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July 22, 2021 - 2:30pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has been selected one of four statewide recipients of "The Arc New York 2021 Employer of the Year Award," acknowledging the value of employing people with disabilities in their place of business

Arc of Genesee Orleans Director of Development Shelley Falitico says Batavia Downs has been a longtime friend of the agency, hosting Arc Night at the Races and Arc’s annual awards banquet.

Batavia Downs Values the Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities

In addition, through a partnership with Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, an onsite training on "The Benefits of Hiring a Person with a Disability" was held at the Arc Walnut Street location. Several employees from Batavia Downs HR Department were in attendance and were excited to begin collaborating with Arc’s Vocational Services team. 

“Our first request of The Downs was to allow us work with Community PreVoc participants at Batavia Downs to assess their skills,” said Arc Director of Vocational Services Melissa Cotter.

“A true partnership for employment and opportunities for people we serve was definitely developing. Unfortunately, COVID hit and Batavia Downs shut down along with some of our day services and the rest of the globe."

When Batavia Downs reopened, Arc of Genesee Orleans picked up where it left off and had a perfect candidate – Caleb Miller, for an Environmental Services technician position.

Caleb’s Mom, Debbie Miller, said in a letter supporting the award nomination, “My son is 20 years old with a diagnosis of autism. When COVID hit and shut the world down, Caleb could no longer attend college.

"He was attending Genesee Community College for Graphic Arts, but online classes did not work for him. Although he did try to find a job, Caleb also knew working directly with the public would not be easy for him. Enter Arc of Genesee Orleans and Batavia Downs,” Miller said. 

Naturally, as a mother, Miller said she had fears of how the job was going to work out, but is thankful that Batavia Downs for took a chance on her son and supported him as he landed his first job. 

“Batavia Downs has now hired Caleb directly – he is on their payroll now. And he is continuing to do well. His schedule is set, he knows the busy days of the casino and the slower days. He knows some of his ‘regular’ customers and they know who he is.

"Batavia Downs has given Caleb a sense of pride and self-worth. Caleb is a normal, working 20-year-old adult. He has his own money now. What a difference the Downs has made in Caleb’s life.”

One question in the award nomination asked how does the nominee ensure that employees with disabilities are fully integrated and supported in their company’s workforce.

Cotter said the people Arc supports at Batavia Downs Gaming are not separated by what they wear, ID badges, expectations or benefits.

“They wear the same uniforms, carry the same credentials and are expected to perform the duties that they were hired for,” she said. “The supervisors and coworkers have been very warm and welcoming to the people we support. From day one, from top managers, to security guards, to every other employee, all employees have been receptive to our presence there and offer the people we support any assistance they can to be a successful employee."

Arc of Genesee Orleans representatives will be on hand at the Downs on Thursday, July 29, at 6 p.m. for the Zoom award presentation from The Arc New York state offices. The award will be presented to Henry Wojtaszek, president & CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming.

Top photo: Caleb Miller, Environmental Services technician at Batavia Downs Gaming.

July 22, 2021 - 1:03pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The recent infestations of the gypsy moth (right photo) (also known as Lymantria dispar dispar -- LDD) and emerald ash borer -- EAB (also known as Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire), along with other pests and diseases, have been the cause of a lot of concern in Western New York recently.

The adult gypsy moths are emerging. While the initial damage from their caterpillars is done for this year, now is a great time to learn about how to reduce or mitigate damage that may occur from next year’s caterpillars.

Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District, along with our partner the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, will be hosting a FREE online webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 4th, at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

NYSDEC forester Gary Koplun will present about ways to manage the gypsy moth, as well as speak about the emerald ash borer and other issues that stress trees.

There will be an opportunity for questions as well as resources provided.

You can register today by visiting the Conservation District's website.

July 22, 2021 - 12:25pm
posted by Press Release in news, SCOPE, batavia, summer picnic, Second Amendment.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E -- Shooters Committee On Political Education -- announces a summer picnic Aug. 10 at “The Sportman Coon Hunters Association,” located at 8770 Hopkins Road, Batavia.

The gathering will start at 4 p.m.

Members, former members, and the public are welcome to attend.

Come out, have some picnic food, and meet others interested in preserving the Second Amendment.

Picnic is FREE and you could win a FREE door prize.

Questions? Contact Dave Kaufman (585) 690-7429.

July 22, 2021 - 12:08pm

connie_and_thurman.jpgUpdate: July 22, 5 p.m.

Contacted later today, Thomas said he's excited to continue his longstanding relationship with Batavia Downs.

"It's a great organization to work with and I love dealing with the guests who come to the gaming facility and the harness track," he said, adding that he may be in Batavia next week.

-------------------

Directors of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. this morning extended the marketing agreement with former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas for another 18 months, voting to pay the Pro Football Hall of Famer a stipend of $10,000 per month to promote Batavia Downs Gaming and the harness horse racing track.

The per month cost to WROTB is down from the parties’ previous contract, but the relationship with Thomas – although different in scope – continues to be a strong one, WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek said.

Thomas has been a key “face” of Batavia Downs Gaming for nearly 10 years, joining forces with the public benefit corporation in November 2011. The contract stipulates that Thomas appears at all of the Buffalo Bills games on behalf of WROTB and at the Park Road facility for events throughout the year.

He also has a social media presence, appears at the Blue Zone at 34 Rush, and allows the corporation to use his likeness to promote the bar, Wojtaszek said.

Although he didn’t disclose the previous contract amount, Wojtaszek said the reason for the decrease is that Batavia Downs personnel “has picked up some of the things that he did for us before, a lot of the advertisements.”

“He still will do some for us, but the things that we’ve asked him to do will have gone down,” Wojtaszek said. “We believe that he’s a very positive, strong presence for us in the community. He’s a well-liked and respected individual and we’re proud to have a relationship with him. It’s just a little bit different.”

When asked if Thomas eventually would be phased out due to increasing in-house promotions, Wojtaszek said that wasn’t going to happen.

“We’ve all grown together. If you look at Batavia Downs back in 2013, and you look at the numbers and the reputation in the community – it’s only grown and he’s a big part of that,” he offered. “We want to continue to have a good, strong relationship with him, but it’s just changed.”

Wojtaszek said Thomas has other business interests in the community, and the pact with Batavia Downs is “an exclusive one relative to the casino industry.”

“We very much value our relationship and the board does as well as it was a unanimous vote to keep him,” he said.

Other resolutions passed at today’s Board of Directors meeting:

  • The exclusion of a Paycheck Protection Program loan in the amount of $3,151,700 from the corporation’s 2021 revenue. It was announced that the loan --which was granted to pay various expenses, including payroll as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic -- has been formally forgiven by the federal government.

“That is done that way for accounting purposes,” Wojtaszek said. “It (the loan) was a good thing for the company; it came at a perfect time. We used it for its exact, intended use.

“We saved jobs and we saved the company going forward, and we’re very appreciative of the local bank that we dealt with – The Bank of Castile – and the SBA (Small Business Administration) that worked along with us.”

Wojtaszek credited Comptroller Jacquelyne Leach and her staff for providing the documentation necessary to make sure the loan was forgiven.

“In the end, there was a requirement of using 70 percent for payroll purposes, and I believe that we were in the 90s – 93 percent went for our payroll,” he said.

  • Purchase of eight Metrolite kiosks and two Monte Carlo kiosks for $94,256 from the California-based Olea company that more efficiently allows gaming patrons to receive prizes and reprint Players Club cards.

“We have kiosks on the floor currently … they’re very effective but the ones that we have are outdated,” Wojtaszek said. “We could use a few more to help supplement people who need help at the Players Club, and we also have a couple that we never had before (Monte Carlo-type) that will allow people to print their Players Club cards for the first time right from the kiosk.”

  • Creation of a Director of Sales position at the Batavia Downs Hotel to sell hotel packages, catering events and sponsorships relating to concerts there. Wojtaszek said the salary will be around $60,000.

The employee will be responsible for facilitating promotional packages for customers that tie in the gaming and harness horse racing operations.

  • A contract with Keeler Construction Co., of Albion, for $28,000 for paving work on the east side of the horse barns along Richmond Avenue. Directors commended Live Racing Director Todd Haight for handling negotiations that resulted in a $5,000 decrease from the original estimate.

Directors tabled a resolution that would have permitted the marketing department to enter into a five-year agreement with WNY Arena to purchase tickets to Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits games and concerts.

The annual cost to WROTB would have started at $170,000 and escalated by $2,000 each year for the duration of the contract. The measure was tabled after Director Ken Lauderdale (Wayne County) proposed a three-year agreement, citing a “dynamic” sports environment where ownership of teams is subject to change.

Although Lauderdale’s amendment died for a lack of a “second,” Board Chair Richard Bianchi (Monroe County) requested tabling the matter and that was approved.

Wojtaszek said ticket arrangements such as this are important to the operation’s customer service strategy, rewarding “customers who are loyal to us and really want to see these games.”

“We streamline the process to make sure it is much more efficient and in line with compliance regulations,” he said, adding that some of the tickets are raffled. (Marketing Director) Ryan (Hasenauer) does a great job in administering the program.”

Batavia Downs Gaming has a similar ticket purchasing agreement with the Buffalo Bills, but that contract is not up at this time, Wojtaszek said.

It was reported that the corporation allocated $68,392 in surcharge revenue to its municipalities for June, and second quarter earnings were $1,051,606. Wagering though Batavia Bets, the online platform, was down by $215,000 in June and is down by $371,000 so far this month.

File photo: Thurman Thomas and Connie Penkszyk, of Batavia, at the November 2016 ribbon cutting of the Hotel at Batavia Downs. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Comments
July 22, 2021 - 11:40am

Submitted photo and press release:

Last week, eight students became the first to take part in the Certified Nursing Assistant program available at the BEST (Business Employee Skills Training) Center at Genesee Community College. From Buffalo, Medina, Arcade, Strykersville and Lockport these eight unique individuals, in photo above, have jumped onto the fast-track into the rewarding and high-stakes healthcare industry.

The eight students are: Joshua Gross, Jacquelyn Francis, Charli Wright, Paige Tittel, Madison Meyers, Maria Garcia, Allyssa McKeever, and McKayla Trombley.

Through a combination of minimal eligibility requirements which are listed online at www.bestcenter.org, concentrated instruction and hands-on clinical experiences, the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program is designed to be completed in just six weeks or 132 hours. 

"The entire BEST Center is excited about this program. Our partnership with both Genesee County Job Development Bureau and the Orchard Rehabilitation Nursing Home in Medina, New York mean these students will complete the program with valuable, real-life experience in real clinical settings that will translate directly into employability," said John McGowan, Ph.D., director of the BEST Center.

The BEST Center offers a variety of Certification and workforce training programs that are starting this Fall including the 100 percent in-person, Phlebotomy Technician Program beginning in September, a Supervision Certification to prepare you for that next promotion, and the popular Mechatronics, which integrates mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and microelectronic skills.

Interested individuals are encouraged to contact McGowan today at [email protected] or by calling (585) 345-6868 to learn more.

Some students may be eligible to receive funding for the CNA or other programs through the Genesee County Job Development Bureau. To find out more, contact Teresa VanSon at (585) 344-2024, ext.4223, or at [email protected].

July 22, 2021 - 9:50am

jocelyn_web.jpgJocelyn Sikorski has no problem admitting that her first six months on the job as executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County have been an eye-opening experience when it comes to appreciating the value of agriculture in the community.

Sikorski, who spent most of her career in county government, notably as the director of the Genesee County and City of Batavia youth bureaus, said she has transitioned nicely to the CCE, an agency dedicated to agriculture, gardening, nutrition and food systems initiatives.

And she has been able to get out of her office and into the field (no pun intended) as well.

“I went to Blummer Dairy in Alexander, which is owned by Dave Patten (a CCE of Genesee County director) and his wife, Val,” she said by telephone on Wednesday. “I toured his farm with two of our regional staff and I also went out to Baskin Livestock on Creek Road, Batavia. That was so interesting.”

Visiting local farm operations and getting to know agriculture, nutrition and 4-H specialists and leaders have given Sikorski a new perspective about the food supply.

“We need folks to understand the importance of ag in our community. It’s the No. 1 industry in Genesee County, and people need to understand where this food is coming from,” she said. “That’s a big thing. You go to the store, but where is it coming from? Who is actually supporting our local industry?”

Toward that end, Sikorski said she hopes – in spite of decreased funding – to restore the “Ag in the Classroom” coordinator/educator position that has been vacant since 2016.

“Some of the things that have gone away over the past five years are a result of less federal aid and others, such as an “Ag in the Classroom” leader, are funded with county money,” she said. “Not having that is a significant loss to our community because it really is teaching children and youth about our agricultural system -- and that message then goes home.

“So, through this evidence-based curriculum, people can learn about the industry and why it is so large in the community.”

Sikorski said she and staff are hoping to reinstate that program as they draft the CCE’s strategic plan – a three-year guiding document that would take effect on Jan. 1.

“That is something that we are interested in bringing back; hopefully we can do that with the resources available or as they become available.”

Earlier this week, Sikorski presented her agency program review to the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee.

Highlights of that report are as follows:

  • Agency is in a good place financially.

Sikorski credited then interim director Glenn Simon with setting up a safety and reopening plan to enable the CCE to open for business remotely on June 1, 2020 to “reach the population that we serve.” She noted that campus staff will be returning to the agency headquarters on East Main Street on Sept. 1.

Budget-wise, the Genesee County office is “looking good going forward,” she said, reporting that the county legislature contributes $338,548 annually to its approximately $1.2 million budget.

“There are different funding streams and also revenues from some of our programs and services. Basically, whatever comes in goes right back into that program and to their expense line. It supports what we’re providing here,” she said. “The county supports our association as well as us being able to utilize our regional ag team.”

That regional approach is a key cost-saving measure for CCE of Genesee County. Through its Shared Business Network, the agency receives the services of information technology, human resources and finance professionals – sharing the expenses with other cooperative extension locations.

Sikorski said she is seeking someone to fill an administrative assistant position, noting that it is full-time, Monday through Friday days, with health insurance and retirement benefits.

  • Master Gardener training to begin.

The Master Gardener weekly in-person training program at the CCE office is set to resume on Sept. 7 and run through Nov. 23, she said.

“It will be the first time in three years. Last year, we would have held it (if not for COVID) because we do it on a two-year rotation,” she said. “So, having that training up and running again is great. We’re taking precautions where we will limit it to 24 people just in case any restrictions start coming back into play.”

  • CDL training is on the schedule.

Sikorski said CCE again will provide CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) training for the ag community. It is coordinated by Jan Beglinger in conjunction with Genesee Valley BOCES.

“We usually enroll somewhere around 20 to 25 people into the CDL program so that farms can have staff licensed property to operate their trucks and equipment,” she said.

She also mentioned that changing federal guidelines may negatively impact the program – a shutdown was supposed to take effect at the beginning of next year – but is hopeful of the continued partnership with BOCES “because this is a tool for our ag community.”

  • 4-H has strong presence at Genesee County Fair.

She said she anticipates strong 4-H participation at the Genesee County Fair (which opens Friday with the North American Six-horse Hitch Classic Series and runs through July 31).

“And we continue to recruit new adult volunteers to serve as 4-H Club Leaders to expand the program,” she said.

Comments
July 21, 2021 - 6:48pm

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers has yet to hear from government officials in the towns of Darien and Pembroke and Village of Corfu on whether they will be opting in to an updated countywide water supply agreement. But he is sticking to his timeline to enact a new sales tax distribution plan to all municipalities.

Landers, at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature Ways & Means Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse, presented a resolution that immediately (when passed by the full legislature) rescinds the county’s annual voluntary distribution payments. It also directs the county treasurer to discontinue all future such payments until further notice.

The measure passed and will be forwarded to the legislature’s next meeting, which is set for July 28.

Landers said the county made the first six monthly distribution payments this year but is changing course going forward – offering municipalities (with a deadline of Aug. 13), the following options:

  • With universal buy-in to revised water supply agreements, accept $10 million annually over the next 38 years, with the amounts per town or village determined by the total assessed property valuation;
  • Without universal buy-in, accept $7 million in annual sales tax distributions and another $3 million in periodic revenue distribution over the next 38 years, minus equalization of water surcharge revenue to those municipalities not opting in.

Currently, Darien, Pembroke and Corfu have not signed the water agreements, although their town and village boards have scheduled meetings over the next couple weeks.

“The towns and villages are aware of this resolution (to rescind the agreement that was passed in 2020),” Landers told the committee.

On Monday, a draft of the new sales tax agreement – without any specific dollar amounts filled in -- was sent to the New York State Comptroller’s Office for review.

Landers has set Sept. 14 as the date to send the amended and signed agreement to the Comptroller for formal approval.

SHOOTING FOR A $1 MILLION GRANT

In other action, the Ways & Means Committee voted in favor of a resolution to hold a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Old County Courthouse to provide information regarding the application of funding from the Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 Response program in the amount of $1 million.

Landers explained that the money is targeted for assistance to small businesses in the county, those with 25 or fewer employees.

He said the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. will help facilitate the money, if received, to go toward programs such as job creation, equipment/furnishings for parklet-type outdoor dining locations, personal protective equipment, and air handling measures, telecommuting employment and related initiatives.

“We have 12 months to spend the money from the date of applying,” he said, adding that the GGLDC, Downtown Batavia Improvement District, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and other outlets will be promoting this heavily. “This is money beyond the $11 million that we received from the American Rescue Plan Act, and we still have that.”

Landers said the majority of the funds will be in the form of grants, with some to be allocated as loans.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” he added.

HCA WITH PLUG POWER IN THE WORKS

The committee also approved a resolution authorizing the county to enter into a Host Community Agreement with Gateway Hydrogen LLC, also known as Plug Power Inc., of Latham, which is planning to build a green hydrogen production facility at the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama.

Landers reported that the county – as long as the proposed project goes through – would receive $366,000 annually for 20 years plus another $147,000 annually from a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement.

“This brings revenue to the county to be used for general operations without having negative tax cap implications as well as giving us the option of how to use it,” he said, adding that it is projected to start on Jan. 1, 2023.

Host Community Agreements or Host Benefit Agreements are legal contracts that benefit both the community and the developer of a project -- stipulating the benefits a developer agrees to fund or furnish, in exchange for community support of a project.

Benefits can include commitments to hire directly from a community, contributions to economic trust funds, local workforce training guarantees and more.

In this case, Landers said some of the funds could go toward a Niagara County connection that would increase the water supply to the northern region of the county, including around the STAMP site.

“This may be able to support the possible connection to Niagara County,” he said. “It’s basically gap water between Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Countywide Water Program.”

He also said he believes the Town of Alabama will be entering into a HCA with Plug Power.

The PILOT agreement will serve to lower the tax cap, which helps reduce the property tax rate, he said.

Previously: Genesee County leaders present plans to distribute $10 million in sales tax/other revenue to towns and villages

July 21, 2021 - 4:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, Le Roy, motocross, Joey Spadaro, notify, Pavilion.

218325918_523929935594497_4535644839795560768_n.jpg

The first time he saw it, the first time he went to the motocross track in Pavilion, there was something about the speed, the dust, the bikes flying over hills, the racing, that made then 8-year-old Joey Spadaro tell his dad, "I want to do that."

Seven years later, Joseph Spadaro says of his son, "He's a beast on the bike. A hard worker. Super competitive. He absolutely hates to lose. He will go above and beyond most boys, most men, because he doesn't like to be behind anybody."

That competitive spirit has won Spadaro his second trip to the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., starting on Aug. 2.

"That’s the most fun event," said Joey, who is now 15 and in the 10th grade at Le Roy High School. "Everyone there is fast. Everyone there knows what they’re doing. A bunch of people. The atmosphere is cool."

Joey didn't win his first race -- at Area 51 -- when he was 8 but he figures he's won more than 400 races in the local area since. He made it to the national event by finishing in the top six at the regional meet in Unadilla, NY. At that event, Joey ran three races coming in fourth, first, and ninth, for a fourth-place overall finish.

His father figures that makes Joey one of the 40 best in his class in the nation as he heads off to nationals.

"He's been a gear-head since he was tiny," Spadaro said. "He never rode a bike. He went from walking to riding a dirt bike. He never rode a bicycle until he was already riding a dirt bike. From his first race it was like, 'Woah, you already know how to do this.' "

Before this season, Joey raced in Class C and won more titles than he can count both at home and away. He's moved up a class and will be able to race in that class for two seasons.

Before going to Pavilion, Joey said, he had training wheels on his 50cc dirt bike. Those quickly came off after Pavilion and he took off to the races.

"I just thought it was really cool," Joey said. "I never thought I would be as good as the people I watched and it turned out I became better than the people I was watching."

He now runs a KTM 125 and a KTM 250.

During the off-season this year, Joey will travel to Chesterfield, S.C., where he will train at a motocross club. That off-season training is what helps elevate Joey to a pro-level rider, Spadaro said.

"If he can train in the off-season like the pros do, I think he can be a pro at a higher level," Spadaro said.

Yes, Joey does want to race dirt bikes for a living. It's what he loves to do and he loves to win.

"I enjoy it because I'm good at it," Joey said. "It's just fun to be good at something you love to do."

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Comments
July 21, 2021 - 3:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, Alabama, Oakfield, notify, batavia, Le Roy.
klinkbeilmugjuly212021.jpg
      Jason Klinkbeil

An attorney for a 32-year-old Alabama man in court to be sentenced on multiple crimes expressed regret Wednesday that his client had missed his chance at a drug rehab stint before the man rammed his car into another vehicle on Bliss Road in Oakfield in December.

The timing just didn't work out Christian Catalano suggested before recommending a minimum prison sentence for Jason Allen Klinkbeil on his convictions for grand larceny, 3rd, and falsifying business documents -- one and a half to three years on each count to run concurrently.

Klinkbeil had also previously admitted to first-degree vehicle assault and Victor Mui represented Klinkbeil on that conviction.

The assault incident occurred less than two weeks after Klinkbeil was indicted by the grand larceny on the falsifying business records counts; Mui also asked for a minimum prison term.

Both attorneys said Klinkbeil doesn't have much of a criminal record, noting only one felony conviction for aggravated unauthorized operation, 1st, and should be given some consideration for his admission of guilt and seeking treatment for his substance abuse problem.

Catalano said his client was addicted to opiates.

For his part, Klinkbeil told Judge Charles Zambito that he takes responsibility for his actions and recognizes he has a drug problem he needs to address. He said he's been working and taking care of his family since his arrests in December.

"I realize I had a lot of wrong views before I had a family," Catalano said. "That's why I'm here today, trying to get things straight so I can get back to my family."

At the start of the hearing, Mui said his client wanted to ask for a two-week continuance in the sentencing so he could spend more time with his kids. District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he saw no reason to delay the sentencing and Zambito denied the request.

Friedman had asked Zambito to impose the maximum possible sentence under the terms of the plea agreement, which was five and a half to 11 years.

Zambito said Klinkbeil's criminal actions are an example of "the harm substance abuse or alcohol abuse can produce, not only for yourself but for people around you and people you don't know."

The grand larceny charge, Zambito noted, involved a theft to obtain more drugs, and the falsifying business documents charge stemmed from trying to pawn items taken from a friend.

In the first case, Zambito said Catalano was right. That might have been a case that was eligible for transfer to drug court but in the second case, Zambito said he didn't believe Klinkbeil had accepted responsibility for his actions. Zambito had said that Klinkbeil had in some prior statement tried to blame his friend for the situation.

Klinkbeil, who had mostly been sitting between his attorneys at the defense table with his head down, looked at Zambito at this point and sat forward as if he was about to speak.  He didn't.

Zambito sentenced Klinkbeil to one and a third years on the grand larceny conviction and two to four years on the falsifying business records conviction, with the sentences to run concurrently.

Klinkbeil was sentenced as a second felony offender because of a prior aggravated unlicensed operation conviction, 1st. Contrary to the attorney's statements that Klinkbeil has a minimal criminal record, Zambito noted he's been arrested multiple times and that he had a prior probation violation.

Klinkbeil's prior criminal record includes arrests for:

  • Possession of a controlled substance, 7th, in Le Roy in July 2012
  • Criminal trespass, 3rd, in Le Roy in September 2012
  • Petit larceny in Le Roy in February 2013
  • Petit larceny in the City of Batavia in March 2014
  • A DWAI in Livonia in May 2016
  • Petit larceny in Greece in July 2016
  • AUO, 1st, in Livingston County in October 2016

On the business record charge, Zambito also ordered Klinkbeil to pay $372.60 in restitution.

Then Zambito turned to the vehicular assault conviction, which he said was the far more serious charge, calling it a "road rage" incident.

"You put the physical safety and lives of others at stake," Zambito said.

The judge noted the incongruity of Klinkbeil's desire to take care of his family and the fact that his wife was in the car at the time of the incident.

"This was all fueled by substance abuse," Zambito said. 

When Zambito reiterated that Klinkbeil didn't seem to show any remorse for the falsifying business records, Klinkbeil did speak up but Catalano told him not to speak.

"There must be a prison sentence but must it be the max?" Zambito said. "I'll give you the benefit of the concurrent sentence and give you three-and-a-half to seven years."

Comments
July 21, 2021 - 1:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, alexander.

Editrudis Zavala-Palacio, 52, is accused of first-degree rape with forcible compulsion stemming from an incident which occurred in 2009 at an upper apartment in the first block of Jackson Street in the City of Batavia. He was arrested this month on July 7 at 5:30 p.m. and arraigned in Batavia City Court. He was put in jail on $200,000 cash, $400,000 bond, or $400,000 partially secured bond. No upcoming court date cited. No information provided about the investigator(s).

Shacerie Rivera, 24, was arrested at July 14 on Liberty Street in Batavia and charged with second-degree criminal assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. It is alleged that at 10:23 p.m. July 13 that she cut a person in the arm with a knife; then she is accused of interfering with police as they attempted to take another person into custody. Rivera was arraigned in Batavia City Court and released under the supervision of Genesee Justice. Rivera is due back in court on Aug. 11.

Marquele Tomlin, 30, is charged with second-degree reckless endangerment after a lengthy investigation into a report of an armed robbery at 1 a.m. May 30 on East Avenue in Batavia during which Tomlin was shot. The investigation began about 2:45 the same morning when members of the Batavia Police Department were dispatched to UMMC for a report of a victim with a gunshot wound to the hand. Tomlin stated that he had been shot during a robbery earlier in the night while walking on East Avenue, somewhere between Vine and Elm streets. Police officers, detectives and a canine scoured the area, but were unable to located any evidence of a crime scene. Several other areas of interest through the city were also checked with negative results. Detective Jason Ivison watched hours of security footage and interviewed dozens of people during the course of the investigation. Tomlin is accused of operating a vehicle with a loaded and unholstered firearm on his lap in reckless manner, which caused the firearm to discharge. According to the police report, Tomlin shot himself in the hand and the bullet exited the vehicle in the area of East Avenue and Batavia Middle School, causing a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to another person. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court July 27. There is an ongoing investigation into the vehicle Tomlin was operating that night and a vehicle of interest has been identified. If anyone has information relating to this case, please call Detective Ivison at (585) 345-6312 or through the confidential tip line at www.bataviapolice.org.

Melanie Marrero, 20, is charged with obstruction of governmental administration in the second degree and second-degree harassment. At 10:31 p.m. July 13 on Liberty Street, Marrero was arrested after a complaint that she failed to comply with officer commands, physically resisted arrest and spit on police officers. She was issued an appearance ticket for July 20 in Batavia City Court then released.

Donald Ernest Yott Jr., 32, of Alexander Road, Alexander, is charged with: criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree -- high-capacity ammunition feeding devices; a second count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree -- an assault weapon; and criminal possession of a firearm. On July 20 at 4:20 p.m. Yott was arrested on the charges and arraigned in Alexander Town Court. The charges stem from a search warrant executed by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 6. Yott was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court Sept. 14. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Diehl, assisted by Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Eric Doleman, 51, and Amanda Bowles (no age provided) were arrested and charged with petit larceny. It is alleged that at 9:37 a.m. on July 14 that they took eight pocket knives from a convenience store on East Main Street in Batavia. They are accused of fleeing on foot and were subsequently taken into custody at a separate location. Both were issued appearance tickets and are due in Batavia City Court for arraignment Aug. 3.

Antonio Goodson, 31, is charged with petit larceny. On July 12 at 12:18 p.m., Goodson was arrested for stealing two 30-packs of Budweiser beer from Save-A-Lot in Batavia. He was released on an appearance ticket and was due in Batavia City Court on July 20.

Cynthia M. Gosier, 36, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. After an investigation, Gosier was arrested July 17 on suspicion of shoplifting from Walmart. She was issued an appearance ticket returnable to Town of Batavia Court on Aug. 17. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jenna Ferrando, assisted by Deputy Travis DeMuth.

Nicholas O'Connor, 30, is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in the third degree. At 11:04 p.m. on July 4, he was arrested for allegedly keeping a vehicle beyond the time frame agreed upon with the owner. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court July 27.

Comments
July 21, 2021 - 1:24pm

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After waiting nearly three months for visual screening projections from representatives of a proposed 1.65-megawatt solar system on land owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., the Batavia Town Planning Board got its wish Tuesday night and then took only 12 minutes to approve the site plan and special use permit for the project.

James Taravella, senior civil engineer with LaBella Associates in Orchard Park, had the visualizations in hand as he appeared before the board at its monthly meeting at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

The venture, known as Batavia Solar LLC, calls for the placement of the ground-mounted solar farm at 99 Med Tech Drive, off R. Stephen Hawley Drive across from Genesee Community College.

Taravella showed photos from three different vantage points – east of the property of Robert and Michelle Wood, who reside just east of the site; the corner of R. Stephen Hawley Drive, and the Med Tech Building parking lot. The photos depicted the location as it looks now, the expected condition at the time of planting, and projections five years from now and 10 years from now.

He also said he talked with the Woods earlier in the day and said the couple will be involved in the screening process throughout the project life.

“As we’re out there, they’re more than welcome to say, ‘Hey, can you move that over?’, and they can have direct input on their actual final placement because it’s right by their house,” Taravella said. “One of the things Michelle made really clear was that she would rather have this than have Benderson come in and build a plaza behind her house.”

Planning board member Steve Tanner said he appreciated the simulations but the solar panels, being on a perched hill, will be visible.

“No matter what you do, when you drive down the road, it’s still going to be there and you’re still going to see it,” he said, comparing it to the solar farm on Batavia-Elba Townline Road that is in plain sight.

Following Taravella’s brief presentation, planners accepted the site plan contingent upon town engineering approval and a decommissioning bond, and the special use permit that includes regular maintenance and the installation of no more than three utility poles.

Board approval had been delayed – and tabled -- three times due to the fact that the visual screening projections had not been submitted.

Photo: View from Med Tech Building parking lot, looking east. The Robert and Michelle Wood residence on Batavia Stafford Townline Road can be seen in the background. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 21, 2021 - 11:40am

From City of Batavia -- Bureau of Maintenance:

To Merchants and Businesses:

On July 28, the Center Street Parking Lot will be closed for milling operations. After the milling operations are completed city crews will begin pavement repairs and resurfacing over the next few weeks.

The parking will remain open, but sections will be coned off for pavement repairs and resurfacing. This work will be performed during the business day ( 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and operations are weather dependent.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Bureau of Maintenance at (585) 345-6400, option 1. We appreciate your cooperation in advance.

July 21, 2021 - 10:49am

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“Explore (the) reduction of parking and increase green space. Goal: no parking.”

With that note to himself penciled in along the border of a sketch design showing a proposed parking lot where the Genesee Area Family YMCA currently sits, Michael Mistriner is going back to the drawing board in an attempt to zero in on a final site plan for the Healthy Living Campus project.

Mistriner, principal architect for Clark Patterson Lee in Buffalo, and David Ciurzynski, project manager, appeared before the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night, presenting their ideas of how the $30 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative venture should look upon completion sometime in 2023.

Members of the PDC, while thoroughly impressed with the design of the building that would house a new Genesee Area Family YMCA and medical offices affiliated with Rochester Regional Health and United Memorial Medical Center, weren’t totally on board with other aspects of the site plan. Specifically, the lack of green space along Main Street and a proposed entrance/exit into the campus from Summit Street.

The scope of the project calls for razing three buildings on East Main Street – the existing YMCA, a medical office building (former Cary Hall) and a maintenance building. The proposed new facility will include the two-story, 69,420-square-foot building, off-street parking, new access point from Summit Street and site work/landscaping throughout the complex.

All of the parcels involved have been rezoned from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial).

PARKING VERSUS GREEN SPACE

Ciurzynski, Mistriner and UMMC President Dan Ireland indicated that their intention was to balance the amount of parking around the facility with green space, contending that additional parking would be necessary to accommodate the anticipated increase in business.

The current site plan does show some green space closer to Main Street, backed by a hedgerow to screen that from a 50-space parking lot that is next to the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council building and bumps up against the east wall of the Office for the Aging building.

“This (the green space) comes out as a flat surface and you can see people exercising (in a rendering) so the idea is we want to get out of the building; get on the street and really take advantage of that and building a program around it,” Mistriner said.

The site plan also shows a walkway between the new YMCA/UMMC facility and the Main Street parking area.

“We’re in talks with the GO ART! people to find out how we can utilize the space to activate the music courtyard that they have there and give us a nice visual,” Ciurzynski said. “We want to encourage activity between the two buildings … with hopes that something in the future could go here.”

Planner David Beatty said he liked the idea of green space there, but suggested that it be increased at the expense of eliminating some of the parking. It also was noted that in a Commercial zone, there are no minimum requirements for parking.

BEATTY: MORE OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS

“You have a new building … and we have some minimal ideas about outdoor space,” he said. “You talk about healthy outdoors, well there’s not that many outdoor spaces. So, that’s one of my basic problems about the site."

Beatty said he didn’t see the space being created by the removal of the existing YMCA as being fully utilized, and that prevents residents from getting the most benefit from what is supposed to be a “healthy living” setting.

“Right now, you’ve got little spaces, outdoor spaces, and you’ve got parking lots,” he added.

PDC Member Rebecca Cohen agreed with Beatty, adding that as it currently stands, the campus “doesn’t look like it’s functional.”

Mistriner said he understood where they were was going and drew lines on the design drawing that would expand the green space farther north, about halfway into the proposed parking area.

Later, as they concluded the review and had persuaded Mistriner to rethink the layout, Beatty said, “Ideally, I don’t want any parking there.”

“Outdoor space – it’s a huge opportunity for your facility,” Beatty said.

Ciurzynski replied, “We’ll just have to finish our study on the parking to see what … You have to understand that a significant amount of that parking space will be taken up during regular business hours for the clinic that is on the second floor. We’ve got to balance all of that out.”

IS SUMMIT STREET ACCESS NECESSARY?

PDC members Ed Flynn and Cohen said they questioned the need for an entrance/exit driveway from Summit Street, which would use an open area owned by UMMC, located between two houses on the west side of the street. Plans call for landscaping and buffering with trees the driveway.

Cohen mentioned the amount of vehicle traffic on the street, considering that St. Joseph’s School and Resurrection Parish are on the east side of the road, and also pedestrian traffic of pupils from that school and the Batavia Middle School on Ross Street.

Ciurzynski said a traffic study showed that an access point from Summit is vital to the flow of traffic in and out of the campus, giving motorists an option other than Bank Street, Washington Avenue and (the one-way) Wiard Street. He said he didn’t believe it would interfere with school traffic.

“We would hope that most of this traffic coming out onto Summit Street would be making a right-hand turn whereas the school drop-off is more on the east side of the road, so they should be passing in opposite directions,” he explained.

In any event, before a Summit Street access point would become reality, the residents in that area would have to be contacted about the proposal and a public hearing would have to be held.

Cohen said she thought the project, overall, is “fantastic” but her biggest concern was “integrating it seamlessly into the community – making it walkable, making it more available, and not just a big block in the middle of our downtown.”

LIGHTING UP WIARD STREET

Earlier, Cohen brought up the issue of adequate lighting along Wiard Street, an area that she said “traditionally is a little dicey at night.”

Ciurzynski responded by saying that plans are to place wall lighting on the east side of the new building to illuminate the street, while not having lights shine on adjacent residential properties.

The consultants opened the review by providing samples of the building elements – brick, limestone, extensive use of glass, sunscreens and other environmentally friendly materials that wash easily and also complement the colors and designs of existing buildings in that downtown area. They also said they considered the height of adjacent buildings in their design of the Healthy Living Campus building to ensure a uniform look.

Ciurzynski said he was concerned about the delay in completing the State Environmental Quality Review, which must be done before a contract with the state Department of Health can be signed to release $7.5 million in grant funding for the UMMC portion of the project.

“If we don’t get the SEQR, we don’t finalize our contract and we can’t start drawing funds against that,” he said. “We really need to start drawing funds against that because we need to start some of the demolition and we still have design to pay for and things like that.”

Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall said that since it looks as though the architects were getting closer to a final, approved site plan, that the environmental review could be completed soon, possibly by the PDC’s next meeting on Aug. 17.

Primary sources of funding are $4.075 million in DRI money for the YMCA and the DOH Transformation 2 grant for $7.5 million.

“The balance of it is other foundations and other fundraising that we have done in the area,” Ciurzynski said. “We will have to do conventional financing to build the project, so anytime you do a project like this and you have funding sources that are relying upon you spending the money, and getting reimbursed – as well as public support -- you have to have that money somehow in place for construction.”

He said that more than $11 million has been raised through fundraising efforts thus far.

“We’re getting there; we’re doing really well,” he said.

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Photo at top: Michael Mistriner, left; Dan Ireland and David Ciurzynski present Healthy Living Campus site plan to City Planning & Development Committee, from left, Meg Chilano, Doug Randall, Rebecca Cohen, Matt Gray, Ed Flynn, Duane Preston, David Beatty and John Ognibene; photos at bottom: Mistriner and Ciurzynski; rendering of the building; overhead site plan with Main Street at the bottom of the drawing. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

July 21, 2021 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in UMMC, music, news, batavia, Dr. Harry McCrea.
Video Sponsor

For most of the day, Dr. Harry McCrea is a cardiologist, but on some days, during his breaks, he's UMMC's troubadour, singing and playing his guitar outside the hospital's main entrance.

Last year, during COVID-19, for a little stress release, he started bringing his guitar to work with the intention of sitting outside when weather permitted just so he could relax and practice.

Soon, he started drawing an audience. Other members of the UMMC staff found his music enhanced their own breaks.

July 21, 2021 - 8:12am

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The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night approved the site plan and special use permit application by Quicklee’s to renovate the former Bob Evans Restaurant at 204 Oak St. into a convenience store/fuel station with drive-thru restaurant.

Following a 10-minute discussion that focused on proper signage and traffic flow, the committee unanimously approved both referrals – giving the go-ahead on the site plan contingent upon developers adding “signage to direct vehicles going into the drive-thru from blocking the exit between the canopy and the building so they can exit out onto Noonan Drive.”

The special use permit allows Quicklee’s to operate as a convenience store and quick-service restaurant.

Patricia Bittar, director of land development projects at WM Schutt Associates, and Lou Terragnoli, director of real estate for Quicklee’s, appeared before the PDC at the City Centre Council Board Room in anticipation of gaining final approvals for the project, which was introduced (and reported first on The Batavian) in late April.

Plans call for the reuse of the 3,771-square-foot restaurant and involves construction of a four-pump fuel station island with canopy and underground fuel storage tanks. The convenience store with retail fuel sales will take up about two-thirds of the space, with the drive-through restaurant – Quicklee’s is in negotiations with Tim Hortons – using the remaining space.

Last month, the PDC conducted an environmental review, which showed no adverse effects, but held off on approving the site plan or special use permits until the applicant provided details on traffic flow patterns, including an updated study by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Also, in June, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved area variances that permit the business to be within 500 feet of a church (Emmanuel Baptist at 190 Oak St. (corner of Noonan Drive) and to have 40 parking spaces instead of the required 68.

Questions from the PDC last night focused on signage on Noonan Drive to ensure that motorists are informed of the proper way to access the location as members were concerned about the stacking of vehicles, especially near the fuel pump island.

The DOT traffic study submitted to the PDC calls for the removal of a proposed right-out driveway (onto Route 98) and that “all site access utilize the existing Noonan Drive roadway.” Additionally, the internal access driveway will remain that connects to the Super 8 Hotel parking lot behind the restaurant.

The study also indicated that during peak times of 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., the business is expected to generate an additional 79 entering/71 exiting vehicle trips, and 53 entering/55 exiting vehicle trips, respectively. Terragnoli said the site plan can accommodate stacking of up to 15 cars.

Terragnoli said renovations of the inside of the restaurant and construction of the fuel island will start in September, with completion by the end of the year. Currently, the Quicklee’s chain has 23 locations – mostly in Livingston and Monroe counties.

Photo at top: Architect's rendering of the new Quicklee's business at 204 Oak St.

July 20, 2021 - 6:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, elba.

A motor-vehicle accident is reported on Main Street between Church Street and Oak Orchard Road in Elba.

Injuries are reported.

Elba fire dispatched. Mercy EMS, including a second ambulance requested to the scene.

UPDATE 6:57 p.m.: A first responder reports no vehicles blocking traffic. Two vehicles are parked in the driveway of a house.

UPDATE 6:58 p.m.: Only one vehicle had people in it. A third ambulance requested to the scene because three children were involved.

UPDATE 6:59 p.m.: Mercy Flight is not available.

UPDATE 7:03 p.m.: Darien Byron ambulance requested to the scene.

UPDATE 7:04 p.m.: Route 98 from Church Street to Oak Orchard is being shut down.

UPDATE 7:10 p.m.: An officer informs dispatch there was a single vehicle "occupied times five" struck a parked vehicle.

UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: Three children are being transported in three separate ambulances to Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 8:14 p.m.: Elba assignment back in service. The roadway is reopened.

July 20, 2021 - 6:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thruway, news.

Toxic smoke is reportedly blowing over the Thruway from a fire in Amherst.

The westbound Thruway is closed.

Emergency responders can use the Thruway to respond to a commercial building fire in Amherst.  

Pembroke, Indian Falls, Darien, Corfu, are on stand by for the fire.

UPDATE 6:54 p.m.: First responders are informed the Thruway is backed up with traffic.

July 20, 2021 - 5:07pm

Update: July 24, 9:30 a.m.

Comment from Anne Constantino, president and CEO of Horizon Health Services, which has an office in Batavia:

“We are grateful to the Attorney General for her success in this settlement that will absolutely deliver much needed resources in our efforts to prevent, combat and treat the serious public health crisis of addiction.”

-----------------

The executive director of a local substance use prevention and treatment agency is hailing today’s announcement that four major pharmaceutical distributors are close to an agreement to pay out $26 billion to states and municipalities for their roles in perpetuating the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“Yes, this is welcome news and I’m just hoping the money ends up going to assist individuals and families struggling with opioid addiction,” said John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. “It definitely is needed to stabilize the treatment system that has been impacted negatively by the recent pandemic.”

According to multiple media outlets, Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen are near a deal that would resolve multiple legal challenges as well as pay for prevention, treatment and recovery services throughout the United States.

Genesee County Attorney Kevin Earl said it will be awhile before it is known how much money will be allocated locally.

The New York City law firm of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC is representing Genesee County as well as several other counties, Earl said.

“Most of the particulars are up in the air right now,” Earl said. “The county has retained this law firm to represent us in the litigation and they have advised us of the settlement with three of the distributors and Johnson & Johnson, but it’s too early to tell what Genesee County or any other participant in the litigation will get.”

A published report in today’s online edition of The New York Times indicates that the pact has yet to be finalized and “could still fall apart or have significant changes.”

The Times’ story also included the following:

-- According to lawyers familiar with negotiations, Johnson & Johnson, which made an opioid painkiller and a fentanyl patch and supplied opium-based ingredients to other drug manufacturers, would pay $3.7 billion in the first three years and $1.3 billion over the next six years. It had already shut down its supply business and discontinued its opioids, and agreed to refrain from selling opioids.

-- The distributors as well as several manufacturers are in the midst of a trial in a case brought by the State of New York and two of its counties. This morning, Letitia James, the attorney general for New York, announced a $1.1 billion deal with the distributors to settle that case. That money would be a part of the overall $26 billion settlement, but so far, it is the only deal that has been formally agreed to. Payments to New York State could begin in two months, Ms. James said.

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he was “fairly certain” that the money awarded to the county is for specific purposes, unlike the tobacco settlement, which gave counties more leeway to use the money for general operations.

“This money would have to go towards specifically combatting opioids,” he said. “So, it would lead to us partnering with agencies in the community to help deliver these services – agencies such as GCASA and others.”

Marcus Molinaro, president of the New York State County Executives Association, said in a press release that the settlement “comes at a crucial moment as counties across the state and nation grapple with a startling resurgence in overdose deaths.”

“No amount of money can bring back the lives lost to the opioid epidemic, but it can honor those lost by investing in prevention, education and treatment services to save lives,” he said.

“New York’s county executives were proud to work in collaboration with Attorney General Letitia James to pass legislation creating an Opioid Settlement Fund to ensure those most responsible for plunging us into this crisis, and not local taxpayers, pay for treatment, recovery, and abatement efforts critical to defeating this deadly scourge.”

Comments
July 20, 2021 - 3:05pm
posted by Press Release in news, Bethany, Divide NY Genesee Co., east bethany.

Press release:

All are welcome to attend a meeting on the topic of "Divide NY Genesee Co." at 7 p.m. Monday, July 26 at Bethany Town Hall.

It is located at 10510 Bethany Center Road in East Bethany.

Attend to learn more about this plan and how we can begin to implement it here in Genesee County!

We ask that you please RSVP to: [email protected]

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