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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Hold-up alarm at Dick's Sporting Goods prompts big law enforcement response

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime

A hold-up alarm sounding at Dick's Sporting Goods prompted response from Sheriff's deputies and city police in both marked and unmarked cars. The store is located at 4180 Veterans Memorial Drive.

UPDATE 1:18 p.m.: This was a false alarm and law enforcement has cleared the scene.

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 8:00 am

Oliver's Candies planning new neon sign with message board

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Oliver's Candies

Some might call the Oliver's Candies sign iconic, but objects only become iconic with age, and age means expensive to maintain and problem-plagued.

That's the case with this sign, according to Jeremy Liles, general manager of the family business.

The sign really needs to be replaced, Liles told members of the Genesee County Planning Board Thursday night, which reacted initially with kind of a collective gasp.

The planning board was asked to review the proposal because Oliver's is seeking a special sign permit for the replacement sign. While smaller than the old sign, it will still stand 20 feet tall and be nine feet wide.

If you grew up in this community, you grew up with this sign and all that it represents. The sign has been in place since at least the 1950s. Liles is nervous some might react negatively to replacement of the sign, but he said every effort has been made to ensure it maintains its classic character.

The logo will change, the color scheme will change, but it will still be close to the same size and shape, will still be lit with neon and bordered by white light bulbs.

The new sign will be more energy efficient and will also feature a programmable message board, which, by law, will only post a new message in each 24-hour period. The update will mean no longer assigning an employee the task of changing the message on the board by hand on a less frequent basis.

Such a change of a seemingly iconic sign in Batavia isn't anything new. In 2012, Batavia Downs took down its classic neon sign and replaced it with a sign that uses LED lights, but otherwise looks exactly like the old sign. If you didn't know better, it would be hard to tell the difference.

That's the hope of Liles with this sign change, he said. In fact, Oliver's will hire the same company as Batavia Downs to build and install the new sign.

After cutting the expense of maintenance and electricity, the next important reason for changing the sign is for Oliver's to be consistant in its branding. The current logo is the Oliver's name with a cup pouring chocolate, which is not part of the current Oliver's sign.

"Brand recognition is important," Liles told the board. "You all recognize the Nike swish when you see it and when the world sees that logo I want them to think chocolate."

The new sign will also use the brown chocolate color that is part of Oliver's branding scheme now.

The county planning board recommended approval of the new sign permit. The City's planning board must approve it next before work can begin.

Below is an artist's rendering of the proposed new sign.

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7:45 am

County planners raise traffic safety concerns for proposed location of Dollar General in Pavilion

post by Howard B. Owens in business, land use, Pavilion, planning

Dollar General would like to build a new store in Pavilion, but the proposal got a cold reception from the Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night.

The proposed location is less than 1,000 feet from the high school, and with heavy, speedy truck traffic on Route 63 and no sidewalks between the school and the store, board members thought the location presents a safety hazard.

Planners also thought the proposal doesn't fit within Pavilion's comprehensive plan.

However, the location is the one picked by town officials, Todd Hamula, a development manager for Zeremba Group, who is representing Dollar General in the project.

Originally, the company was looking at a location closer to the school, but town officials were worried about students leaving campus to go to the store, so a compromise was found with the location further away.

The location also gives the town a chance to appeal to the Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit along that stretch of road to 35 mph (the location is right near the current dividing line between a 35 mph zone and 55 mph zone).  

Hamula said Dollar General wants its stores on roads with speed limits less than 55 mph, which ruled out locations further south.

He also said the company picked the location because they believe it's well suited to the comprehensive plan. He said rezoning the property would merely extend the current business district area around Route 63 and Route 19.  

Planners thought it too far away from the current business area to meet that goal.

"We work really hard to make sure we don't bring a proposal for rezoning unless we have local support and that it doesn't go against the comprehensive plan," Hamula said.

While the town seems to take a dim view of a store within walking distance of the school, county planners were scratching their heads over the decision. The original proposed location would have sidewalks and a pedestrian tunnel nearby.

"If the concern here is traffic and kids walking, moving the location does not really solve that," said Board Member Lucine Kauffman. "I think it makes the danger even greater. Now they're walking further and there's no sidewalks."

She thinks regardless of the location, kids are going to walk to it for drinks and food.

"I think it's great idea to have place where kids can walk to after school to have a snack," Kauffman said.

The negative vote doesn't kill the project. The town planning board can still approve it with a vote of a majority plus one.

Hamula said he will pursue that outcome with the town planning board.

Friday, December 12, 2014 at 6:45 am

Jackson School students will have creative work displayed at local businesses

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Jackson School, schools

Local businesses are supporting the education of local kindergarteners and first-graders by displaying framed examples of their drawings and writings in their shops.

The unique program to highlight the creative work of students was created by the administrators and teachers of Jackson School.

Above, Ken Mistler, left, owner of Showtime Cinema in Batavia accepts the framed work of Mark Bomdaruk, pictured with his teacher Ann Marie Koukides.

Here's a list of particpating businesses and institutions and the names of first-graders with works displayed for January.

  • Art a la Cart, Emma Englehardt
  • Southside Deli, Gretchen Redder
  • T.F. Brown's, Mikaylah Sweet
  • Big Pauley's Pizza, Landon Hamilton
  • Kreative Kitchens, Karvel Martino
  • Wendy's, Bryce Nicometo
  • Main Street Pizza, Alexandra Crater
  • The Rack Shack, In February
  • Holland Land Office, Anthony Lecointe-Naegely
  • Bank of America, Liam Walker
  • Five Star Bank, Zofia Bailey
  • Richmond Memorial Library, Marley Santos
  • Alex's Place, Emilio Rosales
  • Genesee Community College, Emma Godfrey
  • City Hall 1, Harry Malander
  • City Hall 2, Helaina Staley
  • Tim Horton's, Julia Plath
  • City Slickers, Michala Faulkner
  • Next Level, Ella Shamp
  • Max Pies, Will Stevens
  • Showtime Cinema, Mark Bomdaruk
  • GO ART!, Sydney Parker
  • YMCA, Kayli Palone
  • YWCA, Drew Stevens
  • Sunny's, Elaina Stringham
  • Dunkin' Donuts, Lila Fortes
  • Sport of Kings, Elijah Fancher
  • T Shirts, Etc., Ethan Bastedo
  • McDonald's, Jacobi Childs
Friday, December 12, 2014 at 6:30 am

Today's Poll: Is the local economy improving?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls
Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Genesee County promised $1.8 million in economic development money

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park

The Cuomo administration is handing out more than $1.8 million in grants to Genesee County projects, officials announced today.

The awards are part of $80.7 million in grants for the Finger Lakes Region of Empire State Development.

The largest award locally -- $1.5 million -- is going to Genesee Biogas, a Warsaw-based company looking to build a biogas generator in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Sen. Charles Schumer issued the following statement about the award:

“I was pleased to help make Ch4 Biogas’ first on-farm biodigester at the Synergy Dairy in Wyoming County a reality back in 2011, and I was pleased this year to support their application to ESD to replicate that success with the new Biogas Plant in Batavia. This cutting-edge facility is a win, win, win: it will provide renewable energy to the Ag Park, home to companies like Muller Quaker and Alpina yogurt, reduce the need to send waste to landfills, and help attract new businesses to locate to the Ag Park.” 

Previously: Company pitches idea of plant that converts food waste into energy at planning board meeting

The City of Batavia is also receiving two awards. There is $200,000 for a micro-enterprise fund. The money is to be awarded to 10 local businesses, five of which must be owned by low- to moderate-income people. The program is expected to create 10 new full-time equivalent jobs.

The city is also receiving $75,000 to draft a new comprehensive plan. 

"The plan will include public participation, an assessment of existing conditions and the development of goals and objectives based on LEED for Neighbhorhood Development," states the award announcement. "This project will promote the goals of the Finger Lakes Regional Sustainability Plan and serve as a model for other rural cities."

The Town of Batavia will receive $30,000 for eastside sewer planning.

The Village of Alexander will receive $30,000 for wastewater infrastructure evaluation.

The Village of Bergen will receive $30,000 for collection system study.

All of the projects are meant to spur economic growth.

In 2011, the Cuomo administration established 10 regional economic development areas. The 10 areas compete with each other for funding each year.

The largest chunk of funding this year went to the Southern Tier, which is receiving $80.8 million.

Western New York, which includes Buffalo, but not Batavia, received more than $50 million.

State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle issued the following statement:

"The $80.7 million in funding awarded today will move us closer to our goal of securing a brighter economic future for Rochester and all of the Finger Lakes Region by creating thousands of new jobs and leveraging hundreds of millions in new investments."

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Collins votes yes on $1.1 trillion spending plan

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement after passage of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for FY 2015.

“This legislation is a tremendous win for Western New York,” Congressman Collins said. “It holds the line on discretionary spending, ensuring continued deficit reduction, while fully funding vital government programs. In politics it is crucial not to let perfect be the enemy of good, and although people on both sides have their concerns, I'm proud of what this accomplishes for Western New York.”

Here are highlights from the bill that directly affect Western New Yorkers.

· Provides $122 million for the improvement and expansion of the VA Medical Facility in Canandaigua;

· Provides $68 million for OMEGA at the University of Rochester to expand its nuclear fusion laser lab facility;

· Increases funding for the National Institutes of Health grant programs that help fund research centers like the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo;

· Eliminates funding for the Race to the Top Initiative, reducing the incentive for States to continue the implementation of the Common Core Standards;

· Blocks the EPA from applying the Clean Water Act to certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches;

· Allows more flexibility to school districts implementing new whole grain nutrition standards in school lunches;

· Cuts EPA funding for the fifth consecutive year and brings staffing to the lowest level since 1989;

· Cuts IRS funding by $345.6 million and bans the agency from targeting organizations seeking tax-exempt status based on their ideological beliefs;

· Provides $300 million to improve and restore the Great Lakes;

· Increases funding for the Harbor Maintenance Trust fund by $100 million.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm

'Significantly more jobs available' says director of job bureau

post by Howard B. Owens in economy, employment, jobs

If you're out of work, or underemployed, this is a great time to be looking for a job or a better job, said Scott Gage, director of the county's Job Development Bureau.

The unemployment rate has been at or below 5 percent all summer and now into the winter, which is a period of low employment the county hasn't seen since 2008.

The job bureau currently has 279 job openings listed. A year ago, there were only 199 jobs listed.

"Employers are hot to get new employees," Gage said. "This is a great time to be job searching. If people are unemployed, they should come down to the career center and see us. We can help them find a job."

Gage said they're seeing both people who were underemployed finding new employment that better meets their qualifications, and people who have been among the long-term unemployed are finding work.

For the long-term unemployed, there is a job-training program available that is funded by the federal government through the H1B visa program (the same program that brings foreign workers into the country).

The jobs available aren't just entry-level jobs, Gage said. The list includes $16 and $18 an hour jobs and jobs that pay $35,000 to $40,000 a year.

"There are significantly more jobs available now," Gage said.

PROMOTIONAL NOTE: If you're looking for a job, or need to hire an employee, don't forget about GLOWJobs.net.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Batavia's Brennan Briggs named a Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, high school sports, sports

The Batavia Blue Devils Head Football Coach Brennan Briggs will be recognized on the field Sunday before the Buffalo Bills game against the Green Bay Packers as the Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week for week 11.

The school will receive a $1,000 contribution to the football program as a result of the award.

During the game, Briggs will be seated inside the Red Zone section, complements of the Buffalo Bills.

File photo.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

City employees in water and finance receive certifications

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

Press release:

The City of Batavia is pleased to announce that three employees from the Water Bureau have obtained water licenses issued through New York State Department of Health (DOH) and one employee in the Finance Bureau is being recognized by the New York State Governmental Finance Officers’ Association (NYS GFOA) for completing a professional development program administered by the Government Finance Institute (GFI).

Peter Gravante, a 25-year veteran of the City, has received his Class D water license after completing coursework in water distribution maintenance, disinfection and operations through California State University, Sacramento. In addition to classroom training and laboratory practice, experience in distribution maintenance was required to achieve this license. 

Nelson Weibel, a 10-year employee at the City Water Plant on Leigh Avenue, received his Grade 1A Water License after completing a week of classroom training at the Western New York Water School, as well as course work in administration through Michigan State University. A Grade 1A Water License requires a minimum of 10 years of experience to qualify for this level of licensing. 

Shawn Bigsby, a 10-year employee and newest water plant operator, received his Grade IIA Water License after completing two weeks of classroom training at the Western New York Water School, as well as completing one year of operator training at the City Water Plant.  

In addition to classroom training, Peter, Nelson and Shawn were required to interview with the Genesee County DOH, to receive their endorsements before their applications were forwarded to the New York State DOH for final approval and license issuance.

Lisa Neary, deputy director of Finance and a six-year employee of the City, recently completed NYS GFOA professional development program, Government Finance Institute (GFI) – Foundations Level. GFI Foundations Level graduates complete training in the core competencies of government finance including accounting and financial reporting, cash management, budgeting, human resource management and internal control. Lisa will be recognized for her achievement at the Association’s 36th Annual Conference to be held in Albany in March.

Please join the City in congratulating Peter, Nelson, Shawn and Lisa on their outstanding achievements.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:51 am

Plea deal in arson case will make probation possible for defendant

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Brian Sprague

A former Batavia resident now living in Henrietta who was arrested for trying to light a fire in the window of a house on East Avenue entered a guilty plea this morning to attempted burglary in the second degree.

It was a unique plea deal that will make Brian Sprague, 25, eligible for a probationary sentence.

He was originally charged with attempted arson, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and criminal mischief. But conviction on those charges would not give Judge Robert C. Noonan the option of a probationary sentence, if he found it appropriate.

There is no lesser included offense in attempted arson, 2nd, so under the theory that by breaking a window, Sprague was attempting a burglary, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman offered Sprague the chance to plead guilty to that charge.

However, the facts of the case don't entirely support that charge, so under what's known as an Alford Plea -- where the defendent admits the facts of the case would likely mean a jury conviction if the case went to trial -- Friedman recited the facts of the attempted arson charge.

Sprague then entered a guilty plea to the attempted burglary charge, a Class D violent felony.

Sprague was arrested on the arson charge in September after residents on East Avenue were awakened by the sound of glass breaking. When they came downstairs later, they found gasoline had been poured around the window and through the window.

Sentencing will be at a later date and probation is no guarantee. The probation department will conduct a pre-sentence report for Noonan to review prior to sentencing.

The maximum prison time possible for a Class D violent felony is seven years.

The plea also satisfies a criminal mischief charge in the Town of Batavia.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

Car strikes Dollar General in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in accident, Le Roy

These are reader submitted photos of a car that struck the Dollar General Store in Le Roy around 10:15 a.m.

Injuries were reportedly minor.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:17 am

Residents clear paths through the snow after storm passes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weather

Somewhere in the neighborhood of a foot of snow fell on Batavia overnight and this morning residents were clearing driveways and sidewalks.

From 13WHAM, The Batavian's news partner, here's a forecast:

Most of the steady snow has now moved west and out of the area. The chance of some scattered snow showers will remain through the day, but not the steady type of snow that we have already experienced. Another inch of snow could fall from any of the snow showers that pass through the rest of today. A Winter Weather Advisory does remains in effect for Genesee and Wyoming counties through 4 a.m. tomorrow. As of earlier this morning, 10 inches of snow had fallen in Warsaw, 4.5 inches in Avon, 6.5 inches near Silver Springs, 10.4 in Wyoming, and 5.5 inches near Dansville.

It will take a while for any melting to begin. Temperatures will remain in the 20s for much of today. Temperatures will rise to about the freezing point for a high tomorrow, but will rise higher, into the 30s and 40s, by this upcoming weekend and early next week.

Top photo: William Palone on East Avenue at Ross Street.

Marilyn Canipe on North Spruce Street.

A bike rider trying to negotiate his way through the snow and slush on North Street.

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