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Director of county nursing home announces retirement

By Howard B. Owens

John Demske, Genesee County Nursing Home administrator, is retiring effective May 14, County Manager Jay Gsell announced late this afternoon to county legislators and staff.

Demske and his wife, Rosemary, intend to stay in the Batavia area and pursue opportunities in education, consulting or private business, said Gsell in an e-mail message.

In an interview after the announcement, Gsell said the county will need to replace Demske immediately, even as the county explores cost-saving options for the nursing home, including possibly selling it. State law requires that the nursing home be managed by a director that is licensed and experienced in running such facilities. When Demske steps aside at 5 p.m. on May 14, a new director must in place and ready to take over.

Demske has been in the long-term-care field, both in the private and public sector, since 1978.

"His son is graduating from college, so one Demske is entering the work force as another one is leaving -- that's what he told me," Gsell said.

City publishes list of properties facing foreclosure

By Howard B. Owens

Notice of foreclosure for unpaid taxes have been filed against more than a dozen property owners in the city.

Property owners have until May 14 to pay the back taxes or face foreclosure and have their properties put up for auction.

The properties listed by the city, with amounts owed, are:

606-622 E. Main St., Andrew Mistler, $23,375
643 Ellicott St., Rear, Chess, LLC, $306
13-15 Jackson St., Rear, C.L. Carr Properties, LLC, $2,939
4 Cherry St., Barbara A. Suozzi, $15,876
507 Ellicott St., Margaret J. Colantonio, $15,389
20 Franklin St., Maxin P. Johnson, $14,527
151 Harvester Ave., Jeffrey C. & Diane M. Shultz, $12,191
3 Manhattan Ave., David R. Foley, $21,190
16 Oak St., Mary M. Sorce, $10,707
11-13 Raymond Ave, Philip R. Zickl, Jr., $17,298
48 Riverview Parkway, DVM Corp., $649
21 South Lyon St., Richard S. and Tamara E. Ishmael, $21,544
132 Summit St., Thomas and Mary L. Geary, $4,705
1 Union St., Douglas C. and Lori A. Veltz, $21,027
308 Washington Ave., Rose L. Nigro, $3,585

One name that may jump out at readers is Mistler. I spoke briefly with Ken Mislter about his properties and he said there was a misunderstanding with the city. He said he's been working with the city to resolve the issue and the matter will be settled shortly.

This list originally appeared in the PennySaver. Part of the original list was 643 Ellicott St., Rear, owned by Hanson Aggregates. Those taxes have been paid, according to City Clerk Heidi Parker.

Police Beat: Le Roy man jailed after alleged violation of probation

By Howard B. Owens

Benjamin G. Evans, 21, of 23 Lincoln St., Le Roy, was arrested by Le Roy Police at 6:28 p.m., Thursday, on a bench warrant out of Batavia City Court. Evans reportedly failed to comply with the terms of a release-under-supervision agreement. Evans was originally charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, in August 2009. Following his arrest by Le Roy Police, he was turned over to Batavia Police and jailed on $3,000 bail.

Summer Ogden, 33, of 112 State St., Apt. #2, Batavia, is charged with DWI, moving from lane unsafely, failure to notify DMV of address change and unsafe tires. Ogden was stopped at 1:45 a.m., Friday, by Officer Dan Coffey on West Main Street.

Batavia's Graham Corp. continues forward momentum in 2010

By Howard B. Owens

Batavia-based Graham Corp., which in 2008 saw the price of its stock drop from $50 per share to under $10 in the space of about three months, continues a string of good news in recent months.

This week Graham announced a quarterly dividend of two cents and another $6 millions in orders.

The orders have come from multiple sources around the world and include work for steam surface condensers installed in the U.S. and Asia.

The first order will be sent to a municipal waste-to-energy project in the U.S.

Batavia mother who tried to kill baby in Erie County sent to prison

By Howard B. Owens

A Batavia mother who tried to kill her baby was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison yesterday in Erie County.

Marcia Mitchell tried to smother her baby while they were at an Erie County hospital following a house fire in 2008.

The Buffalo News reports:

“I realize I made a horrible mistake. I miss my children exponentially,” Mitchell told the judge.

Mitchell, 29, said that at the time of her crime, she was “under extreme stress,” with both of her daughters hospitalized. She said she got no help from family members after her Batavia flat was destroyed in an April 2008 fire.

Unless experts determine otherwise, Mitchell will not be able to see her baby until 2019.

Stepmother accused of killing baby from Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

Andrew John Cianfrini, 21 months, was supposed to spend the weekend of Nov. 8 with his father and stepmother in Elmira. He never came home.

The infant died Nov. 10. Elmira police now say the child's stepmother, Melissa S. Englehardt, 24, put Methanol, an ingredient in anti-freeze, in a drink and served it to him.

Andrew lived with his mother, Kristen Cianfrini, in Batavia.

Englehardt has been charged with manslaughter, 1st.

The child's father is George Englehardt.

Flooding reported in basement of home in Elba

By Howard B. Owens

The basement of a house at 6163 Quaker Hill Road has reportedly flooded.

The quarter is believed now to be above the power panel and water is coming up through the kitchen floor.

Elba Fire is being dispatched.

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Genesee ARC holds open house at new facility at former St. Mary's School

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee ARC introduced its new Community Center tonight in a special program that included an art exhibit by ARC clients and a presentation on the organizations fundraising campaign.

Genesee ARC acquired the former St. Mary's School at 38 Woodrow Road, Batavia, two years ago and is in the process of completely remodeling the facility to meet the needs of clients and families.

The project will cost more than $1.4 million, with $750,000 of the funds necessary for the project coming from private donations. So far, 59 percent of the total has been raised, and Genesee ARC is looking for other community members to step forward and help with the fundraising drive.

Tom Houseknecht and his wife Lynn are co-chairs of the campaign. The Houseknecht family has been involved with Genesee ARC from its earliest days. Tom's parents, Ralph and Agnes, lost a developmentally disabled child who was 3 years old and realized the need to support families with developmentally disabled children. The entire Houseknecht family has been involved in supporting Genesee ARC for nearly 35 years.

"We have received much more than we have given, as we have all experienced the special gifts of these individuals and the families that ARC serves," Tom Houseknecht said.

The new facility will offer a culinary arts program, a creative arts room, family support services, recreation and physical fitness and a resource center.

Tonight's program included a showing of art work by several Genesee ARC clients. The featured artist was Henry James Stratton II (pictured below), also known as "Hank," or, in Challenger Baseball season, "Hammerin' Hank."  Hank likes to paint super heroes and villains, but his 11-piece exhibit included a sunset, a zoom mobile and a birthday bonanza.

Several of the artists wanted to have their pictures taken tonight. Please take a moment to click the "read more" link below to see the pictures of these artists and their works.

Joe Gear and his piece, "America."

John Brown with "Train Going Into Station" and "Train With Smoke." John made the wooden frames.

Mary Abella with her son Vincenzo Falcone and his piece, "John 3:16."

Kathy Gartz with "Butterlies."

The Geese Are Here: It Must Be Spring!


It was only last Sunday when Claudia and I saw our first flock of geese. By Wednesday the skies were filled with myriad waterfowl, a good sign that spring is almost here.

Spring offically arrives at 1:32 pm Saturday, March 20th, but thousands of geese can't be wrong. If their arrival signals an early spring, it's okay with me. 

While the larger ponds and marshes are still covered with ice, throngs of Canadas have been congregating in open fields and small patches of open water.

Some geese took advantage of the open water....

  while others waddled in slushy snow.

A lone goose glides over the phragmites.

Preparing to touch down.

The respite is over...

once again heading for an unknown destination.

All photos were taken off Roberts Road along the southern perimeter of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. Special thanks to my grandson, Sammy, for his assistance!  

Photo: Bald Eagle in Alexander

By Howard B. Owens

Stacy Wirth provided this picture. She was driving on Brookville Road in Alexander today when she spotted the Bald eagle dining on a deer carcass.

St. Paul Lutheran School celebrates National Lutheran Schools Week

By Ethan Thompson

Every year St. Paul Lutheran School in Batavia celebrates “National Lutheran Schools Week”. It is a week dedicated to celebrating the uniqueness of Lutheran schools across the nation. This year St. Paul chose to make their theme “Numbered with the Saints.” So every day this past week they have had events that had to do with numbers and math. Yesterday the children invited their grandparents to come to the school to see what their usual day is like and also performed a play for them. Today was “The Math Olympics”. Each of the fourth and fifth grade students ran a different station which had to do with some kind of math. Then the younger children teamed up and went around to compete in each “event.” At the end of the day the team with the most points won a prize of treats and goodies.

The video below gives a quick glance at what the afternoon was like.

Fall down stairs takes the life of Darien Center man

By Howard B. Owens

A 57-year-old Darien Center man who fell down a flight of stairs in his home and struck his head on a hammer, died this morning at the Erie County Medical Center.

William Thomas was a retired carpet salesman and the father of five children.

The accident occurred around 7 p.m., Tuesday, and Thomas was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC.

For the past 10-and-a-half years, Thomas was married to Marguerite. Together, they have 15 grandchildren.

"(Our time together was) way too short," Marguerite said this afternoon. "We were married right here on our property where we built our log home, right here in Darien Center. This was our dream."

She said Bill's accidental death hasn't really sunk in yet.

"He was a very healthy man," she said. "He loved me beyond belief and I knew that."

She said, "We were glued together."

Thomas served in the Navy in the 1960s, loved to ride his motorcycle and "had the best sense of humor of anybody you would ever want to meet."

There is no information available yet on funeral arrangements.

Car fire on Seven Springs Road

By Billie Owens

A car fire is reported at 8534 Seven Springs Road in the Town of Batavia. It is near the railroad tracks. Batavia Fire is responding.

Three residential wells on State Street Road contaminated by e-coli

By Howard B. Owens

(Updated 3:18 p.m.)

The wells of three homes on State Street Road in the Town of Batavia have been contaminated by the deadly bacteria known as e-coli, according to the county's Interim Health Director Randy Garney.

The likely cause of the contamination, according to Garney, was the spreading of manure on nearby farm fields.

The three homes are located between the airport and the Genesee County Emergency Management Office.

Residents contacted the health department Monday complaining about discolored water and a funny smell, Garney said. The water was tested on Tuesday and positive results came back Wednesday.

Resident Joe Pionessa (pictured), who has lived on State Street for 22 years, said his water tested positive for bacteria, but no e-coli, though he believed neighbors on both sides of him did have e-coli in their well water.

He said it wasn't a big deal. He doesn't drink water ("I know what fish do in it," he said), and he thinks his water has already cleaned up quite a bit (he dumped chlorine in it after noticing the funny smell on Thursday).

He doesn't want negative publicity for the farmer, whom he said he's known for years and he believes was following state guidelines.

"Stuff like this happens and he certainly didn't do anything maliciously," Pionessa said. "He was very apologetic. Shit happens, and this time it happened here."

Somebody, he said, possibly the farmer, left three cases of bottled water yesterday on Pionessa's front steps.

Letters have been sent to 44 of the surrounding home owners in both Batavia and Elba warning them of the potential contamination and asking them to contact the health department to have their water tested if they suspect any contamination.

The test is free.

Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger said test results of the well water at the county building came back negative this afternoon. Not that it mattered much, Yaeger said, since personnel there have drank bottled water since the day the facility opened.

Because the wells were contaminated from a ground water source, it's probable that the residents will never again be able to use the wells for potable water.

Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post said the Town has already started the process of helping the residents determine if they want to create a water district and hook their homes into the public water system.

This sort of contamination is a common issue in the Town of Batavia, according to Post.

"We anticipate that this will be an issue until every household in the community is on public water," Post said. "The only solution to this is to ensure that well water is no longer the primary source of water because all well water is at risk."

While the town doesn't supply water, they do have resources available to help with getting the engineering done, the cost analysis and setting up the process of putting homes on public water

"There is a process and we’re certainly already mobilized," Post said.

There was a similar problem on Ellicott Street Road two years ago, where a farmer was "guilty of farming" -- spreading manure in accordance with state regulations -- and more than 100 homes were effected by e-coli contamination. The town was able to help expedite the process of getting the homes on public water.

Hawley says Lt. Gov's fiscal reform plan is 'a start but needs work'

By Billie Owens

This is a statement by Assemblyman Steve Hawley concerning a proposed fiscal reform plan by New York's Lt. Governor:

“Last night, Lt. Governor Ravitch clarified his five-year fiscal reform plan to my colleagues and I in the Assembly Minority Conference. While I agreed with him on the need to cut out social ‘yum yums’, or giveaways in the state budget, I am specifically concerned with his proposal to increase state borrowing by $2 billion a year for the next three years.

"We are not going to solve the state’s fiscal crisis by increasing our borrowing and coming up with budgetary gimmicks. In order to truly close out the budget deficit and steer New York out of this fiscal crisis, we need to make real spending cuts. I look forward to working with the Lt. Governor and my legislative colleagues in the coming weeks as the budget deadline approaches."

Johnsons' Millennium Computers expands into smaller space

By Howard B. Owens

Growth is what most small business owners aim for, and Marc and Michelle Johnson reached an important milestone last month -- they moved from retail space they rented on East Main Street, Batavia, to a location on Washington Avenue that they own.

The Johnsons set up shop for Millennium Computers, founded in Batavia in 1997, in the former real estate office of Feary Cohen.

Marc Johnson said he had been planning for a couple of years to move Millennium into space he owned and bought vacant land on Washington next to the Cohen office a couple of years ago.

This past summer, he said, Howard Cohen called him and offered him the Feary Cohen space. It was a deal he couldn't pass up, he said.

"As an entrepreneur, you want to keep reinventing yourself," Johnson said.

While the new space is smaller, that's better Johnson said. It enables him and his staff to work more efficiently. They can handle multiple projects more easily.

It also helps that they were able to redesign the office -- which is based on a plan created by Michelle -- to suit their needs.

The office is designed, he said, for efficiency and openness, so that when needed, customers can work directly with the tech fixing or upgrading their computers.

And there's room to grow, either on the vacant parcel to the east or on the south side of the building.

"If business continues to increase the way it has over the past two years or so, I don't see any reason why we won't be able to expand," Johnson said.

Suspect in burglary has new attorney, but won't get second chance at plea agreement

By Howard B. Owens

Reginald Wilson, charged with burglary, 2nd, and facing a possible life prison term for his alleged part in a break-in on State Street in September, has a new attorney.

Wilson has hired Fares Rumi of Batavia. In court this morning for the change of attorney notice, Rumi politely asked Judge Robert Noonan if his client might have a chance to reconsider a plea offer he turned down a week ago.

"No Mr. Rumi, it doesn’t work that way," Noonan said. "His time is gone."

Rumi replied, "we're ready to proceed to trial."

The trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection at 9 a.m., March 29.

Wilson will be tried on charges of burglary 2nd and criminal possession of stolen property. If convicted of either, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman could ask Noonan to impose a life sentence.

The 37-year-old Rochester resident have five prior felony convictions.

Three other individuals were reportedly involved in the alleged burglary, which frightened a woman who was home at the time. Two of the alleged cohorts have said in statements that Wilson did not participate in the burglary.  One individual will testify that Wilson was there.

Wilson was arrested, reportedly, after beging caught driving a car stolen from the residence.

Previously, Friedman offered Wilson a felony conviction of possession of stolen property and 2- to 4-years in state prison.

In other court news:

Warren T. Cotton, accused of operating a meth lab at 13 Ross St., Batavia, will be arraigned in Federal court this afternoon on a charge possession with the intent to manufacture substances with a detectable amount of methamphetamine. The local charges against Cotton will be dropped.

Chad M. Johnston, 23, who admitted Feb. 24 to attempted burglary, 3rd, for a break-in at 15 Fairway Drive, Batavia, was sentenced today. Johnston will serve 1 1/2 to 3 three years in supervised parole. Johnston will first serve six months in a drug rehab program at Willard Drug Treatment Campus.

Police Beat: Charges of DWI and an alleged trespass

By Howard B. Owens

Rebecca Jo Cornell, 35, of 439 Sandhill Road, Caledonia, is charged with trespass. Cornnell is accused of going into the Batavia Target store after being barred from the store for allegedly shoplifting in January.

Robert May, 66, of 9339 Warsaw Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle and no or inadequate headlights. May was stopped at 7:27 p.m., Wednesday on Park Road by Deputy Bradley Mazur.

Blue Devils knock off Wellsville to advance to regional title game

By Howard B. Owens

After beating Wellsville (17-5) at the Blue Cross Arena last night 64-41, the Batavia Blue Devils advance to the Far West Regional title game.

Batavia will play Olean (20-2) at 4 p.m., Saturday, at Buffalo State College.

Co Co Irvin led the Blue Devils with 19 points. Andrew Hoy and Josh Budlong each added 15 points. Justin Washington scored nine points and had 11 rebounds. Budlong had 5 three-point goals.

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City of Batavia, NY Position: Cleaner The City of Batavia is accepting applications for a Part-Time Cleaner. The hourly rate is $15.43. The position is responsible for routine and repetitive manual work calling for the performance of simple cleaning duties. Work is performed under direct supervision of a supervisor who assigns tasks and frequently inspects and evaluates the employee and their work when completed. Civil Service applications and job description may be picked up at the City’s Human Resources Office, 2 nd Floor, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY. Please submit completed applications to Rebecca McGee, Human Resources Director, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY by December 15, 2023. Background check and drug testing required.
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Crossroads House is a comfort care home for the dying. We are a non-for-profit organization that provides its services free of charge. We run on a supportive community and selfless volunteers. With out both of those we would not be able to serve our community. If you have a caregiver's heart and 2 to 4 hours a week, we would love for you to become a part of our Crossroads House family! No experience required, we will train you and provide mentors and experienced volunteers to guide you. Please go to to apply, click on volunteer tab to complete application or email [email protected]
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