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March 26, 2019 - 6:03pm

From the city's Bureau of Maintenance:

The Law Street Yard Waste Station will open for the season on Monday, April 1st, for City residents.

The station will be open from noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday until November when open hours change to 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The station will also be closed on May 27th -- Memorial Day, July 4th -- Independence Day, Sept. 2nd -- Labor Day, and Nov. 28th -- Thanksgiving. The station will close for the season in early December.

City residents may bring yard waste material (grass, leaves and limbs) to the Law Street Yard Waste Station as there is no spring curbside pickup of these materials.

The following items cannot be accepted at the station: tree stumps, building materials, rock, fill (soil and stone) other debris.

Yard waste shall be free of trash (paper, plastic, bottles, cans...etc.), as this material cannot be processed.

Use Law Street entrance to enter and exit the City Yard Waste Station only.

March 26, 2019 - 3:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider approving incentives for Custom Vehicle Operators (CVO), which is transferring operations from its existing facility on Ganson Avenue in the City of Batavia to the former PW Minor manufacturing facility at 3 Treadeasy Ave.

CVO is investing $2 million to purchase and make capital improvements at the 80,000-square-foot building. The project will retain 36 jobs.

CVO is the authorized distributor/installer of accessories for General Motors automobile dealer locations in Central and Western New York and Western and Northeast Pennsylvania.

CVO is seeking sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions of approximately $60,000.

March 26, 2019 - 3:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, poetry, moonjava cafe, batavia.

"Four Poets in Search of an Answer"

MoonJava Café, 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia

7 p.m., Thursday, April 11

Jen Ashburn is the author of "The Light on the Wall" (Main Street Rag, 2016) and has work published in numerous venues, including the podcast "The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor." Her poem “Our Mother Drove Barefoot” was selected for the 2018 Public Poetry Project by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book and distributed on posters across the state. She holds an MFA from Chatham University, where she taught creative writing to women in the Allegheny County Jail through Chatham’s Words Without Walls program. She’s currently working on her second full-length poetry collection, tentatively titled "Our Own Thin Ways," and a memoir.   

Jason Irwin is the author of "A Blister of Stars" (Low Ghost, 2016), "Watering the Dead" (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), winner of the Transcontinental Poetry Award, and the chapbooks "Where You Are" (Night Ballet Press, 2014), and "Some Days It's A Love Story" (Slipstream Press, 2005). He grew up in Dunkirk, NY, and now lives in Pittsburgh.  

SUNY University at Buffalo Professor Emeritus Scott W. Williams, Ph.D., is a poet and author of short stories. He has been featured in New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Ontario, Canada and the Virgin Islands. His poems appeared in "Sunday Review," "Coffeehouse Writings" “From the Web," "Juniper," "Peach Mag," "Ground & Sky," "Scryptic Magazine," "Le Mot Juste," "Punch Drunk Press," "Journal of Humanistic Mathematics." The most recent of his six books are "Bonvibre Haiku" (CWP Press-2017) and a book of micro-fiction "Natural Shrinkage" (Destitute Press-2018). Williams edits the syfy poetry and flash-fiction anthology series, "A Flash of Dark" (Writers Den-2018) and "A Flash of Dark vol 2" (Writers Den-2018). Williams hosts workshops of the poetic forms Ghazal and Haiku and cohosts the series "Second Stage Writers" (with Max Stephen, Ph.D., in Buffalo) and "Poets Soup" (with Victoria Hunter in Canandaigua).

Eric Zwieg is the author of "A Killer, A Victim, A Mourner," and "Summer Portrait," community-based performance plays funded through the New York State Decentralization Ripple Grant Awards for individual artists (2018, 2019). His poetry has been featured in the "Metropolitan Review" (2017), and the forthcoming "Batavialand: A Workingman's Paradise." Music recordings include: "Durkheim’s Rule," "Wish I Was Cool," "Dance of the Sugarpug," "Maggie’s Drawers," "Drift," and "Regrets." Zwieg is currently working on his master's thesis, "Solitude, and the Art of Creativity." 

March 26, 2019 - 2:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in CTE Culinary Club, batavia, news, Pop-Up Dinner.

The Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center’s Culinary Club will host a Pop-Up Dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 8. It is open to the public.

This three-course dinner will be held in the Culinary Arts Dining Room at the Batavia CTE Center, located at 8250 State Street Road.

Tickets are $25 per person and may be purchased at the Batavia CTE Center.

Chef Tracy Burgio is the Culinary Arts instructor at the Batavia CTE Center. She noted how events like these give student real-world experiences as the event is student driven.

“The students have researched menu possibilities in order to plan the menu," Burgio said. "They will prepare and cook all the entrees and also serve our customers. Everyone works together as a team to create a memorable, pleasant experience for our patrons."

Any questions may be directed to Chef Burgio at (585) 344-7795 or [email protected].

About the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center

It is a program of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The Partnership operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services providing shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State.

March 26, 2019 - 2:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, FEMA, Community Rating System, flood insurance.

Press release:

The City of Batavia has received notification from FEMA’s NFIP/CRS program that it has met the recertification requirements for its continued participation in the Community Rating System (CRS). According to Fire Chief and CRS coordinator Stefano Napolitano, the City will maintain its current Level 7 rating.

This rating will enable those residents and business owners in the City's Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) to continue to receive 15-percent discounts on their flood insurance premiums, while those outside the SFHA will receive an additional 5-percent discount on top of already reduced rates.

In addition to the financial benefit, the CRS aids in improving community flood mitigation efforts.

These include: better informed citizens; enhanced public safety, reducing potential damage to property and public infrastructure; avoidance of economic disruption; and protection of the environment. In addition, implementing some CRS activities, such as floodplain management planning can assist a community qualify for certain Federal assistance programs.

This recertification maintains the groundwork previously laid out by City management and continues to be an integral part of the City’s comprehensive strategy to improve neighborhoods and the value of City properties.

Chief Napolitano acknowledged that there was a tremendous amount of work to recertify and maintain the Level 7 rating and he wanted to acknowledge the efforts of all members of the CRS recertification team, which included himself along with, Fire Department Capt. Bob Fix, Floodplain Manager Ron Panek, Inspection Bureau secretary Meg Chilano and confidential secretary Lisa Casey. Napolitano also wanted to acknowledge Erin Pence from the Genesee County Planning Department, who assisted the recertification process with mapping services.

Eugene Jankowski Jr., Council president, said, “I would like to acknowledge a job well done to Fire Chief Napolitano and his team. The CRS recertification is a critical component to manage the high cost of flood insurance for our residents in the flood zone."

Lastly, Napolitano points out that the annual CRS recertification process is an ongoing and continual one. Throughout the year, there will be activities which are vital to maintaining the City's current level, but also involve researching the readiness and ability to move beyond a Level 7.

March 26, 2019 - 11:15am

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A change in federal tax law in 2017 could help attract Downstate investors to Upstate communities such as Batavia and the Batavia Development Corporation is planning on pursuing those dollars for economic development in wards three and six.

The new tax law allows investors who have realized profits from prior investments, known as capital gains, to defer and reduce capital gains taxes on those profits if they invest those gains in economically distressed neighborhoods.

Wards three and six -- which contain the City Centre mall and the Harvester Center, among other distressed properties -- were previously designated Opportunity Zones by the City of Batavia and would be eligible to attract investment under the terms of the revised Federal Tax Code.

Rachael Tabelski, BDC director, asked the City Council on Monday night to approve at its next business meeting a resolution that would allow the BDC to invest $20,000 in setting up a Batavia Opportunity Zone investment vehicle.  

"These wards are distressed and would benefit from both large and small investment projects," Tabelski said.

The goal is to attract $5 million in investment funds. Tabelski said there are already potential investors Downstate who have expressed an interest in such investments.

Urban Vantage LLC, a Buffalo-based urban planning firm, would assist, including financially, in setting up the investment package.

The $20,000 would come from BDC's revolving loan fund, which has a current balance of $319,000.

At its next business meeting, the City Council will also be asked to approve a resolution that would allow the revolving loan fund, first established with Federal grants in 1997, to start assisting small businesses in Batavia with cash grants (in addition to continuing revolving grants).

Tabelski told the council that the purpose of the fund is to get money into the hands of local businesses to help spur economic development and the fund isn't accomplishing that goal if the money isn't being put to use.

The $20,000 initial investment would be used for legal preparation of the investment vehicle, listing and marketing the project, along with filing and accounting fees.

"We're setting this up so we are on the map as a proactive community taking advantage of a new federal tax law that is allowing investment into low-income census tracks and to show investors and developers that we're serious about moving our sites forward and creating our own fund as a city," Tabelski said.

There's much about how the new investments will work that hasn't yet been determined by the Treasury Department. The final guidelines should be released in a few weeks.

In general, the idea is if an investor has capital gains, the investor can move those funds to an opportunity zone investment fund and defer any capital gains tax until 2026. After five years, the basis of their taxable gains would be reduced by 10 percent. For example, if an investor had $100,000 in capital gains and invested those gains in an opportunity zone, the investor would owe taxes only $90,000 of those gains. After 10 years, the basis would be reduced another 5 percent.

Also, after 10 years, the investor would not owe any taxes on any additional gains on their opportunity zone investments. In other words, if that investor put $100,000 into an opportunity zone and at the end of 10 years, exited the investment and got back $150,000, there would be no capital gains tax on that additional $50,000 realized from the investment.

"It's really designed to attract investment in projects that have a high likelihood of appreciation," said Richard Rogers, a principal in Urban Vantage.

Tabelski first met Rogers and his partner Travis Gordon during the Downtown Revitalization Initiative process, when they represented Ken Mistler on the Carrs Reborn project. They worked together on developing a plan to create the opportunity zones under the tax code revisions.

Tabelski and Gordon both said Batavia could be attractive to investors not just because of a break on capital gains tax but also because of other credits available, such as historic building tax credits, new market tax credits, and the availability of PILOTs (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) on building improvements.

"This is a marketable location for people from places like Downstate to put the money into to actually get a good return on their investment as well," Gordon said.

The BDC-initiated fund will focus on real estate investment but there's no reason private investors can't establish their own funds to support business startups and expansions. So long as the business is based in designated opportunity zones, investors would be eligible, potentially, for the same tax breaks on capital gains.

There are some guidelines yet to come yet, however, that will either expand or limit those opportunities. For example, initially, the tax code would have required at least 50 percent of a business's revenue to come from within the opportunity zone.

That would seriously limit, as Rogers noted, a new firm's ability to scale, which would make a much less attractive investment for venture capital.

Tabelski said there is already an investment fund established in Buffalo that might be interested in projects in Batavia.

Photo: Rachel Tabelski presenting the project to the City Council on Monday, accompanied by Richard Rogers and Travis Gordon.

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March 25, 2019 - 5:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in warrants, news, batavia.

The following people are wanted on warrants issued out of Batavia City Court. If you have any information on the whereabouts of these subjects, please contact the Batavia Police Department at (585) 345-6350.

Do not make any attempt to apprehend these individuals on your own.

If you have an active warrant and want to avoid ending up on a WANTED list like this, the Batavia Police Department would be more than happy to assist you on resolving the warrant.

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Arlena G. Cox, age 58
Charge(s): petit larceny
Jeanine L. Turner (AKA Calice), age 46 (2012 photo)
Charge(s): aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle 2nd degree
Martin J. Rodgers, age 35
Charge(s): sex offender failure to register a change of address

 

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Sara J. Smith, age 33 (photo from 2012)
Charge(s): criminal mischief 4th degree
Tera M. Williams, age 45
Charge(s):  aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle 3rd degree and harassment 2nd degree
March 25, 2019 - 2:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, batavia.

Juaquin E. Davis, 23, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with first-degree criminal contempt -- physical contact; first degree criminal contempt -- with a previous conviction within five years; and second-degree burglary -- illegal entry to a dwelling. Davis was arrested on March 21 after an alleged domestic incident on Thomas Avenue in Batavia on March 18 against a person with a complete stay away order of protection. Davis was arraigned in Batavia City Court then jailed in lieu of $5,000 bail. He was due back in city court on March 22. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jamie Givens, assisted by Officer Marc Lawrence.

Henry L. Banks, 49, of Ross Street, Batavia, was arrested at 12:49 a.m. on March 24 on Ellicott Street in Batavia. He was stopped for a traffic violation and it was shown that a bench warrant for his arrest was issued by Batavia City Court. He was processed and arraigned in city court, then jailed in lieu of $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond. He was due back in city court this afternoon (March 25). The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens, assisted by Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Aisha I. Culver, 20, of Thomas Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a Batavia City Court warrant March 17 after she failed to appear in court on a traffic summons. Culver had previously been charged with: aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree; operating a motor vehicle with a suspended registration; and various other traffics infractions. She was released on her own recognizance. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Post, assisted by Officer Jason Ivison.

Jordan R. Rose, 18, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with: criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree -- weight more than two ounces; and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Rose was arrested at 10:45 a.m. on March 22 following a search by the Probation Department of his residence. He was allegedly found in possession of marijuana and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia. Rose was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed in lieu of $1,500 cash or $2,000 bond. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Post, assisted by Officer Marc Lawrence.

March 25, 2019 - 11:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, batavia, news, notify.

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Nearly 500 people turned out at Batavia Downs on Sunday afternoon in support of Joe Trigillo, who is battling glioblastoma, a cancer that forms in a person's brain and is very difficult to eradicate.

Trigillo was diagnosed in January and has been through two rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment -- one for 33 days and another of 40 days -- and the fundraiser is intended to help Joe and his wife Kathy with any extra expenses.

Kathy said her husband was overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support.

"It means the world to him," Kathy said. "Every time I bring it up he just starts to tear up and he can't believe the great outpouring of love that he's gotten."

Trigillo and members of the Trigillo's family have worked at Batavia Downs for decades, including both of Trigillo's parents. Trigillo has been a stalwart of the local bowling community his entire adult life and is a regular on the local golf tournament circuit.

"He's always been the social person," Kathy said. "He's the one that goes to the bowling tournaments. He's the one that goes to the golf tournaments. He loves to be with people. He never, ever says no because he loves to go out with other people and do things. He's just always happy to do that and he loves people."

The symptoms of glioblastoma can be non-specific and are different for individuals, depending on where in the brain the cancer starts and how it progresses. At the start of the bowling season, Trigillo didn't have his A-game going and he and Kathy took it as an early-season slump.

"You just think it's a slump but he wasn't getting out of the slump," Kathy said. "Still, we didn't think much of it other than he's in a slump."

The community sees Joe the competitor and may not perceive he has a softer side, Kathy said, but he can get emotional in private; however, when Joe started crying during Hallmark movies, Kathy sensed he was being more emotional than usual. Even so, she didn't suspect a serious issue.

But then one day DirecTV called and when Joe wanted to hand the phone off to his wife, he couldn't remember her name.

That weekend, walking across some pavement, Kathy noticed Joe was shuffling his feet. She started to suspect a mini-stroke. That Monday, Jan. 14, she called a doctor who told her to take Joe to the emergency room at UMMC.

"They immediately ordered an MRI after I told them the symptoms," Kathy said. "I think they must have known more than we did."

The MRI revealed two tumors in the lower left frontal lobe and Joe was taken by ambulance to Buffalo General Medical Center.

Once there, surgery was quickly ruled out for treatment.

"If they did surgery to remove the tumors, it was a high risk to cause the whole right side of his body to be paralyzed and he would not be able to speak," Kathy said.

From Buffalo General, Joe was sent to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is also in Buffalo.

The regime of chemo and radiation was rough, Kathy said. Joe was hospitalized a couple of times during the treatment, with treatment suspended once because of complications.

The typical prognosis for glioblastoma is a survival rate of 12 to 15 months. Kathy is hopeful Joe will get back to doing the things he loves this spring and summer.

They'll know more when they meet with doctors at Roswell again on April 14.

"We're hoping that we're going to fight this and that we're going to play golf this summer and we're going to be at the long end of that prognosis," Kathy said.

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March 24, 2019 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in mammoth sale, St. Joe's, charity, news, batavia.

Get ready for the eye-poppin' big honkin' "Mega Mega Mammoth" sale at St. Joseph School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

Billed as Western New York's largest indoor garage sale, it will feature "tons of indoor and outdoor furniture," and "tens of thousands of items." (As someone said "It's like they've been saving up for it since the last Ice Age!")

Whether you're interested in antiques, arts and crafts, collectibles and vintage wares or you want to check out gobs of household goods, baby things, linens galore, kitschy stuff/whatnots and holiday doodads, righteously expect an elephantine selection. 

In a nutshell, a stupefying amount of merchandise will fill two gargantuan showrooms, a ginormous second floor and a billowing, bulging tent. 

To be abundantly clear, it will behoove bargain hunters to go to this behemoth bazaar at the corner of East Main and Summit streets in the City of Batavia next month.

Admission is free to this "quality sale" with low, low prices and basket raffles; hot dogs and hamburgers and will be available for sale, too.

March 24, 2019 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in BCSD Foundation Scholarship, BHS, news, batavia.

Press release:

Nominations are being accepted for the 2019 Batavia City School District Foundation Inc. Scholarship.

This scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior from Batavia High School.

The nominee has been successful in his/her educational program and has sought out skills to further his/her career. In addition, he or she has exemplified our Batavia school culture and climate of “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe, Be Connected and Be Ambitious.”

Any member of the local community may nominate a Batavia HS Senior who meets the above criteria.

Nomination forms are available on the Batavia City School District website here (print out and mail or fax in) or you may complete the Google Form here.

All nominations need to be received by May 10.

Mail printed form, with any supporting documentation attached, to:

Julia M. Rogers
Coordinator of Assessment and Instructional Services
Batavia City School District
260 State St.
Batavia, NY 14020
 
Or fax the paperwork to her at: (585) 344-8204
 
Questions? Phone Julia Rogers at (585) 343-2480, ext. 1010.
March 24, 2019 - 2:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, bergen, Le Roy.

Amanda Marie Bowles, 33, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with: second-degree forgery -- four counts; first-degree identity theft -- four counts; criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree -- five counts; and one count of third-degree identity theft. Following an investigation of multiple credit cards stolen out of the Town of Batavia, Bowles was arrested on March 20 for allegedly using the stolen credits cards at multiple locations around the City of Batavia. She also allegedly completed some transactions by forging the signature of the credit card owner. She was arraigned on March 21 in Batavia City Court and jailed without bail. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack.

Woodrow Clarence Horseman, 43, of Porter Avenue, Batavia, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny. He was arrested March 22 for allegedly stealing a wallet at 5 a.m. on March 21 at a location on West Main Street Road, Batavia. The wallet contained nine credit cards and other personal documents. He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and put in GC Jail on $2,500 cash or bond. He is due back in court on April 9. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack.

Yacuzzo Salvatore, 73, of Oak Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. He was arrested at 12:30 p.m. on March 21 on Red Mill Road, Le Roy, for allegedly violating a stay away order of protection. He was issued an appearance ticket for Le Roy Town Court and is due there April 11. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor.

Richard Dean Neal, 29, of Roosevelt Highway, Kent, is charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief. Neal was arrested on March 18. It is alleged that at 5:28 p.m. on March 16 that he damaged another person's vehicle while in the Walmart parking lot. He was released on an appearance ticket for April 1 in Batavia Town Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Travis DeMuth.

Aaron Lee Heale, 38, of North Lake Road, Bergen, is charged with: introducing dangerous contraband into prison in the first degree; fifth-degree conspiracy; and falsifying business records in the first degree. On March 14, Heale allegedly conspired to have drugs brought into the Genesee County Jail. He is currently incarcerated there. He is due in Batavia City Court tomorrow (March 25) to answer the charges. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Deputy Ryan Young.

Amethyst Rose McCracken, 31, of North Lake Road, Bergen, is charged with: introducing dangerous contraband into prison in the first degree; criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree; and fifth-degree conspiracy. It is alleged that at 9:48 p.m. on March 14, that she brought drugs into the GC Jail. She was arraigned in Batavia City Court on March 23 and is due back there tomorrow (March 25). The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Deputy Ryan Young.

Joseph G. Sumeriski, 27, of Batavia, was arrested by deputies of the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office on March 16 in the West Municipal Parking Lot in the Village of Warsaw on a warrant for allegedly failing to pay restitution ordered by Warsaw Village Court. He was arraigned in Village of Warsaw Court then posted cash bail. Warsaw police assisted at the scene. The case was handled by Wyoming County Sheriff's Sgt. Colin Reagan and Deputy John Button.

March 23, 2019 - 2:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.
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     Keith White

An inmate in the Genesee County Jail is accused of introducing dangerous contraband into the jail after receiving a birthday card allegedly containing a controlled substance.

Keith White, 47, of North Tonawanda, faces numerous other charges. Besides introducing dangerous contraband, a felony, he is charged with 16 counts felony falsifying business records, 1st, criminal solicitation, 4th, conspiracy, 5th, and 60 counts of falsifying business records, 2nd. 

White, who is being held on a petit larceny charge from July, is accused of using the PIN numbers of other inmates to make telephone calls.

The date and time of the incidents were between November and February.

Deputy Ryan Young is leading the investigation.

White was arrested last July in Batavia, accused, along with Jeffery P. Wozniak, of Niagara Falls, of stealing steaks, lobster, shrimp, a roast and several household items from Top's Market. That case is still pending.

He is being held on the new charges without bail because of prior felony convictions. He's been incarcerated three previous times on burglary and robbery charges. His most recent stint in state prison was from 2001 to 2016 on a robbery conviction in Niagara County. He was released from parole in February 2018.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. with additional information about the case.

March 23, 2019 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in St. Joe's, Penny Carnival, batavia.
Video Sponsor

Video from today's Penny Carnival at St. Joe's in Batavia.

March 22, 2019 - 8:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, notify, news.

 

Video Sponsor
 

 

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  Samuel Blackshear

When Samuel Blackshear shot Nathaniel Wilson on Central Avenue one evening last May, Blackshear was exercising "street justice" Judge Charles Zambito told the young man today at his sentencing on an illegal weapon conviction.

It wasn't a matter of self-defense, as defense attorney James Hinman contended, Zambito said. The judge said he believed there was a prior dispute between Blackshear and Wilson, even before Wilson showed up with a knife and stabbed and killed Terry Toote, and that Blackshear knew a woman he was with had a gun and that he expected to be handed the gun if he needed it.

Blackshear was denied youthful offender status and sentenced to three and a half years in state prison followed by two and a half years on parole, which is the mandatory sentence for a conviction on a count of criminal possession of a weapon.

The father of Samuel Blackshear, who was 17 at the time of the incident, said he was disappointed that Zambito denied his son a chance to go to school, get a job, and try to get on a path toward a productive life.

"I came here today expecting justice for my young son," Billy Blackshear said. "I'm not trying to make excuses for him. I'm not saying that he was in the right for how he reacted, but considering the factors that placed him in that situation...with him being a young person, you have the influence of television, you have the influence of peers, you have so many negative influences that could have carried him even worse than the way he reacted and he did not."

Before sentencing Blackshear, Zambito meticulously reviewed the law, the criteria that must be met for a finding youthful offender status, and the circumstances of the case.

Many new details about the murder of Toote and the shooting of Wilson on Central Avenue on May 17 came out during today's hearing.

Youthful offender status is reserved for those cases, Zambito said, where there are mitigating circumstances and where the defendant may have acted in haste and thoughtlessly. The judge making a Y.O. determination must consider the gravity of the circumstances, the defendant's prior record, prior acts of violence, the reputation of the individual, whether the defendant cooperated with police and prosecutors, the defendant's attitude, and whether the defendant has displayed respect for the law.

Y.O. status is mandated if the perpetrator is between 15 and 19 years old at the time of the offense but the conviction is for a misdemeanor. In this case, Blackshear admitted to a felony.

If the case involves an armed felony, as this was, Zambito said, then mitigating circumstances come into play.

In their remarks to Zambito prior to Zambito discussing his decision, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said there were no mitigating circumstances and dismissed assertions by the defendant's attorney, Hinman, that Blackshear acted in the defense of himself and others. Hinman passionately and exhaustively argued that there were mitigating circumstances and this his client did act in defense of himself and others.

Friedman argued that Blackshear, who had little experience, he said, with handguns, and no prior training in defending others, acted recklessly and without regard to the safety of others in the vicinity when he fired three shots at Wilson. After Wilson attacked Toote, he said Blackshear walked over to a nearby car, took a gun from the driver, and immediately turned around and started firing.

"That wasn't self-defense the first time he fired it," Friedman said. "It wasn't self-defense second time he fired it. It wasn't self-defense the third time he fired it. That was not self-defense."

If it was self-defense, Friedman argued, then why didn't Blackshear stick around after the shooting? Why did he flee instead of talk to the police? Why wasn't he cooperative with investigators once he was located? Friedman asserted the Blackshear has been unwilling to help police locate the handgun he used and that the gun is still missing.

Hinman argued that all available physical evidence, in particular, a video camera mounted on a utility pole on Central Avenue at the time of the shooting, shows Blackshear acted in defense of himself and others. He said it showed Wilson arrive on scene and within 10 seconds, attack Toote, kill him, and then immediately brandish the knife at other people in the area.

Other than his possession of the gun, Hinman said his client did nothing illegal. He suggested the other charges against Blackshear -- attempted assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree -- where satisfied in the plea agreement because Blackshear could have made a credible case to a jury that he acted within New York law to defend himself and others.

"Maybe he (Wilson) would have stabbed other people if he had not been shot," Hinman said. "That doesn't make Mr. Blackshear a hero but he stopped illegal acts."

As for Blackshear's leaving the scene of the shooting before police arrived, Hinman said that's the normal reaction of a black youth today.

"I would submit that a young black man in this day and age has a good reason to not stick around and talk to police," Hinman said. "Nor does he have the obligation to stick around and talk with police."

As for helping police find the gun, Hinman said his client told police that he handed the gun to a third party to take care of and that he has no direct knowledge as to the gun's whereabouts. He said that third party may have cooperated with police in locating the gun but since that person wasn't assured immunity from prosecution he hasn't cooperated. He did say police learned the gun may have been dropped from a bridge into a creek and a search was undertaken to try and locate the gun but it wasn't found. None of that, Hinman said, could be blamed on his client.

Hinman disputed statements Wilson made in a presentence probation interview where Wilson apparently asserted that Blackshear shot him because of a prior dispute and that Blackshear was looking for a confrontation with Wilson.

"It's nothing more than an attempt by Wilson to make himself a victim," Hinman said. "He's the one who set everything in motion."

Zambito, however, gave some weight to Wilson's account of the incident.

"I have no sympathy for Nathaniel Wilson," Zambito said. "He is convicted of murder and he is in jail for a long time, and deservedly so."

But, Zambito said, some of Wilson's statements are corroborated by the evidence on the pole cam video recording as well as mobile phone recordings by witnesses.

In order to find mitigating circumstances, Zambito said he would have to be convinced that Blackshear acted on the spur of the moment to defend himself and others but Zambito said the evidence suggested otherwise.

For example, well before Wilson arrives, a black sedan is seen on Central Avenue. At one point, the driver gets out and retrieves what appears to be a handgun from the trunk of the vehicle. Later the car leaves Central Avenue and returns. The car leaves again and reappears just before Wilson shows up. After Wilson stabs Toote, Zambito said, Blackshear is seen moving toward Wilson, who is turning to leave, and then sees the sedan and walks over to it and is immediately handed a gun by the driver of the vehicle.

"That tells me," Zambito said, "that he (Blackshear) was looking for that car and he expected to be handed the gun."

He said audio from mobile phones show that several people cried out "Sam," which Zambito took as a verbal attempt by witnesses to tell Blackshear to not fire any shots but that Blackshear fired anyway.

Wilson contends he and Blackshear had a prior dispute over Wilson hitting a girlfriend and that Wilson had tried to apologize and Blackshear refused the apology. He said even in a phone call earlier that day, Blackshear had refused the apology and hung up on him.

He said Blackshear had referred to himself as a member of the "L Gang" and that members of the "L Gang" would be looking for Wilson (outside of court, Friedman said "L Gang" may refer to a group of youths who grew up on Lewis Place and applied that moniker to themselves).

While acknowledging that Blackshear's natural impulse may have been to leave the scene and that he had no obligation to stay at the scene, his failure to do so did display a lack of cooperation with police, and one of Zambito's findings must include cooperation with police for Youthful Offender status. Further, Blackshear did not come forward voluntarily the next day. When he was located, he was at the residence of the adult who gave him the gun, playing video games.

As for Blackshear's criminal record and good conduct, Zambito said Blackshear had been arrested once, granted youthful offender status once, and was on probation at the time of the May 17 incident. He also said that Batavia PD and Sheriff's Office reported 26 negative contacts with Blackshear in the prior two years. He said Blackshear had been accused of shooting another person with a BB gun.

"And he's only 17 years old," Zambito said.

Citing district official at BOCES, Blackshear was characterized as having us vs. them attitude, of disrespecting authority, of hanging out with other youths who caused trouble.

In the presentence report, probation officers recommended against Y.O., and detectives Thad Mart and Kevin Czora, the lead investigators on this case, also recommended against Y.O. status.

"It was only by sheer luck that his reckless behavior didn't result in killing or seriously wounding a bystander," Mart wrote in his letter to the court.

Zambito said he took all of that into consideration in coming to his conclusion.

"The defendant attempted street justice," Zambito said. "He put at risk an entire neighborhood. Even Nathaniel Wilson recognizes the loss of life in this incident was over something very senseless and I have to agree with him. I have to believe this defendant was complicit."

Billy Blackshear said his son was raised well, as the grandson of a beloved local pastor, the late Reverend Oraid Blackshear of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Ellicott Street, and as the son of a man who has never been arrested or spent a night in jail.

But outside court he said he can't help but wonder if he did enough to prepare his son for dealing for life in today's society.

"As a parent, I wish I would have done more," Billy Blackshear said. "I think that's something that maybe a lot of parents say when bad circumstances happen. I said the same thing about my brother when he passed. I wish I could have had a chance to say goodbye to him. I wish there were words that I could have said to him had I known that would be the last time I saw him.

"I didn't get that chance and I feel that same sense of sadness and remorse in this particular case. I wish I could have spent more time or that I could have done or something, or something I could have said that would have better prepared him for such horrendous circumstance."

There's a lesson in this case for all of us, Billy Blackshear suggested.

"I think that young people are too busy being raised and being influenced by outside forces that gave other people monetary value," Blackshear said. "You know there's money to be made on telling kids you should be this way, to have a violent attitude, or look at, you know, you don't have to listen to the rules or anything like that. I'm not saying that's what Samuel was influenced by (that) but I'm saying that there is more negative input than ... positive.

"And so we as parents have to step up. I think the system has to step up as well. Hand-in-hand cooperate in order to be a counterbalance to the things that are steering our young people into the feeling hopelessness and anger and just frustration. We need to start putting hope back inside these young people. We need to start giving them better options. We could do more. There's always more that can be done." (View the full video at the top of this story for all of Mr. Blackshear's comments after the hearing.)

Zambito thinks it's time for Samuel Blackshear to step it up and use his time in prison to take advantage of programs that will help him be more productive and move his attitude away from "us vs. them."

"If you don't," Zambito said, "you're either going to spend a lot of your life in jail or you're going to wind up dead like Terry Toote."

March 21, 2019 - 3:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, Batavia CTE, batavia, news, schools, education.

The district superintendent for BOCES says a student complaint about an instructor with an unauthorized pocketknife on campus was taken seriously and dealt with promptly after the student contacted The Batavian to complain about what she perceived as an inadequate response.

Kevin MacDonald said as soon as the Batavia principal was contacted by the student the situation was dealt with and that the instructor involved felt "horrible" about the mistake. The pocketknife is something she normally carries with her off campus and forgot it was clipped on the pocket of her utility pants, making it clearly visible to students.

The student who contacted The Batavian said she was concerned the issue hadn't been dealt with and MacDonald suggested the student wasn't aware of what went on after she spoke with a principal.

While sharp objects -- knives, saws, scissors, and other items -- are part of the instructional environment on the Batavia CTE campus, neither students nor faculty are allowed to bring knives onto campus.

The parents of three students who expressed concern about the knife were contacted by phone by school officials, MacDonald said.

"I'm confident our staff handled the situation very well," MacDonald said.

Here is a statement from District Superintendent Kevin MacDonald:

On Wednesday, March 20, a student who attends the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center, reported that an instructor was carrying a knife that was visible to students.

Administration was notified of the report and the student’s concerns. A conversation was had with the instructor who was carrying a knife. She immediately removed the knife from the building. She apologized noting that it was an honest mistake. Administration met with the student who reported the incident. Parents were notified of the situation that occurred.

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership has a board policy that states that weapons are not allowed on campuses, however, the policy does note that tools and other equipment, like knives and scissors, are allowed as long as the implement is part of the approved career and technical education program. The welfare of our students is of utmost importance and we take reports like this seriously.

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