Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

Alabama

January 24, 2023 - 5:48pm
posted by Press Release in Alabama, Elections, news.

Press release:

The Town of Alabama Republican Committee is looking or qualified candidates to run in this fall elections. The following positions are open for the fall 2023 elections:

  • Town Supervisor
  • Town Clerk
  • Town Justice – 2 positions up for election
  • Town Council – 2 positions up for election
  • Town Highway Superintendent

Please submit your letter of intent no later than Fe. 10 to:

Earl LaGrou
7420 Macomber Rd.
Oakfield, NY 14125

Letters may also be submitted via email to [email protected]. If candidates need more information, they may call Earl LaGrou, (716) 912- 8195.

January 22, 2023 - 4:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama, Le Roy, Alexander, news.

Cory Bernard Buckenmeyer, 32, of Alexander Road, Alexander, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, unreasonable speed, driving left of pavement marks, and driving while using a mobile phone. Buckenmeyer was reportedly involved in a motor vehicle accident on Jan. 20 at 10:01 p.m. on Creek Road, Bethany.  The incident was investigated by Deputy Zachary Hoy and Deputy Nicholas Chamoun. Buckenmeyer was released on an appearance ticket.

Michele Louise Difalco, 34, of Maple Street Road, Alabama, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, moving from lane unsafely, and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Difalco is accused of being involved in a property damage accident while on drugs on Nov. 11 at 11:08 p.m. on Judge Road in Alabama.  The incident was investigated by Deputy James Stack and Deputy Austin Heberlein. Difalco was released on an appearance ticket.

Ronald Charles Inzinna, 54, of East Main Road, Le Roy, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Inzinna is accused of violating a stay-away order of protection at 4 p.m. on Jan. 19 in the Town of Le Roy. He was issued an appearance ticket.

January 15, 2023 - 9:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama Fire, fire services, news, Alabama, Winter Storm Elliott.

alabamainstallation2023-4.jpg

Winter Storm Elliott blew into the Town of Alabama again on Saturday night, this time in the form of memories and accolades for first responders during the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department's annual installation and awards banquet. 

Alabama Fire sheltered 40 people during the storm, among them the district's own president, Wendy Allen-Thompson, who stopped at the fire hall after she couldn't make it home in the storm.  She helped organize the storm response at the shelter. She was impressed by the response of department members as well as the stranded travelers she met during the storm.

"It's a memory of my Christmas and my birthday that I will never forget as long as I live," Allen-Thompson said. "I'm so happy I had the privilege of being a part of it."

Joe Bradt, manager of the Alabama Hotel, which also sheltered travelers during the storm, presented a check to the department for $2,500 -- the amount of money donated by the travelers who rode out the storm at the Hotel.

"What you guys did, I mean, we were there, and we were open, and we fed the people, but you guys got them there," Bradt said."That meant more to us than anything else."

The department received 369 dispatches in 2022, said Chief Gary Patnode. There were only two house fires.  Winter Storm Elliott was by far the biggest event of the year for the small, all-volunteer fire department.

It was a storm that was hard emotionally on firefighters, who, by instinct and training, rush to help people.  Alabama's members felt overwhelmed at times, as the storm raged and whiteout conditions prevailed, throughout the northwest portion of Genesee County, the chief said.

"When we get the call, and you know that there are 150 open 9-1-1 calls for vehicles that need to be cleared, and you can't see your hand in front of your face, you get overwhelmed with that helplessness feeling," Patnode said. "It's just because we're all Type-A personalities. We want to help people, and when you can't physically see to go out where it's safe, you feel helpless."

But Alabama's volunteers were ready and willing to give a rescue a try every chance they got, Allen-Thompson said. 

"I can't even begin to describe the heroism of these guys,"  Allen-Thompson said.  "You couldn't see anything. You couldn't drive. We were getting phone calls from stranded motorists. We had a bunch of them here that were stranded. People were calling 9-1-1, and they weren't getting help as fast as they wished they could, for obvious reasons, and so they just started looking up the number for the fire hall, and they were calling us. Rob (Crossen) would take the call, then another call, and then another caller. And he'd look at me, and I'd look to him, and I think we were all just getting pretty scared that people were gonna literally perish out there in their cars. So it was quite an experience, to say the least. We had people outside working, all these guys were out there in the cold, turning red, beet red, working on trying to help people, and they go out and bring a couple people back."

Crossen was tireless in his efforts, Allen-Thompson said, rescuing seven people, driving his truck with the driver's door open, one foot on the running board, peaking through space between the open door and the windshield to help improve the visibility as he drove.

He and the other volunteers brought back all kinds of people -- people from China, from Canada, from Russia, and other foreign lands. 

"We were a melting pot, which is unusual for this area for us," Allen-Thompson said. "I really enjoyed that a lot. I learned a lot. The one guy specifically who made the best rice I've probably ever eaten."

There was one man who was particularly impressed by Crossen.

"Rob kept going and going, and I still remember because it surprised me when a man said, 'you know about Rob Crossen? and I said of course,' but that really got my attention," Allen-Thompson said. "'Yeah, I think I do.' He said, 'Wendy, Rob told me he is 77 years old.' I was like, I couldn't believe it, and he said, 'Yes, Rob told me several times he is 77, and he was driving to save us.'"

Crossen's efforts during the storm are one reason he was named Firefighter of the Year.

Photos by Howard Owens.  Top photo, Todd Thompson and Ryan Thompson present Rob Crossen with the Firefighter of the Year Award.

alabamainstallation2023.jpg

Jerry and Karen Johnson, along with their three children, were special guests of the department for the dinner. The family sheltered 20 stranded travelers during the storm.

Karen said events started for them around 4:30 p.m. on Friday when a State Trooper knocked on their door.  His vehicle had been stuck in front of his house for five hours and he only just realized there was a home at his location.

"He goes, 'we got several strange motorists out here.' I said, 'Well, we have a heated shop if they need somewhere to stay, please bring them in.' And he was like, 'well, we're not at that point yet.'"

About an hour and a half later, he said he needed to start bringing stranded motorists to the Johnson's shop.

"One of them was literally at the end of our driveway for five and a half hours, and we didn't even know," Karen said. "We couldn't see him, couldn't hear him."

By the end of Friday night, there were 22 people in the shop plus two state troopers.

"We're like, 'what are you gonna feed these people?' Karen said. "We'll do the best we can, you know. Unfortunately, that night they had a dinner of macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza."

Like other shelter locations, the travelers came from many parts of the world.

The Johnson's children helped entertain the children who came to the shop.

"There was a little girl who was seven years old," Karen said. "She and her family, there were six of them, they were on their way to Hawaii. She got to go in the house most of the time. She played games. My children kept her occupied.  When it came time to go, she looked sorry.  She looked at her dad, and she goes, 'This was better than going to Hawaii.'"

There was a bit of a Christmas miracle in the Johnson household during the event, Karen revealed.

"For the first time, my kids pulled together for three days," she said. "No arguing."

For The Batavian's complete coverage of Winter Storm Elliott, click here.

alabamainstallation2023-2.jpg

Gary Patnode and Wendy Allen-Thompson receive a $2,500 check from Joe Bradt, general manager of the Alabama Hotel.

See also: Alabama has its own Christmas story to tell, and stranded travelers aren't 'home alone'

alabamainstallation2023-5.jpg

The Indian Falls Volunteer Fire Department was recognized with the Service Award, presented by Chief Gary Patnode. The award was in recognition of the support on mutual aid calls provided by Dave Olsen, LuAnn Mileham, Chief Ed Mileham, and Matt Delre (not pictured) as members of the Indian Falls department.

"Alabama Fire, like many other agencies, struggles to answer 9-1-1 calls during the day," Patnode said. "For many years these individuals have played a vital role in Alabama Fire being able to respond and answer your calls while providing the necessary patient care until the ambulance arrives."

See also: County's smallest department kept travelers fed, warm, and safe during Winter Storm Elliott

alabamainstallation2023-6.jpg

Terry Thompson presented the EMS awards to Mark Smith and Brianna Smith.

alabamainstallation2023-7.jpg

Brianna Smith received the "Rising Star" award from Wendy Allen-Thompson.

alabamainstallation2023-8.jpg

Sydney Eick was honored for 50 years of service to the department, which included a proclamation from Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and for responding to the most calls in 2022. 

alabamainstallation2023-3.jpg

Assemblyman Steve Hawley administered the oath of office to the elected and appointed officers of the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department.

Elected:

  • President, Wendy Allen-Thompson
  • Vice president, Joseph Uhrinek
  • Chief Gary P. Patnode
  • Treasurer Tony Mudrzynski
  • Secretary, Leah Thompson
  • Board of Directors: Richard Brunea, Henry Mudrzunski, Gary L. Patnode, Allison Thompson, Ryan Thompson
  • Bell Jar Secretary, Clayton Fry
  • Hall Steward, Terry Thompson

Appointed: 

  • Deputy Chief, Sid Eick
  • 1st Assistant Chief, Terry Thompson
  • 2nd Assistant Chief, Ryan Thompson
  • Captain, Todd Thompson
  • EMS/Fire Captain, Richard Brunea
  • EMS Captain, Brianna Smith
  • EMS Lieutenant, Mark Smith
  • Fire Police Captain, Henry Mudrzynski

alabamainstallation2023-9.jpg

Henry Mudrzynski gave a talk on the history of the department, which included showing off the bylaws from 1950.

Here's a video produced the Town of Alabama Highway Department about the storm.

Made with Clipchamp
January 13, 2023 - 3:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Alabama.

A three-car accident with entrapment is reported at Bloomingdale and Martin Road, on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

Alabama Fire and Indian Falls Fire dispatched along with Mercy EMS.

UPDATE 3:48 p.m.: The Indian Falls chief is on scene and reports two vehicles blocking Martin Road. One patient inside a residence. No entrapment.

January 12, 2023 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Oakfield, Alabama.

Mone N. Wiggins, 24, of Dana Street, Rochester, is charged with grand larceny 4th, conspiracy 5th, and criminal impersonation. Yathil Karis K. Lay-Rivera, 24, of Grand Avenue, Rochester, is charged with grand larceny 4th and conspiracy 5th.  Aniyah E. Kendrick, 18, of Sullivan Street, Rochester, is charged with conspiracy 5th.  On. Jan. 6, Sheriff's deputies responded to Ulta Beauty in Batavia Towne Center after receiving a report of a larceny in progress. When officers arrived, Wiggins, Lay-Rivera, and Kendrick were allegedly seen walking to a vehicle with "bags full of stolen items." The three were taken into custody and issued appearance tickets. Assisting in the investigation were Deputy Morgan Ewert, Deputy Nicholas Chamoun, and Deputy Jacob Kipler.

cortez_mugjan2023.jpg
Joe Cortez

Joe Andrew Cortez, 40, no permanent address, is charged with rape 1st and rape 3rd. Cortez is accused of forcing a person under the age of 17 to have sexual intercourse on Sept. 20 at 3 p.m. at a location on Lewiston Road, Batavia. Cortez was arrested on Jan. 6 and ordered held in the Genesee County Jail.

Tommy Lee Mobley III, of Main Street, Le Roy, is charged with attempted criminal possession of a weapon 4th. Mobley is accused of attempting to purchase a firearm from a business on West Main Street, Batavia, on Sept. 27 at 9 a.m., while being a person prohibited by law from making a firearm purchase. Mobley was taken into custody on Jan. 6, processed at the Genesee County Jail, and released on an appearance ticket.

Vicki Lee Showler, 51, of Lewiston Road, Alabama, is charged with petit larceny. Showler is accused of shoplifting at the Dollar General store on North Main Street, Oakfield, on Jan. 4 at 8:24 p.m. Showler was processed at the Genesee County Jail and released.

Tatiana Makarevic, 55, of Maple Road, Alabama, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, and moving from lane unsafely.  Deputy Jacob Kipler and Deputy Jeremiah Gechell responded to a report of an erratic driver on Route 77 in the Town of Pembroke on Dec. 15 at 8:48 p.m. Makarevic was taken into custody and processed at the Genesee County Jail. She was released on appearance tickets.

Jocolby Sherod Wallace, 34, of Bryan Street, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon 4th, aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd, and uninspected motor vehicle. Wallace was stopped on Jan. 6 at 8:52 p.m. on Route 33 in Byron by Deputy David Moore. During the traffic stop, Wallace was allegedly found in possession of a stun gun while being previously convicted of a crime. He was arraigned and ordered held without bail.

Theresa Lorraine Fisher, 34, of Royal Parkway, South Lockport, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and aggravated unlicensed operation 2nd. Fisher was stopped on Jan. 1 at 5:45 p.m. on Route 77 in Pembroke by Deputy Morgan Ewert. She was issued an appearance ticket.

January 10, 2023 - 7:02pm
posted by Press Release in news, STAMP, GCEDC, Alabama.

schumerstamphyde.jpeg

Press Release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider an initial application for incentives from Edwards Vacuum, part of the Atlas Copco Group, for the $212 million first phase of the company’s semiconductor dry pump manufacturing project at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the town of Alabama, NY. The GCEDC Board of Directors will review and consider the application at its January 12, 2023 meeting.

Edwards Vacuum’s “factory of the future” is being constructed to serve the semiconductor industry and advanced manufacturing sectors and would create approximately 343 new high-paying jobs. The new facility is projected to generate more than $13.4 million in future revenues to the Town of Alabama, Genesee County, Oakfield-Alabama School District and the Alabama Fire Department over 20 years.

“Thanks to Senator Schumer and his leadership in passing the Federal CHIPS and Science Act and New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s advocacy in passing New York's Green CHIPS legislation, we are bringing a ‘factory of the future’ to STAMP now,” said GCEDC President and CEO Steve Hyde.

Atlas Copco USA Holdings Inc. & Subsidiaries (Edwards Vacuum) is requesting sales tax exemptions with estimated savings of $4.34 million and a 20-year property tax abatement with approximately $12.85 million in estimated savings. The project is estimated to generate $644 million in payroll and projected future municipal revenues, a $39 benefit to the local economy for every $1 of public investment.

If the incentives application is accepted, a public hearing will be scheduled on the proposed project agreements in the town of Alabama. The GCEDC Board meeting is Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 4 p.m. at 99 MedTech Drive in Batavia.
 

2021 File Photo of Sen. Charles Schumer and Steve Hyde, CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center during an announcement about Edward's Vacuum, by Howard Owens.

January 2, 2023 - 6:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, pembroke, Alabama, Le Roy, Bethany, Alexander, Pavilion, Oakfield.

Jose A. Rivera, 36, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 1st, attempted promoting prison contraband 1st, and Ida M. Vanorden, 36, of Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with conspiracy 5th. Rivera and Vandorden are accused of conspiracy along with an unknown male, to introduce contraband into the Genesee County Jail. The contraband was intercepted by corrections officers on Dec. 26. Rivera is accused of violating a stay-away order of protection. Both Rivera and Vanorden were issued appearance tickets.  The investigation is ongoing, and deputies are attempting to identify the third suspect. Any person who may have additional information are requested to contact Deputy Nicholas Charmoun at (585) 345-3000, ext. 3258

Ledeja K. Wright, 32, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with torture/injure animal/fail to provide sustenance. Wright is accused of leaving a dog in an apartment after moving out and failing to provide sustenance to the animal. The incident was reported Nov. 30. Wright was arrested Dec. 15. She was arraigned in City Court and released. The dog is at the Animal Shelter. 

Vicki Lynne Manns, 52, of Brookville Road, Alexander, is charged with menacing 2nd, criminal possession of a weapon 4th, assault 3rd, and harassment 2nd.  Manns is accused of throwing a tray at a person, causing an injury. She is also accused of pointing a firearm at the same person. She was issued an appearance ticket.Robert L. Drennen is charged with criminal mischief 3rd. Drennen is accused of causing damage to a residence in the City of Batavia on Dec. 23. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Julie R. Richardson, 31, of Batavia,  is charged with grand larceny 4th, petit larceny, conspiracy 5th and tampering with evidence. Richardson is accused of stealing from a vehicle on South Main Street, Batavia, on Nov. 16. Richardson was arrested after an investigation by Officer Nicole McGinnis.

Andrew A. Crimes, 50, of West Main Street Road,  Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 1st and aggravated family offense. Crimes is accused of violating an order of protection by contacting the protected party on Dec. 9. He was arraigned in City Court and released.

Deanna L. Yox, 37, of Clifford Street, Buffalo, is charged with petit larceny. Yox is accused of stealing from a business in Batavia in February 2020. She was arrested Dec. 21 following an investigation by officers Felicia Martinez and Wesley Rissinger. Yox was released on an appearance ticket.

Malinda J. Falk, 41, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd and criminal obstruction of breathing/blood circulation. Falk is accused of attacking another individual on Dec. 17 at a location on East Main Street, Batavia. Falk was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance. 

David L. Weaver, 32, of Atlanta, Illinois, is charged with harassment 2nd. Weaver is accused of striking another person during a disturbance on Dec. 10. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Dustin T. Forkell, 31, of Holley, is charged with petit larceny and false impersonation. Forkell is accused of stealing property from a local business on Dec. 11 and fleeing. He was located at another business in the Town of Batavia, at which time he allegedly provided a false name to officers. He was arrested, processed at Batavia PD, and issued an appearance ticket. The incident was investigated by officers Wesly Rissinger and Megan Crossett

An 18-year-old of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with assault 3rd and criminal mischief. An 18-year-old resident is accused of attacking another person on Dec. 14 with an iPad, causing an injury. The youth was arraigned in City Court and released. 

Brittanee J. Hooten, of State Street, in Batavia, was arrested on two bench warrants after having failed to appear on an appearance ticket on prior arrests. Hooten was arraigned on Dec. 14 in City Court and released. 

Karrie A. Morrow, 40, of Summit Street, Batavia, was arrested on several outstanding Bench Warrants. Morrow was arrested on Dec. 14 after she was located during an unrelated incident. The warrants stem from several petit larceny cases at local businesses. Morrow was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.

Jeffrey M. VanEpps, 45, of Albion, is charged with criminal mischief and attempted assault 3rd. VanEpps was allegedly involved in a disturbance at a business on West Main Street on Dec. 14. He was arraigned in City Court and released.

Jacob A. Richards, 34, of Rochester, is charged with possession of a forged instrument 1st and grand larceny 4th. Richards allegedly passed a forged check at a local bank. He was arraigned in City Court and ordered held on bail.

Terrance L. Falk, 24, of North Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 4th and assault 3rd. Falk was allegedly involved in a disturbance on an unspecified date in the City of Batavia. After initially fleeing the scene, according to police, he was located and taken into custody without incident. He was arraigned in City Court and released on his own recognizance. 

Byron K. Bell, 53, of Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property 3rd, aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd and speeding. Bell was stopped on Dec. 11 in the City of Batavia by Officer Josh Girvin and Officer Bryan Moscicki. Bell was allegedly driving a stolen vehicle while on a suspended license. He was arraigned in City Court and jailed.

Harry R. Silliman, 58, of Batavia, is charged with trespass. Silliman was allegedly on property on Maple Street without permission. He was arrested and issued an appearance ticket.

Zakara R. Jackson, age 19, of Trumbull Parkway, Batavia, is charged with bail jumping 2nd and failure to appear. Jackson was arrested on a warrant on Dec. 8 He was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.

Daquan J. Butler, 26, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny.  Butler is accused of stealing an iPhone 13 from another person on Ross Street on Dec. 3. He was arraigned in City Court and released.

Raymond Lunday Kelley, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with a false written statement. Kelley allegedly provided law enforcement with a false written statement related to an incident reported at Batavia Downs at 11:59 p.m., Dec. 16. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Douglas Wayne Logsdon, 74, of Big Tree Road, Pavilion, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment 2nd. Logsdon allegedly threw items at a person while a child was present during an incident reported at 5:41 p.m., Dec. 16 at a location on Big Tree Road, Pavilion. Logsdon was arraigned in Town of Pavilion Court and released.

Rachel B. Solomon, 30, of North Lake Road, Pembroke, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd and harassment 2nd. Solomon is accused of violating an order of protection by harassing an individual at 1 p.m. on Dec. 22. She was arraigned in Town of Pembroke Court and ordered held without bail. Solomon is also charged with aggravated criminal contempt, assault 3rd, and endangering the welfare of a child. The charges stem from an incident reported at 2:45 a.m., Jan. 2, at a location on Meadville Road, Tonawanda Indian Reservation. Solomon was jailed pending arraignment.

Joseph Michael Morelli, 54, of Orchard Street, Oakfield, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Morelli was allegedly found to be intoxicated at 2:02 p.m., Dec. 14, while at the Genesee County Probation Department on Main Street, Batavia, and arrested by Deputy Jonathan Dimming. Morelli was released to a third party on an appearance ticket. 

Adam Joseph Pape, 35, of Morrow Road, Pavilion, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, driving without an interlock device, and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle on a public highway. Pape was stopped at 8:11 p.m., Dec. 30, by Deputy Zachary Hoy and released on an appearance ticket.

Nia Hanevin Spring, 23, of Griffin Road, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd and grand larceny 4th. Spring was arrested on Dec. 30, processed at the Genesee County Jail, arraigned in Town of Alabama Court, and released under supervision. 

Ronald Charles Inzinna, 54, of Le Roy, is charged with criminal mischief and harassment 2nd. Inzinna is accused of subjecting another person to unwanted physical contact and preventing that person from contacting 9-1-1 during an incident reported at 6 p.m., Dec. 30, at a location on East Main Road, Le Roy.  Inzinna was arraigned in Town of Stafford Court and released on his own recognizance. 

Arthur James Felski, 45, of Tonawanda Indian Reservation, is charged with harassment 2nd. Felski was charged following an investigation into an incident reported at 3:25 p.m., Jan. 1, in Basom. He was arraigned in the Genesee County Centralized Arraignment Court and released on his own recognizance.

December 29, 2022 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Alabama, news, weather, Winter Storm Elliott.

Heading out on one of his search and rescue missions during the blizzard on Friday, Joshua Finn said he had two fears.

That they would find somebody dead in a car.  

Or that he wouldn't make it home, himself.

He came close to both tragic outcomes, he thought, around 1 a.m. on Saturday when he and another volunteer firefighter from Oakfield came across a pickup truck stuck on Judge Road. Its flashers were barely flashing, so he knew it had been there a long time. The battery was nearly dead.  Inside, they found a 60-year-old man and his 27-year-old daughter.

"They were both hypothermic, and they were completely saturated," Finn said. "The snow was blowing through the cracks in the vehicle."

With great effort, Finn, another EMT and other volunteers got them out of the pickup and into a rescue truck and started the drive back to the Oakfield Fire Hall. It was a scary trip, he said. They weren't sure they would make it back in zero visibility conditions.

"Colin and I couldn't get the interior dome lights to shut off because the door button was frozen," Finn said. "We couldn't see much because there was a light inside the cab. We had to have the windows down to look out the windows to drive. Colin says, 'Finn, go left, Finn, go right,' and we're going at one mile an hour. I got frost nip on my ears from because all I had was my firefighting hood. I was shivering by the time we got back with them."

Miraculously -- County Manager Matt Landers has called it a Christmas miracle -- there are no known fatalities in Genesee County as a result of Winter Storm Elliott, which hit the area with a ferocity unknown since 1977.

A perfect storm
The dangers of the storm were exacerbated by a Thruway Authority that shut down the I-90 with no plan to send travelers on safe routes and with Google and Apple map technology ill-equipped to warn drivers of dangerous weather conditions and send them on routes that would take them around the hazardous roads. 

Landers observed during the storm that in a situation that might have otherwise involved a handful of local people getting trapped on snow-covered roads, there were hundreds of cars that got stuck.

More than 700 people, most of them not from New York, wound up in one of 11 warming centers, and it's unclear how many others were taken in by residents who opened their doors when strangers came knocking during the storm.

The task of rescuing motorists fell to quickly assembled teams of deputies, highway crews, and volunteer firefighters.

And with winds over 35 mph and temperatures well below zero, and a forecast of storm conditions persisting for at least 48 hours, search and rescue teams didn't have the luxury of waiting until daylight or until the weather cleared.  They had to head out in the dead of night with the resources available.

Gary Patnode is both the deputy emergency management coordinator for Genesee County and the Chief of the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department.  He was right in the thick of it when the storm hit.

He praised dispatchers for helping triage stranded motorists.

Those with full gas tanks were told to keep their engines running and wait unless they could see a house nearby they could safely get to.  When they had less than a quarter tank of gas or a medical condition, they became a priority to rescue.

Among the medical conditions being reported -- "trouble breathing." 

Patnode found that understandable. You're out there not knowing how, when, or if you will be rescued.

"I think that was a direct result of anxiety, you know, from being in an unfamiliar area, it's pitch black out because there are no streetlights out there, and that snow is blowing," Patnode said.

"Every car, every window that we cleaned off, I just held my breath, you know, hoping that I didn't find a body in there," Patnode said. "That was the big thing."

It takes a village
While the brunt of the storm fell on Oakfield and Alabama, and volunteer departments in those communities had a total of more than 30 volunteers participate in search and rescue operations, nearly every department in the county sent either personnel or equipment, and usually both, such as Le Roy, Alexander, and Bethany, to the northwest quadrant to help out, along with Genesee Snopackers.

On the paid side of responders, there were Sheriff's deputies, personnel from Orleans and Livingston counties, State Police, State Parks, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and Batavia city police and fire departments.

In Oakfield and Alabama, community residents also pitched in, either by offering shelter, delivering supplies, moving snow, or cooking meals. The Oakfield Fire Hall became a warming shelter and housed several dozen people during the storm. There were so many travelers emotionally affected by the storm and being stranded that Downing took their phone numbers to follow up with them after they returned to their homes.

"We are still contacting them to find out how they're doing and that they're okay, you know, checking on their mental health," Downing said. "It's traumatizing for a lot of these people to be stranded and then have to be rescued. We want to make sure that they're okay."

During the weekend, stranded travelers also needed to be fed, so the community fed them.  One firefighter's wife baked her Christmas ham and brought it in.  Wives and girlfriends showed up to make breakfast.  Meals and supplies were delivered from Batavia. H.P. Hood donated dairy products. 

At one point, Oakfield Fire Chief Sean Downing was worried about being able to feed all these people for a couple of days and soon, he realized the community was taking care of it.

When Downing had to get home to check on his wife, Jeremy Yasses plowed his driveway so he could park.  Another community resident made sure the driveways of other volunteers were cleared so they could easily drop in and check on their families.

"People would come up to us and go, 'Oh, if I could just brush my teeth,'" Downing recalled. "then William Sturgeon thought to himself, he says, 'You know what, I have kids. We go to the dentist and they always give us toothpaste and toothbrushes, and dental floss,' so he ran home, which wasn't far from the Fire Hall, and came back with about 20 toothbrushes and the people were ecstatic that they could at least brush their teeth."

It's the little things, Downing said, that make a big difference.

"They say that it takes a village," said Downing.  "Well, it's more than the village. It was the entire town and village of Oakfield that was calling and coming together and getting us whatever we needed to be able to take care of these people. They understood what was going on and what we were going through, and they wanted to make sure that any little bit that they could do, they did."

The department had hosted a Christmas party for its members a couple of days before the storm, and there were still wrapped presents for children under the tree, so the kids at the shelter had Christmas presents to open.

Saving lives
The children were kept in the department's second-floor rec room. Downing wanted to shield them from any potential life-saving situations in the main bay of the fire hall.

"I think we had a total of three or four hypothermic patients throughout the event," Downing said. "The one gentleman that Josh was talking about was our first patient, and the medics came up to me at one time and said, 'We do not think, based on what we're seeing on the monitors and whatnot, and what we're talking about, he may not make it. But again, he pulled through. Once he warmed up, everything started to change for him. He was one of our first patients in the building, and he was the last one to leave our building after the event."

To treat hypothermic patients in a field-hospital situation, medics stripped them of all their cold, wet clothes and wrapped them in blankets.  A couple of firefighters' wives kept supplying warm blankets from the department's clothes dryer. 

Finn doesn't remember where he had seen it done before or where he got the idea from, but he suggested taking hand-warming packets and taping them to IV bags, so the fluid being given to patients was warmed.

While there were "official" warming shelters at fire halls -- such as Indian Falls, besides Oakfield, and schools, such as Elba -- there were several unofficial warming shelters, such as Alabama Hotel.  Grace Baptist Church in Batavia also opened as a warming shelter. Patnode listed off five or six homes that took in six, seven, and eight stranded travelers and one resident on Macomber Road had at least 50 people sheltering in his garage. 

"It was just remarkable how the community came together," Patnode said. "You know, even for us as an organization, when you're working with a volunteer fire department, there are so many different personalities, and everybody just sets that stuff aside and just works together."


See also: Stranded travelers offered a warm home and holiday hospitality by Oakfield couple


Gratitude
There was no shortage of gratitude among the travelers who were rescued. 

Downing noted that many of the department's guests pitched in and helped, cleaning up, shoveling snow, moving supplies as needed.

The boldest gesture of gratitude perhaps came from the first woman Finn rescued.

On Friday, as the storm began to roll in, he decided he couldn't stay at his job in Batavia. He had to get home to his family and his community.

As he drove toward Oakfield, he heard a call for a stuck vehicle with a woman finding it difficult to breathe.  He told dispatchers to keep the ambulance in Batavia, where it couldn't get stuck, while he checked it out.

He found a woman from Canada, with her daughter, having a panic attack.

He told her not to worry.  He told her to follow him to Oakfield, where there was a warming shelter.

He said the drive on Route 63 was difficult. The whiteout conditions were disorienting, and at one point, he went off the road and became stuck in a ditch himself.  

"You didn't know what was up or down," Finn said. "At one point, I was going two miles an hour, and I ended up in a ditch. The only reason why I got out, and it's no joke, I swear to God, I think what saved my life was a deputy named Richard Schildwaster came along with his truck and got me out."

When they got to the hall, the woman from Canada wanted to thank Finn in a big way. She offered him a piece of jewelry.

"She kept saying you saved my life," Finn said. "You guys, you saved my life. She tried to give me this 24-karat gold ring and put it in my hand and would not take it back and I'm like, 'I can't. I can't. This is what we do. I'm not taking your ring.'

"She was, 'you have to.' I'm like, 'It's okay. I didn't do anything. I just had you follow me.' I'm like, 'I can't take this from you.' And she's like, 'You have to.'

"So I dialed my wife. I said, 'talk to my wife' because my wife was not happy that I left Batavia to come to Oakfield, and I didn't tell her what I was doing until I got to the village, and I said, 'I'm in Oakfield. Don't be mad.' So I was like, 'Here, talk to my wife.'

"I don't even know what conversation they had, but it settled down my wife."

Submitted photos.  Top photo: Justin Cooper, Tera Williams, Joshua Finn, Chief Sean Downing, Assistant Chief Chad Williams, Buck Hilchey

img_4420.jpg

Near whiteout conditions outside Alabama Hotel.

img_4416.jpg

Sheriff's patrols and the Snopacker's groomer clearing roads and checking vehicles along the roadway. Oakfield Chief Sean Downing noted that one convoy that started out on South Pearl in Oakfield during the height of the blizzard Saturday morning took five hours to reach the Indian Falls Fire Hall.

img_4408.jpg

A Mercy EMS ambulance broke down in Oakfield at the start of the storm, stranding its medics, which turned out to be a blessing for the warming shelter at the Fire Hall, with trained medical personnel on hand during the storm event.

img_4427.jpg

Josh Finn and K-9 Frankie in a search and rescue convoy.  Finn and another medic joined the convoys so that if somebody needed medical attention, there was somebody on scene with the training to provide an evaluation.

December 28, 2022 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Alabama.

A two-vehicle accident is reported at Knowlesville and Lewiston roads in Alabama.

Three people with possible injuries, including a child with a nose injury.

Alabama Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched. Oakfield asked to respond mutual aid.

UPDATE 1:44 p.m.: Oakfield fire police requested to Lewiston and Lockport Road.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: There is a pickup truck with a fuel leak.

UPDATE 1:53 p.m.: A chief on scene asks dispatch to check on the availability of Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 1:54 p.m.: Mercy Flight out of Olean is would be a 40-minute ETA so the patient will use ground transport.  Also, code enforcement requested to the scene.

December 28, 2022 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama Hotel, Alabama, Winter Storm Elliott, news.

321929900_1217448752448993_123054323264943414_n.jpg

This is a story that should be told in black and white, like an old Hollywood screen gem about a Christmas miracle, the small town banding together against adverse conditions, saving a bunch of strangers from some dread uncertain fate as the winds howled and the snow blew on a moonless night.

But you won't find this story on Turner Classic Movies. 

This story doesn't star Jimmy Stewart.

This is the story of the Town of Alabama responding to an unexpected crisis caused by an epic storm, some unplanned turns prompted by current technology and a few broad assumptions travelers made about what to anticipate down the road.

The central characters are Joe Bradt, Brian Kotarski, Craig Alexander, and Bonnie Woodward, along with a supporting cast of rescue crews and of Alabama residents who donated blankets, air mattresses and toys to help about 140 people from all over North America who found themselves stranded in their small town during the most powerful blizzard to hit Western New York since 1977.

Our setting is a wood-framed, two-story building that has provided warmth, comfort, and perhaps a few libations to weary travelers for 182 years. That's why it's still called the Alabama Hotel.

That word hotel might explain why, when motorists found they could go no further in the midst of Winter Storm Elliott, they came to the intersection of Lewiston Road and Alleghany Road seeking shelter.

That's where they found Bradt willing to open the door to all who knocked.

"I would say that 80 percent of the people that walked through the front door, the first question was, 'Do you have any rooms around?' And I'm like, 'We're not really a hotel. We're a restaurant, but come in, let us feed you and let us keep you warm,'" Bradt said.

I'll Be Home for Christmas
Friday was supposed to be a regular work day for Bradt, Alabama Hotel owner Bonnie Woodward, and the rest of the staff, except that it would be the last day before closing for the week for Christmas and New Year's.

Bradt, the restaurant's general manager, got a call from Woodward as he drove to work on Friday morning. She wanted to discuss the forecast. She asked Bradt, "what are your thoughts?"

"I said, 'Man, I don't know. You know, last time, they weren't right about the forecast, but it doesn't sound like they're playing around.'"

For the safety of their employees, Woodward and Bradt decided to keep the doors closed on Friday and reopen as planned on Jan. 4, so Bradt continued on to work and proceed to secure the building and supplies for the planned closure.

When he was done, "I loaded up the Jeep with my Christmas dinner and Bonnie's Christmas dinner, which I was going to drop off at her house, and left here about 12:30. I didn't get a quarter mile up the road, and there was no visibility. The roads were completely covered, and there was already an accident right here. 

"I immediately turned around and said the safest place I can be is here for now. You know, I'll just wait it out here. No sooner did I put the key in the back door and unlock the back door than people were knocking on the front door. That didn't stop for two days."

The weather outside was vicious.  Heavy, lake-effect snow blown around by 35 mph winds with 70 mph gusts. The roads were no place for anybody in any type of vehicle, let alone people unfamiliar with the area in sedans, minivans and luxury SUVs. 

But when the Thruway authority decided to close the I-90 with no plan to direct travelers to safe routes, and Google and Apple proving incapable of warning drivers of hazardous conditions ahead, drivers who plotted Canada into their smartphones did what Siri or Googlebot told them to do: hop on Route 63 or Route 77 and head toward Niagara County.  Right into the worst of the blizzard.

They didn't get far.

Buffeted by high winds and snow moving vertically across their windshields, drivers couldn't see the end of their hoods, let alone the roadway, and motorists became stranded up and down the state highways (if this were a black and white movie, we would mention "hood ornament" and cut to a shiny chrome object weaving through a field of white while trombones honk ominous tones).

Holiday Inn
Some made it on their own as far as Lewiston and Alleghany. Others were brought there by rescue teams or area residents. All of them were a lot better off sheltered from the elements with hot meals and warm blankets.

Shortly after Bradt opened the doors to all who showed up on the restaurant's front porch, he was joined by Brian Kotarski, who lives just a bit more than a mile down the road but thought that as long as his wife and small children had power, they were safe, and he wouldn't necessarily be safe if he tried to make it home, and his friend Joe and all these people at the Alabama Hotel needed help.

Kotarski has no training in the hospitality industry. None. Nada.  He owns a construction company.

"I've never cooked," Kotarski said. "Never. I've always been on the other side of the bar or in the dining room. It was definitely a new experience, you know, cooking on the grill and serving at the bar. You know, I've never done that before."

But he quickly became Bradt's right-hand man.

They were joined by Craig Alexander, the co-owner of Holly Farms, the small grocery store across the street famous for its meat counter.

For the next 48 hours, the three of them led the effort to keep all of the unexpected visitors well nourished.

Bradt said they started off with a buffet of chicken and biscuits because that was something that could be put out quickly and was an easy self-serve meal, giving them time to plan their next move. 

They made chili for dinner, another easy meal.

"We didn't sleep over that whole 48 hours," Bradt said. "When everybody settled down that first night, we dimmed the lights at probably 11 o'clock  and Brian and I walked in the kitchen and were like, 'hey, what's next?' And next is breakfast. And we're like, what do we have? So we started going through the freezer. We pulled 20 pounds of bacon, 20 pounds of sausage, Brian stood over the grill and made 350 pancakes.  When these guys got up between six and seven, we had the buffet set up."

There was no worry about supplies, Bradt said. Not only was the restaurant well stocked, but with Alexander's help, there was a ready pantry of meal ingredients less than 50 yards away.

"He didn't even think twice," Bradt said. "Like, 'what are we going to eat next?' 'Roast beef.' 'I'll be right back,' and he goes next door and comes back with 40 pounds of roast beef. Those guys were a godsend to us."

Alexander is on the quiet side, and when interviewed, he said he was happy to help and "it was a fine Christmas."

It's a Wonderful Life
Everybody that made it to Alabama Hotel signed in so there would be a record of who was safe in case somebody wanted to go looking for them.  Looking at that list, Bradt notes, "there are people from Canada, New Jersey, Niagara Falls, LA, Toronto, Ohio, Delaware; there's a few from Shelby and Oakfield and Lancaster, but 75 percent of the people that were here were from out of the state."

There was never a thought about charging these travelers for lodging, such as it was, or food.

Bradt doesn't have an exact estimate of how much serving all those people, all that food, cost the restaurant. He's told national media outlets -- yes, the Alabama Hotel's Christmas hospitality has become national news -- it cost about $5,000. He said the price is somewhere between $4,000 and $6,000. But who's counting?

The lodging consisted of people pulling chairs together to sleep on, or sleeping on the floor or finding space upstairs.  Families with kids got the somewhat remodeled rooms upstairs, including the ones with a couple of couches.

Blankets and air mattresses came courtesy of a few of the residents in the hamlet.

"One lady down the street, she put on her snowsuit, she grabbed two sleds out of her garage, and she strapped totes and bags of blankets and air mattresses to them," Bradt said. "She literally came with flashlights on her forehead, trudging through the blizzard right up to our front door and was like, 'Here's some supplies.' That continued on for the whole two days. Just random people walking here with supplies."

When travelers didn't have blankets, they grabbed eight-foot long table cloths.

"I've never seen so many people from so many different nationalities in one place," Bradt said. "And all they cared about was each other. There was no politics. There was no arguing. There was no fighting. It was just, 'how do I help the person next to me?'"

Kotarski added, "It's pretty humbling to have that many people, no arguments. If somebody needs something, somebody figured it out."

There were two Canadian families with teenagers who became the bus and wait staff.

"They pitched in as if they knew me and Joe forever," Kotarski said. "They were washing dishes, cleaning up out here. I mean, there was one burden we didn't have to worry about. They catered to everybody. They made coffee the whole time, tea the whole time."

Bradt interjected, "The only time they came to us was to ask, 'where is this? Where is more toilet paper? Where is more coffee?'"

If you've followed the story this far, you may have noticed the meals being prepared were pretty heavy on meat -- chicken and beef. That's our next plot complication. In a group of travelers, not everybody is going to eat animals.

That soon became another problem that solved itself.

"Somebody came up and said, 'We're from Canada, and we're Indian, and we are vegetarians,' Bradt said. "And I'm like, I am not a chef. I'm not sure what to make. So we opened the salad bar. They're saying, 'Hey, what do you have for vegetarian options? And I said, 'What I have is I have a lot of ingredients.' And they were like, 'do you mind if we come back there and cook?'  It was absolutely mindblowing. Mindblowing."

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
When Christmas Eve rolled around, Bradt mentioned to an Alabama resident that they had 10 kids in the group.  Pretty soon, people were showing up with wrapped presents, wrapped toys, so the kids would have something to open on Christmas morning.

Woodward didn't venture from her home during the storm, but Bradt stayed in contact and let her know what was going on, and on Christmas Eve, he wondered what he should do for their patrons.

"I called her at about 4:30, and I said, 'Listen, we've served chicken and biscuits. We've served chili. We've served pizza. We've served wings, breakfasts, roast beef, I mean, you name it, we served it.' I said, 'Well, how do we make Christmas Eve special for 115 people that are here together? And she said, 'I want you to walk out to our walk-in cooler and I want you to take out the 60 pounds of prime rib that is in there. I want you to make a prime rib dinner.'"

So that's what Bradt did.

"We didn't just make prime rib and throw it out there," Bradt said. "We made it special. We served them. I stood right there at the end of the table and carved the prime rib as each person came up, and the first thing they did was stop and take a photograph. Everything we did, there was clapping and excitement, and we just really made the best of it, you know, absolutely made the best of it. It's definitely a Christmas that none of us -- that none of them -- will ever forget."

At about 3:30 in the morning on Christmas Day, Bradt ventured out and could see things were starting to clear up, and he knew that pretty soon it would be time for him and all these people who had bonded over meals at the Alabama Hotel to head home.

In the morning, Bradt started giving people a ride in his Jeep to the travel center, to Oakfield-Alabama, to side roads, wherever their cars were parked. When he dropped them off, they would try to stuff money in his pockets. He would refuse but they would persist.

"I got home and started talking to my family, and I was like, 'oh, yeah,' so I started emptying my pockets out onto the dining room table."

He counted $1,700.

There was another $300 left in the restaurant's tip jar.

"I called Bonnie, and I'm like, 'this isn't my money,' Bradt said. "This money is coming back to the restaurant, and we're gonna find a way to use it. On the way here today, I was thinking, 'You know what, maybe we use some of that money to go out and buy 100 blankets, you know, and set up upstairs so we can be prepared.' Hopefully, we never need them."

Then his thought shifted.

"It's been a very, very humbling, very humbling experience. These are the times when you figure out who your friends are and who's got your back."

And that's how the story ends, it seems, with more than 100 holiday travelers who passed through a small town in Upstate New York on Friday and Saturday to find out that total strangers can be their friends just when they might need them the most.

Photos: Inset photo of Joe Bradt and Brian Kotarski by Howard Owens. All other photos courtesy of Alabama Hotel.

alabamaraj.jpg

A message left on a social media post by Alabama Hotel.

319677360_2079369172246847_4075316445328021528_n.jpg

320938291_2320202968138856_8971107478919964338_n.jpg

319510520_1636257326844158_633654970325870041_n.jpg

December 27, 2022 - 7:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Alabama, news, weather, Winter Storm Elliott.

weatherphotodec272022.jpg

The Batavian was out in Oakfield and Alabama today for follow-up stories for Winter Storm Elliott (watch for more coverage over the next day or so) and we stopped a few times for storm-related photos along Judge Road (Route 63).

Above, a snow-covered residence at Judge and Wight roads, Alabama.

Photos by Howard Owens.

weatherphotodec272022-2.jpg

weatherphotodec272022-3.jpg

December 26, 2022 - 3:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news, Alabama, Winter Storm Elliott.

img_8718kristinsnow.jpg

Snow scene photos from Alabama by Kristen Smith

img_8709kristinsnow.jpg

 

kristinsnow.jpg

img_8706kristinsnow.jpg

December 26, 2022 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Alabama.

A rollover accident is reported at 1081 Lewiston Road, Alabama.

Entrapment reported.

Alabama Fire Dispatched.

UPDATE 2:47 p.m.: Oakfield is assisting with Alabama's call. Town of Batavia to fill-in for Oakfield.  An Oakfield responder also reported a vehicle off the road near Bliss Road.

UPDATE 2:49 p.m.: All occupants are out of the vehicle and in a nearby residence. The vehicle is on its roof.  Traffic control requested. "I've got tons of cars here."

UPDATE 2:52 p.m.: There were three people in the vehicle. One minor injury. All units can continue non-emergency.

December 24, 2022 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news, Oakfield, Alabama, tim hens, Winter Storm Elliott.

So far, it might be classified as a Christmas miracle, said County Manager Matt Landers.

With dozens of people trapped in vehicles for hours and cars all around Oakfield and Alabama buried in up to five feet of snow, emergency crews have yet to uncover any fatalities.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said with hours of the storm yet to weather, and emergency responders working around the clock, he's still nervous about people's safety, but he, too, is hoping for a Christmas miracle.

Hens spent all night with County Highway workers running heavy loaders with big plows attached ahead of convoys of search and rescue crews, and he said the situation is the worst he's seen in his life.

"It is frustrating because we knew people really needed to help, and he just couldn't get to him," Hens said. "It seemed like no matter which way we went, whatever road we went down or whatever piece of equipment we took, it just was zero visibility. I mean, you could literally not see past the hood of your own car. Even though we had loaders with huge blades on them, and the Sheriff's were using MRAPs, the military vehicles that they've acquired, and we had tracked vehicles and groomers that are used for snowmobile trails and things like that, you just couldn't see where you're going. It was just extremely frustrating and scary."

Hens said in those conditions -- strong winds, zero visibility, 20 degrees below zero with windchill, a person outside without protective gear couldn't last long.

"You just can't see where you're going," Hens said. "It's disorienting. It's cold. The wind is ripping right through everything you've got on. Like I said, every little hair on your body accumulates ice and snow. If you didn't have goggles on, you're out of luck. The one time I jumped out (of my truck) to put a strap on a truck to pull somebody out, I forgot to put my goggles on, my eyelashes froze together. That was interesting."

While many people have been rescued, there's no way of knowing how many people haven't been rescued, hence the hope for a miracle. 

"I'm still relatively nervous about it because, I mean, there's still a lot of cars that have not been found yet," Hens said. "So there are still people in cars that have been there for a long time. There is the possibility that people got out of their cars and went looking for their own help, to a neighboring house or something like that and like I said, it is so disorienting. If you got out of your car last night, you wouldn't have known that there could have been a house 20 feet from you, and you wouldn't have seen it."

A large number of cars being located after getting stuck on Route 77, Route 63, Ledge Road, Judge Road, etc., have Canadian or out-of-state license plates. That's a factor of the state closing the Thruway and motorists relying on Google or Apple maps.  They got no warning that there was a travel ban in place or that a blizzard was passing over the very routes Google and Apple were suggesting.

"We probably would have had to have dealt with 30 or 40 cars, maybe, of our own people," Landers said. "But now we're having a couple of hundred cars. This is the GPS that was sending everybody right through Route 63, Route 77, right through the heart of the worst of the storm."

Landers said he isn't pointing a finger at the state.  He understands the need to close the Thruway, but there needs to be a better plan, and the state needs to lean on GPS mappers so that the maps do a better job of warning drivers of critically dangerous conditions.

"The solution can't simply be close the Thruway, and now it's a free for all into the small communities like Genesee County, Alabama and Oakfield," Landers said. "So it's something that I have reached out with the state about this morning. And again, it's not to be pointing the finger. It's just a matter that we have to learn from this because this situation was exasperated multiple times over by the fact that we get people from Los Angeles, people from Ohio, people from all over the place going on our back roads."

Hens said he hopes the governor's office will lean on Google to fix its technology.

"A lot of Canadians we talked to last night said, 'I was following my Google Map. I was following my Google Map, and I saw the red lines on the Google Map for traffic, and we just thought it was a traffic jam,'" Hens said. "They didn't know it was a lake effect snow band. And most people have never been in a lake effect snow band, so they didn't even know what it's like."

There are still hundreds of personnel -- volunteers and paid staff -- out on search and rescue missions.

Landers praised their dedication, hard work, and willingness to put their own safety at risk to help others.

He also marveled at all the residents and business owners who have been open to provide food and shelter to stranded travelers.  He said the county's human resources director, Anita Cleveland, took in a family of five overnight after the deputy who rescued them had become stuck in the snow.

Currently, there are 11 warming shelters open, and they are caring for 582 people.

"It's all hands on deck," Landers said.

And it's not over.

While the large lake effect snow band that hovered over Alabama and Oakfield most of the night has moved north, giving rescues some respite to get their work done, it's expected to drive south again, not only passing over those communities again but also into Batavia.

"The band is forecast to slowly move south across the county, I think, beginning about two or three o'clock this afternoon and will be kind of centered around the county, more of a traditional Airport, Batavia, kind of alignment for most of the afternoon and early evening from what the National Weather Service says," Hens said. "With snowfall rates of one to two inches an hour, so I would say from my experience, Darien, Pembroke, Alexander, and Batavia will take the brunt of it from a severity standpoint, and then it'll taper off. It looks like conditions will deteriorate for most of the center part of the county later this afternoon."

With the storm expected to last well into the night and perhaps into Sunday morning, Hens isn't just nervous about the safety of people out on the roads, he's nervous about remaining operations. People are tired and equipment is being heavily used.

"I'm just nervous that we're gonna have equipment breaking," Hens said. "You know, we've been using it pretty heavy now for 24 hours straight in some pretty wicked conditions. ... I'm nervous that someone's gonna get hurt or equipment is gonna get broken, and then we're going to have the band come back through, and we're going to be caught sideways a little bit, but fingers crossed, like Matt said, we need a little bit of a Christmas miracle."

December 24, 2022 - 11:06am

ifixphotosmagejpeg_0_11.jpg

Members of the Genesee Snopackers have been out all night and into the morning assisting search and rescue crews locate and rescue stranded motorists in the Alabama and Oakfield areas, Vice President Nate Fix reports.

Fix said he's been working with fellow Snopacker Tony Johnston since about 9 p.m.

They've deployed the Snopackers groomers to assist rescue convoys, which includes two MRAPs from Orleans County and Livingston County along with five Sheriff's patrol vehicles and the Oakfield Fire Department.

"We have successfully rescued over 25 people some would not have made any longer and needed immediate medical attention," Fix said."We covered from the Oakfield Fire Hall to a mile west of Macomber Road, leading the convoy back to Oakfield with rescued people. We then went Route 63 toward Batavia Townline Road, Maple to Ledge Road, and all the way to the Indian Falls Fire Hall where we took more survivors.

When he provided the report, about 30 minutes ago, the crew was back on Ledge Road and moving toward the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. They were on their way to rescue a family of five. 

Photos submitted by Nate Fix.

ifixphotosmagejpeg_1_2.jpg

fixphotosimagejpeg_0_4.jpg

fixphotosimagejpeg_1.jpg

ifixphotosmagejpeg_0_5.jpg

ifixphotosmagejpeg_0_6.jpg

ifixphotosmagejpeg_0_7.jpg

fixphotosimagejpeg_0_8.jpg

ifixphotosmagejpeg_0_9.jpg

ifixphotosmagejpeg_0_10.jpg

UPDATE: Johnston and Fix back at the Snopackers garage after 15 hours of search and rescue work.

imagejpeg_0_4.jpg

 

December 23, 2022 - 2:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Alabama, Winter Storm Elliott.

A motor vehicle accident with injuries is reported at 1534 Lewiston Road, Alabama. 

One person has a head laceration. 

Alabama Fire is dispatched.

There are reportedly multiple vehicles off the road in the area.

UPDATE 3:10 p.m.: Alabama Fire has the patient at the Fire Hall awaiting Mercy EMS's arrival. 

December 20, 2022 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama, news.

Kevin T. Kaminski is indicted on two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Kaminski is accused of having sexual contact with a child less than 11 years old in December and with another child less than 11 years old in January.  Both incidents were reported in the Town of Alabama.

December 8, 2022 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, Pavilion, Le Roy, Alabama, pembroke, corfu.

Jennifer M. "Miss B" Morton, 38, of Driving Park Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 4th, and promoting prison contraband 1st, and Angela R. Bateman, 50, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal nuisance 1st and criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. As the result of a joint investigation by Batavia PD and the Local Drug Task Force, a search warrant was executed on Dec. 5 at a residence on Hutchins Street, Batavia. Morton, currently on probation related to prior drug charges, was allegedly found in possession of 150 bags of cocaine, and during processing, allegedly entered a secured portion of the Genesee County Jail in possession of cocaine. Bateman, on parole from prior drug charges, is accused of maintaining a premises where narcotics were being sold.  Both Morton and Batement were arraigned and ordered held without bail.

Chad W. Main, 41, of Warsaw, is charged with felony driving while ability impaired by drugs, felony aggravated unlicensed operation, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, obstructing governmental administration, uninspected motor vehicle, unlicensed operator, open alcoholic container, failure to signal, and inadequate plate lamps, and James W. Sherbert, Jr., 49, of Perry, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Sgt. Mathew Clor initiated a traffic stop on Dec. 2 at 12:41 a.m. on Parmelee Road, Le Roy and upon stopping, Main allegedly fled on foot. He was apprehended a short time later by Clor and Deputy David Moore. Sherbert was allegedly found in possession of two controlled substances.  Main was arraigned and released on his own recognizance. Sherber was issued an appearance ticket.

Herbert B. Gennis, 33, of Raymond Avenue, Batavia and Jason W. Whitehead, Jr., 33, of Bank Street, Batavia, are charged with multiple crimes. It's not entirely clear from the Sheriff's Office which charges apply to which defendant. The charges are criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 5th, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, criminally using drug paraphernalia 2nd, aggravated unlicensed operation 2nd, operating with an interlock device, and other vehicle and traffic law violations. On Dec. 1 at 7 p,m., deputies Nicholas Chamoun and Kenneth Quackenbush stopped a vehicle on Park Road reportedly driven by Whitehead. Whitehead is accused of driving on a revoked license, without an interlock device, and was in possession of a weapon and narcotics. Gennis was allegedly in possession of narcotics with intent to sell. Whitehead and Gennis were arraigned in Batavia Town Court and released on their own recognizance.

Demetrius W. Richardson, 41, no permanent address, is charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument 1st. Richardson was arrested on three warrants containing four charges of each of the listed charges. He was arraigned in City Court and ordered held without bail.

James W. Cason, 67, of Batavia, is charged with sex abuse 3rd. Cason is accused of subjecting another person to unwanted sexual contact at a location on Bank Street on Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.  He was arraigned in City Court. An order of protection was issued. He was released on his own recognizance. 

Jeannine M. Mobley, 46, of Le Roy, is charged with petit larceny. Mobley is accused of stealing from a business on Jackson Street, Batavia, on Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. She was arraigned in City Court on Nov. 28 and released on her own recognizance.

Tonya M. Weber, 38, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Weber is accused of stealing from a business on East Main Street, Batavia, on Nov. 26 at 3:19 am. She was issued an appearance ticket and released.

Joshua P. Moore, 32, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd and criminal obstruction of breathing. Moore was arrested following the report of a disturbance at 1:35 a.m. on Nov. 24 at a location on Chase Parkway, Batavia. He was arraigned in City Court and released on his own recognizance.

Julie R. Richardson, 31, no permanent address, is charged with grand larceny 4th. Richardson is accused of stealing a credit card from a parked car outside a business on East Main Street in Batavia on Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. Richardson was arraigned in City Court and ordered held without bail. Richardson is also charged with petit larceny. On Nov. 11 at 10:50 p.m., Richardson is accused of stealing items from vehicles at a business on East Main Street, Batavia. 

Christopher P. Robinson, 24, of Amherst, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Robinson was stopped at 2:49 p.m. on Nov. 21 at Batavia City Centre by a Batavia patrol officer. He was ordered to appear in City Court on Nov. 30.

Shyanna M. Williams, 19, of Hamburg, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd and criminal contempt 1st. Williams is accused of violating a stay-away order of protection by contacting the protected party via text message multiple times over several days in November. Williams was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.

Colleen A. Wisniewski, 28, of Middlebury, is charged with petit larceny. Wisniewski is accused of shoplifting from a store on West Main Street at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 26. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Charles R. Brown, 47, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Brown is accused of violating an order of protection on Nov. 14 at 5 a.m. by talking with the protected party. He was ordered to appear in City Court on Dec. 6.

Kaitlyn Nicole Brooks, 30, of Shelly Road, Livonia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd, unlicensed driver, and inadequate headlights. Brooks was stopped at 6:58 p.m. on Nov. 27 on Ellicott Street Road, Bethany, by Deputy Zachary Hoy. She was allegedly found in possession of Fentanyl. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Joseph P. Gerwitz, 24, of Central Avenue, Lancaster, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, and moving from lane unsafely. At 4:55 a.m. on Dec. 3, Deputy Jacob Kipler and Deputy Alexander Hadsall were dispatched to Alleghany Road in Alabama to investigate a report of a vehicle parked roadside. When they arrived, they found a vehicle that had crashed into a road sign and the driver was unresponsive at the wheel. Gerwitz was arrested and transported to the Genesee County Jail for processing. He was released on appearance tickets.

David John Conrad, 34, of West Ivy Street, East Rochester, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd. Conrad is accused of violating an order of protection at 8:40 a.m. on Nov. 23 at a location on South Lake Road, Pembroke. He was issued an appearance ticket.

Michael J. Fazio, age not released, of Walworth, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property 4th and petit larceny. Fazio is accused of using a stolen credit card to make purchases at the Kwik Fill in Le Roy in August. Fazio was arraigned in Le Roy Town Court on Dec. 6 and ordered held without bail. He is currently incarcerated in the Wayne County Jail on unrelated charges.

Kevin Wayne Howard, 23, of Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged with driving while impaired by drugs. Howard was located during a property check at the Kwik Fill gas station in Le Roy at 2:37 a.m. on Nov. 28 and taken into custody. He was issued an appearance ticket.

James Junior Santiago, Jr., 43, of Hundremark Road, Elba, is charged with bail jumping 2nd. James is accused of failure to appear in County Court on Jan. 16 after being released from custody on felony charges. James was arraigned and ordered held.

Joseph David Krug, 28, of Somerset Lane, Victor, is charged with bail jumping 2nd. Krug is accused of failing to appear in Batavia Town Court on May 24 after being released on felony charges. He was arraigned and ordered held.

Beth Ann Jeffres, 40, no permanent address, is charged with bail jumping 1st. Jeffres is accused of failure to appear in County Court on Oct. 21 after being released on a Class B felony charge. Jeffres was arraigned in County Court and ordered held.

Carl Thomas Amesbury, 30, of School Street, Batavia, is charged with bail jumping 1st and bail jumping 3rd. Amesbury is accused of failure to appear in County Court on Sept. 29 after being released on a Class B felony charge and in Stafford Court on Oct. 13 on another charge. Amesbury was arraigned in County Court and ordered held.

Donald Brown, 48, of Loomis Street Rochester, is charged with bail jumping 2nd. Brown is accused of failure to appear in County Court on March 9 after being released on a felony charge. Brown was arraigned in County Court and ordered held.

Erik Robert Motquin, 40, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with bail 3rd. Motquin is accused of failure to appear in Batavia Town Court on Sept. 13 after being released on a criminal charge. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Shana C. Dugar, 31, of Hawley Avenue, Syracuse, is charged with bail jumping 2nd. Dugar is accused of failure to appear in Batavia Town Court on Aug. 30 after being released on a criminal charge. Dugar was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and released on her own recognizance.

Jada Imari Smith, 21, of Mourning Dove Road, Niagara Falls, is charged with criminal trespass 2nd. On Dec. 3 at 8:58 p.m., Smith was located on Genesee Community College property after previously being told she wasn't allowed on the property. She was released on an appearance ticket.

Bryan Paul Bartha, 61, of Boyce Road, Corfu, is charged with driving while impaired by drugs, moving from lane unsafely, and leaving the scene of a property damage accident.  Bartha is accused of driving a vehicle that struck a utility pole on Boyce Road, Pembroke, at 6:30 p.m., June 27. He was arrested following an investigation on Dec. 7 and issued an appearance ticket.

Keith P. McNaughton, 24, of West Seneca, is charged with driving while impaired by drugs. McNaughton was stopped by State Police at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 6 and issued an appearance ticket. 

Shawnna L. Lamont, 33, of Perry, is charged with petit larceny. Lamont is accused of shoplifting $19.45 in merchandise at the Dollar General store on Big Tree Road in the Town of Pavilion at 7:50 p.m. on Dec. 3 and was arrested by State Police. She was issued an appearance ticket.

November 20, 2022 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, news, accident.

A two-car motor vehicle accident has been reported at Route 77 and Ledge Road, Alabama.

A person reportedly has a leg injury.

Alabama Fire and Mercy EMS dispatched.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break