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June 29, 2021 - 4:48pm

While not giving up on the Town of Batavia location completely, Brandon Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, figures he’s fighting a losing battle as far as developing an outdoor shooting range at the 22-acre parcel he owns at 3269 Harloff Road.

Acknowledging restrictions that come with the necessary special use permit from the Town of Batavia Planning Board and solid opposition from homeowners in that area, Lewis said he is changing up his game plan for the property.

“We’re going to move forward with some of our other business ventures as it does look less and less likely every day (that a shooting range will become a reality there) just because of the requirements set forth by the town,” Lewis said on Monday afternoon.

“(The revised plan) would include some of the other ideas I had, maybe not as full bore as I wanted to. I do like the property and I would like to keep it.”

Lewis, a Brockport resident who grew up in Genesee County, introduced his idea to place a shooting range/training facility, modest drive-in movie theater and small campground in March to the Genesee County Planning Board.

Since then, he has appeared before the town planning board on a few occasions but the proposal has been stuck in the mud for several reasons: planners’ justifiable request for specific details of Lewis’ plan; Lewis’ questioning of the constraints of the special use permit and; most notably, Harloff Road area residents’ objections to the shooting range over, primarily, noise and safety concerns.

“It’s not so much the town, but I don’t want to run a business where every neighbor is pitting against me,” Lewis said. “That’s certainly not how my shop in Bergen is. I think the community quite likes us out there.”

He said he understands the planning board is “just trying to do their duty” but isn’t ready to invest several hundred thousand dollars in an unreceptive environment.

“I just think no matter what I do, the residents – the locals – are just going to be against it. My neighbor here, Chris (Mosier) at Area 51. He’s been there how many years? And they’re giving him trouble, too,” he said.

Lewis said he continues to look into how he can proceed with the campground and drive-in ventures.

“The camping was never intended to be a 200 or 300 spot campsite. It will be like 20 spots at the most, and will be like dry camping or boondocking, basically,” he said. “It’s just a spot to do it inexpensively. There won’t be sewer. A lot of people questioned that project, too. Once we unveil the full project of it, they’ll see that there’s nothing to be worried about.”

On the drive-in, he said it could become a major undertaking.

“If you want to show current release movies, just the projection equipment alone is like $200,000 or $300,000, if not more,” he said. “Again, I’m not going to spend a half a million dollars needed to do everything to put in a drive-in, and then in a few years the neighbors say, ‘No, we don’t want it anymore,’ and they pull the special use permit.”

Lewis said he hasn’t contacted the planning board to have his referral placed on an agenda yet.

“I’m just regrouping – working with some of my other friends who are small business owners and seeing what kind of collaborations we can do together. I’m just trying to get something going out here so we can use the property and keep improving it,” he said.

As far as the outdoor shooting range is concerned, Lewis said he believes there is “a definite need” and he’s exploring other locations.

“We showed that there was a need for an indoor range like we offer (in Bergen) and I think the same thing – what we could do with an outdoor range, we still want to do,” he said. “We’re looking at properties that are more suited or better for us. If we can find a spot that’s great, we’re going to move forward with it. If anyone has land that could hold a 1,000-yard range, have them call me at (585) 494-0333.”

Previously: All jammed up. Shooting range proposal's lack of progress, commentary irritate Town of Batavia planners

June 29, 2021 - 4:41pm

Press release:

Empire Access announced today that it has been named Fastest Internet Provider in the United States for 2021 by PC Mag, beating out national and regional internet providers.

The PC Mag Fastest ISPs 2021 award is presented to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United States that offer the fastest internet speeds to their customers. To compare ISPs, PC Mag uses a Speed Index score.

This score measures download and upload speeds in megabits per second and averages the download and upload together to come up with the PCMag Speed Index (PSI). This scoring system compares service providers nationwide. Higher Speed Index scores represent faster internet service. For the entire United States, Empire Access led all ISPs with a score of 366.2, while its closest competition, Google Fiber, scored 300.3.

“We’re honored to be ranked number one in the nation for the fastest Internet speed,” said Jim Baase, COO of Empire Access. “We take great pride in providing our customers with fast, reliable fiber optic internet service.”

The complete PC Mag article and test results can be found here.

Empire Access is a fast-growing fiber optic telecommunication service provider, offering high-speed internet, digital television, phone and security services to homes and businesses -- all enabled by fiber optic technology -- to more than 25 communities in Upstate New York and Northern Pennsylvania.

Fiber optic service is far more reliable and not prone to slow downs plagued by cable. Each customer has their own dedicated, non-blocking connection and is not affected by congestion and weather. Empire Access offers internet download speeds up to 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) for highly demanding needs. Gigabit internet is perfect for video streaming, gaming, and downloading large files.

Along with fiber optic-based internet service, Empire also offers a complete array of communications and security services:

  • Home and business phone service – including various plans with business options for toll-free numbers, phone systems, voice mail and more;
  • TV Service – delivering 100-percent digital picture quality, crystal clear HD channels, Restart TV, Whole Home DVR capabilities and additional features;
  • Security and home automation – such as 24/7 video monitoring and in-home or business-based automation, the ability to remotely manage security, lock and unlock doors, control appliances, adjust heating/cooling and more from a smartphone, tablet, or computer;
  • Advanced business services – enterprise Wi-Fi, business email, audio and video conferencing, dark fiber and metro ethernet.

For more information or to speak with an Empire Access Fiber Optic expert, please call 1-800-338-3300 or visit www.empireaccess.com.

June 29, 2021 - 4:32pm

From Genesee County Emergency Communications Director Steven C. Sharpe:

The following telephone exchanges are experiencing audio problems when dialing 9-1-1 from a Frontier landline service:

  • (585) 768-XXXX (Le Roy Service Area): No audio
  • (585) 494-XXXX (Bergen Service Area): Distorted audio
  • (585) 584-XXXX (Pavilion Service Area): Distorted audio

If you have an emergency, we advise the public to call 9-1-1 from a wireless / cellular phone. We can still process wireless calls from these service areas.

If you do not have access to a wireless / cellular device, please contact the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center at (585) 343-5000.

June 29, 2021 - 3:52pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is joining members of the Republican Study Committee and Texas Governor Greg Abbott for a trip tomorrow to the Southern Border with Former President Trump.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has completely failed to properly secure our Southern Border, and their efforts to roll back successful policies put in place by President Trump have resulted in a massive crisis,” Jacobs said. “Under their watch, we have seen three consecutive months of 170,000+ illegal encounters, record-setting drug seizures, and spikes in human trafficking. Their actions have emboldened the cartels and harmed the safety and security of border communities and our nation.”

Jacobs will be traveling to McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley sector. This sector is consistently considered the epicenter for illegal entries, in part due to the intense terrain and dense forest cover. On their trip, Jacobs, RSC members, (Former) President Trump, and Governor Abbott will be briefed by border patrol and receive a tour of the Southern Border.

Jacobs had previously traveled to McAllen, Texas in 2019, where he met with border patrol agents and toured the Southern Border and detention facilities.

“After seeing this section of the Southern Border two years ago during the Trump Administration, I am looking forward to returning and receiving an update on how the situation has unfolded under President Biden’s watch,” Jacobs said. “Securing our Southern Border and enacting smart policies requires lawmakers to see the crisis firsthand and hear directly from those on the ground. I look forward to a productive and informational experience, and I am honored to be joining (Former) President Trump for this critical trip.”

June 29, 2021 - 3:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in devon wright, news, crime, batavia, notify.
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         Devon Wright

A Batavia man who has been arrested multiple times since 2019 but has remained out of jail apparently because of the state's bail reform law was admonished by Judge Charle Zambito today that he is "walking a fine" line while his cases are pending.

Zambito was shown a photograph provided by Genesee Justice that apparently showed Devon Wright, 19, received a traffic ticket for alleged aggravated unauthorized operation. The ticket, Zambito said, indicated that Wright was outside of his residence at night in violation of his terms of release.

It was expected that Wright would enter a guilty plea today in relation to his multiple charges but his attorney, Nathan Pace, said he needed more time to explain the charges and plea to his client. After much haggling over a date -- finding a time that fits into both Pace's calendar and the court calendar -- the parties agree to be back in court at 11:45 a.m., July 19.

After the appearance date was set, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman raised the issue of the email from Genesee Justice with the attached photo.

Friedman noted that at Wright's last court appearance -- after Wright was arrested on a weapon's charge -- he asked that Wright's bail be revoked. He renewed that request today.

Zambito read to Friedman the language of the current bail statute. The law would require Zambito to conduct a bail hearing, at which time Wright could challenge the evidence against him and present his own evidence, and even after the hearing, if Zambito determined new bail requirements were required, Zambito could only set the minimum bail necessary to assure Wright's appearance at future hearings.

"The one thing Mr. Wright has done," Zambito said, "is appear in court when he's told to appear. He may be out committing crimes but he's been here when he needs to be here. I can't change the law. I don't like it myself."

At Wright's May 24 hearing, Zambito also expressed frustration with bail reform law.

"It's impossible under the current bail reform laws," Zambito said then. "It seems Wright is a clear and present danger to the community as long as he is out and he continues to get arrested." 

But, Zambito added, "the law doesn't allow a judge to consider community safety when setting bail. I'm frustrated. I think every judge in New York State is frustrated."

In the past 21 months, Batavia PD has reported the following arrests:

After reminding Friedman of the constraints of the law, Zambito asked if Friedman wanted a hearing on this latest apparent violation of the terms of Wright's release and Friedman said no. 

In speaking to Wright, Zambito noted that the picture couldn't be authenticated and that may be a factor in why Friedman wasn't requesting a hearing because "if he could confirm when the picture was taken he would not only be asking that your bail be pulled but he would be asking for new charges."

He then told Wright, "You're on curfew. You need to be home at 9 p.m., not 10 after nine and you can't be out driving. Your privilege has been revoked."

June 29, 2021 - 12:54pm
posted by Press Release in Announcements, genesee country farmers market, batavia.

Press release:

On Thursday, July 1, the Genesee Country Farmers Market starts a new program called Double Up Food Bucks.

Spend up to $20 in SNAP -- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- and receive $20 matching funds. SNAP is accepted at the market. Redeem for tokens at the market kiosk.

The DUFB silver coins are good for fruits and vegetables. The wooden SNAP tokens are good for any SNAP-eligible item. 

Come get double your money's worth!

The Farmers Market at Bank Street and Alva Place downtown is open Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Fridays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

June 29, 2021 - 12:26pm

Press release:

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and New York State Education Department (NYSED) today (June 29) announced the opportunity for school districts across New York State to participate in the Youth Development Survey (YDS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The YDS will assess substance-related risk and protective factors of students in grades seven-12 regarding underage drinking, substance use, and problem gambling.

The YRBS measures ninth-12th grade students’ strengths and risks related to unintentional injuries and violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, dietary behaviors, physical activity, sexual behaviors, obesity and weight control and other health topics.

“We have a responsibility to keep our kids safe, and New York is focused on engaging with young people to assess substance-related health risks,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Youth Development Survey directly engages students, and will help schools and communities target their services and prevention methods to combat these risks.”

OASAS and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) monitor student risk factors that impact health, safety, and academic success through voluntary student surveys. This information allows both agencies to identify student health and prevention needs and develop resources to help reduce and prevent future and current behavioral health issues.

OASAS will work with International Survey Associates (ISA), a national youth survey organization, to conduct the survey in November. ISA will process and analyze the results and provide district-specific estimates of substance use and risk, as well as potential protective factors to address these risks. The reports are designed to enable districts to determine how their students compare to the surrounding area, as well as the rest of the state.

NYSED contracts with its technical assistance center, the NYS Center for School Health (NYSCSH), to administer the YRBS to 30 high schools randomly selected by the CDC. The schools selected will be notified in August. Only one to four classes in the selected high schools take the survey, which provides both New York State and National YRBS trend data.

District participation is voluntary and free of charge, and OASAS and NYSED will be reaching out directly to superintendents to solicit participation in the survey.

Districts are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to assess the behaviors of New York’s youth in order to implement policies geared toward improving the health of students and reducing the chances that they will engage in risky behavior.

In addition, the youth population data collected through the surveys will enable the agencies to better evaluate and monitor state-funded local community and school-based prevention efforts.

“These surveys provide an excellent opportunity to assess the most critical needs of children in school districts across New York State, and will allow us to target our services where they are needed most,” OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. “I urge all districts to participate and help us determine the risks and challenges they are facing, and the best ways to address these issues.”

“A comprehensive and coordinated approach with students, families, schools and communities is so important in helping our youth with decision making,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “If information from these surveys can help even one student, it’s worth it for districts to take part.”

“This year has seen increased stress, anxiety and trauma for our students and families and now, more than ever, we must help our children avoid harmful behaviors any way we can,” State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said. “I encourage districts to participate in these important surveys to ensure they receive the proper resources to support students in making good choices.”

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369). 

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov or through the NYS OASAS website.

June 29, 2021 - 11:59am

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider proposals for $18.2 million of new investment at its July 1 board meeting.

Gateway GS LLC (Gallina Development) is proposing to construct the third phase of its flex campus at the GCEDC’s Gateway II Corporate Park in the Town of Batavia.

The $2.36 million investment is a 27,000-square-foot facility that would be completed in 2022 for a single logistics-distribution tenant. The future tenant is estimated to create 21 new jobs at an average annual salary of $42,000.

The GCEDC Board of Directors will consider an initial resolution for the project. Gateway GS LLC is seeking approximately $386,891 in sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions.

The GCEDC Board of Directors will also consider a final resolution for Just Chez Realty LLC. The company is proposing a $450,000 building redevelopment project as part of the City of Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The project would renovate approximately 6,000 square feet of a 13,324-square-foot building at 206 E. Main St. to create two market-rate apartments on the building’s second floor and follows improvements to the first floor of the building. Just Chez Realty is seeking approximately $21,000 in sales tax exemptions.

The GCEDC Board of Directors will also consider an initial resolution for two community solar projects on Ellicott Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

Trousdale Solar LLC is proposing projects that would generate 5 MW and 4 MW of electricity. The PILOTs -- Payments In Lieu Of Taxes -- would result in payments of approximately $930,000 to the Batavia City School District and Genesee County over 15 years.

Trousdale Solar LLC is seeking approximately $2.5 million in property and sales tax exemptions.

The board meeting will be held at 4 p.m. in the Innovative Zone at the MedTech Centre, located at 99 MedTech Drive in Batavia. The meeting will also be broadcast online at www.gcedc.com.

June 29, 2021 - 11:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sunset, batavia, news.

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Photo by Virgil Cain.

June 29, 2021 - 11:31am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Steve Hawley, bail reform.

With Assemblyman Steve Hawley already weighing in on her push to get New York State lawmakers to change the current bail rules and regulations, City Council Member Rose Mary Christian is hopeful that other municipalities will act as well.

Hawley penned a letter dated June 24 in response to hearing Christian’s concerns about what he writes, “the disastrous and dangerous 2019 Bail Reform” (that puts strict limits on the use of cash bail and pretrial detention).

The assemblyman’s letter points to a plan introduced by the Minority Conference to help combat the recent rise in violent crime across the state, and outlines seven areas of proposed legislation to counteract the 2019 Bail Reform act. The letter was entered into Monday night’s City Council meeting proceedings with City Clerk Heidi Parker reading the 14-paragraph statement aloud.

At Council’s meeting on June 14, Christian requested that the city draft a letter requesting a change in the bail reform laws – and her colleagues agreed – and sending it to state representatives in Albany.

Last night, the board reviewed a letter written by City Manager Rachael Tabelski, accepting a revision of the third paragraph to read:

“We commend the Legislature’s efforts to roll back some of the original reforms that were passed last year, such as allowing judges to set bail for more criminal charges that had eliminated bail. We respectfully request that the Legislature consider adding more crimes in which judges have discretion to set bail, including crimes against police officers, firemen and sexual assaults and burglary. We also support restoring bail for any crime involving the use of a gun.”

Christian was pleased with the changes, noting that the letter “has got some teeth in it now.”

“By us passing this – and not just by one person, not by just me but this whole board – is very important and it will show some credence to the fact that we really mean business and maybe other councils, maybe other towns, will follow and we might be able to change this law now,” she said.

It also was suggested to send the letter to Genesee Association of Municipalities in anticipation of it being sent to all Genesee County towns and villages.

Previously: City manager drafts letter from Council asking New York State lawmakers to 'revisit' bail reform laws

June 29, 2021 - 11:29am

Press release:

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services urges caution when handling sparkling devices during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

All other types of consumer fireworks remain illegal statewide, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners, and aerial devices.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and State Office of Fire Prevention and Control today urged New Yorkers to handle sparkling devices responsibly when celebrating the Fourth of July.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates approximately 10,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks in 2019. Almost three-quarter of injuries occurred during a one-month period around the Fourth of July.

“When joining with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our great nation this year, I urge all New Yorkers to handle sparkling devices carefully since mishandling these devices can cause significant burn injuries,” said New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy.

“Remember it is illegal for anyone under 18 years old to use sparkling devices.”

New York State Law allows for the sale and use of a specific category of consumer fireworks known as sparkling devices. Legal ground-based or handheld sparkling devices produce a shower of colored sparks or a colored flame, audible crackling, or whistling noise and smoke. The devices do not launch into the air.

Sparkling devices are legal in all New York State counties except Albany, Columbia, Schenectady, and Westchester, some cities in Orange County (see local laws), all five boroughs of New York City, and Long Island.

All other types of consumer fireworks, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners, and aerial devices, remain illegal statewide.

“As with any device which purposely emits live sparks and fire, it should be easy to understand the need for extra caution when handling sparkling devices,” said Acting State Fire Administrator James Cable. “Be sure to obtain all such devices legally and follow all safety instructions which come with the packaging to ensure loved ones and neighbors stay injury-free throughout the holiday.

"Have fun, but please be mindful of your own and others’ safety when using sparkling devices.”

Sales of sparkling devices by certified permanent and specialty retailers can only occur from June 1 to July 5 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Sales of sparkling devices by certified temporary stands or tents can only occur from June 20 to July 5 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Sellers, manufacturers, and distributors of sparkling devices must apply for a license from the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control and follow other rules and conditions.

Registered sparkling device vendors (four) in Genesee County are listed below:

  • Tops Market LLC, 128 W. Main St., Le Roy, NY 14482
  • Tops Market LLC, 390 W. Main St., Batavia, NY 14020
  • Keystone Novelties Distributors LLC, 125 W. Main St., Le Roy, NY 14482 -- Temporary Retailer
  • Keystone Novelties Distributors LLC, C Store, 8073 Clinton St., Bergen, NY 14416 -- Temporary Retailer

​To see the entire NYS list, click here (pdf).

If sparkling devices are legal to purchase in your county, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control offers the following safety tips:

  • Purchase sparkling and novelty devices from New York State registered retailers only;
  • Always follow directions located on the packaging;
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks or sparkling devices. It is illegal for anyone under 18 years old to use sparkling devices;
  • Never use sparkling devices indoors. All sparkling devices are for outdoor use only;
  • Always wear eye protection when using sparkling devices;
  • Never light more than one sparkling device at a time;
  • Never point a sparkling device tube toward anyone or any part of your body;
  • Keep sparkling and novelty devices in a safe secure location when not in use;
  • Never use sparkling devices when under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Always keep an approved fire extinguisher nearby during a display. Douse malfunctioning and spent devices with water before discarding to prevent a fire;
  • Store sparkling devices in a safe location away from young children;
  • Keep unused sparkling devices dry and away from ignition sources.

For more information on the sale and use of sparkling devices in New York State, visit the Office of Fire Prevention and Control website.

As we approach the July Fourth Independence Day Holiday, Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano of the City of Batavia Fire Department would like to remind residents that: “We want to ensure that our residents enjoy the holiday in a safe and responsible manner. It is important to take the necessary fire safety precautionary steps when using these devices.”

If any resident has questions regarding what is allowable or would like information regarding safety precautions, they can call the City of Batavia Fire Headquarters at (585) 345-6375.

“We see a steady increase in calls for service this time of year for fireworks related complaints,” said Police Chief Shawn Heubusch. “Residents are cautioned that if fireworks are purchased out of state or over the internet and do not meet the definition of sparkling device, they are not only illegal, but are dangerous. We want to ensure that everyone has a safe and happy July Fourth Holiday.”

June 29, 2021 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in test.
Video Sponsor
June 29, 2021 - 10:41am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, City Fire.

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As is his style, City of Batavia Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano humbly took a bow Monday night as he prepares to move on to a New York State-level position next month, while giving all the credit for his success to his employees and thanking city management and staff for the opportunity to serve over the past four years.

“It has been amazing times and tough times, but through it all I was successful because of my team over there,” Napolitano said, pointing to the 10 firefighters who came to the City Council meeting in honor of their chief. “I’m just the guy that signs the payroll -- I point a little bit and throw an idea out -- but it’s the staff here in the City of Batavia Fire Department that makes everything happen.”

Napolitano quickly endeared himself to city leaders and residents after accepting the position in April 2017, relocating after a productive career as deputy fire chief for the Village of Herkimer.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. called Napolitano, a Queens native, a great leader and said he will be missed.

“Hopefully, we’ll be seeing you back and helping out in our area, and I wish you all the best,” Jankowski said.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski thanked Napolitano for his work.

“I’ve only had the pleasure of working with you for about two years, but they’ve been great years,” she said. “You really are a true leader to your staff – and everyone here is a testament (to that).”

LEAVING IS ‘VERY BITTERSWEET’

Moved by a standing ovation from all in attendance, Napolitano quickly deflected any credit away from himself.

“They (his staff) allowed me to come in here four years ago; didn’t know anything about me, a transplant from 175 miles away,” he said. “They immediately accepted me and it’s been a great partnership – relationship. I’m fortunate to say that I know pretty much all of their family members.”

Napolitano said the situation is “very bittersweet.”

“This job is an opportunity to serve more firefighters at the state level, but it’s very bittersweet leaving my new home,” he said.

On July 19, he begins his new job as deputy state fire administrator, working out of an office in a building on the State University of Albany campus. The state position is affiliated with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. His final day in Batavia is July 9.

He said he expects to do a fair amount of traveling in his new position and likely will be back at some point. He then thanked city management and staff.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure and honor, and I thank everyone.”

HERBERGER TO STEP IN

Tabelski then announced the appointment of Capt. Dan Herberger as interim fire chief – a position that Herberger held for 16 months before Napolitano was hired.

Herberger has climbed up the ranks, joining the department as a paramedic in 2002 before being promoted to firefighter in 2005, lieutenant in 2012 and captain in 2013.

Contacted this morning, Herberger said he’s prepared to take the reins on an interim basis, but is in an exploration stage as far as the permanent position is concerned.

“There were two other captains that were interested and we did a lot of talking amongst ourselves … so, at this point I’m really exploring – again – the position,” he said. “You know, a lot has changed with me in four years but a lot hasn’t changed with me in four years, with family situation and the like.”

He said he’s looking at the full-time chief position “very critically and taking all points of interest in.”

Married with three children, ages 17, 13 and 11, the Lancaster resident said he’s coming in to the interim role objectively and was willing to “take another crack at it.”

Speaking of the two other captains, Herberger, 47, said they decided to talk to Tabelski individually and let the process play out. He said no timetable has been set as far as when the permanent position is filled.

“We have some meetings coming up with Chief Napolitano during the transition, but we haven’t got into anything much past that,” he said. “I’m sure that eventually Rachael and I will sit down and discuss the details (of the chief’s position).”

Herberger said he has always desired to be a part of the community he serves, never wanting his place of residence to interfere with his responsibilities in Batavia.

KEY IS TREATING PEOPLE RIGHT

“I always try to treat people like they’re my neighbors,” he said. “Just because I live in Lancaster … I treat people like I want my mother to be treated, and that has always served me well and people accepted that.”

Napolitano said he backed Herberger, stating that he’s “a strong captain supported by a strong group. The city is very well served.”

And Herberger had nothing but good things to say about Napolitano.

“I always said that coming into a department from a different part of the state has to be difficult because you don’t know all of the inner workings … but he – I think it’s his personality – came in and really took the bull by the horns and made a conscious effort of forging relationships and putting the fire department in a positive light,” he said.

“He was open and honest with us, and even though we might not have agreed with him every time, we always appreciated that.”

herberger_1.jpg

Photo at top: Batavia Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano thanks city officials and staff for supporting him throughout his four-year tenure. Photo at bottom: Staff members, including Capt. Dan Herberger, second from right, attended the City Council meeting. Herberger has been appointed as interim fire chief. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

June 29, 2021 - 10:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, Alexander, notify.

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What may have started as a porch fire early Monday morning at 4225 Gilhooly Road, and was dispatched as a porch fire, turned out to be a fully involved house fire, said Alexander Fire Chief Marshall Merle.

The house was a total loss.

All occupants, at least four and maybe five people, Merle said, were out of the house and safe by the time fire crews arrived on scene.

There was no mention of any pets in the residence, Merle said.

No firefighters were injured during the incident. 

Merle said the fire started in the porch area. It's unclear if it started outside or inside the residence but investigators are leaning toward thinking it started inside, he said.  The cause is currently undetermined.

The American Red Cross is assisting the family. The Salvation Army responded to provide refreshments to the firefighters. Bethany's auxiliary also responded.

The biggest challenge in fighting the fire was water supply. Merle requested several tankers to the scene. Once on scene, firefighters were able to locate a pond on the property, which the fire department did not previously know about, and two engines were employed to pump water for fire suppression.

Responding to the fire were Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Darien, East Pembroke, Stafford, and Pavilion. The City's Fast Team also responded. A crew from the Wyoming Correctional Facility assisted with scene cleanup.

Photos Courtesy Todd Rapp.

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June 29, 2021 - 9:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sunset, indian falls, pembroke, news.

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Sunset on McAlpine Road, Indian Falls, by JoAnne Meiser.

June 29, 2021 - 9:01am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Thomas Rocket Car.

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What’s going on with the “Rocket Car?”

City resident John Roach posed that question about the 1938 invention of former Batavia resident Charles D. Thomas to Batavia City Council members at their meeting Monday night.

The vehicle, with innovations such as a rearview periscope and independent suspension, is officially called the Thomas Rocket Car. It was designed by Thomas and put together by a friend and welder, Norman Richardson, in a rented garage near Main Street and Ellicott Avenue.

It has been in the hands of Dick McClurg of Old World Collision for more than five years. The plan is to have the car, once fully restored, placed on display somewhere in the city.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski said the car was in the Memorial Day parade – on a trailer hauled by McClurg.

“Ninety-nine and a half percent of the exterior body work is done, the headliners in the interior panels are done, and I think they are waiting now to get a windshield and some other odds and ends, and it will be complete,” Bialkowski said.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski reported that, pre-COVID, there was a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce; Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, and McClurg, “and there was still a bit of fundraising to do – the last few parts and pieces of it – and we have not established the permanent home or location.”

She said people want to move it around to different shows, so she isn’t sure if the City Centre would be suitable in that case.

Bialkowski spoke of the independent suspension and unique periscope in responding to Roach’s query.

“It had a periscope, because back then if anybody remembers the older cars they were torpedo shaped in the back – you couldn’t see anything backing up – so a slow periscope went up and you looked in a mirror and you could see where you were backing up,” he said.

He said auto companies weren’t ready for something like that and that the car was way ahead of its time.

The car was cut up into pieces and almost scrapped, he said, before finding its way to Old World Collision for restoration.

“People from all over the country that aren’t from around here seem to know about it,” Bialkowski added.

Previously: Thomas Rocket Car nearly restored but another $4k needed to complete project

Photo at top: Picture of the original Thomas Rocket Car.

June 29, 2021 - 8:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

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June 28, 2021 - 9:26pm

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There’s some serious stuff going on around Washington Avenue, Willow Street and State Street -- and at least one resident is imploring City Council to do something about it.

“I’m just here tonight because I’m concerned about the neighborhood,” said Lynne Geissler, (in photo at top), noting that she has lived at Washington and Willow for four years. “I understand that it’s a different neighborhood.”

Geissler, speaking during the public comments portion of tonight’s Conference Meeting at City Centre Council Board Room, mentioned the increase in “criminal action,” adding that it is “horrible” and is taking place at all hours of the night, causing her to lose sleep.

“There’s got to be some way that … I don’t know,” she said. “I was going to go to the police department to talk to the police chief but they’re not letting anybody in (or so she believed). So, I figured I’d come down here to talk, to see, because there’s a lot of things going on and it has to be taken care of.”

She brought up that she has health issues and understands that drugs and mental disorders are real problems.

“But when you’re having the police at your house 20 times in a four-day period, and our landlord can’t do anything (and) we as tenants can’t do anything,” she said. “There’s got to be some way – CPS (Child Protective Services), there’s mental health, everybody’s involved but nothing’s getting fixed.”

Jankowski advised her to talk with Police Chief Shawn Heubusch directly after the meeting and set up an appointment.

Council Member Kathleen Briggs said that she has received calls from people living on State Street “and they’re telling me that they do call police and police are responding.”

“I also told them that they should contact their landlords and they said the landlords aren’t doing anything,” she added. “Police are doing what they can but don’t you think we have to hold these landlords accountable?”

It was mentioned that these instigators should be evicted, but current laws against eviction have tied landlords’ hands.

Geissler said her landlord is sympathetic but indicated that “if he went to evict someone right now – if it was one of his houses – it would be nine to 12 months before that person would be out.”

Afterward, Heubusch acknowledged that officers are dealing with "some serious things" and, without getting into details, said that investigations are ongoing.

“We will look into this further,” he said.

BOYD RESUMES DISC GOLF PITCH

Last month, city resident Phillip Boyd came to a City Council meeting to promote the placement of a disc golf course at a city park.

He reappeared tonight, flanked by six other disc golf enthusiasts, and said he has mapped out a course that would take up about two-thirds of Centennial Park, the 14-acre natural setting located in the north-central part of the city.

Boyd said he also has prices for how much sponsorship would cost.

“Now, I’m just looking for it to be actually brought up as an agenda item,” he said.

With that, City Council President Eugene Jankowski advised him to turn all his documents over to City Manager Rachael Tabelski and work with her going forward.

Two of his friends, Doug Forsyth and Louis Ortiz, also went up to the podium, speaking briefly while indicating that they backed Boyd’s efforts.

Forsyth said he heard about the matter from reading The Batavian and wanted to let Council know that his group has secured some funding for the initiative.

Tabelski said Centennial Park is the preferred location. She added that she will review Boyd’s proposal with department heads with the expectation of providing a recommendation to Council at the July 12 meeting.

In legislative matters, Council approved:

  • A resolution to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to help fund an estimated $1.36 million project to replace 4- and 6-inch water lines on Jackson Street with 2,250 linear feet of 8-inch water main, and another setting a public hearing on the matter for 7 p.m. July 12. Tabelski said she thinks the grant, if received, could fund up to 90 percent of the project cost.
  • A resolution to award V.J. Gautieri Constructors $18,800 from the city’s Revolving Loan Fund Grant to help replace sidewalks at the Ellicott Place project at 45-47 Ellicott St. (Save-A-Lot building).

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