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April 25, 2019 - 10:00am
posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in Boulder Park, Anne Marie Starowitz, Back in the Day, history, indian falls.

From my book "Back in the Day. Snapshots of Local History, the Way I see it."

It was a warm Sunday afternoon. My brothers and I were sitting in the backseat of our parents’ station wagon. We all were watching for the sign that said Boulder Park, Indian Falls, NY, on Route 77. We could not contain our excitement. We were clutching the coupon that said bring this coupon and 25 cents to Boulder Park and get 50 cents worth of ride tickets for children under the age of 12. All rides are a nickel.

We finally arrived at the park, and of course we could not agree on what ride to go on first. Would it be the merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, a kiddies’ automobile ride, the airplane ride, or the kiddie chair planes?

People from Genesee County and the surrounding areas shared this happy memory. If you were born in the late ‘40s into the ‘60s you probably would have memories to share. When we asked people for their memories, their responses were, “I remember going on picnics with my family. It was a big treat to go to Boulder Park”; “I remember getting sick on the Ferris wheel. It was the best time of the week because we went as a family,” and, “It was one of my happiest childhood memories. It was the only time I did not fight with my brothers, as long as I got to pick the first ride.”

The man responsible for those memories was Phil Morrot. He bought the Reynolds Farm and Feed Mill on Phelps Road. There, he and his sister Emily created Boulder Park. He selected the area because it was the heart of Indian Falls. It was located between two great hills in the narrow valley of the Tonnewanta, now called the Tonawanda Creek. It was the site where six Indian Trails met. It was sometimes described as a well-hidden fairy spot, blessed by God and nature.

The Morrots were not the first who wanted to utilize this beautiful area. In 1929, Ely S. Parker’s grandson, Arthur, a New York State archeologist, endorsed a proposal by Nathan Strauvis Jr., a member of the New York State Senate, to preserve its beauty as a state park. He was interested because at one time his famous grandfather owned the area. The owner at the time, knowing the land was in demand, raised the price to an amount the state was not able to afford. Another proposal was to tear down the mill and build steps leading to the gorge below connecting the Tonawanda Creek with Diver’s Lake. This would have made a horseshoe park. This was another failed dream.

In 1949 Morrot’s vision for Boulder Park was fulfilled. The area covered 14 acres, including Morrot’s home. Hundreds of automobiles from as far away as Buffalo, Rochester, and Olcott Beach made the pilgrimage to the Boulder Park.

The first rides to be constructed were the famous merry-go-round or as some call it, the carousel. It replaced the old apple processing building. Emily Morrot Bourgard, Phil’s sister, designed the carousel. Herschell Company built it and it was said that the carousel was the best product Herschell Company ever built.

The merry-go-round was one of a kind. It had thirty-two horses and seven unique animals that included a giraffe, an elephant, a camel, a reindeer with real horns, a lion, tiger, and a polar bear. This ride was the first in America to have both an elephant and polar bear. The horses had elongated heads, decorated with plumes and jewels. They were realistic, elaborately carved animals.

The merry-go-round’s first home was not Boulder Park. It was first delivered to Olcott Beach, NY. It was operating at Olcott Beach until 1947. That was the same year Phil Morrot began clearing the land for his Boulder Park.

Most people remember the merry go round. 1,200 electric light bulbs lighted it. The lights were reflected back from a double row of beveled mirrors, which were mounted on panels. The mirrors were alternated with original oil paintings of local landscapes. A Wurlitzer style military band organ provided the energizing music.

In 1930 Theo’s sister Emily died at the hand of the merry-go-round she designed. She stooped down to pick up a ticket and the knee of the Black Charger struck her.

The park employed at least a dozen workers. Mr. Morrot’s children also worked spinning pink cotton candy, taking tickets, serving hot dogs, and ice cream. It was truly a family owned business.

In 1960 a mile long train track was added to the park. It went through the woods on the opposite side of the creek and returned to the park.

Phil retired in 1964 and sold the park. The new owner let the park deteriorate. In 1970 Boulder Park was closed, never to reopen.

Today, the once magical Boulder Park is just a happy childhood memory to many of us. It was a time when parents could leave behind their jobs and go as a family to the wonderful world of Boulder Park to picnic and hop on any favorite ride for the cost of a nickel! Many thought of Boulder Park as our Disney World of Western New York.

The area is back to its natural state, with wildflowers, and home to water snakes, raccoons, possums, skunks, and woodchucks.

The famous carousel was dismantled and in dire need of restoration. The unique animals Emily created were sold individually at different auctions. In 1989 a collector purchased the polar bear for $121,000.

Below, kids in kiddie cars.

Below, "Refreshments anyone?"

Below, this restored elephant is from the famous merry-go-round from Boulder Park.

April 25, 2019 - 8:00am
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, batavia, first baptist church.

Press release:

The Alden Area Ecumenical Choir is presenting its spring concert this month titled “A Little Talk With Jesus In The Heavenly Sunlight.” Good Christian choral and solo music followed by a refreshment reception will make for a fun time.

The choir always takes a free-will offering to benefit local and global needs. This year’s offering will benefit Rise Against Hunger, supported by the Marilla Methodist Church and Neat Repeats, a clothing ministry supported by the Alden Presbyterian Church.

The choir offers two concerts, Friday evening, April 26, at 7 o'clock and late Saturday afternoon, April 27, at 4 o'clock. The Friday concert will be at the Alden Presbyterian Church, 13298 Broadway in Alden, at the corner of Crittenden. The Saturday concert is held at the First Baptist Church, 306 E. Main St., Batavia, between Summit and Swan streets.

April 25, 2019 - 7:40am

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The Batavia varsity softball team bounced back from their previous game and defeated Monroe County Division 4 opponent Greece Odyssey by a score of 9-6 in a game played yesterday afternoon at Genesee Community College. 

Alyssa Ognibene, in his first ever varsity start picked up her first varsity victory as she spun a complete game with five strike outs and scattering six hits. 

Maiya Reinhart went 4-4 at the plate, hitting for the cycle, including a solo home run, towering fly ball over the left corner fence (photo celebrated above with teammates).  Reinhart drove in three runs for the lady devils. 

Jenae Colkey collected three singles and an RBI for the Lady Devils, while Ryann Stefaniak, Bryn Wormley, Mackenzie Reigle, Sonji Warner, Dallas Lama, Irelyn Curry, and Natalie Rogers also hit safely.  Rhorri Fix put down a perfect bunt for a base hit, while Julia Clark played very well defensively. 

With the win, Batavia moves to 1-0 in league play and 2-1 overall.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

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April 25, 2019 - 7:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bontrager's Auction, batavia, hlom, history, news.

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A property deed from 1813 and signed by Joseph Ellicott was purchased at auction yesterday by the Holland Land Office Museum for $1,900.

The deed was acquired last year by Dale Vargason, from Wayland, who found it in a box of 18th Century documents he acquired and then decided to bring it to Bontrager's Auctions.

Auctioneer Todd Jantzi started bidding off at $1,000 and when there were no initial bids, dropped it down to $800. Two people then jumped into the bidding, including Gary Harkness, representing HLOM, and the bids quickly rose to the $1,900 mark.

Previously: Rare historical document, a deed signed by Joseph Ellicott, to be featured in upcoming auction at Bontrager's

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April 25, 2019 - 7:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, news, sports.

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Several student-athletes at Batavia High School signed letters of intent with area colleges and universities on Wednesday, including Sam Sallome, above, who signed with Tompkins-Cortland Community College to play baseball.

Sallome is joined by Jaime Sallome, Emma Sallome, Sam Sallome, Sr., Coach Rick Saunders, and Asst. Coach James Patric.

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Taiyo Iburi-Bethel signed with the University at Buffalo to play football.  Iburi-Bethel is joined by Mekhi Fortes (brother), Kinu Fortes (mother), Edwin Bethel (father), Lila Forte (sister), Darazian Williams (brother), Coach Brennen Briggs, Brenda Iburi (grandmother), Terri Ernst (grandmother), Shin Iburi (uncle), and Akari Iburi (aunt).

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Joe Martinucci signed with St. John Fischer to play football. He is joined by Aimee Martinucci, Joseph Martinucci, Michelle Martinucci, and Coach Brennan Briggs.

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Ryann Stefaniak signed with Nazareth to play basketball. She is joined by Anne Stefaniak, Rich Stefaniak, and Coach Marty Hein.

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John Bruggman signed with Daemen to run cross country and track. He is joined by Courtney Bruggman, Michael Bruggman, and coaches Dan Geiger, Rich Boyce, and Bill Buckenmeyer.

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Elizabeth Cohen signed with Geneseo to run cross country and track. She is joined by Coach Dan Geiger, Jeanne Cohen Coach Bill Buckenmeyer, and Coach Rich Boyce.

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Zak Jantzi signed with Roberts Wesleyan to run cross country and track. He is joined by Coach Dan Geiger, Todd Jantzi, Coach Bill Buckenmeyer, and Coach Rich Boyce.

Ray Leach, the Blue Devils star running back who set several state records on his way to leading the Batavia to a state championship appearance, did not attend Wednesday's signing ceremony. He is expected to attend SUNY Cortland.

April 25, 2019 - 6:44am
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 24, 2019 - 10:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Bethany.

Earlier this today a fully loaded semi-truck left the roadway on Route 63 in Bethany and landed in a ditch.

Parises has been on scene and is now ready to try and right the truck and get it out of the ditch so Ellicott Street Road is being closed temporarily between Transit Road and East Road.

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 she had loaned 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 persistent 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 Walnut 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 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)

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