander Central School District has chosen Deputy Eric J. Meyer as its School Resource Officer. He graduated from Alexander in 2006 and is a three-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Meyer will start in this position on Sept. 1.

Pavilion Central School District has chosen Deputy Cory W. Mower as its School Resource Officer. He is a 22-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Mower will start in this position on July 1.

Additionally, the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (BOCES) and the Byron-Bergen Central School District also renewed their commitments for next year’s School Resource Officers on campus.

Sheriff Sheron stated that it his goal to establish a School Resource Officer in all county school districts to ensure the safety and protection of the students and faculty.

“Although the cost associated with placing a School Resource Officer in the schools is significant, I believe the safety and security of our children should be of the utmost precedence," Sheron said. "I applaud the tremendous support received from the school administrators, school boards, and the Genesee County Legislature, which ultimately made this possible.”

June 14, 2018 - 11:50am
posted by Billie Owens in elba, batavia, news, Oliver's Candies, notify.

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Oliver's Candies is poised to triple its confectionary manufacturing capacity as it begins operating its kitchen in a newly acquired Elba facility, located at 100 S. Main St. (Route 98).

By this time tomorrow, all the stoves there will be fired up and cooking. It also has a 1,000-square-foot retail store at the front of the property that sells candy, ice cream, coffee and country-style Americana crafts.

The move is a seismic shift for the 80-year-old, renowned local chocolatier and purveyor of colorful ribbon candy, unique sponge candy, and other award-winning sweets.

The entire factory will be based in Elba. The iconic Swiss-chalet-style Batavia store on West Main Street will expand its food service and retail space into the former candy-making areas at the back of the store.

"We've been busting at the seams in Batavia for a couple of years now and we've talked about building onto the existing building (in Batavia)," said Oliver's co-owner and Vice President Jeremy Liles this morning. "We looked at expanding here, but the Tonawanda Creek was problematic and the option was just too expensive."

As it turns out, "We didn't choose Elba, Elba chose us."

He explained that his company owns commercial properties in several locations in Genesee County. They looked at property in Le Roy and Corfu, but the drive time didn't work. The Elba option was only a six-minute commute from Batavia, and although it required an extensive overhaul, Liles said they acted quickly to seize the opportunity.

That was in November.

"It called to us, and we acted fast," he said. "It had a cute barn for the store, loading docks, smooth concrete. We converted the inside; insulated it; added central heat and air-conditioning, put in steel walls that are easy to clean, new hoods for the ovens. Redid the roofs, which were pretty worn. It's nice."

The structure was built as a warehouse; it has served as a produce stand and an ice cream stand and a barn sale site.

The remodeling, relocation of cooking operations, and overall expansion plans will cost Liles "more than I ever wanted to pay" but the growth potential is enormous; it is a shrewdly calculated risk.

"It's very scary -- I've got to sell a lot of candy now," Liles said. "It's a huge change, huge growth, but a lot of opportunity there."

A groundswell of corporate and wholesale customers is driving the expansion. Liles said they are providing a large catalog company with private-label candies and are growing sales in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and are looking at an opportunity in Georgia.

While they are concentrating on manufacturing for the foreseeable future, Liles' vision for the Batavia store is that it keeps its rustic charm and expands the ice cream and coffee customers' seating areas, with great big picture windows overlooking the Tonawanda Creek, with a beautiful roaring fireplace, too.

About a month ago, Oliver's started offering its own custom-roasted coffees. Liles would like to partner with a bakery to sell pastries to go with that coffee in Batavia and Elba. Liles' wife, Sandy, operates the Elba retail store.

"My big dream is to have a drive-thru at both stores," he said.

Liles said now is the company's "quiet time" but by late fall he expects to hire at least two people. And "if Elba takes off," possibly more in both the manufacturing and retail operations.

Meanwhile, there are some cosmetic finishes still needed in Elba, including staining and painting on the outside, and landscaping.

"We've come a long way; it's not 100 percent yet, but we'll get there," he said. "The upstairs is not being used yet. But we have some ideas for the space, like at Christmastime.

"I love doing all this. It's fun, exciting but also very scary."

Top photo: Master candymaker Doug Pastecki and Jeremy Liles.

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June 14, 2018 - 9:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, pembroke, corfu, Pavilion.

Dustin L. Landin, 39, of James Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 5th. Landin is accused of selling a quantity of a controlled substance to an agent of the Local Drug Task Force on two occasions. He was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Antwan Maurice Maye, 35, of 10th Street, Butner, N.C., is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of marijuana, criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd, and speeding. Maye was stopped for allegedly speeding on Ellicott Street Road in Pavilion at 2:51 a.m. Tuesday by Deputy James Stack.

Jeanna Marie Hattaway, 31, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Hattaway allegedly stole $114.09 worth of merchandise from Walmart at 3:01 p.m. on Tuedsay. At the time of her arrest, she was allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.

William Richard Kapelke, 36, of Hutchins Place, Batavia, is charged with trespass and aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. Kapelke was arrested following an investigation into a theft at Walmart reported at 3:01 p.m., Tuesday.

Edwin L. Stancliff, 39, of Corfu, is charged with menacing, 2nd, harassment, 2nd, and criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd. Stancliff is accused of menacing a person with a weapon at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Town of Pembroke. The case was investigated by State Police. Stancliff was jailed. No further details released.

June 13, 2018 - 5:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Alabama, news, notify, batavia, Grand Jury.

Winston A. Lockhart Sr. is indicted for the crime of second-degree burglary, a Class C violent felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 16 on Holland Avenue in the City of Batavia, Lockhart knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime.

Ricardo Sampel Sr. is indicted for the crime of criminal contempt in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on April 24 in the Town of Alabama that Sampel, in violation of a duly served order of protection, was in the presence of the protected party. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Sampel is accused of having been convicted of criminal contempt in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. The Special Information states the defendant was convicted on April 5 in Town of Alabama Court for violating a stay away family offense order of protection and that was within five years of the crime alleged in the current indictment.

Matthew D. Grant is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 10 in the Town of Batavia, the defendant drove a 2017 GMC bearing an Ontario, Canada, license plate on the Thruway while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for having a BAC of .08 or more at the time. In count three, Grant is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, another Class E felony. In count three, it is alleged that Grant knew or had reason to know that his driver's license was suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by authorities and he was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a drug. In count four, he is accused of consuming alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle, a vehicle and traffic violation, and he allegedly did so while on a public highway. In count five, he is accused of moving from lane unsafely, a vehicle and traffic violation. In count six, Grant is accused of leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, another vehicle and traffic violation. It is alleged in count six that he drove the GMC and had cause to know that he damaged property -- a 2015 Ram truck belonging to another person -- and he allegedly failed to stop, and when no police officer was in the vicinity of the accident, he failed to report the incident as soon as physically able to do so at the nearest police station. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Grant is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on Jan. 10 in Town of Henrietta Court and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

June 13, 2018 - 5:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, news, notify, batavia.

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Adding a heavily armored vehicle to Batavia PD's fleet of vehicles isn't about taking on a more military appearance, said Chief Shawn Heubusch. It's about saving lives. Even just one life. And at a price the city can afford: free.

Heubusch is preparing a proposal for the City Council so the police department can request a decommissioned, heavily armored vehicle from the U.S. military known as an MRAP, which stands for Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected.

"Do we need a military vehicle?" Heubusch said. "No. We need a Lenco Bearcat. We can’t afford a Lenco Bearcat so what we’re asking for is permission to go and ask a decommissioned MRAP to keep our guys out of harm's way when they enter a hostile situation."

The armor can stop penetration by a .50-caliber round and withstand heavy explosives.

"It’s not the military vehicle necessarily that we need," Heubusch said. "What we need is the ballistic protection."

Law enforcement agencies across the country are lining up for these vehicles as the military takes them out of service and gives them for free to law enforcement agencies and even fire departments.

A Lenco Bearcat costs $250,000. The MRAP is free. It can also do something the Lenco Bearcat can't do: drive into high water to assist in rescues.

"Are we getting shot at every day? Absolutely not," Heubusch said. "But the cost of these vehicles compared to the cost of someone’s life is incomparable."

The vehicle would be used by the county's Emergency Response Team, which is headquartered at Batavia PD. Heubusch discussed the idea briefly with the City Council at Monday's meeting and in response to questions said maintenance of the vehicle would be comparable to a snow plow or dump truck and that while no special license is required for a police officer to drive it, there is a recommended instruction course for drivers of the  vehicle.

He'll bring forward a formal proposal for the city to submit an application for the vehicle at a future council meeting.

Heubusch acknowledged that some people might view obtaining such a vehicle as "militarization of civilian police" and he understands the optics of it but said that is a secondary concern.

"We certainly understand that aspect of it, but the brass tacks of it is, if it can save a life, it can save a life," Heubusch said. "I don’t care what it looks like, nor should anyone else if there’s an active shooter in your neighborhood and we need to get you out of your house so no one is injured in your home."

He added, "we’re not going to be patrolling in this vehicle. It’s not an offensive vehicle that is going to have gun turrets mounted on it or anything like that by any estimation. It’s vehicle that would be used, again, as a rescue vehicle, whether it’s to rescue a police officer or civilians from a hostile situation or a natural disaster."

June 12, 2018 - 1:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Police Headquarters, Batavia PD, news, notify.

For at least five years the City of Batavia has been trying to figure out what to do about its aging, deteriorating, ill-suited police headquarters and Monday night the topic was once again on the City Council agenda.

Consultant John Brice, of Geddis Architects, presented the council with three broad options, with price tags in excess of $7 million up to nearly $10 million, and each with their own challenges and pitfalls, not the least of which is the time it will take to complete whichever option is chosen.

Option 1: Remodel the existing headquarters with a public entrance in the back, using all existing floors, without too many significant changes to the floor plan.

Option 2: Remodel the existing headquarters with a public entrance in the front, all police operations confined to the basement and the first floor, the addition of an enclosed sally port and separate entrance in the back of the building for police officers and detained subjects.

Option 3: Build a new police headquarters on a parcel of land yet to be determined.

In 2014, the City formed a task force to study options for a new police headquarters. The task force considered options for remodeling the current location and reviewed a half dozen parcels in the city for a possible new building. The task force favored a location on Swan Street but the city was apparently unable to acquire the property.

The issue languished until now. 

The two remodeling options presented last night were revised from proposals presented in 2014 and the new building plan was a generic layout for a single-story building that would likely change based on the configuration of any parcel of land eventually selected for the building.

Both council members Kathy Briggs and Patti Pacino said it's time to stop stalling, so they favored Option 2 as the seemingly most expedient while also most completely addressing problems with the current headquarters.

"We need to stop kicking the can down the road," Pacino said.

"That's right," Briggs said.

She expressed concern that while it might be nice to build new, the city has already been down the path of trying to find an appropriate location and didn't really find a suitable spot.

Eugene Jankowski, council president, said he was open to Option 2 but favored option 3, building new.

"The first option doesn't do much," Jankowski said. "It might save us a little money but it doesn't solve any issues."

The current police headquarters was built 150 years ago as a mansion for one of Batavia's well-to-do families, the Brisbanes (James Brisbane was one of the founders of Batavia. His son, Albert Brisbane, was a nationally known utopian in the 19th century, and one of his sons, Arthur Brisbane (who married a Cary, another of Batavia's early wealthy families) went on to become one of the nation's most famous newspaper editors, working for William Randolph Hearst in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is buried in Batavia.)

The Brisbane mansion eventually became City Hall. When City Centre was built, Batavia PD became sole occupants of the building.

Brice outlined the problems with the Brisbane Mansion: The building's heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical are out of date and in need of replacement; its public entrance is up a flight of stairs and doesn't offer good visibility for staff inside; the entrance is less than ideally secure because there is no separate entrance for officers and any detainees they bring in; the building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"As soon as you touch any of the major systems you must make the building ADA compliant," Brice said. "That's New York State law."

Option 1 doesn't address all those issues. While it would upgrade HVAC, electrical and plumbing, and provide a more visible public entrance but the entrance would still be shared by the general public, police, and criminal suspects. It doesn't provide separate parking for police vehicles and public vehicles. It addresses ADA issues but the elevator would need to do more than just stop on three different floors; it would need to be able to stop on the levels in between floors (the second floor is really five different levels).

The total estimated cost for Option 1 is $6.9 million.

Option 2 puts the public entrance at the front of the building and adds a sally port at the back for safe prisoner transport and storage of the department's emergency response vehicle. It puts all police operations in the basement and on the first floor and leaves the second floor vacant (though the new elevator would still go to the second floor). It addresses many of the safety issues and upgrade issues with the building, but it's still a 150-year-old building originally built as a residence.

The estimated cost is more than $9 million.

Option 3 addresses all of the logistical and safety issues that can't be fixed with a remodel of the existing building but the biggest issue is: where to put it?

The estimated cost is close to $10 million.

"The facility we’re in now is 150 years old," said Chief Shawn Heubusch. "It’s still going to be 150 years old no matter what we do to it. It was not purpose-built as a police station or as a government facility. It’s purpose-built as a residence. It’s been modified over the years but a new build covers all of the requirements we have."

June 11, 2018 - 2:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Bethany, Le Roy, elba, alexander.

Joshua David Sumeriski, 33, of Buffalo Street, Alexander, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, uninspected motor vehicle, driver's view obstructed, and disorderly conduct. Sumeriski was charged after Deputy Mathew Clor responded at 3:21 a.m. Thursday to Transit Road, Bethany, to investigate a complaint of a man lying in the roadway.

Carrie A. Poray, 40, of Oatka Trail, Le Roy, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Poray was located by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and taken into custody for failure to appear on two traffic tickets in City Court. Poray was ordered to pay a fine before her next court appearance and released.

Jordan S. Thomas, 19, of East Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. Thomas is accused of failing to comply with conditions of supervised release. Thomas was arraigned and jailed.

Joseph D. Berry, 32, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with menacing, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. Berry allegedly held a large rock and threatened to inflict bodily harm to a store clerk at 7-Eleven in Batavia at 8:15 p.m. on June 6. He was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Maya Samanta Wright, 23, of East Ridge Road, Rochester, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Wright allegedly struck a patron of a business on Park Road, Batavia.

Chelsea Lorraine McEwen, 19, of Fleetwood Drive, Brockport, is charged with harassment, 2nd. McEwen is accused of punching another person in the face during an argument reported at 8:53 p.m. Sunday at a location on Bloomingdale Road, Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

Laura Jean Santiago, 55, of Hundredmark Road, Elba, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Santiago was stopped at 8:56 p.m. Friday on Main Street Road, Batavia, by Deputy Mathew Clor.

William George Horner, 67, of Bank Street Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing and harassment, 2nd. Horner is accused of grabbing another person by the throat and applying pressure and pushing that person during an incident reported at 10 p.m. Friday on Bank Street Road, Batavia.

Todd A. Rich, 47, of Webster, and Justin T. Rich, 24, of Webster, are charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The two men were stopped by State Police at 1:15 a.m. this morning on Route 19 in Le Roy.

June 8, 2018 - 8:35pm

In a couple of weeks, Beverly L. Mancuso will visit her brother in Ohio and attend a couple of her nieces' recitals. Once the State of New York releases the retirement funds she long paid into the system, the former executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County will consider more elaborate travel plans.

"Bev" spent Thursday saying goodbyes at the extension's headquarters on East Main Street in Batavia, winding down the final hours of 16 and a half years of employment there, the longest of her career.

She is dressed in khaki and coral colors, with "bling," as she calls it, to match. Tanned, with an easy laugh and quick mind, her mien is forthright, she is plain spoken, and admittedly unkeen on "micromanaging" adult professionals.

She left on her birthday at the top of her game, with a solid track record of achievement, and an unclouded sky above her.

There are several reasons for that.

Having steeped herself in the machinations of county government for five years prior to Cornell helped, as did a deep dive into the finances of the extension for the two years she served as business manager and associate director prior to landing the executive directorship.

Before that, her expertise in systems administration helped her develop the skills that could bring greater simplicity and clarity to the administrative side of the cooperative extension. For example, she helped craft a shared business network and that took more than six years to build.

"We already had strong programs, so I focused on the administrative side," Mancuso said. "How could we work smarter and do things differently? I tried to make it easy for people to do their actual jobs, so they're not doing busy work."

And always she kept mindful of taxpayers' money, and how she could be more responsible with it.

The days of 25 employees at Cornell extension in Batavia are history, she said, noting that today there are 10 permanent employees.

One idea she has, this daughter of the nation's creator of the first business incubator, AKA the Batavia Industrial Center, is to have a "one-stop-shop for nonprofits, for human service agencies."

"So we can all maximize the limited funding...we've got to be smarter about how we're doing stuff," she said. "It's not going back to how it was, how it used to be."

Another reason for Mancuso's strength of tenure can be traced to a program she is really proud of perpetuating after others launched it: Leadership Genesee.

Developed at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Batavia, and also unique to it, Leadership Genesee took 10 years to get off the ground.

"It became a force in the community -- all the nooks and crannies -- and what makes it tick," she said. "Every day focuses on a different component of the community. We don't tell them what to think, we just show them how everything works and they make up their own mind."

To date, it has trained more than 500 graduates, including Mancuso, who graduated in its debut Class of 2001.

She says it taught her, among other things, the wisdom to "let go" and allow others to help when a seemingly insurmountable problem arose.

There were 35 people in the latest class and applications for the next one are being reviewed.

The merits of the yearlong program are not lost on area employers.

"A lot of different local employers, they get it, they see the value in it," Mancuso said. "It doesn't really focus on developing traditional leadership skills -- like decision making -- it's about people who really love where they live and gives them an opportunity to see a lot of the things that are going on."

Whether the day's focus is agriculture and farm tours, or economic development and government, or travel and tourism, or nonprofit resources, the range is so broad and the knowledge so finely tuned that the cumulative impact of Genesee-County-as-classroom on the learner is profound, as graduates readily attest.

After completing Leadership Genesee, graduates can apply their skills and knowledge to any area that speaks to them and hopefully be able to make a difference in the community for the better; that's the goal.

"It's the best way for people to learn," Mancuso said. "And really, the issue is, we have bigger needs than we can (adequately) address. Like the opioid crisis."

Her leadership in the leadership program is one reason she was honored as a New York State Woman of Distinction by Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer last month.

Overall, Mancuso says she has learned a great deal by listening to experts in agriculture, which is far and away the main economic engine in this county.

"These guys are so smart," Mancuso said. "(Farming) is so hard. If anybody undersells what they do, it's agriculture. But I've been learning, learning, learning. The people who do this here have such an amazing skill set and they are so brilliant."

She leaves the cooperative extension that helps them, secure in the knowledge that Robin Travis is temporarily in charge.

The interim executive director brings 40 years of experience with the extension and numerous associations in the Finger Lakes region.

The reason why she has come out of retirement for the third time after formally retiring seven years ago to serve in an interim executive capacity is that she has personally seen the positive difference CE makes in people's live -- 4'Hers, homemakers, farmers, business professionals. She also works as a coach to new executive directors, mentoring them.

She has turned down some gigs, but says even though Genesee County is her longest commute -- 92 miles -- it was an easy "yes."

"I look at the strength of the board, their financial position and I look at their programming and how they're doing," Travis said. "And this one is going to be a delight because things are running so smoothly."

Travis planned to meet Thursday afternoon with a senior staff member to do a brief interview to find out what that employee thinks, likes, dreams and would like to see changed or implemented. These one-on-one sessions will continue next week with the rest of the staff.

Travis's part-time job through Sept. 30 is to keep things running as smoothly as Mancuso left them. The executive director position is being advertised and closes July 1. Qualified candidates will be screened through phone interviews and those making the final cut will travel to Batavia for interviews.

A committee, co-chaired by the Board of Directors President Colleen Flynn and the State Specialist and Cornell Representative Renee Smith, oversees the search process.

"I feel strongly that being able to understand our mission and then applying it to everyday life" is key in filling to position, Travis said. "It's a very grassroots organization, so we really try to address the issues that are particular to whatever county we're talking about.

"(The committee) is looking for somebody who knows the mission, who has vision and can see possibilities, and that is not stuck in the past or in what's current, but can really see the future."

Despite the enormous impact of technology on all of the work done at the cooperative extension, it is the relationships with people that are still at the core of everything, Travis said.

"The way you help people change behavior is to form a relationship with them," Travis said.

Those relationships help strengthen the organization's credibility, too, and its accountability.

"The buck stops here," Travis said. "We have the research base; we have the worldwide connection to that research."

Travis is also impressed that Genesee County has a whopping three staff specialists in residence in Batavia, an indication of the power of agriculture in Genesee County: "Expertise at your fingertips."

And Travis's expertise is greatly appreciated by Mancuso.

"She has such a strong background; she knows programs; she knows the system," Mancuso said. "The local piece is different but she already knows and respects that. I think her personality and demeanor are going to play really well here."

Speaking of playing...There were a couple of bottles of beer in a bag on the floor of Mancuso's nearly bare office, parting gifts from colleagues. Maybe she'll sip a cold one while watching "Cold Mountain," which she jotted down as a note to self, following a reporter's suggestion because Mancuso, who is not married, is fond of its star, Jude Law.

He could serve her a cocktail on vacation, say, at Camogli beach in Liguria in Northwestern Italy. She says she would not mind at all.

June 7, 2018 - 2:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, Grand Jury, news, notify.

Pierre M. Humphrey and Asia N. Fedrick are indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 16 in the area of Park Road, Batavia, that they knowingly and unlawfully possessed a narcotic drug -- cocaine -- with the intent to sell it. In count two, they are accused of the same crime, except the drug was heroin. In count three, they are accused of the same crime as in count one, except the drug was tablets containing codeine and acetaminophen (such as hydrocodone). In count four, they are accused of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, a Class C felony, for allegedly possessing preparations, compounds, mixtures and substances containing cocaine and the aggregate weight of them was one-eighth ounce or more. In count five, the duo is accused of unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation. In count six, Humphrey alone is accused of criminal impersonation in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count six that Humphrey "did impersonate another and did an act in such assumed character with intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another."

June 7, 2018 - 1:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, alexander, pembroke, schools, news, notify.

By the fall, three deputies with the Sheriff's Office will become school resource officers in Alexander, Pavilion and Pembroke, so the County Legislature is being asked to add three new positions to the Sheriff's Office staff.

Sheriff William Sheron said the three deputies who will become SROs have been interviewed by their respective school districts and approved. He plans to announce their names next week after the Legislature approves the new positions and the contracts with the school districts.

The deputies will join Deputy Matt Butler, serving Byron-Bergen, and Deputy Chad Cummings at BOCES.

Pavilion has budgeted for a deputy serving as SRO for 12 months. Alexander and Pembroke, for 10.

The members of the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday had questions about what happens with the SROs when school is out of session.

For BOCES and Byron-Bergen, there are events, as well as summer school, where the deputies' presence is possible.

In Butler's case, Sheron said the deputy will also build up a lot of comp time over the course of a school year, primarily from covering sporting events, and that Butler will take his comp time and vacation time during the summer. He will also work some road patrol and assist with Darien Lake security.

This will be the first summer for Cummings since becoming SRO at BOCES.

Each deputy will decide how to balance ongoing school needs, vacation and comp time during the summer, Sheron said.

In the case of the district's with only 10-month contracts, those deputies are more likely to wind up back on road patrol during the summer.

"Historically, both these schools that have them now, started off with 10 months but went to a whole year," said Legislator Gordon Dibble, former chief deputy for the Sheriff's Office. "I don’t think there is any reason these other schools won’t experience the same thing and eventually absorb that cost. I think it’s getting your foot in the door. It’s a lot easier to get your foot in the door for 10 and then add 12 after, from what I've seen."

Patrick McGee, principal at Byron-Bergen High School, attended Wednesday's meeting to discuss his school's experience with an SRO. He said Butler is more than a cop on the beat. He's a mentor, a positive influence, and a deterrent.

"He was at the prom," McGee said. "That’s the ultimate thing — no kids are going to come to the prom under the influence when you have a drug recognition expert. They know he’s standing right there. It’s not to scare them but it is a deterrent to certain behavior."

There's no price you can put on the safety of children, Sheron said, and such deterrence is invaluable.

"That’s the thing with deterrence," Sheron said. "You don’t know what you’re stopping. You’ll never know."

June 6, 2018 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Anthony's, batavia, news, notify.

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On a Tuesday night, there is probably no place in Batavia with more positive energy flowing than St. Anthony's on Liberty Street.

The former Catholic Church property is now owned an operated by City Church and for more than a year, church leaders have been opening up the gym and community rooms for basketball, games, an art class, and dance lessons.

And everybody -- white, black, rich, poor, young, old -- is having a good time.

"We're just showing the love of Christ and reaching out in care and love," said Ryan Macdonald, who was running the events last night. 

Ryan is the son of Pastor Marty Macdonald of City Church.

When the doors open on Tuesday night, they're open to everybody, Macdonald said.

He's mindful of some of the issues faced by Southside residents, and some of the negative news about the community recently, including a recent murder on Central Avenue, just a block away, and he said that's why he and other volunteers are there.

"When you create a relationship with an open hand instead of a fist you can get a whole lot more done in a community," Macdonald said. "I think that we could all benefit from reaching out instead of demanding a certain set of rules, so that’s what we’re doing here."

At 7 p.m., all of the activities stop and everybody participating enters the gym for a short message and a prayer before food is served -- in this case, six giant sheet pizzas from Batavia's Original paid for by donations from local businesses.

After reading a Bible verse, MacDonald said, "Somebody asked me not long ago why do you do what you do on a Tuesday night. Here's my answer. The Lord said to those people who asked, 'we never fed you, we never clothed you, we never loved you.' He answered and said these similar words. 'When you did it for those other people, you did it for me.'

"That’s why we’re here tonight because I believe when I honor you, every person in this room, from the greatest among us to the least among us, when I’m honoring you, I honor God himself. That’s why I’m here tonight."

At that point, everybody in the room applauded.

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