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June 20, 2019 - 5:49pm

A new proposal was brought before the Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday for an I Love New York selfie sign on the lawn outside the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center at 8276 Park Road, Batavia.

It's one of the most recognizable logos of New York State. The iconic “I Love New York” letters and bright red heart are frequently seen on tourist souvenirs and apparel.

But its $47,000 price tag raised eyebrows at the meeting.

It would be paid for with bed tax reserves -- not by local taxpayers, according to Chamber President Tom Turnbull, who presented the preliminary design of the selfie sign to the Ways & Means Committee.

He sought the initial reactions of committee members as he spoke about the proposed I Love New York sign, which would showcase the logo with a semi-transparent background and backlighting.

The goal of the selfie sign is to attract visitors to Genesee County and draw tourists to the Visitor Center once they stop for a photo opportunity next to the sign. Similar selfie signs are currently featured at popular destinations like the Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks.

“We think this will be a big hit for people … People are into taking pictures at places like that. We hope it will attract people to come inside our visitor center,” Turnbull said.

The chamber worked with Batavia-based companies like smartDESIGN Architecture and John’s Studio in the engineering and design processes.

The price includes design, construction and installation costs.

The bed tax revenue that would pay for it comes from a 5-percent administrative fee that is added to the price of a hotel room in Genesee County and collected annually by the county Treasurer’s Office.

Each year, bed tax revenue is capped at $420,000, and surplus funds are placed in a reserve.

The expected surplus total for 2019 is approximately $100,000, and $47,000 for the proposed sign would come from this surplus.

“The money is there," Turnbull said. "It’s dedicated for tourism, and we think this is a good use of some of that money. We can spruce up our property a little bit more and attract even more tourism to Genesee County.”

Legislators Andrew Young and Shelly Stein opined that $47,000 is a high price for this potential investment. Stein questioned the life expectancy of both the selfie-sign trend and the durability of the design in winter weather.

Turnbull said he is confident that the sign and its popularity will last well into the future.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said that the sign would most likely see a good amount of traffic in that area due to hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and Batavia Downs casino.

“I think we’ve got the funds," Clattenburg said to Turnbull. "And if your board is saying that this is something that is advantageous and you’ll see results from it, then I would support it."

The Chamber of Commerce received tentative permission from NYS Empire State Development to use its trademark logo. Approval of the project can occur once a finalized design has been agreed upon by the chamber and the legislature.

Now the chamber has a better sense of the legislators' thoughts on the project before it drafts a resolution asking for a portion of bed tax money to pay for it.

June 20, 2019 - 2:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia, Stafford.

Angel Ivan Carrasquillo, 43, of Lake Avenue, Rochester is charged with: third-degree burglary; third-degree criminal mischief; attempted grand larceny in the fourth degree; and petit larceny. Following an investigation into a burglary that occurred on Clinton Street Road in the Town of Stafford at 2:27 a.m. on May 2, Carrasquillo was arrested and arraigned in Batavia Town Court. He is currently being held in Genesee County Jail on a separate matter. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Forsyth, assisted by Deputy Andrew Mullen. Also assisting were Sgt. John Baiocco, investigators Chris Parker and Chad Minuto, and members of the NYS Police.

Jay W. Schafer, 26, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a firearm. He was arrested at 2:15 a.m. on June 19 after an incident at his residence. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed in lieu of $1,500 cash bail or $3,000 bond. He is due back in city court at a later date. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Quider, assisted by Officer Jason Davis.

Brandon L. Lucas, 35, of Manhatten Square, Rochester, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree and unlawful possession of marijuana. Lucas was arrested at 6:58 p.m. June 18 on Main Street following a traffic stop. He was found to be driving while his driver's license was suspended. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and put in Genesee County Jail in lieu of $1,000 cash bail or bond. He was due to return to city court on June 19. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay, assisted by Officer James DeFreze.

June 18, 2019 - 3:50pm

County officials can expect a state rebate for their energy-saving efforts that began last spring.

How much of a rebate remains to be seen, Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn told the Public Service Committee on Monday.

In the update, Osborn said his department is waiting to receive summary reports from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to show where savings have been made and where more savings can occur later on.

“NYSERDA still has to review all of it to make sure that the realization of the energy savings that they say that they were going to do initially is realized again as well,” Osborn said. “And then, if there is more realization in the savings, then they give us a rebate for that.

“We are not anticipating a significant rebate, but we are anticipating some rebate from them. So, we can take that rebate and put it into some of those facilities that they reviewed that may need some work.”

Some cost savings will be realized with the completion of smaller projects like switching lighting in county buildings to more energy-efficient systems. More extensive projects include electrical panels, boilers, HVAC systems and breakers or air handlers.

So far, heating at County Building #1, ventilation and insulation work at the animal shelter and HVAC improvements to the highway garage have been underway.

Osborn said that once the NYSERDA report is released in late July, it will paint a clearer picture of where the funding can be allocated.

“Our biggest thing is we want to see the report — see where our idealized savings can be furthered,” Osborn said.

County Manager Jay Gsell added, “The Highway Department has one of our older buildings. [It] is also one that had probably the least internal changes made to it as with anything with HVAC and lighting and other things. So, this is one of those times, finally, let’s really make some significant improvements.”

The energy-savings projects are being conducted by Johnson Controls, which entered into a $4 million contract with the county last spring after the company conducted an energy consumption audit of county facilities in 2017.

The projected energy savings are expected to be nearly $4.3 million, for a potential net savings to the county of about $300,000.

There was debate about whether to hire Johnson Controls, but a key selling point was the claim that energy-saving projects will pay for themselves in 20 years.

Initially, legislators Gary Maha and Andrew Young approached the agreement with skepticism, while legislators Shelly Stein, Marianne Clattenburg and John Hilchey expressed their approval.

The Johnson Controls contract allows the county to undertake projects that are already part of the county's capital investment plans and save money on existing utilities. The money saved from lower energy costs will flow back into the capital project budget to cover additional upgrades.

Legislators seemed satisfied with the information contained in the energy-saving projects update and raised no objections.

Stein requested that Osborn return to the Public Service Committee in September to present the next update on Johnson Controls.

June 18, 2019 - 2:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

Morgan Lee Cox Jr., 27, of Bates Road, Medina, is charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree. He was arrested on June 15 for allegedly threatening over the telephone at 2:20 a.m. on June 14 to burn another person's house down who lives on Pearl Street Road in Batavia. He was released on an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia Town Court on June 24. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack.

Nicole Jean Andrews, 37, of Boone Street, Buffalo, is charged with: third-degree burglary; possession of burglar tools; criminal tampering in the third degree; attempted petit larceny, and sixth-degree conspiracy. Jacquline M. Ross, no age or address provided, is charged with attempted petit larceny and sixth-degree conspiracy: At 3:04 p.m. on June 12, the GC Dispatch Center received a call of shoplifting in progress at a department store on Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia. Following an investigation, the defendants were arrested. Andrews was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and jailed without bail. Ross was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia Town Court at a later date. The case was investigated by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan DeLong, assisted by Sgt. Andrew Hale and Investigator Chris Parker.

Herbert B. Gennis, 25, of Raymond Avenue, Batavia, is charged with second-degree harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. He is arrested at 12:58 p.m. on June 15 on Holland Avenue in Batavia, incident details not provided, and issued appearance tickets for June 25 in Batavia City Court. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Peter Post.

Malik I. Ayala, 27, of Holland Avenue, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. He was arrested on June 14 for allegedly stealing items from a store on East Main Street in Batavia at 7:49 p.m. on April 9. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Batavia City Court on June 25. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Alexandra R. Lasky, 29, of Seven Springs Road, Batavia, was arrested on a Batavia City Court warrant for failure to appear after she was located during a traffic stop in Monroe County on June 16. She was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed in lieu of $500 cash bail or bond. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Quider.

June 18, 2019 - 8:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
      Carlos Samol

A 54-year-old Batavia man has been accused of selling crack cocaine to agents of the Local Drug Task Force. 

Carlos "Sinbad" Samol, of Elm Street, Batavia, is charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and two counts criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

Samol was picked up Sunday morning on a sealed Grand Jury indictment by Batavia PD while they were investigating an unrelated matter.

The suspect allegedly sold a quantity of crack cocaine an undercover agent on two separate occasions.  

He was arraigned in County Court and jailed on $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond.

June 17, 2019 - 3:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, Le Roy, Darien, batavia.

Edward James Leddick, 23, of Cheektowaga, is charged with second-degree harassement. At 12:39 a.m. on June 17 Leddick was arrested following an argument on Fargo Road in the Town of Darien. It is alleged that during the arugment, Leddick struck a female in the nose and pushed her to the ground. He was issued an appearance ticket for Town of Darien Court on July 7. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Austin Heberlein.

Eric Duda, 46, of Prestige Crossing, Batavia, is charged with third-degree criminal mischief. At 11:20 p.m. on June 14, deputies responded to Prestige Crossing in the Town of Batavia for a reported criminal mischief complaint. After an investigation Duda was arrested. He allegedly damaged property valued at $300 that belonged to another person. He was issued an appearance ticket and is due in Town of Batavia Court on July 8. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Eril Andre, assisted by Deputy Andrew Mullen

Daniel Jon Lewis, 23, of Meadow Farm South, North Chili, is charged with second-degree assault. He was arrested on June 11 for an assault that allegedly occurred at 10:09 p.m. on June 10 while he was incaracerated in the Genesee County Jail. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or bond. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor.

Kelly James Rhim, 40, of Coven Street, Rochester, is charged with second-degree assault. He was arrested on June 11 for an assault that allegedly occurred at 9:49 p.m. on June 10 while he was incarcerated in the Genesee County Jail. He was arraigned in Batavia City Court and jailed in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or bond. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Mathew Clor.

June 17, 2019 - 1:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
       Lorenzo Terry

A 51-year-old Rochester resident has been arrested by members of the Local Drug Task Force, accused of selling crack cocaine in and around Genesee County.

Lorenzo A. "Tone" Terry, of Lang Street, Rochester, is accused of selling crack on three separate occasions to an agent of the task force over a six-month period.

Terry, the subject of an arrest warrant, was arrested on Batavia PD a week ago when he was spotted walking in the City of Batavia.  

The suspect has served four prior prison terms, going back to 1992, for drug possession and sales.

Judge Charles Zambito ordered Terry held in the Genesee County Jail on $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond.

June 15, 2019 - 4:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in Grand Jury, crime, news, notify, Le Roy, batavia, bergen.

Guillermo J. Torres-Acevedo is indicted for the crime of second-degree rape, a Class D violent felony. He is an adult accused of engaging is sexual intercourse with a person under 15 years old sometime during October at or near the County Meadows Manufactured Home Community in the Town of Batavia. In count two, he is accused of the same crime during September or October, on a different occasion. In count three, he is accused of the same crime in October while in the parking lot of a hotel in the Town of Batavia. In count four, he is accused of the same crime sometime between Nov. 25 and 26 in the Town of Batavia. In counts five, six and seven he is accused of criminal sexual act in the second degree, also a Class D violent felony, for allegedly engaging in oral sexual conduct with a person under age 15 sometime during October or November in the Town of Batavia on three different occasions. In count eight, Torres-Acevedo is accused of another count of criminal sexual act in the second degree, for allegedly engaging in oral sexual conduct with a person under age 15 sometime between Nov. 25 and 26 in the Town of Batavia. In count nine, the defendant is accused of second-degree kidnapping, a Class B violent felony, for allegedly abducting a person in the Town of Bergen on Nov. 29. In count 10, he is accused of second-degree criminal contempt, a Class A misdemeanor, for intentionally disobeying a court order of protection to stay away from the victim. In count 11, the defendant is indicted for endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor, for acting in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of child less than 17. In count 12, Torres-Acevedo is indicted for the crime of first-degree custodial interference, a Class E felony. It is alleged in count 12 that on Nov. 29, the defendant unlawfully took a child from her lawful custodian and removed her from the state. In count 13, he is accused of unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly taking a 2012 Dodge Journey without the owner's consent.

Darius L. Jones is indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 22 in the City of Batavia that Jones knowingly and unlawfully possessed a narcotic drug -- cocaine -- with the intent to sell it.

Marquise L. Lee and Derek E. Wilcox are indicted for the crime of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony. It is alleged that on March 27 in the City of Batavia that they knowingly and unlawfully possessed a narcotic drug -- cocaine -- with the intent to sell it.

Christopher L. Burns is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Feb. 16 in the Town of Le Roy that he drove a 2014 Fiat on Route 5 while intoxicated. In count two, burns is accused of DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .08 or more at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Burns is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on Sept. 24, 2012 in County of Monroe Court and that conviction is within 10 previous to the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

Shah L. Zajic is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Dec. 27 in the Town of Le Roy that Zajic drove a 2012 Toyota on Route 19 while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of aggravated DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .18 percent or more at the time. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Zajic is accused of having been convicted of the crime of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on Feb. 14, 2017, in City of Batavia Court and that conviction is within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

June 15, 2019 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, video, notify.
Video Sponsor

The 2019 season for the Batavia Muckdogs got off to the right start with 1,700 fans in attendance and a 2-0 win over the Auburn Doubledays.

Ben Hayes, the president of the New York-Penn League, the current owners of the franchise, said he's pleased with the improvements made by General Manager Brendan Kelly, Groundskeeper Cooper Thomson, and the rest of the staff during the offseason.  

Over the offseason, the league signed a three-year lease agreement for Dwyer Stadium and Hayes isn't talking like a league leader who wants to leave Batavia.

"We've been here since 1939," Hayes said. "Batavia means a lot to the New York-Penn League and there's been a lot of rumors and all that kind of stuff generated by people who are scared that the club's going to leave. But it's still here."

To keep the team here, though, the team needs community support. 

"The facility is a good facility at this point in time to play professional baseball," Hayes said. "We do need people to come and we need businesses to support the operations so that we can pay our bills, pay the bus company to transport us around, hotels -- all the different things that come along with a professional baseball team."

The team itself looks good. Several college-age players, some top prospects, lots of talent.

In centerfield this year is one of the Miami Marlins' Top 50 prospects, Milton Smith Jr., who hit .361 last year in rookie ball. He went 1-3 on opening night.

Dalvy Rosario, another top prospect, his first two hits in the league. He also stole a base and was caught stealing.

Peyton Burdick, a third-round draft pick from Batavia -- Batavia, Ohio -- started in right field and got his first two professional hits.

Nic Ready, from Poway, Calif. (San Diego County), an Air Force Academy grad (see separate video), and son of former major leaguer Randy Ready (San Diego Padres, among other teams, and for the previous three seasons, he managed in the Marlins system), started at third base. His first professional hit was a double and he scored a run.

Starting pitcher Remey Reed, a 2016 sixth-round pick from Plano, Texas, who spent part of the 2016 and 2017 seasons in Batavia, gave up only one hit over five frames to pick up the win. Cason Sherrod notched the save.

June 14, 2019 - 6:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, crime, notify, batavia.

About a dozen family members and friends of murder victim Raymond Morgan were in Genesee County Court this afternoon when the man accused of killing him rejected a plea offer, opting instead to take the case to trial and face up to 25 years to life in prison.

Richard D. Hanes (inset photo, right), head shaved, constrained by shackles and wearing orange jail clothes, swiftly entered the courtroom when the side door swung wide open, and was told by a deputy to take a seat next to his attorney, Frederick Rarick.

The 36-year-old former Orleans County resident is accused of beating Morgan to death in his apartment at 111 Liberty St., Batavia, on July 24. He is charged with murder in the second degree, a Class A-1 felony, and has pled not guilty.

Under the plea offer, Hanes faced a minimum of 15 to 20 years in state prison.

Rarick told Judge Charles Zambito that he discussed the plea offer with his client and Hanes rejected it.

Zambito said today was the plea cut-off date and after today the offer would no longer be available and he asked Rarick if his client understood that. Rarick said he did.

Zambito also cited the "severe brutality" exhibited in this case and then set a trial date of Monday, July 22, with jury selection to begin the week before.

With the trial date set and the case dismissed, Morgan's loved ones abruptly stood and left the courtroom, causing a commotion as they did so. A couple of young women shouted out homophobic slurs and one said "Scumbag! Hope you get 25 years to life!"

A deputy quickly followed the group outside, telling them not to shout out.

One woman sobbed uncontrollably outside the courtroom as others tried to comfort her.

Investigators in the case have said the attack on Morgan was "exceptionally violent" and it happened "in an extremely short period of time." The motive, if there was one, was not clear, but detectives say they believe the attack was planned.

Hanes has been in custody since July 26, two days after the murder, on an alleged parole violation. He is being held at the Attica Correctional Facility.

In 2003, he was convicted in Orleans County of burglary, 3rd, attempted robbery, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th. His parole on those charges expires Dec. 7.

In November, a Batavia police spokesman said Hanes was living at 5 Thorpe St., Batavia, a rooming house for clients of GCASA, at the time of Morgan's murder. (For previous story, click here.)

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman previously told The Batavian that there were witnesses in the area at the time of the murder who identified Hanes as the attacker. He said the people's case also includes scientific evidence, items of physical evidence, and surveillance video from various locations that follow Hane's path after the crime.

Morgan was a 47-year-old Batavia native with a large, tight-knit family that includes five grandchildren and many friends.

June 14, 2019 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Adams Welding, oakfield-alabama, news, schools, education, notify.


For Tim Adams, owner of Adams Welding and Manufacturing in Stafford, donating steel for a class project at Oakfield-Alabama High School is a chance to help students discover a possible career.

For the students, it's a chance to explore a trade and learn new skills.

For the Genesee County Fair, they'll receive new gate racks.

You might call it a win-win-win.

"Any chance kids have for an opportunity to learn a skill or an opportunity to if something is something they want to do in a future career, whether it be welding, electrical, plumbing, or carpentry, any kind of skilled trade, I don't see that as a bad thing," Adams said. "Perhaps they will fall in love with it and like it."

While not necessarily calling it a career just yet, Cierra Tiede said she went from being fearful of welding to really enjoying it.

"It was pretty cool," Tiede said. "I've done another welding projects before, but this was a bigger scale and it was cool to see it all come together in the end."

Instructor Todd Hofheins said it was a great project for the students to learn how to work together as a team, to divide up their labor, coordinate, and ensure all of the five racks are uniform in size and quality.

"The racks need to hold close to 2,000 pounds so they've got to be done properly," Hofheins said.

Without the donation of steel from Adams, the project wouldn't have been possible, Hofheins said.



June 14, 2019 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, news, notify.

A 31-year-old Gates resident who police believed approached two girls near Wolcott School last Saturday appears to have done nothing that warrants criminal charges, Le Roy PD officers have determined following a detailed investigation.

The man was fully cooperative with police, authorities said.

He allowed investigators to examine all of the electronic devices along with his websites and other electronic data and no concerning photos or other data were found.

The FBI assisted in the investigation.

According to Le Roy PD, the man said he understood the concerns his actions raised and realized it was an error in judgment to approach the girls, whom he thought were older than they actually were.

The man is apparently developing a portfolio of piercing photos.

He was in Le Roy on Saturday primarily to photograph the replica of the Statue of Liberty and the Oatka Creek.

The Le Roy Central School District has been thoroughly briefed on the investigation, Le Roy PD said in a statement.

"After consulting with the FBI, the District Attorney's Office and the parents of the student who allowed the photo to be taken, no charges will be placed at this time," the statement said.

NOTE: While Le Roy PD released the name of the subject of the investigation, since he is not being charged with a crime, The Batavian does not consider it appropriate to publish his name.

June 14, 2019 - 2:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, corfu, news, notify.

Multiple law enforcement units are in pursuit of multiple motorcycles in the area of Corfu and Darien.

The motorcycles broke up in multiple directions with at least one heading north, one south, and one heading west into Erie County.

The riders have been identified as members of a motorcycle club.

One rider sideswiped a truck and took off a mirror.

One rider entering the Village of Corfu was fleeing in excess of 100 mph. The bikes are passing on the right and on the center line.

One westbound rider is described as a black male on a red motorcycle.

UPDATE 2:04 p.m.: The northbound motorcycle turned off of Route 77 and is now west on Route 5 and entering Erie County. Erie County does not have a car close to the chase area.

UPDATE 2:05 p.m.: The deputy in pursuit of the motorcycle on Route 5 in Erie County is breaking off the pursuit. 

UPDATE 2:08 p.m.: A deputy is apparently with one rider who had been part of the group and is running his identification. There is reportedly a rider who is part of the club at the security office at Darien Lakes. One deputy reports, "I had a total of four take off on me." Another says there was a group of five he was behind, and one he stopped.

UPDATE 2:16 p.m.: At least one rider was seen stopping to change clothes and is now wearing a black jacket with an orange shirt. He is described as a black male in his mid-40s. At least one of the plates of the bikes involved is from Maryland.

UPDATE 2:56 p.m.: Another rider was spotted going into Erie County at a high rate of speed -- a black male, black helmet, red bike.

June 14, 2019 - 9:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Iroquois Trail Council, Oakfield, news, notify, Boy Scouts.

A search of more than four years is about to come to an end for Iroquois Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The local Boy Scouts organization has been looking for consolidated, easily accessible, visible office space since at least 2015 and now has a pending purchase offer for a commercial building at 102 S. Main St., Oakfield.

The purchase agreement is contingent, among other things, on the council receiving approval on a site plan to convert the retail space into office space.

The location was most recently the site of a secondhand store, All About Yous.

"The advantage is mainly to our customer base, which is access," said Director Jim McMullen. "And it gives us an opportunity to house each of our staff in a workable space. We're pretty crowded right now."

Currently, the council has a small space in Downtown Batavia and an office in Lockport.

The new location will combine those, giving staff more room, and giving the scouts space for leaders and parents to pick up materials. It will also provide the council with a place to hold meetings.

A couple of years ago the council thought it had found a new office on West Main Street Road in Batavia but that deal didn't come together.

"It's been tough to find, space that is appropriate to our needs and is also on an easily accessible route," McMullen said following a meeting of the Genesee County Planning Board, which recommended approval of the site plan.

Don Ames said the scouts have owned their own office space for decades.

The purchase is also contingent on the building passing an engineering inspection and the property getting confirmation for tax-exempt status for nonprofit ownership.

The property is a little more than a half acre. The building on the property was built in 1998 and is 2,400 square feet. It's assessed value is $117,000.

Also on Thursday, the planning board recommended approval of a special use permit for a five-megawatt solar farm at 5103 Ellicott Street Road, which is currently farmland owned by Donald Partridge. The location is 20 acres and the facility will be built and run by Trousdale Solar LLC and will provide sufficient solar power for 750 to 1,000 homes.

Under the Community Distributed Generation Program, the solar energy would be distributed to customers through National Grid and the customers would receive solar credits against National Grid bills and pay Cypress Creek (the company administering the program) separately for the solar power. The overall cost to customers who sign up for the program will be lower than what they're currently paying, according to documentation from Trousdale Solar.

June 13, 2019 - 5:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
Christopher Sprague

Judge Charles Zambito was in no mood today to give a Batavia man with prior burglary convictions and an admission to a string of burglaries in the City of Batavia late last year much of a break on his sentence in County Court.

Christopher Tyler Sprague, 25, will serve at least three and a half years in state prison and could serve as much as seven, under the terms of his sentence today.

Zambito could have given Sprague up to 15 years in prison but chose not to make his sentences consecutive on his conviction on two counts of third-degree burglary.

Sprague was arrested in January, accused of burglarizing several businesses in Batavia in December.

He also served a stint in state prison on a burglary conviction in 2012 and was arrested on burglary charges in 2016 and served a term in prison on a felony criminal mischief conviction.

Today, Sprague vowed he was ready to turn his life around and asked for a second chance.

"If you can't show me mercy, please do it for my fiancée, my siblings, and my mother," Sprague told Zambito. "Please consider a Willard (rehabilitation) sentence so I can get home as soon as possible and help me get help and get into rehab.

"Your honor," he added, "I'm sincerely ready and willing to change, to change my life around."

Sprague said he had a job on a farm waiting for him once he's out of jail and that he intended to fully compensate his victims.

"I feel horrible for the acts I did and I take full responsibility for what I did," Sprague said.

Zambito said the defendant's criminal record left him unconvinced that he could rely on Sprague to really turn his life around.

"I look at your record and you tell me you've turned a new leaf and you're going to take care of your substance abuse problem but you've already served multiple state sentences for burglary," Zambito said.

Zambito also ordered Sprague to pay restitution, with interest, of $3,897.48, in increments of $100 a month starting 60 days after his release from prison.

June 13, 2019 - 4:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Grand Jury, crime, news, notify, batavia.
       Malik Ayala

For the second time this year, the actions of a stenographer in the Grand Jury room is causing difficulties for District Attorney Lawrence Friedman in the Genesee County Courtroom.

Today, Friedman moved to have what had been a sealed indictment on burglary, trespass, and forgery charges dismissed because a stenographer spoke to grand jurors about the case while the prosecutor was out of the room.

Friedman must now have a new grand jury hear the case against Malik Ayala at a later date.

Ayala was in court today to deal with matters related to his pending case -- criminal possession of stolen property -- and he was also arraigned on these new charges from the sealed indictment.

The counts in the indictment were burglary, 2nd, criminal possession of stolen property, 3rd, and forgery.

Immediately after the charges were read, Friedman made a motion to dismiss the indictment because a court stenographer had jeopardized the integrity of the proceeding. 

Freidman said he had previously informed Public Defender Jerry Ader, who is representing Ayala, that he would move to have the indictment dismissed but with the court's permission to resubmit the case to a grand jury.

He gave Ader a choice -- to present it to the current grand jury, which is the one that heard the case the first time, or waits for a new grand jury to be empaneled.

Ader asked that the case be presented to a new grand jury.

In March, Friedman revealed during another court proceeding that a stenographer had been using an audio recording device on her machine to record grand jury proceedings.

Friedman had another appointment after Ayala's case and was not immediately available for questions, so we don't know if this is the same or a different stenographer.

Ayala was arrested in November along with his brother TeeSean Ayala after the two men were stopped in a car that had pulled into the driveway of County Manager Jay Gsell where they reportedly tried to dispose of a handgun.

During today's proceedings, Judge Charles Zambito told Ayala that he had been informed that Ayala had violated the terms of his release-under-supervision contract. He said that Ayala is accused of testing positive for marijuana and alcohol consumption May 7 and May 14, and for marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol May 28, and that he was arrested on a petit larceny charge June 7.

Zambito had the option to terminate his release under supervision but based on updated reports from Horizon the judge decided it was better to allow Ayala to continue treatment. He warned Ayala that if there are further violations, he would put Ayala in jail and impose bail.

Ayala's status could change when and if a new grand jury indictment is returned.

June 13, 2019 - 2:07pm
posted by Lauren Leone in batavia, crime, news, notify.

The cases of three men arrested on drug charges in Batavia were heard in Genesee County Court this morning.

Jarett Locicero, of West Main Street, Batavia, (inset photo right) has been released on bail under supervision.

Locicero is charged with: criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony; criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, a Class D violent felony; and two Class A misdemeanors -- criminally using drug paraphernalia, 2nd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th.

He was arrested in May by the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force and is accused of selling fentanyl to a task force agent; and he was allegedly found in possession of an illegal knife, a crack cocaine smoking device and suboxone.

Darius AKA "D" L. Jones (inset photo left) was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty to charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a Class B felony; and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, a Class A misdemeanor.

On Feb. 22, the 27-year-old resident of Dewey Avenue, Rochester, was reportedly found in possession of a quantity of fentanyl, crack cocaine and cash at a residence on Hutchins Street, Batavia.

Jones was arrested by the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force and his bail was set at $50,000 bail, which Judge Charles Zambito continued today.

Marquise Lee, of Hobart Street, Rochester, (bottom right inset photo) is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd, a Class B felony; and criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd, a Class B misdemeanor.

At his arraignment, his attorney Marty Anderson said his client pleads not guilty.

On March 27, probation officers allegedly found 56 bags of crack cocaine at a house on Liberty Street, Batavia. Lee was one of five individuals arrested as a result of the investigation.

Lee’s $40,000 bail bond was also continued by Judge Zambito.

June 12, 2019 - 6:25pm
posted by Lauren Leone in Le Roy, news, notify, education, special education.

When Le Roy Board of Education members were warned that special education students were not making adequate progress, Denise Duthe asked, “When you look at where we are putting our money and where we are focusing our time, what are we doing? What do we need to do?”

Consultant Bonnie Whitney, Ph.D., responded, “Before you start more programs, I think we need teachers to be able to teach kids to think … There needs to be more intervention with just helping the students understand themselves.”

The special education program consultant update was a main focus at the Tuesday board meeting.

Whitney said that she and Le Roy special education faculty members have developed learning models for teachers of underperforming students with special needs.

“One of the observations that was very clear is our students were being helped to complete tasks. That’s not learning,” she said. “If the students cannot walk away and say, ‘I know how I did this,’ they haven’t learned.”

In addition to concerns about the lack of student progress in special education classrooms, Whitney spoke about compliance issues with New York State Department of Education requirements.

Due to poor data maintenance in past years, the district was only able to recover full state funding for special education programs from 2016 to 2019. Whitney said that Chelsea Eaton, the new director of special education and student services, will ensure future data collection is done correctly.

Whitney said, “It’s a mistake that we couldn’t recover completely, but we can move forward. Those are not easy processes to do.”

Whitney recommended new lesson plan templates for special education teachers to remedy student performance issues. The templates explain how instructors can better understand developmental disabilities, identify factors that disrupt learning, and set goals for students with special needs.

Whitney said special education teachers have been very responsive to improvements in compliance and program effectiveness.

“We really looked at whether the teachers are instructing the students to gain information to help them either cope with their disability, overcome their disability, but certainly not succumb to their disability,” Whitney said.

In other action, the Board:

— Recognized the varsity baseball and track and field teams for their athletic and sportsmanship achievements during the spring sports season.

— Discussed the breakfast and snack packages that will be provided for elementary Summer Academy students. A new feature of this summer learning program is that students are allowed more flexibility in attendance as they participate in the academy.

— Developed a new District-wide School Safety Plan, which is open for public comment until June 23.

June 12, 2019 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

In the case of the People v. Antwan Odom, the District Attorney wants the defense attorney to shut up -- at least when it comes talking to reporters -- and the defense attorney wants the DA disqualified from the case.

In other words, the case of the People v. Antwan Odom has been reduced to two attorneys squabbling about what happens outside the courtroom.

The attorney vs. attorney dispute dates back to May 3 when Odom's attorney Frank Housh told reporters that he would defend his client by trying to show jurors that the fellow student Odom allegedly stabbed on Ross Street on Aug. 4.

In court on May 3, Housh said he intended to file a motion to get evidence introduced, in order to mount a self-defense claim, that impeached the character of Ray Leach, the local football star Odom allegedly cut with a knife multiple times, so outside of court, reporters asked him to clarify his motion.

"The fact that Ray Leach is known in the community to be a violent person, to be a confrontational person, who confronted (Odom) -- by the prosecution's own admission -- he was the first aggressor," Housh said outside of court on May 3. "He went to my client's house and called him out and beat him into unconsciousness.

"So, under those circumstances, to say, when the prosecution is admitting that he was the first aggressor, to say that his history of violence and intimidation is irrelevant is simply absurd. We should be able to bring that up because it goes to the circumstance of his justification."

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman included the quote in a May 8 filing with the court requesting a gag order on both attorneys in the case.

In court today, Housh also revealed that Friedman filed a grievance against Housh with the state courts for "unprofessional conduct."

"Now I feel there is a parallel prosecution by the elected District Attorney of me and my client," Housh said. 

He said that raises a sufficient conflict of interest that Friedman should be disqualified from continuing as the prosecutor on the case.

That motion was continued until Odom's next court appearance on July 2.

Friedman, according to court discussions today, filed a one-sentence objection to the motion for disqualification.

Today, Friedman complained to Judge Charles Zambito that Housh was trying to get him disqualified from the case for following through on his ethical obligation to file a grievance over what he saw as unprofessional conduct.

Friedman said that as far as he knows nobody is prosecuting Housh and that he is not prosecuting Housh by following his "ethical obligation to report ethical misconduct."

"He says I'm seeking his disbarment," Friedman said. "I'm not seeking his disbarment. I followed through on the ethical obligation I have. All I wish to do is make sure he is able to remain professional and does nothing to violate professional conduct."

In his filing with the court, Friedman asserted that Housh's statements about Leach violated the rules of professional conduct, specifically the rule that prohibits attorneys from making statements could prejudice a jury, including statements relating to the character or credibility of a witness.

In the Order to Show Cause, Zambito ordered Housh and Friedman to show why they shouldn't be barred from "making statements to the media regarding anything involving this case."

The Batavian has filed a memo with Zambito objecting to the order. While judges in criminal cases can restrict what attorneys can say to the media, such orders, according to prior case law, can't be overly broad; can't apply to parties other than the attorneys in the case; and should consider how much time before the trial the statements are made.

In addition, both attorneys can use the jury selection process to identify potential jurors who should be disqualified because media exposure has tainted their view of the case. 

Gag orders can act, courts have found, as a form of prior restraint (the government censoring speech before the speech is made), which violates the First Amendment. 

While cases such as Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada have given courts leeway to restrict speech by attorneys because of their special access to information, in order to issue a gag order, courts have ruled that: a judge must make specific findings; consider less drastic alternatives; and narrowly tailor the order to address identified harm.

(For support of statements about gag orders in this story, see this brief filed by attorneys for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in another criminal case).

Courts have repeatedly found that a free press is essential to ensure fair trials, as in the 1965 case, Sheppard v. Maxwell.

"A responsible press has always been regarded as the handmaiden of effective judicial administration, especially in the criminal field," the Supreme Court said in its ruling. "The press does not simply publish information about trials, but guards against the miscarriage of justice by subjecting the police, prosecutors, and judicial processes to extensive public scrutiny.’’

In CBS Inc. vs. Young, a case that vacated a gag order, the court found that the newsgathering rights of a free press extend beyond the courtroom to include access to sources and court documents.

Asked to comment on the gag order by Zambito, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, Sarah Matthews, provided the following statement:

Although courts may restrict what attorneys can say about a case outside the courtroom, it raises First Amendment concerns when courts issue broad gag orders on attorneys that go beyond what the ethics rules require and actually bar any discussion of a case.

Meanwhile, Housh has shown he's fearful of even being seen nodding in the direction of a member of the press since Zambito issued the Order to Show Cause.

A few days after the order was delivered, a reporter ran into Housh at a local restaurant and Housh made it clear he didn't want to be seen talking to the reporter, and today when that reporter entered the courtroom and gave Housh a friendly wave, Housh shook his head as if to say, "don't even wave at me."

June 11, 2019 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Iraq War, news, notify, video, Medal of Honor.
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Below, selected quotes. For the fuller context of each quote, watch the videos.

Thank you to Western and New York for love and support
David Bellavia opened the press conference acknowledging all of the Western New Yorkers who have contacted him over the past 72 hours and then discussed how the men who served in Vietnam didn't benefit from a warm homecoming, and that many veterans do not get the recognition they deserve.

"I just wish that more Vietnam veterans, Korean War veterans, everyone guys at V.A. hospitals. can feel half the love that Western York has given to me, and most importantly. the Gold Star families in Western New York and Rochester. These men and women have given up their sons and daughters and there's really, it's not just Memorial Day, it isn't one day a year for these families; it's every single day. And we still live with that and we still think about them. And you know I think about them, too."

The benefits of military enlistment
"If there's anything that can come out of this, hopefully, young people in Western New York will we'll see their country as more worthy than anything else in their life. We are a very special institution, the United States Army, and I encourage as many people to look at that as an opportunity to better themselves but more importantly better their communities and their country."

The call from the president
Bellavia said he was told in August that he would be receiving a call from a top official in the Department of Defense, though he didn't know why. When the call was repeatedly delayed, he admitted to some frustration

"I really didn't know who that could have been. It could've been Secretary of the Army. It could've been Secretary of Defense. But that senior member of the DoD was very difficult to get on the phone. So no offense to Secretary of the Army; I'm sure he's a busy person. But he can't be that busy because there was a very difficult time to get that individual to allocate time. I had no idea that the senior member of the DoD, he was the senior member of the DoD, being the commander in chief.

"It was pretty humbling. It was pretty life altering.

"I lost my dad a year ago and yesterday would've been his 75th birthday. It was pretty crazy that the White House announcement came on his birthday, but my dad was my hero. I loved him. I spent every day talking to him. When I deployed my dad would, he would type up play-by-play of the Buffalo Bills games as if I had no access to get scores in the Army. He would take the time to write me a six-page letter single-spaced (letters) on every play. I would read these no matter where I was, Kosovo, Germany, or Iraq and we just talked about the Bills no matter how bad the day was, it was about the Bills.

"My dad would always tell me something and I always thought he was just uncool because he's my dad but he'd always say, 'way to go.' He'd say, 'way to go, man.' That's what my dad would say. No one else has ever said that to me in my life because it's not something you would expect anyone to say. But as the whole conversation with the president he's going on, I'm not even listening. I'm just kind of...but at the end of it, he said. 'Good job. David. Way to go, man.' That's what the president said and I haven't heard anyone say that to me but my father and it just brought me right back down to Earth."

On being an Iraq War veteran
Bellavia acknowledged that the Iraq War is a controversial war and that many people believe the United States entered the war because of faulty intelligence.

"Listen, you know I'm not going to pretend to write -- the narrative the Iraq war as well established but the Iraq veteran has nothing to apologize for. The Iraq veteran has served with the same, in the finest traditions of any other generation at war. And, you know, there's a whole lot of men and women who -- Yeah, everything's changed. I have to represent those people because that's what we have to do.

"I can't tell you that looking back and seeing how a lot of people tend to look at the valor of a generation and say well are these good wars or bad wars. Iraq veterans are walking around with chips on their shoulder because they're regarded as part of the bad war the war of choice, the war that was based on bad intelligence and you know we're free to think and decide whatever you want. I think the narrative is written on that. But I would just caution us to not make the veteran feel the weight of that. I don't think it's their responsibility. Ninety-nine percent of these men and women served with honor and distinction and we really shouldn't have to apologize for where our nation sends us to fight."

Thoughts on the battle that led to the Medal of Honor
"When you go through a graveyard and you see someone born and died on the same day, you know, I always see that on a tombstone and think, you know, that's got to be horrible and I just imagined how someone could explain to my son why I chose to do this. I wanted someone to be able to articulate to my kid that it's not that I don't love you, it's that I love these guys, too. We're in this together and that's why it's so important to me to tell as many Gold Star families that if the roles were reversed their sons would be talking to my mom, and their sons would be talking to my kids, and their sons would be saying, 'don't forget what your son did.' "

On veterans and being a veteran
"I happen to believe that veterans make the best neighbors you can have. I think we make great employees. I think we make great teachers. I think we make great friends. 

"I'm forever grateful to the United States Army they gave me purpose and direction they gave my life meaning and value. I'm a better human being because of my service. And I think most of the people that I've served with can all tell you the same thing. And I encourage any man or woman that wants to become an individual in their community to serve the United States military."

On how he's changed since Fallujah; veterans are anti-war (from the interview)
"You know, I never saw the enemy as people. I think, now, when I have, when you have children, you think you know, obviously, you want your guys, America, the good guys, to be OK. But I also think back to, I don't want the enemy's children to take the road that their dads took. I don't want my kids to be fighting in conflicts with another generation. ... What are the things that we can do, especially when it comes to acknowledging that a lot of people think that war guys, veteran guys are pro-war, that we love this. You know, we're pretty anti-war. I mean, I don't know of any veteran that you've talked to that is like, 'this is the greatest thing in the world.'

"We're violently anti-war but with the goal, the end state is that we won't do this anymore. I mean, if you would've told me that I would join the Army because my son and daughters would also get to have this experience, I never would have done it. It's not worth it. You fight so that it stops here and it doesn't continue. And it would be heartbreaking to know that this is going to go on for another 25 years."

We also asked about his political future and he suggested he will not be a candidate for Congress in 2020. He said he believes the Army will keep him busy for the next 18 months to two years with Medal of Honor appearances.

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