Local Matters

Community Sponsors


May 22, 2019 - 5:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, notify, Basom, search and rescue, pembroke, indian falls, Alabama.

Mark Dibble has been found alive, according to Tim Yaeger, GC Emergency Management Services coordinator.

He is breathing but not alert and was found behind 1031 Ledge Road in Basom -- the Totem Pole Smoke Shop. Mercy Flight was called, then cancelled. A ground ambulance is heading there now.

The location is about 270 yards south of the smoke shop.

The 58-year-old Indian Falls resident was reported missing late yesterday afternoon after he failed to show up at work and no one had heard from him.

Up to 70 firefighters, law enforcement personnel, volunteers and family members scoured the area until after 9 last night before calling off the search until daylight. It resumed about 10:30 this morning.

UPDATE 6:07 p.m.: A fire chief at the scene said when the ambulance arrived, Dibble was alert and able to walk to the ambulance, which is taking him to ECMC for evaluation.

UPDATE 6:19 p.m.: A group of about a dozen friends and family members decided to search the area around the Totem Pole Smoke Shop and they are the ones who found Dibble, says one of his friends.


Video Sponsor

Video Sponsor
May 22, 2019 - 4:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, alexander, byron.

Peter J. Gravante Jr., 30, of Swamp Road, Byron, is charged with second-degree burglary and grand larceny in the fourth degree, both felonies, and unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor. At 5:48 p.m. on May 20 on Townline Road, Byron, Gravante allegedly forcefully entered a residence through a window. He then allegedly stole a welder from the garage and took keys to a vehicle in the driveway. He subsequently allegedly took the car from the residence. The property he is accused of stealing was recovered in Rochester. The defendant was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and put in Genesee County Jail in lieu of $20,000 cash or $40,000 bond. He is due in Byron Town Court on June 3. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Henning, assisted by Deputy Richard Schildwaster, Deputy Jenna Ferrando, Deputy Kevin Forsyth, and investigators Christopher Parker, Howard Carlson and Chad Minuto.

Colby Le-andrew Ellis, 30, of West Academy Street, Albion, is charged with: endangering the welfare of a child; fourth-degree criminal mischief; second-degree harassment; and third-degree criminal mischief. Ellis was arrested on May 20 after a domestic incident at 3:30 p.m. on May 14 on Old Creek Road in Alexander. He allegedly: damaged property that did not belong to him; endangered the welfare of a child; and struck the victim in the face with his hand. He was arraigned in Town of Alexander Court, then released under supervision of Genesee Justice. Ellis is due back in court on June 11. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

May 22, 2019 - 2:40pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, search and rescue, indian falls, pembroke, notify.


Video Sponsor


GC Emergency Management Services Coordinator Tim Yaeger said up to 70 people are involved in the continuing search for Mark Dibble, including family members.

Dibble was identified as "almost certainly" the person seen walking northward on property owned by Sunrise Farm LLC, Kreher's egg farm in Basom. That is where the search is being staged today.

They have searched wooded areas, a rock quarry and ponds, and Diver Lake. No clues, clothing or footprints were found.

NYS Police aviation was deployed as well as their divers and nothing found after extensive investigation this morning.

They have widened the search from a quarter mile of where Dibble was seen on the farm video, to beyond a half-mile range. They are rechecking cabins, barns, and outbuildings that were inspected yesterday.

The search area also includes open fields, hedgerows, and ditches, private residences, campers, vehicles, and thick brush, with participants walking in swaths five feet apart.

Dibble grew up here; has been here his whole life; knows the area very well. Some of the geography is difficult terrain.

Next, they will check the property of his longtime employer.

They have spoken with colleagues, friends, family members and others who are acquainted with Dibble.

Anyone with information about Dibble is asked to call the Emergency Dispatch Center at 9-1-1.

May 22, 2019 - 10:48am
posted by Billie Owens in search and rescue, indian falls, news, notify.

The search is resuming this morning for missing 58-year-old Mark Dibble. The Indian Falls man was reported missing yesterday afternoon. He did not go to work after he checked on his mother at 6 a.m. Tuesday, who lives on Alleghany Road.

Around 9:15 p.m., a search and rescue team with firefighters from East Pembroke, Pembroke, Alabama, Indian Falls, and Darien along with two K-9 units, an Erie County Sheriff's helicopter and a NYS Police drone, were called off the detail for the night. Genesee County Office of Emergency Management personnel also assisted.

Now firefighters from East Pembroke, including its UTV, and Alabama and Indian Falls are gathering at 1307 McAlpine Road in Alabama to resume the search for Dibble.

May 21, 2019 - 5:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in indian falls, news, notify.


A 58-year-old male is missing in Indian Falls and a search and rescue team is deployed to find him.

Firefighters from Alabama, Pembroke and Indian Falls are called to assemble at the Indian Falls United Methodist Church, located at 7908 Alleghany Road.

UPDATE 5:57 p.m.: The team will initially be checking the area of Alleghany Road, Meiser Road, Houseknecht Road and McAlpine Road.

UPDATE 6:19 p.m.: The missing male did not show up for work today. One K-9 has joined the search and another is on the way. A helicopter from the Erie County Sheriff's Office is also being deployed.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: They are also checking the creek area.

UPDATE 7:18 p.m.: The missing man is Mark Dibble. He is 5' 11" tall and weighs 230 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen at 6 a.m. today at his mother's house at 7888 Alleghany Road. His truck is still in her driveway. He had on work boots and jeans; there is no description of his shirt.

UPDATE 7:33 p.m.: The Erie County Sheriff's helicopter is scouring the area from the sky, so is the NYS Police drone. Two canine units are at work, too.

UPDATE 8:36 p.m.: The 7:18 p.m. UPDATE was corrected to reflect that Dibble was last seen at his mother's house at 7888 Alleghany Road and his truck is still in her driveway. His residence is roughly a half mile away.

UPDATE 9:11 p.m.: GC Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Brian Frieday said Dibble has not yet been located. They are stopping search efforts for now, he said, and will meet in the morning to evaluate whether to resume them.

May 21, 2019 - 1:59pm

Photo and information from the NYS Police, Troop A, Batavia:

Cold Case Tuesday: New York State Police in Batavia continue to investigate the 1977 murder of an Erie County woman.

On Nov. 25th, 1977, the partially decomposed body of Jessica Rose Lane, age 66, was found by two deer hunters in a wooded area off of Alley Road in the Town of Darien.

The victim was found fully clothed with fractured ribs, a fractured left elbow and a fractured skull, likely caused by stabbing.

Lane was last seen on Nov. 11, 1977 at Williamstown Apartments in Cheektowaga.

The exact location of the crime has yet to be determined. However, the residents below the victim’s apartment claimed to have heard two “thumps” between 4 and 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 12th, 1977.

Lane, who lived alone, was known to keep to herself and rarely had visitors. Suspects have been developed, but no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Batavia by calling 716-344-6200. Please refer to SJS # 3029541.

May 20, 2019 - 4:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, byron, bergen, Pavilion, Le Roy.

Benjamin Santiago Jr., 30, of Jackson Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. After a larceny investigation at Crocker's Ace Hardware in Le Roy, Santiago was arrested May 18 for allegedly stealing $800 worth of tools from the store at 3:25 p.m. on May 14. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Le Roy Town Court on June 13. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack.

Heather Nicole Holbrook, 34, of Byron-Holley Road, Byron, is charged with: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree; endangering the welfare of a child; aggravated unlicensed operation in the third degree; and having an indequate muffler. At 10:08 p.m. on May 16, deputies conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of West Main Street and River Street in the City of Batavia. Following an investigation, Holbrook was arrested. She is accused of operating a motor vehicle while her driver's license was suspended and while in possession of a controlled substance, with two children as passengers. She was issued appearance tickets and is due in Batavia City Court on May 29. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Erik Andre, assisted by Deputy Robert Henning.

Heather Nicole Holbrook, 34, of Byron-Holley Road, Byron, is charged with failure to appear. She was arrested on a warrant out of Batavia City Court and arraigned at 10:58 a.m. on May 17. She is accused of failing to appear in Batavia City Court on May 9. She was released on her own recognizance and is to return to city court on May 29. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Flanagan.

Michael David Senay Jr., 25, of Overlook Drive, Batavia, is charged with: third-degree menacing; fourth-degree criminal mischief; criminal obstruction of breathing; unlawful imprisonment in the second degree; and second-degree harassment. At 9 p.m. on May 17, following the investigation of a domestic incident in the Town of Batavia, Senay was arrested. He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court. He is due back in court on June 11. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Brabon.

Lee Christopher Clark, 39, of 8202 Lewiston Road, upper, Batavia, is a convicted sex offender charged with failure to report a change of address/status within 10 days as required. It is alleged that Clark failed to register Internet accounts with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services within 10 days. He was transported to the GC Sheriff's Office for processing and released on an appearance ticket returnable to Batavia Town Court on June 4. The case was handled by GC Sheriff's Deputy Travis DeMuth.

Sara Tea Cupler, 26, of Starr Road, Pavilion, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree and unlawful possession of marijuana. Cupler was arrested at 8:33 p.m. on May 18 after a call to the Emergency Dispatch Center for a welfare check on a female unconscious in a vehicle on South Lake Road, Pavilion. Cupler was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Pavilion Town Court on June 4. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore, assisted by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Robert G. Whitehead, 28, of Ellsworth Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant out of Batavia City Court on May 13. He is accused of failure to appear in court on Sept. 13, 2012. He was arraigned at 1:54 p.m. and then put in jail in lieu of $1,000 cash bail or $2,000 bond. He was due back in city court on May 16. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Miah Stevens, assisted by Officer Marc Lawrence.

Katrina Lynn Drake, 29, of Locust Avenue, Lockport, was arrested on May 21 and charged with trespass. It is alleged that at 5:39 p.m. on May 9 there was a disturbance on Tracy Avenue in Batavia and Drake allegedly went onto a porch and kicked a door. She is due in Batavia City Court on May 21 to answer the charge. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Felicia DeGroot.

Bryan Jose Alvarado-Arce, 22, of Studley Street, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Alvarado-Arce was arrested at 6:29 p.m. on May 17 after a traffic stop on Townline Road in Bergen. He was a passenger in the vehicle. He was released on an appearance ticket and he is due in Bergen Town Court on June 5. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack.

May 19, 2019 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm labor bill, farm labor, agriculture, news, notify, corfu, video.
Video Sponsor

Sen. Rob Ortt visited Reyncrest Farms in Corfu on Friday as part, he said, of regular visits to farms in Upstate New York to learn more about the potential impact of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.

He said he feels obligated to do it because the supporters of the bill, who have no farms or farmworkers in their districts, aren't doing it and they're not holding hearings on the bill in Western New York.

"We know that the sponsor is not visiting farms," Ortt said "She doesn't have a farm in her district. So I'm trying to fill that void to push back on some of these narratives that are being justified as to why we need to have this legislation in New York."

Ortt is the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee. He's also a potential candidate for the Republic primary race in the 27th Congressional District.

Sen. Jessica Ramos, chair of the Senate Labor Committee, and a first-term representative from Queens, is the Senate sponsor of the bill. She did visit Genesee County a few weeks ago and met with farmers and farmworkers and tried to prevent the press from covering her visit. She heard from many farmworkers who said they didn't support the legislation because it would mean they would make less money.

The bill, as written currently, would give farmworkers the right to join labor unions, as well as mandate an eight-hour workday and 40-hour work week. Both farmers and farmworkers say it is the cap on work hours that will do the most economic damage.

Earlier this month, Ortt lead a roundtable discussion of the bill and afterward indicated a willingness to negotiate on both of those main points. Friday he said that willingness is based on the feedback he's getting from farmers who tell him, he said, that if passage of such a bill is inevitable, then can it at least be made less draconian?

So far, he said, he's seen little willingness by the sponsors to negotiate.

Reyncrest is exactly the kind of family-owned dairy farm that stands to be most severely hurt by the legislation if it passes as is, he said.

"They have three farmers, (ages) 28, 26, and 25 -- a new generation, right? The next generation of farmers here to keep this going," Ortt said. "But they need to be able to sustain each of those individuals. This farm needs to be profitable for all three of those family members and if they can't make it a go, maybe they're unable to continue on and that impacts consumers.

"That impacts folks here in New York State who want to buy their products from New York State farmers, who want to buy their products from locally grown farms, locally grown here in New York. And so every time we add onto the burden here, and especially when it's being done by people who haven't stepped foot on a farm, who don't understand the dynamics of what they're doing, now I think that should be a real cause for concern for all New Yorkers."

May 18, 2019 - 1:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

One thing Rep. Chris Collins told The Batavian before the 2018 campaign season is that the one thing he appreciated about The Batavian is that we may ask him tough questions but we always reported his views accurately.

Then after he was indicted on insider trading charges he refused to talk to us. That was baffling given his previous praise of our reporting. On Friday, we asked him about his decision to avoid almost all media coverage in 2018. He said that was a campaign strategy but that things would be different if he runs in 2020.

We should trust him on that promise, he said.

"I am not hiding from anyone," Collins said. "I'm talking to you today. Am I not answering every question you're asking? For two months I was running a very difficult election with a strategy to win and my strategy was correct."

Once it was clear in 2018  that Collins was cutting off access to The BatavianThe Batavian publicly announced that it wouldn't run his campaign press releases unless and until he agreed to an interview.

The response?


"For those two months you weren't part of my strategy," Collins said. "And I won or I wouldn't be here talking with you today."

Now, we're supposed to trust Collins.

Collins was indicted by the Federal prosecutors on a bevy of charges related to an alleged insider trading conspiracy on Aug. 9 and refused that day to take any questions from The Batavian and refused subsequent requests for interviews. The charges stemmed from his alleged tip to his son Cameron that a critical drug trial by a company he had pumped, Innate Therapeutics, had failed.

The target of Collins' ire, he said, however, wasn't The Batavian. It was the Buffalo News.

"I am out and about talking to you today and I've said I always will," Collins said. "Last year was a unique year with the Buffalo News being my primary opponent with a lot of fake news, a lot of biased news; a lot of distorted news. So I did make a decision, I wanted to win the election and I won the election and now I'm talking to you today. I'll talk to you wherever I am."

Pressed for examples of "fake news" from the Buffalo News, Collins said almost everything the paper reported about his relationship with Innate Therapeutics was inaccurate; that his work on the 21st Centuries Cure Act was falsely reported; that his attempts to get drugs to market quicker were misrepresented, as well as his attempts to get more dollars diverted to cancer research.

"They reported that was all to benefit a company I was invested in," Collins said. "It was absurd. They reported that Tom Price and I got special pricing on a stock, which was also totally not true, and was so reported by the Office of Congressional Ethics. They reported these things time and again. I don't want to get into a litany but primarily if you read a Buffalo News story, the bias just pours out."

He said the Buffalo News has been reporting about him inaccurately for 12 years, going back to his stint as Erie County Chief Executive.

The one representative The Batavian knew to reach out to directly to seek comment from about Buffalo News reporting on Chris Collins was political reporter Jerry Zremski who said in an email, "We stand by our stories."

Collins supports Donald Trump. Donald Trump has admitted that he has redefined the phrase "fake news" to mean any news report he doesn't like, no matter if it is true. Collins said that is not how Trump uses the term. However, none of this was reassuring to The Batavian that in 2020 he will be any more accessible than he was in 2018.

So, this exchange:

The Batavian: "Can I get a promise that as long as I always report you accurately, I can get an interview with you in the future?"

Chris Collins: "Yes."

So, we'll see if that is "fake news."

See also: Chris Collins says that if he runs he will beat any primary or general election challenger

May 17, 2019 - 11:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.


It doesn't matter who runs against him, if Rep. Chris Collins is a candidate in the NY-27 race in 2020, he will win, he said today following a ribbon cutting at Fresenius Kidney Care on Veterans Memorial Drive.

He will win in a primary. He will win in a general election.

He will win, he said, because he has more money. He will win because the folks of the 27th District will believe he's done a good job for them. He will win because he supports President Donald Trump.

"My accomplishments and my effectiveness speak for themselves," Collins said. "And if somebody wants to pretend otherwise, he'll have to better explain that."

Collins is unperturbed by the close call he suffered in 2018 beating challenger Nate McMurray by less than 2,000 votes, nor is he ruffled about his criminal indictment on alleged insider trading charges, nor an ongoing Congressional ethics investigation. 

"If I do decide to run, I'm confident I will win a primary if there is a primary," Collins said. "I'm also confident in a presidential year with my past support of President Trump, which is well known, with my seven, then eight, years of service in the community, I'm confident I would be reelected.

"While the last election was closer than I might have wanted it to be, that was a terrible year for Republicans. It was not a presidential year and I had an opponent who did not fully disclose where he stood on the issues. Next year, any Democrat that's running is going to have to run with the Democrat platform and the Democrat platform will be socialism replacing a free market."

Today, news reports said that state Senator Chris Jacobs plans to run a primary campaign against Collins if he decides to run and Sen. Rob Ortt told The Batavian in an exclusive interview that if he runs, he will also mount a primary challenge to Collins if Collins runs.

Collins said today that he remains undecided on whether to seek reelection.

"I have not made up my mind," Collins said. "I've said it would be later this year when my legal situation is better known, so I'm not saying yes and I'm not saying no. We'll make that decision later this year."

On potential opponents, Collins concentrated his fire on the one seemingly for-certain candidate, Chris Jacobs.

"If there's anyone who doesn't fit the profile it would be Chris Jacobs," Collins said. "You know, he is, I think, the second most liberal Republican in the state Senate. He's a Never Trumper, he is pro-abortion, and I would say that his resume does not suit New York 27."

Besides Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia both told The Batavian today that they are considering runs for the NY-27.

Collins said he isn't afraid of a primary fight, and the more the merrier.

"If you're gonna be in a primary you want it to be 10 people if you're the incumbent," Collins said. "So again, that's not going to make my decision for me. I'm confident I would win a primary if I decide to run and they decide to run against me in a primary, much like happened in 2012. I have confidence that my résumé, of what I've accomplished for this district."

In Jacobs' campaign announcement -- reportedly, since he didn't include all media in the NY-27 (apparently, Genesee County doesn't matter) -- Jacobs said Collins has been ineffective. Collins, of course, disagrees.

"Interesting that he brought that up the same day that Jane Corwin was confirmed as the new chairperson of the International Joint Water Commission," Collins said.

Collins also took credit for the appointments from Michigan and Nevada, the Army Corps of Engineers' approval of a project at Athol Springs, the appointment of a new U.S. Marshall, and he also mentioned his new legislation to help dairy farmers with immigration labor.

"That's all within the past week," Collins said.

In GOP circles, there is some speculation that Collins won't get the GOP endorsement in 2020 even if he decides to run. Again, Collins isn't worried.

"I would hope to get it," Collins said. "But if you recall in 2012 I didn't and I won the primary pretty handily."

Collins also suggested he will outspend any potential opponent. His latest fundraising reports have shown pretty dismal reports, however. He said that's by design. He didn't directly address whether he would self-fund his campaign, but he suggested he will do better at fundraising from this point forward.

"I have not attempted to raise funds the last four months," Collins said. "I know coming in, off of all the bad publicity that I faced, the Buffalo News and otherwise, we decided we'd sit tight for four months and see how things kind of played themselves out and it's been a very positive reaction in Washington, so we are now going to start doing fundraising."

In the last election, he barely beat challenger Nate McMurray. He is facing legal and ethics proceedings in federal court. Some Republicans think he should step aside to protect the district. The Collins retort: He barely beat McMurray because McMurray wasn't honest about who he really is. 

Collins suggested that McMurray is really a closet socialist because he's a Democrat.  

We pointed out the lengthy profile published by The Batavian on May 17, 2018:

Profile: Nate McMurray, Democratic capitalist, bucking the trend of his party

"He doesn't tell the truth," Collins said. "He can say anything he wants. Think back to Kathy Hochul and everything she stood for until she became lieutenant governor and then the true Kathy Hochul showed up."

The Democrats, he said, lie and distort about who they really are.

"You know they pander they lie they distort," Collins said. "But ultimately people realize I'm a conservative Republican. I am pro-life. I've served or eight years. With Trump, I'm the first member to support Trump. I was at the White House two days ago.

"I'm as effective as I've ever been or more so if you look at what we've accomplished the last week. So I'll run on my record and challenge anyone else to at least be honest with the public on where they stand."

See also: Chris Collins promises to speak to The Batavian if he runs for reelection

May 17, 2019 - 5:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, artists, John Hodgins, notify.

Photo of John Hodgins in February 2005 with an en plein air painting of his, courtesy of his daughter Joyce Dwyer.

Beloved local artist, Batavia businessman and former county legislator John Jay Hodgins died this morning. He was 87.

Born in Basom on Dec. 12, 1931 to Ora and Velma Hodgins, he grew up to become a printer, sign painter and entrepreneur who founded Batavia Press, Hodgins Printing, Hodgins Engraving, papersigns.com, and John’s Studio.

Hodgins also served his community -- eight years on the Batavia City Council and eight years on the Genesee County Legislature. He was a former member of the Oakfield Lions Club, a director at the Richmond Memorial Library, and a director of the Genesee County Baseball Club.

A longtime member of Batavia Society of Artists, he had been its treasurer and president, and had many shows of his work locally. He taught local students to paint and draw, and held art workshops in Maine and Florida. He authored and published four books, hiked most of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, ran four marathons, and was a big fan of the Batavia Muckdogs baseball team.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years Mary T. (Paul) Hodgins, six children, 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

As a young man, Hodgins supported his family by delivering milk and baked goods, then he went to work in the printing business, starting as a compositor.

He worked at the Orleans Republican-American, Medina Daily Journal and the Buffalo Evening News before launching his own small printing operation from his barn in Basom in 1957. An initial investment of $500 bought a hand-operated letterpress, a few cabinets of lead type and a manual paper cutter.

The nascent business was moved to Batavia in 1961 and husband and wife worked side by side to grow it. Batavia Press, located at 30 Seaver Place, thrived and in 1971 an offer was made to buy it and the Hodgins accepted the offer. They subsequently started Hodgins Printing and sold only by mail order to out-of-town customers.

But within a year, the new owners of the Batavia Press failed and Hodgins Printing returned to serving the business community in Genesee County. In 1983, son Robert Hodgins started Hodgins Engraving, a printing die-making service for printers nationwide.

To meet the need for a local commercial printer serving Western New York, Batavia Press was reestablished. The family's second and third generation now manages the operations of: Hodgins Printing Co. and John's Studio -- in the Harvester Center -- and Batavia Press and Hodgins Engraving on West Main Street. There is also an online company, papersigns.com

John Hodgins retired in 1985.

Beyond his success as an ambitious businessman, John was a lifelong lover of all things art. He produced a prodigious amount of distinctive, unique and colorful creations.

His interest in drawing was first piqued in elementary school when his fifth-grade teacher asked him to draw a knight on a horse.

When John moved to Batavia, he became acquainted with the masterful Roy Mason, a nature-loving watercolorist known for his sporting and wildlife landscapes. Years later, he spent three summers in Maine under the tutelage of famed watercolorist Edgar A. Whitney, best known for his coastline art.

In the mid-1980s, John and fellow Batavia artist Don Grieger started painting en plein air, French for outdoors painting. The practice was not widely popular as it is today. In a kind of spoof of a Canadian group of plein air painters in the early 20th century called "The Group of Seven," the duo called themselves "The Group of Two."

Inevitably, more artists came along and thus "The All Weather Gang" was born. They still get together some Saturday mornings for breakfast at a local diner before heading out to paint scenic vistas, usually in Genesee, Wyoming or Livingston counties, irrespective of the clime. Among their favorites places to paint are creeks: the Tonawanda, the Little Tonawanda, and Oatka.

"You get the feel of the place more when you're outdoors," Grieger said, "rather than painting from a photograph."

Just as he was mentored by quality artists, Hodgins was a mentor to young people.

Among those who learned a thing or two from him is Mark Fanara, who took drawing and painting lessons from Hodgins as a second-grader. Fanara won awards for his art in high school and while studying at SUNY Brockport, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He has been a tattooist since 2005 and opened High Voltage Tattoo in Batavia in 2006.

Another mentee is Batavia native Bill Mancuso, assistant professor of Art and chair of the Department of Art and Design at Ohio Northern University. He curated an exhibit last fall about the All Weather Gang at ONU's Elzay Gallery and wrote a book for the exhibit about the All Weather Gang and its members past and present.

Mancuso is working on a biography/retrospective about John Hodgins.

"I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today without John Hodgins and Don Grieger," Mancuso said. "John was generous. He lived a big, full life. ... John painted ordinary things and made them extraordinary -- Gardner's Barn, the Pok-A-Dot. He saw beauty in everyday things, the way they really are; not like scary museum Art with a capital A."

His appreciation for the unpretentiousness of small-town life was writ large.

Asked about his inspirations for artwork, Hodgins once said he tried to be original and do something different, regardless of the medium he chose. He could be inspired by something as mundane as sneakers, as common as milkweed, and as mythical as flying pigs. He put his special imprimatur on them all.

For John Hodgins full obituary, click here

(Below is a file photo of John Hodgins' "News Stand" which The Batavian acquired in December of 2009.)

May 17, 2019 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rob Ortt, chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.


Video Sponsor


If Rep. Chris Collins, dogged by ethics and criminal investigations, decides to run for reelection in 2020, he could face a primary challenge from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Rob Ortt, who visited Reyncrest Farms in Corfu this morning.

"I'm going to make my decision based on my own discussions with my wife, discussions with my family and friends and people I trust, and will do what I think is best for the district," Ortt said. "Obviously, I've got to make the decision that that's right for Rob Ortt, where I think I can serve best to be a voice on issues that matter to me whether it's in the State Senate or in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"So, you know, we'll make that determination on our own timeline. Obviously, probably sooner rather than later, but we're going to make that decision of on our own timeline apart from whatever other people may do."

Other people, of course, includes Collins, who told The Batavian three weeks ago that he has yet to decide whether he would run for reelection.

Collins is facing a Federal court trial on charges stemming from an alleged insider trading conspiracy. Collins, along with co-defendants Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky, is accused of securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to FBI agents.

Besides the criminal case, a House of Representatives Ethics Committee is also looking into his conduct involving his holdings in Innate Therapeutics.

Other people mounting a primary challenge would also include State Sen. Chris Jacobs, who reportedly announced his intention this morning to run against Collins, and Batavia-resident Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Reached by text message this afternoon, Hawley said he is indeed considering challenging Collins, depending on the situation with Collins.

"I'm strongly considering it," Hawley said.

Another Batavia resident, combat veteran David Bellavia is also considered a potential candidate. Bellavia has yet to respond to a text message asking him about his intentions for 2020.

Ortt, himself also a combat veteran, said his decision will come entirely independent of what Collins decides to do.

"He's got to do what he thinks is right," Ortt said. "Again just like me, he will do what he thinks is right for himself, for his family and given his situation, but he also has a responsibility to do what's right for the district.

"If he does not think he can serve this district in an effective way, then I think the right thing would be at some point to make a determination to step aside and let someone else come in."

Collins narrowly beat Nate McMurray in the 2018 election and McMurray seems to be a likely Democratic contender in 2020. We asked Ortt, given a potentially strong Democratic candidate and the legal and ethical issues facing Collins, if Collins should step aside and Ortt said he would never suggest to Collins, or any other potential candidate, that he not run.

"This is America," Ortt said. "There will be a lot of people I imagine that might jump into this race. If (Collins) thinks he can make an effective argument of why he should be retained as the congressman, I would welcome that as much if I was in the race as anything.

"I'm not going to say one person should run or should not run because ultimately the people of the 27th District, particularly Republican voters in a primary, they're going to make that determination about who they think can effectively, not only defend the president's agenda or defend the agenda that's important to this district, but also represent them in a way that they think they'd be proud of."

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: We heard back from David Bellavia. He is considering a run for Congress in the 27th. "Not afraid of primaries," Bellavia said in a text message. "Especially ones involving Rep. Collins and Senator Jacobs."

UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: Statement from Nate McMurray on the possibility of a primary challenge to Collins:

"It's understandable that some would see an opportunity in Collins' legal predicament, but let's not pretend that Collins was an effective leader prior to that. Our grassroots network has been fighting for the people of the 27th Congressional District well before his indictment last August and never stopped.

"I think it's unfortunate that anyone would evaluate running in this district based on personal political gain, or in order to keep it in Republican hands. Hyper-partisanship is the last thing the people of Western New York need right now and the voters here confirmed that last November by reelecting Collins by a mere .37%. The district went purple and people crossed party lines. It shows that business-as-usual will no longer fly. We will continue to prepare for whatever comes next, and look for opportunities to bring people together."

May 16, 2019 - 9:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Job Bureau, jobs, news, notify.


There is a skills mismatch between what local employers need and what the available workforce has to offer, said Teresa Van Son, director of the Job Development Bureau in Genesee County, yesterday following her department review with the Ways and Means Committee.

During the meeting, Van Son said a recent job fair was poorly attended by job seekers.

The county's unemployment rate is historically low -- that may not be a surprise but there are still at least 1,300 people listed as unemployed (using the most recent unemployment statistics). Von Son said she believes there are still people with the ability to work who are not looking for work because there aren't jobs available for them. Meanwhile, there are more than 1,000 job openings in Genesee County listed with the Job Bureau.

To address that, Von Son wants to promote more the job-training opportunities available through the bureau.

"One thing we would like to work on is providing people with additional opportunities for training so people in those early skill level jobs can move up and fill some higher level positions and then you've got more room for the emerging workforce," Van Son said.

County-level data for prime-age workers who aren't working or looking for work is hard to come by, but nationally the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate in that cohort has returned nearly to 2009 levels after hitting a nadir in 2014. The percentage of prime-age workers, people 25-54, in the labor force (they have jobs or are seeking jobs) was 82.2 percent in April compared to 82.8 percent in April 2009 and 80.8 percent in April 2014.

Recently, Von Son said, there has been an increase in agriculture job openings. There are also jobs available in manufacturing.

There are not many people using job bureau services who have recently been out of the workforce and are returning now, Von Son said. In fact, she can think of only two such clients recently.

"Some folks I think just need opportunities to get training," Von Son said.

May 15, 2019 - 2:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in red flag law, 2nd Amendment, news, notify, Genesee County SCOPE.


The best thing that can happen when police are dealing with a person who may be a threat to themselves or others is for a friend or family member to take possession of their firearms, Sheriff William Sheron told members of Genesee County SCOPE on Tuesday night at their monthly meeting at Calvary Baptist Church in Batavia.

If that isn't possible, the new "Red Flag Law" is a good tool for local law enforcement to help ensure people who are a threat don't have easy access to firearms.

Going into the meeting, Sheron said he knew that view wouldn't be popular with SCOPE members and some pushed back.

The new law goes into effect in August. It establishes a procedure for a person who believes a person who owns guns has become a threat to seek a court order requiring the person to surrender the guns to local law enforcement.

Sheron said the new law has ample due-process protections built into it and isn't really any different than police obtaining a warrant to search or seize property. The person seeking the order must provide clear and convincing evidence that the gun owner is a threat. The case goes before a supreme court judge -- in Genesee County, Charles Zambito -- who must agree the evidence is clear and convincing. The person who must give up their guns is entitled to a hearing within three to six days and can appeal any subsequent ruling to a higher court.

“Knowing Judge Zambito, he’s not just going to hand over a piece of paper and say 'we’ll take those guns,' " Sheron said, Zambia will want evidence.

The Sheriff's Office has been very successful over the years, Sheron said, in convincing gun owners who are going through a hard time to turn their guns over to a friend or family member for safekeeping until things cool down, or the person is under less stress, and that is still the default option for deputies, he said.

But that isn't always an option, or a person in distress doesn't want to cooperate, or if the deputy does take the guns, without a court order, the Sheriff's Office must give the owner the guns back upon request, even if there is no evidence the issues have been resolved for the gun owner.

In those cases, the ability of a family member, friend or a deputy to seek a court order to have the guns temporarily confiscated, and prohibit the person from legally acquiring guns, is a useful tool.

SCOPE members expressed concern about due process, about care being taken handling expensive guns, about family members who own their own guns getting those taken, and about the law not being applied as Sheron described it.

Sheron did his best to address each concern, reiterating the due process procedures, the courtesy and professionalism of his deputies, that the order only applies to the person named, and that he believes the court process will protect gun owners from overly zealous anti-gun types.

One SCOPE member suggested that the Sheriff's Office practice of letting a friend or family member take temporary possession of firearms violates the SAFE Act. Sheron said he would have to research it more but added, "we do it all the time."

The SAFE Act restricts the transfer of firearms to other people without going through licensed dealers, except for transfers to spouses or children.

Asked after the meeting if the word "transfer" in the act applied only to a change of ownership of the weapon and not giving it to somebody to hold for a period of time, while the original owner retained ownership, Sheron said that is correct.

(SCOPE is the acronym for Shooters Committee on Political Education.)

May 14, 2019 - 6:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in van detta stadium, batavia, news, notify, City Schools, Batavia HS.


The stands are up, the turf is in and it looks like the Batavia Blue Devils will indeed have a new stadium in time for fall football as workers tighten bolts and sew up seams in coming days before the oval track around the field is installed.

The new stadium, replacing the 70-year-old Van Detta Stadium, is part of a $27 million district-wide capital improvement project approved by voters two years ago that includes upgrades at all three school sites.






May 14, 2019 - 5:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, notify.

In recent years, the number of seasonal deputies working during concerts at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center has increased from 10 to 15 and in 2019, 20.

It's not just that there are more concerts at Darien Lake, or the addition of concerts at Batavia Downs has increased demand, Sheriff William Sheron said at yesterday's Public Service Committee meeting. The Sheriff just needs a bigger pool of qualified deputies to draw from to ensure adequate staffing for each event.

There's no additional cost for the county since the cost is offset by fees paid by the concert venue for security on show nights.

Sheron said he wants more officers deputized for concerts because none of the men and women who work the shows on a part-time basis are able to make every show.

"This will give us a bigger pool to draw from," Sheron said.

Seasonal deputies must be sworn peace officers and must live in Genesee County. They can be current or retired Batavia PD or Le Roy PD officers, or retired from the Sheriff's Office or State Police.

Regardless of current or former affiliation, they are sworn in as deputies for their seasonal duty and wear Sheriff's deputies' uniforms.

The Sheriff's Office currently has five deputies going through training and expects five more to start training in the fall to replace deputies who have retired. The retirements have left the Sheriff's Office a bit short staffed, which will mean a little more demand for seasonal deputies at Darien Lake.  

Those who retired from the Sheriff's Office can also help with traffic control since they already have training for the duty at the park.

Deputies also assist with traffic control during concerts at Batavia Downs while Batavia PD handles security inside the venue.

The Sheriff is gearing up for 20 to 25 concerts at Darien Lake and another 10 at Batavia Downs. Concerts also return to the Ridge NY in Le Roy, but Sheron acknowledged there is seldom a need for a law enforcement presence at those shows.

"Each concert venue brings a different client of patrons," Sheron said. "Some of those individuals get rowdy at times and we have issues, but on the other hand we have many concerts where we don't have any difficulties at all; but you still need a police presence."

The Public Service Committee voted unanimously to send the recommendation to the full Legislature for approval.

May 14, 2019 - 3:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, notify, news, batavia.

James R. Calaci, 36, (above photo) of Central Avenue, Batavia, is charged with: aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree; unlicensed operator; speeding; using a portable handheld device. Calaci was arrested on Liberty Street at 12:12 p.m. on May 9 following a traffic stop. He was allegedly using a portable handheld device while driving and he was speeding. He was found to be operating a motor vehicle while his NYS driver's license had 46 active suspensions. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed on unspecified bail. He is due in City Court on May 16. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen, assisted by Officer Kevin DeFelice.

Jason Solomon Wood, 40, of Woodstock Gardens, Batavia, is charged with two counts of second-degree criminal contempt. On March 11 at 3:49 a.m., the GC Sheriff's Office received a complaint of a violation of an order of protection. Following an investigation, it is alleged that Wood intentionally violated an order of protection out of Family Court by contacting the protected party several times via text messaging. Woods was arrested and arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and jailed in lieu of unspecified cash bail. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong, assisted by Deputy David Moore.

May 13, 2019 - 7:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, accident, Le Roy, notify.


A woman has reportedly died following a head-on collision on Route 19 at North Street Road, Le Roy.

According to Chief Deputy Brian Frieday, a vehicle was southbound on Route 19 when it slowed to make a left turn on North Street Road. Another vehicle behind that car tried to pass on the west shoulder and that driver apparently lost control of her car causing it to cross back across the southbound lane and into the northbound lane where it struck a northbound SUV.

The driver of the car that was attempting the southbound pass was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the SUV was transported to Strong with non-life-threatening injuries.

The name of the victim has not been released pending family notifications.

The accident is still under investigation.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance responded to the scene and Route 19 was closed between Seldon Road and West Bergen Road. (At the intersection of the fatality, Randall Road is west of Route 19; and across Route 19 to the east, the same roadway becomes North Street Road.)

UPDATE: The Sheriff's Office reports that Bonnie B. Dean, 77, of Churchville, died as a result of the crash. The other driver was identified as Penne M. Vincent, 56, of Fairport. Vincent was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital for treatment of her injuries. Dean was driving a 2008 Chevy Cobalt. Vincent was driving a 2013 GMC Terrain. According to the press release, Dean attempted to pass an uninvolved vehicle on the right, on the west shoulder and was unable to maintain control of the vehicle, causing it to cross into the northbound lane. The cause of the crash is under investigation by Chief Deputy Brian Frieday, Sgt. Andrew Hale, Sgt. James Deihl, Sgt. Jason Saile, Deputy Richard Schildwaster, Deputy Mat Clor, and Deputy Travis Demuth. Assisting at the scene were Le Roy Detective John Condidorio, and officers Gregory Kellogg and Stephen Cappotelli as well as Le Roy fire, Le Roy ambulance, and Mercy EMS.

Alecia Kaus/Video News Service contributed to this story. Photos by Alecia Kaus.


May 13, 2019 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in teen city, St. Anthony's, batavia, Youth Bureau, news, notify.


The planned move of the Youth Bureau to St. Anthony's on Liberty Street, Batavia, is on schedule and the new program should open in time for the school year this fall, said Jocelyn Sikorski in an interview last week.

Sikorski is the director of both the city's and the county's Youth Bureau and the combined program will move from its current location at 12 MacArthur Drive, Batavia, this summer.

The Youth Bureau will go from a 1,800-square-foot building to more than 11,000 square feet of available space, and from a location practically on the outskirts of the City to one near the center of the city and closer to the underserved youth population on the Southside.

St. Anthony's has already become an important youth activity spot thanks to its owner, City Church, and the work of Ryan Macdonald, who leads youth and community activities on Tuesday nights.

Teen City will offer after-school programs to youths age 9 to 16, including a classroom/tech room, recreation room, gaming room, cafeteria, kitchen and full gymnasium during program hours, which are set at 2:30 to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday during the school year, and 1 to 6 p.m. during the summer.

"There are a lot of youth on the Southside who want those services, who are utilizing those services with Ryan on Tuesday nights, so we’re going to meet the needs of the community as they are and serve those kids who may not be coming to the youth center because of its current location," Sikorski.

The move is expected to be completed in August.

Teen City is a joint project of the Youth Bureau, St. Anthonys's/City Church, the YMCA, and United Way.

"It’s worked out well," Macdonald said. "We love the kids. We think the kids, for the most part, love us. We’re looking for the whole community to be involved.

"We can’t do it on our own and that’s the key takeaway," Macdonald added. "The YMCA is going to be involved the Youth Bureau, the City and the County, United Way is going to be involved. I think that’s an important takeaway because not one entity can do it all on their own. If we work together at it we can get a whole lot more done."

With 100 kids showing up every Tuesday at St. Anthony's, Sikorski said there is ample evidence there is demand for a program like Teen City that is easier for more kids in the city to reach.

With the help of the school district, transportation will be provided to kids who might find St. Anthony's too far away to walk or bike to.

"The other positive is we're modeling the school's behavior and rules with what we’re developing so there will be consistency for these kids," Sikorski "They will know what their expectations are. It’s not going to be any different.

"This will be supervised and structured and it will be a safe place for those kids to go," she added.

The former Youth Bureau building will be taken over by City Schools. Superintendent Chris Dailey said near-term plans are for the high school to use the front parking lot and the building for storage during the ongoing capital improvement project.

The community garden behind the Youth Bureau building will be able to expand into the basketball court area.

Macdonald said he sees this as a positive move for what City Church offers at St. Anthony's and the children of the community.  The Tuesday night programs themselves are expensive to run and only survive because of the generous support of sponsors. Now the children of the area will have more options and more support.

"We’ve all needed somebody to speak into our lives, to love us, to care for us at certain points, and not to say the parents aren’t doing that but we want to add to it," Macdonald said.


The Batavia Youth Bureau moved to the former community pool location in 1998 after the City sold the Bank Street location, which housed the youth bureau and senior services, to the County, which took over the Senior Center at that time. Now it's moving to St. Anthony's.

May 11, 2019 - 3:06pm

Christian Arieras Wilson, 21, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree, fifth-degree conspiracy and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. Following an investigation into smuggling contraband into the Genesee County Jail, Wilson was arrested, released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on May 20. It is alleged that Wilson delivered a quantity of a controlled substance into the jail in a concealed manner at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy McClellan.

Michael Shawn Wahl, 53, of Jordan Avenue, Rochester, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree and possessing or transporting or offering for sale unstamped cigarettes. At 10:32 p.m. on May 10, following a traffic stop on Indian Falls Road in Pembroke, Wahl was arrested. Allegedly, he was driving a motor vehicle and his driver's license was revoked and he possessed unstamped cigarettes for sale. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Town of Pembroke Court on May 28. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Brabon, assisted by Jenna Ferrando.

Tammy Kay Zasowski, 51, of Clinton Street, Elma, is charged with petit larceny. Following an investigation of a larceny on Shanks Road on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Zasowski was arrested. It is alleged that she stole cigarettes at noon on May 3. She was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Alabama Town Court on June 5. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

Ira Leroy Mercer, 72, of Oakwood Road, Rochester, is charged with possession of unstamped cigarettes for sale. At 10:32 p.m. on May 10, Mercer was arrested on Indian Falls Road in Pembroke following a traffic stop. He allegedly possessed unstamped cigarettes that were for sale. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Town of Pembroke Court on May 28. The case was handled by Genesee County Sherjiff's Deputy Joshua Brabon, assisted by Jenna Ferrando.

Ramon S. Gilliam, 44, of Main Street, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, and having an uninspected motor vehicle. Gilliam was arrested following a traffic stop for uninspected vehicle at 9:04 a.m. on May 10 on East Main Street Road in Batavia. He is due in Batavia Town Court on May 23. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack, assisted by Deputy Ryan Young.

Joshua Dale Thomas Jr., 34, of Post Avenue, Rochester, is charged with criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree. At 12:29 a.m. on May 11, Thomas was arrested on Route 490 in Le Roy. He was the passenger in a motor vehicle stopped for alleged vehicle and traffic violations. "During the stop criminal indicators were observed which led to a subsequent search of the vehicle and its occupants." Thomas was allegedly found in possession of more than two ounces of marijuana. He was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Le Roy Court and is due there on June 4. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Thomas Sousa, 55, of 7th Avenue, St. Petersburg, Fla., is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. At 2:51 a.m. on May 10 on South Lake Road in Bergen, Sousa was arrested after a traffic stop for alleged vehicle and traffic violations, which included failure to keep right. He was issued appearance tickets and is due in Bergen Town Court on June 19. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen, assisted by Deputy Erik Andre.

Subscribe to



Copyright © 2008-2019 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button