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January 29, 2023 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in jim owen, GO ART!, batavia, news, arts.

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The Owen Library at GO ART! was unveiled today as the James R. Owen Memorial Library, in honor of the late "Mayor" Jim Owen, who passed away Jan. 19.

Owen, notoriously tight-fisted with a dollar, if not a dime, was generous with his donations to causes he supported, especially the arts, and especially music.  Owen, who made no bones about his lack of musical talent (he was quoted at the event as once saying, "I sing solo.  So low, nobody can hear it.") was especially proud of the accomplishments of his father, the late Frank Owen, who was a music teacher at Batavia High School.

In addition to the many donations he made to GO ART! during his lifetime -- such as the funds to help create the library, the books in the library, and the white baby grand piano, he also left a sizeable donation, Director Gregory Hallock (speaking above) said. It's enough that GO ART! can create an endowment fund for the first time in the organization's history. 

Previously:

Photos by Howard Owens

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Andy Rich and Brad Meholick at the Franke E. Owen Memorial Piano in the James R. Owen Memorial Library.

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Carol Reband and Elain Watson toast Jim Owen.

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January 29, 2023 - 5:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crossroads house, Batavia Downs, news, batavia.

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The leadership at Crossroads House often talks about the importance of the volunteers who assist people in their last stages of life.  For Cathy Winding, volunteering at Crossroads House saved her life.

"I moved here many years ago, and it was hard," Windings said during the 25th-anniversary celebration of Crossroads Hosue at Batavia Downs on Saturday. "I left my family, my friends. I moved to Batavia, and I found Crossroads House. 

"I had read about it in the newspaper, and my mom had passed, then my dad passed, and I wished I had a place like Crossroads House because they had a horrible time."

She said she finds it rewarding to care for the people who stay in Crossroads House.

Julie Tybor, who is also a volunteer, also said it's rewarding.   

"Being with other families, spending time with other families has been the most rewarding part," Tybor said.

Tybor, left, and Winding, right, are pictured above with Benita Scoins, with stars from a wall of honor.  As part of the event's fundraising event, people could buy stars with names on them, either of people who have passed while staying at Crossroads or of the volunteers they appreciate. Scoins is holding the stars dedicated to family members, including Ron Weimer, who was the first resident of Crossroads House.

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Paul Figlow and Joanne Patri pull numbers in the night's reverse 50-50 drawing -- when you're number is called, you're eliminated from the drawing.  When there are only two numbers left, the number pulled is the winner ... 

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Meghan Gallagher was the winner ... 

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She donated her $600 prize back to Crossroads House.

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January 28, 2023 - 8:49pm

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Be like Jim.

You didn’t have to know Jim Owen to want to be like him. You didn’t have to know him to respect the man he was and what he brought to this community. And you especially didn’t have to know him to reap some of the good and kind messages that he left behind.

But if you didn’t know Jim Owen, a Batavia resident whose name has been echoed throughout the city with particular might this past year, it truly was a loss that you never had the privilege to feel. Perhaps you’ve read about Jim recently, about his passion for the city school district as a substitute teacher, supporter, mentor, historian, and music lover who lived long enough to see the high school auditorium named after his father, Frank E. Owen.

Or perhaps you read about him being dubbed the Mayor of Redfield Parkway by Batavia City Council for his efforts to have pillars restored on the westside street, and tireless advocacy for the neighborhood and beyond. Or when he donated funds to make the Owen library at GO Art! a reality.

Make time for others
This piece isn’t so much about Jim as it is about what he created up until he died on Jan. 19 of this year. Yes, he gave the community quite a lot — financial and material donations, camaraderie, encouraging words, bits of history culled from his research, recognition, cheesy jokes that somehow always hit the mark, friendship, and, certainly, time. He always gave his time.

During Owen's funeral service Saturday, the Rev. Vern Saile noted something about Jim’s obituary. Usually, one’s obit states everything about that person, Saile said.

“But Jim’s obituary is almost entirely about the people he wants to thank,” Saile said in a near-packed sanctuary at Northgate Church.

That’s a striking difference. Instead of thinking about how he transformed the world, Jim thought about how others made an impact on him. Outward thinking. Positive thinking. Those weren’t just phrases from a motivational book; they were how Jim Owen lived his life.

Be a friend
“He loved people, he loved to encourage them,” Saile said. “He appreciated family, friends, students, and community. He may have more friends than anybody I’ve ever known.”

While visiting Jim in the hospital one day, Vern logged friends who stopped by while Jim had nodded off. There were a dozen in 90 minutes, Saile said with a hint of astonishment.

You don’t have to be perfect, but you can be positive
When he began his talk, Saile admitted that he first found Jim Owen “a little quirky.” He wasn’t quite sure how to take the man that had volunteered to be part of an important committee.

“He didn’t always say a lot, but when he did speak, it was positive,” Saile said. “I cannot remember him saying anything negative.”

He then joked about how Jim would check to see if he was in the minutes. He would sometimes make the first or second motion just to ensure his name was documented. He was the same with local events — often attending ribbon cuttings and business openings, somehow appearing in the media photos.

Quirky? Perhaps. His mom, dad, brother and sister have died, leaving Jim as the remaining Owen, and it seemed as though he wanted his life to be known. To be worth something. Sound familiar? Who can say that’s an unfamiliar notion for most mortals?

Be interested in others
Jim’s good friend Michael Marsh gave an example of how caring and genuine Jim was with everyone he met. He would ask your name, where are you from, “and on and on, and on and on,” Marsh said.

Jim Owen had a sincere interest in people — it wasn’t just small talk, but a need to know more about someone. He “strongly believed in education, and giving tools” for students to believe in themselves, Marsh said.

Jim was a coach, and often told his students that “it’s not important if you come in first or come in last, but that you come in.”

“He would slide into your life and just be there,” Marsh said.

And without Jim’s jovial one-liners, questions, historical trivia, upbeat adages, and other topics of discussion, “you find yourself missing it,” Marsh said.

Jim was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last year, and during his last days in hospice care, he wondered aloud if he would be forgotten. Alas, no.

Leave a piece of yourself
“His presence has caused all of us to form new friendships, and to foster those friendships,” Marsh said. “It’s our responsibility to carry this legacy on.”

Marsh reminded folks to take time to appreciate one another. It only takes moments to enjoy a conversation, share encouraging words, or make someone smile.

Another one of Jim’s favorite sayings was that “a setback is just a setup for a comeback.” Saile believes that he got the ultimate comeback and is safe and at peace.

Meanwhile, Jim left behind plenty of people to carry forth his legacy of not just seeing the glass as half full, but making it wholly delicious.

Be like Jim.

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Top Photo of Michael Marsh speaking about Jim Owen during Owen's funeral service Saturday at Northgate FMC in Batavia; musical performances included vocals, piano, violin and "Battle Hymn of the Republic," a special request that Owen had made when planning his service. Photos by Howard Owens.

January 28, 2023 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

A driver has reportedly fled the scene after his car struck a pole in the area of 8113 Lewiston Road, Batavia.

The pole is down and wires are down.

Town of Batavia Fire dispatched.

UPDATE 10:26 a.m.: Oakfield Fire requested for traffic control at Galloway Road.

 

January 27, 2023 - 7:08pm
posted by Press Release in jim owen, GO ART!, batavia, news.

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Press release:

GO ART! will be celebrating the life of James R. Owen on Sunday at 1 p.m. All are welcome to attend. The mic will be open for anyone that wants to speak or share a story about Jim.

The beautiful white baby grand piano in the Owen Library, donated by Mr. Owen, will be played with any and all welcome to sing along. Jim would sit for hours in the Library sharing stories, talking about his father and music, and doing his best to entertain. And entertain, is what we plan to do during this celebration. Food will be provided, and the bar will be open.

When Mr. Owen donated the funds to make the library a reality, he did not want his first name associated with it. He said it was because he did not want to ruin his reputation as a frugal man, but we all know it was because he was humble and did not want the credit. He made GO ART!'s director promise that his first name would not be associated with it while he was alive. Please join GO ART! at this celebration of life event in the renaming of the Owen Library to the James R. Owen Library.

The event will be held at GO ART!'s Seymour Place, 201 East Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020, on Jan. 29 at 1 pm.

January 27, 2023 - 7:02pm

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Brian Cousins, the new president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, mingles with local business owners and community leaders on Thursday at Eli Fish Brewing Co. at a meet-and-greet set up so community members who might not yet have met Cousins could get a chance to shake his hand and say hello.

He's been on the job for about a month so we asked him the best part of the job so far, and the worst part.

"The best part is learning something new every day," Cousins said. "The worst part is learning something new every single day."

Previously: Second career path means representing 'best place on earth' for former Darien Lake executive

January 27, 2023 - 10:01am
posted by Press Release in River Street, batavia, news, infrastructure.

Press Release:

The City Batavia Water Department is working to repair a water main break on River Street. Water has been shut off Between West Main Street and South Main Street on River Street.

Traffic in the vicinity will be congested while crews access the break and make the repair. If possible, please use an alternative route when traveling through the City today.

Residents in other parts of the Batavia Water Plant Service Area may notice issues with water pressure. Residents in affected areas will be without water until the repair is made. The length of time the water will be off is unknown.

As always, when the water is restored, it may be discolored. Please refrain from doing any laundry until the water runs clear.

We apologize for any inconvenience, and the public’s patience is greatly appreciated. 

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: The water main break is repaired. Road work is continuing. Traffic remains congested in the area.

January 26, 2023 - 8:00pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, UR Medicine, batavia.

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UR Medicine at 7995 Call Parkway plans to reopen for all services beginning Jan. 30, staff member Kim Hally-Hettrick says.

Hally-Hettrick had the unfortunate duty to inform patients in late December that the Batavia-based facility would be closing due to frozen pipes and resulting flooding. The site is now ready for business, she said. 

Practices include Primary Care 585-345-1779; Allergy and Immunology 585-486-0930; Medical Oncology 585-602-4050; Neurosurgery 585-225-5767; Otolaryngology and Audiology 585-758-570; and Urology 585-275-2838.

File Photo by Howard Owens.

January 26, 2023 - 6:05pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, batavia, ARPA.

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Editor's Note: This article has been updated on 1/26/23 to include details of the future facility upgrades.

A project at two major city facilities that began more than five years ago is finally coming to fruition after City Council approved the use of post-COVID funds for the work this week.

During a special business meeting on Monday, council approved reallocating $635,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds for upgrades at the City Fire and Bureau of Maintenance department facilities. Funds of $400,000 and $235,000 are being diverted from prior projects of Cohocton water and Austin Park’s playground, respectively.

ARPA money was from 2021 Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to assist municipalities with post-COVID measures to rebound from financial losses.

These two capital projects were first eyed in 2017 and were then put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We finally got a project engineered and out to bid. It came back much higher,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said.

She recommended taking funds previously allocated for the Cohocton Water and Austin Park playground projects and reroute them to the fire station and Bureau of Maintenance projects.

She wasn’t suggesting scrapping the other projects, but to finance Cohocton Water and find other grants for the playground later on, she said.

The city received a total $1,474,764.79 of ARPA funding, $722,000 of which has already been spent at the fire station for water system engineering, apron accessibility, a new sewer camera and water meter reader, she said.

Public Works Director Brett Frank outlined details of both new projects.

Fire Department work is to include:

  • General Improvements
  • Fire Suppression System
  • Fire Alarm System
  • New generator
  • Plumbing improvements
  • Electrical improvements
  • HVAC improvements

Bureau of Maintenance work is to include:

  • Completely reconstructed trench drain
  • Plumbing tmprovements
  • HVAC improvements

A total price tag of nearly $1.9 million for the fire station and bureau of maintenance projects includes that $635,000 reallocated from ARPA, $1,100,000 from facility reserves, $55,000 from FEMA and another $100,000 from ARPA.

citycounciljan232023-15_1.jpgPreviously, when the city received the ARPA funds, the city was only allowed to spend those funds on water, wastewater, or public health-related expenses,” Tabelski said in a memo to the council. “The definition of allowable use has been expanded, and I recommend that we utilize ARPA funds to complete this project. The total construction will cost $1,472,315 (after HVAC change order), while design, engineering, bidding, and construction inspection is estimated to cost $415,475 for a total project cost of $1,887,790.”

The Cohocton Water project includes the potential to remove an existing line and replace the waterline on Walnut Street as well, she said. That project has now swelled to $2.6 million and will need to be financed by a bond, she said. The park playground has an opportunity for future grant funding, so she recommended taking both ARPA funds for the facility improvements.

In related votes, council approved contracts with Camco General Contracting, Inc. for general contractor, DG Messmer Corporation for plumbing, and Concord Electric Corporation for electrical.

Council also reviewed additional future expenses to be completely financed, including $1.5 million for a new ice rink chiller and Zamboni ice machine, $1.7 million for a street light LED conversion, $1 million for sanitary line work at Maple and Mill streets, and $12.5 million for a new police facility.

Top Photo of city fire station from City of Batavia; above of CIty Manager Rachael Tabelski by Howard Owens.

January 26, 2023 - 8:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

A Monroe County man injured in a motorcycle accident at 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2021, is suing the Town of Batavia, alleging that a sign on Batavia Stafford Townline Road was pointing in the wrong direction causing him to misread a curve in the roadway.

Daniel W. Felix, Sr., is claiming he sustained significant injuries as a result of the crash.

Attorneys for the Town of Batavia have filed a response denying many of the allegations in the lawsuit.

According to the suit, filed in June, Felix was directed to the right by a road chevron sign when the road actually curved left.

The suit states, "The improper and unsafe right-facing road chevron sign existed for a sufficient period of time prior to the crash to serve as actual and/or implied constructive notice of the defect which existed through negligence, carelessness, and recklessness."

The suit does not state for how long a period of time the plaintiff believes the chevron pointed in the wrong direction.

The suit also states that double yellow lines also indicated he needed to move further to the right on a left curve, "causing him to exit off the road to the right with his motorcycle."

Felix is represented by C. Daniel McGillicuddy of Williamsville.

The town's answer was filed by Michael P. McLaren and Peter L. Powers, of Buffalo.

In the response, the town "explicitly denies any negligence, culpable conduct, or liability."

The filing advances a number of defenses.  Some of them are technical in nature.

Among them:

  • "Pursuant to applicable statutes, ordinances, rules and/or regulations, the Town of Batavia is liable only if, prior to the alleged incident complained of, the Town of Batavia received written notice of the alleged effect proximately causing the alleged injuries to the Plaintiff. No such written notice was ever received by the Town of Batavia."
  • "The condition of the area at issue was the result of certain various municipal planning decisions, thereby providing the Town of Batavia with immunity from suit and/or liability."
  • "Upon information and belief, Plaintiff's alleged injuries and damages were caused in whole or in part by his own negligence, carelessness, or want of care."
  • "Plaintiff crashed his vehicle in the Town of Stafford, outside the jurisdictional limits of the Town of Batavia; therefore, Plaintiff fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted against the Town of Batavia." 

The attorneys call upon the court to either dismiss the case entirely or reduce the Plaintiff's damages if any.  The town also asks to recover its attorney fees if it prevails.

The County, Town of Stafford and Town of Elba were all originally named as codefendants, but the action against those agencies was discontinued by stipulation last month.

January 25, 2023 - 10:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, Deanna King, Nate McMurray, batavia.

A U.S. Magistrate on Wednesday upheld a motion by David Bellavia to remove him as a codefendant in a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife alleging a conspiracy to effect a false arrest by officials in Orleans County in January 2021.

In his ruling, Magistrate Jeremiah J. McCarthy states that Nathan McMurray, the attorney for Deanna King, failed to make the case in his complaint filed with the court that King's arrest in the Town of Ridgeway lacked probable cause.

McCarthy said the complaint lacked the facts necessary to substantiate an arrest without probable cause.

The written opinion is a recommendation by McCarthy to the presiding federal judge, John L. Sinatra, who will issue a final ruling. 

King, according to documents filed in Federal Court, was arrested in January 2021 while she and Bellavia were in the midst of a contested divorce.  The case was eventually sealed by a justice in the Town of Ridgeway, and the final disposition of the case has not been publicly disclosed.

Bellavia, a former Batavia resident, was bestowed the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump in 2019.  King is a Batavia resident and a broadcast personality in Rochester.

McMurray unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times, seeking a seat that would have included Genesee County. He is currently an attorney associated with Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, based in New York City. He has represented George Maziarz in a lawsuit against Batavia Downs that was eventually dropped. He is also the attorney of record in a lawsuit against the Town of Irondequoit that was recently dismissed. He's reportedly also threatened the Veterans Administration with a lawsuit related to the Route 77 intersection next to the WNY National Cemetery in Pembroke.

In the initial claim written by McMurray on King's behalf, Bellavia is accused of threatening to have King arrested as part of an ongoing communication during their divorce proceedings.  Bellavia was, according to the suit, upset with King because of social media posts.  It alleges that Bellavia "followed through" on his threat by contacting a friend and political ally who works for the major crimes unit of the District Attorney's Office to effect King's arrest.

King claims that Corey Black called her at her home in January 2021 and informed her there was a warrant for her arrest. 

There is no publicly available information on the warrant and which court might have issued it, though the case was handled by the Town of Ridgeway Court. 

In Divorce Court, King and Bellavia were apparently instructed to communicate only about the children using a parenting app called AppClose.

The initial complaint filed by McMurray states:

On January 8. 2021, he (Bellavia) texts, “You are going to get in trouble.” Ms. King never called him, other than her having her son call him after repeated attempts to obtain health insurance information via the parenting application had failed. Accordingly, Ms. King explained on December 31, 2021, “I haven’t called you or had any non-children contact related with you, nor do I have a desire to call you. I only wanted the health insurance information you wouldn’t give.” 

None of the assertions made in the complaint, McCarthy ruled, rise to the level of proof that King was wrongfully arrested and that her civil rights were therefore violated.

"Although King repeatedly alleges that she was arrested and prosecuted without probable cause, she does so only in (a) conclusory fashion," McCarthy wrote. 

Meaning, the magistrate believes McMurray, or King, is concluding that there was no probable cause but doesn't provide sufficient facts to substantiate the claim.

McMurray, via text message, said he disagrees with the magistrate's opinion.

"The court ordered Ms. King to communicate with Mr. Bellavia on a parenting app about the children, which she did," McMurray stated. "Mr. Bellavia, however, continued to harass and threaten her on the app, which is all documented. There was no probable cause to arrest Ms. King, an issue that the court has not ruled on as of yesterday."

McCarthy heard oral arguments in the case on Tuesday and, in his written ruling, was critical of McMurray's presentation and "failure to identify the factual and legal elements of the specific criminal charge against King because the criminal complaint was sealed."

It's unclear from court documents if McMurray or King sought to have her case unsealed, at least for the purpose of providing those documents to McCarthy.  McCarthy indicates the documents were not available to the court and were apparently not reviewed by McMurray.

"How, then, could he allege in good faith that probable cause was lacking?" McCarthy wrote. "By signing the Complaint and proposed Amended Complaint, he certified that 'to the best of [his] knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances.”

In making the filing, McCarthy states, McMurray also asserted that  “the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”

McMurray, via text message, said he plans to object to the ruling.

"To explain what was actually decided, the judge did not yet resolve whether it was appropriate for an investigator for a district attorney (in a distant county) working in a major felony drug crimes unit — who was not a police officer and just happened to be the friend of the defendant, Mr. Bellavia — arrested a mom because she asked for a health insurance card for her kids. But we will proceed with our efforts to get answers."

Regarding McMurray's assertion of a "distant county," one of the assertions of King's complaint is that authorities in Orleans County did not have jurisdiction in the matter because neither Bellavia nor King lived in Orleans County at the time of the criminal complaint against King.

Bellavia declined to comment on the matter, but a close associate of Bellavia's said that Bellavia has lived in Orleans County consistently since 2015.

Bellavia's attorneys, Donald W. O'Brien, Jr., and William F. Savino, declined to comment for this story.

According to a prior filing by the attorneys, many of the allegations made in King's complaint raise allegations made during the divorce proceeding and should have been kept confidential.  They also sought to seal a memorandum delivered to the court by McMurray that made new allegations that, the attorneys said, were subject to seal as part of the divorce proceedings. Earlier this month, McCarthy declined to redact and seal those portions of King's complaint. The attorneys have the option to reapply for sealing that portion of the suit.

Orleans County, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, the Orleans County District Attorney's Office, Corey Black, and "Deputy John Doe" are all named codefendants in the lawsuit, and the complaint against those defendants has not been dismissed.  None of those codefendants have filed answers with the court, and McCarthy issued an indefinite stay of their requirement to respond pending further proceedings in the case.

January 25, 2023 - 2:55pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, jim owen, batavia.

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Friends of Jim Owen are asking that attendees of this Saturday's funeral who work at a school or had Jim as a teacher at school to please wear your school apparel or colors to the service. 

"That is what Jim is all about, he's being buried in the jacket from his obituary picture," friend Michael Marsh said.

The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Northgate Free Methodist Church, 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia.

For those that can't attend, the service will be livestreamed and available for viewing online

January 24, 2023 - 7:10pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Leticia James, ReAwaken America Tour, batavia.

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In covering a lawsuit filed by organizers of the Batavia-based ReAwaken America Tour against Attorney General Letitia James, The Batavian reached out to James for comment Monday and did not hear back before the story was published.

We wanted to know why she felt it necessary to involve herself — a state official — with a religious/political event; what she was hoping to accomplish by issuing the warning; and how she intends to defend her stance given that the event did not include any visible threats of violence as predicted.

An AG office spokesperson said that "As the top law enforcement officer in the state, it is our job to remind any organization or individual about the laws in our state, especially those that protect New Yorkers against racially motivated violence or harassment.”

“The letter from our office served as a basic reminder of those very laws and to suggest otherwise is incorrect,” the spokesperson said.

The office also included a copy of the letter, which The Batavian already had, and included portions in its published story. The full letter can be read below, and outlines the attorney general’s concerns and the foundation upon which organizers Pastor Paul Doyle and Clay Clark, in collaboration with their attorney, used to file the lawsuit against James for defamation, libel and impinging their First Amendment rights, to boil down the lengthy scope of litigation material.

To sum it up, event organizers sued the attorney general, alleging defamation and a violation of their civil rights. She, in turn, is standing by her letter, suggesting it is her right as the state's “top law enforcement official” to send such letters to private citizens. 

Here is the letter in full, dated August 3, 2022, sent to General Michael Flynn and Clay Clark, care of Cornerstone Church in Batavia:

General Michael Flynn and Clay Clark:

As New York’s top law enforcement officer, I have significant concerns that the ReAwaken America Tour’s upcoming event at the Cornerstone Church in Batavia, New York on August 12 and 13 could spur extremist or racially motivated violence.

These concerns center around the event’s proposed dates, which coincide with the five-year anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and past extremist statements made by yourselves and the other featured speakers on the tour.

I am especially concerned about featured speakers’ regular allusions to white nationalist ideals connected to the “Great Replacement Theory,” a conspiracy theory that warns of white genocide and efforts to replace native born Americans with immigrants. The theory is frequently linked to violent actions, including the racially motivated mass shooting that killed 10 people at a Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo.

 Especially in light of this racist mass shooting, and other recent episodes of racially motivated violence in New York and throughout the country, the Office of the Attorney General is concerned that such rhetoric could contribute to violent or unlawful conduct at the ReAwaken America Tour’s upcoming event.

The Office of the Attorney General writes to remind you that New York law prohibits racially motivated violence, harassment, or interference with another person in the exercise of their civil rights.

New York Civil Rights Law § 79-n empowers the Office of the Attorney General to investigate acts of violence, intimidation, threats, or harassment directed at people based on a belief or perception regarding an individual’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation. In addition to actual damages, any person who violates this statute can be held liable for $5,000 in penalties for each violation.

Additionally, New York Civil Rights Law § 40-c prohibits discriminating against another person in the exercise of their civil rights — including their right to peacefully protest — based on similar protected characteristics.

Finally, New York Executive Law § 63(12) empowers the Office of the Attorney General to take action against any business engaged in significant fraud or illegality — including the violation of New York’s civil rights laws.

The Office of the Attorney General has a duty to protect New Yorkers from extremist and racially motivated violence. We stand ready to investigate any violation of the laws above and, if necessary, to enforce them to the fullest extent available.

You are therefore instructed to take all necessary steps to ensure that the event complies fully with the requirements of New York’s civil rights laws and all other applicable state and federal statutes.

Your cooperation in ensuring a peaceful and law-abiding event will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

LETITIA JAMES

New York State Attorney General

CC: Cornerstone Church

Photo of NYS Attorney General Letitia James from her website.

January 24, 2023 - 7:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, grand jury, pembroke, batavia, news, bergen, Le Roy.

Christopher R. Scinta is indicted on counts of manslaughter in the second degree, a Class C felony, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, a Class C felony, reckless driving, a Class A misdemeanor, criminal mischief in the fourth degree, a Class A misdemeanor, two counts of obstructing governmental administration, a Class A misdemeanor, obstructing emergency medical personal, a Class misdemeanor, and speeding, a violation. Scinta is accused of causing the death of Jasmyne Rubel at the roundabout in the City of Batavia on Nov. 4. He is accused of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident without notifying police of the accident. He is accused of driving a 2006 Kawasaki in a reckless manner. He's accused of intentionally damaging window blinds in interview room #2 at the Batavia Police Department. He is accused of attempting to interfere with a government official's lawful duty. He is accused of interfering with the medical treatment of Jasmyne Rubel by a qualified first responder. 

Cindy L. Bush is indicted on a felony count of DWI and of aggravated unlicensed operation. Bush is accused of driving drunk on April 24 in the City of Batavia on Ross Street in a 2004 Chevrolet. The indictment alleges a prior conviction within the past 10 years for DWI in February 2015 in the City of Batavia.

David J. Leroy is indicted on a count of criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, a Class D felony. Leroy is accused of knowingly possessing a switchblade knife in the Town of Pembroke on July 25.

Geovanny Lopez is indicated a felony count of DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony, and circumventing an interlock device, a Class A misdemeanor. Lopez is accused of driving a 2009 Ford on the I-490 on Aug. 4 in the Town of Le Roy. The indictment alleges that Lopez was convicted of DWI with the past 10 years, on Dec. 12, 2016, in Yonkers.

Shannon L. Marvin is indicted on a count of grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class E felony. Marvin is accused of stealing a Discover card belonging to another person in the Town of Bergen during the month of October in 2021.

January 24, 2023 - 5:52pm
posted by Press Release in Save-A-Lot, Catholic Charities, batavia, news.

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Press release:

The Batavia Save-A-Lot recently conducted a holiday food drive in support of local Catholic Charities’ clients needing emergency assistance.

Catholic Charities is planning a parish pop-up event at one of the local churches in the near future to distribute the 72 bags of groceries generously donated by Save-A-Lot to help those in need in Genesee County.

Submitted photos. Pictured are Kelly Grimaldi, district director for Catholic Charities in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, and Save-A-Lot employees Cheryl and Skarlette, and Kayla, store manager, with the donated groceries.

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January 24, 2023 - 4:59pm
posted by Press Release in polar plunge, Batavia PD, batavia, news, John Kennedy.

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Press release:

The City of Batavia Police Department has accepted the challenge to support Special Olympics New York by participating in the Polar Plunge located at John Kennedy Intermediate on Feb. 10, and has set a goal to raise at least $1,000!

Children and adults with intellectual differences that participate in Special Olympics New York pledge an oath, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt". Today, the oath has never been truer, and Special Olympics New York athletes need our help!

How can you help? Please take a moment to visit our personal fundraising page and make a donation to help us reach our fundraising goal!

Your donation will help Special Olympics New York continue to provide year-round sports training, athletic competition and healthy living programs. Giving every athlete to experience physical fitness, learn to be courageous, experience joy and meet new friends with Special Olympics New York athletes.

Thank you for considering a donation to this fundraiser! We will continue to update our progress to reaching our fundraising goal and we appreciate the support!

Be on the lookout for our School Resource Officers, Officer Borchert and Officer Stevens on February 10th participating in this event!

If you wish to donate or register yourself to join our team and participate (Batavia Blue Devils), you can click this link. http://events.nyso.org/goto/BataviaPoliceDepartment

Thank you for your support!

January 24, 2023 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, budget, tax cap, batavia.

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City Council has a choice for this year’s budget: vote to override the state-mandated tax cap or prepare to tighten the belt for significant cuts and make ends meet.

That may sound like an ultimatum, but it’s how this year’s 2023-24 budget is panning out so far, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says. She gave a budget presentation to council during Monday’s conference session at City Hall.

Healthcare, inflation, diesel fuel, employee salary and retirement costs are all on the rise, and the tax cap allows a levy increase of $154,000 when what’s needed is $450,000, Tabelski said.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski faced the elephant in the room and asked what happens if the group votes not to override the tax cap, “we raise property taxes?” Or make cuts, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said.

Yes, more likely it would be the latter, Tabelski said: “That would mean significant cuts,” she said to The Batavian after the meeting.

“The tax cap is an arbitrary formula given by the state. You know, the only thought this year was that we can raise this revenue and continue the level of services that have expanded slightly in the last year or so. We have a full-time parking and recycling officer, a full-time ordinance officer, another firefighter that was contractually obligated through a contract signed before I was here,” she said. “To cover those costs, plus health care's up $457,000, retirement costs are up $300,000 … I would say this is this year's request, that the city would do everything in its power to maintain under the tax cap in the future.”

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That means that, hopefully, this won’t be a recurring ask, she said. City Council would have to approve the measure by at least a 60 percent yes vote.

Can department heads dig deeper and reduce their budget requests?
“This is the bare bones budget. We've already gone through that process of every department, and they present to me, obviously, what they'd like to see in the budget, and then we cut that back significantly to get to this point,” she said. “This is to maintain the level of employees we have at fair wages and to make sure we can pay social security and health care for those employees. Those are the main drivers, plus the inflationary prices of gas, electric, diesel, fuel, and supplies and materials. So they've already done their value engineering, as we call it. But again, council has budget work sessions that go right through, line by line, each expense and discuss it. And there certainly could be changes that come from that.”

Council members will be going through the budget during the next several weeks to ask questions, make suggestions, and see where other cuts might be made. The one area where Tabelski does not recommend taking from is the unassigned fund balance. That fund is best used as a savings account for future use.

She shared that the fund has grown a bit from an overdue payment from Seneca Power Partners, which had been in arrears with its taxes.

“I will say that we had a payment from Seneca Power of penalties and interest on the tax payments. So my hope is that will really help our unassigned fund balance when we get to the end of the audit year in August,” she said. “But when I do the budget, I don't know that number. I have no way to project what that number is until we get into the audit after the budget books close.”

Other parts of the budget include an extra $275,000 “to reserve funds to prepare to bond for the police facility,” she said.

“So right now, we're putting money into reserves, like our savings, so that we're able to bond when the time comes with the hopes of not having to raise property taxes, and being able to do it within those reserve funds we're putting away right now,” she said. “Kind of like when your car payment rolls off, and you put it into your savings account, and then you lease or buy a new car. You can then use that money in your savings account to pay that new car payment.”

Despite the ominous term of "override the tax cap," the actual tax rate would remain the same, Tabelski said. That would be $8.94 per $1,000 assessed value. She is proposing to raise the water rate by 30 cents. 

Council members will be discussing the budget this month and into February before a public hearing on Feb. 27.

Top Photo: City Manager Rachael Tabelski gives an overview of the past year and 2023-24 budget during City Council's conference session Monday at City Hall; shown with department heads nearby, who have already submitted their "bare bones" budgets for consideration. Photos by Howard Owens.

January 23, 2023 - 5:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
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Jeremy Ives

Jeremy G. Ives, accused of firing a shotgun and injuring two people on Elm Street last August, maintains his innocence, said his attorney, Joseph Lobosco, after a hearing where Ives rejected a plea offer from the District Attorney's Office.

ADA Will Zickl said under the terms of the offer, the counts against Ives would be reduced to a single count of attempted assault in the first degree, a Class C violent felony.  Ives, who has a prior DWI conviction, would admit to the charge as a second-felony offender.

He would have been facing a possible sentence of five to 15 years.

In September, a grand jury indicted Ives on counts of attempted assault in the first degree, a Class C violent felony, kidnapping in the second degree, a Class B violent felony, criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, a Class B violent felony, two counts of criminal use of a firearm in the second degree, a Class C violent felony, and menacing in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor.

If convicted at trial, Ives faces a sentence of nine to 25 years in prison.

Today was the plea cutoff date, the date a defendant can accept a negotiated plea offer. In Genesee County, when a defendant rejects a plea offer on the cutoff day, the case is scheduled to go to trial, and the defendant is unlikely to get a second chance to accept the offer.

Judge Melissa Lightcap Cianfrini scheduled jury selection to start March 20, with a week-long trial expected.

She will hear pre-trial motions on Feb. 15.

The trial was originally scheduled to start two weeks earlier, but the DA requested a DNA sample from Ives, which he provided.

Citing the likely delay while the attorneys await lab results and the subsequent investigation of those results, Lobosco petitioned the court to reduce his client's bail.  It's currently $100,000 cash, $200,000 bond, or $500,000 partially secured bond.

He said that the trial is likely to be delayed further because once the DA's office receives the DNA results, the defense has 30 days to have a DNA expert review the report, and if that expert disagrees with the findings of the people's expert, the DA has 30 days to review those findings, meaning the trial could be pushed back, up to 60 days more.

Zickl opposed modifying the securing order since a two-week delay is minimal.  

Cianfrini denied the motion, but "without prejudice," meaning if it looks like the DNA results report could lead to further delays in the trial, Lobosco can make a new petition to the court for a bail reduction.

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