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March 24, 2019 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in mammoth sale, St. Joe's, charity, news, batavia.

Get ready for the eye-poppin' big honkin' "Mega Mega Mammoth" sale at St. Joseph School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

Billed as Western New York's largest indoor garage sale, it will feature "tons of indoor and outdoor furniture," and "tens of thousands of items." (As someone said "It's like they've been saving up for it since the last Ice Age!")

Whether you're interested in antiques, arts and crafts, collectibles and vintage wares or you want to check out gobs of household goods, baby things, linens galore, kitschy stuff/whatnots and holiday doodads, righteously expect an elephantine selection. 

In a nutshell, a stupefying amount of merchandise will fill two gargantuan showrooms, a ginormous second floor and a billowing, bulging tent. 

To be abundantly clear, it will behoove bargain hunters to go to this behemoth bazaar at the corner of East Main and Summit streets in the City of Batavia next month.

Admission is free to this "quality sale" with low, low prices and basket raffles; hot dogs and hamburgers and will be available for sale, too.

March 24, 2019 - 3:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in BCSD Foundation, Apple Awards, news, BHS.

Submitted photos and press release:

The BCSD Foundation lnc.'s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the newest recipients of the BCSD Foundation Apple Award. All of the honorees were nominated by the BHS Production Club (made up of students) involved with the 2019 musical "The Sound of Music."

These awards were presented by some of the seniors in the production.

Caryn Wood is a technology aide at Batavia High School and director of "The Sound of Music." She was awarded a Foundation Apple Award because “we would like to show our gratitude..... She puts countless hours into the musical production each year. We truly appreciate her dedication and devotion to the students and these productions....for being more than a director.

Eric Wood is a BCSD volunteer who also received a Foundation Apple Award. He was recognized because “he volunteers his time to ensure that things run smoothly each year. Volunteering his own time to enhance the “behind the scenes” of our musical.”

David Adams is another BCSD volunteer who was recognized with a Foundation Apple Award. “Mr. Adams has been essential to the success of our musicals. He sees that the backstage crew and sets are smoothly handled and that things are going as they should, behind the scenes. .....(and) for many years of volunteering your time for our success.”

The BCSD Foundation Apple award is given by a member of the school and/or local community to a Batavia City School District employee or volunteer. In the opinion of those giving the honor of this distinction, the awardee has gone above and beyond in their role and is being recognized by one or more people for these accomplishments.

Local artist Mark Jensen will be making each individual resin apple -- none will be exactly the same.

If you are interested in giving a Foundation Apple award, please submit your nomination form and $75 (payable to the BCSD Foundation Inc., 260 State St., Batavia NY 14020 att: Allison Chua).

Nomination forms may be found on our webpage (at www.bataviacsd.org under Quick Links).

Community members with questions are asked to email us at:  [email protected]sd.org

March 24, 2019 - 3:12pm

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Do you know that 80 percent of elevated lead levels in adults come from workplace exposures? Adults who do work in construction, auto repairs, paint, weld steel, or even reconstruct bridges have high chances of being exposed to lead.

Exposure can also occur during renovation or remodeling activities in homes built before 1978 when personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves aren’t used. Adults are typically exposed to lead when it is ingested through food, water, cigarettes, contaminated hands, or by inhaling lead fumes or dust.

People with these jobs also risk bringing home dust with lead on their work clothes, skin or equipment. It’s referred to as “take-home lead” and can expose anyone who comes in contact with it to lead.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, said it's important to minimize take-home lead exposure.

“By bringing lead into your home, you are putting your family at risk, especially if you have children," Bedard said. "Lead can severely impact a child’s intellectual development, even in the womb, as well as cause other negative health effects for adults.

If your work involves any of the jobs listed above or if you have a hobby involving any type of renovations or remodeling, it is important that you get tested for lead by your Primary Care Doctor.”

According to the New York State Department of Health, lead levels between 10 and 25 micrograms per deciliter of blood (μg/dL) shows that there has been an exposure to lead and will require further actions for treatment. In 2013, the national prevalence rate of blood leads levels ≥10 μg/dL was 20.4 adults per 100,000 employed.

When lead is exposed to the body, about 90 percent is stored in bones and the rest is distributed to the brain, liver and kidneys. When your body undergoes changes such as aging and pregnancy, lead in the bones can be released into the blood leading to higher blood lead levels and increased likelihood of symptoms.

Lead exposure can be very damaging to your health and even lead to death if exposure is extremely high. Some symptoms include high blood pressure, vision or hearing problems, digestive issues, memory loss, seizures, headaches, pain or tingling in the hands and/or feet, and even feelings of weakness.

Tips to Protect Yourself From Lead:

  • Monitor blood lead levels;
  • Shower after working;
  • Wash your hands before you drink, eat, or smoke;
  • Change clothes before going home;
  • Wash work clothes separately;
  • Wear a fitted respirator with a HEPA filter when working with lead and dust fumes;
  • Participate in your employer's lead screening program.

Lead should be taken seriously and it is important to get tested if you think you may be at risk. For information about lead, click here or contact your local Health Department.

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.
March 24, 2019 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in BCSD Foundation Scholarship, BHS, news, batavia.

Press release:

Nominations are being accepted for the 2019 Batavia City School District Foundation Inc. Scholarship.

This scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior from Batavia High School.

The nominee has been successful in his/her educational program and has sought out skills to further his/her career. In addition, he or she has exemplified our Batavia school culture and climate of “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe, Be Connected and Be Ambitious.”

Any member of the local community may nominate a Batavia HS Senior who meets the above criteria.

Nomination forms are available on the Batavia City School District website here (print out and mail or fax in) or you may complete the Google Form here.

All nominations need to be received by May 10.

Mail printed form, with any supporting documentation attached, to:

Julia M. Rogers
Coordinator of Assessment and Instructional Services
Batavia City School District
260 State St.
Batavia, NY 14020
 
Or fax the paperwork to her at: (585) 344-8204
 
Questions? Phone Julia Rogers at (585) 343-2480, ext. 1010.
March 24, 2019 - 2:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, bergen, Le Roy.

Amanda Marie Bowles, 33, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with: second-degree forgery -- four counts; first-degree identity theft -- four counts; criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree -- five counts; and one count of third-degree identity theft. Following an investigation of multiple credit cards stolen out of the Town of Batavia, Bowles was arrested on March 20 for allegedly using the stolen credits cards at multiple locations around the City of Batavia. She also allegedly completed some transactions by forging the signature of the credit card owner. She was arraigned on March 21 in Batavia City Court and jailed without bail. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack.

Woodrow Clarence Horseman, 43, of Porter Avenue, Batavia, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny. He was arrested March 22 for allegedly stealing a wallet at 5 a.m. on March 21 at a location on West Main Street Road, Batavia. The wallet contained nine credit cards and other personal documents. He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and put in GC Jail on $2,500 cash or bond. He is due back in court on April 9. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack.

Yacuzzo Salvatore, 73, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. He was arrested at 12:30 p.m. on March 21 on Red Mill Road, Le Roy, for allegedly violating a stay away order of protection. He was issued an appearance ticket for Le Roy Town Court and is due there April 11. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor.

Richard Dean Neal, 29, of Roosevelt Highway, Kent, is charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief. Neal was arrested on March 18. It is alleged that at 5:28 p.m. on March 16 that he damaged another person's vehicle while in the Walmart parking lot. He was released on an appearance ticket for April 1 in Batavia Town Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Travis DeMuth.

Aaron Lee Heale, 38, of North Lake Road, Bergen, is charged with: introducing dangerous contraband into prison in the first degree; fifth-degree conspiracy; and falsifying business records in the first degree. On March 14, Heale allegedly conspired to have drugs brought into the Genesee County Jail. He is currently incarcerated there. He is due in Batavia City Court tommorow (March 25) to answer the charges. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Deputy Ryan Young.

Amethyst Rose McCracken, 31, of North Lake Road, Bergen, is charged with: introducing dangerous contraband into prison in the first degree; criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree; and fifth-degree conspiracy. It is alleged that at 9:48 p.m. on March 14, that she brought drugs into the GC Jail. She was arraigned in Batavia City Court on March 23 and is due back there tommorow (March 25). The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Deputy Ryan Young.

Joseph G. Sumeriski, 27, of Batavia, was arrested by deputies of the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office on March 16 in the West Municipal Parking Lot in the Village of Warsaw on a warrant for allegedly failing to pay restitution ordered by Warsaw Village Court. He was arraigned in Village of Warsaw Court then posted cash bail. Warsaw police assisted at the scene. The case was handled by Wyoming County Sheriff's Sgt. Colin Reagan and Deoputy John Button.

March 24, 2019 - 6:21am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, Darien.

A working garage fire is reported at 541 Bell Road, Darien. The structure is about 40 to 50  square feet and is "on the ground" -- burned up -- at this point, but there are several exposures to other structures that firefighters will deal with, says a first responder on scene. There's a gap of 20 to 30 feet between the garage and another structure.

The city's Fast Team was called, then canceled. All available manpower from Darien is responding, along with mutual aid from Alexander, Pembroke, Corfu and Indian Falls.

There's a pond on Bell Road that firefighters may be able to access; it's estimated to be 1,050 feet from the fire.

The location is off Fargo Road and it's at the dead end of the street.

UPDATE 6:26 a.m.: Alexander is to fill in at Darien's Fire Hall. There's a live power line in front of the garage, firefighters are told.

March 23, 2019 - 3:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in warrants, news, crime.
ashleyhaydenmug2019.jpg kaniponderwarrant2019.jpg  

Ashley N. Hayden, age 27, white female, 5’6” brown hair, green eyes LKA  Upper Clark Ave VanEtten, NY

Bench Warrant – Wanted for harassment 2nd PL 240.26-3 (violation) Darien Town Court DOW 7/14/15

Kani Ponder, age 22, black female, 5’00” 115 lbs., black hair, brown eyes LKA Berlin Street, Rochester, NY

Arrest Warrant – Wanted for criminal impersonation 2nd PL 190.25-1 (misdemeanor) Pembroke Town Court DOW 2/5/19

 

horatiocolemanawarrant2019.jpg adamdolbywarrant2019.jpg  

Horatio Coleman,  age 64, black male 5’11” 155 lbs., black hair, brown eyes, LKA Oak Street, Batavia, NY

Arrest Warrant – Wanted for petit larceny PL 155.25 (misdemeanor) Batavia Town Court DOW 8/27/15

Adam M. Dolby, age 35, white male 5’8” 240 lbs., brown hair, green eyes, LKA Telephone Road, Pavilion, NY

Arrest Warrant – Wanted for escape 3rd PL 205.05 (misdemeanor) Pavilion Town Court DOW 4/7/15

Miguel Hernandez-Gonzalez, age 35, hispanic male, 5’6” 140 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, LKA  East Road, Bethany, NY (No photo available) Arrest Warrant – Wanted for DWI & Drove W/.08 percent or more BAC, VTL 1192-3 & 1192-2 (misdemeanors) Bethany Town Court DOW 1/9/19.

Robin S. Johns, age 55, white female, 5’3” 120 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, LKA  Fisher Road, Oakfield, NY (No photo available) Arrest Warrant – Wanted for issuing a bad check, PL 190.05 (misdemeanor) Oakfield Town Court DOW 6/21/16.

If you are able to assist the Sheriff's Office in locating these people, the Sheriff's Office asks that you do not approach these people and that you call (585) 343-5000 with information that may assist in locating the suspects.

March 23, 2019 - 3:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in spring fling, GO ART!, fundraiser, Genean Awards, news.
GO ART! will host its Spring Fling from 7 to 10 p.m. on Satruday, April 27.
 
This will be a 1950s themed evening of music and appetizers with a cash bar. The Genean Awards will be presented that evening.
 
Tickets are $20 per person for non-members and $15 per person for members.
 
Tickets can be purchased at GO ART!, 201 E. Main St., Batavia or by calling 585-343-9313.
March 23, 2019 - 2:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, GCC, Pizza with Pros, education.

Press release:

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates 80 percent of college students in the United States change their majors at least once. Some fall in love with another discipline while taking electives, some experience personal life tragedies or triumphs that inspire new directions, and some just simply didn't know enough about their major when they picked it.

In alignment with its long-standing dedication to student success, Genesee Community College has established a new speaker series called "Pizza with the Pros" to help students make educated decisions about their majors and career aspirations.

GCC's Alumni Affairs office in collaboration with the Student Success Center and AEOC designed "Pizza with the Pros" to tap into GCC's vast pool of successful alumni, identifying experts (Pros) from a variety of industries who would be willing to come to campus and spend time chatting with current students from different majors.

During these sessions, the Pros share their journeys from college to career, and answer students' questions about their field.

"The 'Pizza with the Pros' series came about in an effort to expose our students to as much of their individual areas of interest as possible," said Jennifer Wakefield, assistant director of Alumni Affairs. "From new products, events or initiatives, to the mundane tasks of everyday work-these sessions give our students a view of the real world, with real stories from real people they can relate to.

"Beyond learning, these events present excellent and valuable networking opportunities for both students and alumni."

All events in the "Pizza with the Pros" series are free to GCC students. Each session will begin at 11:30 a.m. and wrap up by 1:30 p.m. in the Student Success Center on GCC's Batavia Campus.

"It is our hope that students take advantage of this networking opportunity where they will likely learn some successful strategies across many disciplines," Wakefield said. "And who knows, maybe even some resume sharing will come out of it, too."

  • Wednesday, March 27: Explore Science and Technology/Information Technology with pros Serena Cooke ('92), online learning specialist at GCC and Keith Ward ('13), IT administrator at Keuka College.
  • Wednesday, April 3: Explore Health and Physical Education with Beth Felix, GCC Nursing School and Krystal Forsyth, Health and Physical Education educator at Brighton Central School.
  • Wednesday, April 10: Explore Business and Commerce/ Health Care with Missy Marsocci, entrepreneur and Lina LaMattina, Ph.D., director of Business Programs at GCC.
  • Wednesday, April 17: Explore the Creative Arts with Trace George ('95) of VSP Graphic Group and GCC's Alumni Council, and Kim Argenta, owner and artist at Art Ah La Carte.
  • Wednesday, April 24: Explore Law and Criminal Justice with Todd L. Tryon, retired assistant field office director and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Michele M. Kraynik, RN, Esq., the director and professor of Health Administration/School of Business at Roberts Wesleyan College, Benjamin Bonarigo ('79), Esq., GCC Board of Trustees and Alumni Hall of Fame inductee, and John Michalak, 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame inductee, retired Batavia police officer, FBI sergeant and Army veteran.
March 23, 2019 - 2:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in volunteers, volunteer transportation center, news.

Press release:

Volunteer drivers are needed throughout Genesee County. The Volunteer Transportation Center Inc. (VTC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing transportation to non-emergent medical appointments through a network of volunteer drivers.

Transportation is provided specifically to those who have Medicaid through a partnership with Medicaid Answering Services, the local Medicaid transportation broker.

“Becoming a volunteer driver is extremely rewarding,” says Luanne VanBrocklin, new program implementation director. “What better way to give back to the community than to give a few hours of your time ensuring someone in need receives the medical care they deserve.”

All volunteer drivers must complete an application process which includes a background check, and extensive training. Volunteers are then issued a tablet on which trips are assigned to them to serve local residents. For each trip completed, there is mileage reimbursement of $0.545 per mile for miles driven. However, there is no cost to the client for the transportation.

“Our goal is to make a difference in people’s lives by giving access to the health care they need,” says VanBrocklin.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer driver, call the Volunteer Transportation Center at (585) 250-5030 or click here to complete an application today. (Administration for Genesee County volunteers is handled in Watertown, in Jefferson County.)

The Volunteer Transportation Center Inc. (VTC), was established in 1991 in Northern New York. Over the last 20 years, this essential nonprofit organization has provided rides to medical destinations. The staff, Board of Directors and volunteer drivers look forward to a time when transportation to services is accessible to all regardless of economic or special needs.

March 23, 2019 - 2:38pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Earlier this month the SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Acceptance) Student Club at Genesee Community College announced it would host the its first-ever drag show, "The Battle in Batavia," on Saturday, March 30, in the Batavia Campus's Stuart Steiner Theatre.

On Friday, the contest judges were named. Presiding over inaugural show will be:

  • Gregory Hallock, Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council executive director;
  • Rachel Kropczynski, owner of Monroe's Boutique;
  • Thomas Priester, Ph.D., GCC associate vice president of Student Success;
  • Kristen Schuth, GCC athletic director;
  • Donna Rae Sutherland, GCC associate director of Marketing Communications;
  • A sixth Drag Show Contest judge is yet to be named.

On Thursday, one of the professional show participants, Cassanova Theking (on left in photo above), was on campus to help to promote the show, and generate awareness of LGBTQ (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning) community as well as support GCC's new scholarship program.

All proceeds from the drag show will fund the College's first and only LGBTQ Scholarship, which will provide financial assistance to eligible students facing emergency situations, or helping to offset financial hardships by covering the cost books, tuition, child care, or other obstacles to academic success. The scholarship will be available to students of the LBGTQ community at GCC facing such hardships and is the first of its kind.

"The Battle in Batavia" will feature a drag queen and king competition where professional drag artists from Buffalo and Rochester will skirmish amongst amateur drag queens and kings from the campus community.

Anyone interested in entering the fun-filled competition under the Amateur and GCC Alumni categories can easily sign up and there is no cost to enter. Click here to sign up.

The show begins at 6 p.m. with a reception in the Lobby of the Stuart Steiner Theatre where attendees can meet some of the contestants already in character. Refreshments will be provided.

At 7 p.m., the battle is on! Each contestant will perform his or her piece to music of their choosing. There will be two acts, and during the intermission a question-and-answer session will allow the audience to interact with the stars of the show.

Purchasing advance tickets is strongly advised! A single advance seat is just $5 in advance or $6 at the door, if available.

Discounted group rates are also available. A group of 10-19 people is $40; and a group of 20 or more people is $75. Tickets are available by calling (585) 345-6836; or emailing Kate Trombley, director of the TRIO Adult Educational Opportunity Center and advisor for GCC's Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) [email protected]; or by stopping by Office D208 at GCC's Batavia Campus.

This show is recommended for mature audiences only as it may include strong language or sexual innuendo.

Those not interested in competing, or unable to attend -- but would like to support the important cause can contribute as a sponsor or make a charitable donation. In addition, volunteers are being sought to work at the event and will receive free admission to the show. For further information contact Katherine Trombley, director of GCC's Adult Educational Opportunity Center at [email protected] or by calling (585) 343-0055, ext. 6836.

March 23, 2019 - 2:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.
mugkeithwhitemarch2019.jpg
     Keith White

An inmate in the Genesee County Jail is accused of introducing dangerous contraband into the jail after receiving a birthday card allegedly containing a controlled substance.

Keith White, 47, of North Tonawanda, faces numerous other charges. Besides introducing dangerous contraband, a felony, he is charged with 16 counts felony falsifying business records, 1st, criminal solicitation, 4th, conspiracy, 5th, and 60 counts of falsifying business records, 2nd. 

White, who is being held on a petit larceny charge from July, is accused of using the PIN numbers of other inmates to make telephone calls.

The date and time of the incidents were between November and February.

Deputy Ryan Young is leading the investigation.

White was arrested last July in Batavia, accused, along with Jeffery P. Wozniak, of Niagara Falls, of stealing steaks, lobster, shrimp, a roast and several household items from Top's Market. That case is still pending.

He is being held on the new charges without bail because of prior felony convictions. He's been incarcerated three previous times on burglary and robbery charges. His most recent stint in state prison was from 2001 to 2016 on a robbery conviction in Niagara County. He was released from parole in February 2018.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. with additional information about the case.

March 23, 2019 - 1:57pm

Press release:

Spring is a season when thoughts often turn to Earth. It is thus fitting that the Genesee Chorale celebrates nature and the planet in its April 5 and 7 concerts, “Voices of the Earth.”

The April 5 concert begins at 7 p.m. at Pavilion High School, 7014 Big Tree Road, Pavilion.

The April 7 concert begins at 7 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia., and will have the added feature of a display of art work by area students created in connection with GO ART!

In a time of concern about climate change the future of our planet, “Voices of the Earth” was a theme that came easily to Ric Jones, who directs the 70-member Chorale.

“As a lover of nature and spending time outdoors, I am always drawn to themes of nature in music,” he said. “As I was researching music, I found myself selecting music with themes of nature, and music that centered around beautiful poetry.

"It was a natural step from there to decide to make a program focused on the Earth. And with the devastation we are seeing in our world, I think it is important to draw attention to it, and our responsibilities for it.”

He looked for music that would challenge singers, and that would be both enjoyable and inspiring for singers and audience. Several of the selections are taken from poetry. For example, “There Will Come Soft Rains” and “The Cloud” are poems by Sara Teasdale, and “The Peace of Wild Things” is a poem by Wendell Berry.

Another poem, “Little Birds” by Octavio Paz in Spanish, was set to music by Eric Whitacre, who incorporated bird calls into the piece, as well as a surprise ending.  Listeners may also be surprised by special effects in “Whispering Waters.”

“I think the audience will really enjoy some of the nontraditional things we are doing with the choir,” Jones said. “Bird calls, sounds of water, etc. I also think they will really enjoy our special guest musicians, Bob Holley on bongos and Fran Woodworth on flute. The bongos help give 'Gently (Walk on the Earth)' a pop/world beat feel."

More traditional pieces include “The Pasture,” which invokes a pastoral America; “Linden Lea,” a Dorset (a coastal county in Southwest England) folk song; “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” an Anglican hymn; and an arrangement of “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

“I most want the audience to listen to the words,” Jones said. “The text is so important in these works. There are many moving words and much poetry designed to make us, as humans, stop and think  about the world around us.”

Tickets are $10 each. They may be purchased via credit card or PayPal through Chorale’s website box office, www.GeneseeChorale.com. They are available as “will call,” or from Chorale members, or at the door. Further information is available on Chorale’s website.

March 23, 2019 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Joe's, Penny Carnival, batavia.
Video Sponsor

Video from today's Penny Carnival at St. Joe's in Batavia.

March 23, 2019 - 12:00pm


We’re excited to be sponsored by our local State Farm® agent as this month’s Quotes for Good organization. This month, for every person we send their way and who completes an auto quote, they’ll make a $10 donation to our organization.

For the quote to qualify, the individual cannot be a current State Farm customer, but please refer friends and family to help support this organization. 

When calling in/stopping by for a quote, be sure to mention Quotes for Good and our organization’s name for the quote to qualify. We are excited about the opportunity to generate donations and create awareness about this cause. Call 343-4959 or visit our office at 8331 Lewiston Road, Batavia, NY 14020.

Thank you for supporting us through Quotes for Good. Together, we can make a difference in our community.

March 22, 2019 - 8:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, notify, news.

 

Video Sponsor
 

 

balckshearmugsamuelmarch2019.jpg
  Samuel Blackshear

When Samuel Blackshear shot Nathaniel Wilson on Central Avenue one evening last May, Blackshear was exercising "street justice" Judge Charles Zambito told the young man today at his sentencing on an illegal weapon conviction.

It wasn't a matter of self-defense, as defense attorney James Hinman contended, Zambito said. The judge said he believed there was a prior dispute between Blackshear and Wilson, even before Wilson showed up with a knife and stabbed and killed Terry Toote, and that Blackshear knew a woman he was with had a gun and that he expected to be handed the gun if he needed it.

Blackshear was denied youthful offender status and sentenced to three and a half years in state prison followed by two and a half years on parole, which is the mandatory sentence for a conviction on a count of criminal possession of a weapon.

The father of Samuel Blackshear, who was 17 at the time of the incident, said he was disappointed that Zambito denied his son a chance to go to school, get a job, and try to get on a path toward a productive life.

"I came here today expecting justice for my young son," Billy Blackshear said. "I'm not trying to make excuses for him. I'm not saying that he was in the right for how he reacted, but considering the factors that placed him in that situation...with him being a young person, you have the influence of television, you have the influence of peers, you have so many negative influences that could have carried him even worse than the way he reacted and he did not."

Before sentencing Blackshear, Zambito meticulously reviewed the law, the criteria that must be met for a finding youthful offender status, and the circumstances of the case.

Many new details about the murder of Toote and the shooting of Wilson on Central Avenue on May 17 came out during today's hearing.

Youthful offender status is reserved for those cases, Zambito said, where there are mitigating circumstances and where the defendant may have acted in haste and thoughtlessly. The judge making a Y.O. determination must consider the gravity of the circumstances, the defendant's prior record, prior acts of violence, the reputation of the individual, whether the defendant cooperated with police and prosecutors, the defendant's attitude, and whether the defendant has displayed respect for the law.

Y.O. status is mandated if the perpetrator is between 15 and 19 years old at the time of the offense but the conviction is for a misdemeanor. In this case, Blackshear admitted to a felony.

If the case involves an armed felony, as this was, Zambito said, then mitigating circumstances come into play.

In their remarks to Zambito prior to Zambito discussing his decision, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said there were no mitigating circumstances and dismissed assertions by the defendant's attorney, Hinman, that Blackshear acted in the defense of himself and others. Hinman passionately and exhaustively argued that there were mitigating circumstances and this his client did act in defense of himself and others.

Friedman argued that Blackshear, who had little experience, he said, with handguns, and no prior training in defending others, acted recklessly and without regard to the safety of others in the vicinity when he fired three shots at Wilson. After Wilson attacked Toote, he said Blackshear walked over to a nearby car, took a gun from the driver, and immediately turned around and started firing.

"That wasn't self-defense the first time he fired it," Friedman said. "It wasn't self-defense second time he fired it. It wasn't self-defense the third time he fired it. That was not self-defense."

If it was self-defense, Friedman argued, then why didn't Blackshear stick around after the shooting? Why did he flee instead of talk to the police? Why wasn't he cooperative with investigators once he was located? Friedman asserted the Blackshear has been unwilling to help police locate the handgun he used and that the gun is still missing.

Hinman argued that all available physical evidence, in particular, a video camera mounted on a utility pole on Central Avenue at the time of the shooting, shows Blackshear acted in defense of himself and others. He said it showed Wilson arrive on scene and within 10 seconds, attack Toote, kill him, and then immediately brandish the knife at other people in the area.

Other than his possession of the gun, Hinman said his client did nothing illegal. He suggested the other charges against Blackshear -- attempted assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree -- where satisfied in the plea agreement because Blackshear could have made a credible case to a jury that he acted within New York law to defend himself and others.

"Maybe he (Wilson) would have stabbed other people if he had not been shot," Hinman said. "That doesn't make Mr. Blackshear a hero but he stopped illegal acts."

As for Blackshear's leaving the scene of the shooting before police arrived, Hinman said that's the normal reaction of a black youth today.

"I would submit that a young black man in this day and age has a good reason to not stick around and talk to police," Hinman said. "Nor does he have the obligation to stick around and talk with police."

As for helping police find the gun, Hinman said his client told police that he handed the gun to a third party to take care of and that he has no direct knowledge as to the gun's whereabouts. He said that third party may have cooperated with police in locating the gun but since that person wasn't assured immunity from prosecution he hasn't cooperated. He did say police learned the gun may have been dropped from a bridge into a creek and a search was undertaken to try and locate the gun but it wasn't found. None of that, Hinman said, could be blamed on his client.

Hinman disputed statements Wilson made in a presentence probation interview where Wilson apparently asserted that Blackshear shot him because of a prior dispute and that Blackshear was looking for a confrontation with Wilson.

"It's nothing more than an attempt by Wilson to make himself a victim," Hinman said. "He's the one who set everything in motion."

Zambito, however, gave some weight to Wilson's account of the incident.

"I have no sympathy for Nathaniel Wilson," Zambito said. "He is convicted of murder and he is in jail for a long time, and deservedly so."

But, Zambito said, some of Wilson's statements are corroborated by the evidence on the pole cam video recording as well as mobile phone recordings by witnesses.

In order to find mitigating circumstances, Zambito said he would have to be convinced that Blackshear acted on the spur of the moment to defend himself and others but Zambito said the evidence suggested otherwise.

For example, well before Wilson arrives, a black sedan is seen on Central Avenue. At one point, the driver gets out and retrieves what appears to be a handgun from the trunk of the vehicle. Later the car leaves Central Avenue and returns. The car leaves again and reappears just before Wilson shows up. After Wilson stabs Toote, Zambito said, Blackshear is seen moving toward Wilson, who is turning to leave, and then sees the sedan and walks over to it and is immediately handed a gun by the driver of the vehicle.

"That tells me," Zambito said, "that he (Blackshear) was looking for that car and he expected to be handed the gun."

He said audio from mobile phones show that several people cried out "Sam," which Zambito took as a verbal attempt by witnesses to tell Blackshear to not fire any shots but that Blackshear fired anyway.

Wilson contends he and Blackshear had a prior dispute over Wilson hitting a girlfriend and that Wilson had tried to apologize and Blackshear refused the apology. He said even in a phone call earlier that day, Blackshear had refused the apology and hung up on him.

He said Blackshear had referred to himself as a member of the "L Gang" and that members of the "L Gang" would be looking for Wilson (outside of court, Friedman said "L Gang" may refer to a group of youths who grew up on Lewis Place and applied that moniker to themselves).

While acknowledging that Blackshear's natural impulse may have been to leave the scene and that he had no obligation to stay at the scene, his failure to do so did display a lack of cooperation with police, and one of Zambito's findings must include cooperation with police for Youthful Offender status. Further, Blackshear did not come forward voluntarily the next day. When he was located, he was at the residence of the adult who gave him the gun, playing video games.

As for Blackshear's criminal record and good conduct, Zambito said Blackshear had been arrested once, granted youthful offender status once, and was on probation at the time of the May 17 incident. He also said that Batavia PD and Sheriff's Office reported 26 negative contacts with Blackshear in the prior two years. He said Blackshear had been accused of shooting another person with a BB gun.

"And he's only 17 years old," Zambito said.

Citing district official at BOCES, Blackshear was characterized as having us vs. them attitude, of disrespecting authority, of hanging out with other youths who caused trouble.

In the presentence report, probation officers recommended against Y.O., and detectives Thad Mart and Kevin Czora, the lead investigators on this case, also recommended against Y.O. status.

"It was only by sheer luck that his reckless behavior didn't result in killing or seriously wounding a bystander," Mart wrote in his letter to the court.

Zambito said he took all of that into consideration in coming to his conclusion.

"The defendant attempted street justice," Zambito said. "He put at risk an entire neighborhood. Even Nathaniel Wilson recognizes the loss of life in this incident was over something very senseless and I have to agree with him. I have to believe this defendant was complicit."

Billy Blackshear said his son was raised well, as the grandson of a beloved local pastor, the late Reverend Oraid Blackshear of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Ellicott Street, and as the son of a man who has never been arrested or spent a night in jail.

But outside court he said he can't help but wonder if he did enough to prepare his son for dealing for life in today's society.

"As a parent, I wish I would have done more," Billy Blackshear said. "I think that's something that maybe a lot of parents say when bad circumstances happen. I said the same thing about my brother when he passed. I wish I could have had a chance to say goodbye to him. I wish there were words that I could have said to him had I known that would be the last time I saw him.

"I didn't get that chance and I feel that same sense of sadness and remorse in this particular case. I wish I could have spent more time or that I could have done or something, or something I could have said that would have better prepared him for such horrendous circumstance."

There's a lesson in this case for all of us, Billy Blackshear suggested.

"I think that young people are too busy being raised and being influenced by outside forces that gave other people monetary value," Blackshear said. "You know there's money to be made on telling kids you should be this way, to have a violent attitude, or look at, you know, you don't have to listen to the rules or anything like that. I'm not saying that's what Samuel was influenced by (that) but I'm saying that there is more negative input than ... positive.

"And so we as parents have to step up. I think the system has to step up as well. Hand-in-hand cooperate in order to be a counterbalance to the things that are steering our young people into the feeling hopelessness and anger and just frustration. We need to start putting hope back inside these young people. We need to start giving them better options. We could do more. There's always more that can be done." (View the full video at the top of this story for all of Mr. Blackshear's comments after the hearing.)

Zambito thinks it's time for Samuel Blackshear to step it up and use his time in prison to take advantage of programs that will help him be more productive and move his attitude away from "us vs. them."

"If you don't," Zambito said, "you're either going to spend a lot of your life in jail or you're going to wind up dead like Terry Toote."

March 22, 2019 - 2:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in HEAP, news.

Press release:

HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) funds remain available for clean and tune services for the primary heating equipment of eligible homeowners.

Clean and tune services provide for the cleaning of primary heating equipment, but may also include chimney cleaning, minor repairs, installation of carbon monoxide detectors or programmable thermostats, if needed, to allow for the safe, proper and efficient operation of the heating equipment.

Benefit amounts are based on the actual cost incurred to provide clean and tune services. To qualify, households must not exceed the program’s income guidelines.

Households can apply by contacting Genesee County Department of Social Services at 585-344-2580.

2018-2019 HEAP Benefit Gross Monthly Income Guidelines

Household Size

Maximum Gross Monthly Income

1

$2,391

2

$3,127

3

$3,863

4

$4,598

5

$5,334

6

$6,070

7

$6,208

8

$6,346

9

$6,483

March 22, 2019 - 12:01pm

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The seventh annual Mr. Batavia brought a nearly sold-out crowd last evening to Batavia High School, and raised an estimated $4,100 for charity.

Since its inception in 2013, more than 80 young men have participated. Each one picks a charity in case they win; but only the top three contestants each year get money for their charities of choice.

Each contestant performs their best in different categories like group dance, talent, swimsuit, lip sync, tux walk, question and answer.

Griffin DellaPenna was second runner-up and he raised funds for the Michael Napoleon Foundation.

“I was happy to be a part of Mr. Batavia and help carry on Michael’s legacy to support the foundation," Griffin said. "I would like to thank the judges, coaches, his parents, sister Allison, other contestants and amazing audience for a day he will never forget, including the fondest high school memory.“

Sam Rigerman was first runner-up. His charity was Habitat for Humanity.

“Being (first) runner-up for Mr Batavia 2019 is truly an honor, especially to be placed among all the amazing and wonderful talent that was the other contestants this year," Sam said. "Huge congratulations to Griffin and Terelle for placing and to all the other contestants for all their hard work!

"It was truly amazing to be able to work with everyone and this experience will always stay with me and live on as one of the best memories of my high school career. This experience was the greatest I could have ever asked for during my senior year and I love everyone so much for this wonderful time. Thank you all so much!”

Volunteers For Animals will receive 50 percent of the money raised by the winner of the event, Terelle Spinks.

“What I liked most about Mr. Batavia was the group dance and all the practices with the other 10 contestants," Terelle said. "And it feels great to win -- I didn’t expect it -- one of the best feelings in my life.”

Batavia High School Cheerleading Coach Stacy Squires said "I am so proud of Terelle. I actually told him last year that he should do Mr. Batavia because I knew he could win. He has the most outgoing and confident personality. Everyone who meets him loves him. He deserved it and I'm overwhelmed with pride!"

During the question-and-answer interview John Bruggman wished they could all give money to their charities, but if he had to say why he should win: Who else could do a two-minute picture of Bob Ross*?

Other contestantants were Harley Radley, Will Palmer, Taiyo Iburi-Bethel, Cameron Austin, AT Thatcher, Kris Kuszlyk, Alec Frongetta and John Bruggman.

Local Judges new this year were: Zach Korzelius, Batavia City School District BOE; Shelly Dale-Hall, GCASA; Jeff McKinney, Batavia City School District IT coordinator; and Vic and Brenda Marchese, owners of Main St. Pizza.

Charles Men’s Shop donated use of tuxedos, Reed Eye Associates provided the sunglasses, Main St. Pizza Co. gave one free pizza a week for a year. Many additional sponsors and staff also contributed to this yearly event.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

*(Bob Ross was a bushy-haired American painter, art instructor and TV host who created the PBS show "The Joy of Painting"; his legacy lives on in today's pop culture.)

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