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April 24, 2019 - 4:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
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Michael Piasta

A pair of jeans with a hole, a pair of shoes, and a jacket that were all consistent with images of a robber in a surveillance video were key to getting felony convictions in a jury trial for Michael J. Piasta, according to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.

"This is a case where we definitely needed that surveillance video to provide the corroboration that we needed," Friedman said.

Piasta took $10,000 from the Arby's, 212 W. Main St., Batavia, on March 25, 2018. 

The jury took two hours to decide Piasta was guilty of robbery 2nd, grand larceny 3rd, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Friedman said Piasta carried an imitation handgun and wore a mask when he robbed Arby's.

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Photo from Arby's surveillance that helped lead to the arrest and conviction of Michael Piasta.

On April 13, 2018, Piasta, who had already been identified as a suspect, was located in a pickup truck with three other individuals stopped by a Batavia police officer on West Main Street. Friedman said the pants he wore that day had a hole in one leg consistent with a hole in the leg shown in the surveillance video.

He also wore shoes Friedman said he thought were unique and consistent with the shows shown in the Arby's video.

The jacket Piasta wore during the robbery was located at his mother's house following his arrest. His mother said the jacket was hers but had lawned it to her son a few days before the robbery and it was returned shortly after the robbery, according to Friedman.

"We had a witness who testified that defendant came to his residence right after the crime wearing clothes consistent with the clothes worn during the robbery and that he had several thousand dollars with him and he stated that he had, quote “done dirt,” which apparently means he committed a robbery," Friedman said.

Piasta has three prior stints in state prison and is eligible for sentencing for persist felony offender status, which means a minimum of five years in prison. The maximum term for a Class C felony is 15 years.

When Piasta was sentenced in 2010 on a burglary charge, he told Judge Robert C. Noonan, "At this point, I just want to say I don’t feel that I’m hopeless," Piasta told Noonan before receiving a maximum state prison term of seven years for burglary. "Regardless of what happens today, I think I can make things better."

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Photo from April 13, 2018, of the scene on West Main Street, Batavia, when Michael Piasta was taken into custody as a suspect in the Arby's robbery.

April 24, 2019 - 4:35pm
posted by Billie Owens in youth marksmanship, news, steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is urging constituents, local officials, Second Amendment advocates, Rod & Gun Club members and anyone involved with youth marksmanship programs to call or write their local representative and Gov. Cuomo requesting a veto of legislation that could virtually wipe out all shooting competitions for youth and training for young people under 16 years of age.

The so called “Safe Storage” bill, which Hawley voted againstplaces unnecessary and ambiguous restrictions on the storage and incapacitation of firearms for those who do not own them and could put an end to youth marksmanship in New York.

“As we’ve seen time and time again with these measures that infringe on our right to bear arms, they are poorly written and passed hastily, causing many undue consequences that hurt law-abiding gun owners, hunters and those who simply enjoy marksmanship activities,” Hawley said.

“This bill has not yet been sent to the governor to be signed into law, which means we must make our voices heard. I urge everyone who supports youth marksmanship and the Second Amendment to call or write the governor immediately!”

Contact Gov. Cuomo by phone: (518) 474-8390

By mail:     The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
                   Governor of New York State
                   NYS State Capitol Building
                   Albany, NY 12224

April 24, 2019 - 4:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Darien.
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     Robert Gerety

Robert Richard Gerety (right photo), 45, of Chestnut Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt in the first degree and criminal obstruction of breathing. He was arrested following an investigation of a domestic incident that occurred at 9:28 p.m. on April 18 on Chestnut Street in Batavia. He allegedly grabbed a female acquaintance by the neck in violation of an order of protection. He was subsequently found to have an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in Batavia City Court. After arraignment, he was processed at the jail and allegedly found to possess a crack pipe, according to the police report. So he was charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia. He was held without bail and is due in Batavia City Court on May 9. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Kevin DeFelice, assisted by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

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      Latoya Jackson

Latoya Denise Jackson (right photo), 33, of Vine Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree assault. At 10:20 p.m. on April 20, Batavia police responded to a Vine Street residence for a physical disturbance call. After investigation, Jackson was arrested for allegedly cutting a male with a knife. She was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed without bail. She was due back in city court on April 22. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Peter Post.

Kishonti D. Williams, 28, of Harvester Avenue, Batavia, is charged with: driving while ability impaired by drugs -- first offense; aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree; operating a motor vehicle while using a portable device; and unlawful possession of marijuana. On April 22 at 11:22 a.m. Williams was stopped on Route 5 in the City of Batavia for a vehicle and traffic violation. Following a roadside investigation, Williams was arrested. At the jail, GC Sheriff's Deputy Eric Meyer, a Drug Recognition Expert, administered a Drug Influence Evaluation and concluded Williams was impaired by drugs. He is due in Town of Batavia Court on May 16. The investigation was handled by Deputy Ryan Delong, assisted by Deputy Meyer.

John Roderick Benton, 61, of Colby Road, Darien, is charged with: Felony DWI -- operation of a motor vehicle while having a BAC of .08 percent or more, with a prior conviction within 10 years; felony DWI with a previous conviction; and failure to keep right. It is alleged that at 1:39 p.m. on April 21 on Tinkham Road in Darien that Benton drove up to a GC Sheriff's deputy and made an inquiry then immediately drove off. The deputy observed Benton unable to maintain his lane of travel and a traffic stop was conducted. Benton was subsequently arrested and issued appearance tickets for Town of Darien Court, where he is due to appear on May 7. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Schildwater, assisted by Kevin McCarthy.

Patrick J. Michael, 38, of Batavia, was arrested by the City of Batavia Police Department on April 14 on an active Warrant of Arrest issued by the Wyoming County Family Court. Michael was wanted for failure to pay child support. Michael was turned over to the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office where he was arraigned in the Village of Warsaw Court and put in Wyoming County Jail in lieu of $3,000 cash bail or bond.

Robert R. Richmond, 55, of Columbia Avenue, Batavia, is charged with trespass. At 4:43 p.m. on April 20, Richmond was arrested on North Street in Batavia after he allegedly entered a building to use the restroom after previously being avvised that he is not welcome on the property. He was processed and released on an appearance ticket. He is due in Batavia City Court on April 30. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Post, assisted by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

April 24, 2019 - 3:15pm

Press release:

On Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Genesee County law enforcement agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.  

Bring your pills for disposal to:

Pembroke Town Hall, Route 5 at Route 77 in Pembroke

  • received by Genesee County Sheriff’s Deputies

Batavia Police Department Headquarters, 10 W. Main St. (rear parking lot) -- Batavia

  • received by Batavia Police Officers

Le Roy Police Department Headquarters, 3 W. Main St. -- Le Roy

  • received by Le Roy Police Officers

Only pills and other solids, like patches, can be brought to the collection sites—liquids and needles or other sharps will not be accepted. The service is free and anonymous; no questions asked.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet.

In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — both pose potential safety and health hazards.

April 24, 2019 - 3:08pm

File photos and press release:

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will be offering its second annual Teen Academy July 22 – July 26 at Byron-Bergen Central School.

“The Teen Academy is a one-week structured program which consists of instructional classes designed to provide high-school-aged students within our community an introduction to law enforcement training and gain an understanding of law enforcement’s role in their community," said Genesee County Sheriff Bill Sheron. "It is our hope that teens will build confidence while learning good decision-making and leadership skills."

Academy instructors are experienced Deputy Sheriffs who will discuss day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Office.

Participants will also:

  • Visit the Jail, 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Dispatch Center, and Sheriff’s Office;
  • Observe displays of the Emergency Response Team (ERT), Hostage Negotiation, SCUBA Team, K-9 Unit and Evidence Recovery;
  • Be provided insight into motor vehicle accident reconstruction;
  • Participate in daily physical fitness runs, defensive tactics and team-building exercises;
  • Participate in a classroom setting and learn about the  NYS Penal Laws and Vehicle & Traffic Laws;
  • Participate in mock traffic stops and DWI procedures.

Qualified candidates will be selected for an interview screening process if they meet the following requirements:

  • Must be entering grades 10-12 in the fall;
  • Must be in good academic standing with little to no disciplinary issues;
  • Must be able to participate in physical fitness activities;
  • Must have a positive attitude;
  • Must have their parent’s or guardian's permission.

“This is a unique and forward-thinking opportunity offered by Genesee County Sheriff Sheron and Department," said Legislator Shelley Stein, chair of the Public Service Committee. "Teens are invited to immerse and be exposed to the real law enforcement experience.

"More than imagining, the academy opportunity is live, in-the-minute learning about today’s community policing needs of an exciting career in law enforcement. Students are encouraged to ‘try on’ a law enforcement career role."

There is no charge to attend the academy. Application deadline is May 10.

For more information, contact Deputy Matthew Butler at (585) 345-3000, ext. 3252, or (585) 494-1220, ext. 2304, or via e-mail at [email protected]

To learn more and/or download an application, visit here.

April 24, 2019 - 2:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in BCSD, batavia, Musicians Of Note Award, news.

Press release:

Four alumni, one retired teacher, and one posthumous Batavia teacher will receive the Batavia City School District's first Musicians Of Note Award on Tuesday, May 14, at Batavia High School.

The alumni to be honored are: Robert Sullivan, Class of 1950, George Whittier, Class of 1951, Derek Reiss, Class of 1971, and Joey Pero, Class of 1999.

Former Batavia teachers honored are: Frank E. Owen, BCSD first director of Music for 37 years; and Kenneth Hay, BHS Band director and BCSD Music Department chairperson for 21 years. Ken Hay will defer his award until the Spring of 2020 and we will celebrate his success at that time.

They will be honored on the Wall of Fame for making an impact in their field.

From 5 to 5:30 p.m., there will be appetizers for guests and recipients in the cafeteria, with dinner to follow. The awards ceremony/concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

Dinner and awards concert will be $25 per person. You may attend just the 7 p.m. concert/awards ceremony for only $10, either in advance or at the door.

To reserve tickets for the event, please call Batavia High School (585-343-2480, ext. 2000) and ask for Lisa Brown. She will either reserve or mail them once they have been paid.

Please pay either cash or check, made payable to Batavia Music Boosters. Ticket reservations must be made by May 1st.  

The awards ceremony/performance will feature Joey Pero and Derek Reiss performing with the BHS Jazz Ensemble and BHS Brass Ensemble. Robert Sullivan will conduct a musical number performed by Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni Corp.

Donations for the Batavia High School Musicians Of Note can be made through the Batavia City School Foundation Inc.

April 24, 2019 - 1:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, news.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) has strongly condemned the Assembly Majority’s proposal (A.4319) to automatically consider parole of prisoners once they turn 55 years old, regardless of their crimes or imposed sentence.

“Making time in prison easier has become the platform of New York’s big-city progressive politicians,” Hawley said. “First it was free computer tablets and pay raises for inmates, then it was pardons and voting rights for violent felons as they go on parole and now shorter sentences no matter how horrific the crime – abhorrent.

"If adopted, this bill could result in violent criminals being released from prison before their prison sentence is fully served. Judith Clark and Herman Bell living among us, one who murdered police officers and another who helped murder police officers, would become the new normal in New York.”

Hawley has opposed many of the soft on crime measures enacted in Albany this legislative session. Chief among these is the closure of three state prisons, terminating hundreds of jobs and jeopardizing the safety of constituents.

“This is an outrageous proposal that jeopardizes the public at large and insults crime victims across the state. I will do everything in my power to not allow New York to become a hotbed for progressive social experiments and I am committed to continuing my fight against these dangerous proposals,” Hawley concluded.

April 24, 2019 - 12:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ellicott Trail, news, batavia.

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Driving down Oak Street in Batavia you may notice several trees have been removed and the logs are piled up on the east side of the Tonawanda Creek.

The tree removal is part of the Ellicott Trail project.

The trail will cross the creek in this area and in July, according to Matt Worth, Batavia's director of Public Works, a bridge will be placed across the creek at this location.

The 4.6 mile, $1.7 million trail -- a cooperative effort between the City, the Town, the County, and the State, should open sometime in the fall.

The trail is designed for recreational use by pedestrians and bicyclists.

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April 24, 2019 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, unemployment, news, notify.

Genesee County's unemployment rate in March was 4.6 percent, the lowest March rate since at least 1990.

The rate a year ago was 5.4 percent.

The county's labor force is reportedly 29,100, down 100 people from a year ago. The number of county residents with jobs is reported at 27,800, up 200 from a year ago. The number of residents seeking employment is 1,300, down from 1,600 a year ago.

In 1990, there was 30,800 residents in the labor pool with 29,200 holding jobs.

The unemployment rate in March for the GLOW region is 4.9 percent, down from 5.8 percent a year ago and also the lowest recorded rate since 1990.

The state's unemployment rate is 4.1 percent, down from 4.6 percent a year ago and nationally, the rate is 3.9 percent, down from 4.1 percent a year ago.

April 24, 2019 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in outdoors, news.

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Spring is in the air.

Local photographer Dylan Brew shared this photo with us of an Eastern bluebird.

April 24, 2019 - 9:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.

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April 23, 2019 - 7:08pm

Above, mugshots of Brandon Joseph Welch after his arrest in October.

A former Batavia resident is being held accountable starting today for the "horrific" treatment of a tortured and starving puppy after City Court Judge Robert Balbick sentenced Brandon Joseph Welch to immediately begin serving two months in Genesee County Jail, and a total of three years probation.

Welch made his sixth court appearance this afternoon, flying in from his parents' house in Florida, accompanied by his mother. His attorney is Rochester-based Frank Ciardi.

The native of Suffolk County pled guilty earlier this year on the misdemeanor charges of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (for claiming he found the starving puppy); torturing/injuring/not feeding an animal. The charge of owning/harboring an unlicensed dog was not mentioned, so apparently it was dropped.

Welch was arrested Oct. 18 after a warrant was served at his apartment at 679 E. Main St., following a tip from a witness.

"Opal" -- so named by Volunteers For Animals at the shelter -- is a fawn and white colored pitbull mix who was a few months old and weighed only 9.2 pounds when rescued on Oct. 4 after she was found by a Good Samaritan in Stafford. The dog was not able to stand on her own and was covered in urine and feces, and was severely dehydrated and malnourished.

Opal subsequently received nourishment, medical treatment, grooming and exercise while in foster care and was later adopted.

A Class D felony charge of making a terroristic threat, for Welch's alleged threat to shoot the first cop who came to his residence, was dropped because the cooperation of two witnesses, who live in another part of the state, proved problematic.

Today Ciardi articulated all that his client is going through to get his life together. He noted the lengthy pretrial period and that his client always showed up for court appearances. He noted that he has found suitable employment as a diesel mechanic trainee in Florida.

Welch moved to the Sunshine State after initially staying with his grandparents, who live on South Fairview Avenue, in the Village of Montauk, Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County -- on the Long Island Peninsula.

Ciardi said his client has availed himself of mental health treatment and is making progress all around after changing his lifestyle.

"He lacked the mental health to have a life that's fulfilling," Ciardi said.

The defense attorney reminded Balbick that Welch's offenses are misdemeanors. He argued against any incarceration, which Genesee County Probation recommended, and was against his client serving probation in Genesee County since he has no ties here.

"Jail would serve no purpose; it would bring him back down," Ciardi said, and put the brakes on the diesel mechanic career path Welch is pursuing.

The defense attorney even suggested that sentencing be postponed altogether until a course of mental health treatment was completed. He said it would be good if his client could continue his employment as a novice truck mechanic in Florida and have probation oversight transferred there.

Barring that, at least have it transferred to Suffolk County -- Welch could move back to his grandparents' place or make other living arrangements there where he was born and raised and has extended family.

Ciardi questioned whether Genesee County Probation actually read the two-page addendum to his client's presentencing report from Suffolk County, which recommends no incarceration and positively notes the good measures Welch is taking to get his life in order.

He strongly disputed Genesee County Probation Department's assertion that Welch took no responsibility for his actions.

"He took full responsibility -- for lying to police, for his poor choices, for putting his family through this," Ciardi said. "He has no prior record."

Balbick outright dismissed the notion of adjourning sentencing. The judge said the allegations against Welch were serious and he agreed that some incarceration was warranted.

But the game changer was Welch's decision to up and move to Florida before his case was adjudicated, essentially removing himself from Balbick's jurisdiction. This did not sit well with the judge at all even though he broke no law in doing so.

The prospect of getting a probation department in Florida to make room for the oversight of a misdemeanor New York case is not a given. It would be a complicated, lengthy and uncertain landscape to navigate.

By removing himself from New York State, it "exponentially complicated" his case and thereby put the terms of his probation on "shaky ground," Balbick said.

"That move to Florida really put the court in a bind," Balbick said.

When asked if he had anything to say on his behalf, a tearful Welch -- dressed in a long-sleeved red, white and navy plaid shirt, with navy pants and black dress shoes -- told Balbick that he's making progress in his life and that his "dream job" of becoming a diesel mechanic means everything to him. He would be devastated, he said, if he lost the opportunity he currently has in Florida.

The judge called a recess in order to contact the GC Probation Department to be sure they had read the addendum in the presentencing report from Suffolk County.

Welch walked from the podium that's in front of the judge to the gallery and sat next to his mother and cried and sniffled for 30 solid minutes.

When the case was recalled at 3 p.m., Ciardi and Welch stood at the podium and the judge told them that GC Probation confirmed they had read the addendum but still recommended a period of incarceration and he agreed with them.

Welch stood with his shoulders hunched and his arms crossed tightly across his chest.

"Your move to Florida complicated this matter tremendously," Balbick told the defendant. "What you did to (that animal) was horrific. There has to be accountability for the injuries and mistreatment. That's why you find yourself here in this situation."

Balbick proceeded to sentence Welch to "shock probation" of 60 days in jail starting right then and there. He said while he's incarcerated, he has no problem with getting probation transferred to Suffolk County, NY -- Florida is out of the question. Welch's probation will end on April 22, 2022.

Other stipulations:

  • He must notify his probation officer of any change in address, employment, treatment, education;
  • Get job training or a job;
  • Pay a $200 surcharge as required for falsely reporting an incident to law enforcement;
  • Pay a $50 DNA database fee;
  • Two orders of protection were renewed for two witnesses;
  • Allow courts/law enforcement/authoriites to access treatment and mental health records;
  • Avoid disreputable people and places;
  • Do not use mood-altering drugs or substances;
  • Undergo testing as need be;
  • Own/harbor NO PETS;
  • Get a substance-abuse evaluation from an OASIS-licensed clinician;
  • Within four weeks, get a mental-health evaluation;
  • Do not possess any firearms.

Welch, looking dejected and sniffling still, asked if he could hand his mother his wallet and mobile phone before being taken into custody. The Sheriff's deputy at hand said no and took the items from him and gave them to his mother in the gallery.

Welch asked if he could step outside the courtroom and speak briefly with his mother and tell her goodbye. The judge said "if it's all right with the deputy." "No" replied the deputy, "we usually don't allow it once you're taken into custody."

With that, the mother cried and mouthed "I love you" and her 23-year-old son, pouting, arms clenched across his chest, eyes downcast, was led away to jail by another deputy to begin his "shock probation."

Below, photo of Opal when she was first brought to the GC Animal Shelter.

Below, Opal after being nursed back to health and ready for adoption, which was successful.

April 23, 2019 - 6:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, pembroke, elba.

A 17-year-old Elba resident and her younger brother were injured Easter Sunday after another reportedly rear-ended the car she was driving in the area of 2102 Main Road, Pembroke.

Theresa M. Gioia, 60, of Auburn, was cited for allegedly following too closely.

The accident sent four people to area hospitals, including Maddison T. Howard, 17, and Zachary D. Howard, 15. Maddison reportedly suffered a minor head injury and Zachary had a complaint of neck pain. Both were transported to Buffalo General Hospital.

Gioia reportedly told a deputy that she "looked back for one minute" while driving 2011 Jeep before hitting a 2017 Mazda SUV driving by Maddison.

Gioia and passenger Julie Wall, 36, were taken by Mercy EMS to UMMC. Gioia reportedly suffered a broken elbow. Wall had a complaint of neck pain.

Also in the car, with no reported injuries, were Jacob Kraatz, 15, and James Gioia, 64.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Ryan DeLong.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reversed the drivers of the vehicles and incorrectly stated who was cited. The Batavian regrets the error.

(Initial Report)

April 23, 2019 - 4:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in terrorism, bomb threat, news, notify, batavia, Jerome Medical Center.

The Jerome Medical Center at Bank Street and Washington Avenue in the City of Batavia has been evacuated after an anonymous bomb threat was received there about 3:30 p.m.

The facility provides urgent care, mammography, laboratory and pathology services.

Law enforcement communications on the scanner have been encrypted -- scrambled.

The threat is under investigation.

UPDATE 4:29 p.m.: Bank Street between East Main Street and Washington Avenue is closed. The housing complex for seniors -- Jerome Senior Apartments -- has not been evacuated, but staff has been informed of the situation.

UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: Additional streets have been cordoned off, establishing a perimeter for the preliminary investigation, said Batavia Police Officer Marc Lawrence. The other junctures closed off are: Alva Place and State Street; East Main and Summit streets; and Washington Avenue and Summit Street. Lawrence said the residents of Jerome Senior Apartments are to be evacuated; calls have been made to those in charge of the residential facility.

UPDATE 5:01 p.m.: Department of Public Works barricades have been put in place at several locations where officers had been posted to close streets off from traffic. The county's Emergency Response Team is at the command post in the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street (the site of the summer Downtown Public Market). Two State Police K-9 units are on scene; so are city fire crews.

UPDATE 5:28 p.m.: Officer Lawrence says the residents at Jerome Senior Apartments were told an hour ago to shelter in place. Reverse 9-1-1 calls were placed to people on Washington Avenue, Bank Street and Summit Street.

UPDATE 5:49 p.m.: Two State Police K-9 units went through the medical facility and exited the building a few minutes ago.

UPDATE (By Howard): Photos added. Officer Marc Lawrence said the scene was cleared by the K-9s. Nothing suspicious was found and the urgent care would reopen.

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April 23, 2019 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Centre Mall, mall, batavia, news.

The City of Batavia is likely to reject all three bids it received for roof repair work on the City Centre Mall because they all came in over budget and Public Works Director Matt Worth thinks the city can do better by revising the bid specifications and attracting smaller contractors to the job.

The City Council will be asked to reject the bids at its next business meeting after being briefed at Monday night's conference meeting.

The work on the roof is part of the lawsuit settlement agreement with the Mall Merchants Association.

The original bid specifications including not just replacing the flat roof area, but also removing and roofing over the skylights and reroofing the entryway silos.

While it made sense at the time the bid package went out to include those features, Worth said, the heavy wind of winter storms have filled up the spring and early summer schedule of roofers in the region, especially those who do warranty work.

That left fewer smaller contractors available to bid on a project with a larger scope.

The largest contractors in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse submitted bids of $1.42 million, $1.67 million, and $2.25 million, which are all over budget.

A new bid package will be released that makes replacement of the flat roof one project, with minor repairs around the skylights and the skylights. Silos will be bid out at a later date.

April 23, 2019 - 1:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Falleti Ice Arena, batavia, news.

A second ice rink adjacent to Falleti Ice Arena might make Batavia a more attractive location for hockey tournaments but rather than just build it and see if they will come, the City Council is poised to approve hiring a consultant to do a feasibility study.

The cost of the study is $55,000, with $50,000 covered by a Community Development Block Grant approved specifically for this purpose and $5,000 (the 10-percent match requirement of the grant) coming from private donations.

Public Works Director Matt Worth said the study will look at whether a second rink really would be a draw and also whether the addition to Falleti should be a multi-purpose facility so it could be used for other sporting events such as indoor soccer in the winter. 

A feasibility study would balance the cost of the addition against the potential economic impact of an upgraded facility.

Worth said the study should be completed by the end of the year.

April 23, 2019 - 1:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9, Batavia PD, batavia, news, notify.

It's been about two decades since Batavia PD had a dog patrolling the city with a qualified handler, but that could change if Federal asset forfeiture funds become available.

Chief Shawn Heubusch is asking the City Council to approve a memo of understanding with Homeland Security for the Federal agency to pay for the purchase and training of a K-9 and handler to work in the City of Batavia.

The new K-9 and its handler would be a member of the Batavia police force but on-call if Homeland Security needed K-9 officers for an operation.

Once the MOU is signed, it becomes a waiting game for funds to become available. Currently, by executive order, President Donald Trump is diverting asset forfeiture funds to the construction of a wall along a portion of the Southern U.S. border.

"This is just the very first step," Heubusch said. "This is not an imminent thing. We’re not going to have a K-9 next week. We’re not going to have a K-9 next month. This is something to get in line for the funding."

Under the terms of the agreement, once the funds become available, Homeland Security to cover the estimated $15,000 in purchase and training costs. The city would be responsible for any other costs associated with a K-9, such as outfitting a patrol car, leashes, food, and veterinary care.

Heubusch said he anticipates setting up a fund to receive donations from the community, much as the Sheriff's Office has done, to cover the additional K-9 costs.

While the Sheriff's Office is soon to have two K-9s on duty, and the Department of Environmental Conservation and State Police have K-9s in the area that sometimes assists local law enforcement, a K-9 in the City of Batavia would greatly enhance the Batavia PDs capabilities, Heubusch said.

"We have a great relationship with all of those agencies and they’ve all helped us out in the past, but you’re talking about response time to get to a situation," Heubusch said. "So if there’s a child missing or if there’s an elderly person missing, that’s time that is ticking away."

The last K-9 officer in the city was Ed Mileham, now retired, now a fire chief in Indian Falls. 

According to Heubusch, Mileham was taken off of K-9 duty when police unions across the state challenged the lack of overtime pay for K-9 handlers because the officers are often called upon to care for their animals while not officially on duty. 

Police departments across the state, Heubusch said, took their K-9s out of service at that point rather than pay overtime. 

If Batavia gets a new K-9, Heubusch told the council that Batavia will follow the example of the Sheriff's Office in providing handlers with time to care for their animals as part of their normal duty shifts.

Mileham said he supports Batavia trying to bring back K-9 patrols and noted, as have other police officers over the years, that "bad guys don't like K-9s."

Heubusch agreed.

"If you go to a scene and there’s a K-9 on scene, there’s a different demeanor from somebody you’re dealing with," Heubusch said.

Batavia's K-9 will be a patrol dog -- not specifically a drug dog or a bomb dog but a general patrol dog.

"It’s all about being able to provide the best service to the community that we possibly can," Heubusch said. "K-9s can be used in patrol interdiction, to get drugs off the street; they can be used in finding people, if you’ve got a lost loved one or somebody that wandered away, you can do tracking with them.

"If you look at (alarms), we respond to numerous burglary alarms in buildings. It takes two or three officers quite a while to clear a building. A K-9 can do it in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the risk."

April 23, 2019 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, batavia, news.

klimjackretire2019cc.jpg

Retired Police Officer Frank Klimjack, who put in 21 and a half years of service, was honored by the Batavia City Council on Monday night with a proclamation from the City.

klimjackretire2019cc-2.jpg

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