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July 15, 2009 - 2:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Oakfield.


The driver of a 1996 Pontiac was injured Monday night in a single-car rollover accident on Route 63 near Galloway Road in Batavia.

C.J. Friesma, 24, of 27 S. Pearl St., Apt. 3, Oakfield, reportedly told Deputy C.A. Parker that he lost control of the car for reasons unknown. He was driving southbound on 63 when the car began a counter-clockwise rotation. The car traveled across the northbound lane and down an embankment, where it overturned.

Friesma reportedly suffered a shoulder injury and was transported to UMMC.

The Pontiac's owner, Nicole E. Friesma, of Oakfield, told Parker that she called Friesma about 11:15 p.m. to pick her up from work, and he was asleep.

The accident occurred about 11:25 p.m.

(Picture submitted by Chief Robert Hunt, Town of Batavia Fire Department)

July 15, 2009 - 9:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, genesee county, Mercy Flight, ambulance.

Employees of Mercy Flight's ground ambulance service in Genesee County can expect to be held to high standards, CEO Douglas H. Baker told a gathering of local leaders last night in a meeting the Fire Training Center.

"I'll probably be in Genesee County more than you want to see me," Baker said. "I'll be here nearly every day. I'm going to make sure that this is either done my way, or it's not going to be done at all. We're not going to be embarrassed."

Baker made it clear that Mercy Flight employees will be expected to be professional, compassionate, courteous and enthusiastic. He said while the job is hard at times and enthusiasm can wane, he expects employees to reflect his enthusiasm for the profession.

"When our crews respond, they will be kind and responsive," Baker said. "If they're not, I don't care how good of an EMT they are, they're not going to work for us."

Baker said he expects the level of service in the county to be the same or better under Mercy Flight.

The organization has ordered four new ambulances that are in production now.

While it remains Mercy Flight's goal to retain as many city ambulance service personnel as possible, all potential employees will need to pass a background check and make it through an interview process.

"We're not going to hire somebody just because they're working now," Baker said.

But he also assured leaders that the new service will seem very familiar to them because they will see a lot of familiar faces and many of the same policies and practices that current personnel are using will remain in place.

"In general we will keep doing what you've been doing for all these years, unless you want us to change," Baker said. "We intend not to change, not even the people."

Indicating that Mercy Flight's goal is to be responsive to community concerns, Baker said that if officials aren't happy with anything that Mercy Flight is doing, it's their responsibility to make sure Mercy Flight managers or executives know about the problems so they can be addressed.

Ambulances will be based at UMMC North Street, UMMC Bank Street and at the airport, with another kept on standby. If it proves that that configuration isn't working for the community, and the statistics back up any issues identified, Mercy Flight will move ambulances to new bases as needed. And if necessary, Mercy Flight will add a fourth, or even a fifth crew, if it turns out more resources are needed to meet guaranteed response times.

"I don't want to be making decisions about where the ambulances should be," Baker said. "I want the community to decide where the ambulances should be."

Each municipality is being asked to sign a contract with Mercy Flight, but if officials from a particular town or city don't sign, Mercy Flight will still respond to emergencies in those communities. The only difference is the local leaders will not be able to hold Mercy Flight to guaranteed response times.

"I'm thrilled for an opportunity for a contract," said Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post after the meeting.  "I think they carry the greatest degree of professionalism. And I'm pleased there's another step in getting government out of the ambulance business."

Batavia City Councilman Sam Baron also said he feels good about Mercy Flight coming into Batavia. He said city residents can feel confident that the level of ambulance service under Mercy Flight will be just the same as what they've had in the past.

AUDIO: After the meeting, I recorded a separate interview with Mr. Baker.

July 14, 2009 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

City fire crews are responding to a general fire alarm at 137 W. Main St., the Dunkin' Donuts location.

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July 14, 2009 - 1:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

P7130020.JPGA twenty-year-old Attica woman suffered burns on her legs in a three-car crash The Batavian reported on yesterday afternoon.

Amanda L. Gilhooly, of 1432 Nesbitt Road, Attica, managed to escape from her 2004 Saturn sedan before it burst into flames. She suffered burns on her legs and was transported to UMMC after the 4:37 p.m. crash.

According to the Sheriff's Office report prepared by Deputy C.J. Minuto, a 2006 Subaru SUV driven by Amie L. Gray, 26, of 62 Leydecker, Apt. 2, Seneca, was heading northbound on Route 98 when Gray was unable to stop or avoid a Jeep driven by James Delvin, 66, of 4452 Shortsville Road, Shortsville. Devlin stopped in the road to make a left-hand turn into a driveway of a construction site. 

Upon impact, according to the report, Delvin's Jeep spun counter-clockwise into the southbound lane, where it was hit in the back a second time by the Saturn driven by Gilhooly.

Photo above submitted by Deputy Chief Paul Barrett of the Town of Batavia Fire Department. For more photos, see the original post.

July 14, 2009 - 1:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Falleti Ice Arena.

The City of Batavia might sell Falleti Ice Arena. Then, again, maybe not.

The City Council instructed City Attorney George Van Nest on Monday night to prepare an RFP (request for proposal) that would allow private investors to bid on the property, but council members also expressed some skepticism that in the current environment, any investors who would offer a realistic price could be found.

"In the current credit crunch, the chances are that any RFP is going to bring in bids in the low end," said Councilwoman Marianne Clattenburg.

But council members Bill Cox and Frank Ferrando protested that the city doesn't have any business being in business and that the ice arena should be privately owned.

Issuing an RFP doesn't guarantee the city will sell the facility.  Some minimum requirements would need to be met by the successful bidding, including a minimum price.

July 14, 2009 - 12:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, neighborhood improvement.

bob bialkowski.jpgWhen Batavia City Manager Jason Molino suggested Monday night that an ordinance proposed by the Neighborhood Improvement Committee to force landlords to better maintain their properties couldn't be quickly implemented, he found stiff opposition from council members who are tired of repeated constituent complaints about poorly maintained properties.

"We can't have any more bull," said Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian. "We can't push this aside any longer."

Some council members wanted Molino and his staff to act on the proposal within 30 to 90 days, even though the NIC's request gives the council until the end of the year to implement a new ordinance.

"This is not a turnkey piece of legislation," Molino said. "There is a lot of staff impact."

The proposed legislation would require city staff to inspect every rental property every 36 months, and every owner-occupied home each time it is sold. Once inspection requirements were met, a Certificate of Occupancy would be issued.

Items that could be inspected would include smoke alarms, CO2 detectors, plumbing fixtures, heating, appliances, wiring, safe exits and that the exterior is safe and sanitary.

Additionally, landlords would be required to register tenants with the city and ensure an agent of the property resided in Genesee County.

Molino maintained that it would take a good deal of research and study to determine the impacts on city resources, and whether additional resources would be needed.

Every council member spoke to the need for quick action to deal with a long festering issue in the city, but Councilman Frank Ferrando pointed out that NIC requested a deadline for action that might allow Molino enough time for research and ensure a new ordinance could be brought forward in a reasonable amount of time.

NIC requested that the council vote on a new ordinance by the end of the year.

"Let's follow the recommendation of the committee and give Jason and his staff the time necessary to do it right," Ferrando said.

After a bit more debate, the council agreed to instruct City Attorney George Van Nest and Molino time to figure out the impacts, write the proposed law -- which could include implementing the proposal in stages, such as tenant registration first, and annual inspections later -- and bring back a recommendation to the Council before current terms that expire this year end.

Pictured: Bob Bialkowski, who initially raised the idea of the proposed ordinance with NIC.

July 14, 2009 - 12:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weed abatement.

Time to start cutting or poisoning those weeds and cleaning up that debris on your property Mr. Slumlord or absentee land owner or other property owner who just simply neglects to maintain your land in accordance with City of Batavia standards.

The standards -- especially as pertains to weeds and debris -- are clearly spelled out in section 96 of the city municipal code.

The only difference is, after a vote of the City Council Monday night, the fines are a little stiffer, and if you persist and don't pay your fines, you could find yourself in Batavia City Court and possibly in jail.

The new enforcement mechanism calls for a $250 fine plus the expense of cleaning up the mess for those land owners who fail to cut or remove weeds as well as debris.

If the fines go unpaid or the problem uncorrected, tickets could be issued, which then require the land owner to appear in court. The potential penalty there is 15 days in jail for each separate offense -- the kicker is, each day of non-compliance is a separate offense.

So you need to ask yourself, how many days do you want to spend in jail?

July 13, 2009 - 11:36pm

rose mary Christian.jpgWe need to check -- Has Adam Miller started selling backpedals?  It seems so. A few were put in use at tonight's Batavia City Council meeting.

Suddenly, the idea of taking a good hard look at converting the Batavia Fire Department to an all volunteer force doesn't seem as attractive to as many council members as it did May 26, when City Council President Charlie Mallow raised the issue in a fiery speech about the high cost of the current paid-professional service.

At that meeting, council members Marianne Clattenburg, Bill Cox, Bob Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian all expressed support for looking more closely at the idea, with Clattenburg endorsing Mallow's call to arms with a hearty, "here, here."

Tonight, only Mallow kept the flame lit.

"I could foresee a problem with volunteers because of all the tall structures we have in the city," said Clattenburg. "I have real concerns if something disastrous happens."

clattenburg.jpgClattenburg said what she really meant at the previous meeting is that there should be some study on how the city can save money on fire service, such as looking at what cities of similar size as Batavia, with similar structures, do for fire service and how they keep costs down.

Christian, who wasn't quite as vocal in her support of Mallow's proposal in May, was more adamant in her opposition tonight to the idea of switching to an all volunteer force.

Christian made the repeated point -- disputed by Mallow -- that only paid professional fire fighters are trained in how to clear a building in an emergency, that volunteers are not allowed to get evacuation training.

"400 Towers is in my ward, and we have hospitals in the other wards," Christian said. "When you can prove to me that they have the training, then I can agree with it. Until then, I can't."

Christian also raised concerns about how quickly volunteers would respond, noting that current fire personnel can respond to an emergency anywhere in the city within three minutes.

When Bialkowski suggested that the City Council set some goals for what it hopes to accomplish with a reconsideration of the fire service, Christian interjected, "Goals are about money, and my goals are safety.  Money isn't always an issue."

And the theme was set for the discussion: This isn't all about money. We need to consider the safety issues as well.

"When we had that fire at Christina's, if not for the immediate response of the fire department, that whole block could have gone down," said Councilman Frank Ferrando.

Mallow reminded council members that terms of the current union agreement doesn't necessarily put safety first. Before any volunteer firefighter can be dispatched to a fire in the City of Batavia, all paid personnel must be called in, even if it means overtime.

"If we're going to talk about safety, let's really talk about safety," Mallow said. "Let's talk about these restrictions."

Mallow also said that there are bigger cities in New York, with bigger structures, that have all-volunteer fire departments.

"Just because we've always done it this way in Batavia doesn't make it right," Mallow said.

Council members are going to form a subcommittee to further study cost saving measures, including potentially coming up with a scheme to include volunteers with paid staff in a single department.

Christian (pictured top in file photo) is a candidate for a seat on the County Legislature and Clattenburg (file photo) is looking to move up from her Ward 2 council seat to a Council At Large seat.

July 13, 2009 - 4:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.



UPDATE: One woman suffered burns to her legs and a second driver was transported to UMMC for evaluation following a three-car accident on Route 98 near Rose Road in Batavia about 4:45 p.m.

A Saturn driven by the woman who was burned was completely engulfed.

"She was lucky to get out of the car fast," said Town of Batavia Fire Chief Robert Hunt.

Her name, along with the other driver who may have been injured has not been released.

James Devlin, who was driving a Jeep northbound on Route 98 when his car was apparently rear-ended by A Subaru, was apparently uninjured and declined transport to the hospital.

"I was making a left turn and I could see the car coming up behind me and it wasn't going to stop, but there was nothing I could do," Devlin said. "She hit me and spun me around and then the other car hit me and that's the last thing I remember. I just got out because I saw the flames."

The third vehicle in the crash, a Saturn, that made the second impact with Devlin's Jeep apparently tore the gas tank from the Jeep, which immediately burst into flames.

It wasn't clear from officials on scene if the woman driving the Saturn was pulled from the burning car or if she got herself out. Devlin said he believed she got out of the car herself.

The preliminary investigation by Deputy C.J. Minuto indicates the driver of the Subaru apparently did not stop after coming over the crest of a hill and hit Devlin's Jeep, spinning it into the southbound lane, where it was again hit in the rear by the Saturn.





Pictures: Top, photo submitted by Deputy Chief Paul Barrett of the Town of Batavia Fire Department. The second photo, by Howard Owens, is the the burned-out Saturn.  Bottom: First picture by Howard Owens of Deputy Minuto and Det. Kirsopher Kautz look at the Jeep that was driven by Devlin.  Next three pictures by Paul Barrett.

NOTE: We are anticipating more pictures later.

Original Post:

A vehicle accident in the area of 9098 Route 98 has apparently left one person with burns and fire crews are being dispatched.

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July 13, 2009 - 4:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

One person has been arrested, and one suspect is still at large, in a rash of vehicle break-ins in the City of Batavia over the past month, the Batavia Police Department said this afternoon.

In a press release, the police department indicated the break-ins are ongoing -- if they can be called break-ins -- because most of the times, the cars hit have been unlocked over night.

In most cases, GPS systems and other electronics as well as money and personal checks have been stolen.

Police investigators continue to urge people to lock their vehicles and not leave anything of value insides. GPS units are of particular interest to the thieves.

The name of the suspect arrested was not released.

Tips that might lead to the arrest of suspects can be called into 345-6350 or Det. Kevin Czora at 345-6311.

UPDATE: I asked Det. Czora if the name of the suspect already in custody could be released and he said he is withholding the name while the investigation is in progress.  The release of the name, he said, could jeopardize the eventual capture of the second suspect.

I also asked him about the suggestion brought up in comments on The Batavian when we reported on these burglaries last month that the police try a sting operation, and he said that wouldn't necessarily work in this case because the thieves are operating throughout the city. Their complete M.O. is to seek targets of opportunity -- unlocked cars -- which Czora said are numerous throughout the city.

"If we could just get people to start locking their cars and keeping their valuables out of their cars, it would be slimmer pickings," he said.

July 13, 2009 - 2:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, veterans, steve hawley, Chris Lee.


Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, C, I – Batavia) announced his second annual Patriot Trip for veterans to tour Washington, D.C.  This special trip is scheduled for Sept. 24-27 and is being jointly hosted by Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26).

“Last year’s trip was a very special and memorable trip for me on many levels: as a representative, as a veteran and as the son of a veteran," Hawley said. "I was thrilled to be able to share the experience with so many veterans from our region and am even more excited for this year’s expanded trip. I would like to thank Congressman Lee for his support and assistance in the planning of this trip."

The trip, dubbed Patriot Trip II, will include round-trip private-coach transportation from Western New York to Washington, D.C. and accommodations at the Crossroads Hotel on Quantico Marine Base.

It also includes tours of the nation’s Capitol and Arlington Cemetery, as well as visits to a number of monuments and memorials, including World War II, Korean, Vietnam, FDR, Jefferson and Iwo Jima, among other tours and visits. Additionally, the trip includes admission to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Smithsonian Museum and Quantico Marine Military Museum.

“Any time our veterans take the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital, it’s an important event,” said Congressman Lee. “It’s not uncommon to see vets at our war memorials surrounded by grateful tourists and fellow citizens. I hope all local veterans will seek to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Assemblyman Hawley continues to do great work on behalf of our local veterans, and I look forward to working with him to ensure this trip is a success.”

While many veterans were sent a mailer with the trip’s original dates, due to military personnel commitments at the hotel, the trip’s dates have been changed to Sept. 24-27.  Assemblyman Hawley, who's also Ranking Member of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, would like to encourage all veterans within the 139th Assembly District who did not receive the mailing, to call his office and ask to be put on the mailing list.

For more information about the trip and its details, pricing, or to sign-up for the trip or mailing list, please call Assemblyman Hawley’s District Office at (585) 589-5780.

July 13, 2009 - 12:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia.

The New York State Police in Allegany County are asking the public for assistance in locating the following person.

Name:  Diane C. Burdick
DOB:  09/08/58 – Age 50

Height:  5’3”
Weight:  100 lbs
Hair:  Red – shoulder length
Eyes:  Hazel

Last seen 10:00 PM on 07/08/09 at 3569 State Route 244
T/Ward, Allegany County

Anyone having contact with the subject is asked to contact the State Police in Amity at 585-268-9030.

July 13, 2009 - 11:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Welcome to Batavia, Mr. Douglas Randall. We're sure you will be a fine replacement for retiring City Code Enforcement Officer Mike Smith.

But if you want to keep your job, you better move to Batavia before July -- of next year.

Essentially, that will be the vote before the City Council at tonight's 7 o'clock meeting when the council is asked to approve a residency waiver for Randell, giving him time to locate a suitable abode.

July 13, 2009 - 11:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

The City of Batavia will go into the real estate business tonight, considering a proposal to sell 19 acres of land to the Town of Batavia for $150,000.

The land could serve number of needs for joint facilities, including a potential location for a Genesee County Chamber of Commerce facility, maybe the visitors' center, according to Town Engineer Steve Mountain. who spoke with WBTA this morning. 

Previously, Assemblyman Steve Hawley pushed through legislation in Albany that would enable Elba, Oakfield and both the town and city of Batavia to share a court facility.

The 19-acre location is on the south side of Park Road near Oak Street.

The City Council meets tonight in Council Chambers at 7 o'clock.

UPDATE: Curious about the Chamber of Commerce plans, I called Steve Lockwood, chamber chairman, who replied via e-mail: "There is no item on the City Council’s agenda that involves the Chamber.  I have no comment to make."

July 13, 2009 - 11:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident.

The driver of a black Pontiac Grand Am or Grand Prix that reportedly hit a motorcycle on Walnut Street on Friday night and then fled the scene is being sought by Batavia Police.

The motorcycle driver, Justin Fagan, 22, who suffered an injury to his lower leg, told police he had seen the Pontiac behind him on Route 98 driving at a high rate of speed and weaving in and out of traffic. Both the car and the motorcycle were northbound on Walnut when they approached the construction area in the 100 block and Fagan said he slowed down and moved left to try avoid being hit.

The black Pontiac allegedly maintained its original speed, striking the motorcycle in the rear, sideswiping it and then continuing northbound on Walnut Street, turning right onto Law Street (its only option with Walnut closed to northbound traffic at that point).

Fagan's passenger, Emily O'Brien (age not available), suffered an unspecified back injury.

Both O'Brien and Fagan were taken to UMMC, but both have apparently been released as of today.

Witnesses at the scene Friday night complained that even with the rough road during construction, cars continue to drive the street faster than they should.

"This was bound to happen," said Walnut Street resident T.J. McAllister. "See how bumpy it is. Look at that police car and how much it's bouncing even as slow as its going.  People come through here going twice as fast. It's just crazy."

Det. Richard Schauf, Batavia Police Department, said the police are aware of speed problems along Walnut and Law streets and are doing as much as possible to address it.

"Whenever we have somebody available that's an area we try to enforce," Schauf said. "We try to be visible."

Another witness, Joe Elmore, who was first on the scene, described Fagan as a bit of a hero, sacraficing his own body to keep his bike upright.

"He said he did everything he could to protect his girlfriend," Elmore said. "He broke his leg just trying to hold up his bike."

July 13, 2009 - 7:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports.

Batavia resident Mark Blanch is competing this week in Seattle at the 2009 National Veterans Wheelchair Games, according the D&C.

Blanch, 52, will compete in swimming, table tennis, track and field and pool.

We’re not people that sit around the house and do nothing,” Blanch said. “We like doing things. We like competing and every one of us feel that we’re not disabled.”

Blanch was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992.

July 13, 2009 - 7:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Stafford.

LaToya D. Jackson, 23, of 25 Hutchins St., Upper, Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Jackson allegedly caused a disturbance at Goade Park early Saturday morning about 4 a.m.. She allegedly resisted arrest while being taken into custody. Jackson was placed in Genesee County Jail on $2,000 bail.

Brandt L. Arnold, 28, of 752 Reynolds Road, Darien, is charged with harassment. Arnold allegedly grabbed a woman by her wrist, dragged her to the ground and would not let her get up. He is held on $450 bail. The alleged incident occurred Sunday about 11:45 p.m..

John Nicholas Vaccaro, 21, of 7081 Transit Road, East Amherst, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Vaccaro was reportedly a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation when he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana.

Andrew James Ahmad, 22, of 4120 Gunville Road, Clarence, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Ahmad was reportedly the driver of a vehicle pulled over for an alleged traffic violation. Marijuana was reportedly found in his pants' pocket.

Daniel W. Winters, 25, of 125 Kenwick, Rochester, is charged with DWI. Winters was taken into custody following a traffic stop just after midnight Sunday on Sumner Road in Darien. Winters is also charged with driving with a BAC of .18 or greater and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. His license was reportedly previously revoked. He was taken to jail on $7,500 bail.

Zachary D. Parisi, 20, of 1752 Broadway, Grand Island, is charged with DWI. Parisi was stopped on Colby Road in Darien for allegedly crossing a double yellow line while driving his 2004 Ford Mustang. Parisi was also charged with driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. The incident occurred at 10:38 p.m. Saturday.

Jesse Matthew Caudill, 28, of 5373 Wethersfield Road, Silver Springs, is accused of causing a disturbance in the beer tent of the Alexander Tractor Pull on Friday night. Caudill allegedly took an open-handed swing at Deputy J.L. Baiocco. Caudill was charged with harassment and issued an appearance ticket.

Ronald E. Quayle, Jr., 42, of 305 Mason Road, Mohawk, was charged with DWI Thursday about 11:45 p.m. following a traffic stop on Route 33 near Lovers Lane Road. Quayle was allegedly driving with a BAC of .08 or greater.  He was also issued a ticket for allegedly driving 67 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone. and a ticket for an alleged failure to keep right.

Charles R. Engel, 39, of 1835 E. Albert St., Philadelphia, Pa., was charged with DWI for allegedly driving  while intoxicated on Main Road in Stafford early Friday morning. He was also charged with driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, aggravated unlicensed operation, speed over 55 m.p.h., driving left of pavement markings and moving from a lane unsafely.

July 12, 2009 - 3:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Ramble Music & Arts Fest.

This video captures just a slice of the early hour or so of the 4th Annual Ramble Music & Arts Fest.  By the afternoon, T.F. Brown's was wall-to-wall music fans both inside and on the patio. The spirit of the event is can only be captured if you show up in person, and from all over the country.

July 11, 2009 - 1:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather.

A person reportedly suffered only a minor injury after being struck by lightening outside of Wal-Mart in Batavia at about 11:30 a.m.

At this time, no further information is available.

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