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September 30, 2020 - 10:16pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, town of batavia, Batavia Town Board.

town_board_meeting_9_30_20_a.jpg

Batavia Town Supervisor Gregory Post this afternoon left the door open for a downward adjustment of a proposed $2 million tax levy in 2021, a dollar amount that would nearly double the property tax rate charged to homeowners in the municipality.

Speaking at a special meeting at the Town Hall to release the tentative budget, Post summed up an impassioned, 50-minute response to town resident Michael Shultz, who questioned such a large tax increase, by emphasizing that “this is a starting point.”

“In three weeks, it probably will be a different budget as we have more information to get,” Post said, referring primarily to a third quarter revenue distribution from Genesee County and a report on town spending for the same period.

“Whatever we can do, we’d be willing to reduce the tax rate without endangering our ability to respond to the next disaster (the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the New York State economy),” he added.

Councilwoman Patti Michalak quickly finished Post’s statement by saying, “Because next year could be worse.”

Town board members – as is the case in municipal governments across the state -- are facing unprecedented tension as they attempt to balance a spending plan of $4,075,787 in the general fund and $1,033,723 in the highway fund.

Post’s tentative general budget for the 2021 fiscal year, which begins on Jan. 1, calls for $2 million to be raised by property taxes, while using $135,899 from the town’s unexpended fund balance. Revenue is estimated at $1,939,888.

The general budget is more than $1 million less than the 2020 budget and, not coincidentally, the town is currently experiencing a $1 million shortfall in revenue due to cuts in state aid and in sales tax and other revenue from Genesee County.

In 2020, the town board allocated $992,310 from the unexpended fund balance to balance the budget. Measures put into place to reduce the tentative tax rate for 2021 could include using more than the $135,899 currently being proposed.

Should the tentative financial plan remain as is through the budget process, the property tax rate reportedly would jump from $2.45 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $4.61 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. On a home assessed at $80,000, for example, the tax bill would go from $196 to $368.80.

Shultz, a longtime resident of the Town of Batavia and one of four people in attendance, said when he read about a potential 89 percent increase (actually 88 percent) he was “taken aback.”

“Greg, I read your various news releases this summer and I was fully prepared for some bad news as probably my neighbors were as well,” Shultz said. “And, I expected maybe 25, 30, worst case scenario 35 percent.

“I was totally taken aback this morning after the disastrous debate last night to read the paper at 5 o’clock and (to) see a probable or potential 89 percent increase was a really shock. I’m quite frankly surprised that more of our neighbors aren’t here.”

After Post replied, “I’m sure they’ll show up eventually,” Shultz continued on, admitting that he had “very limited knowledge of how the municipal budget is established.”

“I worked for 59 years in the private sector (with a background in forest products and gypsum mining and manufacturing),” he said. “Many of those years as a plant manager at a number of facilities across the United States and Canada, and when we got into hard times like this, we got a memo – a very simple one-page memo from the corporate office -- and it said, ‘Here’s your bottom line. You do whatever you gotta do to fill it in.’”

Shultz surmised that putting together a budget for a town of the size of Batavia – which continues to expand its wealth through economic development and investment – has “boundaries that are much different than that.”

The resident took the approach that he didn’t understand the process, wanted to learn and “if I can, in some way, participate and help.”

He then thanked Post for his efforts.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of people wanting your job. They’re not going to be running for office, so you can be comfortable with that,” he said.

Post said he appreciated Shultz’s “perspective,” before embarking on a monologue that touched upon topics such as how sales tax is distributed to the City of Batavia and towns and villages in Genesee County, how state mandates make things “mindbogglingly difficult” for counties, the town’s history of zero or very low tax rates, lack of revenue from court proceedings due to the COVID-induced shutdown, town employees who are working two or three jobs, and the board’s ability thus far to cut $1.4 million in spending compared to the 2020 budget.

The supervisor said the days of relying on Genesee County’s revenue distribution likely are over.

“We have been so reliant on sales tax revenue for two or three generations .. for as long as I can remember," he said. "The biggest chunk of the Town of Batavia’s revenue has not come from property taxes, it has come from sales taxes."

He said for years he would ask, “What is the future of sales tax distribution?”

“And I never got an answer. So, that was the answer,” he said. “They don’t have a crystal ball either and the county is in the hardest situation because they cannot bust their tax cap without losing several million dollars – maybe tens of millions of dollars in state aid. They’re no different than a school district.”

The town has received a little more than $1 million in revenue distribution from Genesee County in 2020, much less than the $2.31 million that was anticipated. He doesn’t foresee the number coming anywhere close to what was budgeted.

“Where do I get the other million dollars?” he asked. “I don’t have any other place to get it. There is no money tree in the backyard. I can’t expect the federal government or the state government to come through with anything anytime soon. They’ve had six months and they haven’t budged.”

Post said that the town has been a capable steward of its assets, boasting a five-star rating with 90 percent of its cash invested every day and utilizing friendly refinancing terms to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He also boasted of the town’s practice of sharing services with other towns in several areas, including assessor services, building inspection and secretarial work, and praised a full-time staff of 25 employees for “working two jobs and many of them three jobs.”

Post, who has been in the public sector for the past 14 years, said he believes the state’s financial policies are on the brink of collapse.

“This is not a failure of the county government or mismanaging, not a failure of the town not looking far enough down the road; it’s a consequence of the failed policies of this state in supporting local communities when the s--- hits the fan.”

After Post concluded his talk -- and before taking a couple more questions about payments in lieu of taxes and whether the town receives traffic ticket revenue (the answer is a portion stays with the town) – Shultz said he appreciated his transparency.

“It was thorough and I’m sure my neighbors and I understand a little better. So, thank you for all you do and let’s carry on,” he said.

The town board will continue working on the budget with an eye on adopting a preliminary spending plan by Oct. 21. A public hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 4.

Photo: The Batavia Town Board conducted a special meeting this afternoon to talk about its 2021 tentative budget. Town resident Michael Shultz is seated in foreground. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

September 30, 2020 - 1:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, alexander, bergen.

Leah E. McCabe, 41, of Alexander, (no address provided) was arrested following a shoplifting complaint at Tops Friendly Markets in the Town of Warsaw. McCabe was allegedly captured on in store video on Sept. 22 pushing out a shopping cart full of merchandise without purchasing the items or making any attempt to do so. The value of the merchandise was $338.78. On Sept. 28, McCabe was located at her residence in the Town of Alexander where she was arrested for petit larceny. McCabe then drove herself to the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office for processing. McCabe was issued a trespass notice banning her from all Tops Friendly Markets locations, and McCabe was issued an appearance ticket scheduling her to answer the charge in the Town of Warsaw Court on Oct. 5. The case was handled by Wyoming County Sheriff's Sgt. Colin Reagan.

Brian Thomas Resch, 32, of Buffalo Road, Bergen, is charged with second-degree criminal trespass. At 12:32 a.m. on Sept. 30, Resch was arrested after allegedly entering a residence on South Lake Avenue in Bergen without permission. Resch was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Bergen Town Court Oct. 14. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy David Moore.

September 30, 2020 - 11:21am

A 14-member Village of Le Roy Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative advisory group will conduct its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Le Roy Village Hall at 3 W. Main St.

Le Roy Police Chief Chris Hayward today reported the names of those who will be serving on the committee that is charged with developing a plan in accordance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 203 on police reform.

The mandate, “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative,” requires municipal police departments to adopt a plan and submit it to the state by April 1 to avoid risking future state funding.

Members of the Le Roy committee are as follows:

  • Mayor -- Greg Rogers
  • Chief of Police -- Christopher Hayward
  • Police Department Representative -- Sean Ancker
  • Business Representative -- Lori Steinbrenner
  • School Representative – Superintendent Merritt Holly
  • Clergy Representative – Jack Hempfling
  • Citizen Representatives – Weldon Ervin, Laura Kettle, Christine Gephart, Mary Margaret Scanlan
  • District Attorney’s Office – Kevin Finnell
  • Public Defender – TBD
  • Town of Le Roy Representative – Supervisor James Farnholz
  • Legal Representative – Jake Whiting

Hayward said he is finalizing the agenda for the meeting, adding that the public is welcome but due to COVID-19 restrictions, seating is limited.

The City of Batavia Police Advisory Stakeholder Group, which has 20 members, held its first meeting on Sept. 24 and has scheduled its next meeting for Oct. 8.

September 29, 2020 - 1:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Alabama.

Leanne Adele Lathrop, 29, of Cowie Road, Wyoming, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. She was arrested after a traffic stop on Lewiston Road in Batavia at 6:21 p.m. Sept. 27. She allegedly had property in the vehicle that had been stolen from Target earlier in the day. Lathrop was issued appearance tickets returnable to Batavia Town Court on Oct. 29. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Gauthier.

Lee Allen Baxter, 36, (no address provided) is charged with resisting arrest and second-degree harassment. Baxter was arrested at 7:34 p.m. Sept. 26 after a domestic altercation that occurred on Sept. 25 on West Main Street Road in Batavia. Baxter was arraigned in Genesee County Court and released on his own recognizance. He is due in Town of Batavia Court on Oct. 19. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Austin Heberlein, assisted by Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

Kamie Marie Sedore, 36, of Culver Road, Rochester, is charged with second-degree forgery and falsifying business records in the first degree. Sedore was arrested following a complaint at the Genesee County Jail on West Main Street in the City of Batavia. She allegedly identified herself as another person and signed paperwork stating that the fingerprints she provided were for the false identity provided. She was issued an appearance ticket for Nov. 10 in Batavia City Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor.

Justin Paul Dake, 23, of Bloomingdale Road, Alabama, is charged with third-degree criminal mischief. No other details provided. Dake was arrested at 4:32 a.m. Aug. 29 on Bloomingdale Road in the Town of Alabama and issued an appearance ticket for Oct. 7 in Alabama Town Court. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Meyer.

September 29, 2020 - 1:02pm

Although the City of Batavia’s general fund ended with a deficit for the 2019-20 fiscal year, the municipality is in good shape when it comes to fund balances – not only for the general fund, but for the water and sewer funds as well.

That is the assessment of Laura Landers, certified public accountant with Freed Maxick, who conducted an audit of the city’s basic financial statements for the year ending March 31, 2020 along with a management report for the same time period.

On Monday night, Landers gave her final audit report to City Council at the governing body’s Conference Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room. She will be retiring at the end of this year, with auditing of the city’s finances being turned over to Kathryn Barrett, a CPA in Freed Maxick’s governmental practice unit.

The 2019-20 audit, dated Sept. 16, came on the heels of Landers’ meeting with the City’s Audit Advisory Committee and Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski in August.

Landers reported revenues of $16,747,439 and expenditures of $17,528,340 for fiscal year 2019-20, leaving a deficit of revenues over expenditures of $780,901. This deficit decreased fund balances in the general fund to a total of $7,893,502.

The city ended the 2019-20 year with an unassigned fund balance of $1,863,699, exclusive of restrictions and assignments, Landers said.

Cash on Hand for Unexpected Expenses

“So, that’s the amount that Council can utilize for whatever purposes they choose to utilize it for (such as utilizing) it to appropriate in next year’s budget process or for any particular unanticipated expenditures that might arise,” she advised, adding that the city’s actual revenues were slightly under budget and expenditures came in under budget by about $1.4 million.

This bodes well for the city, she said, as “management continues to monitor expenditures in particularly this year as the city moves forward through the current environment and is doing analysis regarding cash flows, routinely, to make sure there is sufficient cash for operations for the city to move through this pandemic.”

Landers also provided charts showing revenues and expenditures from 2011-2020 – data that revealed that income exceeded spending in all of those years except 2015, 2017 and 2020.

“During the current year, the city utilized reserves to fund equipment purchases, sidewalk improvements, health care claims and information technology improvements in the amount of approximately $1 million, and funded reserves in the amount of about $114,000,” she said. “The city has continued to fund reserves in an effort to stabilize tax rates, provide for replacement of equipment and infrastructure, thereby reducing reliance on issuing debt and provide for payment of future liabilities.”

She reported that Tabelski did not assign any money to fund reserves from the fund balance for the 2019-20 fiscal year, reasoning that management and the Audit Advisory Committee “thought that it was prudent, given the uncertainty … to just keep that unassigned fund balance there in case the City Council needs to utilize it for whatever purpose,” such as unanticipated expenditures.

Breaking Down the Fund Balances

Landers broke down the city’s fund balances at the end of the fiscal year. The total general fund balance of $7,893,502 showed assigned and unassigned funds in the amount of $2,315,855 and restricted, non-spendable and committed funds in the amount of $5,777,647.

She said restricted funds included $777,000 for insurance, $3.6 million for capital projects, $273,000 for employee benefits and accrued liability, $332,000 for retirement benefits, $36,000 for Dwyer Stadium and $303,000 for third-party restrictions on money that has come into the city.

“There’s a little over $1,000 that is restricted for debt service – money left over from bond proceeds that wasn’t spent for projects that needs to be utilized to pay down the debt service,” she noted.

The committed fund balance at year’s end had $214,000, which are monies committed to the city’s master plan, Habitat for Humanity architect plans, Ellicott Trail, Creek Park and (the discontinued) Vibrant Batavia.

Landers said no money has been assigned to reserves, but $259,000 has been set aside to help balance the 2020-21 budget. She mentioned that the fund balance of $1,863,999 does comply with the city’s internal fund balance policy in place as of March 31, 2020.

'Strong Cash & Cash Equivalents'

As far as the deficit is concerned, Landers said it was a result of the city “recognizing the City Centre as an asset of the city, a disability retirement settlement and several high-value health insurance claims, which increased the amount that is transferred from the general fund to the self-insurance fund of the city.”

“Overall though, the balance sheet in the city represents strong cash and cash equivalents and also strong fund balances, especially in the restricted areas and the unassigned areas,” she reported.

The audit also reviewed the city’s water and sewer funds, which received high marks for “good cash balances and strong net positions in both the restricted and unrestricted net positions,” Landers said.

Her report revealed a $1.3 million operating surplus of the water fund – before subtracting $516,000 in operating and nonoperating revenues and expenses, and the operating subsidy to the general fund. Landers said this indicates that current rates continue at sufficient levels to support operations.

She said the net cash position of the water fund increased by a little over $1 million.

“Part of that increase relates to the bond anticipation note that was issued in the current year, but this resulted in cash at the end of the year a little over $3.8 million, which does not include the cash that’s restricted for capital projects,” she said. “The $3.8 million is unrestricted cash in the water fund at the end of the year.”

Landers said the sewer fund showed an operating surplus of about $74,000 before operating revenue and expenses and an operating subsidy to the general fund which totaled around $141,000.

“The net cash position of the sewer fund decreased about $319,000, however the cash balance at the end of the year – cash restricted for capital projects -- was a little over $5 million," she indicated. “Still, healthy cash position and healthy net position in the sewer fund, and the sewer fund restricted of about $3.9 million and unrestricted of about $6.7 million.”

No 'Falloff' in Water, Sewer Activity

Landers said the city hasn’t seen a falloff in operating revenues for sewer or water or late payments, concerns that Tabelski had in light of COVID-19.

“Rachael said that they haven’t seen any of that so I would expect that the position – the cash position, net position of the water and sewer funds will continue to be strong going into 2021,” she said.

On the city management report, Landers said that no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses were found.

Summarizing, Landers said the city’s major funds “are still in a good position” and credited management for monitoring cash flows, controlling expenditures and utilizing reserves.

She also advised City Council to capitalize on low interest rates being extended by financial institutions.

“If there is something that you could issue debt for, that just gives you another tool in your toolbox as the Council to go to as far as a funding source,” she said.

September 28, 2020 - 10:44pm

The Batavia City Council is on board with a “bright idea” to convert the community-owned street lighting system to light-emitting diode (LED) technology and potentially cut costs substantially in the process.

At tonight’s Council meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, Public Works Director Matt Worth presented the plan to contract with the New York Power Authority to purchase new street light fixtures for all 772 city-owned lights on the four arterial routes, emphasizing that the city could realize annual savings of $42,493.77 after paying off a 14-year loan.

The arterial roads are routes 5 (Main Street), 33 (Pearl Street), 63 (Ellicott Street) and 98 (Oak Street).

Noting that he and Water/Wastewater Superintendent Bill Davis have been working on this for almost two years, Worth said it would be best to start with the fixtures that are owned by the city.

“We’ve been looking at ways to be more efficient with the street lighting system,” Worth said, adding that the city owns the lights on the arterials while National Grid owns the lights on residential and side streets.

“We’ve looked at different methods to try to make it more efficient and less costly to the ratepayers, and what we’ve found is the Public Service Commission and some of the regulations you have to go through to try to obtain the utility-owned street lighting system or to depreciate it out so you can replace it with newer, higher efficient fixtures are somewhat – I don’t want to say convoluted, but it can be very difficult. There’s a little bit of lack of confidence in what that cost actually is and whether the city is receiving fair value to go that route.”

So, instead he proposes the city join forces with the NYPA, a nonprofit entity that operates the power grid across the state and also provides “low-cost energy solutions for municipalities along the way.”

He explained that the NYPA will change the fixture heads on the arterials, including decorative ones, to an LED bulbs – “so it won’t be the yellowish color of the high-pressure sodium to a less expensive power usage LED white light.

Worth said the cost of the project is $549,033.33 and would be paid off over 14 years. The city would save $3,277.12 each year over those 14 years, but after the debt is paid off, annual savings would jump to $42,493.77.

He said the city would have all new fixtures, lower operation and maintenance costs, better light quality and reduced energy consumption.

“The attractiveness of this program is NYPA really offers a turnkey program,” he said. “We are staffed so lean right now that is very difficult for us to dedicate time to hire contractors and to engage with the consultants to try to do this on our own. NYPA will engage the design professional and they will design the system. They have already estimated the cost.

“Most of the procurement contracts are already in place, so they know how much these fixtures are going to cost. So, they’re able to estimate this very tightly and have given us a very conservative estimate …”

Worth said he is confident in the project, and said NYPA will either extend or shorten the financing term depending upon the final cost.

“The idea is (the) cost of your street lighting system … remains as is until the financing is paid off and then you’ll receive a large savings,” he said. “But in the interim, you get the benefit of a whole brand-new street lighting system and the city isn’t maintaining older fixtures, replacing lamps, and the LEDs have a much longer life.”

Following his report, Council agreed to move to the Oct. 13 Business Meeting a resolution to execute an agreement with the NYPA in the amount of $549,033.33 for the replacement of the city-owned street lights with LED lighting.

Also moved to the Business Meeting for likely voting:

  • A resolution to transfer a foreclosed residence at 50 Oak St., to Habitat for Humanity for rehabilitation. The organization plans to invest between $58,000 and $62,000 to renovate the one-family house, which is assessed at $62,000. Council members Rose Mary Christian, Eugene Jankowski Jr. and Robert Bialkowski praised Habitat for Humanity for its continuing efforts to provide affordable housing in the city.
  • A resolution to schedule a public hearing on Oct. 26 to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages in I-1 industrial zones with a special use permit. This change stems from a January request by Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvement, to construct an auto service station on the Ellicott Street property. Worth said Council would be charged with voting it into a local law, with adoption expected to take place in December.
  • A resolution to take $5,000 out of the Facilities Reserve Fund to close out the City Centre roof alterations and replacement project that was performed by Grove Roofing Services. Worth said the project has been generally successful with the new roof area being water-tight and structurally improved. He said the cost of the project increased due to finding an additional 3,700 square feet of decking that needed to be replaced. He said that all of the roof has been repaired or replaced except the hallway in front of Dan’s Tire Service.
September 28, 2020 - 8:50pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

A four-member screening/search committee has been appointed to execute the initial tasks necessary to find the next permanent manager of the City of Batavia.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. tonight announced that a committee of Council members Patti Pacino and John Canale, Public Works Director Matt Worth and Human Resources Specialist Dawn Fairbanks will convene in the next couple weeks to set the wheels in motion toward filling the position that was left vacant by the departure of Martin Moore in June.

Assistant City Manager Rachael Tabelski has been serving as interim city manager for the last three months.

Speaking at Council’s Conference Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room, Jankowski said the board has been working on developing a plan to replace Moore for quite some time but “due to private and personal information, (Council) was ethically and legally bound to safeguard that information.”

He said that Pacino, Canale and Worth (a department head who functioned as interim city manager for several months after Jason Molino left in January 2018) will act expeditiously to set a schedule pertaining to screening potential applicants, placing advertisements for the job both locally and nationally, and interviewing candidates.

He said Fairbanks will serve as a coordinator, with her duties to include contacting The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, the consulting firm that assisted in the search to hire Moore in August 2018.

The firm’s agreement with the city included a free search should Moore leave within two years of his employment date, but there will still be costs related to advertising and travel, for example.

Following the meeting, Jankowski made it clear that Council was "following the precedent" used in the search that resulted in Moore's hiring.

"We all were of the general consensus that we were at the point to form the screening committee, just like we did the last time," Jankowski said, noting that no vote was conducted during an executive session last week. "We have done our due diligence."

When asked if any Council members suggested hiring Tabelski, he said there has been talk in the public about that but would not disclose any internal discussions.

"Rachael has every right to apply for the job and I think she will," he said. "And she definitely is qualified to apply. She is doing a good job at this point." 

Tabelski has said publicly that she wishes to be considered for the position.

Ultimately, a vote of Council members will determine who is hired. The process is expected to take another four to six months, Jankowski said.

Jankowski also introduced a resolution to supplement Tabelski’s current salary with a $1,000 per month stipend for additional responsibilities in light of the absence of a city manager.

“I am requesting the same as what we gave Matt Worth (when he filled in as city manager),” Jankowski said. “I think it is fair to offer the same stipend.”

Council members Kathleen Briggs and Paul Viele said they supported the measure, and the resolution was moved to the Oct. 13 Business Meeting.

The additional pay would be retroactive from July 20 and continue until the city manager post is filled.

September 28, 2020 - 5:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Jacobs, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray, notify.

In a social media post, Nate McMurray, candidate for the NY-27 seat in the Nov. 3 General Election, accused his opponent Chris Jacobs of participating in a rally in Hamburg where Gov. Andrew Cuomo was, in McMurray's words, subjected to a "mock trial and lynching."

Except that even the heavily edited video McMurray posted shows the puppet hanging marionette-like from a crossbar, much like a puppeteer would operate. 

Jacobs denied being at the rally at the time the life-sized puppet was brought onto the stage.

A spokesman for Jacobs issued the following statement:

“Rep. Jacobs spoke at the beginning of the event and left immediately after his remarks to attend another event in Monroe County. The puppet was not on display during his remarks.”

A person who was at the rally with Jacobs said Jacobs was at the event only long enough to speak, about five minutes, and left at least an hour before the puppet was brought out.

This afternoon, McMurray issued a press release accusing Jacobs of "hitting a new low."

“This district has a history of political climbers like Bill Paxon, Tom Reynolds, Chris Lee, and Chris Collins who used the communities and families of NY-27 for personal gain,” McMurray said. “But the hatefulness on display Saturday is a disgraceful new low. Chris Jacobs and his comrades have fully embraced the worst of Trumpism in Western New York.”

The rally was sponsored by the 1791 Society, a pro-Second Amendment group, and billed as an Anti-Cuomo event. 

According to the Buffalo News, the marionette was brought to the rally by Melbourne Sann, of Rome, N.Y., who conducted a mock trial of Cuomo.

Sann, wearing a Revolutionary War uniform, asked for verdicts from the crowd on Cuomo's policies, ranging from abortion rights to bail reform. As the crowd yelled "guilty," a spectator struck the suspended figure in the lower back with a folded metal chair.

September 28, 2020 - 4:17pm
posted by Press Release in news, elba, covid-19, elba central school district, notify.

Health Alert

From the Genesee County Health Department:

The Genesee County Health Department has received three positive cases of COVID-19 from students at Elba Central School District. There is one case at the Elementary School and two cases in the High School.

The individuals have been placed under mandatory isolation where they will remain until they are fully recovered.

One individual was last present in the building on Sept. 15th and two individuals were last present in the building on Sept. 17th. The Genesee County Department of Health is conducting contact tracing that is in process. Students and/or staff will be notified and placed under quarantine if they were identified as a close contact.

"Individuals identified by the health department as being close contacts will be expected to follow the New York State Department of Health quarantine guidelines," said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans County.

Ned Dale, superintendent of Elba Central School District said “Due to the number of contacts out of abundance of caution the school will be going remote though Friday, October 2, 2020. In person learning is planned to resume on Monday, October 5, 2020.

"Please continue to monitor your child for symptoms and keep children home if they are sick," Pettit said. "If your child does develop symptoms, please contact your child’s healthcare provider immediately.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 include but are not limited to: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.

For information on school statistics, please visit the New York State COVID -- “Healthy People in a Healthy Community."

September 26, 2020 - 11:15am

save_a_lot_1.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press release:

As of 2 p.m.

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

firstmeetingpolicestakeholders-3.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Evolution of Policing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rigors of the Hiring Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then a panel interview.

Finally, the candidate must take a polygraph.

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

The whole process takes several weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond Diversity -- Doing the Job Correctly with Accountability

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

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

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

firstmeetingpolicestakeholders.jpg

Anibal Soler Jr.

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Shawn Heubusch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 25, 2020 - 1:40pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other agenda highlights include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other developments, the board:

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

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sheriff_week.jpg

sheriff_proclamation_.jpg

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

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

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

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

September 23, 2020 - 6:35pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 23, 2020 - 10:33am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Per Executive Order No. 203:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advisory group members are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

Jay Gsell and Erik Fix will serve as moderators.

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

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