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October 5, 2017 - 8:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Alabama, pembroke.

Anthony J. Nobile, 28, of New York Place, Batavia, is charged with trespass. Batavia PD was dispatched to 18 Evans St., Batavia, which is the City of Batavia Fire Hall, to investigate a complaint of a male subject who would not leave. Nobile was arrested and released on an appearance ticket.

Kiha Samuel McNear, 19, of Walnut Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. McNear was located by Officer Frank Klimjack and taken into custody. He was arraigned and jailed on $1,000 bail.

Tyrone N. Thigpen Sr., 40, of Jackson Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Thigpen allegedly violated a stay away order of protection at 7:50 a.m., Monday.

Jordan B. Abrams, 25, of Alabama, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Abrams was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 10:24 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Town of Alabama. No further details released.

Felicia A. Dumar, 27, of Byron, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Dumar was arrested by State Police in connection with an incident reported at 10:07 a.m. Tuesday on Swamp Road, Byron. No further details released.

Russell S. Almeter, 63, of East Aurora, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Almeter was stopped by State Police at 12:14 a.m. Wednesday on the Thruway exit ramp in Pembroke. He was also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.

October 4, 2017 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, business, news, notify.

If the current administration in the White House was successful in closing the southern border and deporting all migrant farm workers, it would be devastating to Upstate's economy according to a report prepared earlier this year by Farm Credit East.

Libby Eiholzer, a bilingual dairy specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, shared the finding of the report during a presentation Tuesday to the County Legislature's Human Services Committee.

"What they found was there are at least a thousand farmers in the state that are at a higher risk, that they are highly dependent on immigrant labor," Eiholzer said. "If they lost their employees they could potentially go out of business. It would reduce the ag production by over $1 billion. There would be 900,000 fewer acres in production. On-farm jobs would be reduced by 20,000 and then there would be another 23,000 fewer off-jobs in the industry. The total economic impact would be $7.2 billion."

Farmers are so dependent on immigrant labor that they feel caught between INS enforcement and farm labor advocacy groups, Eiholzer said. Both the agency and the labor groups, farmers fear, are a threat to their ability to stay in business. That makes them hesitant to raise their concerns publicly about immigrant labor or work with the advocacy groups to ensure farm workers receive adequate care and protection.

What Eiholzer and a colleague did earlier this year was convene a focus group of dairy farmers from Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties in Batavia, which allowed farmers to speak out anonymously so Cornell could complete a study on the status of immigrant labor.

"This was the largest number of farms that we surveyed," Eilholzer said. "We also talked to 200 workers on those farms. What we found is that these farms, that are really representatives of other farms of similar size in the state, are very reliant on a Hispanic workforce. Seventy percent of the farms that we surveyed had at least half, if not all, of their workforce comprised of Hispanic individuals, and another quarter had a portion of their employees comprised of Hispanic individuals."

The farmers do all they can to ensure their workers have the proper documentation to allow them to work in this country, but they don't have the resources or the authority to dig too deeply. If they ask for paperwork beyond what they would as an Anglo worker, they risk accusations of discrimination.

"The only way to know the I-9 forms are not accurate is if the INS comes to your farm and does an I-9 audit and they tell you somebody is not allowed to work here," Eiholzer said. "Farmers do their due diligence to make sure people are eligible to work here but at the same time, you know that at least half of the immigrant farm workers here in the country (are undocumented)."

The full report (pdf) outlines what Eiholzer and researcher Thomas R. Maloney found.

Among the findings, it's very hard to find native-born New Yorkers to take manual labor farm jobs.

The managers also looked locally to recruit American workers through local high schools or BOCES programs, but with very little success. American workers often require a lot of social services support, which adds additional time and burden on the employer through additional paperwork requirements imposed by the social services programs and often resulting in a failed employment scenario.

Advocacy groups are pushing for higher wages, overtime pay, better housing conditions, and the right of workers to form labor unions. While farmers acknowledge there are things that could be done to make life better for workers, they don't feel the advocacy groups understand the farm business and are really out to destroy them. That distrust prevents them from bringing leaders from these groups to the farms to work with them on improving conditions.

From the report:

Their concern stems from their belief that these groups have an agenda to ultimately harm their farms, rather than actually to help farm workers. ... The advocacy groups have referred to farm employment practices as a form of “modern-day slavery,” which underscores the tone of animosity that these groups have toward the employers. 

Starting hourly pay for milkers is $9.34, with the highest rate going to $11.05. The highest rate for any Hispanic worker on average is $12.94. Farmers acknowledge, as a matter of being competitive for workers, the starting rate was low. Since the report was issued, the minimum wage rose to $9.70 and it will go over $10 an hour after the first of the year. Farmers have adjusted wages for all workers accordingly.

The farmers often provide free housing. They said the housing, especially group housing, is difficult and expensive to maintain, and this is an area where advocacy groups could actually help if they could be trusted to come onto dairy farms and not disrupt operations.

At the same time, if the state keeps increasing the minimum wage, and farmers are forced to pay overtime, and workers are allowed to form unions, housing is one area farmers could be forced to cut expenses, even charging rent to workers to offset higher labor costs.

Eighty percent of Hispanic dairy farm workers in the state receive free housing from their employers.

As financial pressures build on the farms, the result is to push some of the costs down to the employees. This phenomenon is commonly seen in other industry sectors when costs increase for the employer. This presents serious complications, as the Department of Labor has stringent compliance regulations regarding on-site housing for employees. There is a concern that employers may take advantage of their employees when there is a landlord/tenant relationship as part of employment. Focus group participants would prefer not to be in the landlord business. 

A change in overtime rules would also have a trickle-down effect that would hurt workers, the report found.

Their Hispanic workers who ask to work 60-70 hours per week and would seek other employment that would meet their income expectations. Those who do not leave likely will be upset, as their hours and overall pay will be cut drastically. These are the workers who most want to maximize their earnings but would end up earning less. Employers acknowledge that this move will force them to hire more people to work fewer hours or start to think about switching to robotic milking systems. 

The unpredictability of the Trump Administration on immigration and reports of greater enforcement and how these political factors have changed the perception of Hispanic workers in the communities where they live have caused fear and anxiety for farmers and workers.

This level of unpredictability is causing a sense of fear and nervousness for farm employers, workers, and the community at large. Interestingly, it was stated that the workers are not worried about crossing the border, but they are very concerned about being deported from Western New York. The most damaging and immediate impact of the recent Executive Order has been to instill a sense of fear in the community regarding these employees. Some Hispanic employees have stopped leaving the farm altogether since the order was announced. They will pay others to purchase their groceries for them, as they are afraid to be seen out in public. Farm employers are very concerned about the impact that this type of self-imposed isolation will have on their employees.

There is a perception among focus group participants that the Trump Administration is focused on jobs for Americans and does not comprehend the impact agriculture has on the U.S. economy. Agriculture is a $30 billion industry.

October 3, 2017 - 8:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Schools, Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, news, notify.

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When this year's seniors at Batavia High School are handed their diplomas this spring, they will see a familiar face, a face they've known since they were kindergarteners in the City School District -- Paul Kesler.

This winter, Kesler will end a 13-year run as the principal of John Kennedy School and become principal of Batavia High School. He was appointed to the new position tonight by the school board. He begins his new position Dec. 22, the first day of Winter Break.

His 16-year-old daughter, now a sophomore at BHS, but also once a student at JK, also approved of the move.

"I wasn't sure how she would react but she got a big smile on her face and she said, 'Dad, kids that went to John Kennedy, they still talk about John Kennedy. They really respect you.' So when your own daughter feels like it's a good thing, that's pretty confirming."

Kesler also got a ringing endorsement from Superintendent Chris Dailey during the board meeting. 

"You have a lot of people behind you," Dailey said. "You’re going to do great things. Your dedication to your community and your school is outstanding. We can only expect great results, so no pressure. But, hey, you do the great things you do here at John Kennedy at the high school, the high school will have the same kind of results we’ve seen here."

Kesler, originally from Utica, started his teaching career in Rochester. He was a kindergarten teacher, a second-grade teacher, a reading specialist and an instructional coach for three years before moving to Batavia.

He has a daughter who is a junior at Boston University, two children attending BHS, and a child who is a student at JK.

Two weeks ago, after setting aside all the prior principal applicants, the district hired Dennis Kenney as interim principal. His contract runs through Dec. 21.

Dailey said when the initial search for a new principal didn't turn up the perfect match, he thought about the criteria the district sought in a candidate and realized they already had the perfect candidate in the district with Kesler.

One hallmark of Kesler's oversight of JK is his promotion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and he's looking forward to continuing that effort at the high school level.

"I think you know we always have the instructional challenges of a small city district, especially in the performance of some economically disadvantaged students, particularly in the areas STEAM," Kesler said. "Those are some of the areas that are a challenge for any small city district. I'm excited about having that connection between what we do in the elementary school all the way up through high school."

There's really only one downside to moving to BHS, Kesler said -- leaving behind the staff and faculty at John Kennedy.

"I don't cry much but I was very close today as I told staff after school," Kesler said. These are just fantastic people. You know, they've been part of my family. My whole experience in 13 years in Batavia has been here. That's going to be the struggle, saying goodbye."

October 3, 2017 - 1:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, news, notify.

A contractor from Darien will pay a portion of a $3 million settlement with the Federal government for his alleged part in a scheme to obtain construction contracts under the false pretense that an affiliate company was owned by a disabled veteran.

John Zoladz, owner of Zoladz Construction, along with David Lyons, of Grand Island, in conjunction with Zoladz Construction and Alliance Contracting, were accused in a lawsuit of setting up a company called Arsenal Contracting with a figurehead disabled veteran in order to obtain service-disabled veteran-owned (SDVO) status.

This was a civil suit filed under the False Claims Act.

“Contracts are set aside for service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses so to afford veterans with service-connected disabilities the opportunity to participate in federal contracting and gain valuable experience to help them compete for future economic opportunities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Every time an ineligible contractor knowingly pursues and obtains such set-aside contracts, they are cheating American taxpayers at the expense of service-disabled veterans.”

To qualify as a SDVO small business, a service-disabled veteran must own and control the company. Arsenal purported to be a legitimate SDVO small business but it was, in fact, managed and controlled by Zoladz and Lyons, neither of whom is a service-disabled veteran. 

“Detecting and discontinuing fraud, waste, and abuse committed by those who do business with the government remains a core function performed by this Office,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “That function, however, takes on additional significance when the target of the fraud is a program designed for the benefit of the heroes among us—our disabled veterans.

"Although this investigation did not uncover sufficient evidence to establish criminal liability by these entities and individuals, the multimillion-dollar civil judgment ensures that those involved pay a heavy price for their decision to divert to themselves resources intended for the benefit of those who have made supreme sacrifices on behalf of all.”

The U.S. Attorney's office said the alleged sham company had few employees of its own. Instead, it relied on Alliance and ZCCI employees to function. 

After receiving numerous SDVO small business contracts, government attorneys say Arsenal subcontracted nearly all of the work under the contracts to Alliance, which was owned by Zoladz and Lyons, and ZCCI, which was owned by Zoladz. Neither Alliance nor ZCCI was eligible to participate in SDVO small business contracting programs. 

Zoladz and Lyons were accused of carrying out their scheme by, among other things, making or causing false statements to be made to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding Arsenal’s eligibility to participate in the SDVO small business contracting program and the company’s compliance with SDVO small business requirements.  

“This settlement demonstrates the commitment of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, the Department of Justice, and other law enforcement agencies to aggressively pursue individuals and companies that misrepresent themselves as service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses and deny legitimately disabled veterans the opportunity to obtain VA set-aside contracts,” said Inspector General, Michael J. Missal of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“The VA OIG will continue to work diligently to protect the integrity of this important program, which is designed to aid disabled veterans. I also want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners in this effort.”

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery. The civil lawsuit was filed in the Western District of New York and is captioned United States ex rel. Western New York Foundation for Fair Contracting, Inc. v. Arsenal Contracting, LLC, et al., Case No. 11-CV-0821(S) (W.D.N.Y.). As part of today’s resolution, the whistleblower will receive $450,000.

“Providing false statements to gain access to federal contracts set aside for service-disabled veterans denies the government opportunities to meet its abiding commitment to our nation’s veterans,” said Acting SBA Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware. “The SBA’s Office of the Inspector General is committed to bringing those that lie to gain access to SBA’s preferential contracting programs to justice. I want to thank the Department of Justice for its leadership and dedication to serving justice.”

This matter was investigated by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen A. Lynch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, the FBI, the VA’s Office of Inspector General, the SBA’s Office of Inspector General, and Army CID.

Press Release from Zoladz Construction:

“The very complicated and frequently changing rules and regulations governing the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program (SDVOSB) create inherent difficulties in maintaining constant compliance. These regulatory efforts lead to frequent challenges for participating SDVOSB businesses across the nation.

Even though we had legal advice that the formation of the SDVOSB involved was in compliance, the ever changing rules made it difficult to clearly stay within a difficult landscape of compliance. All contracts procured by the SDVSOB were performed to the satisfaction of the owners and all parties involved including subcontractors and material suppliers were fully compensated.

We are proud of our history and our service to the community. We are glad to have this matter fully resolved and look forward to continuing to serve the needs of our customers and community with award-winning construction work.”

In a note, the company added:

Please also note the official press release from The Department of Justice stated: “The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability." 

NOTE: Wording was changed in the story after receiving this note to reflect that these are "allegations only."

October 3, 2017 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in opioids, news, notify.

Genesee County will join the trend of local governments suing pharmaceutical companies over the opioid epidemic in an attempt to recover costs related to treating and dealing with addiction.

County Attorney Kevin Earl has recommended the Legislature sign a contract with the law firm of Napoli Shkolnik, which is based in New York City.

Earl interviewed two law firms and following negotiations selected Napoli as the best option, primarily because the financial terms were more favorable to the county.

Napoli agreed to cap their costs at 25 percent of any settlement (instead of a sliding scale that went up to 40 percent) for both the initial lawsuit and any appeals.

"Both of them would advance all of the costs of litigation," Earl said. "Also both of them we would say if they don't win, the county doesn't have to reimburse them for any of the cost and expenses. So, the county doesn't have to upfront anything or reimburse them. The only cost to the county would be some time obviously. The law firms are going to have to have information about our different costs and expenditures."

Many of the costs to the county are on the social services side, Earl said, especially dealing with parents who have become addicted.

"They're (social service workers) finding a great deal of their time and effort on trying to, first of all, rehabilitate parents because of the drug problem and then terminating parental rights when it becomes necessary. So that's that's a big cost."

In these lawsuits, being filed by municipal governments around the nation, pharmaceutical companies are being accused of flooding the market with prescription pain pills, using deceptive means to promote pain medication to doctors, and misrepresenting the addictive power of the medications, spurring an opioid epidemic that has led to the spread of heroin in local communities.

A total of 19 pharmaceutical companies have been targeted by these lawsuits.

Earl was also able to negotiate away a term in the contract that could have stuck the county with expenses related to the law firm borrowing money to proceed with the suit.

"They had something in there that if they had to borrow money we have got to pay the interest on the borrowed money," Earl said. "I said well the whole reason we got you was we thought you were a big firm and you have the money. I couldn't handle the lawsuit when I was a sole practitioner of a case like this because I couldn't advance that type of money, so they took that out completely."

While the suit on behalf of Genesee County should be filed within months, if not weeks, Earl expects the suit, on a motion by the pharmaceutical companies, will be consolidated with other similar lawsuits. In a way, at that point, Genesee County will benefit from the expertise and experience of both the big law firms handling these cases.

Even so, it will be a long time before the county sees any money from a settlement (assuming victory).

"It's going to probably be a long process," Earl said. "I look at this as similar to the tobacco cases. You know these pharmaceutical companies are going to fight tooth and nail, and they know if they settle in New York that opens the floodgates and then another state and another state and another state, so I would imagine this will take a number of years."

October 3, 2017 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama, news, notify.

A resident in Alabama near the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge reportedly spotted two men with a pickup bed full of worn tires dumping them in the wetlands at about 10:42 a.m. Thursday and reported it to State Police.

Arrested were James H. Calus, 45, of Medina, and Jerry E. Nichols, 64, of Albion.

Both were issued appearance tickets for an alleged violation of the State's Environmental Conservation Law, section 9-0303, for illegal dumping on state land.

The incident occurred in the area of 1101 Casey Road, Alabama.

October 3, 2017 - 10:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, notify, news, Alabama, batavia.

Shane Kyle Logan, 45, of Judge Road, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, is charged with assault, 3rd. Logan allegedly struck another person in the face with his fist with intent to cause physical injury.

Renae Ginine Porter, 37, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Deputy Ryan DeLong responded to a complaint of shoplifting in progress at Kohl's Department Store at 4:19 p.m. Monday. Porter was identified as the suspect, located and taken into custody. DeLong was assisted by Trooper Bill Franz and Batavia PD Officer Chris Lindsay.

Jeremy L. Lonnen, 26, of Garland Avenue, Rochester, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, and failure to use headlights. Lonnen was stopped at 9:51 p.m. Saturday on Holland Avenue, Batavia, by Officer Christopher Linsday. Lonnen was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Nicholas M. Canty, 20, of Law Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Canty was arrested by Officer Stephen Cronmiller following an investigation into an incident where Canty may have been under the influence of drugs at 10:15 a.m. Saturday on Law Street, Batavia.

Barbara E. Ferrando, 46, of Summit Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant. Ferrando was located by a probation officer and taken into custody by Batavia PD.

Jaylyn Shayquawn Strong, 22, of Mazda Terrace, Rochester, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, driving without a license, no stop lights, unlawful possession of marijuana, and aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd. Strong was arrested on a warrant by the Sheriff's Office and turned over to Batavia PD.

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October 2, 2017 - 7:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire, news, notify.

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A bedroom fire is reported at 20 N. Spruce St. Residents advised to evacuate. It's gone to a second alarm. City fire is responding, including all off-duty firefighters, along with mutual aid from Alexander's Fast Team and a tanker from Elba. Town of Batavia is asked to stand by in their quarters. Two Mercy medic units also called to the scene.

UPDATE 8:41 p.m.: All residents accounted for. A firefighter may have been injured. He may have suffered heat exhaustion or dehydration.  

UPDATE 8:50 p.m.: A cat is missing.

UPDATE: Added the last four photos, taken by Frank Capuano.

Photos: Alecia Kaus/Video News Service

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October 2, 2017 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Bobby Lee Mobley, 32, of Swan Street, Batavia, is charged with assault, 3rd, and criminal mischief. Mobley was arrested as a result of an investigation into an incident Aug. 28. Mobley is accused of punching another person numerous times and of damaging property at 574 E. Main St., Batavia. A warrant was issued for Mobley. Officers Marc Lawrence and Nicole McGinnis report they located Mobley hiding in a basement.

Sabrina M. Higgins, 22, of Church Street, Basom, is charged with theft of services and conspiracy, 6th. Also charged, Rae C. Cook, 28, and Latiqua S. Jackson, 25. The three women are accused of eating a meal at Bourbon & Burger Co. in Batavia and then leaving without paying their bill.

Ricky Allen Marsceill, 53, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd, and bicycle on a sidewalk. Marsceill was allegedly found in possession of drug paraphernalia after being stopped at 10:06 p.m. Sept. 25 on Main Street, Batavia, by Officer Christopher Lindsay for allegedly riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. In a separate arrest the next day, Marsceill is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. At 12:29 p.m. Tuesday, Marsceill was allegedly found in possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

Woodrow C. Horseman, 41, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. The charge stems from an alleged theft of beer from Tops Market. He was jailed on $5,000 bail.

Tracy D. Pike, 58, of Godfreys Pond Road, Bergen, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Pike allegedly threatened another motorist at 4 p.m. Sept. 13 on East Main Street, Batavia.

Shayla L. Sharrock, 32, of Stowell Drive, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear in City Court. Sharrock was jailed without bail.

Kaila I. Tidd, 32, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Tidd turned herself in for alleged failure to appear on building code violations. She posted $250 bail.

Dakota O. Irvin, 26, of Bank Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. 

Shane E. Dann, 41, of Swan Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Dann's vehicle was stopped for an alleged traffic infraction on Washington Avenue by members of the Local Drug Task Force. Dann was ticketed for alleged obstructed view and operating on a suspended license. He was also allegedly found in possession of marijuana and issued an appearance ticket. He was arraigned and released under supervision of Genesee Justice.

Samiria C. Brown, 29, of Carnary Street, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an aggravated unlicensed operation charge. Brown was stopped for an alleged traffic violation in Greece and turned over to Batavia PD on the warrant.

David L. Hausler, 29, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct. Hausler allegedly threw objects at a vehicle driving past him on South Main Street at 1:29 a.m. on Sunday.

Bryan J. Yockel, 29, of Rochester, is charged with unlawful of marijuana. Yockel was stopped by State Police in Oakfield at 8:49 p.m. on Sunday.

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October 1, 2017 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emory Upton, history, batavia, news, notify.

34951981upton.jpgAt the intersection of Main and Ellicott stands a monument to Gen. Emory Upton, Batavia's most revered military figure, and for good reason, says history professor and now Upton biographer David J. Fitzpatrick.

Upton distinguished himself during the Civil War in battles at Salem Church, Spotsylvania, Opequon Creek, and in other engagements.

"He was one of the outstanding regimental commanders of the war," said Fitzpatrick, who teaches at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich. "He had a tremendous tactical success at Spotsylvania."

The fact that Upton is still discussed among military leaders and those interested in military history, though, has more to do with his ideas and what he scribbled on paper than what he accomplished on the battlefield.

Some of what Upton wrote has led to more than 50 years of the Army officer being misunderstood and misrepresented, though, according to Fitzpatrick.

In the mid-20th century, Upton gained a reputation as a Prussian-inspired militarist with little respect for democracy. That assertion doesn't fit the documents in the historical record, Fitzpatrick contends and he makes that case in his new book: "Emory Upton: Misunderstood Reformer" (University of Oklahoma Press).

"Upton is an important figure in U.S. military history," Fitzpatrick said. "He's a figure a lot of people don't know about."

While you might expect a book steeped in military policy and battlefield strategy to be dull and dry, Fitzpatrick has written a story that is fascinating and at times even a real page-turner. Upton was a man both of action and ideas dealing with some of the most important considerations that would shape history after his death in 1881.

Batavia's Civil War hero was born to a farming family in Genesee County Aug. 27, 1839. A devout Methodist and a fervent abolitionist, Upton attended the era's most famous integrated college, Oberlin, before being accepted into West Point, graduating eighth in his class in May 1861 (The only blemish on his West Point career was a fight with a Southern cadet who made remarks behind his back, hinting that Upton had sexual relations with a black girl at Oberlin. Upton took offense and when the cadet wouldn't explain himself, Upton challenged him to a duel that became a fight in a West Point dorm.)

After the war, Upton was sent on an 18-month tour of Europe and Asia to study the military tactics of countries on those continents, especially Germany. When he returned he wrote "The Armies of Europe and Asia," "A New System of Infantry Tactics" and "Tactics for Non-Military Bodies" (aimed at civilian associations, police and fire departments); and more than 20 years after his death, his unfinished work, and most important book, "The Military Policy of the United States," was released by the War Department.

There were aspects of the military position in Germany that Upton admired and these served as a basis of Upton's recommended reforms to the U.S. military. This led to charges among critics that Upton and his like-minded reformers were trying to foist Prussian militarism on the United States.

These charges were amplified with the publication of a book in 1960 by Russell Weigley, "The American Way of War," which traced the intellectual development of military strategy and policy, and Stephen Ambrose, with "Upton and the Army," in 1964.

To Fitzpatrick, the real offense to Upton's legacy was the book by Ambrose. Weigley can be forgiven for getting Upton wrong, Fitzpatrick said, because he wasn't writing a biography, but Ambrose's biography began as his dissertation (and was published verbatim in book form). 

"Ambrose was doing a biography but didn't dive into the sources he should have," Fitzpatrick said. "I think Ambrose read Weigley and just decided to echo Weigley."

Fitzpatrick poured through the letters of Upton, among other documents, with help from Sue Conklin, who at that time was Genesee County's historian, and the Holland Land Office Museum (Fitzpatrick was provided a CD of images of all the Upton letters in the HLOM's collection).

And going through Upton's letters isn't an easy task.

When arranging a visit to the County's history department, Fitzpatrick told Conklin his topic and Conklin told him, "Have you seen his handwriting?"

"No," Fitzpatrick admitted.

"You might want to consider another topic," was her droll response.

Fitzpatrick doggedly stuck with Upton's letters, however, which provided insight overlooked by Ambrose into Upton's thinking on military planning and civilian government.

Upton believed the Union could have ended the Civil War before the close of 1862 (it wouldn't end until 1865) if the military had been led by more competent officers, had been better equipped, staffed with more men, and Gen. George McClellan hadn't been hampered by interference from civilian bureaucrats, notably Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Even though Upton had been critical of McClellan during the war, his animosity toward Stanton was even deeper.

"He starts to twist history to make Stanton into the bad guy and McClellan a genius," Fitzpatrick said. "He wrote (in a letter) that he was having a hard time with 'the McClellan question,' as he calls it. It is really causing me trouble, he said. I hear him saying that he's having a hard time making the facts fit the story. Stanton was a meddling failure, not that it was McClellan himself who caused his failures."

The focus on Stanton, however, Fitzpatrick concludes, isn't because Upton is against civilian leadership of the military, but rather a concern that a war secretary with too much power could potentially use that position subvert the country's republican form of government.

Upton's reform ideas included mandatory retirement at age 62 for officers, rotation of officers between artillery and infantry, promotion on merit rather than seniority, and more training for officers.

While Upton was distrustful of democracy -- like Alexander Hamilton, fearing mob rule -- he saw the role of the military as protecting the nation's republican style of government. 

He took note of the dictatorial powers assumed by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln -- "arbitrary arrests, summary executions without trial, forced impressment of provisions, and other dangerous precedents" for Washington; and in Lincoln's case, the suspension of habeas corpus, arbitrary arrests, and the seizure of the railroads, along with "opening the treasury to irresponsible citizens" -- and concluded with a query. If that is what happens when good men without a genuine dictatorial impulse are president, what would happen if a true authoritarian took office and there was a war?

Upton wrote, "Let us not stultify ourselves by talking of the danger of an army, but rather reflect that the lack of one may at any time, in the space of two years, bring upon us even graver disasters than Long Island or Brandywine, or the two Bull Runs ... Our danger lies not in having a regular army but in the want of one."

In other words, Upton concluded a professional military, vowed to protect and defend the Constitution, as a safeguard against civilians, especially the president, grabbing dictatorial power.

Upton was one of several reformers, Fitzpatrick said, who saw the need for a more highly trained military and professional officer corps heading into the 20th century but in Upton's lifetime, most of Upton's reforms were thwarted by politics. For the North, another insurrection seemed impossible and there was no apparent external threat to U.S. sovereignty, so reform didn't seem like a pressing need. The South was distrustful of the Army in general following Reconstruction.

The lack of external threats prior to 1860 is also one reason Fitzpatrick thinks Upton's idea that the war could have lasted less than two years with better preparation is unrealistic.

While it's interesting to contemplate how history might be different if the Civil War had come to an end before 1863 -- no Jim Crow South, as one potential outcome -- it would have required the Union to have in place a large, well-trained and equipped Army by 1860 and Congress would never have approved the expenditure.

"The only reason to have a large, well-trained Army prior to 1860 was to repress the South and Congress would never have done it, so it's kind of a moot question," Fitzpatrick said. "You never could have ended the war in 1862 because you would never have gotten the Army you needed."

By 1881, Upton began suffering from debilitating headaches. He was transferred to the Presidio in San Francisco but managed to delay assuming the command for three months while he sought treatment in New York. A doctor diagnosed a sinus problem and provided an electric treatment, which brought no relief. Upton probably suffered from a brain tumor. He transferred to San Francisco but the headaches grew worse. On March 15, 1881, he wrote his last words. A two-sentence letter to the adjutant general to tender his resignation. He then apparently took his own life with a revolver.

He was proceeded in death by his wife, Emily, and they are buried together in Auburn.

At the time of his death, "Military Policy of the United States" was incomplete and unpublished. The manuscript passed to a friend and slowly it circulated among the Army's officers, gaining a reputation for its insightful look at military policy and strategy. In 1904, the War Department published the book minus three chapters.

One of the chapters dealt with Roman military history and when Fitzpatrick first came across it, he thought it rather odd. It was placed between two unrelated chapters, which was also odd.

Years later while continuing his research, Fitzpatrick recognized Upton probably wrote the chapter quickly in a period of inspiration and that it contained a lesson relevant the political situation of the time.  

While Upton admired President Ulysses S. Grant as a general, he was appalled by the corruption in his administration.

The Roman Republic possesses an interest, civil as well as military. "Forewarned is forearmed." Free people like the Romans admire heroism and love to reward military achievement.

No monarch in Europe has to day [sic] the power of an American President. With the consent of the Senate, from the Chief Justice down, he has the gift of more than 90,000 civil offices, any one of which save the judiciary, he can vacate and fill at pleasure.

Ever since the acceptance of the pernicious maxim "To the victor belong the spoils," these offices, like so much gold have been distributed by the senators and representatives to the men who have been, or maybe, most loyal to themselves or the party. 

With the people thus accustomed to executive corruption let us imagine, as under the Roman System, our President, in uniform, booted and spurred, galloping from the White House to the camp, his military retinue swelled by senators and representatives, fawning for favor and scrambling for spoils, how long it be asked would our liberties survive ... 

To historian, from example of Rome, might not fix the exact duration of the Republic, but he could make at least one prophesy of speedy fullfllment: At the first [meeting] held at headquarters the means would be discussed of prolonging the term of the President, if not the more startling propositon to declare him President for life.

"Upton wasn't writing about Rome," Fitzpatrick said. "It was about Ulysses Grant. He was writing at a time when Grant, running for a third term in 1880, was being seriously discussed. He had come to a different opinion of Grant. He had seen all the scandals of Grant's administration, and while he admired Grant as a general, the scandals appalled him.

"He's not talking about an imaginary president climbing on a horse. He's talking about Grant. If Upton was really a militarist interested in a military government, that wouldn't have bothered him at all."

September 29, 2017 - 5:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama, news, Pavilion, notify.

Michael Alan Shelter, 27, of Lewiston Road, Alabama, is charged with: DWI; driving with a BAC of .08 or greater; criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th; aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd; and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. At 2:23 p.m., deputies responded to a report of a motor-vehicle accident on Maple Road, Alabama, where the driver had fled the scene. Deputy Chris Erion and K9 "Destro" were dispatched and Shelter was located not far from the scene of the accident. The incident was investigated by Deputy Eric Meyer.

Aaron Robert Webb, 21, of West Combe Park, West Henrietta, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to stop at stop sign and insufficient tail lamp. Webb was stopped at 11:57 p.m., Thursday, on Telephone Road, Pavilion, by Deputy Eric Meyer.

Joshua A. Aughenbaugh, 23, of Junction Road, Pavilion, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment. Aughenbaugh is accused of holding a child behind a running vehicle in an attempt to prevent the child's mother from putting the vehicle in reverse. Aughenbaugh is also accused of butting heads with the woman and shoving her. He was jailed on $500 bail.

Leaha RaeAnne Wimmer, 25, of Allen Road, Albion, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Wimmer allegedly stole a debit card and made purchases with it.

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September 28, 2017 - 5:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, notify.

For a second time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office has sent out invitations to members of the community for an announcement at City Hall only to cancel the same day. 

Cuomo’s office sent out invitations this afternoon and before 5 p.m. canceled the appearance. 

No reason was given for the cancellation. 

September 28, 2017 - 4:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thruway, news, Le Roy, notify.

A truck driver died this afternoon when his truck left the roadway on the westbound Thruway in Le Roy and headed into a line of trees.

The driver was ejected and found nearby with only a slight pulse. He died a short time later and a coroner was called to the scene.

Troop T, State Police, are investigating the accident, but have little to go on at this point. A spokesman said there is no apparent cause for the driver to have lost control of the truck and no prior reports of erratic drivers in the area.

The truck was apparently making drop-offs and deliveries in the area and the nature of its cargo is not currently available.

Both lanes are now open, but the shoulder in the area of mile marker 392 is closed, making travel through the area slower.

The name of the driver has not been released yet pending notification of his family.

Le Roy fire and Le Roy ambulance responded to the scene.

(Initial Report)

Our news partner 13WHAM contributed to this story.

September 28, 2017 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, notify.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's visit to Batavia has been rescheduled and he will be at City Hall at 1:40 p.m., tomorrow.

It's possible -- though no official will confirm it -- that Cuomo is here to announce Batavia is the winner in the Finger Lakes region of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative prize.

September 28, 2017 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in United Way, batavia, news, notify.

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The United Way of Genesee County has set a fundraising goal for the next year of $388,000 to help support 25 programs run by 20 local agencies.

Director Eric Fix also announced this morning at the kickoff breakfast at the Dibble Family Center an ambitious plan to build "Teen City," a new center to provide activities for teens from throughout Genesee County.

Plans are still being developed, including finding a location for the center in the City of Batavia, but Fix said the goal is to open the doors by fall of 2018.

He's working with Jeff Townsend of the YMCA to develop the center.

"One of the things we've both been told throughout our careers is teen centers don't work," Fix said. "You can't do teens. It just won't work. I personally feel with funding from United Way and other sources, with our community support, and all the great people at the table at the same time coming up with this concept it definitely will work."

Fix also celebrated the events and accomplishments of the past year, which included raising $385,000 in last year's campaign, which was headed by Bill Fritts, who is directing the fundraising effort again this year.

The 10th Annual Day of Caring attracted more than 400 volunteers who worked at 35 sites.

"If you missed it, it's the highlight event Genesee County of all last year," Fix said. "Out of anything that happens in the whole entire county, it was hands down the best event. I think I've seen tie-dyed shirts in my sleep but it was the signature event of the year."

The backpack program starts back up next week and Fix said he's personally excited to get involved in that again, working with clients of ARC at the Salvation Army to fill backpacks with food to help children from needy families get through the weekends each week. There will be 180 to 200 backpacks packed each weekend.

There are two events left in the United Way's 5K series, the Acorn Run this weekend in the Genesee County Park & Forest, and the Stiletto & Sneaker 5K at the YWCA on Thursday.

Fix said all the agencies supported through the annual fundraising drive are making a big difference in our community.

"It's not easy," Fix said. "They can tell you that. I can tell you that from talking to them and working with them. And it's our United Way effort that helps support their organizations and helps them do the work that they do.

"I can't say that they wouldn't exist without it, but I know that their lives would be a heck of a lot harder if they didn't have that money. So we appreciate everybody who gives to the campaign."

September 26, 2017 - 4:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, alexander, notify.

A 7-year-old boy is conscious and alert after being struck by a vehicle at 81-A Colony Run in Alexander. Alexander fire and ambulance responding along with law enforcement.

Also medic #80 from Wyoming County just arrived on scene and Mercy Flight #4 is on in-air standby. A first responder at the scene says the boy has lacerations to the front and back of his head. A Mercy Flight landing zone will be established.

UPDATE 5:04 p.m.: A first responder says the boy was struck by a vehicle going about 20 mph while riding his bicycle. Mercy Flight is airborne and will land at the Alexander fire rec hall.

UPDATE 5:11 p.m.: Medic #80 from Wyoming County is back in service.

September 26, 2017 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, Oakfield, news, notify.

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When the Oakfield Fire Department signed up eight new members a couple of years ago and then came to the village with a request for $18,500 to buy gear for the volunteers, Mayor Jason Armbrewster started to rethink how fire services are funded in Oakfield.

"Eight new members, that should be great news," Armbrewster said. "But to us as a board, we’re like, 'How are we going to come up with $18,500?' That’s when I was like, 'Why should we be controlling that destiny? Why should new members be a hindrance to our fire department?' ”

The village held a public hearing last night -- more of a fact-finding and public feedback process -- to explore the idea of getting the village out of the fire department business and forming either a fire district or a fire protection district.

One village resident wanted to know if this idea would save residents money.

"It’s not about saving money," Armbrewster said. "It’s about providing a better service."

Trustee David Boyle pointed out the idea could help provide both better fire protection and better services through the village for residents. He said the village has already had to cut other services just to keep the fire department going.

Currently, the fire department is part of the village and the Town of Oakfield contracts with the department for fire protection outside the village, paying for it with its own fire district. The fire district is a separate tax for town residents. The town accounts for more than 50 percent of the fire department's budget.

If the village decided to go ahead with the idea, it would need to decide whether to set up a fire district, which would need to happen jointly with the town, because it would cover both the town and the village, or a fire protection district, which would cover only the village. Then both the town and the village would contract with the Oakfield Fire Department (or conceivably, some other department) for emergency services.

The struggles for the department now include replacing aging fire apparatus, maintaining the fire hall at a cost of $18,000 a year, and recruiting volunteers.

Ambrewster said in his talks with other departments where recruiting isn't as difficult, good equipment and recruiting seem to go hand-in-hand.

Dan Luker, a longtime member of the Oakfield department, said he had one simple question: Why?

He said his mind wasn't made up on the proposal, but he was skeptical of the need.

"I don’t see where changing the structure of raising taxes is going to change people wanting to volunteer," Luker said.

Trustee John Igoe said he is also on the fire department board and he isn't sure the fire department will survive under the current arrangement.

Igoe, who said he will abstain on any vote on the proposal, said insolvency in a couple of years is a real possibility. 

"It comes to the point that maybe we have to look at shutting the doors because we don’t have any more money to keep the light and heat on because what we receive as a department isn't enough," Igoe said.

No decisions were reached at the meeting, but after two years of kicking the idea around, Armbrewster said a decision needs to be made soon.

"I either want to move ahead or say we’re not going to do this," Armbrewster said.

Photo: John Igoe and Jason Armbrewster.

UPDATE Sept. 26 5:15 p.m.: John Igoe's name was corrected in the story; it is not John Igor. The Batavian regrets the error.

September 26, 2017 - 9:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia, notify.
johnsonlakaramug2017.jpg
      Lakara Johnson

An apparent domestic dispute led to two motor-vehicle accidents in Batavia yesterday afternoon and resulted in the arrest of a 27-year-old city resident on assault charges for allegedly trying to run over a man in the parking lot of a business on East Main Street.

Lakara D. Johnson, of Highland Park, was charged with attempted assault, 1st, unlawful imprisonment, 1st, and reckless endangerment, 1st.

The incident started when police were called to Main and Center for a two-car accident. By the time police arrived, one of the vehicles had left the scene. Officers then received a report of a second motor-vehicle involving the suspect vehicle. The driver allegedly tried to hit a male who had managed to get out of the vehicle and instead struck a picnic table at the business.

The vehicle again fled the scene and was located on Howard Street.

Johnson was located on Colorado Avenue and taken into custody.

She was arraigned in City Court and released under supervision of Genesee Justice pending further court proceedings.

September 25, 2017 - 3:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, pembroke, news, notify.

The Pembroke Dragons get a night off, get to skip a road game and they will pick up a win this Friday because Geneseo High School has forfeited its entire season over an apparent drug scandal.

This Friday's game was supposed to be Geneseo's homecoming game, too.

Geneseo Superintendent Tim Hays announced the district was scrubbing the team's season this afternoon.

"A number of players have been dismissed from the Geneseo High School Varsity Football Team," Hayes said in a statement. "These dismissals stem from serious violations of the District's Code of Conduct and Athletic Eligibility Standards.

"Due to the number of student-athletes involved and the serious nature of this incident, pursuant to our Athletic Code and New York State Public High School Athletic Association standards, the remainder of the varsity football season will be forfeited."

The Livingston County News reported today that police are investigating a report that a player brought OxyContin pills to Friday's game against Bolivar-Richburg. The player allegedly distributed the pills to teammates.

Geneseo won that game on the field 26-24 but that game will now revert to the loss column with the Geneseo Blue Devils giving up that win as well.

Pembroke moves to 5-1 on the season and next plays Attica on Oct. 6 at home.

"The Geneseo Central School District is committed to upholding the highest standards of excellence in all of our academic, extracurricular, and athletic programs," Hayes said. "We will continue to work with all of our student-athletes to ensure that their actions represent the expectations of the District and our community."

September 25, 2017 - 1:58pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Le Roy, news, outdoors, bow hunting, notify, sports.

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Melissa Bender, a resident of Le Roy, made history at the Pennsylvania Bowhunters Festival, after competing with an all-male crowd, becoming the first and only woman to win the steel boar challenge.

The festival is held in Forksville in the middle of September, every year since 1957. It is the oldest gathering of bowhunters in the world.

“People come from all over the place to go,” Bender said.

The three-day event offers a variety of shooting activities and events designed to prepare the Bowhunters for the upcoming archery season. The festival features the famous “Forksville Running Deer” target, mechanical bear and turkey targets, pop-up and moving small game targets, a timed clay pigeon shoot, stationary targets set at variable distances, and three game trails designed with all 3-D targets.

The grand prize for the steel boar challenge, was a wild hog hunt, which drew Bender to competing.

“It was really neat because they had never had a girl win it before,” Bender said. “They were super excited for me.”

Bender’s love for archery began after she went hunting with her husband.

“When I was out hunting, I hit a deer,” Bender said. “We tracked it for two days and we never found it.”

Bender decided that she wanted to be a better shooter, so she started with the help of a local archery organization.

“The people down there [at C&C Archery] are so willing to help anyone,” Bender said. “Especially young people in becoming better shots, either in archery, in competitive form, just for shooting, or just in hunting.”

C&C Archery, in Le Roy, has an indoor archery range, with all different kinds of targets. They offer a variety of services and products to help anyone be successful.

“If I hadn’t gone down there to sign up for [archery] leagues, I obviously would have never had the opportunity to win that challenge.”

Bender hopes to continue strengthening her archery skills to become a more ethical hunter.

“I want to have a better shot so that I don’t have to go through what I went through a year ago,” Bender said.

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