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August 3, 2021 - 11:27am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Le Roy Village Board, Mercy Grove, Le Roy Country Club.

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Cold hard facts about a stormwater retention plan apparently will determine the fate of a Batavia businessman’s proposal to build a 60-unit senior residential complex off East Avenue in the Village of Le Roy.

“I’m looking for scientific information – I don’t want anybody’s opinion – that can tell me that the project is going to have no impact upon groundwater or, actually, will improve the situation that the residents are feeling now, including the (Le Roy) golf course,” said Le Roy Mayor Greg Rogers this morning.

“I still believe there is a need for that type of housing in the community … but the main thing is that the water issue has to be a non-issue.”

Rogers presided over a meeting on Monday night that was attended by about 50 village residents at the Town of Le Roy courtroom. The purpose of the meeting was for the board to conduct the State Environmental Quality Review for the project.

After the first two sections of the long form were completed, the SEQR then was put on hold, Rogers said.

When asked if the water issue was the reason for tabling it, he said “it had more to do with the overall project.”

When asked if the site plan submitted by Eric Biscaro, owner of Armor Building Supply in Batavia, was in jeopardy, Rogers said, “I wouldn’t say that, it’s just that we’re in the information gathering process.”

“I’ve always contended that the stormwater part of it – the stormwater plan -- was the deal breaker on the whole thing. If any of the properties get more stormwater than they’re getting now, that’s a deal breaker. Right now, for me, it’s all about the water.”

If photos provided by LeRoyan Tom Frew are any indication, standing water in yards in the Poplar Lane and Orchard Drive area as well as nearby Mercy Grove and Le Roy Country Club is a major concern that needs to be addressed.

Frew, a Poplar Lane resident, has been outspoken in his opposition to the project, claiming that the 30 duplex patio home rentals on a 20-acre parcel that runs east of East Avenue are not compatible with the neighborhood. He also is against the village spending money to improve East Avenue and is concerned about the increase in traffic.

Biscaro’s plan, estimated to cost around $9 million, also calls for the development and sale of eight single-family home building lots along an extension of that street.

Contacted this morning, Frew said that a heavy rainfall two weeks ago caused a foot and a half to two feet of standing water behind a neighbor’s home near the intersection of Poplar and Orchard (see photo above).

“That that took a few days to flow out through a buried pipe that goes down parallel with Orchard Drive and dumps into a creek which flows over to Mercy Grove and the golf course,’ he said. “The golf course had two holes under water.”

Frew said turbidity is another issue.

“You could only see about six inches down in the two feet of water, and (Mercy Grove and Le Roy Country Club owner) Jim Gomborone said that when the water recedes on the golf course, he has suspended solids all along the lower shore line that came from that water,” he added.

Frew agreed with Rogers that water “seems to be the tiebreaker.”

“He (Biscaro) will have to build a retention pond to hold and contain it, and then slowly release the water,” he said. “That was where the rubber met the road at the meeting last night.”

Rogers said the developer is on board with village officials when it comes to providing necessary and accurate information relating to water runoff.

“His engineer had sent the water remediation plan to CPL (Clark Patterson Lee) for review, but CPL didn’t feel that they had enough information at that point and time,” Roger said. “So, we’re going to do our due diligence among Biscaro, Clark Patterson and the DEC (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation) to get accurate information on the water remediation plan.”

The mayor said the next step is a public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Memorial Auditorium on Trigon Park in the village. The public hearing originally was to be held at Le Roy High School but the school is not available, Rogers said.

“After that and if all the information is in regarding the water, then we can go back and adopt Section 3 -- if that’s where it leads us,” he said.

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Photo at top: Poplar Lane resident Gerry Robinson in standing water behind his home. Photos at bottom: Standing water at Mercy Grove and Le Roy Country Club following a recent steady rainfall. Submitted photos.

August 3, 2021 - 9:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Stafford, elba, news, notify.

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A Batavia resident figures he missed being involved in a serious accident by one second with a car "easily going 100 mph" on Bank Street Road yesterday.

"(The car) had to swerve towards college road," David Austin told The Batavian in an email. "I thought for sure he was going to wipe out but he corrected and I could hear him accelerate. Scared me more than I have ever been. If I would have made that turn 1 second later I probably wouldn't be here."

The alleged driver of that car was James Matthew Lepore, 23, of Rio Grande Drive, North Chili.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Lepore failed to stop for a deputy who spotted his car exceeding the 55 mph speed limit on Route 33 in Stafford.  The deputy pursued and the car continued into the Town of Batavia and then into the city before heading north on Route 98.  There law enforcement successfully deployed a spike strip and the car was forced to a halt.

According to the arrest report, Lepore "recklessly engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death by unlawfully fleeing a deputy in a motor vehicle and intentionally went into the opposite lane of travel causing other motorists to swerve out of the way to avoid a head-on collision, all while traveling at speeds in excess of 90 to 100 mph."

After the stop, Lepore was allegedly found in possession of an unregistered firearm and a controlled substance. 

Lepore is charged with:

  • Reckless endangerment in the first degree
  • Criminal possession of a firearm
  • Unlawful fleeing a police officer in the third degree
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th
  • Speed in excess of 55 mph
  • Plus, 21 traffic offenses.

Lepore was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and under terms of bail reform released on his own recognizance.

The lead investigators in the case are Deputy Travis DeMuth and Investigator Kevin Forsyth.  Assisting in the incident were Sgt. Andrew Hale, Investigator Howard Carlson, Investigator Joseph Loftus, Investigator Ryan DeLong, Deputy Kyle Krzemien, Deputy Josh Brabon, Deputy Kyle Tower, Deputy Andrew Mullen with K-9 "Frankie," members of Batavia PD and the State Police.

August 2, 2021 - 2:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, Darien, pemboke, Oakfield, notify.

Kristin Renee Forte, 33, Alandale Avenue, Rochester, is charged with grand larceny 3rd, eight counts of offering a false instrument for filing 1st, and five counts of forgery 2nd. Forte is accused of omitting wages she earned while working when filing for SNAP benefits.  She allegedly received $3,767 in SNAP benefits she was no eligible to receive.   The case was investigated by Social Services Officer Robert Riggi.  Forte was arraigned and released on her own recognizance. 

Jay Daniel Lucas Schutt, 33, of South Pearl Street, Oakfield, is charged with harassment 2nd. At 11:30 p.m., Saturday, Schutt allegedly tackled and wrestled with another person on the ground at a location on South Pearl Street, Oakfield. Schutt was issued an appearance ticket.

Hannah Lee Varshay, 24, of Cayuga Creek Road, Alden, is charged with evidence tampering, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance, driving while impaired by drugs, and speed not reasonable and prudent.  Varshay was arrested following an investigation into a single-vehicle accident at 5:36 a.m., March 1, on County Line Road, Darien.  Varshay was allegedly found in possession of a controlled substance and a semi-automatic handgun.  Varshay was released on an appearance ticket.

Andrea Elizabeth Tucker, 23, of Payne Avenue, Tonawanda, is charged with harassment 2nd. Tucker is accused of making threats and hitting another person while at Darien Lake at 4:11 p.m., July 27.  She was issued an appearance ticket.

Dandre Bud Browning, 27, of Stevens Avenue, Buffalo, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .80 or greater, and speeding. Browning was stopped at 12:03 a.m., July 25, by Deputy Zachary Hoy on Pearl Street Road, Batavia.

Angela Flowers, 50, no residence provided, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd for allegedly disobeying a subpoena by failing to appear in court. Flowers was issued an appearance ticket.

Kim Mobley, 58, no residence provided, is charged with petit larceny. Mobley allegedly stole multiple items from Save-A-Lot. She was issued an appearance ticket.

Antonio Goodson, no age provided, no residence provided, is charged with petit larceny. Goodson allegedly stole items from a local business on East Main Street, Batavia.  Goodson was issued an appearance ticket.

Jacqueline Hale, 33, no residence provided, is charged with assault 3rd.  Hale allegedly punched another person multiple times in the facing causing injury.  Hale was issued an appearance ticket.

Russell Blummer, 48, no residence provided, is charged with harassment 2nd. Blummer was arrested following a disturbance complaint on Thorpe Street at 9:58 p.m., Sunday.  Blummer allegedly punched a victim.  He was released on an appearance ticket.

Patrick Waite, 53, no residence provided, is charged with DWI and refusal to take a breath test. Waite was stopped at 6:05 p.m. at an undisclosed location in the City of Batavia by a police officer. Prior to the stop, police received a traffic offense complaint.  Waite was released following his arrest.

Nathan Royse, 29, no residence provided, is charged with menacing 2nd and criminal possession of a weapon. On Saturday, while on Willow Street, Batavia, Royce allegedly menaced another person with a real or imitation pistol.  Batavia PD was assisted by NYS Parole in the investigation. Royce was also charged with speed not reasonable, reckless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, not wearing a helmet, and an uninspected motor vehicle.  Only 23, Royce was arraigned in Batavia City Court following an investigation into events that occurred July 19.  Royce allegedly fled from police in that incident. 

Ronnie Allen, 34, no residence provided, is charged with criminal mischief 4th and endangering the welfare of a child.  Allen was allegedly involved in a neighbor dispute at a location on South Main Street, Batavia. Allen is accused of breaking the door of a neighbor's residence.  He was issued an appearance ticket.

Matthew Olcott, 42, no residence provided, was arrested on a City Court warrant and held in County Jail on an unrelated warrant from the Sheriff's Office.

Francisco Martinez, 48, no residence provided, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear.  Martinez was arraigned and released on his own recognizance.  He is scheduled to appear on July 28 for sentencing.

Tommy Crawford, 32, no residence provided, is charged with criminal trespass 3rd and criminal impersonation.  Crawford is accused of entering and remaining unlawfully in a residence on Jackson St., Batavia, at 1:26 p.m., July 3, and he then provided police with a false name during the investigation.  Crawford was issued an appearance ticket.

Rosemary Waters, 35, no residence provided, is charged with criminal trespass and criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument.  Waters is accused of remaining unlawfully in a condemned residence on Jackson Street on July 3.  She was issued an appearance ticket.

August 2, 2021 - 12:23pm

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If the number of sponsors is any indication, next Tuesday’s Batavia Police Community Night Out should be quite an event.

Thirty-seven business, organizations and individuals have signed on to support the outreach, which is scheduled for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at the City Church St. Anthony’s campus at 114 Liberty St.

“We’re excited over the response to this initiative, which is aimed to bring the community and police together to build positive relationships, and to highlight the various services available,” said Detective Matthew Wojtaszczyk, event coordinator.

Wojtaszczyk mentioned that a “secondary goal” is to raise money for the City of Batavia Police K-9 program, specifically K-9 Officer Stephen Quider and his dog, Batu. The duo and Genesee County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Mullen and K-9 Frankie are expected to demonstrate their abilities at the gathering next week.

Batavia Downs Gaming and Western New York Heroes, Inc. (which provides services to veterans) are diamond sponsors of the event that offers entertainment in the forms of a bounce house, balloon artist, games at vendor booths, and pony rides through A Horse’s Friend Trail Riding & Youth Programs based in Rush.

Additionally, Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and Assistant Chief Chris Camp have offered their services at the dunk tank, which will raise money for the K-9 fund.

The Batavia Fire Department will conduct car seat safety checks in the public parking lot next to Wortzman Furniture.

Vendor agencies include Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Genesee County Youth Bureau, Genesee County STOP-DWI, Genesee County Probation, Tobacco Free WNY and Batavia Community Schools.

Wojtaszczyk said a designated bus drop area will be set up at Central and Pringle avenues that night, with handicap parking available in the lot located at 236 Ellicott St. (just south of Borrell’s Gym).

Other sponsors are as follows:

Gold -- City of Batavia, Western New York Association of Chiefs of Police, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, City of Batavia Fire, Graham Corporation, Chapin International, Extended Sound, Genesee County Sign Shop, Batavia City Church, Target, The Daily News. Eli Fish Brewing Company, Ken Barrett Chevrolet, WBTA, McGinnis Family, Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union, Genesee Family YMCA.

Silver -- Batavia Police Benevolent Association, A Horse’s Friend, Tompkins Bank of Castile/ Insurance, Batavia Family Dental, Northside Deli, Ficarella’s Pizzeria, Southside Deli, V.J. Gautieri Constructors, Inc., Genesee County Economic Development Center, Pathstone Corporation, Canisteo Police Club, Cedar Street Sales & Rental.

Bronze -- Tom Benedict and family, Bob Bialkowski, Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County, Notre Dame High School, O’Lacy’s Irish Pub, The Radley Family.

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Photos from 2019 Community Night Out -- dunk tank and officers on horseback.

August 1, 2021 - 1:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

On August 1, 2021, at approximately 5:00 a.m. officers from the City of Batavia Police Department were dispatched to RRH-UMMC’s emergency department for a report of a gunshot wound.  Officers interviewed the victim, a male, who arrived at the hospital seeking treatment. The victim is in his early 40’s and officers believe that the victim was the target of the crime, and this was not a random act. The location of the incident is unknown. The victim was transported to Strong Hospital in Rochester where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.  Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Matt Lutey at 585-345-6311.

July 30, 2021 - 1:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, batavia, muckdogs, notify.

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The collegiate-player version of the Batavia Muckdogs finished out its inaugural season in a way that was rare when professional ballplayers passed through town -- with a stadium full of fans excited to see a team they embraced in 2021 because the team embraced this city.

"It’s been great," said Tom Turnbull, a regular Dwyer Stadium visitor, and local community leader. "You can see the spirit, the vibe, the college kind of rah-rah that the players have and it’s carried over into the stands. People are just happy to have the Muckdogs back. It’s just been a wonderful year. They’ve been a part of the community and when you go to a concession stand and the owner is working the cash register, you know they’re invested in the city. It’s been fantastic."

For a Thursday evening, the stands were packed and there was a palatable excitement in the air.

"We’re thrilled, my wife and I pleasantly surprised," said owner Robbie Nichols during a conversation at a table where fans were bidding on player jerseys. "You can sea from the crowd tonight the support we’ve recieved. We had a short season to put it together. You’ll see next season, this place will be packed every night."

The reason for the success, Nichols noted, is the team -- not just Nichols and management staff, but coaches and players -- have gotten involved in the community over the past couple of months, in a way the pro players of the previous era never did.

Community is what is also about Nichols said.

"We always say, my wife and I are the holders of the keys but this is a community team," Nichols said. "You see people over there in line, talking, having a beer, people bringing their grandkids to the game, and that’s what it’s all about.  It’s America’s game. It’s about bringing your family to the ballpark and Batavia answered the bell and this crowd is amazing."

Community is a big reason Nichols announced before last night's game that he's offering Coach Joey Martinez and two-year extension on his contract.

"It’s community first," Nichols said. "Wins and losses are important but it’s how we are out in the community, attending events and doing things. I think our team did a great job this year and we want to continue that. That’s what I want to continue. I like working out in the community helping everybody we can especially special olympics, challenger division baseball, the parades we did, reading to people, the veterans, all the stuff we did, that’s what I’m most excited about."

The players enjoyed the year, too.  Players who have more college eligibility after this season have said they want to come back to Batavia next year.  That will go a long way building a stronger baseball organization.  Martinez only had a short time after the Muckdogs joined the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League to recruit players and few potential players knew anything about Batavia. After this season, Nichols noted, that will change. He said this year's players will go back to their schools and tell the best players on their teams, "you want to go to Batavia."

“I think the team is really going to improve next year," Nichols said.

This year, the Muckdogs finished just out of the running for a playoff spot with a final record of 22-19, one game behind Geneva for the coveted second playoff spot of the Western Division. If not for a rainout and some rescheduling confusion with Geneva, maybe the Muckdogs would have had a better shot at the playoffs, but last night's loss to Niagara wouldn't have helped matters.

Starter Julian Pichardo, who has been the ace of the staff this season, got hurt by three first inning errors and gave up a couple of solid base hits allowing Niagara to score three first-inning runs.  Pichardo battled through 3 1/3 innings giving up four hits, three runs (only one earned), and striking out two.  He finishes with a 4-2 record and a 2.46 ERA.

Abner Benitez had a big night at the plate going 3-5 and driving in five runs.  He finishes the year with a .282 BA and 27 RBIs.

"Next year going to have win early and win often (to make the playoffs)," Nichols said.

Photos by Philip Casper. Top photo: Dewey wishing there was more Muckdogs’ baseball in Batavia this year.

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Young fans at Dwyer catching some up close pregame action while the players warm up.

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Charlie Szykowny & Julian Pichardo

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Coach Jose ’Skip’ Martinez after being offered a 2-year contract extension by Robbie Nichols

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Charlie Szykowny 

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Dancing on the dugout with Dewey

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Blair Frederick charging towards first after a successful bunt

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Blair Frederick crossing home plate 

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Daniel Burroway

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Julian Pichardo thanks the fans as he walks off the field for the last time in 2021

July 29, 2021 - 12:56pm

Genesee County Emergency Management personnel are keeping employees of the consulting firm that has been hired to evaluate and fix the county’s emergency response capabilities very busy during their first visit to the area.

Four representatives of Municipal Resources Inc., based in Plymouth, N.H., arrived in Batavia on Tuesday and will heading back home on Saturday morning. During their 4 ½-day stay, they are meeting with a variety of stakeholders in the process – from the Genesee County Legislature to Chamber of Commerce officials to fire chiefs to governmental managers to business leaders to the Genesee Association of Municipalities.

“We’re getting in as many meetings as we can to help them conduct their interviews, collect data and solicit feedback primarily of the state of the volunteer fire and EMS service in this county,” Emergency Services Coordinator Tim Yaeger said today. “They wanted to be busy – morning to night, so we’re trying to get to as many stakeholders as we can before moving to the next stage where surveys will be sent out.”

Yaeger said the county will utilize Chamber of Commerce marketing and communication tools to get the surveys out to the businesses community and work with the municipalities to get them out to the public.

As previously reported on The Batavian, Genesee County is paying MRI Inc. up to $101,675 to study of the emergency response situation in the county and to develop a plan to ensure that all areas have enough staffing at all times to meet the public’s needs and expectations.

MRI Inc. officials in town at this time include Brian Duggan and Peter Finley Jr., director of Fire EMS & Emergency Management Services and senior associate for Fire EMS & Emergency Management Services, respectively.

Yaeger, once again, emphasized that the overwhelming majority of feedback is pointing to the lack of consistent and adequate staffing at the volunteer fire companies.

“It’s below where we need it to be, and we need to find a way to increase that activity level and the participation level of every fire department in this county,” he said. “How we get there is why they have been hired.”

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he is open to “any model they (MRI officials) bring forth that has merit and makes sense.”

“Whatever way they want to utilize the county, I will certainly examine it and look at it – kick the tires – and, if it makes sense, I will certainly put my weight behind it,” Landers said. “Obviously, we are invested because the county is paying for the study and, right there, it should show the community at large that the county is invested in finding a solution for the long-term viability of fire delivery and emergency management services.”

MRI representatives met with Landers and county legislators last night.

“We’re all interested in hearing what workable solutions that can be put forth. No one is interested in having another study that sits on a shelf. We need action items and one of the action items can’t be just leave it alone,” he offered.

Yaeger said options may include incentives to attract more volunteers into the system, including compensation for volunteer firefighters, with the main priority being the safety of firefighters and residents alike.

“It’s kind of intriguing because these consultants as they go across the state realize that this problem is nationwide; this is not a New York State-centric issue or Genesee County-centric issue. This is very much a United States issue,” Yaeger said. “It’s going to be interesting to see that what fits and works in our county may not work in Orleans County.”

Calling it a five- or six-step process that will take some time, he said this week’s schedule of meetings with MRI consultants is an initial phase. Meetings are as follows:

Tuesday – Emergency Services Task Force.

Wednesday – County Manager, HP Hood, Genesee County Economic Development Center, Town of Alabama supervisor (pertaining to WNY STAMP), Chamber of Commerce, Emergency 911 Center officials, County Highway Superintendent (pertaining to the county water supply), Emergency Management Services staff, Fire Advisory Board, GAM.

Today – City Manager, City Fire Chief, Orleans/Wyoming/Monroe county fire coordinators, County 911 Board, Le Roy Ambulance director, Six Flags Darien Lake administration, fire department administrators, municipal fire station visits

Friday – Town of Batavia supervisor, Mercy EMS administration, E3 Communications and continued tour of the county.

“They’re looking to get a real good feeling of the county, including the agricultural impact and our current businesses …” he said. “Also, they will be starting to look at fire stations, fire equipment and fire trucks, which really has never been done; an assessment of our fleet, countywide.”

PROPOSED JAIL COST INCREASE

Landers also reported that an updated cost estimate of the proposed new Genesee County Jail has increased from the pre-COVID price of just shy of $63 million to $69 million.

“I was afraid that the project was going to go up to about $80 million, so I guess to only have a $6 million increase – as crazy as that sounds …,” he said, adding that the county should be able to offset some of that by using American Rescue Plan Act funding it received.

He said the legislature on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to move forward with the project, and that he plans to hold another meeting with the jail committee to make sure there is a consensus for the 184-bed design there as well.

The legislature asked Landers to update the jail operating expenses projections, too.

“Unless something crazy comes out of that, they are supportive of the 184-bed design, four pod jail,” he said.

July 28, 2021 - 9:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant, notify.

Bureau of Maintenance Superintendent Raymond Tourt today confirmed what many Batavia residents have been complaining about on social media for several days: foul ordors.

The odors were emanating from the ponds at the Waste Water Treatment plant and were more prevalent on Sunday and Monday, Tourt said in an email. 

Maintenance work at the plant has played a role but so has weather, Tourt said.

"Even with adding a supplemental air compressors the odor seemed to hang low and drift  further than the norm but this does happen on occasion even if we were not replacing the air lines," Tourt said. "These were hot and humid days and we think that the weather played a part in the ponds being noticed further from the WWTP.  

"It is unfortunate, but we have incurred delays of materials.  For this reason the contractor advanced the project as far as they could until the supply chain could catch up. Manufacturers and distributors are struggling to make their commitments and this is one of the projects that was impacted due to the supply line being disrupted.   

"All materials appear be at the site or have confirmed delivery to be delivered this week.  Work will resume on Monday  and optimistically will be completed through the months of August and September.  This project remains a priority and we would like to see it completed as soon as possible."

July 28, 2021 - 1:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, crime, batavia, notify.
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Melvin Huntley

A 40-year-old Batavia arrested earlier this month on sex abuse charges has been arrested on additional child sex abuse charges.

Melvin Andre Huntley, of Wilkinson Road, is charged with two counts of sex abuse 1st.  The children are less than 11 and less than 13 years old.  He is also charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

On July 8, he was arraigned on charges of predatory sexual assault against a child; course of conduct against a child in the first degree; first-degree rape; first-degree sex abuse.

The Sheriff's Office said of the first set of charges that Huntley was arrested after an investigation into him sexually assaulting a child/children over an extended period of time.

These new charges are the result of the ongoing investigation.

The Sheriff's Office is not releasing more information about the case at this time.   The investigation remains ongoing.

Huntley is being held in the Genesee County Jail without bail.

The case is being investigated by Howard Carlson.

July 28, 2021 - 12:27pm

180115-simone-biles-ac-440p_02c371047634627b4f4a37997c5ade76.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpgSimone Biles, arguably the most dominant gymnast ever, with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, is exhibiting a great deal of strength by acknowledging the mental health issues that have led her to withdraw from the team and individual all-around competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

That’s the opinion of Lynda Battaglia, Genesee County’s director of mental health and community services, who shared her thoughts with The Batavian this morning.

“I think it took a lot more strength for her to recognize that she really wasn’t in the right ‘head space’ and that it was in her best interest to withdraw. I think she is leading by example to say that’s it’s ok to not be ok,” Battaglia said.

Biles, 24, pulled out of the women’s gymnastics team final on Tuesday (Team USA ultimately captured the silver medal) and has decided not to defend her individual all-around gold medal, which is set for Thursday.

A statement from USA Gymnastics indicated Biles has withdrawn to focus on her mental health, and has not decided on whether to compete in next week’s event finals.

Appearing on the Today show, Biles said: “Physically, I feel good, I'm in shape. Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being the head star isn't an easy feat, so we're just trying to take it one day at a time and we'll see.”

Previously, she revealed that she has been in therapy and takes medication to deal with anxiety issues.

'Weight of the World'

Battaglia said that Biles’ statement that she has “the weight of the world on her shoulders” speaks volumes.

“I guess my question is why should any person, maybe beside the president, feel that kind of pressure?” Battaglia asked. “We’re human beings. We are not designed to be perfect (but) Olympians and elite athletes strive and practice excessively to achieve that perfection.”

Intense pressure comes in many forms and can hit people in all walks of life, she said.

“Even people academically. That kind of stress is not just in the athletic world but also in academics – students trying to get scholarships or pushing themselves to achieve greatness,” she said. “I believe in hard work and achieving greatness, but not at the cost of one’s mental health.”

Christian Bartz, a licensed clinical social worker with his own practice, Batavia Counseling & Wellness, mentioned that Biles is a trauma survivor, having acknowledged that she was abused by the gymnastics' team doctor.

Trauma Compounds the Problem

"In Simone’s case, she is a victim of abuse, and we know this because she was brave enough to disclose it," he said. "If we’re going to talk in particular about Simone, if there’s something that you and I may be afraid of, like if I’m afraid of heights, that fear trigger for Simone is going to touch on trauma. This is a trauma survivor."

Bartz said the general public doesn’t truly understand the adverse impact of trauma.

"We don’t need PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to still have trauma in our life," he said. "And where there’s trauma, there’s a rewiring of your brain, so fear hits you differently; pressure hits you differently. So, with her trauma being connected to their team doctor … directly connected to the sport in which she competes in, it makes it even more difficult for her."

Battaglia, an adjunct professor of Social Work at the University of Buffalo, said she hopes those watching the Olympics can empathize with the athletes who have dedicated their lives to their craft.

It's Not Fair to Pass Judgment

“Olympians are trying to be the best in the world, and the entire world is watching them. I think it’s easy for people to watch it on TV and to be disappointed, if you will, if the United States comes in second place or somebody withdraws or doesn’t perform to that perfection level,” she offered. " I think it’s very easy for people to judge and be disappointed, but is that how they really should react? They’re not walking in their shoes.”

Battaglia also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing delay in having the Olympic Games have added to the uncertainty and insecurity.

“In the case of the Olympics, it was delayed a year and now you’ve got another year of training,” she said. “And now you’re going to a country with no spectators – you might not have that family support that you’re hoping to have. Not only is the world watching you, but now you’re in a country where there still is a significant risk of COVID.”

The number of people seeking mental health treatment has increased dramatically since COVID, she said.

“We, people in the field, were expecting that. We’re going to see a ripple effect and it’s going to linger for quite some time.”

File photo of Simone Biles, courtesy of NBC News.

July 27, 2021 - 5:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, pembroke, Alabama, alexander.

Michael J. Perkins, no age provided, no residence provided, is charged with assault 2nd, criminal mischief 4th, criminal obstruction of breathing/blood circulation, and grand larceny 4th. It's alleged at 12:05 a.m., Sunday, Perkins assaulted another person resulting in serious physical injury. He's accused of taking the person's phone while they attempted to dial 9-1-1 at a location on Ellicott Street and then applied pressure to the person's neck causing difficulty in breathing.  Perkins reportedly fled the residence prior to officers arriving.  Officer Stephen Quider and K-9 "Batu" responded and tracked the suspect.  Perkins was located as he was attempting to flee through backyards near a city park.  He was taken into custody without further incident. Perkins was also taken into custody on a Federal probation warrant.  He was arraigned in City Court and held without bail.

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Jarrot Coniglio

Jarrot C. Coniglio, no age provided, no residence provided, is charged with assault 2nd, criminal possession of a weapon 3rd, resisting arrest, and obstructing governmental administration.  Justice C. Coniglio, no age provided, no residence provided, is charged with obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. The two men were arrested Saturday after deputies were called to Bloomingdale Roud to investigate an assault. A person had sustained a head laceration after being struck with a beer bottle. After deputies arrived on scene, Jarrot and Justice allegedly became hostile and combative.  Deputy Andrew Mullen and K-9 "Frankie" assisted in the apprehension of the suspects. Both men were arraigned in Town of Alabama Court. Jarrot was ordered held on $5,000 bail. Justice was released on his own recognizance and turned over to the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office on a warrant.

Richard Daniel Sanderson, 36, of Lyons Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd.  Sanderson was arrested at a location on Main Road in Stafford, arraigned in Stafford Town Court, and released on his own recognizance.

Antonio James Goodson, 31, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with three counts of petit larceny. He is accused of shoplifting at Walmart on July 22, 24, and 25. He was issued three separate appearance tickets and transported to the County Jail for processing. He was then released from custody.

Amanda Bowles, 35, of Pembroke, is charged with petit larceny. Bowles was arrested in the Town of Batavia by State Police at 1:22 p.m., Saturday.

Aaron M. Hatt, 25, of Alexander, is charged with criminal contempt 2nd, criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th, and aggravated family offense. He was arrested by State Police in Batavia at 2:20 a.m., Sunday and released on his own recognizance.

Tiffany A. Delgado, 44, of Rochester, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAT of .08 or greater. Delgado was arrested by State Police in Batavia at 3:27 a.m., Saturday, in the Town of Batavia, and released on an appearance ticket.

July 27, 2021 - 10:47am

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The Gary Hammond Golf Tournament returned to Le Roy Country Club on Monday after having to miss a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 92 golfers who participated had a chance to see firsthand the fruits of the event that has raised $137,500 for the Holowach Memorial Scholarship Fund over its 32-year history.

That’s because Batavia High School graduate Haylee Thornley, recipient of the first-place $2,000 scholarship in 2021, accepted the invitation to share her academic achievements and goals at a luncheon following the four-person scramble tournament.

The Holowach Memorial Scholarship Fund is named for Charles “Chuck” Holowach, Ed.D., who served as the district superintendent of Livingston-Steuben Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Services from March 1982 until his untimely death in December 1988.

The golf tourney is named in honor of Gary Hammond, a retired assistant superintendent for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, who served the district for 16 years.

Hammond was among the participants in the event, which now is coordinated by Charles DiPasquale, director of Adult Education, and Leslie Yorks, business and finance manager, both at Genesee Valley BOCES.

Thornley, while thanking the scholarship committee, emphasized “determination and perseverance” in her speech. She stated that she has decided to pursue a doctorate in Physical Therapy at Daemen College in Buffalo after suffering anterior cruciate ligament tears in both knees while playing sports.

“After tearing my ACL twice, resulting in three surgeries and years of physical therapy, I knew it was the profession I wanted to pursue,” she said. “Therapy requires a great deal of mental toughness and resilience that everyone may not be able to find within themselves.”

Graduating in the top 10 percent of her class with a 98.96 average, Thornley said that her enrollment in the Genesee Valley BOCES Health Academy, instructed by Laurie Napoleone, was a key factor in helping her to prepare for the six-year program at Daemen. She also plans to pursue a double minor in Biology and Business.

“Even though this year looked extremely difficult due to COVID, Mrs. Napoleone gave us the knowledge and skills we needed in order to move on to college and begin our health professions’ programs,” she said.

Thornley said the Health Academy offered 21 college credits through health and social sciences courses, and provided hands-on training in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Automated External Defibrillator (AED), emergency response and clinical teaching.

“Through Health Academy, I was able to shadow physical therapists and work with patients at Jackson Elementary School, Village Physical Therapy and the PT department at United Memorial Medical Center,” she said. “The knowledge and hands-on experience that Health Academy offered ... allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of patient care, treatment and the daily routines that exist in healthcare facilities and communities.”

A Trustee Scholar winner from Daemen College, Thornley is the recipient of numerous scholarships, including those from the Batavia Business & Professional Women’s Club, Lions Club, Kay Dean Memorial and Genesee Region USBC.

Holowach Scholarships are given annually to assist outstanding career and technical education students with college expenses. The selection process includes written application, teacher recommendations, and a personal interview with the selection committee. Selection criteria includes citizenship, financial need, dedication to and achievement in his/her chosen field.

Other Holowach Scholarship recipients this year are as follows:

Batavia CTE Center

Karly Smith, Oakfield-Alabama. Enrolled in the Justice Academy, she plans to study study Psychology at Roberts Wesleyan College and hopes to become a Crisis Intervention Psychologist and work for a law enforcement agency.

Daniel Gersitz, Attica. Enrolled in the Precision Machining Program, he plans to attend Alfred State College in the fall and study Machine Tool Technology. 

Mount Morris CTE Center

JoAnna Regatuso, Mount Morris. Enrolled in the Agriculture Production Program, she will attend Morrisville State College to study Equine Science, with a career goal to train horses.

Angelita Clark, Geneseo. Enrolled in the Health Dimensions program, she plans to attend Genesee Community College and study Nursing, aspiring to become a nurse or physician's assistant.

Siobhan Costello, Keshequa. Enrolled in the Agriculture Production Program, she will attend Houghton College in the fall to study Equestrian Studies: Barn Management.

Photo: From left, Leslie Yorks, Genesee Valley BOCES business and finance manager; Charles DiPasquale, Genesee Valley BOCES director of Adult Education; Haylee Thornley; Julie Donlon, Genesee Valley BOCES deputy superintendent; Kevin MacDonald, Genesee Valley BOCES district superintendent. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 24, 2021 - 1:17pm

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The day-to-day operations manager at Porter Farms in the Town of Elba is determined to make all of Western New York aware of the substantial benefits of local farm markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs.

“I think that we all know that after COVID, we can’t rely on big box stores for everything that we need,” Kathy Riggs-Allen, a longtime Elba resident said today at the retail store and CSA processing site at 4911 Edgerton Road.

 “You’ve got something like this right in your backyard. Whether it’s us, or Torrey’s Farm Market on (Route) 98 and Underhill's in Elba or Harrington’s in Batavia. You have these awesome things right in our area.”

Today was CSA pickup day at Porter Farms, which, for 25 years, has forged relationships with consumers who support the farm by purchasing memberships and, in return, receiving a bag of produce each week during the 22-week or so growing season.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Library, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm -- with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

Per the USDA, through these memberships the farmer receives advance working capital, gains financial security, earns better crop prices, and benefits from the direct marketing plan.

Riggs-Allen reported that membership in the CSA at Porter Farms currently is at approximately 450 members, with around 250 from the Buffalo area, 100 from the Rochester area and another 100 local residents.

She said that a full share costs around $20 a week while a half share (a little more than half of what is in the bag for a full share) costs around $15 a week, with memberships paid in advance.

All of the produce in the bag is organic, grown on the more than 500 acres owned by the Porter family.

“Every Saturday morning, we bag and retrieve produce for our members,” Riggs-Allen said. “For the Buffalo area members, we have divided them into about 17 different groups – with letters on the wall that indicate the (street or town) location. If there’s 13 people in your group, you take turns and you can drive out here – usually twice a season – and pick up the bags for everyone in that group. From there, you would take it to a pickup site where everyone in that group would come to that pickup site to get their bag.”

The Rochester area members are divided into five pickup sites, she said.

“For them, we load a truck first thing every Saturday morning, and the truck drops off the produce at those five sites, and the people in those groups go to their sites to pick up,” she explained. “Anybody can come to the farm and pick their share up. If you want to come every week, that’s great. If you don’t, you can be assigned to a group.”

Riggs-Allen said the farm is looking to grow the CSA, which at one time had more than 1,000 members.

She said samples of the vegetables that are being picked that particular week are available at the retail store.

This week’s bag contains potted oregano, white onions, baby romaine lettuce, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini and purple kohlrabi (the name kohlrabi is German for “cabbage turnip”).

Ruth Miller, of West Barre, part of a family of retired dairy farmers, said she has been a CSA member for five years and appreciates “the food and the fellowship.”

“(I support) the idea of group, community farming. We’re farmers as well, so we understand the business and kudos to these people who are doing this,” she said, adding that the fact that the vegetables are organic is important.

“There’s a process that farms have to go through to be certified organic – and it is quite a process. No use of chemicals or contaminated seeds. No herbicides or pesticides,” she noted.

Riggs-Allen said another key factor in the organic process for vegetables is crop rotation.

“We can’t fertilize and put nutrients back into the soil with fertilizers so we have to use additional crops that put those nutrients back in,” she advised. “Crops such as beans and peas take a lot of nitrates out of the ground, so wherever you plant those one year, you want to be put a cover crop that’s going to repopulate those nitrates into the ground.”

Elba resident Bill Kauffman, a 20-year CSA member, said the program has given him a new appreciation of produce.

“I was somewhat vegetable averse,” he said, but over time he indicated that he has grown to love zucchini.

“I’m the world’s worst baker, but last night I made zucchini cake – and it was edible. This has expanded my vegetable horizons, but there still are certain ‘no go’ areas like kohlrabi,” he joked.

Kauffman added that the Porters “are a wonderful family and they have created something beautiful and enduring here; I’m happy to be a little part of it.”

The family also owns a certified organic orchard of Asian pears and apples on Route 262 and rents additional farmland in the area.

Vegetables grown include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, varieties of lettuce, onion, leek, winter squash, beets, peas and other greens.

At the recently opened retail store, the Porters sell all-natural Angus ground beef and lamb, produced from the livestock raised on their farm, as well as herbs, local honey and syrup, baked goods and other items.

The farm was started in 1956 by the late Carlton “Jack” Porter Jr. and carried on by his sons, Steve and Mike, who also have passed away.

Currently, Debbie Porter owns the farm, with Katie Porter-Metzler and Emily Porter-Swarner as key contributors to the operation and CSA program.

The retail store is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. An open house, featuring activities for families, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 7.

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Photo at top: Kathy Riggs-Allen and Emily Porter-Swarner display the contents of this week's CSA bag of produce at Porter Farms in Elba; photos at bottom: Porter Farms location on Edgerton Road; picture at the retail store of founder Jack Porter with children, Mike and Beatrice "Bess"; hats, T-shirts and tote bags for sale at the store; Katie Porter-Metzler with children Georgia, Cora and Suzanna; Riggs-Allen, and Debbie Porter. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

July 23, 2021 - 1:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, batavia, Oakfield, Le Roy, bergen.

Michael Thomas Martinez, 37, of Church Street, Oakfield, is charged with: second-degree menacing; two counts of first-degree attempted assault; two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree; two counts of second-degree harassment; and trespass. He was arrested at 1:55 a.m. July 21. After an altercation between Martinez and two victims, it is alleged that Martinez hit both victims with a closed first. He then allegedly pulled out a knife and attempted to slash at the two victims with a knife, stating he was going to stab and kill them both. Martinez did allegedly cut the arm of one of the victims. He then left the scene and returned to his residence. A relative of a victim watched Martinez's house to make sure he did not leave before deputies arrived. Martinez allegedly came out of his house with a black metal pipe, which started a separate altercation. He then threatened to hit the third victim, the family member, with the pipe. Martinez then allegedly told the third victim he was going to get a gun from his house and shoot the third victim unless he left. Martinez returned to his house for a short time, then came outside. He was taken into custody by Genesee County Sheriff's deputies and NYS troopers. Martinez was arraigned in Oakfield Town Court and put in GC Jail on $10,000 cash bail. The incident was handled by GC Deputy Jacob Gauthier and Deputy Austin Heberlein with assistance from state police.

Ida Marie Vanorden, 35, of Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree attempteed assault and third-degree assault. She was arrested July 22 after an investigation for allegedly assaulting two people at 3 a.m. on July 14 on North Lake Road in Bergen. She was arraigned in Bergen Town Court and is due back there on Aug. 11. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jenna Ferrando.

Pamela A. Morrow is charged with driving while intoxicated with a BAC of .08 percent or greater -- second offense within 10 years, and DWI -- second offense within 10 years. At 6:20 p.m. July 21, Morrow was arrested on Linwood Road in Le Roy. She was processed at Genesee County Jail then released on appearance tickets. She is due in Le Roy Town Court on Aug. 3. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Chamoun, assisted by Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

Elizabeth Michelle Thompson, 31, of Monclair Avenue, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. She was arrested at 12:50 p.m. July 21. It is alleged that she stole $113.28 worth of merchandise from Walmart. She is accused of walking past all points of sale without paying for the items. She was processed at Genesee County Jail, then released on an appearance ticket for Batavia Town Court Aug. 19. The case was handled by GC Sheriff's Deputy Chad Cummings.

July 23, 2021 - 11:24am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, disc golf, Williams Park, city of batavia, Centennial Park.

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City of Batavia resident Phillip Boyd on Thursday said he has shelved his idea of a nine-hole disc golf course at Centennial Park in favor of working with city officials to place one at Williams Park on Pearl Street.

“It’s much larger than I originally thought,” Boyd said after taking a walk around the east and south portions of Williams Park with City Maintenance Supervisor Ray Tourt and City Parks Supervisor Brian Metz yesterday afternoon.

“Our talk went very well and there’s definitely a lot of potential for a nine-hole and we talked about possibly clearing out some of the woods in the right (southwest) corner for an 18 (hole course) in the future.”

Boyd said that he planned to return to the park today with a couple friends to map out a nine-hole course that would start near Pearl Street on the east side and proceed south along the east, southeast and south edges of the park.

He said he is hoping to attract sponsors for each hole to cover the expenses for tee pads, signage and baskets, figuring it would cost around $5,000. He also said he will be submitting his plan for Williams Park to City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

“Yes, I’ll have to do the same thing that I did to try to get Centennial Park; send in my course layout and proposal,” he said.

When asked to comment about the stir he caused with those living around Centennial Park, with many residents of that area rising up in opposition, Boyd said he wants to look ahead.

“Look, we all have our passions. Their passion was for Centennial Park’s history and mine is for disc golf,” he said. “I have no problems with leaving that behind now that there are other options available.”

Boyd also said he is willing to help those seeking to put an 18-hole course at Genesee Community College, and already has received quotes for the necessary equipment for that layout.

Photo: Brian Metz, left, Phillip Boyd and Ray Tourt looking at a map of Williams Park as they explore the possibility of placing a disc golf course at the Pearl Street recreational area. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 23, 2021 - 9:06am

As a result of three committee meetings this week, Genesee County legislators have much to vote upon when they meet as a full board next Wednesday.

Resolutions passed at Monday’s Human Services and Public Service meetings and Wednesday’s Ways & Means meeting that were not previously reported upon by The Batavian include the following:

  • $1.4 million for COVID-19 testing in schools

The New York State Department of Health has awarded the Genesee County Health Department funding in the amount of $1,415,984 for COVID-19 school testing activities and to purchase personal protective equipment for all public and private school pupils from Universal Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Public Health Director Paul Pettit said the money can also be used for testing supplies and telehealth services for both students and faculty. Distribution of funds will be based on the population at each school, he added. The grant does not cover vaccination.

  • ARP funds to help spruce up OFA

This resolution calls for using $64,416 of more than $233,000 awarded through the American Rescue Plan for a capital project at the Genesee County Office for the Aging on Bank Street.

The project consists of reconfiguring and adding office space, carpeting and painting, replacing the dishwasher and garbage disposal, and adding other furnishings, equipment and subscriptions to enhance the client experience, OFA Director Diana Fox said.

The Human Services Committee also approved using some of the ARP money to fund two new positions at the OFA – a part-time program assistant and full-time financial clerk typist, both through Dec. 31, 2024 – and expand a part-time program assistant position from 15 hours biweekly to 19.5 hours biweekly, also through Dec. 31, 2024.

Two part-time vacant nutrition program meal site assistant positions were eliminated.

  • Radio system contract with L3 Harris is extended

The Public Service Committee recommended approval of an extension of the public safety radio system maintenance services contract with L3 Harris Technologies Inc., through Dec. 31, 2026, at a cost of $188,567 per year.

The agreement was set to expire on Dec. 31 of this year, but since the county will be adding a new tower site on Molasses Hill Road in Alexander, it was determined to extend it at this time.

Another resolution to accept $205,530 in grant funding from the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communication was approved. The money will be used to offset a portion of the 2021 Communications budget, according to Emergency Communication Director Steve Sharpe.

  • SROs to continue at Byron-Bergen, Pavilion

School Resource Officers will remain at Byron-Bergen and Pavilion central school districts for at least another year, with B-B opting for a September through August 2022 schedule at a cost of $102,813.81 and Pavilion going with a July through June 2022 schedule at a cost of $119,021.07.

Sheriff William Sheron said the difference in cost is due to one SRO having a single health insurance plan instead of a family plan. The cost to the schools include the hourly rate for a deputy sheriff, fringe benefits and insurances.

Public Service also approved a resolution to expend $10,757 from the K9 Donations Reserve Account to help in the recovery of K9 Rayzor, who recently suffered a leg injury and is need of physical therapy and medications before returning to service.

K9 Frankie also has had physical issues, but currently is fully functional, said Sheron, who thanked the public for donations to the fund, which has been depleted.

  • More funding for Justice for Children Advocacy Center

A grant from the state Office of Children and Family Services’ to fund the Justice for Children Advocacy Center has been renewed, with this year’s amount of $190,143 representing a $2,000 increase from last year.

Funds from this grant will enable the program to provide services for children and families affected by abuse in the Batavia, Warsaw and Albion areas, JCAC Coordinator Theresa Roth said.

  • ARPA funds to aid Genesee County Airport

Thirty-two thousand dollars in funding from the American Recovery Plan Act to offset expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be coming to the Genesee County Airport.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said the money will be used to help pay down the debt service on the terminal and main hangar. Hens noted that the county is expected to receive about $100,000 in this type of funding by the end of the year, and all will be used in the same manner.

July 22, 2021 - 5:09pm

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The Ellicott Place project, one of several redevelopment ventures supported by the City of Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, is about 10 days away from completion, according to the head of the company that owns the Save-A-Lot building at 45 Ellicott St.

“We’re 98.5 percent done,” said Victor Gautieri, president of VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., who, this morning, gave The Batavian the first look at some of the 10 market-rate apartments being built on the second floor.

City View Residences, the housing portion of the project’s official name, consists of seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units featuring nine-foot ceilings, stainless steel appliances (including a dishwasher and microwave oven), upgraded fixtures and trim, and plenty of closet space.

The apartments, which vary in size from 900 to 1,200 square feet, also come with a 10-foot by 6-foot outside deck that is secured by protective guardrails measuring 42 inches high. Each unit has its own laundry room with washer and dryer, and heating and air conditioning system, both tucked away in a small room with a door on it.

Gautieri (pictured above) said that transforming the building into more than a supermarket was a goal of his father, Vito, the company founder.

“It was his thought from initially purchasing the building that we’d be able to redevelop the second floor and put some commercial space up there, but that never materialized,” Victor Gautieri said. “Then, when we were approved for the DRI grant (covering $1.15 million of the total project cost of $3.1 million), that allowed us to put the apartments in.”

Realizing the need for quality housing in Batavia and Genesee County, Gautieri said he and his father “looked at it as a company” and figured that apartments on the second floor would be a viable option.

“We were able to get the (DRI) grant and then the financing to do the second-floor apartments, and from there, we did a complete ‘reno’ on the exterior of the building and now we’re creating a vanilla box in the remaining commercial space,” he added.

Gautieri said the apartments will rent for $1,325 to $1,575 per month, plus utilities (cable television is available). The apartments were designed by Dean Architects PLLC, of Depew, in conjunction with VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc.

“We have a waiting list and we’re going through the applications,” he said. “It looks like we will be in good shape on the apartments in short order.”

Another neat feature of the apartments is an electric door at the main entrance (on the north side of the building), with each tenant receiving a key fob that unlatches the door for entry. Each apartment has a video monitor on the wall near the door.

“Tenants will be able to see who’s at the front door and allow them to come in without having to walk down the stairs to unlock the main entrance door,” Gautieri said, noting that security cameras have been installed in all the public areas.

As far as commercial space, he said that 16,000 square feet is available, and can be divided depending upon the requirements of businesses that show interest in the property. Currently, it is being used as a production area during construction.

“Like the saying goes, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ As we started to redevelop and modernize the property, it spawned more interest from the business community,” he said.

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The wall leading to the elevator and stairs on the first-floor foyer, crafted from wood taken from the building's exterior.

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Stairs leading to the 10 apartments.Technicians are nearly finished with wiring of the elevator, Gautieri said.

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Modern kitchen area with stainless steel appliances.

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Flooring in one of the bedrooms. The color scheme is a darker shade of blue and light gray.

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Enclosed laundry room.

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Every apartment has a full bathroom and either a half- or three-quarter bath.

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View from the deck of one of the units, looking west. Genesee County Building 1 is in the background.

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"Door bell" monitor system that allows the tenant to see who is at the main entrance downstairs.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

July 22, 2021 - 12:08pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 22, 2021 - 9:50am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights of that report are as follows:

  • Agency is in a good place financially.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Master Gardener training to begin.

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

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

  • CDL training is on the schedule.

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 21, 2021 - 6:48pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHOOTING FOR A $1 MILLION GRANT

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

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

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

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

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

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

HCA WITH PLUG POWER IN THE WORKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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