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June 4, 2018 - 6:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news, accident.

A man either had his arm run over or otherwise entangled in a vehicle in the area of 4116 Broadway, Alexander.

The vehicle is off the road and has a trailer attached that is now blocking Route 20, westbound.

Alexander Fire dispatched.

June 1, 2018 - 10:29am
posted by Billie Owens in alexander, poaching, crime, turtles, DEC, news.

Law enforcement responded to Cookson Road in Alexander and the vicinity to look for a green or light blue van whose driver was reportedly poaching turtle eggs. They are with the vehicle now.

The call to dispatch came from Department of Environmental Conservation "Officer Wilson," whose office received a recorded phone message tip about the alleged poaching. He has a 30-minute ETA to the scene.

The van's data comes back to an address on Buffalo Street in Attica and the female license holder "has a history of violations."

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: "We are out with her and she has a bucket of eggs," says an officer. "She is the registered owner of the vehicle."

May 30, 2018 - 4:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in alexander, jazz, music, entertainment, news.
From Danny Allen:
 
The public is cordially invited to the second annual Alexander Jazz Invitational starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7.
 
Members of the "AJE" -- Alexander Jazz Experience -- will host the event in the school cafeteria, located at 3314 Buffalo Road, Alexander.
 
Pre-sale tickets are $3 for students and $4 for adults; tickets at the door are $5.
 
Hear some great jazz, enjoy some refreshments and see how popular this jazz scene is.
 
Perfoming are:
  • Alexander Jazz Experience
  • Alexander Jazz Cadets
  • Warsaw Jazz Band -- directed by Phil Briatico
Featured Guest:
  • The Genesee Wyoming Music Educators Association All County Jazz Band
May 26, 2018 - 3:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news, Memorial Day, veterans.

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Today, Alexander students assisted local veterans in placing U.S. flags on the gravesites of deceased military personnel at the cemetary in Alexander.

Photos submitted by Eric Radder.

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May 21, 2018 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, corfu, bergen, notify, byron, alexander, Bethany.

Brooke L. Brumber, 18, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass, 2nd. Brumber was arrested on a warrant. She allegedly entered a residence on Washington Avenue at 8:01 p.m. May 3 without permission after being told she was no longer welcome there.

Matthew James Cratsley, 42, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with failure to report a change of address and failure to complete verification form. Cratsley allegedly moved and failed to notify the NYS Sex Offender Registry. He is also accused of failing to complete the annual registration form. 

Jonathan Peter Smith, 40, of Little Canada Road, East Bethany, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, and failure to signal. Smith was stopped at 1:28 a.m. May 13 on Main Street, Batavia, by Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello.

Sammy Lee Domthongmivanh Jr., 29, of Halstead Road, Alexander, is charged with: DWI; driving with a BAC of .18 or greater; failure to keep right; moving from lane unsafely; failure to attach registration sticker to vehicle. Domthongmivanh was stopped at 11:49 p.m. Saturday on Main Road, Pembroke, following a complaint of traffic offenses, by Deputy Eric Meyer.

Riecha B. Morris, 34, of Hawks Nest Circle, Greece, is charged with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs. Morris was stopped at 9:33 a.m. Friday on West Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Kevin DeFelice following a complaint of erratic operation.

David L. Castaneda Trejo, 19, of Byron, is charged with criminal trespass, 2nd, and making a false written statement. Castaneda was arrested on an incident reported at 11:22 a.m. Sunday in the Town of Byron by State Police. No further details released.

Matthew J. Lamkin, 36, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Lamkin was arrested in connection with an incident reported at 11 p.m. Sunday in the Town of Batavia by State Police. No further details released.

Alexandria C. Pisarek, 25, of Corfu, is charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child. Pisarek was arrested in connection with an incident reported at 11:50 a.m. May 9 in the Town of Bergen by State Police. No further details released.

May 16, 2018 - 6:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, news, batavia, alexander, notify.

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There are few firefighters at age 23 who come into City Fire with a resume to match Ryan Hinz.

He's been a volunteer in Alexander since he was 16. He twice won Firefighter of the Year. He rose to the rank of EMS captain and won awards for his EMS work. He also won a chief's award.

Fire Chief Steve Napolitano said Hinz scored high on his civil service exam and his agility test and excelled at the fire academy.

Perhaps this isn't a surprise. He's the son of career firefighter Marty Hinz, currently a captain with City Fire, and the grandson of a firefighter who also served for several years as Genesee County's emergency coordinator.

Marty Hinz said he almost sees Ryan through his father's eyes.

"I remember when I joined the Alexander Fire Department and became chief down there and how proud my father was," Marty said. "And now I can empathize with his feelings, you know, just the look on his face -- now I understand where he was coming from and now I understand how proud he was. Now I'm just as proud of Ryan."

Napolitano was quick to emphasize that Ryan -- who is assigned to the First Platoon with Marty is assigned to the Third Platoon -- wasn't hired because he was Marty's son. He earned it.

"We're expecting big things from him," Napolitano said. "You know, he's got a good 30-year career out of here. We're expecting the same things that he's done from 16 to 23 to continue over the next 30 years."

Marty, understandably, but with good reason, thinks Ryan is qualified to be a career firefighter.

"Ryan has a certain pride, the intelligence, the humility that it takes to be a good firefighter," Marty said. "He's just a great kid."

Ryan said while he was inspired by his father to pursue a career in fire services, that isn't the only reason he took this career path.

"I like being able to help people," Ryan said. "I know that sounds like a cheesy response but it's just what I enjoy doing."

He said he is proud to follow in his father's footsteps and that serving an Alexander was a great experience that gave him a good idea what a career in firefighting might be like, plus, he said, he formed lasting friendships with his fellow volunteers.

Whatever inspired Ryan to become a career firefighter, Napolitano said it is what will make him an asset to the department.

"We're very fortunate in the fact that we have someone that has that internal desire to want to continue the family lineage and someone that it's not just a job for him," Napolitano said. "That is pretty much everyone in this department. It's a passion. It's not just a job. And that translates to the service delivery that we're able to provide. It's not just going through the motions. It's they live they breathe it and that they value the opportunity to work here. That translates to the service product that we're putting out there.

"To have Ryan, who, again, this is what he wants to do, this is where he comes from. It just enhances our service delivery."

Previously: 

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Chief Steve Napolitano, Ryan Hinz, and Capt. Marty Hinz.

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The first platoon: The new mentors for Ryan Hinz.

May 7, 2018 - 4:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, crime, news, notify.
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Domingo Gomez-Gomez

A 50-year-old Alexander resident who may not be in the country legally is accused of raping a coworker and then, when deputies showed up to investigate the rape report, he is accused of presenting them with forged documents.

Domingo Gomez-Gomez, 50, of Alexander Road, Alexander, is charged with rape in the first degree, possession of a forged instrument, and offering a false instrument for filing with intent to defraud. 

The alleged rape was reported about 1 a.m. on April 28 after Gomez-Gomez forced a female coworker to have sexual intercourse with him. 

When he was questioned by Deputy Investigator Joseph Loftus and Investigator Christopher Parker, Gomez-Gomez allegedly produced numerous false instruments to identify himself. 

He was arraigned Saturday and jailed on $100,000 bail or $200,000 bond.

ICE is investigating whether Gomez-Gomez is in the country legally.

May 7, 2018 - 1:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, Alabama, Le Roy, pembroke, byron, alexander.

Dylan James Perry, 36, of Kingsbury Avenue, Batavia, is charged with burglary, 3rd, and petit larceny. Perry is accused of entering a business on Route 20 in Darien on Dec. 4 and stealing money. He was located in Manchester, Tenn., and extradited to New York.

Michael Joseph Panepento, 21, of North Street, Le Roy, is charged with assault, 3rd. Panepento is accused of punching another man several times in the head causing substantial swelling, bruising, and a cut, during an argument at a home in the Town of Pavilion at midnight April 28.

Jennifer A. Noll, 38, of Harvester Avenue, Batavia, is charged with soliciting alms in violation of Batavia Municipal Code. Noll is accused of asking people for money near Kwik Fill at 99 Jackson St., Batavia, at 10:22 p.m. April 30.

Darien Leonard Rhodes, 25, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Rhodes was allegedly found in possession of marijuana at 5:10 p.m. May 1 at a location on Dellinger Avenue.

Steven M. Morales, 42, Lewiston Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. Morales was charged following a traffic stop where he was allegedly found in possession of a glass crack pipe with residue. He was stopped at 1:21 p.m. May 3 on Central Avenue by Officer Marc Lawrence.

Erin M. George, 30, of Horseshoe Lake Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, and speeding. George was stopped at 2:13 a.m. April 27 on Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Angela Reanee Bateman, 45, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminally using drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Bateman was charged following a report into a disturbance on Pringle Avenue at 4:11 a.m. May 1 by Sgt. Eric Bolles.

Miguel E. Alvarez, 23, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny and unlawful possession of marijuana. Alvarez is accused of stealing the property of another person on Maple Avenue on April 25. He was allegedly found in possession of marijuana at the time of his arrest.

James C. Emerson, 56, of Church Street, East Pembroke, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. He was arrested in Wayne County and turned over to Batavia PD. He posted bail and was released.

Ahdeosun Richaud Aiken, 19, of Ellicott Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Aiken is accused of damaging property during an argument at 1:45 a.m. May 3 at a location on Hutchins Street, Batavia.

Nicholas Matthew Erway, 21, of East Robinson Road, North Tonawanda, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, stopping on a highway. Erway was allegedly found sleeping behind the wheel of his vehicle at 12:04 a.m. May 6 while it was stopped on Route 77 in Alabama by Deputy Howard Wilson.

June Ann Weinart, 28, of Freeman Road, Byron, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, speeding, moving from lane unsafely, and open container. Weinart was charged following a traffic stop at 3:23 a.m. Saturday on Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, by Deputy James Stack.

Bruce Kenneth Ames, 51, of Washington Avenue, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and unnecessary smoke/vapors. Ames was stopped at 8:20 p.m. May 1 on Ellicott Avenue by Deputy Austin Heberlein. He was accused of having unnecessary smoke/vapors coming from his vehicle. Ames was allegedly found in possession of a green leafy substance that he identified as marijuana.

Kevin Wayne Napier, 34, of Kendall, is charged with bail jumping, 3rd, and aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd. 

Richardo Sampel, 48, of Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, and Emily D. Schramm, 32, of Alabama, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Sampel and Schramm were arrested together in Alabama by State Police on an incident reported at 10:17 p.m., April 24. Both were ordered held in jail. No further details released.

Sarah J. Ehrman, 38, of Scio, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled, 7th, and unlawful possession of marijuana. Ehrman was arrested May 3 in the Town of Alexander by State Police. No further details released.

May 5, 2018 - 10:53am

The commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Alexander is on a mission to get the Alexander School District to reconsider implementing a tax exemption for Cold War veterans.

Eric Radder spoke at Wednesday's school board meeting.

"I notice we’ve got all four service flags up here, so obviously Alexander supports its veterans," Radder said. "I’m here to discuss and implement it and bring it back as a point of discussion."

Several tax jurisdictions in the county have adopted the exemption, including the Town of Alexander and the Village of Alexander. 

Qualified veterans who apply can get an exemption on a small portion of the assessed value of their property. The typical exemption is 10 percent off the accessed value with a maximum of $6,000 exempt from the jurisdiction's property tax. In Alexander, both the town and village adopted the higher tier exemption, which is 15 percent off the accessed value with a maximum exemption of $12,000.

More than two years ago, the school district held two public forums on the proposed exemption. The first forum, said Board President Reed Pettys, was lightly attended because of a snowstorm. The next forum had 30 to 40 people attend, Pettys said, and the public was evenly divided between support and opposition.

While the perception is that the Alexander School Board voted against the exemption, Pettys said since the community was divided on the topic, the board just never took the issue up again.

Pettys agreed Wednesday night to go with another board member to the VFW's board meeting Thursday to publicly discuss the proposal again.

He said a lot has changed since the board last considered the idea -- there are two or three new board members, including one -- John Slenker  -- who is a veteran and more jurisdictions, including other school districts, have passed it.

"I think we’ll discuss it at the next meeting and see if we can get a public forum," Pettys said.

The exemption, Radder said, would help keep veterans in the community.

"You could retain the veterans who bring a set of values that they learned in their military training experience and then in return benefit the community at large," Radder said.

May 4, 2018 - 5:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news, accident.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported in the area of 10778 Alexander Road, Attica.

There is no entrapment.

The location is in front of Mooche's Auto Glass.

Alexander fire and ambulance responding along with Mercy EMS.

Traffic on Route 98 is being shut down in both directions.

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: Correction: No Mercy ambulances available. Bethany's ambulance was dispatched. A chief on scene says Bethany can stand by in its hall.

May 4, 2018 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alexander Central School District, alexander, schools, news, notify.

A reduction in state aid for the Alexander Central School District is contributing to the district's need to raise property taxes by 38 cents per thousand of assessed value for 2018-19 even though overall spending will be reduced from this academic year.

Voters in the district will be asked to approve the proposed budget May 15.

The district is asking to spend $17,704,810 next fiscal year, a reduction in operational spending of $293,367.

State financial aid, which makes up more than half the district's budget, is being reduced by $193,685. Building aid is being reduced as well by $565,851.

The proposed tax levy, the total amount collected through property taxes, is $6,159,675, compared to $6,050,850 this year, an increase of $108,825.

That levy would put the property tax rate at $21.51, or 38 cents more than this year, per thousand of accessed value.

Catherine Huber, Ed.D., superintendent of schools, said the budget is responsible and meets the needs of students.

"We always, of course, focus on developing fiscally responsible budgets," Huber said. "To talk a little bit about a fiscally responsible budget and the things we were able to do with our last budget. With that budget, we were able to maintain staff and programs.

"With that budget we were able to build capacity in our school district by bringing on a school social worker, by bringing on an ESL teacher to build the capacity for when students come to us with varied needs their needs can be met."

With the proposed budget, the district will also be able to build capacity.

"If anybody was at our last board meeting, you heard about the expansion of our agriculture program," Huber said. "It's an exciting expansion for Alexander. We also are proposing the addition of an instrumental music teacher. Did you know that we have 300 students in grades four through 12 -- out of 800 students in the school system -- (who) participate in music?

"We just had a sampling tonight of what the quality of our programming is, so to expand that program is something we can sustain over time and something we're really proud of."

A key proposal in the budget is the addition of a school resource officer. An SRO is a member of law enforcement -- in this case, a deputy from the Sheriff's Office -- who is posted at a school full time throughout the school year.

Sheriff William Sheron attended Wednesday's public hearing and encouraged voters to approve the proposal.

He said in this day and age, an SRO isn't a "nice to have." It is a "must have."

"The officer protects the individuals here, the students, the faculty, the visitors that come in here," Sheron said. "He will interact with all the children. He will also be a mentor with the children in the school."

The SRO program has worked out very well at BOCES and Byron-Bergen Central School, Sheron said.

"The SRO is a resource for children go to when they don’t feel comfortable going to a teacher or an aide," Sheron said. "You create those relationships and those children will come to you. They’ll have faith in you. They’ll have confidence in you and they’ll share things with that officer that they wouldn’t share with anybody else."

Some budget highlights:

  • Regular classroom spending increases from $4,829,106 to $4,977,365;
  • Special education and vocational education spending is up from $2,868,973 to 2,920,888;
  • Athletics increases from $436,585 to $532,316;
  • Transportation increases from $776,134 to $818,087;
  • Maintenance for building and grounds decreases from $321,575 to $278,058;
  • Central administration spending will increase from $167,612 to $190,048;
  • School administration will increase from $585,069 to $609,329.

Tim Batzel, the district's finance director, said at Wednesday's hearing that in June the district will make its final payment on a $17.9 million bond that was financed in 1998 primarily for addition of the Middle School. As a result, next year's budget reflects a 66-percent ($530,000) drop in bond payments and a 21-percent drop in interest payments ($23,303).

Lighting upgrades continue to reduce the cost of utilities, Batzel said, and for the second year in a row, the district is benefiting from a 9- to 10-percent reduction in workers' compensation insurance.

After the hearing, during what the board calls "the roundtable," Board Member John Slenker made a statement with an apparent reference to recent school board meetings where multiple parents used public comments to voice complaints and concerns about child safety issues and whether the Code of Conduct is fairly applied. The story was reported by The Batavian.

"I would just like to remind parents that the school board is a very important function," Slenker said. "It is also voluntary. We’re not paid. The people who sit up here take the safety and education of your children very seriously. We have 15 current, future and former children among us. The other part I would like to say, it’s been an absolute honor serving with Reed Pettys and working with Catie. They are some of the best people I have ever met."

Pettys, currently board president, is stepping down following the completion of his term in June.

  • Besides the budget, there are four other ballot measures for voters to consider May 15:
  • Proposition #2: Authorize the purchase of two school buses at a cost of $305,470.
  • Proposition #3: Purchase a new marquee sign for the front of the school at a cost of $29,595.
  • Proposition #4 and Proposition #5: Establish capital reserve funds.

There is also one open seat on the school board up for election and only one declared candidate. The candidate is Sara Fernaays. The Batavian attempted to interview Fernaays after Wednesday's meeting. We wanted to ask her thoughts on the budget, the SRO, and other issues and Fernaays declined. She said she feared granting an interview would cause trouble with the school district.

The school district has a policy that prohibits school board members from speaking individually with reporters.

May 4, 2018 - 1:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, Alexander Central School, schools, education, news, arts.

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There are more than 1,000 pieces of student artwork, from middle and high school students, on display in the foyer of the Alexander Central School Auditorium and Wednesday's school board meeting, Trustee Rich Guarino drew attention to it and to the jazz ensemble that performed prior to the meeting.

He said he's heard over the years how students who perform music and participate in fine arts do better academically and he said that may just be anecdotal but he tends to believe it.

"I see the kids who are in the music program or the visual fine arts program and those are often the kids I see in other activities that the school has and it’s great to see," Guarino said.

Actually, there is some evidence that students who play music tend to do better academically. That seems to apply across artistic disciplines.

According to Guarino, more than half the students in the elementary grades are learning to play a musical instrument.  

"That's a huge percentage and it's great," Guarino said.

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April 30, 2018 - 11:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, alexander, bergen, Darien, Stafford, Oakfield, elba.

Lynn M. Homer, 45, of Platten Road, Lyndonville, is charged with; aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd; criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th; driver's vision obstructed; and obstructed plate. Homer was stopped at 3:22 p.m. April 13 on West Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Christopher Lindsay. She was jailed on $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond.

Travis Lilbern Robert Bartz, 22, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Bartz was allegedly found in possession of marijuana during an investigation into a complaint on Trumbull Parkway at 11:03 p.m. April 22 by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Jacob A. Kasmarek, 19, of Fargo Road, Stafford, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and speeding. Kasmarek was stopped at 9:15 p.m. April 23 on East Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Samuel McDonald III, 54, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. McDonald is accused of stealing two cans of beer from Tops at 6:39 p.m. Wednesday.

Matthew Frank Carney, 25, of Dodgeson Road, Alexander, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .18 or greater. Carney was stopped at 12:55 a.m. Friday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Arick Perkins.

Jesse James Sasiadek, 24, of Cayuga Creek Road, Cheektowaga, is charged with: DWI; driving with a BAC of .08 or greater; driving while impaired by drugs; driving while ability impaired by drugs and alcohol combined; and unlawful possession of marijuana. Sasiadek was stopped at 4:26 p.m. Sunday on Route 19, Bergen, by Deputy Erik Andre.

Jay Kenneth Feitshans Jr., 23, of Alleghany Road, Darien, is charged with petit larceny. Feistshans is accused of stealing property and selling it at a local business.

Stefanie S. Kitanik, 33, of Maltby Road, Oakfield, is charged with DWI, refusal to take breath test, uninspected motor vehicle, and no plate lamps. Kitanik was stopped at 2:09 a.m. Saturday on Maple Avenue, Oakfield, by Deputy James Stack.

David Wayne King Jr., 36, of Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. King is accused of falling asleep due to a prescribed medication and as a result, his 2-year-old son left his residence and was alone for a period of time.

Nelson E. Figueroa, 29, of Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Figueroa was stopped at 10:40 p.m. Saturday on Route 33, Stafford, by State Police.

Icha R. Koirala, 28, a resident of the State of New York (exact town not provided), is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding. Koirala was stopped at 9:18 p.m. Friday on Route 33 in Bergen by State Police.

Laura D. Vazquez Coronado, 38, of Elba, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and failure to stay in lane. Coronado was stopped at 4:39 p.m. Thursday on North Byron Road, Elba, by State Police.

April 27, 2018 - 5:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alexander Central School District, alexander, news, notify.

This afternoon, the Alexander Central School District released a statement to the community addressing concerns raised by parents in the district about school safety issues and how the Code of Conduct is enforced and implemented.

The statement also notifies the community that the district had already set aside money in the proposed 2018-19 school budget to hire a School Resource Officer (SRO).

The budget vote is May 15 and the district will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal next Wednesday, May 2.

Sheriff William Sheron has made it a priority to convince all local school districts to hire SROs.

"I'm very happy they made this decision," Sheron said. "It has been my position SROs should be in every school. There is no price we can put on our children's lives. I'm thrilled about the budget proposal and now we will let the voters decide."

The statement comes two days after publication of a story by The Batavian covering concerns raised by parents at two school board meetings about issues of concern.

Dear Alexander Community,

Student safety and well-being are top priorities at Alexander Central School District. Our work each day focuses on creating the conditions for students to thrive. We are committed to ensuring all of our students walk through their school days in a safe, structured, and caring environment as they strive to grow as confident, contributing learners. That commitment is our mission and drives our goals as a District.

Alexander is a wonderful community filled with caring families and remarkable children. The District provides outstanding opportunities in the classroom, in athletics, in the arts, and in clubs/organizations for all of our students. Our District is a great place for children to learn every day. Our community cares. Central to who we are as a community is our unwavering commitment to all of our students. As a District, we welcome feedback from students, parents, and community members on all matters relating to how we are meeting the needs of our students and how the District is functioning in alignment with our mission and our goals. When a student, parent, or community member reaches out to our teachers, administrators, and Board members, the concerns shared are taken seriously and acted upon as appropriate.

Recently, District administrators and our Board of Education have heard from parents regarding their concerns about the District’s commitment to student safety and well-being as well as how the District is applying the Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct provides a framework for our disciplinary processes when student conduct does not meet the expectations outlined in the Code. It is important to keep in mind that the details of any situation that may result in disciplinary consequences are complex, specific, and confidential. The District is not free to share the details related to specific student discipline or consequences - especially with parents and community members who are not the parent of the child involved. In fact, the District is legally bound to keep all of these matters confidential. We take that obligation seriously. Be assured, however, the fact that the District cannot provide the community with details relating to specific disciplinary consequences does not mean that the District is not taking action nor does it mean the District is not upholding the Code of Conduct. We work diligently to investigate all situations in which a student’s conduct is alleged to violate the Code and impose consequences consistent with our findings.

In responding to recent concerns expressed by parents and community members, the District’s unwavering commitment to confidentiality has put it at a bit of a disadvantage, particularly because others are not bound by the same legal requirements regarding confidentiality. In fact, some community members have questioned the District’s commitment to confidentiality and have even suggested the District was acting improperly by not sharing details of certain situations involving the District’s students. Our legal obligation and moral commitment to confidentiality should not be construed as the District being non-transparent or non-responsive. We are merely doing what we are legally and ethically obligated to do. While District administrators and our Board of Education are not at liberty to share the details of every situation that is brought to our attention, please know that does not mean that we are not committed to student safety and well-being. As a community, we must remember our commitment to each other and to our students, even when we disagree or question certain disciplinary consequences.

Our District administrators and our Board of Education have used the recent feedback from members of the community as an opportunity to reflect on our practices. In fact, conversations we started last spring with the Sheriff’s office regarding the possibility of adding a school resource officer (SRO) at Alexander CSD were reinforced by our current community conversation about student safety. The addition of an SRO is part of our 2018-19 budget proposal. We continue to welcome feedback. Through feedback, we continue to grow as a District.

As always, thank you for your support as we work to create the conditions for all students to thrive. Even when we disagree and even when all of the details of every situation cannot be shared, we always have our love for our District and our commitment to our students in common. Let's continue to work together to make sure our community remains strong and that we continue to move the work of our District forward.

With thanks~
Dr. Catherine Huber

April 27, 2018 - 3:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in construction, Stroh Road, bridge replacement, alexander, news.

From County Highway Superintendent Timothy J. Hens:

The County has hired LC Whitford from Wellsville to replace the Stroh Road bridge over the Tonawanda Creek in the Town of Alexander.

The contractor plans on closing the bridge to traffic starting at approximately 7 a.m. on Monday, May 7th. The bridge will be closed for approximately six months while it is replaced.

There will be no detour posted during construction. Maplewood Road will remain open during construction.

April 25, 2018 - 8:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alexander Central Schools, alexander, news, notify.

A number of parents in the Alexander Central School District are unhappy with how some disciplinary issues are being handled and are speaking out at school board meetings, expressing frustration that district administration is, in their views, failing to meaningfully meet the requirements of safety and Code of Conduct policies.

The school board, and Superintendent Catherine Huber, for their part, are trying to limit what parents can tell them about their concerns and how Huber and her staff have responded to specific complaints.

Attempts to interview a board member or any board members after a meeting Monday night were rebuffed and a reporter was told only Huber could speak for the district or the board.

"Student safety and student well being is our top priority," Huber said that night. "Every parent who approaches the board or any administrator in the district, their concern is heard."

She would not comment further, she said.

Asked if based on parental feedback there was any need to make policy changes, all she said was, "I can tell you our Code of Conduct is updated on an annual basis."

Board President Reed Pettys was not present at the meeting. Reached the next day by email, Pettys issued a statement (copied in full at the bottom of this story) and said he could not and would not comment on specifics.

At a March 28 meeting, a mother of an elementary school student, Liz Felski, spoke during the public comment period and told the board a child in her daughter's class was continuously disruptive.

After mentioning she is an Alexander alumna, she said, "So you cannot imagine how disappointed I was when my daughter came home and said she was terrified to go to her class. She has encountered many violent disruptions in class, including hitting and kicking..."

At that point, Pettys cut her off and said she couldn't talk about specifics in a classroom.

Felski, herself an educator with a docorate in education (Ed.D.), then cited the Code of Conduct's language on providing a safe and orderly school environment. 

She said she doesn't believe the Code of Conduct is being followed.

"My daughter has told me her class is disrupted five or six times to redirect and get them focused," Felski said.

Felski's remarks were captured on an iPhone recording of the meeting provided to The Batavian by another parent.

"After I conveyed my concerns to Dr. Huber, she said all she (Felski's daughter) was entitled to was an education and this would be in a classroom."

Pettys interrupted her remarks again and said Felski could not mention specific individuals.

After some cross talk, Pettys said, "This is public comment and I understand there are emotions behind your thoughts. Talking about our policies is appropriate. We can’t speak to specifics in the classroom."

Felski responded, "I'm talking about my daughter's comments to me. I’m not talking about a specific student. I’m talking about what my daughter is witnessing in a classroom on a day-to-day basis."

Pettys told her specific issues should be taken up with the administration. A parent in the audience said, "they were repeatedly ignored."

Pettys said, "We are a policy-making board."

The audience member said, "We know your policies and we don't believe you're following them."

Felski tried to continue her statement and was admonished by Pettys again not to discuss classroom specifics.

"That is something to be addressed with the superintendent or the administration," Pettys said.

A parent in the audience said, "If they don't respond?"

Pettys said, "This isn’t a discussion. We’re just here to listen. This back and forth is not what it is intended for."

At which point he called another parent to the podium, who also raised concerns about student safety and the Code of Conduct. Then another parent spoke.

"Many parents are worried on a daily basis about some things that are occurring," said the mother whose name wasn't clear on the recording. "Hopefully, we can all work together to improve on the policies so they make sense for everybody."

After her, another mother spoke who said her child was also in the elementary school and she was very worried about the safety of her child.

Before Felski spoke, another mother addressed the board and laid out at least a half dozen proposed policy changes.

None of these suggested changes were captured in the board minutes, so as to give the board a better chance to consider them and discuss them at a later date.

At Monday's meeting, among the speakers was Jerome Morrison, father of Liz Felski, who said he was speaking on his daughter's behalf after she left the previous meeting in tears because she was repeatedly interrupted at the March 28 meeting and wasn't allowed to finish her statement.

"She is as well qualified as anybody in this room and she was treated like she doesn’t belong," Morrison said.

He said he didn't think the district was being responsive to the concerns of parents.

"When you refuse to grant meetings to concerned parents, or do not respond to emails, and threaten teachers and staff members about speaking out ,and cut people off who are trying to voice serious concerns, you leave parents with no options but to be heard," Morrison said.

As for his granddaughter, he is much less concerned about her safety in school. 

"There’s good news on my granddaughter’s account," he said. "She now goes to school safely and without fear. Unfortunately, she had to change schools to do it."

Outside the board meeting, Morrison told The Batavian, the child who is reportedly disruptive once raised a desk over his head threatening his granddaughter. He said the child wasn't disciplined.

Another parent said the same child brought a knife to school a few days later and received a three-day suspension.

Three other parents spoke Monday, including two who said they were frustrated because their children had been given lengthy suspensions for minor violations while the elementary school student who is said to be so disruptive never receives serious punishment. 

One of the parents, Casey Scott, said her teenage son is part of the program for students with disabilities and he used to struggle in school. This year, he had been doing great academically until he was suspended for the rest of the school year and now he's failing two classes. She said one of her complaints is that he's been out of school for nearly two weeks and she has been unable to get his assigned homework so he can keep studying.  She got some assignments from his BOCES instructor, but not from Alexander HS.

"I was also told if I pursued the issue any further it would backfire on us," Scott said.

Another parent shared similar concerns about homework for her suspended child.

Outside the meeting, Scott said her son was suspended because, on a bus trip to the BOCES campus, her son and another boy grabbed and bear-hugged another student. She said she thought it was playful, the school took it as bullying. She said he had no other disciplinary issues.

Below is the email The Batavian received from Reed Pettys (Note, in our initial set of questions to him, we asked a general question about whether he prevented a parent from speaking at the "previous" meeting. It turned out, that was actually a meeting before the last meeting. We say that to explain his final sentence.)

Thank you for attending our Board meeting last evening.  

The District takes matters of student safety, discipline, and learning very seriously.  

The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority.  

We cannot and will not comment about issues specific to any student or staff.  

Our Code of Conduct is updated on an annual basis.  I can assure you that in all cases, the Code of Conduct is and has been applied fairly and consistently.

The administrators and Board of Education listen and take action as appropriate to all concerns brought to us by students, parents, and community members.

Please know that no members of the public spoke at our last meeting on 4/11/18.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: At 11:24 p.m. The Batavian received an email from an attorney for the school district demanding that The Batavian retract this story. While alleging many faults with the story, the attorney did not assert that it was in any way libelous or defamatory. We are not going to retract this story. We stand by our reporting. We affirm the story is factually accurate and does not suffer from the deficiencies she claims; though, in fairness, we should acknowledge one point she made. The school board, as with all public bodies in New York, is under no obligation to provide for public comments on its agenda. Further, it is not legally obligated -- though it might be wise -- to keep minutes on public comment.

April 25, 2018 - 3:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in Grand Jury, indictments, crime, news, notify, Le Roy, Darien, batavia, alexander.

Michelle A. Condidorio is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 2 in the Town of Alexander that Condidorio drove a 2013 Chevrolet on Telephone Road while intoxicated. In count two, she is accused of the crime of driving while intoxicated per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .18 or more at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, the defendant is accused of being convicted of a misdemeanor DWI on Jan. 20, 2011, in the City of Batavia, and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes currently alleged.

Jeremy J. Schraufstetter is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 28 in the Town of Darien that Schraufstetter drove a 1984 Chevrolet on Broadway Road while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of the crime of driving while intoxicated per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 or more at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, the defendant is accused of being convicted of a misdemeanor DWI on March 19, 2008, in Village of Depew Court, and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes currently alleged.

Michael J. Smith is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Nov. 2 in the Town of Le Roy that Smith drove a 2003 Chrysler on East Main Street while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of the crime of driving while intoxicated per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 or more at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, the defendant is accused of being convicted of a misdemeanor DWI on Dec. 1, 2008, in the Town of Le Roy, and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes currently alleged.

April 24, 2018 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, schools, education, news, alexander.

A pair of technology teachers in Alexander Central Schools think it's time to reintroduce agriculture into the curriculum of the high school and shared their plans Monday night with the school board.

"We live in an ag community but the kids seem distant from it because all of their food comes from factories," said Bob Hollwedel, who has been working on creating an agriculture program at the school with Aaron Forgnone.

Initially, the program will concentrate on field trips to ag-related businesses in the region.

Board members expressed an interest in seeing the high school start an FFA (Future Farmers of America) program.

Hollwedel said in their research they looked into it but decided it's too much to pursue right off the bat.

"We realized really quickly how there is a lot to that and you can get really deep, really quick," Hollwedel said. "We found we should start from something and then look at that as a separate element."

Board VP Richard Guarino was particularly excited about the prospect of reintroducing an ag curriculum into the high school and encouraged the teachers to work toward forming an FFA chapter. He said FFA teaches students a lot of important life skills, including public speaking, parliamentary procedures, and business.

"I am thrilled that we are bringing agriculture back to Alexander," Guarino said. "I don’t know when it left, I guess some time in the ‘80s. I think it’s great that it’s coming back. I like to think it’s not just cows and plows, which is what we used to say in FFA. It’s not just cows and plows. It is so many different businesses.

"I can still say it was in ag classes where I learned to fill out a 1040 ( U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form). No other other class in high school taught me the stuff I learned in agribusiness, so I’m thrilled."

April 22, 2018 - 6:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news.

An elderly couple is lost in the woods in an area off Gilhooly Road, Alexander, perhaps on their own property.

The female caller plots in an area south of the driveway at 4277 Gilhooly Road.

The man is 90 and the woman is 85. The man is tired from prolonged walking but apparently has no other medical condition.

Alexander fire is responding.

UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: Somebody has apparently reached the couple and he can carry the male out and the female will walk out.

April 21, 2018 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in art, history, alexander, news, Noah North.

noahnorthpaintinghlom2018.jpg

This is a painting by Noah North of Oliver Vaughn, a resident of Darien who died at age 14 in 1833.

I stopped by to see it today at the Holland Land Office Museum because until a few days ago, I hadn't heard of North, who, it turns out, is a painter from Alexander of some minor national renown. His name has never come up before, at least in my presence, in any discussion of local artists.

The painting of Vaughn is one of North's earliest when he was still being trained by M.W. Hopkins, of Albion.

He is recognized among collectors and art historians as a folk portrait artist (also called "naive" or "primitive"). 

He relocated to Ohio where he continued to pursue his portrait career and then returned to WNY, married a woman from Darien, and settled in Mt. Morris, where he eventually adapted to the new medium of photography (working in daguerreotype).

Within the region, North's work can also be seen at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester and the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford. His work is also in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Folk Art, and the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont.

For the next four hours, one of his paintings is available on eBay for $9,000.

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