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November 17, 2021 - 12:56pm

A public hearing on the Batavia Town Board's recent passing of a resolution to opt out of New York's Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act is scheduled for 7:10 this evening at the Batavia Town Hall, 3833 West Main St. Rd.

The board, at its Oct. 20 meeting, scheduled the public hearing with the aim of opting out of allowing cannabis retail dispensaries and on-site consumption sites until it receives more details from state officials in charge of the program.

According to the new law, if municipalities opt in, they will not be able to opt out at a later date, but if they choose to opt out before the Dec. 31 deadline, they would be able to opt in in the future.

Should the board pass a local law to opt out following tonight's public hearing, it could result in a permissive referendum organized by residents who disagree with its decision.

Previously: Town Board looking to opt out of marijuana dispensaries, consumption sites due to lack of information

Comments
November 16, 2021 - 10:31pm

The Batavia Town Planning Board tonight approved a special use permit for New York Bus Sales to operate a school bus service and sales facility at 4450 West Saile Drive -- located at the intersection of Call Parkway.

After the board declared lead agency status for the State Environmental Quality Review, member Steve Tanner went through the items on the form and then made a motion to accept it. The board agreed, issuing a “negative declaration” that denotes that the project would have no significant adverse impact upon the environment.

Lauren Rodriguez, civil engineer with LaBella Associates, asked the board about the company’s desire to merge two parcels, covering 6.9 acres, into one, and Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski replied that the Batavia Town Board is expected to rule on that at its meeting on Wednesday night.

The 20,000-plus square-foot facility is going into an area currently zoned both Industrial and Commercial. The company is looking for the town to rezone it as Commercial, an allowable action since it does fit into the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

New York Bus Sales Vice President James Johnston, who also attended the meeting, said plans call for a groundbreaking ceremony before winter.

Rodriguez and Johnson initially presented the plan to the town planning board in September. Prior to that, the company applied for tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and is waiting for the GCEDC's board decision in the near future.

In other action, the board issued a negative declaration for a SEQR in connection with Pierrepoint Visual Graphics’ request to place signage at the site of medical offices for UR Medicine in the Gateway II Industrial Park on Call Parkway.

Previously: GCEDC board of directors accepts application for New York Bus Sales facility in Town of Batavia

Comments
November 16, 2021 - 7:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
sponauglemug2020.jpg
Jacob Sponaugle

On the afternoon of what was originally a co-defendant trial, Jacob Sponaugle, facing multiple felony counts, found himself sitting with only his attorney at the defense table as the man he is accused of shooting told the jury of how a gun deal went bad outside the Days Inn in Batavia on July 22, 2020.

Jason Whitehead's testimony corroborated the earlier testimony of Crystal Shultz, Sponaugle's ex-girlfriend, and put the .32 caliber handgun in Sponaugle's hand with Sponaugle pulling the trigger.

Sponaugle is charged with attempted murder, assault, 1st; criminal use of a firearm; aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; and criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd.

After today's lunch break, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman informed County Court Judge Charles Zambito that Sponaugle's co-defendant, Devon Wright, had agreed to accept a plea offer that would limit his prison term to 10 years and allow him to be released under the supervision of Genesee Justice while awaiting sentencing, presumably so he can be present for the birth of his first child, who is expected to arrive any day.

Wright entered a guilty plea of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, the top charge stemming from the July 22 incident, first-degree attempted assault, a Class C violent felony, and criminal sexual act in the second degree, a Class D violent felony.

Whitehead was first asked to describe a series of text messages he said he received from Sponaugle on the evening of the shooting.  Sponaugle wanted to know if Whitehead was interested in buying a handgun from him.  He sent pictures and video telling Whitehead the gun had been owned by "an old dude" and that it was a "clean gun."  

Sponaugle wanted $400 for the gun.  Whitehead offered $300.  Sponaugle said $350 was the lowest he could go.

Whitehead testified that he decided he could pay the $350 if he could sell it to his "main man" (identified as Wright) for $450.  

So Whitehead set up a meeting with Wright at the Days Inn and Sponaugle picked up Whitehead at his residence on Shady Lane. 

Schultz was with the two men when they drove to the hotel.

Once there, an argument broke out between Sponaugle and Wright over the asking price of the gun, Whitehead said.  At that point, he said he stopped talking and let the two men hash it out.

Eventually, Sponaugle walked away.  As he did, Whitehead testified, Sponaugle turned around, said, "this is all your fault" and shot him.

Whitehead testified that the bullet from the .32 caliber gun remains lodged in his spine. It would do more harm than good, he said doctors told him.  As a result, he is daily in pain and can't lay on his back when he wants to sleep.

Under questioning from defense attorney Joseph Lobosco, Whitehead admitted to prior heroin and cocaine use but said his use didn't alter his mental state but instead prevented him from getting sick.  He said he's been clean for a year.

Before Whitehead took the stand in the afternoon, Schultz completed her testimony, which primarily consisted of cross-examination by Lobosco, who pressed Schultz on differing versions of events in two depositions she gave to detectives with Batavia PD.  

In the first one, she said she didn't know what happened with the gun and in the second, she described in detail Sponaugle's alleged attempt to get rid of the weapon.

The differences could be explained, she said, because before Sponaugle was arrested she was afraid of him.  Once he was in custody, she said, she didn't fear him and so gave detectives a full accounting of what happened with the gun (it was, she said in the morning, put in a can of paint and given to another person). 

After Whitehead's testimony, Kevin Wolff, a supervisor at the Genesee County Jail took the stand to authenticate four recordings made at the jail -- all calls are recorded and all inmates are told they are recorded, Wolff said -- between Sponaugle and Schultz, Sponaugle and his mother,  Sponaugle and an acquaintance, and Sponaugle and his sister.

The calls contain incriminating statements by Sponaugle, most notably in the call with Schultz in which she tells Sponaugle that "I had to tell them everything."  

Sponaugle clearly did not like hearing that and questioned Schultz on why she would do that to him.

"You let them scare you into writing a statement," Sponaugle is heard saying on the call. 

He told her she didn't see anything (earlier she testified she did see the actual shooting).

"What you did was totally unnecessary," Sponaugle said. "It's going to be bad for me."

This is Friedman's final trial at the end of a 40-year prosecutorial career and, at the start of the trial at least, the first with two co-defendants.

Testimony resumes at 9 a.m., Wednesday morning.

Comments
November 16, 2021 - 3:59pm

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Batavian James Townsend said he was extremely nervous during the eliminator finals of the 14th annual Triple O Mechanical Singles Handicap Tournament on Sunday at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen.

Judging by his prolific bowling, however, you wouldn’t have believed him as the 23-year-old strapping right-hander powered his way to the title, defeating veteran kegler Jerry Blair of Le Roy in the title match, 269-232.

Townsend received 11 pins handicap (based on his 212 average) while Blair – won earned $250 – received nine pins handicap (based on his 214 average). Strikes in the seventh, eighth, ninth and on the first two balls in the 10th frames sealed the victory for the Batavian.

The victory was worth $500 for Townsend, an employee in the automotive department at Walmart and a “graduate” of the Turnbull Heating Junior League at his hometown Mancuso Bowling Center.

“After I made the cut (qualifying 14th with a 717 series -- 684 scratch), I was tremendously nervous,” said Townsend, who has put in the time to improve his game over the past couple years. “I’ve been shaking this entire time.”

His jitters didn’t affect his performance as he continually put his high-revving bowling ball in the 1-3 pocket and struck at a high rate to advance through the four rounds of the finals.

His scratch scores in the finals were 238, 245, 259 and 258. In the first round, he struck out in the 10th frame to advance, edging John Martorella Sr. of Rochester by three pins.

“I’ve been working on making adjustments on the lane and I’m really starting to develop my game and get smooth at the line,” Townsend said. “Being able to get to the line so smoothly has been the key to developing my game. I slowed down my arm swing, my arm speed and my ball speed, and that’s helped me to focus on each shot.”

He credited his improvement to the instruction offered as a youth bowler by his father, Paul, and more recently, by Brian Green, owner of Striking Effects Pro Shop at Mancuso’s.

“They’ve helped me and, basically, everyone has been on my side and I thank everybody very much,” said Townsend, who noted that he “lit the place up” after switching to the Roto Grip Haywire ball for the 3 p.m. qualifying squad after failing to make the cut on the 12:30 squad.

Reaching the semifinals, and earning $125 apiece, were Devon Leach of Batavia and Mark Brown of Attica.

Quarterfinalists ($80 each) were defending champion Mickey Hyde of Le Roy, Mark Mack of Le Roy, Ricky Zinone of Rochester and Marty Lindner of Scottsville. Hyde was the high qualifier with 801 for three games (771 scratch).

Those eliminated in the first round ($50 apiece) were Martorella, Jeff Dewar of Rochester, Sam Oddo of Batavia, Frank Fitzmaurice of Rochester, Pat Bruton of Rochester, Jim Pursel of Batavia, Ken Wilson of Batavia and Don Perrault of Rochester.

Fitzmaurice rolled a 300 game in the USBC-certified tournament that drew 66 entrants. The top 16 earned prize money.

Photo: Tom Sardou, left, proprietor of Rose Garden Bowl, congratulates James Townsend, first place, and Jerry Blair, second place, following Sunday's Triple O Mechanical Singles Handicap Tournament. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Comments
November 16, 2021 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
sponauglemug2020.jpg devonwrightmug2020.jpg
Jacob Sponaugle Devon Wright

One of two men on trial over a gun-sale deal gone bad outside the Days Inn in Batavia on July 22, 2020, has agreed to plead guilty on multiple charges stemming from this case and several others in exchange for a sentence cap of 10 years in prison.

Devon Wright is charged in the Days Inn case with attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd and attempted criminal possession of a weapon 3rd.

As part of the deal, Wright will admit to attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd.  He is also pleading guilty to assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor, attempted assault 1st, a Class C Violent Felony, and criminal sexual act, also a felony.

In exchange, all other pending charges against Wright will be dropped.

Over the past two years, Wright has been arrested multiple times.

Yesterday, he failed to appear in court to start his trial in the Days Inn case, missing the jury selection process. This morning, his attorney, Nathan Pace, said he stayed with his girlfriend who isexpecting a child any day and Wright wishes to be present at his child's birth.

As part of the plea deal, Friedman has agreed to allow Wright to be released under the supervision of Genesee Justice while Wright awaits sentencing.

While Wright will have a curfew, he will be able to go to the hospital for the birth of his child.

In the Days Inn trial, Jacob Sponaugle is Wright's co-defendant.

Sponaugle is charged with attempted murder, assault, 1st; criminal use of a firearm; aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; and criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd.

In his opening statement this morning, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman explained to the jury his theory of what happened the night of July 22 outside the Days Inn when Jacob Sponaugle allegedly shot Jason Whitehead in an apparent gun-sale deal gone bad.

According to Friedman, Sponaugle and Whitehead met up, with Sponaugle's girlfriend at the time, Crystal Schultz, in the car and drove to the Days Inn to try and sell Devon Wright a .22 pistol. 

When Wright wouldn't pay the asking price, Sponaugle walked away from the meeting and then allegedly turned around, told Whitehead, "It's your fault" and shot him.

The first witness called in the trial was Schultz, who testified that after Whitehead was shot, he let out a "blood-curdling scream." 

Schultz's testimony for the order of events before the shooting matched the case previously laid out by Friedman.   

After the alleged shooting, Schultz said he and Sponaugle drove back to the garage they were living in on Montclair Avenue.  In the car, she said, Sponaugle admitted to shooting Whitehead.

She said when she told him, "This isn't Chicago, it's not a rap song," Sponaugle said he didn't know why he shot Whitehead.

Back at the garage, he tried washing the gunpowder off his hands and wrapped the gun in cloth, and threw it up on the roof of the garage.  He then spoke to somebody on the phone and decided to get the gun off the garage roof. He used a ladder to retrieve it and then placed the gun in a can of paint.  

Sometime later, somebody drove to the residence and Sponaugle walked out of the garage with two paint cans. He returned with none. Later, Schultz found a paint can on the driveway, and she said she believed Sponaugle gave the paint can wth the gun in it to the driver of the car.

The weapon has never been recovered.

This will be Friedman's last case he prosecutes at trial before his retirement on Dec. 9.   This morning, Friedman, who has been with the DA's office for 40 years, told The Batavian that this was also the first two-defendant trial he's ever tried.

Comments
November 16, 2021 - 10:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Genesee County, 326, is nearing the hights total during the pandemic -- 343 in December 2020 -- according to Health Department reports.

Over the past few days, there have been 166 new positive COVID-19 cases reported to the county health department.  

There have been six recent deaths attributed to COVID-19 raising the countywide total over the course of the pandemic to 292.

Of the current positive cases, 22 are hospitalized.

There are 127 people previously reported positive who have completed their mandatory isolation period.

Comments
November 16, 2021 - 7:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in devon wright, news, crime, batavia, notify.
sponauglemug2020.jpg devonwrightmug2020.jpg
Jacob Sponaugle Devon Wright

Devon Wright, a multi-time arrestee over the past two years who has remained mostly free during that time, failed to appear in Genesee County Court at 9 a.m. as ordered for the start of a trial with co-defendant Jacob Sponaugle.

The two men are accused of being part of an apparent gun-sale deal gone bad at the Days Inn in Batavia on July 22 that left one of the three participants wounded.

Wright is charged with attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd and attempted criminal possession of a weapon 3rd.

Sponaugle is charged with attempted murder, assault, 1st; criminal use of a firearm; aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; and criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said the court waited for two hours for Wright to show and then began jury selection without him.  By 5 p.m., the court had impaneled a 12-person jury with four alternates, Friedman said.

A warrant was issued for Wright's arrest.

At around 7 a.m., Friedman said he was informed that Wright was in custody and is expected to appear before Judge Charles Zambito at 9 a.m.

Opening statements are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m.

UPDATE 10:28 a.m.: Dressed in a white T-shirt, sweat pants, and jail crocs, and shackled, Devon Wright appeared before Judge Zambito at about 10 a.m. while his attorney, Nathan Pace, made a petition on behalf of his client that his absence from court yesterday be excused and that Wright be allowed to leave the trial at some point to attend the birth of his first child. Pace said Wright's girlfriend had been expecting to give birth on Nov. 12 but has yet given birth and that Wright stayed with her yesterday so he could be with her when the child is born.

Neither Friedman nor Zambito bought Wright's excuse. Both noted that Wright had sent text messages yesterday saying he was on his way and one that said he had arrived and both statements were untrue.  Both noted that Wright has a history of missing court appearances.  Zambito ordered Wright held but indicated he would consider a petition for him to visit his child if the child is born during the trial.  

Once that hearing was over, Wright was not ready for trial because the clothes brought to him at the jail didn't fit so his sister drove to a local store to buy him new clothes.  

Opening statements should begin shortly.

Comments
November 15, 2021 - 7:31pm
posted by Press Release in news, City Schools, Jason Smith, notify.

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Press Release

Batavia City School District’s Board of Education has reached a contractual agreement and has formally appointed Jason Smith as the district’s new superintendent. Smith is scheduled to start his new role on Jan. 3, 2022. 

“The Board of Education is thrilled to welcome Jason Smith as the new superintendent of the Batavia City School District. We’re confident that his years of previous superintendent and administrative experience will serve our district well, not to mention he’s a BHS grad himself,” Board of Education President Alice Ann Benedict said in a news release. “As a local Batavian with children in our district, Jason understands the unique challenges and opportunities within our community, and we’re certain he will be a strong and dedicated leader for our students, staff, and families.” 

Smith first thanked the board for “entrusting me with this tremendous opportunity.”

“As a proud BHS grad, I am thrilled to be returning to Batavia in this new leadership role. Batavia is a very special place to me, and I look

forward to working alongside the incredible and inspiring students, staff, and community members,” he said in the release.  “I can’t wait to hit the ground running in the new year.”  

A 1990 Batavia High School graduate, Smith has served as the Superintendent of Schools in the Lyndonville Central School District since 2011. He also held various principal positions in the Elba Central School district from 2004-2011. He began his career in 1994 in the Albion Central School District as a high school social studies teacher. 

Smith received his Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration and his Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Brockport. He is also a graduate of The State University of New York at Geneseo, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in History with a Minor in Sociology.

Kevin MacDonald, District Superintendent of  Genesee Valley BOCES, served as the district's search consultant.

Submitted Photo of Jason Smith

Comments
November 15, 2021 - 4:43pm
posted by Press Release in Maple Street, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

The Genesee County Health Department is seeking information about the location of two dogs and the owner(s) following a dog bite incident around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 9. A group of individuals were playing outside in the area of 16 Maple Street in Batavia when two dogs came running towards the group from the direction of Evans and Thorpe Street. One of the dogs charged the group and bit one individual. 

The dog that bit one of the individuals in the group is described as a medium-sized, dark tan dog with a white chest. The dog was a shorthaired, pitbull shepherd mix and approximately 50 to 60 pounds.

The other dog was described as a light tan, shorter-sized dog who was approximately 40 to 50 pounds.

After the incident, the dogs headed back in the direction of Evans and Thorpe Street in Batavia.

It is important to locate the dog to determine whether or not it is current on its rabies shot. If the health status is not identified, post-exposure rabies shots will be offered to the victim.    

If you have information about the location of the dogs and its owner(s), please contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555.

Comments
November 15, 2021 - 12:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, Stafford, bergen, pembroke, Le Roy.

Eric A. Spikes, 44, no permanent address, is charged with assault 2nd, two counts of burglary 2nd, menacing 3rd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Spikes is accused of physically attacking and injuring another person during an incident on Aug. 26 at 12:17 a.m. on North Lyon Street, Batavia, where multiple children were present.  He was arrested on a warrant. He was arraigned in City Court and jailed without bail.

Katherine Jessica Vail, 29, of Griswold Road, Bergen, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and reckless endangerment 2nd.  Vail is accused of driving drunk and striking a pedestrian and his dog at 6:11 p.m., Saturday, on South Lake Road, Bergen.  VAil was released on an appearance ticket.

Jeffery Michael Johnson, 33, of Lake Street, Le Roy, is charged with DWI Drugs and driving left of the pavement markings.  Johnson was stopped at 3:46 a.m., Saturday, on Main Road, Stafford, by Deputy David Moore.  He was released on an appearance ticket.

Jonathan Micahel Reed, 28, of Lake Street Road, Le Roy, is charged with two counts of sex offender failure to report a change of address/status within 10 days. Reed is accused of failure to register a new internet service provider and account within 10 days.  He was arraigned in Town of Le Roy Court and jailed without bail.

Aaron Michael Reagan Hatt, 25, of Federal Drive, Batavia, is charged with driving while impaired by drugs, DWI, driving without a license, and failure to signal.  Hatt was stopped at 2:13 a.m, Sept. 19, on Wortendyke Road, Batavia, by Deputy Morgan Ewert. Hatt was released on an appearance ticket.

Zachary James Chittenden, 34, of Boyce Road, Pembroke, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and no or inadequate plate lamps.  Chittenden was stopped at 2:38 a.m., Sunday, on Hartshorn Road, Batavia, by Deputy Zachary Hoy.

Philip M. Escobar, 32, of Kirvin, Texas, was arrested on a bench warrant for alleged failure to appear in Batavia City Court.  He was arraigned in City Court and released on his own recognizance.

Mark B. Havens, 59, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 3rd, assault 3rd, and grand larceny 4th. Havens is accused of striking another person in the face causing injury and taking the person's mobile phone, and damaging a computer during an incident reported at 3:40 p.m., Nov. 7, at an address on Liberty Street, Batavia.  Havens was arraigned in City Court and released on his own recognizance.

Jason L. Johnson, 39, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Johnson was reportedly involved in a physical altercation with another person at a business on East Main Street at 11:58 p.m., Nov. 5, and when police identified Johnson, they arrested him on charges from an unrelated incident.  He was allegedly found in possession of crack cocaine and a broken crack pipe in his jean pocket.

Jaequele M. Tomlin, 26, of Batavia, is charged with criminal mischief 3rd.  Tomlin is accused of damaging property on Watson Street during an incident reported at 10:24 a.m., Nov. 4.  She was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Paul A. Inostroza, 30, of Batavia, is accused of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, reckless endangerment 2nd, attempted assault 2nd, and harassment 2nd. Inostroza allegedly attacked another person at 12:50 a.m., Sept. 5, at a location on East Main Street, Batavia.  He was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision.

Erik Pokornowski, 30, of Byron, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08, failure to stop at a stop sign, and moving from lane unsafely.  Pokornowski was stopped at 1 a.m., Oct. 30 on East Main Street, Batavia, by a Batavia police officer.  He was released on an appearance ticket.

Gilberto N. Natal, 33, of Batavia, is charged with harassment 2nd. Natal allegedly grabbed another person during an argument and threw the person to the ground in an incident reported at 3:45 p.m., Oct. 27, on South Lyon Street, Batavia.  Natal was arraigned in City Court and released on his own recognizance. 

Timothy M. Henry, 26, of Le Roy, is charged with petit larceny.  Henry is accused of stealing $74.54 in merchandise from the Walmart in Warsaw. He was arrested by State Police and released on an appearance ticket.

Michael P. Jansma, 32, of Attica, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Jansma was stopped by State Police at 9:45 p.m., Saturday, in the Town of Pembroke. He was released on an appearance ticket.

Crystal S. Duncan, 36, of Batavia, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Duncan was stopped by State Police at 10:26 p.m., Friday, in the Town of Batavia. Duncan was released on an appearance ticket.

Allyson P. Lawrence, 27, of Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th. Lawrence was arrested by State Police in the Town of Batavia, at 4:48 p.m., Nov. 7.  She was released on an appearance ticket. No further details released.

Valarie L. Mancini, 64, of Shortsville, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th and driving while impaired by drugs. Mancini was stopped at 6:15 a.m., Nov. 10, by State Police, in the City of Batavia.

A 15-year-old resident of Batavia is charged with criminal mischief 3rd.  The youth was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 10:50 p.m., July 24.

Comments
November 14, 2021 - 9:45am
posted by Press Release in accident, news, Pavilion, notify.

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Press release:

On November 13, 2021, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) out of SP Batavia arrested Brennan M. Dean, 20 of Bolivar, NY was arrested for Manslaughter (C Felony), Vehicular Manslaughter 2nd degree (D Felony), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property 4thdegree (E Felony), Criminal Possession of Controlled Substance 7th degree (A Misdemeanor), Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident, DWAI-Drugs (1192-4) and additional Vehicle and Traffic Violations.

On November 12, 2021, at approximately 2:30 PM, Troopers out of SP Warsaw responded to Starr Road and Crossman Road in the town of Pavilion for a one-car collision. Further investigation revealed that 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt was traveling southbound on Starr Road at a high rate of speed when the vehicle exited the roadway at a curve striking a utility pole. The passenger was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced deceased at the scene.  The operator, Dean attempted to leave the scene when patrols were able to locate him in the area.  Dean was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.  Once Dean was released from Strong Memorial Hospital, he was arrested and transported to SP Batavia for processing.  Dean was arraigned at the town of Pavilion and remanded to the Genesee County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

The vehicle involved in this incident was reported stolen out of North Tonawanda earlier on November 12, 2021.

The passenger has not been identified at this time.

New York State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office assisted in this investigation.

This is still an ongoing criminal investigation.

Previously: Minimal information available from State Police on fatal accident in Pavilion

Photo: Alecia Kaus/Video News Service

Comments
November 13, 2021 - 10:44pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, notify, Pavilion girls volleyball, far west regionals.

The beat goes on for the Pavilion Lady Gophers.

Coach Rex Eighmey’s team this afternoon advanced to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association “Final Four” with a hard-fought, straight set victory over Chautauqua Lake in the girls volleyball Class D Far West Regionals at Le Roy High School.

By winning 25-23, 25-10 and 26-24, Pavilion kept its perfect season intact as it has yet to lose a set in compiling a 25-0 record.

But it wasn’t easy, Eighmey said, as the Lady Gophers had to rally from a 19-15 deficit in the first set and survived a late charge by the Lady Thunderbirds in the decisive third set.

Chautauqua Lake, which suffered its first loss in 18 matches, was Pavilion’s toughest opponent this season, Eighmey said.

“Oh yeah, by far yeah,” he said. “They’re really good. They're the most athletic team and have a couple good hitters. But we kind of kept things under control. Our girls played out of their minds and it was fantastic to watch.”

With the score tied at 23 in the opening set, Chautauqua Lake missed on a serve, turning the ball over to Sara Laurie, who served the winning point. Pavilion dominated the second set, and then took a 17-12 lead in the third set before the Lady Thunderbirds came back to go up 22-21.

Pavilion called a timeout and, after their opponentsmissed on another serve, scored two points to go up 24-22. Chautauqua Lake rallied to tie it again at 24, but missed on another serve. From there, Paige Landers took the serve and her teammates came through for the final point.

The statistics were distributed across the team with Karlee Zinkievich getting four kills and 10 digs, Shea Amberger tallying five kills and two blocks, Adeline Milligan recording nine kills and eight digs, Lauren Kingsley contributing 12 kills and eight digs and Shannon Campbell posting 23 assists and four digs.

Eighmey said his team’s balance seem to wear down Chautauqua Lake in the second set, but he did give the Section VI representative credit for making the third set close.

The Lady Gophers now move on to the four-team, round-robin Class D state tournament next Saturday afternoon in Glens Falls. Each team will play three two-set matches with the squad with the best record earning the championship.

Comments
November 13, 2021 - 12:19pm

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Little did Jeff Boshart know that his offer to help “keep the doors open” at the Genesee County Airport in 1982 would turn into a successful career in avionics as owner of Boshart Enterprises & Aircraft Services at the East Saile Drive facility.

Boshart, a Corfu resident who was living in Lancaster at the time, said he began employment at the airport under the supervision of Andy Cordes.

“About six months after I got here, he (Cordes) went out of business,” said Boshart, who, with his wife, Carol, operates the airplane repair/enhancement venture out of the main terminal and hangar. “If you remember in 1982 there weren’t many jobs and interest rates were like crazy.”

He said he approached Joseph Amedick, the Genesee County highway superintendent who was in charge of overseeing airport operations, thinking that “I can keep the doors open and help these guys out down here.”

“At the time, we had International Chimney, Graham (Manufacturing) and Genesee Le Roy Stone (planes) still in the hangar after Andy cleared out,” he recalled. “And I don’t have a place to go, either.”

Boshart said that Amedick spoke with then County Manager Charles Meyer, and came back with a proposal: “He says, ‘Give me an insurance policy for $25,000 and don’t worry about the rent; just keep the doors open.'"

So, that’s what he did.

“I would come in here like late at night, when International Chimney got done with whatever they were doing, and I’d clean the airplanes, drop the oil or whatever, and I would go back home,” Boshart said. “That was how we started. I had no intention of ever being a businessman.”

Nearly 40 years later, the company continues to thrive, said Tim Hens, Genesee County’s current highway superintendent who also is in charge of the airport.

“We host Jeff and Carol here at the airport as what is known in the aviation world as a limited fixed base operator,” Hens said. “They rent space from the county – and what they do, they do very well.

“They repair planes, they put avionics packages in the plane, do maintenance and stuff and they draw people in from all over the Northeast. They do a heck of a business and are really our key tenant out here.”

Boshart said the avionics industry – which includes all components of the aircraft’s communication system -- is changing at a rapid pace.

“We do a lot of the radio upgrades,” he said. “Right now, in the aviation career, that part of it is moving so fast. It’s like the year 2000 when you were trying to buy a computer. You didn't know whether to buy one on that day or wait three days because there was going to be a better computer out. That's where we are with avionics.”

He went on to say that many of the smaller planes and jets that use the Genesee County Airport have more equipment than commercial airliners.

“It's phenomenal. You almost don't need a pilot. As a matter of fact, we have what they call Autoland. Everything goes to heck, you push a button up top – a big red button -- and the airplane takes you to the airport and it lands.”

The county airport has made giant strides since the early days when it was founded by Gil Chapell in the early 1940’s. The Chapell family lived in a house on the grounds.

Boshart said he met Chapell in the mid-1960s when his family moved into the area from Ohio.

“My dad started, with a number of other people, the Akron airport,” he said. “And they had they had a little tailwheel aircraft that dad used to fly around. And so back in 1965, when we moved up here, we used to fly over here because my aunt lived just over the hill on State Street. And I got to meet Gil and his wife when I was a little kid -- they had the house down here.”

He remembers the Chapell’s farmhouse and a couple of hangars and a gas pump, and a small restaurant.

“That’s my first recollection of the place; it was it was a grass strip. Then, Gilbert built the old hangar that they tore down five or six years ago.”

The facility was known as Batavia Airport at that time until the county assumed ownership in 1964.

Over the years, it has been expanded from 200 to 264 acres. In 2005, the runway was extended from 4,400 feet to 5,500 feet to accommodate business jets.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates there are 115,000 takeoffs and landings annually.

A pilot himself, Boshart said he used to have his own plane, but not anymore.

“I’m like Tim. I have a fishing boat,” he said.

Photo at top: Carol and Jeff Boshart with Tim Hens, right, at the Genesee County Airport's main hangar.

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Some of the aircraft being worked on by Boshart Enterprises' technicians.

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Submitted photo: A scene from days gone by of the old terminal and hangar at the airport.

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Submitted photo: This photo from the 1950s hangs on the wall in the office of the main terminal. From left, woman not identified,Tim Willard, Harold Hale, Gil and Gloria Chapell.

Comments
November 12, 2021 - 7:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, Pavilion, notify.

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A possible serious-injury accident was reported around 3:15 today on Starr Road and Crossman Road, in Pavilion. 

The State Police have refused to provide any information about the accident.  

It was reportedly a one-vehicle accident with a person ejected.  Mercy Flight was called but it's unknown if a person was transported.

A person reportedly fled the scene on foot and a K-9 was requested to assist in the search.  Because the State Police refuse to provide information to the public about the incident, it is unknown if the person was ever located.

A trooper who answered the phone at the Batavia Barracks this evening said,  "it's not our policy" to release information.

UPDATE 7:49 p.m.: Trooper James O'Callaghan, Troop A public information officer, said he did not yet have any information on the accident other than to confirm it is a fatal accident. 

UPDATE 8:09 p.m.: Additional information from Troop A: The vehicle was southbound on Star Road and struck a utility pole.  Another occupant of the vehicle was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  The investigation is ongoing.

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

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Comments
November 12, 2021 - 6:47pm

Image result for genesee county ny sealThe Genesee County Legislature, during its final budget session on Wednesday at the Old County Courthouse, reached into their “unexpended fund balance” pocket to keep the property tax levy for the 2022 fiscal year at the same level as this year.

Lawmakers have tentatively agreed to add $678,519 to the $1,396,675 in reserves initially proposed by County Manager Matt Landers – action that will keep the tax levy at $31,451,727 and, more importantly, drop the property tax rate from the proposed $9.37 to $9.18.

The $9.18 rate represents a 6.3 percent decrease from the 2021 property tax rate of $9.80.

These changes in the spending plan will be considered by the legislature’s Ways & Means Committee next Wednesday and, upon approval, by the full legislature for a binding vote on Nov. 22.

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein today said she was happy to report that her colleagues capitalized on the opportunity to keep the levy at the same rate “and still be able to fund the initiatives and the mandates that we have in front of us.”

“It's most important that we are able to do that by sharing most fairly across all of our constituencies and municipalities … and to be able to fund our operations and not take one penny more than we need from the taxpaying public.”

The lower tax rate will lessen the burden to varying degrees of property owners, many of whom saw their assessments go up over the past several months. For the median residential household in Genesee County assessed at $122,935 that did not have an assessment change from 2021, this will result in an annual net tax decrease of $76.22.

Stein said legislators have much to confront in terms of necessary and mandated projects, such as funding the new county jail, the Countywide Water Project and infrastructure.

“So, being able to do that really represents good hard thought of what we have to tackle in the future, especially funding the new positions at the county jail according to the (New York State) Commission of Correction, and also getting some of our departments right-sized,” she said.

The county also is continuing to commit $1 million from sales tax earnings to repair and maintain roads, bridges and culverts.

“Doing those types of investments in our infrastructure are just critical to making sure that we stay ahead of those big ticket items,” she said.

Landers said he supports the legislature’s decision, noting that about $2.5 million from the unexpended fund balance was used in the 2021 budget.

“As requested, I presented legislators with different scenarios and they honed in on the scenario of keeping the levy flat from last year,” Landers said. “There'll be no levy increase whatsoever, so it definitely was a good conversation.”

He said the legislature, which consistently has voted against overriding the New York State tax cap of around 2 percent, will have a bit more flexibility next year.

“We will have the ability to grow it (the cap) by an extra $480,000 because we didn’t take any of the allowable levy this year. That gives us time to see, between now and 12 months later, after getting more information about the water project and jail construction,” he said.

Landers said management and the legislature are at the mercy of the Commission of Correction, which has final say over the number of employees needed at the new jail on West Main Street Road (which is scheduled for the start of construction next spring).

“One of the biggest factors that is causing pause of our legislature in terms of concern is the CoC’s ability to dictate how many posts are in this new jail,” Landers said, explaining that each “post” represents about five positions. “Even with the jail designed -- even with virtual reality goggles so that an official can walk through the jail virtually and see where everything is -- the CoC won't make a determination on the posts until they physically walk into the jail.”

CoC officials could determine that more posts are required than have been budgeted for, Landers said, and each post would add $500,000 to the annual operating costs of the jail.

The county’s All Funds budget for 2022 totals $158,502,898, which is $15,298,219 more than the 2021 adopted All Funds budget.   The 2022 recommended General Fund (operating) budget is $119,394,176, which is $9,118,039 more than the 2021 adopted General Fund budget. 

Stein credited every legislator for making his or her voice heard in this process.

“It’s been really terrific working with nine independently-thinking people and coming to this same place in our budget and the consideration and a consensus,” she said. “So, I'm very proud to lead this group.”

Comments
November 12, 2021 - 5:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

NOTE: If you're scheduled for jury duty next week, you shouldn't read this story. If you do, you will likely need to disclose that fact in court.

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Jacob Sponaugle Devon Wright

When Devon Wright's trial starts on Monday, in a rare two-defendant case, with Jacob J. Sponaugle also facing felony charges stemming from the same incident, his attorney wants to mount a defense that says Wright had no intention to buy a gun on July 22 when he interacted with Sponaugle and another man at the Days Inn Hotel in Batavia.

Nathan Chase indicated not only did his client not intend to buy a gun that night when Sponaugle and the other man (who was subsequently shot during the encounter) approached him, Wright flatting refused to buy the gun.

To help make that case, Chase wants to introduce into evidence a body camera recording of Wright talking with a Batavia police officer when he apparently makes a statement that substantiates his claim that he didn't intend to buy a gun.

Based on New York's rules of evidence he won't be able to use that video recording during the trial.

Wright is charged with attempted criminal possession of a weapon 2nd and attempted criminal possession of a weapon 3rd.

Sponaugle is charged with attempted murder, assault, 1st; criminal use of a firearm; aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd; and criminal sale of a firearm, 3rd.

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman had previously withdrawn an exhibit a statement by Wright that incriminated Sponaugle, agreeing with Sponaugle's attorney, Joseph Lobosco, that the statement was inadmissible from a co-defendant and that it amounted to hearsay.  As a co-defendant, Wright can't offer anything he said outside of court that is potentially incriminating to Sponaugle.

If he testifies (defendants are not required to testify at their own trials), Chase can ask him about his intentions that night.

Chase pressed hard to try and get Judge Charles Zambito to allow the statement to be presented to the jury but for every statement offered by Chase, Friedman returned to the rules of evidence.

Chase's view of the case, "Two people showed up with a gun my client didn’t want and one of them got shot.  We don't know if the shooting was accidental or not but we do know how (Wright) responded at the scene."

The Days Inn incident is one of the multiple times over the past two years that Wright has come into contact with law enforcement and wound up facing felony charges.  For more on his prior arrests, click here.

Jury selection starts a 9 a.m., Monday.  Friedman says he expects the case will fill full days every day for the week. The goal is to complete the trial by the end of the day Friday but given the complexity of the case and the nature of a two-defendant case, it could stretch into the following week.

Comments
November 11, 2021 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Bethany, news, notify.
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Emily Smith
(2019 booking photo)

Emily Dorianne Smith, 36, of Wilkinson Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal sale of a controlled substance 3rd, criminal nuisance 1st, and endangering the welfare of a child. Smith was arrested by members of the Local Drug Task Force following an investigation into the transportation, sale, and possession of cocaine in and around the City of Batavia.  Smith was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Brian John Miller, 40, of Ellicott Street Road, Bethany, is charged with DWI, refusal to take breath test, aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd, moved from lane unsafely. Miller was arrested following a traffic accident at 6:40 p.m., Oct. 29, on Ellicott Street Road, Bethany. Miller was the sole occupant of his car, which overturned. Miller was able to extricate himself from the vehicle and was arrested at the scene by Deputy Andrew Mullen.

Tyler Lynn Vanskiver, 25, of Putnam Road, Bethany, is charged with harassment 2nd. Deputies responded to an address on Putnam Road, Bethany, at 3:53, Nov. 2, following a complaint. Following an investigation, Vanskiver was arrested by Deputy Morgan Ewert on the charge of harassment. Vanskiver is accused of striking another person. He was released on an appearance ticket.

 

Comments
November 11, 2021 - 8:02am

New York Broadband Assessment (Production)Just 5 percent.

That’s the percentage of Genesee County residents that County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari hopes will take a few minutes to complete the Empire State Broadband Assessment survey that can be found at www.geneseebroadband.com.

Oltramari, speaking after Wednesday night’s Genesee County Planning Board meeting at County Building 2 on West Main Street Road, said the survey is an important tool as New York State attempts to expand internet access to its residents.

“By getting 5 percent of Genesee County residents to take the survey (less than 3,000 people) that will help determine the distribution of funding to fill in the gaps in broadband,” he said.

Millions of dollars are available for broadband development, Oltramari said. In Genesee County, government officials already have indicated they are setting aside a portion of the $11 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding it is receiving for that purpose.

Upon going to the website, the user is directed to the state’s “Advancing Broadband for New York” initiative featuring two large blue buttons: one marked Speed Test & Survey and the other marked Survey Only.

The speed test measures both the download and upload speeds from that location. It is important that the speed test is taken from a home or business computer, and not a mobile device. Additional instructions and information are provided.

The survey, according to the website, is “to understand how you utilize, or would like to utilize, broadband capabilities in your home or business in your community.” The questions are not difficult to answer and the entire survey takes five to seven minutes to complete.

When finished, a “thank you” message appears and links to additional resources, such as the New York State Broadband Program Office, and Data USA: County & City Data based on the U.S. Census, are provided.

Oltramari said the county will be conducting a marketing campaign to spread the word about the broadband survey.

He also reported that the first draft of the county’s updated Comprehensive Plan – part of the Genesee 2050 project – is complete and will be shared with the public in the coming weeks.

County planners recommended approval of a dozen referrals last night, most notably:

  • A site plan for a 5-megawatt ground mounted commercial solar system in an Industrial (I-1) district at 7054 West Main Rd. in the Town of Le Roy. The project, being developed by AES Clean Energy, based in Louisville, Colo., is on land owned by Route 5 Storage LLC, not far and on the other side of the road from the intersection of Keeney Road.
  • A site plan review for a 1,944-square foot (81 by 24) addition to the existing building owned by Gadd Properties (Alexander Equipment) at 3266 Buffalo St., Alexander;
  • A site plan review for the Burning Barrell BBQ restaurant to be operated by Nicholas Rada at 10 East Main St., Corfu;
  • A site plan review and area variance request for Harrington’s Farm Market to replace an existing greenhouse with a new 2,304-square foot (48 by 48) greenhouse on its property at 5282 Clinton St. Rd. in the Town of Stafford;
  • A sign permit request from Pierrepoint Visual Graphics, Inc., of Rochester, to place new signs for a proposed UR Medicine office building at the Gateway II Industrial Park at 7999 Call Parkway in the Town of Batavia.

Previously: Genesee County legislators call on G/FLRPC to provide answers to broadband availability question

November 11, 2021 - 7:16am

oakfield-volunteer-fire-department-logo.jpgOakfield lawmakers reportedly are nearing a revised agreement that would end a months-long standoff over the amount the town is required to pay the village for fire protection service offered by the Oakfield Volunteer Fire Department.

“It appears we’re pretty close to resolving this issue … which is great,” Oakfield Village Mayor David Boyle told The Batavian on Wednesday afternoon.

Boyle said he has spoken on the telephone with Town Supervisor Matt Martin and, if all goes well as they finalize the details, he expects them to issue a joint statement in the near future – possibly by the end of the week.

The mayor said both the town and village boards have met in recent days to talk about the terms of a new fire protection agreement. However, he said he wasn’t prepared to provide any specifics at this point.

He did say that mediation by the fire department’s attorney, as suggested by Oakfield FD Chief Sean Downing, was not necessary, although he did appreciate Downing’s efforts in finding a solution to the dispute.

The situation became public in late September when the village board threatened to stop fire protection for town residents, including the Oakfield-Alabama School District, on Nov. 30 if the town did not pay a $78,648 bill for services rendered during the 2020-21 fiscal year that ended on May 31.

At that time, Boyle indicated that the town also had not paid for the first three months of this fiscal year, and felt the town was “holding the village hostage” in an attempt to renegotiate the shared services pact.

Fire trucks and equipment are owned by the village, which directs the OVFD. The building on Albert Street is owned by the fire department.

The current payment structure to cover operational and equipment costs stipulates that the village pays 42 percent and the town pays 58 percent. Boyle has said that when breaking that down by assessed valuation, village residents were charged $1.62 per $1,000 while town residents were charged 60 cents per $1,000.

The town board disputed those figures, and put out a statement that it wished to work toward “a fair and equitable fire agreement.”

As of mid-October, the village’s position was that the town pays the entire amount due to the village and signs a contract for this fiscal year (or a multi-year agreement) and then the village board would be open to exploring any changes.

The town, meanwhile, communicated on its website that it was seeking a three-year service contract only that would not include capital expenses because the village owns all the fire equipment.

Both Boyle and Martin previously said that the matter was being turned over to the village and town attorneys, respectively, who likely offered advice that has – according to Boyle – put them on the threshold of a deal.

Previously: Fire chief's suggestion of mediation may be the answer to ending stalemate between town, village boards

Comments
November 10, 2021 - 6:19pm

Image result for covid testing mandatesVaccine mandates are one thing; testing requirements are another.

Concerning the latter, Genesee County Manager Matt Landers is advising Genesee County legislators to be prepared to make a decision on how to govern the COVID-19 testing mandate that he believes is coming to municipal employees.

“With recently, the stop-start, stop-start 100-employee mandate out there for testing purposes, I have been meaning to reach out and give an update,” Landers said during today’s legislature meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

Landers said he is operating “under the impression” that there will be a testing requirement for all unvaccinated county employees only, with the big question being who will pay for the testing – the county or the individual employees?

“We are developing procedures to gather that data in a more formal manner. We already have a good handle on that number because our own policy internally has been if you wanted to have your mask off, you had to show proof of vaccination.”

He said more “rigorous steps” are on their way, including the need to have vaccination data available for inspection.

“We’re going through that process right now with HR (Human Resources) and implementing a recommendation in the internal side. This is going to be coming before the legislature for consideration on a policy on how we want to handle this because there's a lot of questions out there,” Landers said.

The county manager said some counties are covering testing and some aren’t. He said he will ask the HR manager’s office and public health department to draft some “solid recommendations” on the implementation before getting back to the legislature.

“I can see the arguments going both ways of us providing the testing, and also us not – and there’s good arguments on both sides,” he said in his comments to lawmakers. “So, be ready for that discussion coming up in a few days.”

In other developments, the legislature passed the following resolutions:

  • Scheduling of a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Old County Courthouse for citizen input on legislators’ desire to replace the county’s hotel and motel occupancy tax law to include short-term residential lodging sites. The measure had been recommended for approval last week by the legislature’s Ways & Means Committee.

The principal changes reduce the current number of units being rented at a location from six to one and set the number of days at 14 or more over the course of a year.  These revisions would align properties under the auspices of booking companies such as Airbnb and VRBO with hotels and motels and make them subject to the 3 percent occupancy or bed tax.

The new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022 and runs through Dec. 31, 2024.

  • An agreement with the City of Batavia to apply for a grant through the Water Infrastructure Investment Act for necessary renovations and repairs at the city’s Water Treatment Plant. The Batavia City Council passed its resolution on Monday night. The WIIA Act grant provides up to 40 percent of capital project costs. The WTP projects are estimated to cost around $3.4 million.
  • Appointment of Chad Brade of Oakfield to fill an unexpired term as county coroner until Dec. 31, 2022, and Chandy Kemp to the board of directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center.
  • Acceptance of a $176,662.14 grant from the New York State Department of Health for the Genesee County Health Department to promote and increase COVID-19 and other vaccine initiatives, and funding for COVID-19 vaccination clinic operation costs.
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