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July 26, 2009 - 11:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Harvester Center.

In the midst of last night's heavy downpour, Batavia police officers were searching through the Harvester Center for alleged intruders.

A tenant in the building spotted people he didn't recognize in the complex and called police.

Three young men from outside Genesee County were taken into custody and charged with burglary.

The alleged break-in occurred at 9:30 p.m.

Arrested where:

  • William F. Wernert III, 24, of 2796 Patrick Henry St., Auburn Hills, Mich
  • Cory C. Pickering, 22, of 253 Morgan St., Tonawanda
  • Justin S. Fay, 24 of 505 University Ave., Rochester

All three were taken to Genesee County Jail and held on $10,000 bail each.

Wernert is also charged with possession of burglary tools. He allegedly picked a lock so the trio could enter the building.

The investigating officers were Matthew Baldwin, Eric Hill, Frank Klimjack, Jason Davis and Christopher Camp.

UPDATE: Officer Wayne Fenton also assisted in the investigation. His name was inadvertently not included in the original release from the PD.

July 26, 2009 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Genesee County Fair.

(UPDATED 6:45 a.m., July 27)

A 64-year-old man from Livonia was injured last night at the demolition derby at the Genesee County Fair, the Sheriff's Office confirmed in a news release this morning.

The victim, who was a safety worker, has been identified as 64-year-old David W. Connors. Nor has the 28-year-old driver, from Batavia, of the car that struck him.

Connors is at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester where he is in guarded condition.

The accident occurred at 8:21 p.m.

A City of Batavia ambulance was on scene immediately, as were personnel from the Stafford Fire Department and the Elba Fire Department. The victim was transported to UMMC and then transferred to Strong.

The ongoing investigation is being handled by Deputy Frank Bordonaro, Sgt. Steve Mullen, Sgt. Gregory Walker and Deputy John Duyssen of the Crash Management Team.

No other information is available at this time.

July 25, 2009 - 11:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, volunteer firefighters.


The rain didn't keep nearly 600 people from showing up at the Town of Batavia Fire Department Rec Hall for the department's annual Harley raffle party.

It was raining hard while I was there, but local residents crowded under the tents, enjoyed beer and Clor's BBQ and the music of 7th Heaven.

This is the 10th year for the event, said Lt. Nate Fix, the event and raffle coordinator.

The department sold out its 2,700 raffle tickets a few days ago, Fix said.  The tickets went for $20 each. 

Entry into tonight's event was free, but there was also a 50/50 raffle, pull tabs and four $500 drawings prior to the Harley giveaway (no word yet on who won, and since the party's still going, it may not have been awarded yet).

Fix said this is the big social event of the year for the department. They lose a little money on the event (but not on the Harley raffle), but it's a great time for the community and the volunteers.

(As for my picture above: Best I could do. Nothing else came out at all. The viewfinder on my camera is broken, so it makes it very hard to operate correctly.)

July 25, 2009 - 10:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Genesee County Fair.

We've heard this from enough sources to report that there was a an accident at the demolition derby in at the Genesee County Fair early this evening. An individual was taken by ground ambulance to UMMC.  Mercy Flight could not respond due to the weather.

We have heard that the Sheriff's Office is investigating the accident, so we anticipate a press release or accident report as soon as Sunday, but maybe not until Monday.

I've received requests for more information, but none is available at this time.

July 25, 2009 - 2:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents.

UPDATE: At 2:37 p.m., northbound traffic is released to travel.

UPDATE: At 2:33 p.m.,the accident was under control and crews were dispersing.

A two-vehicle accident with injuries is being handled now, 2:25 p.m. at 8019 Lewiston Road in the Town of Batavia.

Emergency workers at the scene have requested a second ambulence, which is heading there from Oakfield.

It appears to be a rear-ender. The first ambulance is headed to Strong Memorial Hospitial in Rochester.

The accident site on Lewiston Road is near Galloway Road and the Route 90 bridge. Northbound traffic is being halted and traffic is being rerouted down Galloway Road, according to the police on the scanner.

No other information is yet available.

July 24, 2009 - 10:43pm
posted by C D in batavia, fireworks.

It's about 7 minutes past 10 o'clock and I'm seeing fireworks northbound on Bank Street off Main Street.


I'll try and get a few pictures with my cellphone.


UPDATE: Got some pictures. I'll post them in a little bit. Turns out the fireworks were coming from Dwyer Stadium. Sorry about the spacing on the original post. I was using my phone and rushing to get everything typed out to get some pictures before they stopped.

Click here for pictures

July 24, 2009 - 3:40pm
posted by Ronald Burroughs in batavia, Announcements, genesee county, Habitat for Humanity.

Genesee County Habitat for Humanity volunteers have built a "play house" that they are calling "Little Habitat House". Habitat board members have tickets available for the raffle to be in September. You can also go to the Habitat web site    www.geneseehabitat.com  to purchase tickets online. The play house will also be at various  locations in the county. The price of tickets are $5 each or 3 for $10. Procedes from raffle will be used for the next house for a Habitat family. The play house interior dimensions are 6' x 8' and the outside dimensions are 6' X 10' X 6'. The committee will deliver the playhouse to the winner up to a 30 mile radius of Batavia.

Habitat 1.BMP

July 24, 2009 - 8:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, consolidation.

After two public meetings and collecting feedback online, the consolidation study committee is ready to release its final report on a possible merger of the town and the city of Batavia.

The title of the report: Plan for Consolidating the City & Town of Batavia in One Government.

I guess "A Tale of Two Cities" was taken.

The report will be released Wednesday night at 7 o'clock in Batavia Town Hall.

A copy of the report will be made available to the public on the consolidation Web site on Thursday.

Following release of the report, it will be up to the governing bodies of the city and the town to decide how and when to proceed. Each body must hold a public hearing and then agree to schedule a ballot proposition asking "should there be a consolidation." 

If both jurisdictions approved of such a measure, we still wouldn't have consolidation, because each jurisdiction's voters would then have to approve a new charter.

Meanwhile, the city has its own City Charter revisions to consider and if that goes on the November ballot, city residents won't get the opportunity this election cycle to vote on consolidation.

By state law, no other ballot questions can appear when the charter revision is up for vote.

July 24, 2009 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Nicole M. Wenzel, 18, of 2 Goade Park, Batavia, is charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. Wenzel allegedly slapped a young girl in the face.

A 17-year-old from Batavia has been charged with possession of stolen property. The youth was found with the property, which had been reportedly stolen from a Town of Batavia residence on Thanksgiving Day, 2008.

July 23, 2009 - 2:56pm
posted by Gretel Kauffman in batavia, Announcements, theater, entertainment.

The Stuart Steiner Theater at Genesee Community College has hosted many quality college productions over the years. However, these past three weeks, a younger group of thespians called it home.

They are members of GCC's theater camp who'll be performing “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” this Friday and Saturday.

The musical comedy features the beloved Peanuts characters from the late Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip. The gang's all here -- Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally, Schroeder and Snoopy, of course.

Maryanne Arena, director of Fine and Performing Arts at the college, says she picked the show because of its wide appeal and because it is a full-length musical.

“I felt we were ready to do a full-scale show,” she said. 

The 22 campers, who range in age from 8-16, say the past three weeks have been fun, but challenging. 

“It’s a great experience to be onstage, and it gives the kids the idea of what it’s really like," said Margaret Gayford, who is playing Lucy. "Everyone works really hard." 

This is the 13-year-old Warsaw native’s fourth year at the camp, and she says she enjoys seeing old friends year after year.

“We’re all like a family from working together so much,” Margaret said.

Spencer Hubbard, also 13, has the role of Linus. He says the camp has made him realize his love of live theater.

“I’ve learned that I really, really want to be an actor," Spencer said. "And now instead of acting on TV, I’d much rather do Broadway.”

“You shouldn’t be afraid to come out and show the world what you can do,” added 11-year-old Alix Young, with a grin, spreading her arms theatrically.

Alix has the part of Sally.

Arena says that she hopes the children will take away from the camp an appreciation for more than just the applause at the end of the show.

“I try to teach love for the process, not just the end result,"  said the director. "I try to teach respect for what goes into making a show.”

Performances of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” are Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at  2 p.m.. The college is located at 1 College Road in Batavia. Tickets are $5. For ticket reservations contact the Box Office at (585) 343-0055 x6814 or by email to [email protected].

July 23, 2009 - 1:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia.

UPDATE: Cedar Street was reopened at 2:05 p.m. and the gas line is no longer leaking.

UPDATE: At 1:58 p.m. the leaking gas line was shut off at the street. Cedar Street is being closed temporarily because of the emergency work.

At 1:35 p.m. a gas line was reported leaking at 109 Cedar St. in Batavia. At 1:43 p.m. emergency responders ask that traffic be rerouted because of the "significant gas leak."

Within minutes of the initial call, occupants at the Time-Warner Cable Co. facility had the gas line turned off at the building, although the rest of the line continued leaking.

Firefighters responded in roughly three minutes and asked for National Fuel Co. to come out and shut off the leaking pipe.

Construction crews reportedly hit the gas line while working there.

The wind was noted as being 11 MPH out of the southeast, with the temperature at 72 degrees.

July 23, 2009 - 1:26pm

"We're losing a hundred jobs -- and that's difficult in any day and age," said Chris Suozzi, senior vice president of business development at Genesee County Economic Development Center. "We're very discouraged.

"We offered to do what we could to change their minds. But there are not a lot of tools at our disposal. It's a leased facility (Pioneer's Mill Street Offices). The good news is that Pioneer invested $2 million in it and it's now Class A grade space.

"We're very hopeful we can back fill this space. We've reached out to our marketing partners, who give us tips about companies who might be interested in a space this size."

It's set up as "back office" space and is equipped as a call center. It has 13,500 square feet of renovated space on the ground floor and another 8,500 square feet of unfinished space on the second floor.

GCEDC sold the building to Scott Harris late last year. He's the owner of a door company called Millworks Solutions and, Suozzi said, Harris knew Pioneer was leasing the building on a year-to-year basis. Later this year, Pioneer's lease would have been up for renewal.

Even though Harris will have lots of empty space for awhile, Suozzi said it's prime space, thanks to Pioneer.

July 23, 2009 - 12:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business.

Pioneer Credit Recovery's spokesman Rick Castellano wrote us email clarifying the taxpayers' money it got.

It says "...Pioneer only received economic incentives for the commitments that we met in Batavia. No incentives were received for the project to construct a permanent site for the company’s work on the IRS Private Debt Collection Program.

"...The $350,000 loan Pioneer received was repaid. We did not receive any of the grant money for (a) new facility."

The repaid loan was used to upgrade Pioneer's Mill Street offices.

Furthermore, although Pioneer was awarded a great deal more money as part of its contract, the company never got it. That's because the plan to expand and build a new facility was not viable after the government cut the program in which private firms could collect some IRS debts.

July 23, 2009 - 10:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Pioneer Credit Recovery.

We just received this press release from Chris Souzzi, senior VP for business development at GCEDC. It reads like something he is passing on from Pioneer Credit Recovery.

The wind down of the IRS Private Debt Collection Program has caused Pioneer  to restructure and consolidate our business operations in Western New York. Batavia was not only the disaster recovery site for the IRS Private Debt Collection Program but was also intended to be a permanent home for  Pioneer’s work on that contract once it grew to its full potential. Unfortunately, Congress and the Administration halted the program.

While it is always a difficult decision to close a facility, our 100  employees in Batavia will all have the opportunity to retain their positions at our nearby Perry facility.

The press release is not yet on Pioneer's own Web site.

We're continuing to work on this story and get more information related to the closure of Pioneer Credit Recovery in Batavia.

UPDATE: Rick Castellano, spokesperson for Pioneer Credit Recovery, just e-mailed us to confirm this statement came from him.


July 23, 2009 - 8:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals.

deer and fawn july 21 2009.jpg

Anne Barone sent in this photo of a deer and her fawn that Anne says has been spending a lot of time at the back of the campus of Northgate Free Methodist Church near Bank and Vine streets.

July 23, 2009 - 12:51am
posted by Robin Walters in batavia, Genesee County Fair, Care-A-Van.

Well, this PR director of Care-A-Van can truly say she enjoyed the parade tonight. Reports have it that she did much better passing out candy, than she did videotaping their last parade event here in Batavia. Just a few pics to share of tonight's parade.

The Parking lot was a very busy place

Columbia 010.jpg


Columbia 003.jpg

Kelly Cook, one of our teen volunteers joined us tonite to pass out candy

kelly and I.jpg


Larry leading the pack.jpg


van and bus.jpg

Got to love the Horses

parade 004.jpg

Our Friends from Freedom village doing a few last minute things to their float.

I hope someone here got a picture of the whole complete presentation. I just saw it from a distance and do not have a great zoom lens!

Columbia 004.jpg

The before picture.. man what this pile transformed into was amazing. Keep your fingers crossed that someone will share!

parade 003.jpg

July 22, 2009 - 11:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

The female half of a domestic dispute in Batavia this afternoon is in jail on $15,000 bail and the male she allegedly fought with is in Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester after being stabbed in the neck.

Dorothy Tuller, 48, of 511 Ellicott St., is charged with felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

Her alleged victim was initially transported to UMMC but later transferred to Strong.

The alleged fight occurred at 3 p.m. today (July 22).

July 22, 2009 - 11:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Pioneer Credit Recovery.

pioneer_logo.gifUPDATE: It's now clear a lot of promises were made on both sides: Pioneer promised to build a new facility and create jobs. Pioneer was promised about $1.3 million in grant money to help with that project, but since the project wasn't completed, Pioneer never received any of the money.

Original post:

When Pioneer Credit Recovery decided to expand into Batavia in 2004, federal, state and county officials rolled out the red carpet -- or should we say the gold carpet -- for a company characterized as a great WNY job-growth story.

The praise for Pioneer was so intense, you'd think Joseph Ellicott was on the cusp of a Second Coming.

"By investing and growing in Western New York, Sallie Mae and Pioneer are creating good new jobs in our area - just the kind of shot in the arm our region needs to keep growing our economy," said then-Congressman Thomas M. Reynolds according to a Pioneer press release from 2004. "This is great news not only for Batavia and Genesee County, but for the entire community. It just the kind of success we need to ensure our continued economic recovery."

Pioneer supposedly committed to a $7.3 expansion project in Batavia (according to a Batavia Daily News story from Sept. 17, 2004 -- the Pioneer press release pegged the cost at $3.8 million), which included hiring up to 450 people locally and building a new facility in the Gateway II project on Route 98.

Five years later, Pioneer is shutting its doors in Batavia, having never left it's "temporary" facility on Mill Street and scant evidence that it ever employed 450 people at one time. (We are basing the news of Pioneer's closure (You read it here first) on the word of multiple current employees who sat in a meeting today to hear the stunning news, but we have no official response from Pioneer executives after several attempts to obtain a comment).

One wonders what happened to the $1.3 million in taxpayer subsidies the company received to help expand into Genesee County (plus another $350,000 loan to help improve its "temporary" Mill Street facility according to a Batavia Daily News story from May 11, 2006).

When Pioneer's expansion was announced, then-Gov. George Pataki held a press conference at City Centre (considering the location, not an auspicious beginning) to hail the job-growth opportunity.

"Pioneer Credit Recovery is one of Western New York's largest and fastest growing employers, and the new facility being planned for Batavia will further expand the company's growing presence and provide hundreds of good-paying job opportunities for hardworking families in the region," Gov. Pataki said. "The company's decision to open a third facility in Western New York is a clear example that our pro-growth, pro-job policies are succeeding in attracting new business investments and jobs for New Yorkers.

In a Feb. 19, 2005 story, Roger Muehlig wrote for the Daily about Pioneer's "historic" job growth:

Pioneer Credit Recovery's expansion into Genesee County looms as the biggest business development for the county in decades.

The company has already created about 100 jobs at its temporary location on Mill Street in the city of Batavia and intends to generate up to 350 more at a new facility eyed for a planned industrial park off Route 98 north of the city.

Those kind of new job numbers haven't been seen for quite some time.

"You have to go back to the '30s and '40s when some of the industrial businesses were thriving," said Steven Hyde, chief executive officer of the county Economic Development Center.

The Daily was equally enthusiastic about Pioneer when the Arcade-based company hired Jarid Olsowski, Pioneer's 1,100 employee:

Company and area leaders including U.S. Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-Clarence, gathered Monday to celebrate the company's ongoing and dynamic expansion.

"This growth at Pioneer has really been amazing, but really not surprising, considering the quality work force we have in Western New York," said Chief Executive Officer Joan Ludwick.

Apparently, the dynamic expansion is over and now taxpayers are left to wonder, whatever happened to all the money that was supposed to bring a brand new office building to Batavia with 450 good paying jobs?

You would think, too, that Pioneer (which proclaims on its home page "Proud Past. Unlimited Future."), after benefiting so lavishly from taxpayer largesse, would be a little more forthcoming in discussing its change of plans with the community, but executives remain mum.

July 22, 2009 - 5:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Dancing Derrick, T-Shirts Etc..


It's not every day that you drive down Main Street and see somebody playing full-on heavy metal air guitar, but that's what I saw today in front of T-Shirt's Etc. on Main Street.

It was Dancing Derrick, whom I've never heard of before, but apparently he is well known in the region. Several people honked their horns and shouted out, "Hey, Derrick" as they drove past.

Derrick, a Holly resident, said he's trying to make a career of dancing in front of businesses as a promotional attraction. T-Shirts Etc. owner Brian Kemp confirmed he hired Dancing Derrick to draw attention to his store.

UPDATE: Here's a video from YouTube of Dancing Derrick.

July 22, 2009 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, ambulance.

We've heard from one city ambulance employee and have confirmed with Batavia City Manager Jason Molino that 17 medics and 4 firefighters have been notified of their termination from the city's fire department.

We have no further details at this time.

The city is shutting down its ambulance service as of Aug. 31 and Mercy Flight is starting a new ground ambulance service in Genesee County at 12:00 a.m., Sept. 1.

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