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Wires down, car on fire, one person in road after accident on Fotch Road, Byron

By Howard B. Owens

A call has come in of a single-vehicle accident, car vs. pole, in the area of 7789 Fotch Road, Stafford.

The initial report is of a person down, in the roadway, with wires over him and the caller afraid to touch him. A car is on fire.

A first responder says the victim is on the side of the road, conscious but in pain.

Mercy Flight is is being dispatched.

Mercy EMS and Stafford Fire is on scene.

UPDATE 11:24 p.m.: Both high-voltage and low-voltage wires are damaged. National Grid has a 30 minute ETA to arrive on scene. Also a fiber optic cable belonging to the phone company has been completely burned through.

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Single-car accident at roundabout

By Billie Owens

A property damage accident is reported at the traffic roundabout at South Main and Pearl streets in Batavia.

The vehicle is reportedly leaking fluids.

The caller said the single-vehicle incident resulted in a traffic sign being knocked down and the operator of the vehicle reportedly fled the scene.

Elba Presbyterian Church to hold 5K race on Saturday

By Gretel Kauffman

This Saturday, the First Presbyterian Church of Elba will be hosting its first 5K run/walk.

Race-day registration will be from 8-8:45 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park (located on Main Street in Elba) and is $18 a person ($15 for participants under the age of 18).

The 3.1-mile race will begin at 9 a.m. on Maple Avenue and will go down West Avenue -- with drinking water at the turn-around point at Weatherwax Road -- and end at the park. 

Post-race festivities in the Veterans Memorial Park will include the awarding of prizes and giveaways for the participants, refreshments, a bake sale, 50-50 raffle and live music from The Thunderbirds. All proceeds will be used toward the mission and ministry of the First Presbyterian Church of Elba.

"This is an exciting first effort for our congregation," says Reverend Barbara Tipton. "The pre-registration response has far exceeded our expectations. The cooperation of the community officials in helping us organize our run/walk has been extraordinary.

"Our goal is to raise funding not only for important projects in our church, but to enable us to support those community agencies that address needs on all of our behalf."

For more information go to or contact Dave Bateman by e-mailing him at or calling him at (716) 374-4741.

Alexander soprano is rising young opera star

By Billie Owens

Emily Helenbrook is proving to be a rising young star in the opera world. This fall she will be a junior at Alexander High School and on Sunday she was featured on the popular CBS Sunday Morning program.

The 16-year-old was shown being nurtured and coached by world-famous diva, Renee Fleming, whom CBS profiled. Emily is a lyric coloratura soprano and she was aided by Fleming at the star's New York home in the spring.

Emily is a student of Patricia Alexander at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. She has performed as a soloist with the Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonic orchestras and Ars Nova Musicians.

This fall, she will be performing in concert in NYC as winner of the Barry Alexander International Voice Competition.

She hopes to follow in the footsteps of Fleming, her mentor, who happens to be a native of Churchville.

Raymond Cianfrini to be honored at Batavia Downs Casino

By Billie Owens

Oakfield attorney Raymond Cianfrini will be honored on “Italian-American Night” Aug. 27 at Batavia Downs Casino. The lifelong Genesee County resident is well known as a civic leader and volunteer.

He will add the award “Batavia Downs Casino 2010 Italian-American of the Year” to his list of honors at ceremonies inside the winner’s circle at the Genesee County harness track.

After graduating from Oakfield-Alabama Central School, Cianfrini attended the State University of New York at Albany for his undergraduate studies. He received his doctorate in jurisprudence from the UB School of Law.

He has been a practicing attorney in the Village of Oakfield for 38 years and served as Genesee's assistant county attorney from 1972 to 1974 and its assistant district attorney from 1974 to 1976. Cianfrini also served for two years as an associate professor of Criminal Justice at Genesee Community College and as recording judge for the NYS Racing and Wagering Board at Batavia Downs.

The active 64-year-old currently represents Oakfield and Alabama (District 1) on the Genesee County Legislature after having served as Mayor of Oakfield from 2000 to 2007.

Cianfrini and his wife, Karen, a registered nurse at United Memorial Medical Center, have been married for 37 years.

They have three children and four grandchildren. Son Michael is a partner with him in the Cianfrini Law Firm at 31 Main St. in Oakfield. Daughter Christy Cianfrini Connor is an epidemiologist in San Diego. Another son, Steve, is a helicopter pilot serving with the Army in Afghanistan.

Raymond Cianfrini was the 2007 recipient of the coveted Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation Award of Excellence as Outstanding Italian-American and was a charter inductee into the Oakfield-Alabama Central School Hall of Fame in 2004.

He is also a photographer who worked for the Buffalo Bills from 1988-94, which included the team’s four visits to the NFL Super Bowl.

Anyone wishing to make reservations to attend the Aug. 27 festivities may contact Arna Tygart at (585) 343-3750, ext 437. A special Italian buffet will be served and live music will be featured with The Formula Band.

Open house and hoopla for new School of Nursing facilities Friday afternoon

By Billie Owens

There will be an open house for the new School of Nursing facilities at MedTech Park from 3 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20.

Genesee Community College and Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will jointly celebrate the opening of the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate MedTech Centre.

It includes the college's new School of Nursing, the headquarters of GCEDC and the Physical Therapy Department of United Memorial Medical Center.

Community members are invited for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours and hands-on demonstrations of the brand-new classrooms and laboratories.

Genesee's School of Nursing occupies the entire second floor of the new MedTech Centre building. The new 20,000-square-foot-facility includes a lecture hall, conference rooms, and three state-of-the-art nursing labs for hands-on, experiential learning.

There's also a student and employee gathering room with tables, a vending area and lockers, which allow students and staff to study, relax or socialize between classes. Faculty and administrative offices also occupy the second floor.

"The college's nursing program recently increased its enrollment, helping address a nationwide demand for more registered nurses," said Kathy Palumbo, director of Genesee's Nursing program. "This new facility exemplifies both the college and business community's commitment to a stronger healthcare workforce.

"We are grateful to all the public officials, private citizens, supporters of the college as well as our dedicated students and faculty who helped make these state-of-the-art facilities a reality."

The open house will welcome Genesee's wide-reaching Nursing Program alumni as well as the nursing faculty and advisory council, Genesee's president, Stuart Steiner, Ed.D, board of trustee members, elected officials and representatives from the GDEDC (which occupies part of the first floor of the building).

"This is an exciting time for GCEDC and Genesee Community College," said Steven Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. "We are not only welcoming the nurses of tomorrow to this brand-new facility, ... we look forward to working collaboratively with the college and other organizations to develop new jobs for our region in the burgeoning new field of medical technology."

The ribbon cutting and School of Nursing open house program includes:

3 p.m. -- Doors open for the Open House

4 p.m. -- Ribbon cutting and brief welcome and acknowledgments by MedTech and college officials

4:30-6:30 p.m. -- Facility tours, School of Nursing demonstrations

An assortment of refreshments will be provided at the reception, including the college's new bottled "Cougar Water."

For further information or to RSVP to the GCC School of Nursing open house and reception please call Patty Hume at 585-343-0055, ext. 6234.

Dog attack in Alexander

By Billie Owens

There's a report of a dog attack at 3160 Pike Road in Alexander. The location is between Upton and Beaver roads. There's a male victim and possibly a second dog involved in the incident.

Sheriff's deputies are responding.

UPDATE (4:18 p.m.): Medics are also responding. There is possibly one other person injured, too.

Dog struck by hit-and-run driver on Ham Road

By Howard B. Owens

A passerby on Ham Road in Alabama found a dog that was struck by a car. The dog is still alive, but does not have tags and the owner is not around.

A Sheriff's deputy is responding.

UPDATE 1:33 p.m.: If this is the same call, a Sheriff's deputy is en route to Batavia Animal Hospital with the dog.

UPDATE 2:20 p.m.: An officer reports to dispatch that the dog was euthanized.

Grass fire reported in Thruway median

By Howard B. Owens

A grass fire has been reported in the area of mile marker 387, westbound lane, on the Thruway.

Town of Batavia Fire has been dispatched.

UPDATE 11:12 a.m.: Dispatch has received only one call on the fire. It's believed to be a small one, possibly started by a truck tire retread that came off and landed in the grass.

UPDATE 11:14 a.m.: An assistant chief has checked the Thruway and is unable to find any fire. In an unrelated incident, dispatch has also received calls about a large column of smoke behind Bj's Wholesale Club on Lewiston Road. It is a controlled burn.

UPDATE 11:16 a.m.: The controlled burn apparently has smoke drifting as far as the dispatch center on Park Road. It's been going all night and there was reportedly ash falling on West Main Street last night.

UPDATE 2:16 p.m.:  Earlier, Town of Batavia extinquished the fire. Now they're being called back to the scene.

Police Beat: Woman accused of going pantless, charged with DWI

By Howard B. Owens

Deanna L. Virgo, 34, of Garibaldi Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with DWI and aggravated DWI (driving with a BAC of .18 or greater). Initially, the Sheriff's Office received a report of a woman in the Bergen Sugar Creek parking lot not wearing any pants. Upon arrival, deputies were unable to locate the woman. Later, the Sheriff's Office received a report at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, of a disturbance at the Bergen Service Center, 8132 Buffalo Road, Bergen. There a customer was trying to talk to a woman who was in an apparent intoxicated condition in order to try and keep her from leaving. Upon investigation, deputies believe Virgo was the woman reported at the Sugar Creek without pants and that she drove to the Service Center and was drunk at the time. The incident was investigated by Deputy Chris Parker with back up from Deputy Corey Mower, Trooper Eric Daigler and Trooper Edward Chaney.

A 17-year-old from Alexander is charged with petit larceny. The youth is accused of stealing a case of Arizona Iced Tea worth $15 from a delivery truck while workers were unloading product at the Alexander Country Deli.

Lael Jacob Dylag, 24, of Cedar Street, Akron, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Dylag is accused of verbally and physically threatening another person at a location on West Main Street, Batavia.

Douglas Gene Swede, 62, of Perry Road, Pavilion, is charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd. Swede was reportedly unhappy with the scheduling of a planning board meeting and left a threatening message on the town supervisor's voice mail.

Batavia man injured in fight in Pike, Wyoming County

By Howard B. Owens

A Batavia man suffered minor knife cuts Tuesday night while visiting the Village of Pike when he became involved in an alleged fight on Main Street.

Josh Sumeriski, 25, of 17 Pringle Ave., was taken to an area hospital with superficial lacerations on his back.

Charged with assault, 2nd, was James L. Lathrop, 20, of 4685 Wilder Road, Warsaw.

The alleged fight was reported at 10:45 p.m.

Lathrop reportedly suffered a cut finger and an eye injury.

The Wyoming County Sheriff's Office did not report any charges against Sumeriski.

Lathrop was jailed on $500 bail.

Well respected firefighter and community leader passes

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee County's firefighting community lost one of its highly regarded members early Wednesday when William Dix passed away while in his office at Jay E. Potter Lumber on Maple Avenue in Corfu.

Dix, a deputy fire coordinator with Genesee County Emergency Services for 22 years, was in his fifties.

In a statement, Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger said, "DFC Bill Dix will be deeply missed by his family and his fire service family, his dedication to his business and the fire service was never ending. Bill was always there when you needed anything, including a friendly smile and a handshake."

Dix was found dead early Wednesday morning after family members became concerned that he hadn't returned home from the office. His death is not considered suspicious. The cause of death is pending an examination by the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Besides his duties as a deputy fire coordinator,  Dix was also the past chief of the East Pembroke Fire Department and most recently a commissioner with the East Pembroke Fire District. The East Pembroke resident logged more than 40 years in the fire service.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Police embark on fruitless search based on bogus tip

By Howard B. Owens

Batavia Police acting on a tip of suspicious activity responded the Kwik Fill at Jackson and Ellicott streets just before 5 p.m. and conducted an extensive search of a red Chevy sedan parked next to a gas pump.

It turns out, there was nothing found and no arrest. The driver was cited for allegedly operating on a suspended license. That's it.

Is this news? Well, if you drove by between 5 and 5:30 p.m. and saw all of this police activity, you might be wondering what it was about. Now you know.

New chief expects to bring stability to top firefighting position

By Howard B. Owens

James Maxwell, Batavia's new fire chief, has been on the job for only a few days, but he says he's getting settled in. He's worked with only two platoons of firefighters so far and said he's tried to let them know he believes in open communication.

"Bad news doesn't get better with time, so let's jump right on it," Maxwell said.

So far, though, Maxwell doesn't see any big changes coming and is impressed with the dedication and drive of department staff.

After a couple of years of musical chairs in the chief's office, the main thing now is to establish stable leadership, Maxwell said.

"(Turnover) has been unfair to the firefighters because of the inconsistency it creates," Maxwell said. "Hopefully, we can bring some continuity to the position."

One of the big questions on everybody's mind, Maxwell acknowledged, given his background in running a mixed department -- volunteers working along side full-time paid firefighters: Is the new chief aiming to move Batavia in that direction?

"That issue has not been expressed to me up to this point (by City Hall)," he said. "Two years from now, the organization may look very different than it does today. We don't know that it won't change. We don't have a crystal ball. As for now, the short term, it's business as usual."

Photos: City fire practices water rescue on Tonawanda Creek

By Howard B. Owens

City firefighters were at the Tonawanda Creek behind the courthouse this morning for some water rescue practice. It was a fairly simple exercise -- get the inflatable raft in the creek and guide it using ropes to waterfalls. It's been some years since anybody has drowned in this area of the creek, but the firefighters wanted to put together a plan to get the raft to the falls in case anybody ever becomes stuck there.

State seizes Margarita's over alleged tax issue

By Howard B. Owens

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant was shut down by the New York Department of Taxation and Finance just before noon today. The only information from officials on scene was that it was a "tax issue."

Tax Compliance Agent Elizabeth Schmidt, hanging the "seized" sign above, provided The Batavian with a phone number for the department's press office. We're expecting a call back. While Schmidt posted the sign, a locksmith was busy changing the locks. The business won't reopen until all back taxes are paid.

UPDATE: Susan Burns, spokeswoman for the taxation department called: Best Margarita's Grill, Inc. owes taxes on four warrants, with the oldest being back sales taxes from the second quarter of 2009. The four warrants total $32,914.

"We're in the process of working with the taxpayer and the indication is we will work something out fairly quickly," Burns said. "They should be re-opening soon."

The four warrants: Aug. 5 -- $16,166 for sales tax; Aug. 5 -- $1,373, for corporate tax; July 1 -- $64 for corporate tax; and April 2 -- $15,311 for sales tax.

"We always try to work with the taxpayer and negotiate a settlement," Burns said. "It's best that the business stay open for the community and that's what we work to see happen."

UPDATE: WBTA also learned that Margarita's reportedly had additional tax warrants dating back to 2007 that were paid. The total of the paid-up back taxes is $14,246.

Top Items on Batavia's List

The City of Batavia is accepting applications for a Full-time Water Treatment Plant Operator/Trainee (Salary $23.65/hr.) This is a trainee position involving responsibility for learning the duties and routines in the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant.  The work is performed under the immediate supervision of a qualified operator. Does on-the-job training to become qualified as an operator of a water treatment plant. Does related work as required. Applicant must be a graduate of a senior high school or possess a New York State high school equivalency diploma. Please submit a completed Civil Service Application to Human Resources, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY 14020 or Background check, psychological assessment, physical and drug testing are required. Candidate must become a resident of Genesee County or any adjacent town to the County of Genesee within 6 months of the date of conclusion of the probationary period for the City of Batavia. EEO. Applications can be found at
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