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April 14, 2021 - 6:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, arts, entertainment, video.
Video Sponsor

For National Poetry Month, David Reilly reads "Nostalgia" by Billy Collins.

April 14, 2021 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify.

The adoption of a proposed 2021-2022 school budget for Batavia nearly brought Board of Education President Alice Ann Benedict to tears on Monday night.

She wasn't upset. If anything, she was overjoyed.

The budget doesn't increase the district's tax levy one penny over the 2020-21 budget. With rising property values and commercial properties that were previously covered by tax abatements known as PILOTs* rolling out of those programs, most property owners should see the education portion of their property taxes going down next year.

Superintendent Anibal Soler said a rough guess right now is that a home assessed at $100,000 will pay $64 less in school taxes.

He called that a win for the community and in remarks at the end of the meeting, Benedict agreed and thanked Soler, Business Administrator Scott Rozanski, and the rest of the board of education for their work on the budget.

"I just want to say how pleased I am that we got to zero percent because I think it is quite important for our community," Benedict said before fighting back tears. "This has been a tough year. I just wanted to say I appreciated it."

Rozanski said it was possible to balance the budget because of additional state and federal aid being provided to local school districts.

The tax levy this academic year is $19,493,958 and under the proposed budget will be exactly the same in the coming year.

The total budget will increase from $51,470,726 to $52,096,661, a 1.22-percent increase in spending, which is just below the consumer price index increase of 1.3 percent.

The tax rate based on the proposed levy has not yet been set.

"The tentative PROJECTED tax rate (using the current assessed values) is $20.65," said Rozanski in an email to The Batavian. "This amount WILL change because all the information (assessed values, equalization rates, omitted taxes, and removed exemptions are NOT finalized until the summer. The OFFICIAL tax rate will be calculated in August/September 2021."

There will be a public budget presentation on May 10 and the budget will go before voters on May 18.

*PILOTs -- Payment(s) In Lieu Of Taxes.

April 14, 2021 - 4:34pm

A federal bankruptcy judge in Buffalo has ruled that three debts of former funeral director Michael Tomaszewski cannot be discharged under bankruptcy law.

The three debts are part of more than $3.2 million in liabilities Tomaszewski listed when filing for bankruptcy in February 2020. He initially filed for Chapter 11, a reorganization of debts, but changed the filing to a Chapter 7, forgiveness of all debts not covered by available assets, last month.

Yesterday, in a separate criminal matter, Tomaszewski entered a guilty plea to grand larceny, scheme to defraud, offering a false instrument for filing, and untimely burial. Over the summer, the 40-year-old Batavia native was charged with more than 200 counts of criminal conduct stemming from a scheme to divert deposits made on prearrangements for funeral services to his own personal use.

The amount of restitution he will owe former clients will be set at his sentencing on July 13. He faces a possible sentence from two and one-third to seven years in prison. The restitution order could approach $500,000.

In his ruling, Judge Carl L. Bucki cited a section of federal bankruptcy law that says a debtor cannot discharge any debt that was the result of fraud or misrepresentation. 

According to the ruling, Tomaszewski will remain liable for prearrangement deposits from individuals for $10,500, $8,000, and $8,000. Under bankruptcy law, the three individuals are entitled to priority repayment for the first $3,025 of each debt.

The bankruptcy proceedings only include debts listed in the filing. Not all victims of Tomaszewski are listed as claimants in the case.

April 14, 2021 - 4:14pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County reporting 15 new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in the:
      • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
      • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
      • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford)
  • The individuals are in their 19-20s, 20s, 40s, 50s and 60s. 
  • Twenty-five of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Four of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.

Orleans County reporting 13 new positive cases of COVID-19.  

  • The positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
    • Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
    • East Region (Kendall, Murray, Clarendon)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
  • Fourteen of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • Two of the new positive individuals was on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
  • Four of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
April 14, 2021 - 4:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Previously: School districts responding to new COVID-19 guidance from state

While working on a story today about new state guidelines for local schools, we emailed questions to the Public Health Director, Paul Pettit, and asked him about the new guidance, which makes local health departments (LDH in his response below) responsible for ensuring local school districts are adhering to state guidelines.

We asked if this was an additional burden for his department. We asked about what guidance he's offered superintendents given the seeming confusion the new guidelines may have created. Here is his response:

Yes, the shift of putting the LHDs into the role of compliance with the new state guidance was not discussed prior to the release of the document last Friday. This again is an example of the state adding additional requirements on the local agencies without notification and recognition of the current burden and lack of capacity for additional work with the current pandemic response needs.

Up until this guidance came out, LHDs have been in a guidance role and focused on case investigations and dealing with COVID cases in the school populations. Currently, as this was just released, there has been no clarification or process developed for ensuring compliance with these guidelines.

We have had weekly meetings with our superintendents and have discussed this new guidance and are seeking clarification from the state on several areas that are shifts from the previous guidance including, the 100-percent masking mandate, the use of barriers as a mitigation strategy for reducing distance and the data sources for determining community transmission.

Currently, based on the CDC data, our county is in the high transmission category (Red Zone), which restricts distancing below 6 feet for middle and high school students unless they are able to cohort the students.

Many of these shifts have created barriers and challenges for increased in-person instruction in many of our districts. Each school is required to seek their communities risk tolerance to reducing distancing prior to changing their plans with their stakeholders and adhering to the new guidance.  

The LHD has not currently received or reviewed any school plans to date, nor are we planning to. The new guidance does also not require this review/approval component. Similar to all reopening plans (for businesses etc.) we do not review/approve them but would reference for compliance if complaints were brought forward.

The schools are responsible to adhere to the guidance and ensure their plans incorporate and follow the new guidance. This is to be posted and available public included submitted/filed with the department of education and the LHD. We are working to get further clarification.

April 14, 2021 - 3:31pm
posted by Press Release in fire, batavia, news.


Press release:

At 5:11 a.m. today, April 14, the City of Batavia Fire Department was dispatched to a reported fire in an upstairs apartment located at 1 Jerome Place. Units were on scene at 5:12 a.m.

Upon arrival, firefighters found smoke emanating from several windows located on the second floor of the structure. Responding crews made an aggressive interior attack and were able to contain the fire to a single room on the second floor. The situation was called under control by on-scene fire command at 5:27 a.m.

Due to the intensity of the fire, the home received significant smoke damage to the second floor with minimal water damage to the first floor. One animal was rescued by bystanders prior to the fire department's arrival and all occupants were able to self-escape.

At this time, the City of Batavia’s Fire Investigation Team with assistance from the City of Batavia Police Department’s Detective Bureau are investigating the fire to determine the origin and cause.

The American Red Cross is assisting the occupants of the residence with support services.

City fire was assisted at the scene by the City of Batavia Police Department’s Road Patrol and Detective Bureau along with the City of Batavia Bureau of Inspection. Additional assistance was provided by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Dispatch.

All city fire department units were back in service at 8:19 a.m.

Submitted photos.




April 14, 2021 - 3:17pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, news, NY-27, wny stamp.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) joined a bipartisan group of representatives and senators to call on President Biden to prioritize funding and policies in his FY2022 budget proposal that bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing and supply chains.

“Domestic production of semiconductors is an economic and national security priority,” Jacobs said. “China is investing billions of dollars into developing this technology and mass manufacturing. We cannot afford to rely on them or other foreign manufacturers.

"We saw this year the devastation when foreign supply chains break down, and given the sensitive, classified, and consumer technologies powered using semiconductors, we must ensure a robust domestic manufacturing program is developed to protect security.”

Specifically, the letter calls for prioritized investment into initiatives outlined in the CHIPS for America Act that was enacted into law as part of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation creates incentives to support semiconductor research and development and the domestic manufacturing of semiconductors.

“Nationally, these investments are critical to our economic development, global competitiveness, and national security," Jacobs said. "Locally, these investments also have the potential to aid in the economic development of Western New York by supporting assets such as the STAMP plant in Genesee County that are readily available to host high-technology manufacturers.

“I am encouraged the President has recognized the importance of secure supply chains and domestic manufacturing; I urge him to prioritize these needed investments.”

To read the letter to President Biden, click here (pdf).

April 14, 2021 - 3:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pets, animals, pembroke, news, crime, notify.


A dog breeder in Pembroke who is accused of neglecting and abusing 15 animals on her Akron Road property is prepared to negotiate the future of the animals with Genesee County officials, her attorney told Justice Donald O'Connor today during her appearance in Town Court.

Lori Ann Adolf, 47, is charged with 26 counts of torturing or injuring animals and failure to provide proper sustenance along with one count of endangering a child.

Today, in her first court appearance, she entered a not guilty plea.

Her attorney, Michael Guarino, said that of the 13 dogs and two cats that were taken into the care of the Genesee County Animal Shelter, three of the dogs are the property of other people, and Adolf is ready to sign over seven of the dogs to the shelter so they can be put up for adoption. 

She would like to keep three dogs and two cats.

"The situation was not the way she intended it," Guarino said. "She's now receiving mental health care."

He said his client would like a chance to prove to the county that she can improve her situation and take proper care of her animals.

She has no prior record of animal neglect or abuse and no other criminal record.

The animals have been in county care for four months and sources say are now in good health. When The Batavian visited the shelter last month, the dogs we observed seemed to be in good spirits.

Assistant District Attorney Kaitlynn Schmidt said she and she and Guarino will discuss the disposition of the animals between now and Adolf's next court appearance at 2 p.m., May 5. She said what becomes of the animals will be part of a plea agreement negotiation. She told O'Connor that the prosecution has made no plea offer at this point and has made no commitment that the county will agree to regarding the animals.

O'Connor also signed a no offensive conduct order of protection in regard to the minor who was apparently at Adolf's house while these animals were allegedly being mistreated.

Previously: Pembroke woman arrested after deputy allegedly finds 13 dogs, two cats in deplorable conditions

April 14, 2021 - 1:49pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, City of Batavia assessor, Batavia City Council.

In light of the frustration expressed at Monday night’s City Council meeting by two Batavia residents over the assessment letters they had received earlier in the day, The Batavian reached out to the city’s assessor for insight into the process of determining a home’s fair market value.

Rhonda Saulsbury, assessor for both the City and Town of Batavia, responding to an email, said that while many factors are considered for comparison purposes, all of a home’s information is run through a computer program prior to conducting a field review.

“The City of Batavia strives to maintain a 100-percent equalization rate -- sale price to assessment ratio -- which means that we keep our assessments at market value,” Saulsbury said. “To accomplish this, we do yearly revaluation and make adjustments accordingly. Values can adjust due to physical changes and/or market changes.”

Saulsbury said each property is placed into an appraisal software system, comparing the building style, square footage, year built, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lot size against the recent sales data.

“We then do field review to determine the fair market value based on the aforementioned data,” she added.

She said that each neighborhood within the city is reviewed annually, but “we only update values in those that have experienced an increase in market values, thus we end up ‘rotating’ the neighborhoods.”

“This year we sent out just over 4,300 change-of-assessment notices throughout the city,” she said.

As mentioned at Monday’s meeting, the city canceled this process in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, sales of homes in the $100,000 to $200,000 have been extremely brisk.

“Now, as sale values have continued to climb upwards 20-plus percent above assessments, we are again adjusting assessed values in accordance with New York State Real Property Tax Law guidelines,” Saulsbury advised.

She said property owners have opportunities for assessment review if they believe they could not sell their property for the new assessed market value.

“The procedures to request the review are included with the change-of-assessment-notices (see the link to the previous story below). As at any time, we encourage an open-door policy to anyone with a question or concern,” she said. 

Property owners can call 1-866-910-1776 to inquire about the valuation process or informal assessment review process, Saulsbury said, and they also can receive an email with the individual market document that includes the specific sales used for any given property. 

If a property owner does not have access to a computer, printer or scanner, all relevant forms can be picked up at the City Clerk’s Office Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Saulsbury also said that the City of Batavia sale and inventory books used to calculate the new assessed values can also be viewed any time in the City Clerk’s Office or at Richmond Memorial Library to help in preparing an Informal Review Application. 

To access the above-mentioned information online, go to: https://cityofbatavia.prosgar.com/ and look for the RED links. 

To submit the Informal Review Application, email it to:   [email protected] or bring it into the City Clerk's Office.

Previously: Council advice to angry homeowners: Take your concerns to 'Grievance Day'

April 14, 2021 - 1:09pm

Press release:

In a new push to combat a silent but devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on mental health, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer this week pushed the feds to "quick release" $5 billion dollars he worked to include in the recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP) so that the funds can give New Yorkers—and the mental health providers they rely upon—the help they’re asking for amid rising need.

Schumer said that, on average, three times more people than last year at this time report struggling with mental health symptoms like depression, anxiety, drug use and more. Schumer said that one of the biggest problems to beating these feelings and reclaiming mental health depends on timely access to care and overall access to care.

He explained that with the "quick release" of these fed funds, New York will see a surge in mental health support programs and increased access to a variety of care options.

“What many New Yorkers are saying right now is that the pandemic has taken such a mental toll that some of them need more help than others to overcome new challenges and struggles related to their mental health and happiness,” Schumer said. “In fact, New York’s increased mental health struggles are an overall silent—but devastating—effect of this pandemic with three times more people than last year reporting the onset of symptoms like depression, anxiety and more.

"Untreated, these conditions can lead to dangerous spirals that upend lives and families. That is why we need a quick release of the $5 billion in fed funds secured as part of the American Rescue Plan to beat back this surge in need and give patients and providers more help.”

COVID-19's Toll on Mental Health: Anxiety, Depression, Psychiatric Disorders Rising 

Schumer stressed the importance of combatting the mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, citing a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation that said during the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, up from 1 in 10 adults who reported the same symptoms less than a year ago.

Amongst COVID-19 survivors as well, it has been reported that 1 in 3 patients were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months of physical recovery, indicating that the mental health effects of COVID-19 will last well beyond the end of the pandemic.

“This is a critical moment where we must acknowledge the lasting mental effects of the pandemic and work to combat them before the crisis deepens,” Schumer added. “The feds (via HHS and SAMHSA) must stand up their programs ASAP and begin the hard, but important, work of getting these funds out to support our most vulnerable New Yorkers.”

“As a field, we are seeing surges in New York area patients with anxiety, depression, and loneliness for adults and children. Some COVID-19 survivors are experiencing psychiatric symptoms for the first time months into their recovery. And nationally there has been a significant increase in substance use and overdose deaths.

This is not a surprise. COVID-19 has disrupted every facet of life and people are struggling. The reality is that the pandemic has blocked common coping strategies including social interactions, daily routines, and planning for the future.

Schumer is wise to have secured these funds because there is a need in the community with new patients seeking care, and old patients returning to care.

Mental Health Funding Needed Sooner Rather Than Later

"The faster these funds are released the sooner more individuals can get the help they need,” said Aspasia Hotzoglou, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist at American Institute for Cognitive Therapy.​

The roughly $5 billion Schumer helped to deliver nationally is broken down, in part, below. New York will see a sizable portion of these funds, once they begin to flow.

  • Schumer secured $3 billion for mental health and substance use block grants. These grants are used to fund treatment for a variety of New Yorkers, enhance mental health prevention efforts, and implement local, community-based mental health interventions. Based on the services they offer, New York mental health organizations—and providers—will be able to apply for these funds via SAMHSA.
  • Funds would also be in the form of Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grants. These funds are sent directly to community organizations to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment and services, such as screening, day treatment programs, emergency services, outpatient treatment and more.
  • More than $1 billion for a new federal program to create mobile crisis intervention services, which are dispatched when a person is experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis. These services can work closely with law enforcement and help protect both patients and police officers.
  • $140 million for mental health needs of doctors, nurses and health care providers, who have struggled with PTSD and exhaustion during the pandemic:
    • $80 million for health care professional mental health programs;
    • $20 million for a national evidence-based education and awareness campaign targeting health care professionals and first responders;
    • $40 million for grants for health care providers to promote mental and behavioral health among their health professional workforce.
  • $140 million for youth mental health.

“Bottom line here is that the feds need to get this money out the door so local organizations and providers can keep theirs open and meet the increased demand spurred by COVID,” Schumer added.

April 14, 2021 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

New guidance from the NYS Department of Health instructs school districts to set rules for social distancing based on transmission metrics for COVID-19. But with the state and CDC providing data that can seem contradictory, area superintendents are trying to come up with the best approach to educate students while following state requirements.

By and large, the superintendents seem to be relying on one statement in the 23-page document that gives local school boards latitude to make local decisions.

"Ultimately, the school/district’s decision to move to shorter physical distances will come down to a local community’s risk tolerance based on its unique circumstances," the guidelines state.

That is certainly the approach Superintendent Anibal Soler is taking with Batavia city schools, which are scheduled to go back to full-time in-class learning on Monday.

This week, he sought the Board of Education's approval to continue with the reopening plan, which the board agreed to do.

Soler pointed out that with 131 new cases in the past week (as of Monday), Genesee County is in the state's Red Zone for transmission rate. The state says our testing positivity rate is 6 percent and the CDC says it is 3 percent, both numbers below the threshold that would require 6 feet social distancing in all circumstances.

At 6 feet in all circumstances, Batavia's reopening plan would be difficult to pull off. The district is relying on allowing students in certain situations, such as sitting in classrooms, to be able to mask up and be within 3 feet of each other.

The guidance affects both districts like Batavia that are moving back to full-time in-class learning and those that have already made the transition or started the academic year with in-person attendance.

Mary Kate Hoffman, superintendent in Pavilion, informed her board of the new guidance at Monday's board meeting. Currently, Pavilion schools are five days per week for elementary school and in-person five days a week with in-person classes for sixth through 12th grades, with Wednesday being a fully remote day for the middle and high school.

The policy to this point has been to require masks only when people can't maintain 6 feet of social distancing. The new guidance requires students, teachers, and staff to wear masks at all times. Hoffman said the district will make that policy change.

Elba is open five days a week for in-person learning after starting with a hybrid model in September and gradually moved to full-time, in-class learning. 

"Our approach and plan have worked to keep kids and staff safe," said Superintendent Ned Dale.

Pembroke has been in session with students on campus full-time since the start of the school year. Superintendent Matthew Calderon said the new guidance will not change much for the district.

"We added classroom sections to spread students out 6 feet apart and installed 1,500 desk shields," Calderon said. "We're not inclined to change from 6 feet to 3 feet, and despite the CDC backing off the need to use desks shields (which in part I believe they did due to the great cost incurred by schools, which was hindering many from opening), we will probably continue to use them as well."

"The new guidance states that if schools are going to reduce physical distancing to less than 6 feet between students, decisions must be made with input from parents, community members, teachers, staff, and local departments of health," Calderon added.

"We will carefully review the updated guidance and tweak our plan as needed, but as mentioned, I don't think we need to change anything, and we would like to maintain our plan as is. The initial response from our local DOH in that regard was positive. Nonetheless, we have an upcoming meeting with the local DOH and will certainly adjust our plan if needed."

Merritt Holly, superintendent in Le Roy, which went back to on-campus full-time learning on April 6, said he is seeking clarification on some of the requirements in the new guidance but is maintain the current plan for now.

"It won't complicate anything until I get clarification," Holly said. "When will that clarification come in? I am not sure yet."

Superintendents indicated they are working with Public Health Director Paul Pettit to ensure their education plans are in compliance with guidelines and that Pettit has been helpful and responsive. The new guidance doesn't require the districts to file modified plans with the state but to publish them on their websites and gives local health departments the tasks of ensuring compliance.

We attempted to reach Pettit for comment but have not yet heard back from him.

To read the state's guidelines, click here (PDF).

April 14, 2021 - 9:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, news, schools, education.

Teachers at Batavia High School, looking to pursue relevant topics in fresh ways have proposed three new courses that were approved by the city school's Board of Education on Monday night.

The courses, two in Social Studies and one in English will only go forward if students show sufficient interest in taking the elective classes.

The courses are:

  • Sports and Race Relations through Digital Media, which will explore pivotal moments in American History in an effort to understand how they contribute to modern laws, policies, systems and culture. 
  • Law and Justice in America I and II will provide students an overview of the various areas of Civil and Criminal Law in our American legal system, along with time to discuss contemporary issues pertaining to justice in America. 
  • 1960s Literature, Lyrics and Culture will examine influences between our current times and the '60s. 

Superintendent Anibal Soler told the board it's important to recognize that these are teacher-driven initiatives and Molly Corey, director of curriculum and instruction, said, "Teachers are passionate because they were eager to see some changes in the courses they teach."

She added, "What we’re looking to do is provide more choice and some relative and timely topics.”

Existing teachers will lead the classes. There is no need to hire additional staff. They don't replace core classes.

Trustee Shawna Murphy, herself a teacher at Genesee Community College, said, "That’s what teachers are constantly doing, coming up with new ways at teaching concepts and making it relevant and easier to understand and, you know, ‘why does this matter to you as a student.’ I think that’s the fun part of being a teacher."

April 14, 2021 - 8:00am

Submitted photos and press release:

The Town of Batavia Fire Department Inc. is proud to announce our 2021 recruitment drive starting on April 24th through April 30th.

Due to COVID-19 there will not be an open house but instead you can call (585) 344-3284 and set a date and time between the 24th and 30th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to have a tour of our station, speak with a line officer and receive an application packet. Each time slot will be for one 1 hour or less.

If you go to voicemail just leave your information and we will get back to you!

We do accept members that are 16 to 17 years old, but you must have a parent or guardian accompany you so we can answer their questions as well.

If you want to have a career as a first responder or just want to help your community volunteering with your local fire department is a great way to start!

The Town of Batavia Fire Department headquarters is at 8382 Lewiston Road, in Batavia. Mailing address is P.O. Box 417, Batavia NY 14021-0417.

April 13, 2021 - 9:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.
Video Sponsor

For National Poetry Month, Griffen Della Penna, the voice of the Muckdogs, reads "365" by Jack Buck.

April 13, 2021 - 5:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, bergen, batavia.

A Rochester man is facing three felonies after three people were arrested following a traffic stop in Bergen April 11.

A gray Chevrolet Malibu was pulled over by Genesee County Sheriff's deputies on Route 33 at 12:38 a.m.

The operator, Paula G. Pierce, 29, of State Street, Batavia, was allegedly driving with a suspended NYS driver's license. There were two other occupants, Michael R. Whitman, 48, of Federal Street in Perry, and 29-year-old Justin P. Porter, of Bennington Drive, Rochester (inset photo, right).

Deputy Nicholas Chamoun conducted an investigation, aided by Deputy David Moore, and K9 Deputy Andrew Mullen, who deployed K9 Frankie to check the exterior of the vehicle. According to the Sheriff's Office report, Frankie indicated a positive response for the presence of narcotic drugs.

Deputies conducted a vehicle search and allegedly found drugs and the three occupants were arrested. Assisting at the scene were Deputy Austin Heberlein, Deputy Ryan Young and Deputy Jacob Gauthier.

Porter is accused of providing deputies with a fake name and refusing to disclose his true identity. It is also alleged that while in custody at the Sheriff's Office, he attempted to conceal drugs by hiding them in an interview room.

Porter was arraigned virtually in Town of Bergen Court and charged with: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree -- with intent to sell, a Class B felony; tampering with physical evidence, a Class E felony; fourth-degree conspiracy, also a Class E felony; criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a Class A misdemeanor; obstruction of governmental administration, another Class A misdemeanor; and false personation, a Class B misdemeanor.

Due to bail reform, Porter was released on his own recognizance.

Pierce and Whitman were issued appearance tickets on charges of fourth-degree conspiracy and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.

Pierce is also charged with aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree, an unclassified misdemeanor; and she was issued a traffic ticket for insufficient turn signal, a violation.

Members of the Genesee County Drug Task Force also assisted in this case.

April 13, 2021 - 5:01pm

From the City of Batavia Police Department:

On Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Batavia Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will provide the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Bring your pills for disposal to the Alva Place parking lot across the street from Batavia Showtime (located in the Genesee Country Mall). Sharps will also be accepted at this location, as the United Memorial Medical Center will have staff on hand.

The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

To keep everyone safe, collection sites will follow local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations, which include masks for citizens dropping off medication.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.

In addition to DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, there are many other ways to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs every day, including the 11,000 authorized collectors that are available all year long.

The Batavia Police Department Headquarters has one for everyday collection of drugs and sharps located in the rear vestibule at 10 W. Main St., Batavia.

The FDA also provides information on how to properly dispose of prescription drugs. More information is available here:

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 24 Take Back Day event, click here.

April 13, 2021 - 5:00pm

With a key component of the City of Batavia’s wastewater treatment plant operating at just 20-percent capacity, Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt says that it’s imperative to move up the capital project plan timetable to get it fixed.

“We desperately need to get that air back into the pond,” said Tourt at Monday night’s City Council meeting, talking about a faulty air header system at the plant. “We recognize how severe it is becoming.”

Tourt said the city has received about 10 years less than the expected 40-year life of the system, which introduces supplemental air to the three primary wastewater ponds.

In a memo to City Manager Rachael Tabelski dated March 29, Tourt wrote that “this air provides oxygen to the ponds to effectively digest waste.”

“Even though this project is scheduled for (this fiscal year), it was discovered that the system’s rate of decline is higher than originally anticipated,” he wrote. “For this reason, the project is being advanced as quickly as it can be.”

City Council acted favorably to his request, forwarding a resolution to contract with the lowest bidder to its April 26 Business Meeting. Opening of the bids is scheduled for April 19.

Tourt said work will be done in sections, starting with the large 16-inch line and working down to the six-inch line. He noted that the lines will be wrapped to prevent deterioration from the elements.

He said the system is leaking a “significant amount of air” and is creating a distinct odor near and around the ponds. Once that segment of an overall $1 million wastewater treatment plant project is finished – hopefully be the end of summer, he said crews will evaluate the plant’s compressors and diffusers.

In other action related to infrastructure, Council forwarded a resolution to apply for a Northern Border Regional Commission grant in the amount of $328,000 to partially fund a waterline project on Bank Street. The total cost of the project is approximately $410,000 but the city would be responsible for a local match of 20 percent ($82,000).

Tabelski, in a memo to Council dated April 6, wrote that work is needed “to improve water pressure and fire suppression capabilities on Bank Street, as well as enable future development on the City Centre campus and the Alva Place location for the (new) police station.”

She wrote that the Bank Street waterline will be expanded from its current four- and six-inch lines to an eight-inch line.

April 13, 2021 - 4:59pm

Michael Tomaszewski, the former local funeral home owner accused of misusing his client's deposit money and improperly disposing of human remains, entered a guilty plea this afternoon to felony charges that could send him to prison for up to seven years.

The plea offer included no promise of a sentence of lesser than the statutory time in prison of two and a third to seven years for his guilty plea to grand larceny, scheme to defraud, offering a false instrument for filing, and untimely burial.

The sentences for each count will run concurrently under the terms of the plea.  

Prior to Tomaszewki's last court appearance, he disclosed, through his attorney Thomas Burns, to the Sheriff's Office that the remains of another body could be found in his former funeral home. A human body was recovered.

As a result of that investigation, he is expected to be charged with another misdemeanor charge of untimely burial. Under terms of the plea deal, he is expected to plead guilty to that charge and any sentence on that charge would run concurrently to the charges disposed of in today's hearing.

Sentencing for the 40-year-old Batavia resident is scheduled for July 13 at 1:30 p.m.

Tomaszewski was arrested last summer and accused of taking money from clients who had made prearrangement deposits. He misappropriated as much as $15,000 from some clients.

Clients may have suffered a cumulative loss of more than $525,000. 

At his sentencing on July 13, Tomaszewski, under terms of the deal, must agree to make restitution in the amount specified by the prosecution.  

Assistant District Attorney Kaitlynn Schmit told Judge Charles Zambito today that she couldn't provide the exact amount of restitution because Tomaszewski has already paid some people back and there needs to be further research into exactly how much he owes his victims.

Burns said he and Schmit had reached an agreement to delay sentencing by four weeks over the standard time between a plea and sentencing to allow more time to arrive at the final restitution figure.

In a bankruptcy filing last year, which is still pending, Tomaszewski listed $1,094,346 in assets against $3,242,390 in liabilities. 

UPDATE 5:05 p.m.: The Sheriff's Office has released the arrest report on the additional charge against Tomaszewski, duty to bury. According to the Sheriff's Office, after being notified by Burns of the body, a body of a deceased person who had died Sept. 10, 2019, was recovered at the former funeral home. The body was removed and buried. Tomaszewski was issued an appearance ticket on the charge.

April 13, 2021 - 4:37pm

Press release:

This month, New York passed the legalization of mobile sports betting. Although leaders believe this will have a positive economic impact for New York State, potentially closing the budget deficit over time, increasing the availability and accessibility of gambling options may cause problems for those at risk.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center maintains a neutral stance on gambling; however, we want the community to know there is a local, confidential resource available if you or someone you know is struggling to control their gambling.

Problem gambling is simply anytime someone’s gambling causes problems in their life. These could be financial or relationship problems, issues at work or school, some people have even resorted to criminal activity to support their gambling problem.

Let’s look at a few problem gambling facts:

  • Each person struggling with problem gambling affects 6-10 of those closest to them.
  • A study found that nine out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress, (Nash et al, 2018).
  • One in five persons struggling with a gambling problem have attempted and/or died by suicide. 

Because as many as 10 other individuals are impacted by one person’s gambling problem, a person’s mental and physical health could certainly be impacted.

It is important to recognize the warning signs of problem gambling. We can not simply pick a person struggling with gambling problems out of a crowd. So, what are some warning signs can we look for?

  • Being absent from friend/family events because of gambling.
  • Feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling.
  • Low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with betting.
  • Lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling.
  • Chasing losses to “get even."

Services for those persons struggling with problem gambling are available in WNY. Friends and family of those impacted by problem gambling are also encouraged to reach out for support. Local, confidential, and free help is available through the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.

For more information: Call (716) 833-4274 or email:   [email protected] visit www.nyproblemgamblingHELP.org/Western

Western PGRC is “Here to Help."



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