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March 7, 2021 - 12:11pm
posted by Press Release in fire, batavia, news.

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Press release:

On Saturday, March 6 at 11:45 a.m. the City of Batavia Fire Department was dispatched to a garage fire at 344 W. Main St., Batavia. City Engine 11 and Ladder 15 arrived at 11:48 a.m. to find a 20’ x 20’ detached wood-frame garage engulfed in flames.

Two hose lines were deployed bringing the fire under control within 10 minutes.  

Destroyed along with the building was a 2014 Toyota Camry and several tools. Two nearby structures received minor damage from radiant heat. No firefighters or civilians were injured.

City of Batavia Fire Department investigators determined the cause of the fire to be accidental due to an unattended portable propane heater.  

The City of Batavia Police Department and Genesee County Emergency Dispatch assisted with the incident.

Captain Marty Hinz

Photo by Howard Owens.

March 7, 2021 - 12:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in label shopper, batavia, business.

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Brian Greer, manager of Label Shopper, the newest discount retail store in Genesee County, cuts the ribbon Saturday during the store's official grand opening.

Label Shopper in a multi-store chain with outlets throughout the Northeast that specializes in clothing.

The store is located in the B.J.'s Plaza on Lewiston Road in Batavia.

March 6, 2021 - 12:31pm
posted by Press Release in news, batavia, infrastructure, water line repair.

Press release:

The City Water Department is planning to make repairs to a water line in the area of 53 River St. on Monday, March 8. Repairs will begin at 8 a.m. and should be completed by 3 p.m. The water may have to be shut off from #73 River to South Main Street.

This will result in low to no water pressure condition for some residents. Other residents in the area may experience discolored water, which should return to normal once repairs are complete. Residents should check to make sure water clarity has returned before resuming activities such as laundry, which may be impacted.  

We appreciate your patience while these repairs are being made.

March 6, 2021 - 11:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, batavia.

A garage fire is reported at 344 W. Main St., Batavia.

City fire is on scene.

The second and third platoons are being recalled.

March 5, 2021 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in accident, news, batavia.

A two-car accident that is blocking traffic is reported at West Main Street and Porter Avenue in the city. City fire is on scene along with Mercy medics and police. Minor, if any, injuries.

UPDATE 1:41 p.m.: City fire assignment is back in service.

March 4, 2021 - 6:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, batavia, news, notify, schools, education.

If he could open Batavia city schools up to in-class learning five days a week any time soon, he would, Superintendent Anibal Soler told the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday.

He said he knows some neighboring districts are going to daily in-person instruction, but he said the district won't violate any state or CDC guidelines to make it happen in Batavia.

"From our standpoint, if we can put more kids on the bus, we already would have done it," Soler said. "If we could get more kids in a class, we already would have done it."

He said he is staying abreast of guidelines and if changes are announced, the district will be able to work quickly and diligently to adjust.

Also during his superintendent's report on Monday, he said guidelines on masking have changed. Under the new policy, if you have your mask on and the other person has his or her mask and you're not within six feet of each other, you're not going to be subject to quarantine if the other person tests positive for COVID-19. Under the previous policy, anybody in the same enclosed space, such as a classroom, even if 20 feet apart, would be subject to quarantine. 

"This is meant to limit the number of kids and limit the number of teachers who get quarantined," Soler said. 

Soler also updated the trustees on testing.  

The U.S. Department of Education denied the state's request to waive all required state testing for students in grades 3-8 and the Regents test for grades 9-12. As a result, the district will be required to test all in-person learning students, third grade and up, in Math, ELA, and the Regents exams. The state has said these tests will only be used for diagnostic purposes and will not harm school accountability reports. The state is considering not using Regents exams as a requirement for graduation. 

Soler said the district expects to receive more information on testing and graduation and when that information is released, principals will be communicating directly with students, families and staff.

Finally, photo below, Officer Jason Davis, who has served recently as the district's resource officer, was honored by the district as approaches retirement for his service to the community and the district.

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Photo courtesy of Anibal Soler.

You can help support local news by supporting The Batavian.

March 3, 2021 - 4:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, notify.

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UPDATE: Statement from U.S. State Department:

The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. We are aware of a U.S. citizen missing in Ecuador. When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can.

A Batavia resident with years of volunteer service locally and overseas, including the Peace Corps, is reportedly missing in Ecuador.  

Travis Sackett has reportedly been missing since Feb. 21 after going on a hike to the Imbabura Volcano.

Recently, he has been a volunteer at a farm in Ecuador.

The U.S. Embassy in Ecuador has reportedly been notified that Sackett hasn't been heard from since he left for the hike. Local search efforts began on Feb. 25.

The Batavian has been unsuccessful in attempts to confirm his status either through a family member or by contacting the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador or the U.S. State Department. 

Cassie Toulet-Crump has set up a GoFundMe page to assist his mother, Lucy Sackett, with expenses related to the search for Travis, including a reward. 

The GoFundMe page says Sackett's parents are offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the safe return of their son. Donations will help increase the possible amount of the reward.

Word of Sackett's possible disappearance and the GoFundMe page has been spread widely in the community over the past 24 hours over social media and local email chains.

March 3, 2021 - 1:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in Milestones, Le Roy, east bethany, batavia.

More than 200 students transferred to SUNY Canton for the Spring 2021 semester.

The college's Director of Admissions Melissa J. Evans said, "We pride ourselves on our ability to provide the right programs and services for our transfer students."

In addition to traditional college freshmen and transfer populations, Evans said the college's current recruiting strategy includes reaching students who attended college but never completed a degree.

"We are able to walk people through the process of applying to college whether they've been away for a few months or 10 years," she said. "We can help evaluate transcripts before beginning the application process." 

Among the students who transferred are:

  • Dawn Hunter, a SUNY Canton Legal Studies major from Batavia;
  • Zechariah Gowanlock, a SUNY Canton Emergency Management major from East Bethany;
  • Tonya Smith, a SUNY Canton Health Care Management major from Le Roy.

About SUNY Canton 

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton Online offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 22 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.

March 2, 2021 - 6:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9 Batu, Batavia PD, batavia, news, notify.

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         Dejon Smith

After a passenger in a vehicle stopped by a Batavia police officer bolted from the car at 6:01 p.m., Feb. 25, K9 Batu was pressed into service helping with his first apprehension of a fleeing subject.

Handler Stephen Quider and Batu started patrol duties together earlier this year. 

Taken into custody was Dejon. J. Smith, 21, of Rochester. He was apprehended after a brief foot pursuit. Batu reportedly located Smith behind a residence on Ellicott Street.

Crack cocaine and marijuana were recovered at the scene of the traffic stop and police report finding additional crack cocaine inside the storage shed.

Also taken into custody was Germayne D. Session, 27, of Rochester.

Smith is charged with: criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell; criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th; burglary, 3rd; unlawful possession of marijuana, 2nd; tampering with physical evidence; resisting arrest; and obstruction of governmental administration. 

Session was charged with driving a vehicle with a revoked or suspended registration, unlicensed operation, unlawful possession of marijuana, 2nd.

Smith was turned over to Irondequoit Police Department on an unrelated warrant and Session was released on an appearance ticket.

March 2, 2021 - 3:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, batavia, Stafford, Darien.

Cody A. Bush, 35, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with: two counts of third-degree assault; fourth-degree grand larceny; and two counts fourth-degree criminal mischief. Bush was arrested Feb. 14 after an investigation into physical domestic incidents at an upper apartment on Walnut Street at 5:09 p.m. and again at 6:03 p.m. that day. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in jail (bail, if any, unspecified). He was due back in city court Feb. 18. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer John Gombos.

Terry Marvin Conrad, 57, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree menacing -- with a weapon, and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree -- with a previous conviction. Conrad was arrested after police responded to a domestic incident involving weapons that occurred on South Main Street at 11:59 a.m. Feb. 21. After an investigation it is alleged that Conrad menaced a person with a knife after engaging in a physical altercation with that person. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and released on his own recognizance. Conrad is due to return to city court on April 7. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis, assisted by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Jamie A. Dutton, 28, of South Platt Street, Albion, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Dutton was arrested Feb. 27 after a lab report was received by the Monroe County Crime Lab. The defendant was allegedly found to possess 1.081 grams of cocaine after an incident at 8:04 p.m. Feb. 23 on McKinley Avenue in Batavia. Dutton was issued an appearance ticket to be in City of Batavia Court on April 20. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Connor Borchert.

Cody Lee Pahuta, 29, of Alleghany Road, Darien, is charged with: driving while intoxicated -- first offense; refusal to take a breath test; and failure to keep right on a two-lane road. At 12:53 a.m. Feb. 27, Pahuta was arrested after a traffic stop on Alleghany Road. After an investigation, he was allegedly found to be driving while intoxicated by alcohol. He was released with appearance tickets and is due on Darien Town Court March 16. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush, assisted by Deputy Erik Andre.

Dustin Corey Herzog, 32, of Albion Eagle Harbor Road, is charged with petit larceny. He was arrested Feb. 23 and is accused of stealing property from a business on East Main Street in Batavia on July 1. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and then released on his own recognizance. Herzog is due back in city court April 1. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Antonio Joseph Pisa, 19, of Hollow Hill Lane, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana in the first degree. At 1:10 a.m. Feb. 19 on Clinton Street Road in Stafford, Pisa was allegedly found in possession of marijuana, homemade marijuana pills and crystallized THC following a traffic stop. Pisa was released on appearance tickets and is due in Stafford Town Court March 18. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Deputy Nicholas Chamoun.

March 2, 2021 - 2:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Le Roy.

Jennifer D. Abrams and Tarus O. Fluitt are indicted for third-degree burglary, a Class D felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 16 in the Town of Le Roy that the defendants unlawfully entered the Kwik Fill on West Main Street Road intending to commit a crime. In count two, they are accused of third-degree criminal mischief for alllegedly intentionally damaging the property of another person in an amount exceeding $250 -- the front glass door of the Kwik Fill. In count three, Abrams and Fluitt are accused of fifth-degree conspiracy, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intentionally agreeing to engage in conduct that constituted a felony.

Alex S. Dumbleton is indicted for the crime of first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Dec. 11 Dumbleton violated an order of protection while at a residence on Pearl Street in the City of Batavia. It is alleged that on that day he acted to intentionally harass, annoy, threaten or alarm a person protected from him by a court order and did this by striking, kicking, shoving or subjecting the victim to physical contact, or threatening to do so. In count two, the defendant is accused of second-degree criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count two that Dumbleton intentionally disobeyed an order of protection issued on April 26 by Batavia City Court. In count three, he is accused of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly acting that day in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child under age 17. In count four, Dumbleton is accused of fourth-degree attempted criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor. It is alleged in count four that the defendant attempted to damage another person's property -- the driver's side door of the victim's vehicle. In count five, Dumbleton is accused of second-degree harassment for allegedly intentionally harassing, annoying or alarming another person by striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting a person to physical contact.

Cody A. Bush is indicted for the crime of third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor. On Feb. 14 in the City of Batavia he accused of intentionally causing physical injury to a person. In counts two and three, Bush is accused of fourth-degree criminal mischief, for allegedly intentionally damaging another person's property -- a bedroom door and a cell phone, respectively. In count four, the defendant is accused of fourth-degree grand larceny, a Class E felony, for allegedly taking a cell phone from a person. In count five, he is accused of a third count of fourth-degree criminal mischief for allegedly intentionally damaging an entryway door. In count six, he is accused of first-degree burglary, a Class B violent felony, for entering a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime and then allegedly causing physical injury to a second victim. In count seven, Bush is accused of third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intentionally causing physical injury to the second victim.

Warren D. Post is indicted for the crime of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on May 24 in the Town of Batavia that Post drove a 2003 Chevrolet on Pearl Street while his license to drive was suspended or revoked by authorities and while he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Special Information filed by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, Post is accused of having been convicted of driving while ability impaired by consumption of alcohol on June 18, 2018 in Town of Coxsackie Court. That conviction forms the basis for the license revocation referred to in count one of the current indictment.

Roy A. Newton is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 30 in the Village of Le Roy that Newton drove a 2009 Hyundai on Main Street while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of DWI, per se, also a Class E felony, for having a BAC of .08 percent or more at the time. In Special Information filed by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, Newton is accused of having been convicted of driving while ability impaired by drugs, as a misdemeanor, on Nov. 22, 2017 in Town of Perry Court. The convicted was within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

March 2, 2021 - 1:15pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Notre Dame High School is pleased to announce a donation of $345 to Just Kings.

Just Kings is a Batavia-based organization whose mission is to provide a voice for the local Black community. They work to educate and mentor the youth, our neighbors and ourselves as we continue to fight to end racism.

Nya Thomas, a senior at Notre Dame, led the donation drive in honor of Black History Month.

Check out the important work they do at their Facebook page.

Photo: front row, from left: Alonzo Story, Mark Sanders, McKenzie Nenni, Nya Thomas, Ben Skanly, and Principal Wade Bianco; back row: Just Kings -- Eric Ricks, Victor Thomas, Robert Thurston, Oraid Edwards, Terry Smith, Otis Thomas and Brandon Armstrong.

February 28, 2021 - 8:00am
posted by David Reilly in nostalgia, history, batavia, news.

When folks get older and nostalgia sets in, one strong memory is of the pets they had when they were kids. Dogs and cats of course were the favorites, but rabbits, horses and even pigs were popular, too, especially in rural areas like Batavia.

People of a certain age (i.e.: elderly) might recall Richard Nixon's famous career-saving speech about his dog “Checkers.” Elvis Presley had an infamous monkey he called “Scatter” whose shenanigans were renowned among the singer's entourage. Later in the '90s the Clintons' cat “Socks” seemed to get as much media time as Bill and Hillary.

My family only had a few furry housemates as I was growing up.

My dad loved dogs and had a number of them when he was a young man, including a couple giant Saint Bernards. But my mom was reluctant. She had a traumatic memory of a family dog biting someone and being dispatched in a gruesome way so I think that limited our number.

But, I still recall our pets fondly and humorously for their companionship and animal antics.

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Before I turned 10 when we lived on Thomas Avenue we got a male cat. Because he was a dark gray color we named him “Smokey.” That moniker didn't last long though. My mother kept tripping over him as he plopped down wherever it suited him and you'd hear her exasperated cry of, “Move you stupid cat!” So, very quickly he became "Stupid."

Although he was mostly an outdoor cat, which normally doesn't bode well for the feline lifespan, Stupid stayed with us through two years on Ellicott Avenue and then moved to North Spruce Street, too.

He loved living at North Spruce because in the '50s and '60s our house was surrounded by woods. Woods that were full of mice, birds, moles, and were just generally akin to a giant cat grocery store. We would find carcasses of Stupid's dinners on our porches and patio.

As if he didn't have enough free grub at his literal disposal, for some reason my mother also fed him like a king. She'd send me to a grocery store (I think A&P) on the south side of Main Street between Liberty and Center streets to buy him fresh chicken kidneys, which she would then cook for him. Talk about spoiled.

Although mostly an outdoor cat, Stupid didn't care for cold weather and would grace us with his indoor presence in the winter. One time he was outside, but then we heard him crying at the basement door into the kitchen. When we opened the door, out he came.

“Hey, I thought the cat was outdoors,” my mom said. “How in the world did he get in the cellar?”

Upon investigation we found a broken basement window. Stupid had huge seven-toed front paws that looked like snowshoes and the only thing we could figure was that he batted on the window until it broke. We could never prove it, but the window wasn't broken before. How else could it happen?

Eventually, as sometimes happens with outdoor cats, Stupid disappeared. Whether something happened to him or he just took his aging self off to die in peace we never knew. I think at some point I considered making some kind of wooden marker in his memory, but etching R. I. P Stupid seemed... well... stupid.

Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow

When I was middle school to early high school age we briefly had a black and white rabbit. I do not recall where we got him or why.

His name was Herman and I'm unclear on why I called him that. Although I'm almost certain it wasn't for Hermann Göring, the head of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) during World War II.

Herman's brief time with us was spent in a hutch outside the back door.

My job was to line his pen with straw, feed him, and clean out the bunny manure. His food was some kind of brown pellets, which to be honest looked about the same coming out as they did going in. We also gave him lettuce and other leafy vegetables. It was always a mystery to me how he could seemingly turn a pound of food into two pounds of poop.

Herman came to an inglorious end one winter night from unknown causes. I went to feed him in the morning and he was frozen stiff. I guess if we wrote an obituary, we could've said no bunny compared to him.

(Above, Skippy, Dave and Jim at Godfrey's Pond in the 1970s.)

Shaggy Dog Story

When I was in high school, one day my grandmother stopped by for a visit and she had a box with something covered up inside.

“I brought you a present,” she said with a big smile. When something moved in the box my mother had the opposite of a smile. “Uh oh,” she muttered.

"Skippy" the dog had arrived.

I don't remember specifics, but knowing my mother it must have taken a lot of begging and whining by my two younger brothers to get mom to say we could keep him. Being in high school I was (in my own mind) too cool to get excited about a dog. I had sports and girls to think about.

Skippy was a full-blown mutt. You really couldn't distinguish any breed that he was descended from and it would be fair to say that he wasn't going to be entered in any dog shows. To paraphrase an old saying, he was a dog that only his family could love.

Back in the '60s and '70s there were no leash laws. So Skippy (and just about every dog in Batavia) was free to roam around town. As he got older, and since he wasn't neutered, this resulted in some dicey situations.

As I have mentioned in some of my previous stories, I had two unmarried aunts who lived together in the longtime Reilly family home on Cedar Street. Sometimes when my brothers and I would walk there from North Spruce we'd take the dog along.

Well, I guess he enjoyed Aunt Kate's and Peg's company (or maybe they gave him treats) because we'd sometimes get a call saying he was lying on their porch.

That doesn't sound like a big deal until you realize he had to cross East Avenue, go through the Eastway Plaza parking lot, navigate East Main Street (routes 5 and 33) and go over the Erie Railroad tracks to get there.

My dad would go pick him up in the car and bring him home while we'd wonder how many close calls he had on his adventure.

Another of his favorite destinations was a farm somewhere to the east out off Clinton Street Road. We'd get a call from the irate farmer telling us that Skippy was out there, "…trying to get at his female dog.” Once again dad would have to go fetch him home, but also take scolding from the rightfully upset owner.

After a few of those incidents Skippy the randy canine had to be tied up for his own protection. We did wonder how many of his progeny were spread across Genesee County though.

Because for most of his life he was allowed to run free, Skippy often got into and ate things that weren't exactly approved by The American Kennel Club. This would result in trips to the veterinarian for intestinal disorders.

One time, perhaps to save us money on medication, the vet told mom to, “...give him a clove of garlic and that should clean him out.”

I don't recall if this treatment cured the dog but about two hours later we had to evacuate our house. If they had haz-mat teams back then I'm not sure even their sophisticated breathing apparatus would have been enough to handle the noxious fumes.

But, generally, Skippy was a good dog and after my brother Dan and I left for college and beyond he became dad's closest buddy. When the fateful day came and he had to be put down, my youngest brother Jim says that was one of the few times he ever saw dad cry.

At various times through adulthood I had a number of friendly cats and one beloved dog. But, it's still enjoyable from time to time to think back on those pets we had in our childhood.

Top photo: Dave Reilly in 2014 with his pal Deuce.

Below: James Reilly Sr. in 1939 -- a young man with his best friend.

Photos courtesy of Dave Reilly.

February 28, 2021 - 7:47am

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With COVID-19 crowd restrictions, the Genesee Sno Packers Bikini Rally in Oakfield had a full-blown charity event raising close to $30,000 for The Pink Fund.

The Pink Fund is an organization that provides money to help patients with breast cancer. Donations can still be made here.

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February 25, 2021 - 6:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

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A head-on collision, unknown injuries, is reported on East Main Street, Batavia, in the area of Will's Carpet One.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 6:47 p.m.: No injuries. At the same time this call came in, Batavia PD was also making a traffic stop on Ellicott Street and the driver fled the scene on foot. There was a search of the area, including the K-9 officer. 

UPDATE 7:53 p.m.: This incident started with a report of an erratic operator and while patrols where responding they received a report of a head-on collision involving the vehicle. The driver of the truck that was struck was uninjured. The other driver was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital by Mercy EMS for treatment of minor injuries. The investigation is ongoing, including whether the driver who crossed the center line was operating under the influence. He will at least likely be charged with traffic violations, said Sgt. Mitch Cowen.

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February 25, 2021 - 6:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in live stream, Batavia HS, hockey, batavia.

LIVE: Ice Devils vs. Spencerport. Livestream via Batavia High School Athletics.

February 25, 2021 - 5:10pm
posted by Press Release in City Schools, batavia, Batavia PD, news.

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Press release:

The City of Batavia Police Department, in partnership with the City of Batavia School District (BCSD), is proud to announce the addition of Officer Miah Stevens as the newest School Resource Officer (SRO). Officer Stevens is replacing retiring Officer Jason Davis who has held the post for the last two years and has served the City for 20+ years as a police officer.

Officer Stevens is a 2013 graduate of Pembroke High School, she went on to attend Genesee Community College and SUNY Brockport majoring in Criminal Justice. Officer Stevens has previously worked for the YMCA – Batavia as a children’s swim instructor and lifeguard, City of Batavia – Bureau of Maintenance as a summer laborer and the City of Batavia School District as a teacher’s aide. 

“First, I want to thank Officer Davis for his hard work, commitment and dedication to our district and our school community. He has been an invaluable member of our BCSD family and we wish him well as he enters retirement.” said Anibal Soler, superintendent of the BCSD.

“The role of a School Resource Officer is important in our work supporting our students and families. We are grateful and excited to continue our strong partnership with Batavia Police Department and we welcome the addition of our new School Resource Officer Miah Stevens.” 

“I know she will bring new energy, commitment and perspective to our school community. I look forward to the example she will set for many of our female students and I know she will continue the amazing work started by those before her. Welcome to Batavia City Schools Officer Stevens.” 

The City of Batavia Police Department established the SRO program with the BCSD in 2019 and has had a successful partnership. The SRO delivers DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) training, is a resource to connect staff and students to community services, and is a liaison between the District and the criminal justice process.

“I wish to express my appreciation to Officer Davis for his service to the residents of the City of Batavia for the past 20 + years and congratulate Officer Stevens in her new role," said Chief Shawn Heubusch. "I look forward to a continued partnership with the BDSD to ensure a safe environment for youth in Batavia. I welcome all residents to join me in congratulating Officer Stevens as she transitions into her new role.” 

The City of Batavia Police Department’s main priority is to ensure the safety and security of those that live, work and play in the City.  BPD’s mission is to provide comprehensive, effective police services that exceed the expectation of the citizens in a timely and responsive manner.

Photo: Officer Jason Davis, Officer Miah Stevens, Superintendent Anibal Soler

February 25, 2021 - 2:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Buffalo Federal Detention Facility, batavia, news, notify, ice.

Officials with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) don't see things the way a group of activists in the area do when it comes how detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility are being treated in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Activists say the conditions have led to two detainees going on a hunger strike. An ICE spokesman confirmed that as of Feb. 18, there were two individuals on a hunger strike. It's unclear if that's still the case. One person familiar with the facility indicated one of the hunger strikers may have been returned to Canada.

Representatives of Justice for Migrant Families of WNY, which is based in Buffalo, claimed during a press conference on Tuesday that during the recent COVID-19 outbreak, COVID-positive patients have been kept in solitary confinment, that conditions in the facility are unsafe and represent a health threat to the Genesee County community, particularly since, in their view, detainees are being held purely for violations of immigration laws.

ICE officials dispute these allegations.

JMF played two recordings of men they said were detainees at the facility who were on hunger strike.

One man identified himself as Raul (no last name provided).

"I am doing this because I suffer from depression almost every night and I throw up and that's why I'm doing this," Raul said. "I have PTSD. I suffer a lot. And that is why I am doing this."

He added, "I want them to release me. I cannot hold on being here longer. I don't know. I suffer a lot from depression and I am afraid that I will get infected with the virus because I have heard there are a lot of infected people here."

We asked Jennifer Connor, executive director of the organization, if anybody from the group had spoken to Raul and warned him that not getting proper nutrition could weaken his immune system and potentially put him at greater risk, and she said, "The hunger strikers are putting their health at risk. They certainly are, and no one undertakes that lightly.

"It is something that people have resorted to when they are truly desperate. It's a real cry for help. They are essentially saying, 'if if you do not hear me, if you do not end this suffering, then I am going to risk my life to make my voice heard.' So I don't think people take that risk lightly."

A spokesman for ICE said facility personnel closely monitor detainees on hunger strike:

In general, ICE fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference. ICE does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers. ICE explains the negative health effects of not eating to our detainees. For their health and safety, ICE closely monitors the food and water intake of those detainees identified as being on a hunger strike.

ICE’s detention standards concerning hunger strikes may be reviewed here.

Raul claimed that detainees are not required to wear masks. The ICE spokesman said detainees are issued five masks upon entry and can request new masks as needed. They are required to wear them in common areas but not required to wear them in their own housing units.

Connor and Mary Rutigliano, a local resident who is a member of the Rochester Rapid Response Network, complained that contractors who work as guards at the facility as well as facility employees are not required to be tested for COVID-19.

Rutigliano expressed a lot of concern about employees coming and going from the facility as they could be asymtompatic carriers. 

"(Batavia) is the gateway between the Finger Lakes Region and Buffalo," she said. "So people moving through, stopping in Batavia. That's a huge issue for two big regions in our state."

A source familiar with the facility said ICE has no authrority under the law to require anybody to get tested or to receive a vaccine.

Connor and Rutigliano both complained about COVID-positive patients being kept in solitary confinement.

According to our source, there is no such thing as "solitary confinement" at the facility.  

When The Batavian toured the facility in 2018, we learned there are isolation rooms for people who might be infected with communicable diseases as well as rooms that can be used to isolate detainees involved in conflicts for a cooling off period. 

Detainees, however, are not cut off from the world as they would be in solitary confinment in a prison. They retain, for example, their iPads.  

The ICE spokesman said, "Individuals who are exposed to infectious illnesses are cohorted from non-affected detainees in accordance with CDC  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines. Within these separate areas they are still free to walk about and engage with each other and staff."

Previously, The Batavian was told COVID-positive detainees were cohorted in two pods and not intermingled with non-COVID detainees.

The only solution to the problems outlined by the activists, Rutigliano said, is for the population of the facility to be reduced but the facility can house more than 600 detainees. The current population is 139, or 35 percent of its capacity, the ICE spokesman said.

A source familiar with the facility said more than 80 percent of the current population are people referred to immigration by state and federal courts because of criminal cases and the rest are held by order of the immigration court. ICE is not holding people at the facility on its own authority. Since the start of the pandemic, ICE has maintained a policy of releasing everybody who can safely be released, the source said.

February 25, 2021 - 1:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Grand Jury, batavia.

Rajea S. Thomas is indicted for the crime of first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on April 30 that Thomas, while at a residence on Thomas Avenue in the City of Batavia, violated an order of protection with the intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm a person protected by the order, by striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting the person to physical contact, or he threatened to do so. In count two, Rajea is accused of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, a Class A misdemeanor, by allegedly applying pressure to the neck or throat of the victim. In count three, the defendant is accused of attempted criminal mischief in the fourth degree, a Class B misdemeanor. It is alleged in count three that Rajea on that day prevented, or attempted to prevent, the victim from communicating a request for emergency assistance.

February 25, 2021 - 12:26pm

By Kathy Zipkin, president, Friends of Richmond Memorial Library

The Friends of Richmond Memorial Library are pleased to announce that they have added an extra “Every Day Sale” space at the library!

Until normal book sales can resume, books can be purchased from the shelf by the elevator or from the table in the Reading Room any time the library is open.  

Selections include romance, mysteries, science fiction, history, young adult, cookbooks and so much more!

Please bring a bag if you need one. Sadly, the library still cannot accept donations. Books are priced according to stickers and signage and can be paid with by cash or check.

All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Library. The Friends of the Library exist to support the mission and goals of the library, including direct support of most library programs. New Friends are always welcome -- become a member at the library today!

The library is open regular hours for limited services, including browsing and checking out materials, limited computer use, photocopying, faxing and placing holds on materials.

Please observe all signage and policies when you enter the library. Information about virtual programs can be found on our website.

Richmond Memorial Library continually provides access to physical and virtual resources and services that meet the educational, informational and recreational needs of its diverse community in a safe and comfortable environment.

Richmond Memorial Library is located at 19 Ross St. in the City of Batavia.

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