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November 7, 2018 - 2:04pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The Genesee Community College History Club is excited to once again celebrate the holiday season as Charles Dickens, played by WKBW-TV's Meteorologist Mike Randall, presents "A Christmas Carol." All are invited to the College's Batavia Campus on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. to enjoy this festive and heart-warming storytelling experience. 

A multifaceted actor, Randall studied both theater and meteorology in school and since 1983, Randall has reported the weather on WKBW-TV in Buffalo. An award-winning reporter, his interview repertoire includes such talents as Willie Nelson, Jerry Lewis, John Candy, Steve Allen, Gregory Peck and Robert Goulet. In September 2017, Randall was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Back in 1868, Charles Dickens toured the country bringing his classic novel, "A Christmas Carol" to audiences everywhere. Nearly century and a half ago, Dickens' performances were completely sold out in Buffalo. For the last decade, with only a replica of Dickens' famous velvet, fringed reading lectern and a copy of "A Christmas Carol," Randall has been transforming himself into Dickens, recreating the original tour atmosphere in stages, halls, classrooms and many other venues.

Randall performs in a period costume with a beard and wavy hair, and through his expert theatrics he brings Charles Dickens to life. He plays each of the novel's characters with distinguishing voices and mannerisms capturing all of the subtle comedic timing of Dickens' original work.

The performance will take place at GCC's Batavia Campus in the Stuart Steiner Theatre. Tickets for the performances are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Advanced ticket purchases are strongly recommended as seating is limited! 

Proceeds from the performance will go to the Genesee Community College History Club.

"When the History Club presented this event last year, many people indicated they enjoyed it so much that they'd like to see it," said Derek D. Maxfield, GCC's associate history professor and advisor to the History Club. "As the program helps my students learn about value of coordinating and planning events that embrace history and engage the community, it is a simultaneously a pleasure to watch local friends and families enjoy a holiday event that is fun for all ages." 

For advanced tickets or more information, contact Associate Professor of History Derek D. Maxfield at (585) 343-0055, ext. 6288, or via email: [email protected].

November 7, 2018 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, news, notify.

electionnight2018.jpg

There are multiple storylines coming out of Tuesday's midterm election:

  • The Democrats take control of the House but not the 27th Congressional District, though that race isn't technically over;
  • Local Libertarians are celebrating the more than 90,000 votes garnered by Larry Sharpe, giving the Libertarian Party for the first time the same level of ballot access as Republicans and Democrats;
  • Voters approved staggered, four-year terms for county legislators;
  • National, state and local voter turnout, traditionally low in midterm elections, that match or exceed presidential year elections;
  • Democrats gain full control of state government after picking up enough seats in the State Senate to now hold the majority in the upper chamber.

The last point is perhaps the most troubling to Assemblyman Steve Hawley who has both seen firsthand what happens when Democrats control the Senate and the "crazy stuff" of Assembly Democrats that has been kept in check, as he put it, by a Republican majority in the State Senate.

"The last time that it flipped to Downstate, I referred to it, we saw what happened," Hawley said. "They were in control for two years. Many of them have already served jail time. Many have been convicted and are going to be serving jail time. It was complete free fall from any sense of reality (with the) programs and bills that were passed in the Assembly that were heretofore blocked by the Senate. I really shudder to think what will happen with some of the crazy stuff that comes out of the Assembly."

As we reported previously, former NYS Farm Bureau President and Elba resident Dean Norton warned local farmers what to expect if the Democrats gained control of the State Senate: A higher minimum wage, a farm labor bill, more regulations, cuts in rural government and school funding.

As the election approached, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who previously represented Genesee County in Congress before losing to Collins in 2012, held an opposite view, according to her personal account Twitter feed. Example:

Joined great Democratic candidates in #Rensselaer who are fired up to continue our progressive agenda.

We will take back the @NYSenate and have @AaronGladd join us in the majority! We must fight back against Trump and stand together to push New York forward. pic.twitter.com/ebmfjf7IJS

— Kathy Hochul (@KathyHochul) November 2, 2018

McMurray Concedes Race, Then Demands Recount

Expectations of Democratic gains in the State Senate or congressional House didn't do much to boost spirits at Center Street Smoke House last night, where local Democrats had gathered, once Nate McMurray appeared on TV for a concession speech when results weren't looking good for his effort to unseat indicted incumbent Chris Collins.

McMurray had energized WNY Democrats in a way that perhaps even Hochul didn't do in 2011. The disappointment at McMurray's apparent loss was palpable.

"He ran (his campaign) from the grassroots," said Michael Plitt, chairman of the County Democratic Party. "I mean, you know, the state party and national party didn't invest much in the race at the beginning. He just worked and worked and worked and he got a lot of people interested that weren't in mainstream politics before.

"You look here in Genesee County, we had 37 people canvassing last Saturday -- in Genesee County. They were all encouraged by the message he had -- positivity and just getting things done. I think there was a lot of energy."

McMurray didn't waver in his high energy and encouragement to his volunteers even during his concession speech.

"We did something great," McMurray said. "It never shameful when you fight a righteous fight and that's what you did. I said in the beginning that we're going to break the machine, right? We're going to break the machine. Sometimes when you take on those big tasks, trying to break the machine, it doesn't break. You put a dent in it but if you keep whacking, eventually it's going to break." (Audio for McMurray's quotes courtesy our news partner, 13WHAM.)

McMurray expressed disappointment that Collins -- facing federal charges and a House Ethics Committee investigation, who avoided the public and the press during his campaign, who attacked McMurray and his family with dishonest television ads -- could possibly win in Western New York but he vowed to fight on.

"Come on, we're going to be all right," McMurray said, adding, "Remember Rocky one? Rocky didn't win. He looked like I do right now, all beat up, his face looked like hamburger. He lost. Well, remember there was Rocky two?"

At that point in the post-election night wind down, nobody expected "Rocky two" to come so quickly. Within hours, McMurray realized the vote count was going to be a lot tighter than he anticipated and so he announced that he would demand a recount.

Collins' 'Winning Strategy' -- Avoid the Press and the Public

While Collins mostly avoided the press after jumping back into the race four weeks ago (at one point he announced his withdrawal following his arrest on Aug. 8), the Clarence resident was pursued by Erie County reporters on Tuesday night and did answer some questions, at one point admitting it was his strategy to avoid taking questions from reporters or the public in debates or open meetings.

"I set a strategy, I think you'll see tonight that my strategy worked perfectly, it's about winning," Collins said. "Clearly, the media is not part of our strategy."

Plitt called the strategy "atrocious."

"Candidates should be available," Plitt said. "You know, we're here at a Democratic event. Anyone can walk in and talk. Nate was in Genesee County several times at events open to the public. It's imperative at any level of office, from town boards to Congress, that (officials) are accountable to the press and communicate with the public."

Hawley was less ruffled by the strategy.

"We'll see what happens if Collins wins," Hawley said (we spoke before the results were certain). "We'll see whether he becomes more involved in the process, whether it's attending town hall meetings, whether it's attending events. I ran into him two or three times recently at different events, so it looked to me as though toward the end of this race that he was becoming more visible and I would certainly encourage him to do that."

Libertarian Sharpe Surpasses Critical Vote Threshold

Local Libertarians were far more focused on the governor's race than the congressional race, not because they thought their candidate Larry Sharpe had any chance of winning but because Sharpe surpassing the 50,000 vote threshold was critical to the party's gaining ballot access in state and local races that is on par with Democrats and Republicans.

"This has been a goal since 1971," said Mark Potwora, chairman of the Genesee County Libertarian Party. "Now when we run our candidates it'll take fewer signatures and hopefully we will attract more people who will want to run. We want to be able to get into the county legislative races and more local races. It's a big thing. It's just a big step for the Libertarian Party."

The recruitment effort for more local candidates has begun and there's enough interest, Potwora said, that people have been contacting the party about running in races. The goal is to have fewer one-candidate elections.

"We've already had a lot of discussion with people that are ready to go," Potwora said. "We have members now from Le Roy. We're hoping that we can reach into Le Roy. It's all about more candidates. Our next step is outreach and getting more candidates because these ballots should not go with unopposed races. There should be no unopposed races."

County Voters Pass Long-sought Term Reform

There was a high turnout in Genesee County and whether the high turnout helped county legislators finally get passed a reform they've sought for years -- creating staggered, four-year terms -- is impossible to say, but at Ken's Charcoal Pits & Bar-B-Q last night, where a few Republicans gathered to watch the results of the election come in, the legislators who where there were grateful it passed.

"On behalf of my fellow legislators, I would like to extend our appreciation to the voters of Genesee County for their support of the proposal to change the terms for county legislators," said Chairman Robert Bausch. "We believed that it was very much warranted considering the issues the county faces and are pleased that the county voters listened to that message and supported the proposal. We also want to extend our appreciation to all those who stepped forwarded and publicly supported this proposal."

In the run-up to the election, starting more than a year ago, there was a lot of talk about a "blue wave" sweeping the nation, a resistance against President Donald Trump, that would lead to Democratic victories across the land. After the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, where Democrats tried to derail his appointment to the Supreme Court, and after Trump's fearmongering about immigration, Republicans started talking about a "red wave," or a "red tide," or a "red wall" (Republicans never did seem to settle on a branding message).

Voters Showed Up

Among both Democrats and Republicans, across the nation, turnout was massive. What was true elsewhere was true in Genesee County.

"People are excited," Plitt said as we watched results come in. "From what I've heard turnout is high, almost at presidential levels, maybe better. People want to go express their opinion."

He didn't fully attribute the high turnout as a reaction to the Trump presidency.

"I think on both sides of the aisle he definitely fans the flame and maybe he brings out both side," Plitt said. "Yeah, I think that's a lot of it but there's a lot of interest in state issues as well."

Hawley thinks it's a good thing that people are getting out to vote, whatever the reason.

"Any time you can invoke people to become participants in our electoral process it's a good thing," Hawley said. "Whether we're divided or not, I'm not really sure that's the case. We'll have to watch the election results across the country to see whether it's divisive or not. Whether it's President Trump and his style, whether it's Governor Cuomo and his style, and whether it's challengers who are perhaps a little less verbal and vocal without regard to what they're saying, that gets people involved, as I say, it's a good thing."

Top Photo: Libertarians at T.F. Brown's.

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Democrats at Center Street Smoke House.

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Republicans at Ken's Charcoal Pits & Bar-B-Q.

electionnight2018-4.jpg

Steve Hawley, Barb Eddy, and Gregg Torrey pose for a selfie.

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Gloom and disappointment at Center Street as McMurray delivers a concession speech.

November 7, 2018 - 12:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, NY-27, batavia, news, notify, chris collins, Nate McMurray.

localdemsnov62018.jpg

As Nate McMurray appeared on TV just after 11 o'clock tonight, a couple of local Democrats at Center Street Smoke House for election night noticed McMurray didn't look happy.

The room turned glum.

"Don't concede, Nate," one of them said.

That's was what McMurray was about to do.

With 94 percent of the precincts reporting in the New York 27th Congressional District, Rep. Chris Collins held at 2,697 vote lead, a 49.5 to 48.4 percent margin.

In Genesee County, Collins won with 2,837 more votes, 53.8 percent to 39.91 percent, or 10,986 votes to 8,149.

These are unofficial vote totals, not yet certified and do not include absentee ballots.

Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza picked up 598 votes locally, or 2.93 percent, which was fewer votes than the 651 ballot line for the 27th blank.

McMurray did beat Collins in the City of Batavia, 2,219 votes to 1,821.

The NY-27 is a 22-point Republican advantage and McMurray, a Democrat who is town supervisor in Grand Island, still managed to make it a close race, primarily because Collins has spent much of the past year under the cloud of an ethics investigation and was arrested Aug. 8 on federal charges related to alleged insider trading. 

Also in Genesee County, the controversial ballot measure to stagger and extend terms in office members of the County Legislature passed 9,508 votes to 8,981.

In contested races, Barbara Czworka won the Town of Bethany Highway Superintendent election over Michael T. Adams, 440 votes to 289 votes. For Town of Alexander Justice, Mark Anderson beat Nicholas Falcone 775 to 757. (CORRECTION: This was a vote-for-two election. Anderson and Falcone both ran unopposed, not against each other.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not fare well among Genesee County voters, getting only 4,982 votes to 13,397 for Marc Molinaro. Larry Sharpe received 1,201 votes locally. Howie Hawkins got 252 and Stephanie Minor, 188.

UPDATE 12:28 a.m.: McMurray issued the following statement:

"While tonight's results are disheartening, my fight for a better Western New York and a better United States will not end. This is my home, and I believe we deserve better than a Congressman under indictment and out on bail, but I also respect the will of the voters, and they have spoken. This campaign was a part of a movement to fight for the rights and leadership that we deserve as Americans. Tonight’s result is a setback, but we will never give up.”

UPDATE 12:53 a.m.: McMurray just issued a new statement demanding a recount:

"After examining the numbers, the margin is 1 percent and the will of the voters must be heard. We are demanding a recount. Mr. Collins is going to need another set of lawyers.”

We'll have more election coverage sometime tomorrow.

Top photo: Democrats watch Nate McMurray's concession speech at Center Street.

November 6, 2018 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news.

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Kevin and Danielle Riggs, of Alexander, are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary today and Kevin told her he loved her the same way he proposed to her back in 1993, with hand-painted signs posted on southbound Route 98.

Then, the 22-year-old Danielle Yaple would see the marriage proposal signs on her way home from work at Graham Manufacturing. This morning, her family concocted a reason for her to drive to Batavia so she would see the signs on her way back to Alexander but Danielle changed her mind about the trip and so her mother had to convince her to take a drive with her.

It worked. Danielle saw the signs.

"She did not expect it," Kevin said. "It was a great surprise. She called me up sobbing with makeup running down her face."

Today, Danielle is the village clerk in Alexander and Kevin still works for Kelly Schultz Auctions and Antique World in Clarence. They have three children, two sons and a daughter, who is 17 and a senior at Alexander High School.  

Kevin and Danielle plan to go out for an anniversary dinner next week.

November 6, 2018 - 3:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, bergen, batavia, Le Roy, Oakfield.

Plush Dozier, 22, of Kelly Street, Rochester, is charged with third-degree criminal mischief and attempted menacing of a police officer. He was arrested on Nov. 5 for an incident that occurred in August in which he allegedly damaged the door in the back of a GC Sheriff's vehicle while he was being transported for a court appearance. He also allegedly attempted to menace a police officer during the same incident. He was arraigned on the new charges in Batavia City Court and is due there again on Nov. 9. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy McClellan, assisted by Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Justin Williams, 56, Post Avenue, Staten Island, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing. Williams was arrested following an incident on Main Street in Oakfield at 2:58 a.m. on Nov. 5 in which he allegedly placed his hands around the neck of another person, causing them to be unable to breathe. He was arraigned in Oakfield Town Court and jailed in lieu of $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond. Williams is due back in Oakfield Town Court at 6 p.m. Nov. 5. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor.

Lawrence W. Worsley, 38, of Ridge Road, Albion, is charged with third-degree assault. He was arrested after an investigation into a domestic incident which occurred at 1 a.m. on Nov. 2 on Vine Street in the City of Batavia. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court then jailed on $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond. He is due to return to city court on Nov. 9. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Felicia DeGroot, assisted by Arick Perkins.

Teshawn Anthony Lang-Smith, 22, of Pearl Street, Batavia, is charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree harassment. He was arrested after a domestic incident that occurred at 3:20 p.m., Nov. 2, on Bank Street in Batavia. He allegedly damaged property belonging to another person. He was arraigned and jailed in lieu of $2,000 cash or bond and was due back in city court on Nov. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Christopher Camp.

Tyanna D. Green, 23, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, identity theft in the third degree and petit larceny.  It is alleged that at 6:13 p.m. on Sept. 11 on Highland Park in Batavia that she used a stolen debit card to make multiple ATM withdrawals. She was arrested on Nov 1 and jailed with bail. She was due back in Batavia City Court on Nov. 2. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Jamie Givens.

Tyrone Lee Doward Jr., 28, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with DWI -- first offense, and operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or more. On Nov. 3, Doward was arrested on Lake Road in Le Roy following the investigation into a suspicious vehicle at the 490 Truck Stop in Le Roy. He was allegedly parked in the parking lot after hours when the business was closed. He was transported to GC Jail and processed, then issued appearance tickets. He is due in Town of Le Roy Court on Nov. 25. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Dennis S. Rogers Jr., 46, of Batavia, was arrested on Nov. 3 by Troopers out of SP Batavia as the result of a traffic stop on Route 5. Rogers was charged with driving while intoxicated, aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, operating a vehicle without an interlock device, along with other traffic offenses after allegedly failing field sobriety tests. Rogers was issued an appearance ticket returnable to the Town of Pembroke later this month.

Riley Kristine Davis, 21, of Gilbert Road, Bergen, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and a muffler exhaust violation. She was arrested at 11:47 p.m. Nov. 3 on Clinton Street in Batavia after being pulled over for a muffler violation. She was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Nov. 13. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis, assisted by Sgt. Dan Coffey.

Joseph W. Morrow, 18, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. He was arrested on Cedar Street in Batavia at 9:05 p.m. on Nov. 5 after he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana during a traffic stop. He was issued an appearance ticket and released. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Felicia DeGroot.

November 6, 2018 - 3:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in WNYHeroes Inc., news, veterans, notify.

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Genesee County, acting as a pass-through agency for a nonprofit that serves Western New York veterans, is to receive $80,000 in state aid for a program that provides fun group activities for combat veterans and their families.

WNYHeroes Inc. is based in Williamsville and provides several veterans programs, including service dogs for qualifying combat vets and financial aid for veterans in danger of losing their homes.

"We assist veterans if they're three or four months behind on their rent or mortgage," said Chris Kreiger, an Iraq War Vet and president and cofounder of WNYHeroes. "We pay the rent or mortgage, the security, utilities, food, whatever they need. If they fall three or four months behind, we provide the funds in grants, not loans."

Last year's Red, White and Blue Gala raised $300,000 for the assistance fund, he said, and $236,000 of that money went directly to veterans in need.

The ninth annual gala is tonight at Seneca Niagara Casino.

The $80,000 state grant is for the organizations for Operation B.O.O.T.S., which brings together veterans and their families in a casual, non-clinical, non-threatening, safe, fun environments to foster teamwork, networking and friendship. The program's motto is, "From defending our freedom to enjoying it."

WNYHeroes serves 12 of WNY's 17 counties and Kreiger said the goal is to expand to all 17 counties within the next two years.

The Human Services Committee yesterday unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the county to act as the pass-through agency for the state funds.

Photo: William Joyce, Genesee County veterans service officer, and Chris Kreiger and Lynn Magistrale of WNYHeroes.

November 6, 2018 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, BBID.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District (BBID) is seeking qualified applications for the position of Executive Director.

We would like to thank our former Director, Beth Kemp, for her service to the district and wish her the best in her professional endeavors. Kemp represented our BBID with integrity, strong leadership and endless energy. Her presence will be missed.

Leanna DiRisio, former BBID board member, has accepted the interim position at this time, working part-time and resigning her position from the Board of Directors effective immediately. DiRisio will assume all functions of the Executive Director along with Board President, Jennifer Gray.

A hiring committee has met to discuss and establish the guidelines for hiring the next director. In addition, the Board is seeking two new members for the board, both tenant positions. Board members work collaboratively to solve problems, beautiful the downtown, identify strengths and areas for improvement as well as guide the BID organization in decision making to promote business in our district.

Any tenant member of the BBID interested in serving on the Board should contact the office for more information at 344-0900.

The BBID is seeking an Executive Director for full-time, salaried employment. Qualified candidates should have three years’ experience in executive leadership and/or management, including directing volunteers and being responsible for managing budgets of more than $100,000.

The ideal candidate is outgoing, amicable, reliable with excellent communication skills. Candidate must be a team player who enjoys making connections and new partnerships. A background in grant writing and community development is a plus.

A bachelor’s degree is preferred in either business, government, administration, marketing or similar/related fields. Paid vacation and bonus earnings are offered, with flexible hours with some mandatory nights and weekends.

Any interested candidate for the position of Executive Director should contact the BBID office for more information or visit our website at: www.downtownbataviany.com or may email a letter of interest to:  [email protected]

The window for application submissions will be open until Nov. 30th.

November 6, 2018 - 2:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Grand Jury, batavia, Darien, Stafford, Oakfield.

Paul M. Gelardo is indicted for the crime of driving while ability impaired by drugs, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on July 13 in the Town of Oakfield that Gelardo drove a 2002 Chevrolet on South Pearl Street while his ability to do so was impaired by drugs. In count two, he is accused of aggravated unilicensed operation of the motor vehicle in the first degree, another Class E felony. It is alleged in count two that Gelardo knew, or had reason to know, that his driver's license was suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by authorities at the time he drove on South Pearl Street, and he did so while under the influence of alcohol or a drug. In count three, he is accused of the same crime as in count two, plus it alleges he had in effect three or more suspensions imposed on at least three separate dates for failure to answer, appear or pay a fine. In Special Information filed by the Genesee County District Attorney, Gelardo is accused of having been convicted of driving while impaired by drugs, as a misdemeanor, on March 14, 2016 in Town of Brighton Court. That conviction was within 10 years of the commission of crimes alleged in the current indictment, and he knew, or should have known, about that conviction and that his driver's license was still suspended.

Shawn J. Scheg is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on July 25 in the Town of Stafford that Scheg drove a 2007 Acura on Route 33 while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, also a Class E felony, for driving that day while his license was suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by authorities. In count three, he is accused of circumventing an ignition interlock device, a Class A misdemeanor, which he was court ordered to have on his vehicle and which the Acura did not have. In Special Information filed by the Genesee County District Attorney, Scheg is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on Oct. 9, 2012 in Genesee County Court, and that conviction forms for basis for the suspension or revocation referred to in count two of the current indictment.

Carl W. Altman is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on June 26 Altman drove a 1998 Ford in the Darien Lake Concert Amphitheater parking lot in the Town of Darien while he was intoxicated. In Special Information filed by the Genesee County District Attorney, Altman is accused of having been convicted of DWI as a misdemeanor on Aug. 24, 2015 in Town of Gates Court and that conviction was within 10 years of the crime alleged in the current indictment.

David J. Henry is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, per se, as a misdemeanor. It is alleged that on March 3 in the Town of Stafford that Henry drove on 2017 Volkswagon on Route 90 while having a BAC or .08 or more. In count two, he is accused of DWI, a msidemeanor. In count three, he is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a Class E felony. It is alleged in count three that Henry drove while under the influence of alcohol or a drug while his license was suspended or revoked and while he had three or more suspensions imposed or at least three separate dates for failure to answer, appear or pay a fine.

November 6, 2018 - 2:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in BEST Center, GCC, business, news, Functional Area Review survey.
Press release:

The BEST Center at Genesee Community College is in the process of conducting a Functional Area Review (FAR) to help identify opportunities for improvement.

One of the most significant steps in this process is gathering feedback from our business and organization contacts about the quality, effectiveness and services we provide.

As a result, we are hoping you will take a couple minutes to complete a brief survey through Survey Monkey. Your input will be extremely valuable as we plan and prioritize our efforts moving forward. 

Here is the link to the Survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GFN6G5S

The BEST Center Survey will be open until Friday, Nov. 16th.

November 6, 2018 - 1:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, sports, football.

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Blue Devils running back Ray Leach was named the Section V Class B Player of the Year and Coach Brennan Briggs was named Coach of the Year.

The awards come after Batavia secured another Section V championship Saturday, knocking off the Wayne Eagles, 48-14.

Though Briggs has led four teams in five years to Section V championships, this is his first Coach of the Year award. It's also the first Player of the Year award for Leach, a senior.

On the year, Leach has 127 carries for 1,714 yards, which averages 13.5 yards a carry, along with 27 rushing touchdowns. He has 10 receptions for 361 yards and three TDs. 

On his career at Batavia HS, he has 4,476 rushing yards and 66 TDs. He has 635 all-purpose yards and 90 touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of Batavia High School.

November 6, 2018 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, election, notify.

For the first time -- as far as we know -- Rep. Chris Collins made his first appearance in Genesee County since his arrest Aug. 8, stopping by a polling location in Oakfield to drop off donuts.

Dick Siebert, the Republican election commissioner, said he spoke with a Democratic poll monitor at the poll in Oakfield and Collins did not campaign while at the location, did not carry any campaign material and did not wear anything that would identify him as Chris Collins.

"He spoke to one or two of the inspectors," Siebert said. "From what I understand he just wished them a good day. He had no campaign button or anything on that would identify him as Chris Collins. He did no campaigning with any of the people standing in line to vote."

Collins is running for reelection after being charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI. His top rival is Nate McMurray, town supervisor of Grand Island.

The turnout is reportedly good at Genesee County polling locations, on par with a presidential-year election, according to Lorie Longhany, the Democratic election commissioner. 

"We just heard from another polling location and they are using the word, 'busy,' " Longhany said. "My guess is, a more robust turnout for a midterm, which is what is being reported nationally."

Our news partner, WBTA, contributed to this story.

November 6, 2018 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, Jerry Warner, news.

warner_jerry.jpgOver his 30 years on WBTA, in hosting "Main and Center," broadcaster Jerry Warner talked to hundreds of members of the Genesee County community and a few of them recalled Warner yesterday after learning of his passing Sunday night.

"It was always a joy to go over there and do the show with him because he was so easy to talk to," said Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. "Even on air, it felt like you're sitting around and talking in your living room with somebody. He always had this kind and gentle and calming influence when you were talking to them. It made it easy to be on his show."

Warner was born Feb. 9, 1943, in Batavia and was a lifelong resident of Oakfield. He started his radio career in 1971 with WBTA. He left the hometown station for a short time to work at WEZO in Rochester, where he created the city's number one morning show.

When he returned to WBTA he became the station's morning personality and host of "Main and Center," a talk show that featured a local guest talking about local events and issues.

"I really enjoyed speaking with Jerry and doing his interviews," said Jason Molino, Batavia's former city manager. "You know he was always extraordinarily professional. He was very classy. He was kind of part of an old guard. (We had) many laughs many times. I think the legacy of a memory of Jerry as just being kind and sweet but also asking good questions, and I think he was genuinely interested in the topics we discussed, so it's something I'll always miss about Jerry."

Another frequent guest was Jay Gsell, county manager, who said Warner was always ready to talk about the issues of the day.

"Coming in on Thursday, the way we have been, and how warm and accommodating Jerry was, but also the fact that he really took the time to know what we were doing, to understand that and be able to conduct an effective and cogent interview was always what impressed me about him," Gsell said.

For Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster of the Sheriff's Office and also an Oakfield native, Warner was always the voice of his hometown. He remembers being out and about, perhaps at the dentist office and hearing Warner's voice and feeling like he was hearing home.

"I was very saddened to learn that he had become ill and in particular distressed when I read this weekend that he had gone down to hospice," Brewster said. "He was a great man. He had a wonderful voice. He had an infectious laugh and he didn't take himself seriously. He's going to be sadly missed."

Molino recalled a laugh he got listening to Warner's program one morning about eight years ago. It was the Monday after Summer in the City and Molino had volunteered a session in the dunk tank as part of a fundraiser. The City Council president at the time, Charlie Mallow, came along determined to dunk Molino. He spent about $20 on softballs and missed every toss.

"Sure enough, the next morning, I was listening to WBTA and I heard Jerry on the air talking about Summer in the City and trying to generate revenue and some funds for charity," Molino said. "And sure enough he goes on to say 'and the council president was trying to sink the city manager in the dunk tank and he just couldn't do it. He needed some bigger balls in order to do that.' And that's one of the fondest memories I have of Jerry."

Warner and his wife, Darlene, celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary in August. He was a former member of the Oakfield Presbyterian Church and served with the United States National Guard.

Calling hours are Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Burdett & Sanford Funeral Home, 11 Maple Ave., Oakfield, where services will be held Friday at 10 a.m.  Jerry will be lain to rest in Cary Cemetery, Oakfield.

For Jerry Warner's full obituary, click here.

November 5, 2018 - 9:52pm

The only contested race on Election Day in the Town of Bethany is for the position of highway superintendent.

The post was formerly held by Joel Merle but he left after giving his two-week notice earlier this year and three candidates were interviewed to replace him: Mike Adams, Barb Czworka and Jeffery Fluker.

Adams, who says he was asked to apply, was appointed as highway superintendent in March.

Now he is seeking to retain the $52,000-a-year post, the term for which expires next November, and Czworka is running to unseat him. Fluker remains a trustee on the town board.

Whomever is elected tomorrow as highway superintendent will have to run again in 2019.

The highway superintendent’s main duties are keeping the roads in good shape – 30.84 miles of town roads and 30.08 miles of county roads must be mowed, salted and plowed. Plus the town must maintain its own roads and do culvert and sluice replacements as required. Responsibilities also include removal of downed trees from roadways, etc.

Bethany's approved highway department expenditures for 2018 amounted to $226,000. There’s about $240,000 in savings and the estimated department annual budget is about $800,000.

Adams said he’s by no means a politician but feels he has the credentials to do right by taxpayers.

The 61-year-old sole proprietor farmer raises beef and dairy replacement calves up to 4 months old, in addition to growing crops on more than 450 acres. He’s been a farmer since the age of 20, a testament, he says, to his strong work ethic.

He says the highway superintendent’s job is evaluated this way -- whether the work that needs to get done, is done, rather than by the clock. With that in mind, he’s proud of his brief tenure.

“I’ve been told that we got more work done this summer than has been done in a long time, and it’s more than surpassed people’s expectations,” Adams said.

Czworka worked in Bethany’s Highway Department as a laborer for 17 “full years” before being laid off.

“I’ve been a grunt, I’ve done the dirty work, I have been down on the asphalt with the guys,” Czworka said. “I can mow roadsides. I don’t just whack weeds and mow lawns."

Asked why she’s running, she says simply “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. ... I want to do a good job when I get in there. I feel I'm a hard worker."

The contest has gotten testy.

Adams and some of his supporters point out that he’s had a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for more than 30 years.

“There ain’t much I can’t drive,” he says matter of factly, adding that he has the capability of a “backyard mechanic” to keep that equipment in working order.

Bethany operates a highway shop that employs Teamsters Union workers and Czworka has been a Teamsters steward.

After so many years, she knows every aspect of Bethany’s highway department and feels she has a lot to offer voters although she does not have a CDL.

“You can pull your weight without a CDL,” Czworka said. “Being in a snowplow is NOT a good use of a highway superintendent’s time.”

Adams says flatly “She has no ability to get the license.”

His opponent counters that shoveling snow off sidewalks, opening bigger intersections up that have snowed over are two additional ways to be helpful while others are plowing routes.

Town Supervisor Carl Hyde Jr. said in an email: “There are no exemptions in the NYS DMV laws for municipalities: you must have a CDL to drive plow truck or town dump truck.

“Here's the problem -- a driver does not show up for plowing or calls in sick, then the Super has to get in a truck and plow in Bethany. NO license, NO plowing.”

"The CDL issue is petty," Czworka replied in a phone interview this evening. "I've never needed one. We have two backup part-time drivers and they do a good job. The CDL is being made into a big issue by people who've never done the job.

"I've been a wing person. I've trained new drivers on routes. I don't sit in an office somewhere and tell people how I think they should do their job."

Czworka prides herself on having run a positive campaign. She said she was upfront with Adams in May and told him she would be running for his job. She says he told her didn’t know if he would to be on the ballot.

Adams says he doesn’t want to be negative, but he’s seen some things over these past few months that make him shake his head as a taxpayer.

Like the front-end loader that was driven down to a heavy equipment company some time back to have an oil change for $1,080, which is something Adams would have just handled himself.

The reason for taking the loader out for maintenance some years was to have the maintenance for the machine recorded in the company's record. The point being that after a certain time, that piece of equipment could be cashed in, “but the town would not cash it in,” Czworka said.

Hyde said the agreement with the company regarding the front-end loader was before his time in office; he started in 2015.

One of the times the Teamsters took the town to arbitration since 2015 was because it outsourced labor from a non-union man, according to Czworka.

Hyde said that man was brought on as Adams' deputy highway superintendent and paid the same as a machine equipment operator (MEO) on an as-needed basis.

A highway superintendent can legally select his appointment as deputy and the appointee can be either union or non-union. The selection does not violate union rules so long as that deputy is not a full-time worker.

"The town actually double paid to have material hauled to the shop," Czworka countered.

​Since at least 2015, Hyde said there has been ongoing debate about staffing of the Highway Department; he claims Bethany could not afford four full-time employees.

"We always could in the past," Czworka said, noting that the town hired two MEOs at a higher rate of pay, added the deputy Super yet could not afford the laborer post (her post) that was less than $14 per hour.

"Hyde's math doesn't add up," Czworka said.

Hyde says it's not just his math that is used in the town's decision-making process.

"Let's just say I hope the most qualifed person gets the job," Hyde said. "I can't let taxpayers down. That's my job."

November 5, 2018 - 9:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, pembroke.

A vehicle is off the road in the area of 6664 Knapp Road, Pembroke.

Possible injuries. Unknown what it struck.

Pembroke and Indian Falls and Mercy EMS dispatched.

UPDATE 9:53 p.m.: The driver is attempting to get out. A hydrant is sheared off, not leaking.

UPDATE 9:59 p.m.: Mercy can back it down to non-emergency.

November 5, 2018 - 7:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement urging local schools to participate in this year’s “Holiday Mail for the Troops” Program.

“I am proud to once again invite all elementary age students in New York’s 27th District to create holiday cards for our troops,” Congressman Collins said. “The holiday season is fast approaching and many of our brave service men and women will not be able enjoy it at home with their families.

"Nothing can replace being with loved ones and friends during the holidays, but together we can brighten this holiday season for our troops.”

With your help, we will distribute holiday cards to the brave men and women at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to show our appreciation for their service.

Participants are asked to drop off the holiday cards to either of Congressman Collins’ district offices no later than Dec. 14 to ensure delivery by Christmas.

Lancaster District Office                          Geneseo District Office
2813 Wehrle Drive, Suite 13                            128 Main St.
Williamsville, NY 14221                                   Geneseo, NY 14454
Phone: (716) 634-2324                                     Phone: (585) 519-4002

Please contact Shannon Dougherty at [email protected] if you have any questions about how your school can participate. You can also reach Shannon by phone at 585-815-5286.

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