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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 co-workers.

“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 co-workers 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’s degree in Nursing from Trocaire College, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Brockport State College and a master’s of Divinity form 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 needle work, 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.”

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

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.

August 3, 2020 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County received five new positive case of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Batavia, Elba and Pembroke.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 20s, one is in their 40s, one is in their 50s, one is in their 60s, and one is in their 70s.
    • The individuals were not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Thirty-three new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the individuals is hospitalized.
    • Five of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from mandatory isolation.
       
  • Orleans County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
    • The new positive case resides in Yates.
    • The individual is in their 50s.
    • The individual was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Twenty-seven new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the individuals is hospitalized.
August 3, 2020 - 4:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Le Roy, Oakfield.

Joanne Merica Pangrazio, 49, of South Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal mischief. On Aug. 2, Pangrazio was arrested and arraigned in Bergen Town Court. The charges stem from a domestic incident reported about 1:50 p.m. on Aug. 2 on South Street Road. She was arrested at the scene and transported to Genesee County Jail for processing and virtual arraignment. She was released on her own recognizance and is due in Genesee County Court at 10 a.m. on Sept. 15. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Judd Allen Farewell Jr., 29, of Maltby Road, Oakfield, is charged with criminal mischief -- intentionally damaging property. On Aug. 3, Farewell was arrested after he allegedly intentionally damaged the toilet in his jail cell at the Genesee County Jail. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court to answer the charge on Aug. 18. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Mullen.

August 3, 2020 - 3:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in Grand Jury, crime, news, batavia, notify, alexander, Le Roy, elba.

Nelson E. Figueroa Jr. is indicted for the crime of predatory sexual assault against a child, a Class A-II felony. It is alleged that on May 1 in the City of Batavia, the defendant -- who is 18 or older -- committed the crime of criminal sexual act in the first degree by engaging in oral sexual conduct with another person who was less that 13 years old. In count two, he is accused of the same crime. It is alleged that from Jan. 1 through April 30, he committed the crime of course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree by engaging in two or more acts of sexual conduct, which included at least one act of oral sexual conduct with a child under age 13, over a period of time not less that three months in duration. In count three, Figueroa is accused of the crime of first-degree sexual abuse, a Class D violent felony. It is alleged in count three that on May 1 Figueroa was age 21 or older and subjected a person less than 13 years old to sexual contact. In count four, he is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count four that Figueroa, from Jan. 1 through April 30, knowingly acted in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than 17 years old.

Daniel J. Wolfe is indicted for the crime of first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Nov. 18 on Liberty Street in Batavia that he violated an order of protection by threatening to punch the protected party. In count two, he is accused of the same crime for allegedly punching the victim. In count three, he is accused of the same crime for allegedly threatening serious physical injury or death by displaying a dangerous instrument -- a sword. In count four, he is accused of second-degree harassment. It is alleged in count four that on Nov. 18 he intentionally harassed, annoyed or alarmed another person by striking, shoving, kicking or subjecting a person to physical contact, or attempting or threatening to do so. In count five, he is accused of second-degree menacing, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intentionally placing a person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death -- or attempting to do so -- by displaying a dangerous instrument -- a sword. In count six, Wolfe is accused of the crime of menacing a police officer, a Class D violent felony, for allegedly intentionally placing or attempting to place a police officer in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a knife when the officer was performing official duties. In count seven, Wolfe is accused of the same crime as in count six but is accused of displaying a BB rifle. In counts eight, nine and 10, Wolfe is accused of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony. It is alleged in counts eight, nine and 10, respectively, that on Nov. 19 on Liberty Street in Batavia that he possessed dangerous instruments -- a knife, a samurai sword, and a BB rifle, with intent to use them unlawfully against a person. In count 10, Wolfe is accused of the crime of attempted killing of a police work dog, a Class E felony. It is alleged in count 10, that on Nov. 19, Wolfe attempted to kill Genesee County Sheriff's Office K-9 Frankie by swinging a knife at K-9 Frankie. In count 12, the defendant is accused of fourth-degree criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intentionally damaging property belonging to another person in the City of Batavia; he is accused of breaking two windows. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Wolfe is accused of having been convicted of petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor, on Feb. 20, 2014 in the City of Batavia Court and that conviction forms the basis for elevating counts eight, nine and 10 in the current indictment to criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree -- class D felonies.

William T. Hughes is indicted for the crime of first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 25 at an address on South Spruce Street in the City of Batavia, Hughes violated an order of protection issued in February by striking, kicking or shoving a victim protected by the order, or he attempted or threatened to do so. In count two, Hughes is accused of first-degree criminal contempt, also a Class E felony, for placing a person with an order of protection against him in reasonable fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury. In count three, Hughes is accused of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count three that the defendant intended to impede normal breathing or blood circulation of the victim by applying pressure on their throat or neck. In count four, Hughes is accused of second-degree criminal contempt, also a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intentionally disobeying a mandate of the court in violation of an order of protection by telephoning the victim July 20. In count five, Hughes is accused of a second count of second-degree criminal contempt for allegedly phoning the victim in February in violation of an order of protection. In count six, the defendant is accused of a second count of first-degree criminal contempt for violating an order of protection by failing to stay away from the protected person as required by the court.

Franklin D. Cook is indicted for the crime of first-degree criminal contempt, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 8 in the Town of Elba, Cook intentionally disobeyed a family offense stay away order of protection by being in the presence of the protected party. In count two, Cook is accused of the same crime on March 27. In count three, the defendant is accused of the same crime for a third time for allegedly harassing, annoying, threatening or alarming the protected party and subjecting the person to physical contact. In count four, Cook is accused of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly appying pressure on the throat or neck of the victim. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Cook is accused of having been convicted of second-degree criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor, on Dec. 19 in Town of Elba Court and that conviction is within five years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

Roy L. Watson 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 May 4 in the City of Batavia that Watson knowingly and unlawfully 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, for allegedly knowingly and unlawfully possessing one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures of substances containing cocaine, and these had an aggregate weight of an eighth of an ounce or more.

David J. Reschke is indicted for the crime of fourth-degree grand larceny, a Class E felony. It is alleged in counts one through six that on Nov. 30 in the Town of Le Roy that Reschke stole, respectively per count: a Syrchony credit card; a Citi Simplicity credit card; a Chase credit card; Discover Business credit card; a Le Roy Sports Boosters debit card; and a Five Star Bank debit card. In count seven, the defendant is accused of a seventh count of fourth-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing property having a value exceeding $1,000, in this case about $2,400 in U.S. currency. In count eight, he is accused of the crime of petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly stealing a purse and its contents that day in the Town of Le Roy.

Judd A. Farewell is indicted for the crime of third-degree burglary, a Class D felony. It is alleged that sometime between the late evening hours of Jan. 16 and the early morning hours of Jan. 17, that Farewell knowingly and unlawfully entered a building on Lake Street in the Town of Le Roy with the intent to commit a crime. In count two, Farewell is accused of second-degree criminal mischief. It is alleged in count two that he intentionally damaged the property of another person in an amount exceeding $1,500. The property consisted of various copper piping and a valve on a boiler system on Lake Street in the Town of Le Roy. In count three, Farewell is accused of petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly stealing an Xbox, Xbox controller and 15 Xbox games. In count four, he is again accused of petit larceny for allegedly stealing two blue totes containing miscellaneous tools.

Mark R. Ogee is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 24 in the Village of Le Roy, that Ogee drove a 2001 Chevrolet on state routes 5 and 19 while in an intoxicated condition. In count two, Ogee is accused of DWI, per se, also a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 percent at the time, as shown by a chemical breath analysis. In count three, Ogee is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, another Class E felony, for knowing or having reason to know that his driver's license was revoked by authorities in New York at the time of this incident and while he was under the influence of alcohol or a drug. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Ogee is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on Oct. 15, 2018 in Town of Caledonia Court. The conviction forms the basis of count three in the current indictment.

Joshua L. Baltz is indicted for the crime of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, a Class E felony. it is alleged that on May 23 in the Town of Alexander, that Baltz drove a 2019 Ford on Route 98 while knowing or having reason to know that his driver's license was suspended or revoked by authorities and while he was under the influence of alcohol or a drug. In count two, Baltz is accused of driving while ability impaired by drugs at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Baltz is accused of having been convicted of DWI on March 3, 2008 in Town of Warsaw Court and that conviction forms the basis for the suspension or revocation referred to in count one. Furthermore, the District Attorney states that Baltz knew of the prior conviction and that his suspension or revocation was still in effect.

James J. Bartosik Jr. is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Sept. 15 that Bartosik drove a 2005 Dodge on the Genesee County Fairgrounds parking lot while he was intoxicated. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Bartosik is accused of having been convicted of DWI, per se, as a felony, on Nov. 24, 2014 in Orleans County Court. The conviction was within 10 years of the crime alleged in the current indictment.

David Vega is indicted for the crime of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Oct. 8 in the City of Batavia, that Vega drove a 2008 Chevrolet on Clinton Street while his driver's license was suspended or revoked. It is further alleged that he had 10 or more suspensions (14) imposed on at least 10 separate dates for failure to answer, appear in court or pay a fine: June 12, 1996 in the City of Canandaigua, Ontario County; March 10, 2009 in the Town of Ontario, Wayne County; April 14, May 19, June 2, July 28, Aug. 22, 2015, Rochester Administrative Adjudication Bureau, Monroe County; June 7 and July 8, 2015, Town of Gates, Monroe County; Nov. 18, 2015, Town of Irondequoit, Monroe County; Dec. 19, Dec. 25, 2015 and Feb. 11, 2016, and Aug. 5, 2018 -- City of Rochester, Monroe County.

July 31, 2020 - 5:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in coronavirus, covid-19, news, notify.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m. 

  • Genesee County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
    • The new positive case resides in Batavia.
    • The individual is in their 30s.
    • The individual was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Twenty-three new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the individuals is hospitalized. 
       
  • Orleans County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
    • The new positive case resides in Shelby.
    • The individual is in their 60s.
    • The individual was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Twelve new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the individuals is hospitalized.
       
July 31, 2020 - 1:40pm

Genesee County central school districts have sent their reopening proposals to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and to the New York State Education Department.

It must be noted that the governor ultimately will determine whether or not schools may reopen. He is expected to announce his decision sometime next week.

Complete reopening plans can be found on the schools’ websites. All plans must comply with guidelines set forth by the state Education Department, Center for Disease Control, Genesee County Health Department and the governor’s executive orders.

The Batavian posted the Batavia City School District’s hybrid reopening plan on Tuesday.

ALEXANDER

Superintendent Catherine Huber said the district is proposing a hybrid reopening plan, based on the building capacity and in alignment with the aforementioned guidelines.

It includes designating Wednesdays as a virtual day for all students “to allow us to engage in scheduled deep cleaning on a weekly basis in addition to our regular daily cleaning routine.”

  • Prekindergarten through fifth grade – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in school.
  • BOCES CTE – Monday and Tuesday at BOCES, Thursday and Friday in school.
  • Sixth through eighth grade – Monday and Tuesday in school, Thursday and Friday virtual.
  • Ninth through 12th grade – Monday and Tuesday virtual, Thursday and Friday in school.
  • Special education/English language learning – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in school.

BYRON-BERGEN

Superintendent Mickey Edwards released the B-B plan, which (like Alexander’s plan) divides students into five groups – one with 100-percent in-school learning, three with a combination of in-school and remote learning and one with 100-percent remote learning.

  • Universal Prekindergarten through fifth grade (elementary school) – All students in school.
  • Cohort 1, sixth through 12th grade – Students with last name A-L – Monday and Tuesday in school; Wednesday through Friday remote learning.
  • Cohort 2, sixth through 12th grade – Students with last name M-Z, Monday through Wednesday remote learning; Thursday and Friday in school.
  • Cohort 3, sixth through 12th grade students with special considerations – Every day except Wednesday in school.
  • Virtual Cohort, K-12th grade – 100-percent remote learning for students whose parents have opted not to send their children back to school.

ELBA

Superintendent Ned Dale said his committee “collectively agreed that the safest plan would be to have 50 percent of the students come every other day.”

He said the goal is to review the wellness of our students and staff on Oct. 1 and then every two weeks after that to increase capacity.

Two groups of students, Maroon and White, have been established based on last names to “allow them to sit on the bus together, possibly sit at a cafeteria table together, as social distancing is not required with members of the same household.”

Dale said that a 50-percent model will allow students to not wear a mask when they are seated in the classroom. He also noted that districts are required to accommodate students and families that choose to do distance learning and that students with special needs may be required to attend more often.

LE ROY

Superintendent Merritt Holly advised that the district has formulated a hybrid plan model, dividing the students from kindergarten to 12th grade into two groups – Team Jell-O, which will be in school on Monday and Tuesday, and Team Oatka, which will be in school on Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday has been set aside as a full remote or virtual learning day for all students.

  • Team Jell-O – Monday and Tuesday in school; Wednesday through Friday, remote learning.
  • Team Oatka -- Thursday and Friday in school; Monday through Wednesday, remote learning.

“This allows us to have half our student population (in school) on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday,” he said, adding that if parents don't feel comfortable sending their child back to school, the district is offering remote learning five days a week.

He said parents can choose one option for their child, either in-person instruction on two days, remote three days OR full remote five days.

The reopening plan is divided into the following categories as recommended by the state Education Department and Department of Health -- communications, operations, health & safety, transportation, food service, facilities/building procedures, academics/schedule, social emotional learning, athletics/extracurriculars.

OAKFIELD-ALABAMA

Superintendent John Fisgus said the plan is to have 100-percent in-person learning and teaching for the fall.

The start of classes is delayed until Sept. 11 for extra training and guidance for staff. Fisgus said that this is made possible by utilizing two additional superintendent conference days at the beginning of the year.

“We are in a lucky spot that we can social distance our students while in the classrooms so students can remove their masks during instruction time,” he reported.

The O-A reopening plan is divided into seven categories – communications, operations, health/safety protocols, building procedures, academics, athletics, social/emotional supports.

PAVILION

Superintendent Kenneth Ellison said the school’s reopening committee hasn’t reached a final decision on which of the three options submitted to the state – in-school, remote learning or a mix of the two – will be set into motion at the outset of the school year.

“We will continue to work on what school will look like in September once Governor Cuomo makes his final decision on school reopening on August 7th,” he said. “Despite the scope of the state Education Department document, we still have many logistics to sort out to strike the balance between offering a program that is both educationally strong and meets the numerous health and safety requirements dictated by the state.

Ellison noted that the state Education Department defines these plans as “living documents” so changes will be made as new information becomes available.

PEMBROKE

Superintendent Matthew Calderon reported that the district is giving all K-12 parents the option for 100-percent online/remote learning or in-person learning, with the district set to send parents a summary of the details in an automated message before the plan is posted to its website.

He issued the following information:

  • Students who participate in 100-percent online/remote learning must commit to do so at least on a quarterly basis, and will use the Google Classroom Suite and ClassTag to participate in lessons and receive information about learning expectations.
  • Students who participate in-person will follow a normal schedule. Teachers will use the Google Classroom Suite and ClassTag to enhance the learning experience for students who attend in person. The district will rearrange classroom spaces and use clear desk shields to maximize social distancing and reduce the need to wear masks.
  • By using the Google Classroom Suite and ClassTag, the district will be prepared to quickly transition to a hybrid/alternating-day schedule and/or 100-percent online/remote learning for all, if needed. In such cases, students with disabilities and students with extenuating circumstances would be prioritized to continue with in-person learning to the fullest extent possible, if permitted.
July 30, 2020 - 6:21pm

Update: July 31, 1 p.m. -- Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell responded to Amy Hathaway's comments regarding the lack of county funding for children of families receiving assistance from the Department of Social Services. Gsell's statement is at the bottom of this story.

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

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing few signs of letting up and with some school districts making plans to reopen with both in-school and at-home learning, day care center operators are facing new challenges as they strive to keep their businesses afloat.

The Batavian reached out to several child care centers in Genesee County and was met with concerns over issues such as hygiene and social distancing, Payroll Protection Program loans, school day schedules and teaching requirements, and the lack of Genesee County’s support for lower-income families in need of day care services.

At Kelly’s Imagination Station, which has three locations in Genesee County and three in Erie County, activity is picking up – although the Robert Morris branch on Union Street in Batavia is temporarily closed.

However, at Little Guppies Childcare in Bergen and Precious Play Care in Darien Center, the recent going has been rough for a variety of reasons.

The Genesee Community College Association Child Care Center also has been closed since mid-March (once classes were canceled due to the coronavirus) but will be opening in about three weeks.

And at the Genesee Area YMCA, officials said they currently are offering a summer camp for families needing child care, but aren’t sure what will be available going forward.

KELLY’S IMAGINATION STATION

Enrollment is nearly at capacity at the facility at 5079 Clinton Street Road, said director Jessie Steffenilla, adding that Kelly’s took over the former Grandma’s Loving Care in May 2019.

“We’re pretty much a full house, with over 100 kids (the maximum is 112) enrolled at this location,” she said. “As far as staffing, we still have from my location five people that are furloughed but probably by September, they all will be back and we may even add staff.”

Steffenilla said her company accepts children from 6 weeks to 12 years old and the ratio of staff to children ranges from 1:4 in the infant classroom to 1:10 for school-age attendees. All of the classrooms typically have two teachers, she said.

Kelly’s Imagination Station has set up a system for families of school-age children in the Batavia City School District to provide a learning environment, Steffenilla said. The Batavia district announced it is looking to go with a “hybrid” schedule of two days in school and three days out of school for most of its students.

“We are hiring bachelor degree teachers to run our school-age classrooms at all of our locations so they can do literacy throughout the day, and provide open art and gym with our outdoor playground,” she said. “And we will have instruction time, with the availability to get the kids on their Zoom meetings with Wi-Fi here -- that we would be willing to upgrade if needed.”

As with most child care businesses, Kelly’s provides lunch, breakfast and snacks – included in the tuition cost.

All three Genesee County sites have protocols in place to deal with COVID-19, Steffenilla said. They include: hand sanitizing upon entry into the vestibule; teachers wearing masks at all times when they’re in the classrooms with children; frequent hand washing; maximum group sizes of no more than 15; sending kids home if they have temperatures over 100; and visitors having to answer questions pertaining to the coronavirus.

Steffenilla said there have been no cases of the virus at any of their locations. Her sister, Emilie, runs the center on Tountas Avenue in the Village of Le Roy, which currently is serving about 40 children (out of a maximum of about 70).

Jessie Steffenilla said the Robert Morris site is expected to reopen on Aug. 17. She said it had closed because many families, due to the pandemic, were not in need of child care, while those that did, moved their kids over to Clinton Street Road.

LITTLE GUPPIES CHILDCARE

Amy Hathaway, owner of Little Guppies Childcare on Rochester Street in Bergen for the past nine years, said a decision by the Genesee County Department of Social Services to not issue DSS payments to daycare providers has put her in a real bind.

“In my center, I had every family except the families that needed DSS to help them with child care costs pay full tuition even though their child wasn't here,” she said. “It was an option for Genesee County to pay providers, but they chose not to, although Erie County did pay their providers. I lost a thousand dollars a week because of this.”

Hathaway said she accepted these students because she wanted “to provide a great program to families that might otherwise not have access to one.”

“Instead of helping child care centers stay in business, they took funding from us,” she said, providing a letter from DSS that stated the county commissioner and director of financial services decided “to waive the family share and to give additional time to families who were having to recertify for daycare assistance during the pandemic.”

Hathaway said she was able to stay open only because of a Payroll Protection Program loan.

“It is upsetting because this decision could have closed my doors,” she said. “I am still struggling but I have had a few of the DSS kids return to care. At a time when child care is so crucial. this type of decision making is unacceptable.”

Currently, her staff of eight is taking care of about 40 children (maximum is 45).

She said she is working with parents to allow students to do their school work online at the center, with her staff providing educational assistance in a situation where the student’s particular school has opted for a virtual or hybrid schedule.

“We’re just hoping that (federal) aid starts picking up because I know everyone is looking to try to help child care, and it’s just a bummer that our county didn’t help us,” she offered. “I have been doing a lot of tours, and see that a lot of daycare centers are closing because I would imagine, they’re not getting payments.”

Hathaway said that a nearby child care center – All Natural Kids – recently closed.

PRECIOUS PLAY CARE

At Precious Play Care on Broadway Road in Darien Center, owner Kim Alvord said business has decreased by 75 percent and currently the center is functioning at about 30 percent of its normal capacity.

“We have 64 children enrolled, but today there are 20,” she said, explaining that the decline is partly because of COVID restrictions but mostly because both parents have yet to return to work.

Operating for 28 years, Alvord said the center services people from well beyond Genesee County.

“We have (preschool) children from all over depending upon people’s way (route) to work,” she said. “We have people from Royalton, but they work in Alden and some people who work in Brockport but live in Erie County. They bring their kids here because we’re on the way.”

Alvord said her center’s school students’ program is only for holidays and before and after school.

“They take the bus from the child care center to school and back here after school,” she said. “We’re not set up for students all year as we do not have internet; we’re not teachers.”

She said she is thankful that she qualified for PPP and Small Business Administration loans, but is worried that she may have to pay the SBA loan back.

“I haven’t found out the details yet,” she said, noting that she has 12 employees to consider. “I’m trying to keep my doors open for people. During the whole thing from March, we had about 16 kids – children of essential workers. It will take a couple of years to catch up for sure.”

GCC ASSOCIATION CHILD CARE

Closed in March due to low enrollment, the Genesee Community College Child Care Center will reopen on Aug. 24, placing a priority on serving children of its students but also for faculty and community residents, Director Kayleen McEwan said.

“We accept children from 6 weeks to 5 years old, preschoolers, and we have space available,” McEwan said, adding that she can accommodate 50 children per day. “It’s much lower at this time because of the virus.”

McEwan said child care centers already have strict health and safety guidelines in place, meeting the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. “We’re constantly sanitizing and cleaning,” she said.

She said the center employs 10 full-time teachers who “all are eager to get back to work.”

GENESEE AREA FAMILY YMCA

Jeff Townsend, district executive director, said employees there are taking a wait-and-see approach as school is about to restart.

“At this point, the YMCA intends to offer child care this coming fall if permitted by the governor’s mandates to schools and within the approved regulations from OCFS (Office of Children and Family Services), the state regulatory agency for child care,” he said. “Unfortunately, at this time, we are in the waiting game for those decisions to be made.”

Townsend said that once final decisions are made, the YMCA will let people know what child care offerings it can provide in the districts it serves.

Normally, the YMCA offers its day camp before and after school and a “vacation fun club” for days when school is not in session.

The director of the Agri-Business Child Development on Brooklyn Avenue in Batavia did not return an email seeking comment.

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

From County Manager Jay Gsell:

Genesee County DSS did under NYS Department of Health guidance grant two waivers for day care center/DSS eligible children attendance in regard to eligibility deadline extension and the family share contribution which is more than some other local rural county DSS agencies did. In our Family services plan that NYS approves, waiver options like what Monroe or Erie did on payments without attendance was also an option but our Genesee County DSS didn’t have any supplemental funding like Erie and Monroe got from the federal CARES Act 1/2 to the tune of over $100 million each, which only five to six NYS counties with populations over 500,000 were eligible for and Community Development Block Grant entitlement cities like Buffalo and Rochester.

July 30, 2020 - 4:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in coronavirus, news, covid-19, notify.

Press release:

New Cases – As of 2 p.m.

  • Genesee County received two new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Batavia and Le Roy.
    • One of the individuals is in their 40s and one of the individuals is in their 50s.
    • Neither of the individuals were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
    • Three new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the individuals is hospitalized. 
       
    • Orleans County received one new positive case of COVID-19.
      • The new positive case resides in Gaines
      • The individual is in their 40s
      • The individual was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive.
      • One new individual is on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
      • One of the individuals is hospitalized.
July 30, 2020 - 3:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

James William Cason, 64, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree aggravated harassment. At 11:42 a.m. on July 24, the Genesee County Dispatch Center received a report of a harassment at an address on West Main Street in the Town of Batavia. Following an investigation into the incident, Cason was arrested for allegedly threatening harm to another person because of a belief regarding their race, color and nationality. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court July 29 and an order of protection was issued for the victim. He was released and will be scheduled to appear in Town of Batavia Court at a later date. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong, assisted by Deputy Howard Wilson.

Jacob L. Hernandez, 25, of Lewis Place, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment -- physical contact and two counts of second-degree harassment -- following a person. Hernandez was arrested on July 24 on an arrest warrant out of Batavia City Court. He is accused of following a person and striking another at 8 p.m. June 21 on Lewis Place in Batavia. He is also accused of failing to comply with court-ordered programs. Hernandez was processed at Batavia Police headquarters and released with an appearance ticket for July 28 in city court. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Wesley Rissinger, assisted by Officer Adam Tucker.

Booker T. Ricks III, 48, of North Lyon Street, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Ricks was arrested after an incident on North Lyon Street at 7:47 p.m. July 18 where a child was allegedly left unsupervised and was found hanging out of a window at the residence. Ricks was released on an appearance ticket for Oct. 21 in Batavia City Court. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Adam Tucker, assisted by Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Jose A. Rivera, 34, of Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with second-degree criminal contempt and second-degree burglary. Rivera was arrested at 5:59 a.m. July 27 at an apartment on Swan Street in Batavia and allegedly being found in the presence of a protected person who had a stay away order of protection against him. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in Genesee County Jail on $2,000 cash bail, $4,000 bond, or $8,000 partially secured bond. He was due back in court that morning at 11 a.m. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Samuel Freeman, assisted by Officer Joshua Girvin.

Lyndsay T. Young, 37, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with attempted assault in the third degree. Young was arrested after an investigation into a domestic incident that occurred at 7:13 p.m. July 18 on MacArthur Drive, Batavia. Young was released with an appearance ticket returnable to Batavia City Court on Oct. 20. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Sean Wilson.

Amy A. Potrzebowski, 34, of Burke Drive, Batavia, is charged with: leaving the scene of a property-damage accident; driving while intoxicated -- two previous convictions within 10 years; and moving from lane unsafely. Potrzebowski was arrested at 9:39 p.m. July 17 on Richmond Avenue in Batavia following an investigation into a motor-vehicle accident. Potrzebowski was issued traffic tickets and is due in Batavia City Court on Nov. 4. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

Devon A. Wright, 18, of Batavia, was arrested at 8:15 p.m. on July 24 on two outstanding bench warrants out of Batavia City Court. One warrant was for failure to pay a fine in connection with his conviction on: second-degree harassment; fourth-degree grand larceny; endangering the welfare of a child; and attempted grand larceny in the fourth degree. The other warrant was for failure to appear in court to answer a charge of second-degree criminal contempt. Wright was observed traveling in a vehicle in the area of State Street by Batavia Police officers Hedges and Borchert, who are assigned to the area on a special Neighborhood Engagement Team (NET) detail. Wright was taken into custody by officers Tucker, Hedges and Borchert on North Street in the city without incident. He was arraigned in city court and put in Genesee County Jail without bail to appear in city court at a later date.

Patricia A. Herzog, 53, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with trespass. At 3:23 p.m. on July 20, Herzog was arrested after allegedly entering a business on East Main Street that she is banned from. Herzog was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on Oct. 20. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer Sean Wilson.

July 30, 2020 - 10:39am

Batavia Development Corporation board members this morning sounded off about the lack of security and activity at the former Soccio & Della Penna/Santy’s Tire Sales property on Ellicott Street that has been designated as the site of the proposed Ellicott Station mixed-use redevelopment project.

Initially announced to the public in March 2016, Ellicott Station is a $22 million project of the Savarino Cos., of Buffalo, headed by CEO Samuel J. Savarino. Plans call for mitigation of the three acres in the City’s Brownfield Opportunity Area, followed by construction of a 55-unit apartment complex, restaurant, beer garden and brewery.

The venture has received funding ($425,000) from Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and also has been approved for $3.6 million in tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

At today’s BDC meeting via Zoom, Board Member Pier Cipollone reported that the site is not secure and safe while fellow Board Member Steve Pies questioned why at least “one little thing” hasn’t been done to improve or clean up the property.

“I was driving by the Ellicott Station property and I noticed that the gate -- it looked like someone had knocked it through, and there were five young kids at the back of the building, the garage building,” Cipollone said. “One appeared to be trying to jimmy a window and a bunch of others were throwing stones at the top of the building.”

Cipollone said he called police, but did so “more from the position of the … building might fall on them, more than the damage to the building.”

He asked Andrew Maguire, director of economic development, to contact Savarino to secure the property.

“It’s not a safe site right now, especially for kids,” Maguire said. “The last thing we want is somebody to get hurt over there, (and) that’s why it should be closed up and secured properly.”

Maguire said he will contact Courtney Cox, project manager for Savarino Cos., and ask him to fix the gate and make sure it is locked to keep people out.

Pies said Batavia residents deserve to see some activity on the site, considering that more than four years have passed.

“So, obviously we have a new biking trail now (Ellicott Trail), which is awesome, in our community, which literally goes right by that building. I think it’s safe to say we’re in many overtimes right now with this project,” Pies said. “I never want to sound naïve because I know it’s a marathon, not a sprint; I know they all wait for the money and I know COVID and everything else, but if I’m not mistaken, Sam has verbally said, ‘This is my property and am fully committed. I still have to wait for the money, but I am still going forward regardless.’ ”

Pies said all he is looking for is a reason for people to feel confident that the project is still in the works.

“We’re asking for some little things that would go such a long way in this community – like freshening up something or doing one little thing,” he said. “And the fact that he doesn’t seem to do one little thing, when he’s completely, verbally supposedly committed and invested fully, I think at this point, it’s so questionable. Is that a fair statement, in your opinion?”

Maguire said it was a “fair statement” and promised to set up a meeting with Cox.

“Typically, in the development world you don’t see a lot of action until financing is secured,” Maguire said. “Regardless, could we see some action? I hope so.”

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski said her staff is taking a close look at some of the agreements with Savarino, including documentation concerning an easement for the storm sewer – or grand canal – that runs under the property.

“(That’s) one of the other things that makes the development even more challenging – even more challenging than developing in a flood zone, and we just had that document updated and executed,” she said. “In terms of engagement, when we do need something and we want to work with them, (we expect that) they’re there and willing to work with us. We’re getting that on file.”

She also said the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on grant announcements. Savarino has been waiting to hear about his application for funding through the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal.

“Whatever is happening with grant programs and HCR, specifically, which is the one they’re waiting on, COVID has put us behind any type of announcements like that,” Tabelski advised. “We’re all kind of in this together waiting.”

Maguire said progress is being made despite no actual construction.

“Obviously, we don’t see dozers out there and now, after hearing what Pier had to say, apparently the fence needs to be relocked,” he said. “I will reach out to Courtney and maybe schedule a meeting next week and we can sit down and dive into this a little bit further to see what their plans are, their projections and time frames, what they’ve done, what they need. They are committed to this project.”

Cipollone left the board with a “reminder” that Savarino assured the City Planning & Development Committee after receiving planning approvals that he would secure the buildings.

“He also gave me a verbal commitment as we were walking out of the building – ‘I will board up the windows, I will start demolition on the garage,’ ” he said. “And that’s the first thing he has to do because it is physically sitting on two separate pieces of property – on the property line.”

July 30, 2020 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, elba, notify.
nelsoncolleenmug2020.jpg
       Colleen Nelson

A 15-year employee of Oliver's Candies attacked another employee with a knife yesterday afternoon and has been charged with attempted murder in the second degree.

The victim, a 59-year-old employee, suffered only minor injuries in the attack.

Owner Jeremy Liles said nothing seemed to precipitate yesterday's incident and there was no indication the woman would become violent.

State Police were called to the Oliver's location in Elba, where Oliver's runs the Sweet Life Country store on South Main Street and a production facility, for a report of a stabbing.  

Liles was not present during the incident but based on talking with employees and reviewing security footage, it appears the woman took a shop knife and randomly attacked the victim.

Nobody else was hurt in the incident.

"My crew did a phenomenal job," Liles said. "They remained calm. They got everyone out of the building, going person to person telling people to get out. It was a stressful situation and everyone remained calm. It was actually the person who got stabbed who started telling everyone to get out. He was a true leader. He made sure everyone got out of the building.

After the stabbing, the suspect threw the knife in the garbage, Liles said.

Troopers arrived on scene swiftly and took the woman into custody without incident.

"The whole thing was over pretty quickly," Liles said.

Colleen L. Nelson, 49, of Alabama, was taken into custody and besides the attempted murder charge, was charged with attempted assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon, 4th.

State Police described the knife as "large."

Following arraignment, Nelson was ordered held by the Genesee County Jail.

July 30, 2020 - 9:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Michael Tomaszewski, crime, news, batavia, notify.

Families who may have been defrauded by Michael S. Tomaszewski when they purchased prepaid funeral arrangements may want to consult with an attorney who is an expert in bankruptcy if they wish to recover any lost funds, according to a law school professor from the University at Buffalo.

S. Todd Brown is the vice dean for Academic Affairs for the UB School of Law and teaches bankruptcy law at the school.

"They would need to talk with someone to make sure their interests can be protected in the bankruptcy," Brown said. "I suspect there are lawyers who have been going around talking to different people, some people have probably already reached out to an attorney. This is an incredibly complex area of law."

Tomaszewski, both personally, and his company Acme Holdings of N.Y. filed for bankruptcy in Federal Court Feb. 5. Combined, Tomaszewski lists $1,094,346 in assets against $3,242,390 in liabilities. 

That doesn't include any restitution he may be ordered to pay if convicted of the nearly 200 criminal charges he faces locally.

The 48-year-old funeral director is charged with 91 counts of failure to deposit monies paid in advance in connection with agreements for funeral merchandise or services. He also charged with 61 counts of third-degree grand larceny, 29 counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, 4th, and three counts of petit larceny.

According to the Sheriff's Office arrest report from July 23, Tomaszewski received deposits form customers ranging from $350 to $15,500. His customers allegedly suffered a combined loss of more than $525,000.

That is a sum of money that people might expect a criminal court judge be repaid to victims once the defendant is convicted but it doesn't necessarily work that way, Brown said, when the criminal defendant has also filed for bankruptcy.

In general, bankruptcy allows an individual to discharge debts and get a fresh start. For businesses, Chapter 11 is a chance to reorganize debts. The judge may help the creditors and debtors work out a repayment plan that lowers the debt burden or if assets are liquidated, the bankruptcy judge will issue an order on how cash obtained during the liquidation is divided among creditors.

Creditors who provided secured loans -- meaning collateral for the money borrowed -- are top priority for repayment. If there is any money left over after secured loans have been paid off, the administrative creditors -- people handing the bankruptcy proceedings, such as attorneys -- are paid. Last in line are unsecured creditors. That is people or entities that are owed money but did not secure the debt with collateral.

The exception to this pecking order, Brown said, is when fraud can be proven.

A common example is if a person or business borrowed money under false pretenses, such as claiming assets that didn't exist or using the money for purposes other than promised.

For a funeral director, Brown used the example of borrowing money on the promise to build a new cemetery but then spending the cash on a new Ferrari or a monthlong trip to Las Vegas.

A funeral home director who accepts prepaid deposits for funeral arrangements could be considered a fiduciary (a person legally responsible for ensuring the money is handled only in the way specified by the contract and in the best interest of the person who owns the money). In order to determine whether Tomaszewski had a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, a lawyer would need to review any specific agreement along with applicable state and federal law.

A fiduciary who converts money to some other users cannot discharge the resulting debt in bankruptcy.

Using pre-need funds for other expenses in violation of the pre-need contract may also be considered fraud and fraud can't be discharged.

In either case, a bankruptcy court judge would need to make the determination on the debtor's obligation based on the case presented by an attorney representing such victims.

"This is really important," Brown said. "If they think they've been defrauded by this individual, they need someone who knows how the process works guiding them through it."

He added, "I tell my students when they enter my Intro to Bankruptcy class, I tell them, most of what we cover is general bankruptcy law. Unless you're working under the guidance of a talented and experienced bankruptcy attorney for at least two or three years, you're to commit malpractice if you go out and practice on your own right away because this is a very technical and complicated area of law. The importance of that story is to stress how easy it is for trained attorneys to mess up if they aren't practicing bankruptcy law regularly."

Brown also noted that a person who filed for bankruptcy can't make any payments on debt without the judge's authorization, even to creditors not listed in the bankruptcy. That rule applies for all debts paid for 90 days prior to filing for bankruptcy and until the bankruptcy case is resolved. The bankruptcy trustee has the option to recover any unauthorized payments from the creditors who received them.

Asked if a County Court judge to order restitution paid first, Brown gave an emphatic, "no."

"In terms of who gets paid when that's entirely the role of the bankruptcy court," Brown said.

For anybody who allegedly lost money to Tomaszewski through means other than fraud -- consider the petit theft charges he's facing -- any potential restitution there will be considered unsecured debt, meaning those possible victims will be among the last to get repaid, Brown said.

"People who have been defrauded need to have someone who is expert in bankruptcy law who is keeping a close on out for their interest in this case," Brown said but also acknowledge that for many people in a case such as this, they haven't lost enough money to interest an attorney taking on their case.

Previously:

July 29, 2020 - 4:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Bethany, Stafford.

Catherine Klinkbell, 52, of Bethany Center Road, Bethany, is charged with confinement with extreme temperature of companion animal in vehicle. At 1:08 p.m. on July 27, the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center received a report of a canine inside a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot on Veterans Memorial Drive. The outside termperature was 84 degrees. Genesee County Animal Control was dispatched and reported that the canine was in distress and found that the temperature inside the vehicle was harmful to the canine. The canine was removed from the vehicle and transported to the Genesee County Animal Shelter. The registered owner of the vehicle, Klinkbell, was located and charged with one count of violating Section 353-D of the NYS Agriculture & Markets Law. If found guilty, the violation is punishable with a fine $50 to $100 for a first offense (and up to $250 maximum for subsequent offenses). She is due in Town of Batavia Court at 1 p.m. on Aug. 20. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong, assisted by Animal Control Officer Ann Marie Brade.

Heidi Nicole Pitcher, 27, of Parkedge Street, Rochester, is charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child. At 7:19 a.m. July 28, the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center received a report of a domestic incident on Route 237 in the Town of Stafford. Following an investigation into the incident, it is alleged that Pitcher drove the vehicle recklessly, creating a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person while in the presence of children. She was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Town of Stafford Court at a later date. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong.

July 29, 2020 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia, bergen, notify.

Once 24-year-old Guillermo Torres-Acevedo finishes serving more than 15 years in Federal Prison for transporting a teenage girl from Bergen across state lines, the Batavia man will spend an additional three years in state prison followed by 10 years on parole.

His attorney, Thomas Burns, asked Judge Charles Zambito to make Torres-Acevedo's sentence in state prison concurrent with his Federal term but Zambito decided the defendant shouldn't get that benefit while also denying the prosecution's request to lock Torres-Acevedo away for up to six years in state prison.

Torres-Acevedo entered a guilty plea in County Court in December to one count of second-degree rape. Other charges against him were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

He admitted to being a person over the age of 18 and having sexual intercourse with a person under age 15 in the Town of Batavia sometime between Nov. 15th and the 26th in 2018.

Earlier that month, Torres-Acevedo entered a guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. to enticing a minor, a 14-year-old Bergen girl, to travel across state lines to engage in criminal sexual activity. 

Torres-Acevedo was arrested in November 2018 following an Amber Alert for his victim. They were eventually located in a Walmart in Pennsylvania when authorities were able to locate the girl's phone at that location.

July 29, 2020 - 11:57am

As he prepares to become the next Genesee County manager, Matthew Landers said he considered it a priority to appoint someone with a track record of exceptional job performance to replace him as the tammi_ferringer_1.jpgassistant county manager.

That’s why he moved quickly to offer the position to Tammi Ferringer, a Genesee County employee since 2005 who has served as the municipality’s compliance officer since September of last year.

Both Landers and Ferringer will begin their new assignments on Aug. 15, the day after County Manager Jay Gsell retires after 27 years at the helm.

“I have had the opportunity to closely view Tammi’s work the past year as the compliance officer and have been impressed with the efficient and accurate manner in which she does her job,” Landers said. “During this pandemic, she continued to shine by taking on whatever project was tossed her way and was able to carry it to completion with little guidance.”

Landers also spoke highly of Ferringer’s work that began in the mid-2000s as senior financial clerk-typist and then as a supervisor and administrative officer/budget officer at the County Health Department.

“(I recall that) rather abruptly, the two highest ranking positions in the department left county government, leaving a large financial/administrative hole that needed to be filled,” Landers said. “Being in the treasurer’s office at the time, I can remember wondering how all of the financial/budgetary administrative work was going to get done.”

He said that “without missing a beat,” Ferringer stepped up and filled the gap until the other positions were filled.

“Many others could have simply said that work is outside of my title, or it isn’t my responsibility, but Tammi jumped right in and made a significant difference,” Landers said.

Ferringer, a 1997 Batavia High School graduate, said she has always taken a proactive approach when it comes to getting the job done.

“I remember when that happened it was a sign for Matt and I to take over the state aid piece (at the Health Department). So, we got some training in Utica, figured things out and just ran with it,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me working outside of a title.”

After about nine years at the Health Department at County Building 2 on West Main Street Road, she moved to the other side of town, accepting the director of fiscal operations and child support position at the Department of Social Services on East Main Street Road.

“I really enjoyed working at the Health Department, but the opportunity at DSS came with a significant pay increase and I realized that unless I went back for my master’s degree, I had hit my peak there,” said Ferringer, who earned an associate degree in Business Administration from Genesee Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from Brockport State College.

Hired by former Social Services Commissioner Eileen Kirkpatrick, Ferringer’s knowledge and ability served her well at DSS, and opened the door for her to become the county compliance officer.

“In June of 2019, Matt reached out and offered me the county compliance officer position. I wasn’t looking for a new job, but when the county manager’s office calls ... I figured there would be room for growth,” she said.

Landers said Ferringer has “continually exceeded expectations in her different roles in the county, leading to a series of promotions and advancements. Her unique skill sets in both finance and compliance make Tammi a great fit for the needs of the assistant county manager position.”

In her new role (working out of the Old County Courthouse downtown), Ferringer will assist with budget preparation and monitoring duties, oversee the STOP-DWI program and the county workers’ compensation program that includes virtually all of the towns, villages and school districts in the county, Landers said.

“She will also cover a variety of compliance responsibilities, including the County’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) coordinator, the fair housing officer and privacy officer, to just name some of the compliance hats,” he said.

Landers said that Ferringer also will lead the county’s shared services initiative and coordinate its safety plan and monthly safety meetings.

“These are just some of the assigned duties. There will be countless projects and issues that arise during the normal course of government that Tammi will plan a critical role in solving and completing,” Landers added.

Ferringer joked that Landers already has begun “transitioning some of the duties and he’s been smiling all along the way.”

Salary for the position currently is at $85,000.

A Town of Batavia resident, Ferringer represents the town on the Genesee County Youth Board and also serves on the Genesee Area Family YMCA Board of Directors.

She has two children, Jacelyn, 20, an employee at Richmond Memorial Library, and Caleb, 13, who will be entering Batavia High School this fall.

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