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July 15, 2019 - 3:12pm
posted by Lauren Leone in batavia, community garden, news, Youth Bureau.

The Batavia Community Garden, located at 12 MacArthur Drive next to the Batavia Youth Bureau, is expanding and being reorganized as the Youth Bureau transitions to its new St. Anthony’s at City Church location on Liberty Street.

The Community Garden recently removed its south fence and added a 4,400-square-foot expansion. The extended gardening space allowed for four 4’ x 4’ and four 4’ x 8’ raised beds to be constructed and placed in the garden by volunteers during the United Way Day of Caring in May.

The addition of a 12’ x 16’ wooden pergola is underway and will be completed during the 2020 growing season. The shaded pergola will serve as a community social meeting area within the garden to supplement the existing shaded resting spot.

The Community Garden Advisory Board is also facing changes to its leadership due to vacant positions. These were created when City Manager Martin Moore learned that two volunteer advisory board members, Bob Gray and Carol Boshart, were not city residents as required by a provision in the city charter.

This resulted in the reappointment of those members as non-voting special liaisons to the board. The reassignment caused frustration among board members due to a proposed change to city municipal code that relaxes residency requirements for city employees.

At the June 24 City Council meeting, council members were welcome to a review of the charter in order to reconcile the issue with the advisory board.

“They discussed it and why they had to enforce it. It was a city charter versus a municipal code. But, I’m still here — being a master gardener is a passion,” Bob Gray said.

Gray cofounded the garden in 2011 and served as the former secretary before his Stafford residency caused him to become a non-voting liaison.

“They’ve been very supportive," Gray said of the city, despite his reappointment. "Whenever we need anything, we just shoot them an email and it gets tended to.”

The City of Batavia supports the garden through maintenance work and funding.

Jocelyn Sikorski, Youth Bureau director and Community Garden coordinator, acts as a liaison between the city and the garden. She said that the reorganization of board members has presented some challenges that the board is working to overcome.

“[The special liaisons] were part of the group that started this," Sikorski said. "So, they really are invested and they care about it overall. Those are the people that we want at the table, and I don’t have city residents banging down my door to fill those two vacant spots."

Sikorski recognized that there will be further changes for the Community Garden as the Youth Bureau relocates to its new 114 Liberty St., Batavia, home. The Youth Bureau will continue to collaborate with the garden although the Batavia City School District will occupy its former facility.

“We will probably establish a different type of Youth Garden at St. Anthony’s starting next year," Sikorski said. "We will keep bringing the kids over throughout the end of the summer and into the fall to maintain these beds once we have relocated and close our doors here.”

In the midst of these changes, the garden's community outreach continues. Throughout the season, surplus produce and cut flowers are donated to benefit individuals at Washington Towers and Crossroads House.

“A lot of cities our size don’t have community gardens," Gray said. "This is an asset.”

Photo by Lauren Leone.

July 15, 2019 - 2:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, Grand Jury, Le Roy, Alabama, batavia.

Craig L. Fien Jr. and Carla L. Catalano are indicted for the crime of criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that in late October through early November in the Town of Le Roy that the defendants knowingly possessed stolen property consisting of one or more firearms, rifles or shotguns, in this case a Savage Arms Stevens model 320 pump shotgun. In count two, the duo is accused by the district attorney of fifth-degree conspiracy, a Class A misdemeanor, for intentionally engaging in conduct that constituted a felony.

James M. Mucci is indicted for the crime of aggravated driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on April 21 in the Town of Batavia that Mucci drove a 2006 Chevrolet on the Thruway while he was intoxicated and while a child age 15 or less was a passenger. In count two, He is accused of aggravated DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for having a BAC of .08 percent of more at the the time and while a child age 15 or less was a passenger. In count three, Mucci is accused of aggravated DWI, per se, as a misdemeanor, of have a BAC of .18 or more at the time. In count four, he is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly knowingly acting in a manner that day likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than 17.

Sharnice S. Gibson, is indicted for the crime of aggravated driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on March 14 in the Town of Alabama that Gibson drove a 2002 Saturn on Route 63 while intoxicated and while a child age 15 or less was a passenger. In count two, she is accused of aggravated DWI, as a Class E felony, for driving while intoxicated while a second child age 15 or less was a passenger.

July 15, 2019 - 1:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, byron, batavia, elba, bergen.

Kyle Allan Hawley, 29, of South Lake Street, Bergen, and Marissa A. Brennan, 26, of Townline Road, Byron, are both charged with: second-degree grand larceny, a felony; and four misdemeanors -- criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and fourth-degree criminal mischief. In addition, Hawley alone is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree. They were arrested in the early morning hours of July 11. They allegedly stole a vehicle on West Main Street Road in Batavia and were later observed in the Village of Bergen but left prior to the arrival of a Genesee County Sheriff's patrol. They were allegedly found in the Village of Churchville still inside the vehicle and in possession of drugs, paraphernalia and possibly other stolen items. They also reportedly did damage to the inside of the vehicle prior to it being recovered. The investigation is ongoing. Both defendants were arraigned in Town of Batavia Court on July 12 and then put in jail. Hawley's bail was set at $15,000 cash or bond; Brennan's bail was set at $10,000 cash or bond. They are due back in Batavia Town Court on July 22. The incident was investigated by deputies Kevin McCarthy and David Moore, assisted by Deputy Richard Schildwaster, Sgt. Michael Lute; the GC Drug Task Force, Investigator Chris Parker, Chief Deputy Joseph Graff, and members of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

Solomon Jason Wood, 40, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree assault -- intentionally causing serious physical injury, and criminal contempt in the first degree -- violating an order of protection by having physical contact. Wood was arrested following a physical domestic altercation at 3 a.m. on July 9 on North Spruce Street. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed in lieu of $10,000 cash or bond. He was due in  city court July 11. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Marc Lawrence, assisted by Officer Matthew Wojtaszczyk.

Matthew Scott Eggleston, 29, of West State Street, Albion, is charged with: felony driving while ability impaired by drugs; aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree; speeding in a 55 mph zone; and having an obstructed driver's view. At 1:38 p.m. on July 13, Eggleston was arrested on Quaker Hill Road in Elba. He was previously convicted of a DWI offense within the last 10 years. He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice. He is due in Elba Town Court on July 24. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor, assisted by Deputy Kevin Forsyth.

Jason Lee Johnson, 36, of Highland Park, Batavia, is charged with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. At 12:47 a.m. on June 29, Batavia police responded to a drive-thru of a restaurant on East Main Street in Batavia where it was reported that a male was passed out at the wheel. Johnson was initially issued a traffic ticket for the DWAI-drugs charge due to his being transported to a local hospital for care. On July 3, Officer Stephen Cronmiller issued Johnson appearance tickets for the other related charges. He is due in Batavia City Court on July 17. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Sabrena L. Randall, 43, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with: circumventing the required interlock device -- operating a vehicle without the device; aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree; unsafe backing of a vehicle; operation of a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver; and petit larceny. Randall was arrested July 11 on an arrest warrant out of City of Batavia Court. The warrant and charges are in regards to a shoplifting incident that occurred on Dec. 3 at JCPenney in the mall. She was arraigned in city court and jailed on $250 bail. She was due back in court July 8. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis, assisted by Sgt. Dan Coffey.

Wesley Thigpen, 38, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with first-degree criminal contempt. He was arrested after allegedly making numerous phone calls at 7:38 p.m. July 7 to a person on West Main Street in Batavia who has a full stay away order of protection against him. He is due in Batavia City Court on Tuesday (July 16). The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Felicia DeGroot.

Coty Ray Read, 28, of South Hillcrest Drive, Albion, is charged with criminal trespass. At 9:22 a.m. on July 14 following the investigation of a suspicious condition complaint on Mill Pond Road in Byron, Read was arrested. He is accused of allegedly unlawfully entering and remaining in a residence without the owner's permission. He was released with an appearance ticker for Aug. 5 in Byron Town Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Rachel Diehl.

July 15, 2019 - 8:12am
posted by Lauren Leone in batavia, news, beach cleanup party.

Morgenn Surabian pictured with her homemade recycling boxes (photo courtesy of Stephanee Surabian).

Morgenn Surabian, a 5-year-old girl from Batavia, wants her 6th birthday to make a meaningful impact by hosting a beach cleanup party at LaSalle Park in Buffalo.

From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 3, Morgenn invites community members to join her in recycling items found on the shore of Lake Erie to help protect marine life and beautify the environment.

"She's calling it her 'Birthday Wish for the Fish' for her friends and family and other volunteers to come join her to help make her birthday wish come true," Morgenn's mother, Stephanee Surabian, said.

"We'll be hosting a public event, free to anyone who would like to come join us that day," Surabian said. "We're going to be cleaning up that beach and collecting information of the findings."

The event will offer snacks and music for volunteers to enjoy. The Surabians are working with the Buffalo Division of Parks and Recreation to donate the bottles and cans collected during the cleanup.

Morgenn said her birthday idea was inspired by the Disney animated movie "Finding Dory." She said the beach cleanup is important to her "to keep the water healthy" and "because we don't want the fish to be caught in the plastic."

Volunteers can register for "Birthday Wish for the Fish" online here.

The 77-acre LaSalle Park, located at 1 Porter Ave., is Buffalo’s largest waterfront park -- at the mouth of the Niagara River where it meets Lake Erie.

July 15, 2019 - 7:58am
posted by Billie Owens in muckdogs, batavia, sports, baseball.

The Batavia Muckdogs won, 3-1 in Vermont Sunday to remain in first place in the New York Penn-League Pinckney Division.

BURLINGTON, VT. -- There have been Batavia Muckdog games this season when you could almost feel the stare of Evan Brabrand from the bull pen as the closer wants the ball every night.

Because of two straight losses, he had to wait.

Sunday night, Brabrand's wait was over and he rewarded Manager Tom Lawless with his sixth save of the young season in a 3-0 Batavia win over the Vermont Lake Monsters on the road.

Brabrand, a ninth-0round draft pick this year by the Miami Marlins out of Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., is now 6-for-6 in save opportunities, as he threw a scoreless seventh.

Batavia (18-11) maintains a first-place lead over West Virginia in the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division and has a chance to win the series Monday.

The entire Batavia pitching staff has a 3.02 ERA and has struck out 260 batters in 247 innings. Josh Simpson picked up his fourth hold of the season, throwing two perfect innings in relief with two strikeouts before giving way to Brabrand. Simpson is a 2019 32nd round draft pick out of Columbia University in the City of New York.

Starting pitcher Julio Frias improved to 2-1 as he threw six innings of 2-hit ball with five strikeouts and just one run allowed. The Marlins signed the 21-year-old lefty out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 and he has developed into a strong starter with 36 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Batavia has given up just five hits the last two games.

Batavia picked up two runs in the fourth when Albert Guaimaro singled in Sean Reynolds, then Brayan Hernandez drove in Nic Ready for a 2-0 lead.

Holding on to a 2-1 lead in the ninth, Hernandez led off with a walk and was bunted to second by Ronal Reynoso. J.D. Orr was intentionally walked so with two outs, Lawless put the double steal on and it worked as they stole to second and third. The move paid off as Hernandez scored on a wild pitch before a groundout ended the inning.

The Muckdogs, who have increased attendance by 29 percent over last year, will return home on Wednesday and Thursday to take on the Auburn Doubledays (Washington Nationals). Tickets are available at muckdogs.com or stop by the Dwyer Stadium Ticket officeetween 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week. The number is 585-483-3647.

The team is also home on July 20, 21 and 22 against Mahoning Valley (Cleveland Indians).

July 15, 2019 - 7:47am
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire, video.
Video Sponsor

A possible fire is reported in the attic of a house at 319 E. Main St. The location is between Ross and Liberty streets. The structure has been evacuated. City fire is responding.

The second platoon is called to city fire headquarters.

UPDATE 7:49 a.m.: Town of Batavia Fire Department is called to city fire headquarters as mutual aid.

UPDATE 8:13 a.m.: Mercy medics are called to the scene for firefighters' rehab.

July 14, 2019 - 2:48pm

From Anne Marie Starowitz, on the passing of Ronald J. DiSalvo:

I had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful family -- the DiSalvos. I taught three of Ron's grandchildren. His death is a loss for Batavia of a wonderful store owner and an exceptional family man. Thank you for your memories Ron DiSalvo.


An excerpt from "Back In the Day, Snapshots of Local History The Way I See It":

In 1949, Charles and Dominic Cultrara started the DiSalvo Shoe Store on a second floor over 111 Main St.

Dominic was then the podiatrist and his brother Charles managed the shoe store. Ronald DiSalvo, who assisted Charles in the shop, bought out his employer’s interest and managed the shop for his partner, Dr. Cultrara.

In 1973, Mr. DiSalvo bought out Dr. Cultrara’s interest and became the sole proprietor. In 1976, DiSalvo’s shoe store relocated to the Genesee Country Mall. After many years of serving Genesee County, Batavia lost another family owned store when DiSalvo Shoe Store closed.


The picture below was given to me by Ron DiSalvo when I visited at his home in 2015.

For the full obituary of Ronald J. DiSalvo, click here.

July 14, 2019 - 2:25pm

Submitted photo and press release:

On Saturday, July 20th, Valu Home Center will host a Community Day at the Valu Plaza location, 4152 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden will be on hand to sell hot dogs from noon to 4 p.m.

Representatives from EMS Mercy Ambulance will be present along with members of the Batavia City Fire Department. The Fire Department will be on hand to provide child car seat checks and to correctly install your car seats.

“This is our opportunity to give back to the community," said store Manager Paul MacEwan. "This will become an annual event and hopefully will grow larger in years to come.” 

We look forward to having the community join in and meet our staff.

July 14, 2019 - 2:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, kayaking, sports.

Seize the day with a guided kayak tour of DeWitt Pond on Saturday July 20th!

Explore the pond by water and discover a new world.

Session 1 takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Session 2 takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. Meet at the boat launch at DeWitt Recreation Area, located off Cedar Street in the City of Batavia.

No experience needed, a beginner kayaking lesson is provided! Rent a kayak or bring your own.

Kayak rentals with life vests are provided by Adventures in Fitness Inc. Solo kayak rentals are available for ages 12 and up, tandem kayak rentals are available for kids under 12 and must be piloted by an adult.

Guided tour fee is $20/person without rental or $25/person with kayak rental per session. Fee for children under 12 is $12 per session. Preregistration is required by Wednesday July 17th, call 585-344-1122!

For more information visit our website at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/parks/, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

July 14, 2019 - 2:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in muckdogs, sports, batavia, baseball.

Milton Smith II had another hit Saturday. He has now hit in 21 of 23 games this season for Batavia.

Submitted photo and press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs have played 19 games in 19 days, and the long road trip from Batavia to Vermont may have caught up with the hitters. The Muckdogs (17-11) fell to the Vermont Lake Monsters, 2-0 Saturday night on a game where both teams combined for five hits, the Muckdogs picking up three of them.

Jackson Rose picked up the hard-luck loss, throwing five innings of two-hit ball, giving up a solo home run to Kevin Richards. The only other hit was an infield single.

Eli Villalobos had one of the best outings of his short professional career, throwing three perfect innings in relief, striking out four. Villalobos, a 2018 14th-round Miami Marlins draft pick out of Long Beach State in California, has started three games but has excelled for Manager Tom Lawless out of the pen. He now has 25 strikeouts in 22 innings and a save.

Sean Reynolds had one of the three hits for the Muckdogs and also walked, putting his average at an even .500 as he has hit in all four games with Batavia since joining the team on July 10 (seven hits).

Milton Smith II, the 21-year-old leadoff hitter for the Muckdogs and had a 12-game hitting streak earlier this season, had another hit and is now hitting .405 this season. Smith II, a 22nd-round pick of the Marlins in 2018, is ahead of Gilberto Jimenez, of Lowell, Mass., who is hitting .376 (Muckdog J.D. Orr was second in average but is just short on enough official at bats to qualify).

How amazing has this season been for Smith II? He now has hit in 21 of 23 games he has played.During his 12-game hit streak, his lone at bat was an extra inning walk-off single to win a game for the Muckdogs.

Dalvy Rosario also had a hit for Batavia.

The Muckdogs are at Vermont Sunday and Monday for 7:05 p.m. starts and after a travel day return home for two games to host the Auburn Doubledays, both at 7:05 p.m.

Tickets to the games on Wednesday, July 17 and Thursday, July 18 against the Auburn Doubledays (or home games July 20, 21 and 22 against Mahoning Valley) are available at muckdogs.com or stop by the Dwyer Stadium Ticket office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week. The number is 585-483-3647.

July 13, 2019 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in immigration, news, batavia, federal detention facility.


Press release:

A day after a “Close the Camps” coalition shut down traffic in Downtown Buffalo, vigils for those held in detention camps were held in several locations across Western New York.

More than 100 citizens gathered in Batavia for a peaceful rally and vigil Friday evening near the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protest the inhumane treatment of children in migrant detention centers at the Southern border.

Organized by a team of concerned women, this event was part of a nationwide movement, Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps. This movement has partnered with more than 150 international, national, regional and local communities and organizations, including religious groups, refugee relief services, and immigration activists.

The event included a rally with several speakers and a performance by the Rochester Raging Grannies, followed by a vigil. Rev. Jim Renfew, who spoke at the rally, commented, “Eugene Debs once said, ‘While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.’ This quote underscores the horror of child incarceration at the present time and is why I am here. It is wrong, very wrong, and even wronger than we can imagine given some of the reporting from inside of these facilities.”

Co-organizer Nikki Calhoun said, “I refuse to be desensitized to the suffering of others because they may not look like me. To do so, especially with children, opens the door for worse atrocities. This is why myself and thousands of those with a conscience across the country are taking a stand.”

Monica Elderkin traveled from Cheektowaga to the vigil in Batavia, and said, “I thought it was important to attend a vigil at an ICE facility where there are actually immigrants being held to send a message that the mistreatment of children or any of those being detained is not OK.”

While there are no children immigrants held at the Batavia facility and conditions there are known to be reasonable in comparison to facilities at the border, organizers believed holding the vigil at this location would be more effective symbolically.

More than 500 Lights for Liberty vigils were held across the United States on Friday including local events in Buffalo, Williamsville and Rochester, as well as international ones in Germany, Canada, and as far away as Japan and Senegal.

Photo: By Rachel Doktor. Doktor said when the vigil was almost over a group from the vigil lined against the gates beyond where security personnel were standing. She wrote, "We sang songs of peace, love and caring for the children of the world. A small group of people approached the gates after a while, standing close. Everyone got a little tense and watched them, but didn't stop singing. The stand off began, and they stayed until everyone else that attended was gone. They were the closest group to the gates in front of immigration."

July 13, 2019 - 11:56am
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, batavia, news.

An accident with unknown injuries is reported on the eastbound Thruway at mile marker 386.6. Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 12:03 p.m.: No word on injuries. A first responder calls for "a Trooper and a tow."

July 13, 2019 - 11:05am
posted by Billie Owens in muckdogs, batavia, sports, baseball.

Two Miami Marlins draft picks who are making an impact with the Batavia Muckdogs high-five after a diving catch by Milton Smith II, left, in center field head first toward the fence to end the inning, and Troy Johnston, who belted a home run and doubled Friday before 1,301 fans in Batavia.

Submitted photo and press release:

After taking the first two games of the series against the Boston Red Sox from club Lowell Spinners, the Batavia Muckdogs were in position to take over the best overall record in the New York-Penn League.

However, the Spinners showed why they are in the top spot by scoring two big runs in the ninth inning to hold off the Muckdogs 5-2 Friday night before 1,301 fans at Dwyer Stadium.

Batavia (17-10) is still in first place in the NYPL Pinckney Division and goes on the road for three games against the Vermont Lake Monster, the Oakland A's farm club.

Troy Johnston, a 17th-round draft pick of the parent club Miami Marlins in 2019 out of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wa., went 2-for-3 with a 394-foot solo home run to right field that went 102 MPH off the bat. Johnston also hit a RBI double down the left field line in the first and is now hitting .357 on the season.

Sean Reynolds continued his three-game tear in his return to Batavia by going 2-for-4 with a double to increase his average to .545, as he hit two home runs then followed it up with four hits including the double.

Milton Smith II made one of the best catches of the season in center field, going on a dead sprint to center and diving head-first toward the fence, making a catch to end the fourth inning. Smith II then led off the bottom half of the inning with a single and scored.

Albert Guairamo, Nic Ready and Dalvy Rosario had hits for Batavia.

The pitching staff game up 13 hits but only five runs, as Andrew Miller took the loss, throwing 3.2 innings with three strikeouts. Edison Suriel (two strikeouts) threw 1.1 scoreless innings and Bryan Hoeing in his first appearance in Batavia threw a scoreless inning.

The Muckdogs return home on Wednesday, July 17 and Thursday, July 18 against the Auburn Doubledays then back home July 20, 21 and 22 against Mahoning Valley.

Tickets for these games and others are available at the Dwyer Stadium box office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, online at muckdogs.com or be calling 585-483-3647.

July 13, 2019 - 10:44am
posted by Virginia Kropf in batavia, international peace garden, news.

Paula Savage, of Batavia, left, with Justyna Glusman, deputy mayor of Warsaw, Poland, after presenting an official Peace Garden stone marker.

Since Poland was chosen to receive a Peace Garden, Paula Savage, of Batavia, has wanted to return to Warsaw to present the country with an official stone marker.

Savage, a Batavia resident, founder and president of the International Peace Garden Foundation, has just returned from Poland, where she presented an official Peace Garden stone marker to Warsaw’s Deputy Mayor Justyna Glusman.

“It is has always been my desire to revisit those gardens and present the official stone that marks every other Peace Garden since 1995,” Savage said. “The stone, along with the official certificate, will not become part of Warsaw’s history.”

In 1992, Poland became the first country outside of North America to receive the prestigious honor of receiving a Peace Garden from the United States as a gesture of friendship. It also recognizes that Poland was the first country in Eastern Europe to achieve democracy, Savage said.

Savage traveled to Poland at that time, but the Peace Garden stone did not become part of the ceremonies until 1995.

During her recent visit, Savage was informed that over the past 25 years many changes have taken place in Warsaw, including redesigning of their parks. The original Peace Garden, located in Saski Park, will be moved to a new location, yet to be determined, Glusman said.

“This is an ideal time to incorporate the Peace Garden into these new plans that will be highly visible and easily accessible to visitors,” Glusman told Savage. 

Savage has been invited to return to Warsaw next spring for the rededication of the new Peace Garden there. 

There are 22 International Peace Gardens worldwide spanning five continents. Annually, a new country is chosen by the previous recipient country. Last fall, Savage traveled to South Korea for dedication of the International Peace Garden in Suncheon City. South Korea was nominated by Mexico.

Savage reminds residents that Batavia has its own Honorary International Peace Garden, identified by flags waving along Main Street beside the Holland Land Office Museum. The Batavia Peace Garden was dedicated in 2012 to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Each time a new country is chosen, a new flag will go up in the Batavia Peace Garden, which is part of a 300-mile peace garden trail along the United States and Canadian border in New York State.

Details about the Peace Garden Trail are available at www.peacegardentrail.com.

July 13, 2019 - 10:28am

Above, Julie Plath, of Batavia, was the 2019 winner in the girl category of the Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby. In this photo, she is not holding the winning 8" bass she caught.

Submitted photos and press release:

Free Fishing Day and the Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby took place at DeWitt Recreation Area on Saturday, June 29th.

As part of the NYSDEC’s Free Fishing Weekend, no fishing license was required to participate. Families from Genesee, Monroe, Wyoming and Erie counties all traveled to Batavia to join in the free outdoor fun.

Friendly fishing guides were on hand to assist newbies with baiting a hook, casting and learning how to fish.

Forty-five children ages 16 and under participated in the fishing derby, catching a variety of panfish and bass.

Prizes were awarded for the largest fish caught each by a boy and a girl. This was the sixth annual Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby held at DeWitt Recreation Area. Each year the derby is sponsored by the Oakfield Alabama Lions Club.

This event was the result of collaboration between Genesee County Parks, Recreation & Forestry, the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club, and ACORNS.

Fishing bait was provided by a generous donation from Walmart Supercenter of Batavia. All participants had the chance to win fishing tackle door prizes, and each derby winner took home a new rod and reel provided through a grant by Cabela’s of Cheektowaga.

Congratulations to the 2019 Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby winners: Girls category winner Julia Plath, from Batavia, with her 8” bass catch; and a tie in the Boys category resulted in two winners, Luke Volkmar, from Bergen, with his 8 1⁄2” bass catch, and Michael Atkinson, from Alexander, with his 8 1⁄2” bass catch.

Special thanks to the Oakfield Alabama Lions Club, ACORNS, Walmart, and Cabela’s for making this event possible!

For more information visit our website at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/parks/, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

Below, is Luke Volkmar, of Bergen, who tied for first-place boys, with his new rod and reel, courtesy of Cabela’s of Cheektowaga.

Below, is Michael Atkinson, of Alexander, who tied for first-place boys, with his new rod and reel, courtesy of Cabela’s of Cheektowaga.

July 13, 2019 - 12:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, County Court, batavia, notify.

It's been a tough year for stenography in the Genesee County Court and today three cases came before Judge Charles Zambito dealing with stenography issues.

Two stemmed from a previously reported stenographer's mistake while transcribing grand jury proceedings -- that stenographer inappropriately taped the proceedings.

Another defendant appeared before Zambito today because an appeals court overturned his conviction on a burglary charge because a part of the transcription of his jury trial was not preserved for review.

In the People vs. Victor J. Grimes, Grimes was convicted at a jury trial in August 2016 and subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison.

He's served 44 months of that sentence. 

Last week, a state appeals court ordered a new trial -- even while finding evidence was sufficient for conviction -- because a stenographer's error on the final day of the trial meant relevant notes in the case were not preserved. Since the court then didn't have the final day's transcription, the court couldn't review the proceedings to ensure the trial court complied with specific procedures. 

In the trial, Grimes was represented by retained counsel. He's now represented by Lisa Kroemer of the Public Defender's Office. Kroemer asked for time to review the case and speak with District Attorney Lawrence Friedman before a new date for the trial is set. 

Judge Zambito ordered Grimes held on $25,000 bail or $50,000 bond pending his possible trial.

The other two stenographer-related cases heard today were People vs. Antwan Odom and People vs. Richard Hanes.

Odom is accused of knifing Ray Leach. Hanes is charged with murder in the beating death of Ray Morgan. 

Friedman asked the cases be placed on the docket because he wanted to get on record what the defense attorneys intend to do regarding the mistaken recording by the stenographer of grand jury proceedings in those cases.

The attorneys for Odom and Hanes took decidedly different approaches.

Odom is represented by Buffalo attorney Frank Housh. Housh with his own unique sartorial style at every court appearance, walked into court today in seersucker slacks and robin's-egg blue sports jacket. And when pressed about how he intended to proceed, raised his prior complaint that Friedman is conducting a dual prosecution, one against his client and one against him.

In May, Housh made statements to local media that Friedman considered a violation of professional standards and risked tainting the jury pool. Friedman asked for a gag order and Zambito issued a temporary gag order but lifted it last week, citing an objection on free press grounds by "the media" (in this case, The Batavian). 

Zambito did rule against Housh's motion to have Friedman removed from the case because of this alleged "dual prosecution."

Besides the request for a gag order, Housh said Friedman has also filed a grievance complaint with the state bar against Housh. 

Housh contends -- without presenting proof -- that everything Housh says or does in the case is forwarded by Friedman to the state bar.

For that reason, Housh said he has not made the trip to the District Attorney's Office to review the case file on the stenography issue because, he said, he would need to bring his attorney with him.

Housh has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the case because of this "dual prosecution" but so far has not withdrawn.

Today he asked Zambito for a summary judgment dismissing the case against Odom because, he said, in a prior answering brief, Friedman stated the grand jury process was legally constituted when in fact Friedman, he said, new about the inappropriate recording of the proceedings.

After more discussion, Zambito agreed to meet with the attorneys in his chambers for an on-the-record but closed-door discussion about the issue.

Out of that meeting, it was agreed, as stated in court later, that Housh would file a motion and there would be a hearing Aug. 5 (instead of the trial starting on that day) on the defense motion.

In contrast to the approach of Housh, Fred Rarick, representing Hanes, was willing to stipulate in court that prior hearings on this topic -- including one in the Jennifer Serrano case -- established the facts of the incident and those same facts could be entered into the Hanes case and Zambito could issue a ruling based on the facts and evidence already presented.

On previous cases, including Serrano, Zambito ruled that stenography issue did not invalidate the grand jury proceedings.

Outside of court, Rarick said he saw no point in going through another hearing where the same facts and evidence would be presented that are already on the record knowing that Zambito is unlikely to rule any differently than he has previously.

By getting the prior hearings submitted as evidence in the Hanes case, without objection from Friedman, he has preserved any possible appeal over the issue for his client should Hanes be convicted at jury trial.

July 12, 2019 - 7:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
Jennifer K. Urvizu-  Hanlon

A local former businesswoman who admitted to giving a loaded firearm to a 17-year-old boy, who then shot and wounded a man who had just stabbed and killed another man on Central Avenue on May 17, 2018, told Judge Charles Zambito today that she's not a threat to the community. 

Jennifer K. Urvizu-Hanlon, 48, mentioned the letters Zambito had received supportering her, her involvement in her church, her steady employment and her lack of criminal record.

Zambito saw something else.

"I do think you are minimizing what happened," Zambito said. "You're minimizing your involvement. Samuel Blackshear would not be in prison and Nathanial Wilson would not have been shot had you not handed your loaded firearm to a 17-year-old boy. That young man is in prison now because of you. And after that happened, after a man was killed and another wounded, you went home.

"I do consider you a risk to the community but under the circumstances, I'm prepared to accept the plea offer and go along with the sentence. You're being treated entirely fairly here. I don't think it's right for you to even suggest otherwise."

Urvizu-Hanlon, the former owner of a small Mexican grocery store on West Main Street in Batavia, accepted a plea deal in May that capped her prison term to two years on an attempted criminal possession of a weapon conviction.

More than a dozen people in the gallery, friends, and family, were there, it appeared, to support Urvizu-Hanlon, which Zambito also acknowledged.

Zambito said he seriously considered rejecting the plea arrangement because she should perhaps get at least three and a half years in prison, which is the term Blackshear received.

"You got a significant break here," Zambito said. "Perhaps that is because of your minimal involvement in the incident and your clean record."

On Thursday evening in May, Nathaniel Wilson stabbed and killed Terry Toote at Central and Pringle. As the stabbing was taking place, Urvizu-Hanlon arrived in her car and Blackshear approached the car and she gave her handgun, which she was licensed to carry, to Blackshear, who immediately fired at Wilson, hitting him in the leg.

Blackshear's attorney argued at his sentencing that he was acting to protect himself and others from a killer. Zambito rejected that contention, accusing Blackshear of exercising "street justice" before denying him youthful offender status and sending him to prison.

That defense isn't available to Urvizu-Hanlon under the current statute for attempted criminal possession of a weapon but her attorney, Christian Kenndey, said the Legislature is considering a change, and that it could be said Urvizu-Hanlon was justified in giving Blackshear the gun so he could protect others from a killer.

Wilson was later sentenced to 25-years-to-life in prison for the murder of Toote.

As in the Blackshear case, Zambito said he was fully aware of the May 17 incident. He had seen all the video recordings, read the witness statements, and felt he had a complete picture of what happened that evening.

He said there was nothing spontaneous about events on Central Avenue as the incident went down. The confrontation, the expectation of violence, was all premeditated.

"You knew what was going to happen," Zambito said. "I don't think you thought Terry Toote was going to get murdered but you went there under the impression there was going to be confrontation and you were ready to take action."

Once the sentence was pronounced and the paperwork complete, a deputy stepped behind Urvizu-Hanlon -- dressed in a gray blouse covered by a black windbreaker, a long skirt, and flip-flops -- and asked her to place her hands behind her back. For a moment, the only sound in the courtroom was the metallic zip of the cuffs closing around her wrists. As she was led away, somebody at the back of the room yelled, "Love you, Jen."

July 12, 2019 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, notify, news.
    Michael J. Piasta

Before sending him to prison for 10 years, Judge Charles Zambito reminded Michael J. Piasta Jr., that in 2010 he promised Judge Robert Noonan that he was going to straighten out his life and that he would never appear in County Court again.

Piasta was out of prison barely two years before he robbed, at fake gunpoint, the Arby's, taking from $6,000 to $10,000 on March 25, 2018.

"I'm going to give you a very long time to think about what you did," Zambito said.

The 10-year sentence, followed by 10 years on parole, was on Piasta's jury-trial conviction for robbery in the second degree. On his convictions for grand larceny and criminal possession of a weapon, Zambito gave him three and a half to seven years on each count, to be served concurrently with the robbery sentence.

In 2010, Noonan heard from Piasta's attorney at the time, William Teford, about Piasta's hard life -- a father who died of an overdose, a mother with a drug problem, domestic abuse, a learning disability, and the lack of a meaningful childhood.

Piasta acknowledged his wrongdoing and told Noonan, "At this point, I just want to say I don’t feel that I’m hopeless," Piasta said. "Regardless of what happens today, I think I can make things better."

Piasta already had a lengthy criminal record when Noonan sent him to prison in 2010.

Today, attorney Brian Degnan also reminded Zambito of Piasta's troubled past. 

"Mr. Piasta, with his upbringing, with his adult life, he's certainly been dealt a very bad hand here," Degnan said.

He acknowledged a prison term was inevitable but asked Zambito to consider Piasta's circumstances and expressed hope that Piasta could get the help he needs while in prison.

Piasta's own statement was short, asking Zambito to take into consideration Degnan's arguments on his behalf.

While Piasta was convicted by a unanimous verdict of a jury, Piasta, Degnan noted, has continued to maintain his innocence.  

Zambito agreed to hold a hearing on the issue of restitution. Degnan contends that there was contradictory testimony at the trial, with a contention that $5,000 was stolen from Arby's, and a claim of $10,000 stolen. Arby's has filed a claim for $6,000.

July 12, 2019 - 2:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, gynecology, batavia, ashok naik.

Ashok A. Naik, M.D., retired from the practice of gynecology in Batavia as of July 1.

Patients are advised to see Dr. John Jaeger (585-343-6206).

Records are available at his office.

Dr. Suwarna Naik will continue her practice of medicine at 4156 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

July 12, 2019 - 2:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in crossroads house, news, batavia, notify.

Submitted photo and press release:

Regarding Crossroads House Garage Sale donations...

A very generous community has packed our storage containers to our limit.

As a result, we cannot accept additional donations for the upcoming sale later this month.

You folks have filled three tractor-trailers, two shipping containers, a barn and our garage!

We are so fortunate to serve in a community of givers. We look forward to seeing everyone at the sale.

For more information on dates and times, click here.

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