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Batavia Women’s Club announces 2018 award winners

By Steve Ognibene

The Batavia Business and Professional Women’s Club (BBPW), 2018 Scholarship Committee, has awarded scholarships to seven Genesee County high school, two Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) and one Genesee Community College students.

The clubs Vice President/Committee Chairperson Peggy Johnson presented the awards for the evening.

The 2018 Scholarship Award winners pictured above are, from left: Jessica Hicks, (Oakfield), Alexis Breton (Alexander), Gordon Montgomery (Batavia), Kelsey Kasmarek (Batavia), Eric Sharlau (Alexander), Ethan Hutchins (Notre Dame) and Sabrina Walton from (Genesee Community College). Not in the photo were Abigail Klos (Oakfield), Grace Krizen (Pembroke) and Madison LaGrou (Oakfield).

The high school students each received a $750 check to support their educational and career goals. These scholarships are open to Genesee County high schools seniors (male or female). Each student maintained an 85-percent average or higher, completed a one-page BPW application with a letter of recommendation from a school staff member and submitted a personal essay discussing their achievements and future goals as well as an essay from a parent. The finalists were interviewed by the BBPW Scholarship Committee in May and were notified by one of the scholarship committee members.

The Genesee Community College (GCC) adult student received a $500 scholarship award. The selection process for the GCC award is completed by the Genesee Community College Foundation.

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) students each received a $250 scholarship award. These students were selected through the GVEP, Student Services Committee.

All of the award winners were invited to the Batavia Business and Professional Women’s June Banquet, which was held Thursday, June 7, at Dibble Family Center in Batavia.

Additionally, BBPW club members voted at their May Meeting on the Service Awards to be distributed and this year. Four $300 checks were awarded.  To be considered for the service award a letter written on appropriate letterhead was sent to the BBPW requesting consideration.

To find out more about BBPW scholarships and service awards visit their webpage here.

The following service organizations received monetary awards at the banquet: Crossroads House, Project Stork, The Warrior House, Genesee Cancer Assistance & Bethany Volunteer Fire Department.

The BBPW club also voted at their April meeting for Women of the Year. This year's recipient was Pearl Hyatt. She is an honorary member who joined the club back in 1980.

Hyatt is currently the chair of the club's Sunshine Committee. She loves serving on the committee and the club couldn’t have a better person for the position. In this role, she goes and visits any shut-in members and keeps them informed on what the club is doing. She is so sweet, happy and a very caring women. It is a great pleasure to have her service.

Please support BBPW next fundraising event, the Basket & Live Auction & Dinner being held at the Ascension Parish Hall on Sumner Street in Batavia on Oct. 13.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6. Basket drawings and live auction to follow.  It is an "Evening in the Magical Kingdom" event. Tickets are on sale now for $25.

To purchase tickets or donate to the auction, please contact Michelle at 297-0779 or send an email to bataviabpw@gmail.com. All proceeds from this event benefit Genesee County scholarships and the service organizations.

Transformer blew up on Center Street in Downtown Batavia, resulting in power outage

By Billie Owens

A transformer blew up -- or had some kind of meltdown -- on Center Street, resulting in a power outage. National Grid is notified and asked to respond in emergency mode; no ETA. The transformer was leaking oil or fluid, which reportedly got on a vehicle parked near it.

The vehicle was moved to a parking lot. Center Street was closed at East Main and School Street. City fire and police responded. The city fire assignment is back in service. Not sure if the roadway is reopened.

GC Office for the Aging will be distributing Farmers' Market coupon booklets

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee County Office for the Aging will be distributing Farmers’ Market Coupons to income-eligible seniors, 60 years of age and older.

The coupon booklets will be available at 2 Bank St., Batavia, on the following dates/times:

  • 10 a.m. -- 12 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10
  • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Thursday, July 12 
  • 1 -- 4 p.m. on Monday, July 23
  • 10 a.m. -- 12 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25

**Before these dates, if you live in senior housing, a flier will be posted about when the Office for the Aging will be at your location.

Anyone 60 or older in your household can have a coupon booklet; you must still be income eligible and the booklet must be given to each person individually.

Coupons will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis, until they are gone.

If you have any questions call please call 343-1611.

  • You must be age 60 or older. Please bring ID.
  • If you reside in public/subsidized housing, you qualify regardless of income, but please bring proof of address.

***  2018 Income Guidelines  ***

Household of 1 = $ 1,872/mo.

Household of 2 = $ 2,538/mo.

Household of 3 = $3,204/mo.

Property owner on Walnut Street doesn't want public using his land to access Tonawanda Creek

By Howard B. Owens

Erik Saluste is looking for some help from the city in keeping people off his property at 5 Walnut St., Batavia.

He said trespassers are a huge and consistent problem. 

His property backs up to the Tonawanda Creek and he doesn't want people on his land when they want to sightsee, fish, or kayak on the creek.

"People think that all the houses on Walnut Street, Route 98, that back against the creek allow public access," told the City Council last night during public comments. "There is no public access. My property line extends to where the creek ends. I’ve posted no trespassing signs on my property."

He said he's had to call police about trespassers four times already this year.

He said he brought the issue to the City Council four years ago and nothing happened. He said he applied for a building permit to install a fence on his property line and it was denied.

He took that as the city asserting easement rights but he said the city has no easement rights. The state has easement rights 50 feet in from the creek and that he was told he could build structures within the easement, but if the state needed the structures removed for flood control measures he would have to remove the structures.

Interim City Manager Matt Worth said he will need to research it but he believes the state might be concerned about a fence catching tree limbs and other debris that could contribute to a flooding issue.

Saluste thinks a fence from the footbridge to 1 Walnut might help alleviate the problem and said he would be willing to help pay for it. He said the problem is a huge privacy and liability issue for him.

"You do have to realize that until I have satisfaction in this area I’m going to continue to call Batavia Police Department every time I have somebody (trespassing)," Saluste said. "I’m not going to confront them anymore because they’ve almost become physical on certain occasions and I don’t want that to happen."

The council instructed Worth to look into the issue further.

UPDATE: Felipe Oltramari, county planning director, brought this to our attention:

Per DEC’s website (https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8371.html): “If a waterway is navigable in fact, the right to public navigation authorizes a boater to get out of the boat to pull it around obstacles or to get around obstacles by portaging over private property, so long as the portage is by the most direct and least intrusive safe route possible.”

This property is right at the dam so a kayaker or canoer could come ashore legally on Mr. Saluste’s land for the purposes of getting around the dam while navigating the creek.  

PHOTO: Screen grab from county's GIS map, shows, from the top, 1 Walnut, 3 Walnut, and 5 Walnut.

City Council takes up again issue of what to do with 150-year-old house converted to police station

By Howard B. Owens

For at least five years the City of Batavia has been trying to figure out what to do about its aging, deteriorating, ill-suited police headquarters and Monday night the topic was once again on the City Council agenda.

Consultant John Brice, of Geddis Architects, presented the council with three broad options, with price tags in excess of $7 million up to nearly $10 million, and each with their own challenges and pitfalls, not the least of which is the time it will take to complete whichever option is chosen.

Option 1: Remodel the existing headquarters with a public entrance in the back, using all existing floors, without too many significant changes to the floor plan.

Option 2: Remodel the existing headquarters with a public entrance in the front, all police operations confined to the basement and the first floor, the addition of an enclosed sally port and separate entrance in the back of the building for police officers and detained subjects.

Option 3: Build a new police headquarters on a parcel of land yet to be determined.

In 2014, the City formed a task force to study options for a new police headquarters. The task force considered options for remodeling the current location and reviewed a half dozen parcels in the city for a possible new building. The task force favored a location on Swan Street but the city was apparently unable to acquire the property.

The issue languished until now. 

The two remodeling options presented last night were revised from proposals presented in 2014 and the new building plan was a generic layout for a single-story building that would likely change based on the configuration of any parcel of land eventually selected for the building.

Both council members Kathy Briggs and Patti Pacino said it's time to stop stalling, so they favored Option 2 as the seemingly most expedient while also most completely addressing problems with the current headquarters.

"We need to stop kicking the can down the road," Pacino said.

"That's right," Briggs said.

She expressed concern that while it might be nice to build new, the city has already been down the path of trying to find an appropriate location and didn't really find a suitable spot.

Eugene Jankowski, council president, said he was open to Option 2 but favored option 3, building new.

"The first option doesn't do much," Jankowski said. "It might save us a little money but it doesn't solve any issues."

The current police headquarters was built 150 years ago as a mansion for one of Batavia's well-to-do families, the Brisbanes (James Brisbane was one of the founders of Batavia. His son, Albert Brisbane, was a nationally known utopian in the 19th century, and one of his sons, Arthur Brisbane (who married a Cary, another of Batavia's early wealthy families) went on to become one of the nation's most famous newspaper editors, working for William Randolph Hearst in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is buried in Batavia.)

The Brisbane mansion eventually became City Hall. When City Centre was built, Batavia PD became sole occupants of the building.

Brice outlined the problems with the Brisbane Mansion: The building's heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical are out of date and in need of replacement; its public entrance is up a flight of stairs and doesn't offer good visibility for staff inside; the entrance is less than ideally secure because there is no separate entrance for officers and any detainees they bring in; the building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"As soon as you touch any of the major systems you must make the building ADA compliant," Brice said. "That's New York State law."

Option 1 doesn't address all those issues. While it would upgrade HVAC, electrical and plumbing, and provide a more visible public entrance but the entrance would still be shared by the general public, police, and criminal suspects. It doesn't provide separate parking for police vehicles and public vehicles. It addresses ADA issues but the elevator would need to do more than just stop on three different floors; it would need to be able to stop on the levels in between floors (the second floor is really five different levels).

The total estimated cost for Option 1 is $6.9 million.

Option 2 puts the public entrance at the front of the building and adds a sally port at the back for safe prisoner transport and storage of the department's emergency response vehicle. It puts all police operations in the basement and on the first floor and leaves the second floor vacant (though the new elevator would still go to the second floor). It addresses many of the safety issues and upgrade issues with the building, but it's still a 150-year-old building originally built as a residence.

The estimated cost is more than $9 million.

Option 3 addresses all of the logistical and safety issues that can't be fixed with a remodel of the existing building but the biggest issue is: where to put it?

The estimated cost is close to $10 million.

"The facility we’re in now is 150 years old," said Chief Shawn Heubusch. "It’s still going to be 150 years old no matter what we do to it. It was not purpose-built as a police station or as a government facility. It’s purpose-built as a residence. It’s been modified over the years but a new build covers all of the requirements we have."

Grass fire reported at DeWitt park

By Howard B. Owens

A grass fire is reported at DeWitt Recreation Area on the north side of the pond.

Access would be behind WNY Concrete.

City fire responding.

UPDATE 1:04 p.m.: A dispatcher got WNY Concrete on the phone and confirmed it is behind their building but they don't know if the fire department can get to the location from behind their building.

UPDATE 1:06 p.m.: City crew on scene at WNY Concrete confirms there's no good access from that location.

UPDATE 1:07 p.m.: Best entrance, a crew member reports, probably behind Upson Maybach.

UPDATE 1:16 p.m.: There are several small fires. Firefighters are extinguishing with water cans now.

UPDATE (By Billie) 1:43 p.m.: They ended up using a tanker to put out the fire. The assignment is back in service. Parks personnel on at the scene.

Two fires in same evening strike residence on South Lake Road, Bergen

By Howard B. Owens

There were two fires reported on Monday at 46 South Lake Ave., Bergen.

The first one was caused by a microwave oven being placed on top of an electric range in an apartment and the range getting accidently turned on.

The cause of the second fire is under investigation but it's possible it was caused by the first fire.

In the case of the first fire, property owner Michael Marvin said he had a new tenant moving into the apartment in his duplex and somebody dropped items off for her earlier today. The new tenant wasn't home when the fire started but the smoke detectors went off and Marvin called 9-1-1 and Bergen Fire arrived on scene quickly and put the fire out.

The first fire was reported at 5:25 p.m. and Deputy Chief Chuck Dodson said when the fire department left the scene there was no indication that anything at all was still burning.

"We did extensive overhaul, the ceiling, the walls, the adjoining rooms, we used a thermal imaging camera, we used Class A foam, which is something that allows the water to penetrate into the wood, so when we left here, we were pretty confident the fire was out," Dodson said.

The second fire was called in by Marvin at 10:55 p.m.

Marvin said he had gone to bed a short time before and had fallen asleep. Something woke him up. It wasn't the smoke detectors. They weren't working after the first fire. He thinks it was the smell of the smoke.

"I was in my room," Marvin said. "I could barely see. I was glad I woke up or I would be dead. I couldn’t even see to get out the door."

Marvin said he got out of the house but then went back in to get his dog.

After rescuing his dog, he rescued the bright red 1966 Chevy Camero SS he's restoring, pushing it out of the garage.

At midnight, firefighters were trying to knock down the last of the hotspots in the structure.  The house was still standing but the damage to the entire probably means it is a total loss. Dodson said the goal at that point was to salvage as much of Marvin's personal belongings as possible.

Assisting Bergen at the scene were Le Roy fire, city fire, and Churchville, along with Mercy EMS, the Sheriff's Office, and Emergency Management Services.

The Red Cross was dispatched to assist Marvin.

Top photo submitted by John Zinter of Picture This Photography. The first four photos below by Howard Owens. The bottom two photos by Jim Oehler.

Class for concealed carry holders covers response to mass shooting

By Howard B. Owens

The chaos, confusion and emotions of a mass causality situation had a serious impact on students who went through the simulation at M&S Tactical last night, said owner Jeff McIntire.

Participants in the simulation first sat through a class, "Active Assailant Awareness for the Concealed Carrier," before confronting a realistic scenario dealing with several shooting victims.

The goal was to give those with concealed carry licenses practical tips and the psychological experience on what to do both to deal with the threat of an active shooter and how to assist victims.

The class focused on the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) loop. They also received instruction what to do once law enforcement arrives on scene.

After dinner, a New York State Certified Tactical Paramedic taught field expedient first aid using supplies in which they would have readily available to them, as not every average citizen carries with them a tourniquet, an occlusive dressing, or hemostatic gauze.

"One by one, class participants entered the company's Active Home Invasion System and were confronted with the aftermath of a mass casualty shooting," McIntire said. "Chaos ensued and they were tasked with finding and triaging patients to either attempt to save or give some sort of potential life-saving intervention to using the skills they were just taught."

In the training room, participants found about a dozen role players covered in blood. Some of the role players were injured while others were just covered in blood. M&S Tactical staff assigned each role player a specific character to portray. Some acted as severely wounded people with injuries to the femoral artery, sucking chest wounds, gunshot wounds to the head, and other injuries. Children ran around hysterically screaming for their mother, and requesting each student to help them.

"This class was able to reach into the souls of each participant," McIntire said. "The environment created was all too near reality."

Photos and information submitted by Jeff McIntire.

GC Highway Superintendent Tim Hens is president-elect of National Association of County Engineers

By Billie Owens

Washington, D.C. – Genesee County, New York Highway Superintendent Timothy Hens was installed as President-elect of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE) at their recent annual meeting and technical conference. Hens’ term will run through April of 2019.

NACE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional association in its 62nd year, representing over 2,400 county road officials and related professionals in the United States and Canada. It's motto is "The Voice of County Road Officials."

In the United States, local roads account for about 75 percent of highways and roads, or 2.93 million miles. Counties manage 1.74 million miles of those roads. Counties also own 231,000 bridges and operate one-third of the nation’s transit systems.

“I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve the nation’s county road professionals,” Hens said. “County infrastructure is the basis for a successful American economy.

"From getting goods to market to ensuring a safe and efficient ride from work for our residents, county-owned transportation infrastructure will lead the way towards economic prosperity for decades to come.”

Hens has been the superintendent of Highways for Genesee County since 1998. In this capacity he functions as the County Engineer and oversees a number of county departments including, highways, airport, water, environmental health, facility maintenance, and parks, recreation and forestry.

Hens and his wife, Eve, have three college-aged children and reside in Le Roy.

Working apartment fire reported on South Lake Road, Bergen

By Billie Owens

A working structure fire is reported at 46 S. Lake Ave., Bergen.

Route 19 will be shut down. The fire is a one-story ranch with an apartment in the back. A caller to dispatch reported seeing black smoke coming from the rear of the building.

Le Roy fire is responding mutual aid.

UPDATE 5:31 p.m.: The city's Fast Team is called to the scene.

UPDATE 5:32 p.m.: The city's first platoon is recalled to headquarters.

UPDATE 5:33 p.m.: One engine out of Byron is called to fill in at Bergen Fire Station.

UPDATE 5:37 p.m.: The fire is "possibly knocked down," so all remaining units traveling to the scene -- like Chili and Churchville -- are told to back it down.

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: They are working to shut power off; ventilating structure.

Group of sixth-graders from Rochester learns about cows and calves at Lamb Farms

By Howard B. Owens

Janiya Sanchez and Alaina Evans, students at John James Audubon School #33 in Rochester, met a calf during a visit to Lamb Farms in Oakfield this morning.

About two dozen sixth-graders from the school visited the dairy farm to learn about how cows produce milk and other dairy products.

Alicia Lamb told the students about how cows live on the farm and what they eat.

Janiya Sanchez, like many of the students, found the smell of the barn unpleasant.

Some of the cows enjoyed being petted.

Tanasia Reid touches a cow for the first time.

Kendra Lamb talks about feeding calves.

Law and Order: Man reportedly found lying in roadway at 3 a.m. charged with DWAI

By Howard B. Owens

Joshua David Sumeriski, 33, of Buffalo Street, Alexander, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, uninspected motor vehicle, driver's view obstructed, and disorderly conduct. Sumeriski was charged after Deputy Mathew Clor responded at 3:21 a.m. Thursday to Transit Road, Bethany, to investigate a complaint of a man lying in the roadway.

Carrie A. Poray, 40, of Oatka Trail, Le Roy, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Poray was located by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and taken into custody for failure to appear on two traffic tickets in City Court. Poray was ordered to pay a fine before her next court appearance and released.

Jordan S. Thomas, 19, of East Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. Thomas is accused of failing to comply with conditions of supervised release. Thomas was arraigned and jailed.

Joseph D. Berry, 32, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with menacing, 2nd, and harassment, 2nd. Berry allegedly held a large rock and threatened to inflict bodily harm to a store clerk at 7-Eleven in Batavia at 8:15 p.m. on June 6. He was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Maya Samanta Wright, 23, of East Ridge Road, Rochester, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Wright allegedly struck a patron of a business on Park Road, Batavia.

Chelsea Lorraine McEwen, 19, of Fleetwood Drive, Brockport, is charged with harassment, 2nd. McEwen is accused of punching another person in the face during an argument reported at 8:53 p.m. Sunday at a location on Bloomingdale Road, Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

Laura Jean Santiago, 55, of Hundredmark Road, Elba, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Santiago was stopped at 8:56 p.m. Friday on Main Street Road, Batavia, by Deputy Mathew Clor.

William George Horner, 67, of Bank Street Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing and harassment, 2nd. Horner is accused of grabbing another person by the throat and applying pressure and pushing that person during an incident reported at 10 p.m. Friday on Bank Street Road, Batavia.

Todd A. Rich, 47, of Webster, and Justin T. Rich, 24, of Webster, are charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The two men were stopped by State Police at 1:15 a.m. this morning on Route 19 in Le Roy.

City firefighters want you to Fill the Boot for MDA this Friday

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Members of the Batavia City Firefighters from IAFF Local 896 will fan out across the streets of Downtown Batavia with boots in hand on Friday.

This year's Fill the Boot drive for MDA is June 15th and it's organized by firefighter Chris Morasco.

“In 2017, we set out to break the $10,000 mark," he said. "Our members, with the help of our generous community were successful and able to raise $10,651 for the MDA! Look for us Friday!”

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., city firefighters will be at the intersection of Main Street (Route 5) and Court Street AND at Ellicott Street (Route 63) and Court Street.

Photo: File Photo

Lehigh Avenue roadwork in the city rescheduled for Monday due to weather

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Roadwork originally planned for today on Lehigh Avenue in the city has been rescheduled for Monday, June 18th, due to weather conditions. 

It will be closed to all through traffic that day.

The closure will be between Ellicott Street (Route 63) and the City line (Creek Road). These closures are expected to be between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. in order to pave Lehigh Avenue.

All motorists who regularly use Lehigh Avenue are asked to seek alternative routes while the closures are in place.

Businesses and residents within the area of the closure should anticipate delays, but we will do our best to accommodate getting you to and from you residence or place of business.

This work is weather dependent and subject to rescheduling if it rains.

Contact the Bureau of Maintenance and ask to speak to the Streets Supervisor or Superintendent at 345-6400, opt. 1, if you have any questions.

Thank you for your cooperation in advance.

Pedestrian Way Improvement Project info meeting is Thursday night at City Hall

By Billie Owens

The City of Batavia will have an informational meeting to discuss the proposed construction of the City’s Pedestrian Way Improvements Project on Thursday, June 14th, from 5-7 p.m. at the Batavia City Hall in the Council Board Room (second floor).

The project consists of the replacement of the existing sidewalk along portions of State Street (from Washington Avenue to Richmond Avenue and from Hart Street to MacArthur Drive), Washington Avenue (from State Street to Bank Street), Richmond Avenue (Southside -- from Ellicott Avenue to State Street) and Bank Street (Eastside -- from Washington Avenue to North Street; and Westside -- from North Street to Denio Street).

This project is a Locally Administered Federal-Aid project that is scheduled for construction in 2019.

City staff and the consultant engineering firm, Erdman Anthony, will be available at this informal, open-house meeting to review plans, discuss the project, listen to concerns and answer any questions you may have.

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 tdean@batavianewyork.com. 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 https://www.co.genesee.ny.us
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