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August 10, 2020 - 11:53pm

If you’re going to form a committee to build a plan that addresses community policing issues and encourages trust between residents and law enforcement, it has to include people of color – those who are speaking out for equality and racial justice.

That is the position stated by Batavia City Council members tonight as they approved the formation of the Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group as mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order No. 203.

“I think it’s very important to have diversity in the committee because that is the people, and some of the people just like everyone else in the community, who are being affected,” City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said following the board’s Conference and Business meetings. “So, every stakeholder from every diverse demographic that we can come up with, I’d like to see on that committee – so that everyone has a say, to a point.”

Jankowski said filling the committee with people of the same perspective is not the answer.

“If we end up one-siding it or lopsiding it, we’re not really going to solve the problem,” he said. “We need to have legitimate conversations from all the stakeholders – all the people that might or might not be involved – so we can get as much input as we can.”

As previously reported on The Batavian, the advisory group, per a memo from Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, was set up to consist of 15 members – including the city manager, three police department representatives, three attorneys, one Council member, a faith-based leader, Batavia Housing Authority director, not-for-profit representative, Batavia City School District superintendent, business leader and two citizen representatives.

Prior to a vote, Council member Robert Bialkowski made a motion to amend the list to include four citizen representatives to ensure minority input. The amendment was accepted and the measure passed unanimously.

The advisory group came up at the outset of tonight’s proceedings when Batavia resident Sammy DiSalvo used the public comments segment to say he opposed the makeup of it.

After reading off the list of proposed committee members, DiSalvo said, “And finally you’re rounding out this 15-person committee with two citizens, which is atrocious.”

“I hope everybody remembers why this entire executive order was proposed by Cuomo in the first place. And if you’re only going to put two out of 15 positions as citizens to help discuss how police can better police citizens, then this is a moronic proposal put forward,” he said. “This was started because of police brutality nationwide against people of color. And there is also nothing in this resolution about including those disadvantaged groups in this conversation.”

DiSalvo suggested having just one police officer and one attorney – not three of each – and called for half of the group to be “citizens,” with at least two people of color.

“Make sure your citizens are represented and right now they are not,” he said.

Council member Rose Mary Christian said she disagreed “with most of the things that DiSalvo said, and I will not sit here and think that our police department has abused anyone. I will not defend, I will not defund, our police and, as a matter of fact, I stand behind them.”

She said she has a flag at her home with a blue line for the police and a red line for the fire department.

“Safety is number one to me, and I’ll be damned if somebody is going to tell me anything different,” she added.

Fellow Council member Robert Bialkowski offered that the City doesn’t have a lot of the problems that occur in larger cities, punctuating that with “it’s simple – don’t break the law.”

Wording in the governor's executive order does not specifically stipulate the actual members, but mentions that stakeholders should include “but not (be) limited to membership and leadership of the local police force, members of the community with emphasis in areas with high numbers of police and community interactions, interested non-profit and faith-based community groups, local office of the district attorney, local public defender and local elected officials.”

Tabelski said that she and Police Chief Shawn Heubusch used the information in the previous paragraph to analyze “the members listed to make up the group, and then applied it to local conditions here in Batavia to form the parameters of our local group.”

“Our intent was to have good representation from all sides and to comply with the executive order,” she said.

During a presentation to Council, City Attorney George Van Nest outlined eight recently enacted pieces of legislation, including an anti-chokehold act and providing medical attention to persons in custody act.

Heubusch, meanwhile, reported that his agency has achieved all but a couple of the dozen or so standards spelled out in the governor’s executive order, and cited statistics showing a downward trend in crime in the city over the past five years.

Tabelski said that persons seeking to serve on the committee should send a “letter of interest” via email to her at [email protected]batavianewyork.com or call 585-345-6300 by Sept. 1.

Regular meetings will be scheduled starting in September, followed by a draft presentation to Council in January, public comments in February, final version of the plan in March and submission to the state by April 1.

Previous story: City Council agenda includes resolution to create Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group

August 10, 2020 - 5:28pm

Update: 6:40 p.m.

Batavia Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., at tonight's Board of Education meeting, has reported that school will start for students on Sept. 14, following four days of teacher training days -- Sept. 8-11.

He also said that some days scheduled as off days will now be school days, ensuring that there will be 180 days of learning for students.

Soler said that virtual public meetings are being planned for each of the district's schools prior to Aug. 21, as required by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

--------------

Reading, writing, arithmetic, respiratory hygiene.

Teachers will need to be versed in much more than academics during the 2020-21 school year, which gets underway in less than a month.

“We have days at the beginning of the school year that are teacher-only when we’re going to receive some training on COVID procedures along with some professional development on teaching the hybrid model and the virtual model,” said Mark Warren, president of the Batavia Teachers’ Association.

He said the exact training days prior to the date when students return are expected to be determined at the Batavia City School District’s Board of Education meeting at 6:30 tonight. It can be viewed on the district’s YouTube page.

Warren said teachers and other staff will be trained how “to instruct students in proper hand washing, how to cough and sneeze appropriately, and recognizing the symptoms of COVID.”

“I’m not sure if it will be district-led or coordinated by the health department or by another outside person coming in to the school,” he said.

According to the Batavia City School District’s 97-page reopening plan, the district “will ensure all students are taught or trained how to follow new COVID-19 protocols safely and correctly, including but not limited to hand hygiene, proper face covering wearing, social distancing, and respiratory hygiene.”

The plan was developed by the Reopen Batavia Strong Task Force, which included input from the teachers’ union, Warren said.

It spells out that additional training will be provided in:

  • Prevention of disease spreads by staying home when they are sick.
  • Proper respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoiding the use of communal objects. If communal objects must be used, provide information on proper disinfection procedures between use. Examples of communal objects include, but are not limited to, other workers’ phones, desks, offices, computers or other devices, other work tools and equipment.
  • Providing employees and students with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19.
  • Risk factors and protective behaviors (i.e., cough etiquette and care of Personal Protective Equipment).

The plan also advises that the district will designate those familiar with the Center for Disease Control and Occupational Safety and Health Administration protocols, and Department of Health guidelines in each building as trained screeners. Screeners will be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment provided by the district.

Warren said students have to wear masks on the bus and when they’re transitioning, but said he believes they are allowed to take them off when they are seated and are six feet apart.

He acknowledged that it could be difficult for the younger children.

“I have a second- and fourth-grader and we’ve been working on it at home,” he said.

On the scholastic side, Warren said some teachers will preside over exclusively online courses and others will have a mix of in-school and virtual.

“My preliminary schedule, for example, has one of the courses as an online-only course, and the rest of the courses are hybrid courses where I’ll see the kids some days and they’ll be remote some days,” he advised.

Warren teaches 11th- and 12th-grade math – calculus and a third-year elective called Math for Trades.

August 10, 2020 - 4:19pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Forty new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
       
  • Orleans County received two new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Carlton and Ridgeway.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 40s and one of the positive individuals is in their 50s.
    • Four of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
August 10, 2020 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Stafford, news, notify.
jeffersonmugaug2020.jpg wellingtonmugaug2020.jpg
     Shonje Jefferson Chaniah Wellington-Martino

Two people who were located with a disabled vehicle on Clinton Street Road, Stafford, at 6 p.m., Friday, are facing multiple charges including drug dealing and assault.

During an interaction with the subjects, deputies determined that Shonje Kaliq Jefferson, 22, of Norton Street, Rochester, might be in possession of drugs. A subsequent search revealed he allegedly had a quantity of crack cocaine on his person.

Due to the amount of crack cocaine deputies believe they located, Jefferson was arrested on a count of criminal possession of a narcotic drug with an intent to sell.

Deputy Erik Andre and Investigator Chris Parker arrested Jefferson on charges of criminal use of drug paraphernalia, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, unlicensed operator, and pedestrian failed to walk facing traffic.

A passenger in the vehicle, Chaniah Lache Wellington-Martino, 19, of Danforth Street, Rochester, was interviewed by Parker and Sgt. Andrew Hale. She allegedly threw her purse over a guardrail and an attempt to destroy evidence in the purse while fighting with the officers. She is also accused of attempting several times to bite the officers.

She is charged with attempted assault, 2nd, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, tampering with physical evidence, and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Jefferson was arraigned in Genesee County Court and ordered held on $2,000 cash bail or $5,000 bond. The release status of Wellington-Martino was not included in the press release.

August 8, 2020 - 2:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Stafford, bergen.

Clyde Devonte Hoskins Jr., 28, of Genesee Street, Buffalo, is charged with: unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree; reckless driving; speeding -- in excess of 55 mph; unsafe turn/failure to signal; drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle. Hoskins was arrested at 12:25 a.m. Aug. 8 on Route 33 in Bergen. It is alleged that Hoskins failed to stop for a violation of NYS vehicle and traffic law on Clinton Street Road in the Town of Bergen. After a pursuit, Genesee County Sheriff's deputies were able to take Hoskins into custody in the Town of Stafford. He was released on appearance tickets and is due in Bergen Town Court at 5 p.m. on Sept. 17. The case was investigated by Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush, assisted by Deputy Jordan Alejandro.

August 8, 2020 - 10:22am

In compliance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order on policing reform, the City of Batavia has set the wheels in motion to form a 15-member Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group that will assist in drafting a plan based on community input by April 1, 2021.

The executive order, “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative,” stipulates that police departments must adopt a plan by the April date to be eligible for future state funding.

The topic is on both the Conference and Business agendas of Monday night’s City Council meeting at City Hall Council Chambers. The Conference meeting will begin at 7 o’clock.

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, in a July 30 memo to City Council, wrote that the governor’s mandate is in “direct response to incidents involving law enforcement officials whereby actions of particular officer(s) resulted in the death of unarmed citizens.”

“The City of Batavia stands in deep sadness and grief over the actions of a few officers who have contributed to a culture of mistrust and divisiveness,” she wrote. “No one deserves to be abused, or treated unfairly, by members of their community and especially not by law enforcement officials.”

In boldface type: “All individuals should be held to the same standard, with no one above the law – whether civilian, law enforcement or government official and those that break the law should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

Tabelski continued, praising the Batavia police force as “a world-class police department comprised of men and women who take the job of protecting and serving our community very seriously. The Batavia Police Department has and will continue to uphold a high standard of professionalism in themselves and those that serve with.”

According to the resolution to be considered by Council, the advisory group will consist of the following:

  • City manager;
  • Police chief;
  • Assistant police chief;
  • City attorney;
  • One City Council member;
  • Two citizen representatives;
  • Batavia Housing Authority director;
  • Director of a not-for-profit that serves human interests (i.e. YWCA);
  • District attorney representative;
  • Public defender representative;
  • Batavia Police Benevolent Association representative;
  • Batavia City School District superintendent;
  • Community religious leader;
  • Business leader representative.

The role of the advisory group, per the memo, is to review current police department policies, procedures and training initiatives, and to recommend improvements in areas such as community policing, response, crime prevention through environmental design and training enhancements.

“The goal of the Group will be to build upon the current policies adopted by the Department, that meet or exceed industry standards and best practices, and to build further relationships within the community,” Tabelski wrote.

According to supporting documentation for Monday’s meeting, the Batavia Police Department has already met or exceeded about a dozen standards or initiatives spelled out in Cuomo’s executive order.

Those include updates of use of force policy, standards of conduct/community relations/biased based policing and training, law enforcement diversion programs, restorative justice practices, community outreach, hot-spot policing, focused deterrence (specialized patrols) and violence prevention, and the department is in the process of being accepted into the NYS Accreditation Program.

The timetable for advisory group activities lists Sept. 1st as the deadline for the committee’s formation (applications will be accepted at the city manager’s office), schedule regular meetings beginning in September, draft presentation of the plan to Council in January, public comments in February and final version of the plan in March.

In other developments, Tabelski:

-- Will share details of a July 29 memo to Council that projects a $1.18 million loss to the City of Batavia due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown in the state. That number is significantly less than the April projection of a $2.5 million loss in sales tax and other revenue sources.

“(After the first quarter) sales tax and property tax losses were not as severe as originally forecasted,” she reported.

The memo indicates that the city has the potential to save $641,388 as a result of a spending freeze, layoffs and hiring freezes that began in April and the potential to gain $185,524 in revenue when considering Video Lottery Terminal funds ($352,631) and other sources ($79,000) which “will assist in offsetting the anticipated reduction in AIM (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) aid in the amount of $246,107.”

Subtracting the potential receipts from the $1.18 million in projected revenue loss, the current shortfall comes to $357,585.

-- Will recommend paying $750 per month stipends, effective July 1, to Dawn Fairbanks, human resource specialist; Lisa Neary, director of finance, and Lisa Casey, confidential secretary to the city manager, for additional duties they have taken on since the departure of former City Manager Martin Moore.

Tabelski moved from Assistant City Manager into the Acting City Manager role on June 22.

As a result, she wrote in a memo dated July 30, Fairbanks, Neary and Casey assumed some of the duties assigned to the assistant manager, including implementation and management of projects pertaining to software applications, information technology, fiber network connections, flood zone communications, risk management and Bond Anticipation Notes for future capital projects.

August 7, 2020 - 5:54pm
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, notify.

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received three new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Batavia and Pembroke.
    • Two of the positive individuals are in their 20s and one is in their 40s.
    • The individuals were not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Five of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Sixteen new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
       
  • Orleans County received no new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Sixteen new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
August 7, 2020 - 4:55pm

In light of a couple of proposed changes and despite some recent miscommunication, the City Council liaison to the municipality’s Deer Management Plan Committee says he is confident the documented strategy to reduce the deer population will be approved Monday night.

City Council has scheduled both a Conference and Business meeting, starting at 7 p.m., at City Hall Council Chambers, with a resolution to approve the City of Batavia Deer Management Plan as the last item on the Business meeting agenda.

“We have a good, solid plan in place, everybody is on board and I am very confident that this will pass,” said Council Member John Canale, speaking of the 21-page document stemming from the efforts of the five-person committee that worked with city leaders and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials.

Canale said that he agrees with a pair of recommendations not in the draft of the plan presented at last month’s Council meeting as they specifically address liability and safety issues -- aspects of the plan deemed as priorities.

The changes, spelled out in an Aug. 4 memo from Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, are as follows:

-- Nobody other than city employees who qualify for the program will be allowed to hunt in areas 4 and 5, which are predominantly city-owned parcels located near the wastewater treatment plant and yard waste station.

-- While supporting approval of the plan, “all activities related to (its) implementation” will be prohibited “until schools in Batavia are fully reopened.”

Concerning the first suggestion, the committee identified five acceptable hunting zones: (area 1) parcel north of Clinton Street; (area 2) land in the Naramore Drive area and north; (area 3) property west of State Street (in vicinity of BOCES) and proceeding north from Lambert Park; (area 4) Route 98, south of Walnut Street area; and (area 5) Law Street area stretching almost to Kibbe Park.

Where private property is involved, hunting will be permitted only after the landowner signs a cooperation agreement form. But, in the case of hunting on city property, Canale said that “comes under a different umbrella” when liability is considered.

“That will come up in the discussion on Monday, I am sure of that,” he said.

On the second recommendation, the Batavia City School District previously announced that it will be going with a “hybrid” reopening schedule – students are in school some days and are learning remotely on other days.

Safety is the Cornerstone Element

In the memo, Tabelski wrote that “many students will be home between two and five days a week for remote learning attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic reopening protocol. As you are aware, safety of the community is the cornerstone element of the plan and explained in detail in section 6, safety considerations.”

Canale said he is the one who brought the Batavia school situation to her attention.

“I am concerned about hunting during school hours, as is the committee which set it up to hunt only on days and times when school is in session,” Canale said. “Both of these changes have everything to do with liability and safety at this point.”

He said hunting may not start until after the first of the year, effectively wiping out Plan A, which allows for archery-only hunting from Oct. 1 through mid-December in accordance with the NYS hunting season.

Canale noted that Plan B and Plan C grants extended archery-only and extended archery-only using bait, respectively, from Jan. 2 through March 31. Both of those plans would require Deer Damage permits from the DEC.

Nephew: 'Something has Gone Haywire'

Deer Committee Member Russell Nephew, who reached out to The Batavian on Thursday night, said his group is upset over what he called a breakdown in communication over the past three weeks. According to Nephew, the committee was not informed of any potential changes.

“Something has gone haywire. We seemed to have been left out of the loop,” said Nephew, who said he was speaking on behalf of fellow members Samuel DiSalvo, Fred Gundell, Gus Galliford and Kent Klotzbach.

Nephew said he tried to set up another committee meeting with city management but was unsuccessful and telephoned Canale for an update but did not receive a return call. He also said an Aug. 1 deadline for hunting tags has been missed, although there had been talk of a special Council meeting to expedite the process.

“The bad thing about this is you’re going behind closed doors with the city attorney and not involving the deer committee, which has done all this work for about nine months. And you go and just not add language, you changed it,” he said. “If that type of thing would have happened with (former City Manager) Marty Moore, he would have called us all in, and said ‘Hey, I want to go over this with you. This is why we want to do this and how do you feel about it?’ ”

Canale said he is taking responsibility for the misunderstanding.

“I didn’t get back to Russ, but I didn’t realize that he was waiting for a return call,” Canale said. “We have worked well together and talked numerous times … and I had planned to call him this weekend. I am the liaison – the go-between (the committee and City Council) and I have always told Russ that I’m your man.”

Tabelski 'Thrown into the Process'

He also defended Tabelski, pointing out that she was “thrown into the process at the tail end, and had a difficult task of getting acclimated and trying to act in his (Moore) place as city manager.”

Canale has publicly praised the committee – “It was an experience that I never had in my eight years (on Council),” he said – but explained that now the ball is in the city’s court, so to speak.

“We’ve come to where the legalese has to be interjected into this plan,” he said. “If Moore was still here, he would be the one making these changes along with the DEC and city attorney. I understand how the committee may feel the way they do, but the new acting city manager has done what had to be done.”

Nephew also said he believed the committee was not going to be invited to a follow-up meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 13.

Canale said Tabelski sent an email on July 25 about the meeting to him along with City Attorney George Van Nest and Confidential Secretary Lisa Casey, “but only to see if we were OK with the date and time. Once we said it was good, then another email was to be sent to the committee.”

That email was sent from Casey to committee members on July 28 – the day after Nephew emailed Casey notifying her that he had learned about the meeting. Nephew provided the emails to The Batavian.

All Have to Pass the Test

Getting back to the provision that only city employees will be able to hunt on the two city property areas, Nephew said they will have to pass a test – hitting a target five consecutive times. He also said the committee takes exception to the fact that members of the 12-club Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen will be left out.

“The plan puts the sportsmen at the top of the list,” he said. “We went to the clubs because that’s where the experienced hunters are – they have to have at least five years’ experience. We all agreed to that. Now, they won’t be able to hunt Sections 4 and 5 unless they work for the city.”

And he said he’s not completely in agreement with a shutdown of the program due to the school schedule.

“If school is in session, then the other kids have to be at home, remotely on the computer at home, and if they are, that’s like being in school – not out running around,” he said. “They’re at home. They can’t be running around because the school is going to know.”

Nephew said not being part of the discussion hurts more than the changes themselves.

“If they had come to us and given us reasons and things of that nature, we’re not hard to get along with,” he said. “We probably would have said, ‘Well, if that’s what the city wants, we’ll have to go along with it' -- but that’s not what we came up with.”

August 7, 2020 - 3:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, Oakfield, notify.

A fully involved barn fire is reported at 3753 Lockport Road in Oakfield. The location is between Fisher and Snyder roads. Oakfield Fire Department is responding, along with mutual aid from Alabama, Elba and the city's FAST team.

UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: The city's first platoon is called in to fire headquarters on Evans Street.

UPDATE 3:39 p.m.: About 30 yards from the blazing barn, some local farmers are trying to corral several cows that escaped from the property; unknown at this time if the bovines had been in the barn.

UPDATE 4:02 p.m.: This property belongs to Dean Norton, the former head of the NYS Farm Bureau. Several dozen head of cattle either escaped from the barn or were let out and people corralled them and put them safely in another barn on the property. Not yet known if any animals perished, but at least one suffered burns. Firefighters are still working to douse the blaze; flames no longer showing, but lots of smoldering embers and smoke.

UPDATE 4:52: Firefighters are doing overhaul now, spreading out the hay and hosing down hot spots. These are beef cattle, not dairy cows. Five of them are being treated for burns at the scene by veterinarians. It is possible one or two animals perished in the blaze; still investigating. It is believed the fire may have started after a skid loader, which has just been used, was parked next to some hay in the barn.

UPDATE 5:07 p.m.: This involved about 200 head of cattle; some managed to escape the burning barn on their own, others were let out and herded into another barn on the property, according to property owner Dean Norton.

August 7, 2020 - 3:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, batavia, bergen, Grand Jury.

Elon A. Seeger is indicted for the crime of attempted assault in the second degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Dec. 15 in the Town of Bergen that, with intent to cause physical injury to another person, he engaged in conduct for which he is now indicted. He is accused of attempting to strike a deputy with his motor vehicle. In count two, he is accused of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count two that on that day Seeger intentionally obstructed, impaired or perverted the administration of law or other government function, or prevented or attempted to prevent a public servant from performing an official duty. This was allegedly done by means of intimidation, physical force or interference or by means of any independently unlawful act: he ignored multiple police commands to turn off his vehicle and, instead, turned it toward the deputy -- almost striking him -- and then he fled the area at a high rate of speed. In count three, Seeger is accused of unlawful fleeing a police officer in the third degree, also a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count three that while knowing he had been directed to stop, he instead attempted to flee at speeds of 25 mph or more. In count four, Seeger is accused of fourth-degree grand larceny, another Class E felony, for allegedly stealing property -- a debit card.

Ronald P. Dixon Jr. is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a misdemeanor. It is alleged that on Dec. 20 in the City of Batavia that Dixon drove a 2008 Kia on East Avenue while he was intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged in count two that Dixon drove the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a drug and while there were three or more suspensions imposed on him on at least three dates: Nov. 21, 2015; July 7 and July 22, 2016; and Aug. 18, 2017. These were for failure to answer, appear or pay a fine. In count three, Dixon is accused of second-degree harassment. It is alleged in count three that on Dec. 20 in the City of Batavia that with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, Dixon subjected a person to physical contact. In count four, he is accused of the same crime involving a second person. In count five, Dixon is accused of first-degree attempted assault. It is alleged in count five that Dixon, with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, attempted to cause such injury by means of a dangerous instrument -- a motor vehicle.

Stormy M. Watts is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Dec. 22 while at Walmart in the Town of Batavia that she knowingly possessed stolen property consisting of a Capital One Walmart credit card in the name of another person. In count two, Watts is accused of attempted petit larceny, a Class B misdemeanor, for allegedly attempting to steal property from another person valued at $27.72.

August 7, 2020 - 2:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, pembroke.

Jordan R. Difilippo, 27, of Pratt Road, Pembroke, is charged with possessing sexual performance of a child less than 16 years old. Difilippo was arrested for allegedly possessing three images of a sexual performance of a child under age 16, a Class E felony, at 2 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2017. He was issued an appearance ticket to be in Pembroke Town Court at 1 p.m. on Sept. 9. The case was investigated by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office personnel -- Youth Officer Timothy Wescott, Chief Deputy Joseph Graff. They were assisted by the FBI, the Chesterfield, Va., Police Department, and the Genesee County District Attorney's Office.

August 7, 2020 - 11:46am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Update: Aug. 7, 5 p.m. with Elba Superintendent Ned Dale's comments

--------------

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that schools in New York State can open on time this fall.

The governor reported that the COVID-19 infection rate is low enough to allow all districts in the state to open, and mentioned the state’s success in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

In a telephone press conference, Cuomo called it "great news."

“If you look at our infection rate, we are probably the best in the country right now ... so if anybody can open schools, we can open schools," he reasoned.

The governor later tweeted the following:

"Every region is well below our COVID infection limit, therefore all school districts are authorized to open. If the infection rate spikes, the guidance will change accordingly. School districts are required to submit plans to NYS for review."

He said that there is “significant anxiety” among teachers and parents in taking this step forward, and suggested that district administrators set up three sessions with parents over the next couple weeks.

Last week, about 700 school districts across the state submitted their reopening plans to the state education department outlining how they would reopen schools, with most districts offering "hybrid" plans with students in school on two or three days and out of school -- remote learning -- on two or three days.

Batavia City School District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. said he's pleased with the decision to reopen, but "now the real work begins around implementation and communication regarding some of the requirements involved."

He said that the governor is requiring districts to share more details about remote learning plans (expectations for parents, students and teachers) -- "that's something that we were already working on," he noted -- and to work with their health departments on COVID-19 testing and tracing, and understanding all the related protocols.

"We're excited to get to work and to get our kids back in the building, although, obviously not in the ideal (manner) -- everyday, all the time," he said.

Soler said he hopes that if all goes well, guidance would change to allow the district to "bring more kids in" and is keeping his fingers crossed that a vaccine is developed in the near future.

Some smaller school districts, such as Oakfield-Alabama in our area, have enough space to bring everybody back to the classrooms with masks and social distancing.

"I'm happy with the decision to have schools open, leaving the local decisions to each and every school district, and what's best for their own communities," said O-A Superintendent John Fisgus. "Obviously, he's following his previous metric calculations, being that we're certainly under the threshold of the spread of the COVID. So, I'm glad that he stuck to that and glad that he is leaving the decisions up to the school districts."

Fisgus added that "here in Oakfield, we're going to move forward with our 100-percent in-person learning, five days a week, and we will follow his guidance."

"We already have a task force committee that has met once already back in July. We have another meeting this Monday and the following Monday -- and an opportunity on August 24th at 5 p.m. where I will actually livestream all of this information to our community residents and they will have the opportunity to engage with questions and concerns," he said.

Elba Superintendent Ned Dale said he was glad to see that the governor used the low infection rate to make his determination.

"We will continue to communicate with the parents and staff to ensure a safe and smooth reopening," he said, speaking of the school's hybrid plan. "It is important to note that staff will need training and time to open safely and, similar to other districts, I will be recommending that we adjust our district calendar to reflect this significant need. We will now confirm with every student and parent their choice of returning or staying with a distance learning, as well as revising bus routes to reflect the ability for our students to get to and from school safely."

August 6, 2020 - 2:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Oakfield, pembroke.

Robin S. Brooks, 58, of Hutchins Place, Batavia, (inset photo right) is charged with third-degree assault. The defendant was arrested after an investigation of an incident at 7:30 p.m. July 17 on Hutchins Place in which Brooks allegedly broke someone's hand by slamming it in a door. Brooks was arraigned at 12:15 p.m. July 31 in Batavia City Court and was due to return to court on Aug. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Samuel Freeman, assisted by Officer Arick Perkins.

Robin S. Brooks, 58, of Hutchins Place, Batavia, is charged with second-degree assault. The defendant was arrested after an investigation of an incident at 8 p.m. July 27 on Hutchins Place in which Brooks allegedly kicked a door shut on a female's hand, causing serious physical injury. Brooks was arraigned at 9:30 a.m. July 31 in Batavia City Court and jailed on $2,500 cash bail or $10,000 bond. Brooks was due to return to city court on Aug. 5. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Samuel Freeman.

David P. Grossman Sr., 37, of Maple Street, Batavia, (below left inset photo) is charged with second-degree harassment. He was arrested at 8:32 p.m. Aug. 3 on Maple Street after a harassment complaint that alleges he struck two different males during an altercation. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and released with a return date of Aug. 19. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

David P. Grossman Sr., 37, of Maple Street, Batavia, is charged with: fourth-degree criminal mischief; third-degree criminal mischief; second-degree burglary -- a dwelling; endangering the welfare of a child; and obstructing governmental administration in the second degree. Grossman was arrested at 2:46 a.m. on Aug. 4 on Highland Park in Batavia after he allegedly broke into a house, threatened the resident inside and damaged property. After his arrest, he allegedly kicked and damaged a patrol car, for which he is also charged. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed without bail. He is due to appear in court again on an unspecified date. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Jordan McGinnis, assisted by Officer Arick Perkins.

Paul James Feitshans, 22, Siehl Road, Akron, is charged with: endangering the welfare of a child; harassment; and criminal obstruction of breathing. Feitshans was arrested at 5:59 p.m. Aug. 5 following the investigation of a disturbance on Coe Avenue in the Village of Oakfield. He allegedly struck a person and obstructed their breathing while in the presence of a child. He was arraigned in Genesee County Court and released on his own recognizance. He is due in court at a later date (unspecified). The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Brabon, assisted by Mathew Clor.

Isaac J. Floyd Jr., 56, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, menacing in the second degree, and obstruction of governmental administration in the second degree. Floyd was arrested after an investigation into a disturbance that occurred at 7:07 p.m. July 26 on State Street. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in jail (bail status not provided). He is due back in court Aug. 27. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Wesley Rissinger.

William J. Hixenbaugh, 30, of School Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief in the fourth degree and criminal contempt in the second degree. He was arrested Aug. 1 after an investigation of a domestic incident July 29 on School Street. It is alleged he damaged another person's property. He was released with an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Nov. 3. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson, assisted by Officer Adam Tucker.

Janice Lynn McGuire, 46, of Galloway Road, Batavia, is charged with: driving while intoxicated, first offense; operating a motor vehicle while having a BAC of .08 percent or more, first offense; speed not reasonable under special hazard; moving from lane unsafely; consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle on a highway; and failure to notify the DMV of an address change within 10 days. After a personal injury accident on Cleveland Road in Pembroke at 9:28 p.m. on Aug. 5, McGuire was arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated. She was released with appearance tickets and is due in Pembroke Town Court on Sept. 17. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Krzemien, assisted by Deputy Matthew Clor.

August 6, 2020 - 10:08am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, The Novak Consulting Group.

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. today said that the next formal discussion about the vacant city manager position will take place in executive session following Monday’s Conference and Business meetings at City Hall Council Chambers.

“We’re in a unique situation where we have an employee who is interested in the position, and would be affected by a public discussion before several important topics are covered,” Jankowski said, speaking of Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “In our previous search two years ago (that resulted in the hiring of Martin Moore), no city employee wanted the job.”

When asked about the progress of a potential job search for Moore’s permanent successor, he said the nine members of City Council “will come together and decide – it’s not up to me, I’m just one person and my personal opinion doesn’t matter.”

“If Council decides to conduct a search, that will made public, and if the decision is different (such as offering the job to Tabelski, who had been the assistant city manager), then that will be made public, too,” he said.

Jankowski said he expects to learn by Monday the status of contracting, once again, with The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that conducted the search in 2018.

Novak reportedly guaranteed a “free” search if Moore left the position within two years of his hiring – which did occur, but Jankowski said he wants to know about other expenses such as advertising in trade publications and possible moving expenses for an out-of-town hire.

At July’s Council meeting, the board requested that Novak be contacted for the answers to those questions.

Tabelski, who has been serving as acting city manager since June 22, then suggested that Human Resources Specialist Dawn Fairbanks make the call since Tabelski has expressed interest in staying on as the city manager and wanted to avoid any conflict of interest.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski has gone on record in favor of a new search, emphasizing that the board should capitalize on Novak’s two-year warranty.

Jankowski said that he has received emails from residents who are on both sides of the issue.

“We welcome the public’s input and I am confident that Council will proceed in the best interests of the community,” he said.

August 6, 2020 - 8:44am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, GCASA, St. Jerome Hospital, Holley Presbyterian Church.

c_mcann_1.jpgGuided by an inner conviction greater than herself, Cheryle McCann poured her heart and soul into a career spanning five decades as a registered nurse, with the last 15 of those years serving those with substance use disorders at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

McCann, an ordained Presbyterian minister, retired in May, but not before sowing seeds of compassion and care to hundreds of people caught in the anguish of addiction.

“When working with the patients, I figured it was all ministry,” she said. “The 12 steps (to recovery) talks about the spiritual aspect – not religion – along with the emotional and physical. That’s how I looked at it.”

Her kind-hearted manner was not lost on her coworkers.

“It was truly a pleasure to work along side of Cheryle over the years and I know that she is and will be missed by staff and patients, said Shannon Murphy, director of outpatient treatment services. “She is quite the force to be reckoned with -- small but mighty and incredibly spiritual with a wonderful sense of humor.”

Dr. Bruce Baker, medical consultant at GCASA, said McCann’s contributions were invaluable.

“When I was asked to be the employee physician at St. Jerome Hospital, I accepted it without a clue as to what I was supposed to do but, no problem, with Cheryl's guidance I muddled through,” he said. “When St. Jerome opened the inpatient substance abuse (program), I was asked to replace the original medical director who had reassigned after the unit 's first year. Once again, Cheryl was there to mentor me. And when I was asked to come on board at GCASA there was no hesitation, I knew Cheryl was there to mentor me.”

Baker said he learned many lessons from his relationship with McCann, with a team approach at the top of the list.

“What was the most important part of our relationship?” he asked, rhetorically. “I had learned very early in my life the importance of teamwork in any endeavor. Cheryl helped me hone that concept.”

An Attica native, McCann arrived at GCASA in 2005, working out of the Genesee County Department of Social Services doing intakes and health assessments there and also at the clinic on East Main Street.

She later worked in medication-assisted treatment with Dr. Charles King in both the Batavia and Albion clinics, and was GCASA’s opioid treatment coordinator for several years.

“That’s where I would triage people and explain to them what the suboxone program was all about, providing counseling and informing them of the guidelines,” she said. “When New York State instituted a health care coordinator, I did that job and continued with that until last fall. But, no matter what role I was in, the happiness at GCASA remained.”

While employed at GCASA, McCann also worked at St. Jerome Hospital in several capacities over a 36-year career there, including pediatrics, intensive care, emergency room, infection control and in-patient chemical dependency, and performed pastoral work at four churches.

She was pastor of the Holley Presbyterian Church from 2000-2006, and still is an ordained minister.

“For about 20 years, I worked two or three part-time jobs, often working seven days a week,” said McCann, who resides in Stafford with her husband, Ronald. “This allowed me to serve churches that could not afford a full-time minister, and allowed me to continue working in nursing and counseling capacities while doing church ministry.”

McCann worked up to four days a week at GCASA in both in-patient and out-patient treatment.

“I certainly have worked with every drug of choice,” she said. “The one thing that I always thought with the patients who sought care for opiate treatment was ‘your biggest hurdle was crossed; you didn’t have to convince them that they had a problem.’ They came to you saying, 'I have a problem.’ I really felt that a large percentage of people were there because they really wanted the help."

She helped with insurance piece, and, worked with Dr. Matthew Fernaays, GCASA medical director, and nursing colleague Barb Worthington to administer vivitrol and suboxone to her patients. She said that most of them were “people who basically were pretty stable – getting stable in their recovery – and we’re starting to make headway.”

She did, however, acknowledge the distressing side of addiction.

“It’s always very painful. In those particular settings there is a lot of death and suffering,” she said. “It’s very difficult to watch that … you lose people to the disease, and that is true with alcohol as well.”

McCann had high praise for Murphy, her supervisor, as well as her coworkers and GCASA, in general.

“Shannon, well I just love her,” she said. “We worked together for a long time and she is wonderful. I can honestly say it was always a pleasure to work in this environment. GCASA is a wonderful organization.”

She said patients at GCASA “are treated with respect and dignity, and the staff is professional and work together as a team.”

“You didn’t have back-biting and you didn’t have gossiping about one another that you may see in other places at times. It was a really positive environment – and all of that starts right at the top. The senior leadership sets the tone for the expectation and how people are to be treated,” she offered.

McCann’s nursing career began in 1973 as a part-time supervisor in the obstetrics unit at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. She was there for four years and then moved to Iowa, working two years in the labor and delivery units at the University of Iowa hospitals and clinics before returning to this area.

She holds an associate degree in Nursing from Trocaire College, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Brockport State College and a master’s of Divinity from Colgate Rochester Divinity School.

McCann said she realized it was time to call it a day when COVID-19 hit, and the work schedule of her daughter, Amanda Whitbeck, an employee of Finger Lakes Community College, was disrupted.

“Amanda needed help with child care and with the COVID, we weren’t sure if the college would be open,” she said. “So, when she did have to report, I could watch her two children.”

The McCanns have two other grown daughters – Rachel Obrokta, of Williamsville, and Kristen Maskell, of Manassas, Va. -- and five grandchildren, ranging from 14 months to 10 years old.

As she nears her 70th birthday, McCann said she won’t have any problems remaining active. Her hobbies include needlework, tai chi, reading, gardening, cooking, travel and language study, and, of course, spending time with the family.

“I’ve studied Spanish, French and Italian, depending on where we are planning to travel next,” she said. “I gave up on Dutch.”

DISCLOSURE: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

August 5, 2020 - 7:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced today that Daryl Sumeriski, 52, of Batavia, who was convicted of possession of child pornography, was sentenced to serve 60 months -- a total of five years -- in prison by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, who handled the case, stated that Sumeriski was residing in a halfway house in Bath, when fellow residents expressed concern about certain images they observed on the defendant’s cell phone and alerted authorities.

As a result, a search warrant was executed and investigators found more than 3,000 images of child pornography on Sumeriski’s phone. Some of the images depicted the violent abuse of infants and toddlers.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.

August 5, 2020 - 3:57pm

zach_watts.jpgWith a vision of owning a business that becomes “a staple of the community,” Batavian Zach Watts is in the process of converting a vacant Downtown store into the My Cut barber shop.

“This is a dream of mine,” said Watts, 36, who has spent the past two decades interacting with area residents as a restaurant server/manager, including the last 15 years as Victor Marchese’s “right hand man” at Main Street Pizza. “Now that I have the chance, I want to put my best foot forward into this, and give it everything I got.”

Watts said that he and a minority owner will be leasing nearly 900 square feet of space at the site of the former Pollyanna & Dot/Hidden Door at 202 Main St. The building is owned by David Howe, co-owner of the neighboring Charles Men’s Shop.

Howe said he sees the barber shop as a great fit.

“We’re (he and business partner Don Brown) are really excited about it,” Howe said. “I think it’s a perfect mix for Downtown, not that we don’t have good barbers in town, because we do, but I think the location and Main Street work very well. For us, it’s a nice addition to the building – being near our business, and also down the street from our other business, Batavia Bootery.”

Watts said he is looking for experienced barbers and hairstylists to rent a chair and get the business off the ground while he completes the training required to earn his license. The custom workstation being built by craftsman Conrado Caballero, of Le Roy, will accommodate four professionals.

“The opportunity to get this space was the determining factor of whether I was going to do this or not,” Watts said. “This location is prime. I’m kind of putting the cart before the horse here, and jumping into it without having the necessary education to be, quote, unquote, licensed. I still need to receive that certification.”

In the meantime, his goal is to attract men or women barbers/stylists who are “willing to learn and willing to teach, too.”

“We’re seeking people who want an opportunity to be part of something that hopefully will last forever. But for me, I’m looking for someone to come in – for the first six months – and make a name for themselves. Take walk-ins, take a lot of calls, and be put in a position where they can have the whole shop to themselves without the liability of owning the shop.”

Watts said he will continue to work at Main Street Pizza while going to school, which will cover about four and a half months.

“I realize it will be a balancing act – having a job and taking care of my kids – but it will be worth it,” he said. “I know it is a tough time to be starting a business – it’s a tough time to be alive, really, with all the uncertainty – but one thing I’ve learned is the only thing you can control is your effort … and hopefully you reap the benefits from it.”

Watts has two children, Jaslynne, 13, and Carson, 8, and a significant other, Haley Brown, of Elba.

Based on his employment history, putting forth the effort won’t be a problem for Watts.

“Things have been up and down but I’ve always worked, starting in the restaurant business when I was 14 (at Sunny’s Restaurant),” he said. “I was just blessed with an opportunity for somebody to give me work, and I’ve stayed in the restaurant business for a while – working at Alex’s Place for a few years before getting a huge break to get into Main Street Pizza on the ground level when Vic opened up.”

He gives much credit to Marchese for “putting me in this position” and his mother, Annie Watts, a longtime and well-known restaurant server, for his work ethic.

“Victor has done everything for me to get me into a position to succeed. He’s shown me what it is like to open a business, and to have it be sustainable and be successful,” Watts offered. “I’ve had the privilege of watching him for a long time and have seen him make some great decisions. He’s my mentor; he’s my guy.”

He said his mother is “one of the hardest working people I know and she taught us (he and brother, Nick Gaudy, who also works at Main Street Pizza) what it means to work,” he said. “Without that, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Watts said he wants his shop to establish its own personality -- a place that is inviting with a menu of offerings such as contemporary cuts for men and boys (and shorter cuts for women), as well as straight shaves and hot shaves. He is hoping to open around Sept. 1.

“This is Christmastime coming up, plus school cuts, and a lot of people, teachers, are starting work now, and they all want to look good,” he said. “And if you look good, you feel good. I want the community to take advantage of a different style that has become more popular with younger people, something that is missing in this town.”

Watts said he is hoping to find barbers/stylists who are “very technical with their styling.”

“A lot of the trends with the younger generation are about designs in their hair; they want their hair styled in a certain way,” he said. “We’re trying to develop a barber shop that becomes a staple in this community, and given its location and the incredible businesses surrounding it that have been here, we feel we have an excellent chance to succeed.”

He also thanked Howe for being “incredibly supportive … and giving me a couple months to get my feet on the ground and run with something.”

Howe said he believes in Watts’ business model and looks forward to working with him.

“I think he has a good game plan, and there are so many things that we can do together,” Howe said. “We do a lot of wedding parties, and just that mix, I think, can be really good. People get spruced up in their tuxedos and suits and suit rentals and that type of thing, and good grooming goes right along with that.”

Photo by Mike Pettinella.

---------------

For more information about My Cut, contact Watts at (585) 201-1335.

August 5, 2020 - 12:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Buffalo Federal Detention Facility, news, notify, ice, immigration.

Even though officials at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility were able to contain an initial outbreak of COVID-19 back in April and there have been no new cases since, the New York American Civil Liberties Union apparently filed a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement on behalf of inmates at the facility.

The lawsuit claimed vulnerable detainees were not given proper protection and the terms of a settlement reached this week, the NYACLU told WXXI, will ensure those protections are in place if there is another outbreak at the facility.

In April, there were 49 detainees who tested positive, all housed in two pods segregated from the rest of the facility's population, and most were asymptomatic. All recovered without the virus spreading out of those two pods.

A source at the facility at the time said because of the closed nature of a detention facility, all detainees are considered vulnerable, not just older detainees. As a result, staff has taken several measures to contain the spread of the virus, a source told The Batavian in April.

According to the source, at the start of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the director of the facility, Thomas Feeley, ordered regular, thorough cleaning, including wiping down door handles with bleach every hour.

"Every time you turn around," the source said, "you smell bleach."

There is medical staff on duty inside the facility 24/7 and posters have been placed in the facility to inform detainees about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves, the source said in April.

The facility can hold 650 detainees. Today, a spokesman for ICE said the facility has maintained about a 300-person detainee count since the outbreak to help ensure social distancing is maintained.

ICE issued the following statement about the settlement:

“The facility’s response to the public health crisis has been exemplary. There are currently no active cases of COVID-19 at the facility. The men and women employed at BFDF, including the dedicated medical professionals with ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC), are the best in their field and have taken extraordinary precautions to keep both our detainees and staff safe,” said ICE ERO Buffalo Field Office Director Thomas Feeley. “The settlement reached has affirmed the value of the proactive measures previously undertaken, which has protected both staff and detainees.”

There have been news reports of a "surge" of COVID cases at ICE facilities but there have been no new cases at the facility in Batavia since April and the ICE COVID-19 information page reports fewer than 50 detainees nationally have tested positive, with the largest count, 15, at a facility in Lousiana.

August 4, 2020 - 7:50pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in notify, news, Oakwood Hills, Batavia Town Planning Board.

The Batavia Town Planning Board tonight saw no problem with the Oakwood Hills developer’s plan to subdivide a duplex to expedite a sale of one half of the dwelling at 5169-5171 Loral Oak Way.

Oakwood Hills is the 100-acre housing tract located off of East Main Street Road, adjacent to Seven Springs Road and across from Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Developer Peter Zeliff applied for a minor lot subdivision in the residential zone after attracting a buyer for one half of the duplex.

“The plan all along was to build duplexes on some of lots and sell people a half a duplex – like a patio home or townhome the way it’s done in other places,” Zeliff said. “I have one of the halves sold, so now we have to split the lot with a zero lot line – the property division will go right through the house, the dividing wall of the duplex. I need to get this done so we can close the sale.”

Zeliff said the buyer is an individual moving into the area to work at HP Hood in the agribusiness park.

Before the unanimous vote to approve Zeliff’s application, Planning Board Member Paul McCullough asked if there were any deed restrictions or “provisions to prevent (the owner of) one side putting up a steel roof versus an asphalt roof or changing the color of the siding.”

Zeliff said that attorneys are drafting a “condominium agreement” that would require owners of both sides to place money into escrow (for potential changes) and to go before the Homeowner Association for review and final approval.

About 30 homes are occupied at Oakwood Hills, of which six are duplexes, said Zeliff, adding that he is looking to similarly subdivide the other five.

He asked planners if he would be able to apply to have the other five subdivided as a group prior to any future half-duplex sales, and Chairperson Kathy Jasinski said she thought that was a reasonable request.

Zeliff said that Ryan Homes built 15 houses last year and, currently, three homes are under construction. He also said that he sold six more lots this year.

The cost of the lots ranges from $30,000 for a 60- by 150- to 200-foot parcel to $70,000 for a lot of almost an acre, Zeliff said. Homes generally start at $190,000.

In another development, Building Inspector Daniel Lang said HP Hood officials indicated they are planning an addition to the plant’s refrigeration warehouse unit, but haven’t submitted an application yet.

August 4, 2020 - 12:54pm

The proprietor of Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia believes the future of the industry is at stake if Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t allow bowling centers to reopen immediately.

Rick Mancuso, in a letter sent to Assemblyman Stephen Hawley today, is imploring the governor to let bowling centers reopen in a safe and conscientious manner, adding that the month of August sets the stage for operations continuing into next spring.

“If we do not get our leagues signed up and committed, bowlers will find other options for entertainment,” Mancuso wrote. “There will be no coming back for this recreational past time that has provided for local communities in a multitude of ways.”

Mancuso is speaking for proprietors of nearly 300 bowling centers and close to 9,000 employees in New York State, many of whom have written similar letters, signed petitions and sent emails, held press conferences – and even sent bowling pins featuring pleas to reopen to the governor – in an effort to solicit a response from Albany.

Bowling centers were forced to close in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wiping out the end of their league seasons and any tournaments on their schedule. And while centers in Connecticut and New Jersey have reopened; halls in New York remain dark. At least two centers in the state have closed for good, including Miller Lanes in Honeoye Falls.

A fixture in the community for nine decades, Mancuso Bowling Center is one of 10 centers serviced by the Genesee Region USBC, a local association affiliated with the United States Bowling Congress. The USBC cancelled its national tournaments in 2020 and, more recently, announced that it will not conduct any events through the rest of this year.

Mancuso said he is very concerned for the future of individual businesses and the industry, in general.

“The timeline for events in the bowling business begins from the beginning of August to the middle of August for the upcoming 30-week season and the startup of leagues is generally immediately after Labor Day,” he indicated in his letter. “We need to get some guidance and communication now as to what the plan is for bowling centers across the state … a plan as to how we are going to survive and move forward.”

He also noted that the bowling industry has been in a steady decline over the last couple decades due to a number of factors, mostly unrelated to the owners’ own actions.

“This (present) time is threatening to push the industry over the edge and force closure of centers. Hundreds of thousands of square feet of buildings will become vacant, which will affect not only local/state taxes but the quality of life in hundreds of communities,” Mancuso said.

In a related development, Randy Hanks, owner of Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, was on a Zoom videoconference this morning, and he reported that the New York State Bowling Proprietors Association will be distributing a two-minute public service announcement to NYS proprietors.

“It will explain what we’re doing in regard to social distancing, disinfecting and other measures to ensure that we open safely for everyone – customers and our employees,” he said.

NYS BPA President Doug Bohannon, proprietor of Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls, said that proprietors will be reimbursed up to $50 for posting the “Safe, Sanitized and Ready to Roll” commercial spot and sharing it with as many people as possible.

“We are working hard to get the governor’s attention … to keep the awareness up there concerning our situation,” Bohannon said.

He also mentioned that fitness center and gym owners are in the process of filing a class action suit against the governor, but that the NYS BPA is not considering going down that route at this time.

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