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Car fire in Oakfield

By Howard B. Owens

A fully involved car fire has been reported on Park Avenue near Judge Road in Oakfield.

Oakfield Fire is responding.


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L.B. Grand travesty

By ben bonarigo

Though a retired physician living in Florida I am a native Batavian with more than a passing interest in the discussion of the taxation issue involving the L.B. Grand restaurant in LeRoy.

After giving considerable thought and engaging in review of some New York State journals and available news reports I made the effort to read  some of the formidably redundant tax code.  Then, following a quick review of statistical methods, I made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain the statistical method employed in the state Tax Code.
Any questioning of the bureaucracy,as you could guess, resulted in the usual government endless merry-go-round.

Some facts however did surface and these I want to share so the New York State Department of Taxation motives will be a little more transparent.

Years of state deficits and unbalanced budgets have created the need for the Tax Department to collect more so that cuts in budgets could be avoided.  In New York there exists a budget deficit greater than $8 billion dollars.

The top tax  enforcement official, William Comiskey, with the backing of Legislators and Govenor Patterson have unleashed the Department of Taxation and Finance to radically increase the number of audits on small businesses to build the state coffers.

Thus far the goals do not imply anything unreasonable.  However, the methods utilized and the individuals who have been hired in increasing numbers to levy these audits create serious skepticism.  Dubious sampling methods defy statistical plausibility.  These methods include one day samples which are inexplicably extrapolated to define years of income.

That method would be tantamount to estimating the average daily temperature in Batavia, N.Y. by taking a sample of one day then applying it to all days, in all seasons, for three years.  Sound crazy?  It is!   This method may be employed if a small business cannot produce records that the Tax Department considers acceptable and that includes receipts that have been carefully saved but have faded because the vehicle was thermal paper.  Such is the case with L.B. Grand Restaurant.

As stated by a N.Y. tribunal ruling on such a case, “A lack of records does not equate to a presumption that taxable sales have been underreported.  This does not give the division carte  blanche to simply extract convenient mumbers from an index and use them in a manner for which they were never intended.”

The target of such oppressive techniques would  be forced to resort to legal help at a huge  expense.  In many instances this has resulted in dismissal of the claims made by the Tax Department.  In the case of L.B Grand an alleged underpayment of sales taxes amounts to $247 thousand over three years has been decided even though gross receipts are approximately $500 thousand per year.  Sound crazy?  It is!

Involving tax attorneys would be certain to alleviate and possibly get rid of the charges.  Isn’t it amazing that a charge made with certainty by the State could almost inexplicably be made to go away?  Isn’t that a scary concept?   Pay the bill to the state or get a lawyer and he could make it disappear----for a staggering sum paid by the accused to preserve innocence.

Where does this place the small business owner?  I will not pander  your emotions though the overwhelming  mental anguish and suffering of  the innocent is palpable to me.

Think it over.  Can all of this really be happening?   In America?

College's student government fed up with funding bus route

By Billie Owens

To hear William Cassidy tell it, the students at Genesee Community College "run a bus service," sort of.

He's a senator in the student government who's lobbying to change the status quo for funding bus transportation. As it stands, the B-Line Bus Service to the college is paid for with student activity fees, a practice that's been in place for years and years.

What many at the college would like to see, is a "market-based" system wherein the students who use the B-Line buy a bus pass. Now, the entire student body chips in to pay for something that a small minority of students use regularly.

Currently, $118 per full-time student and $22 per part-time student goes into the student activities fund each semester. This pays for major equipment repairs, as approved by the college Board of Trustees, pre-season and post-season athletics, and day care.

The fund is left with $322,000 for trips, pizza parties, movies, etc., and to finance B-Line Service, which costs $52,000. Individual riders show their student I.D. cards and pay nothing to get onboard. Non-students, those without I.D.s, pay $1.

The current three-year contract with B-Line expires in May and negotiations are under way for a new one. The latest talks occurred Monday.

Linda Knox, who is in charge of the B-Line Service in Genesee County, said she could not discuss the matter due to the negotiations. Cliff Scutella, a student advisor at GCC, is working to bring student government reps and transportation officials together to discuss the issue.

"Last time I checked the SUNY Charter, it allows student government to spend its activity funds as the campus sees fit," Cassidy said. "It doesn't mention running a bus service."

Cassidy facetiously suggests starting a "Bus Club" for riders to earn money to pay for B-Line Service. All the other campus clubs are obliged to raise their own funds.

"We could have a bus wash," Cassidy said.

The transit authority has suggested reducing the cost of the B-Line by having fewer runs, a solution Cassidy finds "absurd" because the GCC loop has more riders than any other route in the county.

When asked about other options for funding bus service to the college, Rochester General Regional Transportation Authority, which B-Line is part of, apparently likes things the way they are.

Myriam T. Contiguglia, its regional marketing coordinator, offered this statement:

"The 30-year partnership between BBS and GCC has provided students with reliable transportation allowing them to access higher education. Removing the transportation barrier creates less stress for students so they can concentrate on academics thus increasing graduation rates.

"People living in rural areas face many of the same challenges as people living in urban centers seeking educational opportunities but often have to travel greater distances, have less opportunities for part-time jobs and income levels are often lower. The availability of public transportation in rural areas removes two barriers from people going to school: the lack of private transportation and the expenditure of limited income to pay for insurance, gas, car payments. The money saved can go towards paying for tuition and books."

Le Roy Fire plucks two stranded canoeists from middle of Oatka Creek

By Howard B. Owens

Two canoeists were rescued from the Oatka Creek in Le Roy this afternoon after their canoe became marooned on a submerged tree near Wilcox Road.

Neither were injured.

"They were just cold and wet," said 2nd Assistant Chief Tom Wood of the Le Roy Fire Department.

The canoeists apparently couldn't control their canoe in the swift-moving, swollen creek, Wood said.

There was another pair of canoeists out with them and they managed to make it to shore and call 9-1-1.

Le Roy Fire responded and used its ladder truck (also called an aerial truck) to rescue the pair, who have not been identified.

Capt. Thomas Carroll and Firefighter Bill Wood went out on the boom, which was lowered as close as possible to the water, and then a ladder was lowered so the canoeists could climb up.

"People shouldn't be on the water right now," Wood said. "It's going too fast, unless you're a really experienced canoeist."

UPDATE: Photo submitted by a reader.


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Leaving Dollar General, driver's car catches fire

By Howard B. Owens

Robert Griffin said he was leaving the Dollar General about 3:45 p.m. when he heard a pop and then smoke started billowing out from under the hood of his car.

City Fire responded and quickly doused the small fire.

Elba kicks off 'Celebrate Reading' program

By Howard B. Owens

Mike Randall, meterologist with Channel 7 News in Buffalo, was at Elba Central School today to entertain and instruct children with his magic show.

The assembly kicked off the school's "Celebrating Reading" program. The title of today's program was "Reading is Magic."

Batavia police investigating hit-and-run property damage accident in roundabout

By Howard B. Owens

Batavia Police are looking for a blue color SUV that lost its wheel well and has damage to its right front bumper after striking sign posts in the roundabout and driving off.

The car was last seen heading south on Walnut Street.

UPDATE: Sign posts weren't struck down -- light poles were -- three of them coming off of Pearl Street into the roundabout. It looks like the driver never even entered the roundabout, but drove through the median coming off of Pearl and onto the parkway, then off onto Walnut. One of the light poles was dragged a good 80 feet.

Batavia schools plan 1.23-percent tax increase

By Howard B. Owens

At one time, Batavia School District officials spoke of a possible 10-percent tax increase on local property owners, but the final approved budget includes only a 1.23 percent increase.

District Business Manager Scott Rozanski told The Batavian's news partner WBTA, that past years' conservative budgeting -- underestimating revenue and holding a line on expenses -- has made it easier for the district to weather big cuts in state aid.

"There may be a greater impact next year and in future years if the trend continues," Rozanski said.

The 1.23-percent increase works out to 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, so on a home assessed at $80,000, the taxpayer will pay the school district an additional $21.60.

Rozanski said that over the past few months, the district has been able to cut expenses, which contributed to the district's ability to hold down the tax increase.

WBTA has posted a historical chart of tax increases (and decreases) from the district as well as an MP3 of its interview with Rozanski (click here).

Voters will be asked to approve the budget May 18.

Senate approves budget that increases spending, cuts funds to schools

By Howard B. Owens

Senate Democrats have approved a budget proposal that increases state spending by $1 billion, even as it cuts $1.4 billion in school spending, according to the Albany Business Journal.

The Senate budget -- which Republicans say they did not get time to review thoroughly, therefore voted against -- does not include a tax on soft drinks proposed by Gov. David Paterson, nor authorization for grocery stores to sell wine.

The proposed budget, which will need to be reconciled with an as-yet-unannounced Assembly budget, passed the Senate 32-29.

The two houses have until April 1 to agree on a budget.

Democrats say the increase in spending is still below the rate of inflation.

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer released the following statement:

The Senate Democrats drafted their final budget resolution in secret, without any input from Republicans. They then released the resolution less than an hour before it was voted on. Only a budget resolution crafted in secret would produce such a bad deal for New Yorkers.

The Budget Resolution increases spending by $1.5 billion, expands welfare programs, and fails to restore the STAR rebate check program for all homeowners. Even worse, the resolution does nothing to help create private sector jobs. Instead, it only adds more government jobs by expanding welfare eligibility and increases public assistance payments again this year.

I will only support a budget which does not increase taxes and spending, delivers property tax relief to homeowners and enables the private sector to create jobs. This is the budget the people want. It’s a budget they deserve and the budget we must achieve.

Grand opening held today for Batavia's Mental Health Court

By Howard B. Owens

Dozens of local officials were on hand for the grand opening ceremony for Batavia's Mental Health Treatment Court, a new program -- one of the first in the state -- of the Batavia City Court.

Judge Robert J. Balbick was the first speaker.

The court is a program for defendants who have serous mental health issues, who need treatment and other services, and who chose to participate in the program instead of having their cases proceed through the regular court process.

The court will accept defendants who, in addition to mental issues, need substance abuse treatment or who have developmental disabilities, or those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Today's ceremonies opened with musicians playing guitar and flute (in separate rooms). Besides Balbick, other speakers included Judy Harris Kluger, chief of policy and planning for the court, Paula Feroleto, chief administrative judge, Augusta Welsh, clinical director of Genesee County Mental Health Services, Ed Minardo, Genesee Justice, Gary Horton, public defender and Robert Zickl, assistant district attorney, among others.

For more information on the court, see our previous story.

Police expand investigation into alleged left of credit cards, building materials

By Howard B. Owens

Batavia Police continue to dig into the activities of a Warsaw man who is accused of running a complicated scheme to use stolen credit card numbers to buy building materials and then bill customers for the materials.

Today, detectives executed a search warrant at a property in Bethany and reportedly recovered thousands of dollars worth of material that was allegedly purchased with stolen credit cards from Armor Building Supply during a three-month period in 2009.

Two more counts of grand larceny have been added to the four already filed against Dustin Hurlburt, of 32, of 21 Elm St., Warsaw.

There may be other suspects in the case and Batavia detectives are asking anyone with information that might be relevant to the case to call them.

Because of the alleged use of credit cards and the amount of money involved, the U.S. Secret Service has joined the investigation.

Det. Kevin Czora is the lead detective on the case.

Upgrading The Batavian's server

By Howard B. Owens

Since about 10:30 this morning, we've been plagued by site slowness (and a server crash).

We've fine tuned our current Web server as much as we can.

The next step -- which we're taking -- is to spend more money and upgrade our server.

The frustrating part is, The Batavian, while popular locally, doesn't require many resources. Our current server should be able to handle the load just fine. The apparent and probable problem is there are a number of black hat Web crawlers (software programs that visit various Web sites sucking in the content). Black hat crawlers don't obey the ethics of how to crawl a site, they won't let a server administrator block them, and they consume a tremendous amount of resources. 

Based on the usage pattern we're seeing, we believe that doubling our server resources will give us a better ability to handle the load and greatly reduce the number of these periodic site slow downs.

The upgrade should be in place in about 20 minutes from now.

Le Roy Police charge 16-year-old with sexual misconduct

By Howard B. Owens

The parents of a 14-year-old girl in Le Roy reportedly found her in bed with a 16-year-old boy from Geneseo.

The parents called Le Roy Police and the boy has been charged with sexual misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor.

The boy's name was withheld by Le Roy Police. He was issued an appearance ticket and will be arraigned in Le Roy Town Court on an unspecified date.

Weather: Some rain, some cold, some sun over next few days

By Howard B. Owens

The forecast for today -- more drizzle, and rain showers into the night. Then it starts to clear, but temperatures over the next three or four days will range from 22 degrees to 58 degrees. Starting tomorrow, it will be partially cloudy for a few days, clearing to a sunny, but slightly chilly day, on Saturday.

Photo: Taken this morning, a horse on Pearl Road in Oakfield.

Trial moved back for former O-A teacher accused of sex abuse

By Howard B. Owens

Today's scheduled trial of a former Oakfield-Alabama teacher who is accused of sexually abusing a student has been pushed back to May 11.

Oakfield Town Justice Thomas A. Graham confirmed that 27-year-old Kerry Hoffman had until yesterday to accept a plea offer or go to trial, and Hoffman did not accept a plea deal. His case is going to trial.

All seven charges against Hoffman, five counts of sexual abuse and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and a count of official misconduct, are misdemeanors.

The case will be tried in Oakfield Town Court.

Previously, attorney Thomas D. Calandra has proclaimed his client's innocent.

"People will be surprised," said Calandra in January. "We will be bringing up issues that will surprise people."

Le Roy voters asked to approve vehicle purchases today

By Howard B. Owens

The possible purchase of three new school buses and two other vehicles is on the ballot in Le Roy today.

Voting in the LeRoy Central District will take place from 3 until 7 p.m. in the Trigon Building.

There are two propositions:

  • The first would buy three school buses at a cost not to exceed $285,000. Ninety-percent of the cost is covered by state aid.
  • In a second proposition, district voters will be asked to approve $72,000 for the purchase of a truck and tractor for the school district. No state aid is available for the vehicles, however.

(via WBTA)

Police Beat: A pair of alleged DWIs

By Howard B. Owens

David J. Schultz, 27, of 3124 W. Main St., Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding. Schultz was stopped at 2:32 a.m. on Tuesday by Officer Kevin DeFelice.

John A. Akok, 30, of Hartford, Conn., is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Akok was stopped by State Police on the Thruway in Stafford at 7:42 a.m., Monday.

Isreal A. Amador, 22, of Rochester, is charged with criminal contempt. Amador was picked up at 11:08 a.m., Monday, by State Police in Le Roy at the Thruway exist for allegedly violating an order of protect. No further details available.

Top Items on Batavia's List

TAKE NOTICE THAT The Town of Elba is requesting Bids for the 2024 Cemetery Mowing season, with extra clean-up and trimming of trees/bushes. This will include three (3) cemeteries, Pine Hill Cemetery on Chapel Street, Maple Lawn Cemetery on Maple Avenue and Springvale Cemetery on Edgerton Road. Bids are for a 1-year contract and the successful bidder must provide their own $500,000.00 Liability Insurance certificate. A complete list of specifications/properties can be obtained by contacting the Town Clerk’s Office at (585)757-2762, ext. 10. Sealed bids should be clearly marked “Elba Cemetery Mowing Bids” and submitted no later than 4:00 p.m., Thursday, March 7, 2024 at the Town Clerk’s Office, 7133 Oak Orchard Road, Elba, NY 14058. Bids will be opened at 1:00 p.m. at the Town of Elba Town Hall on Monday, March 11, 2024. The Town Board reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids that do not comply with their specifications. By Order of the Town Board, Trisha Werth Town Clerk
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Part -Time Children's Library Clerk Position available at the Haxton Memorial Public Library Application is available on the library website: haxtonlibrary.org Or apply at 3 North Pearl Street , Oakfield. Any questions please call 948-9900
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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 Crossroadshouse.com to apply, click on volunteer tab to complete application or email Ashleymanuel@crossroadshouse.com
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