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March 30, 2019 - 5:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Le Roy, notify.


A man has reportedly fallen out of a moving vehicle in the area of 78 Lake St., Le Roy, and may have suffered a head injury.

The vehicle he was believed to be in continued northbound on Route 19.

It's a maroon Jeep Liberty.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance dispatched.

Mercy Flight being put on ground standby.

UPDATE(S)(By Billie) 5:41 p.m.: Mercy Flight is at a field near the crash site preparing to transport the victim to a hospital.

UPDATE 6:03 p.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne; destination not known. The patient suffered severe head trauma and was in and out of consciousness at the time of transport.

UPDATE 6:29 p.m.: Le Roy Police Sgt. Emily McNamara said it is not known at this "very, very early stage of the investigation" how or why the victim exited a moving vehicle, or what speed the vehicle was going at the time. The speed limit on Route 19 in the village is 35 mph. The vehicle continued on without stopping. It is thought to a smaller, dark-colored SUV; the previous description of a maroon Jeep Liberty is not certain, nor is it ruled out. In fact, any witnesses of this incident are asked to call the Emergency Dispatch Center directly with information that might help the investigation at 343-5000. Although the victim's identity has been established, police are not yet releasing the name until they have contacted family members.



March 30, 2019 - 4:32pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in batavia, International Peace Garden Foundation, news.

Above photo: Commemorative marker in the International Peace Garden at No Gun Ri Peace Park and flanked by Paula Savage, South Korean officials and, on the right, one of only two known survivors of the July 1950 No Gun Ri massacre.


When Paula Savage, of Batavia, founded the first International Peace Garden in 1990, little did she know her efforts would result in a trail which would stretch around the world.

Savage was working in Washington, D.C., for Canadian tourism at the time and was asked to create a project signifying the special relationship between Canada and the United Sates, since the two countries have shared the longest undefended border in the world since 1812.

The first Peace Garden was dedicated in 1991 in Washington, D.C., starting a tradition which continues today, spanning five continents as Peace Gardens are passed from country to country. There are now 23 in the world, Savage said. 

When Western New York was getting ready to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Bicentennial Committee knew of the International Peace Gardens and asked Savage to create a Peace Garden Trail along the border to commemorate this important anniversary.

Creating a Peace Garden Trail

The first Peace Garden in this trail sprang up in 2012 at a historic battle site along the Niagara River, followed by 13 others in New York State, one of the most elaborate being in Batavia. 

The United States had chosen Poland in 1991 as the next country to receive a Peace Garden, because it was the first country in Eastern Europe to achieve democracy, Savage said. 

For some reason, however, Poland never received its stone marker for its Peace Garden, something which is finally scheduled to occur in late June in Warsaw, Poland.

“It has always been my intention to deliver the official stone to those countries that were honored,” Savage said. “Details of the ceremony have not yet been released, but I plan to bring the stone to Warsaw, ceremony or not, at the end of June.”

The most recent commemorative International Peace Garden stone was dedicated in late 2018 in South Korea and, keeping with her custom with every new Peace Garden, Savage attended the dedication, an experience she said was exceptional.

“When does a native of Batavia get to stand with costumed children and top officials of a country like South Korean on a historic site, having brought them all together to celebrate world peace?” Savage asked.

“One thing which was very profound was that the committee which organized our tour said we were visiting a site which would be an honorary Peace Garden.”

Making Peace at a Massacre Site

Savage and her group was taken to a village 100 miles southeast of Seoul where the No Gun Ri massacre occurred July 26-29, 1950, when soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 7th U.S. Calvary and a U.S. air attack killed an estimated 250-300 South Korean civilian refugees, mostly women and children.

“We were out in a rural area in a huge parking lot,” Savage said. “There was a theater and they showed us a movie. During the Korean War, the United States occupied this part of the country and the U.S. was planning a big battle in this area. Refugees fleeing the village got stuck here under the bridge.

“An American general on the phone with the unit said to shoot them. It was a massacre by our own government. They were devastated. The country has been waiting for the U.S. to apologize, but they never did.

"I’m glad there’s going to be a Peace Garden there. I’m sorry this tragedy had to happen, but if there’s a way through our Peace Garden to help Korea heal, then we have done our part.”

Savage had previously made a certificate and gave it to the executive director of their Memorial Day observance and they had enlarged it and encased it in a stone monument at the site.

Savage said she will never forget standing there with one of only two survivors of the No Gun Ri massacre. 

Currently, Savage said the landmines are being removed from along the DMZ -- demilitarized zone -- and it has been suggested they be replaced with Peace Gardens.

Paying It Forward

“Every time I go to a different country, I see the significance of the Peace Garden to that area,” Savage said. “They have made amazing differences to so many around the world, such as the garden Poland gave to Germany after what Germany did to Poland in World War II.”

As is tradition, each country who dedicates a Peace Garden then chooses the country to have one the next year. Savage has attended the openings of every one around the world.

The original International Peace Garden was a tulip garden, celebrating a tradition started 75 years ago, when the Netherlands gave the first gift of tulips to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

This year 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of that gift, which came about when Princess Julianna of the Netherlands was expecting. They knew the Germans were coming and the family fled to Ottawa, where the city allowed the Dutch flag to be flown over Parliament for one day, so the child, named Princess Marguerite, could be born a Dutch citizen.

Savage has had the privilege of meeting Princess Marguerite, she said. 

Thus, when Canada gave the first garden to the United States, it had to be tulips, Savage said. 

In 1992, Savage found a way to expand on the International Peace Garden when she founded the International Peace Garden Foundation.

“I had met a composer in Las Vegas and told him about how the gardens were developing,” Savage said. “He wrote a symphony for tulips, but said you can’t have music with no strings attached. He told me I must establish a scholarship for the underprivileged in the arts.”

The composer was Thomas Deering, whose parents couldn’t afford to send him to college. He became self-taught. 

“I thought about how much more we could do than a music scholarship,” Savage said. 

The Foundation has been blessed with monetary donations and gifts in kind. A student in Washington, D.C., has received financial assistance; an instrument has been purchased for a child in Poland; money has been sent to help a school in Slovania.

One of the most heartwarming cases is the 14-year-old boy from our nation's capital whom Savage met and set up a concert gala for him at the Polish embassy.

“I asked him what his dream was and he said it was to perform at Carnegie Hall,” Savage said. “I told him I didn’t have powerful contacts, but whatever I could do to make that happen, I would.”

A month later, Savage was in New York City on a business trip and went to Carnegie Hall. She told them her story and they were all moved. Three months later, the young boy, named Henry, was in full concert with Thomas Deering at Carnegie Hall, wearing a tuxedo Savage had bought him.

“The Canadian government paid for a huge reception for him after,” Savage said. “At that point, I knew we were onto something spectacular. The last I heard, Henry had gone back to New York City and was performing on Broadway.”

Accolades for the Peace Lady

The experience has not been without its rewards for Savage, she said. In 2000, she was presented with the “Merits of Two Worlds” award, which recognizes contributions made by individuals who help unite the countries of Europe. In 2012, Savage was honored with the “World Harmony Torch Bearer Medal” during a ceremony at the United Nations. 

In 2018, Savage launched the International Peace Garden Registry. Through the Internet, the registry gives individuals and communities the opportunity to share their stories and images of the world. Details are available here

The International Peace Garden Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit and tax-dedictible donations may be made online here or by calling Savage at (585) 300-9252.

Although Savage is very proud of what she has accomplished throughout the world, she is also passionate about her roots in Batavia.

As a graduate of Genesee Community College, she said the college considers her one of their success stories and sends out releases promoting her endeavors every chance they get. She has just completed a release on her recent visit to Korea and will be sending it to GCC.

“For the college, it is a way for them to take a bit of credit for my success, and hopefully attract new enrollments,” Savage said.

Photos courtesy of Paula Savage.

Below, Paula Savage meets mayor Seok Huh in Suncheon City, South Korea, which is the site of the International Peace Garden dedicated in late 2018.

March 30, 2019 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Evans Street, news, notify.

109evansfire200b.jpgA deadly fire at 109 Evans St., Batavia, this morning, claimed the life of 41-year-old John Sherman Sr., said City Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano this afternoon while supervising the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire.

He said it's too soon yet to even speculate on how the fire started.

There were at least six or seven other people in the residence when the fire started, Napolitano said, and some of them owe their lives to smoke detectors and the fact that they were sleeping with the doors of their bedrooms closed.

"A room that has a door closed is a safe haven," Napolitano said. "They were alerted by a smoke detector and they were able to safely exit the house. That is why it's so critical when you have young children or yourself in a home. You need to sleep with the door closed. It stops the fire from entering. It gives you a shelter so you can shelter in place, a safe haven, or whatever you want to call it. But it gives you an opportunity to escape."

Sherman was the owner of the 1,528-square-foot house, which was built in 1890 and has an accessed value of $69,000.

Evans Street remains closed during the ongoing investigation but Napolitano said the investigation is nearing completion. 

Joining city fire investigators in the house is a Batavia PD detective and two investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

It's city fire policy to call in state investigators when there is a fatal fire.

Napolitano described the investigation process as meticulous.

"They're methodically going through layer by layer, removing debris, removing furniture, trying to put a puzzle together, if you will," Napolitano said. "You know when you open up that box with all the puzzle pieces and you have to find the outside edge first, and then you build. That's what they're doing. They're building a puzzle."

It's a bit like reverse engineering the fire, he said.

"We're trying to figure out, OK, from the patterns and the indicators that were left, how and where that fire started, and how it traveled, where it migrated to, what could be a cause, what could be the origin."

The chief said the results of the investigation will be released as soon as some conclusions are reached about the findings.


March 30, 2019 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, batavia, notify.

One person died in a house fire this morning at 109 Evans St., Batavia.

The fire was reported at about 7:15 a.m.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they found heavy smoke and flames at the rear of the house from the ground floor to the roof line.

Capt. Bob Fix described the situation as "untenable" and it wasn't possible for firefighters to enter the house until the fire was knocked back.

"We were dispatched to report of a building on fire just down the street from the fire station," Fix said. "As we pulled out of the station we could see heavy smoke in the sky so we knew we had a fire."

There were at least seven people in the residence at the time the fire was reported, including four adults who lived in the house. Residents told firefighters that one person was still in the house and provided firefighters with the person's location in the residence.

"We found heavy smoke and flames coming from the back side of the building as well as several people telling us the there was a victim inside a window," Fix said. "We attempted to make entry. Conditions were untenable at the time. We got some water on the fire there and tried to make entry again a short time later."

Once firefighters were able to make entry, they located the victim on the second floor and carried him out a window and down a ladder. He was placed on a stretcher and Mercy EMS personnel immediately began performing CPR.

While CPR was in progress, he was transferred to a nearby ambulance and transported to UMMC where he was later pronounced dead.

The victim's name has not yet been released.

"As it happened, the call came in right shift change and we had quite a bit more people available than we normally would have," Fix said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and Chief Stefano Napolitano said it's too early in the investigation to even speculate about the cause. The origin appears to be on the first floor.

State Fire, as is standard operating procedure, assist City Fire with the fire investigation.

The house is uninhabitable and The Salvation Army was contacted to assist the four adults who lived at 109 Evans.

Three pets, two dogs and a cat, were rescued from the fire.

Assisting City of Batavia was Town of Batavia fire, Alexander fire, and Darien fire.

Also assisting at the scene was Batavia PD.












March 30, 2019 - 7:18am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, batavia, news, notify.

Heavy smoke and fire are reportedly coming from a residence at 109 Evans St. in the city. City Engine #11 is on scene, reporting a working structure fire at a two and a half story building. Smoke and flames showing. One person is still said to be inside.

All city platoons are called to respond. Mercy medics are on scene. Alexander's Fast Team is called for mutual aid; Town of Batavia is to report to its quarters; and Darien's rescue unit is called to the scene.

UPDATE 7:20 a.m.: An engine from Town of Batavia fire is called to the scene; one other from the town is to report to its headquarters for standby. Firefighters are working to extricate a person from the house on Evans Street.

UPDATE 7:28 a.m.: "Fire's been knocked down; looking for any hidden fire," fire command resports, and the person inside has been extricated and is being seen by medics. Utilities have been notified.

UPDATE 7:31 a.m.: "Looking for hot spots in the ceiling -- C side," reports command, "no fire below you (on the first floor)." A crew is called to the second floor to pull open the ceiling to check for extensions.

UPDATE 7:36 a.m.: Working to ventilate the structure now.

UPDATE 7:41 a.m.: Stairs to the second floor are bad. Firefighters are to enter and exit from the C side ladder. Water and electricity have been secured -- cut -- to the building.

UPDATE 7:45 a.m.: "We're hitting some fire from the Bravo-Charlie (C-D) corner." The male resident, who was pulled from the second floor, which was fully charged with smoke, is being transported to UMMC in emergency mode.

UPDATER 8:32 a.m. (by Howard): Alexander and Town of Batavia going back in service. Salvation Army requested to the scene to assist four adults. Code enforcement also requested to the scene.

March 29, 2019 - 6:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in tompkins financial corporation, business, news, Milestones.

Press release:

Tompkins Bank of Castile is celebrating its 150th anniversary this spring. Together with our partners at Tompkins Insurance Agencies, and Tompkins Financial Advisors, we plan to acknowledge this important milestone in a number of ways and at several key events throughout the year.

The anniversary celebrations will kick off at the original Tompkins Bank of Castile branch on May 1 and continue at the bank’s annual WNY informational shareholders meeting on May 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford.

A century and a half is certainly a long time, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that fewer than 5 percent of the banks currently operating today in the United States have been around as long as Tompkins Bank of Castile. What’s even more impressive is that Tompkins’ mission and values have remained the same, allowing us to consistently perform at a level ranking among the best in the industry. 

“For years, we’ve taken great pride in supporting the communities where we operate,” says John McKenna, president and CEO of Tompkins Bank of Castile. “We look forward to serving our customers for the next 150 years.”

Tompkins Financial Corporation is committed to creating long-term value for its clients, communities, and shareholders. Based in Batavia, Tompkins Bank of Castile serves the GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties and beyond), Rochester, and recently expanded into Buffalo with the opening of the new Amherst location.

“We believe in the power of the local people working together to help our communities grow and thrive,” McKenna continued.

Since 1869, Tompkins has valued its employees and invested in the communities they serve by volunteering and donating to charities, nonprofits and civic organizations.

The Bank is a subsidiary of Tompkins Financial Corporation, which is also parent company to Tompkins Trust Company, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Tompkins Insurance Agencies and Tompkins Financial Advisors.

Together, Tompkins operates a total of 65 banking offices serving throughout New York and Pennsylvania. The Corporation as a whole takes pride in providing its clients with the highest-quality financial products and exceptional service.

March 29, 2019 - 6:00pm

Press release:

In keeping with its longstanding commitment to the community and marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Financial Corporation, one of the largest employers in the City of Batavia, has pledged $150,000 to support the new joint YMCA and Rochester Regional Health Healthy Living Campus in Genesee County.

The project benefits YMCA members and senior citizens by providing services to thousands of individuals currently residing in Genesee and neighboring counties.

This donation supports a $22.5 million land redevelopment project that includes the current YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) Cary Hall on Main Street in Batavia. The initiative will have a substantial impact on Main Street, which is home to the headquarters of Tompkins Bank of Castile and Tompkins Insurance Agencies.

“This project will be transformational for downtown Batavia and benefit thousands of community residents for many years to come,” said John McKenna, president and CEO of Tompkins Bank of Castile.

David Boyce, president and CEO of Tompkins Insurance, added, “We’re excited to play a pivotal role in a project that is going to bring such positive change to the community.”

This community initiative is expected to boost the regional economy by about $60 million in over a decade. Rob Walker, YMCA chief executive officer and Daniel Ireland, UMMC president, said that the Genesee County Economic Development Center anticipates $60,478,540 in benefits to the GLOW region— including jobs at the new campus and during construction.

March 29, 2019 - 5:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, pembroke, news, notify.
     Jacqueline Saeli

The ex-boyfriend of a Pembroke woman who destroyed his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a garage fire Jan. 6, 2018, let Judge Charles Zambito know today that he wasn't happy the 53-year-old woman is able to avoid jail time as part of her plea agreement.

"What kind of lesson will she learn with no prison time or no jail time?" asked Ben Reuben. "Local jail time would be an education for stopping her from doing something like this again."

Zambito told Jacqueline Saeli that both the probation department and Sheriff's Office investigators recommended jail time for her, but in order to send her to jail, he would have to allow her to withdraw her guilty plea and take the case to trial.

He said he wasn't inclined to send her to jail because she has paid $10,000 in restitution. She has a 30-year career caring for other people as a nurse and no prior criminal record. Saeli has successfully completed alcohol abuse treatment on her own.

All of those factors figured into his decision, Zambito said.

Saeli's attorney requested three years probation but Reuben and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman both said they thought five years probation was more appropriate. Zambito agreed that the case called for at least five years probation.

"This case isn't just about you and the victim," Zambito said. "This crime put at risk an entire neighborhood. You set a shed on fire out of anger at your boyfriend. That required volunteer firefighters and the police to show up and deal with a substantial fire. These firefighters are people who are there to serve you and your community and you put them all at risk. What if a volunteer had had a heart attack? How would you have felt if somebody had died because of what you did?"

Though Zambito couldn't send Saeli to jail, he did order to serve 200 hours of community service over the next 18 months and fined her $1,000.

Before being sentenced, Saeli had told Zambito that she was raised by her grandmother who instilled in her a sense of integrity, honesty and accountability, and that "you always do your best to help others."

She said the Jan. 6 incident was prompted by what she thought was a betrayal by two people she trusted. She said she was hurt and distraught and she admitted to drinking that night.

"I can't take back what I've done," Saeli said. "I've lived with regret and shame every day since. I can't believe I did this to somebody I loved. I wish I could take this back but I can't."

Saeli and Reuben didn't look at each other as she left the courtroom.

March 29, 2019 - 5:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in genesee county legislature, news, Announcements.

Notice of Three Public Hearings

(1) Genesee County shall conduct a public hearing on fair housing practices and to identify any concerns and issues with fair housing practices in Genesee County. The public hearing will be held at the Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia, at 5:30 p.m., April 10. All persons who wish to speak will be heard. Written comments will be accepted upon delivery to: Clerk, Genesee County Legislature, 7 Main St., Batavia, NY 14020 prior to the hearing. The hearing location is in compliance with accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(2) There has been introduced before the Legislature of the County of Genesee, a Local Law Introductory No. Two, Year 2019, which regulates the transfer of secondhand articles. The Genesee County Legislature will conduct a Public Hearing on the proposed law at the Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia, at 5:30 p.m. on April 10. All interested persons will be heard.

(3) A public hearing will be held at 4:30 p.m. on April 11 at the Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia, to discuss the implementation of the HP Hood LLC Project that received Community Development Block funding from the New York State Office of Community Renewal (Project No. 444ED893-17). The purpose of the hearing is to obtain citizen views regarding any aspect of the project’s implementation including, but not limited to any construction, financing, and employment opportunities resulting from the project. The hearing facilities are handicapped accessible. Written comments are invited and will be accepted upon delivery to the courthouse address above. The hearing location is in compliance with accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

March 29, 2019 - 5:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in warrants, news.
tristawinchelwarrantmug2019l.jpg brianlambertwarrentmug2019.jpg dennisonealwarrantmug2019.jpg

Trista N.L. Winchell, age 33, white female, 5’5” 155 lbs., blond hair, blue eyes LKA E. 11th Street, Beaumont, CA


Arrest warrant for DWI/drove W/.08 percent or more BAC, VTL 1192-3, VTL 1192-2 (misdemeanors) Pembroke Town Court DOW 11/6/2013

Brian J. Lambert, age 37, white male, 6’2” 200 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes LKA Prune Street, Batavia, NY


Arrest warrant for criminal possession of stolen property 5th, PL 165.40-1 (misdemeanor) Stafford Town Court DOW 10/28/14

Dennis A. O’Neal, age 31, white male 5’10” 150 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, LKA NE Fern Avenue, Pinetta, FL


Arrest warrant for criminal mischief 4th, PL 145.00-1 (misdemeanor) Darien Town Court DOW 5/28/13

robertsathmarymugwarrant2019.jpg roldan_roblero-moraleswarrantmug2019.jpg

Robert R. Sathmary, age 48, white male, 5’10” 195 lbs., brown hair, hazel eyes, LKA Forest Avenue, Port Colborne, Ontario Canada


Arrest warrant for DWI/drove W/.08 percent or more BAC, VTL 1192-3, VTL 1192-2 (misdemeanor) Darien Town Court DOW 1/26/10

Roldan Roblero-Morales, age 28, hispanic male, 5’6” 120 lbs., black hair, brown eyes, LKA Oak Orchard Road, Elba, NY


Arrest warrant for DWI/drove W/.08 percent or more BAC, VTL 1192-3, VTL 1192-2 (misdemeanor) Darien Town Court DOW 1/26/10

No photo available: Carlton O. Wright, age 24, black male, 5’11” 150 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, LKA North 66th Street, Philadelphia, PA. Arrest warrant for aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd, VTL 511-1a (misdemeanor) Batavia City Court DOW 7/3/13.       

If you are able to assist the Sheriff's Office in locating these people, the Sheriff's Office asks that you do not approach these people and that you call (585) 343-5000 with information that may assist in locating the suspects.

March 29, 2019 - 4:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, notify, Darien, fire.

Darien beekeeper and mead maker Michael Potoczak is managing to keep his chin up along with his spirits after a swift-moving fire early Sunday morning destroyed his businesses at 541 Bell Road.

Around 6 a.m. on March 24, callers half a mile away on Sumner Road called 9-1-1 to report the blaze. The Darien Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene quickly, but the buildings which contained the beekeeping and winemaking equipment were already "on the ground."

A Sheriff's deputy pounded on the door of the nearby house to alert the residents, prompting the family's two dogs to bark, waking up Potoczak and his two sons -- who all got out safely, including the dogs. A beloved 14-year-old calico cat named Lily perished in the fire.

"I tried to save my diesel truck," said the 77-year-old, who is an associate professor emeritus of Math and Physics at the University of Buffalo. "But it was so hot I couldn't even get near it to open the door."

The cause of the fire is unknown.

"I've really stood strong. I just deal with it. But it does get emotional," Potoczak said, noting that he lost all the equipment that he had accumulated during 45 years of beekeeping and making wine from honey on his 150-acre property.

He's not sure what the future holds for the businesses -- Potoczak Bee Farms and Midgard Winery -- but he will have a better idea of whether starting completely over is possible once the insurance claims are settled in the coming weeks.

Turns out the metal buildings, 40' by 60', were insured but nothing inside them was covered.

"They really did a number on me," he said. "The insurance agent came out and I took him through and showed him everything. He said I'd have the same coverage; it's not even close. He put in zero where it said the value of the contents and I didn't notice that. You have to have someone who knows insurance read the document to know what it says."

By Potoczak's estimation, his loss is worth $400,000 or more. He figures the buildings' value at $250,000 (insurance says $130,000), plus he lost the heating furnace, a new skidster worth $33,000 and the $20,000 diesel truck; $75,000 in winemaking equipment including four stainless steel fermenting tanks worth $4,000 each, filters, and $85,000 in beekeeping equipment.

How much he can recoup will influence his decision whether to continue the businesses, which are intended as a way for his children to make a living.

His customers, he says, "have been phenomenal" and are encouraging him to start anew.

His beehives are all outside and located at different 20 sites for his WNY customers. The mead, which he has sold for about five years, can be found in 50 WNY liquor stores, including locations in Genesee County (Mr. Wine & Liquor), Wyoming County (Warsaw, Attica), Orleans County (Medina), and Erie and Chautauqua counties. The fermented honey wine is about 12 percent alcohol by volume, on a par with, say, cabernet sauvignon.

Regardless of what the future holds, Potoczak's daughter, Elizabeth Knaus, said she is grateful to everyone who came to her family's rescue.

"I would like to send out a big thank you to the emergency personnel who responded so quickly," Knaus wrote in an email. "Also to the our neighbors who could see and hear the fire and called it in. If it wasn't for them, I probably would not have my dad or my brothers today. Thank you!"

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Knaus.

For initial report, click here.

March 29, 2019 - 2:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, news, vietnam veterans day.

AboveAssemblyman Steve Hawley [pictured center front] poses with a group of Vietnam veterans in Washington, D.C., during a previous Patriot Trip.

Submitted photos and press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today recognized Vietnam Veterans Day (March 29) by passing an official Assembly Resolution in Albany honoring the event.

Hawley, a veteran, son of a veteran and member of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, offered his gratitude and best wishes to New York’s veterans of the Vietnam War and urged constituents to thank a family member or friend who served in Vietnam.

“Vietnam was one of the longest and most violent conflicts in American history with many brave young men, not long out of high school, answering the call of duty for their nation,” Hawley said.

“The campaign to defeat communism and the forces of evil claimed countless brave souls but today is dedicated to honoring their sacrifices and thanking those still with us for their commitment to their nation and its people.”

Below, Hawley poses with a veteran who served as a nurse during the Vietnam War in front of the Vietnam Nurses’ Memorial in Washington, D.C.

March 29, 2019 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, business, news.

Press release:

Mostert, Manzanero & Scott LLP presented a summary of the audit procedures, undertaken in accordance with the scope of their engagement, and the final audit results to the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) Board at its March 28 meeting.   

The GGLDC Board engaged Mostert, Manzanero & Scott LLP, a certified public accounting firm, to perform an independent audit of the 2018 financial statements. The independent audit was performed to issue: an opinion on the financial statements of the GGLDC for the year ending Dec. 31, 2018; a management letter to the Board of Directors and management; and, a report about internal controls over financial reporting in accordance with Government Auditing Standards. 

Included in the management letter is a statement from Mostert, Manzanero & Scott LLP affirming that no material deficiencies in internal controls were identified during the audit. The firm also affirmed that, in their opinion, the audited financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the GGLDC as of Dec. 31, 2018, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

“I am pleased with the continued positive audit results, and it speaks to the professionalism and transparency of the organization,” said Tom Felton, chairman of the GGLDC. “The GGLDC is actively marketing our industry-specific shovel-ready real estate and continues to see significant interest in our parks.”

Currently, there is $6.7 million of land held for sale and development under the agency's control, including 25 acres at the Buffalo East Technology Park; 130 acres at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park; 14 acres at Med Tech Park; and the Upstate MedTech Centre Building, including an Innovation Zone for entrepreneurial business development.

March 29, 2019 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in marijuana, news, notify.


Chief Shawn Heubusch and Sheriff William Sheron at a Public Service Committee meeting in January.

Rather than a potential revenue windfall, marijuana legalization could drive up costs for county government, County Manager Jay Gsell warns, as the county will need to cope with several matters related to law enforcement, public health, and federal contracts.

He's concerned state officials pushing for legalization haven't fully thought through these issues.

"I see it mostly as there could be more negative cost implications to the county as far as what we'll be dealing with in terms of our social service agencies or treatment agencies, and the related people that are part of what we fund in county government, such as law enforcement, and the public health considerations, rather than, 'oh, I see this as just another nice thing to do -- a little bit of a revenue stream,' " Gsell said. "I just don't even see that happening per se."

State officials are talking about implementing a 2 percent or 4 percent sales tax on marijuana sales and remitting some portion of that tax to local jurisdictions that don't opt out of permitting sales.

Gsell said since consumption will be legal in all counties in the state, opting out of allowing local sales will really be just turning down whatever revenue a county might be able to recoup for the potential increase in expenses that go with legal pot.

Both Sheriff William Sheron and Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch have publicly opposed legalization of marijuana, expressing concern about the potential for more highway fatalities, easier access to cannabis for teens, and the potential for increased crimes. Last month they shared these concerns with the county's Public Service Committee.

"The public safety issue is really what has law enforcement against it," Sheron said.

Both top cops have sent out press releases generated by their respective state law enforcement associations opposing legalized marijuana. In both cases, the Sheriff and the Police Chief say that marijuana-related traffic deaths have increased in Colorado since recreational use of cannabis became legal.

However, various reports available online contradict this assertion.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported last summer that while the number of fatal accidents where some trace of marijuana was present in one or more of the drivers involved had increased, fatalities in accidents where a driver was considered impaired by marijuana dropped significantly, from 52 in 2016 to 35 in 2017.

The Reason Foundation compiled a comprehensive report on driving and marijuana use that also suggested there is little correlation between legalized marijuana and increased traffic fatalities. Reason also found some data to suggest that legalized marijuana helps reduce drunken driving fatalities either because people consume less alcohol or since states like Colorado ban public consumption of marijuana, people who mix alcohol and marijuana are more likely to do so at home.

On the law enforcement front, a report from Police Quarterly, cited in a story from the Seattle Times, said that legalized marijuana seems to correlate to high clearance rates (cases solved) for reported crimes as officers spend less time on drug offenses.

It might surprise some that Jeremy Almeter, owner of Glass Roots on Center Street, isn't exactly eager to start selling marijuana from his shop, should it become legal. But he does support legalization and takes issue with opponents who say marijuana will lead to more traffic accidents or that it's some sort of gateway drug.

"I've been hearing marijuana is a gateway drugs since I was a kid, and I can tell you that the only true gateway drug in our society right now is alcohol," Almeter said. "You know, nobody smokes a joint and then goes out and decides to rob a liquor store. Bad decisions are made by people when they're inebriated.

"You know they're making decisions that they wouldn't normally make. I have seen, firsthand, the effect of alcohol on people doing exactly that. I think marijuana is one of the safest plants on the planet. I think hemp is right in the same plant family and they both deserve access for every person on the planet.

"If they if they're helping you, great, but they've never killed anyone. How many people are we losing a year to drunken driving?"

Almeter added, "Alcohol kills 88,000 people a year. Cigarettes kill 480,000. Cannabis has never killed anybody."

Whether marijuana has ever killed anyone is a disputed assertion. Here's Politifact on the topic.

Dealing with drivers who are so high their ability is impaired, regardless of what the statistics out of Colorado and elsewhere say, is a major concern for both Sheron and Heubusch. The chemical test for driving under the influence of alcohol is pretty straightforward. Blood alcohol content is scientific, objective and reliable. Busting a driver impaired by marijuana is more of a judgment call, and getting such a charge to stick in court requires officers who are trained as drug recognition experts.

It's an expensive proposition to have a DRE on a department's force. The Sheriff's Office has six currently. Batavia PD, only two.

It takes an experienced officer six months of training before obtaining DRE certification.

"In the law enforcement realm, the DRE program is one of the most difficult and time-consuming certifications that you can obtain," said Undersheriff Bradley Mazur.

During a recent interview, Deputy Ryan DeLong (top photo), who is DRE certified, discussed the process involved in making an arrest of a driver suspected of driving while impaired by a drug.

First, there needs to be probable cause to make a traffic stop. Second, the officer must observe something about the driver that indicates he or she is either high or intoxicated. Then the officer can initiate a field sobriety test.

If the officer isn't DRE certified but has a good reason to believe the driver is impaired by marijuana or another drug, then the officer will require the assistance of a DRE officer.

"The first thing that we do really doesn't change and that's just the administration of standardized field sobriety testing," DeLong said. "At the roadside, we're doing the battery of tests --  horizontal nystagmus (follow a pen with your eyes), walk and turn, and the one-legged stand. If we determine that the person is intoxicated or impaired by drugs, we take them into custody and start the process of bringing in a drug recognition expert. The drug recognition expert's job is to do three things: Determine is a person impaired? Is the impairment a medical impairment or a drug-induced impairment? And what category of drug or drugs is a person under the influence of, and how the DRE determines that is a 12-step process."

The process involves question, observation, and chemical testing (and those results can take some time to come back from the lab).

"What we're looking for, is there an abnormal dilation of the pupil for the lighting conditions or an abnormal constriction of the pupil and also how the pupil will react to a light stimulus," DeLong said. "We're looking at their muscle tone. We're going to check to see where it's most rigid or flaccid. We're checking for any injection sites for intravenous drug use throughout this whole process, and also just conducting an interview as we're interacting with the person.

"We're looking for observable signs of a drug usage such as somebody being on the nod, as we call it, where they're basically falling asleep in front of us, or different body tremors, or different signs of impairment. If we determine that this person is under the influence of a drug and what category of drug they are under, they'll go for a blood test or spittle test and (depending on the results) they'll be charged accordingly."

When it comes to law enforcement, marijuana legalization and the correlating expenses, the potential need for more DREs, aren't the only concerns for the county.

The Sheriff's Office has two new K-9s coming into service and of course, today's K-9s are trained to detect marijuana. That's a skill a K-9 won't unlearn, so there is some question about whether weed-sniffing dogs can remain in service.

Gsell is also worried about how legalization might impact Federal grants. The county receives more than $11 million a year from the Federal government and many of those contracts are contingent on the county maintaining a drug-free environment. Even if the state decriminalizes cannabis, that won't change Federal law or policy.

"As far as where federal money is used to fund positions and things of that nature, we have to provide assurances, like we do with our CDL drivers at the County Highway Department, that there are random drug tests done and there is a zero tolerance with regard to persons having any of that stuff in their systems," Gsell said.

While the state is promising an increase in revenue if marijuana sales become legal, a share of that revenue will only be available to counties that don't opt-out of legal pot sales within their borders. Given the anticipated increase in expenses, Gsell suggested the county will have little choice to allow local sales even if the additional revenue doesn't totally offset the additional expenses.

"The prospect of revenue or increased revenue is an ephemeral situation at this point," Gsell said. "There's no way to predict what that is and the things that we see from the state are not what I would call vetted enough, nor necessarily what I believe is actually going to come to reality."

March 28, 2019 - 7:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, news, Stafford.

A one-vehicle rollover accident is reported in the area of 8810 Morganville Road (Route 237) in Stafford. It is blocking traffic. Stafford Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics. A first responder on scene says the occupant is conscious and alert and has facial injuries.

Mercy Flight in Batavia is on ground standby. The vehicle is said to have rolled over several times.

March 28, 2019 - 5:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, BCSD, business, Top Workplaces Award.

Press release:

The results are in on workplace satisfaction and, for the second year in a row, the Batavia City School District was recognized as one of the best places to work in the Rochester area.

In addition to receiving a Democrat and Chronicle 2019 Top Workplace Award at a celebration event held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, the District also received an “I Love My Job” award in the large business category for the quantity and quality of the employee responses to a satisfaction survey.

Each year, the Democrat and Chronicle partners with a research and consulting firm to administer an anonymous employee survey on which the awards are based. All employees are invited to respond to questions that cover a variety of workplace factors such as meaningfulness of work, confidence in leadership, availability of training and support, inter-departmental cooperation, evidence of ethics and values, communication, and fair wages and benefits.

For Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey, the results of the anonymous and voluntary survey confirmed what he already believed to be true: “Our administration, faculty and staff are outstanding,” he said. “Together they create a culture that is dedicated to helping each student in our schools achieve his or her potential in every aspect of personal growth.

"In addition, our Board of Education, backed by our community, supports the administration in creating a positive environment for our students and staff to work, learn and grow.”

“This independent survey of all of our employees is an excellent recognition that defines our district as a great place to have a career that makes a difference in our world."

The future, he noted, will hold more of the same.

“We offer very competitive salaries and benefits to our employees, and outstanding professional development opportunities for their continued growth and development," the superintendent said. "BCSD also has tremendous facilities for enabling our employees to positively impact the lives of our students, and our 2020 Vision Capital Project will serve to enhance that.”

March 28, 2019 - 4:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen, batavia, crime, news, notify, Le Roy.
     Sylvan Grayson

On March 25, the Le Roy Police Department arrested 19-year-old Sylvan P. Grayson, of Myrtle Street, Le Roy, and charged him with one count each of burglary in the second degree, a Class C felony, and grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class E felony.

The arrest stems from a complaint that during the evening hours of March 4, people unlawfully entered a residence on Lake Street in Le Roy with intent to commit a crime and stole property while the tenants were away. It is alleged that Grayson stole more than $1,000 worth of property. 

He was arraigned in Le Roy Town Court and released on his own recognizance.

Thomas L. Crawford, 29, of Dorstone Road, Rochester, is charged with third-degree assault -- intent to cause physical injury. Crawford was arrested at 2:30 p.m. on March 25 on Liberty Street in Batavia after he allegedly struck a person in the forehead during an argument, causing a large laceration. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed in lieu of $2,500 bail. He was due back in city court on March 27. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jamie Givens, assisted by Officer Jason Davis.

Ryan Christopher Northup, 35, of Chamberlain Street, Rochester, is charged with: aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree -- mandatory suspension; operating a motor vehicle with without a required ignition interlock device; leaving the scene of a property damage accident; and unlicensed driver -- license revoked. On March 24 in the Town of Bergen, Northup was arrested during a vehicle checkpoint conducted by GC Sheriff's deputies on Route 33. It is alleged that Northup, while attempting to avoid the checkpoint, pulled into a driveway and missed it, striking a drainage culvert and causing damage. He then left the scene of the accident and was arrested at 4:36 p.m. He was arraigned in Town of Bergen Court and put in jail on $1,000 cash bond. He is due in Town of Bergen Court on April 17 to answer the charges. The case was handled by GC Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy McClellan, assisted by Deputy Travis DeMuth. Subsequent to his arrest on the above charges, Northup was arrested at the jail and charged with introduction of dangerous contraband into a prison in the first degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. On March 24, while being processed at the jail, Northup was allegedly found with a white substance tucked into his wallet. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in jail on those two charges without bail. He is due back in city court at a later time and date. The contraband case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy McClellan, assisted by Sgt. Andrew Hale.

Teesean T. Ayala, 20, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree burglary. Ayala was arrested March 19 on a grand jury warrant following an investigation into a residential burglary that occurred on Hutchins Street in Batavia at 9 p.m. on Aug. 2. Ayala was jailed without bail and is due in Genesee County Court in May. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Det. Thad Mart.

March 28, 2019 - 4:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, pembroke. grand jury.

Laura L. Dutton, AKA Laura Godlewski, AKA Laura L. Godlewski Dutton-Pontillo, AKA Laura Dutton, is indicted for the crime of filing a false instrument in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on May 4 at the Genesee County Clerk's Office that Dutton filed a NYS Pistol-Revolver license application knowing that it contained false information, and with intent to defraud she offered it to a public servant for filing to become part of the public records.

Dennis S. Rogers Jr. is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Nov. 3 in the Town of Pembroke that Rogers drove a 2003 Chevrolet on Route 5 while he was intoxicated. In count two, Rogers is accused of DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for having a BAC of .08 percent at the time. In count three, the defendant is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree for driving that day when his license was suspended or revoked. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Rogers is accused of having been convicted of DWI as a misdemeanor on June 30, 2011 in County of Monroe Court and also on Sept. 16, 2002 in City of Rochester Court. Those convictions and an additional suspension of Rogers's privilege to drive on July 27 last year, based on failure to pay child support, forms the basis for the suspension or revocation referred to in count three of the current indictment.

March 28, 2019 - 4:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.
stonebrakermug2019.jpg leemugmarch2019.jpg batemanmugmarch2019.jpg wilcoxugmarch2019.jpg
    Nikki Stonebraker      Marquise Lee      Angela Bateman      Derek Wilcox

      Joseph Burr



Probation officers reportedly found 56 bags of crack cocaine along with drug paraphernalia and drug packaging material during a check of a residence on Liberty Street, Batavia, yesterday and as a result of a joint investigation by the Probation Department, Child Protective Services, and the Local Drug Task Force, five people were arrested and charged with multiple crimes.

Investigators reported also finding unidentified pills and currency.

Charged were:

  • Marquise L. Lee, 36, of Hobart Street, Rochester, with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia 2nd;
  • Angela R. Bateman, 46, of East Main Street, Batavia, with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd;
  • Nikki L. Stonebraker, 30, of Liberty Street, Batavia, with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, endangering the welfare of a child;
  • Joseph T. Burr, 25, of North Lyon Street, Batavia, arrested on a warrant for alleged violation of probation and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd;
  • Derek E. Wilcox, 30, of Congress Avenue, Rochester, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd.

All five suspects were arraigned in Batavia City Court.

Lee was ordered held without bail. Ball was set at $50,000 or $100,000 bond for Burr, who was also ordered held on $5,000 bail for the violation of probation charge. The other three suspects had their bail set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond.

March 28, 2019 - 3:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation, grants.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation is excited to announce the recipients of the 2018-2019 winter cycle of Community Youth Grant Awards.

Grants have been awarded to the following organizations for their commitment to facilitating community youth activities for children under age 18 in the Western New York region:

  • Warsaw Junior Tigers Youth Football Program: $1,600
  • Batavia Middle School -- “B Squad” Running Program: $1,100
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. John the Baptist Church “Kids to Camp” Program: $1,000
  • Batavia Girls Fastpitch Softball/Batavia Stingers: $1,500
  • Genesee County Business/Education Alliance Summer Career Exploration Camps: $1,000

The summer round of the annual grant cycle will begin soon.

Summer 2019 Funding Cycle:

●  Application form available (online only) on May 1;

●  Applications are due July 1;

●  Award notices will be sent to applicants by Aug. 1.

The online application will be available here. There are no geographic limitations for recipients, but preference may be given to the Western New York region. Organizations may receive one grant annually. Requests for program advertising will be directed to the appropriate grant cycle.

Upcoming Foundation Fundraising events:

The eighth annual Derby Day Gala 2019 will be held on Saturday, May 4, at Terry Hills Restaurant & Banquet Facility from 4 to 9 p.m. For ticket information go to www.michaelshope.org

About the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation Inc.

It was established in 2007, is in memory of Michael C. Napoleone, the 8-year-old son of Mark and Laurie Napoleone from Batavia, who died from Burkitts Lymphoma/Leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer. During Michael's illness, the community rallied around the family to assist with food, gas, medical bills and other necessities.

The not-for-profit foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, was created to give back to those who cared, to give forward to those in need, and to support research efforts in finding a cure for childhood cancer.


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