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Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

Passenger in vehicle at scene of property damage accident left behind

post by Billie Owens in accidents, Alabama, Tonawanda Indian Reservation

A property damage accident is reported on Sand Hill Road, on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. The driver of the vehicle which reportedly struck the involved property fled northbound in a green Chevy Astro van. But the driver left his or her passenger at the scene.

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

County moves to appoint public health director, shared with Orleans County

post by Howard B. Owens in health department

Paul Petit will soon officially be in charge of two county health departments -- Genesee and Orleans.

Over the past couple of weeks the two counties have hammered out an agreement to share health department services.

Petit, out of Orleans, will become Genesee County's public health director while retaining that position in Orleans County.

Genesee County's interim director, David Whitcroft, will become the environmental health director for both counties.

The official appointment of Petit was approved Wednesday by the Ways and Means Committee and will next be voted on by the full legislature next week.

Petit will be paid by Orleans County and get reimbursed for a portion of his salary by Genesee County, and Whitcroft's $65,000 salary will remain on Genesee County's payroll, but Orleans will share in the expense.

Over time, County Manager Jay Gsell, the arrangement may lead to more shared services between the two health departments, meaning potential cost savings.

For now, the real cost savings comes from the fact the county won't need to hire its own public health director.

For several years, Genesee County has relied on interim health directors, but the state is putting a stop to such an arrangement.

The county must have an actual public health director, but the qualifications for such a position put the annual salary in the $80,000 to $100,000 range. The shared services arrangement will help the county avoid that expense.

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

County legislature puts everything -- everything -- on the table for possible cuts in spending

post by Howard B. Owens in budget, genesee county

There are no sacred cows in county spending any more said Mary Pat Hancock, chair of the Genesee County Legislature, during a budget session on Wednesday.

After first-term Legislator Shelly Stein questioned with trepidation why the county finances the Holland Land Office Museum, Hancock said the legislature should consider every discretionary line item as a possible cost savings.

Legislature Robert Bausch added county parks, GoArt! and the libraries into the mix.

Marianne Clattenberg and Ray Cianfrini had already suggested Genesee County Economic Development Center for the chopping block.

Of course, it's not going to go over well if the legislature cuts both the county's economic engine and its tourism engine, Hancock said.

Clattenberg said that, at least with her constituents, she won't be able to explain a cut to something like HOLM if there aren't also cuts to GCEDC.

Legislators believe the county is facing a fiscal crisis of massive proportions, driven by Albany's cap on tax increases and the inability of state officials to curb spending -- specifically the so-called "unfunded mandates" that counties must fund with no control over how much the expenditures will be or how the money is spent.

During the meeting, there were no votes taken, no decisions made, no real proposals put forward. The budget conference was just a chance for each member of the legislature to sound off about their budget thoughts and concerns.

Frank Ferrando, participating in his first round of budget talks as a legislator, suggested his colleagues stop calling the Albany-driven spending spree "mandates." He said what the mandates really are is a tax on counties levied by Albany politicians.

During the meeting a lot of anger and frustration was directed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo for earlier in the day proclaiming that the tax cap enacted nearly two years ago by the State Legislature is working.

"It frustrates me that the governor can take credit and the Assembly and the Senate can take credit for the tax cap," Ferrando said. "They're killing us and we're too soft on them. It's time to face off. The counties are going broke. They're taxing the heck out of us. The rank-and-file don't get it. You call it a mandate. They don't know what a mandate is. Tell them it's a tax. Everybody gets what a tax is. Our taxes are going up."

Earlier in the meeting, Hancock made a lengthy statement about Cuomo taking credit for the tax cut, but never addressing the need for mandate relief. And she pointed out that the county legislature will need to make big cuts --  if not this year, then next -- to what small part of the budget it does control.

"He says they curbed out-of-control spending by the counties," Hancock said. "That's the message he's put out there, making us all the bad boys and bad girls of local taxes, but he's not talking about mandate relief or a true takeover of Medicaid.

"He said the tax cap worked and to some extent, that is true," Hancock added. "It's not going to change until the people see their services are not the same. They can't be the same. You cannot do what you did for less money.

"They feel if we were just a little more clever, if we pinched here and we did this little bit more wisely, then we would have plenty to spend on local services, but we don't have any control over a lot of these expenses," Hancock continued.

"You heard about the impact on all of the constituents we serve," Hancock said. "You heard from our veterans. You heard from Genesee Justice. You heard from probation. You heard from DSS. These people serve your constituents and we're the ones cutting their budgets. We're the ones sitting here at this table and the pie is getting smaller."

Stein opened the discussion Wednesday evening by asking why the county has both a probation department and Genesee Justice.

"Why they can’t be one, or is that taboo and we can’t talk about?" Stein said.

Her initial remarks were met by a long silence.

County Manager Jay Gsell pointed to a bottle of hand sanitizer in the middle of the conference table and said, "Pretend that's the grenade. You notice nobody's pulled the pin yet."

Gsell then explained that there really are some key differences between the two departments. Probation deals primarily people who have been convicted of a crime and Genesee Justice supervises people going through the court system. One agency is more enforcement-oriented, the other more about monitoring activity and behavior. Probation gets state funding. But release under supervision gets almost no funding support although it helps keep the county's jail costs down, Gsell said.

The other sacred cow several legislators expressed a willingness to gore is the Genesee County Nursing Home.

It simply costs the county too much money, they said, and is a problem that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

"We need to get some direction as a legislature or we're just going to keep shoveling money into that place," Annie Lawrence said. "I just see no end to it if we continue to be owner/operators of such a place. The state and federal government are just going to shift more and more of the cost onto local taxpayers."

A looming crisis for the county are roads and bridges. Lawrence and Ferrando wondered if the county shouldn't finance repairs and reconstruction through bonds. But Gsell said one of the problems the county faces is some existing debt (which will be paid off in two years) and the failure of the state and feds to reimburse the county for social service expenses, most of it tied to the nursing home.

"That $6 million in rolling debt from the state and feds affects our bond rates," Gsell said.

When it came Cianfrini's turn to share his budget thoughts he opened with, "I know I'm going to make some enemies with this, but ..." and then he raised the issue of cutting spending for GCEDC.

"I know, it's a job well done and they've done a great job, but I don't see how we can continue to fund them at the current level when they show profits into the millions of dollars," Cianfrini said. "We're at the point, and I made this comment earlier, where we should only provide essential county services. If it's not an essential county service, we should look at cuts there."

Cianfrini also expressed concern that not everybody in the county has tightened their belts as much as they should. He cited specifically a case of members of the Public Defender's Office all going to a conference at a cost of $4,000 or $5,000.

"Was that necessary?" Cianfrini said. "No. How much of that is going on in the county. I don't know. I think we have to really start looking at where all this money is being spent and (ask) is it really necessary.

Cianfrini also suggested the county look at the services it offers and decide which ones the county should start charging a fee to provide. If the county can't raise taxes sufficiently to cover increased expenses, maybe the county should take a page from Albany's way of operating and start tacking on fees.

"It's always tough to find new sources of revenue," Cianfrini said.

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 9:06 am

Sponsored Post: GRAND OPENING! Genesee County Republican Headquarters!!

GRAND OPENING! Genesee County Republican Headquarters! Come and enjoy pizza and wings, get your ROMNEY/RYAN Lawn Signs! 

Support your 2012 GOP Candidates: Congress-27th - Chris Collins, State Senate-61st - Mike Ranzenhofer, State Assembly-139th - Steve Hawley, Sheriff - Gary Maha, County Treasurer - Scott German, Coroner - Don Coleman & Karen Lang, City Council - Brooks Hawley & Jim Russell

Paid for by the Genesee County Republican Committee

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

Today's Poll: Who won the presidential debate?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls
Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 12:23 am

Photo: AARP-sponsored presidential debate night at Go Art!

post by Howard B. Owens in GO ART!, politics

AARP hosted a dinner and presidential-debate watch at Go Art! on Wednesday evening. There was a good turn out for the dinner, I was told, but nearly everybody left before the debate started (which is when I showed up) so they could watch it at home.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Fire alarm sounds in Hickory Hall at College Village

post by Billie Owens in batavia, fire

A fire alarm has sounded in Hickory Hall at College Village and the Town of Batavia Volunteer Fire Department is responding. The address is 8170 Batavia Stafford Townline Road.

UPDATE 8:32 p.m.: Firefighters are responding to a "confirmed report of burnt food" in room H-102.

UPDATE 8:36 p.m.: A firefighter on scene says they are "trying to determine why the alarm went off. I don't believe (the reason) was cooking."

UPDATE 8:50 p.m.: No update on what set off the alarm, but the assignment is back in service.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Car vs. pedestrian accident in front of convenience store on East Main Street

post by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents

A car-pedestrian accident is reported at 505 E. Main St. in front of the 7-11 store in the City of Batavia. The city fire department is responding and medics are on scene.

UPDATE 7:38 p.m.: City fire is back in service.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Fight by Clock Tower at GCC

post by Billie Owens in batavia, crime

A fight in front of Genesee Community College, by the Clock Tower, is just now breaking up and it reportedly involves 15 people. Campus security is on scene and multiple law enforcement officers are responding.

UPDATE 4:48 p.m.: The fight has reignited. An ambulance is requested for injured victims.

UPDATE 4:50 p.m.: A law enforcement unit on scene reports other officers responding may disregard the call. They have the situation under control.

UPDATE 4:52 p.m.: Mercy medics are put back in service as they are deemed not needed.

UPDATE 5:18 p.m.: Subsequently, medics were again called to the scene, in non-emergency mode. One 19-year-old male who was allegedly involved in the fight is being taken to UMMC with lacerations to his lips and an injured left hand.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Sponsored Post: Join us for the 'Taste of Genesee' at St. Joseph School’s annual Popcorn Ball

Enjoy food from all of your favorite restaurants at “A Taste of Genesee” at St. Joseph School’s 53rd annual Popcorn Ball at 6 p.m. on Oct. 13.

This year’s menu:

  • Seafood Bisque from Terry Hills
  • Fried Calamari from Alex's Place
  • Smoked Chicken Wings from Duke's Smokin' Bone

  • BBQ, Ribs from Clor's
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches from Center Street Smoke House
  • Mini Beef on Weck from T.F. Brown's
  • Mini Beef Wellington from Larry's Steak House
  • Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo from Bob Evans
  • Eggplant Parmesan & Pasta Primavera from Penna's Catering.

Along with DJ Frank Gioia and great prizes like 2013 season passes to Darien Lake and Palm Island Indoor Water Park, we will also being honoring outstanding alumni Judge Robert Balbick and M&T Regional President Dan Burns and volunteers Jamee Logsdon, Maria Streeter, and Michelle Cryer.

All proceeds will benefit St. Joseph School and the event is open to the public. Tickets are $60/couple or reserve a table of 10 for $250. For more information: Please visit http://www.sjsbatavia.org/st-joseph-school-popcorn-ball.html

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Community Arts Awards Gala Dinner & Auction is Saturday at Terry Hills

GO ART! presents its 12th annual Genesee-Orleans Community Arts Awards Gala Dinner & Auction at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Terry Hills Golf Course and Banquet Facility, 5122 Clinton St. Road (Route 33), Batavia.

Reservations are still being accepted.

Each year, GO ART! recognizes the extraordinary contributions in art and culture made by individuals and organizations in the Genesee-Orleans region at this unique event. This year’s honorees are:

Community Arts Awards:

Pat Burk
Chris Busch
Holland Land Office Museum
Le Roy Barn Quilt Project
Lorie Longhany
The Mason Family
Bill McDonald
Medina Sandstone Society

GO ART! Board of Directors Special Recognition:

Linda Blanchet

Tickets are $25/person, and advance reservations are required. Enjoy plentiful appetizers and desserts while local band “The Old Hippies” featuring Bill McDonald provides musical entertainment.

Silent auction and raffle drawings will be held all evening. Dress is business casual.

This year’s Gala Raffle features three Grand Prizes:

  • 14K yellow gold pendant with 3/4 CT pear-shaped tanzanite and 1/4 CT TW diamonds on 14K 18-inch box chain, from Lambert’s Design Jewelers, compliments of Jim and Tina Lambert; Value $1,400
  • One-year full gym membership to Next Level Fitness, compliments of Ken and Andrea Mistler; Value $300
  • $250 Gift Certificate from Roxy’s Music Store
  • AND your ticket enters you in drawings held throughout the evening for a variety of valuable prizes.

Raffle tickets are $5 each, or five for $20, and are available at GO ART! and online at www.GOart.org. Tickets will also be available at the event. Winners will be selected in a random drawing at the GO ART! Gala on Oct. 6; you do not need to be present to win. For more information, call 343-9313 or email [email protected].

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Man arrested following report of hit-and-run wanted in Texas

post by Howard B. Owens in crime

An alleged hit-and-run accident in Genesee County has led to the arrest in Wyoming County of a man wanted in Texas.

Taken into custody by the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office and held on $25,000 bail was Guy J. Bontrager, 41, of 3269 Humphrey Road, Varysburg.

In Wyoming County, Bontrager is charged with unlicensed operation, aggravated unlicensed operation and operating a vehicle without an interlock device.

Bontrager's license had allegedly been revoked because of a prior DWI conviction.

Sgt. Daniel Hummel, Wyoming County, stopped Bontrager on Route 77 in the Town of Sheldon after receiving a report in Genesee County on Friday of a hit-and-run accident.

During the traffic stop, a records check indicated that Bontrager has a warrant for his arrest in Texas. The Wyoming County Sheriff's Office did not indicate whether he would be extradited on that warrant.

There's no information yet on whether Bontrager also faces charges in Genesee County.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 10:41 am

Law and Order: Trio accused of shoplifting at Kmart

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

The following three suspects were accused of shoplifting at Kmart on Tuesday at 8:14 p.m.:

Chrisina Maria King, 19, of South Main Street, Castile, is charged with petit larceny. King is accused of shoplifting from Kmart.

Lisa Marie Uvenio, 34, of Borden Avenue, Perry, is charged with petit larceny. Uvenio is accused of shoplifting $56.88 in merchandise from Kmart.

Ashley Nicole Dumbleton, 17, of Lamont Road, Gainsville, is charged with petit larceny. Dumbleton is accused of shoplifting at Kmart.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 6:56 am

Barn in Darien destroyed in early morning fire

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, fire

A barn at 3105 Countyline Road, Darien, was destroyed in an overnight fire that required firefighters from eight area fire companies to be on scene from just before 2 to just after 6 a.m.

Darien Fire Department, with mutual aid from Corfu, Alexander, Pembroke, Indian Falls, Crittenden, Bennington, Alden and Batavia City's FAST Team all responded to the scene, along with Emergency Management Services and Mercy EMS.

Trustees from Attica prison responded to help with clean up once the fire was out.

The intial call came in at 1:53 a.m. The barn was reportedly "already on the ground" according to a Darien chief when first arriving on scene.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

UPDATE: The property is owned by J. Daniel Oles and Jane M. Oles. The cause remains unknown, possibly electrical or overheated damp hay. The barn is described as a storage barn. It contained an Allis Chalmers Combine, John Deere Round Bailer, corn planter, three freezers, tools and supplies for the farm. There was no natural gas or propane run to the barn, electricity only. The barn was last entered at 8 p.m by Andrew Oles, who saw or smelled nothing out of the ordinary. The initial caller reported seeing the second floor "lit up and on fire" when she called. Alden firefighters were first on scene.

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