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June 26, 2019 - 12:35pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, town of batavia, solar farms, Brach Machine Inc..

The solar farm boom is upon us, which means that more and more rural residents are looking to their municipal leaders to inform them of rules and regulations pertaining to these green-energy producing systems.

That’s one of the reasons why Nancy Brach of 5168 Ellicott Street Road in the Town of Batavia is inviting her neighbors to attend an informational meeting at 6 p.m. this Friday (June 28) at her home. She said the meeting will take place rain or shine, and dessert will be provided.

“We’re having this meeting due to a lack of communication about these projects and to learn what is allowed,” Brach said. “Why are people not notified beforehand? And if something does come up again, we want to have contact information to reach these people (who live near a proposed solar farm site).”

Specifically, Brach and other Ellicott Street Road residents who attended a Batavia Town Planning Board meeting last week were upset about a proposed solar farm installation on land owned by Donald Partridge.

They felt they hadn’t received adequate advance notification of the project, which ended up being denied by the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals due to the proposed size of 40 acres.

“So this could have taken place with no input at all if not for two people who printed out fliers and left them at our houses last weekend,” she said. “And that is not right. Bill (her husband) and I now read the (legal) notices in the paper, but I doubt we would have noticed that even if we had seen it.”

The Brachs are owners of Brach Machine, which is located at 4814 Ellicott Street Road.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said the application by Truesdale Solar for the Partridge property could be resubmitted if it were reduced to conform to code (maximum of 20 acres).

He added that if a vote needs to be taken again, the same property owners within 500 feet of the proposed site would be notified by mail.

Although Brach’s home is more than 500 feet away, she believes more should be done to let people know about these projects other than being on the Town’s website.

Brach’s concerns over solar farms go beyond notification methods, however.

“Our meeting will be for awareness,” she said. “These projects benefit two parties -- the person leasing the property and the company installing the solar equipment. The town and the people of the town do not benefit.

“And the funds for these projects come from the taxpayers. These projects do not pay for themselves, they are only profitable with the subsidies we, as taxpayers, fund.”

She decried the expenses to the Town involved in zoning, planning and legal costs, and said that the projects are not self-supporting and should not be permitted until they are.

“And the 20-year bonds may or may not be enough to dismantle the equipment when the time comes, if they even last that long. Plus, people lose the beautiful country vistas that they hoped to enjoy for a lifetime.”

Brach said she thought that the Town of Stafford had a policy “more protective” of the rights of its residents, and hoped that some of Stafford’s ideas could be incorporated into Batavia’s policy.

In the end, she hopes Friday’s meeting will mobilize residents to speak out.

“As a taxpayer, I resent paying for projects that are not profitable just to benefit an individual and a company,” she said. “Luckily, I can afford it. But there are many people who cannot and we need to stand up for them, and for what is right.”

June 26, 2019 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Court, batavia, news.

Durin Rogers, running to move up from part-time City Court judge to full-time, won the Republican primary vote Tuesday, beating attorney Ben Bonarigo, 644 votes to 396 votes.

Rogers also won on the primary lines for Conservative and Independence by 43-16 and 48-34, respectively.

Though Bonarigo was unable to win the Republican line for the general election in November, he will still appear on the ballot on the Democratic line.  

Bonarigo faced no challenge for the Democratic line.

June 26, 2019 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Le Roy, Pavilion, notify.

A 49-year-old Le Roy woman died Tuesday after suffering serious injuries in a motor-vehicle accident on Route 20 in Pavilion on Monday.

Holly C. Neuffer was driving a 2010 Nissan Murano westbound on Route 20, according to the Sheriff's Office, when she failed to negotiate a curve in the road and went off the north shoulder. The Nissan struck a tree head on in the vicinity of 7550 Route 20 at 3:35 p.m.

Neuffer was transported by Le Roy Ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital.

A medical examination will be required to determine whether Neuffer died as a result of her injuries or from another medical condition.

The crash remains under investigation. Conducting the investigation are Chief Deputy Brian Frieday, Sgt. Andrew Hale, Investigator James Diehl, Deputy Ryan DeLong, and Deputy Robert Henning.

Assisting at the scene where the Le Roy Fire Department, Pavilion Fire Department, Mercy EMS, and State troopers.

June 26, 2019 - 8:27am

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The opportunity to put some underutilized property back on the tax rolls and spur additional economic development has Batavia City Council members reacting positively to a proposed zoning change that would recognize public storage units within the Batavia Municipal Code.

Council, during Monday night’s Conference meeting, voted to move forward to its July 8 Business meeting a resolution that would include public storage units in Industrial zones contingent upon obtaining a special use permit.

Back in January, Peter Yasses, of Byron, had requested the change in order for him to construct a storage unit facility on vacant property at 54 Cedar St.

His petition was reviewed and supported by the Batavia Planning & Development Committee, which issued a definition of public storage units as a building or buildings comprised of separate rental units of varying size, with or without outside storage, for private storage of personal property by the general public.

Curiously, public storage units were not included in any zoning regulations currently on the books.

“The zoning change is to include public storage units as an allowed use,” said Matt Worth, Department of Public Works director. “They had not been identified in any of the zones prior to this.”

Worth said that City Council can proceed in one of three ways – accept the PDC recommendation “as is” and forward to the Genesee County Planning Board for review, make changes which can be sent directly to county planners, or send the proposal back to the PDC for its review and comment before going to county planners.

Once signed off by all, a public hearing and local law resolution would be the final steps to adopting the zoning modification, said Worth, adding that public storage units would have to be at least 100 feet away from residential property.

Contacted by telephone on Tuesday afternoon, Yasses said he formed 54 Cedar LLC for the purpose of placing six or eight storage units over time on the 7-acre lot across from the DeWitt Recreation Area.

“I bought the land last year and we plan to clean it up and make it look really nice. We want it to look good for the city,” he said.

Yasses, who also owns Yasses Trucking & Construction, said he is waiting for permits from the Department of Environmental Conservation – he believes that remedial work will not be necessary – and for final approval from Genesee County and City planners and Council.

“I would like to put two or three out there to start,” Yasses said, adding that he thinks he will name the business Cedar Street Self-Storage. “With Guy Clark (owner of Cedar Street Sales & Rental) putting up a warehouse next door, the area will look much nicer.”

Yasses said his investment will surpass a half-million dollars when considering that he has to remove numerous trees, strip the topsoil and bring in gravel and stone for the base before starting construction of the units.

“It will be something that in two or three years the City will be proud of,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

He also is planning a similar project for Route 237 in Byron -- north of Route 262.

In other action, Council moved the following items for consideration next month:

-- Resolutions to contract with Grove Roofing Services Inc. of Buffalo in the amount of $664,080 to replace the leaking City Centre Mall concourse roof and to use an additional $100,000 from the Facility Reserve fund to cover both the base bid ($509,680) and the alternate 1 bid ($154,400).

According to Worth, the base bid includes the central, east and north concourse areas and is within the existing budget funds while the alternate 1 bid covers the south and southwest concourse.

“We’re looking at a full transformation, except for the hallway near Dan’s Tire Service and the entryway silo,” Worth said.

The City received four bids for the project, with Grove Roofing coming in at more than $100,000 less than the next lowest bidder. Worth said he is confident in Grove’s ability to tackle such an extensive project.

Council President Eugene Jankowski expressed the sentiment of the entire board when he stated, “We want to see those buckets go away!”

-- Scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. July 8 for the City to act as a “pass through” for Genesee Dental to apply for a NYS Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant.

Patrick Krough, DDS, Genesee Dental owner, is looking to relocate from the City Centre Mall to the former Continental Beauty building at 215 E. Main St. and expand his practice.

According to Rachael Tabelski, Batavia Development Corp. director of economic development, Genesee Dental plans to invest $1.3 million in rehabilitation of the vacant structure and create 18 new full-time equivalent jobs.

Tabelski said the City is eligible to apply CBDG funds to support economic development project that create jobs in low-to-moderate income areas, and this Genesee Dental project fits into that scheme.

The relocated Genesee Dental office would be next to the proposed Healthy Living Campus (YMCA, United Memorial Medical Center offices) that is targeted to receive funding through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative).

Tabelski said the City will not have to pay for the CBDG application since Genesee Dental is funding the preparation of the paperwork on behalf of the City. The BDC will assist by providing in-kind services, she noted.

-- A resolution to contract with LaBella Associates to submit an application for a $250,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area Pre-Development grant to fund environmental and engineering studies, real estate services, and marketing and research, etc., for the City Centre, Bank Street/Healthy Living Corridor and Harvester (Avenue) Campus.

Tabelski said the BOA Pre-Development Grant is being offered by New York State for the first time, adding that the City will have to pay $3,500 for professional grant writing services and would be responsible for a 10-percent match of the awards (to be covered by in-kind services such as project management, meetings, marketing and communications).

In a related development, Council will consider providing grants from the BDC’s Revolving Loan Fund to go toward projects in the BOA, City Priority Economic Development and Building Improvements.

That resolution calls for two-thirds of the fund to be available for grants of a maximum of $20,000 and one-third of the fund to be available for small business loans. Currently, there is around $400,000 in the RLF, with about $250,000 of that in cash.

Photo: View looking south on Cedar Street, with the tree-laded lot owned by Peter Yasses on the right and the sign for the DeWitt Recreation Area on the left. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

June 26, 2019 - 12:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, news, notify.

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Story by Dylan Smith, editor and publisher of the Tucson Sentinel.
Photos by Howard Owens.

David Bellavia, a Batavia resident, on Tuesday, became the first living veteran of the Iraq War to receive the Medal of Honor, as President Donald Trump presented the award in a ceremony at the White House.

Trump said it was his "privilege to award the highest military honor to an American soldier who demonstrated exceptional courage to protect his men and defend our nation."

Bellavia was recognized for his valor in the Second Battle of Fallujah, a nearly two-month urban combat offensive in late 2004, in which more than 10,000 U.S. troops struggled to gain control of a dense city that had held some 350,000 people, but was then populated mostly by 3-4,000 heavily fortified insurgent forces.

Bellavia, now 43 years old, was a U.S. Army staff sergeant during that battle. On his 29th birthday, Nov. 10, 2004, his platoon was clearing a block of a dozen buildings that were occupied by Iraqi insurgents who were firing at U.S. troops.

"For three days straight, David and his men kicked down doors, searched houses, and destroyed enemy weapons, never knowing where they would find a terrorist lurking next. And there were plenty of them," Trump told a packed White House ceremony.

In presenting the nation's top military honor, Trump noted Bellavia's "extraordinary courage... selfless service... and carrying on the legacy of American valor."

During a house-to-house search, the soldiers of Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division, encountered fierce resistance — a not unfamiliar situation for his unit; 37 people from his brigade died that year.

"A very dangerous operation," Trump said Tuesday. "They entered house after house, and secured nine of the buildings. Then came the 10th. That was a tough one. It was a three-story building surrounded by a nine-foot wall. As they entered the house and moved into the living room, two men were behind concrete barricades. They opened fire on David and everybody."

"In the dark of night, shards of glass, brick, and plaster flew into the air, wounding multiple soldiers. The rounds of fire ripped holes into the wall separating the Americans from the terrorists. The wall was ripped to shreds. David knew they had to get out. David thought that they had had it. He leaped into the torrent of bullets and fired back at the enemy without even thinking," the president said.

"He provided suppressive fire while his men evacuated, rescuing his entire squad at the risk of his own life. Only when his men were all out did David exit the building."

From the citation for Bellavia's Silver Star:

At this point, Sergeant Bellavia, armed with an M249 SAW gun, entered the room where the insurgents were located and sprayed the room with gunfire, forcing the jihadists to take cover and allowing the squad to move out into the street. Jihadists on the roof began firing at the squad, forcing them to take cover in a nearby building. Sergeant Bellavia then went back to the street and called in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to shell the houses.

After this was done, he decided to reenter the building to determine whether the enemy fighters were still active. Seeing a jihadist loading an RPG launcher, Sergeant Bellavia gunned him down.

A second jihadist began firing as the soldier ran toward the kitchen and Bellavia fired back, wounding him in the shoulder. A third jihadist began yelling from the second floor. Sergeant Bellavia then entered the uncleared master bedroom and emptied gunfire into all the corners, at which point the wounded insurgent entered the room, yelling and firing his weapon.

Sergeant Bellavia fired back, killing the man. Sergeant Bellavia then came under fire from the insurgent upstairs and the staff sergeant returned the fire, killing the man.

At that point, a jihadist hiding in a wardrobe in a bedroom jumped out, firing wildly around the room and knocking over the wardrobe. As the man leaped over the bed he tripped and Sergeant Bellavia shot him several times, wounding but not killing him.

Another insurgent was yelling from upstairs, and the wounded jihadist escaped the bedroom and ran upstairs. Sergeant Bellavia pursued but slipped on the blood-soaked stairs. The wounded insurgent fired at him but missed. He followed the bloody tracks up the stairs to a room to the left. Hearing the wounded insurgent inside, he threw a fragmentary grenade into the room, sending the wounded jihadist onto the roof.

The insurgent fired his weapon in all directions until he ran out of ammunition. He then started back into the bedroom, which was rapidly filling with smoke. Hearing two other insurgents screaming from the third story of the building, Sergeant Bellavia put a choke hold on the wounded insurgent to keep him from giving away their position. The wounded jihadist then bit Sergeant Bellavia on the arm and smacked him in the face with the butt of his AK-47.

In the wild scuffle that followed, Sergeant Bellavia took out his knife and slit the jihadist's throat. Two other insurgents who were trying to come to their comrade's rescue fired at Bellavia, but he had slipped out of the room, which was now full of smoke and fire. Without warning, another insurgent dropped from the third story to the second-story roof.

Sergeant Bellavia fired at him, hitting him in the back and the legs and causing him to fall off the roof, dead. At this point, five members of 3rd Platoon entered the house and took control of the first floor. Before they would finish off the remaining jihadists, however, they were ordered to move out of the area because close air support had been called in by a nearby unit.

"Alone, in the dark, David killed four insurgents and seriously wounded the fifth, saving his soldiers and facing down the enemies of civilization," President Trump said at Tuesday's ceremony.

"Here with us today are 32 American service members who fought with David in Iraq, including 12 who were with David on that very, very horrible and dangerous November night."

Also present were eight previous recipients of the Medal of Honor, and five Gold Star families — relatives of Bellavia's brothers in arms who were killed in combat.

Bellavia was born in Albion and lives in Batavia. His father William died last year. His grandfather, Joseph Brunacini, age 99, was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions during the Normandy campaign in World War II, and was watching Tuesday's ceremony via video at his home in Jamestown, N.Y.

"America is blessed with the heroes and great people like Staff Sergeant Bellavia whose intrepid spirit and unwavering resolve defeats our enemies, protects our freedoms, and defends our great American flag," Trump said. "David, today we honor your extraordinary courage, we salute your selfless service, and we thank you for carrying on the legacy of American valor that has always made our blessed nation the strongest and mightiest anywhere in the world."

Medal of Honor citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on November 10, 2004, while serving as squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq.

While clearing a house, a squad from Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s platoon became trapped within a room by intense enemy fire coming from a fortified position under the stairs leading to the second floor. Recognizing the immediate severity of the situation, and with disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Bellavia retrieved an automatic weapon and entered the doorway of the house to engage the insurgents.

With enemy rounds impacting around him, Staff Sergeant Bellavia fired at the enemy position at a cyclic rate, providing covering fire that allowed the squad to break contact and exit the house.

A Bradley Fighting Vehicle was brought forward to suppress the enemy; however, due to high walls surrounding the house, it could not fire directly at the enemy position. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then reentered the house and again came under intense enemy fire. He observed an enemy insurgent preparing to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at his platoon. Recognizing the grave danger the grenade posed to his fellow soldiers, Staff Sergeant Bellavia assaulted the enemy position, killing one insurgent and wounding another who ran to a different part of the house.

Staff Sergeant Bellavia, realizing he had an uncleared, darkened room to his back, moved to clear it. As he entered, an insurgent came down the stairs firing at him. Simultaneously, the previously wounded insurgent reemerged and engaged Staff Sergeant Bellavia. Staff Sergeant Bellavia, entering further into the darkened room, returned fire and eliminated both insurgents. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then received enemy fire from another insurgent emerging from a closet in the darkened room.

Exchanging gunfire, Staff Sergeant Bellavia pursued the enemy up the stairs and eliminated him. Now on the second floor, Staff Sergeant Bellavia moved to a door that opened onto the roof. At this point, a fifth insurgent leaped from the third-floor roof onto the second-floor roof. Staff Sergeant Bellavia engaged the insurgent through a window, wounding him in the back and legs, and caused him to fall off the roof.

Acting on instinct to save the members of his platoon from an imminent threat, Staff Sergeant Bellavia ultimately cleared an entire enemy-filled house, destroyed four insurgents, and badly wounded a fifth. Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s bravery, complete disregard for his own safety, and unselfish and courageous actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

Bellavia, who has hosted a local radio talk show and run for office as a Republican, is the author of "House to House," which recounts his experiences in the Fallujah battle.

He left the Army in 2005, after six years of service. During his yearlong deployment in Iraq, his unit took part in the battles of Najaf, Mosul, Baqubah and Muqdadiyah, as well as the fight for Fallujah.

"Listen, you know I'm not going to pretend to write -- the narrative of the Iraq war is well established -- but the Iraq veteran has nothing to apologize for. The Iraq veteran has served with the same, in the finest traditions of any other generation at war," Bellavia said in an interview with The Batavian earlier this month.

"I can't tell you that looking back and seeing how a lot of people tend to look at the valor of a generation and say well are these good wars or bad wars. Iraq veterans are walking around with chips on their shoulder because they're regarded as part of the bad war, the war of choice, the war that was based on bad intelligence, and you know we're free to think and decide whatever you want," said Bellavia, who co-founded the advocacy group Vets for Freedom after he left the military.

"I think the narrative is written on that. But I would just caution us to not make the veteran feel the weight of that. I don't think it's their responsibility. Ninety-nine percent of these men and women served with honor and distinction and we really shouldn't have to apologize for where our nation sends us to fight."

"You know, I never saw the enemy as people. I think, now, when I have, when you have children, you think you know, obviously, you want your guys, America, the good guys, to be OK. But I also think back to, I don't want the enemy's children to take the road that their dads took. I don't want my kids to be fighting in conflicts with another generation," he said.

"What are the things that we can do, especially when it comes to acknowledging that a lot of people think that war guys, veteran guys are pro-war, that we love this. You know, we're pretty anti-war. I mean, I don't know of any veteran that you've talked to that is like, 'this is the greatest thing in the world,' " he said.

"We're violently anti-war but with the goal, the end state is that we won't do this anymore. I mean, if you would've told me that I would join the Army because my sons and daughter would also get to have this experience, I never would have done it. It's not worth it. You fight so that it stops here and it doesn't continue. And it would be heartbreaking to know that this is going to go on for another 25 years."

Bellavia's awards and decorations include: the Medal of Honor; Silver Star; Bronze Star; Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops; the National Defense Service Medal; Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star; New York State’s Conspicuous Service Cross; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral "2"; the Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral "2"; the Presidential Unit Citation; Combat Infantryman Badge; Driver and Mechanics Badge; and the NATO Medal.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Dylan Smith is one of my local online news publishing colleagues. He knew how busy I have been in Washington, D.C., that he volunteered -- without being asked -- and wrote this story for The Batavian.

Top photo: David Bellavia's son, Aiden, examines the Medal of Honor around his father's neck during a reception at the White House following the awards ceremony.

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Bellavia and Michael Ware.

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David Bellavia and longtime friend Michael Caputo.

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Congressman Chris Collins chatting with Michael Caputo.

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Michelle McCulloch, in the white dress, who is from Wyoming County, and her daughters and son-in-law.

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Sgt. John Badger takes a selfie with David Bellavia.

 

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Kelly Ann Conway chats with Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan.

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David Bellavia and Gen. Ken Chrosniak (retired).

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Col. Douglas Walter, Bellavia's second commander in Fallujah, takes a photo in the White House for some fellow guests.

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At the end of the reception, the buffet room was cleared of all guests and David finally had a chance to grab a bite to eat.

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Maj. Joaquin Meno, who was a lieutenant in Iraq, and commander of Bellavia's platoon.

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Military photographer Sgt. Kevin Roy with Bellavia. Roy has arguably been the hardest working man tasked to Medal of Honor support over these four days of ceremonies, events, and tours. His job has been to be at Bellavia's side constantly, taking hundreds of photos all day and then returning to his computer to process the photos before going bed every night.

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Sgt. John Bandy examines Bellavia's Medal of Honor after Bellavia and his guest returned to the hotel.

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Sgt. Jonathan Gibson salutes David Bellavia.

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Lincoln's bust in the White House.

June 25, 2019 - 8:51pm
posted by Lauren Leone in darien lake, news, notify, accident, jennifer serrano.

Attorneys spent more than an hour hashing out details this afternoon with Candace Gilden about the moments before, during and after she rode with an alleged drunk driver the night of a hit-and-run accident in Darien that killed 18-year-old Connor Lynskey last August.

Passenger Gilden, driver Jennifer Serrano and pedestrian Lynskey had all departed a Jason Aldean concert on Aug. 10 at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center intending to safely to go to their destinations. 

Gilden, a 41-year-old former Derby resident, was a passenger in her friend Serrano’s Jeep Wrangler when Serrano unknowingly struck Lynskey on Sumner Road.

New evidence came to light in Genesee County Court today as Gilden was called upon by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman to recount her perception of that fateful night during direct examination.

She said that earlier in the afternoon of Aug. 10, she and Serrano, a 48-year-old resident of Irving, met up and consumed one alcoholic beverage each prior to purchasing more alcohol at Tops Friendly Market in Derby.

Serrano and Gilden packed coolers containing the beverages and traveled to a friend’s house on Route 77 near Darien Lake. There, they continued to drink as they set up a tent outside to sleep in after the concert.

The women drank in the Darien Lake parking lot, throughout the Aldean performance, and at an on-site after-party. Gilden testified that Serrano was behaving normally as they consumed alcohol. 

As the women walked to Serrano’s vehicle, Serrano insisted that she was OK to drive back to the friend’s house on Route 77. In the midst of traffic after the concert, and having a lack of familiarity with the area, the women became lost while driving down Sumner Road.

Gilden said she attempted to find their location on Google Maps and, therefore, was focused on her phone screen as Serrano drove on the dark road. 

Serrano reportedly turned around on Sumner Road in order to drive in the direction of Route 77. Gilden noticed that a crack in the windshield had formed and the right exterior rear-view mirror had been pushed toward the passenger door. Gilden maintained she did not see, hear or feel anything that could have caused the damage throughout her testimony.

Gilden then asked Serrano what had happened and, after getting no answer, turned down the loud music that was playing and asked again. Serrano responded that they needed to drive to her friend’s house.

The women continued driving without stopping to check the damage to the vehicle.

About 30 minutes later, Deputy Robert Henning pulled over Serrano after a near collision with his patrol vehicle and charged her with drunk driving when she reportedly failed field sobriety tests. Gilden later posted Serrano’s $1,000 bail at Genesee County Jail. 

After refueling her Jeep at a gas station on Route 77, Serrano allegedly drove her vehicle without a driver's license, which had just been revoked by the police due to her performance on the sobriety tests.   

The women returned to the area surrounding Sumner Road on Aug. 11 in an attempt to find where the vehicle sustained damage with little success.

Gilden testified that she felt physically ill that evening when she received news that Lynskey, of Hinckley, had been killed on Sumner Road in the early hours of Aug. 11. Gilden described the surprised expression on Serrano’s face upon relaying the information to her.

On Aug. 12, Gilden gave a statement to Genesee County Sheriff's deputies about her understanding of the situation. Serrano was charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it, driving while intoxicated, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

On cross examination, defense attorney Frank LoTempio debated whether jurors should trust Gilden’s interpretation of Serrano's behavior and actions as well as the accident, since Gilden admitted she was impaired by alcohol on Aug. 10 and 11.

Gilden also maintained that her attention was diverted to her phone at the time of the collision, so LoTempio argued it is difficult for her to know if Serrano drove in an erratic manner.

LoTempio fired a crucial line of questioning at Gilden about whether the vehicle struck something or if something hit the vehicle on Sumner Road. This argument — that Lynskey may have tripped into Serrano’s vehicle due to the poorly lit road and his 0.16 blood alcohol content — is the question that defense counsel also begs of jurors.

The trial will draw nearer to that answer at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Genesee County Court.

June 25, 2019 - 6:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, batavia, news.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at 1 College Road, in front of Genesee Coummunity College.

Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 6:43 p.m.: Law enforcement is on scene.

UPDATE 6:47 p.m.: Two flatbed tow trucks are called in.

June 25, 2019 - 6:30pm


KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! You have a right to safe workplace. Federal laws state that your employer must provide a work area with no known health or safety hazards. You also have the right to: 

  • Be protected from toxic chemicals
  • Request an OSHA inspection, and talk with the inspector
  • Be trained in a language you understand
  • Work on machines that meet safety regulations
  •  See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
  •  Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace
  •  Be provided required safety gear, including but not limited to: Hardhat, gloves and harness
  •  Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records If you or someone you know has been injured or fallen ill due to unsafe work conditions. 

Call Dolce Panepinto at 716-852-1888 immediately. We understand how life-altering a work injury can be, and we are here to help.

 

June 25, 2019 - 5:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in joe marm, Medal of Honor, David Bellavia, news, notify.

Medal of Honor recipient Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, right, shakes hands with another Medal of Honor recipient, Ret. Col. Walter Joseph Marm Jr. They are at a post-ceremony reception at the White House.

"Joe" Marm served in the Army from 1965 to 1995. On Dec. 19, 1966, he was given the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of la Drang on Nov. 14, 1965 during the Vietnam War.

At the time, he was a second lieutenant and platoon leader of the 2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile). He is credited with single-handedly destroying an enemy machine gun position and several of its defenders, suffering severe wounds in the process.

For more information about Joe Marm, click here and here.

June 25, 2019 - 4:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, white house, news, notify.

Here's a video of the just-concluded Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House for Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia.

June 25, 2019 - 2:22pm
posted by Lauren Leone in news, darien lake, accident, jennifer serrano, notify.

Details about the events surrounding the fatal Darien hit-and-run last August are emerging as opening statements and first witnesses are heard in the case of 48-year-old Jennifer L. Serrano.

Today is the first trial day for Irving, Chautauqua County, resident.

During his opening remarks, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman informed jurors of: the basic overview of the accident; some of the individuals they can expect to hear from throughout court proceedings; and a brief account of the actions taken by both the victim, 18-year-old Connor Lynskey, and the defendant in connection to the accident.

Friedman explained to jurors the four counts Serrano is charged with: second-degree vehicular manslaughter, which, as a result of alleged intoxication, caused Serrano to drive her Jeep in a manner that killed Lynskey; leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it; driving while intoxicated; and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Defense attorney Frank LoTempio delivered his opening statement next. He said that defense counsel does not intend to argue that Serrano did not drink and drive, nor that her vehicle did not strike Lynskey and cause his death.

However, LoTempio maintained that the tragedy may not have resulted from Serrano’s reported intoxication, and that Lynskey’s 0.16 BAC at the time of his death may have led him to walk into Serrano’s traffic lane. 

LoTempio encouraged jurors to pay close attention to evidence of Serrano’s conduct as she was questioned by officers at the time of her arrest, the darkness of the accident scene, and the accident reconstruction information that is expected to arise later in the trial.

The prosecution called its first witness, Dr. Nadia Granger, who performed Lynskey’s autopsy at the Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner. She told the court that Lynskey endured injuries to his right shoulder, facial bones, skull and brain. These injuries are consistent with his cause of death, which is multiple blunt force injuries, and the damage sustained by the right side of Serrano’s vehicle.

The prosecution also brought forward Hunter Richard, a longtime friend of Lynskey’s who also attended the Jason Aldean concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Aug. 10 with Lynskey.

Richard recounted the events that occurred on Aug. 10 and 11 and his rationale for walking along Sumner Road in Darien as he and his friends returned to Darien Lakes State Park campground. 

Richard testified that Lynskey was behaving normally as they walked to the campsite, so impairment by alcohol was not a factor in Lynskey's death in his opinion.

LoTempio challenged Richard’s account of his proximity to the roadway, the collision sound heard by the teens, and the safety measures taken the night of the accident.

Both counsels will call more witnesses and introduce new evidence to the jurors as the trial proceeds this afternoon and throughout the week.

June 25, 2019 - 1:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Gillam Grant Community Center, bergen, free movies.

Four free movies will be shown outdoors this summer behind the Gillam Grant Community Center in Bergen.

Bring a chair or blanket. Movies begin at dusk. Concessions will be available.

Here's the lineup:

  • July 12 -- Disney’s "Mary Poppins Returns," sponsored by Rochester Regional Health and GO ART!
  • July 18 -- "Instant Family"
  • July 26 -- "Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of the Grindelwald"
  • Aug. 1 -- "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," sponsored by GO ART!

Dates may change due to weather. Movies scheduled are subject to availability.

Gillam Grant Community Center is located at 6966 W. Bergen Road. Phone is 494-1621.

Sponsored by GO ART! and Rochester Regional Health.

June 25, 2019 - 1:27pm

Press release:

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge will offer for bid 141 acres of grasslands for hay in two different fields ranging in size from 35 to 106 acres. The Refuge annually provides a total of 1,100 acres of grassland habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife.

Active management of these grasslands is necessary to provide the highest quality nesting and migration habitat. The Refuge haying program helps in this management process by reducing encroachment of broad leaf weeds and shrubs.

Units will be allocated on a highest bid per field basis for each field. Sealed bids will be accepted until close-of-business (COB) on Friday, July 5.

Bids will be opened on Monday, July 8.

An official Bid Sheet and a Commercial Activities Special Use Permit Application, both available from the Refuge headquarters, are required to make a bid.

Completed Bid Sheets and Permit Applications can be mailed to or dropped off at the Refuge headquarters at 1101 Casey Road, Basom, NY 14013 and must contain all the information requested.

If you have any questions about the haying program or would like to see the fields, please call Paul Hess at 585-948-5445, ext. 7032.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is located midway between Rochester and Buffalo, and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

June 25, 2019 - 1:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, animal abuse, pets, scanner.

A caller to dispatch reports a poodle is locked inside a Chevy Avalanche pickup truck in the Walmart parking lot. The windows are down about an inch. An animal control officer is responding.

June 25, 2019 - 1:15pm

Press release:

DARIEN CENTER -- The Kingdom Bound Festival, one of the nation’s largest and longest-running Christian music festivals, is set to return to Six Flags Darien Lake in Darien Center this summer, featuring a full slate of top Christian artists, including Crowder, for King & Country, and Skillet.

Joining the star-studded lineup for their first-ever appearances at the festival will be worship heavyweights Bethel Music and Passion Music.

The 33rd annual festival is set to take place July 28-31 with thousands of Christian music fans from across Western New York, Pennsylvania, Southern Ontario, Canada, and beyond expected to attend.

A limited number of on-site accommodations are still available, as well as full event and single day commuter passes.

All tickets include access to all festival activities as well as admission to Six Flags Darien Lake Theme and Water Park.

Kingdom Bound 2019 will featuremore than 50 artists and speakers from across the United States and Canada including headlining performances from GRAMMY® nominated multiplatinum rockers SKILLET, two-time GRAMMY® winners and longtime attendee favorites for King & Country, and worship veteran Crowder.

Joining them will be worship music pioneers Bethel Music and Passion Music, two of the leading worship groups in the country. They’ll be joined by American Idol finalist Danny Gokey, radio hitmakers Unspoken, and more.

Also joining the 2019 lineup are worship ensemble North Point InsideOut, along with Paul Baloche, We Are Messengers, I Am They, and Western New York’s own Brothers McClurg.

Other festival events include Kids programs for ages 4-8, Amped Tent for 9-12 year olds, a special morning program for high school students, and late night activities, including bonfires, dance parties, and movies.

The festival will also feature more than 40 inspirational seminars including: national communicator Reggie Dabbs; Kevin Lehman, Ph.D.; Ben Stuart; Carol McLeod and more.

Single-day tickets for the festival are $64 nd include admission to Six Flags Darien Lake Theme Park and Waterpark. Four-day festival passes including park admission are available for $154.

Tickets are available online at www.KingdomBound.org, by calling 716.633.1117, or in person at the Kingdom Bound office – 8550 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville.

About Kingdom Bound

Kingdom Bound Ministries produces one of the nation's leading Christian music festivals that has been in operation for more than three decades. With a focus on Biblical truth and a reputation for excellence in ministry, Kingdom Bound is more than a music festival, as they’ve tackled relevant subject matter such as depression, youth, the opioid epidemic, health and wellness, parenting, self-esteem, the influences of modern media, and a host of other contemporary topics.

June 25, 2019 - 1:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, ILGR, autism support group, batavia.

Press release:

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) will soon begin an ongoing Autism Support Group for adults age 18 or older with a disability on the autism spectrum, who are able to participate independently in a group.

Autism is an '"umbrella term" that includes a wide spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders found statistically in 1 of 59 children, that affect socialization and communication.

FREE for the attendees, the Autism Support Group will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. on alternative Tuesdays, starting July 16 at ILGR’s office in the Crickler Executive Center, 319 W. Main St., Batavia.

The agendas for the gatherings will be determined by the participants and could include social activities like board games or bowling, getting training or professional development, or other pursuits they feel would be beneficial.

Participants must pre-register to attend; to sign up or get more information, please call David Dodge at (585) 815-8501, ext. 414, or email him at [email protected].

Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) is a member of the Western New York Independent Living Inc. family of agencies that offers an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

June 25, 2019 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, news.

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-1.jpg

This morning David Bellavia, who will be awarded the Medal Honor in White House ceremony this afternoon, was given a guided tour of the Lincoln Memorial. The tour included access not typically provided to tourists, including a climb up several narrow flights of stairs to the rooftop.

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-2.jpg

When Bellavia arrived at the monument, Rochester newsman and author Bob Lonsberry (in Army T-shirt) asked to have his picture taken with him.

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-3.jpg

David Bellavia talking with Congressman Duncan Hunter, a former Marine who also fought in Fallujah. Hunter represents a district that covers the eastern part of San Diego County, including El Cajon (my former hometown).

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-4.jpg

Assemblyman David DiPietro, one of Bellavia's guests for the ceremony, takes a photo of the Washington Monument.

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Evan and David Bellavia.

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DiPietro and Michael Caputo.

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-7.jpg

Bellavia with a pockmark in one of the walls on the roof of the monument. During World War II a 50mm gunner thought he saw something suspicious at the Lincoln Memorial and fired a single shot.

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-8.jpg

Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, Bellavia, and Hunter.

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-9.jpg

Bellavia talking with Bernhardt.

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Bellavia and Hunter.

bellavialincolnmemorial2019-11.jpg

Bellavia with some of the men he served with: Lucas "Doc" Abernathy, Salam Ulzuhairi, Chuck Knapp, Bellavia, and Joe Swanson. Ulzuhairi was the translator for Bellavia's unit in Iraq. He recently became a U.S. citizen.

June 25, 2019 - 9:09am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Batavia Community Garden.

The chair of the Batavia Community Garden advisory board called into question City Council's policy decisions in light of a proposed amendment to the Batavia Municipal Code pertaining to residency requirements for new municipal employees.

Speaking during a public hearing at Monday night's City Council meeting at City Hall Council Chambers, Deborah Kerr-Rosenbeck spoke of a double-standard as she compared the rules that govern advisory board membership with the proposal to relax residency requirements for those who work for the City.

“It seems like talking out of both sides of our faces,” she said. “The Community Garden (at 12 MacArthur Drive, next to the Batavia Youth Bureau) was started by people who don’t live in the City. You need to be consistent in your policies.”

Kerr-Rosenbeck was referring to the fact that a couple members of the Community Garden advisory board had to give up their positions after it was discovered by City Manager Martin Moore that they were not City residents, which is in violation of the City Charter.

One of those members is Robert Gray, a Batavia native who moved to Stafford in 1996. He was a cofounder of the Community Garden in 2011 and has been instrumental in its success.

Gray, speaking after Kerr-Rosenbeck, said he was offended by his removal (he and Carol Boshart, of Corfu, since have been allowed to continue as nonvoting "advisory" members).

“I have put in over 100 hours per year as a volunteer and now I can’t be on the committee,” he said. “Really? Really?”

He pointed out that the group was unable to conduct official business on a couple occasions because it didn’t have a quorum (of voting members) and requested that City Council review its policy as it is “detrimental” to the City.

The public hearing was necessary since City Council wishes to amend the City Municipal Code pertaining to the residency of new municipal employees. Changes focus on expanding the geographical area around the city where new employees may live to include any adjacent town to Genesee County within six months of the date of conclusion of the probationary period for the City.

The employee also would be required to live within these areas for the duration of his or her employment.

City Attorney George Van Nest pointed out that City Council has the power to amend the Municipal Code, which governs employees, but has no authority when it comes to amending the City Charter, which covers volunteer boards.

Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that a Charter review is a separate, more extensive process, but it could be “something we might want to consider” as it is his hope to rectify the situation with the Community Garden advisory board.

Council Member Patti Pacino said she understood that the rules of the City Charter were drawn up by City residents, but disagreed with the outcome.

“I don’t like it,” she said.

(As an FYI, John Roach, of Batavia, who once served on the City Charter Commission, said that residency requirements were instituted for advisory boards because “we didn’t want people from Cheektowaga, for example, serving on our Zoning, Planning, Housing or Audit advisory boards. The Community Garden is a casualty of this.”)

Council Member John Canale said he was concerned over how the decision to remove Gray and Boshart was communicated to them, which prompted a response from Jocelyn Sikorski, Youth Bureau director and Community Garden coordinator.

“When Marty realized that two members lived outside of the City, we had a meeting with them to explain the circumstances, and made them both advisory members, liaisons,” she said. “This left two vacancies and changed their roles.”

Sikorski said both have been “key players” and noted that “we call Bob ‘the Almighty’ when it comes to the committee.”

The conversion then turned back to the proposed amendment to the City Municipal Code with Council Member Rose Mary Christian stating that employees should have a vested interest in the community and should live in the City or in Genesee County.

“In case we need them, if an emergency, they’re not so far away,” she said.

Jankowski said the amendment allowing for employees to live a few minutes outside the county is “kind of a compromise … which the department heads took into consideration.”

Public Works Director Matt Worth confirmed Jankowski’s view, noting that one employee lives in Attica – “the edge of where we are comfortable (to have employees live).”

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