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Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 7:56 pm

City leaf pick-up extended

post by Billie Owens in batavia

Press release:

Due to severe weather leaf operations were postponed in Batavia last week. The Bureau of Maintenance will be going through the city one more time beginning Dec. 1. Crews will be working on the Northside from east to west and the Southside from west to east.

Please have leaves properly placed by Monday, Dec. 1.

Also, the yard waste station will remain open one week longer. It will close Dec. 13, weather permitting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Photos: Mother Nature's Christmas tree flocking

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Harrington's Produce on Clinton Street Road has their Christmas trees out, but these trees aren't flocked, at least not in spray-on substance sense. Today's snow is sticking to everything it falls on, putting these pines right in the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Two-car accident, unknown injuries, on Route 98 north of Stroh Road

post by Billie Owens in accidents, alexander

A two-car accident, unknown injuries, is reported 10978 Alexander Road (Route 98) north of Stroh Road. Alexander fire and ambulance are responding.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Female driver unresponsive after car accident on eastbound Thruway

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents

A one-car accident is reported on the eastbound Thruway at mile marker 386.3. The car is off the roadway and the female driver is injured and unresponsive, according to the caller to dispatch. Town of Batavia and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: The patient is being transported to the hospital via ambulance and CPR is in progress.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Swinging version of a locally written Christmas song

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, music

On WBTA's Talk of the Town, starring Hiram Kasten and Lucine Kauffman, this morning they had as guests Carmen DelPlato, a teacher at Jackson School in Batavia, and Laura Dubin. They introduced a new recording by the Laura Dubin Trio, with Sage Melcher on vocals, of "Real Old Fashioned Christmas."

The song was written by Mary DelPlato and Anthony DelPlato.

Carmen asked Laura Dubin if she would record the song, and she said she would if she liked it. Obviously, she did. She reworked the arrangement into a more traditional Swing vibe and brought in Melcher to sing it. Both Dubin and Melcher are from Rochester.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 8:53 am

Structure fire on Manhatten Avenue in the city

post by Billie Owens in batavia, fire

There is a structure fire at 22 Manhattan Ave. and city firefighters are on scene. Town of Batavia fire is asked to stand by in its hall.

UPDATE 9:05 a.m.: This was a kitchen fire that was called in about 25 minutes ago. Firefighters were able to contain it to the kitchen and now the fire is out.

UPDATE 9:07 a.m.: A pet cat was found in the house, brought safely out and taken to a neighbor for safekeeping. A code enforcement officer is on scene. There remains a faint smell of smoke inside but the blaze did not produce much smoke.

UPDATE 9:26 a.m.: Engine 12 is back in service. Town of Batavia is released from its standby.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at 8:23 am

Today's Poll: Turkey or Ham for Thanksgiving?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Hoops Preview: Notre Dame boys team will take scoring where they can create it

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

This is a first of a series of team previews for boys and girls basketball for the 2014-15 season. We'll get to as many teams as we can for previews before the start of the season.  

The triangle offense. The New York Knicks have been struggling to learn it, Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone reminded his players at a recent practice, and they're a team of full-time, pro basketball players.

He doesn't expect his kids to master it, but a couple of key fundamentals could help a team that may not have a dominating scorer put a few more points on the board.

"We run just a small version of it," Rapone said. "High school students can't handle a real triangle. We don't have enough time to teach it. We concentrate on ball movement and body movement."

The triangle replaces traditional set plays. It relies on spacing and movement to create shot opportunities. With players spaced 10, 12, 15 feet apart and constant movement -- passes are preferred to dribbling, and every pass is accompanied by every offensive player changing their location on the floor -- the triangle tends to open holes and open players. (For more on the triangle, here's a recommended video).

Rapone thinks he has the talent on this team without a dominate big man to run a pretty lockdown defense. The key to winning is going to be transitions and getting open shooters.

"Defensively, we'll be fine, but we've got to make sure we score one more than the other guy, though," Rapone said.

One of Notre Dame's top scorers from last season, Josh Johnson, is back and Rapone hopes there are enough athletes on the team to step up and help distribute scoring opportunities. 

There are five seniors coming back from last season's Section V championship team and 11 juniors.

"Right now, we don't know who's going to start the first game," Rapone said. "Every day it looks like somebody different. We have 15 guys and I can make a case for any one of them."

Peter Daversa, Caleb Nellis, Dylan Fix, James Farmer, Tyler Prospero, C.J. Suozzi, Luca Zambito, Casey Midwick and Dakota Weidman all have the potential to make a difference on the squad.

Among them, however, isn't a kid more than 6' 3".

Size could be a problem, no matter who develops into a credible outside shooting threat.

"We're not going to be able to go inside for a lot of points, I don't think, but I hope I'm wrong, because the key to basketball is balance," Rapone said. "You want to establish one, then when they take that away, when they take the outside away, you go inside, when they take the inside away you go outside. You really need them both."

What Rapone sees as a tough schedule will include a home match against Le Roy, which will be the first time Mike Rapone has coached against brother and one-time assistant coach Rick Rapone.

"I hope he remembers that's his bench over there beause he's used to being on the otherside," Rapone said smiling.

The Le Roy game is at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 3. Rapone expects a full house.

The Fighting Irish kick off the season at home Dec. 11 against Oakfield-Alabama. Game time is 7 p.m.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Parents of Notre Dame student air complaints about son getting Mohawk shaved off at school

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Notre Dame, schools

An administrator at Notre Dame High School was disciplined more than a month ago for reportedly shaving the head of a student who showed up to school one day sporting a Mowhawk-style haircut.

Vice Principal and Athletic Director Mike Rapone reportedly shaved the head of Lucus Hull in front of other students during homeroom period while in the cafeteria, according to his mother, Denise Hull.

She describes her son as "humiliated" by Rapone's actions and claims that Rapone violated the school's code of conduct by touching her son without permission.

The reprimand Rapone received, confirmed by letters to Hull by the school and the superintendent of the diocese's schools, doesn't go far enough, according to Hull. She wants Rapone terminated.

"Quite frankly, if what is on the code of conduct is correct, then Mr. Rapone has violated it and should be removed from his position with the school," Hull said in an e-mail to The Batavian.

The incident occurred in Sept. 23. Charles Hull wrote a lengthy letter to Principal Joseph Scanlan on Oct. 2 that made several points, including (but not limited to):

  • That while at the Camp Hough Freshman Retreat, Sept. 3-4, Lucas asked Rapone for permission to have a "buzzcut Mohawk style," and Rapone, Hull said, told Lucas he could try it for a day.
  • Lucas, Hull said, reviewed the school uniform policy and assured his parents the haircut was permitted. "Nothing was or is noted in the policy which strictly prohibits any type of Mohawk hairstyle," Hull wrote.
  • Lucus was given the option Sept. 23 to go home for a haircut (which is 12 miles away) or Rapone would cut his hair.
  • About 20 minutes later, Rapone returned to the homeroom, which was held in the cafeteria, and shaved the youth's hair in front of classmates.
  • Among the Hulls' complaints -- that the parents were not contacted about the issue before the Mohawk was shaved off.
  • The Hulls do not feel the public apology by Rapone was sufficient to assuage Lucas or his sister. They called it "damage control" and "less than sincere."

Denise Hull contacted The Batavian, she said, because she felt Notre Dame had failed to address the situation adequately. 

She said she believes the board of directors, which she characterizes as made up primarily of sports boosters and former athletes, are unduly protecting a popular athletic director and successful basketball coach.

Her communications included copies of letters from the school and diocese and a copy of the student handbook.

The handbook, dated July 2014, clearly states "Outlandish hairstyles (e.g. Mohawks, wild colors, etc.)" are prohibited.

The letters clearly state that Rapone was reprimanded, that he and Scanlan must attend sensitivity training, and that the policy for dealing with such situations would be revised.

The letter from Charles Hull to Scanlan indicates that Rapone may have misunderstood the question from Lucas about a "buzzcut Mohawk."

"Mr. Rapone misunderstanding a question does not give him the right to humiliate Lucas," Charles Hull wrote.

Of course, a "buzzcut" and a "Mohawk" are two different styles of haircuts. One involves completely shaving the head, the other leaves a streak of hair down the middle of the scalp.

Denise Hull also said she believes the school is applying a double standard because there are students who have come to school with what might be considered "outlandish" hairstyles.  

We shared one specific complaint with Scanlan (we're avoiding being specific so as not to publicly drag another student into the issue) and Scanlan said, "that's a completely separate issue," but said he couldn't elaborate.

The Hulls also contacted Child Protective Services, which told them, Denise Hull said, this wasn't a CPS issue, and Batavia PD, which investigated and found insufficient evidence to sustain a charge of harassment.

Scanlan said he couldn't comment on a personnel matter. He e-mailed The Batavian the following statement authorized by the school's board of directors:

The incident in question occurred in September, and was promptly and appropriately addressed by the Notre Dame High School Board of Trustees and the school administration.

A student came to school with a mohawk haircut that violated the School’s dress code policy. After the student declined the opportunity to leave school to get his hair cut, the assistant principal cut the student’s hair in the student’s homeroom. The assistant principal has since apologized to the student, his parents, and the school community for his error in judgment in cutting the student's hair in the student’s homeroom before discussing the violation with the student’s parents.

Additionally, the School’s Board of Trustees recently amended to the School's student dress code policy to provide that parents will be consulted prior to any action if a similar situation arises in the future.

This action by the Board, coupled with the previous actions by the School's administration, has fully and thoroughly addressed this situation, and the School will have no further comment on this private matter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Report of man with gun near middle school prompts brief lockdown

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Batavia Middle School was put on lockdown just before the dismissal time this afternoon because of a report of a man with a gun inside his residence just a block or so from the school.

The lockdown was requested by police, Sgt. Dan Coffey said, because of the proximity and the potential for students to be walking through a potential danger zone once they were released.

It turned out the man may have only had a BB or pellet gun, Coffey said, but a State Police K-9 was brought in just in case to sniff for actual firearm in and around the residence, which was near the corner of Ross and Miller.

The initial call came from the man's girlfriend who said her boyfriend was in an upstairs bedroom pointing a gun to his head and threatening suicide.

Coffey said police surrounded the area and the man eventually came out of the house on his own and was taken into custody without incident.

He was taken to police headquarters for questioning.

Coffey said officers are considering what if any charges might be brought.

The incident lasted about 10 minutes and after the man was in custody, students were released from school.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Propane tank explosion injures little boy on Tonawanda Indian Reservation

post by Billie Owens in Alabama

A little boy was injured when a propane tank blew up about 20 minutes ago on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. Mercy Flight is heading to the scene, near the junction of Skye and Scotland roads. Alabama fire is responding.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 11:58 am

Drug dealer sent to prison for five years

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Dajuandrick Gardner

A Batavia man accused of selling drugs earlier this year was sentenced today by Judge Robert C. Noonan to five years in state prison.

Dajuandrick C. "Omega" (and "X") Gardner, 37, of East Avenue, entered a guilty plea to a count of attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance 3rd on Oct. 24.

He was indicted on six counts related to the sale of cocaine and possession of enough cocaine to constitute suspected drug dealing. The plea satisfied all the counts of the indictment.

The sales to agents of the Local Drug Task Force occurred in January.

Gardner's arrest in March was announced with two other suspects.

"For my part in this case that I committed, I probably wouldn't if I wasn't on drugs," Gardner told Noonan. "I wouldn't have committed the crime and I want to take responsibility for my part that I did regardless of the fact that I was on drugs. I want to apologize to the court and the community."

Noonan told Gardner that his turnabout was a little late.

"You've had many opportunities over the course of your life to clean yourself up from drugs and you never seized them," Noonan said. "You just dove into criminal activity over and over again."

The judge also ordered Gardner to pay $150 in restitution upon his release from prison.

Prior to sentencing, among the requests from Gardner's attorney was one for instructions from Noonan to the Department of Corrections that Gardner's head not be shaved. He said Gardner is a Rastafarian and it would violate his religion to cut his hair.

Noonan said he has no authority to tell the DOC what to do.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

The Tonawanda Creek reaches minor flood stage

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek, weather

The Tonawanda Creek has reached a minor flood stage of nine feet high and is expected to crest this afternoon at 9.3 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Photo from about an hour ago at the spillway behind the County Courthouse.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 8:45 am

Town expected to pay $2 million to city for additional sewer capacity

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Town of Batavia needs to treat more wastewater these days, and possibly into the future, so it must purchase additional capacity in the treatment plant on Treadeasy Avenue.

If plans are approved, the town will pay the city nearly $2 million for an additional 500,000 gallons of capacity. 

The $2 million can be used by the city to repair and upgrade existing sewer lines or sewer-related infrastructure. Legally, it can't be used for anything else.

The treatment facility opened in 1990 with the intention that it serve both the town and the city. The total cost was $48 million, with $39 million being paid by state and federal grants. The city covered more than $8 million of the local share of the cost and the town more than $500,000.

For the price, the city obtained 3.5 million gallons per-day capacity and the town 350,000 gallons per day.

The town now occasionally exceeds its capacity, City Manager Jason Molino said, especially after two yogurt plants opened in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Molino said the town also anticipates additional manufacturing growth, which means an even greater need for sewer capacity.

Residential growth, such as the new housing development on East Main Road, doesn't greatly increase the need for more capacity, Molino said.

The process of increasing capacity for the town will take up to 12 months, since the town is broken into sewer districts and there will need to be a series of public hearings before the town board can approve bonds to cover the $2 million expense.

The fee is based on a series of complex, and legally mandated, calculations that Public Works Director Sally Kuzon explained briefly for council members.

Previously: Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of city's hidden treasures

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