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June 28, 2019 - 12:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in YMCA, Siliver Sneaker, news, batavia, Seniors.

 

Above, Doris Tootell, seated, and her daughter, Joan Stevens, at the YMCA Thursday morning.

Submitted photo and information from the YMCA in Batavia.

Doris Tootell is a local resident who attends the Silver Sneaker exercise class twice a week at the YMCA in Batavia.

That's been her routine for 11 years now and she has no plans to change it. Just because she turns 98 tomorrow (DOB: June 29, 1921) is certainly not reason enough.

"Doris never complains and just keeps going,” says Bonnie Versage.

As for Tootell, she credits YMCA group instructor Becky Swanson for her stick-to-itiveness and says the workouts help with her aches and pains. 

Her friends at the Y are so inspired by her liveliness and get-up-and-go spirit that they held a little celebration for her at yesterday's class.

“(She's the) most caring woman I have ever met,” said friend Nancy Speed.

You know she really cares for you when she bakes you a pie, and her gal pal Brenda Cackett says she bakes pies for all her friends."

We should all be so lucky!

June 28, 2019 - 12:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Pavilion, news.

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A house fire is reported at 6616 Junction Road, Pavilion.

Both occupants were exiting the house

Pavilion fire, Le Roy fire, and Stafford dispatched.

UPDATE 12:44 a.m.: Fully involved structure fire with flames coming through the roof. City fire and Alexander dispatched.

UPDATE 12:50 a.m.: A chief calls for a defensive attack.

UPDATE 12:54 a.m.: National Grid called to the scene.

UPDATE 1:40 a.m.: Caledonia to proceed to the scene and Bergen to fill in at Le Roy.

UPDATE 3 a.m.: Information and photos from Alecia Kaus/Video News Service: The house is a total loss. The homeowner (listed on the county tax website as Kenneth Reamer) woke up to a fire in the house. A friend was sleeping on the couch. The owner called 9-1-1 grabbed one of his cats and ran out. The other cat was seen running out of the house. No cause of origin of the fire yet released.

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June 27, 2019 - 9:33pm

Defense counsel called its first witness, Sgt. Jason Saile from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, to testify about the motor-vehicle accident reconstruction that he conducted Aug. 11 after a hit-and-run accident in Darien that killed 18-year-old Connor Lynskey. 

Saile said his assignment was to document the evidence found at the accident scene on Sumner Road and draw conclusions about the vehicle-pedestrian collision based on his certification in accident reconstruction.

In Saile’s accident reconstruction report, he noted that the only environmental factor that may have influenced alleged drunk driver Jennifer Serrano was decreased visibility due to the darkness of the unlit road. Otherwise, Sumner Road was clear, dry and its pavement relatively even.

When defense attorney Frank LoTempio asked whether intoxication played a role in the accident, Saile responded with, “Absolutely.” The sargeant maintains that alcohol consumption around the time of the Jason Aldean concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center affected the perception of both pedestrian Lynskey and driver Serrano as they departed the performance. 

Saile also attested to the fact that the crash data reporter in Serrano’s Jeep did not detect any signs of heavy braking, swerving or a change in velocity as she traveled along Sumner Road. Her vehicle, according to Saile, never slowed down or maneuvered at any point before or during the impact with Lynskey. 

Earlier testimony from Nathan Balduf, deputy and motor-vehicle inspector with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, offered that there were no vehicle mechanical failures in relation to the accident. Saile testified that no skid marks from Serrano’s vehicle were observed on the pavement or gravel shoulder.

Lynskey’s behavior on the night of his death was brought into question before jurors. LoTempio alleged that Lynskey was in violation of NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law 1156b, which states pedestrians must walk against the direction of traffic where sidewalks are not provided. The landing spot of Lynskey’s body indicated he may have walked or jogged in the same direction as Serrano’s Jeep.

A diagram of the accident scene on Sumner Road was also produced by Saile during his investigation. Although Saile reported an 87-foot debris field along both the road and the shoulder, the sergeant said it was difficult to determine the exact location of impact due to the unknown velocities of both Lynskey and Serrano. 

Saile also testified he is uncertain of his initial finding that the collision occurred on the pavement rather than on the shoulder. This discrepancy evoked emotion in Frank LoTempio, who remarked in his opening statement that Lynskey may have been hit because he was intoxicated and tripped on the pavement in front of Serrano’s vehicle. 

Tensions peaked when District Attorney Lawrence Friedman objected to questioning about a footprint found in the gravel and the possibility of Lynskey falling. Friedman argued LoTempio did not establish evidence or expertise for Saile to testify that Lynskey tripped. 

LoTempio insisted the sergeant could speak to the evidence he used when preparing his motor-vehicle accident reconstruction. The attorneys grew so animated that Judge Charles Zambito excused the jury for a 10-minute adjournment and called a bench conference. 

Serrano is charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it, driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Jurors will attempt to reconstruct the accident scene for themselves as the trial continues at 9 a.m. tomorrow in Genesee County Court.

June 27, 2019 - 9:00pm

The executive director of GO ART! spoke plainly to Batavia Development Corporation board members this morning -- it needs funding ASAP in order to make badly needed improvements to its headquarters -- the historic Seymour Building at 201 E. Main St.

GO ARTS!'s Gregory Hallock asked board members to provide financial backing for a $50,000 loan, which would make the nonprofit eligible for funding from the NY Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Arts and Cultural Facilities Improvement Program Mid-Size Capital Project.

The NYSCA grant is available through the Empire State Development Regional Council Capital Fund (REDC) initiative. GO ART! must prove its ability to finance restoration projects in order to qualify for $150,000 in state funding. 

Hallock’s request comes after the New York Preservation League conducted an assessment of the GO ART! property and identified areas for improvement totaling $500,000. Hallock determined that at least $176,000 is required for immediate changes to the building. 

High-priority needs include the installation of both an air-conditioning unit and elevator. Hallock said he wants second-floor offices and meeting spaces to be available for rent within the next few months in order for the building to remain accessible and easy to use.

Hallock said time is of the essence. The REDC grant application is due July 27, but GO ART! will not know if it received that state funding until December. He's also waiting to hear back about grant applications to organizations in Buffalo and Rochester, but those responses will not arrive until August. 

“$500,000 is what [the improvement cost] is marked at now,” Hallock said. “They said this number is going to grow substantially. So, that’s why there is a priority on my list of things to get done to get this grant money. Also, the REDC doesn’t guarantee this money is going to be there from year to year.”

In response, Rachael Tabelski, BDC director of economic development, proposed that the BDC could back the $50,000 loan, so NYSCA could see GO ART! has access to funds for this capital project.

“We would be issuing a long-term, conditional offer to match these state funds,” Tabelski said.

Tabelski offered that BDC could set aside $50,000 of its Revolving Loan Fund for GO ART! and issue a conditional loan approval with an expiration date. Then, Hallock could return periodically with updates on the project scope and costs. 

According to this proposed plan, the board could keep extending its conditional loan approval until the grant is potentially awarded to GO ART! Hallock noted that GO ART! may never have to tap into the loan if it qualifies for the grant. 

“We get repaid with the funds down the road. One way or another, this will go through. So, this is a fairly safe loan,” said Pierluigi "Pier" Cipollone, BDC board president.

The board did not vote on the conditional loan today, but Hallock is slated to update board members on GO ART!’s progress toward grants and renovations. He will return at the board’s meeting at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 22 in Batavia City Centre.

June 27, 2019 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, news, fire.

A caller reports hearing an explosion in the area of 1600 Ham Road, Alabama.

A first responder reports smoke showing.

Alabama fire responding for an investigation.

UPDATE 6:31 p.m.: A chief reports that the resident at 1600 also heard the explosion but that it wasn't at that property.

June 27, 2019 - 6:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.

A car-bicycle accident is reported at 56 Ellicott St., near the former Santy Tires location.

No word on injuries.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

June 27, 2019 - 1:13pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in Oakfield, Oakfield Community Bible Church, news.

In photo above, Shanda Spink, left, checks out the free information and games for her children, which were handed out by Norma Coleman, center, and Rita Smith at a community picnic sponsored by the Oakfield Community Bible Church Tuesday evening.

OAKFIELD – With a new pastor and determination to grow their congregation, the Oakfield Community Bible Church is embarking on a program of community involvement.

“Our main objective is to reach out to the community, invite them in and share with them the good news,” said the new pastor, Jack McMullen, at a church picnic Tuesday evening, to which the community was invited.

McMullen didn’t always want to be a pastor, he said. When he was 17 growing up in Gates, he had a scholarship to Colgate Rochester Divinity School, but he asked why he would want to be a pastor when they didn’t make any money.

“My father was an engineer, so I went to Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College and the University of Rochester,” McMullen said. “At the end of a 38-year career, I was project engineer for Jones Chemical. But when they moved their corporate headquarters to Sarasota, Fla., I was out of a job.”

He became very distressed, he said.

“Then one night at 3 a.m., a voice woke me and said, ‘Are you going to listen to me now,’ ” McMullen said.

He told his father-in-law, who was a pastor, and he helped McMullen get into seminary in Richmond, Va. That was 17 years ago.

He served in several assignments during those years, including 10 years as chaplain at the Thruway truck stop on Route 77.

He is still pulpit supply for the Independent Baptist Church in four Western New York counties. That means when a congregation is without its pastor for a time (vacation, illness, sabatical) or if a church doesn't have a pastor, a "free-agent" preacher is called in as needed.

As a former music minister at the Oakfield church, he knew the former pastor Ken Comer, so when Comer left, it was the perfect opportunity for McMullen to step in.

The congregation of Oakfield Community Bible Church was formed in 2010 after members of the Presbyterian Church left in protest of new beliefs supported by the Presbytery. The new congregation, under the leadership of Pastor Bill Smith, met at the Oakfield Rod and Gun Club, and then at the Oakfield Fire Hall. 

“When the Presbytery put the church up for sale, we came back and bought it,” said Rita Smith, of Darien, an elder of the current church. 

They were able to purchase the building for $50,000, plus $5,000 for all its contents.

During the period of turmoil, part of the old congregation did a lot of renovations, Smith said, adding that they are fortunate that although their congregation is small, they have a lot of “doers” and “givers.”

McMullen said they are growing, but slowly. Their goal is to increase their outreach in the community to make the church more visible. 

Tuesday’s picnic was an example of that outreach. A Vendor Blender later in summer is another, as well as a harvest dinner in the fall for anyone who wants to come. At Christmas, the church plans to fill gift bags for residents of School House Manor. 

Taking part in Tuesday’s picnic was Paul Ohlson, of Batavia, and his Care-A-Van team, who cooked hamburgers. The Care-a-Van Band played music, while Judy Piscitello sang. Church member Norma Coleman greeted families and handed out games and crafts for children to do, while their parents enjoyed fellowship.

McMullen is also part of the Care-A-Van team, he said. 

Worship at Oakfield Community Bible Church is at 10 a.m. Sundays. There is Bible study at 7 p.m. Wednesdays all year and at 10 a.m. Thursdays, except during July and August. 

The church is located at 82 North Main St.

In photo below, Care-a-Van Ministries brought their van and band to a picnic Tuesday at Oakfield Community Bible Church to welcome its new pastor Jack McMullen.

June 27, 2019 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, Medal of Honor, chris collins, NY-27.
Video Sponsor

On Monday, Rep. Chris Collins gave a short floor speech in the U.S. House of Representatives recognizing and honoring David Bellavia on receiving the Medal of Honor. The Batavian asked for and received a video copy of the speech to share with our readers.

Also, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who once represented our area in Congress and knows David as a result, issued the following statement on Twitter

All of New York is proud of the courageous actions of WNY native Staff Sgt. David Bellavia while under fire.

 

His actions saved lives and his Medal of Honor is well deserved.

June 27, 2019 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emory Upton, batavia, news, David Bellavia, history.

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At the Pentagon yesterday, walking down the hall toward the auditorium where the ceremony was held to induct David Bellavia into the Hall of Heroes, I noticed several Civil War displays, so I immediately started looking for anything related to Gen. Emory Upton. I spotted this small placard.

As I was trying to line up a shot, a Pentagon official walked up behind me and said, "Sir, photography is not authorized in this area of the Pentagon." I said, "But this is Emery Upton -- he's from our hometown; there's a big monument to him ..." the official said, "OK, hurry up."

Batavia is now permanently represented in the Pentagon by Upton, Charles F. Rand, and David Bellavia.

June 26, 2019 - 9:17pm

Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Robert C. Henning took the stand today and recalled details about his arrest of alleged drunk driver Jennifer Serrano the night of a hit-and-run accident in Darien that killed 18-year-old Connor Lynskey of Hinckley last August. 

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman conducted a direct examination of the deputy in Genesee County Court today. Henning said that at approximately 1 a.m. on Aug. 11, he was traveling northbound on Route 77 to the county jail with an inmate who had just been arraigned in Darien Town Court.

Henning said that if Serrano's Jeep Wrangler had stayed on the shoulder of the road after she backed out of a driveway, he would have driven past her. However, the Jeep suddenly pulled onto Route 77 in front of the deputy's vehicle, which caused him to slam on his brakes to avoid a collision and swerve into the southbound lane of 77.

The deputy said he turned on his emergency lights and pulled over the Jeep moments after the near-collision. Serrano would have been charged with a minor traffic violation until Henning suspected she was impaired. Henning said he observed Serrano’s glassy eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on her breath.

Both Friedman and defense attorney Frank LoTempio entered Henning’s body camera footage into evidence so jurors could evaluate Henning and Serrano’s behaviors for themselves. Videos showed Serrano’s difficulty exiting her vehicle and maintaining her balance as she met Henning behind her vehicle.

Henning’s testimony revealed that Serrano’s statement to him about her whereabouts on Aug. 10 was not accurate. She said she traveled from Silver Creek, near Angola, to pick up her friend Candace Gilden from the Jason Aldean concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. In reality, Serrano drove from Derby to the Town of Darien to also attend the concert. 

Henning said he could understand almost everything he was told by Serrano during the investigation. Friedman raised the question of whether Serrano’s alleged intoxication decreased her understanding of Henning’s directions. Serrano repeatedly asked about contacting family members, going to her friend’s home, and what was going to happen to herself and her vehicle. 

The deputy consistently answered her questions with the same answers, yet Serrano continued to ask them. In the body camera footage, Serrano also appeared to struggle with the instructions and sobriety test demonstrations given to her several times by Henning.

Henning testified that Serrano failed her "horizontal gaze nystagmus test" in which he moved a writing pen in front of Serrano as she attempted to follow its tip at different angles with her eyes.

During the walk-and-turn test, Serrano started the test too soon, raised her arms for balance and needed assistance to stay upright. Serrano did not walk heel to toe in a straight line, nor did she pivot correctly while turning nor take enough steps. Serrano therefore failed the test -- both when she wore flip-flops and while walking barefoot.

Serrano also failed a test where she was asked to raise her foot off the ground for half a minute, because she swayed, raised her arms for balance, and set her foot down before reaching 30 seconds. 

Henning said that when he asked Serrano to perform the alphabet from letter E to R, she failed to follow his instructions because she recited E through S before remembering she only needed to recite through R. LoTempio argued that his client performed the test correctly regardless of the small mistake.

Serrano lastly needed to blow into an Alco-Sensor breath-alcohol tester for a duration of time in order for an accurate blood-alcohol content reading to register. Since Serrano’s first test was insufficient and she avoided several attempts to submit to the test afterward, Henning placed her under arrest. 

During testimony today, Henning said Serrano also signed three refusal warning forms at the Batavia Police Department for refusing to submit to a DataMaster alcohol detection test in Batavia. She was later taken to Darien Town Court where her driver's license was suspended and then released from custody with tickets for allegedly drinking while intoxicated.

Serrano was charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it, driving while intoxicated, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. 

Serrano never reported hitting anything during the four-and-a-half hours she was in the presence of Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and a judge. LoTempio countered that no law enforcement officials noticed her vehicle's damaged windshield and right-side rear-view exterior mirror until it was discovered on Aug. 12. 

LoTempio challenged Henning’s execution of the tests during cross examination by claiming that sobriety tests only indicate intoxication, if they are all performed correctly. Henning maintained that traffic, darkness and the slight slope of Route 77 were factors that should not have a significant impact on Serrano’s sobriety-test performance.

A pregnant pause filled the courtroom after LoTempio asked Henning a final question. If Serrano performed so poorly on tests while supposedly intoxicated with a BAC of 0.8, how could Lynskey have conducted himself normally while he was traveling on foot along Sumner Road with a 0.16 BAC at the time he was struck by Serrano’s vehicle? 

Her trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning at Genesee County Court.

June 26, 2019 - 6:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, news.

 

Video Sponsor

 

David Bellavia, the 43-year-old Batavia resident who yesterday received the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump in a ceremony at the White House, today was inducted to the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon.

This video is an edited version of a video of the ceremony produced by Department of Defense to provide the highlights of the induction and Bellavia's induction speech.

To view the full DoD recording of the ceremony, click here.

June 26, 2019 - 6:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, news, pembroke.

A possible serious injury one-car accident is reported in Pembroke at 555 Akron Road. A male in the back seat of a vehicle is inconscious. Mercy Flight in on standby. Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments are responding, along with Mercy medics.

The location is between Marble and Remsen roads.

UPDATE 6:50 p.m.: East Pembroke Fire Police are called to set up a landing zone near the crash site.

UPDATE 7:13 p.m.: One patient is being transported to ECMC by Mercy medics.

UPDATE 7:16 p.m.: A patient is being transported to a hospital by Mercy Flight. The assignment is back in service.

June 26, 2019 - 4:41pm

BERGEN -- A plexiglass window painting by artist David Burke (in photo above) was dedicated in Bergen’s Sage Pavilion last week. Titled "Technicolor Woodland Sunset," the work was completed thanks to a Ripple grant from the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.

About 25 people attended the dedication ceremony in which the artwork was unveiled. 

Those present included the mayor, village administrator Cortney Gale, town councilwoman Anne Sapienza, village trustees Bob Fedele and Vickie Almquist, Jodi Fisher from GO ART! and friends and family of Burke. Fisher is coordinator of the Decentralized Grant Program, which provided funds for the art work. 

The window is the “jewel” of the Sage Pavilion, said Bergen Mayor Anna Marie Barclay.

The Sage Pavilion was created when the village allowed the Department of Public Works to rehabilitate its old, deteriorating water pump building and turn it into an all-season pavilion, which Barclay said has become the hub of the community.

On May 5, the village was awarded the New York Conference of Mayors Local Government Achievement Award for its innovation and efficiency exhibited by the project. By that date, the Sage Pavilion had already hosted 65 events by local residents.

Photo by Virginia Kropf.

June 26, 2019 - 4:04pm

Photos and information submitted by Laura Luft.

ELBA — Three contestants are in the running for the 2019 Elba Onion Queen.

This is the 72nd year of the pageant and the winner will be crowned Saturday July 13th, at the Elba Betterment Committee Family Fun Fest, immediately following the parade at noon in the Elba Park.

Contestants are:

Morgan Harrington (photo above)

I am Aaron and Danielle Harrington's first daughter. My dad grew up in Elba and is well known for our family’s produce/nursery business. Although my mom did not grow up in Elba, she makes sure to be very involved in our community activities, events, and groups.

Both my parents are Air Force veterans. Their bravery and strength has always inspired and pushed me to be the best I can be. I have a younger sister, Madison Harrington, and many, many, different kinds of pets. I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. I love my family more than anything.

I enjoy reading, writing, and playing soccer. I am the officer for almost every club at school: Class of 2020, student council, SZA, SNHS, GSA, SADD, and Revue Staff. I also enjoy participating in mock trial and Page Turners. I am a future teacher and play soccer year-round. I am also involved in 4-H with showing, raising and breeding rabbits. 4-H has brought a lot of joy to my life.

After graduating high school I hope to attend the NTID college at RIT or Keuka College. I plan on majoring in American Sign Language/English Interpreting. My goal is to be specialized in legal interpreting.

Kelly Mickey (photo above)

My parents, Joe and Sarah, along with my sisters Halle and Laney share interesting family dynamics. Juggling different sports, babysitting my sisters, and caring for my family pets are all par for the course.

My father is my biggest role model inspiring me during soccer while teaching me work ethics, and helping me during hard times. There is never a dull moment with my siblings. I am the oldest and it is my job to be their role model. Despite their energetic personalities I love them very much. My mother is a source of encouragement and honesty, I would not have made it through this far without her. Although our hectic schedules we always make time for family.

I love spending time outdoors. I like hunting and fishing and playing many sports. Soccer, basketball and track take up most of my free time. Soccer is my main passion, and I have been playing since I was 4 years old. In school I play sports year-round.

I also take advantage of as many volunteering opportunities as I can during the school year. Outside of school I spend time with my friends and family members. I enjoy working out and attending sporting camps.

I plan to attend college and become a dental hygienist. I really want to play soccer at the college of level. I want to do a lot of traveling, but eventually come back and live in Elba.

Isabella Riner (photo above)

My name is Isabella Riner, but everyone calls me Izzy. I grew up in Elba with my mom, dad, dog and two cats.

My dad is a farmer while my mom is the Elba school counselor. Being an only child has allowed me to have a special bond with my parents, and has pushed me to be extremely close to all of my cousins. My grandparents, on both sides, have lived in Elba.

Being a in close proximity to most of my family has been a blessing especially getting to see my grandparents on a regular basis.

In my limited spare time, I try to fill my time with activities that better myself and my community. You can often find me weight lifting at Pine Hill fitness or jogging through the village of Elba.

Additionally my dad and I hit tennis balls whenever we are both free. I often hang out with my closest friends or take advantage of the National Honor Society volunteer opportunities. I love painting and digging into scientific research papers. My friends and family, however, love that I have a passion for baking.

Eventually I would like to be a pediatrician or a gynecologist. I am an active member of the students against destructive decisions, Student Athletic Association, student council, National Honor Society, Gay Straight Alliance Club and Revue Staff all while being the Class of 2020’s President.

I play soccer and tennis for the school but take tennis lessons frequently.

I also volunteer with Friends of Strong and work at Batavia Sports Park to keep myself busy.

Additionally I attended the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Conference and the World Leadership Conference in Chicago last year.

After graduation I hope to attend a college or university for biology well on a pre-med path. I would love to go out out of state for college in order to broaden my experiences. I would also enjoy the freedom of being out of state.

Hopefully my tennis career continues after high school and I also hope I can coach young children in tennis someday.

June 26, 2019 - 12:35pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, town of batavia, solar farms, Brach Machine Inc..

The solar farm boom is upon us, which means that more and more rural residents are looking to their municipal leaders to inform them of rules and regulations pertaining to these green-energy producing systems.

That’s one of the reasons why Nancy Brach of 5168 Ellicott Street Road in the Town of Batavia is inviting her neighbors to attend an informational meeting at 6 p.m. this Friday (June 28) at her home. She said the meeting will take place rain or shine, and dessert will be provided.

“We’re having this meeting due to a lack of communication about these projects and to learn what is allowed,” Brach said. “Why are people not notified beforehand? And if something does come up again, we want to have contact information to reach these people (who live near a proposed solar farm site).”

Specifically, Brach and other Ellicott Street Road residents who attended a Batavia Town Planning Board meeting last week were upset about a proposed solar farm installation on land owned by Donald Partridge.

They felt they hadn’t received adequate advance notification of the project, which ended up being denied by the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals due to the proposed size of 40 acres.

“So this could have taken place with no input at all if not for two people who printed out fliers and left them at our houses last weekend,” she said. “And that is not right. Bill (her husband) and I now read the (legal) notices in the paper, but I doubt we would have noticed that even if we had seen it.”

The Brachs are owners of Brach Machine, which is located at 4814 Ellicott Street Road.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said the application by Truesdale Solar for the Partridge property could be resubmitted if it were reduced to conform to code (maximum of 20 acres).

He added that if a vote needs to be taken again, the same property owners within 500 feet of the proposed site would be notified by mail.

Although Brach’s home is more than 500 feet away, she believes more should be done to let people know about these projects other than being on the Town’s website.

Brach’s concerns over solar farms go beyond notification methods, however.

“Our meeting will be for awareness,” she said. “These projects benefit two parties -- the person leasing the property and the company installing the solar equipment. The town and the people of the town do not benefit.

“And the funds for these projects come from the taxpayers. These projects do not pay for themselves, they are only profitable with the subsidies we, as taxpayers, fund.”

She decried the expenses to the Town involved in zoning, planning and legal costs, and said that the projects are not self-supporting and should not be permitted until they are.

“And the 20-year bonds may or may not be enough to dismantle the equipment when the time comes, if they even last that long. Plus, people lose the beautiful country vistas that they hoped to enjoy for a lifetime.”

Brach said she thought that the Town of Stafford had a policy “more protective” of the rights of its residents, and hoped that some of Stafford’s ideas could be incorporated into Batavia’s policy.

In the end, she hopes Friday’s meeting will mobilize residents to speak out.

“As a taxpayer, I resent paying for projects that are not profitable just to benefit an individual and a company,” she said. “Luckily, I can afford it. But there are many people who cannot and we need to stand up for them, and for what is right.”

June 26, 2019 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Court, batavia, news.

Durin Rogers, running to move up from part-time City Court judge to full-time, won the Republican primary vote Tuesday, beating attorney Ben Bonarigo, 644 votes to 396 votes.

Rogers also won on the primary lines for Conservative and Independence by 43-16 and 48-34, respectively.

Though Bonarigo was unable to win the Republican line for the general election in November, he will still appear on the ballot on the Democratic line.  

Bonarigo faced no challenge for the Democratic line.

June 26, 2019 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Le Roy, Pavilion, notify.

A 49-year-old Le Roy woman died Tuesday after suffering serious injuries in a motor-vehicle accident on Route 20 in Pavilion on Monday.

Holly C. Neuffer was driving a 2010 Nissan Murano westbound on Route 20, according to the Sheriff's Office, when she failed to negotiate a curve in the road and went off the north shoulder. The Nissan struck a tree head on in the vicinity of 7550 Route 20 at 3:35 p.m.

Neuffer was transported by Le Roy Ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital.

A medical examination will be required to determine whether Neuffer died as a result of her injuries or from another medical condition.

The crash remains under investigation. Conducting the investigation are Chief Deputy Brian Frieday, Sgt. Andrew Hale, Investigator James Diehl, Deputy Ryan DeLong, and Deputy Robert Henning.

Assisting at the scene where the Le Roy Fire Department, Pavilion Fire Department, Mercy EMS, and State troopers.

June 26, 2019 - 8:27am

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The opportunity to put some underutilized property back on the tax rolls and spur additional economic development has Batavia City Council members reacting positively to a proposed zoning change that would recognize public storage units within the Batavia Municipal Code.

Council, during Monday night’s Conference meeting, voted to move forward to its July 8 Business meeting a resolution that would include public storage units in Industrial zones contingent upon obtaining a special use permit.

Back in January, Peter Yasses, of Byron, had requested the change in order for him to construct a storage unit facility on vacant property at 54 Cedar St.

His petition was reviewed and supported by the Batavia Planning & Development Committee, which issued a definition of public storage units as a building or buildings comprised of separate rental units of varying size, with or without outside storage, for private storage of personal property by the general public.

Curiously, public storage units were not included in any zoning regulations currently on the books.

“The zoning change is to include public storage units as an allowed use,” said Matt Worth, Department of Public Works director. “They had not been identified in any of the zones prior to this.”

Worth said that City Council can proceed in one of three ways – accept the PDC recommendation “as is” and forward to the Genesee County Planning Board for review, make changes which can be sent directly to county planners, or send the proposal back to the PDC for its review and comment before going to county planners.

Once signed off by all, a public hearing and local law resolution would be the final steps to adopting the zoning modification, said Worth, adding that public storage units would have to be at least 100 feet away from residential property.

Contacted by telephone on Tuesday afternoon, Yasses said he formed 54 Cedar LLC for the purpose of placing six or eight storage units over time on the 7-acre lot across from the DeWitt Recreation Area.

“I bought the land last year and we plan to clean it up and make it look really nice. We want it to look good for the city,” he said.

Yasses, who also owns Yasses Trucking & Construction, said he is waiting for permits from the Department of Environmental Conservation – he believes that remedial work will not be necessary – and for final approval from Genesee County and City planners and Council.

“I would like to put two or three out there to start,” Yasses said, adding that he thinks he will name the business Cedar Street Self-Storage. “With Guy Clark (owner of Cedar Street Sales & Rental) putting up a warehouse next door, the area will look much nicer.”

Yasses said his investment will surpass a half-million dollars when considering that he has to remove numerous trees, strip the topsoil and bring in gravel and stone for the base before starting construction of the units.

“It will be something that in two or three years the City will be proud of,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

He also is planning a similar project for Route 237 in Byron -- north of Route 262.

In other action, Council moved the following items for consideration next month:

-- Resolutions to contract with Grove Roofing Services Inc. of Buffalo in the amount of $664,080 to replace the leaking City Centre Mall concourse roof and to use an additional $100,000 from the Facility Reserve fund to cover both the base bid ($509,680) and the alternate 1 bid ($154,400).

According to Worth, the base bid includes the central, east and north concourse areas and is within the existing budget funds while the alternate 1 bid covers the south and southwest concourse.

“We’re looking at a full transformation, except for the hallway near Dan’s Tire Service and the entryway silo,” Worth said.

The City received four bids for the project, with Grove Roofing coming in at more than $100,000 less than the next lowest bidder. Worth said he is confident in Grove’s ability to tackle such an extensive project.

Council President Eugene Jankowski expressed the sentiment of the entire board when he stated, “We want to see those buckets go away!”

-- Scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. July 8 for the City to act as a “pass through” for Genesee Dental to apply for a NYS Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant.

Patrick Krough, DDS, Genesee Dental owner, is looking to relocate from the City Centre Mall to the former Continental Beauty building at 215 E. Main St. and expand his practice.

According to Rachael Tabelski, Batavia Development Corp. director of economic development, Genesee Dental plans to invest $1.3 million in rehabilitation of the vacant structure and create 18 new full-time equivalent jobs.

Tabelski said the City is eligible to apply CBDG funds to support economic development project that create jobs in low-to-moderate income areas, and this Genesee Dental project fits into that scheme.

The relocated Genesee Dental office would be next to the proposed Healthy Living Campus (YMCA, United Memorial Medical Center offices) that is targeted to receive funding through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative).

Tabelski said the City will not have to pay for the CBDG application since Genesee Dental is funding the preparation of the paperwork on behalf of the City. The BDC will assist by providing in-kind services, she noted.

-- A resolution to contract with LaBella Associates to submit an application for a $250,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area Pre-Development grant to fund environmental and engineering studies, real estate services, and marketing and research, etc., for the City Centre, Bank Street/Healthy Living Corridor and Harvester (Avenue) Campus.

Tabelski said the BOA Pre-Development Grant is being offered by New York State for the first time, adding that the City will have to pay $3,500 for professional grant writing services and would be responsible for a 10-percent match of the awards (to be covered by in-kind services such as project management, meetings, marketing and communications).

In a related development, Council will consider providing grants from the BDC’s Revolving Loan Fund to go toward projects in the BOA, City Priority Economic Development and Building Improvements.

That resolution calls for two-thirds of the fund to be available for grants of a maximum of $20,000 and one-third of the fund to be available for small business loans. Currently, there is around $400,000 in the RLF, with about $250,000 of that in cash.

Photo: View looking south on Cedar Street, with the tree-laded lot owned by Peter Yasses on the right and the sign for the DeWitt Recreation Area on the left. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

June 26, 2019 - 12:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Medal of Honor, news, notify.

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Story by Dylan Smith, editor and publisher of the Tucson Sentinel.
Photos by Howard Owens.

David Bellavia, a Batavia resident, on Tuesday, became the first living veteran of the Iraq War to receive the Medal of Honor, as President Donald Trump presented the award in a ceremony at the White House.

Trump said it was his "privilege to award the highest military honor to an American soldier who demonstrated exceptional courage to protect his men and defend our nation."

Bellavia was recognized for his valor in the Second Battle of Fallujah, a nearly two-month urban combat offensive in late 2004, in which more than 10,000 U.S. troops struggled to gain control of a dense city that had held some 350,000 people, but was then populated mostly by 3-4,000 heavily fortified insurgent forces.

Bellavia, now 43 years old, was a U.S. Army staff sergeant during that battle. On his 29th birthday, Nov. 10, 2004, his platoon was clearing a block of a dozen buildings that were occupied by Iraqi insurgents who were firing at U.S. troops.

"For three days straight, David and his men kicked down doors, searched houses, and destroyed enemy weapons, never knowing where they would find a terrorist lurking next. And there were plenty of them," Trump told a packed White House ceremony.

In presenting the nation's top military honor, Trump noted Bellavia's "extraordinary courage... selfless service... and carrying on the legacy of American valor."

During a house-to-house search, the soldiers of Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division, encountered fierce resistance — a not unfamiliar situation for his unit; 37 people from his brigade died that year.

"A very dangerous operation," Trump said Tuesday. "They entered house after house, and secured nine of the buildings. Then came the 10th. That was a tough one. It was a three-story building surrounded by a nine-foot wall. As they entered the house and moved into the living room, two men were behind concrete barricades. They opened fire on David and everybody."

"In the dark of night, shards of glass, brick, and plaster flew into the air, wounding multiple soldiers. The rounds of fire ripped holes into the wall separating the Americans from the terrorists. The wall was ripped to shreds. David knew they had to get out. David thought that they had had it. He leaped into the torrent of bullets and fired back at the enemy without even thinking," the president said.

"He provided suppressive fire while his men evacuated, rescuing his entire squad at the risk of his own life. Only when his men were all out did David exit the building."

From the citation for Bellavia's Silver Star:

At this point, Sergeant Bellavia, armed with an M249 SAW gun, entered the room where the insurgents were located and sprayed the room with gunfire, forcing the jihadists to take cover and allowing the squad to move out into the street. Jihadists on the roof began firing at the squad, forcing them to take cover in a nearby building. Sergeant Bellavia then went back to the street and called in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to shell the houses.

After this was done, he decided to reenter the building to determine whether the enemy fighters were still active. Seeing a jihadist loading an RPG launcher, Sergeant Bellavia gunned him down.

A second jihadist began firing as the soldier ran toward the kitchen and Bellavia fired back, wounding him in the shoulder. A third jihadist began yelling from the second floor. Sergeant Bellavia then entered the uncleared master bedroom and emptied gunfire into all the corners, at which point the wounded insurgent entered the room, yelling and firing his weapon.

Sergeant Bellavia fired back, killing the man. Sergeant Bellavia then came under fire from the insurgent upstairs and the staff sergeant returned the fire, killing the man.

At that point, a jihadist hiding in a wardrobe in a bedroom jumped out, firing wildly around the room and knocking over the wardrobe. As the man leaped over the bed he tripped and Sergeant Bellavia shot him several times, wounding but not killing him.

Another insurgent was yelling from upstairs, and the wounded jihadist escaped the bedroom and ran upstairs. Sergeant Bellavia pursued but slipped on the blood-soaked stairs. The wounded insurgent fired at him but missed. He followed the bloody tracks up the stairs to a room to the left. Hearing the wounded insurgent inside, he threw a fragmentary grenade into the room, sending the wounded jihadist onto the roof.

The insurgent fired his weapon in all directions until he ran out of ammunition. He then started back into the bedroom, which was rapidly filling with smoke. Hearing two other insurgents screaming from the third story of the building, Sergeant Bellavia put a choke hold on the wounded insurgent to keep him from giving away their position. The wounded jihadist then bit Sergeant Bellavia on the arm and smacked him in the face with the butt of his AK-47.

In the wild scuffle that followed, Sergeant Bellavia took out his knife and slit the jihadist's throat. Two other insurgents who were trying to come to their comrade's rescue fired at Bellavia, but he had slipped out of the room, which was now full of smoke and fire. Without warning, another insurgent dropped from the third story to the second-story roof.

Sergeant Bellavia fired at him, hitting him in the back and the legs and causing him to fall off the roof, dead. At this point, five members of 3rd Platoon entered the house and took control of the first floor. Before they would finish off the remaining jihadists, however, they were ordered to move out of the area because close air support had been called in by a nearby unit.

"Alone, in the dark, David killed four insurgents and seriously wounded the fifth, saving his soldiers and facing down the enemies of civilization," President Trump said at Tuesday's ceremony.

"Here with us today are 32 American service members who fought with David in Iraq, including 12 who were with David on that very, very horrible and dangerous November night."

Also present were eight previous recipients of the Medal of Honor, and five Gold Star families — relatives of Bellavia's brothers in arms who were killed in combat.

Bellavia was born in Albion and lives in Batavia. His father William died last year. His grandfather, Joseph Brunacini, age 99, was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions during the Normandy campaign in World War II, and was watching Tuesday's ceremony via video at his home in Jamestown, N.Y.

"America is blessed with the heroes and great people like Staff Sergeant Bellavia whose intrepid spirit and unwavering resolve defeats our enemies, protects our freedoms, and defends our great American flag," Trump said. "David, today we honor your extraordinary courage, we salute your selfless service, and we thank you for carrying on the legacy of American valor that has always made our blessed nation the strongest and mightiest anywhere in the world."

Medal of Honor citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on November 10, 2004, while serving as squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq.

While clearing a house, a squad from Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s platoon became trapped within a room by intense enemy fire coming from a fortified position under the stairs leading to the second floor. Recognizing the immediate severity of the situation, and with disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Bellavia retrieved an automatic weapon and entered the doorway of the house to engage the insurgents.

With enemy rounds impacting around him, Staff Sergeant Bellavia fired at the enemy position at a cyclic rate, providing covering fire that allowed the squad to break contact and exit the house.

A Bradley Fighting Vehicle was brought forward to suppress the enemy; however, due to high walls surrounding the house, it could not fire directly at the enemy position. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then reentered the house and again came under intense enemy fire. He observed an enemy insurgent preparing to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at his platoon. Recognizing the grave danger the grenade posed to his fellow soldiers, Staff Sergeant Bellavia assaulted the enemy position, killing one insurgent and wounding another who ran to a different part of the house.

Staff Sergeant Bellavia, realizing he had an uncleared, darkened room to his back, moved to clear it. As he entered, an insurgent came down the stairs firing at him. Simultaneously, the previously wounded insurgent reemerged and engaged Staff Sergeant Bellavia. Staff Sergeant Bellavia, entering further into the darkened room, returned fire and eliminated both insurgents. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then received enemy fire from another insurgent emerging from a closet in the darkened room.

Exchanging gunfire, Staff Sergeant Bellavia pursued the enemy up the stairs and eliminated him. Now on the second floor, Staff Sergeant Bellavia moved to a door that opened onto the roof. At this point, a fifth insurgent leaped from the third-floor roof onto the second-floor roof. Staff Sergeant Bellavia engaged the insurgent through a window, wounding him in the back and legs, and caused him to fall off the roof.

Acting on instinct to save the members of his platoon from an imminent threat, Staff Sergeant Bellavia ultimately cleared an entire enemy-filled house, destroyed four insurgents, and badly wounded a fifth. Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s bravery, complete disregard for his own safety, and unselfish and courageous actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

Bellavia, who has hosted a local radio talk show and run for office as a Republican, is the author of "House to House," which recounts his experiences in the Fallujah battle.

He left the Army in 2005, after six years of service. During his yearlong deployment in Iraq, his unit took part in the battles of Najaf, Mosul, Baqubah and Muqdadiyah, as well as the fight for Fallujah.

"Listen, you know I'm not going to pretend to write -- the narrative of the Iraq war is well established -- but the Iraq veteran has nothing to apologize for. The Iraq veteran has served with the same, in the finest traditions of any other generation at war," Bellavia said in an interview with The Batavian earlier this month.

"I can't tell you that looking back and seeing how a lot of people tend to look at the valor of a generation and say well are these good wars or bad wars. Iraq veterans are walking around with chips on their shoulder because they're regarded as part of the bad war, the war of choice, the war that was based on bad intelligence, and you know we're free to think and decide whatever you want," said Bellavia, who co-founded the advocacy group Vets for Freedom after he left the military.

"I think the narrative is written on that. But I would just caution us to not make the veteran feel the weight of that. I don't think it's their responsibility. Ninety-nine percent of these men and women served with honor and distinction and we really shouldn't have to apologize for where our nation sends us to fight."

"You know, I never saw the enemy as people. I think, now, when I have, when you have children, you think you know, obviously, you want your guys, America, the good guys, to be OK. But I also think back to, I don't want the enemy's children to take the road that their dads took. I don't want my kids to be fighting in conflicts with another generation," he said.

"What are the things that we can do, especially when it comes to acknowledging that a lot of people think that war guys, veteran guys are pro-war, that we love this. You know, we're pretty anti-war. I mean, I don't know of any veteran that you've talked to that is like, 'this is the greatest thing in the world,' " he said.

"We're violently anti-war but with the goal, the end state is that we won't do this anymore. I mean, if you would've told me that I would join the Army because my sons and daughter would also get to have this experience, I never would have done it. It's not worth it. You fight so that it stops here and it doesn't continue. And it would be heartbreaking to know that this is going to go on for another 25 years."

Bellavia's awards and decorations include: the Medal of Honor; Silver Star; Bronze Star; Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops; the National Defense Service Medal; Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star; New York State’s Conspicuous Service Cross; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral "2"; the Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral "2"; the Presidential Unit Citation; Combat Infantryman Badge; Driver and Mechanics Badge; and the NATO Medal.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Dylan Smith is one of my local online news publishing colleagues. He knew how busy I have been in Washington, D.C., that he volunteered -- without being asked -- and wrote this story for The Batavian.

Top photo: David Bellavia's son, Aiden, examines the Medal of Honor around his father's neck during a reception at the White House following the awards ceremony.

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Bellavia and Michael Ware.

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David Bellavia and longtime friend Michael Caputo.

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Congressman Chris Collins chatting with Michael Caputo.

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Michelle McCulloch, in the white dress, who is from Wyoming County, and her daughters and son-in-law.

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Sgt. John Badger takes a selfie with David Bellavia.

 

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Kelly Ann Conway chats with Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan.

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David Bellavia and Gen. Ken Chrosniak (retired).

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Col. Douglas Walter, Bellavia's second commander in Fallujah, takes a photo in the White House for some fellow guests.

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At the end of the reception, the buffet room was cleared of all guests and David finally had a chance to grab a bite to eat.

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Maj. Joaquin Meno, who was a lieutenant in Iraq, and commander of Bellavia's platoon.

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Military photographer Sgt. Kevin Roy with Bellavia. Roy has arguably been the hardest working man tasked to Medal of Honor support over these four days of ceremonies, events, and tours. His job has been to be at Bellavia's side constantly, taking hundreds of photos all day and then returning to his computer to process the photos before going bed every night.

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Sgt. John Bandy examines Bellavia's Medal of Honor after Bellavia and his guest returned to the hotel.

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Sgt. Jonathan Gibson salutes David Bellavia.

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Lincoln's bust in the White House.

June 25, 2019 - 6:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, batavia, news.

A two-car accident with injuries is reported at 1 College Road, in front of Genesee Coummunity College.

Town of Batavia Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 6:43 p.m.: Law enforcement is on scene.

UPDATE 6:47 p.m.: Two flatbed tow trucks are called in.

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