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September 26, 2020 - 11:15am

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While V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc. is focused on completing as much exterior work as possible before the snow flies, Save-A-Lot management is overseeing an upgrade to the interior of the store at 45-47 Ellicott St.

Such is the current status of the Ellicott Place project, a $2.3 million renovation of the supermarket that will include 10 market rate apartments on the second floor.

Victor Gautieri, project developer, on Friday said that crews have created a new entry vestibule, with placement moved to the east along the north wall, facing the Court Street Plaza parking lot.

“That allows us room to construct our entrance to the elevator that accesses the second-floor apartments,” he said.

Gautieri said that Save-A-Lot is closed for “some pretty extensive remodeling on the inside of the store.” He believes the store has set a reopening date of Oct. 2.

“(They’re) painting and decorating as well as a lot of mechanical upgrades – coolers and freezers and systems of that nature for their operation,” he said.

The interior enhancements are part of Save-A-Lot's effort to upgrade its branding, Gautieri said.

“They’ve rolled out a different look – reorganizing how the groceries are stocked and the flow of traffic within the stores,” he said. “New signs will be going up as well as a different kind of a logo that will be in place as soon as we are finished completing the work on the front canopy.”

Gautieri said he is hoping to have all construction done by the end of April, weather permitting.

The project, part of the City of Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, will feature seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor, and includes the development of 18,000 square feet of first-floor commercial/retail space.

Other improvements include a two-stop interior elevator, two stairwells, new exterior windows, doors, veneers and roof membrane.

The Save-A-Lot grocery store occupies around half of the ground floor.

Gautieri said his company plans to “roll out some advertising on the apartments by the end of the year,” with the goal of getting some preopening leasing in place.

“We’ve been receiving phone calls, wondering what the status of the project is and what the apartments will be like,” he said. “We want to try to get ahead of the curve and get things ready to go as soon as construction is done and we’ve got a certificate of occupancy in hand.”

Ellicott Place and the Ellicott Station mixed-use redevelopment venture across the street will provide a much-needed boost for that section of the city, Gautieri said.

“It’s going to be good for – we’ll call it the Southside, which has lacked any real new projects or anything of that nature,” he said.

Photo: View of the location of a new entry vestibule (boarded up), which will provide access to the elevator leading to second-floor apartments upon completion of the Ellicott Place project at the Save-A-Lot grocery store on Ellicott Street. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Planning boards to consider Ellicott Place residential/commercial venture special use permits

September 25, 2020 - 5:03pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

As of 2 p.m.

  • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Bethany.
    • One of the individuals is in their 20s and one is in their 50s.
    • The individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Six new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
       
  • Orleans County received three new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Carlton and Gaines.
    • One of the individuals is in their 20s, one is in their 40s, and one is in their 60s.
    • The individuals were not on quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Four new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
September 25, 2020 - 2:23pm

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The first meeting of Batavia's Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group was largely informational, with most of the conversation led by Police Chief Shawn Heubusch on the history of policing, police training, and an introduction to the department's use of force policy.

Some members of the group asked questions or offered a short comment.

City Attorney George Van Ness led off the discussion with an overview of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order mandating such review committees -- called "stakeholder groups" -- for all municipalities in the state that operate a police agency.

The group is charged with reviewing all local police policies and procedures and making suggestions for possible revisions. The plan that comes out of the group's work will be forwarded to the City Council. The plan will be subject then to public input and comment. The council will be expected to review and potentially approve the plan. Once certified, the plan will be sent to the state's Office of Management and Budget.

The executive order states municipalities that fail to follow through by April 1 could lose state funding.

For more on the composition of the group, which is comprised of city officials, community members, and subject-area experts, click here.

The Evolution of Policing

Recalling policing's evolution, Heubusch started with officers walking the beat on night patrol in big cities checking that buildings were secure and dealing with vagrants and drunks. Soon, officers took on the job of investigating crimes. Then when cars became common, police officers were charged with traffic enforcement, with a later emphasis catching people driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

In the 1990s, there was a big push for officers to deal with domestic violence, including mandatory arrests in some situations. Modern departments also employ officers to deal with juveniles. In the late 1990s, the war on drugs started and officers put more emphasis on finding people selling or taking drugs and arresting them. Now, officers put more emphasis on getting drug users into rehabilitation.

In Genesee County, police officers assist Genesee Justice with curfew checks.

Community policing has always been a part of a police officer's job, Heubusch said. Since he became chief in 2014, he started a community outreach committee in the department that looks for ways to connect police officers with community members. Programs include shop-with-a-cop, coffee-with-a-cop, and foot patrols.

Police officers also need training in dealing with mental health issues and conflict de-escalation.

More recently, police officers are called on to enforce pandemic-related regulations and quarantine violations.

And nearly all those police activities have corresponding paperwork for the officer to complete.

"That's kind of what modern policing looks like," Heubusch said. "It's a lot. It's one of the reasons going through the academy these says is so long, because there's so much to learn."

Heubusch went through the academy more than 20 years ago when the required training took 600 hours. Now it's 800 hours.

Once an officer graduates from the academy, the officer is required to have 640 hours of field training.

Body Cams, Use of Force Policy, Job-related Stress

A member of the group asked about the use of body cams and Heubusch said since 2014 all officers are required to wear a body cam. Activating the device requires the officer to click a button twice and they are supposed to turn it on for every interaction with citizens with exceptions for emergencies that require quick action from the officer.

Asked if there is an issue with officers forgetting to activate the camera, Heubusch said there have been very few times where the department has needed to investigate a complaint or needed video footage for evidence and supervisors discovered the camera has not been activated.

The discussion then moved to the next agenda item, Batavia's policy on Use of Force (you can read it for yourself on the city's website (pdf)).

While the chief discussed the policy briefly, group members are asked to read it before the next meeting, which will feature an in-depth discussion of the policy.

Heubusch noted that decisions about use of force are often split-second at best and in that time the officer must assess the threat level and what the legally appropriate amount of force is necessary to neutralize the threat.

"They have to use reasonable force given the circumstances right in front of them at that moment in time," Heubusch said.

To help officers be better prepared in stressful situations, they go through from eight to 16 hours of reality-based training every month.

Batavia PD puts officers through more reality-based training than most small police departments, Heubusch said, because the training carries some small risk of officers getting injured since it's a physical activity.

Community member Billy Blackshear asked about stress levels police officers faced and where that factored into training.

Heubusch said in recent years, there's greater awareness about job-related stress in law enforcement. The things they see, the situations they deal with, can take a toll.

"That's one reason 20 years is long enough to be on the job," Heubusch said. "That stuff compounds."

When officers are dealing with stress, either because of something that happened on the job or in their personal life, they are taken off of street patrol, Heubusch said.

The Rigors of the Hiring Process

In response to a group member's comment, Heubusch said because of retirements, the current police office is comprised of nearly half of the officers being hired in the past two years. Some of those officers had prior experience, but the average age of the force now is somewhere around 24 or 25 years old.

YWCA Executive Director Millie Tomidy-Pepper asked if officers are subjected to a background check before being hired. That started a long discussion about how officers are hired.

The state's civil service law will only allow the department to consider the people with the top three scores on the civil service exam.

There are exceptions that allow the department to consider a lower-scoring candidate, such as a candidate withdrawing an application, but those exceptions are few. Only in recent years has a police chief had the option of passing over a candidate who failed a psychological exam.

There is a criminal background check but only a felony conviction is disqualifying.

The candidate must complete a 28-page background check questionnaire. 

"You would be surprised how many candidates omit things that they don't think we'll find," Heubusch said.

A detective interviews each candidate. The background check includes contacting former employers and references as well as locating people the candidate didn't name as a reference. The neighborhoods where the officer once lived are canvassed for people who can share relevant information about the candidate. Former spouses and boyfriends or girlfriends are interviewed.

"Anybody we can speak to who can speak to the person's character, we want to talk with them," Heubusch said.

There is a credit history check and a social media check.

Then there is a psychological exam with a specialist in police officer duty in Rochester.

Then a panel interview.

Finally, the candidate must take a polygraph.

"If you don't pass the polygraph, you don't get a job offer," Heubusch said.

The whole process takes several weeks.

Victor Thomas, a community member and representative of Just Kings Social Club, said, "That sounds like a lot. It seems you almost have to be perfect to get a job." Then he got a laugh when he said, "I think you just explained to me why I didn't get in."

Heubusch said, "we're not looking for perfect people. We all have skeletons in our closets. What we're looking for are major issues."

The big problem with the process, Heubusch said, is the state law mandating the department to only consider the top three candidates from the civil service exam. There are often better candidates, including some from our local community, who are not among the top three scorers. He would like to see New York go to a system, like some other states, where the exam is "pass/fail," which would mean, perhaps, if 200 people took the exam, the police department could consider up to 100 candidates, including local candidates.

Community member Michael Henry asked if officers receive cultural awareness training. Heubusch said they do in the academy but he didn't have the curriculum with him.

Anibal Soler Jr., superintendent of Batavia City School District, noted that in none of the material provided to group members nor during the presentation was the issue of race mentioned and he suggested a discussion of race be included in any policy reform, training, and in hiring practices. 

City Church Pastor Marty Macdonald took exception to a comment by Heubusch that suggested past behavior was predictive of how a person might do as a police officer. He spoke at length about the ability of people grow, learn and reform.

Heubusch said he agreed and said his comment was meant to refer to references from former employers.

Blackshear commended the chief for his foresight, mentioning he met with Heubusch some years ago, in addressing community issues and trying to reach young people, including trying to recruit young people to a career in law enforcement.

Beyond Diversity -- Doing the Job Correctly with Accountability

Brandon Armstrong, a small business owner and also a member of Just Kings, said he was going to bring up what he thought would be an unpopular opinion: That the big issue was not the diversity of police departments, but the inability of police departments or the justice system to punish police officers who don't do their job the right way. He noted that there have been black police officers accused of acting just as bad as white police officers in other jurisdictions.

"We do need diversity but if somebody isn't doing the job right, they need to better held accountable for it," Armstrong said. "I don't care what color they are."

The opinion wasn't unpopular at all. Other group members said they agreed and nobody disagreed.

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Anibal Soler Jr.

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Shawn Heubusch

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September 25, 2020 - 1:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Alabama, bergen.

Deirdre A. Louchren, 55, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with abandonment of animals. She was arrested on Sept. 22 for an incident that occurred at 8 p.m. Aug. 25 outside a residence on State Street. Louchren was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court at 1 p.m. on Jan. 12. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Jordan McGinnis, assisted by Officer Arick Perkins.

David L. Hausler, 32, of North Bergen Road, Bergen, is charged with making graffiti, a Class A misdemeanor. At 5:17 p.m. on Sept. 17, Hausler was arrested on a warrant out of Batavia City Court for allegedly making graffiti on the outside wall of a local business on Center Street in Batavia at 11 p.m. Feb. 5. He is due in Batavia City Court on Oct. 27 to answer the charge. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer John Gombos, assisted by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Nateeka M. Gibson, 31, of Tracy Avenue, Batavia, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny -- taking property from a person. At 12:53 p.m. on Sept. 20, Gibson was arrested after she allegedly took money from another person and walked away. She was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Jan. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens.

Jesse A. Russell, 30, of Alleghany Road, Alabama, is charged with second-degree harassment. He was arrested Sept. 15 at 4:30 a.m. after allegedly punching a person at a residence on Ross Street in Batavia. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court at 3:42 that afternoon via Skype. Russell was then released on his own recognizance and is due back in city court Nov. 17. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Joshua Girvin, assisted by Officer Jordan McGinnis.

Adam M. Jellison, 42, Sierk Road, Attica, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. On Sept. 22 at 9:02 a.m., Jellison was arrested on Columbia Avenue in Batavia after police were responded to a 9-1-1 call. After a brief investigation, it was allegedly found that he was violating an order of protection by being there. Following arraignment in Batavia City Court, he was jailed with bail set at $2,000 cash, $4,000 bond or $8,000 partially secured bond. Jellison is due back in city court Sept. 29. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer John Gombos, assisted by Officer Miah Stevens.

Michael Wesley Flint, 21, of Spring Street, Mount Morris, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. He was arrested after an investigation into a domestic incident that occurred on Aug. 31 in which he allegedly violated an order of protection. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 29. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Samuel Freeman.

Peter J. Ozzimo Jr., 50, of Orchard Street, Perry, is charged with: driving while intoxicated, with a BAC of .08 percent or more; DWI -- common law; and no or insufficient tail lamps. Ozzimo was arrested after a traffic stop at 1:53 a.m. Sept. 20 on West Main Street in Batavia. It is alleged an officer observed a traffic violation, prompting the stop. He was released with several traffic tickets and is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 30. Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson handled the case, assisted by Officer Jordan McGinnis.

Erica M. Raphael, 35, of Pratt Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Raphael was arrested after Batavia Police Officer Nicole McGinnis responded to Top's Friendly Market on West Main Street in Batavia for a shoplifter reported to be taken into custody by store staff. Raphael was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 8.

September 25, 2020 - 1:40pm

An update of the direction that the Batavia City Council will take in filling the vacant city manager position is on the agenda of Monday night’s Conference Meeting at City Hall Council Chambers.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. previously indicated that the board would make its plan public at Monday’s meeting.

The choices boil down to utilizing a stipulation in a contract with The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, to receive a “free professional search” or to hire Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, who has been serving in that capacity since the June departure of former City Manager Martin Moore.

The Novak Consulting Group assisted in the search to hire Moore in August of 2018. The firm’s agreement with the city included a free search should Moore leave within two years of his employment date.

City Council met in executive session earlier this week to, in all likelihood, discuss the city manager position.

Should Council decide to conduct a full search as it did in the case of the Moore hiring, it would consist of forming a screening committee to evaluate potential candidate resumes and, eventually, conduct interviews.

Jankowski has acknowledged there will be costs associated with the search that would not be covered by Novak’s guarantee, such as advertising in national trade publications and travel expenses.

The board could bypass a manager search and offer the job to Tabelski, who was hired as assistant city manager in August of last year.

In a related development, Council will consider a resolution on Monday’s meeting agenda to give Tabelski $1,000 per month in addition to her regular salary – effective July 20, 2020 – for assuming additional duties and responsibilities in the absence of a city manager. The stipend would continue until the city manager position is permanently filled.

Other agenda highlights include:

  • An application from the Downtown Business Improvement District to hold Christmas in the City from 2 to 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. A parade from Jefferson Avenue to Liberty Street is set for 6 p.m. Estimated costs for the event are $480 for police coverage, $276.42 for public works assistance and $1,425.71 for bureau of maintenance duties.
  • An audit presentation by Laura Landers of Freed Maxick concerning the city’s financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. Landers and Tabelski met with the City of Batavia Audit Advisory Committee on Aug. 18 to review the documents, and answered questions pertaining to fund transfers, debt service payments, fund balances (including water and sewer), the city’s self-insurance plan and the impact of decreased sales tax revenue.
  • A resolution authorizing a foreclosed house at 50 Oak St. to be transferred (for $1) to Habitat for Humanity for rehabilitation. If approved, it would be the 11th home acquired by Habitat from the City of Batavia. A memo from Tabelski to Council indicates that Habitat plans to invest between $58,000 and $62,000 to renovate the one-family house, which is assessed at $62,000. The Batavia Housing Authority is partnering with the city in this venture.
  • A resolution to schedule a public hearing on Oct. 26 to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages in I-1 industrial zones with a special use permit. This change stems from a January request by Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvement, to construct an auto service station on the property at 653 Ellicott St. The zoning text change has been approved by the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee and the Genesee County Planning Board.
September 24, 2020 - 5:25pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Western Regional OTB, Batavia Downs.
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Despite attendance limits at Batavia Downs Gaming and fewer dates on the horse racing schedule, wagering through services provided by the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation is way up.

And officials of the public benefit company say they are amazed.

“In gaming, we’re at 25-percent occupancy rate (due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by New York State) and we’re achieving 90 percent of last year’s numbers,” Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach said following this morning’s WROTB board of directors meeting at the Park Road facility. “This is much better than expected.”

Leach reported a “net win” of $2.2 million since the gaming site reopened on Sept. 9.

“Forty-nine percent of that goes to the state and the rest stays here,” she said, also reporting that the Downs distributed $91,604 in surcharges to municipalities for the month of August.

Wagering has hit remarkable levels at the Batavia Downs harness track and at the corporation’s Off-Track Betting branches as well.

Todd Haight, director/general manager of live racing, said that after 19 of the 42 racing dates, the handle is up more than 57 percent from last year.

“The betting is just off the charts this year; I really never saw this coming,” he said. “Despite having 11 less race cards, the OTBs, which include Batavia Bets, are up over $6,300 in handle, which is amazing.”

Haight said the corporation’s other simulcast sites -- excluding OTBs and EZ-Bets (terminals placed at bars and restaurants) and online betting -- is up 36 percent and total betting, despite a lack of spectators, is up 18 percent.

He said that on Kentucky Derby day, the handle was the second-largest ever at the Downs since OTB purchased the track in 1998.

“It was a pleasant surprise, for sure, but we want to get our spectators back and fill that clubhouse to 100-percent capacity,” he said. “But for now, we’re really excited about the season.”

Sean Schiano, director of branch operations, reported that the Kentucky Derby handle through Batavia Bets, the corporation’s interactive online and telephone wagering platform, was up $53,000 from last year, and that the August handle of $2.2 million was up $755,000 or 53 percent.

Through Sept. 20, Batavia Bets has handled almost $1.4 million, up $757,000 or 119 percent from last year, and year-to-date, the service’s wagering is up almost $2.8 million or 29 percent, Schiano said.

“That’s pretty amazing considering that we were closed for almost two months,” he said. “There were no tracks running anywhere, and when tracks finally starting running, it just picked up. With the closing of the casinos, people have money.”

Schiano said the numbers make him think of how things were several decades ago.

“If horse racing was the only game in town like it was 40 years ago when OTBs were thriving, people will go and bet the horses,” he said. “I wish it would last; I’d love it if the gaming facility and the horse racing was great, but right now, people have the money and they want to bet.”

He mentioned the Kentucky Derby success and predicted similar big numbers for the Preakness on Oct. 3 and the Breeders Cup in November.

“Everyone wants to get through this pandemic, but they still love to bet horses. Sadly, NYS needs to help us out a bit with all the regulations in place really hurt us. But, it’s very nice to see the handle go up,” he said.

In other developments, the board:

  • Voted to raise health insurance co-pays for all employees from $15 to $25 and employees’ contribution to their plan to 5 percent. WROTB CEO Henry Wojtaszek said the co-pay change will enable the corporation to get better rates on their plans.
  • Established a new position on the gaming floor – cage operations supervisor.
  • Approved a contract extension with Upstate Strategic Advisors LLC of Buffalo, a lobbying firm, through Dec. 31, at a rate of $3,500 per month.
  • Authorized a five-year contract with the Bonadio Group, a certified public accounting business based in Buffalo, for professional outside auditing services.
  • Approved closing the Newark OTB parlor at the end of October due to low betting handle numbers.
September 24, 2020 - 4:10pm
posted by Press Release in crime, news, notify, corfu, mail fraud, USPS.

Press release:

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced today that Julie Keller, 55, of Corfu, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with mail fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, between 2014 and August 2020, the defendant engaged as a money mule for various internet-based scams, accepting and redirecting thousands of dollars to Africa.

During that time, she had accounts closed by at least five different national and local banks due to suspicious cash, check, money order, and wire activity.

This July 17, the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) received a request for assistance from the Boston, Mass., Police Department. A detective was investigating a report of an individual (C.R.P.), who believed she had been defrauded in relation to a rental property listed on the online classified site, Craigslist.

In June, 2020, C.R.P. replied to an advertisement for an available apartment for rent and, ultimately agreed to rent a property listed on their local Craigslist site. All communication between the supposed landlord and C.R.P. was completed via text message. The supposed landlord instructed C.R.P. to split the deposit for the rental between an electronic payment via an electronic cellular telephone application, or “cash app,” and by money order, using the U.S. Mail.

The supposed landlord instructed C.R.P. to send the money order to Julie Keller in Corfu, who was identified as an accountant. The investigation determined that the address provided by the supposed landlord is a United States Postal Service (USPS) Facility in Corfu and Keller is employed by the USPS as a mail carrier.

After C.R.P. made the down payments as instructed, the person listing the property ceased all contact, and the property was never secured or occupied by C.R.P.

C.R.P. provided a number of screenshots from her cellular telephone, depicting her text communications with the individual who had listed the rental property. Subsequent investigation determined that other individuals sent the defendant down payments for the rental property listed on Craigslist.

A cursory look into Keller's banking history revealed that she had a pattern of suspicious cash, check, money order and wire activity totaling in excess of $150,000 dating back to 2014. Records indicated Keller had been either deceptive or unresponsive when questioned by bank personnel about the nature of her transactions. Her activities included the use of national and local banks, as well as Western Union and MoneyGram.

Keller made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. and was released on conditions.

The criminal complaint is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston, Mass., Division.

September 23, 2020 - 6:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Grand Jury, Oakfield, bergen, Le Roy, byron, batavia.

Akeem R. Gibson is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 29 in the City of Batavia that Gibson possessed a narcotic drug -- cocaine -- with intent to sell it. In count two, he is accused of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, a Class C felony. It is alleged in count two that on that day he knowingly possessed one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances with an aggregate weight of 1/8th ounce or more. In count three, Gibson is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor. It is alleged in count three that on that day Gibson drove a 2005 Chrysler on Ellicott Street while his driver's license was suspended by authorities.

Stephen M. Esposito is indicted for the crime of aggravated vehicular assault, a Class C felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 7 on Route 98 in the Town of Batavia that Esposito engaged in reckless driving and caused serious physical injury to another person. He is accused of driving a 1999 Ford F250 Supercab truck while his ability to do so was impaired by use of a drug and that he operated the vehicle in a manner that caused serious physical injury to a person. In count two, he is accused of driving while ability impaired by drugs, a Class E felony, for driving that day while his ability to do so was impaired by drugs. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Esposito is accused of having been convicted of the crime of driving while ability impaired by drugs on March 10, 2016 in Town of Stafford Court and that conviction is within 10 years of crimes alleged in the current indictment.

Patrick O. Spikes is indicted for the crime of second-degree burglary, a Class C violent felony. It is alleged that on Dec. 24 that Spikes knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a building in the first block of Porter Avenue in the City of Batavia with intent to commit a crime. In count two, he is accused of first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony. It is alleged in count two that on that day he violated of an order of protection, that he acted with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm the protected person, and subjected that person to physical contact or threatened to do so. In count three, Spikes is accused of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count three that on that day, he applied pressure to the throat or neck of the protected person with the intent to impede normal breathing or blood circulation.

Edward C. Simmons is indicted for the crime of second-degree burglary, a Class C violent felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 16, 2019, that Simmons knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime. The building was a dwelling in the 2600 block of East Shelby Road in the Town of Oakfield.

Kyle A. Scheuerlein is indicted for the crime of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged that on March 8 in the City of Batavia, Scheuerlein impeded the breathing or blood circulation of another person by applying pressure on that person's throat or neck. In count two, he is accused of second-degree assault, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged that on that day, with intent to cause physical injury to a person, that he cause such injury with a dustpan with a long handle. In count three, he is accused of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony. It is alleged in count three that on that day he possessed a dangerous instrument -- a dustpan with long handle -- with intent to use it unlawfully against another person. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Scheuerlein is accused of having been convicted in in the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial District, in Du Page County, Ill.: of: (1.) theft of stolen property with intent to deprive, a Class A misdemeanor, Aug. 2, 2011; (2.) theft -- unauthorized control with intent not exceeding $300, a Class A misdemeanor, Aug. 2, 2011; (3.) burglary, a Class 2 felony, on Aug. 2, 2011; (4.) retail theft, possessing displayed merchandise not exceeding $300, a Class A misdemeanor, Feb. 10, 2012; (5.) theft -- unauthorized control with intent to benefit between $500 and $10,000, a Class 3 felony, Feb. 10, 2012; (6.) consumption of alcohol by any person under age 21, a Class A misdemeanor, Feb. 17, 2012; (7.) retail theft -- possession of displayed merchandise, a Class A misdemeanor, June 25, 2013; (8.) retail theft -- possession of displayed merchandise not exceeding $300, a Class A misdemeanor, on June 25, 2013. These convictions form the basis for count three in the current indictment.

Eric J. McGill is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony. It is alleged in count one that on Nov. 5 in the area of Hutchins Place in the City of Batavia that McGill possessed a dangerous instrument -- a bat, with intent to use it unlawfully against a person. In count two, McGill is accused of second-degree menacing, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count two that on that date he intentionally placed or attempted to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a dangerous instrument -- a bat. In count three, McGill is accused of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. In count three, it is alleged that on April 12 in the same area, he possessed a billy (an expandable baton). In count four, he is accused of the same crime as in count one, for allegedly possessing an electronic stun gun April 12 in the same area. In count five, he is accused of the same crime as count one, for allegedly possessing a billy on May 2 in the same area. In count six, McGill is accused of the same crime as in count one, for allegedly possession a billy in the same area on June 18. In count seven, the defendant is accused of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, a Class D felony, for allegedly possessing a billy on June 18, with intent to use it against another person. In count eight, McGill is accused of the same crime as in count one, for allegedly possessing an electronic stun gun June 18 in the same area. In count nine, McGill is accused of a second count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, for allegedly possessing an electronic stun gun June 18 in the same area with intent to use it against a person unlawfully. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, McGill is accused of having been convicted: on Nov. 10, 2008, in Orleans County Court of attempted making a terroristic threat, a Class E felony; on Sept. 7, 2017, in Town of Shelby Court, of third-degree menacing, a Class B misdemeanor; and on June 13, 2018, in Town of Albion Court, of attempted petit larceny, a Class B misdemeanor. The convictions form the basis for all counts in the current indictment except count two.

Laura Vazquez Coronado is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated as a Class D felony. It is alleged that on May 13 in the Town of Byron that Coronado drove a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt on Griswold Road while she was intoxicated. In count two, Coronado is accused of DWI, per se, as a Class D felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 percent or more at the time. In count three, she is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, a Class E felony, for allegedly knowing at the time that her driver's license was suspended or revoked by authorities and she was driving while allegedly under the influence of alcohol or a drug. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Coronado is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on July 25, 2018 in Town of Elba Court, and of the same crime Nov. 28, 2018 in Town of Elba Court. The convictions form the basis for count three of the current indictment.

Samantha G. Reff is indicted for the crime of aggravated driving while ability impaired by drugs, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Dec. 3 on Route 5 and Kelsey Road in the Town of Batavia that Reff drove a 2006 black Pontiac Torrent while her ability to do so was impaired by use of a drug and that she did so while a child age 15 or less was a passenger. In count two, Reff is accused of aggravated driving while her ability was impaired by drugs, a Class E felony, and while a second child age 15 or less was a passenger. In count three, Reff is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, a Class a misdemeanor, for allegedly knowingly acting in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than 17. In count four, she is accused of the same crime as in count three because a second child less than 17 was involved. In count five, Reff is accused of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly knowingly possessing buprenorphine and naloxone. In count six, she is accused of the same crime as in count six for allegedly knowingly possessing alprazolam.

Derrick R. Kio is indicted for the crime of first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 21 in the Village of Le Roy that Kio intentionally disobeyed or resisted a stay away order of protection. In count two, he is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree, an unclassified misdemeanor. It is alleged in count two that on that day Kio operated a vehicle in the Village of Le Roy while his driver's license was suspended or revoked by authorities. It is further alleged that at the time, he had three or more suspensions imposed on three separate dates for failure to answer, appear or pay a fine. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Kio is accused of having been convicted of second-degree criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor, on Dec. 19 and that conviction was within five years of the crime alleged in the current indictment.

John M. Tullar is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on March 3 in the Town of Bergen that Tullar operated a 2010 Ford on Route 33 while he was intoxicated. In count two, Tullar is accused of DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 percent or more at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Tullar is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on Nov. 23, 2010 in the Town of Ogden Court, Monroe County, and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

September 23, 2020 - 6:48pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Sheriff's Department.

sheriff_week.jpg

sheriff_proclamation_.jpg

In top photo, Genesee County Sheriff’s Department employees and county legislators gather on the steps of the Old County Courthouse in recognition lawmakers declaring Sept. 20-26, 2020 as Sheriff’s Week in Genesee County.

In bottom photo, Legislator Andrew Young, chair of the Public Service Committee, presents the proclamation to Sheriff William Sheron.

The proclamation read, in part, that the Office of Sheriff, established in Genesee County in 1802, "has evolved into a modern, professionally accredited, full-service law enforcement and public safety agency, manned by fully trained police and peace officers, as well as civilians using state-of-the-art technology and applying the latest and most-advanced theories and practices in the criminal justice, civil process, corrections, 911 communications, and court security fields."

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

September 23, 2020 - 6:35pm

The Genesee County Legislature today approved a resolution authorizing changes to a pair of projects designed to increase the county’s water supply capacity under Phase 2 of the Countywide Water Supply Program.

Passage of the measure took place at the legislature's monthly meeting at the Old County Courthouse, following adoption of a proclamation designating Sept. 20-26 as Sheriff's Week in Genesee County.

The first adds $125,000 to a contract with Randsco Pipeline Inc., of Macedon, for the installation of reinforcing sleeves on five tangential tee connections along the transmission main on North Road in the Town of Le Roy. It raises the total contract amount to $5,657,030.60.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said this change order, coupled with a previous change to zinc-coated pipe and other related items totaling $190,285, raises the total contract amount to $5,601,485.

Hens said that the latest modification is to reinforce the five tangential tees or hydrant assemblies off the 36-inch main on North Road and to prevent any future leaks at the tees due to settlement or car accidents involving hydrants.

The second, which has no financial impact, allows Villager Construction Inc., of Macedon, to take up to 90 more days to perform installation work, primarily at the Chestnut Ridge water transmission main in the Town of Chili and the pump station offsite water mains in Mumford and Churchville. Delays in the project were due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The total amount of that contract stands at $4,942,165.

Both projects are part of a $23.5 million initiative that is intended to add 2.4 million gallons per day to the county’s water supply from Monroe County Water Authority sources, essentially doubling the current output of 2.5 million gallons per day, Hens said.

“Several Genesee County funded projects are occurring in Monroe County to get the water to our border and several are occurring in Genesee County as well,” he said. “The county is also assisting several municipal projects in Genesee County.”

In other action, the legislature approved a year extension a telephone system maintenance contract with Meridian IT of Rochester to provide continuous monitoring, remote and on-site service of all equipment, including handsets and incremental software upgrades for the IP Office servers installed at every County location.

The contract amount is not to exceed $24,943.

Per the resolution, Meridian IT “provides a level of expertise that in-house staff do not have. The telephone system is a critical component to supporting county departments and this outsourced service is necessary to ensure its availability and reliability.”

September 23, 2020 - 10:33am

Understanding how policing has changed over the years and learning about policies and procedures are the key themes to be addressed Thursday night as the City of Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group meets for the first time.

The two-hour session is set for 7 o’clock at City Centre Council Chambers.

“We plan to share an overview of policing as a profession and how it and law enforcement, in general, have evolved,” Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said on Tuesday.

Heubusch said he’s looking forward to working with the 20 members of the committee plus industry experts from several health and human services agencies who have been invited to participate.

“Anytime we can bring people in to help us deliver services in the community is a good thing,” he said. “We have a cross section of the community in the group. I think every ward is represented (by citizen members) and we’ve checked all the boxes of those who have to be involved per the governor’s Executive Order.”

He also noted a “good representation of the minority community” to assist in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate that municipal police departments engage with stakeholders in their communities to review current police policies and procedures and then develop a plan to adopt and implement the recommendations resulting from the review and consultation.

Per Executive Order No. 203:

Each local government entity … must perform a comprehensive review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.

The plan must be submitted to the state Director of the Division of the Budget by April 1 or communities could risk losing future state funding.

Thursday’s meeting will include a review of Executive Order 203: New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaboration, and feature a presentation by the Batavia Police Department.

Topics include the evolution of policing, current operations and the BPD Policy Manual, with members to receive copies of the department’s Policy 300 Use of Force as a "take home assignment."

“Policing methods change depending upon who’s in power in Albany and in the federal government,” Heubusch said, noting that one recent change involves how officers handle people using drugs. “With the PAARI (Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative) program we have now, the approach is much different in that we refer them to GCASA (Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuses) and the peer advocates (to get help). Before that, it always was arrest, arrest, arrest.”

Heubusch also pointed to changes concerning use of force policy, specifically mentioning the (Eric Garner) Anti-Chokehold Act passed by the state legislature and – as part of a package of 10 police reform bills -- signed into law as by Cuomo in June. The law criminalizes the use of chokeholds that result in injury or death.

Advisory group meetings will take place on Thursdays, likely at 6 p.m. going forward, Heubusch said, with two meetings scheduled for October, two for November and one or two in December to finalize the plan.

“Our goal is to complete this task as expeditiously as possible,” he said.

Advisory group members are as follows:

Law enforcement/Legal – Heubusch, Assistant Chief Chris Camp, First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell, Public Defender Jerry Ader, Batavia PBA President Matt Wojtaszczyk.

City of Batavia – Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, City Attorney George Van Nest, Council Member Kathleen Briggs.

Residents/Business – Brandon Armstrong, Raelene Christian, Bill Hayes, Francis Marchese, Gregory Munroe II, Victor Thomas, Michael Henry, Bill Blackshear.

Other – Rev. Martin Macdonald (City Church), Batavia City School Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., Batavia Housing Authority Director Nathan Varland, YWCA Executive Director Millie Tomidy-Pepper.

Representatives from Genesee County Department of Social Services, Genesee County Mental Health Services, Lake Plains Community Care, RESTORE Sexual Assault Services, City of Batavia Youth Center and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 Center also will provide information and answer questions.

Jay Gsell and Erik Fix will serve as moderators.

The meetings are open to the public, with COVID-19 protocols in place.

September 22, 2020 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify.

There were multiple factors to consider, Judge Charles Zambito said in County Court today, during the sentencing of James Tripp, a former emergency dispatcher accused of possessing more than 70 images of girls under age 16 of a sexual nature.

Tripp, on his own, completed counseling. He has avoided further similar transgressions over the past three years. He has a lifetime of service to the community. He has an ailing wife to care for. The Probation Department recommended a straight probation sentence, a recommendation Zambito noted is highly unusual in a pornography case. The department said Tripp is not a threat to the community.

However, "No victims are represented here in this case because none of the victim girls could be identified," Zambito said. "If their parents were here, I'm sure they would want me to send you to jail for as long as I can."

Then, Zambito said, he also consider the community's sense of justice and their perception of the judicial system.  

The Probation Department's recommendation wouldn't satisfy the community's sense that some punishment is appropriate in a child pornography case.  

Zambito also took into consideration both Tripp's service to the community -- which included decades of volunteer fire service -- and the expectation the public has for people who work in positions of responsibility. 

"Your position (as a highly decorated emergency dispatcher) cuts both ways," Zambito said. "Your position is also one of responsibility and one people respect and expect you to not just cooperate with the law, but to be above the law. All of us in this room are in that position."

Assistant District Attorney Kaitlynn Schmit recommended at least some jail time for Tripp. Under the terms of the plea deal, Tripp could be sentenced up to six months in jail. Schmit asked for three months.

Zambito wanted to know why she was asking for three months considering the probation department's recommendation and Schmit said while she took into consideration Tripp's service to the community and his apparent rehabilitation, she also considered the number of images possessed by Tripp on three devices, and the fact that on at least one occasion, he uploaded an image to a server, some length of jail time was appropriate.

Tripp's attorney, Clark Zimmerman, argued for the Probation Department's recommendation, saying his client was truly remorseful.

"This is a non-contact type of offense," Zimmerman said. "I’m not saying there are no victims. I’m saying in the scheme of things, it’s at the lower end of this and even with the number of image the prosecution mentions it is still on the low end of this."

The case against Tripp began in December 2017 when an image of a young girl was uploaded from a computer with Tripp's home IP address. State Police investigators obtained a search warrant for his home and executed it on Dec. 20, 2017. They found 70 images on three devices that could be identified as sexually explicit or suggestive images of girls under 16 and they found another 200 images where the girls were of indeterminate age. 

During his statement -- which he said would be brief but lasted more than 10 minutes -- Tripp said his quiet, family-oriented life changed on Dec. 17, 2017.

"Before the State Police had even left my residence, my life turned completely upside down," Tripp said.

A man who favored rum and Cokes -- he drank while downloading images, Schmit had said -- Tripp said he has been dry since the day troopers arrived on his doorstep.

He immediately entered a rehabilitation program at the Family Life Center.

He said he felt no animosity toward the State Police, toward his former employer, the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, or any of the people he considered friends who have stayed away from him since his arrest.

"If I have any animosity, it's for me, for my actions," Tripp said.

He recounted his career and his desire to serve the community and to raise his children to do the right thing.

"I screwed up," Tripp said. "There is no question about that. I have been trying since Dec. 17, 2017, to make things better for us again. It's not going to go away. It's there every day. Every day I think about it. I'm ashamed. I've been disgraced. I'm embarrassed. I'm anything you could think of. I'm embarrassed every day. I'm sorry for my wife, for my kids, for my work friends over the years. It's a battle every day for us."

He said he applied for gainful employment and revealed to each potential employer his pending charges. Two employers, he said, didn't hire him but one did. It was a part-time job he held for a little more than a year and then, just before the pandemic hit, his arrest was announced and he was fired.

He hasn't looked for work since while waiting for his case to be resolved.

"No one from any of the agencies I worked with has tried to talk with me, and rightfully so," Tripp said. "There are people who I worked with for 25 years and I've got to assume we had some sort of relationship, that they were friends. Everybody knows people talk.

"I'm not saying I'm not guilty but when the charges came out people read it and they formed their opinions. People read about me and conclude I'm the biggest jerk out there but from previous jobs, I can say, there are a lot more jerks than me out there."

Tripp said going forward, his focus is his wife and his family.

After Zambito sentenced Tripp, Zimmerman told Zambito that Tripp's wife would have no way to get home if Tripp went straight to jail from the courthouse.  Zambito agreed to let Tripp give his wife a ride home and ordered him back to the courthouse by 2 p.m. so he could be transported by deputies to the jail to begin his 90-day sentence.

He warned Tripp that if he didn't return on time, he would lose his sentencing cap.

The Batavian confirmed this afternoon that Tripp returned to the courthouse and was booked into the Genesee County Jail.

September 22, 2020 - 1:40pm

david_krzemien.jpgGenesee County sheriff candidate David Krzemien on Monday night said that an internal investigation by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police Department, his former employer, revealed that he was not part of a double-dipping scheme brought to light by an Office of the New York State Comptroller audit in 2010.

“I was never charged by the Comptroller’s office or anything like that. This is an investigation that is done by the NFTA. They found no findings of me getting paid from two sources,” Krzemien said by telephone in response to a request by The Batavian for comment about the report dated Sept. 27, 2010.

The audit issued by the comptroller’s office Division of State Government Accountability indicated that Krzemien and 10 other NFTA officers, over a three-year period, “abandoned their assigned duty posts to go to work at other jobs while being paid by the Authority.”

The 10-year-old report was provided to The Batavian by multiple people who are supporters of Sheriff William Sheron, Krezmien's opponent in the November election.

According to the report, this practice of falsifying time sheets to show employees on the clock at two different jobs was condoned for years by NFTA senior level police officers, who also “participated in cheating the public out of a full-day’s work.”

Signed in at Two, But Paid for One

The comptroller’s audit stated that the NFTA, in July 2009, conducted an internal investigation into the allegations, with Patrick Dalton, director of internal audit, finding that Krzemien “was signed in at the Transportation Authority and the Village of Blasdell Police Department at the same time. Despite this finding, the police officer was not disciplined.”

Krzemien, however, who worked part time for the Village of Blasdell Police Department while employed by the NFTA, maintains that he did not double-dip – and points to a letter from the NFTA to the comptroller’s office in reply to the audit to support him.

The letter, signed by NFTA Acting Chairman Henry Sloma, refers to page 10, paragraph 5 of the audit report, specifically that “Mr. Dalton did determine that Officer Krzemien was signed in at both the NFTA and the Village of Blasdell. However, he did not get paid for any time concurrent with the time worked at the NFTA and therefore is not subject to any disciplinary actions as he did not violate the union contract.”

Krzemien, who retired from the NFTA Police Department in 2018 after a 20-year career, said an overlap of shifts occurred because he was working overtime for the NFTA.

“I couldn’t change the schedule hours with Blasdell, so the guy who was working the shift before me covered for me, and (he) got paid for those hours,” Krzemien said. “So, according to the Comptroller, I was not double dipping. I was never disciplined from any of it.”

Comptroller: It Went on For Years

Per the state report, an anonymous letter prompted the investigation into double-dipping, and led to the comptroller’s office to conclude the following:

This double dipping was allowed to occur for several years because senior level police officers condoned and participated in this fraudulent activity. As a result, the citizens of Erie and Niagara counties did not have the police coverage that was planned and paid for.

We urge Transportation Authority officials to change the culture in the police department. Transportation Authority officials should also properly monitor to ensure officers are working their shifts and in the locations they are assigned.

We provided our findings to the Office of the State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations for referral to law enforcement for possible criminal prosecution.

Click here to view the report.

Krzemien said the investigation stemmed from some school resource officers working a football game at Bennett High School.

Krzemien: SROs at the Turkey Bowl

“A bunch of our SROs who work for the NFTA Police Department on Thanksgiving Day what they did was – they were working for the NFTA, now I was not part of the school resource officers, OK. We’ll make that clear,” he said.

“So, our SROs worked a football game for Bennett High School – they had a thing they called the Turkey Bowl. They were working for the NFTA and they were also collecting money from the Turkey Bowl, from the school. So, they got caught double-dipping.”

He said that prompted the NFTA to go “through everybody’s second front employment status, and they came across my paperwork. I was working for the Village of Blasdell.”

Krzemien said the NFTA started its inquiry, but he wasn’t part of the original findings of the comptroller’s office.

“It was those guys who were working that school,” he said. “But because the NFTA had gotten the complaint, they went into everybody’s second front employment status. And when they got the records from Blasdell, they investigated further because I was forced to work overtime with the NFTA (and) it overlapped my shift in Blasdell.

Someone Else Worked Those Hours

“When I left (my shift at) the NFTA, I did go to Blasdell and worked my second job but I never got paid for that. So, in turn, that’s not double-dipping.  Someone else got paid for those hours, not me, because I wasn’t working.”

Krzemien said the SROs who were involved in the double dipping from the high school football game were “suspended for, I think, 30 days without pay – but that was not me. John Herritage, I know, was one of them. He was a lieutenant that was actually running it with Mike Difranco, who was another lieutenant that was running it.”

The audit reported that, in 2008, Krzemien earned $51,437 in base salary and $19,493 in overtime – ranking 50th in the police department that year in overtime.

While double-dipping in connection with the NFTA investigation is illegal, it is not against the law for public officials to receive a pension and collect full salary for a job being performed after retirement.

Such is the case with Sheron who retired on Dec. 31, 2016 and is collecting a NYS Employees Retirement System annual pension of $60,326 as well as his current salary of $105,518.

Separate Case: Judge Dismisses Charges

In an unrelated legal proceeding brought to the attention of The Batavian by a reader, a felony charge of Assault on a Police Officer against James Patterson stemming from an Aug. 27, 2007 incident involving Krzemien was dismissed nearly a year later by Erie County Acting Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller (People v Patterson 2008 NY).

According to testimony of Krzemien and Officer Michelle Pettys at a May 2008 hearing, they responded to a call of passengers drinking on a Metro rail train at the Amherst Street Station, a petty offense in violation of a Buffalo city ordinance.

The defendant was heading up the stairs to leave the station when asked to stop by Krzemien. Patterson did not stop and muttered a vulgarity, prompting Krzemien to grab his shirt and arm. A struggle ensued and the defendant eventually subdued and handcuffed to the railing. While handcuffed, Patterson kicked Krzemien in the shoulder area.

The judge ruled that Krzemien did not perform a “lawful duty” when he used force to keep Patterson from exiting the station in light of testimony that neither officer intended to arrest the defendant. Citing precedent, the judge ruled the defendant did not have to stop or respond to Krzemien and that the “detention of the defendant was not in the performance of a lawful duty.”

Krzemien: Misdemeanor Charge was There

To this day, Krzemien believes that he had sufficient cause to detain Patterson because of his intention to file a theft of service charge – a misdemeanor – for failure to provide proof of purchasing a ticket to the rail train.

“There were additional charges put on him because what happened was we got a call one morning – and I’ll give you the whole scenario that took place,” he said. “We got a call one morning of intoxicated people being disorderly on a train. We responded to the call and we went down there and we did come across unruly, intoxicated people on the train. There were bottles of champagne. They had glasses and the champagne in their hands.”

Krzemien said officers asked two people for proof of payment.

“Anywhere, and it’s posted throughout the stations, anywhere past a certain part of the station you have to have proof of payment when you ride it – it’s a theft of service, which is misdemeanor charge,” he said. “Two of them couldn’t produce it and Patterson started walking away. So, they started to walk away – what it stated in regards to that was I didn’t have a right to stop him. I did have a right to stop him on the misdemeanor charge.”

That’s when things turned for the worse, resulting in injury to Krzemien.

“When I confronted Mr. Patterson, he turned, violently, and he aggressively came at me. I have two herniated disks in my neck. He tried to throw me over the railing. We had to cuff him to the railing to get him into custody,” he said. “So, as I am walking away from him, he roundhouse kicks me to the face. That’s when I got the two herniated disks in my neck.”

Injuries Result in Hospitalization

Krzemien said he was standing on the platform between two levels of the train station and fell back about four steps before regrouping and taking Patterson into custody. He said he had to go to the hospital and was unable to complete the arrest.

“So, one of the officers that responded there took the arrest – John Politowski – (and) helped complete the report,” he said. “When he filed, he never filed the charges on the theft of service. That’s where the charges were dismissed, because I didn’t have the right.”

Krzemien referred to the case law cited by the judge, stating that an officer doesn’t have the right to detain or restrain someone unless the criminal charges are at the misdemeanor or felony level.

“I had a misdemeanor charge because he couldn’t prove proper proof of payment which is theft of service – he didn’t have a ticket to ride the train. In Buffalo, it’s an honor system. They don’t have, like turnstiles in New York City,” he said. “So, when we asked for proof of payment, they have to produce proof of payment. I have a right to pursue to question on the misdemeanor.”

When it was mentioned to him that the judge’s ruling doesn’t mention a lack of payment or a misdemeanor charge, Krzemien said that subsequently the charges were refiled, not on the felony assault charge but as assault, third degree.

Charges Refiled in Buffalo Court

“They were actually refiled in (Buffalo) City Court on an assault  third charge,” he said. “He (Patterson) was later picked up on a warrant – I think it was in Pennsylvania, I’m not sure, but I remember our detectives went to pick him up. He was arraigned on other charges. The charges were re-upped; that’s the part that wasn’t in there because we couldn’t go against the judge’s appeal. They said you’ll never win it.

“So, what we’ll do is go to assault third. I said that I have two herniated disks in my neck, we’re going to go with assault third? It’s the only way we’re going to be able to win the case, because they’ll never overrule a judge’s decision on the felony assault on a police officer.”

Krzemien said that the charges were refiled and “after they picked him up they gave him time served because he sat in jail.”

He said the original charges were dismissed because he was in the hospital and was unable to place the misdemeanor charge on Patterson. When it went to the felony hearing, the charges were dismissed.

“I think it (dismissal) was wrong, absolutely, I think it was wrong. The misdemeanor charge was there,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and lie, I’m telling you the truth.”

NFTA Officer of the Year in 2013

Krzemien, 51, said he continues to suffer from the injury sustained in the altercation, and feels this scrutiny is unfair.

“I have probably close to 600, 700 arrests in combination assisting other guys in the city. And this is what I’m facing now. If you want to run with it go ahead. I’ll get the other information to prove it all wrong. But, I’m not here lying. I called you back,” he said.

Krzemien retired from the NFTA in 1998 after 20 years of employment, leading the Counter Terrorism Unit for seven years and as serving on the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) Union for seven years, including three as president. He was named NFTA Police Officer of the Year in 2013.

He also worked part time for the Village of Blasdell Police Department, as a field training officer, court officer and detective for 14 years.

Currently, he is a part-time police officer for the Corfu Police Department and a seasonal deputy with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department. He also is the Town of Darien deputy supervisor.

September 21, 2020 - 3:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Le Roy, pembroke, bergen.

Andrew Theodore Pape, 31, of Chili Riga Road, Churchville, is charged with: driving while intoxicated; operation of a motor vehicle with suspended registration; refusal to take a breath test; unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree; and moving from lane unsafely. Pape was arrested at 9:49 pm. Sept. 18 on Jerico Road in Bergen following the investigation of a property damage accident that occurred at 9:10 p.m. He was issued appearance tickets for Nov. 4 in Bergen Town Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Dimmig, assisted by Deputy James Stack.

Jacob William Cobti, 18, of Burdick Road, Akron, is charged with: driving while ability impaired by alcohol; refusal to take a breath test; and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. On. Sept. 20 at 7:54 a.m., Cobti was arrested after an investigation of a disabled vehicle on Alleghany Road in Pembroke. He was issued traffic tickets and released. He is due in Pembroke Town Court on Oct. 21. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Dimmig, assisted by Deputy Ryan Young.

David Gerard Sankel, 68, of Spencerport Road, Spencerport, is charged with driving while intoxicated and refusal to take a breath test. He was arrested at 12:55 a.m. on Sept. 19 on South Lake Road in Le Roy after an investigation by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. Sankel was issued appearance tickets and is due in Town of Le Roy Court on Oct. 6. The case was handled by Deputy Nicholas Chamoun, assisted by Sgt. Andrew Hale.

September 21, 2020 - 10:17am

The Office of the New York State Comptroller is recommending that the Alexander Central School District and Board of Education take several corrective measures after an audit issued on Sept. 11 revealed that the district did not follow “applicable statutes” when allocating reserve funds and overestimated appropriations from 2015-16 through 2018-19.

According to the state report, district officials generally agreed with the Comptroller’s findings and recommendations and indicated they have initiated or planned to initiate corrective action.

The Comptroller’s office conducted the audit to determine whether the board and district officials properly used and managed fund balance and reserves.

Its key findings of the audit performed for the period July 1, 2015 through Feb. 21, 2020 show:

  • While the Board and District officials used $3.1 million in excess reserve funds as a financing source for a capital project, they did not do so in accordance with applicable statutes;
  • Appropriations were overestimated by a total of $7 million from 2015-16 through 2018-19;
  • An average of $500,000 of fund balance was appropriated each year, but was not used to finance operations. When unused appropriated fund balance is added back, surplus fund balance exceeded the limit each year by $345,000 to $611,000, or 2 to 3 percentage points.

As a result, the Comptroller’s office put forth four recommendations:

  • Develop and adopt budgets that include realistic estimates for appropriations and the amount of fund balance that will be used to fund operations;
  • Discontinue the practice of appropriating fund balance that is not needed or used to fund operations;
  • Use reserves in accordance with legal requirements;
  • Ensure that financing plans for capital projects are properly documented in the Board’s minutes.

This is the second time the state Comptroller's office found issues with the district's budgeting process as an audit issued on Feb. 19, 2017 for the period of July 1, 2010 through Aug. 4, 2015 pointed to similar issues:

  • District officials consistently overestimated expenditures during the last five fiscal years, which generated approximately $2.4 million in operating surpluses and appropriated an average of approximately $670,000 in fund balance annually, which was not needed to fund operations due to operating surpluses;
  • District officials used approximately $2.5 million of fund balance to fund seven reserves that totaled approximately $5 million. Three of these reserve funds are overfunded.

The key recommendations at that time were to develop realistic estimates of expenditures and the use of fund balance in the annual budget, and to use the excess amounts in reserve funds in a manner that benefits district taxpayers.

In response to the latest audit report, a letter to the Comptroller’s Office dated July 14, 2020, from Superintendent Catherine Huber, Ed.D., and Board President Brian Paris indicated that the “current public health landscape (COVID-19 pandemic) and the financial impact on school districts as well as the uncertain nature of school funding makes a response to the Comptroller’s audit particularly challenging.”

They wrote that the district “consistently has taken a conservative approach to budgeting “and that “these practices have served our taxpayers well …”

The letter indicates that district will act, effective July 14, to meet the audit’s recommendations, including monitoring fund balances, and developing realistic budget estimates by using zero-based budgeting – specifically stating that the 2020-21 budget salary estimates have been calculated as actual.

“The district is currently using Appropriated Reserved Fund Balance to balance the current budget,” according to the letter, which states that Huber and Business Administrator Tim Batzel will be responsible for the implementation of the recommended changes.

The Alexander Central School District serves the towns of Alexander, Batavia, Bethany and Darien in Genesee County and the towns of Attica, Bennington and Middlebury in Wyoming County.

It has a five-member board of education that is responsible for managing and controlling the district’s financial and educational affairs, the superintendent is responsible for the district’s day-to-day management under the Board’s direction and the business administrator maintains financial records.

According to the latest report, enrollment is at 826, with 162 employees, and 2019-20 appropriations totaled $18.2 million.

September 19, 2020 - 2:06pm

ladder_ball.jpg

lunch_time_1.jpg

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse staff hosted a Recovery Games event today at the agency's Recovery Station social gathering place (formerly Bohn's Restaurant) on Clinton Street Road.

Activities included ladder ball (top photo) and cornhole, and everyone was treated to lunch.

In bottom photo, Sue Gagne, recovery center coordinator, assists a couple of attendees.

Photo by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

September 19, 2020 - 10:28am

Owners of property in the City of Batavia identified as archery-only hunting zones in an approved deer management plan say they are either noncommittal or not willing to participate in any culling operation.

The Batavian contacted four residents and previously obtained comments from a fifth, Noah Majewski of Alexander Road, who spoke at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

At the meeting, Council members voted in favor of the City Deer Management Plan, a 25-page document that puts the Batavia Police Department in charge of selecting and registering hunters, forging cooperation agreements with landowners and other related responsibilities.

The plan is set up to mirror, to some degree, a deer management program run by the police department in the Town of Irondequoit, and came to fruition after eight months of work by a now defunct Council-appointed City Deer Management Plan Committee.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch reported that he will be reaching out to citizens who own land near and around three of the five designated areas where deer congregate to see if they wish to permit hunting on their property.

Those areas are:

-- Unit 1: A parcel north of Clinton Street, owned by the Reinhart family.

-- Unit 2: About three acres at the end of Northern Boulevard stretching north of Evergreen Drive, owned by Assemblyman Stephen Hawley;

-- Unit 3: Five acres west of State Street (across from Batavia High School), with the majority owned by Duane Preston and another acre for hunting owned by Russell Nephew. (Nephew had served as spokesperson for the deer management committee that resigned last month over miscommunication involving changes to the plan).

The other two zones are city property:

-- Unit 4: Route 98, south of Walnut Street area near the Waste Water Treatment Plan, and adjacent to land owned by Majewski;

-- Unit 5: Law Street (about one and a half acres), east of the city’s Yard Waste Station going toward Tonawanda Creek.

The plan stipulates that city employees only will be permitted to hunt in Unit 4 and Unit 5.

Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski responded to an email asking about liability insurance by forwarding the NYS General Obligations Law (GOL 9-103).

The law provides general liability protection to landowners who allow a number of types of recreational activity on their lands, including hunting, provided that the landowner is not receiving a fee for providing that access, and also provides that the owner does not owe a duty to users or assume liability for injuries, and does not attach gross negligence of the owner.

“As we move toward implementation of the plan, we will look into this further as we engage with potential landowners with the collective goal of reducing the deer population in our city,” she said.

Concern over liability in case of injury, for example, seems to be the main reason why a couple of the landowners are apprehensive about getting involved.

-- Hawley said he received information about the plan a couple months ago from Samuel DiSalvo, also a member of the deer management committee, but hasn’t had a chance to look them over.

“I’d have to take a look at the specifics of it … I have a dog and grandchildren, so there is some concern, but at the same time there are certainly a plethora of deer, and they’re bold,” he offered.

He acknowledged that there is a deer problem.

“It’s something we’ve talked about forever -- and if this is a plan that looks as though it could work and cull out some of them, then that’s a positive thing.”

-- Jerry Reinhart Jr. said he hopes that the program will be able to “make a dent” in the large deer population, but the property owned by his family is big enough for only a couple people – “and our family hunts on it.”

Thus, he said that parcel of land would not be available for the city’s deer management plan.

-- Preston, owner of Preston Apartments in Batavia, said he is waiting for official paperwork from city management and would forward that on to his attorney for review.

“I’ve seen all the people bailing out on this so I would have to get attorney approval at this point as far as liability involved with people being on your property – if somebody gets injured,” he said. “So, I am not sure as far as the legality aspect of having individuals on my property with arrows.”

He added that he isn’t ruling out participating in the program.

“I am affected by the deer issues on my property. I can well attest that the deer have a grand buffet on my bushes,” he said.

A resident of Carolwood Drive on the northeast side of the city, Preston said there were only four or five deer in that area when he moved there 23 years ago.

“But now, there are 25 deer just roaming through the back of Hawley’s land all the time. They go right up through North Street, over to Allenview Drive down Garden Drive, and it’s the same with State Street (where he owns an apartment building across from the high school) and at my Parkview Apartments on Pearl Street. Three of my properties in the city are affected so I know it’s an issue.”

-- Nephew went a step further, stating that he wants no part of the program, evidently still displeased over the way things turned out between the committee and city leaders.(See the links to previous stories below).

“I don’t want anybody on my property,” he said.

-- Majewski said liability issues will prevent him from getting involved.

He said he was concerned that someone might get hurt, and was upset by the fact that people trespass onto his property.

He added that he runs “nuisance beaver traps” with a nuisance beaver permit from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. He said the traps are set around a swamp and he would hate to see someone step in one of those traps.

“I just feel like this is opening up a whole new can of worms to bring more people into an area that’s populated with people, that has people running around there," he said. “It’s a big area of concern for me. I have a fiancée. She hunts with me. She hunts on the ground. I’m also worried about her being on the ground and people not shooting safely around her.”

DEC Weighs in on Police-Run Plan

An email was sent to the DEC about the city’s decision to have its police department coordinate the program.

Its response:

“The City would be the managing lead and administrator if they were to develop a police run hunt. If the City police managed a localized hunt it would provide more direct regulation related to deer that travel onto lands outside the jurisdiction of the hunt.

“Unless the City of Batavia seeks a special permit from DEC for additional harvests, opportunities or methods, via the Deer Management Assistance Program or Deer Damage Permit program, then their hunt program would simply fit within the framework of our general deer hunting regulations (seasons, tags, implements, etc.). Batavia may opt to set specific controls that are more restrictive than State regulations, but they could not be more liberal.”

Previously: City Council seeks public input as it forwards deer management plan to its August meeting

Previously: Council, manager attempt to smooth things over with their deer management plan committee

Previously: BREAKING: City's deer committee resigns in 33 second meeting this morning

Previously: Police department to manage Batavia's deer culling plan that places restrictions on city property

September 18, 2020 - 5:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, east bethany.

Shante M. Griffin, 28, of Fisher Park, Batavia, is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. At 12:14 a.m. on Sept. 10, Griffin was arrested for allegedly leaving her two children, both under age 5, alone in an upstairs apartment without any adult supervision. She is due in Batavia City Court at 1 p.m. on Dec. 8 to answer the charges. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer John Gombos, assisted by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Kimberly R. Garland, 51, of Culver Avenue, Warsaw, is charged with: grand larceny; first-degree criminal contempt; and second-degree harassment. At 12:15 p.m. on Sept. 17, Batavia police responded to the Super 8 motel on Oak Street for a 9-1-1 hang-up call. Further investigation led the patrol to arrest Garland for allegedly striking a female who has an order of protection against her. It is also alleged that Garland stole the female's phone. She was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 15. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Alec Roberts.

Jason Christopher Mann, 44, of Pringle Avenue, Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct. Mann was arrested at 9:25 p.m. Sept. 7 after an investigation of multiple disturbances on Hutchins Place in Batavia. He allegedly engaged in "threatening and tumultuous behavior" in the presence of Batavia police and "flicked a cigarette at another person." Mann was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Hall on Nov. 10. The case was investigated by Sgt. Dan Coffey, assisted by Officer Samuel Freeman.

Katherine J. Briggs, 41, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment. Briggs was arrested at 12:41 a.m. Sept. 13 after an incident at an apartment complex on South Main Street in Batavia. She allegedly threatened a resident with physical harm. She was released on her own recognizance and is due in Batavia City Court on Nov. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Alec Roberts, assisted by Officer Joshua Girvin.

Matthew M. Maniace, 38, of Fargo Road, East Bethany, is charged with second-degree harassment. On Sept. 11, Batavia Police Office Peter Post responded to UMMC where he was issued an appearance ticket to Maniace following an investigation of an incident at 4:14 a.m. on Sept. 9. City police responded to UMMC for a panic alarm and they allegedly found UMMC staff in a physical altercation with Maniace. Police allegedly determined Maniace punched two UMMC staff members. He is due in Batavia City Court on Dec. 1 to answer the charge. Post was assisted by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins.

Matthew M. Maniace, 38, of Fargo Road, East Bethany, is charged with second-degree harassment. He was arrested after an incident at 10:13 a.m. Sept. 10 at UMMC. He was issued an appearance ticket for Batavia City Court and is due there Nov. 10. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Post, assisted by Officer Kevin DeFelice.

Luis Javier Santiago-Arroyo, 32, of Buell Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt. He was arrested at 5:18 p.m. on Sept. 10 for allegedly violating an order of protection by standing in front of the residence of the protected party at 12:46 p.m. Sept. 2. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court via Skype and put in jail on $2,000 cash bail, $4,000 bond, or $8,000 partially secured bond with 10-percent down. Santiago-Arroyo is due to return to city court Sept. 22. The case was handled by Batavia Police officers Stephen Cronmiller and Wesley Rissinger, assisted by Officer Adam Tucker.

Trevor Scott Rarick, 25, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with: operating a motor vehicle while having a BAC of .08 percent or more -- first offense; driving while intoxicated -- first offense; and refusal to take a breath test. Rarick was arrested after a complaint that he was passed out behind the wheel of his car while in the McDonald's restaurant drive-thru on East Main Street in Batavia at 2:36 a.m. on Sept. 13. Rarick was processed at Batavia Police Headquarters, and released on appearance tickets returnable to Batavia City Court on Dec. 13. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Wesley Rissinger, assisted by Officer Jordan McGinnis, Officer Alex Roberts and Sgt. Eric Bolles.

Joseph G. Sumeriski, 28, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with bail jumping. He was arrested at 12:50 a.m. Sept. 13 on a Batavia City Court bench warrant following a traffic stop on West Main Street in Batavia. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due to return to city court at a later date (unspecified). The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jordan McGinnis, assisted by Officer Wesley Rissinger.

September 18, 2020 - 12:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

A special executive session of the Batavia City Council has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Board Room on the second floor of the City Centre.

A media release from the city manager’s office indicates the session relates to employment matters.

It is believed the meeting will focus on the vacant city manager position, currently being filled by Rachael Tabelski, who was hired as assistant city manager in August 2019.

Previously, The Batavian reported that Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said the board is “gathering more information” and expects to decide on how it will proceed by its next meeting on Sept. 28.

Most likely, Council will interview with Tabelski (possibly on Tuesday) and offer her the job, or conduct a nationwide search – utilizing The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that was used in the search that resulted in the hiring of former City Manager Martin Moore in 2018.

September 18, 2020 - 11:09am

The Batavia City Council passed four resolutions this week to accept just shy of $75,000 in grants for the City of Batavia Fire Department, continuing what Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano describes as placing a priority on maximizing taxpayer dollars, meeting community needs and operating as efficiently as possible.

“Absolutely,” Napolitano said this morning to a question as to whether there is a concerted effort to find grants.

“We work together as a team to secure grants and accept gifts and donations. Our goal is to stretch that one dollar of taxpayer money into a dollar fifty or two dollars – to be fiscally responsible.”

During Napolitano’s three-and-a-half-year tenure as chief, more than $400,000 in grant funding has found its way to the fire department.

He said these grants – ranging from Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee funding to the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – are especially vital in the wake of budget cuts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All departments in the city have had to make cuts and, of course, any cuts in a budget can affect your operational readiness,” he said. “These grants, even as little as $800 for bicycle helmets, enable us to support young children and families that don’t have adequate bike helmets or have helmets at all. Then we work with local suppliers to try and stretch that $800 into $1,000 worth of equipment.”

An $800 grant for bicycle helmets from the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee was one of the four accepted at Monday night’s City Council meeting. The others were as follows:

  • A grant for $68,880.95 from FEMA for the purchase of a fire and carbon monoxide alarm system and sprinkler fire protection system throughout fire headquarters on Evans Street and to fund specialize water rescue training materials and labor costs;
  • A grant for $1,638 from FM Global for the purchase of a high-tech camera, lens, lighting and security case for use at fire scenes as well as an iPad for the command vehicle for rapid uploading and sharing of photos with other investigative agencies;
  • A grant for $3,500 from the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to purchase car seats.

“We get the car seat grant every year, but our firefighters have to recertify regularly to be certified safety seat technicians,” Napolitano said. “This grant is so helpful. You would be amazed how many people that don’t have means to get them.”

While he oversees the grant applications and submissions, Napolitano said that “every grant that we have received is a team effort.”

“In many cases, I delegate to individuals who specialize in the area of a specific grant,” he explained. “We wouldn’t be getting these grants without so many firefighters and officers doing the legwork.”

Napolitano announced that Christopher Shea is the department’s most recent hire, raising the staff’s numbers to 32 firefighters (two short of a full complement) plus the chief and administrative clerk.

Shea currently is classified as a recruit firefighter candidate and, after 14 weeks of training, will be promoted to probationary firefighter for the next 18 months.

The chief praised his firefighters, who belong to IAAF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Local 896, for their civic and community involvement.

“They support numerous organizations not only with their money but with their (volunteer) time as well,” he said.

In other action, Council:

  • Authorized the issuance of $420,000 in serial bonds to purchase a jet-vacuum truck for use in sanitary sewer, water system, storm sewer system and highway maintenance operations. The amount includes the purchase price of the vehicle ($380,000) plus the costs of the issuance as permitted by law.
  • Approved the acceptance of a $9,024 police traffic safety grant from the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. About 20 percent of the funding is earmarked for seat belt enforcement with the remainder to support efforts to reduce speeding, aggressive and distracted driving and other dangerous driving behaviors.
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